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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

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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

NCAA Tournament First, um, Second Round Breakdown

At least somebody is excited

The first, um, second round was so underwhelming that I don’t really want to recap it. But, I’ll try to highlight a few items.

Best Finish

There’s a couple to choose from, mostly from the first games of Thursday. Butler over Old Dominion, Temple over Penn State, and Morehead State over Louisville headline the group. Kentucky doesn’t get any credit for their overall mediocre performance. As for Friday, George Mason over Villanova and Arizona over Memphis were the only good finishes. The Georgia loss to Washington was almost as bad to watch as the Michigan State near comeback over UCLA. Just Pac 10 teams showing what they have (or not). But the best goes to Butler as the red light was on when the unheralded Matt Howard got the put back at the buzzer.

Best Performance – Team

Gonzaga: St. John’s looked like a potential Final Four team three weeks ago and Gonzaga didn’t even appear headed to the tournament. Three weeks later and the talking heads are picking the Bulldogs to beat BYU after their dominating performance against the Johnnies. Marquise Carter continues to improve since being inserted into the starting lineup over a month ago as he scored a career high 24 points. The relatively young Bulldogs continue to improve and could be a sleeper pick to make it to Houston.

Best Performance – Player

Kenneth Faried of Morehead State didn’t shoot the lights out, but he willed his team to the upset victory over Louisville on Thursday. The modern era rebound king of college basketball pulled down 17 boards and made the game winning defensive play by blocking the shot of Mike Marra as time expired. When the final score is 62-61, defense plays a big role and nobody came up bigger in the first round both defensively and on the boards than Faried.

In the shadow of the Big East

The CAA and Atlantic 10 have two of their three teams remaining going into the weekend. With Richmond playing 13th seeded Morehead State, the A-10 might keep their Sweet 16 streak alive even with Xavier out. The last time an A-10 missed out on the Sweet 16 was 2007. The Spiders should keep that streak alive. If the CAA advances, it would be impressive against either Purdue or Ohio State. Beating the Buckeyes this season would be an even greater feat than beating #1 seed UConn in 2006 for George Mason.

Coach Who Made the Most $$$

Tie: Both Shaka Smart of VCU and Buzz Williams of Marquette are reportedly hot candidates and improved their negotiating position with impressive wins in the first, um, second round matchups on Friday. Both would make tremendous choices as Smart, embodying his last name, actually turned down Harvard, Yale, and Brown to go to a Division III school to play basketball. Williams has been rock solid in his three seasons since taking over for Tom Crean at Marquette with NCAA tournament appearances in all three seasons. There might not have been a better coaching job than Williams’ ability to get his team to completely shut down Atlantic 10 POY Tu Holloway. Holloway didn’t score until there was about 10 minutes remaining in the game and the result wasn’t in doubt.

Player Who Declared for the 2011 NBA Draft at Halftime of His Game

Tobias Harris of Tennessee went to halftime of their game against Michigan with 19 points and the Volunteers were down by only four points. Twenty minutes later and Harris still had 19 points and the Vols had lost by 30.

Look ahead to Saturday and Sunday:

Best Matchup:

Um, there might not be one. Ok, how about Kentucky and West Virginia? It’s a rematch of last year Elite Eight matchup in Syracuse and Huggins owns Calipari. Owns as in Huggins is 8-1 against Cal. If Cal can’t win this one, well, he might never beat Huggy again.

Upset Special:

Strictly by seeding, Marquette beating Syracuse would be a repeat of their regular season matchup. That’s how ridiculous it was to have Marquette as an 11 seed, especially when Michigan got an 8 seed. Another game would be Gonzaga over BYU, but everybody seems to be picking that. I’m going to give you Kansas State over Wisconsin in another Big Ten game that might involve peach baskets. Jacob Pullen seems to be willing this team over the past month and Curtis Kelly has finally started to play like the player K-State thought they were getting when he transferred from UConn two years ago. Kelly is getting about 15 points and 8 rebounds per game over the last 5 games.  

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.

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.

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 Ten Basketball Overview March 6

Big Ten Basketball Overview March 6

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

Current NCAA Locks:

Ohio State Buckeyes RPI 3

  • 29-2, 16-2 in Big Ten    Away: 9-2  Neutral: 0-0
  • OOC rundown: 13-0 with wins over Florida and Florida State. They have 7 gimme wins. RPI 6, schedule 68.
  • Big Ten Wins: at Ind, at Iowa, Minn, at Mich, Penn St, Iowa, at Ill, Purdue, NW, Mich, at Minn, Mich St, Ill, Ind, at Penn St, Wis  Losses: at Wis, at Pur
  • The Buckeyes are a lock #1 seed and can get the top overall seed if they match Kansas this week.

Purdue Boilermakers RPI 7

  • 25-6, 14-4 in Big Ten   Away: 7-5  Neutral: 2-1
  • OOC rundown: 11-2 with solid wins over Virginia Tech and Alabama with losses to Richmond and West Virginia. They had 4 gimme wins. RPI 17, schedule 70.
  • Big Ten Wins: at Mich, NW, at Penn St, Iowa, Penn St, Mich St, Minn, Ind, at Ill, Wis, Ohio St, at Ind, at Mich St, Ill    Losses: at Minn, at Ohio St, at Iowa
  • The Boilers need to get to the Big Ten finals to secure a 2 seed. Winning one game ensures at least a 3 seed. If they lose their only game, it becomes a coin flip between a 3 and 4 seed.

Wisconsin Badgers RPI 13

  • 23-7, 13-5 in Big Ten   Away: 5-6  Neutral: 2-1
  • OOC rundown: 10-2 with wins over BC and Marquette and losses to UNLV and Notre Dame. They also had 5 gimme wins. RPI 33, schedule 111.
  • Big Ten Wins: Minn, Mich, Ill, Ind, at NW, Pur, Mich St, at Iowa, Ohio St, Penn St, at Mich, NW, at Ind   Losses: at Ill, at Mich St, at Penn St, at Pur, at Ohio St
  • The Badgers need to make the Big Ten finals to get a 3 seed and have a long shot chance at a 2 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament by beating Ohio State. They appear to be no worse than a 4 seed, unless they lose to Indiana.

 

Bubble Territory:

Illinois Fighting Illini RPI 40

  • 19-12, 9-9 in Big Ten   Away: 4-7  Neutral: 1-3
  • OOC rundown: 10-3 with solid wins over Maryland, North Carolina, and Gonzaga with losses to Texas and Missouri. They also have a horrible loss to Illinois-Chicago and 4 gimme wins. RPI 43, schedule 59.
  • Big Ten Wins: at Iowa, Wis, NW, Mich St, Penn St, at Minn, Mich, Iowa, Ind    Losses: at Penn St, at Wis, Ohio St, at Ind, at NW, Pur, at Mich St, at Ohio St, at Pur
  • The Illini need to beat Michigan to be a lock for Selection Sunday. They’re probably in anyway, but you never know. If they win two games, they should be at least a 7 seed. They should be able to get a 6 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.

Michigan State Spartans RPI 50

  • 17-13, 9-9 in Big Ten   Away: 2-9  Neutral: 2-1
  • OOC rundown: 8-4 with their only good win over Washington, but solid losses to Syracuse, Connecticut, Duke, and Texas. They also have 4 gimme wins and a non-division I win. RPI 67, schedule 21.
  • Big Ten Wins: Minn, at NW, Wis, NW, Ind, Penn St, Ill, at Minn, Iowa   Losses: at Penn St, at Ill, at Pur, Mich, at Iowa, at Wis, at Ohio St, Pur, at Mich
  • The Spartans need to beat Iowa to be safe on Selection Sunday. Beating Purdue would lock it up.

Michigan Wolverines RPI 56

  • 19-12, 9-9 in Big Ten   Away: 5-5  Neutral: 0-2
  • OOC rundown: 10-3 with no good wins, but solid losses to Syracuse and Kansas. They also have 5 gimme wins and a non-division I win. RPI 61, schedule 51.
  • Big Ten Wins: Penn St, at Mich St, Iowa, at Penn St, NW, Ind, at Iowa, at Minn, Mich St    Losses: Pur, at Wis, Ohio St, at Ind, at NW, Minn, at Ohio St, at Ill, Wis
  • The Wolverines need to beat Illinois to be safe on Selection Sunday. The bubble is bad, but they don’t want to try it. If they really want to be a lock, beat Ohio State.

 

Needs To Get Hot:

Penn State Nittany Lions RPI 54

  • 16-13, 9-9 in Big Ten   Away: 3-8  Neutral: 0-0
  • OOC rundown: 7-4 with a win over Duquesne and losses to Ole Miss, Maryland and Virginia Tech. They also have 3 gimme wins a horrible loss to Maine. RPI 117, schedule 64.
  • Big Ten Wins: at Ind, Mich St, Ill, Iowa, Wis, NW, Minn, at NW, at Minn    Losses: at Mich, Pur, at Ohio St, at Pur, at Ill, Mich, at Mich St, at Wis, Ohio St
  • It’s going to take at least a win over Wisconsin to get the Lions in. Getting to the Big Ten finals would wrap it up.

 

Better Win the Conference Tournament:

Minnesota Golden Gophers RPI 74

  • 17-13, 6-12 in Big Ten
  • OOC rundown: 11-1 with solid wins over West Virginia and North Carolina. They also have 5 gimme wins. RPI 21, schedule 91.
  • Wow. What a collapse. The Gophers have lost 9 of 10 to end the regular season. Easily the team that collapsed the most during this season.

Northwestern Wildcats RPI 93

  • 17-12, 7-11 in Big Ten
  • OOC rundown: 10-1 with no impressive wins and their loss was to St. John’s. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 54, schedule 274.
  • The Wildcats are heading for another empty Selection Sunday.

Indiana Hoosiers RPI 184

  • 12-19, 3-15 in Big Ten
  • OOC rundown: 9-4 with no good wins. RPI 142, schedule 244.
  • Will the heat get turned up on Crean over the next week?

Iowa Hawkeyes RPI 167

  • 11-19, 4-14 in Big Ten
  • OOC rundown: 7-5 with no good wins. RPI 209, schedule 252.
  • Fran will have this team Dancing within two years.

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