NCAA Regional in Syracuse Seeing Lowest Prices Remaining Among Host Sites

The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. will play host to the East Regional Sweet 16 and Elite Eight this season. The teams in the East division have surprised the nation, specifically North Carolina State and Michigan State. The top two seeds in this bracket have been eliminated in the round of 32, which puts the Oklahoma Sooners as the top seed in the East division. This makes every match up more competitive, and that means exciting hoops for fans in the Syracuse area.

According to TiqIQ, this high level of hoops competition can be seen for relatively inexpensive prices. The average price for an all-sessions pass to the East Regional is $282.57 on the secondary market. However, passes can be purchased for as low as $61.00 on the secondary market. The first session on March 27th go for $189.85 on the secondary market, and the second is going for $143.40. However, tickets can be purchased for $57.00 and $39.00 respectively. These are the lowest get-in prices of any regional bracket.

With the lowest ticket prices of any regional bracket, you can take the savings to Hipmunk.com to plan your March Madness viewing weekend. According to Hipmunk, thousands of Syracuse flights can be searched with only a few clicks to make reserving your accommodations as easy as possible.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the world in the round of 32 when they defeated the Villanova Wildcats in the round of 32. They were able to exploit the Wildcats inside with the dribble penetration of Cat Barber, and the rebounding dominance of Abdul-Malik Abu, who scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. They face a completely different animal in Montrezl Harrell and the Louisville Cardinals. Harrell is one of the best players in the country, and averages close to a double-double every night (15.4 points, 9.2 rebounds). NC State will have it’s handful with Harrell, but the battle between Harrell and Abu should be one to watch.

The Michigan State Spartans have also surprised many. Most considered the Spartans to have had a disappointing season, but they have turned it on in the tournament. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine have been playing like men possessed, both averaging over 14 points per game. Their exploitation of Virginia’s top-ranked defense was a performance that has not been repeated so far this season. However, they have to deal with the likes of Buddy Hield, who could end up being the player of the year in the NCAA tournament depending on Oklahoma’s success. Given the fact that the top teams in the bracket are out, Oklahoma has a rare opportunity to perhaps advance to the Final Four.

Although the Orange aren’t in the tournament this season, the fans in the area should be in a great position to see some great basketball. These tickets are some of the cheapest in the whole tournament at this stage, and it’s a great opportunity to see some excellent basketball.

03/03: THIS. IS. MARCH.

That gift off the top — that’s for you, listeners. Thank you for subscribing. Please, if you could, rate the pod five stars and leave an good comment! 

On this episode, Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander open with the wild scene at Utah State over the weekend, in which Nevada got beat by the Aggies and then a fracas in the hallway behind the scenes went viral. From there, the guys get to Tennessee throttling UK (22:45), and also talk LSU and its No. 1 seed chances. This week’s special segment is a throwback to the early part of the season, when Norlander promised Wofford would be a good (44:00). It’s an absolute must-listen. Then, it’s time for some WIDE-RANGING bubble talk (61:00) as the guy touch on almost every team’s results from the weekend that had bubble impact and more. 

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Bracketology Seed List For Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Pretty sure Virginia just hit another three at the Carrier Dome.

Virginia solidified its hold on the No. 1 overall seed by pulling away from the second half on Monday night.

Today’s full bracket post (will go live when it’s published)

Notes:

  • Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses.
  • Arrows indicate movement up or down the seed list (down to the spot on the seed list). This is relative to Monday’s list. Changes noted on the full bracket are relative to last last Tuesday’s full projection.
  • 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 Group 1 and Group 2 games/record in Group 1 games only. Overall records and NET data reflect games played through Monday, March 4. I pulled the quality win info from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets.

No. 1 Seeds

(1) Virginia Cavaliers (ACC) (27-2/15/10) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Columbus 1
(2) Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC) (29-2/12/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 1
(3) Duke Blue Devils (25-4/14/8) – LOUISVILLE – Columbia 1
(4) Kentucky Wildcats (24-5/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Columbus 2

No. 2 Seeds

(5) North Carolina Tar Heels (24-5/14/8) – KANSAS CITY – Columbia 2
(6) Tennessee Volunteers (25-3/12/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 1
(7) Michigan Wolverines (26-4/17/8) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Des Moines 1
(8) Michigan State Spartans (23-6/14/10) – ANAHEIM – Des Moines 2

No. 3 Seeds

(9) LSU Tigers (SEC) (24-5/16/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tulsa 1
(10) Kansas Jayhawks (22-7/15/10) – KANSAS CITY – Tulsa 2
(11) Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten) (22-7/15/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 2
(12) Houston Cougars (American) (27-2/13/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 2

No. 4 Seeds

(13) Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-5/15/5) – LOUISVILLE – San José 1
(14) Virginia Tech Hokies (22-6/10/4) – ANAHEIM – Hartford 1
(15) Marquette Golden Eagles (23-6/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Hartford 2
(16) Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12) (23-7/12/7) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – San José 2

No. 5 Seeds

(17) Florida State Seminoles (23-6/11/5)
(18) Wisconsin Badgers (20-9/13/8)
(19) Villanova Wildcats (Big East) (22-8/15/4)
(20) Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-8/11/8)

No. 6 Seeds

(21) Maryland Terrapins (21-9/12/6)
(22) Cincinnati Bearcats (25-4/10/4)
(23) Wofford Terriers (SoCon) (23-4/7/3)
(24) Nevada Wolf Pack (26-3/8/1)

No. 7 Seeds

(25) Buffalo Bulls (MAC) (25-3/7/2)
(26) Iowa State Cyclones (20-9/9/5)
(27) Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8/11/4)
(28) VCU Rams (A 10) (23-6/6/2)

No. 8 Seeds

(29) Baylor Bears (19-10/12/4)
(30) Auburn Tigers (19-9/11/2)
(31) Ole Miss Rebels (19-10/7/4)
(↑32) Washington Huskies (Pac-12) (23-6/8/2)

No. 9 Seeds

(↑33) Louisville Cardinals (19-11/8/4)
(↓34) Syracuse Orange (19-11/8/3)
(35) Oklahoma Sooners (18-11/9/3)
(36) UCF Knights (22-6/7/1)

No. 10 Seeds

(37) Utah State Aggies (MW) (23-6/4/2)
(↑38) Florida Gators (17-12/8/3)
(39) Ohio State Buckeyes (18-11/8/4)
(↑40) N.C. State Wolfpack (20-9/7/2)

No. 11 Seeds

(↑41) Belmont Bruins (OVC) (24-4/5/2)
(↑42) Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9/10/3)
(↑43) Lipscomb Bisons (ASUN) (22-6/3/2)
(↓44) Texas Longhorns (16-14/9/5)

No. 12 Seeds

(↓45) TCU Horned Frogs (18-12/7/2)
(46) Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-11/9/2)
(47 – First Four) St. John’s Red Storm (20-10/10/6)
(48 – First Four) Clemson Tigers (17-12/5/1)
(49 – First Four) Temple Owls (21-8/6/1)
(50 – First Four) Alabama Crimson Tide (17-12/9/2)

First Four Out (NIT No. 1 Seeds)

(69) Seton Hall Pirates (16-12/10/4)
(↑70) Indiana Hoosiers (15-14/7/6)
(↑71) Creighton Bluejays (15-13/9/3)
(↓72) Georgetown Hoyas (18-11/9/3)

Next Four Out

(↓73) Xavier Musketeers (16-13/9/3)
(↓74) Furman Paladins (21-6/4/1)
(↓75) Oregon Ducks (17-12/4/1)
(↓76) Murray State Racers (23-4/1/0)

No. 13 Seeds

(51) New Mexico State Aggies (WAC)
(52) Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA)
(53) Vermont Catamounts (America East)
(54) Hofstra Pride (CAA)

No. 14 Seeds

(55) UC Irvine Anteaters (Big West)
(56) South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Summit)
(57) Harvard Crimson (Ivy)
(58) Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky)

No. 15 Seeds

(59) Georgia State Panthers (Sun Belt)
(60) Loyola Chicago Ramblers (MVC)
(61) Wright State Raiders (Horizon)
(62) Colgate Raiders (Patriot)

No. 16 Seeds

(63) Sam Houston State Bearkats (Southland)
(64) Campbell Fighting Camels (Big South)
(65 – First Four) Iona Gaels (MAAC)
(66 – First Four) Prairie View A&M Panthers (SWAC)
(67 – First Four) Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC)
(68 – First Four) St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (NEC)

Conference Ranking With Seeds

Note: Auto bid holders are denoted by asterisks.

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

Auto Bid Selection Procedures

If a team has already clinched the top seed in its conference tournament, it will be the league rep here until eliminated in said event. For every other league, I’m still using each conference’s tiebreaker procedures to determine auto bid holders.

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Day 6 Picking The Lines

We had all hoped that the chalk-heavy first round meant that we would have some spectacular games in the second round, and we had a taste of that yesterday. Wisconsin/Villanova was the standout game, of course, but Gonzaga/Northwestern and a couple of other games were also excellent.

In a lot of ways, however, Saturday was just an appetizer for Sunday. Kentucky/Wichita State is the headliner, but Louisville/Michigan and Michigan State/Kansas are both high quality games between elite programs, and we have several other potentially really fun match-ups. Get ready to make a dent in your couch today.

Yesterday ATS: 4-4-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 22-20-2 (52%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Louisville (-3.5) over Michigan: If Michigan shoots the lights out like they did against Oklahoma State, obviously they can win this game, but if the shots aren’t falling at above season average rates, they don’t match up well against Louisville. The Cardinals are ferocious defensively in the paint and will make it difficult for Derrick Walton to be as effective as he usually is with the dribble drive. Louisville should also be able to take advantage of Michigan’s small front line on the glass. Meanwhile, Louisville is vulnerable against teams that attack and draw contact (Louisville was dead last in the ACC in defensive FTRate), but Michigan is just not that style of team.

Kentucky (-4.5) over Wichita State: This is a potential Revenge Game for 8-seed Kentucky knocking off 1-seed Wichita State three seasons ago, although none of the regulars on Wichita State’s roster actually played in that game. As good as Wichita State has been, I’m worried about Kentucky’s length here. Wichita State is a 40% three-point shooting team, but Kentucky’s perimeter defense is good at running teams off of the three-point line (as John Calipari teams almost always are).

Michigan State (+8) over Kansas: Both of these teams had uncharacteristically good performances and surprisingly large blowouts in their first round games. This is an awfully big spread, however, against a Michigan State team that has clearly been playing their best basketball of the season over the last month, with a fully healthy and dangerous Miles Bridges, and with the development of a really nice freshman crop. In addition, Michigan State’s strong defensive rebounding is going to put pressure on Kansas to hit outside shots. The Jayhawks certainly can shoot well (40.6% on threes this season), but if the shots don’t fall then this is a game that they can lose.

Arkansas (+11) over North Carolina: Even if Joel Berry plays, it’s unlikely that he’ll be 100%. If we believe this late season Arkansas spurt (they’ve risen from 59th to 38th in the Pomeroy ratings over the last five weeks) then this is too large of a spread even for a fully healthy Tar Heels roster. Arkansas doesn’t have any match-up advantages, but they’re a solid team and I’d be surprised if they get completely trucked.

Rhode Island (+5.5) over Oregon: Defensively, Rhode Island matches up well with Oregon. The Ducks were 2nd in the Pac-12 in 3PA/FGA ratio and hit threes at a 42% clip, yet Rhode Island led the Atlantic Ten in both defensive 3PA/FGA ratio and 3P% (whichever of those you choose to believe matters). If Oregon is not scoring particularly efficiently, and with a defense that has obviously taken a significant hit without Chris Boucher, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Rhode Island wins this game outright.

Baylor (-6.5) over USC: USC has oddly been getting a lot of hype the last couple of days. I think it’s because so many people really didn’t see them play this season, being buried late at night and on the Pac-12 Network. And yes, they played well the last two games, but both games were decided in the final minute, and this is the same USC team that entered the NCAA Tournament having gone 2-9 vs KenPom Tier A/B teams since Christmas. Baylor’s defense, and their length in particular, are a further difficulty level from either Providence or SMU. Baylor’s elite rebounding (they led the Big 12 in both offensive and defensive rebounding efficiency) will challenge a USC team that was 10th in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding rate.

South Carolina (+7.5) over Duke: I’m trying my best not to overreact to that tremendous South Carolina second half against Marquette, where they simply looked better than they’ve looked all season long. But my real match-up concern here is Duke’s ability to handle South Carolina’s pressure defense, which led the SEC in both steal and turnover rates. Duke, as talented as they are on offense, does not have a real point guard, and they will potentially struggle with turnovers. If the Blue Devils get hot behind the arc, however, I’m skeptical that South Carolina’s offense will be able to repeat anything like the 1.29 PPP that they poured in against Marquette.

Cincinnati (+4) over UCLA: I picked Cincinnati to win this game outright, and so I’m going to stick with my pick here. There are three reasons for that. First of all, UCLA is overrated, as Pomeroy has this game basically a toss-up (though Sagarin has the spread closer to 4). Second, UCLA’s dependence on outside shooting makes me nervous, particularly against a defense as long and athletic as Cincinnati. Third, Cincinnati is an elite offensive rebounding team (20th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage), which could pose problems for a UCLA front line that is tall but not particularly physical. The counter-argument, of course, is that UCLA has the ability to put up points in bunches in a way that Cincinnati does not. If the Bruins get hot behind the arc, they can obviously defeat anybody.

NET Viewing Guide For Sunday, March 3, 2019

David Crisp and the Huskies are officially ON NOTICE as they head to the Farm to take on Stanford.

While the Big Ten brings us the lone all-Quad 1 contest of the day, there’s plenty of bubble action available, with the Big East and Pac-12 taking center stage. 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 quad designations in bold to the left of the game. Instead of ordering these 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 Friday, March 1. Records reflect games played through Saturday, March 2. All times are Eastern.

Top 30 at Top 75 (1 Game)

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

No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (25-4, 14-4) at No. 26 Maryland Terrapins (21-8, 12-6), 3:45 p.m. (CBS)

The Wolverines will need a win against the Terps and some help to ensure their Saturday visit to Michigan State has any meaning in the Big Ten title race. Michigan won the first meeting 15 days ago by a 65-52 margin at Crisler.

31-75 at Top 75 (1 Game)

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

No. 56 Creighton Bluejays (15-13, 6-9) at No. 21 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-5, 12-3), 3 p.m. (FS1)

Yesterday, Indiana got itself back into the bubble picture by completing a season sweep of Michigan State. Can the Bluejays get a split of their matchups with the Golden Eagles to do the same? These two played an OT thriller in Omaha on January 9th, with Marquette coming out on top by a bucket, 106-104.

31-75 at 76-135 (3 Games)

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

No. 59 St. John’s Red Storm (20-9, 8-8) at No. 111 DePaul Blue Demons (13-13, 5-10), 12 p.m. (FS1)
No. 32 Washington Huskies (22-6, 13-2) at No. 96 Stanford Cardinal (15-13, 8-8), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 68 Arizona State Sun Devils (19-9, 10-6) at No. 85 Oregon State Beavers (17-10, 9-6), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

This might be the most intriguing trio of games set for today. St. John’s will attempt to rebound from a damaging home loss to Xavier Musketeers in Chicago—against a DePaul team that defeated the Red Storm by eight in Queens back on January 12th.

Out West, Pac-12 regular-season champ Washington handed the woeful California Golden Bears (and yes, they must be referred to as the “woeful California Golden Bears” in full until further notice) their first conference win of the year on Thursday. While that loss did enough damage to the Huskies’ seeding/at-large hopes, failing to beat Stanford would do a bit more. Mike Hopkins’ squad won the first meeting in Seattle by 16 on January 17th. Washington was able to clinch the title because second-place Arizona State also lost Thursday, at Oregon. The Sun Devils will look to avoid being swept out of the Beaver State by defeating the Beavers for a second time. That won’t be easy, as Oregon State only lost by three in Tempe.

76-160 at Top 75 (1 Game)

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

No. 102 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-15, 3-12) at No. 25 Louisville Cardinals (18-11, 9-7), 1:30 p.m. (CBS)

The Cardinals will hope to snap their three-game skip—and return to playing some semblance of normal basketball—by beating the visiting Irish.

76-160 at 76-135 (1 Game)

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

No. 83 South Florida Bulls (18-10, 7-8) at No. 97 UConn Huskies (13-15, 4-11), 12 p.m. (CBSSN)

At this point the Bulls are playing for a season sweep of the Huskies, 20 wins, and an NIT bid.

161-353 at Top 75 (3 Games)

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

No. 301 Tulane Green Wave (4-23, 0-15) at No. 57 Temple Owls (20-8, 10-5), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Temple, which can clinch a top four seed in the American Athletic Tournament (and the bye to the quarterfinals that goes with it), can’t afford to pull a Washington here—if the Owls want to remain an at-large prospect.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

Early Afternoon Tips

2/2 No. 59 St. John’s Red Storm (20-9, 8-8) at No. 111 DePaul Blue Demons (13-13, 5-10), 12 p.m. (FS1)
2/3 No. 83 South Florida Bulls (18-10, 7-8) at No. 97 UConn Huskies (13-15, 4-11), 12 p.m. (CBSSN)

Mid-Afternoon Tips

1/2 No. 56 Creighton Bluejays (15-13, 6-9) at No. 21 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-5, 12-3), 3 p.m. (FS1)
1/3 No. 102 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-15, 3-12) at No. 25 Louisville Cardinals (18-11, 9-7), 1:30 p.m. (CBS)
1/4 No. 301 Tulane Green Wave (4-23, 0-15) at No. 57 Temple Owls (20-8, 10-5), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Late Afternoon Tips

1/1 No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (25-4, 14-4) at No. 26 Maryland Terrapins (21-8, 12-6), 3:45 p.m. (CBS)
2/2 No. 32 Washington Huskies (22-6, 13-2) at No. 96 Stanford Cardinal (15-13, 8-8), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)

Evening Tip

2/2 No. 68 Arizona State Sun Devils (19-9, 10-6) at No. 85 Oregon State Beavers (17-10, 9-6), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

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Bracketology Seed List For Monday, March 4, 2019

Thanks to Sunday’s win at Marquette, Creighton is back in the NCAA hunt.

The Big East is dominating the cut line at the moment.

Notes:

  • Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses.
  • Arrows indicate movement up or down the seed list (down to the spot on the seed list). This is relative to Sunday’s list.
  • 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 Group 1 and Group 2 games/record in Group 1 games only. Overall records and NET data reflect games played through Sunday, March 3. I pulled the quality win info from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets.

No. 1 Seeds

(1) Virginia Cavaliers (ACC) (26-2/14/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Columbus 1
(2) Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC) (29-2/12/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 1
(3) Duke Blue Devils (25-4/14/8) – LOUISVILLE – Columbia 1
(4) Kentucky Wildcats (24-5/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Columbus 2

No. 2 Seeds

(5) North Carolina Tar Heels (24-5/14/8) – KANSAS CITY – Columbia 2
(6) Tennessee Volunteers (25-3/12/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 1
(7) Michigan Wolverines (26-4/17/8) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Des Moines 1
(8) Michigan State Spartans (23-6/14/10) – ANAHEIM – Des Moines 2

No. 3 Seeds

(9) LSU Tigers (SEC) (24-5/16/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tulsa 1
(10) Kansas Jayhawks (22-7/15/10) – KANSAS CITY – Tulsa 2
(11) Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten) (22-7/15/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 2
(12) Houston Cougars (American) (27-2/13/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 2

The top 12 remain in the same order as on Sunday, even with Michigan’s impressive road win over Maryland—with Charles Matthews missing for the second consecutive game.

No. 4 Seeds

(13) Texas Tech Red Raiders (24-5/14/5) – LOUISVILLE – San José 1
(↑14) Virginia Tech Hokies (22-6/10/4) – ANAHEIM – Hartford 1
(↓15) Marquette Golden Eagles (23-6/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Hartford 2
(16) Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12) (22-7/11/6) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – San José 2

Marquette remains on line No. 4 even after Sunday’s home loss to Creighton. However, Virginia Tech jumped them on the seed list. But with both teams needing to stay in the same positions as on Sunday’s list because of bracketing rules, all this change did was balance the regions out a little more.

No. 5 Seeds

(17) Florida State Seminoles (23-6/11/5)
(18) Wisconsin Badgers (20-9/13/8)
(↑19) Villanova Wildcats (Big East) (22-8/15/4)
(↑20) Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-8/11/8)

Thanks to Marquette’s loss, Villanova again has a decent shot at winning at least a share of the Big East title. The Wildcats are a half-game up on the Golden Eagles in the standings, so they take over the auto bid for the moment. They also move up a bit on the five line, with Mississippi State jumping up from line six to replace Maryland.

No. 6 Seeds

(↓21) Maryland Terrapins (21-9/12/6)
(22) Cincinnati Bearcats (25-4/10/4)
(↑23) Wofford Terriers (SoCon) (23-4/7/3)
(↓24) Nevada Wolf Pack (26-3/8/1)

As of this morning’s update, Wofford is now 14th in the NET, so if that metric means anything, the Terriers have to be reaching lock status.

No. 7 Seeds

(25) Buffalo Bulls (MAC) (25-3/7/2)
(26) Iowa State Cyclones (20-9/9/5)
(27) Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8/11/4)
(28) VCU Rams (A 10) (23-6/6/2)

No. 8 Seeds

(29) Baylor Bears (19-10/12/4)
(30) Auburn Tigers (19-9/11/2)
(31) Ole Miss Rebels (19-10/7/4)
(32) Syracuse Orange (19-10/8/3)

No. 9 Seeds

(33) Washington Huskies (Pac-12) (23-6/8/2)
(34) Louisville Cardinals (19-11/8/4)
(35) Oklahoma Sooners (18-11/9/3)
(36) UCF Knights (22-6/7/1)

Both Washington and Louisville won yesterday, but didn’t budge as a result. The Huskies escaped Stanford, the NET’s 100th-ranked team, by the skin of their teeth, 62-61. As for the Cardinals, they did what they needed to do, handling disappointing Notre Dame, 75-61, for a home Quad 3 win.

No. 10 Seeds

(37) Utah State Aggies (MW) (23-6/4/2)
(38) Texas Longhorns (16-13/9/5)
(39) Ohio State Buckeyes (18-11/8/4)
(↑40) Florida Gators (17-12/8/3)

Florida slides up one spot, and back to the 10 line, thanks to St. John’s loss at DePaul.

No. 11 Seeds

(↑41) N.C. State Wolfpack (20-9/7/2)
(↑42) TCU Horned Frogs (18-11/7/2)
(↑43) Belmont Bruins (OVC) (24-4/5/2)
(↑44) Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9/10/3)

It was Survival Sunday in the Pac-12, as Arizona State left Corvallis with a gutsy 74-71 win over Oregon State, a result that put Bobby Hurley’s team in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

No. 12 Seeds

(45) Lipscomb Bisons (ASUN) (21-6/3/2)
(↑46) Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-11/9/2)
(47 – First Four) (↓47 – First Four) St. John’s Red Storm (20-10/10/6)
(48 – First Four) Clemson Tigers (17-12/5/1)
(49 – First Four) Temple Owls (20-8/6/1)
(50 – First Four) Alabama Crimson Tide (17-12/9/2)

The big change here is St. John’s relegation to the First Four, as the DePaul Blue Demons swept the season series with the Red Storm courtesy of a 92-83 victory in Chicago. While Chris Mullin’s team has three wins over the conference’s two NCAA locks and victories over VCU and a 5-4 mark against the league’s copious supply of bubble teams, being swept by both DePaul and Providence and a weak non-conference schedule really hurt their case.

First Four Out (NIT No. 1 Seeds)

(69) Seton Hall Pirates (16-12/10/4)
(↑70) Indiana Hoosiers (15-14/7/6)
(↑71) Creighton Bluejays (15-13/9/3)
(↓72) Georgetown Hoyas (18-11/9/3)

Next Four Out

(↓73) Xavier Musketeers (16-13/9/3)
(↓74) Furman Paladins (21-6/4/1)
(↓75) Oregon Ducks (17-12/4/1)
(↓76) Murray State Racers (23-4/1/0)

With Creighton following Indiana in becoming a “zombie bubble team” this weekend, the first eight out is a Big East party today. So, festivities at Madison Square Garden next week will be quite entertaining with those storylines playing out. The Liberty Flames (22-6/2/1) drop out of the group as a result of the Bluejays’ return.

No. 13 Seeds

(51) New Mexico State Aggies (WAC)
(52) Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA)
(53) Vermont Catamounts (America East)
(54) Hofstra Pride (CAA)

No. 14 Seeds

(55) UC Irvine Anteaters (Big West)
(56) South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Summit)
(57) Harvard Crimson (Ivy)
(58) Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky)

No. 15 Seeds

(59) Georgia State Panthers (Sun Belt)
(60) Loyola Chicago Ramblers (MVC)
(61) Wright State Raiders (Horizon)
(62) Colgate Raiders (Patriot)

No. 16 Seeds

(63) Sam Houston State Bearkats (Southland)
(64) Campbell Fighting Camels (Big South)
(65 – First Four) Iona Gaels (MAAC)
(66 – First Four) Prairie View A&M Panthers (SWAC)
(67 – First Four) Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC)
(68 – First Four) St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (NEC)

Of the final 18 teams in the field, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, Vermont, Hofstra, UC Irvine, South Dakota State, Loyola Chicago, Wright State, Colgate, Sam Houston State, Campbell, and St. Francis (Pa.) have all secured the top seeds in their conference tournaments.

Conference Ranking With Seeds

Note: Auto bid holders are denoted by asterisks.

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

Auto Bid Selection Procedures

If a team has already clinched the top seed in its conference tournament, it will be the league rep here until eliminated in said event. For every other league, I’m still using each conference’s tiebreaker procedures to determine auto bid holders.

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NET/Championship Fortnight Viewing Guide For Monday, March 4, 2019

Syracuse crushed Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Saturday, but they’ll face a far tougher opponent back at the Carrier Dome this evening.

Big regular-season matchups from the ACC and Big 12 and the first four conference tournament games are on tap tonight. For a more traditional look at the schedule, visit MattSarzSports.com.

It’s a relatively short slate tonight, so I’m skipping the chronological schedule.

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 Sunday, March 3. 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. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (26-2. 14-2) at No. 39 Syracuse Orange (19-10, 10-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 28 Kansas State Wildcats (22-7, 12-4) at No. 48 TCU Horned Frogs (18-11, 6-10), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

If Syracuse can knock off Virginia at the Carrier Dome tonight, an at-large bid will almost assuredly be theirs. The Orange are 2-3 in their last five meetings with the Cavaliers (including the 2016 Midwest Regional final), but Virginia swept last season’s series.

Both Big 12 co-leaders are in action tonight, with Kansas State hitting the road to take on a TCU team that’s dropped five of six and has fallen near the cut line. The Wildcats are looking for a season sweep that will help them stay in the hunt for the top seed in Kansas City, having won by 10 in Manhattan back on January 19th.

31-75 at Top 75 (1 Game)

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

No. 33 Texas Longhorns (16-13, 8-8) at No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (24-5, 12-4), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

The other half of the Big 12 title race, Texas Tech, hosts Texas, which is looking to build off Saturday’s profile-saving win over Iowa State Cyclones. The Red Raiders are aiming for the season sweep here, thanks to a 68-62 victory in Austin from way back on January 12th. Chris Beard’s squad is among the nation’s hottest teams, having won seven straight and nine of 10.

ASUN Quarterfinals

No. 5 NJIT Highlanders (20-11, 8-8) at No. 4 FGCU Eagles (14-17, 9-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 6 North Alabama Lions (10-21, 7-9) at No. 3 North Florida Ospreys (15-16, 9-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 7 Jacksonville Dolphins (12-19, 5-11) at No. 2 Liberty Flames (25-6, 14-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 8 Kennesaw State Owls (6-25, 3-13) at No. 1 Lipscomb Bisons (23-6, 14-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

The top three seeds are all looking to defeat their respective opponents for the third time this season, while the 4/5 matchup is a rubber match, with the Eagles and Highlanders having each won at home. But NJIT only lost by two, 57-55, in Fort Myers on February 13th.

Note that North Alabama is ineligible for the postseason as it’s just starting its transition to Division I. Note that when the Stetson Hatters participated in the 2016 ASUN Tournament as an ineligible team, the auto bid would have been awarded to the regular-season champion had the Hatters won the championship game. Oddly enough, Stetson finished ninth in the conference this season, thanks in part to an 83-82 loss at Kennesaw State on Friday, so it didn’t qualify for 2019’s event.

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Seeking the next extreme scoring event

MSU

Michigan State rang up 1.33 points per trip against Iowa. Highly impressive, but not quite “extreme.” (MSU Athletics)

With major-conference play having already tipped off in the Big Ten, this is a good time to revisit the record book. The first thing to be said of the book is that it’s pretty big. Starting with the 2006 season and running up through last night, there have been 8,355 major-conference games played.

Out of all that basketball, there have been just 49 instances where a team scored 1.45 points per trip or better. And, in what surely ranks as the all-time upset, two of those instances actually happened in the same game. It’s tough to lose when you score 1.46 points per possession, but that’s exactly what happened to Buzz Williams on February 18, 2017. Hoops. Go figure.

When something occurs 49 times out of 8,355 chances, that gives us roughly a one-in-170 shot at seeing the amazing episode in question at any given game. Put rather more positively, we’ll expect to see three or four extreme scoring events this coming season in major-conference play. An extreme scoring event is one where a team scores at least 1.45 points per trip.

It’s no surprise to learn that fully 78 percent of such eruptions have taken place on the “extreme” team’s home floor. It is perhaps rather more surprising, however, to note that 20 percent of these events have occurred in March. The month clearly punches above its weight in extreme scoring events. In fact, if you had to roll the dice on just one game this year that could make this list, you should take a long look at a Big Ten senior day. Again, go figure.

Naturally, scoring’s not the only extreme event under the sun. Shooting can also, on occasion, achieve escape velocity. Conveniently, a 75.0 effective FG percentage is eerily similar in its rarity to the 1.45 threshold for offense. The best shooting in major-conference play since 2006 was recorded by Clemson at home against Georgia Tech on January 12, 2011: 83.3 eFG percentage. No, that’s still nowhere near the 92.5 that, incredibly, Creighton hung on Southern Illinois back in the Bluejays’ Missouri Valley days on February 14, 2012.

The interesting thing about extreme shooting is that it’s markedly and perhaps even radically less dependent on venue than offense appears to be. Since 2006, extreme shooting events have been distributed exactly 50-50 between “home” and “road” in major-conference play.

By default, this would seem to suggest that outlandish shot volume must be somewhat venue-dependent, at least more so than outlandish shooting. Let’s hold that thought. For now, we can observe simply that teams landing on the 1.45-and-over extreme offense list are equally ridiculous at both accuracy (average eFG percentage: 69.3) and volume (mean SVI: 108.2).

Here’s what I have under the heading of extreme scoring events in major-conference play, starting in 2006. If you have notable examples from earlier than that, I’m all ears.

                            opponent       H/A  PPP
DePaul          2-Mar-06    Syracuse        H   1.64
Ohio State      6-Mar-11    Wisconsin       H   1.61
Purdue          18-Jan-16   Rutgers         A   1.56
Villanova       7-Mar-15    St. John's      H   1.55
Wisconsin       23-Jan-11   Northwestern    A   1.55
Indiana         3-Mar-07    Penn State      H   1.55
Ohio State      5-Jan-06    Penn State      H   1.55
Michigan        26-Jan-17   Indiana         H   1.54
Duke            4-Jan-17    Georgia Tech    H   1.54
Louisville      18-Feb-17   Virginia Tech   H   1.53
Wisconsin       20-Jan-15   Iowa            H   1.52
Syracuse        5-Mar-11    DePaul          H   1.52
Northwestern    27-Feb-16   Rutgers         H   1.51
Texas A&M       12-Jan-08   Colorado        H   1.50
Georgetown      27-Jan-07   Cincinnati      H   1.50
North Carolina  22-Feb-06   NC State        A   1.50
Florida State   5-Feb-17    Clemson         H   1.49
Wisconsin       6-Feb-11    Michigan State  H   1.49
Kansas          3-Mar-08    Texas Tech      H   1.49
TCU             17-Jan-18   Iowa State      H   1.48
Louisville      24-Jan-17   Pitt            A   1.48
Georgia         15-Jan-11   Ole Miss        A   1.48
Minnesota       7-Mar-10    Iowa            H   1.48
Boston College  12-Jan-08   Wake Forest     H   1.48
West Virginia   31-Jan-07   Rutgers         A   1.48
Creighton       16-Feb-14   Villanova       H   1.47
Michigan State  2-Mar-08    Indiana         H   1.47
Kansas          19-Feb-18   Oklahoma        H   1.46
Villanova       1-Feb-18    Creighton       H   1.46
Iowa State      31-Jan-18   West Virginia   H   1.46
Duke            18-Feb-17   Wake Forest     H   1.46
Virginia Tech   18-Feb-17   Louisville      A   1.46
Indiana         19-Jan-16   Illinois        H   1.46
Duke            7-Feb-15    Notre Dame      H   1.46
Baylor          22-Feb-14   West Virginia   A   1.46
West Virginia   22-Jan-14   Texas Tech      H   1.46
Oregon          3-Mar-12    Utah            H   1.46
Michigan        2-Mar-10    Minnesota       H   1.46
Michigan State  20-Feb-08   Penn State      H   1.46
Oregon          20-Jan-07   Cal             H   1.46
North Carolina  9-Jan-18    Boston College  H   1.45
Michigan State  4-Jan-18    Maryland        H   1.45
Creighton       20-Jan-14   Villanova       A   1.45
North Carolina  22-Feb-14   Wake Forest     H   1.45
Duke            21-Feb-13   Virginia Tech   A   1.45
Missouri        3-Jan-12    Oklahoma        H   1.45
Pitt            14-Feb-09   Cincinnati      H   1.45
Michigan State  20-Jan-07   Penn State      A   1.45
Tennessee       15-Feb-06   Auburn          H   1.45

Extreme scoring teams, I salute you. As for the hopefuls trying to join this list in 2019, best of luck. Incredibly, you are all chasing DePaul.

History says one of these 12 teams will win it all

Heelnew

National title? It’s a possibility. (Jeffrey A. Camarati)

Every year since 2004, the eventual national champion has been ranked no lower than No. 12 in that season’s week six AP poll. Naturally, the eventual national champion tends to be highly ranked in any given week, but the week six poll in particular has, over the last 14 years, proven to be better than the rest all the way to Selection Sunday.

This bears mentioning because the 2018-19 week six AP poll was just released today. Here are its top 12 teams:

1.  Kansas
2.  Duke
3.  Tennessee
4.  Gonzaga
5.  Michigan
6.  Virginia
7.  Nevada
8.  Auburn
9.  Michigan State
10. Florida State
11. Texas Tech
12. North Carolina

Coaches love to say that rankings don’t matter, and, strictly speaking, they’re right. Teams don’t win games in the NCAA tournament just because they earned a nice ranking in week six.

Instead, it tends to be the case that AP pollsters have learned a good deal by week six but aren’t yet too caught up in regular-season noise.  Their rankings of eventual champions therefore tend to be a bit more accurate by this point than they are in the preseason.

True, the preseason AP poll carries something of a reputation for being a sagacious big-picture projection uncluttered by short-term static like a loss that just happened. That reputation is not entirely misplaced.  Indeed, since expanding to 25 teams before the 1989-90 season, the preseason AP poll’s been excellent at things like, for example, ranking all four eventual No. 1 seeds.

When it comes to picking the champion, however, there is no AP poll worse than the preseason poll. If you want to find that one special team, it turns out week six is your go-to source.

Average AP ranking of eventual national champion by week, 2004-18

graphinal2

Only the poll released the day after Selection Sunday has, historically speaking, done a better job of identifying the nascent title-winner. Which begs the question, what’s so special about week six?

Start with where these numbers are coming from in the first place. The two national champions playing an outsized role in this statistical week-six supremacy are Florida in 2005-06 and Connecticut in 2010-11. Neither team was ranked in their respective preseasons. By week six in December 2005, however, the Gators were already up to No. 7; the Huskies’ corresponding position at that same point in December 2010 was No. 4.

Meaning early-season ascents by teams that feel like they came out of nowhere form roughly half the story behind this week-six thing. By this point in the season, the AP’s pollsters already have a very good sense of which teams they missed on entirely in the preseason, and the voters have rectified those mistakes.

Still, if that were all there is to picking champions, it would be a later poll that would rate out as the best one. Florida, for example, kept right on going up in the polls after week six in 2005-06, getting all the way to No.  2 by week 10.

Which leads us to the other half of this story. By December, the AP poll, at least at the very top, is driven largely by the intrinsically and admittedly interesting but nevertheless not necessarily enlightening question of which team can stay undefeated the longest.

The quest for the longest perfect season is determined in no small part by the schedule a team has chosen to build for itself. Once we’re talking about schedules played in November and December, we’re a long way from predicting performance in March and April.

So, on the one hand, there are surprise title contenders to be identified in any given season, and, for the most part, those identifications will have been made by early December. On the other hand, there are teams that are about to drop in the rankings after early December because they’re about to lose their first games.

In between these two countervailing tendencies, week six stands like something of a chronological continental divide. Now we know what we didn’t know in the preseason, but we’re not yet completely invested in the perfect-season sweepstakes that are about to begin in earnest.

Pat yourselves on the back, AP pollsters. The rankings you just collectively produced stand an excellent chance of being as good as it get this season, analytically speaking. We’ll check in again with what you have to say after Selection Sunday.

Sweet 16 Day 1 Picking The Lines

This NCAA Tournament has lacked huge upsets and buzzer beaters, but it has been played at a really high level of basketball. In general, the sport is just getting better and better each year as the talent pool grows deeper, but the lack of upsets also played a role in keeping the big boys in more games.

And in the end, the high quality of basketball has just made this a really entertaining product. We don’t need shocking upsets when we can watch powers like Kentucky/Wichita State and Wisconsin/Villanova trading punches at a high level for 40 minutes. And as we head into the penultimate weekend of the season, it’s nothing but high quality of basketball ahead. And hey, who knows, maybe we’ll still get a buzzer beater, too.

Sunday ATS: 3-5-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 25-25-2 (50%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Oregon (+1.5) over Michigan: This is a fair line, as most computer ratings have a healthy Oregon as a slight favorite (Oregon, of course, is missing Chris Boucher). I don’t think the Boucher absence will matter nearly as much as usual against Michigan, however, as the Wolverines are almost exclusively a perimeter shooting team. Oregon’s perimeter defense is not great, but acceptable (7th in the Pac-12 in defensive 3PA/FGA ratio). Michigan has been playing remarkably well for the past couple of weeks, and maybe they will keep it up and Derrick Walton will continue his Kemba Walker impression, but if they don’t then they don’t particularly match up well with Oregon’s weaknesses, and the Ducks are probably the better team.

Gonzaga (-3) over West Virginia: This line is small enough, particularly with the fact that Gonzaga shoots 73% at the free throw line if they need to lock up a game late, that I’d just pick whoever you think is going to win this game. West Virginia is a fantastic team as far as 4 seeds go. That said, Gonzaga is a strong 1 seed, and they have a team that is built to withstand Press Virginia. They have depth, experience, and savvy in a backcourt led by Nigel Williams-Goss, Jordan Mathews, and Josh Perkins, and they have the front court length and talent to protect the defensive glass. This West Virginia team is more capable of scoring efficiently in the half court than other recent vintages of Press Virginia have been, but still not good enough to win a controlled-style game against a team as good as the Zags.

Purdue (+5) over Kansas: I chose Purdue outright in my bracket and I’m going to stick with that pick here. Kansas had an incredible game against Michigan State, though the final score was deceptive as to how big the margin was for most of the 40 minutes. And overall, the Jayhawks came into the NCAA Tournament rated as easily the weakest 1 seed. As a match-up, Purdue’s biggest problem is going to be staying in front of Frank Mason. But Kansas’s front court size is a concern as well, against a Purdue front line that had its way with Iowa State. As good as Josh Jackson is, Caleb Swanigan is better.

Xavier (+7.5) over Arizona: Arizona is the better team, and Xavier’s demolition of Florida State was probably a bit of a fluke, but this is an awfully large Vegas line. Xavier has a ton of length and size, and they will be able to match Arizona body-for-body inside, even if they don’t have a big man quite as skilled as Lauri Markkanen. Offensively, Xavier passes the ball really well, and they have been surprisingly efficient offensively since losing point guard Edmond Sumner. A Xavier win would be an upset, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them play close enough to cover in a defeat.

Bracketology Seed List For Sunday, March 3, 2019

Virginia demolished Pitt on Saturday to remain No. 1 overall.

The four No. 1 seeds are the same as they were on Friday, despite Kentucky’s loss at Tennessee. But once again, the real action is down by the cut line.

Notes:

  • Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses.
  • Arrows indicate movement up or down the seed list (down to the spot on the seed list). This is relative to Friday’s bubble post.
  • 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 Group 1 and Group 2 games/record in Group 1 games only. Overall records and NET data reflect games played through Saturday, March 2. I pulled the quality win info from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets.

No. 1 Seeds

(↑1) Virginia Cavaliers (ACC) (26-2/14/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Columbus 1
(2) Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC) (29-2/12/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 1
(3) Duke Blue Devils (25-4/14/8) – LOUISVILLE – Columbia 1
(4) Kentucky Wildcats (24-5/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Columbus 2

While the top three teams on the seed list all won on Saturday, Kentucky got blown out in its rematch with Tennessee. Yet the Wildcats still remain on the top line. So what gives? Well, UK’s eight wins over teams in the NET top 25 give them an advantage over both the Vols (who have just three) and UNC (six).

No. 2 Seeds

(5) North Carolina Tar Heels (24-5/14/8) – KANSAS CITY – Columbia 2
(↑6) Tennessee Volunteers (25-3/12/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 1
(↑7) Michigan Wolverines (25-4/16/7) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Des Moines 1
(↓8) Michigan State Spartans (23-6/14/10) – ANAHEIM – Des Moines 2

Tennessee’s win didn’t even get them to the top spot on line No. 2, which still goes to North Carolina, thanks to their quality win total. But the Volunteers do get their favored spot in the South regional as a result of this ranking. Michigan State remains a two despite being swept by Indiana. Seven Quad 1 road wins will have that effect. However, I did put the Spartans behind Michigan, despite their head-to-head win over the Wolverines. John Beilein’s team doesn’t have as many questionable losses as Tom Izzo’s

No. 3 Seeds

(↑9) LSU Tigers (SEC) (24-5/16/9) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tulsa 1
(↑10) Kansas Jayhawks (22-7/15/10) – KANSAS CITY – Tulsa 2
(↑11) Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten) (22-7/15/7) – LOUISVILLE – Jacksonville 2
(↓12) Houston Cougars (American) (27-2/13/4) – ANAHEIM – Salt Lake City 2

But there’s another Big Ten team in the race for a No. 2 seed, at a minimum, and that’s Purdue. The Boilermakers dominated Ohio State Saturday, 86-51, to shake off some recent poor performances. Meanwhile, LSU and Kansas picked up close road wins over Alabama and Oklahoma State, respectively, to move up slightly. Houston, on the other hand, fell to the edge of the three line, as the Cougars dropped their second game of the season—to visiting UCF.

No. 4 Seeds

(13) Texas Tech Red Raiders (24-5/14/5) – LOUISVILLE – San José 1
(14) Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East) (23-5/14/9) – KANSAS CITY – Hartford 1
(15) Virginia Tech Hokies (22-6/10/4) – ANAHEIM – Hartford 2
(↑16) Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12) (22-7/11/6) – WASHINGTON, D.C. – San José 2

The Big 12’s co-leaders find themselves on line No. 4 this morning, as Kansas State replaces Florida State as the final protected seed for the day. The Wildcats knocked Baylor out of the league title race, 66-60, and will next face the TCU team Texas Tech handled in Fort Worth. Marquette will be in action this afternoon against Creighton, while Virginia Tech is idle until a Tuesday trip to Tallahassee. Even with the ‘Noles drop, that one will have an effect on this chase.

No. 5 Seeds

(↓17) Florida State Seminoles (23-6/11/5)
(18) Wisconsin Badgers (20-9/13/8)
(↑19) Maryland Terrapins (21-8/12/6)
(↑20) Villanova Wildcats (22-8/15/4)

Florida State and Wisconsin both survived home games on Saturday, with N.C. State taking the Seminoles down to the wire in Tallahassee and pesky Penn State nearly knocking the Badgers off in Madison. Nevada and Mississippi State drop following road losses to Utah State and Auburn, respectively. Those results significantly boosted the victors’ at-large hopes. Villanova, winners over Butler in Philadelphia, and Maryland, who visits Michigan this afternoon, replace them in the top 20.

No. 6 Seeds

(↓21) Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-8/11/8)
(↑22) Cincinnati Bearcats (25-4/10/4)
(↓23) Nevada Wolf Pack (26-3/8/1)
(↑24) Wofford Terriers (SoCon) (23-4/7/3)

Curiously, Nevada’s loss in Logan pushed Utah State to 30th in the NET, so the Wolf Pack finally have a Quad 1 win on their profile. Still, their protected seed prospects are now gone. I would keep an eye on Cincinnati in that race, as the Bearcats now share the American lead with Houston. The two meet in Cincy next Sunday.

Wofford, which completed a perfect 18-0 SoCon season, rises to the six line partially as a result of their excellence in an improved league and partially because of the many, many failings of others.

No. 7 Seeds

(↑25) Buffalo Bulls (MAC) (25-3/7/2)
(↓26) Iowa State Cyclones (20-9/9/5)
(↓27) Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8/11/4)
(↑28) VCU Rams (A 10) (23-6/6/2)

Iowa and Iowa State are two of the more perplexing teams in the country and both illustrated why on Saturday. The Hawkeyes got blown out by Rutgers at home, 86-72, in the first of two games head coach Fran McCaffery will miss due to the suspension he earned after his actions post-Ohio State. As for the Cyclones, they helped 13-loss Texas’ at-large case, as the Longhorns drubbed them, 86-69, in Austin.

Atlantic 10 co-champ (at a minimum) VCU rises to line No. 7 after a close win over archrival Richmond, as it wasn’t a great day for the teams around them.

No. 8 Seeds

(↓29) Baylor Bears (19-10/12/4)
(↑30) Auburn Tigers (19-9/11/2)
(↓31) Ole Miss Rebels (19-10/7/4)
(↑32) Syracuse Orange (19-10/8/3)

Auburn’s win over Mississippi State shored up the Tigers’ profile, even if it still features only two Quad 1 wins. As for Ole Miss, a one-point loss at Arkansas wasn’t too damaging. Syracuse jumps up from line nine after dominating Wake Forest in Winston-Salem—the Orange will be able to virtually lock up a bid with a win over Virginia at the Carrier Dome on Monday.

No. 9 Seeds

(↓33) Washington Huskies (Pac-12) (22-6/7/2)
(↑34) Louisville Cardinals (18-11/8/4)
(↑35) Oklahoma Sooners (18-11/9/3)
(↑36) UCF Knights (22-6/7/1)

UCF’s win in Houston seriously boosted the Knights’ fortunes, and losses by Florida and Ohio State resulted in Johnny Dawkins’ team earning a nice seeding boost. Oklahoma, meanwhile, took care of West Virginia, 92-80, to earn a slight improvement in its seeding.

No. 10 Seeds

(↑37) Utah State Aggies (MW) (23-6/4/2)
(↑38) Texas Longhorns (16-13/9/5)
(↓39) Ohio State Buckeyes (18-11/8/4)
(↓40) St. John’s Red Storm (20-9/10/6)

No. 11 Seeds

(↓41) Florida Gators (17-12/8/3)
(↑42) N.C. State Wolfpack (20-9/7/2)
(↓43) TCU Horned Frogs (18-11/7/2)
(↑44) Belmont Bruins (OVC) (24-4/5/2)

With its win over Nevada, Utah State moved a half-game up on the Wolf Pack in the Mountain West race as a result. So, the Aggies are not only in today’s field, they’re in as the league leader. Texas earned a little breathing room by defeating Iowa State, but both Florida and Ohio State tumbled after losses. The Gators’ home defeat to Georgia was particularly costly as it was their second that falls under Quad 3. At least the Buckeyes fell to a protected seed, even if it was in blowout fashion.

Saturday’s only winner on the 11 line was Belmont, who wrapped up the top seed in the OVC Tournament with an 84-66 win at Southeast Missouri State. The Bruins will have to win just to games in Evansville to win the conference’s automatic bid, but neither potential semifinal opponent Austin Peay or possible final foes Murray State and Jacksonville State (who beat Rick Byrd’s team twice) will make things easy.

No. 12 Seeds

(45) Lipscomb Bisons (ASUN) (21-6/3/2)
(↓46) Arizona State Sun Devils (19-9/9/3)
(47 – First Four) Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-11/9/2)
(↑48 – First Four) Clemson Tigers (17-12/5/1)
(*49 – First Four) Temple Owls (20-8/6/1)
(↓50 – First Four) Alabama Crimson Tide (17-12/8/2)

Clemson remains despite an 81-79 home loss to UNC that the Tigers might very well regret on Selection Sunday. Temple jumps in, but will drop out again (maybe for good) if they lose to Tulane at home today. Alabama, the last team in, also missed a golden opportunity when LSU escaped Tuscaloosa with a win.

First Four Out (NIT No. 1 Seeds)

(↓69) Seton Hall Pirates (16-12/10/4)
(↑70) Georgetown Hoyas (18-11/9/3)
(↑71) Indiana Hoosiers (15-14/7/6)
(↑72) Xavier Musketeers (16-13/9/3)

Next Four Out

(↑73) Furman Paladins (21-6/4/1)
(↑74) Oregon Ducks (17-12/4/1)
(↑75) Murray State Racers (23-4/1/0)
(↑76) Liberty Flames (22-6/2/1)

Seton Hall drops out following a double OT loss to Georgetown. While the Hoyas are knocking on the door, their NET ranking of 72nd could give the Committee. Arizona State is currently the lowest-ranked at-large by that metric, at 69th. However, the Sun Devils have two top 25 non-conference wins, while the Hoyas’ best non-league result came against 62nd-ranked Liberty. The Flames are among this octet, but they will likely need to make their conference final at a minimum to earn a bid, and it’s a similar story for Furman and Murray State.

Indiana is back from the dead, thanks to a completed sweep of Michigan State. The Hoosiers may have 14 losses, but they also have five wins over NET top 25 teams. And since quality wins seem to matter to the Committee more than anything else, here they are. Again, keep an eye on Oregon, which visits Washington next week to close out Pac-12 play. The Ducks will still likely need to win the Pac-12 Tournament, but they’re still very much in the at-large picture thanks to earlier wins over Syracuse and Arizona State.

The Memphis Tigers (18-12/3/1), Dayton Flyers (19-10/3/1), and Saint Mary’s Gaels (20-11/3/1) drop out of the picture thanks to their respective losses to Cincinnati, Rhode Island Rams, and Gonzaga.

No. 13 Seeds

(51) New Mexico State Aggies (WAC)
(↑52) Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA)
(↑53) Vermont Catamounts (America East)
(↑54) Hofstra Pride (CAA)

No. 14 Seeds

(↑55) UC Irvine Anteaters (Big West)
(56) South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Summit)
(*57) Harvard Crimson (Ivy)
(↑58) Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky)

No. 15 Seeds

(*59) Georgia State Panthers (Sun Belt)
(60) Loyola Chicago Ramblers (MVC)
(↑61) Wright State Raiders (Horizon)
(↑62) Colgate Raiders (Patriot)

No. 16 Seeds

(↑63) Sam Houston State Bearkats (Southland)
(*64) Campbell Fighting Camels (Big South)
(↑65 – First Four) Iona Gaels (MAAC)
(↓66 – First Four) Prairie View A&M Panthers (SWAC)
(↓67 – First Four) Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC)
(↓68 – First Four) St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (NEC)

Of the final 18 teams in the field, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, Vermont, Hofstra, UC Irvine, South Dakota State, Loyola Chicago, Wright State, Colgate, Sam Houston State, Campbell, and St. Francis (Pa.) have all secured the top seeds in their conference tournaments.

Conference Ranking With Seeds

Note: Auto bid holders are denoted by asterisks.

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

Auto Bid Selection Procedures

If a team has already clinched the top seed in its conference tournament, it will be the league rep here until eliminated in said event. For every other league, I’m still using each conference’s tiebreaker procedures to determine auto bid holders.

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Sweet 16 Day 2 Picking The Lines

It’s going to take some time to process just what Kansas is doing this NCAA Tournament. They are scoring an ungodly 1.34 PPP over three games after scoring just 1.13 PPP in Big 12 play. Their best offensive efficiency in Big 12 play this season was 1.27 PPP while their worst offensive efficiency in the NCAA Tournament this far has been 1.28 PPP.

Before you say “momentum”, if teams could carry “momentum” from game to game then this hot streak wouldn’t have even happened, since Kansas had actually slid to a season-worst 10th in the Pomeroy ratings at the end of the regular season. This hot streak is unsustainable long term, of course, but there is no more “long term”. As we saw with Villanova last season, it’s not that unprecedented for a team to get really hot for six straight games. If Kansas keeps scoring like they’ve been scoring the last three games, they’re going to be almost impossible for anybody to beat.

Let’s get to today’s games:

Yesterday ATS: 2-1-1
2017 Tournament ATS: 27-26-3 (51%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Butler (+7.5) over North Carolina: North Carolina is the better team, but this is an awfully big spread considering how good Butler is. Rating systems like Sagarin and Pomeroy have the true line closer to 4 points. North Carolina likes to get easy baskets off of offensive rebounds and in transition, yet Butler is strong both on the defensive glass and with transition defense. I expect this game to be slower paced than North Carolina likes it, and for this game to be decided in the final minute.

Baylor (-3.5) over South Carolina: So do we really believe that South Carolina is suddenly as good as they’ve looked the last two games? Because it came out of nowhere, with them having gone 3-6 down the stretch of the season. Sindarius Thornwell is obviously a fantastic player, but South Carolina’s offense as a whole is really ugly (1.00 PPP in SEC play). As strong as their defense is, their one weakness is on the defensive glass, where they were just 9th in SEC play. Baylor led the Big 12 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. And so even if both teams struggle to find open shots, I expect Baylor’s advantage in easy put-back baskets to be the difference here.

Kentucky (+1) over UCLA: With two blue chip programs, two teams playing at blur-fast tempos, and two squads with elite offenses, this is going to be the premier game of the night for television ratings. I like Kentucky here for two reasons, besides the fact that their defense is a lot better. The first is that Kentucky has always had a strong perimeter defense under John Calipari and this year is no different – they will be able to run UCLA’s shooters off the three-point line better than most. Second of all, UCLA is the significantly weaker rebounding team. So to me, the only way UCLA wins is if they shoot significantly better from outside. 

Wisconsin (+1.5) over Florida: In contrast to the Kentucky/UCLA game it will be up against on television, expect a slow-tempo, defensive battle. Wisconsin led the Big Ten in defensive efficiency while Florida’s defense was rated by Pomeroy as the 3rd best in the entire nation. I do think that Wisconsin has two advantages in this game. First of all, Florida’s defense is best at preventing three-pointers, yet Wisconsin’s offense tends to work inside-out and is not particularly dependent on outside shots. Second, Florida has struggled with defensive rebounding since losing John Egbunu, and Wisconsin is very strong on the offensive glass. Wisconsin is vulnerable to teams that can put them in foul trouble, but Florida just doesn’t draw a lot of fouls, and they were just 9th in the SEC in offensive FTRate. In my opinion, Wisconsin is the slight favorite to win this game outright.

02/06: MSU, Marquette and KU all take different kinds of bad losses; love for Tennessee, shouts to mid-majors

Parrish and Norlander take a diverse tour through college hoops, touching on a bunch of teams they normally don’t get a chance to chat about. It starts with Michigan State’s loss against Illinois, then onto St. John’s beating Marquette (7:30) before touching on K-State leading the Big 12 (15:45) thanks to its convincing win over Kansas. From there, a tour around college hoops (22:40), including Syracuse, Duke, Utah State, Kentucky, Loyola-Chicago and Tennessee, which is still sort of underappreciated. The guys close (37:15) with love for the Wofford-East Tennessee State game on Thursday, and talk mid-major NCAA Tournament chances in general. This episode is brought to you by ZipRecruiter.com. 

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02/07: Kansas loses another player, Arizona loses another assistant, and it's a beautifully loaded weekend

The latest episode of your favorite college hoops pod starts with Kansas announcing Lagerald Vick is out indefinitely due to a personal matter. From there, Norlander and Parrish preview Duke-Virginia (8:45), talk Nevada and Gonzaga (13:45), preview Villanova-Marquette (21:30), get to Wisconsin-Michigan (30:00) and then take a breezy tour of Saturday’s schedule (35:00), including making note of the poor Pac-12. Then, it’s some talk about the NET (44:00) in advance of the CBS top-16 bracket reveal on Saturday, a look at Sunday’s Houston-Cincinnati game (48:00) and the pod wraps by asking the question: Will Sean Miller be the coach at Arizona at the start of next season (53:30)?

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Wisconsin and Duke Fans Have No Problem Filling Seats In Kentucky’s Absence of NCAA Championship Game

The final game of the 2015 NCAA Tournament has been set.  The Wisconsin Badgers were able to fend off the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats and earn their spot in the final. A young Duke team led by Coach Mike Krzyzewski pounded Michigan State in order to punch their ticket to the finals as well.  The two teams are set to play on Monday, April 6th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This game will be a rematch of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge game that took place earlier in the season.  Duke was able to edge the Badgers by 10 points, but that was with a hobbled Sam Dekker, who was slowed by an ankle injury and only had five points in the contest.

Frank Kaminsky was named the Naismith Player of the Year in the wake of their win over undefeated Kentucky last week.  But for the Blue Devils, the massive center may not even be the biggest threat they have to prepare for.  Dekker has been shooting the lights out for Wisconsin all tournament long and has hit multiple clutch shots as time winds down.  The junior from Sheboygan, WI has put up some massive numbers in the tournament, considering that he averaged 13 points per game before the tournament.  Dekker scored 27 in the Elite Eight against Arizona and another 23 against North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.  Matching up with Kaminsky and Dekker will be a huge challenge for the Blue Devils, who have shown a few weaknesses defensively this season.

This young Duke team is going to have its hands full with the veteran lineup from Wisconsin.  The Blue Devils do have the advantage of being coached by Coach K, who is appearing in his ninth title game.  If anyone can handle figuring out how to shut down two of the hottest scorers in the nation, it would be him.  In their massive win over Michigan State, Duke was able to penetrate the Spartans defense and get to the line, scoring 27 points from the line in that game.  However, Wisconsin gives up the least fouls against them in the country, meaning it will be difficult to replicate that same result.  The key for Duke will be to get their phenomenal freshman, Jahlil Okafor, scoring.  Okafor has been a monster down low this season and averaged 17 points per game from the center position.  Many believe that he will be the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.  This game will be a matchup of the two best college basketball players going to head to head for the title.

Hipmunk.com will help any college basketball fan get to the action, with thousands of flights to and from Indianapolis. After your team wins, celebrate without worrying about rushing home as Hipmunk offers hotels near Lucas Oil Stadium from $89.

As always with games of this magnitude, a lot is on the line for all coaches, players and programs. According to TiqIQ.com, the average ticket price to the NCAA Championship Game is $613.86 with a walk-in price of $126. The belief that ticket prices would plummet with Kentucky’s elimination have been wiped away, as ticket prices have only had a small, marginal drop since Saturday night.

Elite 8 Day 1 Picking The Lines

Just as we all expected, the game of the night was Wisconsin/Florida rather than Kentucky/UCLA.

Of course, the media narrative on Kentucky/UCLA is all wrong:

The reality is that Kentucky allowed 1.15 PPP last night while allowing 1.17 PPP back on December 3rd. The difference was that there were 83 possessions on December 3rd compared to just 65 possessions last night. What Kentucky did was grind that game down to a halt, figuring that a half court game would benefit them more than UCLA, and it worked out.

To be fair, I’m not that sure we can expect long-time major television college basketball analysts to know the difference between what good defense and slow tempo looks like. But, sure, “the eye test” is a reliable metric, you guys.

Interestingly enough, this had been easily the highest tempo team that John Calipari has coached at Kentucky. Not only was 65 possessions the third slowest game that UCLA had played this season, but it was also the 3rd slowest game that Kentucky had played this season.

Yesterday ATS 2-2-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 29-28-3 (51%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Gonzaga (-8) over Xavier: This spread seems large, yet Sagarin has it at 9 points and Pomeroy has it as 10. And, of course, Xavier’s games with Edmond Sumner are still inflating their rating. Xavier has looked great so far this NCAA Tournament, of course, but they’ve also benefited from some outside shooting luck. What about the match-ups? Xavier certainly has the size to match Gonzaga defensively, but I worry about their ability to score. A big reason they’ve been able to score efficiently without Sumner has been their ability to get easy baskets off of offensive rebounds and in and around the paint, but Gonzaga’s length and defensive tenacity forces opponents further away from the basket. Xavier is only a 34.9% three-point shooting team.

Oregon (+6.5) over Kansas: Kansas has played out of their minds for their three NCAA Tournament games, including probably their best performance of the entire season in the Sweet 16 against Purdue. Is it worth it to believe that they have radically improved over the last two weeks? Probably not. In the end, I don’t think either of these defenses really matches up particularly well with the opposing offenses. Both teams shoot well from beyond the arc and neither defends the perimeter particularly well. Even without Chris Boucher, Oregon’s interior defense is still fairly strong, and Kansas’s lack of a true post scorer could limit them in the paint. The reason I’m picking Oregon here is because I like their chances of grinding this into a low-scoring game, and keeping it close late.

Elite 8 Day 2 Picking The Lines

Anytime Bill Self loses in the NCAA Tournament, the Bill Self #HotTakes fire out from the people in the media that you expect:

I’ve debunked these sorts of narratives before, and the way to analyze NCAA Tournament performance is to use Performance Against Seed Expectation. How has Self done? As a Kansas coach, he’s been expected to win 37.4 games and has won 33. If we throw in his other coaching stops he’s been expected to win 45.3 games and has won 43. In other words, he’s won ever so slightly fewer games than expected against some extraordinarily good seeds. In 14 seasons he’s had a 1 seed seven times and has never been below a 4 seed. That is remarkable.

So don’t fall for these sorts of dumb narratives about coaches. The reason Self’s tournament losses are always upsets is because he’s always favored. The coach who has the most losses in upsets, or who loses the most in late NCAA Tournament rounds, is by definition a fantastic coach. You’ve got to get to those games to lose them.

Anyway, let’s get to today’s games:

Yesterday ATS: 2-0-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 31-28-3 (53%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Florida (-3.5) over South Carolina: Rather than breaking down match-ups, you really just have to ask yourself if you believe in South Carolina. Because South Carolina has played amazingly well for three games, but it kind of came out of nowhere:

Both Kansas and Xavier had been playing out of their minds for three games, and both regressed in their Elite 8 game. That doesn’t mean South Carolina necessarily will regress too, but it’s a reminder that “momentum” is not real, and a three game explosion is more than likely an anomaly. South Carolina’s defense is excellent, of course, but the difference between a defense that gave up 0.93 PPP in SEC play and one that gave up 0.94 PPP in SEC play is not significant. Florida is the better team.

Kentucky (+2.5) over North Carolina: With two teams that play very high tempos and that score efficiently, this could be a very high scoring game unless John Calipari successfully slows the game down the way that he did against UCLA. I’m going with Kentucky here because I’m not exactly sure why North Carolina is supposed to be the better team. Statistically the two teams were almost exactly even this season. Also, as good as North Carolina’s offense has been, a lot of their success has come from out-athleting teams – they led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage but were just 10th in the ACC in eFG% and 12th in FT%. If Kentucky can keep North Carolina contained on the glass (the Wildcats led the SEC in defensive rebounding percentage) then I like their chances to win.outright.

02/11: Duke dominates Virginia; UVA-UNC lookahead; recapping selection committee's top 16; Georgia lands No. 1 player

This Monday episode is loaded with tons from the weekend, plus has a preview of the big Monday and Tuesday night games, with Norlander on site in Chapel Hill. The guys open with Duke-Virginia and then get to Virginia-UNC. From there, they talk the selection committee’s choices for the top 16 (21:00), which were broadcast on Saturday. At 28:15, some chatter on Nevada — Parrish was there over the weekend — and a little on Gonzaga, before the previews and picks (35:30) for three big games on Tuesday: Purdue-Maryland, LSU-Kentucky, MSU-Wisconsin. Norlander has some odds and ends from the weekend to get to (41:00) before the episode closes on Tom Crean and Georgia landing the No. 1 college basketball prospect in 2019 (47:00) and beating Kentucky in the process. 

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Horizon League Tournament bracket and schedule: Wright State and Northern Kentucky split regular season title

Both teams will have to traverse a deep field of teams.

The last two NCAA Tournament representatives from the Horizon League have put themselves in position for another run. Wright State and Northern Kentucky both finished at 13-5, but the Raiders will claim the No. 1 seed via tiebreaker.

The Norse will be slotted into the No. 2 seed and will be matched up with No. 7 Detroit (8-10) and freshman scoring machine Antoine Davis. Northern Kentucky won both matchups during the regular season.

Oakland (11-7) snagged the third spot, while Green Bay (10-8) earned the No. 4 seed. Both teams will host their quarterfinals game.

Milwaukee and Cleveland State finished as the bottom two teams in the standing and did not qualify for the tournament.

Tournament Bracket


Horizon League

How to Watch

Quarterfinals (Tue., March 5)

ESPN+ will stream both games.

Game 1: No. 7 Detroit at No. 2 Northern Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No. 8 IUPUI at No. 1 Northern Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Wed., March 6)

ESPN+ will stream both games.

Game 3: No. 6 Youngstown State at No. 3 Oakland, 7 p.m.

Game 4: No. 5 Illinois Chicago at No. 4 Green Bay 7 p.m.

Semifinals (Mon., March 11)

ESPNU will air both games.

Game 5: Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 7 p.m.

Game 6: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, approx. 9:30 p.m.

Championship (Tue., March 12)

Game 7: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN/2)

VIDEO: Nevada’s Jordan Caroline appears to break glass in postgame incident at Utah State

We’re not entirely sure what happened, but it wasn’t good.

Tempers flared after No. 12 Nevada fell, 81-76, at Utah State on Saturday night, and it got ugly.

It’s not entirely clear what happened, but Jordan Caroline appeared to break glass and yell at somebody as players and staff worked to restrain him. It’s not clear who Caroline’s target was. After a moment, a police officer showed up as the Nevada staff also began yelling.

Watch the whole thing here, captured by Jake Edmonds of KUTV.

WARNING: Video includes strong language.

Edmonds notes a few important things here, primarily that Utah State fans were allegedly verbally abusive — and perhaps physically as well — after the game. Aggies fans rushed the court, giving them easy access to Nevada players.

This also appears to have been the tunnel to Utah State’s locker room, presumably because the Wolf Pack did not have access to their own.

NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster also had this nugget:

Nevada players and coaches were not made available to media after the game, but it appears representatives from both teams will have plenty to answer for. We’ll update this post as we learn more.

Patriot League Tournament bracket and schedule: Colgate steals 1 seed on final day

Bucknell is the 2 seed.

Three weeks ago, it looked like Bucknell would cruise to a Patriot League regular season championship. And while the Bison did earn a share of the conference title with a win over Army on Saturday, Colgate earned the 1 seed in the league tournament.

Colgate’s last loss was one month ago Saturday, as the Raiders capped their regular season with a 76-70 win over Lafayette. Bucknell ended the season with three losses in five games, forcing it to settle for the 2 seed and a potential road game in the Patriot League championship if seeds hold.

The top six teams in the league received a first-round buy, leaving Loyola Md. to face Boston University, and Holy Cross to play Lafayette for the right to face the top two teams in the quarterfinals.

It all gets started on Tuesday night, with the quarters two days later. Here’s what the bracket looks like:

Tournament Bracket

Patriot League athletics

How to Watch

First Round (Tues., March 5)

Patriot League Network will stream both games.

Game 1: No. 9 Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds at No. 8 Boston University Terriers

Game 2: No. 10 Holy Cross Crusaders at No. 7 Lafayette Leopards

Quarterfinals (Thurs., March 7)

Patriot League Network will stream all four games.

Game 3: Game 1 Winner at No. 1 Colgate Raiders, 7 p.m, (Stadium)

Game 4: No. 5 Navy Midshipmen at No. 4 American Eagles

Game 5: Game 2 Winner at No. 2 Bucknell Bison

Game 6: No. 6 Army Black Knights at No. 3 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Semifinals (Sun., March 10)

CBSSN will air both games.

Game 7: No. 8/5/4 at No. 1/4/5, 12 p.m.

Game 8: No. 7/6/3 at No. 2/3/6, 2 p.m.

Championship (Wed., March 13)

Game 9: Lowest-remaining seed at Highest-remaining seed, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

MBA vs. MSA: Which Master’s Degree is Right For You?

A Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is the most popular advanced degree in the United States. Business degrees currently account for more than a quarter of all master’s degrees [1], but current statistics group MBAs with more specialized business master’s degrees including the Master of Science in Analytics, or MSA. While MBAs still make up the majority of advanced business degrees, some experts suggest the growing popularity of courses like the MSA has helped business qualifications overtake the master’s in education [1].

Today, specialized business master’s degrees like the MSA are as easily accessible as the more traditional MBA. Students can choose to study such programs at bricks-and-mortar institutions or remotely via online courses offered by leading education providers like Villanova University. Such availability increases the options of students across the United States, but it can also make it difficult for them to choose.

An MBA gives students a broad base of knowledge about the business field that builds on the knowledge gained during a bachelor’s degree. An MSA offers a more specialized education in analytics, a growing field that concerns the analysis of business data [2]. Both courses have their strengths and weaknesses, but is an MBA or an MSA the right choice for you?

MBA-VS-MSA

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

  • Build on your professional experience [3]
    • Most require work experience before enrolment [3]. Do you have this, or can you get it?
  • Develop a broad range of business skills including abilities in accounting, finance, and statistics, then applying them in the real world [3]
    • Do you know what you want to do, or are you open to a range of possibilities?
  • Build leadership skills like communication, collaboration, and negotiation [3]
    • Are you interested in becoming a manager or executive?
  • Choose electives to customize a third of your degree [2]
    • Do you enjoy the freedom to pursue your passions?
  • Deal with many case studies [3]
    • Do you learn better when education relates to real world?
  • Graduate in as little as two years [2]
    • Can you afford the time and money to study for two years or more?
  • Increase your earning potential

Average Earnings of Business Graduates in the United States

Years of Work Experience| Average Salary

< 1 year = $30,030 (BB) [4]; $50,324 (MBA) [5]
1-4 years = $42,764 (BB) [4]; $58,095 (MBA) [5]
5-9 years = $51,560 (BB) [4]; $75,364 (MBA) [5]
10-19 years = $67,160 (BB) [4]; $98,224 (MBA) [5]
20+ years = $78,612 (BB) [4]; $116,800 (MBA) [5]

  • Earn qualifications recognized and respected around the world [3]
    • Would you consider working abroad?

Master of Science in Analytics (MSA)

  • Build on your academic background [3]
    • Can enroll in most MSA programs without work experience [3], so you can earn your degree sooner
  • Focus solely on analytics [3]
    • Are you certain you want to specialize in this field?
  • Gain skills in a specialty that’s in demand across a range of industries [2]

By 2018, 140,000-190,000 individuals with advanced analytical skills and 1,500,000 managers and analysts for analyzing and acting upon big data findings will be required to fulfill a worldwide deficit [2]

With a compound annual growth rate of 10.3%, the global business analytics industry is expected to be worth close to $67 billion by 2019 [6]

North America is expected to be the world’s largest business analytics market [6]

  • Take classes that are very theoretical in nature [3]
    • Will you struggle with the abstract nature of the coursework?
  • Graduate in as little as 20 months [2]
    • Can take less time than MBA, great for people with limited time or funds.
  • Increase your earning potential

Average Earnings of Business Graduates in the United States

Years of Work Experience| Average Salary*
< 1 year = $30,030 (BB) [4]; $53,658 (MS) [7]
1-4 years = $42,764 (BB) [4]; $59,006 (MS) [7]
5-9 years = $51,560 (BB) [4]; $70,999 (MS) [7]
10-19 years = $67,160 (BB) [4]; $85,347 (MS) [7]
20+ years = $78,612 (BB) [4]; $94,578 (MS) [7]

* Note that as the MSA is a relatively new degree, little data exists on this specialty. Figures reflect the average salaries for all Master of Science degrees.

The MBA and MSA are both high-quality degrees that will help increase your earning potential and job opportunities in the business sector. Which one will you choose?

Final Four Picking The Lines

After having so many strong teams that just didn’t quite have the breaks go their way, it’s nice to see Gonzaga finally break through and make a Final Four. They’ve had to deal with “Well who did they beat, anyway?” “They’d struggle to go .500 in a real conference” garbage every season.

NCAA Tournament results, of course, prove nothing. South Carolina made the Final Four, too, and they barely even deserved to make the NCAA Tournament at all. But Gonzaga was #1 in Pomeroy for a reason, and their ungodly +0.37 PPP advantage in WCC play was impressive for a reason. Anything can happen in a small sample size, and if Gonzaga had fallen in the Second Round to Northwestern then this still would have been a great Gonzaga team, but it was inevitable that one of these years they’d finally have the lucky breaks fall in their direction.

Gonzaga is, unsurprisingly, the gambling favorite to win the NCAA Tournament right now. Even if you don’t believe in the advanced computer ratings which have Gonzaga is the best team in the Final Four, the fact is that Gonzaga has a significantly softer Final Four opponent than North Carolina does. Mark Few might never have a better chance to win a national title than he does right now.

Sunday ATS: 1-1-0
2017 Tournament ATS: 32-29-3 (52%)
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)

Gonzaga (-7) over South Carolina: South Carolina has to regress to the mean at some point right? Right?… Anyway, if there’s one area of South Carolina’s run that has been most surprising it has been their offensive explosion, pouring in 1.17 PPP against a difficult NCAA Tournament schedule after scoring just 1.00 PPP in SEC play. This has been due to a combination of factors, including both offensive rebounding and a high free throw rate. Gonzaga certainly has the size and skill to limit those two areas, though of course they have to score, too. The test for South Carolina will be how their post defense, which isn’t particularly deep, handles Gonzaga’s massive front line. Przemek Karnowski could have a monster game.

North Carolina (-5) over Oregon: This is a big Vegas spread, but understandable. It’s become clear that the Chris Boucher injury isn’t going to sink Oregon (he had lost his role in the starting lineup and seen his minutes decline even before getting hurt), but Oregon’s front line has a major match-up problem here. North Carolina’s offense is heavily dependent on offensive rebounding, having led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage while finishing just 10th in ACC play in both 3P% and eFG% shooting. Oregon finished just 9th in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding percentage. That said, Oregon has a big outside shooting advantage, having hit 38% of their three-pointers this season, including 43% during their NCAA Tournament run. North Carolina was dead last in the ACC in defensive 3PA/FGA ratio. So if Oregon wins, it’ll be because they got hot behind the arc. It’s a realistic scenario, but not one I’m willing to bet on.

NET Viewing Guide For Saturday, March 2, 2019

Kentucky dominated Tennessee at Rupp Arena just two weeks ago.

While the game of the day is an SEC rematch, there are plenty of other games on the schedule with postseason implications—particularly with conference tournament play starting Monday. 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 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, Feb. 28. Records reflect games played through Friday, March 1. All times are Eastern.

Top 30 at Top 75 (10 Games)

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

No. 6 Michigan State Spartans (23-5, 14-3) at No. 58 Indiana Hoosiers (14-14, 5-12), 12 p.m. (Fox)
No. 13 LSU Tigers (23-5, 13-2) at No. 48 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-11, 8-7), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (24-4, 13-2) at No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers (25-3, 13-2), 2 p.m. (CBS)
No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones (20-8, 9-6) at No. 36 Texas Longhorns (15-13, 7-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 30 UCF Knights (21-6, 11-4) at No. 4 Houston Cougars (27-1, 14-1), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (23-5, 11-4) at No. 43 TCU Horned Frogs (18-10, 6-9), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-7, 9-6) at No. 23 Auburn Tigers (19-9, 8-7), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5, 13-2) at No. 41 Clemson Tigers (17-11, 7-8), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 19 Nevada Wolf Pack (26-2, 13-2) at No. 34 Utah State Aggies (23-6, 13-3), 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-2, 15-0) at No. 39 Saint Mary’s Gaels (20-10, 11-4), 10 p.m. (ESPN)

Even though the SEC’s regular season doesn’t end for another week, we’ll have a good idea of who will win the conference title after this weekend. While LSU has the edge on both Tennessee and Kentucky, thanks to head-to-head results, the Tigers are well advised to take their trip to Tuscaloosa seriously. As for the Volunteers, you can bet they want a reversal of the 86-69 loss they suffered in Lexington just two short weeks ago.

Elsewhere, Houston can get ever closer to the American Athletic title by sweeping UCF. The Knights, however, will want to finally claim a solid Quad 1 win for their own at-large hopes. Johnny Dawkins’ team finally cracked the NET Top 30, but they could use a marquee victory to back those numbers up.

TCU and Texas both get home games as they attempt to bounce back from disappointing mid-week overtime losses, while Indiana will need much more than a sweep of Michigan State to get to the right side of the bubble. In primetime, bubble teams Clemson, Utah State, and Saint Mary’s will all play their biggest home contests of the year, with the Aggies and Gaels needing victories to avoid potentially costly season sweeps against their respective league heavyweights.

31-75 at Top 75 (8 Games)

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

No. 31 N.C. State Wolfpack (20-8, 8-7) at No. 24 Florida State Seminoles (22-6, 10-5), 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 38 Ole Miss Rebels (19-9, 9-6) at No. 74 Arkansas Razorbacks (14-14, 5-10), 1 p.m. (SECN)
No. 50 Penn State Nittany Lions (12-16, 5-12) at No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers (19-9, 11-6), 1 p.m. (BTN)
No. 54 Butler Bulldogs (15-13, 6-9) at No. 27 Villanova Wildcats (21-8, 12-4), 2 p.m. (Fox)
No. 40 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-10, 8-9) at No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers (21-7, 14-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 64 Seton Hall Pirates (16-11, 7-8) at No. 72 Georgetown Hoyas (17-11, 7-8), 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 35 Baylor Bears (19-9, 10-5) at No. 28 Kansas State Wildcats (21-7, 11-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 53 Memphis Tigers (18-11, 10-6) at No. 22 Cincinnati Bearcats (24-4, 13-2), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

As usual, this is an interesting grab bag featuring everything from matchups of teams solidly in at the moment to genuine bubble battles to “Wait…why is this team ranked so highly?”

Both N.C. State and Ohio State can pick up needed quality road wins for their decent, but not great profiles. Baylor can potentially knock K-State out of the Big 12 lead by earning a season split. Memphis and Butler, two teams on the outside looking in, can move closer to the cut line with road victories—ones that would prevent an 0-2 season mark against their Saturday opponents. Seton Hall-Georgetown is a genuine Big East toss-up, even if the Pirates won by 15 in Newark on February 13th.

Then there are the Ole Miss-Arkansas and Penn State-Wisconsin games—matchups where the favorites will look to avoid a seed-diminishing faceplant.

Top 30 at 76-135 (1 Game)

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

No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks (21-7, 10-5) at No. 90 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-18, 3-12), 12 p.m. (CBS)

With both Texas Tech and Kansas State facing theoretically more difficult road matchups, the door might be opened for the Jayhawks to jump back into a tie for first with a win in Stillwater.

76-160 at Top 75 (6 Games)

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

No. 115 West Virginia Mountaineers (11-17, 3-12) at No. 42 Oklahoma Sooners (17-11, 5-10), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 118 Pittsburgh Panthers (12-16, 2-13) at No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (25-2, 13-2), 2 p.m. (Raycom/TheACC.com/ACC Network Extra)
No. 87 Miami Hurricanes (12-15, 4-11) at No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (24-4, 12-3), 4 p.m. (CBS)
No. 104 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-14, 6-11) at No. 33 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-7, 10-7), 5 p.m. (BTN)
No. 108 Georgia Bulldogs (10-18, 1-14) at No. 29 Florida Gators (17-11, 9-6), 8:30 p.m. (SECN)
No. 79 Arizona Wildcats (17-12, 8-8) at No. 67 Oregon Ducks (16-12, 7-8), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Bubble teams Oklahoma and Florida have the most to lose out of this group. In the Sooners’ case, they’ve already lost to West Virginia once. As for the Gators, they defeated Georgia by 10 in Athens way back on January 19th.

Oregon will look to build on Thursday’s dominant win over Arizona State, though they’ll really need to beat Washington in Seattle in one week’s time to have any real shot at an at-large.

31-75 at 136-240 (2 Games)

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

No. 44 Syracuse Orange (18-10, 9-6) at No. 191 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-16, 4-11), 12 p.m. (Raycom/TheACC.com/ACC Network Extra)
No. 37 VCU Rams (22-6, 13-2) at No. 188 Richmond Spiders (12-16, 6-9), 4 p.m. (CBSSN)

It’s the same story for both Syracuse and VCU. Note that the Rams can clinch at least a tie for the Atlantic 10 title with a win over their crosstown rivals.

76-160 at 76-135 (1 Game)

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

No. 101 Utah Utes (15-12, 9-6) at No. 77 Colorado Buffaloes (16-11, 7-8), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

The Utes are in great position to earn what might be a necessary bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, but they’ll have to sweep the Buffaloes to stay there.

Mid-Major Games With Postseason Implications

Noted by PI in the schedule below.

America East

No. 153 Stony Brook Seawolves (23-6, 11-3) at No. 83 Vermont Catamounts (22-6, 12-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

The top two teams in the America East, a conference whose playoffs are played on the higher seeds’ home floors, meet in Burlington. The Catamounts won the first meeting, on Long Island, by a 73-52 count.

Big South

No. 130 Radford Highlanders (20-9, 12-3) at No. 225 Campbell Fighting Camels (18-11, 11-4), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

Chris Clemons and the Camels stunned the Highlanders, 68-67 in Virginia back on January 30th, so they have the advantage here. Note that the Big South’s top seed hosts the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds late next week.

Horizon League

No. 125 Northern Kentucky Norse (22-8, 12-5) at No. 215 Green Bay Phoenix (16-14, 10-7), 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 141 Wright State Raiders (18-12, 12-5) at No. 298 Milwaukee Panthers (9-21, 4-13), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Both the Norse and Raiders will host quarterfinal games next week, but the order of the top two seeds is in doubt, particularly since they split the season series.

Ivy League

No. 205 Cornell Big Red (13-14, 5-6) at No. 147 Brown Bears (17-10, 5-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 233 Columbia Lions (8-17, 3-8) at No. 70 Yale Bulldogs (19-5, 9-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 172 Princeton Tigers (16-8, 8-3) at No. 126 Harvard Crimson (15-9, 8-3), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 122 Penn Quakers (16-11, 4-7) at No. 189 Dartmouth Big Green (11-15, 2-9), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Just three game days remain in the Ivy League season and three of the four berths in the conference tournament have already been wrapped up—by host Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. Defending champ Penn is a game (and some tiebreakers) out of fourth. The Quakers’ only shot will be to beat Dartmouth tonight in Hanover, then sweep visiting Yale and Brown next weekend.

Tonight’s big games are a potential semifinal preview between Princeton and Harvard and the fourth-place showdown between Cornell and Brown. The Crimson defeated the Tigers by nine in the pair’s first meeting on February 15th, while the Big Red needed OT to defeat the Bears in Ithaca that night.

Missouri Valley

No. 135 Drake Bulldogs (22-8, 11-6) at No. 157 Missouri State Bears (16-14, 10-7), 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 168 Bradley Braves (17-13, 9-8) at No. 127 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (18-12, 11-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Thanks to a season sweep of Drake, Loyola is in the driver’s seat here. But the Ramblers lost at Bradley on February 13th. Missouri State, 2-0 against last season’s champs, lurk a game back of the co-leaders.

Northeast Conference

No. 221 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (16-13, 11-6) at No. 304 Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (11-19, 5-12), 1 p.m. (NEC Front Row)
No. 245 St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (16-12, 12-5) at No. 235 Sacred Heart Pioneers (14-16, 10-7), 3:30 p.m. (NEC Front Row)

The Red Flash lead the Knights by a game in the NEC race, but the pair split their two meetings. The NEC Tournament, like the America East’s, takes place exclusively on the higher seeds’ home courts.

Ohio Valley

No. 129 Austin Peay Governors (21-9, 13-4) at No. 52 Murray State Racers (24-4, 15-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
No. 45 Belmont Bruins (24-4, 15-2) at No. 317 Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (10-20, 5-12), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

If the Racers and Bruins both win, they’ll earn the top two seeds in the OVC Tournament, and the byes to next Friday’s semifinals in Evansville, that go along with them. While Belmont crushed SEMO in their first meeting, Murray State only defeated APSU by a bucket on Valentine’s Day.

Patriot League

No. 243 Army West Point Black Knights (13-17, 8-9) at No. 154 Bucknell Bison (18-11, 12-5), 12 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 137 Colgate Raiders (20-10, 12-5) at No. 279 Lafayette Leopards (10-18, 7-10), 2 p.m. (PLN)
No. 152 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (19-9, 12-5) at No. 282 Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds (10-20, 6-11), 7 p.m. (PLN)

The top three teams in the Patriot League are all jockeying for position in yet another conference where the higher seeds host. This is yet another conference where some gnarly tiebreakers might need to be used if every contender wins.

Southern Conference

No. 18 Wofford Terriers (25-4, 17-0) at No. 163 Samford Bulldogs (16-14, 6-11), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 46 Furman Paladins (23-6, 12-5) at No. 275 Chattanooga Mocs (12-18, 7-10), 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Wofford is playing for SoCon perfection, while Furman needs a victory to preserve its slight at-large hopes.

Summit League

No. 173 Omaha Mavericks (18-10, 12-3) at No. 323 Denver Pioneers (8-21, 3-12), 3 p.m. (Altitude/Denver stream)
No. 306 Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-19, 4-11) at No. 100 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (23-7, 13-2), 5:15 p.m. (SDSU stream)

Both the Jackrabbits and Mavericks have earned top-two seeds, and Saturday games next week in Sioux Falls, thanks to the Summit League’s two-day quarterfinal format. All that’s up for grabs is who specifically gets the No. 1 and 2 seeds.

West Coast

No. 148 Loyola Marymount Lions (19-10, 7-8) at No. 60 San Francisco Dons (21-8, 9-6), 4 p.m. (TheW.tv)
No. 105 San Diego Toreros (18-12, 7-8) at No. 81 BYU Cougars (18-12, 10-5), 9 p.m. (BYU TV)

Between these two games and 11-4 Saint Mary’s visit from Gonzaga, the semifinal and quarterfinal byes for Las Vegas next weekend will be settled. Remember that the No. 4 seed is particularly dangerous because it would set up a potential semifinal matchup with the Zags.

Chronological Schedule

Grouped by quality in each tip window.

12-1 p.m. Tips

1/1 No. 6 Michigan State Spartans (23-5, 14-3) at No. 58 Indiana Hoosiers (14-14, 5-12), 12 p.m. (Fox)
1/1 No. 13 LSU Tigers (23-5, 13-2) at No. 48 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-11, 8-7), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
1/2 No. 31 N.C. State Wolfpack (20-8, 8-7) at No. 24 Florida State Seminoles (22-6, 10-5), 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 38 Ole Miss Rebels (19-9, 9-6) at No. 74 Arkansas Razorbacks (14-14, 5-10), 1 p.m. (SECN)
1/2 No. 50 Penn State Nittany Lions (12-16, 5-12) at No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers (19-9, 11-6), 1 p.m. (BTN)
2/1 No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks (21-7, 10-5) at No. 90 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-18, 3-12), 12 p.m. (CBS)
3/2 No. 44 Syracuse Orange (18-10, 9-6) at No. 191 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-16, 4-11), 12 p.m. (Raycom/TheACC.com/ACC Network Extra)
PI No. 243 Army West Point Black Knights (13-17, 8-9) at No. 154 Bucknell Bison (18-11, 12-5), 12 p.m. (CBSSN)
PI No. 125 Northern Kentucky Norse (22-8, 12-5) at No. 215 Green Bay Phoenix (16-14, 10-7), 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 221 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (16-13, 11-6) at No. 304 Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (11-19, 5-12), 1 p.m. (NEC Front Row)

2-3 p.m. Tips

1/1 No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (24-4, 13-2) at No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers (25-3, 13-2), 2 p.m. (CBS)
1/1 No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones (20-8, 9-6) at No. 36 Texas Longhorns (15-13, 7-8), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 54 Butler Bulldogs (15-13, 6-9) at No. 27 Villanova Wildcats (21-8, 12-4), 2 p.m. (Fox)
1/2 No. 40 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-10, 8-9) at No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers (21-7, 14-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
1/3 No. 115 West Virginia Mountaineers (11-17, 3-12) at No. 42 Oklahoma Sooners (17-11, 5-10), 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
1/3 No. 118 Pittsburgh Panthers (12-16, 2-13) at No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (25-2, 13-2), 2 p.m. (Raycom/TheACC.com/ACC Network Extra)
PI No. 18 Wofford Terriers (25-4, 17-0) at No. 163 Samford Bulldogs (16-14, 6-11), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
PI No. 46 Furman Paladins (23-6, 12-5) at No. 275 Chattanooga Mocs (12-18, 7-10), 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 130 Radford Highlanders (20-9, 12-3) at No. 225 Campbell Fighting Camels (18-11, 11-4), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
PI No. 137 Colgate Raiders (20-10, 12-5) at No. 279 Lafayette Leopards (10-18, 7-10), 2 p.m. (PLN)
PI No. 173 Omaha Mavericks (18-10, 12-3) at No. 323 Denver Pioneers (8-21, 3-12), 3 p.m. (Altitude/Denver stream)

3:30-5:30 p.m. Tips

1/1 No. 30 UCF Knights (21-6, 11-4) at No. 4 Houston Cougars (27-1, 14-1), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
1/1 No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (23-5, 11-4) at No. 43 TCU Horned Frogs (18-10, 6-9), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/1 No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-7, 9-6) at No. 23 Auburn Tigers (19-9, 8-7), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
1/3 No. 87 Miami Hurricanes (12-15, 4-11) at No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (24-4, 12-3), 4 p.m. (CBS)
1/3 No. 104 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-14, 6-11) at No. 33 Iowa Hawkeyes (21-7, 10-7), 5 p.m. (BTN)
3/2 No. 37 VCU Rams (22-6, 13-2) at No. 188 Richmond Spiders (12-16, 6-9), 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
PI No. 148 Loyola Marymount Lions (19-10, 7-8) at No. 60 San Francisco Dons (21-8, 9-6), 4 p.m. (TheW.tv)
PI No. 135 Drake Bulldogs (22-8, 11-6) at No. 157 Missouri State Bears (16-14, 10-7), 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 306 Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-19, 4-11) at No. 100 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (23-7, 13-2), 5:15 p.m. (SDSU stream)
PI No. 245 St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (16-12, 12-5) at No. 235 Sacred Heart Pioneers (14-16, 10-7), 3:30 p.m. (NEC Front Row)

6-7:30 p.m. Tips

1/1 No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5, 13-2) at No. 41 Clemson Tigers (17-11, 7-8), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
1/2 No. 64 Seton Hall Pirates (16-11, 7-8) at No. 72 Georgetown Hoyas (17-11, 7-8), 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
2/3 No. 101 Utah Utes (15-12, 9-6) at No. 77 Colorado Buffaloes (16-11, 7-8), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
PI No. 205 Cornell Big Red (13-14, 5-6) at No. 147 Brown Bears (17-10, 5-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 153 Stony Brook Seawolves (23-6, 11-3) at No. 83 Vermont Catamounts (22-6, 12-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 233 Columbia Lions (8-17, 3-8) at No. 70 Yale Bulldogs (19-5, 9-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 168 Bradley Braves (17-13, 9-8) at No. 127 Loyola Chicago Ramblers (18-12, 11-6), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
PI No. 172 Princeton Tigers (16-8, 8-3) at No. 126 Harvard Crimson (15-9, 8-3), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 122 Penn Quakers (16-11, 4-7) at No. 189 Dartmouth Big Green (11-15, 2-9), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 141 Wright State Raiders (18-12, 12-5) at No. 298 Milwaukee Panthers (9-21, 4-13), 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
PI No. 152 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (19-9, 12-5) at No. 282 Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds (10-20, 6-11), 7 p.m. (PLN)

8-9:30 p.m. Tips

1/1 No. 19 Nevada Wolf Pack (26-2, 13-2) at No. 34 Utah State Aggies (23-6, 13-3), 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
1/2 No. 35 Baylor Bears (19-9, 10-5) at No. 28 Kansas State Wildcats (21-7, 11-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
1/2 No. 53 Memphis Tigers (18-11, 10-6) at No. 22 Cincinnati Bearcats (24-4, 13-2), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
1/3 No. 129 Austin Peay Governors (21-9, 13-4) at No. 52 Murray State Racers (24-4, 15-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))
1/3 No. 108 Georgia Bulldogs (10-18, 1-14) at No. 29 Florida Gators (17-11, 9-6), 8:30 p.m. (SECN)
PI No. 105 San Diego Toreros (18-12, 7-8) at No. 81 BYU Cougars (18-12, 10-5), 9 p.m. (BYU TV)
PI No. 45 Belmont Bruins (24-4, 15-2) at No. 317 Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (10-20, 5-12), 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

10 p.m. and Later Tips

1/1 No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-2, 15-0) at No. 39 Saint Mary’s Gaels (20-10, 11-4), 10 p.m. (ESPN)
1/3 No. 79 Arizona Wildcats (17-12, 8-8) at No. 67 Oregon Ducks (16-12, 7-8), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

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All coaches are interim

iu

(AP)

The last push notification of 2018 told me Steve Alford had been let go by UCLA, and it got me to thinking about just how unique his career has been. The ex-Bruin head coach has been nothing if not innovative in his comings and goings.

If you’re looking at college basketball fixtures that have been as famous for as long as Alford, you’re working from a really short list. Jim Boeheim, of course. Plus Mike Krzyzewski, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, and Danny Manning, certainly, but not too many others. Relative newcomers like Roy Williams and Bill Self, for example, were still anonymous assistants at North Carolina and Oklahoma State, respectively, when Alford won a national title as a player at Indiana.

What’s interesting about Alford in stark contrast to other hoary holdovers from the ’80s is that, to an extent that’s unusual and that far outstrips mere maturation, he seemed to change before our eyes.

It need hardly be remarked that Boeheim and Krzyzewski have presented the same public faces forever, and, for all we know, they came out of the delivery room that way. Even players-turned-coaches like Ewing, Mullin, and Manning (to say nothing of later members of that same club like Sean Miller, Avery Johnson, Matt Painter, Steve Wojciechowski, Bryce Drew, and Chris Collins) appear to be fairly seamless adult extensions of the young players they once were.

Not Alford. As a player, he arrived on the scene as the apotheosis of taciturn yes-sir Hoosierdom. If fellow central-Indiana native Brad Stevens had been that famous that young, he might have cut more or less the same figure that Alford did at that age. Yet, somewhere along the line, those two stylistic and comportment paths diverged markedly.

A high-school legend in the state of Indiana who once scored 57 (pre-three-point-line) points and converted 25 consecutive free throws in a state tournament game, Alford was, seemingly, ordained by fate to play for Bob Knight. The coach was then at the peak of his powers, and, with Alford’s threes and one famous long two from Keith Smart, Knight won his third national title when he was younger than Chris Holtmann, Bobby Hurley, or Chris Mack are now.

(One of history’s great what-ifs is what the ’90s and aughts might have been in college basketball terms had Knight’s basketball mind been entrusted to any one of millions of other available personalities and/or temperaments selected at random from the adult population of the United States. In that Pottersville, every team still runs motion in 2019 and screens happen off the ball only.)

A cup of coffee in the NBA and a stint as the head coach at D-III Manchester came next for Alford. Then, in 1995, he was hired at Missouri State (née Southwest Missouri State), where, in his fourth season, the coach who would later be criticized for March failures had one utterly spectacular March.

In the 1999 NCAA tournament, Alford’s No. 12-seeded Bears beat No. 5 seed Wisconsin 43-32, before defeating No. 4 seed Tennessee 81-51. Coming just a year after Rick Majerus had put on an even more extraordinary display of defensive voodoo for Utah, it didn’t seem at all far-fetched to infer that this Alford guy was really onto something. Plus he was young.

In a hiring market where the Next Big coaching Things were commonly regarded as Alford, Quin Snyder, and, to a lesser extent, Self, Iowa snapped up the 34-year-old coach. He was back home in a Big Ten that was now being dominated by Tom Izzo and that still, for one last season, included Knight.

The defensive magic didn’t happen right away in Iowa City. It came around, eventually, in 2006 (and it was statistically unmistakable — Missouri State was no accident), but that excellence crashed momentously on the reef of March Madness. The brackets handed the Hawkeyes an underdog from Natchitoches.

Back then I was seeking employment as a college basketball writer. Meanwhile, my actual employer at the time expected me, for some inscrutable reason, to do things completely unrelated to college basketball. So, on the day in question, I took a leisurely lunch at a place showing the Iowa round of 64 game. I still remember the sound that exploded in a bar populated by near-equal portions of terrified Hawkeye fans and March-only onlooker types just wanting something cool to happen….

By this time Alford had already squandered precious capital with the Pierre Pierce debacle, an episode that, sadly, presaged sanctimonies and rationalizations to come. So, when the coach jumped to New Mexico in 2007, Iowa appeared to shed few tears in going back to the same “hot mid-major coach du jour” well that, to date, has supplied the last three Hawkeye head coaches.

Alford never got New Mexico to the Sweet 16, but, in fairness, the program itself has only been there twice in 80 tries. Seen in this light, his tenure in Albuquerque arguably constituted a golden era for a program that arguably has had two golden eras.

In particular, the No. 3 seeds the Lobos earned in 2010 and 2013 stand alongside the slot earned by the 1997 team as the best bracket positions in school history. More fatefully, that 2013 team was sufficiently impressive to get Alford the UCLA job after then-usual suspects like Stevens, Shaka Smart, and Gregg Marshall proved to be a human-resources bridge too far.

You know the rest. Alford’s recruiting at Westwood was excellent, of course, but that is very often the case with UCLA head coaches. Actually, Ben Howland’s recruiting hauls in 2012 (Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, and Tony Parker) and 2008 (Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, Drew Gordon, and Jerime Anderson) still stand as, statistically, UCLA’s best classes of the one-and-done era.

We know now that Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf would turn out to be the college performance equals of if not superiors to those precursors. Indeed, that 2017 team supplies some illuminating, though hardly exculpatory, qualitative modifiers to the undeniable quantitative facts that cost a coach his gig.

Picking on Alford for never winning the Pac-12, for example, seems a bit rich. Jay Wright didn’t win the Big East last year, but one might say his team still had a pretty good season. That 2017 UCLA team finished a game back of Oregon and Arizona, but 15-3 ain’t chopped liver, and, anyway, that Bruin group was the best one Westwood has seen since the days of Darren Collison and Holiday.

By the same token, Alford’s Bruin-era numbers in the NCAA tournament were solid enough considering the seeds….

UCLA tournament performance under Alford

                   Wins
      Seed   Expected  Actual
2014    4      1.52      2
2015   11      0.50      2
2016   
2017    3      1.79      2
2018   11      0.50      0

               4.31      6

Still, getting to the Elite Eight matters, a lot. Even Tony Bennett, for all his historically extreme performance-against-seed-expectation travails, has that bullet on his resume.

All in-season firings denote an unwillingness to wait any longer, and this one additionally connoted a desire to change the face of the program. The exertions of figures as otherwise dissimilar as Alford, Howland, and Steve Lavin suggest it’s probable the next full-time coach of the Bruins will last four-plus seasons and win about 70 percent of his games. The proverbial people close to the program, apparently, were just tired of Alford being the person that does that.

One question going forward for basketball on the left coast writ large will be the extent to which what’s ailing UCLA currently is symptomatic of something more systemic. Say what you will about league-wide cycles and geographic talent bases, the Pac-12 has certainly seen better basketball days in terms of pure performance….

Pac-12-now

With a decade of basketball having been played since the league’s No. 1-in-KenPom glory days in 2009, we can now ask the same question of the Pac-12 that the late, great Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver reputedly posed to the home plate ump on more than one occasion: “Are you going to get any better, or is this it?”

I think it was Jim Crews who said all coaches are interim, and Alford made it 778 games into his coaching career before he enacted the hired-and-fired part of that neat performance-arc script for the first time. That is no small feat in itself.

He elevated the performance of the programs that employed him above what they have otherwise achieved when he was at Missouri State and New Mexico. Conversely, his teams at Iowa and UCLA outscored their leagues by about the same margins as what we saw in those same jobs over comparable periods of time from Fran McCaffery and Howland, respectively. We should therefore be up for entertaining the not terribly complex hypothesis that Alford could make some AD in, say, the American or the WCC very happy. We’ll see.

Maybe it’s strange or apt or both that the player who was present for the most recent Indiana national title went on to coach at UCLA, of all places. The Hoosiers and the Bruins are the only two teams in the country with more than two national championships wherein all of them were won in the previous century.

Both programs have been expecting their rightful return to glory any time now for decades. Alford alone has felt that distinct glare in both locales. Wherever it turns out to be, his next posting will feel very quiet by comparison.

02/28: The bad Big East, a big bubble weekend ahead, and the must-watch games to build Saturday around

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has been suspended two games for accusing an official of being crooked. GP and Norlander open that, then get to St. John’s not-good loss to Xavier on Thursday night (7:00), which leads the guys to a greater conversation about the bubble and the Big East this season. From there, a lot to get to with the weekend’s games: Kentucky-Tennessee (20:15), UCF-Houston (32:00), Nevada-Utah State (38:45), Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s (43:00), bubble chatter (52:00) and Maryland-Michigan (54:30). Also, the end of the pod veers into the odd: Parrish slept in his car before he recorded this episode. 

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A very brief history of the Big East’s 1990s-era experiment with six fouls

mourning

Those were the days. Sort of.

Every time my colleague Dick Vitale sees Zion Williamson take a seat on the bench after picking up two first-half fouls, he launches into an impassioned and loquacious plea (it’s true!) for increasing the number of personal fouls allowed per player to six.

And every time that happens, Twitter reacts to Dickie V with arch and snarky dismissiveness (it’s true!) and says it would never work.

Young turks on social media say, hey, great, just what we need, more fouls. Old geezers say, hey, I remember the old six-foul Big East from the 1990s, and it was awful.

Well, score one for the old geezers. Six fouls is not the answer, at least not now, and the Big East proved it between 1990 and 1992. (For the record, the Trans America Athletic Conference, the forerunner of today’s Atlantic Sun, joined the Big East in taking the six-foul rule out for a spin at that same time.)

On August 10, 1989, the news went out over the wires:

The Big East Conference will allow basketball players six fouls instead of five next season in an experiment that critics say will hurt underdogs by making it harder to get other teams’ star players out of games.

The six-foul rule and the proposed use of the 45-second clock rather than a hand count to measure 10-second violations were approved by a vote of the Big East coaches.

The coaches rejected a third experimental rule that would have given players three free throws instead of two if they were fouled while shooting three-pointers.

The Big East experiment from long ago merits a look today, for it suggests that visually pleasing basketball might indeed be the product of a delicate balance, just as traditionalists say it is. If you’re going to disqualify players after a certain number of fouls, there really does seem to be some kind of equipoise inherent to the one-foul-per-eight-minutes-of-game-clock ratio seen in both the college game and in the NBA.

To put it bluntly, the Big East experiment was something of a disaster, though not to Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun. “Our league was just as physical with five fouls,” Boeheim said with crusty and defiant truculence (it’s true!) in 1992 when the six-foul rule was ended.

In a manner of speaking, Boeheim was correct. Certainly no Big East team during the six-foul era fouled anywhere near as often as did Rick Pitino’s hacktastic pre-rule-change Providence team when it reached the 1987 Final Four with Billy Donovan.

The problem was that more or less the entire Big East started more closely resembling the Pitino-era Friars….

 

thegraph

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, said Boeheim at the time:

The only thing you get [with six fouls] is better defense from your best players because they aren’t worried about it, and you get better basketball games because your best players are on the court.

Calhoun was also a fan of six fouls in 1992. “I don’t believe the Big East will be less physical,” he said when the rule was on its way out. “More guys are going to be in foul trouble. Now a guy gets two fouls and you’ve got to take him out of the game. I think six fouls should be used throughout college basketball.”

Boeheim and Calhoun had clout, but the final nail in the six-foul rule’s coffin was purely pragmatic. Other Big East coaches felt their teams were struggling to adjust to a five-foul game once the NCAA tournament began.

Nor did it help matters that a brash and youthful Washington Post columnist named Tony Kornheiser had labeled Big East basketball as unwatchable.

Let’s hear it for the genius who suggested that the Big East extend the personal foul limit from five to six in conference play. Not only does this put the teams in jeopardy during the NCAA’s, where everyone adheres to the five-foul rule, but it helps prolong Big East games to the point of absurdity….

I love Big East games because they enable me to catch up on my reading. In just the last two minutes of Friday night’s Georgetown-Miami game (52 fouls overall, thank you) I read “War and Peace.” In the Russian….

You’re familiar with time-lapse photography, where they can compress the 12 hours it takes for a flower to bloom into 30 seconds? Well, the Big East has just the opposite effect. In just one game you can see the aging process acutely. Before the start of Friday’s game, Villanova’s coach, Rollie Massimino,  not only had a full head of hair, it was black!

Foul rates had spiked for Big East teams in 1992, and good riddance became the operative phrase. Six fouls went the way of 45-second clock, and no one not named Boeheim or Calhoun lamented the rule’s passing. Indeed, by January of 1993, the six-foul rule was already so toxic in retrospect that there were worries about permanent basketball damage.

Alexander Wolff wrote in Sports Illustrated that the Big East still hadn’t “shaken off the notoriety resulting from the endless, foul-plagued games that ensued, and the sanguinary style of play seems to have taken permanent root.” True, SI’s pre-mortem (“The Big Least”) turned out to be premature, but the verdict on six fouls was more or less unanimous.

Whether it’s the shot clock, the three-point line, or even the NCAA tournament itself, college basketball is the product not only of Dr. Naismith’s brain but also of subsequent experiments that worked. This experiment didn’t work.

So this six fouls thing is settled forever? Well, maybe. I suppose if we ever get to a point where every defense is playing a Michigan style slash getting a Michigan benefit of the doubt and sport-wide foul rates are rock-bottom, then, paradoxically, you could perhaps have a discussion on the cost-benefit of “more fouls, more Zion” (whomever the Zion of some future epoch happens to be) for the occasional two-foul first-half outlier.

That being said, we should be under no misapprehensions about the “more fouls” part. The best info we have says that’s a given.

Postscript: A plea on behalf of our nation’s basketball analytic heritage
My nifty foul rate chart from 1987 to 1995 constitutes a hearty amen to previous research on this same question, and, like the previous researcher, I wish pre-KenPom numbers on the interwebs weren’t quite so spotty. For starters, my nifty chart would, ideally, say “conference” instead of “all” games. Also, if anyone knows where I can get my hands on Providence opponent FTAs and FGAs from 1988-89, I’m all ears.

Lastly, let the record show that when you get it into your head to wonder, “Say, what did six fouls do to foul rates in the 1990s?” you can come across a table like this:

clean

Granted, the wealth of information that’s out there right now is, historically speaking, amazing, and many people had to log many hours of thankless toil to furnish the 99 percent of scans that are legible. Consider this an attaboy, may that work continue.

You may know Google Cloud as the outfit that’s teamed with the NCAA to do the NET, but the two partners are also in an alliance to whip this very data into shape at long last. Well, that would be wonderful. Go to it.

SPORTS FRANCHISES THAT HAVE PROVEN TO BE THE ULTIMATE RETURN ON INVESTMENT


Adelphi Sports Management Online Masters Degree

MEAC Madness: Conference Tournament projections with one week left in MEAC play

MEAC Madness is approaching fastly

MEAC play has been enjoyable this season. We’ve seen a few overtime games, a lot of close finishes, some tense moments, and some great basketball being played. Everyone in the conference knows that this league is not a multiple bid league for the NCAA Tournament. Due to this, the MEAC tournament is the true proving ground. And as the tournament is about two weeks away, let’s see how the bracket is shaping up right now.

Projected Seedings

  1. Norfolk State (12-1 MEAC)
  2. NC A&T (11-3 MEAC)
  3. NC Central (10-5 MEAC)
  4. Howard (8-6 MEAC)
  5. Bethune-Cookman (8-6 MEAC)
  6. Savannah State (7-7 MEAC)
  7. Coppin State (6-8 MEAC)
  8. SC State (5-9 MEAC)
  9. Morgan State (3-10 MEAC)
  10. UM Eastern Shore (3-11 MEAC)
  11. Delaware State (2-11)

One team is missing: Florida A&M.

Due to NCAA APR violations, the Rattlers won’t be eligible for the postseason. What’s sad is that the announcement was made two weeks ago, in the midst of FAMU’s best basketball season in a while. Due to that, the Rattlers are not in the mix. If they were, they’d be around a 4th or 5th seed in the tournament. Therefore, the top 5 seeds in the tourney will get a bye. As of right now, Bethune-Cookman is that team. The current five-team bye structure might be how the conference sets up their Men’s tourney since Savannah State will be leaving the conference this year, leaving the league with 11 teams.

Norfolk State has a major chance to win their first outright MEAC title in a few years. They have to win two more games to secure their top seed. NC A&T and NC Central will be battling as the season ends but it could impact the seeding as well.

Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Savannah State, and Coppin State can all move up or down from their projected standings. BCU and Howard’s spots are critical since they won’t play until Thursday night. For Morgan State, UMES, and Del State; their struggles can land them in the route to facing Norfolk State, NCCU or A&T if they make it past the first round. In terms of seeding changes, the middle of the pack could see the most change within the next week.

Projected Matchups

First Round | Monday, March 11

Savannah State (No. 6 seed) vs. Delaware State (No. 11 seed), 6 p.m.

First Round | Tuesday, March 12

SC State (No. 8 seed) vs. Morgan State (No. 9 seed), 6 p.m.

Coppin State (No. 7 seed) vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (No. 10 seed), 8:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals | Wednesday, March 13

Norfolk State (No. 1 seed) vs. SC State or Morgan State, 6 p.m.

North Carolina A&T (No. 2 seed) vs. Coppin State or UMES, 8 p.m.*

Quarterfinals | Thursday, March 14 – SESSION 6

NC Central (No. 3 seed) vs. Sav State or Delaware State, 6 p.m.

Bethune-Cookman (No. 4 seed) vs. Howard (No. 5 seed), 8 p.m.*

Semifinals | Friday, March 15

NSU or MSU or SC State vs. BCU or Howard, 6 p.m.

SSU or Del State or NCCU vs. Coppin or UMES or NC A&T, 8 p.m.*

Championship | Saturday, March 16

Game 20: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2, 1 p.m

Regular Season Games Left

Saturday, March 2

South Carolina State at Bethune-Cookman 4 p.m.

Morgan State at Delaware State 4 p.m.

Florida A&M at North Carolina A&T State 4 p.m.

Howard at Savannah State 6 p.m.

Coppin State at Norfolk State 6:30 p.m.

Monday, March 4

Norfolk State at Delaware State 7:30 p.m.

Morgan State at Maryland Eastern Shore 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 7

North Carolina Central at North Carolina A&T State 7:30 p.m.

Coppin State at Morgan State 7:30 p.m.

Delaware State at Maryland Eastern Shore 7:30 p.m.

Florida A&M at Bethune-Cookman 7:30 p.m.

Savannah State at South Carolina State 7:30 p.m.

Howard at Norfolk State 8 p.m.

John Konchar and Antoine Davis highlight record-breaking Thursday

Both players made their marks on the record books last night.

Thursday night featured two players who found their way into the record books for very different reasons.

John Konchar has been one of the most underrated players in college basketball for his entire career. As a jack-of-all trades wing for Purdue Fort Wayne, he’s been a stat sheet stuffer that impacts the game all over the floor. On Thursday night, he became the first player in college basketball history to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 200 steals.

Konchar is in the midst of a stellar senior campaign to the tune of 19.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He’s propelled the Mastodons to third place in the Summit League with a 17-13 record overall and a 9-6 mark in league play.

Elsewhere in the Midwest, Antoine Davis became the most proficient freshman from the three-point line. In a win over IUPUI last night, Davis hit his 124th three-pointer of the season, breaking Steph Curry’s mark for threes made by a freshman. Here’s how he did it:

Davis has been among the most electric scorers in the country thanks in part to his long-range marksmanship. At 26 points per game, Davis is third in the country in scoring average. His 125 threes made are second only to Wofford’s Fletcher Magee, who has knocked in 131.