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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.

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.

Who Could Replace the Dishonest Tressel at Ohio State?

Who Is Going to Replace the Dishonest Tressel at Ohio State?

If the Jim Tressel dishonesty saga were a season of “24”, this would be the first hour. Because as far as potentially sinking ships go, this Titanic just hit the iceberg. The damage has been done and the Goodship Buckeye is taking on water.

One look at the information released by the school, there is going to be a lot more to come out of this situation. The tattoo artist “really is a drug dealer” according to the email sent by the attorney/booster to Coach Tressel. In addition, the government offered him a deal with 10 years. For the accused tattoo artist, Eddie Rife, he might be able to bargain with the feds or he might offer to sell his story.

Being the entrepreneur that he was, Rife might not have gotten just merchandise from all of the players that he made deals with. Players also have access to game tickets that could be cashed in on the secondary market. Also, how are we to believe that he didn’t already sell some items that he received in bartering with players?

The university outlines three instances where Tressel had the opportunity to come clean, but failed to do so. This whole situation from the start with the player suspensions has had the vibe of “oh, bleep, we got caught”. Nobody involved, from President Gee to Athletics Director Gene Smith to Tressel and the players have shown the kind of contrition that is required and understanding of the severity of this situation. The sense is that behind closed doors they’re telling each other to “Don’t let this happen again, Ok?”

There is also the issue with Terrelle Pryor being stopped for traffic violations driving different cars owned by a local car salesman and a dealer. Pryor was cleared of wrongdoing in those instances but the number of questionable situations that he has experienced makes one wonder what happens when he’s not caught in the act.

While there isn’t anything else, yet, if Tressel has made any enemies in Columbus, now would be the time to expect them to surface with more information. Also, with the revelation that they weren’t fully cooperative with the NCAA, additional sanctions could be forthcoming. So with the university already admitting guilt in this situation and the possibility of more to come, it’s not farfetched to speculate on who might replace Tressel if the situation comes to that.

Here’s the short list:

Urban Meyer: Meyers just stepped down from Florida two months ago because of health issues, but the Cincinnati alum and Ohio native might find this opportunity to be too good to pass up. He was an assistant with the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce in the mid-80’s and, of course, is a two-time national champion head coach during his six years at Florida. Even if there isn’t an immediate change, perhaps Meyer becomes the heir apparent to Tressel if the administration wants to ease him into retirement after this season.

Bob Stoops: The Oklahoma head coach is a Youngstown, Ohio native and many believe that he would be interested in returning home if the Buckeyes job was open. In addition, Stoops played in the Big Ten at Iowa and his experience at an elite football program would help him come in with an understanding of the culture and high expectations that go with the job.

Dan Mullen: In his second year at Mississippi State, Mullen’s Bulldogs gave the Michigan Wolverines their worst loss ever in a bowl game, 52-14. Mullen had coached with Meyer every year from his days as a grad assistant at Notre Dame in 1999 until taking the job at Mississippi State. Mullen is from Pennsylvania so a move north to Ohio wouldn’t be out of the question for him. Would the combination of his New Year’s Day beat down of Michigan and his Pennsylvania roots would be appealing to the Buckeyes?

Chris Petersen: The Boise State head coach has taken the Broncos to two BCS games in the past 5 seasons and if the Buckeyes don’t go after a coach at a BCS school, this would be a great hire. He’s only making $1.6M which means a buyout would be relatively cheap to a school that currently pays their coach almost $4M annually. Petersen is the only one of these candidates that doesn’t have northeast connections, so this would be a more “outside of the box” pick.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 7

ODU's Frank Hassell

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 7

News and Notes:

Here’s a story on ODU’s Frank Hassell, the best low post player playing tonight.

Shaka Smart is looking to lead the Rams to their first NCAA tournament since taking over for Anthony Grant two years ago.

The WCC will refrain from playing their tournament games on Sundays starting next season when BYU joins the conference.

Cousins will be battling each other in tonight’s MAAC championship game between Iona and St. Peter’s.

Weekend Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Atlantic Sun: Belmont
  • Big South: UNC-Asheville
  • Ohio Valley: Morehead State
  • Missouri Valley: Indiana State

Ohio State: The Buckeyes will be a #1 seed even if they don’t win a Big Ten tournament game and just need to match Kansas this week to be the #1 overall seed.

Kansas: The Jayhawks are the same as Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a slight edge for the #1 overall seed.

UNC: Big win over Duke gives the Heels the ACC regular season title. Kendall Marshall is becoming one of my favorite players. Simply exciting, like a lefty Rajon Rondo. The Heels now have an outside shot at a #1 seed.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers won the outright Big East championship and are now a win or two away from sealing a #1 seed.

Michigan: The Wolverines swept the Spartans for the first time since beating them in their only matchup in 2003. Once 1-6 in the Big Ten the Maize and Blue fought back to 9-9. A win over Illinois on Friday would seal their bid.

Notre Dame: The Irish hung tough in Storrs after Ben Hansbrough fouled out with more than 8 minutes left. Not sure how they did it, but Notre Dame has the “Luck of the Irish” this season.

Florida: The Gators completed the quietest good conference championship by taking out Vandy in Nashville. Chandler Parsons is the pick here for SEC POY after leading the Gators to a 13-3 record.

Cincinnati: Yes, they beat up on poor Georgetown, but Mick Cronin’s crew did what most bubble teams don’t; seal their bid with wins. The Bearcats are playing for a seed this week in MSG. Who saw 11-7 in the Big East coming?

Clemson: The Tigers beat Virginia Tech to keep their at-large hopes alive and get the 4 seed in the ACC tournament. They still need another win or two.

Harvard: The Crimson clinched at least a tie for the Ivy League title by beating Princeton and will face them again next weekend if Princeton beats Penn on Tuesday night.

Marshall: The Herd is the one bubble team that nobody’s paying any attention to. They have a very good win over West Virginia and their RPI is top 50. If they lose in the CUSA championship game, they’re probably going to be in as an at-large.

Kentucky: The Cats finally got another road win and against a decent team, too. Cal has a lot more work to do in Atlanta if he wants a good seed next Sunday. SEC Most Improved: Josh Harrellson – is there another choice?

Virginia Commonwealth: The Rams stumbled down the stretch but avenged an earlier loss to George Mason and look to win the CAA tonight in their hometown. A loss and they’re still a bubble team. It will be interesting if they lose by a hoop if they can still get in.

Penn State: Still alive, at least until Friday.

Old Dominion: The Monarchs might not have been a lock when they arrived in Richmond on Friday, but they will leave a lock, win or lose, after tonight’s game. The right draw could lead them to the Sweet 16.

WCC finalists: Gonzaga and St. Mary’s have to feel a lot better about their at-large chances by getting a chance to play each other tonight. The loser gets another “good” loss and should be in the discussion next Sunday.

Losers:

Bubble teams with bad losses group: Here they are: Miami, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Washington State, Cleveland State, Marquette, and Southern Miss. All of these teams could have taken steps to get into the tournament or at least keep their hopes alive. Only the atrocious bubble situation keeps some of them alive. Wichita State and Cleveland State don’t have any more opportunities to improve their situation and will hope to go to the NIT.

Lost in their tournament, but get NIT auto-bid group: Coastal Carolina, Missouri State, and Fairfield are all heading to the NIT as regular season champions who are likely to miss out on an at-large bid.

Missouri: The Tigers stumbled home in the Big 12 with an 8-8 record. This team is better than that, but their failure to win road games was their downfall. They don’t get any more road games, but they have to win away from home for them to achieve any kind of success.

Villanova: The Cats are in possession of the second biggest collapse in college basketball behind Minnesota. The Cats are still NCAA worthy, but will need to win a game in MSG in order to be wearing their whites in their first tourney game.

Connecticut: The brutal Big East schedule claimed both Villanova and UConn. It just looked like these teams just ran out of gas at times going against great competition every night. The Huskies need to win a couple of games in MSG to solidify a Sweet 16 seed and then take a day or two to recharge to get ready for the Madness.

Michigan State: The Spartans are arguably the most disappointing team in the country this season. They were preseason #2 and are now fighting on the bubble. They might have to beat a very good Purdue team to get in.

Purdue: The Boilers chances for a #1 seed ended in Iowa City on Saturday. One down performance in a month isn’t anything to be alarmed at. They still look like a good bet to go deep in the tournament. But they’ll be farther from home.

Colorado State: The Rams RPI is still tournament worthy, but they lack the quality wins needed. They might have to beat New Mexico AND BYU to get in.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores struggled to end the season and are now looking at a middle seed next Sunday. None of the big boys would like to see these guys on the first weekend, but unless Vandy wins a few in Atlanta, they are heading to a 7-10, 8-9 type game.

Washington: I’m not sure the Huskies would be bubble worthy in most years, but this year is like no other. They can’t be one and done in Staples later this week.

Tennessee: Bruce Pearl almost looked like “dead man walking” in the handshake line after the game yesterday. One wonders if Pearl’s job will hinge on his ability to have success in the NCAA’s. I don’t see them firing a Sweet 16 coach. First round loser? Who knows?

Monday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

CAA Championship: (48) Virginia Commonwealth vs. (24) Old Dominion: ESPN at 7 EST

MAAC Championship: (103) St. Peter’s vs. (65) Iona: ESPN2 at 7 EST

WCC Championship: (43) St. Mary’s vs. (62) Gonzaga: ESPN at 9 EST

Southern Conference Championship: (117) Wofford vs. (67) Charleston: ESPN2 at 9 EST

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

Big East Basketball Overview March 6

Big East Basketball Overview March 6

Team Overviews: Records are going into March 7th. RPI is courtesy of rpiforecast.com.

Current NCAA Locks:

Pittsburgh Panthers RPI 6

  • 27-4, 15-3 in Big East  Away: 7-2  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 12-1 with solid wins over Rhode Island, Maryland, and Texas and a solid loss to Tennessee. RPI 21, schedule 91.
  • Big East: Wins: Conn, at PC, Marq, at Gtown, SH, Syr, at Dep, at Rut, Cin, at WVU, at Vill, USF, WVU, at USF, Vill   Losses: ND, at SJ, at Lou
  • The Panthers should be a 1 seed if they make it to the Big East finals. They might be good if they go 1-1 this week. They can drop no lower than a 2 seed.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish RPI 11

  • 25-5, 14-4 in Big East  Away: 5-5  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 11-1 with good wins over Georgia, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga with a good loss to Kentucky. RPI 27, schedule 149.
  • Big East: Wins: Gtown, Conn, SJ, Cin, Marq, at Pitt, at Dep, Rut, Lou, at USF, at PC, SH, Vill, at Conn   Losses: at Syr, at Marq, at SJ, at WVU
  • The Irish will be a 1 seed if they win the Big East tournament. Unless they lose their first game, they should be at least a 2 seed.

Syracuse Orangemen RPI 16

  • 25-6, 12-6 in Big East   Away: 7-3  Neutral: 2-0
  • OOC rundown: 13-0 with wins over Michigan and Michigan State. RPI 12, schedule 125.
  • Big East: Wins: PC, ND, at SH, at SJ, Cin, at Conn, at USF, WVU, Rut, at Vill, at Gtown, Dep Losses: at Pitt, Vill, SH, at Marq, Gtown, at Lou 
  • The Orange should be a lock for a 5 seed and will move up with wins. If they win the Big East tournament, they could move all the way to a 2 seed. Going 2-1 could get them to a 3 seed and going 1-1 should get them a 4 seed. It will be interesting to see how the selection committee deals with the Orange having no OOC road games. 

Louisville Cardinals RPI 20

  • 23-8, 12-6 in Big East  Away: 4-6  Neutral: 0-0
  • OOC rundown: 11-2 with a decent win over Butler and a good win over UNLV with losses to Drexel and Kentucky. RPI 46, schedule 75.
  • Big East: Wins: SH, at USF, Marq, SJ, WVU, at Conn, Dep, Syr, Conn, at Rut, Pit, PC    Losses: Vill, at PC, at Gtown, at ND, at Cin, at WVU
  • The Cardinals need to win at least 1 game to get a 4 seed. Winning the Big East tournament shouldn’t move them higher than a 3 seed.

West Virginia Mountaineers RPI 15

  • 20-10, 11-7 in Big East  Away: 4-6  Neutral: 2-2
  • OOC rundown: 9-3 with solid wins over Purdue, Vanderbilt and Cleveland St and losses to Minnesota, Miami (FL), and Marshall. RPI 10, schedule 4.
  • Big East: Wins: at Dep, at Gtown, PC, USF, at Cin, SH, Dep, ND, at Rut, Conn, Lou   Losses: SJ, at Marq, at Lou, at Vill, Pit, at Syr, at Pit
  • The Mountaineers can get a 4 seed if they beat Marquette and Louisville. Winning the Big East tournament gets them to a 3 seed. One win ensures a 5 seed and no wins sends them to a 6 or 7 seed.

Georgetown Hoyas RPI 10

  • 21-9, 10-8 in Big East  Away: 8-5  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 11-1 with good wins at Old Dominion, at Missouri, and Utah State. Solid loss to Temple. RPI 1, schedule 3.
  • Big East: Wins: Dep, at Rut, at SH, SJ, at Vill, Lou, PC, at Syr, Marq, at USF   Losses: at ND, at SJ, WVU, Pitt, at Conn, Cin, Syr, at Cin
  • The Hoyas are struggling w/o Wright. They need to beat UConn to get a 5 seed and avoid falling to a 6 or 7 seed with a loss. Winning 2 games and they’re a lock 4 seed, if not a 3 seed. Getting to the Big East finals makes them a lock 3 seed. They can still get a 2 seed if they win the Big East tournament. It would take wins over UConn, Pitt, Cuse, and another team to do that. Easy 2 seed.

Connecticut Huskies RPI 23

  • 21-9, 9-9 in Big East  Away: 5-4  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 12-0 with good wins over Wichita State, Michigan State, Kentucky, at Texas, and Tennessee. RPI 4, schedule 41.
  • Big East: Wins: USF, Rut, at Dep, Vill, at Marq, at SH, PC, Gtown, at Cin   Losses: at Pitt, at ND, Lou, Syr, at SJ, at Lou, Mar, at WVU, ND
  • The Huskies need multiple wins to avoid a 6 seed. Beating Georgetown gets them a  5 seed, beating Pitt a 4 seed, and can climb to a 3 seed if they make the Big East finals.

St John’s Redman RPI 22

  • 20-10, 12-6 in Big East  Away: 5-7  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 8-4 with a win over Duke, but they lost to St Mary’s, St Bonaventure, Fordham, and UCLA. RPI 61, schedule 59.
  • Big East: Wins: at WVU, at PC, Gtown, ND, Rut, Conn, at Cin, at Mar, Pit, Dep, at Vill, USF   Losses: at ND, Syr, at Lou, Cin, at Gtown, at SH
  • The Johnnies need to win a game to get a 7 seed, beat Syracuse for a 6 seed. If they beat Pitt they might jump to a 4 seed. If they win the Big East tournament, they might get rewarded with a 3 seed. Tough, but not many teams are better after January 1.

Villanova Wildcats RPI 31

  • 21-10, 9-9 in Big East   Away: 7-5  Neutral: 1-1
  • OOC rundown: 12-1 with good wins over Temple and UCLA. RPI 17, schedule 109.
  • Big East: Wins: Rut, at USF, Cin, Lou, at Syr, Marq, WVU, at SH, at Dep   Losses: at Conn, at PC, Gtown, at Rut, Pitt, Syr, SJ, ND, Pitt
  • The Cats need to beat USF to avoid wearing their blue jerseys in their opening game. If they beat Cincy, they are probably a 7 seed. If they beat ND, they move to a 6 seed. They can climb all the way to a 4 seed if they miraculously win the Big East tourney.

Cincinnati Bearcats RPI 32

  • 24-7, 11-7 in Big East  Away: 8-4  Neutral: 0-0
  • OOC rundown: 13-0 with blowout wins over Dayton and Xavier and 7 gimmes. RPI 38, schedule 284.
  • Big East: Wins: Dep, SH, USF, at SJ, Rut, at Dep, Lou, at PC, at Gtown, at Marq, Gtown     Losses: at Vill, at Syr, at ND, WVU, at Pitt, SJ, Conn
  • The Bearcats will be a 7 seed if they beat Villanova. They can be a 6 if they beat ND. They can probably go all the way to a 4 seed if they win the Big East tourney.

 

Bubble Territory:

Marquette Warriors RPI 67

  • 18-13, 9-9 in Big East  Away: 4-7  Neutral: 0-2
  • OOC rundown: 9-4 with no notable wins and losses to Duke, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt. RPI 123, schedule 158.
  • Big East: Wins: WVU, at Rut, ND, Dep, Syr, at USF, SH, at Conn, PC   Losses: at Pitt, at Lou, at ND, Conn, at Vill, at Gtown, SJ
  • Beat PC and you’re in Marquette. After that, the Eagles can move into an 8-9 game with a win over West Virginia and move into a 7 seed if they beat Louisville.

Better Win the Conference Tournament:

Rutgers Scarlet Knights RPI 124

  • 14-16, 5-13 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 9-3 with a good win over Miami (FL) and a decent loss to North Carolina and bad losses to Princeton and St. Joseph’s. RPI 90, schedule 217.
  • CBI? Jersey Shore Invitational?

Providence Friars RPI 146

  • 15-16, 4-14 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 11-2 with a solid win over URI and a decent loss to BC. RPI 81, schedule 252.
  • CBI, anyone?

Seton Hall Pirates RPI 93

  • 13-17, 7-11 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-6 with no good wins and plenty of solid losses. RPI 121, schedule 25.
  • Their losing record shouldn’t turn off the CBI committee.

South Florida Bulls RPI 160

  • 9-22, 3-15 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-7 with a win over VCU and plenty of losses. RPI 132, schedule 35.
  • Not this year.

DePaul Blue Demons RPI 229

  • 7-23, 1-17 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-6 with no good wins and plenty of bad losses. RPI 249, schedule 225.
  • Wait til next year.

 Make sure you check in every morning for a review of the previous day’s games on the Road to Selection Sunday.

Road to Selection Sunday for Mar 3

Still Winning

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for Mar 3

News and Notes:

Joshua Smith is viewed as a turncoat in the Northwest, but could be the key to ending a 6-game losing streak in Seattle.

The Trojans are getting after it to try to keep their season alive.

Here’s more on Joshua Smith from his hometown.

Cougar talk with Coach Bone going into the LA weekend.

Winners:

North Carolina: The Heels now host Duke on Saturday night with the outright ACC championship on the line. Who would have predicted that two months ago? Harrison Barnes with the ridiculous 3 with a few seconds left to win the game. Barnes has quietly put together at least a 2nd team all-ACC season. It’s amazing how under the radar the Heels have been this ACC season.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers are one of the quiet Big East teams this season. Hard to believe that Huggy is quiet, huh? Great defense down the stretch as the Huskies offense went into vapor lock. Beating UConn last night keeps their hopes alive for a 4 seed on Selection Sunday. They can get it if they make a run to the finals.

Miami: The Canes got a big home win last night over Maryland and might have ended the Terps at-large hopes while sustaining theirs. They need to beat Georgia Tech on Saturday and then win at least one game in Greensboro.  Two wins in Greensboro would probably wrap it up for them.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats aren’t a great home team, but their win at Marquette last night was their fifth Big East road win this season and virtually guaranteed their at-large bid for March Madness. It wasn’t easy as Jimmy Butler went off for 30. The key for the Cats was their consistent scoring from their starters. Four players scored between 11 and 15 points, led by Cashmere Wright. The Cats are now playing for a seed, barring a loss to Georgetown and then a horrific loss in the Big East tournament opening game.

UAB: The Blazers won on a last second three by Preston Purifoy to keep their at-large hopes alive. In fact, they might be safer than most think. With a top 30 RPI, it’s going to be tough to justify the Blazers omission into March Madness.

Losers:

BYU Honor Code: Everybody else is praising this “code”. I’m here to throw a wet blanket over it. Are you kidding me? This is a situation where a player got caught doing what I’m sure a lot of BYU students escape campus to do. Expect this situation to be reversed and Brandon Davies to be reinstated after the MWC tournament.

Brigham Young: The Cougars lost last night, not because Davies wasn’t there, but because New Mexico continues to provide a matchup problem for the Cougars. The Lobos outscored the Cougars by 46-24 in the second half of the first matchup and then beat them by 18 last night. Every team these days has a bad matchup, BYU is a bad matchup for SDSU and the Lobos are bad for the Cougars.

Florida State: The Noles let a golden opportunity to secure their at-large bid slip away when Harrison Barnes ripped out their throats with that last second three to win the game. As long as they go on the road and beat the Wolfpack on Sunday, they should be dancing. They showed they belonged without Singleton during the past few weeks.

Connecticut: Along with Villanova, the Huskies appear to be feeling the effects of the treacherous Big East schedule. They have one more with the Irish on Saturday before the Big East tournament. They need to take a few days to rediscover what made them a top 10 team before conference play began. Specifically, Kemba Walker needs to break down the game tape of when he’s most effective and also needs to do a better job of identifying opposing defenses. He doesn’t adjust.

Marquette: Every conference seems to have one. A team that can’t seal their at-large bid and the Golden Eagles are the Big East’s candidate. Despite Jimmy Butler’s 30 points, they couldn’t stop the Bearcats offensively as Cincy shot 50% from the field.

Memphis: East Carolina? Winning the CUSA tournament in El Paso is going to be tougher than in Memphis.

Colorado: Here’s another team that can’t accept being on the bubble with a chance to secure a spot. It’s going to take multiple wins in KC for the Buffs to dance.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles needed to keep winning, but lost a heartbreaker on the last second three. The bad bubble might help, but they need to win probably 3 more games to get in.

Thursday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(35) UCLA at (41) Washington: ESPN2 at 9 EST

(78) USC at (70) Washington St: 10 EST

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