Friday, November 14, 2014

2017-2021 Men's Final Four Sites Announced

The NCAA revealed today the locations for the Men's Final Four for the years 2017-2021. Among the sites include a first-time host, two new stadiums and two familiar places.

The 2017 Final Four will take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. It will be the first Men's Final Four to take place in Arizona and the first west coast Final Four since Seattle hosted in 1995.

The Alamodome in San Antonio gets their fourth Final Four in 2018, first since 2008 when Kansas cut down the nets after the first Final Four to feature all four No. 1 seeds.

2019 and 2020 will feature two new stadiums. 2019 will be in Minneapolis at the new Vikings stadium, the same stadium that will host Super Bowl LII. Atlanta and the new Falcons stadium were awarded 2020's Final Four.

2019 will be the fourth Final Four for the city of Minneapolis, and the first since 2001 at the H.H.H. Metrodome, which was won by Duke. Atlanta will have a handful of Final Fours after 2020, as this will be their fifth time hosting, first since 2013 when Louisville won it all.

Finally, Indianapolis claimed their eighth Final Four. Being the home of the NCAA and the place where the Selection Committee gathers obviously helps the city. Lucas Oil Stadium is hosting this season's Final Four, come April and now get another one seven years later.

Cities/areas that made a bid but were not selected were New Orleans, North Texas and St. Louis.

North Texas just hosted the 2014 Final Four, New Orleans last hosted in 2012 and St. Louis has not had one since 2005.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

First 2015 Bracket Projections

Welcome back, my friends! The Bracketology Corral is back in action as the 2014-15 NCAA Basketball season begins Friday. It feels like just yesterday we were watching seventh-seeded Connecticut team take down eighth-seeded Kentucky in the finals of what was one of the more thrilling NCAA Tournaments that included an 11-seed advance to the Elite Eight.

But that's in the rear-view mirror and now we begin the road to Indianapolis and the 2015 Final Four.

To get things started, here is my first bracket of the new season. And remember, it's November. Things will change very quick, but it's always fun to try to piece together some kind of puzzle and have something to build off of. So with that in mind, enjoy.

Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin and Duke make up the top line in this bracket with Kansas, North Carolina, Florida and Louisville on the two-line. Defending champion Connecticut sits as a No. 4.

The last four in are Northern Iowa, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Notre Dame. First four out are Georgetown, Boise State, Arizona State and Providence.

And now, for the first time this season, the full bracket.

Credit to Gary Gerba for the bracket design.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Final Bracket

With Michigan losing the Big Ten championship and Florida-Kentucky in a tight one as I write this, here is the final bracket.

As the only contender with a double-dip, ACC champion Virginia climbs to the last No. 1 seed.

Big Ten champion Michigan State rises to a 3 seed, replacing Louisville.

No new teams were added. I am sticking with BYU as the final at-large.

This has been another great season. Thank you all so much for enjoying this ride with me. Enjoy the Selection Show, everyone!

Last Four Byes: Kansas State, Iowa, Xavier, Dayton
Last Four In: Tennessee, SMU, Nebraska, BYU
First Four Out: California, Florida State, Minnesota, Green Bay
Next Four Out: Missouri, NC State, Arkansas, Southern Miss

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pac 12
5: American, ACC
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Selection Sunday Is Here

The wait is finally over. Selection Sunday has arrived. Today, dreams are realized and shattered. 68 teams will cheer when their name is called. All the others will be left to wonder "What if?"

For bubble teams, it's arguably the longest day of the year. Are you in or are you out? Will be you be breaking out your dancing shoes, or will you sing the sad song called "NIT"?

Today is the day we find out the 68 teams who will compete over the next three weeks to determine the 2014 Men's Division I Basketball champion. We'll spend all week dissecting the matchups and picking our Cinderellas. But before we do that, we have some business to take care of.

First, the next-to-last bracket of the season. I fully scrubbed the field one last time, so the bracket looks different, but I feel it's my best one.

Last Four Byes: Saint Joseph's, Iowa, Xavier, Dayton
Last Four In: Tennessee, SMU, Nebraska, BYU
First Four Out: California, Florida State, Minnesota, Green Bay
Next Four Out: Missouri, NC State, Arkansas, Southern Miss

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pac 12
5: American, ACC
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues 

Let's take a moment to congratulate the 14 teams who clinched their conference's automatic bid on Saturday. They were: UCLA (Pac 12), Louisville (American), Providence (Big East), New Mexico State (WAC), New Mexico (Mountain West), Iowa State (Big 12), Albany (America East), Tulsa (Conference USA), Texas Southern (SWAC), North Carolina Central (MEAC), Western Michigan (MAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Stephen F. Austin (Southland) and Cal Poly (Big West)

And may I note that Cal Poly will enter the tournament with a 13-19 record (!!!) and two of those wins were against non-Division I schools. Congrats to the Mustangs on pulling the seemingly improbable.

I feel pretty confident that the 68 teams we have in this bracket will be the 68 announced by Greg Gumbel at 6:00 tonight. (I know, Captain Obvious. Otherwise, I'd have different teams in.)

I say that because with the way bubble teams performed this week, some taking themselves out of play, and there being no bid thieves left (St. Bonaventure, NC State and Georgia all lost Saturday), I think the bubble in a sense cycled back to BYU as the last team in. Providence won the Big East's automatic bid, but I think the Friars were in the field, regardless. Now they are definitely in and do not have to worry about Dayton. As this point, we have Tennessee, SMU, Nebraska and BYU who do have to worry about Dayton.

For fans of teams like California, Arkansas, Green Bay, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech and other bubble teams, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but your teams don't have strong enough profiles, which is why your teams will be spending the next few weeks competing for spots in Madison Square Garden in the NIT.

Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But I truly feel the 36 at-larges I selected are the 36 best teams and profiles. Which will make for a great NCAA Tournament.

Of course, there are games still to be played, as five more teams will officially punch their tickets to the tournament just hours before the field is announced. Here is the rundown of games.

ACC Championship (in Greensboro)
No. 3 Duke vs. No. 1 Virginia, 1:00, ESPN

The winner here likely grabs a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament; loser ends up on the three-line.

Atlantic 10 Championship (in Brooklyn)
No. 4 Saint Joseph's vs. No. 2 VCU, 1:00, CBS

The Hawks played themselves off the bubble with their win over St. Bonaventure. Now, it's about seeding. VCU has a shot at a protected seed if they win.

Sun Belt Championship (in New Orleans)
No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 1 Georgia State, 1:00, ESPN2

Georgia State rolled through the Sun Belt regular season and could give their Round of 64 opponent some fits.

SEC Championship (in Atlanta)
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Florida, 3:00, CBS

The third meeting between these two. The Wildcats are hoping for better results, especially better than the 19-point drubbing suffered in Gainesville just eight days ago.

Big Ten Championship (in Indianapolis)
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Michigan

Interesting that this is the first time ever that these two teams meet in the Big Ten tournament. The Wolverines will wrap up the last No. 1 seed with a win. A loss opens the door back up for Villanova.

My final bracket will be posted sometime around 5:30 today. By that point, the Big Ten title game should be at least close to finished and all, or most, of the dust should be settled. Enjoy all the games today and I'll be back later today to wrap up Championship Week and get you set for the Selection Show.

On Selection Sunday Eve, BYU Moves Back In

The biggest day of the season, save for Selection Sunday has arrived. It's Saturday of Championship Week, where 14 teams will officially claim their spot in the NCAA Tournament. First, let's check out the bracket and then let's talk about a team that is back in the field thanks to other teams playing their way out.

Last Four Byes: Nebraska, St. Joseph's, Tennessee, Xavier
Last Four In: Dayton, SMU, Providence, BYU
First Four Out: California, Florida State, Minnesota, Green Bay
Next Four Out: Missouri, NC State, Arkansas, Southern Miss

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pac 12
5: American, ACC
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

BYU lost to Gonzaga on Tuesday in the West Coast championship game. Their hopes were likely doomed when Kyle Collinsworth tore his ACL. Yet they find themselves as the last team in today's bracket. Why? Because pretty much every other bubble team that was right on the cut line (Missouri, Minnesota, California, Florida State) could not take advantage of the opportunity. As many have mentioned before, BYU played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation (currently ranks 3rd) and they are just outside the top-30 in the RPI. But as we know by now, it's those four bad losses (Pacific, Pepperdine, Portland, Loyola Marymount all on the road) that is weighing them down. But we've seen time and time again the committee reward teams with strong out-of-conference schedules.

BYU is certainly not out of the woods yet. There are still a few potential bid thieves left, namely North Carolina State, Georgia and St. Bonaventure (who pulled this exact same feat just two years ago). But for now, the Cougars are in the field.

NC State scored a huge win over Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals and now get a shot at Duke in the semis. However, NC State may have to win it all to get in. Same with Georgia and the Bonnies. Neither have at-larges, but are both capable of winning their conference tournaments. The Bulldogs play Kentucky, the Bonnies take on St. Joseph's, who all but secured their spot by beating Dayton yesterday. The Flyers sit among the last four in.

Tennessee and Xavier both moved out of Dayton and directly into the main bracket of 64. This was a combination of the Vols avoiding a bad loss to South Carolina, Dayton's loss to St. Joe's and reconsidering SMU's profile. The Mustangs do have quality conference wins, including a sweep of Connecticut, but a lack of non-conference wins and a horrendous rating out-of-conference (No. 293) also hurts. SMU has also fallen out of the top 50 in RPI (main reason why Duke moved up to a 2-seed and Virginia fell back to a 3). Larry Brown's club should still get in, but may have to play a road game against Dayton on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In mid-major land, UC Irvine and Utah Valley joined the list of No. 1 seeds to lose in their conference tournaments and both will now play in the NIT. Cal State Northridge, the No. 5 seed, is now the AQ for the Big West, who is now guaranteed a spot in Dayton as as the Matadors have an RPI of 238 and Cal Poly is No. 222 in RPI. The new WAC AQ is New Mexico State, who is in much better position. They project as a 13-seed.

As if the Big West wasn't bad enough, the SWAC pits RPI No. 250 Texas Southern against RPI 301 (!!!) Prairie View. As I read from CBS' Jerry Palm, no team with an RPI that low has ever made the NCAA Tournament. Liberty's RPI rating was 287 last season when they won the Big South.

As mentioned above, Selection Sunday Eve is always action-packed. 14 bids are up for grabs, and it all starts at 11:30 am. Here is the rundown of the title games, followed by the conferences playing semifinal games today.

America East Championship
No. 4 Albany at No. 2 Stony Brook, 11:30, ESPN2

Conference USA Championship (in El Paso, TX)
No. 2 Tulsa vs. No. 1 Louisiana Tech, 11:30, CBS

SWAC Championship (in Houston)
No. 8 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 2 Texas Southern, 4:30, ESPN2

Mountain West Championship (in Las Vegas)
No. 2 New Mexico vs. No. 1 San Diego State, 6:00, CBS

Pac 12 Championship (in Las Vegas)
No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 1 Arizona, 6:00, FOX Sports 1

MEAC Championship (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 3 Morgan State vs. No. 1 North Carolina Central, 6:00, ESPNU

American Championship (in Memphis)
No. 4 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Louisville, 6:00, ESPN

MAC Championship (in Cleveland)
No. 2 Toledo vs. No. 1 Western Michigan, 6:30, ESPN2

Big Sky Championship
No. 2 North Dakota at No. 1 Weber State, 8:00, ESPNU

Southland Championship (in Katy, TX)
No. 3 Sam Houston State vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin, 8:30, ESPN2

Big East Championship (in New York City)
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 2 Creighton, 8:30, FOX Sports 1

Big 12 Championship (in Kansas City, MO)
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 4 Iowa State, 9:00, ESPN

WAC Championship (in Las Vegas)
No. 5 Idaho vs. No. 2 New Mexico State, 10:00, ESPNU

Big West Championship (in Anaheim)
No. 7 Cal Poly vs. No. 5 Cal State Northridge, 10:30, ESPN2

ACC Semifinals (in Greensboro, NC)
No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 1 Virginia, 1:00, ESPN
No. 7 North Carolina State vs. No. 3 Duke, 3:00, ESPN

Atlantic 10 Semifinals (in Brooklyn)
No. 9 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 4 St. Joseph's, 1:30, CBS Sports Network
No. 3 George Washington vs. No. 2 VCU, 4:00, CBS Sports Network

Big Ten Semifinals (in Indianapolis)
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Michigan, 1:40, CBS
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Wisconsin, 4:05, CBS

SEC Semifinals (in Atlanta)
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Florida, 1:00, ABC
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Kentucky, 3:25, ABC

Sun Belt Semifinals (in New Orleans)
No. 4 Arkansas State vs. No. 1 Georgia State, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 2 Western Kentucky, 5:30, ESPN3

Today will decide how busy tomorrow will be. Bubble teams will either sweat out the Bonnies, Wolfpack or Bulldogs or the field will be all but set. You'll have to stay tuned to find out. Remember, I will post two brackets tomorrow. One in the morning to gear up for Championship Sunday and then my final bracket will be posted at about 5:30 (hopefully there will be time between the end of the Big Ten championship and 6:00).

Enjoy Selection Sunday Eve, everyone and I will see you all tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Villanova Stunned, Arkansas and California's Bubbles Popped

There was a lot of action Thursday, so I am going to break things down by conference and go through all the action that went down. Let's get started.

First the bracket, which includes a new No. 1 seed in Michigan after Villanova lost to Seton Hall and new entrants Providence and Florida State. The Seminoles are in thanks to their wins over VCU and UMass on a neutral court and good record away from home. FSU is just ahead of the Minnesota for the final spot in the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Nebraska, SMU, St. Joseph's, Dayton
Last Four In: Tennessee, Xavier, Providence, Florida State
First Four Out: Minnesota, California, BYU, Missouri
Next Four Out: Arkansas, Green Bay, Southern Miss, Illinois

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12
6: Atlantic 10, ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12
5: American
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West
23 one-bid leagues

Atlantic 10
The action in Brooklyn kicked off with No. 8 La Salle taking on No. 9 St. Bonaventure. Led by a double-double (19 points, ten rebounds) for Youssou Ndoye, the Bonnies defeated the Explorers 82-72. Three other Bonnies scored in double-figures. Jerrell Wright led the Explorers with 26 and Steve Zack had a double-double with 11 and 11 boards. SBU will face top seed Saint Louis in today’s quarterfinals.
The second game saw Dayton avoid a bad loss to Fordham and Devin Oliver scored 17 points and grabbed 11 boards for the Flyers, who now face a huge quarterfinal game against fellow bubble team St. Joseph’s. It’s not exactly an elimination game, but the loser will sweat a bit on Sunday. Branden Frazier had 30 points for the Rams.
Richmond advanced with a 76-64 win over Duquesne. Terry Allen had 27 and Kendall Anthony had 23 for the Spiders. Ovie Soko led the Dukes with 23. The Spiders get VCU in the quarterfinals.
Massachusetts escaped their second-round game with Rhode Island, 65-61. Maxie Esho led the Minutemen with 15 off the bench, while Xavier Munford had 24 for the Rams. UMass will now play George Washington in the quarterfinals.
Florida State kept their bubble hopes alive and officially sent Maryland to the Big Ten, winning 67-65. The Seminoles now get a shot at top-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals. Ian Miller had 17 points and Aaron Thomas added 14 for the winners. Boris Bojanovsky had a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) for FSU, also. The Terps got a pair of 18-point performances from Dez Wells and Seth Allen.
Pittsburgh left no doubt in their game against Wake Forest. The Panthers may not have strong wins, but the one thing they’ve been able to do is avoid bad losses. That’s what will put Jamie Dixon’s club in the field. They now will face North Carolina in the quarterfinals thanks to 24 points from Lamar Patterson.
In the evening session, North Carolina State kept their slim hopes alive, beating Miami (FL), 67-58, as T. J. Warren scored 24 and Ralston Turner had 22 for the Wolfpack, who now will face Syracuse in the quarterfinals. Rion Brown had 22 for the Hurricanes.
Clemson needed overtime to defeat Georgia Tech, 69-65. The Tigers advance to face Duke in the quarterfinals, whom the Tigers beat back on January 11. K.J. McDaniels had 18 points for the winners. Trae Golden had 23 in a losing effort for the Yellow Jackets.
American Athletic
The early session of the American quarterfinals saw one tournament team get upset and another run circles around its opponent.
SMU is heading to its first NCAA Tournament since 1993, but they didn’t exactly leave a good impression heading into the tournament. The Mustangs were upset by No. 6 Houston, 68-64, as Jherrod Stiggers scored 19 off the bench for the Cougars and three starters scored double-digits. This loss all but assured a double-digit seed, possibly even an 11, for SMU, who were led by Markus Kennedy’s 13 points and nine rebounds.
Louisville, however, turned their quarterfinal against Rutgers into an absolute laugher, nearly TRIPLING the Scarlet Knights, 92-31. Five Cardinals scored double-figures, led by Chris Jones’ 18. Not surprisingly, not a single Rutgers player hit ten points. The defending national champs will face Houston in the semifinals. That coin flip doesn’t look so bad for Rick Pitino now, does it?
No. 1 Cincinnati got all they can handle from UCF, but came away with the 61-58 win as Sean Kilpatrick led the way again. He had 21 for the Bearcats. Isaiah Sykes also had 21 for the Knights. Cincinnati can still climb to the 2-line with a double-championship.
Connecticut beat Memphis on its home floor, and pretty convincingly, too, winning 72-53. Niels Giffey had 24 for the Huskies, who will face No. 1 Cincinnati in the semis. Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson each had ten for the Tigers, who will be in the middle of the bracket come next week.
Big 12
Iowa State continued their strong season and push toward a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament by knocking off Kansas State, 91-85, in their Big 12 quarterfinal. Melvin Ejim continued his own sensational season by scoring 24 and bringing down 10 boards and Dustin Hogue also posted a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds). Kansas State, led by 21 from Marcus Foster, now look destined for one of the 8/9 games next Thursday or Friday.
Kansas passed their quarterfinal test against Oklahoma State, as they look to show the committee they are still a strong team even without Joel Embiid. Andrew Wiggins took the game in his own hands and scored 30 points, helping keep the Jayhawks No. 1 seed hopes alive. Oklahoma State joins Kansas State as another team likely heading to an 8/9 game next week.
Baylor is really starting to move up the bracket. This team was 2-8 at one point in Big 12 play. They’ve won nine of their last ten after a 78-73 win over Oklahoma, ending the Sooners’ hopes of a protected seed. All five Baylor starters scored in double-figures, led by Isaiah Austin’s 18. Cory Jefferson and Royce O’Neale added 11 and ten rebounds, respectively. Cameron Clark had 19 for the Sooners.
Texas ended West Virginia’s hopes with a 66-49 win. The Longhorns are still alive for a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament. They’ll face Baylor in the semifinals. Jonathan Holmes had 20 points in just 19 minutes for Texas. Brandon Watkins, a reserve, led the Mountaineers with 10.
Big East
The craziness from Wednesday night trickled over into Thursday afternoon. Sterling Gibbs hit a buzzer-beater to upset top-seed Villanova, giving Seton Hall a 64-63 victory, sending the Pirates into the Big East semifinals and likely crushing the Wildcats’ chances of getting a No. 1 seed. Eugene Teague led all scorers with 19 points for the eighth-seeded Pirates, who can play major spoiler in Madison Square Garden. As for Villanova, everyone will now bring up the famous fact “No team has ever lost their conference tournament opener and went on to win the NCAA Tournament.”
Seton Hall will take on Providence, who sent St. John’s to the NIT with a 79-74 win.  The Friars continued their surprising season as Josh Fortune scored 24 and a pair of Friars posted double-doubles, Kadeem Batts (13 and 12) and LaDontae Henton (16 and 11). D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm with 21 and ten. This sets up a potential bid-stealer in the Big East championship.
Doug McDermott scored 35 and is now just 20 points away from being a top-five scorer in NCAA history, leading the Bluejays to an 84-62 win over DePaul, who got 21 from Brandon Young. Creighton still has a shot at a No. 2 seed and is obviously now the favorite in the Big East tournament with Villanova out.
Xavier scored a huge win over Marquette, 68-65, keeping them in the field and giving them a shot at Creighton in the semis. Marquette’s hopes are over. Justin Martin and Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 19 and 18, respectively. Deonte Burton had 23 for Marquette, who is likely off to the NIT.
Big Sky
No. 2 North Dakota squeaked by No. 7 Sacramento State, 79-76, to advance to the semifinals as Troy Huff led the way with 18 points.
No. 6 Northern Colorado, who spent some time atop the Big Sky standings, defeated No. 3 Northern Arizona 62-60. With the conference reseeding for the semis, the Bears will now face No. 1 seed and tournament host Weber State.
No. 5 Portland State made it a pair of lower-seed winners in Ogden, as they defeated No. 4 Montana, 70-63. The Vikings will face North Dakota in the semis. They were led by Kyle Richardson with 19 pointsm while Kareem Jamar had 20 for the Grizzlies.
Big Ten
Illinois kicked off the action in Indianapolis by ending Indiana’s run, 64-54, sending the Hoosiers to the NIT, where they likely end up in the middle of the bracket. Tracy Abrams scored 25 points for the Hoosiers, who now get a shot at No. 1 Michigan. Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 14.
Purdue missed a chance to pull off a major upset, but instead, it is Ohio State advancing to the quarterfinals to face Nebraska, after their 63-61 victory. LaQuinton Ross had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Aaron Craft added 16 for the Buckeyes. Four Boilermakers scored ten-plus, led by 15 from A.J. Hammons. Things just haven’t been the same in West Lafayette since Robbie Hummel left.
Minnesota kept their at-large hopes alive by defeating Penn State for the second game in as many games, 63-56. With other bubble teams falling, the Gophers are now right in the mix. A huge game awaits in the quarterfinals, where they will meet Wisconsin. A win there could very well put the Gophers in the field. Austin Hollins scored 18 to lead all scorers, while D. J. Newbill dropped 16. Tim Frazier scored 11 in his final collegiate game.
Iowa is limping into the NCAA Tournament after suffering their sixth loss in seven games, as they lost to Northwestern 67-62. Iowa has fallen to a ten-seed in our projection. Tre Demps scored 20 points for the Wildcats, who advance to the quarterfinals, where they will meet Michigan State. Roy Devyn Marble had 25 for the Hawkeyes.
Big West
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara was flat-out embarrassed by No. 7 Cal Poly, scoring just 38 points. So there will not be a USCB-UC Irvine showdown in the finals. Joel Awich and Dave Nwaba each had 11 for the Mustangs.
Long Beach State advanced to the semifinals by virtue of their 66-56 win over Cal State Fullerton, as Mike Caffey scored 14 to lead the 49ers. Alex Harris led all scorers with 17 for the Titans.
Top seed UC Irvine is in the quarterfinals are their win over UC Riverside, 63-43. Will Davis II (16) and Luke Nelson (14) paced the Anteaters, who are looking for their first tournament bid ever. They will play Cal Poly in the semis. Nick Gruninger had 10 for the Highlanders.

No. 5 Cal State Northridge ended Hawaii's run, 87-84. Josh Greene had 27 and Stephan Nicks had 21 to lead the Matadors, who advance to face Long Beach State on Friday. Christian Standhardinger had 28 and nine rebounds, while Keith Shamburger had 20 for the Warriors.
Conference USA
In a game featuring two teams in their final C-USA tournament, Tulsa pounded Tulane 70-49 to advance to the semifinals. James Woodard had 24 for the Golden Hurricane.  Jay Hook led the Green Wave with 21.

Last year’s Sun Belt regular-season champion Middle Tennessee won their first tournament game as a member of C-USA, defeating Old Dominion 62-48 as Neiko Hunter had 16 points to lead the Blue Raiders. Ambrose Mosley’s 13 off the bench led the Monarchs.
Southern Miss basically won a road game, despite being the higher seed, as they beat UTEP on the Miners’ home floor, 64-56, to advance to the semifinals. Aaron Brown had 18 points for the Golden Eagles, who have a slim shot at an at-large if they fail to win the C-USA tournament. Julian Washburn had 16 for UTEP.

Louisiana Tech made sure the C-USA semis were all chalk, as they got past Charlotte, 86-65. Michale Kyser had 20 and Alex Hamilton had 19 for the Bulldogs, who will face Southern Miss in the semis. Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams each had 13 for the 49ers.

Akron knocked out their in-state rival Ohio, 83-77, to set up a semifinal showdown with No. 1 Western Michigan. Quincy Diggs (20) and Isaiah Johnson (19) led the Zips. Nick Kellogg, the son of CBS analyst Clark Kellogg, had 25 for the Bobcats.
In the other quarterfinal, Eastern Michigan upset No. 3 Buffalo, 69-64, as Karrington Ward had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Eagles, who will face No. 2 Toledo tomorrow. Buffalo was led by 26 from Joshua Freelove.
No. 3 seed Morgan State advanced to the semifinals to face No. 7 Coppin State after defeating Florida A&M, 81-68. Justin Black put up 29 points for the Bears. Jamie Adams had 26 for the Rattlers in a losing effort.
No. 4 Norfolk State eliminated Savannah State, 57-47, to advance to the semifinals where No. 1 North Carolina Central awaits. 20 points for Pendarvis Williams to lead the Spartans. Jyles Smith had 15 for the Tigers.
Mountain West
It wasn’t the dominating performance Louisville had against Rutgers, but San Diego State easily handled Utah State, 73-39, continuing their hopes at a No. 3 seed in the Dance. Xavier Thames had 15 points and seven assists for the Aztecs. For the Aggies, Jarred Shaw had 14 points.
Host UNLV knocked off Wyoming, 71-67, to set up a semifinal showdown with San Diego State. A pair of bench players led the Rebels, as Bryce Dejean-Jones had 22 and Roscoe Smith had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Josh Adams had 24 for the Cowboys.
Second-seeded New Mexico eased by Fresno State, 93-77, as both Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow had 21 points. Bairstow also grabbed 10 boards. For the Bulldogs, Alex Davis had 17 and Paul Watson had 16.

In the lone "upset" of the day, No. 6 Boise State defeated No. 3 Nevada, 75-62. The Broncos get a shot at New Mexico in Friday's semifinals. Anthony Drmic, Derrick Marks and Ryan Watkins went for 17, 16 and 15, respectively, while Deonte Burton had 22 for the Wolf Pack.

Pac 12
Yet another team holding their opponent under 40 points, as Arizona held Utah to just 39, while putting up 71 to advance to the semifinals. This should lock in Arizona as the No. 1 seed in the West region, and they will open on next Friday, the 21st, in San Diego. Utah will likely be selected for the NIT.  The Wildcats got 14 from Nick Johnson, 13 from T. J McConnell and 11 from Aaron Gordon. No one scored more than nine for the Utes.
California may be another team that is finished. The Golden Bears lost to Colorado, 59-56, which should lock in Colorado and may send Cal to the NIT after they stumbled down the stretch, though they do have four top-50 wins, and hold a neutral-court victory over Arkansas. We’ll see if it’ll be enough, but right now, they’re on the wrong side of the bubble. Leading Colorado was Askia Booker with 17, while Justin Cobbs scored 21 for the Bears.
UCLA pounded Oregon, 82-63, to advance to the semis and possibly send Oregon to an 8/9 game, as five Bruins scored in double-figures. Joseph Young did put up 29 for the Ducks.

Stanford scored a huge win over Arizona State, moving them up the bracket and likely giving the Sun Devils either a nine or ten-seed. The Cardinal won 79-58, to advance to the semifinals against UCLA as Chasson Randle led the way with 21 points. Shaquielle McKissic had 12 for Arizona State.
Missouri and Texas A&M played a doozy, going to a second overtime, before Missouri went red-hot at the foul line, hitting 12 free throws in the extra extra frame.  Jabari Brown had 26 and Earnest Ross had 24 for the Tigers, who absolutely needed this game.  But they can’t stop here. They still have to win tomorrow against the top team overall, the Florida Gators. Alex Caruso had 28 points, seven assists and eight rebounds for the Aggies.
While Missouri kept the bubble intact, Arkansas’ has officially been popped. The Razorbacks were hanging on after losing to Alabama, but losing to South Carolina in the second round of the SEC tournament will likely doom Arkansas. Their RPI now sits at 72 and their non-conference will not bite them in the butt, with a rating outside the top-200. This one will haunt the Razorbacks for some time. Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 17, who advance to face another bubble team, Tennessee. Coty Clarke had 13 for Arkansas, who now sit outside the field and will be sweating all weekend.
LSU stayed alive after their 68-56 win over their big football rival, Alabama. Now the Tigers face Kentucky, who has struggled of late, so this is a good opportunity for the Tigers to grab a late top-50 win. Shavon Coleman led LSU with 15 points and Jordan Mickey had 11. The five starters for the Tide ranged from eight to 11 points.
Mississippi beat their old rivals Mississippi State, 78-66, advance to the quarterfinals against Georgia. Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson each had 21 for the Rebels. Fred Thomas and Craig Sword each had 16 for the Bulldogs.
No. 4 Northwestern State eliminated No. 5 Nicholls State, 88-72, to set up a rematch of last year’s championship game with No. 1 Stephen F. Austin in the semifinals. DeQuan Hicks had 21 points off the bench to lead the Demons, last year’s Southand tournament champs. Jeremy Smith had 21 for the Colonels.
No. 3 Sam Houston State knocked off No. 6 Oral Roberts, 70-61, to advance to the semifinals against No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Kaheem Ransom and Jabari Peters had 19 and 17 points, respectively for the Bearkats. Korey Billbury led the Golden Eagles with 20.
Alabama State got past Alcorn State 64-51 in the early game of Thursday’s session of the SWAC quarterfinals. Four Hornets scored at least ten points. ASU will now face No. 2 Texas Southern in the semifinals. The winner will have the inside track to the SWAC’s auto-bid.  Leading the way for the Braves was Marquis Vance with 15.
Alabama A&M defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff ensuring that all four SWAC semifinalists are tournament-eligible, meaning we will get a true tournament final for the auto-bid. The Bulldogs will face No. 8 seed Prairie View, who upset No. 1 Southern University yesterday and who will have a day of rest coming into this one. Brandon Ellis (18) and Justan Banks (16) were top-scorers for A&M. Tevin Hammond (14) and DaVon Haynes (13) were the leaders for the Golden Lions.
Sun Belt
Arkansas-Little Rock kicked off Sun Belt tournament action with a 74-51 win over Troy. They advance to face No. 4 Arkansas State in the quarterfinals. Three UALR Trojans scored double-digits, led by 14 from James White, while four Troy Trojans achieved the feat.
In the other first-round game, Texas-Arlington defeated Louisiana Monroe, 68-65, as Reger Dowell had 18 points for the Mavericks, who will face No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette in the quarterfinals. Tylor Ongwae had 18 and Marvin Williams had 16 for the Warhawks.
The first game of the day saw No. 1 Utah Valley score a 20-point victory over Texas-Pan American as Holton Hunsaker scored 24 points and Ben Aird grabbed 13 boards for the Wolverines. Shaquille Boga had 21 in a losing effort for the Broncs.
Utah Valley will face Idaho in the semifinals, after the Vandals defeated UMKC in the quarters. Stephen Madison had 26 for the winners, while Martez Harrison had 18 for the Roos, who were in their first WAC tournament.

Cal State Bakersfield upset No. 3 Chicago State, 68-62, ending the Cougars' first season in one of the most geographically-odd conferences. Issiah Grayson had 29 points and Aly Ahmed had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Roadrunners. Nate Duhon had 19 for Chicago State.

Finally, No. 2 New Mexico State squeaked by Seattle, 70-68, to set up a semifinal with Cal State Bakersfield. Sim Bhullar had 24 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Aggies. Isiah Umipig had 25 points and Jack Crook had 13 points and ten boards for the Redhawks.

What a long day of action. A lot of movement in the bracket, with teams moving both up and down, and in and out. And expect more of the same today and tournaments enter their quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. Here is the rundown of today's games.

Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals (in Brooklyn) (all games on NBC Sports Network)
No. 9 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 1 Saint Louis, 12:00
No. 5 Dayton vs. No. 4 St. Joseph's, 2:30
No. 7 Richmond vs. No. 2 VCU, 6:30
No. 6 Massachusetts vs. No. 3 George Washington, 9:00

ACC Quarterfinals (in Greensboro, NC)
No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 1 Virginia, 12:00, ESPN2
No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 4 North Carolina, 2:00, ESPN2
No. 7 North Carolina State vs. No. 2 Syracuse, 7:00, ESPN
No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 3 Duke, 9:00, ESPN

American Athletic Semifinals (in Memphis) (both games on ESPN2)
No. 6 Houston vs. No. 2 Louisville, 7:00
No. 4 Connecticut vs. No. 1 Cincinnati, 9:00

Big 12 Semifinals (in Kansas City, MO) (both games on ESPNU)
No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 1 Kansas, 7:00
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 3 Texas, 9:30

Big East Semifinals (in New York City) (both games on FOX Sports 1)
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 4 Providence, 7:00
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 2 Creighton, 9:30

Big Sky Semifinals (in Ogden, Utah)
No. 5 Portland State vs. No. 2 North Dakota, 6:30
No. 6 Northern Colorado vs. No. 1 Weber State, 9:05

Big Ten Quarterfinals (in Indianapolis)
No. 9 Illinois vs. No. 1 Michigan, 12:00, ESPN
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Nebraska, approx. 2:30, ESPN
No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 2 Wisconsin, 6:30, Big Ten Network
No. 11 Northwestern vs. No. 3 Michigan State, approx. 9:00, Big Ten Network

Big West Semifinals (in Anaheim)
No. 7 Cal Poly vs. No. 1 UC Irvine, 9:30, ESPN3
No. 5 Cal State Northridge vs. No. 3 Long Beach State, 12:00 midnight, ESPNU

Conference USA Semifinals (in El Paso, TX) (both games on CBS Sports Network)
No. 3 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 2 Tulsa, 4:00
No. 4 Southern Miss vs. No. 1 Louisiana Tech, 6:30

MAC Semifinals (in Cleveland) (both games on ESPN3)
No. 4 Akron vs. No. 1 Western Michigan, 6:30
No. 6 Eastern Michigan vs. No. 2 Toledo, 9:00

MEAC Semifinals (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 4 Norfolk State vs. No. 1 North Carolina Central, 6:00
No. 7 Coppin State vs. No. 3 Morgan State, 8:00

Mountain West Semifinals (in Las Vegas) (both games on CBS Sports Network)
No. 4 UNLV vs. No. 1 San Diego State, 9:00
No. 6 Boise State vs. No. 2 New Mexico, 11:30

Pac 12 Semifinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 1 Arizona, 9:00, Pac 12 Network
No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 2 UCLA, 11:30, FOX Sports 1

SEC Quarterfinals (in Atlanta)
No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 1 Florida, 1:00, ESPNU
No. 13 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Tennessee, approx. 3:30, ESPNU
No. 7 LSU vs. No. 2 Kentucky, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Mississippi vs. No. 3 Georgia, approx. 9:30, ESPN3

Southland Semifinals (in Katy, TX) (both games on ESPN3)
No. 4 Northwestern State vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin, 6:00
No. 3 Sam Houston State vs. No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 8:30

SWAC Semifinals (in Houston)
No. 3 Alabama State vs. No. 2 Texas Southern, 3:30
No. 8 Prairie View vs. No. 5 Alabama A&M, 9:30

Sun Belt Quarterfinals (in New Orleans) (both games on ESPN3)
No. 5 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. No. 4 Arkansas State, 7:00
No. 6 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette, 9:30

WAC Semifinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 5 Idaho vs. No. 1 Utah Valley, 9:00
No. 6 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 2 New Mexico State, 11:30

It's another long and busy day, the last one without any auto bids up for grabs. We're just over two days away from seeing the field revealed. Hang in there, the wait is almost over.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Georgetown Has Their Bubble Popped, BYU May Have As Well

John Thompson III will some explaining to do when he gets back to D.C. I'll explain after the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's, Nebraska, Dayton
Last Four In: Arkansas, California, Tennessee, Xavier
First Four Out: BYU, Providence, Minnesota, Florida State
Next Four Out: St. John's, Missouri, Green Bay, Illinois

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten
5: ACC, American
4: SEC
3: Big East
2: Mountain West
23 one-bid leagues

Georgetown had the unfortunate displeasure of being the Big East bubble who had to play in the first round of the Big East tournament. That was all well and good, however, because they got to play lowly DePaul and was getting a shot at Creighton in the quarterfinals. The Hoyas were getting a chance at a sixth top-50 win to really help their tournament standing. They just needed to get past DePaul...and they failed. That's right. Georgetown lost to DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament, 60-56.

So not only can the Hoyas forget about playing Creighton, they can forget about the NCAA Tournament all together. They're finished. The committee will not select a 14-loss team that already had a sub-200 loss on their resume and now just added a loss to the worst team in their conference in the tournament. On the bright side, perhaps the Hoyas can cash in all those top-50 wins for a No. 1 seed in the NIT and just maybe set up a rematch against Florida Gulf Coast.

Another team may have had their bubble popped without even playing. The injury suffered by BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth turned out to be a torn ACL, an injury that could end the hopes of the Cougars making the field. If the committee takes this into account, with them already on the bubble, there's a good chance BYU will now not be selected for the field. For the time being, BYU is now the first team out and Xavier moves back into the field. This will bear watching.

One team that will not have to worry is American University. In coach Mike Brennan's first year as head coach, the Eagles, picked 9th in the preseason poll, upset top-seed Boston University 55-36. Darius Gardner had 18 points to lead the winners and Tony Wroblicky added 15 and eight rebounds. AU went 19/34 from the field while BU was a miserable 16/52 and just 1/17 from three-point land. Amazingly, BU only went to the foul line seven times and hit just three times. All in all, a dominating performance for the Eagles, who slide in as a 15-seed in the bracket. The next set of automatic bids won't be handed out until Saturday when a whopping 14 bids will be up for grabs.

Colorado defeated USC, Oregon knocked off Oregon State and Stanford got past Washington State, which should put all three just about in the tournament. The Pac 12 quarterfinals have four great games on top. The most intriguing one is Colorado-California. If the Bears win, I have to think they will have done enough to get in.

Oklahoma State and Baylor are just about locks after avoiding the late bad loss in the Big 12 openers last night. The Cowboys defeated Texas Tech to set up a third meeting with Kansas, while Baylor won against TCU. They'll square off with Oklahoma today.

The SWAC tournament may actually have all eligible teams in their semifinals, after all. Texas Southern defeated Grambling in the early game while No. 8 Prairie View upset top-seeded Southern, who is ineligible, which means they can't even play in the NIT. That means four of the five remaining teams are eligible and if Alabama A&M can defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff today, then all four semifinalists will be eligible and would set up a true SWAC championship for the auto-bid.

Thursday of Championship Week means all the power conferences are in action as the Big Ten finally gets underway. We're hitting the home stretch, folks. Here's the rundown of games today.

American Athletic Quarterfinals (in Memphis) (all games on ESPNU)
No. 6 Houston vs. No. 3 SMU, 1:00
No. 7 Rutgers vs. No. 2 Louisville, 3:00
No. 9 UCF vs. No. 1 Cincinnati, 7:00
No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 4 Connecticut, 9:00

ACC Second Round (in Greensboro, NC) (all games on ESPN)
No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 8 Maryland, 12:00
No. 12 Wake Forest vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh, 2:00
No. 10 Miami (FL) vs. No. 7 North Carolina State
No. 11 Georgia Tech vs. No. 6 Clemson, 9:00

Atlantic 10 Second Round (in Brooklyn) (all games on NBC Sports Network)
No. 9 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 8 La Salle, 12:00
No. 13 Fordham vs. No. 5 Dayton, 2:30
No. 10 Duquesne vs. No. 7 Richmond, 6:30
No. 11 Rhode Island vs. No. 6 Massachusetts, 9:00

Big East Quarterfinals (in New York) (all games on FOX Sports 1)
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 1 Villanova, 12:00
No. 5 St. John's vs. No. 4 Providence, 2:30
No. 10 DePaul vs. No. 2 Creighton, 7:00
No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 3 Xavier, 9:30

Big Sky Quarterfinals (in Ogden, Utah)
No. 7 Sacramento State vs. No. 2 North Dakota, 4:05
No. 6 Northern Colorado vs. No. 3 Northern Arizona, 6:30
No. 5 Portland State vs. No. 4 Montana, 9:00

Big Ten First Round (in Indianapolis)
No. 9 Illinois vs. No. 8 Indiana, 12:00, Big Ten Network
No. 12 Purdue vs. No. 5 Ohio State, 2:25, Big Ten Network
No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 7 Minnesota, 6:30, ESPN2
No. 11 Northwestern vs. No. 6 Iowa, 8:55, ESPN2

Big 12 Quarterfinals (in Kansas City, MO)
No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 4 Iowa State, 12:30, ESPN2
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 1 Kansas, 3:00, ESPN2
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 6 West Virginia vs. No. 3 Texas, 9:30, ESPN3

Big West Quarterfinals (in Anaheim)
No. 7 Cal Poly vs. No. 2 UC Santa Barbara, 3:00
No. 6 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 3 Long Beach State, 5:30
No. 8 UC Riverside vs. No. 1 UC Irvine, 9:00
No. 5 Cal State Northridge vs. No. 4 Hawaii, 11:30

Conference USA Quarterfinals (in El Paso, TX)
No. 7 Tulane vs. No. 2 Tulsa, 2:00
No. 6 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 Middle Tennessee, 4:30
No. 5 UTEP vs. No. 4 Southern Miss, 8:00
No. 9 Charlotte vs. No. 1 Louisiana Tech, 10:30

MAC Quarterfinals (in Cleveland) (both games on ESPN3)
No. 5 Ohio vs. No. 4 Akron, 6:30
No. 6 Eastern Michigan vs. No. 3 Buffalo, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 6 Florida A&M vs. No. 3 Morgan State, 6:00
No. Savannah State vs. No. 4 Norfolk State, 8:00

Mountain West Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 1 San Diego State, 3:00
No. 5 Wyoming vs. No. 4 UNLV, 5:30
No. 7 Fresno State vs. No. 2 New Mexico, 9:00
No. 6 Boise State vs. No. 3 Nevada, 11:30

Pac 12 Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 8 Utah vs. No. 1 Arizona, 3:00, Pac 12 Network
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 4 California, 5:30, Pac 12 Network
No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 2 UCLA, 9:00, Pac 12 Network
No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 3 Arizona Sttae, 11:30, FOX Sports 1

SEC Second Round (in Atlanta) (all games on ESPN3)
No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 8 Missouri, 1:00
No. 13 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Arkansas, 3:25
No. 10 Alabama vs. No. 7 LSU, 7:00
No. 14 Mississippi State vs. No. 6 Mississippi, 9:25

Southland Quarterfinals (in Katy, TX)
No. 5 Nicholls State vs. No. 4 Northwestern State, 6:00
No. 6 Oral Roberts vs. No. 3 Sam Houston State, 8:30

Sun Belt First Round (in New Orleans)
No. 8 Troy vs. No. 5 Arkansas-Little Rock, 7:00
No. 7 Louisiana-Monroe vs. No. 6 Texas-Arlington, 9:30

SWAC Quarterfinals (in Houston) (ineligible teams marked with *)
No. 6 Alcorn State vs. No. 3 Alabama State, 1:30
No. 5 Alabama A&M vs. No. 4 Arkansas-Pine Bluff*, 9:00

WAC Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena)
No. 8 Texas-Pan American vs. No. 1 Utah Valley, 3:00
No. 5 Idaho vs. No. 4 UMKC, 5:30
No. 6 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 3 Chicago State, 9:00
No. 7 Seattle vs. No. 2 New Mexico State, 11:30

Wow, what a lineup, especially on FOX Sports 1. If you have multiple TVs, pat yourself on the back and get ready for a great day of action. Expect a much different-looking bracket tomorrow. Until then, take care and I'll see you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Four More Bids Claimed, Power Conferences Get Underway

The tournament field has grown to 12 and the power conferences finally get underway today. More after the bracket.

Procedural Bump: Arkansas/BYU down from 11 to 12, California/Tennessee up from 12 to 11

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's, Nebraska, Dayton
Last Four In: Arkansas, California, BYU, Tennessee
First Four Out: Xavier, Providence, Minnesota, Florida State
Next Four Out: St. John's, Georgetown, Missouri, Green Bay

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten
5: ACC, American
4: SEC
2: Big East, Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

Stop me if you've heard this before: Gonzaga wins the West Coast. I know, shocking, isn't it? That's 12 WCC tournament titles since 1998 for the Bulldogs, who defeated BYU by a score of 74-65. Sam Dower had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Mark Few's club, once again, will not have to worry come Selection Sunday. They would've made an interesting bubble team had they lost, but now, we'll never know.

The same cannot be said for the Cougars, however. Despite 24 from Tyler Haws, BYU did not exactly leave a good lasting impression on the committee. Now they must wait a long four days to see if they did enough to be selected to the field. As of today, they are in as one of the last four in. But there is plenty of time for bubble teams from the major conferences to catch and surpass the Cougars.

Also claiming their spots in the field were North Dakota State, the top seed in the Summit, and a pair of upset winners, both winning on the road: Milwaukee winning at Wright State to the Horizon and Mount St. Mary's winning at Robert Morris to claim the Northeast. The Mountaineers will enter the NCAA Tournament at 16-16, meaning they will almost certainly head to Dayton.

In other conference tournament action Tuesday, Grambling and Prairie View won their first round games to advance to the SWAC quarterfinals. The Tigers are ineligible, so they will play for pride against Texas Southern. The Panthers, however, are eligible, and get a shot at No. 1 Southern (who is ineligible).

Howard, Coppin State and Florida A&M advanced to the MEAC quarterfinals; North Texas, Marshall and East Carolina moved on to the second round of the Conference USA tournament.

Today was an easy bracket update. And it was likely the last because the major conferences are finally kicking off today (though the SEC first round isn't exactly thrilling). A few bubble teams are in action, so the bracket will begin to move very fluidly from now until Sunday.

Here is the rundown of games today, starting with the lucky 13th tournament bid up for grabs.

Patriot League Championship
No. 2 American University at No. 1 Boston University, 7:30, CBS Sports Network

ACC First Round (in Greensboro, NC)
No. 13 Notre Dame vs. No 12 Wake Forest, 1:00, ESPN2
No. 15 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Miami (FL), 3:30, ESPN2
No. 14 Boston College vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech, 7:00, ESPN2

American Athletic First Round (in Memphis)
No. 10 South Florida vs. No. 7 Rutgers, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 9 UCF vs. No. 8 Temple, 9:30, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 First Round (in Brooklyn)
No. 13 Fordham vs. No. 12 George Mason, 7:00

Big East First Round (in New York)
No. 9 Butler vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, 7:00, Fox Sports 1
No. 10 DePaul vs. No. 7 Georgetown, 9:30, Fox Sports 1

Big 12 First Round (in Kansas City)
No. 9 Texas Tech vs. No. 8 Oklahoma State, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 10 TCU vs. No. 7 Baylor, 9:30, ESPN3

Conference USA Second Round (in El Paso, TX)
No. 10 North Texas vs. No. 7 Tulane, 2:00
No. 14 Marshall vs. No. 6 Old Dominion, 4:30
No. 12 East Carolina vs. No. 5 UTEP, 8:00
No. 9 Charlotte vs. No. 8 UAB, 10:30

MAC Second Round (in Cleveland)
No. 8 Miami (OH) vs. No. 5 Ohio, 6:30
No. 7 Northern Illinois vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 8 Howard vs. No. 1 North Carolina Central, 6:00
No. 7 Coppin State vs. No. 2 Hampton, 8:00

Mountain West First Round (in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center, campus of UNLV)
No. 9 Colorado State vs. No. 8 Utah State, 5:00
No. 10 Air Force vs. No. 7 Fresno State, 7:30
No. 11 San Jose State vs. No. 6 Boise State, 10:00

Pac 12 First Round (in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena)
No. 9 Washington vs. No. 8 Utah, 3:00, Pac 12 Network
No. 12 USC vs. No. 5 Colorado, 5:30, Pac 12 Network
No. 10 Oregon State vs. No. 7 Oregon, 9:00, Pac 12 Network
No. 11 Washington State vs. No. 6 Stanford, 11:30, Pac 12 Network

SEC First Round (in Atlanta)
No. 13 South Carolina vs. No. 12 Auburn, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 14 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Vanderbilt, 9:25, ESPN3

Southland First Round (in Katy, TX)
No. 8 Southeastern Louisiana vs. No. 5 Nicholls State, 6:00
No. 7 McNeese State vs. No. 6 Oral Roberts, 8:30

SWAC Quarterfinals (in Houston) (Ineligible teams marked with *)
No. 10 Grambling* vs. No. 2 Texas Southern, 1:30
No. 8 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 1 Southern University*, 9:00

The obvious games to keep an eye on are the Georgetown-DePaul game and all four Pac 12 games. All are looking for wins to either improve their seeding or just improve their tournament hopes.

Enjoy all the games today and get ready for a whole lot more movement in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three More Spots Filled, Gonzaga And BYU Set For Clash

Monday saw three more bids handed out, plus two West Coast teams all but wrapped up their spots in the field. More on that after the bracket.

The bracket has been adjusted slightly to reflect the news that Joel Embiid will miss the Big 12 tournament and is a "long shot" for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks are still a No. 2 seed, but a slip-up in Kansas City could drop Bill Self's club to a No. 3 seed.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's, Dayton, BYU
Last Four In: Arkansas, California, Nebraska, Tennessee
First Four Out: Xavier, Providence, Minnesota, Florida State
Next Four Out: St. John's, Georgetown, Missouri, Green Bay

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten
5: ACC, American
4: SEC
2: Big East, Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

We are now up to eight spots claimed in the NCAA Tournament as Delaware (Colonial), Manhattan (MAAC) and Wofford (Southern) won their respective conference tournaments Monday.

The Blue Hens knocked off William & Mary 75-74 as Carl Baptiste scored what turned out to be the game-winning layup with ten seconds left, capping a 7-0 run to end the game. A missed shot by Marcus Thornton sealed the victory for YouDee, starting the celebration on the court. On the other side, it was Heartbreak Hotel for the Tribe, as they were looking for their first Tournament berth ever. But they couldn't hang on to a six-point lead with just 80 seconds remaining. Baptiste led the way for the winners with 24 points and eight rebounds. Thornton had 22 in a losing effort (and wishes he had 24).

The classic rivalry in the Metro Atlantic did not disappoint, but it was the Jaspers beating their rivals Iona, 71-68, to punch their first ticket since 2004 and 7th all-time. The Gaels are now sent to the NIT, bringing the field to seven teams. George Beamon had 16 and eight boards and Rhamel Brown added 15 for the winners, who slotted right where Iona was in the seed list. Four Gaels scored double-figures, led by 15 for A.J. English.

In the third championship game, Wofford, the No. 3 seed in the SoCon tournament, knocked off pesky No. 5 Western Carolina, 56-53, as Karl Cochran scored 23, including five three-pointers. It's the third time in five seasons, and first time since 2011, that the Terriers are heading to the Dance. Leading the way for the Catamounts was Brandon Biggs with 17.

The MEAC tournament kicked off with a pair of first round games Monday. No. 4 Norfolk State defeated No. 13 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 78-74, and No. 5 Savannah State knocked off No. 12 South Carolina State, 61-47. The Spartans and Tigers will meet tomorrow in the quarterfinals with the winner to face top-seed North Carolina Central.

In the MAC, it was all chalk as all the home teams won. No. 5 Ohio (defeating No. 12 Ball State 76-64), No. 8 Miami (OH) (defeating No. 9 Kent State 71-64), No. 6 Eastern Michigan (defeating No. 11 Central Michigan 72-60) and No. 7 Northern Illinois (defeating No. 10 Bowling Green 54-51) advance to tomorrow's second round where the winners will move on to meet the three and four-seeds Buffalo and Akron in the quarterfinals. No. 1 Western Michigan and No. 2 Toledo await in the semifinals.

IPFW may be the last hope for the state of Indiana to get a team in the field, unless the Hoosiers somehow win the Big Ten tournament. The Mastodons knocked off South Dakota State, 64-60, to set up a championship match against No. 1 North Dakota State, who defeated Denver, 83-48, tonight.

In the West Coast, Gonzaga eased by Saint Mary's, 70-54 as David Stockton dropped 21 to lead the Bulldogs, setting up a championship game versus BYU, who needed overtime to defeat a very good San Francisco team, 79-77. Tyler Haws had 24 and both Kyle Collinsworth (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Eric Mika (11 points, ten rebounds) had double-doubles. This does not please other bubble teams, but I think these wins puts both teams in the Field of 68. The loser tonight will have to sweat a tad, but should hear their name called on Sunday.

By the end of tonight, we will be up to 12 teams officially in the field, as four more spots are up for grabs tonight. Plus plenty more conference tournament action, including what should be a very interesting SWAC tournament. Remember, the conference was given a waiver by the NCAA to allow all ten teams to participate, even though four of them are ineligible, including top-seeded Southern University. The automatic bid will be given to the eligible team that advances the furthest, or in the case of a tie, the higher seed. Here is the rundown.

Horizon League Championship (campus site)
No. 5 Milwaukee at No. 3 Wright State, 7:00, ESPN

Northeast Championship (campus site)
No. 4 Mount St. Mary's at No. 1 Robert Morris, 7:00, ESPN2

West Coast Championship (in Las Vegas)
No. 2 BYU vs. No. 1 Gonzaga, 9:00, ESPN

Summit League Championship (in Sioux Falls, SD)
No. 2 IPFW vs. No. 1 North Dakota State, 9:00, ESPN2

SWAC First Round (in Houston) (ineligible teams marked with *)
No. 10 Grambling* vs. No. 7 Jackson State, 1:30
No. 9 Mississippi Valley State* vs. No. 8 Prairie View A&M, 9:00

MEAC First Round (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 9 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 8 Howard, 4:00
No. 10 Bethune-Cookman vs. No. 7 Coppin State, 6:30
No. 11 Delaware State vs. No. 6 Florida A&M, 9:00

Conference USA First Round (in El Paso, TX)
No. 15 Rice vs. No. 10 North Texas, 5:30
No. 14 Marshall vs. No. 11 Florida Atlantic, 8:00
No. 13 Texas-San Antonio vs. No. 12 East Carolina

Today is likely the last day of slight changes to the bracket because tomorrow is the day many wait for. The big boy tournaments get underway, as the ACC, Pac-12. Mountain West, American Athletic, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big 12 and SEC all kick off their respective tournaments. Championship Week is finally here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shockers Perfect, Handful of Mid-Major No. 1s Fall

Wichita State pulls off a feat that hadn't been done in over two decades, while the NIT field continues to grow. More on that after the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's, Dayton, BYU
Last Four In: Arkansas, California, Nebraska, Tennessee
First Four Out: Xavier, Providence, Minnesota, Florida State
Next Four Out: St. John's, Georgetown, Missouri, Green Bay

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Atlantic 10, Big Ten
5: ACC, American
4: SEC
2: Big East, Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

I think it's safe to say the debate is over. Wichita State defeated Indiana State 83-69 to enter the NCAA Tournament 34-0. The Shockers are the first team to enter the Big Dance without a blemish on their record since UNLV in the 1991 NCAA Tournament. However, the Runnin' Rebels lost in the national semifinal to a Duke team they defeated by 30 to win the 1990 NCAA championship. As we all know, only Bobby Knight's 1976 Indiana club went the distance, winning the national title without a single loss.

Two Shockers posted 20-plus points, including one of the best players in the nation in Fred VanVleet, who dropped 22. Tekele Cotton also had 20. Leading the way for the Sycamores was a pair of 18-point performances by Justin Gant and Manny Arop. The Shockers are now all but assured of being the top seed in the Midwest region, meaning they'll be right back in St. Louis in a few weeks, assuming they escape the first weekend of the tournament.

The NIT is filling up quick as a host of No. 1 seeds all lost Sunday, including Florida Gulf Coast losing at home to Mercer in the Atlantic Sun championship, sending the Bears to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985. Vermont was knocked out of the America East tournament by No. 4 Albany, though the Catamounts were certainly at a disadvantage, having to play a road game as the top seed. Albany advances to Saturday's championship, where they will visit Stony Brook, who is in their third championship game in four seasons, but still looking for the elusive first trip to the NCAAs.

Bob McKillop will not be dancing this year. That's because his Davidson club was upset in overtime by Western Carolina, 99-97, to advance to the Southern Conference championship. These Catamounts will play Wofford in the title game.

Sunday also saw two other Dance tickets claimed besides Wichita, including the aforementioned Mercer, winning at Dunk City, 68-60. Four Bears scored double-figures, led by 15 apiece from Langston Hall and Anthony White Jr. The Bears were the preseason favorite and were able to win on the road in their final Atlantic Sun game, as they will join the Southern Conference next season. The Bears are likely either a 13 or 14-seed.

The third team claiming a spot Sunday is another one ending a long tournament drought. For the first time since 1993, Coastal Carolina is dancing, after they defeated Winthrop 76-61 to win the Big South. Warren Gillis had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the team that will arguably have the best nickname in the tournament, the Chanticleers. CCU will most likely have to win a game to get into the Round of 64, because with an RPI of 197, they're almost certainly headed to Dayton for the First Four.

In other tournament action, Iona and Manhattan won their respective semifinals to set up a third meeting between the New York schools for the Metro Atlantic championship. Delaware and William & Mary moved on to the Colonial tournament final, where the Tribe will be looking for their first tournament bid ever. W&M is one of just five original Division I schools to never play in the NCAAs. Delaware is looking for their first tournament appearance since 1999. And Denver and South Dakota State advanced to the Summit League semifinals, joining No. 1 seed North Dakota State and IPFW, who won on Saturday.

But that wasn't the only action Sunday, not by a long shot.

Maryland, in their final ACC home game, all but ended Virginia's hopes of a No. 1 seed, winning 75-69 in overtime, but not before Virginia pulled off an incredible final shot to force overtime. Seth Allen scored 20 and Dez Wells had 18 for the winners, while three UVA players scored double-digits, led by London Perrantes' 14. The Cavaliers are still firmly on the No. 2 line, but now behind Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Staying in the ACC, Syracuse seems to have righted the ship, winning at Florida State, 74-58, putting a dent in FSU's at-large hopes. The Seminoles will have to do some work in the ACC tournament, where they will be the No. 9 seed and open with No. 8 Maryland, who would love nothing more than to win their final ACC tournament. For the Orange, C.J. Fair led the way with 22 and Jerami Grant had 16 points and eight rebounds to help Jim Boeheim's team clinch the No. 2 seed in Greensboro.

Saint Louis won at Massachusetts to clinch the Atlantic 10 championship and Ohio State squeaked by Michigan State on Aaron Craft's Senior Night.

Two bubble teams were in action and posted very different results. St. Joseph's suffered a setback at home to La Salle, 71-63. The Hawks had a chance to be the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Instead, they will be the No. 4 seed, which sets up a potential huge, bubbly quarterfinal between them and Dayton. The loser of that one will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. VCU will be the 2-seed while George Washington is the three.

The winning bubble team yesterday was Nebraska, upsetting Wisconsin 77-68, as Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields each dropped 26 and Walter Pitchford added 15 for the Cornhuskers. Petteway ended up with a double-double and he also grabbed ten boards. The win puts the Huskers in the field as one of the last teams in. Nebraska hasn't danced since 1998. The win also gave Nebraska the No. 4 seed and a bye to the quarterfinals in the Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin had already locked up the No. 2 seed after Michigan State lost to Ohio State.

So after a wild final weekend that now already sees more teams clinch NIT bids than NCAA bids, the regular season is officially over and Championship Week has arrived (save for Tuesday's Penn-Princeton game). Monday will see three more bids handed out, two conferences with semifinal games and and two more conferences start their tournaments. Here is the rundown of games today.

Colonial Championship (in Baltimore)
No. 3 William & Mary vs. No. 1 Delaware, 7:00, NBC Sports Network

MAAC Championship (in Springfield, MA)
No. 2 Manhattan vs. No. 1 Iona, 7:00, ESPN3

Southern Championship (in Asheville, NC)
No. 5 Western Carolina vs. No. 3 Wofford, 9:00, ESPN2

Summit League Semifinals (Sioux Falls, SD)
No. 4 Denver vs. No. 1 North Dakota State, 7:00
No. 3 South Dakota State vs. No. 2 IPFW, 9:30

West Coast Semifinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 4 Saint Mary's vs. No. 1 Gonzaga, 9:00, ESPN
No. 3 San Francisco vs. No. 2 BYU, 11:30, ESPN2

MEAC First Round (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 13 Maryland-Eastern Shore vs. No. 4 Norfolk State, 6:30
No. 12 South Carolina State vs. No. 5 Savannah State, 9:30

MAC First Round (campus sites)
No. 12 Ball State at No. 5 Ohio, 7:00
No. 9 Kent State vs. No. 8 Miami (OH), 7:00
No. 11 Central Michigan at No. 6 Eastern Michigan, 7:30
No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 7 Northern Illinois, 8:00

Buckle your seatbelts. It's non-stop action from here until Selection Sunday. We'll cover it all right up until the brackets are revealed. It's going to be fun.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Eastern Kentucky Upsets Belmont, Villanova Rises To Top Line

Another ticket punched, which also sent another team to the NIT. Plus, a new team sits on the top line. More on that after the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Stanford, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Arkansas
Last Four In: BYU, Xavier, Tennessee, California
First Four Out: Nebraska, Providence, Florida State, Minnesota
Next Four Out: St. John's, Georgetown, Missouri, Green Bay

Conference Rundown:
7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Atlantic 10
5: ACC, American, Big Ten
4: SEC
3: Big East
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

For what seemed like forever, Belmont was a trendy upset pick in the Round of 64, only to disappoint all those who took that chance. This season, we don't even have to worry about Belmont because they will not be dancing this season. The Bruins were upset by Eastern Kentucky, 79-73, in the championship game of the Ohio Valley tournament. Corey Walden scored 29 points and Glenn Cosey had 23 as the Colonels clinched their first tournament berth since 2007. The loss sends the Bruins to the NIT.

Villanova posted a 77-59 over Georgetown as Darrun Hilliard II scored 19 points, one of five Wildcats to score double-digits. Markel Starks led the way for the Hoyas with 20. The loss is the 13th for JT3's club and with a likely 14th coming in the Big East tournament, an at-large bid may be hard to get, despite the five top-50 wins. Weighing down the Hoyas' resume is a season-sweep at the hands of Seton Hall, plus a November loss to Northeastern, who is outside the top-200 in the RPI, though the Huskies are in the Colonial semifinals. Also working against Georgetown is the fact that 2011 was the last time a team with 14 losses got an at-large bid, and that tournament saw five such teams.

As for Villanova, they now sit as the top seed in the East Region thanks to Kansas suffering their eighth loss of the season, a 92-86 loss to West Virginia, though the Jayhawks were without Joel Embiid. Three Mountaineers scored 20-plus, led by Eron Harris' 28. But the game turned into the Andrew Wiggins show, as the freshman sensation and potential No. 1 pick in June's NBA Draft scored 41 in a game where Bill Self's team trailed by as much as 25. No team has ever lost eight games and be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even seven was a stretch since only three teams prior (Michigan State in 2000 and 2012, Illinois in 2001) have been No. 1 seeds with that many losses.

Villanova is also helped by the fact that they won the Big East championship. As my good friend Chris Dobbertean of SB Nation researched, only ten teams since seeding began in 1979 were awarded a No. 1 seed without winning either the regular season or conference tournament title.

Tennessee all but popped Missouri's bubble, and in emphatic fashion, winning 72-45. The Tigers now likely have to win the SEC tournament, which would include beating Florida in the quarters. The Vols will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament, possibly facing Arkansas in the quarters.

Also in the SEC, Arkansas picked a bad time to return to their road woes, as the Razorbacks lost by 25 at Alabama. Arkansas is now just above the First Four, but cannot afford a slip-up in the SEC Tournament.

California's win over Colorado, coupled with Providence's loss to Creighton, moved the Golden Bears back into the field as the last team in. The Friars are now the second team out and face a crucial game against St. John's in the Big East quarterfinals. The loser is likely headed for the NIT.

Speaking of NIT, that's also where Green Bay is now likely headed after their surprising loss at home against Milwaukee in the Horizon Semifinals. The Phoenix do have a win against Virginia, but losing twice at home to Milwaukee, including in a round that wasn't the championship, will likely doom Green Bay. That, plus the other bubble teams have a full week to claim spots, while the Phoenix have to sit and wait. Wright State, as the higher seed, will now host the championship game, and is the current AQ holder.

In other action, San Diego State defeated New Mexico to win the Mountain West championship.

Lots of action today, including three more bids being handed out. Here's the rundown of conference tournament games.

Big South Championship (in Conway, SC)
No. 4S Winthrop vs. No. 1S Coastal Carolina, 12:00, ESPN2

Atlantic Sun Championship
No. 2 Mercer at No. 1 Florida Gulf Coast, 2:00, ESPN2

Missouri Valley Championship (in St. Louis)
No. 2 Indiana State vs. No. 1 Wichita State, 2:05, CBS

Colonial Semifinals (in Baltimore)
No. 5 Northeastern vs. No. 1 Delaware, 2:30, NBC Sports Network
No. 3 William & Mary vs. No. 2 Towson, 5:00, NBC Sports Network

MAAC Semifinals (in Springfield, MA)
No. 4 Canisius vs. No. 1 Iona, 4:30, ESPN3
No. 3 Quinnipiac vs. No. 2 Manhattan, 7:00, ESPN3

America East Semifinals (in Albany)
No. 4 Albany vs. No. 1 Vermont, 5:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Hartford vs. No. 2 Stony Brook, 7:30, ESPN3

Southern Semifinals (in Asheville, NC)
No. 5 Western Carolina vs. No. 1 Davidson, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 7 Georgia Southern vs. No. 3 Wofford, 8:30, ESPN3

Summit Quarterfinals (in Sioux Falls, SD)
No. 5 South Dakota vs. No. 4 Denver, 7:00
No. 6 Western Illinois vs. No. 3 South Dakota State, 9:30

The rest of the key games today...
Virginia at Maryland, 12:00, CBS
Syracuse at Florida State, 2:00, ESPN Full Court
Saint Louis at Massachusetts, 2:00, CBS Sports Network
La Salle at St. Joseph's, 4:00, CBS Sports Network
Michigan State at Ohio State, 4:30, CBS
Penn State at Minnesota, 5:15, Big Ten Network
Boston College at North Carolina State, 6:00, ESPNU
Wisconsin at Nebraska, 7:30, Big Ten Network

Florida State and Nebraska can move ever so closer to bracket, if not climb into the field, with wins today.

Today is the last day of the regular season. The bids will now be coming in fast and furious and the field will constantly change. Selection Sunday is just one week away. Stay tuned.