Thursday, March 10, 2016

Championship Week Thursday, Holy Cross Completes Amazing Run, Syracuse In Trouble

And we thought Austin Peay's run in the Ohio Valley was crazy.

In one of the craziest runs we've seen in a conference tournament, Holy Cross, who entered the Patriot League tournament at 10-19 overall (5-13 in conference) and the No. 9 seed in the field, won four straight road games, which included wins over the top two seeds, Bucknell and Lehigh.

Obviously, the Crusaders will be shipped to Dayton for the First Four, possibly against Fairleigh Dickinson. Those two teams have a combined 19 sub-200 RPI losses. But as we've seen in the past, those First Four games featuring the bottom four automatic qualifiers can turn into some of the more exciting games of the tournament. A potential FDU-Holy Cross matchup certainly can do that, as these teams are playing with house money.

With 19 losses, Holy Cross is dancing. With 13 losses, Syracuse might not.

The Orange lost to Pittsburgh for a third time on Wednesday in the second round of the ACC Tournament. Syracuse is now just inside the top 70 in the RPI, which is usually trouble for a team. And while the committee has said they will take Jim Boeheim's suspension into account, it's hard to see the Orange getting too much benefit of the doubt here because they've stumbled down the stretch with Boeheim on the sidelines. Granted, their three worst losses (at Georgetown, at St. John's, vs. Clemson) all came without Boeheim.

But as is stands, the Orange are now 4-9 against the top 50. Even if you remove the games Syracuse didn't have Boeheim, they're still 4-7 (removing the losses at Miami and Pittsburgh).

Right now, Syracuse is among the first four out and obviously don't have any more chances to improve their profile. And going one-and-done in D.C. certainly doesn't leave a good taste for the committee. As a result, Tulsa moved back into the field.

Also of note, Texas Tech was upset by TCU in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament. Tubby Smith's team is still very much in the tournament, but they're now likely to wear their road uniforms in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Let's see how the bracket now shapes up heading into Thursday's action.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Carolina, St. Bonaventure
Last Four In: Saint Mary's, Connecticut, Monmouth, Tulsa
First Four Out: VCU, Wichita State, Florida, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Michigan, Alabama, Valparaiso, Georgia Tech

Conference Rundown

Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 7
ACC - 6
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 5
American Athletic - 4
SEC - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
MAAC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 22

No more bids will be handed out until Saturday, when 14 will be at stake. But there's no shortage of action today, including the last of the conferences getting their tournaments underway in the AAC, Big West, Sun Belt and WAC.

Atlantic 10 Second Round (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 8 Fordham vs. No. 9 Richmond, 12:00, NBC Sports
No. 5 George Washington vs. No. 13 Saint Louis, 2:30, NBC Sports
No. 7 Rhode Island vs. No. 10 Massachusetts, 6:30, NBC Sports
No. 6 Davidson vs. No. 14 La Salle, 9:00, NBC Sports

ACC Quarterfinals (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh, 12:00, ESPN
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Duke, 2:00, ESPN
No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech, 7:00, ESPN
No. 3 Miami (FL) vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech, 9:00, ESPN

American Athletic First Round (in Orlando, FL)

No. 8 East Carolina vs. No. 9 South Florida, 3:30, ESPNU
No. 7 Central Florida vs. No. 10 Tulane, 6:00, ESPNews

Big 12 Quarterfinals (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Baylor, 12:30, ESPN2
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Kansas State, 2:30, ESPN2
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 10 TCU, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Iowa State, 9:00, ESPNU

Big East Quarterfinals (in New York, NY)

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 Georgetown, 12:00, FS1
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 Butler, 2:30, FS1
No. 2 Xavier vs. No. 7 Marquette, 7:00, FS1
No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Creighton, FS1

Big Sky Quarterfinals (in Reno, NV)

No. 1 Weber State vs. No. 8 Portland State, 3:05
No. 4 Idaho State vs. No. 5 North Dakota, 5:35
No. 2 Montana vs. No. 10 Sacramento State. 8:35
No. 3 Idaho vs. No. 6 Eastern Washington, 11:05

Big Ten Second Round (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Northwestern, 12:00, BTN
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Illinois, 2:25, BTN
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Penn State, 6:30, ESPN2
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Nebraska, 8:55, ESPN2

Big West Quarterfinals (in Anaheim, CA)

No. 4 UCSB vs. No. 5 UC Davis, 3:00
No. 1 Hawaii vs. No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, 5:30
No. 2 UC Irvine vs. No. 7 Cal Poly, 9:00
No. 3 Long Beach State vs. No. 6 UC Riverside, 11:30

Conference USA Quarterfinals (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 1 UAB vs. No. 8 Western Kentucky, 1:00
No. 4 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 5 Old Dominion, 3:30
No. 2 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 7 Charlotte, 7:00
No. 3 Marshall vs. No. 6 UTEP, 9:30

MAC Quarterfinals (in Cleveland, OH)

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 12:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Central Michigan vs. No. 12 Bowling Green, 2:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 7 Northern Illinois, 6:30, ESPN3
No. 3 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Miami (OH), 9:00, ESPN3

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 3 South Carolina State vs. No. 11 Coppin State, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Bethune-Cookman vs. No. 5 Savannah State, 8:30, ESPN3

Mountain West Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Utah State, 3:00, CBS Sports
No. 4 New Mexico vs. No. 5 Nevada, 5:30, CBS Sports
No. 2 Fresno State vs. No. 7 UNLV, 9:00, CBS Sports
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 6 Colorado State, 11:30, CBS Sports

Pac-12 Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Washington, 3:00, Pac-12
No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 5 Colorado, 5:30, Pac-12
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 7 USC, 9:00, Pac-12
No. 3 California vs. No. 6 Oregon State, 11:30, FS1

SEC Second Round (in Nashville, TN)

No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas, 1:00, SEC Network
No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Tennessee, 3:25, SEC Network
No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama, 7:00, SEC Network
No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Mississippi State, 9:25, SEC Network

Southland Quarterfinals (in Katy, TX)

No. 4 Houston Baptist vs. No. 5 Southeastern Louisiana, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Sam Houston State vs. No. 7 Nicholls State, 8:30, ESPN3

SWAC Quarterfinals (in Houston, TX)

No. 3 Jackson State vs. No. 6 Prairie View A&M, 3:30
No. 4 Southern vs. No. 5 Alabama State, 9:30

Sun Belt First Round (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 5 Georgia Southern vs. No. 8 South Alabama, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Georgia State vs. No. 7 Texas State, 8:30, ESPN3

WAC Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 4 Utah Valley vs. No. 5 UMKC, 5:00
No. 2 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 7 Chicago State, 7:30
No. 3 Seattle vs. No. 6 Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 10:00

A lot of action to take in. Enjoy the games and enjoy your Thursday. We'll meet back here tomorrow as things really start to take shape with just a few days left before Selection Sunday.

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