Friday, December 1, 2017

Recapping the first month of the regular season

November is just about in the books and it was an action-packed month with surprises and early disappointments all around. Teams are already building their tournament resume, while others have a lot of work to do. Let's look back at the month that was in college basketball.

The SEC is more than just Florida and Kentucky

One of the biggest surprises of the early portion of the season was the quick rise of Texas A&M, who vaulted into the AP Top 10 this week thanks to their impressive 6-0 start, which includes a dominant win over West Virginia in Germany and a 16-point win at USC. The Aggies are making it very well-known that they will be a force in the SEC. Five Aggies currently average double-digit points and they're shooting almost 42 percent from 3-point range. A very impressive start. One more quality non-conference game awaits them on Tuesday when they take on Arizona in Phoenix.

Trouble in Tuscon?

Speaking of Arizona, what a rough start for Sean Miller's team. After three blowouts to start the season, the Wildcats went down to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, where the prevailing thought was they would meet up with Villanova in the championship round. Oops. That didn't exactly happen. Arizona dropped a 90-84 decision to North Carolina State in the opening round, then lost 66-60 to SMU before being hammered by Purdue, 89-64, to finish 0-3 in the tournament. That result dropped them from No. 2 in the AP Poll to out of the poll entirely.

They just bounced back with a whipping of Long Beach State and can build their profile right back up with a road game at UNLV and then meetings with Texas A&M and Alabama after that. Plus, the Pac-12 will provide more chances for good wins.

By the way, Villanova defeated Northern Iowa in the championship.

Power Plays aren't just for hockey

In one of the weirdest scenes we've seen in sometime, the Alabama Crimson Tide played the final ten minutes of their game against Minnesota shorthanded. A brawl during the game led to Alabama players coming off the bench and getting in the middle of the action. Five players were ejected from the game and the technical called on Dazon Ingram was his fifth personal, so he fouled out. Then John Petty left the game with an ankle injury. That left Alabama to play 5-on-3. And they almost won.

After trailing by as many as 14, freshman Collin Sexton nearly did the impossible and almost rallied the team back. The rally fell short, but the fact that Alabama only lost by five, behind a 40-point performance from Sexton, is nothing short of amazing. In fact, the Tide moved up one spot in the AP Poll, even after that loss, from No. 25 to No. 24.

PK80 is major success

After years of planning, the Phil Knight Invitational was a rousing success. 16 Nike-sponsored schools were split into two eight-team brackets (since NCAA rules prohibit multiple teams from a conference to play in the same bracket). It was one of the most star-studded fields we've seen and it saw a pair of championship games that gave Portland, Oregon a Final Four-like atmosphere. Even before the two championship games, we saw a thriller between Florida and Gonzaga, a 111-105 double-overtime victory for the Gators.

As for the Championship Rounds, Michigan State's defense completely shut down North Carolina, as the Tar Heels didn't even reach 50 points in the game and shot under 25 percent from the floor, as the Spartans won, 63-45, to claim the Victory Bracket Championship. Over in the Motion Bracket, Florida led by as many as 17 with under ten minutes to play before Duke made a ferocious comeback to defeat the Gators, 87-84. Marvin Bagley III had 30 points and 15 rebounds to lead the charge.

With wins over Michigan State and Florida already under their belt, Duke is already making a charge at the overall No. 1 seed in March. And Michigan State followed up their PK80 championship with an 81-63 beating of No. 5 Notre Dame (who defeated Wichita State to claim the championship in Maui) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Speaking of which...

ACC Dominates Big Ten in annual get-together

Michigan State beat up on Notre Dame to claim a victory for the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the conference, that was one of only three victories the Big Ten scored in this year's challenge, as the ACC dominated the three-day event. The other two victories were Purdue over Louisville (a nice bounceback for the Boilermakers after their showing in the Bamahas) and Nebraska over Boston College.

The other 11 games went in favor of the ACC including Georgia Tech's buzzer-beater to defeat Northwestern (who is off to a slow start at 4-3, missing opportunities for wins, having also lost to Creighton and Texas Tech), Virginia using their stingy defense to beat Wisconsin, holding them under 40 points, North Carolina over Michigan, Duke over Indiana (who hung in tough for a while with the Blue Devils) and Miami with a very good resume-building win over Minnesota.

Getting through November unscathed

As the calendar turns to December, 17 teams remain undefeated. Those teams are Arizona State, Cincinnati, Colorado, Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, Kansas, Miami, Mississippi State, Nevada, Syracuse, TCU, Texas A&M, Valparaiso, Villanova, Virginia and Washington State.

Among this group, another surprise resides in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils' 6-0 start includes a 16-point win over Xavier in Las Vegas. Early on, the Sun Devils look like they could compete with the upper echelon of the Pac-12. The Sun Devils will really be tested on December 10 when they invade Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks.

Fellow Pac-12 member Washington State claimed the Wooden Legacy, defeating Saint Mary's and San Diego State along the way. (Saint Mary's also lost to Georgia in a consolation game.) The Cougars also host Kansas State on December 20 before conference play begins.

Also keep an eye on Nevada. The Wolf Pack have been very impressive early, including defeating a good Rhode Island team. They've got two big games upcoming at Texas Tech and against TCU in Los Angeles. They've got a chance to build themselves a solid at-large case, in case things go awry in the Mountain West.

A look ahead

December looks to be another good month of action, starting Friday when Gonzaga takes on Creighton in a battle of AP Top 25 teams. Then Saturday sees the old rivalry in Cincinnati as the Bearcats host Xavier, Wichita State visits Baylor and USC is at SMU. You've also got a battle of unbeatens in Miami as Kansas takes on Syracuse. Sunday will see Seton Hall, fresh off their win over Texas Tech, visit Louisville.

And due to the tournament being pushed up, Big Ten play actually begins today with Purdue at Maryland and Illinois at Northwestern. Then tomorrow, it's Indiana at Michigan, Penn State at Iowa and Ohio State at Wisconsin. On Sunday, Northwestern at Purdue, Nebraska and Michigan State, Rutgers at Minnesota and Maryland at Illinois. Monday, you have Michigan at Ohio State, Wisconsin at Penn State and Iowa at Indiana. Finally on Tuesday to wrap up the first week before the action gets back at it later this month, Michigan State at Rutgers and Minnesota at Nebraska.

Other notable non-conference games to look forward to: Louisville at Kentucky (Dec. 29), Villanova vs. Gonzaga in New York (Dec. 5), UCLA vs. Kentucky (Dec. 23), Texas at VCU (Dec. 5), Kentucky at West Virginia (Jan. 27), Cincinnati vs. Florida (Dec. 9), Cincinnati at UCLA (Dec. 16), Virginia Tech at Kentucky (Dec. 16), Virginia at West Virginia (Dec. 5), SMU at TCU (Dec. 5), Oklahoma vs. USC in Los Angeles (Dec. 8), Oklahoma at Wichita State (Dec. 16), Florida State at Florida (Dec. 4), Georgia Tech at Georgia (Dec. 19), Baylor at Florida (Jan. 27), Alabama vs. Texas in Birmingham (Dec. 22)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Basketball is back, first 2018 bracket

The long wait is finally over. The 2017-18 college basketball season officially tips off today, including defending national champion North Carolina in action against Missouri Valley Conference contender Northern Iowa. So without further ado, here is your first bracket for the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Last Four Byes: Maryland, North Carolina State, Florida State, Michigan
Last Four In: UCF, Iowa, Kansas State, St. Bonaventure
First Four Out: Oregon, VCU, Georgia Tech, San Diego State

Conference Rundown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big 12 - 8
SEC - 5
American - 4
Big East - 4
Pac-12 - 3
Atlanta 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

November brackets are always a random mess, but a fun exercise nonetheless. And we won't have to wait long for big-time games. The Champions Classic on Tuesday pits Duke against Michigan State and Kentucky against Kansas. So enjoy the opening weekend of the college season and stay tuned for bracket updates all through the season.

And a friendly reminder that the Bracket Matrix is once again up and running. This will be year number seven already for me. How fast time goes. Here's hoping my good run continues.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Big Ten announces 20-game schedule for 2018-19

In a statement released Thursday, the Big Ten announced they have approved a change to the conference schedule, increasing the numbers of men's games from 18 to 20 and increasing the number of women's games from 16 to 18, starting with the 2018-19 basketball season.

The new schedule format for the men will see each team play seven opponents twice and six opponents once (three home, three away). The new schedule allows more in-state and regional games to be scheduled every year. The current 18-game schedule sees each team play five opponents twice and eight opponents once, which will be the new scheduling format for the women when they transition to the 18-game schedule.

The three in-state rivalries (Northwestern-Illinois, Indiana-Purdue and Michigan-Michigan State) will be played twice every season and regional games will also see an increase in frequency.

Perhaps this means more meetings between Ohio State and Penn State or Nebraska and Iowa, for example.

For 2017-18, the three in-state rivalries will only be played once each, with Purdue visiting Indiana, Northwestern hosting Illinois and Michigan at Michigan State.

The Big Ten will announce at a later date the schedule of opponents for 2018-19.

Here's each team's list of double opponents for 2017-18.

Illinois: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State

Iowa: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State

Maryland: Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue

Michigan: Iowa, Maryland, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue

Michigan State: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Minnesota: Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue

Nebraska: Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Northwestern: Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin

Ohio State: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers

Penn State: Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State

Purdue: Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Rutgers: Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue

Wisconsin: Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Coaches Poll Unveiled, Duke No. 1

With just 22 days until the start of the regular season on November 10, it's time to start gearing up for the upcoming college hoops season (and wake this blog back up from its slumber).

On Thursday, the preseason USA Today coaches poll was revealed and, to the surprise of no one, Duke is the No. 1 team in the land. They are, without question, the most-talented team in the country, especially after landing Marvin Bagley III. They have a boatload of other talented freshmen coming in, including Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr. and Wendall Carter and they still have Grayson Allen, a strong contender for ACC Player of the Year.

The Blue Devils received 20 of the 32 first-place votes to claim the top spot in the polls.

After a rough season that saw them earn just a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, though they did defeat Miami in the first round and gave Kansas a bit of a run in round two, Michigan State is back with heavy expectations, especially after getting Miles Bridges back, who likely could've been a lottery pick had be declared for the NBA Draft. The Spartans have a ton of depth and will be squarely in the mix early for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tom Izzo's team begins the seasons ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll, receiving nine first-place votes. And by the way, Duke plays Michigan State in the Champions Classic on November 14.

Another year, another high rank for the Kansas Jayhawks, who enter the polls at No. 3.It doesn't matter who they lose, Bill Self is always reloading. Frank Mason is gone but DeVonte' Graham will run the show in Lawrence and likely lead the Jayhawks to their 13th consecutive Big 12 championship and possibly another NCAA No. 1 seed.

Same can be said for No. 4 Kentucky. It's simply another strong recruiting class for John Calipari with seemingly a ton of five-star recruits. And Calipari knows how to coach and make them all work. They'll have size and a lot of it. Boy, that game on November 14 between Kansas and Kentucky is going to be a doozy. Which means the Champions Classic will feature the top four teams in the land.

Rounding out the top five is Pac-12 favorite Arizona, who received two first-place votes. Sean Miller has another talented crew coming back, including three returning starters and some good incoming freshmen. But the FBI investigation surrounding college basketball could also target the Wildcats as one of Miller's former assistants, Book Richardson, was arrested last month. We'll see if anything comes of it out of Tuscon.

Rounding out the top ten are Villanova, Florida (who received the lone remaining first-place vote), American Athletic Conference newcomer Wichita State (who returns basically everybody), defending national champion North Carolina and West Virginia.

The full preseason top 25, with first-place votes in parenthesis:

1. Duke (20)
2. Michigan State (9)
3. Kansas
4. Kentucky
5. Arizona (2)
6. Villanova
7. Florida (1)
8. Wichita State
9. North Carolina
10. West Virginia
11. USC
12. Miami (FL)
13. Cincinnati
14. Notre Dame
15. Minnesota
16. Louisville
17. Xavier
18. UCLA
19. Gonzaga
20. Northwestern
21. Purdue
22. Saint Mary's
23. Seton Hall
24. Baylor
25. Alabama

Others receiving votes:

Texas A&M, Virginia, Butler, Missouri, TCU, Rhode Island, Providence, Wisconsin, Maryland, Oakland, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oregon, SMU, Creighton, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Arkansas, Florida State, South Carolina, Nevada

What do you think? Who are your top teams? Which ranked team will fall? What teams not ranked will climb and make some noise?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Final Bracket

This was my eighth year doing brackets and seventh year in the Bracket Matrix and each year is as fun as the last. Thanks as always for joining me on this journey and I hope you enjoy the tournament and may your favorite team have a favorable draw.

Here now is my final bracket.

Last Four Byes: Oklahoma State,Xavier, Vanderbilt, Providence 
Last Four In: Wake Forest, Marquette, USC, Kansas State
First Three Out: Illinois State, Syracuse, Texas-Arlington

Selection Sunday Is Here

We finally made it to another Selection Sunday. Just hours separate us from finally seeing the field of 68. As we enter the final six games before the selection show, here's your next-to-last bracket of the season.

Last Four Byes: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Providence, Wake Forest
Last Four In: Marquette, USC, Kansas State, Rhode Island
Next Three Out: Illinois State, Syracuse, Texas-Arlington

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

And here is today's championship schedule.

Ivy League Championship

No. 1 Princeton vs. No. 3 Yale, 12:00, ESPN

Atlantic 10 Championship

No. 2 VCU vs. No. 4 Rhode Island, 12:30, CBS

SEC Championship

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 1:00, ESPN

Sun Belt Championship

No. 4 Texas State vs, No. 6 Troy, 2:00, ESPN2

Big Ten Championship

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Michigan, 3:00, CBS

AAC Championship

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 2 Cincinnati, 3:15, ESPN

Selection Show starts at 6:00 on CBS so expect my final bracket around 5:30. Enjoy the games today.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Championship Week Saturday

It's the busiest day of Championship Week as 14 conferences crown their champions today and 13 automatic bids are handed out since Texas Southern has claimed the SWAC auto-bid by virtue of Alcorn State being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. A rundown of all the championship games follows the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, USC
Last Four In: Providence, Marquette, Kansas State, Rhode Island
First Six Out: Illinois State, Illinois, California, Indiana, Iowa, Syracuse

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

America East Championship

No. 3 Albany at No. 1 Vermont, 11:00 a.m., ESPN2

ACC Championship

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Duke, 9:00, ESPN

Big 12 Championship

No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa State, 6:00, ESPN

Big East Championship

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 6 Creighton, 5:30, FOX

Big Sky Championship

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 3 Weber State, 8:30, ESPNU

Big West Championship

No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 2 UC Davis, 11:30, ESPN2

Conference USA Championship

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 6 Marshall, 8:30, CBSSN

Pac-12 Championship

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 Arizona, 11:00, ESPN

MAC Championship

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 6 Kent State, 7:30, ESPN2

Mountain West Championship

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 2 Colorado State, 6:00, CBS

MEAC Championship

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 2 Norfolk State, 1:00, ESPN2

Southland Championship

No. 1 New Orleans vs. No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 9:30, ESPN2

SWAC Championship

No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 2 Alcorn State, 6:30, ESPNU

WAC Championship

No. 1 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 2 New Mexico State, 11:00, ESPNU

AAC Semifinals

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 4 UCF, 3:00, ESPN2
No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 6 Connecticut, 5:00, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 Semifinals

No. 4 Rhode Island vs. No. 9 Davidson, 1:00, CBSSN
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 3 Richmond, 3:30, CBSSN

Big Ten Semifinals

No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 8 Michigan, 1:00, CBS
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Northwestern, 3:30, CBS

Ivy League Semifinals

No. 1 Princeton vs. No. 4 Penn, 1:30, ESPNU
No. 2 Harvard vs. No. 3 Yale, 4:00, ESPNU

Sun Belt Semifinals

No. 1 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 4 Texas State, 12:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Georgia State vs. No. 6 Troy, 3:00, ESPN3

SEC Semifinals

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Alabama, 1:00, ESPN
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt, 3:25, ESPN

Friday, March 10, 2017

Championship Week Friday

It was a great day for Big 12 bubble teams, while at the same time a not-so-great day for Big Ten bubble teams. We'll discuss that and more after a look at the updated bracket, which has plenty of changes.

Last Four Byes: Xavier, Wake Forest, USC, Providence
Last Four In: Marquette, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Rhode Island
First Four Out: Illinois State, Illinois, California, Indiana
Next Six Out: Iowa, Syracuse, Georgia, TCU, Ole Miss, Houston

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

On the Big 12 side, Kansas State scored a huge win over Baylor to advance to the Big 12 semifinals where they'll meet West Virginia. The Wildcats were already sitting just above the cut line and beating a top-ten RPI team for the second time, this time in the conference tournament, with this at-large pool, might just be enough to push them into the field, even if they have to start in Dayton. This gives K-State four top-50 wins and six top-100 wins. The negative is the weak non-conference schedule, ranked 227th, though it would gain some luster if Colorado State wins the Mountain West tournament,

TCU kept their at-large hopes alive by upsetting top-seed Kansas, who was without a suspended Josh Jackson. This was the Frogs' third top-50 win but only their fourth top-100 win. To put their entire resume in perspective, they have just one more top-100 win than they do sub-100 losses, four versus three, as they've lost at Texas Tech and Oklahoma and home against Auburn. TCU likely needs to win the Big 12 tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. TCU takes on Iowa State tonight in the semifinals.

As for the Big Ten, Illinois and Iowa did themselves no favors, losing badly to Michigan and Indiana, respectively. The Hawkeyes were on the outside to being with, but the Illini may have played themselves out. After beating Northwestern, the lasting memory Illinois gave is losing at Rutgers and losing by 20 to a Michigan team that didn't arrive in D.C. until three hours before tip-off and had to wear their practice jerseys for the game. The Illini look NIT-bound.

Indiana, on the other hand, has played their way back onto the bubble, though their mid-season stretch is still holding them back, despite the wins over Kansas and North Carolina. Don't forget that those wins sandwiched a bad loss against IPFW. Nebraska falling outside the RPI top-100 doesn't help matters either. The Hoosiers may be in the same position as TCU, probably needing the automatic bid to get in. They meet Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

Also scoring a big win and securing their spot in the field is Xavier, after they knocked off second-seeded Butler in the Big East quarterfinals. The Musketeers ended their skid at just the right time, setting up a semifinal meeting with Creighton. They're likely going to be a double-digit seed, but this should them avoid playing in Dayton next week.

Moving into the field, replacing Illinois, is Rhode Island, who was a preseason top-25 team. The Rams are still hanging their hat on their win over Cincinnati and also beat VCU at the end of the season. The sport a top-50 RPI and gained three top-100 wins thanks to George Washington and Davidson moving in. They'll play St. Bonaventure today in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals.

We're getting closer to filling out the field. Championship matchups will be determined tonight, while other conferences enter their quarterfinal round. Here's your rundown for today.

AAC Quarterfinals

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 9 East Carolina, 12:00, ESPN2
No. 4 UCF vs. No. 5 Memphis, 2:30, ESPN2
No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Tulsa, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 6 Connecticut, 9:30, ESPNU

ACC Semifinals

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Duke, 7:00, ESPN
No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, 9:30, ESPN

Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

No. 1 Dayton vs. No. 9 Davidson, 12:00, NBCSN
No. 4 Rhode Island vs. No. 5 St. Bonaventure, 2:30, NBCSN
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 7 George Mason, 6:00, NBCSN
No. 3 Richmond vs. No. 6 George Washington, 8:30, NBCSN

Big 12 Semifinals

No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 8 TCU, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Kansas State, 9:30, ESPN2

Big East Semifinals

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 5 Seton Hall, 6:30, FS1
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 7 Xavier, 9:00, FS1

Big Sky Semifinals

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 4 Idaho, 8:35
No. 2 Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 Weber State, 11:05

Big Ten Quarterfinals

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan, 12:00, ESPN
No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Michigan State, 2:25, ESPN
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Indiana, 6:30, BTN
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 6 Northwestern, 8:55, BTN

Big West Semifinals

No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 Long Beach State, 9:30, ESPN3
No. 2 UC Davis vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton, 12:00

Conference USA Semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 4 UTEP, 12:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 6 Marshall, 3:00, CBSSN

MAC Semifinals

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 4 Ball State, 5:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 6 Kent State, 8:00 CBSSN

MEAC Semifinals

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 11 Howard, 8:00, ESPN3

Mountain West Semifinals

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 4 Fresno State, 10:00, CBSSN
No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 6 San Diego State, 12:00

Pac-12 Semifinals

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 5 California, 9:00, Pac-12 Network
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 3 UCLA, 11:30, Pac-12 Network

SEC Quarterfinals

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Georgia, 1:00, SECN
No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Alabama, 3:25, SECN
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt. 7:00, SECN
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 6 Ole Miss, 9:25, SECN

Southland Semifinals

No. 1 New Orleans vs. No. 5 Sam Houston State, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. No. 3 Stephen F. Austin, 8:30, ESPN3

Sun Belt Quarterfinals

No. 1 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 8 Coastal Carolina, 12:30
No. 4 Texas State vs. No. 12 Louisiana-Monroe, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Georgia State vs. No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Georgia Southern vs. No. 6 Troy, 8:30, ESPN3

SWAC Semifinals

No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 5 Grambling, 3:30
No. 2 Alcorn State vs. No. 3 Southern University, 9:30

WAC Semifinals

No. 1 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 4 Utah Valley, 9:00
No. 2 New Mexico State vs. No. 3 UMKC, 11:30, ESPN3

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Championship Week Thursday

There was plenty of bubble action in the middle of Championship Week. Some teams saw their hopes dashed, others have to sit and wait as they are truly on the fence. We'll dig into that after that bracket.

Last Four Byes: USC, Providence, Michigan State, Marquette
Last Four In: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Illinois
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: California, Georgia, TCU, Indiana

Conference Breakdown:

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

A trio of ACC bubble teams took the floor on Wednesday for the second round matchups. All three of them suffered defeats. The opening game saw Syracuse fall to Miami, then Clemson fell short against Duke and Wake Forest lost a shootout to Virginia Tech.

Of these teams, the Demon Deacons are in the best position and are probably still in the tournament despite the loss. They still sit with a top-40 RPI, plus the three top-50 wins.

Clemson's hopes are dashed. While they boast four top-50 RPI wins, they dug themselves too big of a hole going 6-12 in ACC play and couldn't show enough in Brooklyn to warrant discussion.

The team on the fence here is Syracuse. The Orange have six top-50 wins, which is fantastic. However, they have 14 total losses, including an ugly loss to Boston College. And they would easily be the lowest-rated RPI team to grab an at-large bid. Their RPI rank is currently 84th. No team ranked worse than 67th since the RPI formula change in 2005 has been selected by the committee to participate in the NCAA Tournament. But we've also seen the committee slowly phase the RPI out. St. Bonaventure was left out last season despite a top-30 RPI.

After a slow start and actually trailing by one at the half, Xavier rolled in the second half to avoid a disastrous loss to DePaul. The Musketeers should be in the field now but are still in line to play in Dayton. They can move up if they upset Butler. USC also helped themselves by holding serve against Washington. They get a shot at UCLA in the quarterfinals.

One team that doesn't have to worry is Bucknell, as the Bison pulled the double-dip, winning the Patriot League tournament along with the regular season title. The Bison look solidly on the 13-line.

No more bids will be handed out until the busiest Saturday of the season when 14 tickets will be punched. But that doesn't mean there's no action. Teams are still jockeying for position and more bubble teams are in action.

AAC First Round

No. 8 Temple vs. No. 9 East Carolina, 3:30
No. 7 Tulsa vs. No. 10 Tulane, 6:00
No. 6 Connecticut vs. No. 11 South Florida, 8:00

ACC Quarterfinals

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Miami, 12:00
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Duke, 2:00
No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech, 7:00
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 6 Virginia, 9:00

Atlantic 10 Second Round

No. 8 La Salle vs. No. 9 Davidson, 12:00
No. 5 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 12 Massachusetts, 2:30
No. 7 George Mason vs. No. 10 Fordham, 6:00
No. 6 George Washington vs. No. 11 Saint Louis, 8:30

Big 12 Quarterfinals

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

Big East Quarterfinals

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 St, John's, 12:00
No. 4 Marquette vs. No. 5 Seton Hall, 2:30
No. 2 Butler vs. No. 7 Xavier, 7:00
No. 3 Providence vs. No. 6 Creighton, 9:30

Big Ten Second Round

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Illinois, 12:00
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Penn State, 2:25
No. 7 Iowa vs, No. 10 Indiana, 6:30
No. 6 Northwestern vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 8:55

Big Sky Quarterfinals

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 8 Portland State, 3:05
No. 4 Idaho vs. No. 5 Montana, 5:35
No. 2 Eastern Washington vs. No. 7 Sacramento State, 8:35
No. 3 Weber State vs. No. 11 Southern Utah, 11:05

Big West Quarterfinals

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

Conference USA Quarterfinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 9 Texas-San Antonio, 12:30
No. 4 UTEP vs. No. 5 Rice, 3:00
No. 2 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 7 UAB, 6:30
No. 3 Old Dominion vs. No. 6 Marshall, 9:00

MAC Quarterfinals

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 12:00
No. 4 Ball State vs. No. 5 Western Michigan, 2:30
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 7 Toledo, 6:30
No. 3 Buffalo vs. No. 6 Kent State, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals

No. 3 Morgan State vs. No. 11 Howard, 6:00
No. 4 Hampton vs. No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 8:00

Mountain West Quarterfinals

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 8 Utah State, 3:00
No. 4 Fresno State vs. No. 5 New Mexico, 5:30
No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 10 Air Force, 9:00
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 6 San Diego State, 11:30

Pac-12 Quarterfinals

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

SEC Second Round

No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 Tennessee, 1:00
No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 12 Mississippi State, 3:25
No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Texas A&M, 7:00
No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 14 Missouri, 9:25

Southland Quarterfinals

No. 4 Houston Baptist vs. No. 5 Sam Houston State, 6:00
No. 3 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 6 Lamar, 8:30

WAC Quarterfinals

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Championship Week Wednesday

Apologies for no update yesterday, but we're back today with 11 total teams now i the field, including Northern Kentucky, who made the dance in their first year of eligibility.

The current list of automatic qualifiers:

Atlantic Sun - Florida Gulf Coast
Big South - Winthrop
Colonial - UNC Wilmington
Horizon - Northern Kentucky
MAAC - Iona
Missouri Valley - Wichita State
Northeast - Mount St. Mary's
Ohio Valley - Jacksonville State
Southern - East Tennessee State
Summit - South Dakota State
West Coast - Gonzaga

After scrubbing the field some more, here's your updated bracket with five days to go.

Last Four Byes: USC, Providence, Michigan State, Marquette
Last Four In: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Illinois
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Clemson, California, Georgia, TCU

Conference Breakdown:

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

Procedural Bumps: Xavier / Vanderbilt up from 11 to 10, Wake Forest from 10 to 11

One more automatic bid is up for grabs tonight in the Patriot League, along with plenty of other tournament action as more Power Six conference tournaments get underway. Here's your full list of games today.

Patriot League Championship

No. 3 Lehigh at No. 1 Bucknell, 7:30, CBSSN

ACC Second Round (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Miami, 12:00, ESPN
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Clemson, 2:00, ESPN
No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Wake Forest, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 6 Virginia vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh, 9:00, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 First Round (in Pittsburgh, PA)

No. 12 Massachusetts vs. No. 13 Saint Joseph's, 6:00
No. 11 Saint Louis vs. No. 14 Duquesne, 8:30

Big 12 First Round (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 7 Texas Tech vs. No. 10 Texas, 9:00, ESPNU

Big East First Round (in New York, NY)

No. 8 St. John's vs. No. 9 Georgetown, 7:00, FS1
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 DePaul, 9:30, FS1

Big Ten First Round (in Washington, D.C)

No. 12 Nebraska vs. No. 13 Penn State, 4:30, ESPN2
No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 7:00, Big Ten Network

Conference USA First Round (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 8 Western Kentucky vs. No. 9 Texas-San Antonio, 12:30
No. 5 Rice vs. No. 12 Southern Miss, 3:00
No. 7 UAB vs. No. 10 Charlotte, 6:30
No. 6 Marshall vs. No. 11 Florida Atlantic, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 9 Bethune-Cookman, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 7 South Carolina State, 8:00, ESPN3

Mountain West First Round (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 San Jose State, 2:00
No. 7 Wyoming vs. No. 10 Air Force, 4:30
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 UNLV, 7:00

Pac-12 First Round (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 8 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Stanford, 3:00,  Pac-12 Network
No. 5 California vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 5:30, Pac-12 Network
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 10 Washington State, 9:00, Pac-12 Network
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Washington, 11:30, Pac-12 Network

SEC First Round (in Nashville, TN)

No. 12 Mississippi State vs. No. 13 LSU, 7:00, SECN
No. 11 Auburn vs. No. 14 Missouri, 9:25, SECN

Southland First Round (in Katy, TX)

No. 5 Sam Houston State vs. No. 8 Central Arkansas, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Lamar vs. No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana, 8:30, ESPN3

Sun Belt First Round (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 8 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 9 South Alabama, 12:30, ESPN3
No. 5 Arkansas State vs. No. 12 Louisiana-Monroe, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 10 Arkansas-Little Rock, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Troy vs. No. 11 Appalachian State, 8:30, ESPN3

Monday, March 6, 2017

Championship Week Monday

As we enter Championship Week and the final week before Selection Sunday, four teams have officially punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Wichita State (Missouri Valley), Winthrop (Big South) and Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) can sit back and relax, knowing their name will be called come Sunday. Particularly Wichita State, who would've had to sweat again had they lost, though they might have looked the part for an at-large anyway. In any event, they do not have to worry, as they have the automatic bid. It's the team they defeated to win the Valley that will have to sweat out the week. More on that after the bracket.

Last Four Byes: USC, Michigan State, Xavier, Wake Forest
Last Four In: Marquette, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Kansas State
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: California, Georgia, Ole Miss, TCU

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

Both Wichita State and Illinois State had at-large cases, so it made for a dramatic final. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, they lost by 20 and now leave their fate in the committee's hands. ISU owns just one top-50 win, January 14 against Wichita State, Their only other top-100 win was back on December 3 against New Mexico. They do sit 34th on the RPI table. However, they also lost at Tulsa and at Murray State, the latter being ranked 232nd in RPI.

They're basically in the position Wichita was in last season, but you could argue the Shockers last year had a better profile than Illinois State does this year. Last year's Shockers also only had one top-50 win, but that was against a Utah team that was ranked No. 25 at the time and would eventually earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their best argument may just be their record, which sits at 26-6 (actually 27-6, but their team sheet will say 26-6, as the committee does not recognize non-Division I games, as one of their wins came against D-II Ferris State), and their high RPI.

One team Illinois State will likely be up against for the final few spots is Vanderbilt. The Commodores have 14 losses. While a group of teams have gotten at-large bids with 14 losses, mostly the group of five in 2011, no 15-loss team has ever been selected by the committee. That could change this season after Vandy pulled the season sweep of Florida to not only add another big top-50 win but stay at 14 losses. A loss would have made things very difficult by already sitting at 15 losses and likely getting No. 16 in the SEC Tournament.

In fact, the possibility is there for Vanderbilt to go 3-0 against Florida if they get past Texas A&M in the SEC's second round, as the win also moved them out of the 8/9 game, avoiding Kentucky. If the Dores can indeed beat Florida for the third time, even if they lose in the semifinals, likely against Arkansas, they may, in fact, receive an at-large bid despite losing 15 games.

Another bubble team from the state of Illinois went ahead and made a mess of things for themselves. Things were going well for them. They swept Northwestern, they just beat Michigan State and they were headed to Rutgers to get to 9-9 in Big Ten play and help their cause. And they go and lose. That puts the Illini at 8-10 in the conference, but they still own three top-50 wins, including a neutral-court win over VCU. But to feel a bit safer, they may need to win a game or two in the Big Ten tournament,

A few more automatic bids are up for grabs today. Here's your full list of games for today.

Colonial Championship

No. 1 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 2 College of Charleston, 7:00

MAAC Championship

No. 3 Iona vs. No. 4 Siena, 9:00

Southern Championship

No. 1 UNC Greensboro vs. No. 3 East Tennessee State, 7:00

America East Semifinals

No. 4 New Hampshire at No. 1 Vermont, 7:00
No. 3 Albany at No. 2 Stony Brook, 7:30

Horizon Semifinals

No. 4 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 9 Youngstown State, 7:00
No. 6 Illinois-Chicago vs. No. 10 Milwaukee, 9:30

MAC First Round

No. 11 Central Michigan at No. 6 Kent State, 7:00
No. 9 Northern Illinois at No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 7:00
No. 12 Miami (OH) at No. 5 Western Michigan, 7:30
No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 7 Toledo, 8:00

MEAC First Round

No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore vs. No. 12 North Carolina A&T, 5:00
No. 6 Coppin State vs. No. 11 Howard, 7:00

Summit Semifinals

No. 1 South Dakota vs. No. 4 South Dakota State, 7:00
No. 3 Omaha vs. No. 7 IUPUI, 9:30

West Coast Semifinals

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Santa Clara, 9:00
No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. No. 3 BYU, 11:30

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Final Regular Season Weekend Bracket

We've once again reached the final regular season weekend of the college basketball season. Conference tournaments are underway in the smaller conferences, with a few championship games set. The big boys wrap up their regular seasons this weekend and begin tournament play next weekend. The bracket is really starting to take shape, with plenty of movement and new teams joining the party and playing their way onto the bubble.

We'll detail some of the action after we take a look at the full bracket.

Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Michigan State, Xavier, Providence
Last Four In: Marquette, Wake Forest, Illinois, Kansas State
First Four Out: Vanderbilt, Iowa, Rhode Island, TCU
Next Five Out: Ohio State, California, Georgia, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
Pac-12 - 4
SEC - 4
AAC - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

One new team to the field is Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons grabbed a late-season signature win when they knocked off Louisville on Wednesday. That gives them two top-50 wins and they own a top-40 RPI. A win over Pittsburgh puts them at 9-9 in ACC play, which might be enough to push them into the field. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports wrote this great article about RPI and at-large bids.

One neat takeaway from this is that Cincinnati in 2006 is the only Big Six conference team to have a top-40 RPI since the formula change in 2005 and not receive an at-large bid. There's usually a surprise entrant into the field every year. Wake Forest could be that team this year.

RPI may not be the be-all, end-all, but history says a low RPI ranking will keep a team out. That's why teams like Syracuse and Georgia Tech are currently out. The Orange are 80th on the RPI table and the Yellow Jackets are 92nd. Since 2005, no team rated in the 70s or below has received an at-large bid. The two meet in what essentially amounts to an elimination game Saturday.

Poor conference records also tend to keep teams out. I wrote last week about how TCU really needed to beat either West Virginia or Kansas State. They lost both and now sit at 6-11 in the conference. That, plus an RPI in the 60s, is likely going to send the Frogs to the NIT.

This also helped make room for one of the great, late comeback stories in Illinois. The Illini have a top-60 RPI and five top-50 wins. They hold a neutral-court win over a VCU team that's top-25 in the RPI, as well as a sweep of Northwestern and, wins over Michigan and Michigan State. They are among the last four in.

A big weekend of hoops awaits us with just eight days until Selection Sunday. Here are the key games, starting with conference tournament action including the first official tournament bid being sent out.


Ohio Valley Championship

No. 2 Tennessee-Martin vs. No. 4 Jacksonville State, 8:00, ESPN2

Colonial Quarterfinals

No. 1 UNC-Wilmington vs. No. 9 Delaware, 12:00
No. 4 William & Mary vs. No. 5 Elon, 2:30
No. 2 College of Charleston vs. No. 7 James Madison, 6:00
No. 3 Towson vs. No. 6 Northeastern, 8:30

Horizon Quarterfinals

No. 1 Oakland vs. No. 9 Youngstown State, 5:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Valparaiso vs. No. 10 Milwaukee, 8:00, ESPN3

MAAC Quarterfinals

No. 3 Iona vs. No. 6 Rider, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Siena vs. No. 5 Fairfield, 9:30, ESPNU

Missouri Valley Semifinals

No. 1 Illinois State vs. No. 4 Southern Illinois, 3:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 6 Missouri State, 6:00, CBSSN

Northeast Semifinals

No. 3 Wagner vs. No. 4 St. Francis (PA), 12:00
No. 1 Mount St. Mary's vs. No. 7 Robert Morris, 2:00

Southern Conference Quarterfinals

No. 1 UNC-Greensboro vs. No. 9 The Citadel, 12:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Chattanooga vs. No. 5 Wofford, 2:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Furman vs. No. 7 Samford, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 East Tennessee State vs. No. 6 Mercer, 8:30, ESPN3

Summit Quarterfinals

No. 1 South Dakota vs. No. 8 Western Illinois, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 2 North Dakota State vs. No. 7 IUPUI, 9:30, ESPN3

West Coast Quarterfinals

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Loyola-Marymount, 4:00
No. 4 Santa Clara vs. No. 5 San Francisco, 6:00
No. 1 Gonzaga vs, No, 9 Pacific, 10:00, ESPN2
No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. No. 10 Portland, 12:00 a.m.

Other games

Pittsburgh at Virginia, 12:00, ACC Network
Kentucky at Texas A&M, 12:00, CBS
Villanova at Georgetown, 12:00
Illinois at Rutgers, 12:00, ESPNU
Providence at St. John's, 12:00
Indiana at Ohio State, 12:00, ESPN
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 1:00, ESPNews
Notre Dame at Louisville, 2:00, CBS
California at Colorado, 2:00, Pac-12 Network
Florida at Vanderbilt, 2:00, ESPN
Georgia at Arkansas, 2:00, ESPN2
George Mason at VCU, 2:00
Michigan State at Maryland, 2:00, Big Ten Network
Xavier at DePaul, 2:00
Creighton at Marquette, 2:30
Seton Hall at Butler, 2:30
TCU at Oklahoma, 3:00, ESPNews
Georgia Tech at Syracuse, 4:00, ACCN
Miami at Florida State, 4:00, ACCN
Arizona at Arizona State, 4:00, CBS
Memphis at SMU, 4:00, ESPN2
Baylor at Texas, 4:00, ESPN
Boston College at Clemson, 4:00, ACCN
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, 4:30, ACCN
Oregon at Oregon State, 6:00, ESPN2
Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee, 6:00, ESPN3
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 6:00, ESPN
Davidson at Rhode Island, 6:00
UC Davis at UC Irvine, 6:00
Washington at USC, 6:30, Pac-12 Network
Dayton at George Washington, 8:00, CBSSN
Colorado State at Nevada, 8:00, ESPN3
Duke at North Carolina, 8:00, ESPN
Texas-Arlington at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8:15, ESPN3
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 8:30, SECN
Washington State at UCLA, 10:15, ESPN

Sunday's Games

Atlantic Sun Championship

No. 1 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 North Florida, 3:00

Big South Championship

No. 1 Winthrop vs. No. 7 Campbell, 1:00

Missouri Valley Championship, 2:00, CBS

Tournament action in Colonial, Southern, MAAC, Horizon, Summit and Patriot

Other games

Cincinnati at Connecticut, 12:00
Penn State at Iowa, 1:00
Purdue at Northwestern, 4:30
Minnesota at Wisconsin, 6:00
Michigan at Nebraska, 8:00

Saturday, February 25, 2017

ACC Back to Nine Entering Penultimate Weekend

John Gillon's buzzer-beater on Wednesday against Duke not only sank the Blue Devils that night, but also moved the Orange into the field, among the last four in. Despite an RPI of 76, the Orange are 6-6 against the RPI top-50, a record that could bode very well come Selection Sunday, unless the committee knocks them for the fact that all six wins came at home. They only have two wins away from the Carrier Dome, at Clemson and at NC State. But still, six top-50 wins, with this bubble, could be hard to ignore. That could change Sunday when they visit Louisville. Win there, and the Orange all of a sudden are in much better shape.

It's a similar reason, plus a recent slump, that has TCU now on the outside looking in. The Horned Frogs only have two top-50 wins, Illinois State and Iowa State. And only one of those teams is safely in the tournament. I'll leave you to figure that out.

TCU is just 2-9 against the top 50 and only one road top-100 win out of five (Kansas State). The Frogs sit as the first team out of the field. The last team in is California. While they're just 1-7 against the top-50, that win did come on the road against USC, plus they have a neutral-court win over a Princeton team that is just outside the top 50. Just goes to show how soft the bubble is and how important conference tournaments will be.

TCU does host West Virginia Saturday. A huge chance there. A win could move them back into the field, as it would be their third top-50 win and keep alive hopes of a 9-9 conference finish, though 8-10 wouldn't completely write them off. This before a huge bubble battle with Kansas State on Wednesday, then a visit to Oklahoma to face the Sooners. This means TCU needs at least one of West Virginia or Kansas State. Lost both, and it's likely the NIT for them.

Speaking of huge bubble games, Marquette visits Providence today. The Friars won at Marquette earlier in the season and are coming off a big win at Creighton. The Golden Eagles are among the last four byes, while the Friars are currently bound for Dayton. That could switch if Ed Cooley's team pulls off the season sweep.

Two major games loom at the top of the bracket today, as well. Florida visits Kentucky in what almost amounts to a de facto SEC championship game, and a chance for the Gators to solidify a No. 2 seed, as well as UCLA against Arizona. Just like Florida, Arizona is potentially playing for a No. 2 seed, as they eye the Pac-12 crown.

A few other games of note for Sunday include Butler at Xavier and Wisconsin at Michigan State.

With that, here's your bracket update.

Last Four Byes: Michigan, Michigan State, Marquette, Wichita State
Last Four In: Providence, Syracuse, Kansas State, California
First Four Out: TCU, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Clemson
Next Four Out: Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Rhode Island

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big East - 7
Big Ten - 7
Big 12 - 6
Pac-12 - 5
SEC - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ACC Bubble Teams Stumble (Except Miami), Big East and SEC Take Advantage

This week has seen ups and downs for ACC bubble teams in the projected field. On Monday, Miami scored a tremendous win at Virginia in overtime, strengthening their chances to make the field of 68. They already had victories over North Carolina and Virginia Tech, but those came at home. This is by far their best win away from home, the previous being Pittsburgh. They also have wins over fellow ACC bubble teams Clemson and Georgia Tech and beat Stanford on a neutral court. Their RPI sits in the top 40 at the moment, and today, they are a No. 9 seed.

On the flip side, Tuesday saw Clemson and Georgia Tech, previously in the last four in category, fall at home to Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, respectively. That was Clemson's 11th ACC loss, meaning the best they can do is 7-11, which usually is a death sentence for an at-large bid. Their loss against Oklahoma is also going to become more magnified because of this, which means Clemson may end up relegated to the NIT, unless they put on a show in the ACC Tournament.

Georgia Tech is 7-8 in conference play and does have wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame at home, plus a road victory at VCU. However they do also have a home loss to Ohio on their profile, No. 105 in RPI (RPI numbers come from CBS Sports). Oh, and their own RPI ranks 89th. Which is really bad for a bubble team. Marquette is in the field at the moment with an RPI of 71, but even that means they have little room for error.

As a result, moving into the field are Providence and Vanderbilt. Yes, the Commodores are just 14-13, but sit with a top-50 RPI, road wins against Florida and Arkansas, as well as home victories against South Carolina and Iowa State, all tournament teams at the moment. However, they are just 9-12 against the top-100 and lost at Missouri, the laughing stock of SEC basketball.

Providence has beaten three of the top teams in the Big East, though all at home, knocking off Butler, Xavier and Seton Hall. Rhode Island is also scored as a top-50 win, plus they won at Marquette. However, they have some ugly road losses against Boston College and the ultimate punch line in Division 1, DePaul.

It also helped that at the moment, Wichita State is atop the Missouri Valley, opening up a spot, since I don't think Illinois State will get an at-large bid.

The bubble is so soft and the bracket will be very fluid from now until March 12, so keep that in mind. This kind of exercise is a snapshot in time. With that said, here's today updated field.

Last Four Byes: Michigan, Michigan State, TCU, California
Last Four In: Kansas State, Marquette, Providence, Vanderbilt
First Four Out: Pittsburgh, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Tennessee
Next Four Out: Illinois State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Rhode Island

Conference Breakdown:

ACC - 8
Big East - 7
Big Ten - 7
Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 5
SEC - 5
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

One last thing. I just wanted to give a shoutout to the Bracket Matrix for the fantastic work pulling together brackets and seed lists from all over the place.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Conference Tournament Schedules

The middle of February means one thing in college basketball. Conference tournament are just mere weeks away. Here are the dates and sites for each conference tournament, including the new tournament in the Ivy League.

ACC: March 7-11. Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

America East: March 1, 6, 11. Campus Sites.

American: March 9-12. XL Center, Hartford, CT

Atlantic 10: March 8-12. PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA.

Atlantic Sun: February 27, March 2, 5. Campus Sites.

Big 12: March 8-11. Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO.

Big East: March 8-11. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY.

Big Sky: March 7-11. Reno Events Center, Reno, NV.

Big South: February 28, March 2, 3, 5. First round campus sites, Quarters and semis hosted by No. 1 seed, championship hosted by higher seed.

Big Ten: March 8-12. Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

Big West: March 9-11, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA.

Colonial: March 3-6. North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC.

Conference USA: March 8-11. Legacy Arena, Birmingham, AL.

Horizon: March 3-7. Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI.

Ivy: March 11-12. The Palestra, Philadelphia, PA.

MAAC: March 2-6. Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

MEAC: March 6-11. Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, VA.

MAC: March 6, 9-11. First round campus sites, then Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH.

Missouri Valley: March 2-5. Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO.

Mountain West: March 8-11. Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV.

Northeast: March 1. 4. 7. Campus sites.

Ohio Valley: March 1-4. Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN.

Pac-12: March 8-11. T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, NV.

Patriot: March 2, 5, 8. Campus sites.

SEC: March 8-12. Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN.

Southern: March 3-6. U.S. Cellular Center. Asheville, NC.

Southland: March 8-11: Merrell Center, Katy, TX.

Summit: March 4-7. Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, SD.

Sun Belt: March 8-12. Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, LA.

SWAC: March 7, 10, 11. First round campus sites, then Toyota Center, Houston, TX.

WAC: March 9-11. Orleans Arena, Paradise, NV.

West Coast: March 3, 4, 6, 7. Orleans Arena, Paradise, NV.

Committee Makes Their Say, Michigan Makes Their Move

Six days ago, we witnessed history. For the first time, the Selection Committee unveiled an early look at the top 16 teams and what region they would currently be slotted in.

As a refresher, here was that list.

1. Villanova
2. Kansas
3. Baylor
4. Gonzaga
5. North Carolina
6. Florida State
7. Louisville
8. Oregon
9. Arizona
10. Virginia
11. Florida
12. Kentucky
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. UCLA
16. Duke

This list showed that top-50 wins and RPI are still an important factor. Head-to-head was also taken into account, since the full set of information was obviously not readily available.

From this list to our current projection, the biggest change is Duke is up to No. 8 overall. The Blue Devils seemed to have finally get things together and are rolling, winning six straight to move to 9-4 in ACC, in a three-way tie for second place with Florida State and Louisville, one game behind North Carolina.

All four teams sit on the two line. Of those teams, the toughest game this weekend belongs to the Tar Heels, who host Virginia Saturday, while the Blue Devils host Wake Forest, Louisville entertains Virginia Tech and the Seminoles visit Pittsburgh.

The ACC also sees a key bubble battle pitting Miami against Clemson. The Tigers especially need this one. Already sitting with nine ACC losses, a couple more could likely relegate Brad Brownell's crew to the NIT.

One bubble that helped their case this week was Michigan, scoring a huge win over Wisconsin Thursday night. Using the numbers from CBS, the Wolverines are now 17-9, RPI 54, NCSOS 92. They have home wins in conference over Wisconsin and fellow bubble team Michigan State. But the signature win to boost them even more is that 22-point victory over SMU in the 2K Classic. The Wolverines are currently projected as a No. 10 seed. They get another shot at a signature win when they head to Williams Arena on Sunday to take on Minnesota.

A light schedule on Friday is highlighted by VCU's trip to Richmond and Cal's trek to Stanford.

Saturday sees a bevy of games with a lot of bracket implications, including Wichita State hosting Northern Iowa, Seton Hall hosting Villanova and a battle of No. 1 seeds with Kansas at Baylor.

Other games of note:


Notre Dame at North Carolina State, 12:00, ESPN
Tulsa at Cincinnati, 12:00, ESPNU
Florida at Mississippi State, 2:00, ESPN
Kansas State at Texas, 2:00, Longhorn Network
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 2:00, ESPN2
St. Bonaventure at Dayton, 2:00, NBCSN
Colorado at Oregon, 3:00, FOX
Michigan State at Purdue, 4:00, ESPN
Pacific at Gonzaga, 4:00
Rhode Island at George Mason, 4:00, NBCSN
Ole Miss at Arkansas, 6:00, SECN
Kentucky at Georgia, 6:00, ESPN
Rutgers at Northwestern, 6:00, ESPNU
TCU at Iowa State, 6:00, ESPNews
SMU at Houston, 6:00, ESPN2
Xavier at Marquette, 8:00, CBSSN
South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 8:30, SECN
USC at UCLA, 10:00, Pac-12 Network
Saint Mary's at BYU, 10:00, ESPN2


Maryland at Wisconsin, 1:00, CBS
DePaul at Butler, 1:30, FS1
Georgetown at Creighton, 3:30, FS1
Syracuse at Georgia Tech, 6:30, ESPNU

With that, here's your updated bracket projection.

Last Four Byes: Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, TCU
Last Four In: Wichita State, Kansas State, Clemson, Georgia Tech
First Four Out: Marquette, Providence, Wake Forest, Tennessee
Next Four Out: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, Rhode Island

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 10
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 5
Pac-12 - 5
SEC - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

Saturday, February 11, 2017

ACC Continues to Dominate Bracket Projections

Nine, count 'em, nine ACC teams make up the projected field of 68 today, with four others sitting right on the bubble. It's been a fantastic year for the conference as they have the opportunity to match the record of 11 tournament teams set by the old Big East in 2011. And they could have as many as 13 if the chips fall the right way. Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Syracuse currently sit in the first four out with Pittsburgh right behind them. Miami is the second-to-last team in at the moment.

Here's your updated bracket look. What's interesting is that, today, the committee will unveil their current top 16 teams in the field. So this will give us a look at what the committee is thinking right now and where teams stand at the top, especially in the race for the top line, which is currently still held by Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas and Baylor.

Last Four Byes: Arkansas, TCU, Michigan State, California
Last Four In: Marquette, Kansas State, Miami (FL), Wichita State
First Four Out: Georgia Tech, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Pittsburgh, Illinois, Auburn, Michigan

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 5
Atlantic 10 - 2
AAC - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

Saturday, February 4, 2017

(Very late) First Bracket

I put this off way too long and I sincerely apologize for that, but here it is, finally, my first bracket of the season, despite it already being February. Better late than never, I guess. This at least gets the bracket out there. I'll have more detailed posts in the future.

Last Four Byes: Rhode Island, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State
Last Four In: Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa State, Indiana
First Four Out: Pittsburgh, TCU, Kansas State, Illinois
Next Four Out: Georgia, Miami, California, NC State

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 10
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 6
Big 12 - 5
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23