01/04: Mid-season picks to win all the big leagues; Bol Bol's college career apparently over; previewing the four big games

A big weekend for Big Ten hoops awaits. On this episode, GP and Norlander open with a note on Michigan, then get into the bad Bol Bol news (6:00). From there, an extensive rundown on their picks to win each of the seven major conferences: the Pac-12 (12:00), the Big 12 (15:30), the ACC (17:00), the SEC (18:07), the Big Ten (22:29), the Big East (26:31) and the American (28:30). The guys wrap with a preview of the four biggest games (32:40) of the weekend: Michigan State-Ohio State, Florida State-Virginia, Kansas-Iowa State and Indiana-Michigan. 

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01/06: Who will be the last undefeated team — Virginia, Michigan or Houston?

Matt Norlander’s Chicago Bears lost a playoff game to the Philadelphia Eagles in the worst possible way, so he and Gary Parrish open this episode on that, with Norlander just trying to talk through the aftershock. But there’s plenty of hoops to get to. First up is Nevada (11:34) losing its undefeated season. Then the guys touch on whether Virginia, Michigan or Houston will be the final unbeaten team (17:05). Bad news came down twice for Kansas (21:32) over the weekend, an Kentucky (28:43) didn’t emerge with a win either. Meantime, Virginia Tech (35:03) is highlighted for the first time this season on the podcast. The guys close with a preview of Tuesday’s big game (39:34): UNC at NC State.

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Your 2019 bracket requires knowledge of shot volume



Shot volume is just one half (how often you shoot) of one half (offense) of basketball, so it’s not the alpha and omega of the sport by any means. Then again, it’s rather under-discussed.

You can’t show shot volume on YouTube or Synergy, coaches can’t diagram a play specifically to get an offensive board, volume doesn’t get “chess match” heuristic privileges, and avoiding turnovers is supposed to occur as a matter of course.

That’s all well and good, but, just like with shooting accuracy and defense, some teams are exceptionally good at shot volume. If we want to understand these teams, we should consider the frequency with which they attempt shots.

Shot volume index for tournament teams
Turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and shot volume
Conference games only: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, American, WCC

                         TO%     OR%     SVI
1.  Gonzaga             12.9    30.2    101.8
2.  LSU                 16.9    38.4    101.0
3.  Cincinnati          16.1    36.1    100.8
4.  Purdue              15.8    34.6    100.5
5.  Tennessee           15.5    31.1     99.2
6.  Houston             16.9    34.7     99.2
7.  North Carolina      17.1    34.6     99.0
8.  Virginia            15.4    30.2     98.9
9.  Villanova           15.1    29.1     98.8
10. Saint Mary's        16.8    33.0     98.6

Wherever you hear Gonzaga discussed, there will be due tributes offered to Brandon Clarke (I’ve offered them!) and Rui Hachimura and to the miracle that Mark Few has wrought at a small Jesuit school in Spokane. And, sure, make a mental adjustment if you wish for results from WCC games. (But not too much of one. The non-Gonzaga WCC is stronger than an entire Nevada- and Utah State-equipped Mountain West that no one’s yelling at.)

Still, you can go through a good deal of Zag praise and discourse and dive deeply into Zag scouting reports before you learn that this offense’s sheer volume of attempts is just as statistically extreme as is shooting 62 percent on your twos in conference play. This is an exceptionally talented team that, in addition to everything else, is enacting a really convincing tribute to Bo Ryan circa 2015.

As always, one of the most interesting nuggets coughed up by this SVI thing is how the hoops gods don’t care one whit how you get the job done. Some coaches hate offensive boards. Others hate turnovers. Both approaches can land you in exactly the same spot in terms of shot attempts.

                     TO%     OR%     SVI
Duke                17.7    33.4     97.7
Michigan            13.5    22.7     97.5

So, yes, this can be handy for understanding why teams are good on offense. As for the very different quest to divine bracket tips, however, I prefer to use shot volume in about the same manner that the NCAA appears to use the NET for everyone except St. John’s.

That is, I tend to think of shot volume not as a secret recipe (though it certainly worked well enough for North Carolina in 2017) and more as a disqualifier. I tend to stay away from teams too far down on the complete list, but that’s just me.

Enjoy the Madness, I hope I’m not sued for capitalizing that, and be sure to take proper notice of the video- and scouting-report-blind water in which all basketball swims, the silent 25 percent.

Here’s the complete roster of 2019 shot volumes in conference play, with pithy category titles at plus and minus one standard deviation.

Shot volume index (SVI)
Conference games only: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, American, WCC

Gluttonous               TO%     OR%     SVI
1.  Gonzaga             12.9    30.2    101.8
2.  LSU                 16.9    38.4    101.0
3.  Cincinnati          16.1    36.1    100.8
4.  Purdue              15.8    34.6    100.5
5.  Nebraska            14.3    28.2     99.3
6.  Tennessee           15.5    31.1     99.2
7.  Houston             16.9    34.7     99.2
8.  NC State            17.1    34.9     99.1
9.  North Carolina      17.1    34.6     98.9
10. Virginia            15.4    30.2     98.9
11. SMU                 16.5    32.5     98.8
12. Villanova           15.1    29.1     98.8
13. Saint Mary's        16.8    33.0     98.6
14. Wichita State       16.3    31.3     98.4
15. Baylor              19.1    38.4     98.3
16. Notre Dame          15.1    27.2     97.9

Normal                   TO%     OR%     SVI
17. Duke                17.7    33.4     97.7
18. San Francisco       15.1    26.9     97.7
19. Michigan            13.5    22.7     97.5
20. Kentucky            18.1    33.6     97.3
21. Michigan State      18.8    35.1     97.2
22. Arizona             16.8    29.7     97.1
23. Texas               20.1    31.1     97.0
24. Penn State          17.6    31.2     96.8
25. USC                 15.8    26.6     96.8
26. Connecticut         17.8    31.6     96.8
27. Iowa                17.1    29.4     96.6
28. Iowa State          15.9    26.6     96.6
29. Florida             17.6    30.6     96.5
30. Kansas State        17.1    29.3     96.5
31. Rutgers             17.7    30.7     96.5
32. Georgetown          17.2    29.2     96.4
33. Indiana             17.0    28.7     96.4
34. Wisconsin           14.4    22.4     96.4
35. Florida State       17.6    30.0     96.3
36. Minnesota           17.2    29.1     96.3
37. Oklahoma State      15.6    24.9     96.2
38. Auburn              17.3    28.8     96.1
39. St. John's          13.9    20.7     96.1
40. Butler              16.1    25.8     96.0
41. Oregon              17.5    28.9     95.9
42. Temple              15.7    24.5     95.9
43. Providence          18.8    31.8     95.7
44. South Carolina      18.8    31.8     95.7
45. Wake Forest         19.9    34.8     95.7
46. Texas Tech          17.1    27.0     95.5 (average, huzzah)
47. Virginia Tech       17.6    28.3     95.5
48. Colorado            18.4    30.2     95.4
49. DePaul              19.4    32.4     95.3
50. East Carolina       16.6    25.5     95.3
51. Illinois            18.0    29.0     95.3
52. Miami               16.6    25.5     95.3
53. Mississippi State   19.7    33.4     95.3
54. BYU                 15.7    23.1     95.2
55. Ole Miss            18.2    29.3     95.2
56. Oregon State        17.5    27.5     95.2
57. UCF                 18.3    28.9     95.0
58. Memphis             19.5    32.1     95.0
59. Arkansas            18.3    28.9     94.9
60. Louisville          18.5    29.4     94.9
61. UCLA                19.2    31.2     94.9
62. Boston College      17.8    27.3     94.8
63. California          16.5    24.1     94.8
64. Texas A&M           19.0    30.4     94.8
65. Arizona State       19.1    30.5     94.7
66. Oklahoma            17.2    25.3     94.6
67. Syracuse            18.8    29.2     94.5
68. Xavier              19.9    32.0     94.5
69. Pitt                19.6    31.0     94.4
70. Utah                19.0    29.5     94.4
71. Northwestern        15.5    20.0     94.0
72. Seton Hall          19.9    31.0     94.0
73. Alabama             19.3    29.0     93.8
74. TCU                 20.1    31.1     93.8
75. Maryland            20.7    32.3     93.7
76. West Virginia       22.2    36.1     93.6

Starving                 TO%     OR%     SVI
77. Ohio State          19.2    27.3     93.2
78. Pepperdine          18.3    24.9     93.1
79. Marquette           19.0    26.5     93.0
80. Kansas              20.1    29.1     92.9             
81. Loyola Marymount    19.6    27.8     92.9
82. Missouri            21.6    33.0     92.9
83. Creighton           18.0    23.5     92.8
84. Stanford            20.8    30.1     92.6
85. Pacific             19.0    24.8     92.3
86. Washington          20.4    28.5     92.3
87. Clemson             19.3    25.5     92.2
88. South Florida       23.6    36.1     91.8
89. San Diego           19.0    23.7     91.7
90. Tulsa               18.7    22.1     91.4
91. Tulane              21.4    28.0     91.0
92. Washington State    20.2    23.9     90.5
93. Vanderbilt          21.9    27.5     90.1
94. Santa Clara         20.9    22.4     89.0
95. Georgia Tech        21.9    23.9     88.6
96. Portland            20.6    20.6     88.5   

AVG                     18.0    29.4     95.5

Saint Louis had simply been through too much to miss the NCAA Tournament

The preseason Atlantic 10 favorites finally put it together

BROOKLYN — The Saint Louis Billikens play a seven-man rotation. In Brooklyn at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, they had to play four games in four days. Yet late in the conference championship game against St. Bonaventure, it was the Bonnies who were gassed. And Saint Louis was in position to put them away.

Billikens coach Travis Ford says he takes note of how opponents enter a huddle during timeouts. As St. Bonaventure entered the under eight-minute media timeout, Ford saw a team that was spent. His team had whittled what was a 15-point Bonnies lead down to two, and he told his team in the timeout that they had to make their move right then. That move was to, as he put it, “put the pedal to the metal.”

“You don’t worry about being fatigued when you’re laser-focused and you’re focused on doing your job,” Ford said after the championship game, a 55-53 Billikens win. “I don’t think these guys had time to think. I think they had more to prove.”

Yes, Saint Louis is well conditioned. So are a lot of teams. That wasn’t going to be enough in the conference tournament and it’s not going to be enough if the Billikens hope to knock off Virginia Tech in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.

If Saint Louis is going to make a run in March, it will be because of its coach’s intuition and its players’ resolve.

That’s been the case all season.

Saint Louis entered 2018-19 as preseason Atlantic 10 favorites. It was supposed to blend the experience of guys like seniors Javon Bess and Tramaine Isabell with the raw talent of freshman Carte’Are Gordon.

Just three days before practice started, junior transfer Luis Santos was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. He later withdrew from the university. Saint Louis also lost Ingvi Gudundsson, brother of A-10 player of the year Jon Axel Gudmundsson. Then it was the prized recruit and backboard shatterer Gordon. On top of all of that, Dion Wiley missed time in December with an injury.

“Guys could have quit,” Isabell said, thinking back to the rough times. “I mean, some locker rooms might.”

And then the conference season started and, even though the Billikens were down to essentially a seven-man rotation, all seemed right again. Saint Louis raced out to a 5-0 league record, complete with a win over Saint Joseph’s, who was picked to finish second.

That’s when the losing started. It was four in row, with three of them coming by four points or fewer.

From then on, there was never really a point where Saint Louis finally seemed to put it together. There was an impressive win over Dayton, but that was followed up with a 30-point drubbing to Saint Joe’s. Then back-to-back close losses at the Flyers and at VCU, followed with two huge home wins over George Mason and Duquesne. Three days later, the Billikens closed the regular season with a loss to St. Bonaventure, ending their hope for a double-bye in the conference tournament.

Bess’s production waxed and waned throughout the year as he led his team in minutes despite being restricted by an ankle injury. Not coincidentally, Bess failed to surpass 10 points in five conference games this year, and Saint Louis lost four of them. Going into Brooklyn, he was shooting just 31 percent from the field in his last six games. He’d need to play 35-plus minutes, four days in a row. And if he wasn’t going to be effective, then Isabell, who seemed to raise his game when his team needed it most, would have to be other-worldly.

No one could have been blamed for counting out the tournament’s six seed. It was a lost season, partly due to factors out of their control, but lost nonetheless.

Their first-round win over Richmond was hardly notable and their quarterfinal win over Dayton was surprising, but appeared to just be a weird championship week blip. In the semis, they went into halftime tied with two seed Davidson in an ugly game, and it felt like it would all catch up with the Billikens. There was no way they could gut out one more half of basketball against a rested Wildcats team that had arguably the two best players in the conference.

Instead, Saint Louis came out of the halftime locker room and blew the doors off Davidson, outscoring them 38-15 in the second half to cruise into the title game.

Sunday against St. Bonaventure seemed like another logical time for the Billikens’ legs to give out.

“I was just hoping we had enough in our tank,” Ford said after the game. “We’re going to have to dig, dig deep, and these guys are amazing. They dug deep. They found something and just said ‘we’re going to refuse to give into this.’”

If there was fatigue in the second half of a tight championship game, the players didn’t feel it.

“Nobody was fatigued because adrenaline just kept you up, and not wanting to let your teammates down,” Jordan Goodwin said. He finished the title game with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Hasahn French admitted that he felt a little fatigued, but he saw the finish line so close that it didn’t matter.

“I had to suck it up,” he said. “It’s the championship.”

The story of a team overcoming adversity and gutting out a championship is nothing new, but the inspirational narrative doesn’t happen at all without some equally important, if not less sexy, tactical adjustments.

Ford has had his struggles as a coach, most notably at Oklahoma State where he was fired in 2016 after a 12-20 season. But he’s been around, and he went into Brooklyn with a plan to get the most out of the seven guys who would see the floor.

Saint Louis is — and this may be putting it nicely — a bad offensive team. The Billikens ranked 327th in the country in three-point percentage, 352nd in free throw percentage, and 205th in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

They win games on defense, and so it may have seemed odd for Ford to start changing things up on that end right as the postseason began. He resorted to leaning on a 1-3-1 zone could not only throw opponents off, but give players a chance to steal a quick breather.

“If we’re going to win four games, we had to figure out five to six minutes in the game where we could conserve a little bit of energy, and then try to keep teams off-balance a little bit.”

The plan worked to perfection against Davidson. The Wildcats took 30 threes in the game, but made just seven of them.

That scheme was far less successful early on against St. Bonaventure as the Bonnies built a double-digit lead in the first half. So Ford switched to a man-to-man, risking his players’ endurance because he just didn’t have a better option. And while the Bonnies led by nine at the half, Ford decided to stick with it, with one minor adjustment. In the second half, when Saint Louis started denying Bonnies star Courtney Stockard the middle of the floor, forcing him to the sideline, their offense seemed thrown off. St. Bonaventure started taking worse shots, later in the shot clock. It gave Saint Louis confidence, fed that adrenaline, and forced St. Bonaventure to work even harder.

So when the under-eight media timeout hit, one team was rested, and it was the group of seven guys who were playing their fourth game in four days.

“These guys,” Ford said, “they have a competitive nature about them that’s fun to watch and fun to coach.”

Next up, it’s Virginia Tech on Friday. Saint Louis is a trendy upset pick, and with nearly a week to get ready, it makes sense. The preseason A-10 favorites seem to have put it together.

01/09: Explaining why Zion Williamson is, no exaggeration, tracking to be the best freshman in Duke history

Zion Williamson finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Tuesday’s 87-65 win at Wake Forest. So he’s now the first freshman in Duke history to hit each of those numbers in the same game. Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander open on that. And then it’s to Tennessee (7:17), UNC’s win over NC State (13:23) in addition to the possibility the Tar Heels finish atop the ACC. As for Nova (21:07), is it going to win the Big East in the same season it lost to Furman and Penn? The guys wrap (29:01) talking Wednesday night’s schedule” No. 11 Auburn at Ole Miss, No. 17 Houston at Temple and No. 21 Marquette at Creighton. Which ranked team will get picked off on the road?

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01/11: Markus Howard challenging Zion for POY; big, extended weekend preview

Markus Howard became the first Division I player in the past 20 years to have multiple 50-point games when he got 53 in Wednesday’s win at Creighton. So Parrish and Norlander open this episode with that (and camels). From there Murray State’s Ja Morant destroyed a UT Martin Skyhawk on Thursday (12:31); a loaded weekend preview (16:09), including No. 3 Tennessee at Florida, No. 4 Virginia at Clemson, No. 5 Gonzaga at San Francisco, No. 6 Michigan State at Penn State, No. 7 Kansas at Baylor, No. 8 Texas Tech at Texas, No. 10 Nevada at Fresno State, No. 16 Ohio State at Iowa and No. 22 Indiana at Maryland). The big game No. 1 Duke at No. 13 Florida State (25:53). And also, CBS’ big game on Saturday (31:40): Ole Miss at No. 14 Mississippi State. This episode is sponsored by www.ZipRecruiter.com.

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Complete 2017 NCAA Tournament Analysis

Below, you will find links to my bracket breakdown. I choose the winner of each game, by region and then in the Final Four itself. Don’t expect a breakdown of each game, but rather some larger observations about what to watch out for, what to focus on in your bracket pool, and where I would recommend taking risks and chances.

Look for the picks against the spread each day on the blog.  I will be picking each game against the VegasInsider consensus line spread.


No teases needed. THIS EPISODE IS THE GOODS. Complete NCAA Tournament reaction, analysis and everything you want for the morning after Selection Sunday. Here’s how Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander sort through the bracket on this episode: the opening is first impressions about what the committee did and anything that stands out in a major way. The nitpicking is next (16:00), and then comes the region-by-region analysis. East is first (26:15), then West (36:30), then South (43:00), then Midwest (56:30). The pod wraps with Final Four and title picks (1 hour, 7 minutes). 

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Bracketology Seed List – FINAL – Selection Sunday 2019

The ACC Tournament champion Duke Blue Devils are the No. 1 overall seed in the final list of 2019.

One more for the road to Minneapolis.

The final bracket projection of 2019


  • Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses. If a team has won its league’s auto bid, it appears in ALL CAPS (ignore any teams known by their abbreviations here).
  • New entrants are marked with an asterisk.
  • For at-large candidates only, the numbers in parentheses after the team’s name are as follows: record vs. D1 opposition/record in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games/record in Quad 1 games only. Records and NET data reflect games played through Saturday, March 16. I pulled the quality win info from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets.

No. 1 Seeds

1. DUKE (ACC) (29-5/17/11) – EAST – Columbia 1
2. Virginia (29-3/16/12) – SOUTH – Columbus 1
3. North Carolina (27-6/16/10) – MIDWEST – Columbia 2
4. Gonzaga (30-3/10/4) – WEST – Salt Lake City 1

No. 2 Seeds

5. MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten) (28-6/19/13) – SOUTH – Columbus 2
6. Kentucky (27-6/16/10) – EAST – Jacksonville 1
7. Tennessee (28-5/15/9) – MIDWEST – Jacksonville 2
8. Michigan (28-6/19/9) – WEST – Des Moines 1

No. 3 Seeds

9. Houston (31-3/16/6) – MIDWEST – Tulsa 1
10. LSU (26-6/16/9) – SOUTH – Tulsa 2
11. Florida State (27-7/14/8) – WEST – Hartford 1
12. Texas Tech (26-6/16/8) – EAST – Des Moines 2

No. 4 Seeds

13. Kansas (25-9/18/11) – WEST – Salt Lake City 2
14. Purdue (23-9/16/7) – EAST – Hartford 2
15. Virginia Tech (24-8/11/4) – SOUTH – San José 1
16. Wisconsin (23-10/15/10) – MIDWEST – San José 2

No. 5 Seeds

17. AUBURN (SEC) (25-9/17/5)
18. Kansas State (25-8/14/7)
19. IOWA STATE (Big 12) (23-11/11/8)
20. VILLANOVA (Big East) (25-9/18/5)

No. 6 Seeds

21. BUFFALO (MAC) (30-3/7/2)
22. Marquette (24-9/16/10)
23. Mississippi State (23-10/12/8)
24. CINCINNATI (American) (28-6/13/5)

No. 7 Seeds

25. WOFFORD (SoCon) (26-4/9/3)
26. Maryland (22-10/12/6)
27. Louisville (20-13/9/4)
28. Nevada (29-4/8/1)

No. 8 Seeds

29. Seton Hall (20-13/14/7)
30. Minnesota (21-13/12/5)
31. UTAH STATE (MW) (27-6/5/3)
32. Iowa (22-11/11/4)

No. 9 Seeds

33. Baylor (19-13/12/4)
34. Syracuse (20-13/6/3)
35. Oklahoma (19-13/10/4)
36. UCF (23-8/8/2)

No. 10 Seeds

37. Florida (19-15/8/4)
38. VCU (25-7/5/2)
39. SAINT MARY’S (WCC) (22-11/5/2)
40. Ole Miss (20-12/7/4)

No. 11 Seeds

41. TCU (20-13/9/3)
42. Ohio State (19-14/9/4)
43. (First Four) Washington (26-8/10/2)
44. (First Four) Arizona State (22-10/11/3)
45. (First Four) St. John’s (21-12/10/5)
46. (First Four) Belmont (25-5/3/2)

No. 12 Seeds

47. OREGON (Pac-12)

No. 13 Seeds

*53. YALE (Ivy)
54. UC IRVINE (Big West)

No. 14 Seeds

*56. SAINT LOUIS (A 10)
57. GEORGIA STATE (Sun Belt)
58. MONTANA (Big Sky)

No. 15 Seeds

60. COLGATE (Patriot)
62. GARDNER-WEBB (Big South)

No. 16 Seeds


First Four Out

69. NC State (22-11/8/3)
70. Indiana (17-15/8/6)
71. Texas (16-16/9/5)
72. Temple (23-9/8/2)

Next Four Out

73. Alabama (18-15/10/3)
74. Lipscomb (23-7/4/2)
75. UNCG (26-6/4/2)
76. Creighton (17-14/9/3)

Conference Ranking With Seeds

Note: Auto bid holders are denoted by asterisks.

Big Ten (8): 2. Michigan State*, 2. Michigan, 4. Purdue, 4. Wisconsin, 7. Maryland, 8. Minnesota, 8. Iowa, 11. Ohio State
ACC (7): 1. Duke*, 1. Virginia, 1. North Carolina, 3. Florida State, 4. Virginia Tech, 7. Louisville, 9. Syracuse
Big 12 (7): 3. Texas Tech, 4. Kansas, 5. Kansas State, 5. Iowa State*, 9. Baylor, 9. Oklahoma, 11. TCU
SEC (7): 2. Tennessee, 2. Kentucky, 3. LSU, 5. Auburn*, 6. Mississippi State, 10. Florida, 10. Ole Miss
Big East (4): 5. Villanova*, 6. Marquette, 8. Seton Hall, 11. St. John’s (First Four)
American Athletic (3): 3. Houston*, 7. Cincinnati, 9. UCF
Pac-12 (3): 11. Washington (First Four), 11. Arizona State (First Four), 12. Oregon*
A 10 (2): 10. VCU, 14. Saint Louis*
MW (2): 7. Nevada, 8. Utah State*
OVC (2): 11. Belmont (First Four), 12. Murray State*
WCC (2): 1. Gonzaga, 10. Saint Mary’s*

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NITology: Norfolk State, Harvard enter the field after this weekend’s action

Meanwhile, three WCC teams will have to sweat it out for NIT bids.

Well, here were are. We are just hours from learning the teams that will play postseason basketball. Only 100 teams will have earned the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. That is less than one-third of all teams in NCAA Division I. It is an honor to make it to either of these tournaments.

This season we welcomed the NCAA Evaluation Tool (aka NET) into our lives. Has anything really changed? No one really knows, but we’ll get a hint soon enough. The guess here though is that things will stay frustratingly the same, as a new tool doesn’t change how two roomfuls of committee members evaluate at-large pools.

The NIT is especially perplexing this season. There are the typical middling power conference teams, such as Butler and Arkansas, and the mid-majors with good resumes, such as San Francisco, ETSU, Utah Valley and BYU that may just fall just short. Then again, I could also be wrong. In my decade of predicting the NIT bracket (yes, it really has been that long) I’ve never felt less confident about a projection. Will there be a new NET era?

If there is here are some other teams not in my bracket that might hear their names called at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Potential NIT Teams (In order from least surprising to most surprising):

  • ETSU
  • San Francisco
  • BYU
  • Oregon State
  • San Diego State
  • South Carolina
  • Utah Valley
  • South Florida
  • DePaul
  • San Diego

As for me? I’m sticking with the status quo. That means that I’m leaving South Carolina (15-16 against Division I) out of the bracket — though I did include .500 Texas and Butler. The only team since 2007 to receive an at-large bid to the NIT with a .500 record is North Carolina at 16-16 in 2010. Those Tar Heels were the defending national champions. The Longhorns are almost assuredly going to add to that legacy. Whether Butler will join them is one of the biggest questions hanging over the field. I chose to put the Bulldogs in because they have eight wins against teams projected to be in the NCAA and NIT fields.

But honestly, I hope I’m wrong. I hope this is the year teams like ETSU, BYU and San Francisco somehow make the NIT. The tournament would be better for it.

Last Four in NCAA Tournament: Temple, Washington, VCU, St. John’s

NIT Bracket:

1. Belmont
8. St. Francis (PA)

4. Toledo
5. Butler

3. Clemson
6. Hofstra

2. Texas
7. South Dakota State

1. N.C. State
8. Norfolk State

4. Davidson
5. Providence

3. Furman
6. Fresno State

2. Georgetown
7. Harvard

1. UNC Greensboro
8. Campbell

4. Memphis
5. Arkansas

3. Lipscomb
6. Wichita State

2. Alabama
7. Sam Houston State

1. Indiana
8. Loyola IL

4. Xavier
5. Dayton

3. Nebraska
6. Colorado

2. Creighton
7. Wright State

Note: I will update the NIT bracket one final time after the NCAA Selection Show because the First Four Out will automatically become the tournament’s No. 1 seeds. If you want to see that bracket you can follow me on Twitter.

Day 1 Picking The Lines

This is Day 1 of my daily “Picking The Lines” posts. Remember that gambling is for fun only, and this is really just a blogging gimmick to talk about each game. Never bet significant sums of money on sporting events.

As always, the Vegas lines used will be the VegasInsider consensus line at the time the post goes live on the blog.

Anyway, it’s time to get this tournament started. Join in the comments section on these posts daily to talk about the games as they happen, or tweet at me.

Let’s get to the games:

2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

New Orleans (-1.5) over Mount St. Mary’s: You have to be a gambling degenerate to actually throw real money on a 16/16 play-in game. That said, with a spread this small I’m just going to pick whoever I think is going to win the game. New Orleans isn’t just the team higher rated in the computers, but they’re a more athletic team, with the ability to apply a lot of defensive pressure and to get to the line in a way that Mount St. Mary’s simply can’t.

Kansas State (PK) over Wake Forest: Kansas State is a team that I didn’t think deserved a spot in the NCAA Tournament due to a very mediocre non-conference strength of schedule, conference W-L record, and RPI Top 50/100 records. That said, they are better than their resume, suffering from a little bit of bad luck in close games. Also, the Big 12 was just ridiculously strong, with no opportunities for easy victories. Both of these teams have mismatches, from Kansas State’s pressure defense to Wake Forest’s John Collins inside, but when all else fails I give the coaching advantage to Bruce Weber. Criticize Weber’s recruiting all you want, but he’s one of the best game coaches that you’ll find in Division I basketball.

Utah State wins the Mountain West Championship

The Aggies hold off the Aztecs for their first Mountain West Championship

Before tip-off, Utah State and San Diego State fans chanted the famed “I believe that we will win” chant at the Thomas and Mack Center.

In the end, it was the Utah State fans who were able to cheer victoriously. Sam Merrill lead Utah State 24 points and big man Neemias Queta scored 17 points and added 8 rebounds leading the Aggies 64-57 victory in the Mountain West Championship game.

“[We’re proud] to win this and make history,” Head coach Craig Smith said. “We’re going to carry that and represent the Mountain West in a great fashion in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Aggies used a strong second half start to pull away from the Aztecs.

The first ten minutes of the game resembled a rugby scrum. Both teams struggled to get it going offensively; the teams combined for 17 points in the first nine minutes. However after consecutive big from McDaniels and Queta both teams started to find their rhythm offensively.

Utah State would hit its next five shots and San Diego State was able to hang around with help of a couple of Watson threes. The teams traded baskets down the stretch to what was an entertaining first half. Utah State took a 34-32 lead into the break despite Sam Merrill failing to make a single three pointer.

At the start of the second half the Aggies asserted themselves by going on a 13-0 run. San Diego State tried to battle back but Utah State prevented the Aztecs from getting anything going offensively. The Aztecs shot a miserable 27 percent from the field in the second half.

The Aztecs defense would effectively get stops but they struggled to make a run as the Aztecs offense began to sputter. San Diego State struggled to get open looks and move the ball efficiently. Jalen McDaniels was held in check offensively through the entire stretch.

As the game seemed to get a hand for the Aztecs, Brain Dutcher’s squad kept fighting. SDSU remained within 12 despite a 2:09 minute scoreless stretch. After losing McDaniels with 5:55 left to go, the Aztecs were able to make short run. SDSU began to pressure the ball and play very aggressive defensively. SDSU was able to create buckets on Utah State turnovers. Watson hit a three with four minutes to go to bring the Aztecs to within single-digits for the first time since the 15:00 minute mark.

San Diego State got many chances down the stretch but couldn’t convert. Mitchell missed two consecutive open threes to bring it within five. Down by seven, San Diego State missed back-to-back front ends of the one-and-one. Utah State left the door open for comeback, but the Aztecs still couldn’t deliver. With McDaniels out of the game, Utah State was able to focus on stopping Watson. Utah State did an excellent job fighting over screens and forcing Watson off his right hand. Despite being guarded by an army, Watson still hit big shots down the stretch to keep the Aztecs hopes alive. San Diego State was able to stay in the game due to their 15 offensive rebounds but the Aggies prevented them from scoring any second chance points.

Utah State clinched its first Mountain West tournament title and left no doubt about their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The title was the finishing touch on first-year head coach Craig Smith’s memorable turnaround. He took a program who finished seventh in the conference and was picked ninth in the Mountain West preseason poll — all without leading scorer Koby McEwen, who transferred to Marquette in the offseason. Now, the Aggies are poised for possibly a deep run in March.

Get To Know the Bradley Braves

Brian Wardle and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye hope to lead Bradley to March Madness success.

Brian Wardle re-built the program in the mold of the Three Little Pigs

When Brian Wardle became Bradley’s head coach, there were virtually no players on the roster and the passionate basketball fans in Peoria, Illinois were discouraged and wondering if basketball relevance would ever return to Carver Arena.

Wardle’s first team was the youngest in the nation and it won five games. Wardle’s second team was one of the youngest teams in the nation and it won 13 games, but Wardle was building a program one brick at a time. Now, Wardle’s Braves have produced back-to-back 20-win seasons. The former Marquette player says his building plan was informed by the children’s story, The Three Little Pigs.

“We didn’t want to build with sticks,” Wardle said. “It’s slower, but we wanted to build with bricks so that when we got there, we could stay. It’s not as flashy, but our administration believed in what we were doing.”

“When you rush and take a lot of transfers and older guys to win right away, you’re building a house with sticks and those sticks are eventually going to fall down,” he said. “We wanted to build our house with bricks and that’s with young, high-character guys that we think we can develop and build around. We can increase our talent every year. We want a house that is brick-built and won’t be blown over. It takes time to do it that way, but then you can sustain. We built it to last. Our academics are through the roof and our players are active in the community.”

On Jan. 16, the Braves were 0-5 in the Valley and were 8-10 overall. Wardle tweaked his lineup, his team started making shots they were previously missing, and they sprinted to a 12-4 finish and a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.

Meet the Players

Junior guard Darrell Brown is the team’s leading scorer, three-point shooter, ball-handler, and steals leader. The 5’10 point guard is a streaky offensive player. His 14.7-point scoring average does not reflect his explosiveness. After opening the Valley season with a two-point performance against Northern Iowa, the Memphis native went off for 32 against Indiana State. Counting the Valley tournament, he torched MVC opponents for six games of 20 points or more. He also had six where he failed to reach 10 points. He was a second-team all-Valley member.

Sophomore forward Elijah Childs was the Most Outstanding Player of the Valley tournament. The 6’7 lefty has solid post moves and a solid mid-range game. The Kansas City native recorded seven double-doubles on his way to a third-team all Valley season of 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He was also named to the league’s Most Improved Team.

London native Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye was the clutch free-throw-making, heart-and-soul of Bradley’s Arch Madness championship game victory. He made all six of his free throws during the final two minutes of the Braves’ three-point win over Northern Iowa. His overall game (8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists) reflects his grit and leadership.

The senior guard scored nine of his 13 points in the final 3:44 of the title game. Wardle says making those clutch free-throws isn’t just a reflection of his tenacity; it speaks to his hard work. He shot under 60 percent from the line his freshman season and made 75 percent this year.

Wardle speaks often of star role players. He wants players to see their role as important and how little things win championships or lose games. Senior Luuk van Bree is a screen-setting, shot-blocking, triple-making star role player. His defense on Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig in the Valley semifinal was game-changing.

Third-leading scorer Nate Kennell comes off the Bradley bench and shared the Valley’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He averages 9.4 points per game and makes 40 percent of his shots from distance.

Senior Luqman Lundy, junior Koch Bar and freshman Ja’Shon Henry all average 18 minutes per game, at least four points, and fill multiple gaps.

Wardle says his Braves are selfless. No one cares who scores or who gets the headlines. They’ve built their team on the bricks of doing the little things that lead to championships. When pregame introductions are made, all the players stay in one big circle. When Lautier-Ogunleye was congratulated for making those game-winning free throws, he credited his teammates for believing in him.

Wardle is a fierce competitor and his team, which also won the Cancun Challenge, emulates their leader.

01/13: What's wrong with UNC; how Duke escaped at Florida State; the Big Ten has 10 teams in play for the NCAAs

North Carolina continued its bipolar ways this weekend. Just five days after winning at NC State, the Tar Heels lost 83-62 at home to Louisville. GP and MN open with that, then get to Cam Reddish (15:27), who buried a 3-pointer in the final second to lift Duke past Florida State on Saturday. Ohio State (28:51) has gone from 12-1 to 12-4, and the Big Ten has 10 teams thinking NCAA tourney. In the SEC, Ole Miss (29:38) is 13-2 overall, 3-0 in the SEC. Gonzaga (38:16) beat a better-than-you-realize San Francisco team on the road late Saturday to improve to 16-2. Will Gonzaga not lose again until March? And finally, previewing Virginia Tech-Virginia (50:32), which takes place Tuesday. 

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01/15: Syracuse stuns Duke, which loses Tre Jones to a shoulder injury; Indiana hits a troubling skid

Monday night brought the unexpected: not just a Duke loss to Syracuse, but Tre Jones’ troubling shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out for a while. Parrish and Norlander open this episode by discussing the game and the injury, then get to Indiana (20:45) losing at home to Nebraska. With a tough schedule upcoming, could the Hoosiers go from comfortable NCAA Tournament team to the NIT? The guys also touch on Pitt (29:15), which is doing well in its first year under Jeff Capel. 

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03/15: Zion Williamson is destroying every expectation we have for him; setting the table for Selection Sunday

Zion Williamson’s return to Duke was probably the best return from injury in a single game in college basketball history. He went 13-of-13 from the field and put on maybe the best statistical performance by a Duke player since Christian Laettner. The guys open on that, then get to talking Duke-UNC predictions and the 1 seed situation that’s at stake Friday and Saturday (11:00). From there, a quick chat on the Big 12, Texas and West Virginia (21:30), and a wrap-up on the bubble, the Big East and why St. John’s fans have to feel uncertain (28:00). 

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Atlantic 10 quarterfinals update: Rhode Island pops someone’s bubble and we have some coaching news

Rhody will face St. Bonaventure in the semis.

BROOKLYN — Rhode Island has knocked a bubble team out of the NCAA Tournament.

The Rams’ 75-70 win over VCU on Friday afternoon in the first game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals assured that the A-10 would be a two-bid league this year, with VCU destined for the at-large field.

Jeff Dowtin scored 22 points to lead Rhode Island to the 8 vs. 1 upset. The Rams trailed by eight midway through the first half, but momentum changed for good when VCU leader Marcus Evans went down with an injury to his left leg. Evans stayed on the floor for several minutes, slapping the floor in pain. He was eventually helped to the locker room, putting no weight on that leg, and returned to the bench on crutches in the second half.

Rhode Island trailed by three at the break, but hung around, eventually taking the lead on a layup from Dana Tate with 16:20 to go. The game stayed close from there, but Dowtin provided the dagger on a circus three with the shot clock running down. That put URI up 73-67 with 2:13 left.

VCU is still safely in the NCAA Tournament, but the loss and Evans’ injury could be costly.

Injury implications

VCU head coach Mike Rhoades told reporters after the game that team doctors believed Evans had a severe bone bruise and he would be further evaluated later on Friday. So for that, the team seems to have dodged a bullet.

Losing to the eighth-best team in a bad A-10 was already going to cost VCU on the Selection Sunday seed line. Positive news about Evans could keep the Rams from falling further. The NCAA Selection Committee would not factor his injury into the equation when it comes to determining VCU’s inclusion in the field, but it would be a factor in seeding; the committee seeds based on the team you are right now. We will need to wait for more news about Evans, but for now, VCU shouldn’t fall too far.

St. Bonaventure stays hot

The Bonnies have now won eight out of nine games, and they did it on the backs of their defense and their freshmen. True to form, St. Bonaventure held George Mason to 35 percent shooting en route to a 68-57 victory. On the other end, freshmen Dominick Welch and Kyle Lofton each scored 20 points. For Welch, that was a career high and he did it on six made threes.

St. Bonaventure will play Rhode Island in the first semifinal game on Saturday, which will tip at 1 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. URI won by 12 in their lone meeting this season.

Coaching news

Conference tournament time also means the coaching carousel is starting to turn, and news broke on Friday about two Atlantic 10 coaches before the morning session ended.

This wasn’t a good season for George Washington, no way around that. But Joseph only had three years at Foggy Bottom after inheriting an impossible situation. He won 20 games in his first season, but just 14 last year and went 9-24 this season with just four conference wins.

Speaking of teams that have already been eliminated:

Some Fordham fans have been getting frustrated with Neubauer’s lack of progress, but the decision to keep him around makes sense. With a team comprised mostly of freshmen and juniors (including A-10 all-rookie team member Nick Honor), Fordham has a solid core in place for next season. Composite three-star Joel Soriano will also join the fold next year. A coaching change could have led to a rash of transfers and de-commits, forcing the program to begin yet another rebuild.

Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Florida Gators are among the bubble teams in action on this Championship Week Thursday.

It’s a very busy day, particularly for bubble teams. For a more traditional look at the schedule, visit MattSarzSports.com.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a lineup broken down by telecast window with the tournament info in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these specifically by tip time, however, I’ve grouped them by importance.

Big East Quarterfinals

FS1 will air all four games.

No. 8 Providence Friars (18-14, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Villanova Wildcats (22-9, 13-5), 12 p.m.
No. 5 Creighton Bluejays (18-13, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Xavier Musketeers (17-14, 9-9), approx. 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 St. John’s Red Storm (21-11, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-8, 12-6), 7 p.m.
No. 6 Georgetown Hoyas (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 3 Seton Hall Pirates (18-12, 9-9), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Creighton, the third team out of today’s bracket, has the most to lose here, while Seton Hall won’t want to undo the good gained with victories over Marquette and Villanova by losing to Georgetown. But otherwise, this tournament is still shaping up to be spoiler central for the bubble.

MAC Quarterfinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games.

No. 8 Akron Zips (17-15, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Buffalo Bulls (28-3, 16-2), 12 p.m.
No. 5 Central Michigan Chippewas (22-10, 10-8) vs. No. 4 Kent State Golden Flashes (22-9, 11-7), approx. 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Toledo Rockets (25-6, 13-5), 6:30 p.m.
No. 11 Ball State Cardinals (16-16, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Bowling Green Falcons (20-11, 12-6), approx. 9 p.m.

Bubble teams will be rooting for a Buffalo win in the noon tip.

ACC Quarterfinals

ESPN will air all four games nationally. Raycom will air all four games in ACC markets.

No. 8 NC State Wolfpack (22-10, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (28-2, 16-2), 12:30 p.m.
No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies (24-7, 12-6) vs. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (25-6, 13-5), approx. 3 p.m.
No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels (26-5, 16-2), 7 p.m.
No. 6 Syracuse Orange (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (26-5, 14-4), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Will Zion Williamson return for Duke tonight? Can NC State pick up a needed marquee win over top-seeded Virginia?

Big 12 Quarterfinals

ESPN2 will air all four games.

No. 5 Iowa State Cyclones (20-11, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Baylor Bears (19-12, 10-8), 12:30 p.m.
No. 8 TCU Horned Frogs (20-12, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats (24-7, 14-4), approx. 3 p.m.
No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers (13-19, 4-14) vs. No. 2 Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-5, 14-4), 7 p.m.
No. 6 Texas Longhorns (16-15, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (25-8, 12-6), approx. 9:30 p.m.

The nightcap is the big one, with Texas in danger of dropping to .500 and out of the picture altogether.

Big Sky Quarterfinals

Eleven Sports will air all four games. Pluto.tv and WatchBigSky.com will stream all four games.

No. 9 Sacramento State Hornets (15-15, 8-12) vs. No. 1 Montana Grizzlies (23-8, 16-4), 2 p.m.
No. 5 Portland State Vikings (16-15, 11-9) vs. No. 4 Weber State Wildcats (17-14, 11-9), approx. 4:30 p.m.
No. 7 Southern Utah Thunderbirds (15-15, 9-11) vs. No. 2 Northern Colorado Bears (21-10, 15-5), 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 Montana State Bobcats (15-16, 11-9) vs. No. 3 Eastern Washington Eagles (14-17, 12-8), approx. 10 p.m.

Mountain West Quarterfinals

CBSSN will air all four games.

No. 8 Boise State Broncos (13-19, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Nevada Wolf Pack (28-3, 15-3), 3 p.m.
No. 5 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (17-13, 7-11) vs. No. 4 San Diego State Aztecs (19-12, 11-7), approx. 5:30 p.m.
No. 7 New Mexico Lobos (14-17, 7-11) vs. No. 2 Utah State Aggies (25-6, 15-3), 9 p.m.
No. 6 Air Force Falcons (14-17, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Fresno State Bulldogs (22-8, 13-5), approx. 11:30 p.m.

Both Nevada and Utah State will look to avoid losses that could further complicate the bubble picture.

Pac-12 Quarterfinals

No. 8 USC Trojans (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Washington Huskies (24-7, 15-3), 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes (20-11, 10-8) vs. No. 4 Oregon State Beavers (18-12, 10-8), approx. 5:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
No. 7 UCLA Bruins (17-15, 9-9) vs. No. 2 Arizona State Sun Devils (21-9, 12-6), 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
No. 6 Oregon Ducks (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Utah Utes (17-13, 11-7), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN)

It’s a similar story for Washington and Arizona State, neither of whom can afford a bad loss at this point. In the late game, Oregon will look to climb its way up the pecking order by topping Utah.

Big West Quarterfinals

ESPN3 will stream all four games.

No. 7 CSUN Matadors (13-19, 7-9) vs. No. 2 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (21-9, 10-6), 3 p.m.
No. 6 UC Davis Aggies (11-19, 7-9) vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton Titans (14-16, 10-6), approx. 5:30 p.m.
No. 8 UC Riverside Highlanders (10-22, 4-12) vs. No. 1 UC Irvine Anteaters (27-5, 15-1), 9 p.m.
No. 5 Long Beach State 49ers (14-18, 8-8) vs. No. 4 Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (18-12, 9-7), approx. 11:30 p.m.

WAC Quarterfinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games.

No. 8 Chicago State Cougars (3-28, 0-16) vs. No. 1 New Mexico State Aggies (27-4, 15-1), 3 p.m.
No. 5 Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (16-14, 7-9) vs. No. 4 UTRGV Vaqueros (18-15, 9-7), approx. 5:30 p.m.
No. 7 UMKC Kangaroos (11-20, 6-10) vs. No. 2 Utah Valley Wolverines (23-8, 12-4), 9 p.m.
No. 6 Seattle Redhawks (18-13, 6-10) vs. No. 3 Grand Canyon Antelopes (18-12, 10-6), approx. 11:30 p.m.

MEAC Quarterfinals, Night Two

FloHoops.com ($) will stream both games.

No. 11 Delaware State Hornets (6-24, 2-14) vs. No. 3 NC Central Eagles (15-15, 10-6), 6 p.m.
No. 5 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (14-16, 9-7) vs. No. 4 Howard Bison (16-15, 10-6), approx. 8:30 p.m.

The winners move on to tomorrow night’s semifinals, where the top two seeds, the Norfolk State Spartans and North Carolina A&T Aggies, await,

Southland Quarterfinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 5 Lamar Cardinals (20-12, 12-6) vs. No. 4 New Orleans Privateers (17-12, 12-6), 6 p.m.
No. 7 Central Arkansas Bears (14-18, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana Lions (16-15, 12-6), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Tonight’s winners move on to Friday’s semifinals, where the Sam Houston State Bearkats and Abilene Christian Wildcats lurk.

Conference USA Quarterfinals

No. 8 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (20-12, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Old Dominion Monarchs (23-8, 13-5), 7 p.m. (Stadium)
No. 5 UAB Blazers (19-13, 10-8) vs. No. 4 UTSA Roadrunners (17-14, 11-7), 7:30 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)
No. 10 North Texas Mean Green (21-11, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (18-13, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (Stadium)
No. 6 Marshall Thundering Herd (19-13, 11-7) vs. No. 3 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (19-11, 11-7), approx. 10 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)

It’s another night of simultaneous, side-by-side action in Frisco, Texas.

Atlantic 10 Second Round

NBCSN will air all four games.

No. 9 La Salle Explorers (10-20, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Rhode Island Rams (16-14, 9-9), 12 p.m.
No. 12 George Washington Colonials (9-23, 4-14) vs. No. 5 George Mason Patriots (17-14, 11-7), approx. 2:30 p.m.
No. 10 Saint Joseph’s Hawks (13-18, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Duquesne Dukes (19-12, 10-8), 6 p.m.
No. 11 Richmond Spiders (13-19, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Saint Louis Billikens (19-12, 10-8), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Big Ten Second Round

BTN will air all four games.

No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers (17-14, 8-12) vs. No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-13, 8-12), 12:30 p.m.
No. 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-15, 6-14) vs. No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (22-9, 13-7), approx. 3 p.m.
No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (14-17, 7-13) vs. No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-12, 9-11), 7 p.m.
No. 11 Illinois Fighting Illini (12-20, 7-13) vs. No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-10, 10-10), approx. 9:30 p.m.

The first game of the day in Chicago is yet another likely bubble elimination game, while Minnesota and Iowa will look to avoid bad late losses.

SEC Second Round

SEC Network will air all four games.

No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Florida Gators (17-14, 9-9), 1 p.m.
No. 12 Missouri Tigers (15-16, 5-13) vs. No. 5 Auburn Tigers (22-9, 11-7), approx. 3:30 p.m.
No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 7 Ole Miss Rebels (20-11, 10-8), 7 p.m.
No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies (14-17, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-9, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Florida likely needs to beat Arkansas to stay in the field, while Alabama needs to beat Ole Miss and then keep working its way through the bracket in Nashville to have a chance.

Sun Belt Second Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 8 South Alabama Jaguars (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 5 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (19-12, 10-8), 6 p.m.
No. 7 ULM Warhawks (17-14, 9-9) vs. No. 6 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (15-15, 9-9), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Friday matchups with the third and fourth seeds are on offer tonight in New Orleans.

American Athletic First Round

ESPNU will air all four games.

No. 9 UConn Huskies (15-16, 6-12) vs. No. 8 South Florida Bulls (19-12, 8-10), 1 p.m.
No. 12 Tulane Green Wave (4-26, 0-18) at No. 5 Memphis Tigers (19-12, 11-7), approx. 3:30 p.m.
No. 10 SMU Mustangs (14-16, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (18-13, 8-10), 8 p.m.
No. 11 East Carolina Pirates (10-20, 3-15) vs. No. 6 Wichita State Shockers (17-13, 10-8), approx. 10:30 p.m.

Remember, Memphis hosts the tournament this season, so they’ll have plenty of crowd support.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Afternoon Tips

B1G R2: No. 9 Indiana (17-14, 8-12) vs. No. 8 Ohio State (18-13, 8-12), 12:30 p.m. (BTN)
SEC R2: No. 9 Arkansas (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Florida (17-14, 9-9), 1 p.m. (SECN)
B12 QF: No. 5 Iowa State (20-11, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Baylor (19-12, 10-8), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
ACC QF: No. 8 N.C. State (22-10, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Virginia (28-2, 16-2), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)
BE QF: No. 8 Providence (18-14, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Villanova (22-9, 13-5), 12 p.m. (FS1)
MAC QF: No. 8 Akron (17-15, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Buffalo (28-3, 16-2), 12 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
AAC R1: No. 9 UConn (15-16, 6-12) vs. No. 8 South Florida (19-12, 8-10), 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
A10 R2: No. 9 La Salle (10-20, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Rhode Island (16-14, 9-9), 12 p.m. (NBCSN)

Mid-Afternoon Tips

ACC QF: No. 5 Virginia Tech (24-7, 12-6) vs. No. 4 Florida State (25-6, 13-5), approx. 3 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)
B12 QF: No. 8 TCU (20-12, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Kansas State (24-7, 14-4), approx. 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
P12 QF: No. 8 USC (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Washington (24-7, 15-3), 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
BE QF: No. 5 Creighton (18-13, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Xavier (17-14, 9-9), approx. 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
MW QF: No. 8 Boise State (13-19, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Nevada (28-3, 15-3), 3 p.m. (CBSSN)
B1G R2: No. 13 Nebraska (17-15, 6-14) vs. No. 5 Maryland (22-9, 13-7), approx. 3 p.m. (BTN)
SEC R2: No. 12 Missouri (15-16, 5-13) vs. No. 5 Auburn (22-9, 11-7), approx. 3:30 p.m. (SECN)
MAC QF: No. 5 Central Michigan (22-10, 10-8) vs. No. 4 Kent State (22-9, 11-7), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
BW QF: No. 7 CSUN (13-19, 7-9) vs. No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (21-9, 10-6), 3 p.m.
WAC QF: No. 8 Chicago State (3-28, 0-16) vs. No. 1 New Mexico State (27-4, 15-1), 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big Sky QF: No. 9 Sacramento State (15-15, 8-12) vs. No. 1 Montana (23-8, 16-4), 2 p.m. (Eleven Sports/Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)
AAC R1: No. 12 Tulane (4-26, 0-18) at No. 5 Memphis (19-12, 11-7), approx. 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
A10 R2: No. 12 George Washington (9-23, 4-14) vs. No. 5 George Mason (17-14, 11-7), approx. 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Late Afternoon Tips

P12 QF: No. 5 Colorado (20-11, 10-8) vs. No. 4 Oregon State (18-12, 10-8), approx. 5:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
MW QF: No. 5 UNLV (17-13, 7-11) vs. No. 4 San Diego State (19-12, 11-7), approx. 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
BW QF: No. 6 UC Davis (11-19, 7-9) vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton (14-16, 10-6), approx. 5:30 p.m.
WAC QF: No. 5 Cal State Bakersfield (16-14, 7-9) vs. No. 4 UTRGV (18-15, 9-7), approx. 5:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)
Big Sky QF: No. 5 Portland State (16-15, 11-9) vs. No. 4 Weber State (17-14, 11-9), approx. 4:30 p.m. (Eleven Sports/Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)

Early Evening Tips

ACC QF: No. 7 Louisville (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 2 North Carolina (26-5, 16-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)
BE QF: No. 7 St. John’s (21-11, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Marquette (23-8, 12-6), 7 p.m. (FS1)
SEC R2: No. 10 Alabama (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 7 Ole Miss (20-11, 10-8), 7 p.m. (SECN)
B12 QF: No. 10 West Virginia (13-19, 4-14) vs. No. 2 Texas Tech (26-5, 14-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
B1G R2: No. 10 Penn State (14-17, 7-13) vs. No. 7 Minnesota (19-12, 9-11), 7 p.m. (BTN)
MAC QF: No. 7 Northern Illinois (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Toledo (25-6, 13-5), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
C-USA QF: No. 8 Louisiana Tech (20-12, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Old Dominion (23-8, 13-5), 7 p.m. (Stadium)
C-USA QF: No. 5 UAB (19-13, 10-8) vs. No. 4 UTSA (17-14, 11-7), 7:30 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)
SLC QF: No. 5 Lamar (20-12, 12-6) vs. No. 4 New Orleans (17-12, 12-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MEAC QF: No. 11 Delaware State (6-24, 2-14) vs. No. 3 North Carolina Central (15-15, 10-6), 6 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))
A10 R2: No. 10 Saint Joseph’s (13-18, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Duquesne (19-12, 10-8), 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
SB R2: No. 8 South Alabama (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 5 Louisiana (19-12, 10-8), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Mid-Evening Tips

SLC QF: No. 7 Central Arkansas (14-18, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana (16-15, 12-6), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MEAC QF: No. 5 Bethune-Cookman (14-16, 9-7) vs. No. 4 Howard (16-15, 10-6), approx. 8:30 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))
AAC R1: No. 10 SMU (14-16, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Tulsa (18-13, 8-10), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
A10 R2: No. 11 Richmond (13-19, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Saint Louis (19-12, 10-8), approx. 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
SB R2: No. 7 ULM (17-14, 9-9) vs. No. 6 Coastal Carolina (15-15, 9-9), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Late Evening Tips

ACC QF: No. 6 Syracuse (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Duke (26-5, 14-4), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)
B12 QF: No. 6 Texas (16-15, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Kansas (25-8, 12-6), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
BE QF: No. 6 Georgetown (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 3 Seton Hall (18-12, 9-9), approx. 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
P12 QF: No. 7 UCLA (17-15, 9-9) vs. No. 2 Arizona State (21-9, 12-6), 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
MW QF: No. 7 New Mexico (14-17, 7-11) vs. No. 2 Utah State (25-6, 15-3), 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
B1G R2: No. 11 Illinois (12-20, 7-13) vs. No. 6 Iowa (21-10, 10-10), approx. 9:30 p.m. (BTN)
SEC R2: No. 11 Texas A&M (14-17, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Mississippi State (22-9, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m. (SECN)
MAC QF: No. 11 Ball State (16-16, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Bowling Green (20-11, 12-6), approx. 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
BW QF: No. 8 UC Riverside (10-22, 4-12) vs. No. 1 UC Irvine (27-5, 15-1), 9 p.m.
C-USA QF: No. 10 North Texas (21-11, 8-10) vs. No. 2 WKU (18-13, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (Stadium)
C-USA QF: No. 6 Marshall (19-13, 11-7) vs. No. 3 Southern Miss. (19-11, 11-7), approx. 10 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)
WAC QF: No. 7 UMKC (11-20, 6-10) vs. No. 2 Utah Valley (23-8, 12-4), 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big Sky QF: No. 7 Southern Utah (15-15, 9-11) vs. No. 2 Northern Colorado (21-10, 15-5), 7:30 p.m. (Eleven Sports/Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)
AAC R1: No. 11 East Carolina (10-20, 3-15) vs. No. 6 Wichita State (17-13, 10-8), approx. 10:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Late Night Tips

P12 QF: No. 6 Oregon (20-12, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Utah (17-13, 11-7), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN)
MW QF: No. 6 Air Force (14-17, 8-10) vs. No. 3 Fresno State (22-8, 13-5), approx. 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
WAC QF: No. 6 Seattle (18-13, 6-10) vs. No. 3 Grand Canyon (18-12, 10-6), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
BW QF: No. 5 Long Beach State (14-18, 8-8) vs. No. 4 Hawai’i (18-12, 9-7), approx. 11:30 p.m.
Big Sky QF: No. 6 Montana State (15-16, 11-9) vs. No. 3 Eastern Washington (14-17, 12-8), approx. 10 p.m. (Eleven Sports/Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)

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Nevada battles back once again in the Mountain West quarterfinals

Boise State scares Nevada in the Mountain West quarterfinal after the Wolfpack stumble out of the gates, again.

Thanks to the play from Tre’Shawn Thurman and Jazz Johnson, Nevada survived an upset-minded Boise State Bronco team by winning 77-69 in the Mountain West quarterfinals.

Even when the Boise State lead by as much as 15, the game was never really over. But the Broncos did give Wolf Pack a nation a serious scare. Every time Nevada made a run the Broncos had an answer. Boise State controlled the tempo of the game by its good ball movement, which led to plenty of open shots. The 74-67 final score doesn’t show well the Broncos played in this game; they made things extremely difficult for Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline.

Here are some more takeaways from Nevada’s 77-69 victory over the Broncos.

Are Nevada’s slow starts and second-half adjustments the norm?

Nevada made some significant time adjustments utilizing Thurman on the inside and closing space on defense. After hitting their first four threes, Nevada held the Broncos to just 30% from behind the arc.

“We were too worried about the dribble drive and were giving Boise State too much space,” Nevada head coach Eric Musselman said. “We closed down [on defense], and their averages fell.”

Slow starts have been a plague that has infected the Nevada Wolfpack all year, and they have plagued the Wolf Pack in all of their losses this season. Playing behind the 8-ball has been a regular part of Nevada’s season. Nevada’s blowout against San Diego State in the regular season finale seemed to get the Wolf Pack back in the right direction. However, a noon start time against a hungry Boise State team was a recipe for an upset.

Unsurprisingly, the Broncos were the more energetic team to start the game. Boise State hit their first four threes of the game and lead the Wolfpack 20-7 before the second media timeout. Nevada started off shooting 2-13 from the field shooting contested jumpers, but Nevada was playing too much iso-ball. Players weren’t moving to get open until Jazz Johnson came into the game and hit two big threes.

But credit to Boise State: Every time Nevada made a push Boise State countered.

If Nevada comes out to play as they did against a quality opponent, they may not be as lucky. Musselman admitted his team was hard to watch in the first half. Nevada has started to play better to answer doubters and to position themselves to succeed in the tournament.

It seems like we are still waiting for the dominating Wolfpack team we saw in early November to show up. This game was one last scare Eric Musselman’s team needed. Nevada was able to survive without significant contributions from some of their best players. The Wolf Pack’s 15-point comeback victory was its biggest comeback win since they beat Arizona State at Staples Center. They were ready to face adversity and never quivered under pressure.

Tre’Shawn Thurman is Nevada’s difference-maker

When Jordan Caroline struggles like he did against the Broncos, the guy that needs to step up is Tre’Shawn Thurman. Thurman delivered on Thursday as Nevada’s the most efficient player on the floor by scoring 17 points on 8-10 shooting.

Especially against the zone, Thurman has been that guy who has been super efficient in the middle. Thurman is often the most underappreciated part of Nevada’s core; he is the glue guy that makes this team go. Nevada has seen other teams throw zone defense thrown at them all year, yet Nevada struggled to get points inside, but it was Thurman who able to make plays around the basket in the middle of the zone defense.

Jazz Johnson is “not a normal bench player”

Eric Musselman referred to Jazz Johnson as “not a normal bench player” after the game, and Johnson proved it against the Broncos. ’The 5’10 guard came off the bench to lead Nevada with 20 points on 5-7 shooting from the three-point line.

In the postgame press conference, Johnson said he prides himself on being the spark plug coming off the bench and it’s his job to give the team instant offense. The fact is, Nevada doesn’t win this game without the play of Jazz Johnson off the bench. He helps Nevada when it’s not getting scoring from players not named Martin or Caroline.

01/18: Weekend preview: Virginia at Duke sets up as the best game of 2019 so far; will the final two unbeatens fall?

Before the guys look ahead, Norlander and Parrish check in on Kansas State and the Big 12 at the top of this episode. Plus, Iowa State and TCU (7:10) have had notable weeks. That league is seemingly set to get more unpredictable by the week. The big topic on this episode, of course, is Virginia at Duke (12:00). The guys also touch on what became a debate topic this week: the idea that Zion Williamson should quit playing at Duke to preserve his draft stock (25:20). From there, the fellas get to UK-Auburn (32:40) and Michigan-Wisconsin (36:20).

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Conference tournament recap: Higher seeds hold serve as next slate of tournaments begins

We had two thrillers at the Atlantic 10 tournament

Though there was only one ticket punched on Wednesday night (shout Colgate), the action got started at 9:30 a.m. local time (yes, I am serious) and never let up. The Big Sky tournament kicked off at CenturyLink Arena in Boise first thing Wednesday morning. Here’s everything that happened around college basketball:

Big Sky

No. 9 Sacramento State 72, No. 8 Northern Arizona 60

The Hornets were hot right out the gate, leading by 15 at the break behind lights-out shooting from distance and an early 10-0 run in the first half. They did not trail for the remainder of the morning. Junior guard Marcus Graves led the way for SSU, finishing with 27 points on a career-high six three-pointers. A matchup with the regular season champs, Montana, is next.

No. 6 Montana State 75, No. 11 Idaho 71

Montana State was able to avoid a scare from the 348th best team in the nation (per KenPom). Leading by just two at half, the Bobcats centralized their offensive game plan around senior leader Tyler Hall. Behind his 23 points and 10 boards, Montana State was able to live another day and escape 75-71 over the Vandals, who finish the year at 5-27 (yikes). After trailing 10-0 to start the game, the Bobcats were able to dig in defensively to secure their program’s first Big Sky tournament win in a decade.

No. 7 Southern Utah 94, No. 10 Idaho State 80

The final Big Sky contest of the day was an offensive explosion with Southern Utah and Idaho State combining for 174 points. Southern Utah entered the day losers of three straight, including a 20-point blowout loss at home to Northern Colorado in their home finale last week. Brandon Better put up 17 points in as many minutes off the bench, providing the offensive spark the Thunderbirds needed in the second half. They also got 23 points from forward Andre Adams and 21 team assists.

Atlantic 10

No. 12 George Washington 68, No. 13 UMass 64

Entering the game, both schools sat at 4-14 in conference play as they met in Brooklyn to determine who would square off with George Mason Thursday. The contest was back-and-forth straight from the tip but thanks to a combined 39 points between Terry Nolan Jr. and Jack Maceo, the Colonials were able to hold off UMass in overtime and pull out a win. The Colonials’ bench went a long way as they combined for a total of 29 points.

No. 11 Richmond 52, No. 10 Fordham 50

Freshman forward Nathan Cayo of Quebec led the way for the Spiders with 15 points and seven boards. Another back-and-forth A-10 contest, this one came down to the final possession as Cayo converted a lay-in with under a second left to secure the win for a Richmond club that has had its fair share of distractions this season. Fordham finishes the year 12-20 and a league worst 3-15 in the Atlantic 10. Next up for Chris Mooney and the Spiders is 4 seed Saint Louis.


No. 8 Boise State 66, No. 9 Colorado State 57

For the first time in four years, the Broncos were victorious again in the MWC conference tournament. Redshirt senior and Boise State leader Zach Haney produced on both ends of the floor, providing 16 points and seven rebounds to go along with his two steals. In the two schools’ rubber match game, the Rams put up a season-low 57 points and turned the ball over 18 times. Next up for Boise: Nevada.

No. 7 New Mexico 78, No. 10 Wyoming 68

The Cowboys held an 11-point lead entering half time at the Thomas & Mack Center but a second-half fury from Vance Jackson, scoring 21 of his 26 points in the second frame, lead to a come-from-behind statement victory for the Lobos. The Cowboys were led by Justin James’ 31 points from the floor, but even a 16-point first half lead wasn’t enough for Allen Edwards’ crew to hold on.

No. 6 Air Force 87, No. 11 San Jose State 56

Chris Joyce led the way for the Falcons, scoring 20 points on 7-9 shooting in a game where Air Force again started cold out the gate and trailed 13-0 early. Air Force’s up-tempo offense and pressure inside the arc against San Jose State was the difference-maker as AF broke away in the second half to cap off the 31-point victory. By the final buzzer, the Falcons’ starting five had outscored the Spartans’ team 57-56.

Conference USA

No. 8 Louisiana Tech 57, No. 9 Florida Atlantic 56

Louisiana Tech came storming back in the second half to pull off a miraculous one-point victory over the 9 seed Owls behind a made free throw by Karlis Silins with just one second remaining. Florida Atlantic led by as many as 16 points early in the second frame before the Bulldogs put their offense in overdrive. FAU’s inability to shoot from beyond the arc was their Achilles heel in this one, falling to Tech for the second time in eight days by a total of four points.

No. 5 UAB 70, No. 12 Middle Tennessee State 61

Lewis Sullivan led the way for the Blazers as they topped MTSU for the first time in three tries this season. The senior forward finished with 17 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor to compliment his seven rebounds. The fifth-seeded UAB team knocked down 10 shots from distance and pulled away down the stretch after trailing 34-33 at the break. A disappointing season ends at MTSU where the Blue Raiders finish the year at 11-20. Next up for head coach Rob Ehsan is a matchup with the Roadrunners of UTSA in the quarterfinals.

No. 10 North Texas 71, No. 7 Florida International 57

A season-low 22 first-half points from the Panthers led to their downfall as they were unable to dig themselves out of that hole in the final frame. Zachary Simmons was a force to be reckoned with for North Texas as his ability to pound the boards and make himself at home in the paint was the key. Simmons’ finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks as the Mean Green look ahead to their matchup with Western Kentucky. Entering the game, North Texas had lost seven straight.

No. 6 Marshall 82, No. 11 Rice 65

The Thundering Herd got out to a big-time lead early on against the Owls’ and never looked back. Jon Elmore was feeling it all night for the Herd, finishing with 32 points on 6-9 from the three-point arc. Marshall advances to face the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, who defeated Marshall by 50 (yes, FIFTY) points in January.


No. 1 Norfolk State 78, No. 9 South Carolina State 73

NSU had its slimmest winning margin since Feb. 16 in an unexpectedly tight matchup Wednesday. Thanks to a season-best 30 points from Nic Thomas and 31 opportunities from the charity stripe, the Spartans were able to best SC State and finish the season with just one loss in the state of Virginia. SC State was aggressive straight from the tip, both offensively and defensively from the glass. Spartan faithful are hopeful that head coach Robert Jones will finish the job and earn the school its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2012.

No. 2 NC A&T 82, No. 7 Coppin State 79 (OT)

Entering Wednesday night’s matchup, the 2 seed Aggies had been rolling, winners in seven of their last eight. Just like we witnessed in the first MEAC matchup of the game however, seeding is overrated. It took an extra five minutes of free basketball to determine the winner in this one. For the second time in as many games this year, NC A&T was able to pull away from a scrappy Coppin State Eagles squad and come away victorious.

Ronald Jackson was a force to be reckoned with all night for the Aggies, both offensively and on the boards, where he contributed 14 rebounds to pair nicely with his 21 points. The true difference maker was the ability of the NC A&T roster to pick up the slack with Milik Gantz finishing just 1-12 from the floor.


No. 5 Lamar 81, No. 8 Houston Baptist 79

The red-hot Lamar Cardinals, winners of eight straight games, kept winning, but it was no easy test as the last team to get into the Southland Tournament put up one heck of a fight. Josh Nzeakor was the difference maker, with 25 points from the floor and 13 boards, including five on the offensive glass. HBU had 10 of its players contribute points but it wasn’t enough as Nzeakor hit what became the game winning jump shot with under five seconds to play. Next up for Lamar is New Orleans, a team that pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind victory in the first meeting between the two schools this season.

No. 7 Central Arkansas 73, No. 6 Texas A&M CC 53

In CAU and Texas A&M-CC’s first matchup earlier this season, the Islanders relied on the three-point ball and ability to create shots off screens to overmatch the ill-prepared Bears’ starting five. Wednesday night could not have been more different. Right out the gate, the Bears were aggressive on defense, making hard cuts and setting solid screens. CAU used the final 10 minutes of the first half to outscore the Aggies 20-10 and build a double-digit lead at the break. Following a brief run by A&M to start the second half, coach Russ Pennell was able to take a timeout and right the ship for CAU. The game’s MVP was Central Arkansas’ Thatch Unruh, who finished with 21 points to go with a perfect 10-10 from the stripe and five rebounds.

03/13: In light of Gonzaga losing in the WCC title game, who will be the four 1 seeds on Selection Sunday?

Saint Mary’s stunned Gonzaga Tuesday night to win the WCC Tournament. Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander open on that, Gonzaga’s standing on the 1 line and Saint Mary’s run to, potentially a 12 seed. From there, Norlander makes a case for UNC Greensboro (16:00) and then the guys take a look and make their predictions as to who will be the four 1 seeds on Selection Sunday (20:00). There’s some small-conference tourney chatter (26:00) before a discussion of the reported incoming vacancy at Texas A&M (36:30). Will Buzz Williams be the man to replace Billy Kennedy in College Station? 

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Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Wednesday, March 13, 2019

N.C. State stunned Clemson at the buzzer on January 26th in Raleigh. The Wolfpack might need to defeat the Tigers again to secure a place in the field of 68.

Things start to simmer today, though there are few games likely to have bubble impact. For a more traditional look at the schedule, visit MattSarzSports.com.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a lineup broken down by telecast window with the tournament info in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these specifically by tip time, however, I’ve grouped them by importance.

Patriot League Championship

No. 2 Bucknell Bison (21-11, 13-5) at No. 1 Colgate Raiders (23-10, 13-5), 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

There’s just one automatic bid up for grabs today, the last one to be decided until Saturday. It’s a rubber game in the Patriot League that will determine whether the visiting Bison reach their third consecutive NCAA Tournament or the Raiders make their first trip since 1996. Shout out to Adonal Foyle!

MEAC Quarterfinals, Night One

FloHoops.com ($) will stream both games.

No. 9 South Carolina State Bulldogs (8-25, 5-11) vs. No. 1 Norfolk State Spartans (19-12, 14-2), 6 p.m.
No. 7 Coppin State Eagles (8-24, 7-9) vs. No. 2 North Carolina A&T Aggies (18-12, 13-3), approx. 8:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs and Eagles defeated the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks and Morgan State Bears, respectively, on Tuesday night. But they have to hit the floor in Norfolk again tonight to challenge the MEAC’s top two seeds. Both favorites will be looking to go 2-0 against their opponents this season. Tonight’s victors will get Thursday off while the other four quarterfinalists meet to complete Friday’s semifinal lineup.

ACC Second Round

Raycom will air all three games in ACC markets.

No. 9 Clemson Tigers (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 8 N.C. State Wolfpack (21-10, 9-9), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 12 Miami Hurricanes (14-17, 5-13) vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies (23-7, 12-6), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-18, 3-15) vs. No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (19-12, 10-8), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 14 Pitt Panthers (14-18, 3-15) vs. No. 6 Syracuse Orange (19-12, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

While Virginia Tech is playing to stay in the race for a top four seed and both Louisville and Syracuse need to avoid picking up a late bad loss, the noon game is the real attraction in Charlotte. Clemson is currently 1-9 against Quad 1 while N.C. State is 2-8. The victor will pick up another such victory, but they may need to defeat Virginia tomorrow to likely secure a bid. Remember that the Wolfpack needed a Braxton Beverly three at the buzzer to top the Tigers by a 69-67 score on January 26th.

Big Sky First Round

Pluto.tv and WatchBigSky.com will stream all three games.

No. 9 Sacramento State Hornets (14-15, 8-12) vs. No. 8 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (10-20, 8-12), 11:30 a.m.
No. 10 Idaho State Bengals (11-18, 7-14) vs. No. 7 Southern Utah Thunderbirds (14-15, 9-11), approx. 2 p.m.
No. 11 Idaho Vandals (5-26, 2-18) vs. No. 6 Montana State Bobcats (14-16, 11-9), approx. 4:30 p.m.

The Big Sky Tournament tips off in Boise, its new home this year after three seasons in Reno. This morning/afternoon’s winners will advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round, where they’ll meet the top three seeds.

Atlantic 10 First Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 13 UMass Minutemen (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 12 George Washington Colonials (8-23, 4-14), 1 p.m.
No. 14 Fordham Rams (12-19, 3-15) vs. No. 11 Richmond Spiders (12-19, 6-12), approx. 3:30 p.m.

Tonight’s winners advance to games against the No. 5 and 6 seeds in Thursday’s second round in Brooklyn.

Mountain West First Round

Stadium on Facebook Live will stream all three games.

No. 9 Colorado State Rams (12-19, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Boise State Broncos (12-19, 7-11), 2 p.m.
No. 10 Wyoming Cowboys (8-23, 4-14) vs. No. 7 New Mexico Lobos (13-17, 7-11), approx. 4:30 p.m.
No. 11 San José State Spartans (4-26, 1-17) vs. No. 6 Air Force Falcons (13-17, 8-10), approx. 7 p.m.

Similarly, the Mountain West quarterfinal lineup for Thursday will be set after this afternoon’s tripleheader at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Pac-12 First Round

Pac-12 Networks will air all four games.

No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 USC Trojans (15-16, 8-10), 3 p.m.
No. 12 California Golden Bears (8-22, 3-15) vs. No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes (19-11, 10-8), approx. 5:30 p.m.
No. 10 Stanford Cardinal (15-15, 8-10) vs. No. 7 UCLA Bruins (16-15, 9-9), 9 p.m.
No. 11 Washington State Cougars (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 6 Oregon Ducks (19-12, 10-8), approx. 11:30 p.m.

The most important game of these four is the final one, as Oregon’s bubble will pop with a loss to the Cougars. The Ducks did sweep Wazzu during the regular season, however.

Big Ten First Round

BTN will air both games.

No. 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-15, 6-14) vs. No. 12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-16, 7-13), 6:30 p.m.
No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats (13-18, 4-16) vs. No. 11 Illinois Fighting Illini (11-20, 7-13), approx. 9 p.m.

Nebraska has a theoretical shot at a bid, but that will end with a loss to Rutgers.

Southland First Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 8 Houston Baptist Huskies (12-17, 8-10) vs. No. 5 Lamar Cardinals (19-12, 12-6), 6 p.m.
No. 7 Central Arkansas Bears (13-18, 8-10) vs. No. 6 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (14-17, 9-9), approx. 8:30 p.m.

The first night in Katy, Texas features the only matchups we absolutely know will happen in the Southland Conference Tournament, which employs a ladder bracket. Tonight’s winners will take on the No. 4 and 3 seeds in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Big East First Round

FS1 will air both games.

No. 9 Butler Bulldogs (16-15, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Providence Friars (17-14, 7-11), 7 p.m.
No. 10 DePaul Blue Demons (15-14, 7-11) vs. No. 7 St. John’s Red Storm (20-11, 8-10), approx. 9:30 p.m.

While Butler and Providence are on the bubble’s fringe, St. John’s could find itself left out of the field with a third loss to DePaul.

Big 12 First Round

ESPNU will air both games.

No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-19, 5-13) vs. No. 8 TCU Horned Frogs (19-12, 7-11), 7 p.m.
No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers (12-19, 4-14) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (19-12, 7-11), approx. 9:30 p.m.

While Oklahoma should be able to absorb a potential loss to West Virginia and remain in the field, TCU would be in real trouble with a second loss to Oklahoma State.

SEC First Round

SEC Network will air both games.

No. 13 Missouri Tigers (14-16, 5-13) vs. No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs (11-20, 2-16), 7 p.m.
No. 14 Vanderbilt Commodores (9-22, 0-18) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies (13-17, 6-12), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Maybe Vandy can finally win a conference game in what could possibly be Billy Kennedy’s last appearance on A&M’s bench?

Conference USA First Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games.

No. 9 FAU Owls (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (19-12, 9-9), 7 p.m.
No. 12 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (11-20, 8-10) vs. No. 5 UAB Blazers (18-13, 10-8), 7:30 p.m.
No. 10 North Texas Mean Green (20-11, 8-10) vs. No. 7 FIU Panthers (19-12, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m.
No. 11 Rice Owls (13-18, 8-10) vs. No. 6 Marshall Thundering Herd (18-13, 11-7), approx. 10 p.m.

If you enjoy the simultaneous, dueling courts action of the Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas, you’re in luck! Yesterday, the league announced it re-upped with the city and Dallas Cowboys for two more seasons.

2018 champion Marshall will begin its title defense one round earlier this time around.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Tips

ACC R1: No. 9 Clemson (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 8 N.C. State (21-10, 9-9), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
A10 R1: No. 13 UMass (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 12 George Washington (8-23, 4-14), 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big Sky R1: No. 9 Sacramento State (14-15, 8-12) vs. No. 8 Northern Arizona (10-20, 8-12), 11:30 a.m. (Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)

Mid-Afternoon Tips

ACC R1: No. 12 Miami (14-17, 5-13) vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech (23-7, 12-6), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
P12 R1: No. 9 Arizona (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 USC (15-16, 8-10), 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
MW R1: No. 9 Colorado State (12-19, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Boise State (12-19, 7-11), 2 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)
Big Sky R1: No. 10 Idaho State (11-18, 7-14) vs. No. 7 Southern Utah (14-15, 9-11), approx. 2 p.m. (Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)

Late Afternoon Tips

P12 R1: No. 12 California (8-22, 3-15) vs. No. 5 Colorado (19-11, 10-8), approx. 5:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
A10 R1: No. 14 Fordham (12-19, 3-15) vs. No. 11 Richmond (12-19, 6-12), approx. 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MW R1: No. 10 Wyoming (8-23, 4-14) vs. No. 7 New Mexico (13-17, 7-11), approx. 4:30 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)
Big Sky R1: No. 11 Idaho (5-26, 2-18) vs. No. 6 Montana State (14-16, 11-9), approx. 4:30 p.m. (Pluto.tv/WatchBigSky.com)

Early Evening Tips

Patriot FINAL: No. 2 Bucknell (21-11, 13-5) at No. 1 Colgate (23-10, 13-5), 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
BE R1: No. 9 Butler (16-15, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Providence (17-14, 7-11), 7 p.m. (FS1)
B12 R1: No. 9 Oklahoma State (12-19, 5-13) vs. No. 8 TCU (19-12, 7-11), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
B1G R1: No. 13 Nebraska (16-15, 6-14) vs. No. 12 Rutgers (14-16, 7-13), 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
ACC R1: No. 15 Notre Dame (14-18, 3-15) vs. No. 7 Louisville (19-12, 10-8), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
MEAC QF: No. 9 South Carolina State (8-25, 5-11) vs. No. 1 Norfolk State (19-12, 14-2), 6 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))
SEC R1: No. 13 Missouri (14-16, 5-13) vs. No. 12 Georgia (11-20, 2-16), 7 p.m. (SECN)
C-USA R1: No. 9 FAU (17-14, 8-10) vs. No. 8 Louisiana Tech (19-12, 9-9), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
C-USA R1: No. 12 Middle Tennessee (11-20, 8-10) vs. No. 5 UAB (18-13, 10-8), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
SLC R1: No. 8 Houston Baptist (12-17, 8-10) vs. No. 5 Lamar (19-12, 12-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MW R1: No. 11 San José State (4-26, 1-17) vs. No. 6 Air Force (13-17, 8-10), approx. 7 p.m. (Stadium on Facebook Live)

Late Evening Tips

BE R1: No. 10 DePaul (15-14, 7-11) vs. No. 7 St. John’s (20-11, 8-10), approx. 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
B12 R1: No. 10 West Virginia (12-19, 4-14) vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (19-12, 7-11), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
ACC R1: No. 14 Pitt (14-18, 3-15) vs. No. 6 Syracuse (19-12, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
P12 R1: No. 10 Stanford (15-15, 8-10) vs. No. 7 UCLA (16-15, 9-9), 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
B1G R1: No. 14 Northwestern (13-18, 4-16) vs. No. 11 Illinois (11-20, 7-13), approx. 9 p.m. (BTN)
MEAC QF: No. 7 Coppin State (8-24, 7-9) vs. No. 2 North Carolina A&T (18-12, 13-3), approx. 8:30 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))
SEC R1: No. 14 Vanderbilt (9-22, 0-18) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M (13-17, 6-12), approx. 9:30 p.m. (SECN)
C-USA R1: No. 10 North Texas (20-11, 8-10) vs. No. 7 FIU (19-12, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m.
C-USA R1: No. 11 Rice (13-18, 8-10) vs. No. 6 Marshall (18-13, 11-7), approx. 10 p.m.
SLC R1: No. 7 Central Arkansas (13-18, 8-10) vs. No. 6 Texas A&M Corpus Christi (14-17, 9-9), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Late Night Tips

P12 R1: No. 11 Washington State (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 6 Oregon (19-12, 10-8), approx. 11:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

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Day 2 Picking The Lines

There’s always something just a little weird and unsatisfying about First Four games. They are fun to watch, and both of the games last night were at least entertaining, but the stakes just don’t feel the same. I know that it’s official an “NCAA Tournament victory”, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Regardless, we have one more night with a couple of games before the real fun starts tomorrow at noon.

Also, remember that my full NCAA Tournament previews game by game are all posted here. Use that to guide your bracket picking.

Let’s get to the games:

Yesterday ATS: 1-1-0
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

North Carolina Central (-3.5) over UC Davis: North Carolina Central is, from a raw talent perspective, just a better team than UC Davis. And computer ratings aside, North Carolina Central went out and repeatedly played major conference teams competitively, including winning at Missouri and nearly winning at Ohio State. UC Davis only played California, and they got smoked. In addition, UC Davis was a team that depended heavily on FT shooting, leading the Big West in FTRate. That is a dependency that tends to lead to a higher-than-normal homecourt advantage, and UC Davis was 9-0 at home versus 5-9 on the road.

USC (-2.5) over Providence: Generally with a spread as small as 2.5 points I just pick the team I think will win. Providence was an ugly 5-9 team away from home this season, and is a decent all-around team that just doesn’t excel anywhere. USC has a player in Jordan McLaughlin who can dominate the ball and who I trust more than any other player in this game. I don’t have any strong feelings about picking this game, but Providence simply does not have an obvious match-up advantage, so I’ll take USC.

Saint Mary’s upsets No. 1 Gonzaga in WCC Championship game

The Gaels grinded out a 60-47 upset for its first WCC Championship win since 2012.

Finally, after five years, several dominant teams and underwhelming showings in the WCC Tournament, Saint Mary’s went at the kings and did not miss.

The Gaels upset the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs in a 60-47 game that was much closer than the score would indicate. For the first time since 2012, a team other than Gonzaga cut the nets down in the Orleans Arena.

But this game was not a pretty sight.

The Gaels held the best offense in the country to shooting 37.5 percent from the field and a paltry 2-17 from three. Saint Mary’s controlled the game with its trademark slow pace from the get-go, which limited Gonzaga’s opportunities at reclaiming the lead. Saint Mary’s wasn’t exactly shooting the lights out either: KenPom’s No. 20 offense only shot 45.1 percent from the field and an uncharacteristic 28.6 percent from three.

The Gaels really pulled away when its pair of Jordans caught fire in the second half. Jordan Ford (a game-high 17 points) did Jordan Ford things: He dribbled in circles around Gonzaga’s defense, pirouetted for layups and hit huge threes in order to extend Saint Mary’s lead to seven points. Jordan Hunter (12 points and 15 rebounds) was probably the most important Gael of them all. Playing against the nation’s toughest frontcourt duo in Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke (and now, Killian Tillie), he probably had the highlight of the night with an and-one put-back over Killian Tillie midway through the second half.

Yet Saint Mary’s has played the Bulldogs close before; look no further than 10 days ago, when the Gaels pulled within two points at halftime against Gonzaga before the Bulldogs hit the afterburners in the second half en route to a 69-55 win. It seemed like only a matter of time before Gonzaga would kick things into gear and pull away with a win. But it never happened.

Saint Mary’s dodged bullet after bullet — most notably when Brandon Clarke’s would-be and-one layup — which would’ve pulled the Bulldogs within three — at 4:47 was waived off, as the officials said he was fouled before the act of shooting. The Bulldogs turned it over on the next possession, and the Gaels would eventually extend their lead to 13. Speaking of Clarke, the redshirt junior’s 16-point, eight-rebound effort was a lone bright spot for Gonzaga on an otherwise forgettable evening in Vegas.

If there was a scapegoat for the Bulldogs, then it was the backcourt. Everyone had an off night. Usual steady senior point guard Josh Perkins was held to 4-14 shooting and missed all three of his threes. Zach Norvell Jr., who played the majority of the second half with four fouls, only shot 1-11 from the field and 0-6 from distance.

Gonzaga’s 47 points were its lowest since a 76-41 loss to Duke in Madison Square Garden back on Dec. 19, 2009.

This game has more than just historical implications for the Gaels: For the first time in several seasons, Saint Mary’s is no longer on the bubble. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Bracket Matrix had the Gaels in the next four out before the game. Now that the Gaels are in, fellow mid-major teams like Belmont and Lipscomb will have to sweat it out between now and Selection Sunday.

Meanwhile, there’s been plenty of chatter about Gonzaga losing its No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but come on now. Let’s be reasonable.

Tuesday Truths: Final reality

Welcome to this season’s last installment of Tuesday Truths, where I looked at how well 108 teams in nine conferences did against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Come back, Zion


This post has nothing to do with Duke or Zion Williamson, Tuesday Truths just really wants to see what the freshman can do at full speed in an NCAA tournament that should be heavily populated by swaggering 2015-style beastly opponents. Hurry back, sir. (USA Today)

Final results, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Virginia             16-2   60.4    1.16    0.93    +0.23
2.  North Carolina       16-2   74.3    1.12    0.97    +0.15
3.  Duke                 14-4   71.9    1.09    0.97    +0.12
4.  Florida State        13-5   67.9    1.04    0.97    +0.07
5.  Louisville           10-8   68.2    1.04    0.97    +0.07
6.  Virginia Tech        12-6   63.3    1.09    1.03    +0.06
7.  Clemson               9-9   66.0    0.99    0.95    +0.04
8.  NC State              9-9   70.7    1.05    1.04    +0.01
9.  Syracuse             10-8   67.3    1.00    1.00     0.00
10. Miami                6-12   67.1    1.01    1.09    -0.08
11. Boston College       5-13   66.9    0.98    1.09    -0.11
12. Notre Dame           3-15   64.8    0.97    1.08    -0.11
13. Pitt                 3-15   66.7    0.95    1.08    -0.13
14. Georgia Tech         6-12   66.3    0.91    1.04    -0.13
15. Wake Forest          4-14   68.5    0.93    1.13    -0.20

AVG.                            67.4    1.02

Clemson is the anti-Indiana. Unlike the wacky and erratic Hoosiers, the Tigers were more or less utterly predictable based on the quality of the opponent.

Indeed, not to put too fine a point on it, Brad Brownell’s group effectively strip-mined the bottom of the ACC for that borderline-Virginia Tech-like scoring margin of theirs….

Tigers vs. the top two-thirds and bottom one-third of the ACC

                                    W-L      EM
Clemson 2019 vs. ACC Nos. 1-10      2-9    -0.08
Clemson 2019 vs. ACC Nos. 11-15     7-0    +0.22

True, the wins at home against the Hokies and Syracuse were indeed nifty. Plus, doesn’t every team, beat up on the bottom of its conference? And, yes, the woke analytic point is that teams that beat the stuffing consistently out of overmatched opponents actually are pretty good.

Still, the Jekyll-and-Hyde performance imbalance here is unusually extreme (Virginia Tech, with a better overall efficiency margin, was “just” +0.15 against the same group of cupcakes). If we’re dishing out scarce bids based in part on some kind of just deserts earned against the strongest opponents on the largest stage, well, can we see what happens at the ACC tournament before rushing to any hasty decisions with these guys?

BONUS “Virginia’s offense is better than its defense” coverage! Right, so, at the risk of sounding repetitive, Virginia’s offense is better than its defense. The season-long numbers here were given a final and rather emphatic push in the direction of the offense when the Cavaliers won a slow-paced (it’s true!) shootout against Louisville.

They think they can just outscore people
Standard deviations better than conference mean
ACC games only

                           Offense (PPP)     Defense (Opp. PPP)
Virginia    2019                1.91                1.49

The most statistically extreme behavior in ACC play this season on either side of the ball was the accuracy with which the Hoos shot threes. Tuesday Truths really believes in this team going into the postseason! What could possibly go wrong?

Lubbock is Charlottesville west (and south, kind of)


They took down an entire rim? (texastech.com)

Big 12                    W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Texas Tech           14-4   66.5    1.07    0.93    +0.14
2.  Kansas State         14-4   62.0    1.06    0.96    +0.10
3.  Texas                8-10   62.3    1.09    1.05    +0.04
4.  Iowa State            9-9   67.6    1.08    1.05    +0.03
5.  Kansas               12-6   69.6    1.03    1.00    +0.03
6.  Baylor               10-8   66.1    1.09    1.06    +0.03
7.  TCU                  7-11   68.5    1.02    1.07    -0.05
8.  Oklahoma             7-11   67.3    0.99    1.04    -0.05
9.  Oklahoma State       5-13   64.8    1.00    1.12    -0.12
10. West Virginia        4-14   69.8    0.97    1.11    -0.14

AVG.                            66.4    1.04

Since losing 79-63 at Kansas on February 2, Texas Tech has been a remorseless basketball machine that grinds opponents into dust.

Specifically, the Red Raiders’ signature combination of made threes and punitive defense is feeling very, very Virginia-like.

Chris Beard, Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti, et al. since February 3

                      W-L   PPP   Opp. PPP    EM     3FG%
Texas Tech            9-0   1.19    0.91    +0.28    42.8

Hide the children.

Kansas says, “Don’t make the mistake we made! Get yourselves some shot volume, quick!” For a team that had the best two-point shooting in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks’ offense was strangely meh, no? (See above: No. 6 in the league.) How does that happen?

A lack of scoring chances didn’t help matters….

Shot volume index (SVI)
Turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and shot volume
Conference games only

Big 12                   TO%     OR%     SVI
1.  Baylor              19.1    38.4     98.3
2.  Texas               16.6    29.2     97.0
3.  Iowa State          15.9    26.6     96.6
4.  Kansas State        17.1    29.3     96.5
5.  Oklahoma State      15.6    24.9     96.2
6.  Texas Tech          17.1    27.0     95.5
7.  Oklahoma            17.2    25.3     94.6
8.  TCU                 20.1    31.1     93.9
9.  West Virginia       22.2    36.1     93.5
10. Kansas              20.1    29.1     93.0

With shot volume being the main performance issue with the team (the D was significantly better than the offense), Tuesday Truths actually  isn’t so sure the presence of Udoka Azubuike would have changed things as much as is commonly assumed. Yes, he’s a good offensive rebounder, but KU’s turnover rate says the problem was more with first chances than it was with second chances.

The most egalitarian major conference ever


Talk about wide open.

Big East                  W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Villanova            13-5   64.7    1.14    1.04    +0.10
2.  Marquette            12-6   69.4    1.08    1.02    +0.06
3.  Creighton             9-9   68.5    1.07    1.05    +0.02
4.  Seton Hall            9-9   70.3    1.02    1.03    -0.01
5.  Georgetown            9-9   72.0    1.07    1.08    -0.01
6.  Xavier                9-9   65.9    1.06    1.07    -0.01
7.  St. John's           8-10   70.8    1.04    1.07    -0.03
8.  Butler               7-11   68.3    1.04    1.07    -0.03
8.  DePaul               7-11   70.4    1.08    1.11    -0.03
10. Providence           8-10   68.3    0.98    1.02    -0.04

AVG.                            68.8    1.06

Just a brief attaboy to your eyes, for they are not mistaken. The Big East is indeed a perfect Eden of performance homogeneity.

When the league’s tournament gets underway at Madison Square Garden this week, a significant portion of the participants will be fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. That’s what happens when so many teams in the league are clustered in between roughly Nos. 50 and 75 on the NET rankings. You get plenty of .500-ish records in conference play and tons of bubble teams.

The difference between Villanova (+0.10) and Providence (-0.04) is smaller than that between Virginia and Florida State. You can fit the entire 2019 Big East, top to bottom, in a mail slot.

A salute to stylistic pluralism on defense


Happ’s actually no Nate Reuvers when it comes to blocking shots, but this is a picture of him blocking a shot. (madison.com)

Big Ten                   W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Michigan State       16-4   66.0    1.13    0.97    +0.16
2.  Purdue               16-4   64.8    1.12    0.99    +0.13
3.  Michigan             15-5   65.0    1.05    0.94    +0.11
4.  Wisconsin            14-6   63.6    1.00    0.93    +0.07
5.  Maryland             13-7   64.8    1.04    0.99    +0.05
6.  Penn State           7-13   67.9    1.00    1.02    -0.02
7.  Iowa                10-10   69.4    1.07    1.09    -0.02
8.  Minnesota            9-11   66.9    1.02    1.05    -0.03
9.  Ohio State           8-12   65.6    0.98    1.03    -0.05
10. Indiana              8-12   65.3    0.99    1.04    -0.05
11. Illinois             7-13   70.3    1.00    1.07    -0.07
12. Rutgers              7-13   67.8    0.99    1.07    -0.08
13. Nebraska             6-14   66.3    1.01    1.09    -0.08
14. Northwestern         4-16   66.1    0.91    1.01    -0.10

AVG.                            66.4    1.02

Congratulations to Wisconsin for catching a Michigan defense that we’ve all, quite rightly, been talking about all season and just barely beating the Wolverines at the finish line. The Badgers, as seen here, can proudly claim that they had the best defense in Big Ten play.

Forcing opponents to miss their twos is usually a good shorthand for a good defense, so one might expect to see Wisconsin and Michigan close together at the top of that leaderboard as well. Instead we see this:

Interior D
Opponent two-point accuracy
Conference games only

                              Opp 2FG%
1. Michigan State               41.9
2. Wisconsin                    42.4
3. Maryland                     44.5
4. Michigan                     46.0

Tuesday Truths has already investigated the high-opponent-shot-volume ways of Michigan State at some length in past years. It’s what the Spartans do, and, in a turnover-neutral Big Ten world, MSU and UM are identical on defense (both allowing 1.14 points per effective possession).

Conversely, when you watch the Wolverines in the field of 68, focus on two things that are more difficult to capture and appreciate in real time than interior defense. First, John Beilein’s and Luke Yaklich’s guys are simply sublime at shutting down opponents on the perimeter. It was all the rage to talk about with this team in last year’s tournament right up until the Villanova incident, and it’s been true again this season.

Perimeter D
Share of opponent FGAs recorded beyond the arc
Conference games only

                           Opp 3FGA/FGA(%)
1. Michigan                     29.4
2. Northwestern                 32.4
3. Penn State                   33.2
4. Wisconsin                    33.9

Second, Michigan, of course, never fouls. This UM defense is tailor-made to shut down an opposing volume scorer that mixes threes and drives to the rim. Be warned.

Ducks amok



Pac-12                    W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Washington           15-3   66.1    1.05    0.94    +0.11
2.  Oregon               10-8   66.2    1.03    0.98    +0.05
3.  Colorado             10-8   67.9    1.06    1.01    +0.05
4.  Arizona State        12-6   71.4    1.06    1.02    +0.04
5.  Utah                 11-7   69.2    1.12    1.09    +0.03
6.  Oregon State         10-8   67.0    1.09    1.07    +0.02
7.  USC                  8-10   68.7    1.06    1.05    +0.01
8.  Stanford             8-10   70.9    1.02    1.01    +0.01
9.  UCLA                  9-9   73.7    1.06    1.08    -0.02
10. Arizona              8-10   67.1    1.01    1.04    -0.03
11. Washington State     4-14   70.2    1.01    1.14    -0.13
12. Cal                  3-15   69.2    0.95    1.11    -0.16

AVG.                            68.9    1.04

File this under 20-20 hindsight after the team in question won on the road against the league champion in the last game of the regular season, but Oregon’s been playing really well of late without anyone much noticing.

Specifically, the UO defense has been outrageously good in a tiny sample size.

(Long delayed but very effective) quack attack
Ducks since February 27

                  W-L   PPP   Opp. PPP    EM  
Oregon            4-0   1.06    0.78    +0.28  

To be sure, there’s some good fortune gifted from the hoops gods behind these extreme numbers. Opponents have gone 20-of-86 on their threes during this stretch. Even so, could this Oregon team be in play for a late surge to an at-large?

Keep in mind the staff here at Tuesday Truths maintains a strict “church and state” wall of separation between ourselves and our highly-trained Bubble Watch colleagues. That said, the Ducks still have (a lot of) work to do.

In addition to the victory in Seattle, Dana Altman’s team also owns a neutral-floor win over Syracuse. That’s good. What’s bad is the 5-9 record against Quads 1 and 2 and, yes, the loss at home to Texas Southern. (Though, to be fair, no one’s vetoing Baylor for committing the same transgression). Keep going, Oregon.

A spatial theory of Tennessee



SEC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Tennessee            15-3   68.0    1.16    0.99    +0.17
2.  Kentucky             15-3   65.8    1.11    0.95    +0.16
3.  LSU                  16-2   70.2    1.13    1.03    +0.10
4.  Auburn               11-7   69.1    1.11    1.03    +0.08
5.  Mississippi State    10-8   68.5    1.08    1.05    +0.03
6.  Florida               9-9   64.1    1.03    1.02    +0.01
7.  Ole Miss             10-8   69.1    1.06    1.05    +0.01
8.  South Carolina       11-7   70.5    1.02    1.04    -0.02
9.  Arkansas             8-10   70.7    1.03    1.05    -0.02
10. Alabama              8-10   69.7    1.01    1.03    -0.02
11. Missouri             5-13   66.0    0.98    1.06    -0.08
12. Texas A&M            6-12   68.5    1.00    1.08    -0.08
13. Georgia              2-16   67.2    0.96    1.12    -0.16
14. Vanderbilt           0-18   65.9    0.90    1.10    -0.20

AVG.                            68.1    1.04

Analytics, schmanalytics! Bah!


Let’s not overthink this. If you see the Volunteers or their opponents attempting two-point shots, that’s good news for Rick Barnes.

Inside the arc
Tennessee vs. opponents
SEC games only

                   Tennessee   Opponents   Margin
Points                814         540       +274

On the other hand, if you see the Volunteers or their opponents attempting three-point shots, that’s bad news for Barnes.

Beyond the arc
Tennessee vs. opponents
SEC games only

                   Tennessee   Opponents   Margin
Points                372         453        -81

Watch the Vols in the field of 68 accordingly.

BONUS “What the heck just happened?” coverage. If it is asked how LSU won the SEC outright in a year when Tennessee is historically great by Tennessee standards and Kentucky is characteristically great by Kentucky standards, the on-court (repeat, on-court) answer is two-fold. Reasonable observers can differ, but for Tuesday Truths here was the order of importance for the two key factors:

1. Shot volume
2. Close-game voodoo

That’s pretty much all of it.

Kelvin Sampson is being fitted for a Beilein-style wizard hat

American                  W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Houston              16-2   67.6    1.15    0.95    +0.20
2.  UCF                  13-5   66.5    1.06    0.97    +0.09
3.  Cincinnati           14-4   64.9    1.06    0.99    +0.07
4.  Memphis              11-7   74.8    1.05    1.00    +0.05
5.  Temple               13-5   70.3    1.06    1.01    +0.05
6.  Wichita State        10-8   68.4    1.03    1.01    +0.02
7.  South Florida         8-9   68.0    0.99    0.98    +0.01
8.  Connecticut          5-12   66.9    1.02    1.04    -0.02
9.  Tulsa                8-10   70.4    1.00    1.03    -0.03
10. SMU                  5-12   66.1    1.04    1.09    -0.05
11. Tulane               0-18   72.1    0.92    1.11    -0.19
12. East Carolina        3-14   68.7    0.93    1.13    -0.20

AVG.                            68.7    1.03

Your periodic reminder that the Cougars were picked third in the American preseason coaches’ poll.

Eric Musselman knows havoc

Mountain West             W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Nevada               15-3   72.0    1.12    0.92    +0.20
2.  Utah State           15-3   67.5    1.13    1.00    +0.13
3.  Fresno State         13-5   68.7    1.09    0.99    +0.10
4.  Boise State          7-11   66.3    1.09    1.03    +0.06
5.  San Diego State      11-7   68.5    1.02    0.97    +0.05
6.  Colorado State       7-11   68.9    1.09    1.07    +0.02
7.  UNLV                 11-7   68.2    1.08    1.07    +0.01
8.  New Mexico           7-11   72.6    1.02    1.03    -0.01
9.  Air Force            8-10   67.5    1.00    1.07    -0.07
10. Wyoming              4-14   67.6    0.91    1.09    -0.18
11. San Jose State       1-17   71.1    0.89    1.18    -0.29

AVG.                            68.9    1.04

In the traditionally low-turnover Mountain West, Nevada has reaped a nice return on forcing opponents to cough the ball up on one in every five possessions. That and a conga line of Wolf Pack players heading to the line constituted much of the special sauce in Reno this season.

Few is still Few

West Coast                W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Gonzaga              16-0   68.6    1.26    0.86    +0.40
2.  Saint Mary's         11-5   63.0    1.10    1.01    +0.09
3.  BYU                  11-5   68.4    1.09    1.06    +0.03
4.  San Francisco         9-7   66.8    1.10    1.08    +0.02
5.  Pepperdine           6-10   68.5    1.05    1.07    -0.02
6.  Loyola Marymount      8-8   63.7    1.01    1.03    -0.02
7.  San Diego             7-9   67.6    1.00    1.04    -0.04
8.  Santa Clara           8-8   66.1    0.97    1.06    -0.09
9.  Pacific              4-12   64.2    0.93    1.06    -0.13
10. Portland             0-16   66.2    0.89    1.12    -0.23

AVG.                            66.3    1.04

To repeat some points made previously, the non-Gonzaga WCC is statistically stronger than the entire Nevada- and Utah State-equipped Mountain West. So, yeah, outscoring this group by 0.40 points per possession fairly screams Minneapolis. Wacky events can always intrude and often do, but the prior essentials are pretty amazing.

Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tonight, Saint Mary’s will look to do what it failed to accomplish during the regular season, beat Gonzaga.

Five bids will be awarded tonight, and while the first round of the ACC Tournament would usually be Tuesday’s secondary highlight, you can feel free to pass on this year’s edition. For a more traditional look at the schedule, visit MattSarzSports.com.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a lineup broken down by telecast window with the tournament info in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these specifically by tip time, however, I’ve grouped them by importance.

CAA Championship

No. 2 Northeastern Huskies (22-10, 14-4) vs. No. 1 Hofstra Pride (27-6, 15-3), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)

The Huskies and Pride split their regular season meetings, with each winning on their home floor. Northeastern last qualified for the NCAAs in 2015, while a certain coach named Jay Wright took Hofstra to its last appearance in 2001, back when the school was in the America East. The Committee rudely snubbed the Pride during the CAA’s vintage season of 2005-06, so the Long Islanders can erase a lot of hurt tonight.

Horizon League Championship

No. 2 Northern Kentucky Norse (25-8, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Wright State Raiders (21-12, 13-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

The league’s last two NCAA reps meet in the first 1 vs. 2 matchup in a Horizon final since the Valparaiso Crusaders (now in the MVC) defeated the Green Bay Phoenix in 2015. Playing the quarterfinal round on campus sure did the trick in keeping the higher seeds alive, even though NKU didn’t have as easy of a time in its semifinal against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (a 64-63 escape) as the Raiders did in dispatching Green Bay by 12.

This season series was yet another home split.

NEC Championship

No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (19-13, 12-6) at No. 1 St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (18-13, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

With FDU ranked 215th in today’s NET and SFU at 250th, tonight’s winner in Loretto, Pa. is almost assuredly headed to Dayton to play either next Tuesday or Wednesday. While the Knights last reached the field in 2016, the Red Flash are looking to end a long drought — dating back to 1991. Road teams had the advantage in this pair’s season split.

WCC Championship

No. 2 Saint Mary’s Gaels (21-11, 11-5) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-2, 16-0), 9 p.m. (ESPN)

This is the game of the night, without a doubt. The Bulldogs will lock up a No. 1 seed, and potentially the top spot overall, by defeating Saint Mary’s for a third time. On the other hand, the Gaels will steal a bit and break some bubble team’s heart if they can overcome the 48- and 14-point regular season losses they suffered at the hands of the Zags.

Summit League Championship

No. 4 North Dakota State Bison (17-15, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Omaha Mavericks (21-10, 13-3), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Both squads slipped past their semifinal rivals on Monday, with NDSU defeating the eighth-seeded Western Illinois Leathernecks, 76-73, and the Mavericks taking down the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons by the minimum margin, 61-60. Omaha is looking to join the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs in the NCAA first-timers’ club, while NDSU last qualified in 2015. Note that the Mavericks won both regular season meetings, by 13 at home and 8 in Fargo.

America East Semifinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

Teams were reseeded.

No. 7 Binghamton Bearcats (10-22, 5-11) at No. 1 Vermont Catamounts (25-6, 14-2), 7 p.m.
No. 4 Hartford Hawks (18-14, 10-6) at No. 3 UMBC Retrievers (20-12, 11-5), 7 p.m.

With home wins tonight, we’ll have a rematch of last season’s famous America East final, the game that first launched UMBC into the national consciousness—before they made history. But it won’t be easy for either host tonight. Vermont only beat Binghamton by six on February 23rd, though that game was in Vestal, not Burlington. Meanwhile, Hartford swept UMBC, including a 70-61 loss at the UMBC Event Center on February 6th.

SWAC Quarterfinals

No. 5 Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions (13-18, 10-8) at No. 4 Grambling State Tigers (16-15, 10-8), 8:30 p.m. (Grambling stream)
No. 7 Southern Jaguars (7-24, 6-12) at No. 2 Texas Southern Tigers (19-12, 14-4), 8:30 p.m. (Texas Southern stream)
No. 8 Alcorn State Braves (10-20, 6-12) at No. 1 Prairie View A&M Panthers (19-12, 17-1), 9 p.m. (Prairie View stream)
No. 6 Alabama State Hornets (11-18, 9-9) at No. 3 Jackson State Tigers (13-18, 10-8), 9 p.m. (Jackson State stream)

Tonight’s winners will play in Friday’s semifinals in Birmingham. Keep an eye on the trio of immediate rematches on this slate. On Saturday, Prairie View defeated Alcorn by 34 at home, Jackson State took down Alabama State by 12, also at home, and Texas Southern lost to Southern, 87-77, in Houston.

ACC First Round

Raycom will air all three games in ACC markets.

No. 13 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-19, 4-14) vs. No. 12 Miami Hurricanes (13-17, 5-13), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-18, 3-15) vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (14-17, 6-12), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 14 Pittsburgh Panthers (13-18, 3-15) vs. No. 11 Boston College Eagles (14-16, 5-13), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

At least the first two games could provide decent background television for those of us who work from home. But with all six teams involved hoping to go on a surprise run in Charlotte, there’s no bubble drama in today’s tripleheader.

MEAC First Round, Night Two

FloHoops.com ($) will stream both games.

No. 9 South Carolina State Bulldogs (7-25, 5-11) vs. No. 8 Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (7-24, 5-11), approx. 6 p.m.
No. 10 Morgan State Bears (9-20, 4-12) vs. No. 7 Coppin State Eagles (7-24, 7-9), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Tonight’s winners in Norfolk hit the floor again tomorrow, as they’ll take on the top two seeds in the first doubleheader of the MEAC’s two-night quarterfinal lineup. Last night, the Delaware State Hornets ended the Savannah State Tigers’ Division I tenure with a wimper, as Horace Broadnax’s squad will head to Division II after a 71-67 loss.

Sun Belt First Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 9 Arkansas State Red Wolves (13-18, 7-11) at No. 8 South Alabama Jaguars (15-16, 8-10), 8 p.m.
No. 10 Appalachian State Mountaineers (11-20, 6-12) at No. 7 ULM Warhawks (16-14, 9-9), 8 p.m.

Tonight’s on-campus winners travel to New Orleans to play in Thursday’s first round at Lakefront Arena. Note that the Sun Belt went back to a ladder format, so the top two seeds won’t actually play until Saturday’s semifinals.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Afternoon Tips

ACC R1: No. 13 Wake Forest (11-19, 4-14) vs. No. 12 Miami (13-17, 5-13), 12 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)
ACC R1: No. 15 Notre Dame (13-18, 3-15) vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech (14-17, 6-12), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN/Raycom)

Early Evening Window

CAA FINAL: No. 2 Northeastern (22-10, 14-4) vs. No. 1 Hofstra (27-6, 15-3), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Horizon FINAL: No. 2 Northern Kentucky (25-8, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Wright State (21-12, 13-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NEC FINAL: No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson (19-13, 12-6) at No. 1 St. Francis (Pa.) (18-13, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
AE SF: No. 4 Hartford (18-14, 10-6) at No. 3 UMBC (20-12, 11-5), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
AE SF: No. 7 Binghamton (10-22, 5-11) at No. 1 Vermont (25-6, 14-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
ACC R1: No. 14 Pitt (13-18, 3-15) vs. No. 11 Boston College (14-16, 5-13), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
MEAC R1: No. 9 South Carolina State (7-25, 5-11) vs. No. 8 Maryland Eastern Shore (7-24, 5-11), approx. 6 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))

Mid-Evening Window

SWAC QF: No. 5 Arkansas Pine Bluff (13-18, 10-8) at No. 4 Grambling State (16-15, 10-8), 8:30 p.m. (Grambling stream)
SWAC QF: No. 7 Southern (7-24, 6-12) at No. 2 Texas Southern (19-12, 14-4), 8:30 p.m. (Texas Southern stream)
SB R1: No. 9 Arkansas State (13-18, 7-11) at No. 8 South Alabama (15-16, 8-10), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
SB R1: No. 10 Appalachian State (11-20, 6-12) at No. 7 ULM (16-14, 9-9), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MEAC R1: No. 10 Morgan State (9-20, 4-12) vs. No. 7 Coppin State (7-24, 7-9), approx. 8:30 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))

Late Evening Window

WCC FINAL: No. 2 Saint Mary’s (21-11, 11-5) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (30-2, 16-0), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Summit FINAL: No. 4 North Dakota State (17-15, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Omaha (21-10, 13-3), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
SWAC QF: No. 8 Alcorn State (10-20, 6-12) at No. 1 Prairie View A&M (19-12, 17-1), 9 p.m. (Prairie View stream)
SWAC QF: No. 6 Alabama State (11-18, 9-9) at No. 3 Jackson State (13-18, 10-8), 9 p.m. (Jackson State stream)

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01/20: Down goes Virginia! Down goes Michigan! No undefeated teams remain, So who is No. 1 now?

Saturday represented the busiest day of college basketball on the 2018-19 calender: the 150 games played were the most in one day of any this season. From that, 7-10 outcomes stood out most. Parrish and Norlander touch on those, leading with an in-depth discussion on Duke’s win over Virginia at the top. From there, the guys get to Kentucky’s road win at Auburn (28:00), go into the notable Big 12 upsets (37:00) and preview the big games coming Monday night (42:00), including Maryland-Michigan State, Virginia Tech-UNC and Iowa State-Kansas. 

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