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.

MWC

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.

MEAC

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.

Southland

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

z

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)

TT

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

bracket

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

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

duck

(goducks.com)

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

utsports.com

(utsports.com)

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!

abe

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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03/10: Championship Week is here, so it's time to get fired up over mid-major bubble squads and major-conference trash teams

This extensive episode leads on making the case for Belmont to be in the field. Matt Norlander brings the evidence, and Gary Parrish has some supporting thoughts. Plus, Furman and Lipscomb cannot receive auto bids, so how realistic are their chances? That’s the first 27 minutes of this podcast (we love you, mid-majors) then it’s on to a scenic tour of the seven major conferences in advance of those tourneys starting this week: the Big Ten (27:30), the Big 12 (33:55), the ACC (38:30), the SEC (44:45), the Big East (57:55), the American (1 hour, 2 minutes), the Pac-12 (1 hour, 7 minutes). Within those convos, there’s bubble talk, 1 seed talk, suspension talk, Sean Miller talk and a ton more. Enjoy!

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Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Monday, March 11, 2019

The Wofford Terriers will attempt to allay some of the worries of the nation’s bubble teams in tonight’s SoCon final.

Two more bids will be awarded tonight, with one of those contests potentially impacting the bubble. 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.

SoCon Championship

No. 2 UNCG Spartans (28-5, 15-3) vs. No. 1 Wofford Terriers (28-4, 18-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

The Terriers are looking to wrap up a perfect 21-0 SoCon campaign and secure their first NCAA bid since 2015, while the Spartans are looking to go in back-to-back seasons. I’m still very confident that Wofford, 14th in the NET at the moment, will be in win or lose, so bubble fans will be cheering hard for them tonight.

MAAC Championship

No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (13-21, 10-8) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels (16-15, 12-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Iona is favored to earn its fourth consecutive NCAA bid, while Monmouth last qualified as a member of the Northeast Conference in 2006. If you’ve spent any time this season following college basketball writers that cover the MAAC, the possibility that this Hawks squad would be the one to make the field after some high-profile at-large snubs has led to much conversation.

The pair split their two meetings this season, with each victorious at home.

CAA Semifinals

CBSSN will air both games.

Game 7: No. 5 Delaware Fighting Blue Hens (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Hofstra Pride (26-6, 15-3), 6 p.m.
Game 8: No. 3 College of Charleston Cougars (24-8, 12-6) vs. No. 2 Northeastern Huskies (21-10, 14-4), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Of the CAA’s top four seeds, only the perennially-forlorn William & Mary Tribe, one of the four original Division I members who have still not reached the NCAAs, failed to make tonight’s semifinals in North Charleston, S.C. While Hofstra swept its season series with Delaware (no guarantee of success tonight), Northeastern and Charleston split. Keep that in mind, particularly as the Cougars, 2018’s champs, should have a slight home advantage tonight.

Horizon Semifinals

ESPNU will air both games.

No. 4 Green Bay Phoenix (17-15, 10-8) vs. No. 1 Wright State Raiders (20-12, 13-5), 7 p.m.
No. 3 Oakland Golden Grizzlies (16-16, 11-7) vs. No. 2 Northern Kentucky Norse (24-8, 13-5), approx. 9:30 p.m.

The Horizon League’s decision to move the quarterfinal round on campus worked like a charm, as a conference that’s struggled to keep its higher seeds alive in postseason play will see its top four teams play in Detroit tonight. Both semifinals are rubber matches for their particular series, with home teams being perfect across the board.

Summit Semifinals

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 8 Western Illinois Leathernecks (10-20, 4-12) vs. No. 4 North Dakota State Bison (16-15, 9-7), 7 p.m.
No. 3 Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (18-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Omaha Mavericks (20-10, 13-3), approx. 9:30 p.m.

If you’re looking for Mike Daum and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, well, you missed them losing to WIU on Saturday night. The other three favored teams all advanced, and while Omaha struggled to get past North Dakota in Saturday’s nightcap, both PFW and NDSU cruised in Sunday’s doubleheader. Both lower seeds will be looking to defeat their opponents for the first time this season.

WCC Semifinals

No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (16-17, 6-10) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (29-2, 16-0), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 7 San Diego Toreros (21-13, 7-9) vs. No. 2 Saint Mary’s Gaels (20-11, 11-5), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

So the Bulldogs and Gaels last played on March 2nd, while the Waves and Toreros have each won three games to get here. Both Pepperdine and San Diego even had a day off after their respective Saturday quarterfinal wins over the San Francisco Dons and BYU Cougars since the WCC Tournament takes Sunday off.

Both teams will need to defeat their very well rested opponents for the first time this season to reach tomorrow night’s final, however.

MEAC First Round, Night One

No. 11 Delaware State Hornets (5-24, 2-14) vs. No. 6 Savannah State Tigers (11-19, 8-8), approx. 6 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))

With the Hampton Pirates in the Big South now and the Florida A&M Rattlers ineligible for the postseason, the MEAC’s First Round is two games shorter than it’s been in recent seasons. And with Savannah State going back to Division II next season, a three-game first round will be the new normal for the conference. The Tigers, looking to finally make a March Madness appearance before leaving the stage, defeated the Hornets in their lone meeting of the regular season.

MAC First Round

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games.

No. 12 Western Michigan Broncos (8-23, 2-16) at No. 5 Central Michigan Chippewas (21-10, 10-8), 7 p.m.
No. 11 Ball State Cardinals (15-16, 6-12) at No. 6 Eastern Michigan Eagles (15-16, 9-9), 7 p.m.
No. 9 Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (15-16, 7-11) at No. 8 Akron Zips (16-15, 8-10), 8 p.m.
No. 10 Ohio University Bobcats (14-16, 6-12) at No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies (15-16, 8-10), 9 p.m.

Tonight’s four winners will travel to Cleveland for Thursday’s quarterfinals. Of the four visitors, only Miami managed to win a game in their season series with their hosts during the regular season.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Evening Tips

SoCon FINAL: No. 2 UNCG (28-5, 15-3) vs. No. 1 Wofford (28-4, 18-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
CAA SF: No. 5 Delaware (16-16, 8-10) vs. No. 1 Hofstra (26-6, 15-3), 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
Horizon SF: No. 4 Green Bay (17-15, 10-8) vs. No. 1 Wright State (20-12, 13-5), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Summit SF: No. 8 Western Illinois (10-20, 4-12) vs. No. 4 North Dakota State (16-15, 9-7), 7 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))
MAC R1: No. 12 Western Michigan (8-23, 2-16) at No. 5 Central Michigan (21-10, 10-8), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MAC R1: No. 11 Ball State (15-16, 6-12) at No. 6 Eastern Michigan (15-16, 9-9), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MEAC R1: No. 11 Delaware State (5-24, 2-14) vs. No. 6 Savannah State (11-19, 8-8), approx. 6 p.m. (FloHoops.com ($))

Mid-Evening Tips

CAA SF: No. 3 College of Charleston (24-8, 12-6) vs. No. 2 Northeastern (21-10, 14-4), approx. 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
MAC R1: No. 9 Miami (Ohio) (15-16, 7-11) at No. 8 Akron (16-15, 8-10), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Late Evening/Night Tips

MAAC FINAL: No. 6 Monmouth (13-21, 10-8) vs. No. 1 Iona (16-15, 12-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
WCC SF: No. 8. Pepperdine (16-17, 6-10) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (29-2, 16-0), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
WCC SF: No. 7 San Diego (21-13, 7-9) vs. No. 2 Saint Mary’s (20-11, 11-5), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Horizon SF: No. 3 Oakland (16-16, 11-7) vs. No. 2 Northern Kentucky (24-8, 13-5), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Summit SF: No. 3 Purdue Fort Wayne (18-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Omaha (20-10, 13-3), approx. 9:30 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))
MAC R1: No. 10 Ohio (14-16, 6-12) at No. 7 Northern Illinois (15-16, 8-10), 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

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Bracketology Seed List For Monday, March 11, 2019

Bradley appears in ALL CAPS in today’s seed list.

Bradley, Gardner-Webb, and Liberty all secured their NCAA Tournament spots on Sunday.

Today’s full bracket post

Notes:

  • 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).
  • Arrows indicate movement up or down the seed list (down to the spot on the seed list). This is relative to Sunday’s bracket (though I didn’t publish a separate seed list for it).
  • 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 reflect games played through Sunday, March 10, while NET data reflects games played through Saturday, March 9. I pulled the quality win info from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets.

No. 1 Seeds

1. Virginia (ACC) (28-2/16/11) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Columbia 1
2. Gonzaga (WCC) (29-2/10/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 1
3. Kentucky (26-5/15/10) – LOUISVILLE – Columbus 1
4. North Carolina (26-5/16/9) – KANSAS CITY – Columbia 2

No. 2 Seeds

5. Duke (26-5/14/8) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 1
6. Michigan State (Big Ten) (25-6/16/11) – KANSAS CITY – Columbus 2
↑7. LSU (SEC) (26-5/16/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tulsa 1
↓8. Tennessee (26-4/13/7) – ANAHEIM – Jacksonville 2

No. 3 Seeds

9. Michigan (26-5/17/8) – LOUISVILLE – Des Moines 1
10. Houston (American) (29-2/14/5) – KANSAS CITY – Tulsa 2
11. Kansas (23-8/16/10) – ANAHEIM – Des Moines 2
12. Purdue (23-8/16/7) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hartford 1

No. 4 Seeds

13. Texas Tech (26-5/16/6) – KANSAS CITY – Salt Lake City 2
14. Florida State (25-6/12/6) – ANAHEIM – Hartford 2
15. Kansas State (Big 12) (24-7/13/7) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – San José 1
16. Virginia Tech (23-7/10/4) – LOUISVILLE – San José 2

No. 5 Seeds

17. Wisconsin (22-9/14/9)
↑18. Maryland (22-9/13/7)
↓19. Mississippi State (22-9/11/8)
20. Nevada (MW) (27-3/8/1)

No. 6 Seeds

21. Marquette (23-8/15/9)
22. Cincinnati (25-6/10/4)
23. Villanova (Big East) (22-9/15/5)
↑24. Auburn (21-9/13/3)

No. 7 Seeds

↓25. Iowa State (20-11/8/5)
26. Wofford (SoCon) (25-4/8/3)
27. Buffalo (MAC) (27-3/7/2)
28. VCU (A 10) (25-6/6/3)

No. 8 Seeds

29. UCF (23-7/8/2)
↑30. Oklahoma (19-12/10/4)
↑31. Louisville (19-12/8/4)
↑32. Baylor (19-12/12/4)

No. 9 Seeds

↓33. Iowa (21-10/11/4)
↓34. Washington (Pac-12) (24-7/8/2)
↑35. Seton Hall (18-12/12/6)
36. Utah State (24-6/4/3)

No. 10 Seeds

↓37. Ole Miss (20-11/7/4)
38. Syracuse (19-12/7/3)
39. Arizona State (21-9/11/3)
40. Minnesota (19-12/10/3)

No. 11 Seeds

41. St. John’s (20-11/10/5)
42. TCU (19-12/8/3)
43. Florida (17-14/6/3)
↑44. Texas (16-15/9/5)

No. 12 Seeds

45. (First Four) Temple (23-8/8/2)
↑46. (First Four) Indiana (17-14/8/6)
↓47. (First Four) Ohio State (18-13/8/4)
48. (First Four) Clemson (19-12/7/1)
49. MURRAY STATE (OVC)
↑50. New Mexico State (WAC)

First Four Out (NIT No. 1 Seeds)

69. Belmont (25-5/5/2)
↑70. N.C. State (21-10/8/2)
↓71.Lipscomb (23-7/3/2)
↓72. Creighton (17-13/9/3)

Next Four Out

↓73. Oregon (19-12/5/2)
↓74. Alabama (17-14/9/2)
↑75. UNCG (26-5/4/2)
↓76. Furman (22-7/4/1)

No. 13 Seeds

51. LIBERTY (ASUN)
52. Hofstra (CAA)
↑53. Vermont (America East)
↓54. UC Irvine (Big West)

No. 14 Seeds

55. Old Dominion (C-USA)
↑56. Harvard (Ivy)
↑57. Georgia State (Sun Belt)
↑58. Montana (Big Sky)

No. 15 Seeds

↑59. Wright State (Horizon)
↑60. Colgate (Patriot)
↓61. Omaha (Summit)
↑62. BRADLEY (MVC)

No. 16 Seeds

63. GARDNER-WEBB (Big South)
64. Sam Houston State (Southland)
65. (First Four) Iona (MAAC)
66. (First Four) Prairie View A&M (SWAC)
67. (First Four) St. Francis (Pa.) (NEC)
68. (First Four) Norfolk State (MEAC)

Conference Ranking With Seeds

Note: Auto bid holders are denoted by asterisks.

Big Ten (9): 2. Michigan State*, 3. Michigan, 3. Purdue, 5. Wisconsin, 5. Maryland, 9. Iowa, 10. Minnesota, 12. Indiana (First Four), 12. Ohio State (First Four)
ACC (8): 1. Virginia*, 1. North Carolina, 2. Duke, 4. Florida State, 4. Virginia Tech, 8. Louisville, 1-0. Syracuse, 12. Clemson (First Four)
Big 12 (8): 3. Kansas, 4. Texas Tech, 4. Kansas State*, 7. Iowa State, 8. Oklahoma, 8. Baylor, 11. TCU, 11. Texas
SEC (7): 1. Kentucky, 2. LSU*, 2. Tennessee, 5. Mississippi State, 6. Auburn, 10. Ole Miss, 11. Florida
American Athletic (4): 3. Houston*, 6. Cincinnati, 8. UCF, 12. Temple (First Four)
Big East (4): 6. Marquette, 6. Villanova*, 9. Seton Hall, 11. St. John’s
MW (2): 5. Nevada*, 9. Utah State*
Pac-12 (2): 9. Washington*, 10. Arizona State

Auto Bid Selection Procedures

  • Conference tournament champions are in and appear in ALL CAPS.
  • All other conferences are represented by their conference tournament No. 1 seed or, if that team has been eliminated, the highest remaining seed.

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NET Viewing Guide For Saturday, March 9, 2019

Strangely enough, the Duke-North Carolina rematch isn’t in ESPN’s 8 p.m. Eastern slot tonight.

I’ve written two separate viewing guides for today. This one covers regular-season finales. If you’re looking for conference tournament info, head here. 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 group designations in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these specifically by tip time, however, I’ve grouped them by importance.

Reminders of the different groupings:

  • Quad 1 (home games): Visitor is ranked 1-30
  • Quad 1 (away games): Host is ranked 1-75
  • Quad 2 (home games): Visitor is ranked 31-75
  • Quad 2 (away games): Host is ranked 76-135
  • Quad 3 (home games): Visitor is ranked 76-160
  • Quad 3 (away games): Host is ranked 136-240
  • Quad 4 (home games): Visitor is ranked 161-353
  • Quad 4 (away games): Host is ranked 241-353

All NET numbers are from the NCAA’s website and reflect games played through Thursday, March 7. Records reflect games played through that Friday, March 8. All times are Eastern.

Top 30 at Top 75 (7 Games)

Quad 1 for both the host and visitor (1/1)

No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (27-3, 15-2) at No. 19 Auburn Tigers (21-9, 10-7), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 25 Villanova Wildcats (22-8, 13-4) at No. 61 Seton Hall Pirates (17-12, 8-9), 12 p.m. (Fox)
No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-5, 13-4) at No. 22 Iowa State Cyclones (20-10, 9-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN News)
No. 24 Louisville Cardinals (19-11, 10-7) at No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (27-2, 15-2), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 26 UCF Knights (23-6, 13-4) at No. 56 Temple Owls (22-8, 12-5), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)

No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3) at No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels (25-5, 15-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (26-4, 15-4) at No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (24-6, 15-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Obviously, the two biggest games here are ESPN’s doubleheader, with a potential ACC title and spot on the top line up for grabs in Chapel Hill, where UNC will be looking to sweep the Zion Williamson-less Blue Devils, and the Big Ten title could still be up for grabs in East Lansing, not to mention continued life in the No. 1 seed race.

Earlier in the day, Virginia could lock up the top seed in the ACC Tournament by sweeping Louisville, no matter what the Tar Heels do, thanks to the Cavaliers’ win at the Smith Center. Tennessee will clinch at least a share of the SEC title by beating Auburn, who is still in the hunt for the final quarterfinal bye in Nashville.

Seton Hall can all but lock up an NCAA bid by following up its Wednesday win over Marquette with another over ‘Nova in Newark. On the other hand, the Wildcats can secure the No. 1 seed at Madison Square Garden with a win. In the Big 12, Texas Tech can clinch a share of the conference title by handing Iowa State its third straight loss and (sixth in the Cyclones’ last eight games). As for the matchup in Philadelphia, Temple can shore up its NCAA credentials by defeating a UCF squad that moved toward lock status by recording consecutive wins over the Houston Cougars and Cincinnati Bearcats.

31-75 at Top 75 (9 Games)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 2 for the host (1/2)

No. 41 Syracuse Orange (19-11, 10-7) at No. 40 Clemson Tigers (18-12, 8-9), 12 p.m. (CBS)
No. 53 TCU Horned Frogs (18-12, 6-11) at No. 34 Texas Longhorns (16-14, 8-9), 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 33 Florida Gators (17-13, 9-8) at No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (25-5, 14-3), 2 p.m. (CBS)
No. 38 Baylor Bears (19-11, 10-7) at No. 18 Kansas Jayhawks (22-8, 11-6), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 62 St. John’s Red Storm (20-10, 8-9) at No. 73 Xavier Musketeers (16-14, 8-9), 5 p.m. (Fox)
No. 36 Ole Miss Rebels (19-11, 9-8) at No. 75 Missouri Tigers (14-15, 5-12), 3:30 p.m. (SECN)
No. 39 Oklahoma Sooners (19-11, 7-10) at No. 27 Kansas State Wildcats (23-7, 13-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 57 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9) at No. 66 Arkansas Razorbacks (16-14, 7-10), 6 p.m. (SECN)
No. 64 Oregon Ducks (18-12, 9-8) at No. 32 Washington Huskies (24-6, 15-2), 10 p.m. (ESPN)

The majority of these games have bubble implications, though Baylor-Kansas and Oklahoma-Kansas State are exceptions at this point. The Wildcats are playing for a share of the Big 12 title at least. Kentucky is the only other team in this group involved in a conference title chase, though they’ll need to both beat Florida, which will be desperate for another differentiating marquee win, and get help, to earn a share of the SEC crown.

Otherwise, Clemson, the final team in my Friday projection. really needs to defeat visiting Syracuse to hang around. TCU, 1-6 in its last seven, simply has to beat a Texas squad that may have more losses than the Horned Frogs, but who also has more quality wins. St. John’s and Ole Miss should both be okay even if their losing streaks continue, but heading into tournament time on a skid probably isn’t the smartest idea for either. Beating Arkansas won’t help Alabama much, but losing in Fayetteville could be the end. Meanwhile, Oregon can claim a rare Pac-12 Quad 1 win by defeating regular-season champ Washington in Seattle.

Top 30 at 76-135 (1 Game)

Quad 2 for the visitor; Quad 1 for the host only (2/1)

No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers (22-8, 15-4) at No. 84 Northwestern Wildcats (13-17, 4-15), 2:30 p.m. (BTN)

With a win in Evanston, the Boilermakers will share the Big Ten regular-season crown with the Michigan-Michigan State winner.

31-75 at 76-135 (1 Game)

Quad 2 for both the visitor and host (2/2)

No. 59 Butler Bulldogs (16-14, 7-10) at No. 77 Providence Friars (16-14, 6-11), 12 p.m. (FSN)
No. 35 North Carolina State Wolfpack (20-10, 8-9) at No. 113 Boston College Eagles (14-15, 5-12), 2 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACC Network Extra)
No. 71 Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9, 11-6) at No. 90 Arizona Wildcats (17-13, 8-9), 4 p.m. (CBS)

A trio of bubble teams encounter final regular-season road tests. While Arizona State is aiming to sweep Arizona for the first time since 2008-09, Butler cannot afford to be swept by Providence. The Friars defeated the Bulldogs in Indy back on February 26th, a 73-67 OT victory. Meanwhile, N.C. State needed the extra five minutes to defeat B.C. in Raleigh on February 20th.

76-160 at Top 75 (6 Games)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (1/3)

No. 80 Georgetown Hoyas (18-12, 8-9) at No. 29 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-7, 12-5), 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
No. 78 Texas A&M Aggies (13-16, 6-11) at No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-9, 9-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 98 DePaul Blue Demons (15-13, 7-10) at No. 54 Creighton Bluejays (17-13, 8-9), 8 p.m. (FS1)
No. 150 Vanderbilt Commodores (9-21, 0-17) at No. 13 LSU Tigers (25-5, 15-2), 8 p.m. (SECN)
No. 127 San Diego State Aztecs (19-11, 11-6) at No. 20 Nevada Wolf Pack (27-3, 14-3), 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 96 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (18-12, 8-9) at No. 49 Memphis Tigers (18-12, 10-7), 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Conference titles are on the line for LSU, who will incidentally be without head coach Will Wade, who is suspended indefinitely amid the FBI wiretap allegations surrounding the program; Nevada, which is looking to split its season series against a San Diego State squad that’s beaten the Wolf Pack twice in a row; and Marquette, which is also aiming to end a three-game skid.

Mississippi State will look to avoid a seed-dropping loss against Texas A&M, while Creighton needs to knock off a DePaul team that’s recently been troublesome for bubble teams to stay in the hunt. As for Memphis, the Tigers will look to build momentum with the American Athletic Conference Tournament heading to FedEx Forum on Thursday.

Top 30 at 136-240 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for the host only; Quad 3 for the visitor (3/1)

No. 17 Florida State Seminoles (24-6, 12-5) at No. 186 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-18, 4-13), 12 p.m. (Raycom (Regional)/ACC Network Extra)

Florida State heads to Winston-Salem aiming to win for the fourth time in a row and for the 12th time in their last 13 outings.

76-160 at 76-135 (1 Game)

Quad 2 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (2/3)

No. 110 Georgia Bulldogs (11-19, 2-15) at No. 83 South Carolina Gamecocks (15-15, 10-7), 1 p.m. (SECN)

This game is only listed here for one reason: South Carolina can still wrap up a bye to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals with a win.

Mid-Major Games With Postseason Implications

Noted by PI in the schedule below.

Ivy League

No. 148 Brown Bears (19-10, 7-6) at No. 112 Penn Quakers (18-11, 6-7), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 88 Yale Bulldogs (19-7, 9-4) at No. 177 Princeton Tigers (16-10, 8-5), 6 p.m. (NBCS Philadelphia/ESPN+ ($))
No. 115 Harvard Crimson (16-10, 9-4) at No. 200 Columbia Lions (10-17, 5-8), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 202 Dartmouth Big Green (11-18, 2-11) at No. 216 Cornell Big Red (14-15, 6-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Last night, Cornell defeated Harvard, 72-59, yet was still eliminated from the Ivy Madness race because Penn happened to knock off Yale, 77-66. Why? Ivy League tiebreakers come into play, as @IvyHoopsOnline explained on Twitter.

With just one set of four games left, there are still many possibilities for seeding, and Luke Benz has helpfully put them all into a spreadsheet for your examination.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers (27-3, 15-2) at No. 19 Auburn Tigers (21-9, 10-7), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
1/1 No. 25 Villanova Wildcats (22-8, 13-4) at No. 61 Seton Hall Pirates (17-12, 8-9), 12 p.m. (Fox)
1/2 No. 41 Syracuse Orange (19-11, 10-7) at No. 40 Clemson Tigers (18-12, 8-9), 12 p.m. (CBS)
1/2 No. 53 TCU Horned Frogs (18-12, 6-11) at No. 34 Texas Longhorns (16-14, 8-9), 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
2/2 No. 59 Butler Bulldogs (16-14, 7-10) at No. 77 Providence Friars (16-14, 6-11), 12 p.m. (FSN)
3/1 No. 17 Florida State Seminoles (24-6, 12-5) at No. 186 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-18, 4-13), 12 p.m. (Raycom (Regional)/ACC Network Extra)
2/3 No. 110 Georgia Bulldogs (11-19, 2-15) at No. 83 South Carolina Gamecocks (15-15, 10-7), 1 p.m. (SECN)

Mid-Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-5, 13-4) at No. 22 Iowa State Cyclones (20-10, 9-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN News)
1/2 No. 33 Florida Gators (17-13, 9-8) at No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (25-5, 14-3), 2 p.m. (CBS)
1/2 No. 38 Baylor Bears (19-11, 10-7) at No. 18 Kansas Jayhawks (22-8, 11-6), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
2/1 No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers (22-8, 15-4) at No. 84 Northwestern Wildcats (13-17, 4-15), 2:30 p.m. (BTN)
2/2 No. 35 N.C. State Wolfpack (20-10, 8-9) at No. 113 Boston College Eagles (14-15, 5-12), 2 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACC Network Extra)
1/3 No. 80 Georgetown Hoyas (18-12, 8-9) at No. 29 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-7, 12-5), 2:30 p.m. (Fox)
1/3 No. 78 Texas A&M Aggies (13-16, 6-11) at No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-9, 9-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

Late Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 24 Louisville Cardinals (19-11, 10-7) at No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (27-2, 15-2), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
1/1 No. 26 UCF Knights (23-6, 13-4) at No. 56 Temple Owls (22-8, 12-5), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 62 St. John’s Red Storm (20-10, 8-9) at No. 73 Xavier Musketeers (16-14, 8-9), 5 p.m. (Fox)
1/2 No. 36 Ole Miss Rebels (19-11, 9-8) at No. 75 Missouri Tigers (14-15, 5-12), 3:30 p.m. (SECN)
2/2 No. 71 Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9, 11-6) at No. 90 Arizona Wildcats (17-13, 8-9), 4 p.m. (CBS)

Early Evening Tips

1/1 No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (26-4, 14-3) at No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels (25-5, 15-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
1/2 No. 39 Oklahoma Sooners (19-11, 7-10) at No. 27 Kansas State Wildcats (23-7, 13-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 57 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9) at No. 66 Arkansas Razorbacks (16-14, 7-10), 6 p.m. (SECN)
PI No. 148 Brown Bears (19-10, 7-6) at No. 112 Penn Quakers (17-11, 5-7 (F), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 88 Yale Bulldogs (19-6, 9-3 (F) at No. 177 Princeton Tigers (16-10, 8-5), 6 p.m. (NBCS Philadelphia/ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 115 Harvard Crimson (16-9, 9-3 (F) at No. 200 Columbia Lions (9-17, 4-8 (F), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI: No. 202 Dartmouth Big Green (11-18, 2-11) at No. 216 Cornell Big Red (14-15, 6-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Late Evening Tips

1/1 No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (26-4, 15-4) at No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (24-6, 15-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
1/3 No. 98 DePaul Blue Demons (15-13, 7-10) at No. 54 Creighton Bluejays (17-13, 8-9), 8 p.m. (FS1)
1/3 No. 150 Vanderbilt Commodores (9-21, 0-17) at No. 13 LSU Tigers (25-5, 15-2), 8 p.m. (SECN)

Late Night Tips

1/2 No. 64 Oregon Ducks (18-12, 9-8) at No. 32 Washington Huskies (24-6, 15-2), 10 p.m. (ESPN)
1/3 No. 127 San Diego State Aztecs (19-11, 11-6) at No. 20 Nevada Wolf Pack (27-3, 14-3), 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
1/3 No. 96 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (18-12, 8-9) at No. 49 Memphis Tigers (18-12, 10-7), 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

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Championship Fortnight/NET Viewing Guide For Sunday, March 10, 2019

Houston has already wrapped up the top seed in the American Athletic Tournament, but the Cougars need to defeat Cincinnati to have the regular-season title all to their own.

It’s time to wrap up the regular season and hand out three more automatic bids. 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.

Reminders of the different groupings:

  • Quad 1 (home games): Visitor is ranked 1-30
  • Quad 1 (away games): Host is ranked 1-75
  • Quad 2 (home games): Visitor is ranked 31-75
  • Quad 2 (away games): Host is ranked 76-135
  • Quad 3 (home games): Visitor is ranked 76-160
  • Quad 3 (away games): Host is ranked 136-240
  • Quad 4 (home games): Visitor is ranked 161-353
  • Quad 4 (away games): Host is ranked 241-353

All NET numbers are from the NCAA’s website and reflect games played through Saturday, March 9. Records reflect games played through that same date. All times are Eastern.

Top 30 at Top 75 (2 Games)

Quad 1 for both the host and visitor (1/1)

No. 7 Houston Cougars (28-2, 15-2) at No. 23 Cincinnati Bearcats (25-5, 14-3), 12 p.m. (CBS)
No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (21-9, 13-6) at No. 52 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-12, 8-11), 4:30 p.m. (CBS)

Houston defeated Cincinnati 65-58 back on February 10th at the Fertitta Center. Today’s task will be a little taller, particularly with the Bearcats coming off a Thursday loss at UCF Knights. While the Cougars have already wrapped up a share of the American regular-season title and the top seed in Memphis, they’ll have to win today to keep the Bearcats from taking a share of the crown.

In Columbus, Ohio State could use a win for its shaky profile, which hasn’t been helped by the Buckeyes’ recent 2-5 run. As for the Badgers, a win would clinch the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and the quarterfinal bye that goes along with it.

31-75 at Top 75 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 2 for the host (1/2)

No. 43 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-9, 10-9) at No. 53 Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-15, 5-14), 2 p.m. (BTN)

Iowa has seen its seeding slip thanks to a three-game skid. But it won’t be easy to break it in Lincoln, as struggling Nebraska is still difficult to defeat at home.

76-160 at Top 75 (6 Games)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (1/3)

No. 97 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-15, 7-12) at No. 55 Indiana Hoosiers (16-14, 7-12), 12 p.m. (BTN)

Even though a win over Rutgers wouldn’t impress the Committee much, a fourth straight victory for Indiana would give them some decent momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament.


Big South Championship

No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (22-11, 10-6) at No. 2 Radford Highlanders (22-10, 12-4), 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Mike Jones’ Highlanders are looking to reach their second straight NCAA Tournament, while Tim Craft’s Bulldogs are aiming for their first-ever bid. On Friday, Gardner-Webb stunned top-seeded Campbell Fighting Camels, 79-74, to give Radford the responsibility for hosting. Note that the second-seeded squad won the pair’s lone meeting of the season, 75-58, at home.

MVC Championship

No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (16-17, 9-9) vs. No. 5 Bradley Braves (19-14, 9-9), 2 p.m. (CBS)

Both of Saturday’s Arch Madness semifinals went down to the wire. First, Bradley eliminated the top-seeded defending champs from Loyola Chicago, 53-51. Then, UNI won its rubber match with second-seeded Drake, 60-58. Another series decider is on tap for this afternoon in St. Louis, as the Panthers and Braves split their meetings, with each road team being victorious.

Northern Iowa last reached the field of 68 in 2016, while Bradley last qualified in 2006, as a 13th-seeded at-large selection.

ASUN Championship

No. 2 Liberty Flames (27-6, 14-2) at No. 1 Lipscomb Bisons (25-6, 14-2), 3 p.m. (ESPN)

The game of the day might very well be set for Allen Arena in Nashville, where Lipscomb will attempt to do what archrival Belmont could not last night. But it won’t be easy for the Bisons, as Liberty won by a 74-66 score when the teams last met in the Music City back on February 13th. Casey Alexander’s team, meanwhile, won by 20 in Lynchburg.

Lipscomb is aiming for its second-ever bid, in as many seasons, while Liberty last reached the field in 2013, when the Flames represented the Big South.

Patriot Semifinals

CBSSN will air both games.

No. 5 Navy Midshipmen (12-18, 7-10) at No. 1 Colgate Raiders (22-10, 13-5), 12 p.m.
No. 3 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (20-10, 12-6) at No. 2 Bucknell Bison (20-11, 13-5), 2 p.m.

This afternoon’s winners meet on Wednesday in the higher-seeded team’s arena. Colgate split its season series with Navy, though the Raiders recorded a 93-71 home victory on February 23rd. As for Bucknell and Lehigh, the Bison swept the season series, last taking down the MountainHawks by 12 on February 11th.

SoCon Semifinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games. Select Nexstar-owned stations will air both games.

No. 4 ETSU Buccaneers (24-8, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Wofford Terriers (27-4, 18-0), 4 p.m.
No. 3 Furman Paladins (25-6, 13-5) vs. No. 2 UNCG Spartans (27-5, 15-3), approx. 6:30 p.m.

Much is at stake in Asheville, as the top four seeds all advanced to this evening’s semifinals. Bubble fans nationwide want Wofford to keep winning, while the winner of the second semifinal between UNCG and Furman will see its theoretical shot at an at-large remain intact with a win.

Naturally, Wofford swept ETSU this season, while the 2 vs. 3 game will resolve a good, old fashioned home split.

MAAC Semifinals

No. 5 Siena Saints (17-15, 11-7) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels (15-15, 12-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (12-21, 10-8) vs. No. 2 Canisius Golden Griffins (15-16, 11-7), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

There will be no such bubble drama in Albany, but Iona will need to win a virtual road game against Siena to keep its hopes for a fourth-straight NCAA bid alive. While the pair split their season series, the Gaels won in the Times-Union Center on February 13th, 57-52. As for the late game, Canisius is aiming for a third win over Monmouth this season.

CAA Quarterfinals

CAA.tv will stream all four games.

No. 8 James Madison Dukes (14-18, 6-12) vs. No. 1 Hofstra Pride (25-6, 15-3), 12 p.m.
No. 5 Delaware Fighting Blue Hens (16-15, 8-10) vs. No. 4 William & Mary Tribe (14-16, 10-8), approx. 2:30 p.m.
No. 10 UNCW Seahawks (10-22, 5-13) vs. No. 2 Northeastern Huskies (20-10, 14-4), 6 p.m.
No. 6 Drexel Dragons (13-18, 7-11) vs. No. 3 College of Charleston Cougars (23-8, 12-6), approx. 8:30 p.m.

Top-seeded Hofstra might be in for a difficult matchup this afternoon in North Charleston, S.C., as James Madison defeated the Pride by five after overtime in Hempstead on February 23rd. In fact, only second-seeded Northeastern managed to defeat its quarterfinal opponent twice this season.

Summit Quarterfinals, Night Two

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 5 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (11-20, 7-9) vs. No. 4 North Dakota State Bison (15-15, 9-7), 7 p.m.
No. 6 South Dakota Coyotes (13-16, 7-9) vs. No. 3 Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (17-14, 9-7), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Tonight’s quarterfinal doubleheader is unlikely to match the drama of Saturday’s. First, the eighth-seeded Western Illinois Leathernecks eliminated Mike Daum and the rest of the top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits, 79-76. Then, the second-seeded Omaha Mavericks escaped the No. 7 seed, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, 81-76. NDSU can defeat ORU for a third time tonight, while the nightcap will settle the season series between Purdue Fort Wayne and South Dakota.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 7 Houston Cougars (28-2, 15-2) at No. 23 Cincinnati Bearcats (25-5, 14-3), 12 p.m. (CBS)
1/3 No. 97 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-15, 7-12) at No. 55 Indiana Hoosiers (16-14, 7-12), 12 p.m. (BTN)
Big South FINAL: No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (22-11, 10-6) at No. 2 Radford Highlanders (22-10, 12-4), 1 p.m. (ESPN)
CAA QF: No. 8 James Madison Dukes (14-18, 6-12) vs. No. 1 Hofstra Pride (25-6, 15-3), 12 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Patriot SF: No. 5 Navy Midshipmen (12-18, 7-10) at No. 1 Colgate Raiders (22-10, 13-5), 12 p.m. (CBSSN)

Mid-Afternoon Tips

ASUN FINAL: No. 2 Liberty Flames (27-6, 14-2) at No. 1 Lipscomb Bisons (25-6, 14-2), 3 p.m. (ESPN)
MVC FINAL: No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (16-17, 9-9) vs. No. 5 Bradley Braves (19-14, 9-9), 2 p.m. (CBS)
1/2 No. 43 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-9, 10-9) at No. 53 Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-15, 5-14), 2 p.m. (BTN)
Patriot SF: No. 3 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (20-10, 12-6) at No. 2 Bucknell Bison (20-11, 13-5), 2 p.m. (CBSSN)
CAA QF: No. 5 Delaware Fighting Blue Hens (16-15, 8-10) vs. No. 4 William & Mary Tribe (14-16, 10-8), approx. 2:30 p.m. (CAA.tv)

Late Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (21-9, 13-6) at No. 52 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-12, 8-11), 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
SoCon SF: No. 4 ETSU Buccaneers (24-8, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Wofford Terriers (27-4, 18-0), 4 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))

Early Evening Tips

SoCon SF: No. 3 Furman Paladins (25-6, 13-5) vs. No. 2 UNCG Spartans (27-5, 15-3), approx. 6:30 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))
MAAC SF: No. 5 Siena Saints (17-15, 11-7) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels (15-15, 12-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
CAA QF: No. 10 UNCW Seahawks (10-22, 5-13) vs. No. 2 Northeastern Huskies (20-10, 14-4), 6 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Summit QF: No. 5 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (11-20, 7-9) vs. No. 4 North Dakota State Bison (15-15, 9-7), 7 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))

Late Evening Tips

MAAC SF: No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (12-21, 10-8) vs. No. 2 Canisius Golden Griffins (15-16, 11-7), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
CAA QF: No. 6 Drexel Dragons (13-18, 7-11) vs. No. 3 College of Charleston Cougars (23-8, 12-6), approx. 8:30 p.m. (CAA.tv)
Summit QF: No. 6 South Dakota Coyotes (13-16, 7-9) vs. No. 3 Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (17-14, 9-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))

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Pepperdine and San Diego keep winning ways alive with blowout upsets in WCC Quarterfinals

Lorenzo Romar has the Waves rolling in the right direction.

The Waves and Toreros are playing the best basketball of their seasons and adding to the madness of March.

It’s not surprising that the seven and eight seeds are still alive in the West Coast Conference tournament as we head into the semifinals. What is surprising is how these teams have managed to survive the weekend.

Both opened in the tournament’s first round on Thursday, played again on Friday, and then absolutely demolished their opposition on Saturday night at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

No. 8 Pepperdine Waves 89, No. 4 San Francisco Dons 72

Nothing says “tired legs” like “highest point total since the start of conference play.” Right?

Playing in their third game in as many days, Pepperdine opened the game by making five of its first seven shots from the field and four of its first four from long range. That accuracy had to drop off a bit. And it did, but just a bit.

The Waves shot 50 percent from three (14-28) and 49 percent from the field (28-57). Yes, one-half of Pepperdine’s field goals came from beyond the arc. The Waves are now three made three pointers shy of setting a new record for most threes in WCC Tournament history.

It was a performance that drew regular ovations, oohs and aahs from a crowd composed largely of neutral Gonzaga and BYU fans.

On the other side was a San Francisco team that has gone from in the NCAA Tournament field as an at-large, according to bracketology, in late January to a team likely heading on the road for a first round NIT game. Star senior point guard Frankie Ferrari (five assists, six turnovers) and the Dons appear to have run out of gas. They were 14-3 after a mid-January tilt with Gonzaga, which ended up being a close, well-played and highly entertaining game that ultimately ending in defeat.

They’re 7-7 since and on a four game losing streak. Weird. And it only got weirder from there…

No. 7 San Diego Toreros 80, No. 3 BYU Cougars 57

San Diego must’ve watched how Pepperdine approached its quarterfinal game because the Toreros opened theirs in the exact same way.

Over the course of each team’s first six shots, BYU made none while San Diego made five. The Toreros led 13-0 behind 11 quick points from Isaiah Wright (15 points). But, Wright picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench.

The Cougars put together a couple quality possessions, mostly from Yoeli Childs (14 points). He threw down a monster slam with 9:51 to play and it felt like the tide was turning. Except, it wasn’t. San Diego still led by nine. Three minutes later, the lead was 20.

It ballooned to 44 points by midway through the second half.

In the end the game was decided by 23 points. I can honestly say it was the most lopsided 23 point victory I’ve ever seen. The Cougars put together a 21-5 run over the final 6:42 of their game. BYU proved to be the superior program during that stretch. The Cougars’ second unit, in the game after the white flag had been waved and acknowledged by all in attendance, was better than San Diego’s.

San Diego’s first unit, and the Toreros’ team as a whole, was far superior to the Cougars tonight. This is a senior-laden squad that suffered through injuries to starters for most of the season. They’re finally healthy and they’re playing to keep playing together.

Up Next

WCC Semifinal Number One
No. 8 Pepperdine Waves vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Monday, March 11 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific
ESPN

WCC Semifinal Number Two
No. 7 San Diego Toreros vs. No. 2 Saint Mary’s Gaels
Monday, March 11 at 8:30 p.m. Pacific
ESPN2

Murray State is headed to the NCAA Tournament

The Racers knocked off Belmont in the title game.

The NCAA Tournament is getting its mid-major superstar.

Ja Morant, the likely top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, led Murray State to the Ohio Valley championship on Saturday. The Racers defeated Belmont, 77-65, to earn the nation’s first automatic tournament bid.

Morant finished with 36 points on 13-25 shooting to go with seven rebounds. Tevin Brown added 12 points and nine boards, as Murray State starters scored all but four of the Racers’ points.

It was, in every way, a battle of superstars. Morant and Belmont’s Dylan Windler (17 points, 12 rebounds, five assists) powered their teams down the stretch, trading blows in front of an OVC Tournament-record crowd and a national TV audience on ESPN2.

The dagger came with just under a minute to go when Morant found Tevin Brown for a three from the left wing. That put the Racers up by six, and when the Bruins committed a turnover on the ensuing possession, it all but sealed the victory.

With that, fans are now guaranteed one of the three high-level mid-major scorers in the NCAA Tournament. Chris Clemons (Campbell) and Mike Daum (South Dakota State) both fell in upsets this week and will have to settle for the NIT.

As for Belmont, the Bruins have a good at-large case and will sweat it out for the next eight days before the bracket is revealed. They’ve lost only five times this season and are 2-1 in quadrant one opportunities. They also entered Saturday No. 41 in the NET and the committee will need to take into account that they lost Saturday without the service of Nick Muszynski, who sustained an ankle injury in the semifinals.

Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Saturday, March 9, 2019

Murray State will hope to be celebrating an OVC title tonight, but Belmont stands in the Racers’ way.

This guide covers only today’s conference tournament lineup. If you want a rundown of the most important regular-season finales, head here. 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.

OVC Championship

No. 2 Murray State Racers (26-4, 16-2) vs. No. 1 Belmont Bruins (26-4, 16-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Belmont pulled away from the fourth-seeded Austin Peay Governors, 83-67, to qualify for their second consecutive OVC title tilt. The Bruins will face Murray State for the second consecutive season with revenge on their minds after last season’s blowout 68-51 loss. Rick Byrd’s squad won the pair’s only regular season meeting, 79-66, in Murray, Kentucky back on January 24th. Last night, the second-seeded Racers survived the third-seeded Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 76-74. That was the first win for either Murray or Belmont over Ray Harper’s club this season.

NEC Semifinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 4 Robert Morris Colonials (17-15, 11-7) at No. 2 No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (18-13, 12-6), 12 p.m.
No. 6 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (16-15, 9-9) at No. 1 St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (17-13, 12-6), 2 p.m.

A pair of rubber matches are set in the Northeast Conference, with St. Francis having lost to LIU in Loretto, 69-66, two weeks ago, while FDU and RMU both won at home in their series. LIU was the only lower seed to win in the quarterfinals, as the Blackbirds eliminated the third-seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers, 71-62. And with the NEC reseeding its semifinals, Derek Kellogg’s squad has to take on the regular season champs.

MVC Semifinals

CBSSN will air both games.

No. 5 Bradley Braves (18-14, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (20-12, 12-6), 3:30 p.m.
No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (15-17, 9-9) vs. No. 3 (17-15, 10-8) vs. No. 2 Drake Bulldogs (24-8, 12-6), approx. 6 p.m.

While Loyola had little trouble in dispatching the Valparaiso Crusaders, 67-54, Bradley escaped the Missouri State Bears, 61-58, in the Arch Madness 4-vs.-5 matchup. The Ramblers and Braves split their two regular season meetings, with the top seed having won by 13 at Gentile Arena just one week ago. In the evening session, Drake took care of an Illinois State Redbirds squad it went 0-2 against in the regular season, 78-62. Meanwhile, the lower seed also won the second game of the evening doubleheader, as Northern Iowa dispatched the Southern Illinois Salukis, 61-58. The in-state rivals naturally split their pair of games as well, with Drake last winning at home one month ago, 83-77.

SoCon Quarterfinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games. Select Nexstar-owned stations will air all four games.

No. 8 VMI Keydets (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 1 Wofford Terriers (26-4, 18-0), 12 p.m.
No. 5 Chattanooga Mocs (12-19, 7-11) vs. No. 4 ETSU Buccaneers (23-8, 13-5), approx. 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 Samford Bulldogs (17-15, 6-12) vs. No. 2 UNCG Spartans (26-5, 15-3), 6 p.m.
No. 6 Mercer Bears (11-19, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Furman Paladins (24-6, 13-5), approx. 8:30 p.m.

While both VMI and Samford won their opening-round games handily, they’ll be in for a challenge today. All four higher seeds swept their quarterfinal opponents during the regular season. Bubble teams from coast-to-coast will be pulling for top-seeded Wofford, a top 15 team in the NET, to run the table in Asheville.

America East Quarterfinals

ESPN+ ($) will stream all four games.

No. 6 Albany Great Danes (12-19, 7-9) at No. 3 UMBC Retrievers (19-12, 11-5), 1 p.m.
No. 5 UMass Lowell River Hawks (15-16, 7-9) at No. 4 Hartford Hawks (17-14, 10-6), 5 p.m.
No. 8 Maine Black Bears (5-26, 3-13) at No. 1 Vermont Catamounts (24-6, 14-2), 7 p.m.
No. 7 Binghamton Bearcats (9-22, 5-11) at No. 2 Stony Brook Seawolves (24-7, 12-4), 7 p.m.

The America East begins its playoffs today with Vermont the favorite but Stony Brook, defending champ UMBC, and Hartford all look particularly feisty. The Catamounts and Saeawolves swept their opponents, who look to be overmatched, while Hartford and UMBC are both looking to claim rubber matches. Note that UMass Lowell won in West Hartford on January 19th, however, by a 76-73 score.

MAAC Quarterfinals, Night Two

ESPN3 will stream both games.

No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (12-20, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Quinnipiac Bobcats (16-13, 11-7), 7 p.m.
No. 5 Siena Saints (16-15, 11-7) vs. No. 4 Rider Broncs (16-14, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Last night, the Iona Gaels (over the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, 73-71) and the Canisius Golden Griffins (who needed OT to eliminate the Manhattan Jaspers, 69-65) advanced to Sunday’s semifinals. Tonight, Quinnipiac, who has never made it to March Madness, will aim to defeat Monmouth for a third time, while Rider will attempt to defeat Siena on its home floor. The Broncs lost to the Saints, 59-57, in Lawrenceville back on February 10th.

Summit Quarterfinals, Night One

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

No. 8 Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-20, 4-12) vs. No. 1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (24-7, 14-2), 7 p.m.
No. 7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (12-17, 6-10) vs. No. 2 Omaha Mavericks (19-10, 13-3), approx. 9:30 p.m.

Like the MAAC, the Summit League holds its quarterfinals over two nights. The top two seeds, who swept their respective opponents this season, are favored to win again and advance to Monday night’s semifinals. Of course, South Dakota State’s Mike Daum is the main attraction at this event, so you’ll probably want to see him play at some point over the next few days.

WCC Quarterfinals

ESPN2 will air both games.

No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (15-17, 6-10) vs. No. 4 San Francisco Dons (21-9, 9-7), 10 p.m.
No. 7 San Diego Toreros (20-13, 7-9) vs. No. 3 BYU Cougars (19-12, 11-5), approx. 12:30 a.m. 3/10

Both lower seeds won in Friday’s second round doubleheader, as Pepperdine slipped past the Loyola Marymount Lions, 68-65, and San Diego demolished the Santa Clara Broncos, 62-45. Each will have to reverse some recent bad history against their respective semifinal opponents, as the favorites each own a season sweep. One thing to keep in mind is that the WCC takes Sunday off because of BYU’s “no Sunday play” rule, so tonight’s winners will head into Monday’s semifinals—when the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Saint Mary’s Gaels enter—having had a day off beforehand.

CAA First Round

CAA.tv will stream both games.

No. 9 Towson Tigers (10-21, 6-12) vs. No. 8 James Madison Dukes (13-18, 6-12), 4 p.m.
No. 10 UNCW Seahawks (9-22, 5-13) vs. No. 7 Elon Phoenix (11-20, 7-11), approx. 6:30 p.m.

The final edition of the CAA Tournament in North Charleston, S.C. opens with “PIllowfight Saturday.” Tonight’s winners advance to take on the top-seeded Hofstra Pride and No. 2 seeded Northeastern Huskies on Sunday.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Afternoon Tips

SC QF: No. 8 Virginia Military Keydets (11-20, 4-14) vs. No. 1 Wofford Terriers (26-4, 18-0), 12 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))
NEC SF: No. 4 Robert Morris Colonials (17-15, 11-7) at No. 2 No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (18-13, 12-6), 12 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
AE QF: No. 6 Albany Great Danes (12-19, 7-9) at No. 3 UMBC Retrievers (19-12, 11-5), 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Mid-Afternoon Tips

SC QF: No. 5 Chattanooga Mocs (12-19, 7-11) vs. No. 4 ETSU Buccaneers (23-8, 13-5), approx. 2:30 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))
NEC SF: No. 6 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (16-15, 9-9) at No. 1 St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (17-13, 12-6), 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Late Afternoon Tips

MVC SF: No. 5 Bradley Braves (18-14, 9-9) vs. No. 1 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (20-12, 12-6), 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
AE QF: No. 5 UMass Lowell River Hawks (15-16, 7-9) at No. 4 Hartford Hawks (17-14, 10-6), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
CAA R1: No. 9 Towson Tigers (10-21, 6-12) vs. No. 8 James Madison Dukes (13-18, 6-12), 4 p.m. (CAA.tv)

Early Evening Tips

MVC SF: No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (15-17, 9-9) vs. No. 2 Drake Bulldogs (24-8, 12-6), approx. 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
SC QF: No. 7 Samford Bulldogs (17-15, 6-12) vs. No. 2 UNCG Spartans (26-5, 15-3), 6 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))
Summit QF: No. 8 Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-20, 4-12) vs. No. 1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (24-7, 14-2), 7 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))
AE QF: No. 8 Maine Black Bears (5-26, 3-13) at No. 1 Vermont Catamounts (24-6, 14-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
AE QF: No. 7 Binghamton Bearcats (9-22, 5-11) at No. 2 Stony Brook Seawolves (24-7, 12-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MAAC QF: No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (12-20, 10-8) vs. No. 3 Quinnipiac Bobcats (16-13, 11-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
CAA R1: No. 10 UNCW Seahawks (9-22, 5-13) vs. No. 7 Elon Phoenix (11-20, 7-11), approx. 6:30 p.m. (CAA.tv)

Mid-Evening Tips

OVC FINAL: No. 2 Murray State Racers (26-4, 16-2) vs. No. 1 Belmont Bruins (26-4, 16-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
SC QF: No. 6 Mercer Bears (11-19, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Furman Paladins (24-6, 13-5), approx. 8:30 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+ ($))

Late Night Tips

WCC QF: No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (15-17, 6-10) vs. No. 4 San Francisco Dons (21-9, 9-7), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
WCC QF: No. 7 San Diego Toreros (20-13, 7-9) vs. No. 3 BYU Cougars (19-12, 11-5), approx. 12:30 a.m. 3/10 (ESPN2)
Summit QF: No. 7 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (12-17, 6-10) vs. No. 2 Omaha Mavericks (19-10, 13-3), approx. 9:30 p.m. (Midco SN/ESPN+ ($))
MAAC QF: No. 5 Siena Saints (16-15, 11-7) vs. No. 4 Rider Broncs (16-14, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

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01/23: The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 have a bunch of teams swiping and slipping in opposite directions

Parrish and Norlander open with Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn hitting the skids on Tuesday, then touch on Indiana (8:35), which has now lost five straight and is approaching a crisis. There’s also Duke and Virginia (15:00) to get to, as those teams rolled. The guys have a few good games to mull over on Thursday (20:00), primarily Michigan State-Iowa and NC State-Louisville. They make their way back for Wednesday’s pair of interesting games (28:30): Tennessee-Vanderbilt and Purdue-Ohio State. This episode is sponsored by www.ZipRecruiter.com.

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03/08: LSU indefinitely suspends Will Wade, UNC become a 1 seed, and a huge preview of the weekend

Today’s episode opens with Gary Parrish flying solo for the first segment, talking the huge news: LSU indefinitely suspending Will Wade. Then Norlander hops in and the guys get to the SEC race wrapping and the big games in that league (13:00) this weekend. From there, it’s on to a deep discussion on the American Athletic Conference (22:00), followed by a preview of Duke-UNC (35:00) with some seriously botched Trivia Time! in the process. The podcast wraps with a look at Michigan-Michigan State (43:30) and a debate over who should win Coach of the Year in that conference, plus a heads-up on the four leagues handing out NCAA Tournament tickets this weekend (47:00).

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Summit League Tournament preview: Can Mike Daum and the Jacks four peat?

Is anyone up to the task to stop South Dakota State?

Welcome to the South Dakota State Invitational, also known as the Summit League Tournament. It’s no coincidence that the Jackrabbits have owned the scene in Sioux Falls since Mike Daum stepped foot on campus in Brookings, South Dakota.

And it shapes up to play out the same way this season.

Just ask Ken Pomeroy. His projections give the Jackrabbits a 92.1 percent chance of beating Western Illinois to make the semifinals, and then a salty 62.3 percent chance of cutting down the Premier Center nets.

That seems good. The only thing left to do is see if Daum and Co. and make it four titles in four years.

Tournament Bracket


Summit League

Schedule

How to Watch

Quarterfinals (Sat., March 9)

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

Game 1: No. 8 Western Illinois vs. No. 1 South Dakota State, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No. 7 North Dakota vs. No. 2 Omaha, approx. 9:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Sun., March 10)

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

Game 3: No. 5 Oral Roberts vs. No. 4 North Dakota State, 7 p.m.

Game 4: No. 6 South Dakota vs. No. 3 Purdue Fort Wayne, approx. 9:30 p.m.

Semifinals (Mon., March 11)

Midco SN will air both games. ESPN+ ($) will stream both games.

Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 7 p.m.

Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, approx. 9:30 p.m.

Championship (Tue., March 12)

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Favorite

South Dakota State: At 6-foot-9, Mike Daum is obviously the player that catches everyone’s eye at first glance. But the Jackrabbits are much more than Daum. David Jenkins Jr. is everything a team could want in a second option. An uber-athletic guard who puts in 19.9 points per game, second only to Daum (25.4) in that category. Jenkins is also the league’s best 3-point shooter at 47.8 percent. Then mix in Tevin King handing out 123 assists this season, and Skyler Flatten’s 52 percent field goal percentage, and the Jackrabbits have weapons all over the court with their starting five. Where South Dakota State lacks is in the depth department. South Dakota State will usually not go more than six or seven deep into the bench, so stamina and foul trouble will be key in March.

The Contender

Omaha: If any team is going to beat the Mavericks, they’ll have to do so without forcing a lot of Omaha mistakes. The Mavericks don’t beat themselves, ranking seventh in the country in total turnovers. Mix in Zach Jackson (18.6 points per game), JT Gibson (13.6), KJ Robinson (11.6) and Mr. Do Everything Mitch Hahn (13.4) and the Mavericks have the right balance to possibly challenge for the title.

The Dark Horse

Purdue Fort Wayne: Be prepared to see plenty of long-range shots. The Mastodons will let it fly from anywhere, ranking second in the country in 3-point makes (305). Purdue Fort Wayne also shares the ball and gets everyone open looks with 16.3 assists per game. Then there’s John Konchar, who has proven he can do it all throughout the course of his career. This season he’s averaging 19.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Not to mention his 60 steals are the best in the league. Matt Holba (42.9 percent ) and Kason Harrell (39.2) are both sharpshooters from deep, dropping in better than 39 percent of their 3-point tries.

Players to watch

  • Kobe Webster (Western Illinois): Averages 16.7 points per game.
  • Emmanuel Nzekwesi (Oral Roberts): Posts 15.3 points per game, and missed both regular-season losses against North Dakota State.
  • Stanley Umude (South Dakota): Took the reigns as the Coyotes’ leading scorer and averages 14.2 points per game. Shoots at a 49 percent clip and 35.7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Vinnie Shahid (North Dakota): Junior college transfer has led the Bison in scoring at 12.6 points per game.
  • Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts): League’s top freshman is averaging 14 points off the bench.

Prediction

It will continue to be South Dakota State’s league until someone unseats them. The Jackrabbit fans will flock to Sioux Falls, and it will be three straight home games for South Dakota State. The challenge for the other seven teams in the field will be to overcome all of that.

NET/Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Friday, March 8, 2019

Rick Byrd’s Belmont Bruins take on Austin Peay in tonight’s first OVC semifinal in Evansville, Indiana.

Not only is there plenty of conference tournament action on tap today, but there are Friday finales in the ACC and Big Ten. 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 group designations in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these specifically by tip time, however, I’ve grouped them by importance.

Reminders of the different groupings:

  • Quad 1 (home games): Visitor is ranked 1-30
  • Quad 1 (away games): Host is ranked 1-75
  • Quad 2 (home games): Visitor is ranked 31-75
  • Quad 2 (away games): Host is ranked 76-135
  • Quad 3 (home games): Visitor is ranked 76-160
  • Quad 3 (away games): Host is ranked 136-240
  • Quad 4 (home games): Visitor is ranked 161-353
  • Quad 4 (away games): Host is ranked 241-353

All NET numbers are from the NCAA’s website and reflect games played through Wednesday, March 6. Records reflect games played through that same date. All times are Eastern.

31-75 at Top 75 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 2 for the host (1/2)

No. 54 Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-11, 9-10) at No. 27 Maryland Terrapins (21-9, 12-7), 7 p.m. (FS1)

While Tuesday’s win over Purdue Boilermakers shored up the Golden Gophers’ credentials, winning in College Park would likely lock up a bid for Minnesota. Note that the Terps handled Richard Pitino’s team fairly handily in Minneapolis on January 8th, 82-67. Maryland is also attempting to snap a two-game skid tonight.

76-160 at Top 75 (2 Games)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (1/3)

No. 94 Miami Hurricanes (13-16, 5-12) at No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies (22-7, 11-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 122 Bowling Green Falcons (20-10, 12-5) at No. 16 Buffalo Bulls (27-3, 15-2), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

Virginia Tech took down the struggling Hurricanes, 82-70, back on January 30th in Coral Gables, while Buffalo is looking to avenge their 92-88 loss to the Falcons at the Stroh Center. The Bulls have already locked up the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament, so a loss tonight would only be an issue for their NCAA seeding.

161-353 at Top 75 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 4 for the host (1/4)

No. 172 Saint Joseph’s Hawks (13-17, 6-11) at No. 31 VCU Rams (24-6, 15-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

VCU will look to win their 12th straight game and head to Brooklyn on a high. The Rams and Hawks have not yet met this season.

Mid-Major Games With Postseason Implications

Noted by PI in the schedule below.

Ivy League

No. 149 Brown Bears (18-10, 6-6) at No. 178 Princeton Tigers (16-9, 8-4), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 90 Yale Bulldogs (19-6, 9-3) at No. 113 Penn Quakers (17-11, 5-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 117 Harvard Crimson (16-9, 9-3) at No. 216 Cornell Big Red (13-15, 5-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have already qualified for the four-team Ivy League Tournament field, so they’re jockeying for seeding. Brown, Cornell, and Penn are in the best position to secure the fourth spot, with the Bears leading the Big Red and Quakers by a game. A win at Princeton tonight would get Brown nearly there, and definitively in if combined with Cornell and Penn losses.

OVC Semifinals

No. 4 Austin Peay Governors (22-10, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Belmont Bruins (25-4, 16-2), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (24-8, 15-3) vs. No. 2 Murray State Racers (25-4, 16-2), approx. 10:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

The top two seeds enter the fray in Evansville, looking to repeat the Thursday night success of their opponents, who both won their openers in the quarterfinal round. Austin Peay, who cruised past the Morehead State Eagles by a 95-81 score, lost their lone meeting of the season with Belmont, 96-92 at home. Murray State, meanwhile, fell at Jacksonville State, which is 3-0 against the top two seeds, 88-86 in Alabama back on January 31st. The Gamecocks took down the UT Martin Skyhawks, 88-81, last night.

Big South Semifinals

No. 6 Charleston Southern Buccaneers (17-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Radford Highlanders (21-10, 12-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)))
No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (21-11, 10-6) at No. 1 Campbell Fighting Camels (20-11, 12-4), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Three of the top four seeds won in Buies Creek yesterday with only the third-seeded Winthrop Eagles falling to Charleston Southern, 77-63. The Buccaneers will be looking to win their third victory in as many days, and they split with Radford in the regular season (with each winning at home). Host Campbell pulled away from the eighth-seeded Hampton Pirates late and will look to defeat Gardner-Webb for the second time this year. The Fighting Camels defeated the Bulldogs by a 72-61 count in the conference opener for both back on January 5th.

MVC Quarterfinals

No. 9 Valparaiso Crusaders (15-17, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (19-12, 12-6), 1 p.m. (FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
No. 5 Bradley Braves (17-14, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Missouri State Bears (16-15, 10-8), approx. 3:30 p.m. (FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
No. 7 Illinois State Redbirds (17-15, 9-9) vs. No. 2 Drake Bulldogs (23-8, 12-6), 7 p.m. (FS Midwest/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (14-17, 9-9) vs. No. 3 Southern Illinois Salukis (17-14, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m. (FS Midwest/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))

The Missouri Valley’s regular season was just a bit unpredictable, and Arch Madness could be similarly bonkers. And that’s even true with each of the matchup featuring a matchup that one team swept. While top-seeded Loyola swept ninth-seeded Valparaiso, the pair’s second meeting at the ARC was only a five-point win for the Ramblers. While No. 3 seed SIU and fourth-seeded Missouri State went 2-0 against UNI and Bradley, respectively, Illinois State swept its series with second-seeded Drake.

MAAC Quarterfinals, Night One

No. 9 Saint Peter’s Peacocks (10-21, 6-12) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels (14-15, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 7 Manhattan Jaspers (11-20, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Canisius Golden Griffins (14-16, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

The MAAC splits its quarterfinals over two nights, with the top two seeds taking on a pair of teams that won last night. In game one, Iona will look to pick up its second win of the season over Saint Peter’s, a team the Gaels met just once during the regular season. The Peacocks needed overtime to eliminate the Marist Red Foxes, 71-68, yesterday afternoon. In the nightcap, Canisius takes on a Manhattan squad it lost to at home in Buffalo on February 17th. The Jaspers also picked up a close victory on Thursday, holding off the 10th-seeded Fairfield Stags, 57-53

WCC Second Round

No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (14-17, 6-10) vs. No. 5 Loyola Marymount Lions (20-10, 8-8), 9 p.m. (BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./TheW.tv)
No. 7 San Diego Toreros (19-13, 7-9) vs. No. 6 Santa Clara Broncos (16-14, 8-8), 11:30 p.m. (BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./TheW.tv)

The WCC will continue to work through its extended ladder bracket tonight after Pepperdine eliminated the Pacific Tigers, 61-53, in the second of back-to-back games between the pair, and San Diego handed the Portland Pilots their 17th WCC loss of the season, 67-47.

Tonight, the Waves take on Southern California rivals LMU, with the pair having split their regular season games with home victories, while the Toreros meet Santa Clara for just the second time. The Broncos won the first meeting in the Bay Area by 12 on January 3rd.

SoCon First Round

No. 9 Western Carolina Catamounts (7-24, 4-14) vs. No. 8 VMI Keydets (10-20, 4-14), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 10 The Citadel Bulldogs (12-17, 4-14) vs. No. 7 Samford Bulldogs (16-15, 6-12), approx. 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Finally, the bottom four teams in the SoCon take to the floor in Asheville, with the top-seeded Wofford Terriers and No. 2 seed UNC Greensboro Spartans awaiting tonight’s winners tomorrow. VMI swept its season series with Western Carolina, while Samford and The Citadel had a home split in their series.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Afternoon Tips

MVC QF: No. 9 Valparaiso Crusaders (15-17, 7-11) vs. No. 1 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (19-12, 12-6), 1 p.m. (FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
MVC QF: No. 5 Bradley Braves (17-14, 9-9) vs. No. 4 Missouri State Bears (16-15, 10-8), approx. 3:30 p.m. (FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
PI: No. 149 Brown Bears (18-10, 6-6) at No. 178 Princeton Tigers (16-9, 8-4), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
SoCon R1: No. 9 Western Carolina Catamounts (7-24, 4-14) vs. No. 8 VMI Keydets (10-20, 4-14), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Early Evening Tips

1/2 No. 54 Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-11, 9-10) at No. 27 Maryland Terrapins (21-9, 12-7), 7 p.m. (FS1)
1/3 No. 94 Miami Hurricanes (13-16, 5-12) at No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies (22-7, 11-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/3 No. 122 Bowling Green Falcons (20-10, 12-5) at No. 16 Buffalo Bulls (27-3, 15-2), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
PI: No. 90 Yale Bulldogs (19-6, 9-3) at No. 113 Penn Quakers (17-11, 5-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI: No. 117 Harvard Crimson (16-9, 9-3) at No. 216 Cornell Big Red (13-15, 5-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big South SF: No. 6 Charleston Southern Buccaneers (17-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Radford Highlanders (21-10, 12-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)))
MVC QF: No. 7 Illinois State Redbirds (17-15, 9-9) vs. No. 2 Drake Bulldogs (23-8, 12-6), 7 p.m. (FS Midwest/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
MAAC QF: No. 9 Saint Peter’s Peacocks (10-21, 6-12) vs. No. 1 Iona Gaels (14-15, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Mid-Evening Tips

1/4 No. 172 Saint Joseph’s Hawks (13-17, 6-11) at No. 31 VCU Rams (24-6, 15-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
OVC SF: No. 4 Austin Peay Governors (22-10, 13-5) vs. No. 1 Belmont Bruins (25-4, 16-2), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
Big South SF: No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (21-11, 10-6) at No. 1 Campbell Fighting Camels (20-11, 12-4), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MVC QF: No. 6 Northern Iowa Panthers (14-17, 9-9) vs. No. 3 Southern Illinois Salukis (17-14, 10-8), approx. 9:30 p.m. (FS Midwest/MVC TV/ESPN+ ($))
MAAC QF: No. 7 Manhattan Jaspers (11-20, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Canisius Golden Griffins (14-16, 11-7), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
SoCon R1: No. 10 The Citadel Bulldogs (12-17, 4-14) vs. No. 7 Samford Bulldogs (16-15, 6-12), approx. 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
WCC R2: No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (14-17, 6-10) vs. No. 5 Loyola Marymount Lions (20-10, 8-8), 9 p.m. (BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./TheW.tv)

Late Night Tips

OVC SF: No. 3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (24-8, 15-3) vs. No. 2 Murray State Racers (25-4, 16-2), approx. 10:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
WCC R2: No. 7 San Diego Toreros (19-13, 7-9) vs. No. 6 Santa Clara Broncos (16-14, 8-8), 11:30 p.m. (BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./TheW.tv)

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Day 3 Picking The Lines

In the First Four games I went 0-2 on 16/16 games and 2-0 on 11/11 games. I could probably craft some kind of small sample size narrative out of that if I really wanted to.

Anyway, the appetizers are over and the main course is here. The best sporting event in the world is getting ready to tip off with 16 games. Let’s do this.

(on the off chance that you haven’t finished your bracket yet, you can find my full bracket breakdown here)

Yesterday ATS: 1-1-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 2-2-0
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Notre Dame (-6.5) over Princeton: As good as this Princeton team is, Notre Dame is a bad match-up for them. The Irish are very well coached, and will be prepared for the Princeton offense. At the same time, they are not dependent on the turnovers and free throws that Princeton is so good at taking away. Bonzie Colson also seems like a massive mismatch considering the Princeton front line.

Virginia (-7.5) over UNC Wilmington: Virginia is not a team that tends to play down to its competition. Their defensive pressure is so fierce, particularly against a small team that doesn’t hit outside shots particularly well. UNC Wilmington did get some easy baskets by leading the Colonial in defensive turnover rate, but Virginia is always solid with the ball.

Winthrop (+11) over Butler: The line is very fair in this game and I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. Butler is obviously very likely to win, but Winthrop is a team that can be pesky, particularly on the defensive end. Butler does not have a particularly formidable front line as far as power teams go, and Winthrop has a strong defensive interior presence in 6’8″ Xavier Cooks. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is very competitive at halftime.

South Dakota State (+22.5) at Gonzaga: South Dakota State obviously isn’t winning this game, but it will be fascinating to watch Mike Daum play against the huge Gonzaga front court. His athleticism and range will make him a difficult defensive match-up, as I’m not quite sure who Przemek Karnowski is going to be able to defend on this roster. South Dakota State got blown off the court by California and Wichita State back in non-conference play, but their level of play is so much higher now than it was a few months ago. They are an awfully difficult 16 seed, as far as potential 16 seed draws go.

West Virginia (-14) over Bucknell: Bucknell is a team that has struggled with turnovers and which has an undersized front line that doesn’t rebound well. That makes West Virginia’s frenetic press and offensive rebounding attack a nightmare match-up. I’d be stunned if Bucknell made a serious run at winning this game.

East Tennessee State (+10.5) over Florida: East Tennessee State is just an awfully dangerous 13 seed, having won at Mississippi State and nearly taking out Tennessee. Their ability to create fast break opportunities and draw contact could test a short-handed Florida front line that has been missing John Egbunu for close to a month. With the superb senior TJ Cromer as primary playmaker, East Tennessee State is built like a classic March Cinderella.

Middle Tennessee (-1) over Minnesota: I picked this 12/5 “upset” in my bracket, as much as an upset as it would be for a really good Middle Tennessee team to beat a Minnesota team that just lost Akeem Springs to a season-ending injury. Middle Tennessee picked up some “bad” losses, as mid-majors tend to do through random chance, but they’re an awfully impressive 6-1 vs Pomeroy Tier A/B opponents, including a road win at Ole Miss and a 23 point smoking of Vanderbilt. They are so balanced and steady on both sides of the ball, and I worry about Minnesota’s ability to score consistently against any kind of decent defense.

Vanderbilt (-2) over Northwestern: Vanderbilt is a tough match-up for Northwestern in two key ways. First, Luke Kornet is going to be a hassle for a Northwestern front line that gets pretty small after Dererk Pardon. Second, Vanderbilt’s tendency to launch tons of three-pointers and to score in bunches presents a problem for a Northwestern team that likes to grind out low-scoring games. The Wildcats were just 12th in tempo and 9th in offensive efficiency in Big Ten play. If Northwestern wins this game, it’ll likely be because Vanderbilt’s outside shots aren’t falling.

Xavier (+2) over Maryland: Xavier isn’t the Top 20 team that they were with Edmond Sumner, but they’ve righted the ship over the last couple of weeks and are playing solid basketball. Maryland, of course, had yet another season where luck in close games led them to finish higher in the standings than where their statistical peripherals said that they were. My biggest concern for Maryland in this game is their front line holding off a Xavier team that led the Big East in offensive rebounding rate and FTRate in conference play.

Villanova (-26.5) over Mount St. Mary’s: It’s hard to have strong feelings about a game with a spread like this. Villanova could dominate most of the game and Mount St. Mary’s could backdoor cover. The reason I’m choosing Villanova is because they have a history of not fooling around with inferior opponents, and because I think they’ll come out motivated to look good considering how disrespected they’ve been in the media heading into the Tournament. They’re perhaps the best team in the tourney and they are the defending national champs, yet you basically never hear about them.

Saint Mary’s (-4.5) over VCU: VCU can still force turnovers and score easy baskets, but it’s not the #HAVOC of old. These days they get more of their easy buckets from second chance opportunities than off of their defensive pressure, with a couple of ferocious big men in Mo Allie-Cox and Justin Tillman. But Saint Mary’s has a ton of front court talent and actually led the nation in defensive rebounding rate. None of VCU’s top seven minute earners are over 6’7″, which will make Jock Landale a match-up problem.

Vermont (+10) over Purdue: Vermont is perhaps the most dangerous of the 12/13 seeds, and I expect them to give Purdue trouble. And that is particularly because Vermont’s three-point defense is so good, and because their front line is fairly big and strong as far as America East teams go. Purdue should win, but don’t be surprised if Vermont keeps this one very competitive into the second half.

Florida State (-12) over Florida Gulf Coast: On Selection Sunday, it was odd to see the CBS folks talking about Florida Gulf Coast like this is the Andy Enfield team. But this is a very different team these days. They’re no longer #DunkCity, they’re now the team playing at the 261st fastest tempo in the nation, and which led the Atlantic Sun in defensive efficiency in conference play. The problem is that Florida Gulf Coast depends on offensive rebounding for offense, as they were dead last in the Atlantic Sun in 3P% shooting. Florida State’s defensive rebounding isn’t good, but they have a massive size advantage, and should get plenty of offensive rebounds themselves. Without a rebounding advantage, I don’t see how FGCU competes in this game.

Wisconsin (-5.5) over Virginia Tech: A lot of this game will come down to what you believe three-point defense is. Virginia Tech, of course, depends heavily on the three, as they were 3rd in the ACC in 3PA/FGA rate and hit them at a 41.4% clip in conference play. Wisconsin opponents shot 38% behind the arc this season, which puts them 305th in the nation. Modern analytics generally has found that 3P% defense is almost entirely luck, and that the real measure of three-point defense is 3PA/FGA rate, and Wisconsin was 4th best in the Big Ten there. My regular readers, of course, know that I’m with the analytic orthodoxy here. And if Virginia Tech isn’t pouring in threes, they will get annihilated on the boards, and just don’t have a defense capable of stopping an efficient offense like Wisconsin has. I’ll take the Badgers.

Arizona (-17) over North Dakota: Being a foul-prone team, as North Dakota is, is never a good sign against an Arizona team with a vast athleticism advantage and which also hit 75.8% at the line as a team this season. Also, North Dakota’s defense was strongest in its ability to force turnovers, and as a general rule I’m skeptical of high defensive turnover rates from small leagues against elite major conference talent.

Iowa State (-6.5) over Nevada: Like the Wisconsin/Virginia Tech game above, this game comes down to what you believe three-point defense is. Nevada held opponents to 30.7% three-point shooting, which was 15th best in the nation, but they were just 7th in the Mountain West in defensive 3PA/FGA ratio. Iowa State is an outside shooting team that I expect will get a lot of open shots. The Cyclones are vulnerable to big teams that can get after the glass, but Nevada is not that kind of team.

01/24: Tennessee wins close again, but was the controversial call all that controversial?

Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander open up on Tennessee’s win over Vandy to get to 17-1, then eventually touch on Grant Williams’ (11:11) campaign for NPOY. From there, the guys preview Kansas-Kentucky (19:35), Auburn-Mississippi State (26:15), Iowa State-Mississippi (30:00) and Michigan State-Purdue (32:15). They also mix in some birthday talk, as Parrish turns 49, or is it 53? OK, maybe 43. The answer is on this episode.  

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Day 4 Picking The Lines

It was a relatively quiet Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament. There were no significant upsets, no buzzer beaters, and really just a handful of tough finishes against the spread.

But don’t get down, because we have a second day coming up, and we all know that we never have a super crazy day both days of the Round of 64. Besides, even a weak day of the NCAA Tournament early rounds is still a great day of hoops.

Remember as we head into games involving teams like Oklahoma State and Wichita State which are “KenPom darlings” that nothing that happens in the NCAA Tournament justifies or disproves anything. On any given day, any team can beat any other team, and one result simply does not a sensible narrative make. When a 15 seed defeats a 2 seed, nobody says that this proves that the 15 seed should have been seeded higher or that the RPI sucks for having the 2 seed so high, so if Wichita State or Oklahoma State loses today it says literally nothing about how accurate the computer ratings are.

Yesterday ATS: 7-8-1
2017 Tournament ATS: 9-10-1 (47%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Oklahoma State (+2.5) over Michigan: I picked Oklahoma State to win this game outright. Oklahoma State has just been playing so well over the last month and has a point guard in Jawun Evans who can take over. Also, Oklahoma State’s aggressive crashing of the glass will pose problems for a Michigan team that, despite a lot of height, doesn’t really have a lot of “size” and can be out-muscled in the paint. Also, as a general rule of thumb, I like betting against teams that just pulled off miraculous conference tournament runs, as a form of statistical regression.

Baylor (-12.5) over New Mexico State: Statistically, Baylor is a hard team to figure out. New Mexico State relies heavily on second-chance points to score, and Baylor was just 201st in the nation in defensive rebounding rate, yet Baylor also led the Big 12 in defensive rebounding rate in conference play. Baylor has historically struggled at defensive rebounding under Scott Drew, but having watched them plenty this year I believe in the in-conference stats. The fact is that Baylor has played an inordinately large number of elite offensive rebounding teams. As good as New Mexico State’s rebounding stats are, they’ve been inflated by playing in such a weak conference.

Seton Hall (+1) over Arkansas: For Arkansas to win this game, they need a huge performance from Moses Kingsley. Angel Delgado is a monster for Seton Hall, and if Kingsley gets in foul trouble then the Arkansas front line drops off in quality and size very quickly. Seton Hall’s front line is very athletic and aggressive, and I don’t know if Arkansas will be able to handle that. The Razorbacks were just 13th in the SEC in defensive rebounding rate.

Iona (+15) over Oregon: Flying across the country to play Oregon doesn’t sound like fun, but at the same time it’s hard to justify a 15 point spread. Sagarin has the spread at 16, but Pomeroy only has it at 13, and Chris Boucher is a massive loss. If Oregon covers, it’ll likely be because Jordan Bell annihilated Iona on the glass. The Gaels had a miserable defensive rebounding performance in the MAAC title game, and so they’ll need to clean that up.

Jacksonville State (+19.5) over Louisville: It’s hard to totally justify a 19.5 point spread in a game that will likely be played at a slow tempo. Jacksonville State is a feisty team that both can get hot from outside and has a 7-footer who is a significant defensive presence. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Jacksonville State keeps this game competitive.

SMU (-6.5) over USC: This is a big spread, but if you believe the advanced metrics on SMU then the Mustangs are a good value here. In addition, SMU was 8th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and are going against a USC team that was 10th in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding percentage, despite a relatively tall front line. Jordan McLaughlin will be a match-up problem, but I’m skeptical that he’s good enough to overcome SMU’s overall talent advantage.

North Carolina (-26.5) over Texas Southern: Texas Southern is literally the shortest team in the nation (just one of their top six minute earners is over 6’4″), which might be a problem against a North Carolina team that has wings who are 6’8″, and which led the ACC in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Obviously the backdoor cover is always an option in a game like this, but I’d be stunned if this isn’t a rout.

Rhode Island (PK) over Creighton: Creighton hasn’t dropped off too much without Mo Watson, but their offense has become more dependent on outside shooting. They hit 40% behind the arc this season, while finishing dead last in the Big East in both offensive rebounding and FTRate. Rhode Island’s three-point defense led the Atlantic Ten, and they have a pair of athletic, aggressive front court players in Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson. In general, Rhode Island suffered through some injuries this season, but they’ve been fully healthy and rolling for over a month now, and have a chance to really open some eyes in the NCAA Tournament.

UC Davis (+23.5) over Kansas: I don’t have strong feelings about this line, as it’s fair and will likely come down to how garbage time plays out. I’m a little uncomfortable with Kansas in general, though. They’ve had a lot of luck in close games this season (11-3 in games decided by six points or fewer), and thus are rated as easily the weakest of the 1 seeds. Josh Jackson will be back, but his suspension was for an ugly situation, and the team will have his controversy swirling over them. I wouldn’t be shocked if they underperform in this NCAA Tournament.

Dayton (+6) over Wichita State: I picked Wichita State to win this game, and believe that they’ll likely win, but at some point it’s worth remembering that this is a really good Dayton team that is explosive offensively. There’s a particular concern because of Dayton’s ability to drive and draw contact – Wichita State is a deep roster, but they can be foul prone (181st in the nation in defensive FTRate). This game could come down to the final shot.

Duke (-20) over Troy: This line is bigger than the computers put it, but there’s a reason for that (and not just pro-Duke bias in public perception). Duke has suffered through a lot of injuries this season, but we knew all along that they had the most talented roster in the nation, and they’ve really showed it down the stretch. They are a better team than the computers say that they are, and I expect them to roll over Troy.

Cincinnati (-3.5) over Kansas State: Usually, Bruce Weber teams are excellent at defensive rebounding, but that is not so this year. Kansas State was 9th in the Big 12, and 296th in the nation, in defensive rebounding percentage. Gary Clark could potentially have a field day, particularly if DJ Johnson gets into foul trouble. With a Vegas line this small, just pick the team that you expect to win.

Michigan State (+2.5) over Miami-Florida: Michigan State is a freshman-heavy team, with freshmen making up four of the eight players in their regular rotation. Unsurprisingly, they’ve gotten better as the season has gone along, particularly after Miles Bridges got fully healthy. I picked them in my bracket simply because I think they’re the better team right now.

Kentucky (-20) over Northern Kentucky: I don’t have strong feelings about this spread. I chose Kentucky simply because the Wildcats have tended to out-athlete inferior opponents and run them off the court this season, rather than just letting them hang around.

Marquette (+1.5) over South Carolina: I chose Marquette to win this game in my bracket. South Carolina is a team with an ugly offense that has been in a slow fade for months, having gone just 3-7 vs Pomeroy Tier A/B opponents since January 20th. As a rule of thumb, I always like to bet against teams that are significantly over-seeded, and no team is more over-seeded in this year’s bracket than South Carolina.

Kent State (+18.5) over UCLA: UCLA has become a very “public” team this season, so it’s not surprising that the Vegas line is a 2-3 points away from where the computers have it. That said, there are no obvious mis-matches in this game aside from UCLA just being a better team, so I don’t have strong opinions on this spread, other than just fading the public.

Never Made the Tournament Club, 3/7: TUMBLING DOWN

A 1-5 night for the NMTC has broken Tristan Jung’s brain.

Welcome back to the Never Made the Tournament Club, where we track the teams that have never made the NCAA Tournament.

There only one song fitting for what happened in the Never Made the Tournament Club last night.

For the sane people of the world who have never watched Hideaki Anno’s famous anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, this song comes at the end of the finale feature film entitled The End of Evangelion. The entire planet has been destroyed in Third Impact due to the success of Gendo’s Human Instrumentality—you know what, I’m not going to even try to explain the most depressing and complicated piece of animated television ever produced. What am I going to do is explain just how bad the NMTC was last night. Remember, this was supposed to be our banner night. There were six teams playing in primetime. This was Der Tag, The Day, Nuestro Día, what the whole article series had been waiting for.

Things were looking good around 7:45 p.m. Sacred Heart had battled back from an early deficit against LIU-Brooklyn. St. Francis (NY) was dominating Robert Morris and was about to take a 15-point lead into halftime. Big underdogs like Bryant and SIU-Edwardsville were keeping things competitive. Youngstown State was making a game of it against Oakland, and Detroit was even in position to take out Northern Kentucky, which would’ve been a nice bonus. Then it all returned to nothing and came tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down.

The song linked earlier is called “Komm Süsser Tod”, which translates to “Come Sweet Death” in German. Evangelion, like the Never Made the Tournament Club, is not a show of hope, but a show of defiance and agony in the face of Kafka-esque systems of power. Unlike the NMTC, Evangelion is also about Christianity, our relationship to technology, bad parenting, love and loss, postmodernist art, the nature of television—alright, alright I’ll stick with the first one. Although Sacred Heart basketball embodies many of these themes (including the Christian overtones), the Evangelion subplot it embodied most last night was total existential dread. The Pioneers hadn’t won a NEC Tournament game since March 5, 2009. They were the No. 3 seed and given a 69% chance of advancing. They were winning at halftime, winning with eight minutes left and within a possession at the under four timeout. They lost 71-62 after shooting 2-of-19 from three. Cool beans.

But that’s alright, because the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers were comfortably dispatching Robert Morris in Pittsburgh. The Terriers are the oldest collegiate basketball team in New York City and one of the Founding Fathers. They have been playing basketball since the McKinley administration, and were another solid bet to make it out of the NEC. They had a 96.2% chance of winning the game with under five minutes left. Then, everything started tumbling down. Robert Morris tied it, and St. Francis’ potential game-winning layup was blocked by Malik Petteway. The Terriers proceeded to eject in overtime.


KENPOM

Alright, next we have Youngstown State. No one really expected the Penguins to defeat Oakland. Having the No. 317 defense in the country just wasn’t going to work against Oakland’s No. 100 offense. But the Penguins tried…

As always, they tried very hard. In a bizarre 88-84 loss, the Penguins shot 46% from the floor and kept it close for the entire game. Unfortunately, Oakland shot FORTY-FIVE free throws to just 10 for Youngstown State. The Penguins lost, predictably. Of course, there’s somehow a relevant Evangelion angle:


You know what’s cooler than three single-digit NMTC losses? How about five single-digit NMTC losses. Bryant was the least likely team to win last night, but somehow kept St. Francis PA within reach for the entire game. It all came to nought. They lost 67-63. The other unlikely squad, SIU-Edwardsville, somehow had a 56-55 lead over Morehead State with 7:39 remaining. They lost 72-68.

Aside from being an entirely serious parody (trust me) of the mecha genre of Japanese anime, Evangelion is noted for repeatedly roasting typical “otaku” fans of television programs who never leave their homes. There is a scene in The End of Evangelion where director Hideaki Anno turned the camera back on the audience watching the film, replete with awkward shots of body pillows and cosplay. I can’t help but feel that last night was college basketball’s version of this, a jokingly earnest call for me to stop writing this column and enjoy my life.

But, like the “somewhat” hopeful ending of the series, hopeful in that Shinji stopped Gendo’s apocalyptic plan to reunite with Shinji’s dead mother, in some respect, which left at least two humans to rebuild the destroyed planet (which you could argue sets up the world of Gurren Lagann, another acclaimed Gainax project with vast themes of authoritarianism and individual freedom)…the NMTC provided me with some fleeting reason to keep watching. There isn’t a kickass theme song, but the UT-Martin Skyhawks saved everyone by defeating a very bad Eastern Illinois team 78-71. It was not pretty. Eastern Illinois plays the most annoying 2-3 Zone I’ve ever seen, but they succeeded with it as the Skyhawks’ Craig Randall shot 1-of-10 from three. Eventually, the 2-3 turned into a matchup zone, and then just pure chaos as players got tired. UT-Martin took advantage and sealed the game. Hooray! A win! If only that win came in a conference without three great teams that are better than all the rest! If only they had better than a 16% chance of beating Jacksonville State.

Today’s games

Big South

(7) Presbyterian vs. (2) Radford (ESPN3) – 12:00 p.m. [34%]

This game is going on as I write this! Go watch! Presbyterian could legitimately win this!

(5) High Point vs. (4) Gardner-Webb (ESPN3) – 8:00 p.m. [High Point 56%]

It seems like the Big South has a NMTC vs. NMTC game every year. High Point, coached by post-Memphis disaster Tubby Smith, is a slight favorite.

ASUN

(5) NJIT at (1) Lipscomb (ESPN+) – 8:00 p.m. [11%]

The Highlanders have a very tough matchup against Lipscomb. No matter what happens, the winner must make sure Liberty loses, for Bill Walton’s sake.

Patriot League

(6) Army at (3) Lehigh – (Patriot League’s streaming service) – 7:00 p.m. [22%]

TROOPS BACK! Interestingly, Army is the worst school in the country in block percentage.

Ohio Valley

(7) UT-Martin vs. (3) Jackonsville State (ESPN+) – 9:30 p.m. [16%]

Sigh, I hope this works.

Housekeeping note: there are no NMTC games on Friday, which means I have conference tournament recap duty on Thursday before the column returns for a huge day on Saturday.

Coming back next year…

Bryant
Cal Baptist (transitioning to D1)
Incarnate Word (will miss the Southland Tournament)
Kennesaw State
North Alabama (transitioning to D1)
Sacred Heart
SIU-Edwardsville
St. Francis (NY)
Stetson (missed ASUN Tournament)
Youngstown State

THE NEVER MADE THE TOURNAMENT CLUB CLASS OF 2019

America East: Hartford Hawks, Maine Black Bears, New Hampshire Wildcats, UMass Lowell River Hawks

Atlantic Sun: Kennesaw State Owls, North Alabama Lions (NEW MEMBER!!), NJIT Highlanders, Stetson Hatters (GOAT NAME)

Big Sky: Sacramento State Hornets

Big South: Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, High Point Panthers, Longwood Lancers, Presbyterian Blue Hose, South Carolina Upstate Spartans,

Big West: UC Riverside Highlanders

CAA: William & Mary Tribe, Elon Phoenix

Horizon League: Youngstown State Penguins

MAAC: Quinnipiac Bobcats

MEAC: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Savannah State Tigers, Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks

Northeast Conference: Bryant Bulldogs, St. Francis (NY) Terriers, Sacred Heart Pioneers

Ohio Valley Conference: SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, Tennessee-Martin SkyHawks

Patriot League: Army Black Knights

SoCon: The Citadel Bulldogs

Southland Conference: Abilene Christian Wildcats, Central Arkansas Bears, Incarnate Word Cardinals

SWAC: Grambling Tigers (BACK AT IT)

Summit: Denver Pioneers, IPFW Mastodons, Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, South Dakota Coyotes, Western Illinois Leathernecks

WAC: California Baptist Lancers (NEW MEMBER!!) Chicago State Cougars, Grand Canyon Antelopes, Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, Utah Valley Wolverines, UMKC Kangaroos

NET/Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cincinnati held off UCF at home back on February 21st. Tonight, the Bearcats head to Orlando to take on the Knights, who are fresh off a huge Saturday win at Houston.

A big contest in the American and the ASUN semifinals highlight Thursday’s college hoops slate. For a more traditional look at the schedule, visit MattSarzSports.com.

Reminders of the different groupings:

  • Quad 1 (home games): Visitor is ranked 1-30
  • Quad 1 (away games): Host is ranked 1-75
  • Quad 2 (home games): Visitor is ranked 31-75
  • Quad 2 (away games): Host is ranked 76-135
  • Quad 3 (home games): Visitor is ranked 76-160
  • Quad 3 (away games): Host is ranked 136-240
  • Quad 4 (home games): Visitor is ranked 161-353
  • Quad 4 (away games): Host is ranked 241-353

All NET numbers are from the NCAA’s website and reflect games played through Wednesday, March 6. Records reflect games played through that same date. All times are Eastern.

Top 30 at Top 75 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for both the host and visitor (1/1)

On Saturday, the Knights solidified their NCAA chances by winning at Houston. They can move closer to lock status by handling the Bearcats, who only won by five in Cincy, back in Orlando.

31-75 at Top 75 (1 Game)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 2 for the host (1/2)

No. 41 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8) at No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (20-9, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Not only are the Hawkeyes looking to snap a two-game skid and avoid being swept by the Badgers, they’ll have to do so without head coach Fran McCaffery, who still has a game left on his suspension.

31-75 at 76-135 (2 Games)

Quad 2 for both the host and the visitor (2/2)

No. 57 Temple Owls (21-8, 11-5) at No. 96 UConn Huskies (14-15, 5-11), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 56 Indiana Hoosiers (15-14, 6-12) at No. 95 Illinois Fighting Illini (11-18, 7-11), 8 p.m. (FS1)

Both Temple and Indiana sit just on the right side of the cut line. If either loses on the road tonight, they’ll be out. Both are looking to complete season sweeps of their respective opponents.

76-160 at Top 75 (4 Games)

Quad 1 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (1/3)

No. 112 SMU Mustangs (13-15, 5-11) at No. 6 Houston Cougars (27-2, 14-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 111 UCLA Bruins (16-13, 9-7) at No. 75 Colorado Buffaloes (17-11, 8-8), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Remember that Houston travels to Cincinnati on Sunday with the American Athletic title on the line, though the Cougars can clinch a tie at worst by sweeping SMU as long as the Bearcats lose in Orlando.

As for the Colorado-UCLA game, the only real interesting aspect is the Buffaloes’ potential presence in the NET top 75, which would give Washington another Quad 1 win. (The Huskies won in Boulder on January 12th.)

76-160 at 76-135 (1 Game)

Quad 2 for the visitor only; Quad 3 for the host (2/3)

No. 88 USC Trojans (15-14, 8-8) at No. 104 Utah Utes (15-13, 9-7), 10 p.m. (FS1)

With neither of these teams in the top 75, there’s really not much drama here. Much like the game in Boulder, this will affect the Pac-12 Tournament picture more than the NCAA one.

ASUN Semifinals

No. 3 North Florida Ospreys (16-16, 9-7) at No. 2 Liberty Flames (26-6, 14-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 5 NJIT Highlanders (21-11, 8-8) at No. 1 Lipscomb Bisons (24-6, 14-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

The top two teams in the ASUN—by some distance—look to advance to Sunday’s final, which Lipscomb would host with a win over NJIT, which the Bisons swept. However, the pair’s meeting in Nashville on February 25th was very close, an 81-77 victory for the home team. Liberty, on the other hand, lost to UNF in Jacksonville, 75-70, on February 23rd. The Ospreys happen to be the hottest team in the conference, having won seven straight.

Big South Quarterfinals

No. 7 Presbyterian Blue Hose (18-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Radford Highlanders (20-10, 12-4), 12 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 6 Charleston Southern Buccaneers (16-14, 9-7) vs. No. 3 Winthrop Eagles (18-11, 10-6), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 8 Hampton Pirates (15-15, 9-7) at No. 1 Campbell Fighting Camels (19-11, 12-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 5 High Point Panthers (16-14, 9-7) vs. No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (20-11, 10-6), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

It’s an interesting set of quarterfinals for the Big South, with Radford (1-0 against Presbyterian this season) and Winthrop (2-0 against Charleston Southern) looking to stay perfect against their respective opponents in the day session. Meanwhile, both evening games are rubber matches, with the home teams being dominant in both matchups. Remember that Campbell will host Friday’s semifinals even with a loss tonight. Sunday’s championship game, however, would shift to the highest-remaining seed’s home arena if the Fighting Camels happen to lose tonight (or tomorrow, for that matter).

Patriot League Quarterfinals

No. 8 Boston University Terriers (15-17, 7-11) at No. 1 Colgate Raiders (21-10, 13-5), 7 p.m. (PLN)
No. 5 Navy Midshipmen (11-18, 7-10) at No. 4 American Eagles (15-14, 9-9), 7 p.m. (PLN/NBCS Washington Plus)
No. 10 Holy Cross Crusaders (16-16, 6-12) at No. 2 Bucknell Bison (19-11, 13-5), 7 p.m. (PLN/Stadium)
No. 6 Army West Point Black Knights (13-18, 8-10) at No. 3 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (19-10, 12-6), 7 p.m. (PLN/Service Electric 2 Sports)

Holy Cross was the only road team to win its conference tournament opener on Tuesday, and the squad that won four straight road games to earn the Patriot’s auto bid in 2016 heads to Bucknell tonight in its attempt to match that feat. The Bison and Crusaders split this season’s series, with each team winning on its own floor. It’s a similar story for Navy and American, while top-seed Colgate and Boston University were the oddballs with a road split. Lehigh, the third seed, is the only squad attempting to defeat its quarterfinal foe, Army West Point, for a third time on the year.

OVC Quarterfinals

No. 5 Morehead State Eagles (13-19, 8-10) vs. No. 4 Austin Peay Governors (21-10, 13-5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 7 UT Martin Skyhawks (12-18, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (23-8, 15-3), approx. 10 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

While APSU swept its season series with Morehead State, 72-68 victors over the SIU Edwardsville Cougars last night, UT Martin won its lone meeting of the season with Belmont’s bogey team, Jacksonville State. UT Martin pulled off the mild upset in the 6/7 game last night, 78-71 over the Eastern Illinois Panthers.

MAAC First Round

No. 9 Saint Peter’s Peacocks (9-21, 6-12) vs. No. 8 Marist Red Foxes (12-18, 7-11), 5 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 10 Fairfield Stags (9-21, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Manhattan Jaspers (10-20, 8-10), approx. 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 11 Niagara Purple Eagles (13-18, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (11-20, 10-8), approx. 10 p.m. (ESPN3)

The MAAC was a mess this year, with four teams finishing at 11-7, a game behind top-seeded Iona Gaels, who ended at 12-6. With all 11 teams traveling to Albany, 10-8 Monmouth is the unlucky team with a winning conference record forced to play the extra game tonight. Making matters worse for the Hawks, they lost at Niagara in the pair’s only meeting of the season. Marist swept Saint Peter’s in a pair of contests, while Manhattan and Fairfield—a matchup of two coaches on the hot seat in the Jaspers’ Steve Masiello and the Stags’ Sydney Johnson—feature in yet another home-split rubber match.

MVC First Round

No. 9 Valparaiso Crusaders (14-17, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Indiana State Sycamores (15-15, 7-11), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)/MVC TV/FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus)
No. 10 Evansville Purple Aces (11-20, 5-13) vs. No. 7 Illinois State Redbirds (16-15, 9-9), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)/MVC TV/FS Midwest Plus/NBCS Chicago Plus)

The Valley was yet another conference that saw its teams beat each other up for three months, with Illinois State finishing just three games out of first. Both I-State teams will be aiming to defeat their lower-seeded foes for a third time.

WCC First Round

No. 9 Pacific Tigers (14-17, 4-12) vs. No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (13-17, 6-10), 9 p.m. (TheW.tv/BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./Root Sports)
No. 10 Portland Pilots (7-24, 0-16) vs. No. 7 San Diego Toreros (18-13, 7-9), approx. 11:30 p.m. (TheW.tv/BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./Root Sports)

Then there’s the WCC, which features a Portland squad that’s lost 17 straight, including each and every conference game up to this point. So, San Diego will naturally be looking for a third victory over the Pilots in the nightcap. In the opener, it’s Pacific looking to stay perfect in its series against Pepperdine, even though the Waves finished two games ahead of the Tigers in the standings.

Remember that the WCC brought back its ladder format this season, with the fifth and sixth seeds entering the fray tomorrow night in Vegas.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Daytime Tips

Big South QF: No. 7 Presbyterian Blue Hose (18-14, 9-7) vs. No. 2 Radford Highlanders (20-10, 12-4), 12 p.m. (ESPN3)
Big South QF: No. 6 Charleston Southern Buccaneers (16-14, 9-7) vs. No. 3 Winthrop Eagles (18-11, 10-6), approx. 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
MAAC R1: No. 9 Saint Peter’s Peacocks (9-21, 6-12) vs. No. 8 Marist Red Foxes (12-18, 7-11), 5 p.m. (ESPN3)

Early Evening Tips

1/1 No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats (25-4, 14-2) at No. 29 UCF Knights (22-6, 12-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 40 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8) at No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (20-9, 12-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
2/2 No. 57 Temple Owls (21-8, 11-5) at No. 93 UConn Huskies (14-15, 5-11), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
ASUN SF: No. 3 North Florida Ospreys (16-16, 9-7) at No. 2 Liberty Flames (26-6, 14-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big South QF: No. 8 Hampton Pirates (15-15, 9-7) at No. 1 Campbell Fighting Camels (19-11, 12-4), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
OVC QF: No. 5 Morehead State Eagles (13-19, 8-10) vs. No. 4 Austin Peay Governors (21-10, 13-5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Patriot League QF: No. 8 Boston University Terriers (15-17, 7-11) at No. 1 Colgate Raiders (21-10, 13-5), 7 p.m. (PLN)
Patriot League QF: No. 5 Navy Midshipmen (11-18, 7-10) at No. 4 American Eagles (15-14, 9-9), 7 p.m. (PLN/NBCS Washington Plus)
Patriot League QF: No. 10 Holy Cross Crusaders (16-16, 6-12) at No. 2 Bucknell Bison (19-11, 13-5), 7 p.m. (PLN/Stadium)
Patriot League QF: No. 6 Army West Point Black Knights (13-18, 8-10) at No. 3 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (19-10, 12-6), 7 p.m. (PLN/Service Electric 2 Sports)
MAAC R1: No. 10 Fairfield Stags (9-21, 6-12) vs. No. 7 Manhattan Jaspers (10-20, 8-10), approx. 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
MVC R1: No. 9 Valparaiso Crusaders (14-17, 7-11) vs. No. 8 Indiana State Sycamores (15-15, 7-11), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)/MVC TV/FS Midwest/NBCS Chicago Plus)

Mid-Evening Tips

2/2 No. 55 Indiana Hoosiers (15-14, 6-12) at No. 92 Illinois Fighting Illini (11-18, 7-11), 8 p.m. (FS1)
ASUN SF: No. 5 NJIT Highlanders (21-11, 8-8) at No. 1 Lipscomb Bisons (24-6, 14-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
Big South QF: No. 5 High Point Panthers (16-14, 9-7) vs. No. 4 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (20-11, 10-6), approx. 8:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Late Evening Tips

1/3 No. 114 SMU Mustangs (13-15, 5-11) at No. 6 Houston Cougars (27-2, 14-2), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
1/3 No. 109 UCLA Bruins (16-13, 9-7) at No. 75 Colorado Buffaloes (17-11, 8-8), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
OVC QF: No. 7 UT Martin Skyhawks (12-18, 6-12) vs. No. 3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (23-8, 15-3), approx. 10 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
MAAC R1: No. 11 Niagara Purple Eagles (13-18, 6-12) vs. No. 6 Monmouth Hawks (11-20, 10-8), approx. 10 p.m. (ESPN3)
MVC R1: No. 10 Evansville Purple Aces (11-20, 5-13) vs. No. 7 Illinois State Redbirds (16-15, 9-9), approx. 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)/MVC TV/FS Midwest Plus/NBCS Chicago Plus)
WCC R1: No. 9 Pacific Tigers (14-17, 4-12) vs. No. 8. Pepperdine Waves (13-17, 6-10), 9 p.m. (TheW.tv/BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./Root Sports)

Late Night Tips

2/3 No. 84 USC Trojans (15-14, 8-8) at No. 105 Utah Utes (15-13, 9-7), 10 p.m. (FS1)
WCC R1: No. 10 Portland Pilots (7-24, 0-16) vs. No. 7 San Diego Toreros (18-13, 7-9), approx. 11:30 p.m. (TheW.tv/BYU TV/Spectrum Sportsnet/AT&T SN Rocky Mtn./Root Sports)

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Conference Tournament Recap: Blackbirds singing

LIU is back, St. Francis implodes and NKU advances.

Forgive me for my Beatles reference.

Last night was a strange, but compelling night in the land of mid-major conference tournaments. The major drama came in the NEC, where St. Francis Brooklyn blew a 55-47 lead with under five minutes to go and lost in overtime to Robert Morris. It was, frankly, agonizing for the Terriers, who will go yet another year without making the NCAA Tournament.

The LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds got things started at 6 p.m. with a narrow win over Sacred Heart. LIU-Brooklyn was last year’s NCAA Tournament representative from the NEC, but a difficult 15-15 regular season left them with a six seed. But Derek Kellogg’s group is peaking right now. The 71-62 win over Sacred Heart was their fourth straight win. In a wide-open NEC, it’s hard to count out the Blackbirds right now.

Bryant kept things close against St. Francis, but lost 67-63. Lastly, Fairleigh Dickinson obliterated Wagner 84-46. It’s a stinging loss for Wagner, which dominated the conference in 2016 and 2018.

The Horizon League had a very different tone. In those two games, defense was merely a theoretical concept. Youngstown State bothered Greg Kampe’s Oakland side early, but Oakland’s measured response ensured an 88-84 win (also helped by a +35 free throw differential). With five straight wins, the Grizzlies also appear to be getting hot at the right time. In the other game, Northern Kentucky defeated Detroit Mercy 99-88. Despite 30 points from Detroit’s Antoine Davis, the Norse tore apart Detroit’s defense in the second half en route to the victory. Tyler Sharpe’s 25 points led the way for the Norse, who will play Oakland next Monday.

There were more close games in the Ohio Valley. SIU Edwardsville surprised everyone by keeping Morehead State within range, but a second-half comeback ultimately fell short. In the second game in Evansville, UT-Martin survived a brilliant game from Eastern Illinois’ Josiah Wallace, who scored 26 points and was unstoppable in the paint. UT-Martin was down 38-36 at the half, but the sixth-seeded Skyhawks eventually wore down Eastern Illinois’ defense and forced a series of turnovers to close the game out.

That was all from the conference tournaments, but there was a ridiculous box score in Houston as Houston Baptist beat Incarnate Word 118-111, the fourth time Houston Baptist has scored 100 points this season. Houston Baptist averaged a ludicrous 1.48 points per possession and allowed an equally ludicrous 1.39 points per possession to Incarnate Word’s No. 289 Kenpom offense. Who needs defenses?!

Day 5 Picking The Lines

People are complaining about how chalky the NCAA Tournament has been. It’s the first year without a 13+ seed in the second round since 2007, and even the 12 seed that won (Middle Tennessee) was favored in Vegas. But despite that, we have had some really good basketball games, and the lack of upsets sets us up for some absolutely fantastic second round match-ups. First round upsets are all fun and games until you end up spending your Saturday or Sunday watching a 12 and 13 seed playing each other. This weekend will, instead, be packed with great match-ups.

There are no bad teams left. Every team tipping off today has a legitimate argument that they deserve to be here, and should expect to be competitive. Let’s get to the match-ups:

Yesterday ATS: 9-6-1
2017 Tournament ATS: 18-16-2 (53%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

West Virginia (-2.5) over Notre Dame: Notre Dame’s depth and front court size are going to be tested by Press Virginia. Matt Farrell has been perhaps the most improved player in the nation this season, and his ability to take care of the ball against relentless pressure will be key to the Irish potentially winning this game. One other advantage that Notre Dame has is their 79.5% free throw shooting considering how much West Virginia fouls. But aside from their match-up advantages, West Virginia has simply been the better team this season.

Villanova (-6) over Wisconsin: This game is an interesting contrast in styles. On one hand, Villanova is going to struggle to defend both Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes in the post, as they just don’t have much big man depth after Darryl Reynolds. On the other hand, Villanova’s wings are so explosive and athletic that I’m not sure how Wisconsin can defend all of them either. Villanova is also a team that is awfully efficient offensively, while Wisconsin is a team that can get into a rut when their outside shots aren’t falling (they were falling, of course, in that Virginia Tech game). In the end, it’s a tough call on this spread. I’m going with Villanova because they hit 79.2% at the free throw line this season, so if they’re winning at all in the final minute I think they’ll hit enough free throws to cover.

Gonzaga (-11) over Northwestern: This is a big spread, but it’s a fair spread. The difference in this game, more than anything, is Gonzaga’s ridiculous size and height. In the first round, Dererk Pardon was able to defend 7-footer Luke Kornet by using his physicality and shoving the skinny Kornet out of the way, but that isn’t going to fly against the monstrous Przemek Karnowski. Without much in the way out of outside shooting (Northwestern was 13th in the Big Ten with 30.9% three-point shooting in conference play), I expect Gonzaga’s ownership of the paint to deliver a victory.

Xavier (+6.5) over Florida State: Florida State is the better team, but not by much, and this game could easily go down to the final possession. Florida State is a massive team, but they’re vulnerable to teams that are aggressive in the paint. Xavier, who led the Big East in offensive rebounding rate and FTRate, fit that bill. That said, if there’s a quick whistle for both teams, Florida State has significantly more depth.

Butler (-3.5) over Middle Tennessee: Middle Tennessee was a one point favorite against Minnesota, so it wasn’t even an “upset” when they crushed Minnesota (that final score was deceptively close, to be honest). This Middle Tennessee team is awfully good, and it’s a shame that RPI obsession would’ve relegated them to the NIT had they failed to win the Conference USA tournament. But Butler is not short-handed Minnesota, and their ability to pass the ball and executive on offense will challenge a Middle Tennessee defense that is not particularly strong inside. With a spread this small I’d only take Middle Tennessee if you really think they’re going to win, and I expect Butler to pull this one out.

Saint Mary’s (+5) over Arizona: I chose Saint Mary’s to win this game outright in my bracket. Offensively, they are one of the most efficient teams in the nation, and can light up the scoreboard with 40% three-point shooting. Defensively, they have enough size to hang with Arizona. Jock Landale vs Lauri Markkanen will be a hell of a match-up. Despite the Vegas line, most computer ratings have this game significantly closer – basically a toss-up. I’ll take the points.

Virginia (+2) over Florida: This is an Elite 8 game in the 2nd round. The two teams are 8th and 9th in the Pomeroy ratings at the moment, and both are among the best defensive teams in the nation. Considering that Florida will likely not be getting as many baskets as they usually get off of turnovers, this game will likely come down to whether or not Florida hits their outside shots at a high rate. This is definitely a game to enjoy, but it’s not really one where anybody can have a strong opinion on who should be favored. Personally, I just think Virginia is a slightly better team than an Egbunu-less Florida.

Purdue (PK) over Iowa State: I took Purdue in my bracket simply because I think they’re a really tough match-up for Iowa State. The size that they bring with Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas is going to be so hard for Iowa State to deal with. Outside of 6’8″ freshman Solomon Young, Iowa State’s only big man is 6’5″ Deonte Burton. And defensively, I’m not sure that I buy that Iowa State will have big mismatches with Burton against defenders like Haas – if it is Burton and not Monte Morris who is Iowa State’s primary playmaker then that is a huge problem for the Cyclones. Purdue’s three-point defense is very strong as well.