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Quick Takes: Five tasty weekend matchups

March 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015Between Thursday and Friday, three eleven seeds won.  We also had the usual 12 over 5-seed.  And yet, the first two days of the 2017 NCAA tournament feel rather chalky.  Maybe that’s because the twelve seed, Middle Tennessee State, was actually favored to win its matchup with Minnesota.  Also, were we surprised to see Xavier beat Maryland? Or Rhode Island trip up a less-than-healthy Creighton?  If there was a surprise, it’s USC.  The Trojans rallied from double-digit deficits twice, beating Providence in the First Four, and then SMU on Friday.

While the results might leave us a little hungry, the Round of 32 looks might tasty. My Quick Takes on the weekend’s top five matchups …

Gonzaga vs. Northwestern – We could rename this game: Ultimate Underdog vs. New Kids on the Block.  While Gonzaga is respected for its consistent excellence, the Bulldogs have never reached a Final Four and remain many people’s pick as first No. 1 seed to lose.  Thus, the pressure is squarely on the Zags, who struggled to score against South Dakota State (shooting 39 percent overall and 27 percent from 3).  The good news: Gonzaga no longer relies on its offense to carry the day.  Flipping the page, Northwestern might be the feel good story of the year. They survived a late rally by Vanderbilt to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game in their first-ever appearance. And who doesn’t enjoy those sidelines shots of Doug Collins and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, right? Read more…

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Categories: Current Updates

Quick Takes: Big day for Bubble teams

March 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015It’s an especially big day for Bubble teams: Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Clemson take the floor at the ACC tourney in Brooklyn.  It’s also the day when California and USC open Pac-12 tournament play, and Xavier gets a renewed matchup with DePaul in the opening round of the Big East.

Bracketology   |   Seed List

Then there’s Illinois State.  The Redbirds must sit and watch as action around them continues. Tomorrow, Illinois and Iowa try to make a final push at the Big Ten tourney. Friday, Rhode Island opens A-10 play.  It’s a worthy reminder than none of these games occur in a vacuum.  Each result has to be measured in context. Read more…

Quick Takes: Championship Week begins

March 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015The final Saturday of the regular season is upon us.  Which means Championship Week is officially here.  Were it not for NCAA tournament itself, this would arguably be one of the best weeks in sports.  So much rides on every outcome, especially for those teams fighting for dance tickets.  Friday night gave us a glimpse of the perils ahead, as Ohio Valley Conference favorite Belmont was bounced in the OVC tournament semifinals.  With that, here are the latest updates:

As this is Quick Takes, we won’t go in-depth.  But here are a few highlights and questions regarding the next eight days… Read more…

Quick Takes: Carolina pushing for No. 1 seed

February 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015North Carolina is pushing for a No. 1 seed.  So is Louisville, for that matter.  And Baylor remains firmly in the mix despite four losses in six games, the most recent a two-pointer at home to Kansas in one of Saturday’s best games.  If you’re up for Round 3 of KU-Baylor in the Big 12 tournament, raise your hand.  I thought so.  We also have to keep track of the Pac-12 race.

Bubble Talk debuted on Saturday morning.  We’ll update it again next Saturday, if not before.  There’ll be a new bracket on Monday, along with a Seed List update.

More Quick Takes from Saturday … Read more…

Quick Takes: Monmouth captures MAAC title

February 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015In the spirit of March, congratulations to the Monmouth Hawks, the first NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team to clinch a regular-season conference title (MAAC).  By do so, the Hawks guarantee themselves a post-season berth. They narrowly missed the NCAA tournament last year as an at-large team. Motivation will be high at the MAAC tournament with another Dance card at stake.

Quick Takes from Thursday:

  • Michigan grabbed a critical home win against Wisconsin.  The Wolverines close with 4 of 5 on the road, where they’ve managed a 1-6 record.
  • Wisconsin likely needs to find wins over Maryland and Purdue down the stretch (including B10 tourney) to secure a Top 5 seed.  Otherwise, the Badgers’ top-end profile could relegate them to a slightly lesser seed on Selection Sunday.
  • Smooth night out West as Gonzaga, Oregon, and Arizona all roll to wins.

Read more…

Quick Takes: Florida, Big 12 States headline wild Saturday

February 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015What a Saturday in college hoops – and it’s February!

Four of the top eight teams on Saturday morning’s Seed List lost, two at home and two in blowout fashion on the road.  Another two lost in slots 9-12, and another two in slots 13-16.  Simple math equates to eight of the top 16 teams on the Seed List losing Saturday.  The flip side, of course, is that eight other teams (the winners) posted signature or marquee victories on their resumes.  My initial takeaways are that Florida and three Big 12 “States” benefitted most from a wild Saturday.

Florida’s win over Kentucky added an important piece to the Gators’ otherwise solid profile: a victory over a sure-fire NCAA team.  Prior to Saturday, Florida had nice wins against Arkansas, Seton Hall, and Miami-FL, among others.  But are you confident all of those teams will reach the final Field of 68?  See bullet-point below about the Razorbacks loss at Missouri.  On a related note … with South Carolina’s win over Georgia, the SEC title chase is up for grabs. Read more…

Quick Takes: Duke doubles its pleasure with a pair of road wins

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015If you’re old enough to remember the now-retired DoubleMint gum commercials, you’ll understand the headline reference.  If not, never mind. It wasn’t long ago – last week, in fact – that Duke was coming off three losses in five games and had gone winless in its three previous road games.  They were also facing back-to-back road games at Wake Forest and Notre Dame.  Had things not gone so well in Winston-Salem and South Bend, the Blue Devils would have been heading into their upcoming home stretch with an 0-5 road record and sub-.500 Atlantic Coast Conference mark.  But things went quite well and Duke heads home with a chance to re-merge as a contender in the ACC race.  Next up, the Blue Devils host ACC bubble teams Pittsburgh and Clemson along with rival North Carolina.  Getting all three would be ideal, as the Blue Devils closing stretch includes four road games – Virginia, Syracuse, Miami, and UNC. Read more…