RTC Bracketology: March 15 (2:00 PM ET) Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) on March 15th, 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’s what has changed on Friday and earlier today:

  •  Albany (America East) and Tulsa (Conference USA) have clinched bids by winning their conference tournaments.

The NCAA Tournament Picture (full S-curve after the jump)

  • NCAA Tournament Locks (38): Arizona, Florida, 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, New Mexico, Oregon, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Saint Joseph’s
  • Clinched NCAA Tournament Auto-Bids (15): Harvard (Ivy), Eastern Kentucky (OVC), Wichita State (MVC), Mercer (ASUN), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Manhattan (MAAC), Wofford (SOCON), Milwaukee (Horizon), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), North Dakota State (Summit), Gonzaga (WCC), Delaware (CAA), American (Patriot), Albany (America East), Tulsa (Conference USA)

Bracket Math

I have 38 locks above, but when you consider nine conferences figure to have at least three bids or more (American, ACC, A10, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC) it’s fair to assume that in MOST — if not all — of those leagues, the automatic bid will also come from an already “locked in” team. Therefore, we subtract nine from 38, which leaves us with 29 “true locks”. Add in the 32 automatic bids awarded to teams that win their conference tournament (which is where the nine conference champs we discounted a second ago will end up) and you’ve got a total of 61 locks. 

Since 68 teams make the NCAA Tournament, that leaves us with 7 spots remaining for bubble teams. Now, let’s take a look at the bubble:

Projected Bubble Spots Left: 7

  • Probably In (4): Nebraska, Dayton, Xavier, SMU
  • Bubble In (3):  Tennessee, BYU, Providence
  • Bubble Out: Minnesota, Arkansas, California, Green Bay, Florida State, Southern Miss, N. C. State, St. John’s, Belmont, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana Tech

Potential Bid Thieves Left: 3

  • ACC (1): N. C. State
  • A-10 (1):  St. Bonaventure
  • SEC (1): Georgia

The Projected NCAA Tournament Field

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Xavier on the Cusp of Returning to the NCAA Tournament

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 14th, 2014

Brian Otskey is reporting from the Big East Tournament all week

After missing the NCAA Tournament last year for only the second time since 2000, Xavier head coach Chris Mack made it clear to his team what the goal was this season. “Every time we play a game from day one, from game one up until tonight, we always wrote the four letters in the top right of the white board [in the locker room] that said NCAA’ because deep down that’s been a goal of these guys,” said the fifth year Musketeers coach. On a day that saw more dramatics reminding us of moments from years gone by in this event, Xavier was all business in taking care of Marquette and solidifying itsNCAA Tournament hopes. Xavier’s 68-65 win over Marquette was number 21 on the year for Mack’s squad and should be enough to ensure the Musketeers return to the NCAA Tournament next week. Xavier was out-shot and out-rebounded by the pesky Golden Eagles but it was able to get to the free throw line regularly and surprisingly won the turnover battle, two things Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said were key reasons why his team failed to advance to Friday night’s semifinal round. “We turned the ball over too many times in a lower than normal possession game,” said Williams. He was absolutely right as his team failed to take advantage of a Xavier club that ranks near the bottom of the Big East in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage.

Xavier Won Its First Big East Tourney Game Last Night

Xavier Won Its First Big East Tourney Game Last Night

In particular it was Justin Martin who provided a spark for Xavier in the win. He shot the ball very well en route to a 19-point performance and did not turn the ball over once. This was a physical game contested heavily in the paint, your typical grind it out Big East style of game that didn’t feature many transition opportunities. Xavier was buoyed by the return of Matt Stainbrook, who suffered a sprained MCL in the team’s loss at Seton Hall on March 3. Stainbrook only played 15 minutes but contributed eight points and gave the Musketeers a much-needed presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. Marquette tried to mount a charge at the end but a questionable shot by Todd Mayo sealed the deal. After the game, Williams actually asked the assembled media how the NIT selection process works, claiming he was not familiar with it.

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Reviewing the Big Ten’s Bubble Teams Before Indy

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on March 12th, 2014

The Big Ten Tournament commences on Thursday and teams are either hoping to improve their seeding, resume, or win it outright. But these conference tournaments are always of most consequence to the bubble teams. It’s their final chance to rack up a quality win or two in order to impress the selection committee and see their name announced on Selection Sunday. Four Big Ten teams are on the bubble to varying degrees: Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois. The Cornhuskers and Gophers are squarely on it, while the Hoosiers and Illini are longshots at this point. According to bracketmatrix.com, the consensus view has Nebraska in the tourney as an #11 seed while most have Minnesota in their “first four out.” The table below displays the current profile for all four teams.

b1g bubble resumes 2014

Here’s what lies ahead for each of these teams heading into Indianapolis:

Indiana and Illinois. As it turns out, the two longshots face each other in the first round in the #8/#9 match-up on Thursday afternoon. So while one team will be automatically eliminated from bubble talk in its first game, the other will move on to face Michigan on Friday. Beating Michigan will be a tall task, as the outright Big Ten champs have won five straight — the last two of which were against Indiana and Illinois — and at 15-3 have been the hands-down best team in the league. That said, Michigan won a close game against the Hoosiers last Saturday and went to overtime against last-place Purdue a few weeks back, so they are not infallible. The Wolverines are #10 in the RPI and have an SOS of #9, so a win over Michigan here would be a significant boost to either team’s RPI and could advance that team on to the bubble.

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RTC Bracketology: March 12 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) on March 12th, 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.

Monday and Tuesday were the last two “quiet” days of the season. Sure, several automatic bids were handed out to the NCAA Tournament, but all in all not a lot changed in my NCAA Tournament bracketology. BYU’s loss to Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament Final is the biggest result on the board in the last two days and the Cougars were already the first team out of my field. For now, I’m leaving things that way with the right to change my mind before Selection Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament Picture (full bracket after the jump)

  • NCAA Tournament Locks (35): Arizona, Florida, 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, New Mexico, Oregon, Baylor, SMU, Oklahoma State
  • Clinched NCAA Tournament Auto-Bids (11): Harvard (Ivy), Eastern Kentucky (OVC), Wichita State (MVC), Mercer (ASUN), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Manhattan (MAAC), Wofford (SOCON), Milwaukee (Horizon), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), North Dakota State (Summit), Gonzaga (WCC)

Bracket Math

  • How many spots are still available for bubble teams hoping to win their way into the NCAA Tournament? Let’s break it down with a little bit of simple math.
  • I have 35 locks above, but when you consider nine conferences figure to have at least three bids or more (American, ACC, A-10, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC) it’s fair to assume that in MOST, if not all, of those leagues, the automatic bid will also come from an already “locked-in” team. Therefore, we subtract nine from 35, which leaves us with 26 true locks.” Add in the 32 automatic bids awarded to teams that win their conference tournament (which is where the nine conference champs we discounted a second ago will end up) and you’ve got a total of 58 locks. 
  • Since 68 teams make the NCAA Tournament, that leaves us with 10 spots remaining for bubble teams. Now, let’s take a look at the bubble.

Projected Bubble Spots Left: 10

  • Bubble In (10): Colorado, Stanford, Nebraska, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton, Xavier, California, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Tennessee
  • Bubble Out: BYU, Arkansas, Georgetown, Providence, Green Bay, Florida State, St. John’s, Belmont, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia

Potential Bid Thieves Left: 67

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RTC Bracketology: March 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 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.

It’s the best week of the year as we all count down the hours to Selection Sunday. It may take every minute to figure out this field, which continues to produce loops with some of the stunning losses we’ve seen over the last few weeks. On Sunday alone, two potential No. 1 seeds lost  following a Saturday when Kansas and Arizona lost. One quick note for this bracket: Wisconsin’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday night moved the Badgers off of the No. 1 seed line. Villanova is now the final No. 1 seed and I believe firmly that if the bracket was released today, the Wildcats would join FloridaWichita State and Arizona on the top line. For the first time in over a month of bracketing, I feel like those four teams are relatively clear-cut choices on the top line, but over the next six days that is certain to change. The Gators and Shockers are locked in as No. 1s but Arizona and Villanova could still make things interesting in conference tournament play. Meanwhile, the Badgers loss was Nebraska’s gain. The Cornhuskers jumped up to a No. 10 seed in this bracket and will likely end up in the No. 10-12 range on Selection Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament Picture (full bracket below)

  • NCAA Tournament Locks (36): 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, New Mexico, Oregon, Baylor, SMU, Oklahoma State
  • NCAA Tournament Auto-Bids (5): Harvard (Ivy), Eastern Kentucky (OVC), Wichita State (MVC), Mercer (A-Sun), Coastal Carolina (Big South)

The Bubble Picture

  • Projected Bubble Spots Left: 10
  • Bubble In (10): Colorado, Stanford, Nebraska, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton, Xavier, California, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Tennessee
  • Bubble Out: BYU, Arkansas, Georgetown, Providence, Green Bay, Florida State, St. John’s, Belmont, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia

Potential Bid Thieves Left (70)

  • American (5): Houston, Rutgers, UCF, Temple, South Florida
  • ACC (10): Clemson, N. C. State, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (FL), Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Boston College, Virginia Tech
  • A-10 (9): Dayton, St. Joseph’s, Richmond, La Salle, St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island, Duquesne, George Mason, Fordham
  • Big East (8): St. John’s, Xavier, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Butler, DePaul, Providence
  • Big 12 (3): West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU
  • Big Ten (6): Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Northwestern, Purdue
  • Mountain West (9): UNLV, Nevada, Boise State, Wyoming, Fresno State, Utah State, Colorado State, Air Force, San Jose State
  • Pac-12 (5): Utah, Washington, Oregon State, Washington State, USC
  • SEC (12): Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State
  • WCC (3): BYU, San Francisco, St. Mary’s

The NIT Picture

  • There will be more to come on the NIT bracketology front as this week progresses, so stay tuned. I’ll likely also try to throw together CBI and CIT fields.
  • Clinched NIT Bids (5): Belmont (OVC), Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun), Davidson (SoCon), Vermont (America East), Green Bay (Horizon)

The Projected NCAA Tournament Field (March 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM CT)

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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

bracketmarch8

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Nebraska on the Bubble: Big Ten Schedule Both Helps and Hurts Huskers

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on February 20th, 2014

In Tuesday’s Morning Five, I stated matter-of-factly that it was unlikely Nebraska would make the NCAA Tournament. I based this off the fact that, despite their current three-game winning streak and impressive 6-6 record in the Big Ten, they already have 10 losses (including some bad ones) and six more games to go in one of the toughest leagues in America. But after reading CBSSports’ Gary Parrish article that further examined the Cornhuskers’ record, I think I may have been too quick to dismiss their hopes. The crux of Parrish’s article is that, despite the Cornhuskers’ high number of losses, Nebraska has as many quality wins as most bubble teams, and a majority of their losses are against elite competition. He points out that Tim Miles’ team has as many top-50 RPI wins (three) as some other surefire NCAA Tournament teams: Ohio State, Virginia, Louisville, Memphis, and Connecticut. In this post, I will illustrate Nebraska’s resume, analyze Parrish’s findings, and identify what may be the main point of contention working against the Cornhuskers on Selection Sunday.

The infographic below illustrates the makeup of Nebraska’s resume against teams grouped by RPI bins. Teams with an “(N)” next to their name represent a game played on a neutral court. Not shown are Nebraska’s four wins against teams with an RPI of #200 or more.

nebraska bid

From the illustration above, we see that Nebraska’s conference affiliation has been both advantageous and hurtful this season. Because the Cornhuskers are part of the Big Ten, they’ve had multiple chances to face elite competition. By the same token, Miles’ team has been able to upset a number of top-50 teams, but they’ve also stacked up a heavy number of losses against very good teams (the Huskers carry a 3-7 record against top-50 competition). By way of a comparison, all but one of the teams mentioned in Parrish’s article that also has three top-50 wins have four or less losses against the same group — Memphis has six losses against the top-50 but no losses outside that group.

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After a Wild Opening Night, the Meat of the Big 12 Tournament Set to Begin

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

Bob Huggins’ teams have always blocked out. Except for when there’s a game-winning shot attempt in the air, apparently. In a sequence that epitomized West Virginia’s season so much it seemed as though it had to have been some sort of sick joke, Texas Tech ended the Mountaineers’ brutal campaign with a tip-in by Dejan Kravic in the final milliseconds of regulation to win, 71-69. He was standing untouched in the paint after Josh Gray’s three-point attempt rimmed out. No body on him. No effort by the Mountaineers to hit the boards, as they were simply standing around as though time would expire before any potential rebound attempt. They guessed wrong, and the Red Raiders now advance to play top-seeded Kansas. There wasn’t as much drama in the nightcap, as Texas dispatched of TCU in an ugly 70-57 win. They’ll now play Kansas State this evening.

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

That’s where we stand after two play-in games in the Big 12 Tournament. No disrespect to the victors on Wednesday night, but now the real games begin. Remember to stay with the Big 12 microsite all weekend long, as microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will arrive in Kansas City this morning to cover the tournament through the championship game on Saturday. But today, there’s two games you really need to keep an eye on: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State early and Baylor vs. Oklahoma State this evening. There will be drama in this tournament across the board, especially if Kansas and Kansas State play each other in a conference tournament final, but these are by far the two most important games of the Big 12 Tournament. The top three teams in the league are playing for seeding. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor are playing for their lives. Let’s take a look at the resumes for each three bubble teams and explain what they’ll need to do in this tournament to feel OK on Selection Sunday:

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RTC Bracketology: March 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 10th, 2013

bracketology

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season.

  • New in This Update:
    • Saturday was one of the busiest days of the year. Florida Gulf Coast, Harvard, and Belmont clinched NCAA Tournament spots by clinching automatic bids.
    • Kansas is off the No. 1 line after losing badly to Baylor. Georgetown replaces the Jayhawks after routing Syracuse on Saturday, although it was a close comparison between the Hoyas and Cardinals.
    • Florida is off the No. 2 line after losing to Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Wildcats move into my Last Four In after the come from behind win to defeat the Gators.
    • It seemed like more underdogs won their favorites on Saturday. New Mexico fell off the No. 2 line after losing to Air Force late.  Minnesota continued to slide after losing an ugly game to Purdue. Tennessee knocked off Missouri, Oklahoma lost to TCU, NC State fell at Florida State, and Utah dominated Oregon.

LAST FOUR IN: Colorado, Kentucky, La Salle, Saint Mary’s (last team in)
FIRST FOUR OUT: Virginia (first team out), Mississippi, Alabama, Baylor
NEXT FOUR OUT:
Southern Miss, Iowa, Maryland, Xavier

NOTE: Projected conference champions (or auto bid winners) are in capital letters.

(full bracket after the jump)

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Ten Tuesday (or Wednesday!) Scribbles: On Scoring, Rule Changes, Syracuse and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 27th, 2013

tuesdayscribbles

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. Much has been made about the decline in scoring in college basketball over the last decade. These days, it is very common to see games played in the 60s, 50s or even 40s in some instances. It is true that scoring has decreased substantially over the last 10 years and the numbers bear it out. In the 2002-03 season, 172 teams averaged at least 70.0 PPG. That number has steadily declined, falling to 145 five seasons ago and 111 this year. With the advent of advanced statistics, one in particular stands out. Ten years ago, 123 teams averaged an adjusted tempo of 70.0 possessions per game. That was cut in half by 2007-08 (62 teams) and the number has continued to decline even since then. This season, only 28 of America’s 347 Division I teams play at that pace or greater. Why is this happening? Pace is certainly a factor but there are other issues at play here. With the proliferation of television coverage and video based scouting programs such as Synergy Sports Technology, scouting and video material is more available than ever. Head coaches and their staffs know everything about an opponent and that makes a huge difference for a lot of teams on the defensive end. A lot of teams run the same sets and it’s simply easier to prepare when you see the same thing over and over again. The elephant in the room, however, is the talent level in college basketball. Most of us probably wouldn’t like to admit it but the talent level has noticeably dipped in our sport over the last decade. I’m not talking about a once in 20 years type of player like Kevin Durant but the overall depth of talent in the game. There’s a reason a lot of people are saying this year’s NBA Draft class could be the weakest ever. That’s because it is. Until college basketball gets a much-needed infusion of talent, low scoring games will remain the norm.
  2. A lot of people would like to see the so-called “one-and-done” rule fade to black and that got me thinking about some much-needed rule changes in college basketball. I’m not going to discuss the one-and-done here, I’m talking about changes that need to be made during the actual games. If I had the power, the first thing I’d do is shorten the shot clock to 30 seconds. Five seconds may not sound like a lot but since there are roughly 66 to 67 possessions in an average Division I game, that would translate into another 10 possessions per game. Immediately you’d see an increase in scoring which makes the game more attractive to fans. One thing that annoys me is the amount of timeouts and stoppages in the game. There are already four mandated media timeouts every half and each team gets a total of five timeouts per game. In an era when coaches rarely leave timeouts on the table, there are 18 different timeouts in a typical college game, an average of one every two minutes and 13 seconds. It hurts the flow of a game in a big way and my proposal would be to reduce the number of timeouts to three per team and no extras in overtime. The end of every college basketball game these days seems to include a multitude of timeouts, fouls and official reviews. Officials reviewing plays has helped many sports get calls right, including college basketball. However, officials are abusing the monitor more than ever before. A big reason why is the NCAA rule change a few years ago regarding flagrant fouls and elbows thrown. I get why this rule was implemented (player safety) but there is no evidence this rule acts as a deterrent. Players have been taught from a young age to clear space with your elbows when being pressured by a defender. Now, a loose elbow can be deemed a flagrant foul even if there was no intent to injure by the offending player. This has to change. I have absolutely no problem with calling a flagrant foul for a malicious elbow or other physical contact. But calling a flagrant for an innocent or accidental elbow is wrong and is another thing that contributes to college games that lack an entertaining flow. A couple other changes I’d make include not resetting the 10-second count in the backcourt after a timeout, not being able to inbound the ball into the backcourt (it’s a bailout move for a team without a quality inbounds play) and starting the 1-and-1 bonus at nine fouls instead of seven. What are your thoughts on some of these proposals?

    Tubby Smith, Minnesota

    Tubby Smith has Minnesota pointed in the right direction

  3. This time of year, bubble talk dominates the discussion. My way of looking at bubble teams is simple: Did you beat quality opponents and what have you done away from home? This approach is one Jay Bilas mentions on television every year, something I wholeheartedly agree with. I remember years ago when Bilas went on ESPN and said something like, “Bubble teams have all proven they can lose. The question is, who did you beat and where did you beat them?” Truer words have never been spoken. You can’t dismiss all losses but when we’re talking about bubble teams, we’re usually looking at teams that have lost anywhere from 9 to 12 games, sometimes more. When I look at this year’s group of bubble teams, a few stand out. Minnesota is only 7-8 in Big Ten play but has multiple quality wins over Memphis (neutral), Illinois (away), Wisconsin (home), Michigan State (home) and last night’s massive upset of Indiana at the Barn on its resume. All of that trumps Minnesota’s loss to Northwestern and should get the Golden Gophers into the Big Dance.  Staying in the Big Ten, Illinois is in the same boat and I believe the Illini have done enough to warrant a bid at this point. Villanova is an interesting team. The Wildcats have a high number of losses (11) but wins at Connecticut and home versus Louisville and Syracuse have them in the NCAA discussion. I think Villanova is an NCAA-worthy team but the Wildcats need to do more to earn a bid because a pair of bad losses on their resume hurt the cause. Teams like St. Mary’s are harder to quantify. The Gaels have just one top 50 win (home vs. Creighton) on their resume and a pair of bad losses to Pacific and Georgia Tech. When a team wins a number of games against poor competition as St. Mary’s has, it’s very hard to determine if they’re NCAA-worthy. I think the Gaels are, but their resume leaves a lot to be desired. Beating Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament would prove to everyone that they deserve a spot. Read the rest of this entry »
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Night Line: Seton Hall The Big Winner In a Huge ‘Bubble’ Night

Posted by EJacoby on February 22nd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The NCAA Tournament ‘bubble’ is in perpetual motion during this time of year, as it expands or shrinks based on small conference qualifiers and new teams move in and out seemingly every day. Tuesday night was no different, as 10 different teams on the Bubble Watch tracker were in action against quality opponents. Of those, a total of five teams had home games against Top 20 opponents — the kind of must-win games that can add a great victory to a resume and build confidence down the stretch. Seton Hall and Colorado State were the only two teams to come out victorious at home against their talented foes, and the circumstances surrounding the Pirates’ win against No. 9 Georgetown should seal the deal for the Hall as an NCAA Tournament team.

Jordan Theodore was Locked In for Seton Hall on Tuesday (Seton Hall Athletics)

The Pirates did on Tuesday what Northwestern, Mississippi State, and NC State couldn’t — beat a great team at home. Seton Hall dominated the Hoyas en route to a 73-55 win highlighted by senior Jordan Theodore’s massive night. The point guard had a career-high 29 points and five assists, including a perfect 5-5 night from behind the arc and 8-8 performance at the free-throw line. The Pirates have been up and down during Big East play, at one point losing six straight games and looking nothing like a postseason-worthy squad. But they’ve recovered to win four of their last five contests to improve to 19-9 overall and 8-8 in the Big East. Knocking off Georgetown was the team’s fourth top 50 win and propels them onto solid ground at the moment. With remaining games versus only Rutgers and at DePaul, the Hall is in great shape to simply take care of business against inferior opponents and lock up a bid.

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Night Line: Another Blemish Jeopardizes Belmont’s At-Large Chances

Posted by EJacoby on December 14th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

Coming off a 30-win season and returning nine players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game, Belmont was expected to be the next mid-major to make its way on to the national scene this year. After a tremendous season-opening game in Cameron Indoor Stadium in which they nearly took down Duke, the Bruins left a great first impression on the nation. But fast-forward to Tuesday night when the Atlantic Sun darlings lost another close road game (at Middle Tennessee State), and this team still has yet to produce a signature non-conference win on its resume. While Belmont consistently has the look of an NCAA Tournament team, it seems that they’ll have to earn their invitation to the Big Dance the traditional way, by winning the conference tournament.

Belmont Hasn't Held on For Any Signature Wins (AP/G. Broome)

Rick Byrd’s team has now squandered three excellent chances for quality wins, and an at-large bid seems nearly out of the question, regardless of how the Bruins play the rest of the season. Belmont played Duke to a classic season-opening one-point loss, but followed up that game with a poor effort at Memphis in which they allowed 97 points to a team now falling fast. The Bruins held on to beat this same Middle Tennessee State team after two overtimes on November 20, but Tuesday’s rematch saw their opponent come out victorious, 65-62. MTSU  at 10-2 is a  solid team and likely the class of the Sun Belt Conference, so a road sweep of the Blue Raiders would have looked impressive on their resume. Instead, Belmont now can only boast of a split against MTSU and a close loss at Duke as their non-conference highlights thus far.

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