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NCAA Tournament Daily Breakdown March 20

Here comes Butler again

Here’s a look back at Saturday’s excitement in the NCAA tournament.

Best Finish

The San Diego State and Temple game went to two OT’s, but the Pittsburgh and Butler game easily takes the honors. Butler coach Brad Stevens drew up another brilliant end of game play to give the Bulldogs the lead. But the two subsequent fouls on each team and the drama surrounding those calls overshadowed Stevens’ coaching. Should those calls have been made? The first one was Butler’s Shelvin Mack definitely impeding Gilbert Brown as he was going to attempt a half-court shot. The following foul in a tie game with no chance of a 90 foot made shot, was questionable. But at the end of the day, you can’t make contact and Jamie Dixon shouldn’t have had anybody on that foul line. A John Chaney coached team goes to overtime, because he never had his players on the foul line when his players were shooting for that reason.

Best Performance – Team

Brigham Young: Everybody was picking Gonzaga to beat BYU last night, but The Jimmer and his teammates had other plans. Gonzaga guard Marquise Carter had a career high 24 points against St. John’s on Thursday, but didn’t even score a point against the Cougars. As for the Cougars offense, they shot 14-28 from three point range and shot 52.5% overall. It didn’t matter that the Bulldogs won the battle of the boards by 11, 34-23. All of that resulted in a 22 point win for BYU.

Best Performance – Player

(Tie) Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker: Was there any doubt? These two should share the national player of the year award and last night’s performance is why. The Jimmer went for 34 points and also dished 6 assists as Gonzaga had no answer defensively for the Cougars sharp shooting. Kemba scored 33 and had 6 rebounds and 5 assists as Connecticut beat fellow Big East member Cincinnati last night. It’s too bad that the only way these two could face off would be in Houston on the Monday night. Or that could just be what this season deserves. Honorable mention to Kentucky‘s Brandon Knight who scored 30 against West Virginia.

Best Performance – Player on Losing Team

The Beard, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen went out with a tremendous performance against Wisconsin. He had 38 points on 13-22 shooting, but went 6 of 8 from three point range. The only blemish on his performance was that missed free throw in the final ten seconds that could have helped tie the game. Pullen is a special college player who probably won’t have a long NBA career due to his size. He’ll be hard to replace not only for K-State, but for college hoops in general.

What’s Happening to the Big East

Notre Dame is now the conference’s last hope to send more than two teams to the Sweet 16 next week. If the Irish lose to Florida State tomorrow night, then the only Big East teams to advance past this weekend would be the winners of the two Big East matchups. This was unthinkable when the tournament started but injuries (Georgetown), collapses (Villanova), peaking too soon (St. John’s), and March Madness (Louisville) thwarted the chances of this formerly (last week) mighty conference.

Coach Who Made the Most $$$

Chris Mooney of Richmond heads to the Sweet 16 as a 12 seed after the Spiders beat Morehead State yesterday. Rumors are already rampant that the Princeton grad will be a top target of the two ACC schools that have openings, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. Based on his experience and the expectations at each school, Tech looks to be the better fit due to not being on Tobacco Road with Mike and Roy. Mooney could get overwhelmed, like others, in Raleigh.  

Coaches Who Will Have a Little Pressure on them Next Season

Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon worked together at Northern Arizona and then again at Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, because of where he coaches, UCLA’s Howland will have pressure to make at least the Sweet 16 every year. Dixon will have to answer questions about annually coming up short in March until he reaches a Final Four. While not under the same scrutiny as his mentor, Dixon will have the stigma of an underachiever until he guides his team to that final weekend.

Worst Host City

Hello, Tucson, you have the NCAA tournament in town this week. The fans in the desert didn’t show up and there were over 3,000 empty seats for yesterday’s session. Evidently exhibition baseball is more compelling in Arizona this time of the year. None of the other host cities had attendance problems.

Look ahead to Sunday:

Remember About the Gus Johnson Special:

Gus surely will be involved in another buzzer beater this weekend and there are two games to choose from. First will be George Mason and Ohio State at 5:15 EST on Sunday and that will be followed by Marquette and Syracuse. One of those games is GUARANTEED to have a great ending. I’m offering a free subscription to my blog to anybody who doesn’t get their money’s worth out of those two games on Sunday.

Schedule:

(7 East)Washington vs. (2 East) North Carolina on CBS at 12:15 EDT

(8 West)Michigan vs. (1 West) Duke on CBS at 2:45 EDT

(8 East)George Mason vs. (1 East) Ohio State on CBS at 5:15 EDT

(5 West)Arizona vs. (4 West) Texas on TNT at 6:10 EDT

(11 Southwest)Virginia Commonwealth vs. (3 Southwest) Purdue on TBS at 7:10 EDT

(11 East)Marquette vs. (3 East) Syracuse on truTV at 7:45 EDT

(9 Southwest)Illinois vs. (1 Southwest) Kansas on TNT at 8:40 EDT

(10 Southwest)Florida State vs. (7 Southwest) Notre Dame on TBS at 9:40 EDT

Filling In the Brackets: 2011 NCAA Tournament

Bracket Gold!

I’m going to take my annual futile stab at bracket prognostication. There might be more letters in the last word of the first sentence than I will have correct picks. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve overloaded on college basketball this season, but my picks look a lot like those TV guys.

In the East Region, I’m picking Ohio State to roll through it. The Buckeyes might not win a game by less than double digits as they should beat George Mason, West Virginia, and North Carolina to get to Houston. The Buckeyes haven’t shown any true weaknesses, except playing against top 15 Big Ten schools on the road. While freshman forward Jared Sullinger gets most of the attention, their three man backcourt of David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford are stellar. When March rolls around, the teams with the best backcourts advance and the Buckeyes might have the best in the country.

As for the rest of the region, I like West Virginia to beat Kentucky, mostly because Huggins destroys Calipari head-to-head. In nine meetings, Huggins has won eight, including last year’s Elite Eight matchup in Syracuse. On the bottom of the East, I like UNC to beat Xavier in a tough Sweet 16 matchup. Holloway is really good for the X-Men, but freshmen Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall have been spectacular over the past six weeks. Xavier will beat Syracuse and UNC will beat Washington to get to the Sweet 16.

In the West, I like San Diego State. There might not be a more complete defensive team in the tournament than the Aztecs. They have a number of players who can switch and defend different positions and when they beat Connecticut in the Sweet 16, it will be because of forward Billy White. They will have White hound the smaller Kemba Walker all game and it won’t be a mismatch in favor of Walker. White was used by Coach Steve Fisher on Jimmer Fredette in their matchups and his agility and length gave The Jimmer problems when they were matched up. The Aztecs will also beat Temple and Texas to make the Final Four.

The rest of the West will have Texas beating Arizona and then Tennessee in the Sweet 16 before falling to the Aztecs. Tennessee might save Bruce Pearl’s job by beating Duke on Sunday. The Vols have big wins and crazy losses on the season and beating Duke would be consistent with their inconsistency. Texas and Tennessee, I believe, are destined to meet each other. There aren’t two teams in the tournament who have shown more promise and then bombed out like these two. As for the biggest first round (or is it second) upset? It will be Missouri over Cincinnati.

The Southwest Region will be won by Kansas. The Jayhawks are clearly one of the two best teams in the tournament, along with Ohio State. They will beat UNLV, Louisville, and Notre Dame to get to Houston. That road will not be easy. Unlike Ohio State, Kansas will have to play really well in each of their games to avoid an upset. The Big East has been incredible this season, as their record eleven tournament bids would indicate. Every game is a slugfest and Kansas could be worn down by the time they reach Houston. The biggest advantage they have is their depth and balance. They have ten players who average over 11 minutes per game and have eight players who average at least 5 points per game.

The rest of the Southwest will see the highly anticipated game between Notre Dame and Purdue with the Irish winning. That might be the most anticipated Sweet 16 game next week. Notre Dame will have to beat Texas A&M to get there and Purdue will knock off VCU. Yes, the Rams of VCU will use their opening round momentum to upset Georgetown, who hasn’t been the same without Chris Wright and will struggle to regain their pre-injury form even if he returns. VCU’s cross town rival, Richmond will beat Vanderbilt in the 12-5 upset and then lose to Louisville on the weekend.

The Southeast Region will be won by Pittsburgh. I know three #1 seeds. But if Jamie Dixon is to lead the Panthers to the Final Four, this is the season. The Panthers have a favorable draw as they will beat Old Dominion, Kansas State, and BYU to get to Houston. The Monarchs of ODU could be the Cinderella team with a deep tournament run, but the Panthers might be the worst matchup for them because of their similar styles. Physical play, defense, and intangible play by Brad Wanamaker will be the key to Pittsburgh’s overall success.

The rest of the Southeast will have Jimmer and BYU beating Florida and Gonzaga before falling to Pitt. Kansas State will benefit from Belmont’s upset of Wisconsin to get to the Sweet 16. Florida will beat Michigan State before falling to BYU.

The Final Four matchups are these: Ohio State versus San Diego State and Kansas versus Pittsburgh. Ohio State will beat San Diego State in a close game. This will be closer than any game they play in the entire tournament up to this point. While the Aztecs are really good defensively, the Buckeyes have too many weapons and they typically don’t have anybody on the court that can’t score. In addition, the overall size of the Buckeyes backcourt will take its toll on the small backcourt for San Diego State.

In the other semifinal, Pittsburgh will upset Kansas as the Jayhawks will not be able to beat a Big East team in three straight games. This game might not be that easy on the eyes, but it should be tight and come down to the end. The Panthers have the size and toughness to matchup with the Morris twins and unless Josh Selby finally shows up, the Panthers are good enough defensively to shut down the Jayhawks backcourt. The bottom line with this pick is that I said a month ago that I didn’t think a team could beat three Big East teams in a row and that’s what Kansas will have to do to win it.

That leaves a championship game between Ohio State and Pittsburgh. These are the regular season champions of the two best conferences during the season. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Buckeyes are just too good. They have too many weapons for even Pittsburgh’s staunch defense to shut down. Barring an incredibly rough shooting night for Diebler and Buford, the Buckeyes should win this game by 6-8 points.

There’s the bracket breakdown, please don’t send me a bill for your poor bracket results.

Making the Case against the Teams Whose Bubbles Burst

March 14, 2011 1 comment

Maybe Colorado won't play 7 sub 295 RPI teams next year

This isn’t meant as a defense of the selection committee or any of the questionable teams that were selected to the NCAA tournament. In reality, only 50-something teams really deserved to be selected to the 68-team Big Dance. This is about those controversial teams that were left out and the reasons why these schools do not have any reason to complain.

Virginia Tech: Yes, America’s bubble team had its hopes shattered again. For starters, the Hokies were only 9-7 in the 5th ranked conference. They were swept by Virginia (RPI 139) and NIT-bound Boston College, added a bad loss at Georgia Tech, and suffered a crippling season ending loss at Clemson. In addition, they beat FSU based on an overturned game winning basket in the ACC quarterfinals that was debatable. The only top 50 RPI team in the ACC that they beat was Duke.

The Hokies OOC schedule was ranked 180 out of 340. They played 6 teams with RPIs of over 230. They went 2-3 against top 100 teams OOC. How difficult would it be for Seth Greenburg to replace UNC-Greensboro (RPI 297), USC Upstate (313), Mount St. Mary’s (231), and Longwood (320) on his schedule? If he played and beat Virginia NCAA tournament schools like Old Dominion, VCU, George Mason, and Richmond, they would have been a lock for selection.

VCU went 3-6 against the top 50 and Tech was only 2-5. How does a CAA team play more top 50 games than an ACC team? Only cowardly scheduling sent the Hokies back to the NIT.

Colorado: The media would have you think that the Buffaloes survived a gauntlet of difficult games throughout the season. They are wrong. The Buffaloes OOC schedule was ranked 331 out of 340. They only went 10-4 against that group of teams. Their best win was against a bad Indiana (RPI 190). They played 7 teams with a RPI of 295 or more. In games against teams with a RPI of less than 295, they went 13-13. They won half and lost half.

Lowering the RPI threshold, the Buffaloes went 10-13 against the top 150 teams. Is that really at-large material there? Sure, they beat a few good teams, including Texas and Kansas State three times. But it’s not about head-to-head results and a splashy win or two for the selection committee. It’s about the overall profile.

Schools like Colorado have more choices than their mid-major counterparts when selecting OOC opponents. Instead of scheduling better teams, they scheduled gimme games to pad their win total. If they played 7 OOC teams between 100-150 in the RPI instead of 295 and over, they would be headed to the Big Dance. It’s that plain and simple.

Alabama: Don’t let the fact that the Crimson Tide is in the SEC fool you. The SEC West as a standalone conference would have easily been ranked behind every mid-major conference that received an at-large bid. The SEC West is home to Auburn (RPI 255), LSU (224), Arkansas (124), and Mississippi State (119). With 8 games against those schools, it’s no wonder that this team went 12-4 in SEC play. In addition, all of their key SEC wins were against vulnerable teams. Kentucky was awful away from Rupp, going 4-7 in true road games. Tennessee didn’t have Bruce Pearl for their loss to Alabama and were a poor home team all season.

The Tide schedule was ranked 294. They went 8-6 against those teams. The highest RPI of an OOC team that they beat was Lipscomb at 131. Overall, Alabama went 10-11 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. Is that really the mark of a quality at-large team? Have the standards dropped that much? They only had one win OOC against top 200 teams. I rest my case, your honor.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels were a mid-major “snub” that many in the national media love. The problem is that many talking heads don’t follow the games as closely as you would expect an “expert” would. The issues for the Gaels began back on February 16 in San Diego. That night the Gaels lost to USD on national television by eight. The trouble is that USD won only 4 games against Division 1 schools all season, including the St. Mary’s win, and they have a RPI of 318. This was easily the worst loss of any prospective at-large candidate that made it in front of the selection committee.

In addition to losing in San Diego, the Gaels followed that with home losses to Utah State and Gonzaga. For a mid-major school like St. Mary’s to receive an at-large bid, they have to schedule and win against good teams OOC and take care of business in their own league.

The Gaels only quality OOC win was against St. John’s in Steve Lavin’s coaching debut. They lost to BYU, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, and Utah State. But with only one top 50 win all season, it was tough for the Gaels to overcome their horrible loss to San Diego. They also played 5 OOC teams with RPIs over 240. At the end of the day, the Gaels didn’t beat enough good teams and lost to a really bad one.

Harvard: The case against Harvard became easy when the brackets were announced. Their two best wins were against Boston College and Colorado. They now have a chance at a rematch with both in the NIT.

The message from the selection committee should be clear. Teams need to schedule better to improve their at-large chances and seeding for the NCAA tournament. There are teams that made the tournament with similar records, but their schedules were the difference. Why does 22-10 Kansas State have a 5 seed and 23-10 Missouri have an 11 seed? They are both in the Big 12 with Colorado. It’s the schedule.

The bottom line is that tougher scheduling and avoiding poor losses goes a long way to eliminating a team’s question marks that could burst their bubble on Selection Sunday. Maybe next year Virginia Tech will actually schedule some CAA teams and Alabama will play UAB to decide their fates on the court. Or maybe they’ll play Russian roulette with their tournament chances again.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Done?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Today is Selection Sunday: Finally Home

News and Notes:

It doesn’t look good for Pelphrey to remain as coach in Arkansas.

Paul Hewitt is done as coach at Georgia Tech after being the national runner-up in 2004 and 11 seasons.

Dayton is excited to be playing on CBS in a non NCAA tournament game since 1984.

Josh Harrellson is laying is on the line during his senior season for Kentucky.

The Gators bench was a big factor in their win yesterday against Vanderbilt.

It took a few months, but North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is playing like the real deal.

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • America East: Boston University
  • Conference USA: Memphis
  • MEAC: Hampton
  • Southland: Texas-San Antonio
  • Ivy: Princeton
  • Big 12: Kansas
  • MAC: Akron
  • PAC 10: Washington
  • Mountain West: San Diego State
  • Big West: UC-Santa Barbara
  • SWAC: Alabama State
  • Big East: Connecticut
  • WAC: Utah State

Memphis: The Tigers showed their #tigerblood yesterday by coming back from 62-50 with just over 6 minutes remaining. It appeared that experienced coaching would win out and UTEP would be dancing, while the Tigers would hold their breath for 29 hours. But Joe Jackson stepped up with help from Chris Crawford and led the Tigers back in the hostile Don Haskins Center. While Memphis might not be a major threat next week, making the NCAA tournament during a down season is the mark of a very good program.

Atlantic Ten: The A-10 might have their best case final scenario with Dayton facing Richmond. Dayton’s got the best RPI outside of the top 3 teams and if those 3 are on the right side of the bubble, then Dayton can steal a bid to give the A-10 four bids for the first time since 2003-04. Dayton’s RPI is now 70 so a loss by Richmond might not burst their bubble.

Florida: The Gators look like a 2 seed now and they should be a lock if they beat Kentucky today. If not, they probably drop to a 3 seed, but they’re more dangerous than in most seasons.

Duke and North Carolina: Many feel that the winner of this game will be a 1 seed. I think Duke can get it, but North Carolina might have to win to get a 2 seed. Those top 2 lines are tough and UNC doesn’t have a better profile than Florida, who might still be a 3 seed.

Penn State: It looks like the Lions brought Jerry Sandusky to Chicago. They’ve only given up 81 points in the past 2 games to reach the finals. Is making the finals enough? Grab a coin.

San Diego State: Great performance by the Aztecs as they avenged their only two losses of the season last night in Vegas. This team is deserving of at least a 2 seed, but I’d give them a 1 if Duke loses.

Losers:

Harvard: Tough last second loss to Princeton in the one game playoff at Yale. They are better than at least 5-10 teams that will make it in today. Will they be perceived as good enough by the committee?

UTEP: Tough loss as the Miners blew a 12 point lead with about 6 minutes left on their home court. This team should get better the longer Tim Floyd remains coach.

Alabama: If conference affiliation doesn’t matter and the overall profile is the key, then Alabama is done after losing to Kentucky yesterday.

Virginia Tech: Do you have a coin? Call heads or tails and that’s probably the chances that you hear Seth Greenburg crying to Dick Vitale tonight after being left out again. Remember Seth, if you had played Richmond, VCU, George Mason, ODU, and other Virginia schools, you’re strength of schedule wouldn’t be an issue.

Clemson: The Tigers don’t have any top 50 wins. Good luck on the bubble.

Texas: The national media still loves the Longhorns, but they shouldn’t be anything higher than a 4 seed.

Arizona: The Wildcats will be the highest seeded Pac 10 school, but they might be in an 8-9 game.

Michigan State: You didn’t expect Sparty to all of a sudden get consistent, did you? Expect them to be done by the end of next weekend.

Brigham Young: The Cougars still can’t shake that they’re not a top team without Brandon Davies. Last night’s convincing loss did nothing to dissuade viewers and most likely, the selection committee. I think they should get at least a 3, but the committee will probably make them a 4 seed at best.

Sunday’s Games: RPI in ()

Atlantic Ten Championship (70) Dayton at (44) Richmond: CBS at 1 EST

ACC Championship (4) Duke at (6) North Carolina: ESPN at 1 EST

SEC Championship (9) Kentucky vs. (7) Florida: ABC at 1 EST

Big Ten Championship (39) Penn State vs. (2) Ohio State: CBS at 3:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

The Jimmer got 52 last night

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

News and Notes:

Top 3 Games to Watch:

1. Jimmer and BYU against San Diego State at 7:00 ET on Versus

2. UConn and Louisville at 9:00 ET on ESPN

3. Texas and Kansas at 6:00 ET on ESPN

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Patriot: Bucknell

Dayton: The Flyers pulled an upset over their rivals, Xavier, yesterday and will play 12 seed St. Joe’s this afternoon. The Flyers have disappointed for two consecutive years now and have a chance at redemption if they can win two more games in AC.

Alabama: Is back-to-back wins over Georgia good enough for the Tide? The SEC West champs are only 1-2 against top 25 RPI teams. In comparison, mid-major VCU is 2-3 against the same group. The issue with Alabama is that they are in the very weak SEC West and took advantage of 200+ RPI games against LSU and Auburn. They are only 9-10 against the top 200.

Michigan: You have to like how the Wolverines have done almost everything that they could to win their way into an at-large bid. They started 1-6 in the Big Ten and looked dead but rallied to finish at 9-9 and are now a win away from the Big Ten championship game. It’s amazing to think, but they will be wearing their white jerseys in their first NCAA game if they win the Big Ten tourney.

Clemson: The Tigers might have clinched an at-large bid by eliminating BC yesterday. This game wasn’t even close and they should be good as long as UNC doesn’t destroy them this afternoon.

UTEP: The Miners will play on their home court this morning for the CUSA championship and it should be rocking. It will be interesting if their profile is good enough if they were to lose.

Michigan State: The real Spartans finally showed up as they blasted Purdue last night. That should eliminate any of the bubble talk for Tom Izzo’s club and if Sparty can continue to play like that, they will be a tough out.

Connecticut: The Huskies appear to be a solid 3 seed and are probably just playing to maneuver on that line for Sunday. It’s tough to see how they move up to a 2 seed, but they shouldn’t fall to a 4 either.

Texas: The Longhorns might have reemerged as a possible 2 seed by making the Big 12 championship game. If they win, they should be a solid 2 seed, if they lose, then they could drop back to a 3 seed.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are close, if not in the tournament after their lucky win last night. Their RPI is still not too good and their profile isn’t impressive, save the Duke win. A win over Duke today and they WILL be good.

Penn State: I guess somebody had to win this game, certainly not the viewers. The Lions should be close if they can beat Michigan State tomorrow to play again on Sunday.

BYU and San Diego State: The Jimmer went for 52 last night and DJ Gay drained a floater in the lane with 4 seconds left and these MWC heavyweights will meet for a third time. Fair minded people would think that a #1 seed would be the reward for the winner. But the national media has anointed BYU as damaged goods without Brandon Davies and SDSU lost to the Cougars twice. In a year with only two apparently dominant teams, Ohio State and Kansas, the winner of this game deserves to be a #1 seed.

Losers:

Xavier: The Musketeers were beaten by Dayton outside of UD Arena for the first time since 1981 yesterday in AC. The Musketeers could have been as high as a 5 seed if they won the A10 tournament, now they are looking at a possible 7 or even an 8-9 game situation. That doesn’t represent the easiest route to the Sweet 16.

Georgia: The Dawgs lost to the very weak bubble dwelling Alabama yesterday and now are squarely on the bubble themselves. They’re hoping that mediocrity prevails.

Boston College: Mercifully, their at-large hopes are over. Too many blowout losses in the last month and an RPI that has fallen into the 50’s should be enough to send the Eagles to the NIT.

Illinois: The Illini continued their Jekyll & Hyde season with another up and down performance in the first and only Big Ten tourney game. They led Michigan by double digits with less than 10 minutes left in the game and blew the lead. They will most likely clear the hideous bubble, but expectations for Bruce Weber will be for more success next season in Champaign.

Colorado: Last night’s loss to Kansas leaves them on the bubble for Selection Sunday. It will be interesting to see if they miss out despite taking three from lock Kansas State.

Notre Dame: The Irish were in play for a #1 seed, but their loss to Louisville probably bumps them off. They are still a team that nobody is going to want to see in the coming weeks.

Wisconsin: The Badgers turned back the clock, in a bad way, by putting up a score that was standard in the peach basket era of hoops. This wasn’t the showing the Bo Ryan wanted to secure a 4 seed on Sunday.

Florida State: The ‘Noles are probably in, but their controversial loss last night to Virginia Tech put their RPI over 50 and their OOC profile wasn’t very good. They should be in, but you never know with the mediocrity in the ACC after the top 2.

Saturday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

Conference USA Championship (30) Memphis at (47) UTEP: CBS at 11:30 EST

America East Championship (240) Stony Brook at (132) Boston University: ESPN2 at 12:00 EST

(9) Kentucky vs. (77) Alabama: ABC at 1 EST

(53) Clemson vs. (6) North Carolina: ESPN at 1 EST

(50) Michigan vs. (2) Ohio State: CBS at 1:40 EST

MEAC Championship (207) Morgan State vs. (81) Hampton: ESPN2 at 2:00 EST

(55) Richmond vs. (28) Temple: CBS College at 3:30 EST

(25) Vanderbilt vs. (8) Florida: ABC at 3:30 EST

(60) Virginia Tech vs. (4) Duke: ESPN at 3:30 EST

Southland Championship (201) Texas-San Antonio at (147) McNeese State: ESPN2 at 4:00 EST

Ivy League Playoff (33) Harvard vs. (48) Princeton: ESPN3 at 4:00 EST

(39) Michigan State vs. (42) Penn State: CBS at 4:05 EST

Big 12 Championship (10) Texas vs. (1) Kansas: ESPN at 6:00 EST

MAC Championship (117) Akron vs. (70) Kent State: ESPN2 at 6:00 EST

Pac 10 Championship (38) Washington vs. (17) Arizona: CBS at 6:00 EST

Mountain West Championship (3) San Diego State vs. (5) Brigham Young: Versus at 7:00 EST

Big West Championship (171) UC-Santa Barbara vs. (86) Long Beach State: ESPN2 at 8:00 EST

SWAC Championship (313) Grambling State vs. (271) Alabama State: ESPNU at 8:30 EST

Big East Championship (14) Connecticut vs. (15) Louisville: ESPN at 9:00 EST

WAC Championship (114) Boise State vs. (18) Utah State: ESPN2 at 10:00 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 11

Another Garden party for Pitino?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 11

News and Notes:

Lafayette is comfortable as the underdog going into today’s Patriot League Championship against Bucknell.

Depth and defense are driving Louisville’s success according to Rick Bozich.

Here’s a link to the Kansas City Star’s Big 12 tournament page.

Brandon Davies travelled with BYU to the MWC tournament and will sit on the bench during the games.

Kenny Frease tweaked his back and didn’t practice yesterday for Xavier. Coach Mack said that he should play.

The Gators are loose and confident going into their quarterfinal matchup with Tennessee tonight.

Winners:

Colorado: The Buffs got beat K-State for the 3rd time this season and could have sealed their ticket to March Madness. A win over Kansas today would seal their bid. What might work against them is that if they lose, they will be 7-9 in their final 16 games. Pretty mediocre, but that’s what a lot of the bubble looks like.

Connecticut: Solid comeback win by the Huskies complete with an ankle breaking move that led to Kemba Walker’s buzzer beater to win the game. The Huskies could have shut it down early as they trailed by 12 for awhile until they pulled even just before halftime. It should be interesting to see what they have left as they play their fourth game in four days tonight against the Orange. They better hope they don’t go to 6 OT’s in this one, like two years ago.

New Mexico: Better late than never for Steve Alford’s Lobos as they get another shot at BYU and the Jimmer tonight. They might be able to finagle an at-large bid if they win this game and keep it close against San Diego State. It’s possible that they might have to beat UNLV if they play them.

Washington: The Huskies came back from multiple deficits to finally get a win over their in-state rivals last night. This win could get them over the hump on the soft bubble.

Notre Dame: The Irish are looking like a national championship contender and could pass by Pittsburgh or another team for a #1 seed if they win the Big East tournament. They look like Ohio State without Sullinger right now.

Losers:

Pittsburgh: Gary McGhee got his ankles broken as Kemba Walker worked him over and drained the game winning shot as time expired. As long as the selection committee doesn’t overrate the conference tournaments, the Panthers could still be a #1 seed when the brackets are announced. But that 3-3 finish won’t help.

DJ Kennedy and St. John’s: Kennedy tore his ACL in the loss to Syracuse yesterday afternoon and is gone for the season. That means the senior will not be able to participate in the NCAA tournament for the first and only time. It’s a tough break for a quality player who put his ego aside to play a winning role this season.

UAB: Losing in the quarterfinals wasn’t the recipe for a tourney invite for the Blazers. They probably one the wrong side of the bubble since their only good win is over VCU.

UCLA: Nice loss to Oregon. That loss probably moves to Bruins to a double digit seed when the brackets come out. The performance of the team last year and early this year caused a lot of grumbling by the fan base. Losing to the Ducks, who haven’t been really good, can’t help Ben Howland.

Coaches who might be out now: The following coaches might have just coached their last game at their current school last night. Their departure won’t be on their terms: Arkansas’ John Pelphrey, NC State’s Sidney Lowe, Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt,

Colorado State: Last night’s loss to New Mexico probably finishes their at-large hopes. Their only win over a probably NCAA team is just UNLV and that isn’t enough. They lost 5 of 6 to close the season and failed to register a high profile win.

Marshall and Southern Miss: These two CUSA schools were longshots to get an at-large and probably needed to be playing on Saturday to have a chance. Losing yesterday ended that.

Cal: The Bears can’t possibly get in after losing by double digits to USC yesterday, can they? Hope not.

Missouri: The Tigers continue to struggle away from Columbia during 2011. This one wasn’t even close and you have to wonder how close to the bubble they really are. They were 8-8 in the Big 12 and went 1-7 on the road. The wins over Illinois, Vanderbilt, and Old Dominion will probably pull them through.

Marquette and Cincinnati: Hide the women and children. Last night’s games at the Garden were hideous they lost by 25 and 38 respectively. Marquette should be good, but the RPI is still in the 60’s.

Washington State: The Cougars blew a big lead and most likely their scant at-large chances last night against Washington. Now they hope for a NIT bid.

Friday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(84) Dayton vs. (21) Xavier: Noon EST

(39) Georgia vs. (85) Alabama: ESPN3 at 1 EST

(38) Illinois vs. (56) Michigan: ESPN at 2:30 EST

(45) Boston College vs. (59) Clemson: ESPN2 at 2:30 EST

Patriot League Championship (226) Lafayette at (81) Bucknell: ESPN2 at 4:45 EST

(49) Michigan State vs. (8) Purdue: 6:30 EST

(16) Connecticut vs. (15) Syracuse: ESPN at 7 EST

(64) Colorado vs. (1) Kansas: ESPN3 at 7 EST

(30) Tennessee vs. (9) Florida: ESPN3 at 7:30 EST

(51) Penn State vs. (12) Wisconsin: 8:55 EST

(66) New Mexico vs. (5) Brigham Young: CBS College at 9 EST

(67) USC vs. (18) Arizona: 9 EST

(65) Virginia Tech vs. (44) Florida State: ESPN2 at 2:30 EST

(19) Louisville vs. (6) Notre Dame: ESPN at 9:30 EST

(28) Texas A&M vs. (14) Texas: ESPN3 at 9:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 10

The Friars went broke on this Keno game

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 10

News and Notes:

Here’s a great story about Rutgers’ assistant coach Jim Carr and his son’s battle for his life.

It looks like Keno Davis is out at Providence after three rocky seasons.

Kansas State could be tougher to beat in a close game due to their improved free throw shooting.

Pittsburgh could get caught looking ahead as their players talk about Notre Dame.

The Salt Lake Tribune wonders how much longer Dave Rose will be at BYU. This has been discussed on these pages previously.

San Diego State’s Malcolm Thomas has more on his mind than just the game when he takes the court for the Aztecs.

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Northeast: Long Island
  • Big Sky: Northern Colorado

Marquette: The win over West Virginia last night pretty much locked up their at-large bid. There shouldn’t be any question now for Buzz and the Eagles.

Mike Rice: The Rutgers coach lost, but nobody could have been classier in the face of an awfully officiated finish than Rice was after the game.  

Connecticut: The Huskies have stabilized their play and should be rewarded with a Sweet 16 protected seed on Sunday. A couple more wins and the Huskies could be as high as a 3 seed.

Losers:

Big East officials: That was the worst officiated end of game situation I think I’ve ever seen. Ball out of bounds incorrectly called off Rutgers, foul at midcourt on final possession not called, St. John’s player steps out of bounds with over a second left and fired the ball into the stands. That last situation should have resulted in a technical foul, two free throws and the ball for Rutgers. This situation was so bad that it caused me to agree with Digger Phelps for the first time in this millennium. Digger: “What, do they need 4 refs, now?”

Here’s the end of the game:

Georgetown: The Hoyas aren’t as bad as Villanova right now, but they won’t be able to stabilize their freefall before the seeding is announced on Sunday. It’s going to be tough for the selection committee to properly seed the Hoyas with Wright’s situation unknown and his teammates lack of quality play without him since he went out.

Baylor: Whatever miniscule chances that the Bears had of getting an at-large bid was lost before the game when star freshman center and potential #1 overall draft pick Perry Jones III, was declared ineligible for the game because his mother received improper benefits. If it was his father, he would have been able to play, right Cecil Newton? The Bears lost to Oklahoma as well. They’re probably not even a NIT team.

Nebraska: The Huskers can take their atrocious OOC schedule and see if they can impress the selection committee for the NIT after losing to Oklahoma State yesterday in their final Big 12 game.

Pat Knight’s endorsements: Junior was sporting a suit last night for the first time as head coach. Where was this wardrobe when he could have been earning extra $$ from the local suit shop? He’s going to wish he had that extra cash with the big checks ending.

Thursday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(24) Connecticut vs. (9) Pittsburgh: ESPN at Noon EST

(63) Oklahoma State vs. (1) Kansas: ESPN2 at 12:30 EST

(24) St. John’s vs. (18) Syracuse: ESPN at 2:30 EST

(54) Southern Miss vs. (38) Memphis: CBS College at 2:30 EST

(65) California vs. (71) USC: FSN at 3 EST

(67) Colorado vs. (16) Kansas State: ESPN3 at 3 EST

(72) New Mexico vs. (43) Colorado State: 5:30 EST

(52) Marshall vs. (62) Texas El Paso: CBS College at 6:30 EST

(31) Cincinnati vs. (8) Notre Dame: ESPN at 7 EST

(58) Marquette vs. (21) Louisville: ESPN at 9:30 EST

(32) Missouri vs. (30) Texas A&M: ESPN2 at 9:30 EST

(73) Washington State vs. (46) Washington: FSN at 11:30 EST

Click here for conference breakdowns on This Week in College Basketball.