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Bracketology!

CHD LOGOIt’s February, which means it is officially time to start projecting the NCAA Tournament field.
Here’s a look at my first in-season Bracketology for 2015-16.

As of games through Monday, February 1.

WARNING: The predicted field/seeding is highly likely to change from day to day or minute to minute.

*Automatic bids in italics


1 SEEDS: Oklahoma; Iowa; North Carolina; Villanova.

2 SEEDS: Xavier; Virginia; Iowa State; Kansas.

3 SEEDS: Michigan State; Oregon; Texas A&M; Texas.

4 SEEDS: West Virginia; Maryland; Louisville; Miami.

5 SEEDS: Purdue; Kentucky; Providence; Utah.

6 SEEDS: USC; Duke; Arizona; Dayton.

7 SEEDS: Baylor; Florida; Michigan, Indiana.

8 SEEDS: Notre Dame; Wichita State; Colorado; California.

9 SEEDS: St. Mary’s; VCU; Pittsburgh; Syracuse.

10 SEEDS: Florida State; South Carolina; Seton Hall; UConn.

11 SEEDS: Valparaiso; St. Joe’s; Washington; Butler vs. Cincinnati.

12 SEEDS: Monmouth; Clemson vs. Texas Tech; San Diego State; Ark. Little Rock.

13 SEEDS: Chattanooga; William & Mary; South Dakota State; Stony Brook.

14 SEEDS: Princeton; Akron; UC Irvine; Middle Tenn. State.

15 SEEDS: Belmont; Grand Canyon; North Florida; Montana.

16 SEEDS: S. F. Austin; NC Asheville; Navy vs. Wagner; Southern vs. Hampton.

 

LAST FOUR IN: Butler; Clemson; Texas Tech; Cincinnati.

FIRST FOUR OUT: Vanderbilt; Kansas State; UCLA; Gonzaga.

NEXT FOUR OUT: Oregon State; Georgia Tech; Georgetown; George Washington.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: ACC (10); Big 12 (7); Pac 12 (7); Big Ten (6); Big East (5); SEC (4); Atlantic 10 (3); AAC (2).

 

Note: Automatic bids are determined at this point by the highest RPI in each league.

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Big Ten Power Rankings – Conference Play Week 2

BIG

  1. Maryland (15-2, 4-1) Last Week-1  – Despite losing a close one at Michigan, the Terps are still the best team in the conference. Melo Trimble is probably the conference POY right now, but they will need to bounce back in their upcoming home games against Ohio State and Northwestern.
  2. Iowa (12-3, 3-0) LW-2 – The Hawkeyes have had over a week off since starting 3-0. They have a big one on the road against Sparty tonight at 7pm ET on ESPN. Then they’ll host a hot Michigan team on Sunday in Iowa City.
  3. Michigan State (16-1, 3-1) LW-3 – After the loss to Iowa, Michigan State has rattled off 3 straight Big Ten wins. They get their redemption tonight as they host Iowa before traveling to Madison on Sunday to take on Wisconsin,
  4. Indiana (14-3, 4-0) LW-6 – Amazing that they are playing this well without James Blackmon Jr. They survived a squeaker against Wisconsin and then blew out Ohio State. The Hoosiers are good again and Thomas Bryant is their best big man since Zeller left.
  5. Michigan (13-4, 3-1) LW-5 – Big Blue just beat the Maryland, a huge bounce back after losing to Purdue by 17. But they are without Caris LeVert, so they will continue to need big games out of Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton. The Wolverines look to win their 2nd straight game against a ranked opponent when they travel to Iowa on Sunday.
  6. Purdue (15-3, 3-2) LW-4 – The Boilermakers had a rough week as they got thumped by Illinois. But they still have a better team then they are showing on the floor and I expect them to bounce back. They beat Penn State this week and get Rutgers on Monday.
  7. Ohio State (12-6, 4-1) LW-7 – The Buckeyes were about to climb in the rankings after a good win against Northwestern until they got pummeled by Indiana. Indiana is good but it was a very poor showing by Ohio State. Things don’t get much easier as they travel to an angry Maryland on Saturday.
  8. Northwestern (15-3, 3-2) LW-8 – The Wildcats bounced back nicely from the Ohio State loss with 2 straight wins, but it didn’t help them too much that their wins were against 2 of the bottom 3 with Minnesota and Wisconsin. They have another must-win game against Penn State before traveling to College Park on Tuesday to take on Maryland.
  9. Nebraska (10-8, 2-3) LW-12 – Nebraska took over the best of the bottom feeders by beating Rutgers and Minnesota with quite ease. The Huskers have 2 straight away games with Illinois and Michigan State coming up this week. If they beat Illinois they should be very proud of their first 6 conference games.
  10. Illinois (9-8, 1-3) LW-10 – Illinois shocked everyone by beating Purdue, pretty easily i might add, as Malcolm Hill went off for 30 points. This might be the spark that the Illini needed, as I said last week, I had no idea what was going on in Champaign and why they weren’t playing better. Guess they should give away more bobbleheads!
  11. Penn State (10-8, 1-4) LW-11 – Penn State lost 2 tough games against Michigan State and Purdue so we can’t penalize them for that. They have 2 winnable games this week with against a reeling Northwestern and Wisconsin.
  12. Wisconsin (9-9, 1-3) LW-9 – Things are bad in Madison. This is the worst team that Wisconsin has had since I can remember. It is a shame to waste Nigel Hayes’ senior season. They have 3 straight losses and 6 out of 9 overall. Ethan Happ is still playing outstanding basketball and is a definite nominee for the conference All-Freshman team.
  13. Minnesota (6-11, 0-5) LW-14 – Minnesota has struggled less than Rutgers during conference play so far. But They can’t be very happy with their results. Five tough losses and it doesn’t get much better as they have Indiana and Michigan this week.
  14. Rutgers (6-12, 0-5) LW-13 – Rutgers has lost their 5 games by an average of 23 points. It is hard to expect much more from a team playing with only 7 scholarship athletes.
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Wichita State Blows by Missouri State

Gregg Marshall reacts to a foul called in the second half - photo by Scott Zolotorow

Gregg Marshall reacts to a foul called in the second half – photo by Scott Zolotorow

After a slow start in a tough road environment at JQH Arena, Wichita State dominated the second half on their way to a 78-62 win at Missouri State. Freshman Markis Mcduffie was the best player on the floor, scoring 16 points on 8-9 shooting, while grabbing a game-high 9 rebounds.

Continue Reading

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ACC Power Rankings – Conference Week 1

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  1. North Carolina (14-2, 3-0) – Not much needs to be said about UNC right now. Brice Johnson just put up a historic game against FSU. His performance made your forget that Marcus Paige was nearly as good on the same night. UNC is one of just a few teams that have 5 guys averaging in double-figures and they might be the deepest team in the country. Their recent domination has been without Kennedy Meeks, who will play this weekend after missing 6 straight. Good luck to the rest of the ACC when UNC comes to town.
  2. Louisville (13-2, 2-0) – Only a 2 point loss at Kentucky keeps them from being a 1a, 1b with UNC. Damion Lee is a first team All-ACC player and its a shame the Cardinals only get him for 1 year. Rick Pitino has done a fantastic job with this his guys after the ugly start to the season filled with scandal. Donovan Mitchell is one of the best unknown freshman in the conference, who is starting to make himself a household name with his athleticism. Continue Reading
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Big Ten Power Rankings – Conference play Week 1

BIG

  1. Maryland (13-1, 2-0) – Until proven otherwise, Maryland will stay number 1. Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone are playing fantastic basketball. The Terps dominated Northwestern on the road and Diamond Stone put up 39 points in their first BIG home game against Penn State. All five starters for the Terps are averaging double-figures.
  2. Iowa (12-3, 3-0) – Highly subject to change, but Iowa beat Purdue and Michigan State, the next 2 teams on this list. Jarrod Uthoff is up there with Denzel Valentine and Melo Trimble as the best players in the conference. All 3 of their loses this season were to quality opponents (Iowa State, Notre Dame, Dayton). Continue Reading
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The Mount Soars Past LIU Brooklyn in NEC Opener

Senior Gregory Graves and Coach Jamion Christian are all smiles after defeating LIU Brooklyn - photo by Scott Zolotorow

Senior Gregory Graves and Coach Jamion Christian are all smiles after defeating LIU Brooklyn – photo by Scott Zolotorow

Mount St. Mary’s opened up their NEC play with a dominating 79-63 win Saturday against LIU Brooklyn. The extremely balanced Mountaineers had all five starters finish in double-figures, led by guard BK Ashe’s 16. They combined for 69 of the team’s 79 points. Continue Reading

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Big East Predictions, Part Deux

Big East

In the preseason, the consensus amongst the media was that the Big East conference was Villanova’s to lose, once again. That sentiment was hard to dispute: five major contributors are back from last season’s 33-win team.
However, Coach Jay Wright warned us that things would not be as simple as it seemed.

“I respect everybody putting us in that position, but I kinda question their voting a little bit,” Wright said during Big East Media Day. “I just don’t think we’re as experienced as we’ve been to be in that [top] spot… I think the way we’re all rated by the end could be a lot different than people think.”

Well, Wright couldn’t convince us, but Xavier may have.

1. Xavier – it’s hard not to really, really like what the Musketeers have done so far this season. They are #1 in the all-important R.P.I. (though it’s a bit early to care about such things), but more to the point, they are undefeated with convincing victories at Michigan, vs. Dayton, vs. Cincinnati and at Wake Forest. They look very for real.

2. Butler – people tend to look at Butler with a scrunched face. They acknowledge that they are a gritty, solid team, but are reluctant to take it further. These Bulldogs have a lot of weapons, enough to make a Final Four run, if the rest of the country isn’t very careful. Ask Purdue.

3. Villanova – the aforementioned preseason favorites have not been bad at all, just not as impressive as the two teams currently rated above them. They are still incredibly guard dependent, so the perimeter shots will need to fall.

4. Georgetown – The Hoyas have been highly disappointing over the first couple months of the season. The talent is there, perhaps too much so for JTIII’s comfort level. They have played the good teams tough, but come up embarrassingly short against some of the lesser competition. Thompson is a proven commodity, so expect GTown to right the ship.

5. Providence – former Friar star and ball-handling legend, God Shammgod, told me on media day that Providence would surprise people this year because you can never underestimate the advantage of having the best player on the floor. Kris Dunn has made that crystal clear in the non-conference, so much so, that I feel I am likely underrating the Friars, still.

6. Marquette – the Golden Eagles possess the best freshman in the conference and easily one of the best in the country, in 6’10 mobile big man Henry Ellenson. They have run off nine straight victories, including wins over decent competition such as LSU, Arizona State and Wisconsin.

7. Seton Hall – the Pirates have been surprisingly solid so far, led by sophomore Isaiah Whitehead. Their victory over Wichita State opened some eyes to the possibility of the Hall breaking into the top six of the league and getting an NCAA Tournament berth. Both are lofty goals.

8. Creighton – the Bluejays have shown they will be a pesky team that is capable of beating almost anyone in the conference. Their goal should be a postseason berth of any kind.

9. DePaul – the Blue Demons have been pretty much what most expected this season: bad. But, they then went and blew out a good George Washington team last week, so maybe this year will be different. Probably not.

10. St. John’s – Chris Mullin said before the season that he had won and lost at all levels, so he was prepared for whatever happened to the Johnnies this year. So far, it’s been more of the latter. Surprisingly, though, the Red Storm have played extremely well on occasion, despite their depleted roster (see their 84-72 win over Syracuse earlier this month). So, they should be able to scratch out a couple of Big East wins.

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Diamond Stone Breaks Out as Maryland Beats Penn State in BIG Opener

Diamond Stone on defense - Photo by Scott Zolotorow

Diamond Stone on defense – Photo by Scott Zolotorow

Diamond Stone set the Terps freshman scoring-record tonight with 39 points as Maryland fought back from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Penn State 70-64. The big fella was 10-15 from the floor and a remarkable 19-25 from the line while grabbing 12 rebounds. Only Ben Simmons has also had a 39 point, 12 rebound game this season. Continue Reading