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Bracket Bits: Takeaways from Harvard, Georgia, and Missouri

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1We generally don’t learn a lot during the first weekend of college hoops.  And we certainly don’t want to over-emphasize one or two games.  But here are a few quick takeaways from the opening weekend …

Harvard – With a one-point loss to Holy Cross now on its resume, three non-conference games take on additional meaning: Massachusetts (Nov. 29), at Virginia (Dec. 21) and at Arizona State (Dec. 28).  Win the Ivy League, as projected, and the above games will only affect seeding.  Fall short of an automatic bid, and results of these games could very well determine whether Harvard goes Dancing as an at-large team.

Georgia – While an opening defeat at Georgia Tech wasn’t ideal, it’s too early to consider it a “bad” loss – for two reasons: 1) we don’t know how Ga. Tech’s season will play out; 2) it was a road loss to an ACC team.  Credit Mark Fox for scheduling a true road game out of the gate; not many coaches or teams would do that.  With upcoming non-conference games against Gonzaga (Nov. 26), Colorado (Dec. 7), Seton Hall (Dec. 21), and Kansas State (Dec. 31), Georgia has plenty of chances to build an at-large resume before SEC play begins. Read more…

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Categories: Current Updates

Inside the Bracket: Moving Day – Part II

March 14, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1After a somewhat crazy Thursday, the bubble continues to shift in multiple directions.  And with Villanova’s stunning loss to Seton Hall, the final No. 1 seed slot is wide open as action resumes throughout the college hoops landscape.  Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Virginia all take to the hardwood with their eyes on the top of the East Region.  We also can’t completely eliminate teams like Syracuse.

Bracket Update

S-Curve

Quick notes about today’s (March 14) bracket update …

Florida State slides into the final at-large spot.  One could go any number of directions among the bubble contenders, but the Seminoles have a couple of small advantages: non-conference wins over two tournament teams (VCU, Massachusetts) and a road win at Pittsburgh.  As a side note, FSU lost to Michigan by two and Florida by one in its pre-conference slate.  By comparison, Providence and Minnesota have done their best work at home and neither has two NCAA-level non-league wins.  We’ll see how the Seminoles fare moving forward.  Next up: Virginia.  It’s Moving Day – Part II on the bubble. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

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

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

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

Inside the Bracket: Five unbeaten teams with suspect resumes

December 7, 2013 Leave a comment

dave1Records are nice.  But they aren’t everything.  What’s inside the record matters: who you play and where you play.

On that note, here are five undefeated teams – as of Saturday morning, December 7 – whose unbeaten records are suspect.  We could very well see all of them in the 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket – a couple could even be Top 5 seeds – but through the first month of the season, we haven’t learned much despite the group compiling a 40-0 record.

UCLA (8-0) – The Bruins leave home for the first time today (at Missouri, see Weekend Preview).  It will be their only true road game before Pac-12 play begins; and the Bruins don’t play a conference road game until January 16 (at Colorado).  Their only other non-conference NCAA-level game (right now) appears to be a matchup with Duke (Dec. 19).  UCLA’s best win to date is probably Drexel at home.  The Bruins’ overall non-conference schedule is okay (Northwestern, Santa Barbara, Alabama), but it would be nice to leave So Cal once in a while.

Pittsburgh (9-0) – The Panthers don’t leave home until January 4 (@NC State).  Which means Pitt will have completed its non-conference schedule without playing a true road game.  Prior to that, the Panthers will have played Stanford, Duquesne, and Cincinnati on neutral courts.  And the Panthers’ win over Stanford is probably their best to date; although Penn State fans might argue differently.  Either way, Pittsburgh might be a Top 4 seed, but that will have to be earned in the ACC – unless Stanford, Penn State, or Cincinnati shines in the coming weeks. 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: Games to track before New Year’s

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

dave1In four days, it’ll be 2013, and the race to Selection Sunday begins takes on added meaning.  But these four days are packed with key games.  Here’s a look at some games we’ll be paying close attention to through New Year’s Eve …

Friday, December 28

Baylor at Gonzaga – The last time Gonzaga hosted a potential NCAA team on its home floor, Illinois left The Kennel with an 11-point victory.  And while the visiting Bears have a headscratching loss to College of Charleston (and one at home to Northwestern), they do have a road win at Kentucky.

Missouri at UCLA – Will this be a season-changing moment for UCLA?  The Bruins have largely underachieved, and have yet to post a high-caliber victory (Texas is questionnable – although the Indiana State win looks better). Missouri’s new pieces are coming together and Jabari Brown has added some outside scoring punch.  Come March, it’s not a stretch to think this Mizzou team could actually be better than last year’s.

Saturday, December 29

Kentucky at Louisville – One of the nation’s best rivalries. That said, this game will tell us more about where UK is than Louisville.  The Wildcats’ best win is over Maryland in  November, and while there are no “bad” losses, Big Blue Nation grew a bit restless after falling to Baylor at home.  Gorgui Dieng is expected to return for the Cardinals.

Virginia Tech vs. BYU (at Salt Lake) – A defacto home game for the Cougars, this has mid-season bubble-game written all over it.  Tech has the better overall resume to date, but the Hokies have lost three of five – including a home game to Georgia Southern. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Michigan, Kansas move up the s-curve

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

dave1It’s the Christmas Eve edition of our Power 24.  Which in this case means merry times for Michigan and Kansas.  The Wolverines and Jayhawks have climbed to spots No. 3 and No. 4 on the s-curve; No. 1 seeds if we were updating the bracket.  For those keeping track, KU was No. 4 in our preseason rankings.  Regular weekly bracket projections begin in two weeks.  Here’s to a great two weeks of Holiday hoops.

December 24 – Power 24

Duke remains No. 1 overall, and the Blue Devils continue to boast the nation’s best overall resume.  If this were Selection Sunday, there’s little doubt Duke would be the top overall seed with a spot atop the East Regional.  Louisville comes in at No. 2.  The Cardinals’ lone loss was to Duke at the Battle for Atlantis – the game in which center Gorgui Dieng injured his wrist.  In his absence, U of L has kept winning, and the Cards will be primed to meet rival Kentucky later in the week.

Arizona and Missouri continue to climb as well.  Both are firm two-seeds right now – holding spots No. 6 (Arizona) and No. 7 (Missouri) on the seeding curve.  Indiana is fifth after the loss to Butler and Syracuse is No. 8 after falling to Temple in New York.  As always, conference play will play a big role from here on out.  Most BCS conferences begin league play around New Year’s Day.

No new teams this week.  Miami-FL would have slid into the No. 25 spot had they beaten Arizona late Sunday in Hawaii.  The Hurricanes were largely overmatched, however, and currently sit at No. 27 on the curve.  A full s-curve will be released with our regular brackets this year.  A preview of that – including the Top 96 s-curve teams – will be released New Year’s Day.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.