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NCAA Tournament Daily Breakdown March 21

Good thing football is king in Austin

Here’s a look back at Sunday’s excitement in the NCAA tournament:

Best Finish

Arizona’s win over boneheaded Texas was the day’s best finish. I know everybody is shocked, but Rick Barnes led another team that fizzled out in March. Based on mid-February commentary, Texas appeared to be a super team that nobody could beat, despite their record. Now they’re done. Jordan Hamilton called an inexplicable timeout after coming down with the rebound and about 10 seconds remaining and the Horns up two. Then the Longhorns were called for a five second violation on the inbounds to turn the ball over. But the insanity wasn’t done, as Derrick Williams decided to win a game late offensively instead of blocking a shot as he made a shot while being fouled to tie the game. Of course, he then completed the three point play. Texas was unable to score and the Wildcats move on to face North Carolina.

Best Performance – Team

Ohio State: The Buckeyes were all over George Mason early and often in their 32 point blowout yesterday. The Buckeyes made 16 of 26 three point shots as David Lighty made all seven of his attempts from long range. This team won’t be beaten by anybody if they can’t stop the perimeter shooting. I haven’t heard anybody talk about wanting to be “this year’s George Mason” since this game finished.

Best Performance – Player

Kendall Marshall: This freshman point guard is special. Marshall led the Tar Heels up and down the court all day dishing 14 assists while scoring 13 points and he even pulled down 5 rebounds. The Tar Heels might be able to go as far as their freshmen take them and Marshall is the key running the point.

What’s Happening to the Big East

With the Notre Dame loss to Florida State, the Big East only has two teams remaining and those teams only made it by beating fellow Big East teams. What looked like a dominating conference that might place up to 7 or 8 teams into the Sweet 16, collapsed due in part to injuries, teams peaking too soon, and just bad matchups. Connecticut and Marquette, the 9th and 11th place finishers during the regular season, are the only teams remaining. Maybe there was an advantage to playing in the opening round of the Big East tournament after all.  

Sweet 16 Conference Breakdown:

ACC – 3 (Duke, UNC, FSU)
Big East – 2 (UConn, Marquette)
Mountain West – 2 (BYU, SDSU)
SEC – 2 (Kentucky, Florida)
Big Ten – 2 (Ohio State, Wisconsin)
Big 12 – 1 (Kansas)
A-10 – 1 (Richmond)
Pac 10 – 1 (Arizona)
Colonial – 1 (VCU)
Horizon – 1 (Butler)

Coaches Who Made the Most $$$

Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth continues to lead his Cinderella Rams to upset after upset. Despite being deemed not worthy enough of a tournament invite by most (read: ESPN) talking heads, the Rams are now the only team with three wins in the tournament as they head to San Antonio. The 33 year old coach is sure to have an opportunity to coach at a higher level after this season. Where might he go and how much could he get? Those two ACC schools (NC State and Georgia Tech) have to have him on the radar and could Smart go home to Milwaukee to replace Buzz Williams if he leaves Marquette? Williams is also in the name your price for the job you want group.

Coaches Who Will Have a Little Pressure on them Next Season

Rick Barnes and Mike Brey were the flavor of the week, depending on the week during February. Both of their teams, Texas and Notre Dame were expected to make long runs in the tournament and not making it past the first weekend is sure to bother the fans and alums. It probably a good thing that they both coach at football crazy schools since these early flameouts will most likely be forgotten after the first play of the spring football games at each school.

Coach With His “Us against the World” Speech Ready

John Calipari: Nobody gives this speech better than the “eternal underdog” Cal. From his time at UMass to the Nets to Memphis and now poor old Kentucky, Calipari will find every possible angle and prediction to paint his team as the most underrated, underappreciated, underestimated team of all-time. Against Ohio State, Cal gets to use his favorite play in his playbook and he better. For the first time in a while, Cal and his team are really undermanned for this moment. Calipari has never pulled off an upset based on seed in the NCAA tournament; he gets another chance against the Buckeyes.

Sweet 16 Schedule:

Thursday March 24th:

(3 West)Connecticut vs. (2 West) San Diego State on CBS at 7:15 EDT

(3 Southeast)Brigham Young vs. (2 East) Florida on TBS at 7:27 EDT

(5 West)Arizona vs. (1 West) Duke on CBS at 9:45 EDT

(8 Southeast)Butler vs. (2 East) Wisconsin on TBS at 9:57 EDT

Friday March 24th:

(11 East)Marquette vs. (2 East) North Carolina on CBS at 7:15 EDT

(12 Southwest) Richmond vs. (1 Southwest) Kansas on TBS at 7:27 EDT

(4 East)Kentucky vs. (1 East) Ohio State on CBS at 9:45 EDT

 (11 Southwest)Virginia Commonwealth vs. (10 Southwest) Florida State on TBS at 9:57 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 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.

Road to Selection Sunday for March 9

Future Knick?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 9

News and Notes:

Robert Morris looks to become the first team to win three straight Northeast Conference titles tonight.

Northern Colorado is looking to go dancing for the first time tonight against Montana.

The Hoyas are looking to stabilize their seed with a win against the Huskies today.

Kemba Walker is interested in playing for the hometown Knicks when he’s done at UConn.

Oklahoma State’s Page doesn’t want to come up short in the Big 12 tourney.

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Sun Belt: Arkansas-Little Rock
  • Horizon: Butler
  • Summitt: Oakland

Bubble Hopefuls: The win by Butler could keep another spot alive for the mediocre bubble teams out there. Butler was a possibility for an at-large if they lost to UW-Milwaukee last night, but the win gave them the auto bid. That’s what this bubble need is more open spots for mediocre teams.

Princeton: With the win at the Palestra last night, the Tigers head to New Haven looking for Crimson blood on Saturday.

Losers:

Venoy Overton: The Washington guard was charged with providing alcohol to a minor and was suspended for the Pac 10 tournament by Coach Lorenzo Romar. Dumb act by the player and one has to look cynically at how Romar handled this situation.

Villanova: Is this collapse for real? They’ve now lost 9 of 13 and Steve Lappas is warming up in the bullpen. Just kidding.

Derek Kellogg: The Massachusetts coach just completed his third straight losing season (they have one non division 1 win) in his three seasons at his alma mater. It’s looking like the Steve Lappas era all over again as the Minutemen lost by 28 points at home last night in the first round of the Atlantic Ten tournament. The 28 point margin of defeat was the most by the school in an Atlantic Ten tournament game. Hey Derek; Lou Roe isn’t walking through that door, Marcus Camby isn’t walking through that door…

Wednesday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

 (24) Connecticut vs. (11) Georgetown: ESPN Noon EST

(64) Oklahoma State vs. (79) Nebraska: ESPN3 12:30 EST

Northeast Championship (102) Robert Morris vs. (81) Long Island: ESPN2 at 7 EST

Big Sky Championship (103) Montana vs. (109) Northern Colorado: ESPN2 at 9 EST

(63) Marquette vs. (15) West Virginia: ESPN 9:30 EST

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

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.