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March Madness 2017: Previewing the East Region First and Second Rounds

NCAA Tournament East Regional Logo 2017

The East is surely not a beast compared to the other regions, but the presence of two of the nation’s best teams – one being the season’s most consistent and the other being the hottest – makes the upper left portion of the bracket formidable.

The issue with the East region is its strength after the top two seeds. The next three highest seeds – Baylor, Florida and Virginia – look ready for the taking. They all started the season strong, accumulating impressive metrics, only to falter mightily down the stretch.

Best First Round Match-Up

(9) Virginia Tech vs. (8) Wisconsin

The 8/9 games are often the most compelling of the first round games because they obviously match up teams of similar strengths against each other. This game definitely fits that description. The Badgers were grossly under seeded, despite a disappointing second half of the season. However, Wisconsin is a senior-laden team with players such as Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who have been here before (Sweet 16 last season) and are led by Big Ten Player of the Year contender in Ethan Happ.

Virginia Tech is formidable in their own right. The Hokies, led by one of the best coaches in the business, in Buzz Williams, finished 10-8 in the vaunted ACC, including wins over the likes of Virginia, Miami and Wake Forest towards the end of the regular season. Look for this game to be a close, physical and mental battle, with the winner having a solid chance to upend Villanova in the next round.

Best Potential Upset

(13) East Tennessee State over (4) Florida

This pick is as much about Florida’s vulnerability as it is about ETSU’s upside, though that exists as well. ETSU is long and athletic, led by guard T.J. Cromer’s 19 points per game. The Buccaneers won nine of their last ten games in the solid Southern conference and won at Mississippi State and suffered a close loss to Tennessee earlier in the season.

Florida has lost three of their last four games and don’t have many big wins on their resume. It could be argued that the Gators got fat off of mediocre SEC competition.

Best Player vs. Player Matchup

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes vs. Virginia Tech’s Zach LeDay

This forward matchup is a clash of team leaders, who each have to have big games in order for their respective teams to prevail. LeDay has had a great season for the Hokies, scoring 16 points per game and hauling in 7.4 rebounds per contest. Hayes has been somewhat disappointing this season, but is still averaging 13.5ppg, 6.5rpg and 2.8apg and is capable of even more.

Sleeper Team That Could Bust Your Bracket

Wisconsin.

If this sounds like a theme, it is. The committee did top-seeded Villanova no favors by seeding the Badgers as an 8, despite a solid showing in the Big Ten this season and all kinds of tournament experience on their roster. This is not a prediction that Villanova will lose in the second round, but they could, and regardless, such a matchup would not have a second round feel to it.

Most Vulnerable High Seed (1-4)

4-seed Florida has been discussed, but 3-seed Baylor and 5-seed Virginia look vulnerable, as well. Baylor was considered a top seed by the selection committee back in February, but has since fallen on tough times. The Bears are 3-4 in their last seven games and 5-6 in their last 11 games. Virginia lost 6 of 8 games in the meat of their schedule in February, including four straight, before seemingly straightening things out at the end of the season. All three of these schools look ripe for the taking if a lower seeded team comes to play.

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March Madness 2017: Previewing the Midwest Region First and Second Round

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Bryan Mauro
Contributing Writer
@threecolorbeard

The Midwest Region in this years NCAA tournament is going to be exciting and fast paced.  Some of the best games in the tournament are in this region.  Lets get deep into this bracket, use this as your guide when watching the tournament.

Best Round of 64 Matchup:

Michigan and Oklahoma State:  Do you like scoring, and think defense is overrated?   If so this is the matchup for you.  This game is going to be fast paced, with a lot of scoring.  Both of these teams are near the top in the NCAA in points per possession, and near the top in total tempo.  These teams also rank near the bottom in total defense.  This game will have a little bit of excitement for everyone.  These teams are efficient, shoot a ton of threes and don’t turn the ball over much.  They also possess two of the best point guards in the country.  Michigan with Derek Walton Jr and Oklahoma State with Juwan Evans, these two guys can do it all, and are the bucket getters when crunch time approaches.  All five starters for Michigan have the green light to shoot wherever they are on the floor.  Michigan is hot after winning the Big Ten tournament and Oklahoma State is from the bang and grand Big 12.  Word of advice:  Take the Overs in this game.   Score Prediction:  Michigan 93-Oklahoma State 89. 

Second Best Game:  Iowa State vs Nevada

 Upset  Alert:

Creighton:  The Jays have really struggled without superstar point guard Mo Watson.  They did not get a favorable draw against the Rhode Island Rams.  Rhode Island won the automatic bid from the Atlantic 10, and is back in the tournament for the first time since 1999.  The Rams are now healthy and capable.  Oh yeah, did I mention they have won 9 in a row.  Creighton is not the same team without Mo Watson running the point.  Rhode Island will need to dictate the tempo in this one, and neutralize Justin Patton to win.  Kuran Iverson of Rhode Island sure will have his full.  If Rhode Island can get out to an early lead, they can extend their defense, which they do a lot and really get Creighton into some trouble.  Look for a tight game.  Rhode Island probably squeaks this one out, as they have the ability to get Justin Patton in some early foul trouble.  Something that could help Creighton avoid the potential Upset is the fact that their assistant coach played at Rhode Island, and coached there.  He recruited a lot of the guys on the Rhode Island team.  Could be an advantage.  Word of Advice:  Take the Rams to slow this game down and make an early run.

Score Prediction:  Rhode Island: 68 Creighton: 60

Second Best Upset Potential:  Purdue vs. Vermont

 

Best One on One Matchup:

Deonte Burton (Iowa State) vs. Jordan Caroline (Nevada):  I hope the NCAA packed a few extra backboards for this game.  These two guys turn every game into a dunk contest.  With these two matched up against other the rim better be on alert.  Deonte Burton is a monster inside and could have upwards of 15 dunks by himself in this game.  Jordan Caroline on the other hand, is a do everything guy for Nevada, he is known for his thunderous dunks, but he can step out and hit threes, he protects the rim, and is a really good rebounder.  If nothing else if I can at least Caroline dunk on Burton and Burton dunk on Caroline I will have gotten my money ‘s worth.  Word of Advice:  Learn about Jordan Caroline before watching this game.  He is a jaw-dropper.

Score Prediction:  Burton 20 points 10 rebounds Caroline: 18 points and 9 rebounds.  10 Dunks combined

Second Best: EC Matthews (Rhode Island) vs Marcus Foster (Creighton)

 3 Best Players You Have Never Heard Of:

 EC Matthews:  The Rhode Island point guard is a key cog to why Rhode Island is back in the tournament.  He was injured all of last year and Rhode Island had a bad season.  He’s back this year running the offense and Rhode Island could be a nice Cinderella.  The 6’5” lefty has averages of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.  He makes Rhode Island go, and he is also the team’s best defender. He will always draw the team’s top scorer.  He can go get points and is a pain on defense.

Marcus Marshall:  The flashiest scorer in this tournament that potentially no one has heard of.  His Nevada team is loaded with talent and he is the best player on that team.  The transfer from Missouri State can flat out score, and score really fast.  He can beat you off the bounce, or he can take the ball out and bury a three.  He is going to be the focus of the Iowa State game plan.  If he and Jordan Caroline are having free reign to do what they want, Nevada can go a long way in this tournament.  Marcus averages 20 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists.  He also shoots 81% from the foul line and 40% from three.  He’s an exciting player.

Jordan Washington:  The Iona big man is a load inside, and is a really skilled player for being as big as he is.  Hes an efficient scorer and really good rebounder, who should put up numbers in their first game. He will get the ball underneath a lot against Oregon.  Iona is going to be overmatched against Oregon and I don’t expect this to be much of a game, but Jordan Washington is really good.  His only downfall is that he is very prone to foul an awful lot.  I hope he doesn’t foul to much against Oregon so he can actually have a productive game.  Iona will need it.  Jordan averages 18 points and 8 rebounds, and shoots 55% from the floor.

 

16 Facts:

 NC Central: They are making their second tournament appearance of all time.  All within the last 3 years.  This team has dominated the MEAC conference for the last three years.

UC Davis: They are making their first tournament appearance in School History.  If they win the First Four game against NC Central they will survive to play Kansas.

Jacksonville State:  They are making their first appearance of all time in the tournament.  They were picked by the media and the coaches to finish in dead last in their conference this year.

Iona College:  The little school out of New York is a tournament regular within the last couple of years.  Tim Cluess their coach is one of the hottest names among coaching circles out there.  Besides Jordan Washington they have a UCONN transfer in Sam Cassell Jr, and a really exciting sixth man named Deyshonee Much.

Vermont:  The Catamounts have not lost since December 21st.  They are a capable team who may have been under-seeded. They did not lose a game in the America East conference this year.

Nevada: The Wolfpack are coached by ex-NBA headcoach Eric Musselman.  He has relied on transfers to build up his team.  This team is exciting , and possesses two of the best mid-major players in the country in Jordan Caroline and Marcus Marshall.

Rhode Island:  Making their first tournament appearance since 1999.  That year led by Lamar Odom they made the Elite 8 and were two baskets away from the Final Four.  They beat Kansas to make the Elite 8.  Watch for EC Matthews to be a household name. Kuran Iverson is their big man and he is Allen Iverson’s cousin.

Oklahoma State:  You will break a sweat just watching this team play.  They can score, and then score some more.  Their first year head coach Brad Underwood led Stephen F. Austin to two straight NCAA tournaments and beat West Virginia last year.

Michigan State:  The frontcourt is loaded with NBA lottery picks.  Led by Miles Bridges.  Tom Izzo is one of the best in game coaches in College Basketball, its always tough to pick against the Spartans.  Their issue this year has been consistent guard play.

Miami (Fla):  Lots of talent.  They play in the ACC which was arguably the best conference in history this year.  They are battle tested.  Head Coach Jim Larranaga took George Mason to a Final Four.

Michigan:  Fast paced team, who believe Defense and rebounding are over rated.  All 5 starters on the floor can shoot threes and will shoot anywhere on the floor.  Derrick Walton Jr. is a future NBA superstar.

Creighton: Losing Mo Watson has really hurt this team.  Made a run to the Big East title game before falling to Villanova.  Has been a tale of two seasons this year for Creighton.

Iowa State:  Deonte Burton is a human highlight reel when it comes to dunking the ball.  They have one of the most consistent Point Guards maybe ever.  Marcus Morris never turns the ball over, which gives Iowa State more possessions.  They have a sharpshooter in Naz Mitrou-Long

Purdue:  They have a lot of height.  Caleb Swanigan is a NBA lottery pick and a double-double machine. Issac Haas is a 7’2” inch big man who can score and protect the rim.  They like to grind you out inside and kick it out to Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline to get threes at the end of shot clocks.  Really lock you down on defense.

Oregon:  Dana Altman has the Ducks on the map.  This team is led by Dillon Brooks, they are a potential Final Four team.  Their big man Chris Boucher is out for the remainder of the season with an injury.

Louisville: Rick Pitino always becomes a force to be reckoned with when it comes to tournament time.  Louisville is trendy pick to make the finals and they have the talent and the coach to make that happen.

Kansas:  Kansas may have the best guards in the country in Frank Mason and DeVante Graham.  Bill Self is a Hall of Fame coach.  Have the potential first pick in the NBA draft in Freshman Josh Jackson.  He has a fierce Afro and a fierce game.

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March Madness 2017: Previewing the South Region First and Second Round

NCAA Tournament South Regional Logo 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 4.16.32 PM

The South is this year’s group of death with North Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA as the top three seeds. There is a lot to look forward to with this bracket as three major contenders for the Wooden Award will showcase their talents. So what should you be watching for in the South Region? Let’s take a look.

Best First Round Matchup – Friday, 7:10 ET (CBS)

It should come as no surprise that a 7 vs. 10 matchup is the best, but Dayton vs. Wichita State is going to be a dandy. Two storied mid-major programs that have gained the nation’s love recently in the past few seasons. Dayton with it’s Elite Eight run in 2014 and of course Wichita with it’s 35-1 season that same year. This game has it all, starting with two loyal and fantastic coaches who are in it for the long haul, Archie Miller and Gregg Marshall. It has a very nice guard matchup with Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke for Dayton, facing Conner Frankamp and Landry Shamet. To make matters a little more interesting, Dayton gets this game just 117 miles away from their campus, so expect Flyer Nation to be out in strong numbers.

Biggest First Round Upset Potential – Thursday, 1:30 ET (TNT)

Everyone and their mother is talking about Middle Tennessee State beating Minnesota, but I am not buying into that. I think the biggest potential for a huge upset is 13-seeded Winthrop over 4-seeded Butler. Winthrop has Keon Johnson, the best three point shooter you’ve never heard of and he is hotter than ever after an outstanding Big South Tournament. He scored 88 points in three games and knocked down 14 three’s along the way. Johnson has scored more than 30 points in seven games this season including 38 in a win at Illinois. On the other side, Butler comes in on a 2-game losing streak in which they shot the ball very poorly, especially from behind the arc (25%). Winthrop likes to run up and down the floor and if they can shoot 40 percent from behind the arc in this one, Butler will be in trouble.

Best Individual Player vs. Player Matchup – Friday, 1:30 ET (TNT)

Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington against Arkansas’s Dusty Hannahs should be electric. Both players have scored in double-figures in all but four games this season. Both are local hometown heroes from their respective schools and both can score in electric ways. These two acrobatic guards will wow you with the different ways they can score, and will easily be the two best players on the floor. It is definitely also worth noting that Carrington is one of the best defenders in the Big East, so I give him a slight upper edge in the matchup.

Best Potential Second Round Matchup

If all goes according to plan, we get the second round matchup of a lifetime of #2 Kentucky and #10 Wichita State. In case you have forgotten about the 2014 tournament, Kentucky was the 8-seed in Wichita State’s #1 seeded region. The game went back-and-forth as the Harrison twins battled Cleanthony Early. Down the stretch Early did everything he could to keep the Shocker’s perfect season going, but they fell just two points short. Fast forward to 2017 and Gregg Marshall gets his chance at redemption, something that Wichita State fans are now begging for.

 

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March Madness 2017: Previewing the West Region First and Second Round

NCAA_WEST_REGIONAL_SAN_JOSE

 

THE WEST REGION
by: Zachery Bonzheim
With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket selected, it is time to over analyze, predict, over hype, and under estimate the field. There are 68 teams, all with one goal, to win out. Winning 6 games in a row (7 for some) will mean bringing joy to alumni, fans, players, staff, and students of one college for years. Who will win it all and how? Let’s take a step back and first of all just look at it region by region. The West region this year is headlined by Gonzaga and Arizona, but it goes much deeper than that. 11 of the 16 teams in the region have a legitimate shot of winning the region.  Let’s round up the region’s first weekend.

West Region Times:
Game One for all West Regional Teams will be March 16th
Game Two for all West Regional Teams will be March 18th

(Game Schedule in Order by Tip-off)
#5 Notre Dame vs #12 Princeton- March 16th, Buffalo, 12:15 PM, CBS
#1 Gonzaga vs #16 South Dakota State- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 2 PM, TBS
#4 West Virginia vs #13 Bucknell- March 16th, Buffalo, 2:45 PM, CBS
#8 Northwestern vs #9 Vanderbilt- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 4:30 PM, TBS
#6 Maryland vs #11 Xavier- March 16th, Orlando, 6:50 PM, TNT
#7 St Mary’s vs #10 VCU- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 7:20 PM, TBS
#3 Florida State vs #14 Florida Gulf Coast, March 16th, Orlando, 9:20 PM, TNT
#2 Arizona vs #15 North Dakota- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 9:50 PM, TBS

-Best First Round Matchup
For best first round match up, three games were considered. The St Mary’s/VCU, Maryland/Xavier, and the Northwestern/Vanderbilt games were the games considered. Northwestern may be the best story, but Maryland vs Xavier will be the best match up. Xavier and Maryland are very similar. Xavier averages 74.6 per game, Maryland is 73.5, and in their last three they have both averaged around 69 per game. The leading scorers are within 1 point of each other, leading rebounders are .4 rebounds of each other, and lead assist man is within .5 assists of each other. There will not be many matchups so close as this one. Both, Trevon Bluiett and Melo Trimble had great seasons but still have to prove themselves. Look for terrific guard play and many buckets in this game.

-Best Potential Second Round Matchup
The best potential second-round matchup could be of Maryland and Princeton. If Princeton beats Notre Dame in round one, a possible upset, Maryland will have to focus. If they come into the game with any sense of ease they will get jumped on. Princeton ranks 19th in assist to turnover while Maryland ranks 138th. Both average between 75 and 70 points per game. America will be watching the game as the potential Cinderella would be taking on a proven Melo Trimble led Maryland squad. A good match up for a high scoring offense with many mistakes against a moderate scoring team that takes care of the ball.

-Most Upset Potential
Princeton will take on Notre Dame in Buffalo, New York and they are going to need their fanbase to make the couple hour trek. Princeton is riding a 19 game win streak as they went undefeated in the conference this year. Notre Dame survived the onslaught that was the ACC this year, dropping a few along the way. How can Princeton win? If Princeton is able to spread the floor and share the rock, not allowing Bonzie Colson to get into his defensive groove and not allow him to get close to inside range shots, they will have a good chance. There are five players on Princeton capable of scoring in double figures every game. Notre Dame does not rely entirely on Colson, but he is the definite centerpiece. Notre Dame will have a hard time preparing for Princeton while every single of Notre Dame’s games will be available for the Princeton Tigers. Will the Ivy league win another first round game? Harvard beat Cincy in 2015 and Yale beat Baylor 2016. Do not be surprised if the Ivy League comes up big again.

-Most Exciting Player Matchup
The most exciting game one player vs player matchup is the Trevon Bluiett and Melo Trimble matchup. Two players who were on the national radar to begin this season both have played a great season, but both did not make the jump to All-American. Both juniors, Bluiett with 18.1 points per game, Trimble with 17, both leading their teams as not only the best play but the heart and soul of the team. They will be going head to head all game and it will create great matchups.

-Most Exciting Potential Player Matchup
This only covers round one and round two and even then, the matchup of tremendous bigs Jock Landale and Lauri Markkanen will take place. Two west coast teams will face off with their seven footers (Ok Landale is only 6’11”) will battle it out down low. This game offers a lot of excitement because it is a real trap game for Arizona. If they were to win this game they would be facing a lot of favorable matchups until the Elite Eight. Both average around 17 a game and Landale rebounds 9 a game to Markkanen’s 7.5. A great potential second round matchup.

-Best Player You Have Never Heard Of
Mike Daum, Sophomore, Forward, South Dakota State…. Does he sound familiar? He may not be well known but trust me, Daum can play. He is averaging 25.3 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists a game. These numbers would give you huge national spotlight at a larger college yet they still need to be recognized. Gonzaga may completely run over the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State, but Daum will still have the highest regular season scoring average of any player in the tournament.

-Best Storyline
The best storyline is the Northwestern and Vanderbilt matchup in the first round. Both sat on the edge of their seats on Selection Sunday. One team waiting to make history as their first NCAA tournament appearance ever and the other trying to get in with the most losses ever for an at-large bid. The nation will be split. Who do you root for? Do we want Vanderbilt to prove the doubters wrong and prove that they do belong or do we want Northwestern’s first bid to end past the first game? This game will be one to watch no only for the talent on both teams, but the storylines.

-Players to Watch

(* Predicted All-Region Team) (Players Listed in Order of Seeded Team)
*Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga, Junior, Guard
Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga, Senior, Center
*Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, Freshman, Center
Allonzo Trier, Arizona, Sophomore, Guard
*Dwayne Bacon, Florida State, Sophomore, Guard
Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, Freshman, Forward
Jevon Carter, West Virginia, Junior, Guard
*Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame, Junior, Forward
V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame, Senior, Forward
*Melo Trimble, Maryland, Junior, Guard
Jock Landale, St Mary’s, Junior, Center
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier, Junior, Guard
Mike Daum, South Dakota State, Sophomore, Forward

Who Moves On?
#5 Notre Dame vs #12 Princeton- March 16th, Buffalo, 12:15 PM, CBS
Notre Dame will come into this game with a huge advantage in player talent. But, the 5/12 matchup is one of the most upset-riddled and the Ivy league has upset two years in a row. I got Princeton moving on. Let it be known, Princeton is riding the second longest win streak in Division One Men’s Basketball, 16 games.

#1 Gonzaga vs #16 South Dakota State- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 2 PM, TBS
No sixteen seed has ever beat a one seed. Is this the year where it finally happens? No. Gonzaga moves on. Expect Williams-Goss and South Dakota State’s, Mike Daum, to have big games.
#4 West Virginia vs #13 Bucknell- March 16th, Buffalo, 2:45 PM, CBS
Last year Hawaii upset Cal in the 4/13 upset, can a team do it again this year? I think yes, but I do not see it here. West Virginia will press the lights out of Bucknell and never look back. West Virginia moves on.
#8 Northwestern vs #9 Vanderbilt- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 4:30 PM, TBS
Northwestern and Vanderbilt is a tough one to look at. They are very even in skill and statistically. Vanderbilt played the toughest schedule in the nation and was able to beat the tenth best RPI team, Florida, three times. Northwestern was able to climb the rough terrain of the Big Ten this year and had their fair share of rocky spots. Toss up!
#6 Maryland vs #11 Xavier- March 16th, Orlando, 6:50 PM, TNT
Maryland may be overhyped to a degree, but since Xavier’s Edmond Summer went down, they are 6-7 with three wins over the lowly DePaul. Maryland’s talent pulls through.
#7 St Mary’s vs #10 VCU- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 7:20 PM, TBS
Many saw both of these teams as higher seeds, but the only opinion that matters is the committees. This will be a great first round matchup but VCU will not have an answer for Jock Landale. St Mary’s will survive another day.
#3 Florida State vs #14 Florida Gulf Coast, March 16th, Orlando, 9:20 PM, TNT
Florida State should not have a problem with Florida Gulf Coast. The combo of Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Issac should be enough to seal the victory. They are playing in Florida, which means there will be more FGCU fans, but there will overall just be more fans at the game. If FSU stumbles to get early buckets and can’t convert at the line, it will be closer than wanted.
#2 Arizona vs #15 North Dakota- March 16th, Salt Lake City, 9:50 PM, TBS
Arizona wins. In my opinion, this Wildcat squad is the most underestimated of the 2-seeds and the most talented non-one seed. North Dakota State could pull off the win, because hey it’s March, but I think this Arizona squad will at least make it to game two.

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Initial Quick Thoughts On Bracket

question

So the field of 68 is set and here are five quick questions that come to mind. These are not in any particular order, just simple questions.

1. How did the committee determine the seedings for the Big Ten teams? Wisconsin an 8, Minnesota a 5, Maryland a 6? All three of those seem a bit strange. I thought Maryland a 7 at best, more likely an 8 after their struggles down the stretch. Minnesota is playing good basketball now, but hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to be a 5.. Wisconsin was the best team in the conference for all but the final three weeks and they fall below both Maryland and Minnesota?

2. Why UNC, UCLA, and Kentucky in the same bracket? Three teams that for the majority of the season (albeit at different times) were considered to be 1 seeds. So why would the committee take the best 3 seed in UCLA and throw them into the fire with Kentucky, a team they played and beat earlier in the season. Sticking with this region, did the committee purposefully try to destroy Wichita State again? A team that was much better than a 10-seed gets a great Dayton as their 7 and Kentucky as the two. Seems a lot like when they gave a then top-seeded Wichita State an 8-seeded Kentucky.

3. Would Oregon have been a 2-seed over Louisville if Chris Boucher didn’t get hurt? Some people had the Ducks as a 1 seed (led by Bill Walton) if they were to win the Pac-12 championship, but instead they fall all the way to the 3 and are going to be forced to play Louisville in their backyard instead of closer to home.

4. Why is West Virginia seeded higher than Iowa State. The Cyclones beat WVU in the conference championship and have 10 wins against teams in the field of 68, including at Kansas. West Virginia has 9 wins against teams in the field.

5. How did a 7-seeded South Carolina get their first and second round games less than 100 miles away from their campus and another 7-seeded Dayton get theirs 117 miles away? I am all for protecting your top 5 seeds in each region, but South Carolina’s trip is the shortest of any teams this season and Dayton’s is the 4th shortest.

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Hotseat Coaches in The SEC, Big East, Pac-12 and Big 12

Bryan Mauro- Contributing Writer (@Threecolorbeard)

For the second installment of the Coaches on the Hot Seat, we will examine the SEC, Big East, Pac-12, and Big 12.  There has been lots of movement over the last week with conference tournaments wrapping up.

Photo Credit: AP

SEC

Kim Anderson– To say that Kim Anderson’s tenure at Missouri was tumultuous would probably be an understatement.  Kim Anderson was relieved of his duties last week, before the SEC tournament even started.  In his short stint at Missouri, they were one of the worst power five teams I had seen in quite some time.  This is a move that absolutely had to be made, and I’m sure it surprised no one when it happened.  Kim Anderson inherited a Missouri team that was a perennial top finisher in their conference under Frank Haith.  However, coach Haith did bring some sanctions on the school, right before Kim Anderson got there.  None the less, his team had enough talent.  Kim Anderson’s tenure was riddled with transfers, watching the in-state talent go elsewhere, and getting flat out embarrassed in some games.  Missouri should go looking for an upstart coach ready to start from the bottom.  I look for Pat Kelsey from Winthrop and Nick McDevitt from UNC-Asheville to get interviews for this job.  It is currently a lower tier job in the SEC, with the potential to be a top-tier job.  There is a nice influx of home-grown talent in Missouri to work with, and they have the backing of the SEC.

 

Johnny Jones– Where to begin with Johnny Jones and LSU? Basketball plays third fiddle at this school behind Football and Baseball.  I knew Johnny Jones was probably not long for LSU, after last year.  Last year, he had arguably one of the most talented teams in his history and the history of the school.  He had number one overall pick Ben Simmons, Craig Victor, and Tim Quarterman, and his team was not even close to qualifying to for the NCAA tournament. Not only did his team not win enough, there was the scandal of whether or not Ben Simmons was actually attending class before and after basketball season.  It had been reported that Ben Simmons made coach Jones aware that he was there to play basketball, not attend class.  Apparently, Johnny Jones seemed to be okay with this, as that was cited as one of the main reasons Ben Simmons chose LSU over a bevy of other college choices.  I really am at a loss as to where LSU will search for their new coach.  Their best bet would be to hire a headhunter.  They are really going to have sell LSU to their potential coach, because the fact is that, right now, this is not a good job.

John-Thompson

Big East

John Thompson III– Georgetown basketball is a perennial power, so why would JT3 be on this list with one bad year?  Well, it is a combination of everything that has happened to Georgetown in the last calendar year.  Their two best players elected to transfer, Paul White to Oregon and Isaac Copeland to Nebraska.  The team has also underachieved the last couple of years.  This year, they had a losing record and were not close to making the NCAA tournament.   When you are the coach at a program like Georgetown, it is a bad year if you earn a 10 seed, and it’s a miserable year if you don’t make the tournament all together.  The downfall of Georgetown basketball under John Thompson III happened in 2013 when they ran into the ultimate Cinderella, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.  The Eagles were a 15 seed who bounced number 2 Georgetown in the first round of the tournament.  Since then, it has been a steady decline in DC.  The Georgetown job is a difficult one.  It has a nice location in DC and is surrounded by a hotbed of talent.  The one issue? They don’t have their own arena to play in.  The arena they play in is the host to the Washington Wizards, which is a huge downfall of that job.  Facilities are a big piece to recruiting and with no arena to call their own, it’s amazing that Georgetown has done as well as they have.  Plus, the new coach will always have the shadow of John Thompson Jr. overlooking and critiquing every move they make.  Rumors have surfaced that John Thompson Jr. is the reason Georgetown has yet to make a move to fire their current coach, who is his son.  If Georgetown makes a move, they will need to hire an established coach who knows the area, and can recruit to a private school with no arena.

 

Pac-12

Nov 21, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar during the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Lorenzo Romar– Lorenzo Romar has been a huge disappointment overall at Washington.  Apparently not a big enough one though, as he will return to his post next year.  I’m guessing a lot of that has to do with the fact that he coached the future overall number 1 NBA draft pick in Markelle Fultz, and next year is bringing in the Porter brothers, with Michael Porter Jr. being the number 1 recruit in the country and future lottery pick.  Another year like Washington had this year though, and Romar may have his walking papers.  It’s great that he is able to find talent like Fultz and Porter Jr.  However, the team around those players has never developed, and Washington is not what they once were.  Washington has a storied history of placing players in the NBA and they play in one of nations best conferences.  Plus they are located in Seattle, where fans are basketball hungry, and will go watch this team play, as they are the only game in town.  If Lorenzo Romar does leave, Washington should look to hire their newly appointed assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., who is none other than Michael Porter Jr.’s father.  It will be interesting to watch this one unfold next year.

 

Big 12

– Rumors were that Bruce Weber was also in the hot seat.  I think those rumors are gone now, as his team is probably going to make the NCAA tournament again.  Kansas State will be fine going forward, and will keep making the NCAA tournament, so Bruce Weber is safe.

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New Bracketology – 3/11/17 – 2Pm

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Here’s a look at the NCAA Tournament field as if the season were to end today. 

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

 

*Automatic bids in italics.

 

1 SEEDS: Kansas; Villanova; North Carolina; Gonzaga.

 

2 SEEDS: Oregon; Duke; Kentucky; Arizona.

 

3 SEEDS: UCLA; Baylor; Louisville; Florida State.

 

4 SEEDS: Butler; West Virginia; Notre Dame; Florida.

 

5 SEEDS: Purdue; Cincinnati; Virginia; SMU.

 

6 SEEDS: Iowa State; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Creighton.

 

7 SEEDS: Michigan; Miami; St. Mary’s; Dayton.

 

8 SEEDS: Maryland; Oklahoma State; Virginia Tech; Wichita State.

 

9 SEEDS: Vanderbilt; South Carolina; Northwestern; Michigan State.

 

10 SEEDS: Arkansas; VCU; Seton Hall; Xavier.

 

11 SEEDS: Marquette; Wake Forest; USC vs. Kansas State; Syracuse vs. Providence.

 

12 SEEDS: Middle Tennessee State; North Carolina Wilmington; Nevada; Texas Arlington.

 

13 SEEDS: Vermont; Akron; Princeton; East Tennessee State.

 

14 SEEDS: Bucknell; Winthrop; CSU Bakersfield; Florida Gulf Coast.

 

15 SEEDS: Northern Kentucky; Iona; Texas Southern; UC Irvine.

 

16 SEEDS: North Dakota; Jacksonville State; South Dakota State vs. NC Central; Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans.

 

LAST FOUR IN: USC; Syracuse; Providence; Kansas State.

 

FIRST FOUR OUT: Rhode Island; Illinois State; California; Georgia.

 

NEXT FOUR OUT: Illinois; Iowa; Houston; Indiana.

 

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

 

 

Note: Automatic bids are determined by the conference tournament champion or the highest seeded team remaining in their conference tournament.

 

 

Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist

 

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Big Ten Tournament Second Round Preview

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The second day of the Big Ten nearly suffered a huge shake-up due to the scary plane incident that Michigan went through yesterday. Luckily all in the Michigan basketball world are safe and the Big Ten Tournament will be able to continue as scheduled.

#8 Michigan vs. #9 Illinois – Noon ET (BTN)

Michigan is probably already in the NCAA Tournament, but Illinois is in desperation mode. Michigan will be wearing a mish-mash of a uniform as not all of their equipment arrived from Ann Arbor due to the plane incident and they also are running low on sleep. Look for Illinois to take advantage of the unfortunate travel issues that caused a lot of stress to Michigan. Illinois can play their way into the dance with a few wins and Malcolm Hill is too good of a player to leave his time in Champaign without a single NCAA Tournament appearance. Prediction – Illinois by a small margin

#5 Michigan State vs. #13 Penn State – 2:30 ET (BTN)

Penn State looked great against Nebraska yesterday afternoon but once the calendar turns to March, it’s Izzo’s world and everyone else is just living in it. Michigan State fans should have a rather stress-free game in this quarterfinal as Penn State doesn’t have anyone who can stop Nick Ward and Miles Bridges. Prediction – Michigan State by 20

#7 Iowa vs. #10 Indiana – 6:30 ET (ESPN)

Who would have ever thought at the beginning of the season that Indiana would be the 10 seed in their conference tournament. Both of these teams need to win at least 2 Big Ten Tournament games to play their way into the NCAA Tournament discussion. I expect this to be the best game of the day with both teams coming out firing. Thomas Bryant is the key for me in this one and I think he ultimately plays Indiana through to face Wisconsin. Prediction – Indiana at the buzzer

#6 Northwestern vs. #14 Rutgers – 9 ET (ESPN)

Rutgers came into DC and dominated Ohio State yesterday. I’ve said it all season that Rutgers is not an easy out in and they proved that immediately in this tournament. Northwestern should be safely in the big dance for the first time in school history, but they definitely don’t want to leave anything to chance. Bryant McIntosh against Corey Sanders will be a fun matchup of two completely different but very talented guards. But Northwestern is too good for Rutgers and too strong defensively for Sanders and company to exploit. Prediction – Northwestern by 8-10

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Boeheim “Reluctantly” Makes Case For NCAA Berth

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Syracuse came into today’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal game in Brooklyn with a chance to solidify their spot in next week’s NCAA Tournament and take their name out of the dreaded bubble discussion. That did not happen, as the Orange lost a hard-fought battle to NCAA Tournament bound Miami, 62-57.

So now, like last year, Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim must sit and wait impatiently for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to decide whether the Orange are worthy of a tournament bid.

Boeheim has been through this before, of course, and when asked by ESPN reporter Dana O’Neil about what he thought of his team’s NCAA Tournament prospects, he attempted to brush the question aside without answering.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Boeheim said in response to what he thought Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances were. “I expect the committee to make a decision,” he said sarcastically.

However, when pressed once more, he couldn’t help himself.

“The facts of the case, last year we had three good wins,” he started. “This year, we have three good wins, three teams in the top ten when we beat them. I see all the time on the bracketology thing, it says ‘Syracuse has six top fifty wins and so does [another] team.’ Well that team doesn’t have any wins against the top twenty.”

That’s a pretty good argument for someone who doesn’t think his opinion matters. Boeheim also had some thoughts on conference strength.

“[The ACC is] universally felt to be – I think by everybody – the number one conference in the country, we finished seventh,” he argued. “Other conferences are talking about getting sixty percent of their teams in the tournament. If we’re the best conference in the country, then we should get more than fifty percent in the tournament.”

Well then, I guess Boeheim does have a strong opinion on what the selection committee should do.

I tend to agree with Boeheim on this one. I think they should and will get in, but it will be close and they could end up in the First Four in Dayton. The Orange currently have an R.P.I. in the low 80’s. That would be the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large. However, Syracuse is used to that, last year they had the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large in the mid 60’s.

So, last year’s committee looked past the R.P.I. in Syracuse’s case and I predict they will do so again. It will be hard for the committee to look past the fact that Syracuse was above .500 in the nation’s best conference, like Boeheim argued. It will also be hard for the committee to look past the Orange’s wins over Duke, Florida State and Virginia, again, like Boeheim argued.

So, expect Syracuse to sneak into the 68-team field again this year, but Boeheim and company will be sweating on Selection Sunday. Maybe, just maybe, the committee was watching Boeheim’s reluctant (wink, wink) rant today.

 

 

Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist

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Gottfried Expresses Disappointment In Final Game As NC State Coach 

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The first day of this season’s ACC Tournament was also the last day of Mark Gottfried’s coaching tenure at North Carolina State. The university announced his firing in February, but allowed him to coach the team for the remainder of the season. The long campaign came to an end tonight in Brooklyn after a listless 75-61 loss to Clemson in Brooklyn.

Afterwards, Gottfried spoke about the disappointing season and reflected on his time in Raleigh.

“Well, it’s sad for me. I came to N.C. State hoping to be here the rest of my career. That was my goal, so I’m sad,” he admitted. “Obviously, this past year and this year has been hard, but I got all kind of thoughts, I got everything running through my mind. Deep down, just disappointed.”

Gottfried went on to talk about the success he enjoyed with the program, which belied the university’s decision.

“I think it’s been well-documented, all the amazing accomplishments that have happened at N.C. State,” he said. “When I took the job, I don’t know that anybody anticipated us going to the NCAA Tournament in our first year. Then turn around, do it for three more straight years, two sweet 16s, I can go on and on. Beating number one teams in the country, all those kind of things.”

All of those accomplishments proved not to be enough at N.C. State.

“N.C. State is a wonderful place, different from every other job in this league,” Gottfried explained. “Nobody else is compared daily, the way our guys and our program is to North Carolina and Duke, they’re just not. I’ve said it many times, it’s a tough neighborhood.”

Tough neighborhood indeed and Gottfried held his own in it. It will be interesting to see if his eventual successor will be able to say the same.