RTC Bracketology: March 9 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 9th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

Here are quick thoughts and notes following Saturday’s games:

Lock them up: Florida is now guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament. The Gators pummeled Kentucky and then watched two other No. 1 seed contenders, Kansas and Arizona, lose. If the field was selected today, Florida would be the No. 1 overall seed and the only way that will change is if the Gators lose in the SEC Tournament. But, one thing is not going to change: The Gators will be on the top line. Wichita State is also locked into a No. 1 seed after reaching the Missouri Valley championship game.

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The Gators Will Be a #1 Seed Next Sunday

Teams in the running for a No. 1 seed: Kansas lost to West Virginia by six and Arizona lost at Oregon, creating chaos on the top line. I already had Wisconsin on the No. 1 line before Kansas’ loss and I expect other bracketology experts to move the Badgers up now, barring a loss at needy Nebraska Sunday night. Villanova and Syracuse are also in play for a top seed after Virginia’s defeat at Maryland today.

Green Bay very much alive: I always feel awful for at least one mid-major team that dominates its conference all season and then gets swept away in the conference tournament, losing to a team its already proven it’s better than. Well, this year’s team has already identified itself: Green Bay. The Phoenix lost to Milwaukee Saturday night and now will sweat out Selection Sunday. For those who think Green Bay’s chances of getting a bid are slim to none, think again. Remember the first year of the 68-team field when UAB was picked out of Conference USA despite losing in the first round of the CUSA Tournament to East Carolina? Or last season, when a Middle Tennessee team without a single top 100 win, made the field? The Pheonix have a top 100 win, and actually, they have four. They also have a TOP 10 RPI win over Virginia, a team the rest of the ACC has only defeated twice. I’m not saying Green Bay is getting a bid – not at this point, with so much still to be determined — but they will be one of the last teams in or out next Sunday. The committee has shown over and over again since the field expanded that it will use an average of two of last few spots for mid-majors. This is a weaker year for mid-majors than any other year since the field went to 68 teams, but that doesn’t mean the committee will act differently.

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RTC Bracketology: March 8 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 8th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

This is a quick update to the March 3 field. Remember, this weekend we are awarding automatic bids. The race for the final No. 1 seed is heating  up and will come down to conference tournament play over the last few days of the season. For now, my final No. 1 seed is Wisconsin and I believe that if the Badgers win the Big Ten Tournament, they are likely be on the No. 1 line.

Kansas, Virginia and Villanova also have strong cases. Like I wrote in my last update, I think Florida, Arizona and Wichita State are pretty much locks to be No. 1 seeds. The only way I can see that changing is if Florida loses to Kentucky and again in the SEC Tournament, Arizona follows suit, and Wichita State loses in the MVC Tournament. Plus at least two teams from the Wisconsin, Kansas,Virginia and Villanova group would need to win their conference tournaments. That would really make things interesting. I’ve never missed a No. 1 seed and don’t plan to start this year, so I’m honestly hoping that last scenario does not happen.

First Four Out: Tennessee, Missouri, BYU, Providence

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The RTC Podblast: Regular Season Finale Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2014

It’s all about coming full circle on the 2013-14 regular season in this week’s RTC Podblast, and to help us through some of the key questions as we enter the final weekend of play and start looking ahead to March Madness, the guys welcome Sporting News‘ columnist Mike DeCourcy. For those of you who have been listening to us all season, you might recall that DeCourcy was our first Rush the Take guest way back in the preseason. He may have aged five months since then but his takes are as relevant as ever. Full circle.

As usual, the rundown is below if you’d like to skip around to the most interesting parts. Also keep an eye out early next week as we’ll be releasing a bunch of podblasts previewing the upcoming conference tourneys as we head into the heart of Championship Fortnight.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record.

  • 0:00-3:05 – Down Goes Duke
  • 3:05-5:18 – Struggling Syracuse
  • 5:18-8:27 – Saint Louis Blue
  • 8:27-25:20 – Rush the Take: Mike DeCourcy
  • 25:20-35:35 – Final Weekend Preview
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The RTC Podblast: Other 26 Conference Tourney Preview Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2014

Welcome to March Madness. With the tip-off of the opening round games of the Patriot League Tournament on Monday night — hey, Colgate and Lafayette — Championship Fortnight is already here. To prep ourselves for all of the action among the nation’s Other 26 leagues, the RTC Podblast crew welcomed O26 microwriters Tommy Lemoine (@hoopthink) and Adam Stillman (@adamstillman87) to walk us through some of the top storylines to follow both this week and next. The guys had a good discussion about whether Wichita State will ultimately #cheerfortheears at Arch Madness, which tourneys might produce the most interesting match-ups, and named some players to keep an eye on as we ultimately head toward the NCAA Tournament. Among other things. If you’re at all interested in the non-power leagues, definitely give this preview a listen!

We’re going to be dropping podcasts/podblasts like crazy over the next five weeks of action, so make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-4:03 – #cheerfortheears – Three Games Left
  • 4:03-8:55 – Top Five O26 Teams
  • 8:55-10:25 – Conference Tournaments To Be Excited About
  • 10:25-12:03 – Another Year, Another WCC Championship for Gonzaga?
  • 12:03-13:42 – Leagues Primed For Some Conference Tournaments Upsets
  • 13:42-15:38 – Championship Match-Ups to Hope For
  • 15:38-17:33 – Potential Bid Stealers
  • 17:33-19:34 – Future Cinderellas
  • 19:34-21:55 – Players the Nation Will Fall in Love With
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RTC Bracketology: March 3 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 3rd, 2014

Selection Sunday is almost here and the field is starting to take shape. Everything will obviously clear up a lot more when conference tournaments get underway this week and next as teams play themselves into and out of the 68-team field. This time of the year is like a whirlwind, though. It’s hard to keep up with all of it because there are still so many things we do not know. But if we focus on what we do know, things get a lot easier. Let’s do that with today’s RTC Bracketology.

  • Unless  something unbelievable happens down the stretch, Wichita State is going to get a No. 1 seed. The Shockers are basically a lock for the top line and Florida and Arizona are very close to it as well. I think if the Gators and Wildcats win both of their games this week, they will be No. 1 seeds regardless of what happens in their conference tournaments. This is the clearest the top line of the bracket has ever been at this point. Of course, losses by the Shockers, Gators and Wildcats in the next  two weeks would muddy that picture, but let’s count those three teams as No. 1 seed locks at this point.
  • The fight for the fourth No. 1 seed is insane. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of Wisconsin earning the final No. 1 seed, and as of today, I think the Badgers have the nation’s fourth-best profile. For now, I’m leaving Syracuse on the top line, because that’s what I think the Selection Committee would do, but in my opinion, both Kansas and Wisconsin have better resumes. We know that the fight for the last No. 1 seed is really unclear right now, because there are so many teams still alive for it: Syracuse, Wisconsin, Kansas, Villanova, Duke, Virginia, Michigan, Creighton, and and San Diego State. Obviously some of those teams are long shots.
  • The bottom of the bracket is a complete mess. Arkansas moves in with a sweep over Kentucky, and Tennessee hangs on to the last spot in, which gives the SEC a surprising four teams. It’s still very possible that both the Hawgs and Vols could miss the field, leaving the conference with only two teams playing in the NCAAs. I will say this, though: Tennessee was the only team I got incorrect last year. I picked the Vols over Middle Tennessee last season, and although that won’t factor into the decision on my final field of 68, I won’t be too happy if Cuonzo Martin’s team costs me  a perfect field again. Luckily, there is still a lot of basketball to be played before a final field is seeded.
  • I’ve got 32 locks at  this point. I realize some other websites are more patient on their locks, but there are only 13 days left until Selection Sunday. It’s time to lock teams up. Here are the teams I have locked in the field right now: Arizona, Florida, Wichita State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Kansas, Duke, Villanova, Virginia, Creighton, Michigan, San Diego State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Louisville, North Carolina, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, UCLA, Texas, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kansas State, VCU, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Ohio State, George Washington, Memphis, Arizona State  and New Mexico.
  • Teams moving down the seed list in a hurry this week include Michigan State, which lost at home Saturday to Illinois, and Kentucky, which lost at South Carolina. Ohio State is also on the decline after a loss to Indiana on Sunday.

Bids by Conference: Big 12 (7), Big Ten (6), Pac-12 (6), Atlantic 10 (6), ACC (5), AAC (5) SEC (4), Big East (4), Mountain West (2).
First Four Out: Providence, Missouri, BYU, Oregon

Complete bracket after the jump:

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Where Are They Now: Catching Up With Cinderellas of Years Past

Posted by Nicholas Patrick on February 26th, 2014

We find ourselves on the verge of annual basketball bliss. Over the next several weeks, the action will crescendo as we progress through the regular season sprint to the finish, with the conference tournaments on tap first followed by the NCAA Tournament. Much of the beauty of the Big Dance is that it doesn’t simply build to a single championship round. In essence, every round, from the opening games in Dayton to the title tilt in Arlington, will be a championship round for some teams, a golden chance to exceed their fans’ wildest expectations and make school history. The question every March isn’t if any teams will assume the Cinderella role, but which teams will. In some cases, teams are able to build on their NCAA success for the long term, especially if they return most of their key contributors or catch the eye of a bigger-fish conference. In other cases, Cinderella’s coach may receive a promotion of his own, moving up in prestige and pay scale, and leading to a rebuilding project for his former team.

Butler is the Cinderella Benchmark (AP/N. Wass)

Butler is the Cinderella Benchmark (AP/N. Wass)

Let’s catch up with a few of the O26 Cinderella teams from recent tourneys:

2011

  • Morehead State. As a #13 seed, the Eagles sent shock waves through the Bluegrass State by defeating Louisville before losing to Richmond in the round of 32. That team, led by rebounding machine Kenneth Faried, won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament after a third place regular season finish. Since then, Morehead State has taken two steps back before moving forward. The following season without Faried, the Eagles finished 10-6 in conference play. In 2012-13, after head coach Sean Woods (from Mississippi Valley State) replaced Donnie Tyndall (who left for Southern Mississippi), the Eagles slipped to 8-8 in the OVC. They now appear to be on the way back this season, approaching 20 wins and contending with Belmont and Murray State for an OVC title.
  • Richmond. As a #12 seed, the Spiders defeated Vanderbilt and Morehead State before losing badly to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. Chris Mooney was rewarded with his first NCAA Tournament wins (and second appearance) in his sixth season at the school, after showing steady improvement throughout his tenure. That team, led by seniors Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper, won the Atlantic 10 Tournament after finishing in third place during the regular season. Richmond had to regroup after losing its stars, finishing 7-9 and 8-8 in conference play in subsequent seasons. But this season, led by a balanced attack that includes Cedric Lindsay (who was a freshman on that Cinderella team), the Spiders are on their way to 20 wins, in a tight race for second place in the Atlantic 10, and find themselves squarely on the bubble heading into the final two weeks (they are included on 32 of 95 brackets, according to Bracket Matrix, as of Tuesday evening).

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What’s Trending: Rick Pitino, Bill Walton, Wichita State, Michael Sam and More…

Posted by Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) on February 21st, 2014

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) is your weekly host.

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Bill Walton’s Mount Rushmore of Musicians

Bill Walton has no idea how many presidents are on Mount Rushmore. A must watch.

Syracuse is Not Undefeated Anymore

But that is OK. Sometimes losing helps give you perspective and alleviate some unnecessary pressure.

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That Means Wichita State is the Nation’s Lone Unbeaten

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RTC Bracketology: Presidents Day Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 17th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

A handful of teams made statements over the past week, but Florida made the biggest statement of all. The Gators went into Rupp Arena, where the Wildcats rarely lose under John Calipari, and won by 10 points. The SEC may be having an awful season as a collective, but Florida may actually be the nation’s best team. For a squad that many were doubting as a #1 seed just a few short days ago, Florida has clearly separated itself from many of the others chasing them at this point.

Syracuse survived games with Pittsburgh and NC State, but for bracketing purposes all that matters is that the Orange won those two games. Because of the victories and Arizona‘s Friday night loss to Arizona State, Syracuse remains the No. 1 overall seed. Wichita State is still fourth on my overall S-curve. The Shockers have been helped by losses from the teams behind them for a No. 1 seed.

The race for the last few at-large bids is a complete mess. After a win over Michigan State Sunday, Nebraska is now in the mix. Yes, Nebraska. The SEC needs somebody not named Kentucky to beat Florida towards the end of the regular season or in the SEC Tournament, but any wins other than one over the Gators is pretty useless.

First Four Out: LSU, West Virginia, Baylor, Florida State

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The RTC Podblast: Mock NCAA Selection Committee Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 14th, 2014

It’s Friday, it’s Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time for another tearjerking edition of the RTC Podblast. As we head into a holiday weekend (bookended!) and the countdown of only four weeks until Selection Sunday, the guys are ready to focus on the selection of the field for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. To help us with that task, FoxSports.com‘s Reid Forgrave (@reidforgrave) joined us for this week’s Rush the Takes, as he is currently participating in the NCAA’s mock selection committee exercise in Indianapolis. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and some of the revelations from Forgrave on how teams like Pittsburgh and Wichita State are being evaluated is certainly interesting.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-8:22 – Syracuse Continues To Prove Themselves
  • 8:22-12:55 – Pitt Continues to Drop Chances
  • 12:55-14:38 – The Surprising Postponement of Duke-UNC
  • 14:38-15:45 – Quick Takes on Tuesday Action
  • 15:45-29:28 – Rush The Takes With Reid Forgrave
  • 29:28-37:00 – Weekend Preview
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The RTC Podcast: #cheerfortheears Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2014

The RTC Podcast is back in action, and there was plenty to talk about this week as unbeaten Wichita State got through its mathematically toughest set of games remaining on its schedule. Can the Shockers run the table? Is it time to #cheerfortheears? We brought on CBSSports.com‘s Matt Norlander to discuss the bet and a bunch of other relevant things in this week’s podcast. The full rundown is below.

  • 0:00-6:00 – #CheerForTheEars Origin Story
  • 6:00-13:46 – Chances Wichita State Actually Goes Undefeated
  • 13:46-25:13 Marcus Smart Fall Out (you did drop another Markel Starks, but I deleted it haha)
  • 25:13-29:50 – Notable Games Around the Country
  • 29:50-32:55 – Overanalyzed Teams
  • 32:55-37:04 – Shaky Top of the Rankings
  • 37:04-46:17 – More Norlander Predictions
  • 46:17-53:58 – Week Preview
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RTC Bracketology: February 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 10th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

The movement in my latest bracket is not at the top.

  • The No. 1 seeds remain the same with Syracuse, Arizona, Florida and Wichita State on the top line. After winning at Northern Iowa, the Shockers have survived all of their major regular season hurdles and appear destined to be an outstanding 34-0 going into the NCAA Tournament.
  • Most of this week’s changes are at the bottom. The difference between the last eight teams in and the first eight teams out is minimal. For instance, LSU, Missouri and Tennessee are all among the last few teams in, while Ole Miss is among the last four out. That’s how close the SEC is to only having two teams — Florida and Kentucky — make the field this year.
  • A big winner this week includes SMU, a team that dominated Cincinnati Saturday night. On the flip side, Oklahoma State is now a No. 8 seed following another loss and the Marcus Smart situation, which leaves the Cowboys without their best player for the next three games. Of course, I’m not projecting those games (potential losses) into the field here.

Bids by Conference: Big 12 (6), ACC (6), Big Ten (6), Pac-12 (6), SEC (5), AAC (5), Big East (4), Atlantic 10 (4), Mountain West (2), WCC (2)

First Four Out: Dayton, Oregon, Georgetown, Ole Miss

The full bracket is after the jump:

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RTC Bracketology: February 3 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 3rd, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

Five top 10 teams lost this weekend and my latest bracketology reflects all of the wild results. No. 1 Arizona finally lost after playing with fire multiple times in the last few weeks, but more importantly, the Wildcats also lost power forward Brandon Ashley for the season. The Wildcats — a lock to make the Big Dance — will be evaluated by the selection committee as a new team without their second-leading scorer and rebounder in the lineup. Don’t read too much into it right this second, though. If the NCAA Tournament started today, I have no doubt that Arizona would still be a No. 1 seed.

  • Wichita State finally moved up to the No. 1 line in my bracket after Kansas lost to Texas, but like always, I’m going to be brutally honest about the Shockers. Wichita has only TWO wins over teams in my bracket and that is not the sort of quality resume you expect to see from a No. 1 seed. Still, I have the Shockers on the top line because they are undefeated and they look like a top-5 team when you watch them play.
  • Texas is moving up in a hurry after a convincing win Saturday over the Jayhawks. UCLA is also moving up, even after a loss to Oregon State on Sunday. The Bruins are unranked because the Pac-12 is seen as a weak conference (other than Arizona) and it’s really unfair to UCLA. Despite their bad loss yesterday, Steve Alford’s team looks like the conference’s second-best squad at this point and have the quality wins of a middle-of-the-road seed.
  • Pittsburgh is about to start sliding. The Panthers still lack a top-50 win after falling to Virginia on Sunday. For now, I left Pittsburgh as a No. 6 seed but the Panthers have the feel of a team that gets “shafted” on Selection Sunday and end up a couple of seed lines lower. I’m going to keep re-evaluating the Panthers, of course, but based on how the national media perceives Jamie Dixon’s team (currently seen as a Top 25 team), I have to predict the committee will likely see Pittsburgh in the same light and seed them accordingly.

For the first time this season, there are more than 36 at-large teams deserving a spot in the field which made it hard to pick the final few teams. The full bracket is after the jump:

First Four Out: Oregon, BYU, Clemson, Georgetown

Bids by Conference: Big 12 (7), ACC (6), Big Ten (6), Pac-12 (6), SEC (5), American (5), Atlantic 10 (4), Big East (3), Mountain West (2)

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