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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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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.

Ranking the NCAA Men’s Hoops Major Job Openings

Wooooooooo! Pig! Soooooey!

There are many factors that go into making a college coaching job better than another. Sometimes it can just be based on timing, as schools change administrations, conferences, or upgrade facilities. The biggest factor, however, is the total commitment by the administration and the fan/alumni base. It’s that commitment that can make or break the non-elite coaches.

1. Arkansas

The Hogs are the most recent national champion in this group. This is a program with a tremendous amount of success starting with Eddie Sutton in the 1970’s and followed by Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of Hell-era. Since Richardson, Stan Heath and John Pelphrey have only made 3 NCAA tournaments in 9 seasons and Arkansas hasn’t been a major player nationally.

The expectations are higher in Fayetteville than many places and for good reason. Since Bud Walton Arena opened before the 1993-94 season, the Razorbacks have been in the top 10 nationally in attendance 11 of 17 seasons it’s been open. They play in the extremely weak SEC West where football reigns supreme. The only other traditionally good SEC West basketball school is LSU and they are going through worse times in Baton Rouge than Arkansas. There’s no reason why Arkansas can’t be the class of the SEC West given their tradition and competition.

If the SEC is a five or six bid league annually, then Arkansas should be in the running for one of the spots competing right behind Kentucky and Florida. That leaves three or four spots for the ten remaining teams. Arkansas shouldn’t be taking a back seat to any of the remaining teams as long as they have the right coach. As a school that has been to 3 Final Fours and has one championship since 1990, more is expected from this program. The right hire here and the Hogs could be national powers again in the near future.

2. North Carolina State

If the rumors are true, then Sidney Lowe should be unemployed shortly after his midday meeting with AD Debbie Yow. The word is that NC State will be offering upwards of $3M per season to the next coach to compete on Tobacco Road against the heavyweights of college basketball.

The tradition of this program has taken a hit over the past 20 years, but the passion of the fan base remains rabid. Many forget, but there are only a handful of schools that have more national championships than the Wolfpack’s two in 1974 and 1983. Their rich history spans decades with successful coaches like Everett Case, Norm Sloan, and Jim Valvano. But with only six NCAA bids since 1989, the prestige of the program has taken a hit, both locally and nationally and this hire can go a long way to restoring the success in the program.

Like the SEC, the ACC is typically a five or six bid league annually. That usually leaves four bids for the ten teams behind Duke and UNC every March. There’s no reason why NC State should be behind football schools Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. They also have a better tradition and history of success than Virginia and Wake Forest. They belong with Maryland in the next tier below UNC in the ACC.

Duke is different animal. They are in a special situation where they might have the best coach ever in college basketball. The key question that the new head coach needs to know is: How much longer will Coach K be at Duke? Once Coach K leaves Duke, that will open up the competition for the #2 spot in the ACC behind UNC. With the right coach, the Wolfpack could easily fill the void that Duke will leave when Coach K leaves. If this happens within the next 3-5 years, this new coach should benefit.

3. Utah

The Utes? Yes. The 1998 national runner-ups have a very good tradition that has gone under the radar due to their media market and conference affiliations. But beginning next season, they will be a part of the Pacific 12 conference and there will be an opportunity for major success.

The Utes have a national championship during World War II and also played in three other Final Fours, including 1998. The Utes have appeared in 27 NCAA tournaments and also won the NIT in 1947 when it was still bigger than the NCAAs. In addition, the Utes are tied with Indiana for 11th on the all-time win list with 1651 wins.

The Pac 10 hasn’t been that great in recent years and a good hire should get Utah into the top third of the conference quickly. Only UCLA and Arizona are the traditionally stronger programs than Utah in the Pac 12. The other top programs are very similar in history and success. The Huntsman Center is a very good facility that has hosted the NCAA tournament as recently as 2006 and is bigger than any building in the new Pac 12.

Athletic Director Chris Hill has made two hires since Rick Majerus left seven years ago. Unfortunately, it has only resulted in two appearances in the NCAAs. This is now a good job in a BCS conference now; they appear to want to make a strong commitment, so will they be able to attract the right coach?

4. Oklahoma

Jeff Capel was let go on Monday and it’s now hiring season in Norman. While the Sooners have a solid basketball program, it will always be in the shadow of its perennial top 10 football program. The program has been very good over the past 30 years but competing annually against Kansas and a now stronger Texas makes this job more difficult than the others above on the list. In addition, Bedlam rival Oklahoma State has a much longer and richer tradition of success on the hardwood than the Sooners.

The departure of Colorado and Nebraska tightens up the quality of the conference basketball wise. But there are unknowns about the future of the league and how a conference shift based on football might affect the basketball program. This is a solid job, but not a great job. They will always be clustered in a group behind Kansas in the conference. The resources are there, but the fan base isn’t as passionate as the other schools on this list.

Since Billy Tubbs arrived for the 1980-81 season, the Sooners have played in 23 NCAA tournaments, with two Final Fours, and also two NIT appearances. They made 25 straight postseason appearances from 1982-2006 which was snapped after Capel’s first season. The AD Joe Castiglione is definitely committed to excellence. But will he be able to find that special coach who can lead the Sooners back to the Final Four?

5. Georgia Tech

The Rambling Wreck was an also-ran in the ACC forever before they brought Bobby Cremins into the program in 1981. In the 19 seasons with Cremins, the Yellow Jackets went to 10 of their 16 NCAA tournaments and one Final Four. Recently fired Paul Hewitt went to 5 NCAAs in 11 seasons and lost in the 2004 championship game.

What makes this program somewhat intriguing is the size of the school and their alumni base. Even though they are a traditional football school, Georgia Tech has gotten a taste of success in hoops over the past 25 years and the right hire might be able to reenergize the fan base. This biggest problem facing Tech is similar to NC State, playing in the competitive ACC. Except that they lack the Tobacco Road fanaticism and tradition that State has.

Georgia Tech is an ACC school located in Atlanta. That should be enticing, right? But you start every year playing for third in the ACC and the expectations are generally high. Hewitt got eleven years, but he was given extra time based on his early success. His replacement isn’t going to be guaranteed that kind of support. As with NC State, the timing could be right here. The conference is down across the board, save UNC and Duke, so the right hire could catapult the Yellow Jackets to the top third of the ACC.

6. Providence

Here’s an example of why all big conference jobs aren’t created equal. The Friars were great under Joe Mullaney and Dave Gavitt in the years leading up to the formation of the Big East conference in 1979. Since then, the Friars have struggled to compete against the nationally recognizable conference mates.

Rick Pitino had a short tenure at PC, but took the Friars to their second and last Final Four in 1987. In the decade or so after Pitino left for the Knicks, the Friars became a stop on the basketball coaching ladder as Rick Barnes and Pete Gillen both left PC for the ACC.  Before firing Keno Davis after only three seasons, the Friars were incredibly patient with his predecessor, Tim Welsh. Welsh spent 10 years at PC with only two appearances in the NCAA’s after taking over for Pete Gillen in 1998.

So what is the deal here? The fanbase is terrific as the Friars are essentially the “pro team” in the state capital of Rhode Island during the winter. The problem is that the Big East is ridiculously difficult to compete in now. Ten coaches in the conference have made it to the Sweet 16 or farther. Six have been to the Final Four and three have won NCAA championships.

While the fans probably want a lifer, the best possible coach for them would be in the mold of a young Pitino or Barnes who are working their way up in the profession. Maybe they can get lucky and that coach sticks around for a few years longer than expected.

Making the Case against the Teams Whose Bubbles Burst

March 14, 2011 1 comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Done?

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 13

Today is Selection Sunday: Finally Home

News and Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Losers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Games: RPI in ()

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

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

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

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

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

Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

The Jimmer got 52 last night

Welcome to the Road to Selection Sunday for March 12

News and Notes:

Top 3 Games to Watch:

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

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

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

Winners:

Automatic Qualifiers:

  • Patriot: Bucknell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Losers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday’s Notable Games: RPI in ()

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big 12 Basketball Overview March 6

Big 12 Basketball Overview March 6

Team Overviews: Records are going into March 6th. RPI is courtesy of rpiforecast.com.

Current NCAA Locks:

Kansas Jayhawks RPI 1

  • 29-2, 14-2 in Big 12  Away: 9-1  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 15-0 with good wins over Arizona, UCLA, USC, and Michigan. They also have 4 gimme wins. RPI 2, schedule 31.
  • Big 12: Wins: at ISU, Neb, at Bay, at CU, KSU, at TT, at Neb, Mizz, ISU, CU, OSU, at OU, A&M, at Mizz     Losses: Tex, at KSU
  • They Jayhawks are probably a lock for a 1 seed and might be the overall #1 seed if they win the Big 12 tournament.

Texas Longhorns RPI 13

  • 25-6, 13-3 in Big 12   Away: 8-3   Neutral: 1-1
  • OOC rundown: 12-3 with good wins over Illinois, North Carolina, and Michigan St and losses to Pitt, USC, and UConn. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 36, schedule 69.
  • Big 12: Wins: at TT, OU, A&M, at KU, at Ok St, Mizz, at A&M, TT, at OU, Bay, OSU, ISU, at Bay  Losses: at Neb, at CU, KSU
  • The Horns probably need to win the Big 12 tournament to get a 2 seed. They probably need to win twice to ensure a 3 seed. Losing their first game drops them to a 4 seed.

Kansas State Wildcats RPI 17

  • 22-9, 10-6 in Big 12  Away: 5-6  Neutral: 0-0
  • OOC rundown: 12-3 with wins over Virginia Tech, Gonzaga, and Wash St with losses to Duke, Florida, and UNLV. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 25, schedule 34.
  • Big 12: Wins: TT, Bay, Neb, at ISU, KU, OUat, at Neb, Mizz, at Tex, ISU  Losses: at OSU, CU, at Mizz, at A&M, at KU, at CU
  • The Wildcats can get a 4 seed if they win the Big 12 tournament. Getting to the finals would get them a 5 seed and going 1-1 would probably keep them as a 6 seed.

Texas A&M Aggies RPI 30

  • 23-7, 10-6 in Big 12  Away: 5-4  Neutral: 3-1
  • OOC rundown: 13-1 solid wins over Temple and Washington and a decent loss to BC. They also have 7 gimme wins. RPI 43, schedule 214.
  • Big 12: Wins: at OU, OSU, Mizz, KSU, at CU, at TT, ISU, at OSU, OU, TT   Losses: at Tex, at Neb, Tex, Bay, at Bay, at KU
  • The Aggies could make it to a 5 seed if they win the Big 12 tournament. Getting to the finals would get them a 6 seed. Going 1-1 will get them a 7 seed and losing their opener could drop them to an 8 to 10 seed.

Missouri Tigers RPI 34

  • 22-9, 8-8 in Big 12  Away: 2-7  Neutral: 3-0
  • OOC rundown: 14-1 with good wins over Vanderbilt, Illinois, and Old Dominion with a solid loss to Georgetown. They also have 6 gimme wins and a non division I win. RPI 51, schedule 237.
  • Big 12: Wins: Neb, KSU, ISU, CU, OU, TT, at ISU, Bay   Losses: at CU, at A&M, at Tex, at OSU, at KU, at KSU, at Neb, KU
  • It will be interesting to see what happens if the Tigers lose to Texas Tech. They’re probably in, but you never know. They need to win 2 games to ensure a single digit seed. Winning 3 games to get to the Big 12 finals would get them as high as a 7 seed, but most likely in an 8-9 game. Winning the Big 12 tournament could send them as high as a 6 seed.

 

Bubble Territory:

Colorado Buffaloes RPI 76

  • 19-12, 8-8 in Big 12  Away: 3-9  Neutral: 1-1
  • OOC rundown: 11-4 with no notable wins. They also have 8 gimme wins and a non-division I win. RPI 151, schedule 321.
  • Big 12: Wins: Mizz, at KSU, OSU, ISU, KSU, at TT, Tex  Losses: at Neb, at OU, KU, at Bay, at Mizz, A&M, at KU
  • The Buffs need to win their last 2 games and then at least 2 more in the Big 12 tournament to get an at-large. Their OOC profile is too bad for anything less.

 

Needs To Get Hot:

Oklahoma State Cowboys RPI 64

  • 18-12, 6-10 in Big 12  Away: 2-9  Neutral: 2-1
  • OOC rundown: 12-2 with Missouri State being the only solid win and losses to Gonzaga and Virginia Tech. They also have 5 gimme wins. RPI 49, schedule 190.
  • Big 12: Wins: KSU, ISU, Mizz, OU, TT, Bay      Losses: at A&M, at CU, at Bay, Tex, at TT, at Neb, at Tex, A&M, at KU, at OU
  • The Cowboys probably have to play in the Big 12 finals to have an at-large chance. That would include a win over Kansas. That might be good enough.

Nebraska Cornhuskers RPI 78

  • 19-11, 7-9 in Big 12  Away: 1-7  Neutral: 1-2
  • OOC rundown: 12-2 with a win over USC and losses to Vanderbilt and Davidson. They also have 8 gimme wins. RPI 119, schedule 291.
  • Big 12: Wins: ISU, CU, A&M, OSU, at OU, Tex, Mizz      Losses: at Mizz, at KU, at TT, at KSU, KU, at Bay, at CU
  • The Huskers match up against OSU and probably need similar results. Having wins over Texas and Kansas might impress the committee enough.

Baylor Bears RPI 83

  • 18-12, 7-9 in Big 12  Away: 2-6  Neutral: 1-2
  • OOC rundown: 10-3 with no notable wins and decent losses to Gonzaga, Washington State, and Florida State. They also have 8 gimme wins. RPI 110, schedule 196.
  • Big 12: Wins: at TT, OU, OSU, CU, at A&M, Neb, A&M     Losses: at ISU, KU, at KSU, at OU, at Tex, at Mizz, at OSU, Tex
  • The Bears have to make the Big 12 finals to have a chance. Even wins over Texas and A&M along the way might not be enough.

 

Better Win the Conference Tournament:

Iowa State Cyclones RPI 127

  • 16-15, 3-13 in Big 12
  • OOC rundown: 13-2 with decent wins over Creighton and Virginia and losses to Northern Iowa and Cal. They also have 9 gimme wins. RPI 112, schedule 311.
  • The Mayor not even get an invite to the CBI.

Oklahoma Sooners RPI 133

  • 13-17, 5-11 in Big 12
  • OOC rundown: 8-6 with no good wins and a horrible loss to Chaminade. They also have 7 gimme wins. RPI 157, schedule 198.
  • Capel might start next season on the hot seat.

Texas Tech Red Raiders RPI 159

  • 13-18, 5-11 in Big 12
  • OOC rundown: 8-7 with no good wins and some bad losses. They also have 6 gimme wins. RPI 240, schedule 257.
  • Did Knight do enough to save his job? Billy Gillespie is the rumored replacement.

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