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Inside the Bracket: Impact games during the Tip-Off Marathon

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

With enough time and enough coffee, ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon offers college hoops fanatics a splendid 24-hour escape.  If you’re unwilling (or unable) to power through a full day, you can always set the DVR.  Either way, Selection Committee members will be tracking results.  Here are a few of the games that could have bracket implications …

West Virginia at Gonzaga – Other than a game with Michigan on December 15, this is West Virginia’s best chance to post a top-flight non-conference victory.  The Zags always play a good non-conference schedule.

Davidson at New Mexico – Davidson is heavy favorite to win the Southern Conference, and many think the Wildcats could advance a game or two in March.  A win at The Pit would certainly look good on the Wildcats’ resume if they need it on Selection Sunday.  New Mexico has road trips to Cincinnati and Saint Louis in late December, so beating Davidson would be a good way to kick-off the season.

Temple at Kent State – The host Flashes opened their season with a victory over Colonial favorite Drexel.  Adding a win over Temple might be even bigger.  KSU will challenge Ohio for the Mid-American title, but an at-large berth has been rare for MAC teams in recent years.  The Owls still play Duke, Syracuse, and Kansas outside the Atlantic 10.  While there is less urgency, this would be a quality road win. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Inside the Bracket: Post-marathon resume Builders and Blunders…

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

With the 24-hour ESPN College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon complete,  here are a few post-marathon resume notes from the season’s opening 10 days …

RESUME BUILDERS:  Akron, Cleveland State and Kent State all compiled impressive road wins.  It’s been a while since the Mid-American Conference put two teams in the NCAA Tournament, so the fact that Akron and Kent State both have strong out-of-conference wins this early is significant.  Akron won at Mississippi State (SEC) and Kent State at West Virginia (Big East).  Cleveland State owns the biggest upset to date – taking down Vanderbilt in Nashville.  In other Horizon League action, Detroit missed an opportunity at Notre Dame.  The good news is the Titans still have multiple chances to still make non-conference statements (@Alabama, Mississppi State most notably). CSU’s schedule doesn’t provide the same BCS resume-building opportunities, so beating Vandy was huge.  On a side note: Cleveland State plays both Akron and Kent State. 

In the Missouri Valley, Evansville rallied to beat Butler.  If the Aces can back it up with a win over Indiana (tonight), that’s even better.  Northern Iowa traveled over 3,000 miles in 60 hours – winning a big road game at Old Dominion before falling at St. Mary’s.  A 50-50 split is pretty solid.  MVC favorites Creighton and Wichita State haven’t been tested yet.  But that changes soon – as Creighton plays UAB, Iowa, and San Diego State in its next four games. Wichita State has chances in Puerto Rico this week.

Drexel posted a solid victory (with a 6:00 a.m. tip) at Rider on Tuesday. 

Belmont looked and played like an NCAA team during a brutal two-game road swing.  That’s why we’ll consider the Bruins’ two losses as resume builders.  One would think a single-point loss at Duke and a solid showing at Memphis would hold some weight if the Bruins falter in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.  That said, Belmont’s toughest remaining non-conference opponent is probably Marshall.  Beating the Herd, a potential NCAA team, would certainly be helpful.   Read more…

Categories: Current Updates, Team News

Inside the Bracket: Week 1 Games to Watch

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

It’s time to start tracking results: the regular season begins.

The matchup between North Carolina and Michigan State is certainly Week 1’s primo event.  The Tar Heels open the season ranked No. 1 and are among the favorites to reach the Final Four in New Orleans.  Michigan State has some new faces but also the talent to contend for a top four spot in the Big Ten.  Both UNC and MSU open the year in our Preseason Power 24.  Add in the date (11-11-11), the backdrop (aircraft carrier), and two of the nation’s best coaches (Roy Williams, Tom Izzo), and we have a March-ish game in November.  See Schedule  for more games.

Here are some other Week 1 Games to Watch:

Akron @ Mississippi State (Wed | November 9) – Akron is a contender to win the Mid-American crown (Kent State, Western Michigan are others).  The Zips made the NCAA field in 2011 as an automatic qualifier, but will need good showings – and wins – in non-conference games for strong at-large consideration.  Akron is led by 7-0 center Zeke Marshall and forward Nikola Cvetinovic.  Marshall had 9 blocked shots in last year’s MAC title game.  At Mississippi State, coach Rick Stansbury hopes on and off-court troubles are behind the Bulldogs.  With Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney eligible for a full season, MSU has its sights on the SEC West and an NCAA bid.  Other potential contributors for MSU include UTEP tranfer Arnett Moultrie and star recruit Rodney Hood. 

Belmont @ Duke  (Friday | November 11) – This compelling matchup follows the UNC-MSU game.  Belmont raced through the Atlantic Sun en route to a 30-5 record and NCAA bid last season.  The Bruins return most of their key pieces including Mick Hedgepath, Scott Saunders, and Ian Clark.  Belmont faces Memphis on November 15, so two early chances await.  While winning either game isn’t crucial, keeping the games manageable will be. Other than Marshall, the remaining Bruins’ schedule likely won’t provide much of a boost to their at-large profile. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates, Team News

Notes and observations ahead of our first in-season bracket projection

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

Our first in-season bracket projection is due out Monday evening (Dec. 6).  With it will come a lot of debate (and some complaints).  Time to fire away with some notes and observations from a great first month of college hoops.

 The first note is to remind ourselves that a lot of meaningful basketball remains.  Things don’t necessarily end like they start.  Flashback: Georgetown opened the ’08-’09 season 11-1, including a win at Connecticut – an eventual No. 1 seed.  From there, the Hoyas stumbled through the Big East – finishing 7-11 in conference play and 16-14 overall – missing the NCAAs.   With that, here we go …

  • San Diego State and UNLV lead a quadrant of teams (BYU and New Mexico) from the Mountain West that could impact our final bracket in March.  SDSU opened with three true road games and two neutral-court affairs – including a win at Gonzaga.  It’s the type of schedule that should pay big dividends.  UNLV has already beaten Wisconsin (home) and Virginia Tech (neutral court).   BYU has victories over WAC-favorite Utah State and St. Mary’s.  If there’s a bubble team, it’s likely New Mexico.  The Lobos beat Arizona State, but lost a lopsided tilt at Cal. 
  • If Connecticut continues to get production from Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, and others, the Huskies are in line for a very good season.  Kemba Walker is a front-runner for Player-of-the-Year, and UConn already has three wins over NCAA-level teams: Wichita State, Michigan State, and Kentucky (Maui Invitational).
  • Who thought Notre Dame would win the Old Spice Classic in Orlando?  While beating Georgia, California, and Wisconsin isn’t quite like UConn’s feat in Maui, the Irish have certainly improved expectations – at least outside South Bend.
  • Georgetown is also off to a great start.  The Hoyas 111-102 OT win over Missouri ranks as the season’s best game to date.  The season-opening road win at Old Dominion is looking better all the time.
  • Pittsburgh is solid again – beating Maryland and Texas in New York.  A No. 1-seed hopeful, the Panthers’ real questions won’t begin until March.  Can they reach a Final Four?
  • Overall, the Big East is 17-6 vs. fellow BCS teams.
  • The Big Ten – fresh off its second straight ACC-Big Ten title – is 14-10 vs. BCS teams and 9-5 vs. the ACC overall.  In our preseason Power 24, we suggested that Ohio State would challenge Michigan State for league supremacy.  No team has two bigger true road wins (Florida, Florida State) than the Buckeyes.  That said, MSU was 4-2 at this juncture last season and the Spartans ended up in the Final Four.  Don’t quit on Tom Izzo’s bunch just because they lost to UConn and at Duke.  Read more…

Season-Opening Bracket: Duke, Michigan State lead the way

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

With tip-off for the 2010-11 college basketball season upon us, we seem to know two things: Duke and Michigan State are strong favorites to make return trips to the Final Four.  After that, there’s a lot of debate.  Which is great, of course, because none of us knows how the season will unfold. 

Here’s our SEASON-OPENING Bracket Projection.

The No. 1 seed line features … Duke, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State.  The Buckeyes move up to replace Purdue after the Boilermakers lost star Robbie Hummel to another season-ending knee injury.  The Boilers still have a lot of talent and experience in West Lafayette, and open as a projected No. 3 seed in the Southwest Region.  A solid No. 2 line features Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, and Syracuse.  Both KU and UK are still awaiting elibility status on star recruits (Selby, Kanter).  My guess is both play this season; how much we dont’ know.

What about the First Four?  The opening games in Dayton will match the last four at-large teams and the four lowest-rated teams on the S-curve.  In our projection those matchups are … New Mexico vs. Dayton | USC vs. Maryland | Maine vs. Winthrop | Jackson State vs. SF Austin.  The winners advance into the traditional 64-team bracket to play Thursday or Friday.  Our Last 5 in: Northwestern, Maryland, New Mexico, USC, and Dayton.  Our First 5 out: UNLV, UCLA, Connecticut, St. John’s, Mississippi.

We have a great opening month ahead with lots of bracket-building matchups in early-season tournaments.  Our next bracket update will be Monday, December 6.   

Rebounds are always welcome.  Leave a comment or e-mail me at bracketville.hoops@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting Bracketville and for joining us on another road to Selection Sunday.

Categories: Current Updates

Pre-season Bracket Projection: Midnight Madness edition

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

Welcome back, college hoops.   Time for a little pre-season fun, Midnight Madness style.

After a rather interesting off-season – my Top 5 story lines here – let’s take an updated look the new 68-team bracket.  Quick note of caution … selecting and seeding teams for a bracket projection in March is easier than estimating what might happen over the next five months. So consider this effort what it is:  a mix of what we know, what we expect, and a lot of guesswork.

UPDATE (11/6/2010): The Midnight Madness edition is now longer available.  It has been replaced with our Season-Opening edition – a few minor tweaks/updates included.  Below is the rest of the column regarding the Midnight Madness edition.  

If there is common ground, it’s that defending champ Duke should open the season as the No. 1 team.  No exception here as the Blue Devils remain the overall top seed.  From there, we start tweaking.  Joining Duke on the top line are: Purdue, Michigan State and Pittsburgh.  The Panthers made the biggest leap, but coach Jamie Dixon is bullish on his team and we’ll buy it.  The uncertainty surrounding star recruits at Kentucky (Enes Kanter) and Kansas (Josh Selby) are also considerations.  Both the Wildcats and Jayhawks lead a group of solid No. 2 seeds along with Ohio State and Kansas State.  Syracuse, Villanova, Florida and Memphis fall into the three-line.  Talk about powerhouse names.

First Four:  The new format begins with four games in Dayton.   Projected matchups … New Mexico vs. Dayton | Louisville vs. USC | Lehigh vs. Vermont | Jackson State vs. S.F. Austin.  In this scenario, New Mexico, Dayton, Louisville and USC are the last four at-large teams in the field.  Lehigh, Vermont, Jackson State and S.F. Austin are projected as the lowest four ranked teams on the S-curve.

Last 5 IN: Northwestern, New Mexico, USC, Louisville, Dayton.  First 5 OUT: Maryland, Connecticut, Northern Iowa, St. Louis, Notre Dame.

We all know there will be a surprise or two along the way – especially in conference tournaments.  One could easily argue that Illinois and Virginia Tech missed last year’s tournament because New Mexico State (WAC) and Houston (C-USA) won their league tournaments.  It happens almost every year and teams on the bubble this March will face the same fate – even with the expanded field.  Someone will always be the first team out.

For those new to Bracketville, links for the Schedule (upcoming key games), Bubble Banter, and Conference Tourneys will be updated as warranted.  Team Capsules highlights key wins and losses for schools under consideration.  If you want to know how we did last season, check out 2010 Projection Results.

Take a look.  Send a rebound.  Differences of opinion are part of the fun.  Follow college hoops on www.nbcsports.com; I’m excited about our second year of partnership.  Follow along on Twitter and e-mail us a bracketville.hoops@gmail.com.  More to come.  The regular season is just around the corner.

Categories: Current Updates

Duke earns overall No. 1 seed in first 68-team bracket …

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

Defending champion Duke sits atop our first 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket for 2011. The other teams on the top line: Purdue, Kentucky, and Michigan State.  With the Wildcats moving up (from our April look-ahead), Kansas now headlines a strong group of No. 2-seeds that include Ohio State, Texas, and Villanova. 

UPDATE (8/3):  Since this look-ahead was first published on July 24, Northwestern’s Kevin Coble has decided not to return to the Wildcats for the 2010-2011 season.  With that information, I have updated the bracket, moving NC State into the Opening Round and Northwestern into the First Five out.

The first real question, however, is … which teams face off in the new Opening Round (considered the First Four).  These four games will be played in Dayton, with winners moving into the traditional 64-team bracket design.  The last four at-large teams are paired, along with teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve.  Our initial projection looks like this … St. John’s vs. NC State | St. Louis vs. Miami-FL | Lehigh vs. Vermont | Jackson State vs. SF Austin

As I have time, I’ll be working on a graphic to showcase these pairings.  For now, these teams are listed in the bracket with a “/” in between; the winner goes on the seed line indicated.  The St. John’s-St.Louis winner becomes a 12-seed in the East, playing Missouri in Tampa.  The Northwestern-Miami winner gets a 12-seed opposite national runner-up Butler (game in Tucson, Southeast Region).  The other winners earn 16-seeds in the Southwest and West.

Enough talk for now.  Several teams moved one seed line to accommodate bracketing issues.  BYU always creates some chaos because the Cougars cannot be placed in Friday-Sunday sites.  Have a different opinion?  Send a rebound.  The breakdown by conference and other teams considered are listed below the bracket.

Continue reading to see the bracket …

Read more…

Categories: Current Updates
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