C-USA Breakdown: Louisiana Tech & UTEP Atop Decidedly One-Bid League

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on February 18th, 2015

As recently as last Thursday, Conference USA still had a legitimate shot at becoming a two-bid league. Old Dominion – in second place behind Louisiana Tech – was considered among Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four In” selections, a team capable of sneaking into the Big Dance even if failed to win the league tournament. But life outside power conferences can be cruel, and the Monarchs all but squandered those at-large chances over the weekend, suffering back-to-back road losses at UT-San Antonio (Thursday) and UTEP (Saturday) while falling to fifth place overall. In fact, with several other would-be contenders also stumbling badly in recent weeks, the once-crowded conference field is looking more and more like a two-horse race between Louisiana Tech and UTEP. Let’s examine the top of the standings, the potential importance of the date of February 26, and why UAB has an ace in the hole come March.

The Top Five

'Speedy' Smith and the Bulldogs sit atop Conference USA. (Tom Morris/latechsportspix.com)

‘Speedy’ Smith and the Bulldogs sit atop Conference USA. (Tom Morris/latechsportspix.com)

  1. Louisiana Tech – 20-6 (11-2). The preseason conference favorites are right where we thought they would be back in November – all alone atop the standings. Louisiana Tech boasts the second-most efficient offense and defense in C-USA and its #67 overall KenPom ranking tops in the league. And while the Bulldogs’ excellent guard trio garners much of the credit – led by Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith, the nation’s top assist man (7.9 APG) – forward Erik McCree (12.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG) has also been superb in his first year since transferring over from Murray State. If Michael White’s up-tempo bunch can win at Old Dominion next Saturday, it may be one victory over UTEP away from an outright league title.
  2. UTEP – 18-7 (10-3). The Miners are equipped with the league’s best player, 6’8’’ forward Vince Hunter (15.8 PPG, 9.6 RPG), and a massive frontcourt that ranks seventh nationally in effective height. Their schedule is also favorable, with three of the team’s final five contests coming at home, and only one game – the showdown at Louisiana Tech – against an upper-tier opponent. Read the rest of this entry »
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Braxton Ogbueze Finds His Place Back Home

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 20th, 2014

In this current era of college basketball, transfers have become as inevitable, and sometimes as commonplace, to teams as graduations. There are many reasons for a player to transfer, but one of the more prominent cause is a player’s lack of playing time at their current institution, leading them to transfer to a school of lesser prestige, but with more available minutes. Braxton Ogbueze fell into this category. The Charlotte-native transferred from Florida after his freshman year (the 2012-13 season) and found his way back home with Charlotte. In the first ten games, he’s been used primarily as a combo guard, starting every game and leading the team in scoring (13.2 PPG). On Saturday afternoon, the sophomore transfer helped the 49ers almost pull an upset at Georgetown — they instead ended up losing by three — and showed he can be the player head coach Alan Major can lean on to lead the program for the next three years.

Braxton Ogbueze transferred from Florida back to his hometown university, Charlotte, and has become a much needed scorer for the 49ers.

Braxton Ogbueze transferred from Florida back to his hometown university, Charlotte, and has become a much needed scorer for the 49ers (AP).

Coming out of high school, Ogbueze was considered one of the top point guard prospects in the nation and a Top 50 recruit overall. He committed to a resurgent Florida program that was coming off an Elite Eight appearance, and had talented roster set in place which made them poised for continued success. But all that seemed attractive of joining an elite program, like Florida, quickly soured with Ogbueze when playing time became sparse with no relief in sight, given the players in front of him like Scottie Wilbekin, Kasey Hill, and Eli Carter. So, he returned home. Ogbueze has provided an additional scoring punch to Major’s squad, scoring double digits in eight of his first eleven games (including two 20-point outings) as a 49er. He’s been especially deadly from deep, making 20 three-pointers already and shooting at a 40.8 percent clip.

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Poll Critiques: Colonial, Conference USA & Summit

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on October 27th, 2014

Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine and critique some of the more intriguing preseason conference polls. Here, we take a look at the good, the bad and the weird coming out of the Colonial, Conference USA and Summit League polls.

Colonial

There are plenty of question marks in the CAA this season. (Christopher Szagola/US Presswire)

There are plenty of question marks in the CAA this season. (Christopher Szagola/US Presswire)

The voters got it right at the top, tabbing Northeastern as the favorite in the CAA, followed by William & Mary and Hofstra. The Huskies are the one unit in this league to add more proven talent than they lost, not only bringing back the vast majority of last year’s roster – including Defensive Player of the Year and rebounding monster Scott Eatherton (15.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG) – but also regaining Quincy Ford, who was one among the CAA’s best all-around players before missing most of last year. Still, the recent departure of fourth-leading scorer Demetrius Pollard, combined with the fact that Bill Coen’s club went just 11-21 last season, makes you wonder if Northeastern can actually live up to its top billing. William & Mary also has an argument for the number one spot after finishing third in the standings a year ago and narrowly losing the CAA title game, welcoming back the conference’s best player (Marcus Thornton) and CAA Rookie of the Year (Omar Prewitt). Hofstra is rightfully slotted at third; despite last year’s 10-23 campaign, an influx of talented transfers and recruits, including former Niagara guard Juan’ya Green (16.5 PPG), justifies the anticipated climb.

  1. Northeastern
  2. William & Mary
  3. Hofstra
  4. Drexel
  5. James Madison
  6. College of Charleston
  7. Towson
  8. Delaware
  9. UNCW
  10. Elon

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Morning Five: 09.16.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 16th, 2014

morning5

  1. Louisville‘s banner 2015 recruiting class just took a big hit as Antonio Blakeney announced (sort of) that he would be reopening his recruitment after committing to play at Louisville less than two weeks ago. The reasons for his decision were not disclosed, but at least one analyst went on record saying that the decision was related to shoe company affiliation. Although it is uncommon for a recruit to go back to a school after reopening his commitment there have been a handful of high-profile cases in recent years. If Blakeney decides to move on, the smart money would be on one of his other five finalists: Florida State, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, Oregon, and USC. We will let you take a look at that list and do the math on which one is not like the others.
  2. With the United States winning the World Cup of Basketball we expected much of the talk following the event to focus on the dominant performance by this team and possibly calls for the United States to return to playing with either college players or at least to field a younger team. That thought was turned on its head with Adrian Wojnarowski’s column essentially saying that the only person benefiting from the current situation was Mike Krzyzewski. While we do agree with some of the points in the article–particularly the nice recruiting benefit that Krzyzewski gets as the coach of a variety of NBA superstars–the idea is not much different than many of the other college coaches who coach international teams including some who coach foreign countries even when they have no known prior association with that country. Overall, the column feels a little bit too much like a hit piece and as many have pointed out the situation certainly benefits Krzyzewski, but it has helped some NBA players further their games and Krzyzewski would hardly be alone in using someone else’s platform to lift him and his program up another level.
  3. It has been a rough few days in Pauley Pavilion. Just a few days after incoming Australian freshman Jonah Bolden a partial qualifier unable to play this year, according to reports UCLA denied admission to transfer point guard Jon Octeus. A graduate transfer from Colorado State, where he averaged 13.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, Octeus was expected to help replace the output the Bruins lost with Kyle Anderson’s departure. Unfortunately for Octeus, who left Colorado State to go to UCLA to help his prospects of playing in the NBA in what he described as “a business decision” (so much for the academic transfer), the Rams already filled their roster. Octeus had been looking at Tennessee, Missouri, and Cincinnati prior to committing to UCLA so there is a chance he could end up there although we are not sure the mechanics of how quickly a graduate transfer would work especially since many schools would have already started. As for the Bruins, they are left to try to piece together what should be a disjointed backcourt that would have been held together by Octeus’ presence.
  4. After taking a four-month medical leave of absence, Alan Major has returned to his position as head coach. Major, who underwent a pair of surgeries for glaucoma as well as a procedure for an arrhythmia, had taken a leave of absence in May so he did not miss any games. In the interim, three assistants managed the day-to-day operations and will probably handle some of that responsibility as Major eases back into his job. In his four seasons at Charlotte, Major has compiled a 61-63 record, but has shown steady improvement going from a 10-20 his first year to over .500 the past two years.
  5. In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal there has been increased interest around the issue of domestic violence (something that should have been a bigger issue long ago). In general we don’t see too many issues in college basketball, but it does happen occasionally as it occurs to have happened with Texas guard Martez Walker, who was suspended indefinitely after being charged with assaulting his girlfriend. Walker, who averaged 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season, will have to deal with the legal system in much the same way that others before him have, but based on public sentiment after the Ray Rice elevator assault video was released as well as the victim’s report that this was not the first episode we doubt that we will see Walker in a Longhorn jersey anytime soon.
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Quarter-Season Review: Other 26 Resumes

Posted by Adam Stillman on December 12th, 2013

The 2013-14 college basketball season is off to a great start. We’ve seen a good number of upsets, buzzer-beaters and down-to-the-wire games. Yet all this fun is just a prelude to those glorious three weeks in late March and early April. For a majority of the O26, reaching the NCAA Tournament is most of the battle. Those teams spend their seasons attempting to build a resume that will stand out when compared to other bubble teams on Selection Sunday. While it’s only about a month into the season, it’s never too early to start reviewing resumes from projected bubble teams. Let’s start with 10 of them.

Note: Since we’re limiting this to projected bubble teams, let’s leave off Gonzaga, VCU, New Mexico and Massachusetts for now. We can always revisit them later should they slide into bubble territory. UNLV is also out until the Runnin’ Rebels can climb above .500.

Belmont (8-2)

Belmont boosted its at-large resume with a shocking win at UNC. (Photo courtesy of chapelboro.com)

Belmont boosted its at-large resume with a shocking win at UNC. (chapelboro.com)

  • Good wins: UNC, Indiana State (for bubble purposes)
  • Bad losses: None
  • Thoughts: Belmont is the Ohio Valley Conference favorite, but should the Bruins falter they can always hang their hat on that great road win at North Carolina. The victory against Indiana State is nice too, considering both teams could find themselves on the bubble. The Bruins’ losses are to VCU and Richmond, with the latter hurting a little bit. Belmont gets a shot at Kentucky and another contest against Indiana State later this month to help boost  its resume. Belmont sits at #21 in the way-too-early RPI rankings, and that’s sure to drop once conference play rolls around. Is an undefeated run to the OVC title game enough to get the Bruins an at-large?
  • Projected seed for now: #12

Boise State (8-1)

  • Good wins: None
  • Bad losses: None
  • Thoughts: Boise State missed a chance at a resume-making win on Tuesday night at Kentucky, falling 70-55. Nobody can fault the Broncos for that loss, nor will be it hurt them at any point. Had Boise State won, the selection committee basically could have considered the Broncos in the field barring a disastrous MW campaign. A game against Saint Mary’s awaits Saturday before a rugged 18-game league slate.
  • Projected seed for now: #10

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Pac-12 M5: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 22nd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. USC and first-year head coach Andy Enfield got some terrible news Thursday when it learned that senior guard J.T. Terrell had been declared academically ineligible. After averaging 10.0 PPG in the first three Trojan contests, Terrell sat out the Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. Add in the West Alabama game last night, which tipped just a few hours after this story broke, and he will miss at least seven games for USC. The Trojans will not have to forfeit the games he appeared in so far this season.
  2. I don’t know how much basketball you caught yesterday (I saw the majority via a number of shaky streams while working), but Eamonn Brennan was spot on with this piece, calling it “November Madness”. The whole day, the first of ten straight with holiday tournament action, had an early-round NCAA Tournament feel, what with a classic first round Georgetown upset, Charlotte topping Kansas State, a double overtime thriller between UAB and New Mexico, Florida State’s upset of VCU, and 1-3 Boston College taking 18th ranked Connecticut down to the final seconds. The Pac-12 was on the map as well, most notably the Washington schools, although both tumbled with 16 and 18 point losses to Gonzaga and Indiana, respectively. In Boulder, Colorado was able to hold off a pesky UC Santa Barbara team for a 76-68 win, and elsewhere around the west, Utah and Stanford both picked up their third straight wins. November Madness continues today with Washington-Boston College in the 2k Consolation game and UCLA-Morehead State in the Las Vegas Invitational preliminaries, in addition to games like Kansas State-Georgetown, Massachusetts-New Mexico, and Michigan-Florida State being played out across the world.
  3. Oregon State picked up one of its biggest non-conference wins in recent history last Sunday at Maryland, but the Beavers know it’s only one game and there is plenty left to prove. They are still capable of looking like the team that lost to a lower level MEAC club to open the season, but both the players and coaches are on the same page; the intensity in practice needs to continue. We should see on Tuesday whether the new Beavers or old Beavers come out against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
  4. Utah athletic director Chris Hill is attempting to put together a project that I have thought about for a long time; a small tournament between each school in the state. If it goes according to plan, Utah, BYU, Utah State, and Weber State would meet in either a bracketed or round robin event at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. The earliest the tournament could start would be 2015, and could come down to whether or not the Aggies would be willing to give up the home-and-home series with the Utes.
  5. Lastly, we close things out with our weekly football pick’em. While basketball is at the front of everyone’s mind, the final three weeks of football are terrific. Teams are battling in cold weather for bowl bids and BCS positioning, and of course, this is when the rivalry games begin. Last week both Drew and I went 3-3, with me hitting UCLA’s win against Washington and Drew getting Arizona State over Oregon State down in the desert. On the season, I still have a one-game lead, checking in at 61-18 to his 60-19. Our game of the week is a no-brainer, as 17th ranked Arizona State travels to the Rose Bowl to face #14 UCLA in the Pac-12 South Championship. We’re both riding the home-field advantage and taking the Bruins.
    Oregon at Arizona Connor: Oregon Drew: Oregon
    Utah at Washington State Washington State Washington State
    California at Stanford Stanford Stanford
    Arizona State at UCLA UCLA 38-35 UCLA 31-28
    USC at Colorado USC Colorado
    Washington at Oregon State Oregon State Washington
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Big East M5: 11.20.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 20th, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. Butler may not get flashy play  from starting point guard and former walk-on junior Alex Barlow, but the Bulldogs value the consistency and defensive intensity that he brings to the table. News-Sentinel writer Tom Davis often finds himself and his colleagues in the media openly questioning the athleticism and abilities of Barlow, but he admits that it is probably time that he stopped after talking about the guard with members of the program. Head coach Brandon Miller was quick to point out some of the crucial skills that help Barlow excel: “A lot of times when you think about Alex Barlow, you don’t think of athleticism, but he’s very good laterally. He has an ability to stay in front of the ball. He has quick hands.” Barlow’s contributions aren’t always tangible or easy to find in a box score, but they surely don’t lack importance, adds Davis: “There is no statistic in the box score under ‘help and recover’ or ‘talked on a switch’ or ‘rotated quickly and properly’ or ‘closed out under control and contested the shot.’ If those categories were tracked by the media, Barlow, who earned a scholarship as a sophomore, would be All-Big East this season.” Interesting stuff.
  2. Georgetown‘s non-conference slate is among the most challenging in the Big East, and it may take another leap depending on how things in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off shake out. The Hoyas open the tournament with Northeastern, and will then face either Charlotte or Kansas State.  Should the Hoyas make a run to the finals, most expect that they will meet last year’s national runners-up, Michigan, who is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season to Iowa State on Sunday. In speaking with The Hoya, Georgetown players and coaches brought up a couple of newcomers who may make a big difference for the team in Puerto Rico — UCLA transfer Josh Smith and freshman forward Reggie Cameron. Smith flashed his interior scoring talents in a loss to Oregon to open the season, while Cameron was 3-of-5 from deep against Wright State. They both add new dimensions to a Georgetown attack that is averaging 81.5 points per game in the young season.
  3. Providence point guard Kris Dunn saw his first action since the preseason, coming off the bench to score three points and dole out eight assists against Vermont. Dunn injured the shoulder that cost him the first nine games of his freshman season in an exhibition with Rhode Island College in early November. He solidifies a rotation that is already getting strong scoring from forward Kadeem Batts and stalwart shooting guard Bryce Cotton. With Dunn running the offense, Cotton scoring in bunches, and Batts threatening for double-doubles on a regular basis, Providence is off to a nice start in 2013-14.
  4. The Crosstown Classic, the annual showdown between Xavier and Cincinnati, a couple of universities separated by just over two miles, is one of college basketball’s great rivalries but recent turmoil has threatened the future of the game. Since the infamous 2011 brawl, which forced the game to be called early, the Classic has been moved off the campuses to a neutral site — downtown Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena. While both schools would like to continue the game, there is some debate as to where it should take place in the future; and quite naturally, there is some disagreement between the schools. Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin praised last year’s neutral site game, while Xavier’s Chris Mack expressed a desire to have the rivalry back in the campus arenas.
  5. Between preparing for the likes of rivals like Cincinnati or the other foes in the new Big East, Chris Mack has taken on some coaching duties on the side, becoming the head of a proud third grade program at Blessed Sacrament School, where his daughter Lainee channels Semaj Christon on Sunday afternoons. As with any big-time program, Mack is keenly aware of how the rabid Internet fans react to poor play: “I’m sure the message boards are saying, ‘They’re not shooting free throws good enough.’ “ CBS Sports‘ Gregg Doyel stopped by to watch Blessed Sacrament take on St. Pius, and penned a great story about how important this time is for Mack and his family: “I didn’t want to be that dad who shows up with the lawn chair and then leaves at halftime because I have [a recruit coming on] an official visit. I want to have that same experience with my kids, and I want them to have those memories like I have with my father.”
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20 Questions: Who Are the Winners and Losers of Conference Realignment This Season?

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on October 29th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

While it appears that the realignment carousel in Division I collegiate athletics has come to a halt — at least for now — plenty of college basketball programs will be getting used to new surroundings this season. In all, over 50 schools were affected in the 2013-14 round of realignment, an upheaval that has radically changed the athletic landscape over the past three years. As power conference schools chased the football dollar, the domino effect reverberated throughout the NCAA. Many schools in lower and mid-level leagues changed their associations as the news from president’s and athletic director’s offices cascaded down throughout almost all of the conferences. Realignment has been widely panned by college basketball fans and pundits alike who lament the extinction of great, historic rivalries such as Kansas-Missouri and Syracuse-Georgetown. While that is absolutely true, realignment is not all bad. New, interesting rivalries will now be created such as Duke-Syracuse, Memphis-Louisville (an old rivalry resurrected for at least one year) and Xavier-Butler (a continuation from last year’s Atlantic 10). Undoubtedly, many more new rivalries will emerge over the long term.

realignment europe

Realignment Felt Like This at Times, But It Seems to Have Finally Settled Down

Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of this year’s round of conference realignment.

Winners

The ACC: When word first leaked that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were discussing an exit from the Big East, some people may have thought it was a joke. Alas, it was real and it happened very quickly. ACC commissioner John Swofford successfully raided the Big East yet again, pulling off a 48-hour coup that effectively drove the final nail into the coffin of what we all knew as the Big East. Now the ACC has effectively become the old Big East, a 15-team behemoth that is absolutely loaded at the top. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame join legendary programs Duke and North Carolina, along with a collection of schools that have been historically solid. This year’s ACC will be great, but in the long run the battles at the top of this league will be second to none with the powerhouses sure to be involved. What we saw in the Big East over the last decade should become commonplace in the new-look ACC. It will get even better next season when Louisville replaces ACC founding member Maryland, which will depart for the Big Ten.

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Morning Five: 05.16.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 16th, 2013

morning5

  1. It’s now been nearly two days since the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes was won by Bill Self and Kansas. Reactions have run the gamut and we ran down a number of the better ones in yesterday’s M5. One we missed was this fantastic piece by Sam Mellinger at the Kansas City Star, who writes that everyone in the media and greater college basketball community needs to be very careful with the hyperbole when discussing Wiggins next season as the “Best High School Prospect Since Lebron.” Mellinger breaks down each of the best prep players in the last 10 years since Lebron, and the truth is that most of them can’t even sniff an NBA All-Star Game at this point. Some guys continue to progress, while others level off, and it’s a lesson worth remembering. Then he finishes things off with a fantastic anecdote about the humility of prep Lebron. Well worth a read.
  2. Once the ACC raided the Big East to lock up prized programs Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, it appeared inevitable that the league would eventually move its showcase event — the ACC Tournament — to Gotham in short order. Those premonitions seem to be coming true, as ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that the league is “thoroughly investigating” a move to the World’s Most Famous Arena at some point in the next several years. The ACC Tournament is scheduled to be in Greensboro in 2014 and 2015, but the options are open afterward, while the new Big East has contractually obligated MSG to hold its postseason tournament there until 2026. The crux of the matter is that the Big East will need to meet certain benchmarks to keep its deal with The Garden alive, and given just how shaky the league has become in the interim, many ACC insiders believe that the “legal ramifications” to move its own event will get worked out as a matter of course. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is also an option too, of course, but make no mistake, the ACC Tournament will eventually reside at least part-time in NYC.
  3. While on the subject of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league is holding its spring meetings in Amelia Island, Florida, this week and SI.com‘s Andy Staples caught up with commissioner John Swofford to get the inside scoop on how he pulled off “the most chaotic reorganization in the history of major college sports.” It’s somewhat wonky and process-oriented, but it gives a true insider’s perspective on the importance of the Maryland defection and how the perceived likelihood that the Big Ten would seek to continue moving south (Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech) had Swofford failed to get his schools to agree to the media grant of rights deal in April. Although conference realignment has been disastrous to college basketball in some ways, we’re hoping like everyone else who loves the sport that this particular initiative holds steady and removes the incentive for continued raids for a good long while.
  4. Yesterday was a busy day on the transfer wire, as quite a few prominent names announced that they are on the move. The most surprising name was perhaps Penn State’s Jermaine Marshall, who was projected to be a key cog in the Nittany Lions’ resurgence next season but has instead decided to leave school to pursue professional options. The least surprising decision was that Arizona State’s Evan Gordon announced that he is headed to Indiana, where as a graduate transfer he will be eligible to play immediately for Tom Crean. A few other notables: Minnesota’s Joe Coleman is leaving the Gophers; Tulane’s Josh Davis will land at San Diego State; and, Florida’s Braxton Ogbueze will resurface at Charlotte. Davis will be eligible to play immediately at SDSU under the graduate transfer exception.
  5. Perhaps seeing a bit too much of Rick Pitino in the media lately, Kentucky head coach John Calipari held his own press conference yesterday to discuss the state of his program. And since we’ve already addressed the subject of hyperbole above, why not let Coach Cal bring us full circle: “We’re chasing perfection. We’re chasing greatness. We’re chasing things that have never been done before in the history of this game.” The perfection he refers to of course is the elusive-since-1976 undefeated season by a Division I men’s basketball team. Since Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers ran the table 37 years ago, no team has won the national title with fewer than two losses (including Calipari’s 38-2 championship squad in 2011-12). Look, we’re never going to say never because as soon as you do something like that, a Florida Gulf Coast goes to the Sweet Sixteen. But there have been an awful lot of great teams pass through the years without a sniff of a perfect season, and the concept that a team led by a bunch of freshmen — even freshmen as good as UK’s group will be — can bring the noise every single night for up to 40 games next year is nothing more than fantasy. Still, the players don’t know that, so it’s another great marketing/strategic ploy from the master salesman living in Lexington. For what it’s worth, the Wildcats sit as a 4:1 (20%) or 5:1 (17%) favorite in Vegas to win next year’s title.
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RTC Bubble Watch: March 15 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 15th, 2013

bubble

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top several 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.

F0r the last few days of the regular season, here is a whole new look bubble watch:

Bracket Math: Below there are 37 locks along the right column. Basically, that number means that if none of my “locks” clinches an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, there are zero at-large spots available. In most years, an average of around six “locks” win automatic bids, meaning there are six un-clinched spots for the NCAA Tournament. Right now, there aren’t any teams in the “should be in” category, or teams that I give a 70% chance or greater of making the Tournament. That means that of the teams below listed in the Bubble Watch, only five can get bids. Remember that bid stealers will potentially shrink that number.

LOCKS: 38
“SHOULD BE INS”: 0
TOTAL: 38 (minus six for projected auto bid winners = 32)
PROJECTED AT-LARGE SPOTS AVAILABLE: 5

BID STEALERS REMAINING:

  • ACC (quarterfinals): Boston College (vs. Miami), Maryland (vs. Duke), Florida State (vs. North Carolina)
  • Atlantic 10 (quarterfinals): Charlotte (vs. Saint Louis), Saint Joseph’s (vs. VCU), Massachusetts (vs. Temple)
  • Big Ten (quarterfinals): Nebraska (vs. Ohio State), Iowa (vs. Michigan State )
  • Conference USA (semifinals): Southern Miss/UTEP winner, Tulsa (vs. Memphis)
  • Pac-12 (semifinals): Utah (vs. Oregon)
  • SEC (quarterfinals): LSU (vs. Florida), Vanderbilt (vs. Kentucky)

THIS UPDATE:  I moved Minnesota to lock status, even with the Gophers’ last second loss to Illinois Thursday. At this point, it is almost impossible to see a team with the Gophers’ victories not getting into the field.

There are currently 20 teams fighting for 5 spots. If you believe (as I do) that Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Akron, and Charlotte are long shots at best (very small chance, if any, to make the field) you can bring the numbers down to 16 teams fighting for 5 spots.

———————————————————————-

ACC

LOCKS:
duke50x50miami50x50UNC50X50ncstate50x50

  • Virginia (21-10, 11-7; RPI: 67): The Cavaliers have been a strange bubble case all season. They have some of the worst losses a bubble team can have, but they also have six impressive wins. One of those wins is against Duke, who might be the nation’s best team now that Ryan Kelly is back. A win over Sunday against Maryland left the Cavs in position to play their way into the field in the ACC Tournament. They get dangerous North Carolina State on Friday in the ACC quarterfinals. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Maryland (21-11, 8-10; RPI: 85): Maryland has two great wins (Duke, NC State) and absolutely nothing behind them. Thursday’s win against Wake Forest keeps the Terps alive, but they’ll have to replicate their February win against Duke to get serious at-large love.. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

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Three Thoughts From the Atlantic 10 Tournament Afternoon Session

Posted by CNguon on March 14th, 2013

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10. He’s covering the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn this week. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.

In the first half of the opening round in the Atlantic 10 Tournament today, Charlotte beat Richmond 68-63 in the first game, while Butler ended Dayton’s season 73-67. Charlotte will face #1 seed Saint Louis on Friday while Butler will now prepare for #4 seed La Salle, a team that beat them earlier this season.

Three Thoughts:

  1. Chris Mooney’s Tell – When the Jacket Comes Off, the “T” Will Follow: Richmond, ahead by three, 63-60 with 4.7 seconds on the clock, had one foot into tomorrow’s quarterfinal game with Saint Louis when the wheels came off the wagon. In the space of (according to the game clock) two seconds Charlotte hit eight free throws, as the Richmond Spiders picked up a foul and three technicals and Richmond coach Chris Mooney was ejected from the game. With Pierria Henry on the line taking his second free throw, Richmond center Derrick Williams shoved Charlotte forward Willie Clayton, the motion continued through Henry’s free throw as Clayton ended up out of bounds. The baseline referee called a dead ball foul and technical on Williams, and then the fun began. An out-of-control Gregg Robbins picked up a foul and then Mooney took his jacket off on his way onto the floor. Henry netted six more free throw attempts – sinking four — as Mooney and two more seconds were removed from the court and the clock, respectively.

    An entertaining contest will unfortunately be remembered for the chaos that ensued with five seconds left in the Richmond-Charlotte contest, highlighted by the ejection of Richmond coach Chris Mooney. (AP)

    An entertaining contest will unfortunately be remembered for the chaos that ensued with 4.7 seconds left in the Richmond-Charlotte contest, highlighted by the ejection of Richmond coach Chris Mooney. (Getty)

  2. The final score, 68-63, keeps Charlotte’s very, very slim NCAA hopes alive for another 22 hours: They meet Saint Louis in the noon game tomorrow.  A much calmer Mooney met the media after the cooling off period, apologizing to the A-10 and Richmond fans twice during his postgame comments. The meltdown was uncharacteristic of Mooney whose post-Sweet Sixteen demeanor has been almost sedate. The Spiders are not in the hunt for a spot in the field of 68, but have an outside shot for an NIT invitation.
  3. Butler is 10-1 When Rotnei Clarke Scores 20 or More Points: Clarke scored 21 on 7-of-14 shooting (6-of-12 from three point land) and 1-of-2 from the line. The Bulldogs held a three point lead going into the half, compliments of a trio of three-point conversions at the five-minute mark. Dayton, which took a total of four three-point attempts for the entire game, was scoring easily on the inside. “Credit their three point defense,” responded Dayton coach Archie Miller when asked in the postgame press conference. As for Clarke — who has managed to rise to #3 on Butler’s all-time three point shooting list in his only season as a Bulldog — the shooter used multiple screens to add  three more treys to his first half total and spark a second half run that snuffed a Dayton rally and kept the scoring gap safely in Butler’s favor. According to Clarke, “Coach drew up good play, I got good looks, credit these guys, I’ve learned to try to share the ball more and keep the focus off me. We got together (after the VCU loss) and communicated better,” developments in the past week that helped Butler handle Dayton so easily in Brooklyn.
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Atlantic 10 Season Recap and Postseason Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2013

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.

Tournament Bracket

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Looking Back

Conference Realignment: Who’s Got Next? A non-story for the entire season, the divorce negotiated between the Catholic 7 and the Conference Formerly Known as the Big East was finalized last week, a development guaranteed to kick off another round of musical partners. The Catholic 7 got custody of the last name (Big East) and the house (an older but stately palace in downtown New York), along with a promise to process the paperwork quickly. The new/old conference needs three more members to share the TV money and national exposure they are rumored to have negotiated with Fox Sports. The yearly payout per team, believed to be just under ten times the per-team amount the Atlantic 10 just agreed to with CBS, should draw interest. Butler and Xavier have been at the center of Catholic 7 alignment rumors since last October. Unlike Temple’s announced exit in February of last season, however, neither school has confirmed – or denied – the rumors. Xavier, a member since 1995-96, would be the second flagship program (behind Temple) to exit the conference in that last 13 months. Butler who twice went to the Final Four within the last five years, has barely had time to unpack before moving on. When given the news of Temple’s exit in February of 2012, commissioner Bernadette McGlade took a proactive tack and had two replacements in place eight weeks into the offseason. Expect her to do the same this off season. George Mason and Wichita State are the two mentioned most by fans and conference followers.

The Best Basketball-Centric Conference? Mountain West fans may disagree, but it seems certain that the Atlantic 10 Conference will send at least five members to the NCAA Tournament, equaling the highest ever achieved (1997 and 1998). Saint Louis, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth are all but certain to receive bids regardless of what happens this weekend, and prospects for Temple and La Salle remain very strong. On top of that, Massachusetts or Xavier could, with strong conference tournament showings, squeeze out an unprecedented sixth bid for the conference, though it seems unlikely.

Power Rankings

The last week of conference play opens with only three conference tournament spots – all three on the sidelines, determined. Others (that Saint Louis will take the #1 seed, Virginia Commonwealth will take #2 and La Salle most likely the #3) seem nearly certain, but note that seeds #4 through #12 are pretty much up for grabs…at least until Wednesday.

Jim Crews can smirk a little after leading the Billikens from afterthought to league champions. (USATSI)

Jim Crews has the right to smirk a little after leading the Billikens to their first regular season title in 42 years. (USATSI)

  1. Saint Louis (24-6, 13-3; #16 AP; Projected NCAA Seed #5) – The Billikens stumbled in the last week versus Xavier, but locked down the #1 seed in Brooklyn by beating La Salle. Off until Friday, coach Jim Crews’ team will meet the winner of the Richmond/Charlotte game (most likely Richmond), and if seed holds, most likely La Salle Saturday (and Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday). On the radar however is the NCAA tournament (yes the Bills are a lock at this point, win or lose Friday) seed. The consensus today is a #4-#5 seed with little prospect of moving up without a slew of early conference tournament losses elsewhere. RTC’s Dan Evans’ early March bracket matched the #5 Bills against #12 seed OVC Champion Belmont. The Bears run and gun, which would make this an interesting matchup.
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