27 Down, 38 To Go…Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2009
There are twelve automatic bids today, so we’ll be updating these as the day moves forward…
#16 – Binghamton (23-8, 16-3 Am East). Binghamton took care of business today against upstart UMBC to win their eleventh in a row and earn the school’s first ever NCAA bid. Reggie Fuller had 19/10 and alleged non-POY DJ Rivera added 16/5 in the RTC home win. We had more coverage on today’s BGTD.
Projected Seed: #16
Something to Remember: Binghamton is um, size-challenged. Their tallest starter is the 6’6 Fuller. And have you heard that Tony Kornheiser has an affinity for this school for some reason? Yeah, we hadn’t either.
#17 – Memphis (31-3, 19-0 CUSA). 25 straight wins in a row. 61 CUSA wins in row. Memphis just keeps on truckin’, with another stellar defensive performance in holding Tulsa to 26% from the field and 2-14 from three. This was also the 135th win for the Tiger senior class, who is focused on getting to #141, according to Coach Calipari. Robert Dozier had 18/14 and Tyreke Evans had 18/5/6 in the same-old, same-old for Memphis.
Projected Seed: #2
STR: We’re going to be a little contrarian here, but we’re not buying that Memphis is a national title contender this year. Are they better than anticipated? Absolutely. Are they on the same level as UConn, Pitt, Louisville, UNC, etc.? No freakin’ way. Their defense is outstanding, statistically the very best in the land. And CUSA is a better league than people tend to think it is. But the fact of the matter here is that Memphis is playing with house money right now. They were beaten by Georgetown, Xavier and Syracuse in the pre-conference slate. Tennessee took them down to the last possession. They rolled up Gonzaga in their building, but the Zags wilted in the face of their athletic defenders. Memphis is a very good team – but they’re not going back to the F4. Remember that you heard it here first.
#18 -Temple (22-11, 14-5 A10). The Owls held off Duquesne 69-64 for their second consecutive A10 Tournament title today, and it’s Christmas in March for Temple as their star, Dionte Christmas, once again led the way with 29 pts.
Projected Seed: #9
STR: The Owls start and finish with Christmas. He takes 31% of their shots and when he plays well, they can compete with most teams. Temple was 9-4 when Christmas went for 20+ this year, but it was the last twelve games when he allowed more of the offense to flow through other players resulting in a 10-2 finish for the team (as his scoring average dropped down to 17.7 ppg).
#19 – Missouri (28-6, 15-4 Big 12). Mizzou continued its breakout season under Mike Anderson with its first Big 12 title since 1993 and will join the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. DeMarre Carroll had 20/9 and Leo Lyons added 13/7 as the Tigers pulled away from the upstart Baylor Bears in the mid-second half to cruise to the victory.
Projected Seed: #3
STR: There’s a perception that Mizzou is just a run-and-gun team, but their pressure defense produces 18.5 turnovers per game, and a full quarter of their opponents’ possessions end badly. Keep this in mind if Anderson’s team matches up with a sloppy squad in one of the first two rounds – they feast on that.
#20 – USC (21-12, 12-9 Pac-10). USC rode its still-developing superstar freshman Demar DeRozan’s 25 pts and Daniel Hackett’s 19 to an upset victory that earned the Trojans a bid they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. Trust us when we say that nobody will want to see this extremely athletic but sometimes boneheaded team in their bracket.
Projected Seed: #9
STR: Tim Floyd’s team has looked completely lost at times during this year, and the road was a disaster for them (2-8). But the Trojans have a seemingly limitless supply of 6’4 to 6’9 players who can wreak havoc on the defensive end. That said, USC hasn’t always brought it on either end several times this year, and it’s perplexing to make any prediction as to which team will actually show up. They have top-level talent, though, for whatever that’s worth.
#21 – Utah (23-9, 15-4 Mtn West). Utah held on against a furious San Diego St. rally at the end by stripping Richie Williams of the ball as he drove fullcourt to tie the game at 52. Luke Nevill was dominant for the Utes with 18/15, who will be going into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.
Projected Seed: #7
STR: The computers have loved this team all season, and we’re still trying to figure that out. Their best wins were over Gonzaga and LSU at home, but Oklahoma buried them in Norman and even Cal got them in Utah. They’re definitely not the kind of team that will make a big comeback, but Nevill is a future pro and they won’t beat themselves.
#22 – Morgan St. (22-11, 17-3 MEAC). Todd Bozeman’s Morgan St. handled Norfolk St. 83-69 today to earn its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid behind Reggie Holmes’ twenty points. This is a bit of a vindication for Bozeman, as he will re-join the Tourney for the first time since he was at Cal in the early 90s, before he was shunned out of the profession for a period of time lasting well into this decade.
Projected Seed: #16
STR: This team is an offensive nightmare, but they’re actually a solid defensive squad. They only lost to St. Mary’s and Washington by around fifteen pts, and they beat Maryland in College Park. It won’t help them against a #1 seed that much, but we wouldn’t presume a 40-pt loss there.
#23 – Akron (23-12, 14-6 MAC). The fifth seeded Akron Zips won their second-ever MAC title this evening, knocking out third-seeded Buffalo 65-53 for their fourth win in five days behind contributions from three bench players who all went for double figures. The MAC was wild this year, so it makes as much sense as the Zips to win it as anyone else.
Projected Seed: #15
STR: They do it with defense, by forcing turnovers (1st nationally in turnover rate) and defending the three (9th nationally), but their four-game winning streak to win the MAC Tourney was their second-longest of the season (7).
#24 – Louisville (28-5, 19-2 Big East). Louisville took advantage of a tired Syracuse team in the second-half of tonight’s Big East championship to outscore the Orange by eighteen to win both the regular season and postseason titles in that loaded league. All five starter and one sub reached double-figures for the Cards, who will likely be looking at a #1 seed tomorrow despite early season losses to UNLV and Western Kentucky.
Projected Seed: #1
STR: Say what you want about the Cards’ unbalanced Big East schedule, but Louisville went 9-1 against currently ranked teams this season – that’s very impressive. At midseason, the question was whether the Louisville guards would be able to produce enough to balance their all-world wings of T-Will and Earl Clark. Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa and Preston Knowles have played well enough, but we still have issues with such an average group of guards going all the way in the NCAA Tournament.
#25 – Alabama St. (21-9, 19-2 SWAC). Alabama St. finished off a dominant season in the SWAC by holding off Jackson St. behind Wesley Jones’ 14/8. This will be their third trip to the NCAAs, and in their previous two appearances they lost to F4 teams – Michigan St. 2001 and Duke 2004.
Projected Seed: #16
STR: ASU brings the best name to the NCAA Tournament, center Chief Kickingstallionsims, but that won’t help them much against whatever #1 seed they face. They play solid defense and they competed with three SEC teams, but hey, they were SEC teams. And they still lost.
#26 – Utah St. (29-4, 17-2 WAC). USU got a huge win by going into Reno and punking Nevada on their home floor tonight, 72-62 (and it wasn’t that close). This is exactly why Utah St. should be in the Tournament, because they’re an excellent team that rises to the challenge. Gary Wilkinson had 21/6, but this isn’t a one-man show, as three other Aggies finished in double figures.
Projected Seed: #9
STR: Yes, the out-of-conference SOS was weak, with the best game being their win over Utah, but we’d warn against taking lightly a team that ranks #1 in offensive efficiency this season. They get great shots, they share the ball, and they never turn the ball over. Take this team lightly at your own risk.
#27 – Cal St. Northridge (17-13, 14-5). Yep, CSN is barely a .500 team, but they outlasted Pacific 71-66 in the Big West title game after blowing an 18-pt first half lead. We already have a strong sense that this team is a little schizo, but hey, congrats to them for getting to the Dance for only the second time in their history.
Projected Seed: #16
STR: Ok, their best win of the season was tonight against #140 RPI Pacific. So don’t expect much from this team, but hey, they’re really good at forcing turnovers.
Ok, so that’s the twelve auto-bids for today. The big surprises were #6 seed USC and #5 seed Akron in the Pac-10 and MAC, respectively. There are four more automatic bids given out tomorrow, starting at 1pm.
Here are some brief predictions for Sunday (we were 8-4 today):
- ACC – (4) Florida St. vs. (3) Duke. FSU won it’s Super Bowl today. Duke rolls in this one.
- Big 10 – (5) Ohio St. vs. (3) Purdue. PU is playing great, and OSU is too, but we just really like this Boilers team.
- SEC – (W3) Mississippi St. vs. (E1) Tennessee. MSU pulls the rug from another bubble team by winning the SEC auto-bid.
- Southland – (6) UT-San Antonio vs. (1) Stephen F. Austin. SFA is the class of the ‘Land and will advance to #16-seedland.