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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

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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.

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 Feb 28

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The Irish are still alive in the Big East title race

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for Feb 28

News and Notes:

Notre Dame needs Villanova to split their games this week, but make sure Nova loses in South Bend.

The Temple students held a mock funeral for the Saint Joe’s Hawk during their recent game last week.

Kansas State is finally playing up to their potential and “The Beard” could win Big 12 POY.

It’s Senior Night in Austin and the Longhorns are looking to regain their dominating form.

Weekend Winners:

Syracuse: Good win for the Orange avenging their loss to the Hoyas in the Dome. Outside of their lack of OOC road games, the profile for the Orange is pretty good.

Missouri State: The Bears got their first ever MVC regular season title on Saturday. They’re probably going to have to beat the Shockers again to get the automatic bid.

Brigham Young: The Cougars won a very entertaining game on Saturday and looked pretty dominant in doing so. The Jimmer showed that he can make his teammates better with some good passing as he dished 9 assists. With the other upsets this weekend, the Cougars look safely in as a 1 seed if today was Selection Sunday. They might even be able to lose to SDSU or UNLV in the MWC tournament final and get a 1 seed, depending on how many other contenders lose again.

St. John’s: There aren’t many teams playing better than the Johnnies right now. They’ve won 6 straight and 8 of 9 as they are beginning to look like national championship contenders. Dwight Hardy scored 34 and looks to be ripping the BE POY award away from Walker and Hansbrough. Lavin has to be top 3 in the BE COY race with Mike Brey and Rick Pitino.

Colorado: The Buffs charged back into the bubble picture with their big comeback win against the Longhorns. Down 22, the Buffs came back on the strength of 58 second half points. Alec Burks was sensational, going for 33 points and getting 10 boards. The Buffs need to continue winning as their profile is fairly weak outside of the Texas win and Kansas State sweep.

Michigan: The Wolverines won the “elimination” game with the Gophers and are now have a solid chance of capturing an at-large bid. Once 1-6 in the Big Ten, the Maize and Blue are now 8-9 with Sparty coming to town on Saturday. A win and they are in.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies got the big win that they desperately needed on Saturday night behind a big game from Jeff Allen who had 18 and 15. Good thing too, because Malcolm Delaney was AWOL for most of the night. In typical Tech fashion, they will probably split their next two games and drop their opener in the ACC tournament to make their selection difficult. But right now, they’re probably in.

Connecticut: Big road win for the Huskies after dropping the game against Marquette on Thursday. The Huskies are now in a five-way tie for seventh place in the Big East. No kidding. The two teams that break out get one bye in the Big East tournament. The Huskies got 39 points out of freshmen Lamb, Smith, and Napier. Not too bad. This team is probably a year from being great. If Walker returns, they are preseason #1 for next season.

Louisville: Except for the male cheerleader, of course. The Cards got a huge win over the Panthers yesterday and are looking good for a Sweet 16 seed in two weeks. That was just a gutty win over a tough team. It’s not too often that you are victorious when shooting 34%.

Losers:

Bubble teams with bad losses group: Here they are: Miami, Memphis, Alabama, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Colorado State, and Dayton. 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.

Georgetown: The loss of Chris Wright hurts, but the Hoyas have to defend the home turf. By losing at home to the ‘Cuse, the Hoyas split the season series and are now only one win in front of the 9-7 cluster in the Big East standings. They probably need to win in Cincinnati to get a round 1 bye and to keep their Sweet 16 seed hopes alive.

Missouri: The Tigers can’t win on the road. They lost to K-State on Saturday even though Jacob Pullen was saddled with foul problems. They only have 2 road wins all season and with a loss to the Huskers, they will have to beat Kansas to have a winning record in the Big 12.

San Diego State: The Aztecs lost a chance to win the Mountain West and get into the driver’s seat for a #1 seed. Great environment for the game, but Jimmer and the Cougars were too much from the beginning.

Villanova: The Wildcats are in a tailspin and need to break out of their funk if they want to get a decent seed on Selection Sunday. The Cats are 5-7 after starting 16-1 and face the top two teams in the conference on the road to finish the regular season. It’s not out of the question that they lose both and head into the BE tournament at 5-9 after their great start. They could be headed towards a double digit seed if they lose their next 3 games.

Arizona: These Wildcats dropped a golden opportunity to close out the Pac 10 by losing to USC and UCLA last week. Now they need help to claim the outright title. Derrick Williams scored 26 against both Washington schools and had NBA draft people talking about him as the #1 pick. In LA, he totaled 23 points in the two games and had to slide on those draft boards. The Cats have also slid down to a 6 or 7 seed at best.

Duke: Say goodbye to that #1 seed. If they lose another one, there will be no way they can recover to get a 1 seed. The Dukies should still be considered a March favorite, however, because Nolan Smith might be the best player in the country and has a very good supporting cast.

Michigan State: The Spartans need wins and beating Purdue would have all but sealed their invitation to the NCAA tournament. Purdue is really good, but losing at home by 20 isn’t the best way to impress. Now they face two teams that have already beaten them and they need to get to at least 18 wins to be a reasonable selection for an at-large.

Monday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(31) Villanova at (11) Notre Dame: ESPN at 7 EST

(24) Kansas State at (9) Texas: ESPN at 9 EST

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

Big East Basketball Overview February 27

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Big East Basketball Overview February 27

Team Overviews: Records are going into February 28th. RPI is courtesy of rpiforecast.com.

Current NCAA Locks:

Pittsburgh Panthers RPI 8

  • 25-4, 13-3 in Big East  Away: 6-2
  • OOC rundown: 12-1 with solid wins over Rhode Island, Maryland, and Texas and a solid loss to Tennessee. RPI 19, schedule 93.
  • Big East: Wins: Conn, at PC, Marq, at Gtown, SH, Syr, at Dep, at Rut, Cin, at WVU, at Vill, USF, WVU   Losses: ND, at SJ, at Lou
  • If the Panthers win at least 4 games or more, they should be a #1. Being the best team in the best conference should be worth something.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish RPI 11

  • 23-5, 12-4 in Big East  Away: 4-5
  • OOC rundown: 11-1 with good wins over Georgia, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga with a good loss to Kentucky. RPI 27, schedule 152.
  • Big East: Wins: Gtown, Conn, SJ, Cin, Marq, at Pitt, at Dep, Rut, Lou, at USF, at PC, SH   Losses: at Syr, at Marq, at SJ, at WVU
  • The Irish would have to run the table and win the Big East tournament to claim a #1 seed. More likely is they win another 4 or more and get a 2 seed. If they win at least 3 more they will still get a 3 seed.

Georgetown Hoyas RPI 7

  • 21-8, 10-7 in Big East  Away: 8-4
  • 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
  • The Hoyas need to beat Cincinnati and make the Big East tournament finals to be a 2 seed. They need at least 2 more wins to ensure a Sweet 16 seed. Losing without Wright and not getting him back in time for their first NCAA game could affect their seeding.

Connecticut Huskies RPI 20

  • 21-7, 9-7 in Big East  Away: 5-4
  • OOC rundown: 12-0 with good wins over Wichita State, Michigan State, Kentucky, at Texas, and Tennessee. RPI 4, schedule 48.
  • 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
  • The Huskies probably need to run the table to claim a #2 seed. More likely is that they can win at least 3 more and get at least a 3 seed.

Villanova Wildcats RPI 31

  • 21-8, 9-7 in Big East   Away: 7-3
  • OOC rundown: 12-1 with good wins over Temple and UCLA. RPI 18, schedule 110.
  • 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
  • The Cats need to win at least 5 more to get a Sweet 16 seed. This tailspin could knock them out of a single digit seed. They probably need at least 2 more wins to get a single digit seed.

Syracuse Orangemen RPI 15

  • 24-6, 11-6 in Big East   Away: 6-3
  • OOC rundown: 13-0 with wins over Michigan and Michigan State. RPI 12, schedule 123.
  • Big East: Wins: PC, ND, at SH, at SJ, Cin, at Conn, at USF, WVU, Rut, at Vill, at Gtown  Losses: at Pitt, Vill, SH, at Marq, Gtown, at Lou
  • The Orange need at least 1 more win to get a 5 or 6 seed and can get a Sweet 16 seed if they win at least 3 more games. It will be interesting to see how the selection committee deals with the Orange having no OOC road games.

Louisville Cardinals RPI 18

  • 22-7, 11-5 in Big East  Away: 4-5
  • OOC rundown: 11-2 with a decent win over Butler and a good win over UNLV with losses to Drexel and Kentucky. RPI 48, schedule 72.
  • Big East: Wins: SH, at USF, Marq, SJ, WVU, at Conn, Dep, Syr, Conn, at Rut, Pit    Losses: Vill, at PC, at Gtown, at ND, at Cin
  • The Cardinals OOC profile isn’t that great so they need at least 3 more wins to get a Sweet 16 seed. The Cards should get a 5-7 seed with at least 1 more win.

West Virginia Mountaineers RPI 21

  • 18-10, 9-7 in Big East  Away: 4-6
  • OOC rundown: 9-3 with solid wins over Purdue, Vanderbilt and Cleveland St and losses to Minnesota, Miami (FL), and Marshall. RPI 8, schedule 2.
  • Big East: Wins: at Dep, at Gtown, PC, USF, at Cin, SH, Dep, ND, at Rut   Losses: SJ, at Marq, at Lou, at Vill, Pit, at Syr, at Pit
  • It’s going to take a solid finish, but the Mountaineers can get a Sweet 16 seed with at least 4 more wins. More likely is a 5-7 seed with at least 2 more wins.

St John’s Redman RPI 13

  • 19-9, 11-5 in Big East  Away: 5-6
  • OOC rundown: 8-4 with a win over Duke, but they lost to St Mary’s, St Bonaventure, Fordham, and UCLA. RPI 55, schedule 52.
  • Big East: Wins: at WVU, at PC, Gtown, ND, Rut, Conn, at Cin, at Mar, Pit, Dep, at Vill   Losses: at ND, Syr, at Lou, Cin, at Gtown
  • The Johnnies have now won 6 straight and 8 of 9. They should clinch a single digit seed with their next win and could challenge for a Sweet 16 seed if they win at least 3 more games. They have a longshot chance of getting to a 3 seed if they win out, including the Big East tournament.

 

Bubble Territory:

Cincinnati Bearcats RPI 39

  • 22-7, 9-7 in Big East  Away: 7-4
  • OOC rundown: 13-0 with blowout wins over Dayton and Xavier and 7 gimmes. RPI 38, schedule 281.
  • Big East: Wins: Dep, SH, USF, at SJ, Rut, at Dep, Lou, at PC, at Gtown     Losses: at Vill, at Syr, at ND, WVU, at Pitt, SJ, Conn
  • The Bearcats still aren’t there yet. The Bearcats need at least 1 more win to be safe on Selection Sunday. If they win at least 2 more games, they can get a single digit seed.

Marquette Warriors RPI 52

  • 18-11, 9-7 in Big East  Away: 4-6
  • OOC rundown: 9-4 with no notable wins and losses to Duke, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt. RPI 124, schedule 175.
  • 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
  • Marquette needs at least 2 more wins to be safe on Selection Sunday. Anything  less puts them squarely on the bubble.

 

Better Win the Conference Tournament:

Rutgers Scarlet Knights RPI 120

  • 13-15, 4-12 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 98, schedule 232.
  • The Scarlet Knights now need to win the Big East tournament.

Providence Friars RPI 149

  • 14-15, 3-13 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 11-2 with a solid win over URI and a decent loss to BC. RPI 80, schedule 237.
  • If they end up with an 8-10 Big East record or better and win more than one game in MSG, then we’ll talk. So I’m saying they have a chance.

Seton Hall Pirates RPI 100

  • 11-17, 5-11 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-6 with no good wins and plenty of solid losses. RPI 121, schedule 29.
  • Their losing record shouldn’t turn off the CBI committee.

South Florida Bulls RPI 160

  • 9-20, 3-13 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-7 with a win over VCU and plenty of losses. RPI 132, schedule 31.
  • Not this year.

DePaul Blue Demons RPI 229

  • 7-21, 1-15 in Big East
  • OOC rundown: 6-6 with no good wins and plenty of bad losses. RPI 253, schedule 235.
  • Wait til next year.

 

That’s this week’s Big East overview. This will be updated next week.

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 Feb 22

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

SEC Player of the Year?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for Feb 22

News and Notes:

Coach Cal had a dubious explanation for not subbing in Saturday’s blowout over South Carolina.

The Illini will need to be successful from long range to win tonight in Columbus.

Kevin Stallings and the Vandy players talk about tonight’s showdown with the Vols.

Bruce Pearl is trying to get the Vols to play better.

The Spartans are still not at 100% as they battle the Gophers tonight in Minneapolis.

The Gophers think that losing Nolen will cost them with the NCAA selection committee next month.

Yesterday’s Winners:

Syracuse: The Orange have been a little inconsistent and needed another good road win. Winning in Philly gives them that and gets them in double digit wins in the Big East. Jardine and Jackson were sensational as they combined for 38 points on 15-20 shooting. If they can continue their winning streak through the Big East tourney, they should be able to work their way into a Sweet 16 seed.

Losers:

Villanova: Home losses are bad no matter how you look at them. The Cats had a pair of close calls last week and now have lost home games to Georgetown, Pitt, and Syracuse. St John’s and the rest of their schedule won’t make things easy on the Wildcats chances for a good seed in March.

Oklahoma State: It’s time to bury the Pokes. Even without their point guard, the Jayhawks easily handled the Cowboys. Even with an abysmal bubble, winning out through to the Big 12 title game might not even be enough now.

UTEP: Because the game was played during the day doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bad loss. The Miners at-large chances took a major hit with the loss to UCF. The Miners might have to win out until the CUSA finals to have a chance at an at-large bid. Otherwise, they probably need to win the CUSA tournament now.

Valparaiso: I never gave them much at-large consideration but there are some that do. Or did. The only good thing that came out of that bad loss was that I found out about the Horizon League’s streaming video for free. Some leagues (That’s you Atlantic Ten) need to take notice. FREE publicity is GOOD publicity.

Tuesday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

(22) Illinois at (24) Ohio State: ESPN at 7 EST

(61) Tennessee at (1) Vanderbilt: ESPN at 9 EST

(61) Michigan State at (1) Minnesota: 9 EST

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