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Inside the Bracket: Stretch run key for several teams

February 23, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1It’s not a surprise to say the current NCAA Tournament bubble is soft.  While we most often focus  on the cutline (last teams in, first teams out), a few notable programs may not be as secure as it seems.  With Selection Sunday only three weeks away, the stretch run could make a huge difference.  Here are a four teams (of several) that could be on that list …

Memphis – The Tigers needed overtime at home to survive Temple on Saturday night which kept a truly bad loss off of their resume.  Here’s the concerning part: a 4-6 record against Top 100 RPI teams – which actually extends to the Top 150.  This could be one of those years when a team with a losing record against the top half of Division I  earns an at-large bid, but it certainly leaves some doubt about the Tigers’ overall standing.  Part of that is due to a weak bottom half of the American Athletic Conference. Part of it is losses against league leaders – save victory at Louisville in early January.  Memphis is 1-4 against American contenders (Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut, SMU).  Three of their remaining games are against those same squads.  If the Tigers were to finish 1-7 (or 2-6) against that target, it could bring some stressful moments come league tournament time.

Kansas State – While it’s hard to envision a team with eight Top 100 wins missing the NCAA Tournament right now, it’s worth nothing that the Wildcats are 1-6 in true road games (their only win was at TCU). K-State has remaining road trips to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, neither of which will be easy.  If they were to lose both and drop a home game to either Baylor or Iowa State down the stretch, an early exit from the Big 12 tourney could create some few tense moments in Manhattan. Read more…

Inside the Bracket: Eight teams with lighter-than-you-think profiles

January 17, 2014 4 comments

dave1With two months until Selection Sunday, there are a few curious profiles among name-heavy teams.  As an illustration, let’s look at an interesting group of eight.  None are having bad seasons, but their profiles are lighter than you might think.  Combined, the eight have five wins against teams that were included in the January 14 bracket update.  Three of the teams have yet to beat a team currently in the Field.  When it comes to Top 50 RPI wins (through games played on January 16), these eight squads have a combined six wins and none has more than one …

Louisville – The defending NCAA champions are 1-2 vs. the Top 50 and have no wins against teams in the current field.  Their non-conference schedules ranks No. 174.  Their best wins are bubble teams SMU and Southern Miss.  Eleven of their 15 wins are against teams ranked 150 or worse in the RPI.

Gonzaga – The Bulldogs are 0-2 vs. the Top 50 and also have no wins against the current field.  GU’s best wins are bubble teams Arkansas and Saint Mary’s, plus a victory at West Virginia.  The Bulldogs are 5-2 vs. the Top 100.  They also have a loss at Portland.  Note: Had the bracket been updated Friday, Arkansas would have returned to the Field after beating Kentucky.

Missouri – The Tigers are 1-1 vs. the Top 50 and have beaten UCLA – a team in the current field.  However, they have only two other Top 100 wins and only one of those – NC State – is currently on the realistic bubble.  Mizzou’s non-conference SOS comes in at No. 157. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Weekend Preview: Can UMass keep it going?

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment

dave1Massachusetts is unbeaten heading into its matchup with BYU this weekend.  Of their seven wins, the Minutemen have five victories away from home – four on neutral courts and a roadie at Eastern Michigan.  Can UMass keep it going?  Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne have been superb and lead five Minutemen averaging double figures in the scorebook.  It’s certainly been a team effort.  Much like UMass, BYU has put together a solid start to the 2013-14 season.  The Cougars’ only losses are to Iowa State (two points) and Wichita State.  BYU also ranks among the top teams in the nation in points per game, assists per game, and rebounding.  Together, Guards Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino average 40 points a contest.  Should be a fun one to follow.

Here are some of the weekend’s other Inside the Bracket matchups:

UCLA at Missouri – The visiting Bruins are unbeaten although largely untested, save a tight home opener with Drexel.  This is the only true road game on UCLA’s non-conference schedule;  that alone adds some intrigue and importance.  The Bruins don’t play another road game until a January 16 trip to Colorado.   Missouri hasn’t left home either, and doesn’t play a neutral-court game until the Tigers’ annual battle with Illinois in St. Louis.  The Tigers best win probably came Thursday night against West Virginia.

Clemson at Arkansas – Both squads are part of a large group of bubble teams that will dwindle and change as the season progresses.  While losing twice in Maui, the Razorbacks played well enough to beat Minnesota and battle both Gonzaga and California down to the wire.  They also have an underrated home win over SMU.  In the revamped ACC, Clemson has some tough sledding ahead.  The Tigers gave Massachusetts all it wanted in Puerto Rico in their only loss.  This is Clemson’s first road test; a victory would certainly add a nugget to the Tigers’ resume.

Marquette at Wisconsin – It’s been somewhat of a rough start for the Golden Eagles who were manhandled by Ohio State at home and taken to task by San Diego State at the Wooden Legacy.  With three losses, Marquette would love to put a high-end road victory on its resume.  Albeit an ugly game at Virginia, the Badgers remain unbeaten and have been as consistent as any team in the country through the first month.  A win at the Kohl Center would put Wisconsin in prime position to complete its non-conference season without a setback. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Inside the Bracket: Wooden Legacy preview

November 27, 2013 Leave a comment

dave1In this edition of Inside the Bracket, let’s take a peak at the Wooden Legacy:

Teams: Miami-Fla, George Washington, Marquette, Fullerton, Charleston, San Diego State, Creighton, Arizona State

Favorites: Marquette / Creighton – Finding a favorite in the new-look Big East is a tough task.  Marquette and Creighton are two of the teams considered for that position.  In a field without an otherwise clear-cut favorite, we’ll give the Golden Eagles and Bluejays top billing.  Creighton finished off its first two weeks with a victory over Tulsa, but the Bluejays best win is the roadie at St. Joseph’s.  Offensively, Creighton is a fine-tuned machine, ranking among the best in the nation in scoring, assists, and field goal percentage.  Marquette is like a reverse reflection of the Jays.  Thus far, the Golden Eagles rank near the bottom of Division 1 in field goal percentage and scoring.  They make up for it with tenacious defense and rebounding.

Contender: Arizona State – It’s interesting that ASU hosted Marquette on November 25 (a two-point ASU victory).  They could meet again as the Sun Devils and Golden Eagles are on opposite sides of the bracket.  In the opening two weeks, ASU has proven to be a balanced team in several offensive categories; they rank high nationally in points, rebounds, and assists.  Jahii Carson can carry the Sun Devils; he’s averaging 23 points a game and is hitting over 50-percent of his three-point attempts. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Inside the Bracket: Battle 4 Atlantis preview

November 27, 2013 Leave a comment

dave1In this edition of Inside the Bracket, let’s take a peak at the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis:

Teams: Kansas, Wake Forest, Villanova, USC, Tennessee, UTEP, Xavier, Iowa

Favorite: Kansas – The Jayhawks earned a No. 1 seed in our preseason bracket projection and have already beaten Duke on a neutral court.  Even in a deep and talented field, Andrew Wiggins and company will be favored in any game they play in the Bahamas.  Plus, the bracket sets up nicely for the Jayhawks.  Following the opener with Wake Forest, KU will face either Villanova or USC in the semifinals.  If the Jayhawks play well, expect to see them in the title game.

Contenders: Iowa / Tennessee – This is the year that Iowa is supposed to finish in the top of half of the Big Ten conference and return to the NCAA tournament.  Between now and mid-March we’ll see if those predictions hold true.  Iowa arrives in the Bahamas averaging over 90 points a game, led by Roy Devin-Marble (14 ppg) and Aaron White (13 ppg / 7.6 rpg).  The Hawkeyes are also among the nation’s best in rebounding and assists.  Much like Iowa, this is the year Tennessee is supposed to break through and participate in March Madness.  They opened the season ranked in our Power 24.  Since then, the Volunteers have fallen four points short in a road loss at Xavier and won three at home against lesser competition.  Jordan McRae (21 ppg) and Jarnell Stokes have been the most consistent offensive threats.  Can the Volunteers play like a Top 25 team when it matters?  We’ll find out. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates
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