Sunday, February 28, 2010

B101's Sunday Tweets

Our quick thoughts on Sunday's results:

Purdue's certainly didn't look like a 1 seed in their first game without Robbie Hummel. The Boilermakers shot 30 percent from the field, got outrebounded by 26, and posted their lowest point total of the season in a 53-44 home loss. Raymar Morgan had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Michigan State, who will move up to the 3 line in our next bracket as a result of the win. The bigger story here, though, is the short-term future of Purdue. The fact that they lost to the Spartans wasn't totally shocking, but their offesnive struggles without Hummel were pretty eye-opening. At this point, we can't find a reason - even with all they've done so far this season - to keep them on the 1 line next week. We also think they'll have a difficult time getting past the semis of the Big Ten tourney with the team they have now, while Duke will a big favorite to get to at least the final of the ACC tourney. Needless to say, the committee will keep a close eye on how the Boilermakers fare over the next two weeks and determine their seed accordingly. They should have no problem with Indiana and Penn State this week, but if they were to lose, say, in the semis of the Big Ten tourney, an argument could be made for them to drop to a 3 seed. If they got to the final, they'd probably remain a 2. We'll have them the top 2 seed next week, with Duke taking over the last spot on the 1 line.

In case you were wondering, the last time the top three teams in the nation lost in the same week was Feb. 16-22, 2009, when Connecticut, Oklahoma and North Carolina all lost.

Just when it looked like UConn had turned the corner and was on its way to an at-large bid, the Huskies went out and made the already complicated Big East bubble that much messier. Their devastating 78-76 home loss to Louisville, on a Jorge Sosa lay-in with nine seconds left, dropped UConn to 7-9 in conference and set up a crazy final week of games in the Big East with three teams fighting for what looks to be two bids. The Huskies led by as many as 13 points in the first half on Saturday, but the Louisville defense forced UConn into 14 second-half turnovers and helped the Cardinals go up seven on two occasions. A three by Kemba Walker (who had 28 points) gave UConn a 76-75 lead with 1:39 left, but Louisville tied it on a Samardo Samuels free throw and won on Sosa's strong drive and lay-in. Walker drove the length of the floor on UConn's last possession, but his off-balance lay-up never hit the basket, giving the Cardinals the huge road win.

Louisville's win sets up an insane final week of games in the Big East. At 7-9, UConn now has to win at Notre Dame and at South Florida to have a good shot at a bid heading into the Big East tourney. The Cardinals are in for now and as long as they win one game this week, they are an absolute lock. The wild card in this whole mix is Notre Dame, which is suddenly 8-8 in conference and coming off two huge wins over Pitt and Georgetown. The Irish host the Huskies on Wednesday in an absolute must-win for both teams in South Bend. Even if they win that game, Notre Dame would have to win at Marquette next weekend to finish 10-8 and feel completely safe. We are going to have to really tough decisions to make tonight about the projected fates of all of the these teams, and we'll have to try to determine how many bids the Big East can get in the end. Nine bids would have been a good possibility had UConn taken care of business, but eight might be the number now thanks to Louisville's upset win. What a freakin' mess...

Thanks to some late heroics from Terrell Holloway, Xavier's quest for a fourthe straight A-1o title is still alive - barely. Holloway scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the second OT, leading the Musketeers to a huge 78-76 win over Richmond. The win was Xavier's 31st straight at home in conference, and it moved them a game ahead of the Spiders - and into a tie with Temple - for first place in conference with two games to play. With the schedule they have left, the Musketeers have to like their chances to win the title outright. They play at Fordham and at home against St. Bonaventure next week, while Temple has to go to Saint Louis before its season finale at home against George Washington. The Owls beat Xavier back on Jan. 20, which gives them the tie-breaker for the top seed in the A-10 tourney should the two teams tie. In terms of the bracket, Xavier will move up to the top of the 6 line (and maybe sneak onto the end of the 5 line) as a result of the win, while Richmond will likely hold firm on the 7 line.

Who said winning on the road in the Big East was hard? Marquette won its fifth straight conference road game on Saturday, edging Seton Hall 84-83 in overtime in Newark. It was the third straight OT win for the Golden Eagles, who have now played 13 games this season that have been decided by five points or fewer. The win moved Marquette to 10-6 in conference and it all but assured them an at-large bid barring a total collapse down the stretch. They host Louisville and Notre Dame next week, and if they win both games, they could finish fourth in the Big East and earn a coveted double bye in the Big East tourney. Even if they split, they'll be a lock for a bid, and if they lose both, one win in the Big East tourney would make them a pretty safe bet on Selection Sunday.

Head-scratcher of the day: Penn State 79, Northwestern 60. The Nittany Lions have three Big Ten wins this year. Two are against Northwestern - by a combined 30 points. Somewhere, Michael Wilbon is weeping.

Of note: Clemson won at Florida State (the Tigers will stay an 8 seed next week; the 'Noles will likely fall to the 9 or 10 line); Temple won at LaSalle (Juan Fernandez had 23 points and Lavoy Allen had 17 points and 21 boards for the Owls, who also won the Big 5 title with the 65-53 victory); Siena beat Marist at home; Weber State lost at Portland State.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

B101's Saturday Tweets

Our quick thoughts on Saturday's results:

Can you say Upset Saturday? That's what unfolded in about a six-hour stretch on Saturday, as both No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Kentucky were picked off on the road. Oklahoma State had little trouble with the top-ranked Jayhawks in Stillwater, and gave us one of the best court rushes of the season (albeit a few seconds early), in following their 85-77 win. The Cowboys are now sitting pretty and can worry more about what their seed will be on Selection Sunday than about their presence in the bracket. James Anderson was once again the hero for Oklahoma State, scoring 27 points and adding eight rebounds as the Cowboys led by as many as 19 in the first half and shot an incredible 60% from the field. The loss ruined Kansas' run at a perfect conference record, but the Jayhawks are still safely on the 1 line. In the end, this game helped the Big XII secure seven bids to the tourney for the first time in conference history.

If the selection committee is looking for big wins, they're going to love what they see when they look at Tennessee's resume. The Vols, who knocked off Kansas back on Jan. 10, beat their second 1 seed of the year on Saturday afternoon, upsetting 2nd-ranked Kentucky 74-65 in Knoxville. Tennessee led by as many as 16 in the first half and took an 11-point lead into the break, but Kentucky rallied to tie the game at 65-65 with 2:13 to play. Those were the last points the Wildcats would score, though, as the Vols went on a 9-0 run to end the game. J.P. Prince scored six of those nine points for Tennessee, who will likely sneak onto the 4 line in Monday's bracket despite losing at Florida earlier this week. Kentucky will still be on the 1 line, but they won't be hanging to that spot by much. Their resume is obviously impressive, but Duke does have three more Top 50 wins than Kentucky does to this point. The Wildcats are still a 1 for now, but they'll want to avoid any slip-ups next week (at Georgia, vs. Florida) if they want to stay there.

In case you were wondering: Saturday marked the first time No. 1 and No. 2 have lost on the same day in the regular season since Jan. 21, 2006, when No. 1 Duke lost at Georgetown and No. 2 Florida lost at Tennessee.

The new No. 1 team in the country (?) had no problem clinching a share of the Big East title on Saturday. In front of 37 trillion fans at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse blew out Villanova 95-77, and in the process, put themselves in line for their first No. 1 ranking since the '89-'90 season. Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds and Wesley Johnson chipped in with 14 points and 10 boards for the Orange, who improved to 7-0 against ranked teams this season with the victory. They'll move up to the No. 2 overall seed in our bracket on Monday behind Kansas. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have now lost three of four and will likely be clinging to the last spot on the two line next week. Their last two games aren't easy (at Cincinnati, vs. West Virginia), and they might want to win them both if they want to avoid slipping to the 3 line heading into the Big East tourney.

Let the Virginia Tech debate begin - again. The Hokies dropped their third straight game in absolutely brutal fashion on Saturday, falling 104-100 in double overtime to Maryland in Blacksburg. Greivis Vasquez had the game of his life for the Terps, scoring 41 points (33 after halftime) and adding seven rebounds and six assists. Maryland appeared to have the game won at the end of regulation when Eric Hayes hit a long jumper to give the Terps a two-point lead with six seconds to go, but Tech's Malcolm Delaney drove the length of the floor and scored with less than a second to go to force OT. In the second OT, though, Delaney missed two huge free throws with 39 seconds left that would have tied the game. Maryland made five of six free throws after that to seal the win. The victory was the Terps' fifth in a row, and it will likely land them on the 6 line next week. If they can beat Duke in College Park on Wednesday, they'll probably end up sharing the ACC title with the Blue Devils (they finish with a game at Virginia) and they could enter the ACC tourney with a legitimate chance at a 4 seed.

The flip side of this game is what to do now with Virginia Tech. We've said all along that the Hokies needed to finish 10-6 to get an at-large, but after a killer 0-2 week, getting to 10 wins is going to have to include a win at Georgia Tech next weekend. It's not impossible to envision Virginia Tech winning that game, but their performance at BC earlier this week definitely gives us pause. No matter what our final decision on the Hokies is tomorrow night, we expect to answer a boatload of questions about them in the next few days. Some things, we guess, never change.

Harangody who? For the fourth straight game, the Irish were without their All-American forward, but for the second time this week against a Top 15 team, his absence didn't matter. On Wednesday, the victim was Pitt in South Bend, and on Saturday, Ben Hansbrough (21 points), Tim Abromaitis (19 points) and company pulled off a ginormous upset over 13th-ranked Georgetown in D.C. ND's convincing 78-64 win over the schizophrenic Hoyas puts them in great shape to get an at-large, and it immediately makes their game against UConn on Wednesday (on Senior Night no less) the biggest bubble battle of next week. The Irish's lack of an OOC resume is obviously a huge negative, but a 9-9 finish in the Big East (and Harangody's impending return) will no doubt get the attention of the committee. After their game against UConn, ND plays another huge game at Marquette next weekend. A 2-0 week would get them into the field heading into the Big East tourney, while a 1-1 week will have them squarely on the bubble going in. One Big East tourney win might be enough at that point; two wins would make them a lock. That could mean a nine-bid Big East in the end, provided UConn beats Louisville tomorrow and at worst splits its two road games next week.

Georgetown, meanwhile, will likely fall to the 5 line (and maybe to the top of the 6 line) as a result of the loss. The Hoyas have great wins, but they have also lost games to South Florida, Rutgers, and now ND, over the past three weeks. They also have two tough games coming up next week against West Virginia in Morgantown and at home against a Cincinnati team playing for its at-large life. We still think the Hoyas are a dangerous team, but they are incredibly up-and-down, and if Austin Freeman doesn't score (he was limited to five points in 23 minutes Saturday because of an apparent illness), they sputter offensively.

New Mexico put to rest any debate over who the best team in the MWC is. The Lobos were able to complete a season sweep of BYU with an 83-81 road win, handing the Cougars their first home loss of the year. It just wasn't a good day overall for the Cougars, who shot just 28% from three and were without leading scorer Jimmer Fredette for all but one minute of the second half because of stomach problems. It was the first win for New Mexico in Provo since 2000, and it was the latest addition to the Lobos' already impressive resume. They improved to 6-0 against ranked opponents and picked up their seventh Top 50 win overall. The Lobos might be maxed out as a 3 seed, but if they can win out, it is within the realm of possibility that they sneak onto the 2 line.

Will the Pac-10 be a two-bid league on Selection Sunday? That question can't be answered just yet, but one thing got a lot clearer on Saturday: Cal looks more and more like it's going to be dancing. The Bears had no problem with Arizona State in a 62-46 win at home, and as a result they clinched at least a share of the Pac-10 title. They'll win the title outright if they can win at Stanford next Saturday or if the Sun Devils lose one of their last two games. If Cal wins the Pac-10 outright (and maybe even if they settle for a share), it's almost a guarantee that they will get an at-large. Their computer numbers (21 RPI, 3 SOS) are great, and for as bad as the Pac-10 has been, it's still a power conference that has made a habit of getting a little extra love from the committee. A potential at-large bid for Cal is extra interesting for us because we have to project ahead next week and - perhaps - put a second Pac-10 team in as a bid stealer. As good as Cal has been lately (they've now won six of seven), they have lost four road games in conference this season, and they are no shoo-in to win the Pac-10 tourney. If they do win the tourney, the Pac-10's only getting one bid. If not, the Pac-10 might get two bids after all.

It seems like only yesterday that we were fighting off complaint after complaint from A-10 fans who insisted that the league deserved six bids. Well, how does three bids sound? After Rhode Island's inexplicable loss at St. Bonaventure and Charlotte's awful performance at George Washington on Saturday, that's exactly how many bids the A-10 will have in our bracket on Monday. The Rams and 49ers have both lost four of their last five games now, and both will be lucky to stay on the Last Four Out list next week. (Don't worry, A-10 fans, they'll both still be in Jerry Palm's bracket on Monday; URI will be probably be a 9 seed or so.) These two teams play at Rhode Island on Wednesday in what is an at-large elimination game for the loser. The winner will still have some work to do to get back in the bracket and will be in the mix along with Dayton for the fourth (if there is one) A-10 bid. Given the way all three of the A-10 bubble teams are playing right now, we fully expect one of the Big Three (Temple, Xavier, Richmond) to win the conference tourney and keep the A-10 a three-bid league.

Just when we thought Florida was a safe bet for the tournament, they went out and lost 78-76 at Georgia. The Gators rallied after trailing by 15 at the half, and got 29 points out of Chandler Parsons, but it wasn't enough. They now need to pick up a win this week in order to finish 10-6 in conference and feel confident about their at-large chances going into the SEC tourney. Picking up that win won't be easy, though, with Vandy coming in and then a road trip to Lexington on tap. If they end up 0-2 next week, it will take two wins in the conference tourney to lock down a bid. As things stand now, that second game would be against Mississippi State in what could be an elimination game depending on how things shake out during Championship Week.

Don't count out Minnesota just yet. The Gophers pulled off a season-saving road win against Illinois on Saturday for their first significant true road win of the season. The Illini had a furious comeback after trailing by 19 late in the 2nd half but missed at the buzzer to lose 62-60. In true Big Ten fashion, neither team shot better than 42% and they only combined for 38 points in the first half. Illinois now falls dangerously close to the Last Four In list and they'll need to pick up a win this week against either Ohio State or Wisconsin to secure their bid. The Gophers are in great shape now to get to 10-8 in conference with games against Michigan and Iowa left, which would put them right in the thick of things headed into the conference tourney. A trip to the Big Ten tourney semis would then be enough for them to lock down a bid. Our toughest call tomorrow night will be whether or not to still include the Gophers as our last team in.

Head-scratcher of the day: North Carolina 77, Wake Forest 68. (The Demon Deacons, who have now lost three in a row, will probably drop to a 7 seed next week.)

Of note: Kansas State beat Missouri at home; Texas A&M beat Texas at home; Baylor won at Oklahoma; West Virginia held off Cincinnati at home; Pittsburgh won at St. John's; Ohio State beat Michigan at home; Vanderbilt won at Arkansas; Mississippi State won at South Carolina; Georgia Tech beat Boston College at home; Gonzaga beat San Francisco at home; UNLV won at Air Force; Northern Iowa beat Illinois State at home; UTEP beat Rice at home; Old Dominion beat VCU at home; Cornell beat Penn at home (the Big Red's magic number to win the Ivy League title is now one); UAB beat Tulane at home; St. Mary's beat Loyola Marymount at home; Dayton beat UMass at home; South Florida beat Providence at home; Saint Louis beat Duquesne at home; Mississippi won at Alabama.

Friday, February 26, 2010

B101's Questions For The Competition - Friday Edition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." Today's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi and CBSSports.com and CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent brackets, which were released before Friday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 26 Bracket
On Monday it was Purdue-Wisconsin, today it's a potential Duke-Maryland match-up in the SECOND round? Joe, all kidding aside, we're starting to get a little worried about you...

(UPDATE: Nice job fixing the Duke-Maryland screw up...too bad we had already spotted it and our readers had already posted comments about it this morning. You can't get anything past our Bracketing Principles mafia.)

UConn and Mississippi State in? SDSU out? That sounds very familiar...oh wait, it's our bracket from five days ago.

BYU's up to a 3 seed now? Is it because of their impressive total of two wins over tourney teams? OK, we understand then.

How mad were you when Northeastern lost to Hofstra? So much for keeping them in as the Colonial "automatic" and avoiding making a tough decision on the bubble.

Jerry Palm (CBS, CollegeRPI.com) - Feb. 26 Bracket
OK, we give up on calling you out about the A-10. Dayton is STILL in after losing at Temple?? You STILL have six A-10 bids? We're speechless.

Just to clarify: If the season ended today, Dayton's in, Charlotte's in, and UConn's out. You may want to repeat that to yourself out loud and listen to how ridiculous it sounds.

Nice job dropping URI from a 7 to 8 even though they haven't played this week yet. Are you slowly taking our advice on the way overseeded Rams?

Where's Mississippi State?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Thursday

Our quick thoughts on Thursday's results:

Bigger than any results tonight was the news that Purdue's Robbie Hummel will be out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. The biggest question surrounding the Boilermakers now is what will happen to their seed going forward. The committee will not forget about what Purdue has done to this point, but their final three games as well as the Big Ten tourney will now have extra importance. If they win out, or go 2-1 down the stretch and win the Big Ten tourney, they will still get a 1 seed. If they struggle down the stretch, then they could really see their seed take a tumble. The only historical example that is somewhat similar to this case is the 2000 Cincinnati Bearcats. Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the C-USA conference tourney that year and the Bearcats were upset in their first game. They ended up with a 2 seed in the tournament, despite their #1 RPI, and ended up losing in the second round.

It took an overtime period, but Vanderbilt was able to survive at home against a pesky Georgia team on Thursday night. The Commodores were able to overcome a five point deficit with only 33 seconds to play in regulation to beat the Bulldogs 96-94. A.J. Ogilvy made the game-tying tip-in with 16 seconds left, and he and Jermaine Beal made some clutch free throws in overtime to seal the deal. The win avenged the loss that Vandy suffered a few weeks ago in Athens, and it moved them to 10-3 in the SEC. As long as the Commodores can pick up a win on the road against Arkansas this weekend, they will remain on the 4 line next week. If they can win out and reach the final of the SEC tourney, they have the chance to jump onto the 3 line with some help. If they can somehow find a way to beat Kentucky in the SEC final, they could even get as high as a 2 seed.

With their home win over Arizona, Cal is now just one victory away its first Pac-10 title since 1960. The Bears beat the Wildcats by 24 in Berkeley on Wednesday night to improve to 11-5 in conference, a half game better than Arizona State (who won at Stanford Wednesday). Cal hosts ASU on Saturday, and if the Bears win, and then take care of business at Stanford next week, the debate will intensify as to whether Cal would deserve an at-large bid. Our opinion on Cal all along has been that if they got to 13-5 in conference, won the Pac-10 regular season title, and maintained a solid RPI, that they would probably get an at-large. Regardless of how poor the Pac-10 has been this season, we find it very hard to believe that the selection committee would deny an at-large bid to a power conference champion with a top-30 (or so) RPI - even if that team had an OOC resume as weak as Cal's. Where the Cal debate gets really interesting is if they were to finish 12-6 and then lose in the semifinals or final of the Pac-10 tourney. Would that still get them a bid? One thing is for sure: no matter how these next few games play out, Cal will be one of the most debated bubble teams in the country on Selection Sunday if they don't end up getting the Pac-10 automatic.

Of note: Kentucky beat South Carolina at home; Duke beat Tulsa at home; Wisconsin won at Indiana; Gonzaga beat Santa Clara at home; Utah State won at Hawaii; St. Mary's beat Pepperdine at home; Wofford, which has now won 15 of 16, beat Charleston at home to take over first place in the Southern at 14-3; Murray State lost its first OVC game, falling 70-65 at Morehead State.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Wednesday

Our quick thoughts on Wednesday's results:

If Minnesota ends up not making the tournament, there are going to be a lot of sleepless nights in Minneapolis spent lamenting what happened in The Barn on Wednesday night. Minnesota had a four point lead against Purdue with 1:46 to play, an injured Robbie Hummel was watching the game from the Boilermakers bench, and the Gophers looked liked they were about to get the marquee win they so desperately needed. But that's when Keaton Grant took over. The senior guard scored five points in the game's final 40 seconds, including the go-ahead basket with 7.7 seconds left, as the 3rd-ranked Boilers handed the Gophers a heartbreaking 59-58 loss. After Grant's basket, Minnesota had one final shot for the win, but Devoe Joseph missed a jumper, and Damian Johnson's tip-in of Joseph's miss came just after the final buzzer sounded.

The loss is obviously a brutal one for Minnesota - especially considering how close they came - and it puts a serious dent into their recently resurgent at-large chances. One of the main reasons we had the Gophers in the field this week is that we loved their chances to upset the Boilers, given how well they played at home against Wisconsin last week. With that chance blown, Minnesota is now going to have to win its last three regular season games to be in the mix for a bid. They play at Illinois on Saturday, and then at Michigan and at home against Iowa next week. If they can upset the Illini, the Gophers will be a tough call for us on Sunday night. We would like their chances to win out at that point, but they would be far from a sure thing.

(The silver lining for us on Wednesday night was that two of the other teams we could have put in instead of Minnesota this week also lost. Dayton dropped another A-10 road game at Temple, and San Diego State, who many bracketologists put in as an easy-way-out quick-fix this week, lost by 14 at BYU. Looking ahead, we still aren't crazy about Charlotte's chances and we still don't see how St. Mary's will end up getting a bid in the end, either. That means we may have to get a little creative Sunday night - if Minnesota loses at Illinois - in the way we fill that open backet spot.)

The win was huge for Purdue in terms of seeding and in terms of the Big Ten standings, but it may have come with a pretty hefty price tag. Hummel left the game with just over seven minutes to play in the first half after his right knee gave out on a drive to the basket. (There's no word yet on the extent of the injury.) The Boilers deserve a lot of credit for finding a way to win in Hummel's absence - they went scoreless for nearly 10 minutes during one stretch after he left - but if he's out for any length of time, their national championship hopes will take a serious hit. They weren't that deep as it was, and now their bench might have gotten a lot, lot thinner.

After four straight Big East wins, Pitt was probably due to lose a game in conference. Still, no one saw a performance like Wednesday night coming. The 16th-ranked Panthers trailed by as many as 24 points in the second half and lost 68-54 to a struggling Notre Dame team that had lost seven of 10 coming in and that was playing once again without Luke Harangody. The Irish won the game because of their long-distance shooting - they went 10-of-18 from behind the three-point line, while Pitt was just 4-of-18. With the win, Notre Dame improved to 7-8 in conference and crept up ever so slightly on the overcrowded Big East bubble. They still have to play at Georgetown on Saturday and at Marquette next week, with a huge home game against UConn sandwiched in the middle. The best the Irish can probably hope for is a 9-9 finish, which means they'd have to win two or more games in the Big East tourney to be in the at-large mix.

Pitt wasn't the only power conference team to get blown out on Wednesday night. Virginia Tech got knocked back to earth a little bit - by Boston College of all teams - in an ugly 80-60 loss to the Eagles in Chestnut Hill. The loss was the Hokies' second straight in conference and it makes their game at home against Maryland on Saturday that much more important. With their well-documented weak OOC schedule, Virginia Tech can't afford a three-game losing streak down the stretch. If they get by the Terps, they'll almost certainly get to 10-6 in conference, which will be enough to get them a bid. If they lose, they might be on the Last Four In list next week, and they'd run the risk of a road loss to Georgia Tech in their season finale potentially ruining their at-large hopes.

Marquette looks like it's finally found a recipe for winning close games: get the ball to Jimmy Butler. The junior swingman, who hit a game-winning shot for the Golden Eagles against UConn back on Jan. 30, was the late-game hero again on Wednesday night, hitting a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer to give Marquette a 63-61 victory over St. John's at Carnasecca Arena. Butler finished with 18 points for the Golden Eagles, who have played in 12 games this season that have been decided by five points or less. They're now 9-6 in the Big East with another road test coming this weekend at Seton Hall. After that game, Marquette returns home for two huge bubble games against Louisville and Notre Dame next week. A 2-1 record in those games would definitely get the Golden Eagles a bid; if they win just one of the three, they'll probably need two Big East tourney wins to feel safe come Selection Sunday.

Four of the seven Big XII bids faced off against each other on Wednesday night, and in true Big XII style, both home teams came out on top. LaceDarious Dunn scored 23 points and hit some big threes late as Baylor held Texas A&M 70-66 in Waco, and Dexter Pittman had 16 points and eight boards as Texas pulled away in the second half to beat Oklahoma State 69-59. For the Bears, Aggies, and Longhorns, these results matter only in terms of seeding. For Oklahoma State, it means they now have to win two of their last three games to avoid falling to the wrong side of the bubble heading into the Big XII tourney. The Cowboys welcome top-ranked Kansas to Stillwater on Saturday and then finish up with games at Texas A&M and at home against Nebraska next week. Two wins would get them to 9-7 and put them in pretty good shape. If they just get one, they'd have to win a pair of Big XII tourney games to get in.

It took Maryland a little while to wake up, but once Greivis Vasquez and Co. got going, the Terps had no problem pulling away from Clemson Wednesday in College Park. Vasquez had 15 points and 13 assists, and Sean Mosley added 20 points, as Maryland rallied from 15 down in the first half to beat the Tigers 88-79. It was the fourth straight ACC victory for Maryland, who is still undefeated at home in conference, and it kept them within a game of Duke in the race for the ACC regular season title. The Terps host the Blue Devils next Wednesday, in between road games at Virginia Tech and at Virginia. Clemson, meanwhile, has now lost four straight ACC road games and sits at 7-6 in conference with three tough games left to play. They play at Florida State on Sunday, home against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, and at Wake in their season finale next weekend. Two wins would clinch them an at-large, and one win would mean they'd probably have to win two ACC tourney games to feel safe.

Saint Louis finally lost an A-10 home game on Wednesday night, falling 73-71 to Xavier. The Bilikens led by six at the half, but the Musketeers went on an early 16-0 run in the second half to take control of the game. Jordan Crawford finished with 26 points for Xavier, which improved to 11-2 in the A-10 with the victory. They host Richmond on Sunday in what is their last real test of the regular season (they finish with games at Fordham and vs. St. Bonaventure). A 3-0 finish could net Xavier the A-10 title and perhaps a spot on the top of the 5 line heading into the A-10 tourney. Saint Louis, meanwhile, slips out of the at-large discussion for the moment as a result of the loss, but they have two more chances next week to get back in the mix (vs. Temple, at Dayton).

Of note: Villanova beat South Florida at home; Ohio State won at Penn State; Florida State won at North Carolina; Missouri beat Colorado at home; Mississippi State beat Alabama at home; UNLV beat TCU at home; UTEP won at Southern Miss; UAB won at UCF; Charlotte beat St. Joseph's at home; Cincinnati beat DePaul at home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Tuesday

Our quick thoughts on Tuesday's results:

Georgetown's success this season has been closely linked to Austin Freeman's ability to score, and never was that more evident than Tuesday night. The Hoyas struggled mightily offensively against Louisville in the first half, but Freeman caught fire after halftime, scoring 24 of his game-high 29 points to help lead Georgetown to a come-from-behind 70-60 win at Freedom Hall. Freeman hit all five of his three-pointers in the second half as the Hoyas went on a 21-2 run to blow the game open. With the win, Georgetown improved to 9-6 in the Big East and solidified their spot on the end of the 3 line. They host Notre Dame on Saturday, and then finish up with games at West Virginia and at home against Cincinnati next week. The Cardinals are also 9-6 in conference after the loss, but they have some work to do now if they want to stay on the right side of the bubble. They play at UConn on Sunday, and then at Marquette and against Syracuse at home next week. If they win two of those three, they're definitely in. If they go 1-2 (which is more likely) they will need to win one game in the Big East tourney (and maybe two depending on what seed they end up being) to be at-large worthy.

Gator Nation can rest easy: for the first time in three years, Florida looks like it's going dancing. With UConn AD and selection committee member Jeff Hathaway looking on, the Gators dominated Tennessee in the second half on Tuesday night, riding a 27-6 run to a convincing 75-62 victory in Gainesville. Chandler Parsons and Erving Walker each scored 19 points for Florida, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the Vols and leap-frogged Tennessee into third place in the SEC East at 9-4. They've now won three in a row overall, and at worst, they're going to finish 10-6 in conference with the games they have left (at Georgia, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky). Barring a slip-up against the Bulldogs this weekend, they'll probably be an 8 seed next week. Tennessee would be off the 5 line if we did a bracket tonight, but they have a chance to stay on that line (or maybe even move up a bit) if they can upset Kentucky in Knoxville on Saturday. After that game, the Vols host Arkansas and play at Mississippi State to finish up.

Northern Iowa's BracketBuster win over Old Dominion may have secured them an at-large, but their most recent effort did some serious damage to their eventual seeding. The Panthers suffered one of the worst losses of this college basketball season on Tuesday night, falling 55-54 to an Evansville team that had lost 17 of 18 overall and was just 1-15 in the MVC coming in. UNI was still without Jordan Eglseder, who served the third and final game of his DWI suspension, and the Panthers' offense was borderline inept without him. They shot 33 percent from the field for the game and were just 5-of-23 from three. The loss will drop UNI to at least two seed lines next week, and there's a chance they'll be as low as a 10. The Panthers finish up their regular season schedule on Saturday with a home game against Illinois State.

Of note: Syracuse won at Providence; Kansas State won at Texas Tech; New Mexico won at Colorado State; Illinois won at Michigan; Old Dominion won at Georgia State; Seton Hall beat Rutgers at home; Northeastern lost at home to Hofstra.

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." This week's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi, SI.com's Andy Glockner, and CBSSports.com and CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent bracket, all of which were released before Monday's games.

Overview:
Most bracketologists took the easy way out this week and put St. Mary's and San Diego State in their fields. A case could be made for the Gaels, but the best argument for including them has nothing to do with what they've done wins-wise - instead it's the overall weakness of the bubble. Their win at Utah State is nice, but they lost twice to Gonzaga, lost at Portland, and we don't see them upsetting the 'Zags in the WCC tourney. Their RPI isn't that impressive (47), and their win over the Aggies is the only victory they have over a tournament team. The Aztecs are an even more puzzling inclusion for brackets done as if the season ended today. They are in third place in the Mountain West, but their best two wins (New Mexico and UNLV) came at home and they have no OOC resume to speak of. SDSU plays at BYU on Thursday, which means if they lose (which we expect they will), everyone who has them in this week will have them out next week. That's a little short-sighted, no? Instead of SDSU and St. Mary's, we have UConn and Minnesota (teams who have actually beaten people) in the field. Not only are they more attractive right now, they have the potential to be much more attractive down the road.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 22 Bracket
Do you know that you have a potential Purdue-Wisconsin Sweet 16 match-up in your bracket this week? Because we know, reader MattLion knows, and fellow bracketologist Shelby Mast from Bracket WAG knows (he even sent us the screen grab in case you changed it). Did you not even bother changing it because you knew we would call you out anyway? Do you want Matt Reeves' e-mail? You can enroll in his Bracketing Principles 101 class.

We know you're in bed with the A-10, but how is Dayton still in after losing at Duquesne?

How do you still have two Colonial teams in? If you like ODU as an at-large so much, then why don't you ignore the fact that they are tied in conference with Northeastern (who lost at home to Louisiana Tech last week) in just put the Monarchs in by themselves?

How does Temple win two games and go down to a 5 seed? How does Tennessee win two games and go down to a 6?

How does Vandy lose at home (to Kentucky, but still...) and go up to a 3 seed?

Minnesota's not even worthy of a spot on the Last Eight Out list? Mississippi, Arizona State, and Memphis are in better shape right now than the Gophers? How exactly? Who have the Sun Devils beaten?

And finally, Jim Calhoun didn't have a "question" for you, per se, after the Huskies' win over West Virginia on Monday - it was more of a comment (courtesy The Hartford Courant): "I think you're way off with numbers," Calhoun said when he started talking about tournament projections. "I don't care what Lombardi [says], or whatever name the guy is."

Don't worry, coach, his name's not important.

Jerry Palm (CBS, CollegeRPI.com) - Feb. 22 Bracket
First of all, are you sure you didn't post last week's bracket by mistake? You didn't?? Well, then how in the world do you explain...

The fact that you still have SIX A-10 teams in? SIX?! STILL?! How is Rhode Island, after their loss at Saint Louis, still a 7 seed? Not only do you have Dayton in (for some reason) after they lost to Duquesne, you have them a 9 seed? How is that possible?

How is Baylor a 4 seed? How is Illinois a 12?

St. Mary's is a 10? They're that safe if the season ended today? Please explain.

Andy Glockner (SI.com) - Feb. 22 Bracket
Did you think we weren't going to catch you fixing your original bracket, which had Marquette playing in Milwaukee in the first round? Not only did we see it, reader "Joe" posted a comment about it on B101 within hours. You can edit, Andy, but you can't hide (from us or from our readers).

How is Texas still a 4 seed? How is Richmond a 5? Isn't Wake Forest a little low as a 7?

How many games does Charlotte need to lose in a row to fall out of your bracket? Too afraid to give the A-10 fewer than five bids?

Monday, February 22, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Monday

Our quick thoughts on Monday's results:

It's time for our fellow bracketologists to get on board the UConn bandwagon. It's filling up fast. (And we're driving.) Thanks to Kemba Walker's 21 points and Stanley Robinson's 15 points and 13 rebounds - and a well-timed technical by Jim Calhoun less than a minute into the game - the surging Huskies picked up their second win over a Top 10 team in the last seven days, beating 7th-ranked West Virginia 73-62 Monday night at the XL Center. The win moved UConn to 7-8 in the Big East, it gave them a third Top 25 RPI win, and most importantly, it put them in great shape to run the table in their quest for an at-large bid. The Huskies host Louisville on Saturday and then play two huge road games at Notre Dame and at South Florida next week. Despite their season-long road woes, it's hard not to like their chances to win out with the way they're playing right now, especially with Walker stepping up and taking the scoring load off of Robinson and Jerome Dyson. He's averaging 22 points and 5.6 rebounds per game over UConn's current three-game win streak. For West Virginia, the loss doesn't hurt too much since it came on the road, and since the Mountaineers now return home for two straight games. If they just win against Cincinnati in Morgantown on Saturday, they'll likely hang on to their spot on the 3 line next week.

After saying on ESPN this weekend that UConn needed "four more wins" to get a bid, Joe Lunardi's Last Four In on the Monday night SportsCenter had the Huskies IN. We had that, too, Joe - 24 hours earlier.

Of note: Kansas blew out Oklahoma at home (Xavier Henry scored a game-high 23 for the Jayhawks); Morgan State won at MD-Eastern Shore.

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Feb. 22

The middle of the bracket was fairly stable this week, but there were some notable changes made at the top and bottom. For the first time in over a month, there is a new face on the 1 line. Villanova dropped down to a 2 seed this week after losing at home to UConn and on the road to Pitt, and were replaced on the 1 line by Purdue. The red-hot Boilermakers extended their winning streak to nine games last week with victories at Ohio State and at home against Illinois and made the move up from the 2 line.

On the bubble, the biggest storyline was the pathetic play of a trio of teams in the A-10. The A-10 came into the week as a five-bid league, but when the smoke cleared Sunday night, it was barely hanging on to four bids. Charlotte is out this week after losing two home games, and Dayton is still on the outside looking in after losing at Duquesne on Sunday. (Can we stop answering Dayton complaints, now?) The only A-10 bubble team to survive this week was Rhode Island. Despite losing at Saint Louis, the Rams are still in because of their solid RPI (26), their easy remaining schedule, and their OOC win over Oklahoma State, which is looking better by the day. Looking ahead, we don't think Charlotte is going to win the game it has left at Rhode Island, and the 49ers could easily finish 10-6 in conference, which won't be enough for a bid. Dayton still has to play at Temple and at Richmond, which means they're probably going to finish 9-7 and on the wrong side side of the bubble. We've said for a while that talk of the A-10 getting six bids was ridiculous, and we didn't even like giving out five bids when we first did it a couple weeks ago. As the days go by, our rationale is looking more and more like reality.

The A-10's struggles, and Mississippi's removal after a two-loss week, caused us to get a little creative with our last two teams in the field. We didn't put St. Mary's back into the bracket (as most bracketologists will likely do this week) because even with a couple of decent OOC wins, we don't think there is any way the Gaels are going to get an at-large. Their resume is eerily similar to their resume last year - and that resume got them a ticket to the NIT. We also weren't ready to put San Diego State or Saint Louis in the field, and we didn't want to give the Big East a ninth bid.

That left us with two options - UConn and Minnesota. Both are in this week's bracket not only for what they did this past week, but also what they have coming up. The Huskies won at Villanova on Monday and at Rutgers on Saturday to improve to 6-8 in the Big East. (Is anyone not 6-8 in the Big East?) We love their chances to beat West Virginia in Hartford on Monday, and looking ahead, we can see them running the table and getting to 10-8. They are the best bet right now on the crowded Big East bubble, ahead of South Florida (who lost at home to St. John's on Saturday), Cincinnati (who beat UConn twice but lost two killer games this week), and Seton Hall (who has any easy schedule left but not a great resume.) Minnesota snuck in because we love the way they played against Wisconsin at home on Thursday, and because we think they have a chance to upset Purdue at home this Wednesday. Even a 1-1 week (they play at Illinois on Saturday) might be enough to keep the Gophers in the field next week, and it would set them up to go 10-8 in conference. A 10-8 finish wouldn't guarantee them a bid, but they would have a pretty decent chance of getting one heading into the Big Ten tourney.

Seed-wise, the biggest moves up this week were made by Pitt (from a 5 to a 3), Maryland (a 9 to a 7), and Oklahoma State (a 12 to a 9). The biggest drops were suffered by Wake Forest (a 3 to a 5), Georgia Tech (an 8 to a 10), and Cal (a 9 to an 11). We also had to move a couple of teams around for grouping purposes. Baylor dropped from the 7 line to an 8 and Marquette moved up from a 10 to a 9.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In
Rhode Island, Connecticut, Mississippi State, Minnesota

Last Four Out
St. Mary's, Charlotte, Dayton, San Diego State

Next Four Out
South Florida, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Seton Hall

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), ACC (7), Big XII (7), Big Ten (6), SEC (5), A-10 (4), MWC (3), C-USA (2)

America East - Stony Brook

ACC - Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech

Atlantic Sun - Jacksonville

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Richmond, Rhode Island

Big East - Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Marquette, Connecticut

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - Coastal Carolina

Big Ten - Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota

Big XII - Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State

Big West - UC-Santa Barbara

Colonial - Old Dominion

Conference USA - UTEP, UAB

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa

MWC - New Mexico, BYU, UNLV

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Murray State

Pac-10 - California

Patriot - Lehigh

SEC - Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Sam Houston State

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Troy

SWAC - Jackson State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - Gonzaga

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s
Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Purdue

The 2s
Duke, Kansas State, Villanova, Ohio State

The 3s
West Virginia, Pittsburgh, New Mexico, Georgetown

The 4s
Temple, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Vanderbilt

The 5s
Butler, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Gonzaga

The 6s
BYU, Texas A&M, Xavier, Texas

The 7s
Missouri, Richmond, Northern Iowa, Maryland

The 8s
Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech

The 9s
Oklahoma State, UTEP, Louisville, Marquette

The 10s
Illlinois, Georgia Tech, Florida, UNLV

The 11s
Utah State, California, Old Dominion, Cornell

The 12s
UAB, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Siena

The 13s
Mississippi State, Minnesota, Murray State, Kent State

The 14s
Oakland, Charleston, Weber State, UC-Santa Barbara

The 15s
Sam Houston State, Morgan State, Coastal Carolina, Stony Brook

The 16s
Jacksonville, Robert Morris, Troy, Lehigh (Play-In Game), Jackson State (Play-In Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)












Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

B101's BracketBuster Recap

Here are some of the final conference records for BracketBuster weekend:

MVC - 7-3
CAA - 3-9
WAC - 4-5
MAAC - 4-6
MAC - 7-5
Horizon - 5-5
Ohio Valley - 3-7
Big West - 7-2

Obviously, the biggest loser this weekend was the Colonial. The top four teams in the conference standings all lost, and hopes of the CAA being a two-bid league were greatly diminshed. After all the carnage, the only team left with any at-large hopes is Old Dominion. Their only hope would be to win out and lose in the conference final, and even then it will be tough to see a 9-loss, 40-ish RPI CAA team getting an at-large.

The MVC did well, but it really doesn't matter for anything, except to improve Northern Iowa's seed. Wichita State fell to Utah State and blew any chance they still had for an at-large bid. UNI is basically a lock at this point for a bid so at least the conference has a better chance than the CAA to get two teams in the tourney.

Utah State's win over Wichita State may actually end up being the most important result. The Aggies have now won 12 in a row and are in great shape to win the WAC by 2+ games. Their at-large chances are now looking a lot better than fellow mid-major conference leaders like Siena, Old Dominion, or UTEP.

Overall, the slate of games was weak and the results will have little impact come Selection Sunday. Whenever the MVC is having a down year, like they have had the past few seasons, BracketBuster weekend won't be especially compelling. We know the A-10 or MWC won't be participating in BracketBusters anytime soon, but getting C-USA and the WCC into the fold would be a major improvement.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

B101's Saturday Tweets

Our quick thoughts on Saturday's results:

John Wall didn't have one of his best offensive performances of the year against Vanderbilt on Saturday night, but the freshman made big plays on both ends of the floor when it mattered most. His two free throws with 20 seconds left and subsequent block on a John Jenkins three-point attempt that would have given the Commodores a late lead, helped Kentucky pull out a hard-fought 58-56 win in Nashville. After Wall's block, Vandy had one final chance to tie or win the game with 2.5 seconds left, but they couldn't convert. A.J. Ogilvy caught a long Laettner-esque inbounds pass from Darshawn McClellan, but his runner in the lane hit off the side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded. The victory was Kentucky's first at Vandy since 2005 and it capped a huge week the 2nd-ranked Wildcats, who won a pair of difficult road games and further solidified their spot behind Kansas on the 1 line. The loss is obviously a brutal one for Vandy because of how close they came to winning at the end (their 2-for-20 shooting from three ultimately killed them), but bracket-wise, it will only knock them down to a 5 seed at worst next week. With the schedule they have left, they'll probably be right around the 5 line heading into the SEC tourney.

Not to take anything away from Wall's block, but how does Vandy settle for a three on that possession, trailing by just one? Ogilvy has to touch the ball there - he's a 73% free throw shooter and DeMarcus Cousins was playing super-aggressive defense all night.

Purdue has been playing like a 1 seed for a couple of weeks now, and on Monday that's where the Boilermakers will finally be (sorry, 'Nova fans). Their 75-65 win over Illinois in West Lafayette on Saturday was their ninth straight victory overall and it moved them, for the moment, into a first place tie with Michigan State atop the Big Ten. Robbie Hummel led the way for the Boilers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Keaton Grant chipped in with a season-high 15 points off the bench. Demetri McCamey scored just six points for Illinois, but his 16 assists tied a school record and were the fourth most in Big Ten history. The Illini, who were an 8 seed in our bracket this week, dropped to 9-5 in conference and 17-10 overall with the loss. Those 10 losses are a bit troubling considering they still have four games to play (at Michigan, vs. Minnesota, at Ohio State, Wisconsin), but their wins are good enough to keep them no worse than a 10 seed next week.

The biggest game of BracketBuster weekend lived up to the hype for a half, but Butler blew the doors off Siena over the final 20 minutes in a convincing 70-53 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Shelvin Mack scored 23 points in the win for the Bulldogs, who extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 games and solidified themselves as a solid 5 seed in our Field of 65. The road loss is certainly excusable for Siena, but it also puts them a position where they will have to win the MAAC tourney to get a bid. The Saints' RPI (31 going into the game) is solid, but they still have no wins over tournament teams and their best win RPI-wise is Northeastern (59). We still think Siena will be dancing in the end because the MAAC tourney is in their home arena, but after Saturday's result, that's the only chance they have of getting in.

Georgia Tech's suffered some pretty tough losses on the road in conference this season, but none were more heart-breaking than what happened in College Park on Saturday. After Derrick Favors gave the Yellow Jackets a one point lead on a put-back with three seconds left, Maryland's Cliff Tucker hit a tough, hand-in-face three at the buzzer to give the Terps a wild 76-74 win at the Comcast Center. (If you haven't seen the highlights, Greivis Vasquez hit a half-court shot after Favors gave Tech the lead, but it was waived off because Gary Williams had already called a timeout to set the final play). The win was Maryland's third this week and it moved them to 9-3 in the ACC and probably up to a 7 seed in our bracket next week. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are now an ugly 6-7 in conference and 1-6 in ACC road games. With a road game at Clemson still left on their schedule, they are staring at a potential 8-8 finish in conference. If that's how they end up, they're going to need two wins in the ACC tourney to get a bid. Looking short-term, the Jackets are probably going to be a 10 or 11 seed in our bracket on Monday and will be the lowest seeded ACC team in the field.

Remember when we insisted that the A-10 was going to be a four-bid league (only to cave and eventually add a fifth bid)? Well, that might be what the league is back to in our next bracket, thanks to Charlotte's 81-67 home loss to Xavier on Saturday. It was the 49ers' third straight loss and second straight at home, and it dropped them to fifth place in the A-10 at 8-4. Charlotte still has a road game left at URI and a home game left against Richmond, which means that they run the risk of finishing 10-6 in conference (which won't be enough for a bid.) They'll need to get to 11-5 to be at-large worthy heading into the A-10 tourney. Xavier, meanwhile, will likely move back up to the 6 line next week as a result of their 2-0 week. If the Musketeers win both of their games next week (they play at Saint Louis and home against Richmond) they would have to be looked at as the front-runner to win the A-10 regular season title.

South Florida was a home win over St. John's away from a spot in our next bracket, and the Bulls went out and responded with one of their worst efforts of the year. St. John's led by 11 at the half and never let South Florida get closer than four in the second half en route to a stunning 74-58 win at the Sun Dome. Dominique James led the Bulls with 17 points, but he shot just 6-of-18 from the field, and as a team, South Florida hit just five of its 22 three-point attempts. With a game at Villanova looming on Wednesday, the best the Bulls can realistically hope for now is a 9-9 finish in conference, which mean will mean they'll need a deep, deep run in the Big East tourney to get a bid.

The biggest beneficiary of South Florida's loss might be UConn, which blew out Rutgers 76-58 at the RAC on Saturday. The Huskies improved to 6-8 in conference with their win over the Scarlet Knights, and with the schedule they have left, they might have the best chance now of any Big East bubble team to snag an at-large bid. South Florida already stubbed its toe, Cincinnati has a brutal schedule remaining, and Seton Hall and Notre Dame have played their way out of the mix. Beating West Virginia on Monday night at the XL Center is obviously a must for UConn, and then the Huskies would have to sweep their last three games (vs. Louisville, at Notre Dame, at South Florida) to like their chances heading into the Big East tourney. It won't be easy for UConn, especially given their road woes this season, but they are clearly in the driver's seat with four games to play. Who would have thought that after their blowout loss at home to the Bearcats last weekend?

Oklahoma State needed a two-win week to stay on the right side of the bubble, and that's exactly what they got on Saturday by upsetting Baylor 82-75 at home. James Anderson scored 31 points and added 12 rebounds in the win for the Cowboys, who moved to 7-5 in the Big XII with the win. The victory was key not only because it came over a ranked team in the Bears, but more importantly, it came at the beginning of a four-game stretch that Oklahoma State has coming up against ranked teams. The Cowboys play at Texas and at home against Kansas next week, and then finish up with games at Texas A&M and at home against Nebraska. If they win just two of those games, they'll be in great shape for a bid; if they go 1-3 (and if that one isn't Kansas), they'll probably have to win two games in the Big XII tourney to really like their chances on Selection Sunday.

Mississippi probably wasn't going to be in our next bracket even with a home win over Florida on Saturday, but the Gators made sure we didn't have anything to debate. Vernon Macklin scored 23 points and Erving Walker added 10, including some key free throws down the stretch, as Florida won 64-61 in Oxford. The Gators, who may be back to a single digit seed in our next bracket, improved 8-4 in conference with the victory. Mississippi has now lost five of six, and will land on the Next Eight Out list on Monday.

It certainly wasn't pretty, but Mississippi State's 60-59 win at LSU will probably be enough to keep them in our field next week. Phil Turner hit a three with 5.8 seconds left to save the Bulldogs, who trailed by two after a Tasmin Mitchell three-pointer with 14.7 seconds to go. At 7-5, Mississippi State has a pretty decent chance to finish 10-6 in the SEC West, which would be enough for a bid. If they finish 9-7, they would have to win two games in the SEC tourney to feel safe.

Cornell couldn't have hoped for a better 24 hours. The Big Red beat rival Harvard on the road Friday night, won at Dartmouth on the road on Saturday, and then moved into sole possession of first place in the Ivy as a result of Princeton's home loss to Brown. Cornell hosts Princeton this coming Friday, and with a win, they can all but wrap up the league title and the auto bid that comes with it.

Of note: Wake Forest lost at N.C. State; Kansas beat Colorado at home; Kansas State won at Oklahoma; Texas escaped with a 71-67 win at Texas Tech; Texas A&M won at Iowa State; Missouri won at Nebraska; West Virginia beat Seton Hall at home; Louisville won at DePaul; Tennessee won at South Carolina; Clemson beat Virginia at home; Gonzaga won at Pepperdine; New Mexico edged Air Force at home; BYU won at Wyoming; UNLV beat Colorado State at home; Temple won at St. Joseph's in OT; Richmond beat George Washington at home; Rhode Island beat Fordham at home; UTEP won at Tulsa; UAB beat Houston at home; Cal won at Oregon; San Diego State beat Utah at home; Minnesota beat Indiana at home.

Of note (BracketBuster edition): Utah State beat Wichita State at home; Louisiana Tech rallied late to win at Northeastern; Charleston won at George Mason; VCU beat Akron at home (a Colonial victory!); Murray State beat Morgan State at home; Kent State beat Western Carolina at home; Missouri State beat Nevada at home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Friday

Our quick thoughts on Friday's results:

The first night of BracketBuster weekend couldn't have gone much worse for the Colonial. Old Dominion - the league's best chance at an at-large bid - lost 71-62 at Northern Iowa, and William & Mary laid a huge egg on the road against Iona, getting blown out 83-69 by the relatively unknown but pretty underrated Gaels. The Tribe's loss is a critical blow to their already fleeting at-large hopes and it puts them in a position where they would have to make the final of the CAA tourney to have even a sliver of hope for a bid. ODU, meanwhile, is still very much alive for an at-large, but they will have to win their final two conference games (at Georgia State, vs. VCU) and get to at least the CAA semis to get a bid. A trip to the final should be enough for them to sneak in, but a lot will depend on what happens around the bubble during Championship Week.

The team that doesn't have to worry very much anymore is UNI, who is now all but assured an at-large bid after its performance Friday night. The sharpshooting Panthers didn't seem to miss Jordan Eglseder much against the Monarchs, as they made 10 threes (five by Ali Farokmanesh) and hit 17 of their 21 free throws in what was a very efficient offensive performance. The Panthers will be a solid 6 seed in our bracket on Monday, and even if they lose in the MVC tourney, they probably won't fall further than the 8 line on Selection Sunday.

Of note: Cornell won at Harvard (Ryan Wittman had 27 points and eight boards for the Big Red); Princeton beat Yale at home (the Tigers trail Cornell by a half game in the Ivy).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Thursday

Our quick thoughts on Thursday's results:

Georgetown came thisclose to pulling off the most improbable comeback of this college basketball season on Thursday night, before ultimately falling to Syracuse 75-71 at the Verizon Center. The Orange led by 23 with 12:37 left in the game, but then went ice cold from the field and allowed the Hoyas to mount a near-miraculous charge. Led by Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Greg Monroe (and against the cheering of Vice President Biden), the Hoyas cut the Syracuse lead to single digits with six minutes to play, and then got it down to one on a Monroe free throw with 1:10 remaining. But that's where the comeback ended. A Kris Joseph basket put the Orange back up three with 8.4 seconds left, and after a free throw by Georgetown's Jason Clark, Andy Rautins sealed the win for Syracuse with a pair of free throws of his own. Rautins finished with a game-high 26 points for the Orange, who guaranteed themselves a spot on the 1 line next week with the win. They don't play again until Tuesday at Providence. Georgetown's next game is at Louisville on Tuesday, and there's a chance they could take the floor for that game as a low 4 or high 5 seed. The Hoyas less-than-impressive 8-6 Big East record has them in sixth place in conference, a game behind West Virginia and Pitt and a half game behind Louisville.

Syracuse wasn't the only Big East team to come away with a big road win on Thursday night. Thanks to a key 14-5 run at the start of the second half, Pitt beat Marquette 58-51 at the Bradley Center to extend its win streak to four games and to improve to 9-4 in conference. The Panthers, who were playing their first game since their triple OT win over West Virginia last Friday, snapped a three game road losing streak in conference with the victory. They host Villanova this weekend, and if they can upset the Wildcats, they will be at the top of the 4 line at worst next week. Next up for Marquette is a huge bubble battle at Cincinnati on Saturday. If the Golden Eagles lose that game, a strong case could be made that they should be out of next week's field. Looking ahead, though, their final four games are all winnable (at St. John's, at Seton Hall, vs. Louisville, vs. Notre Dame), so we'll have to do some projecting of their schedule - and the schedules of the rest of the Big East bubble teams - as we hand out bids on Sunday night.

Mississippi's season-long stay in our bracket is officially over. The Rebels, who were clinging to a 13 seed in our latest field of 65, missed out on a golden opportunity to pick up a marquee win at home against Vanderbilt on Thursday night, blowing an 11-point first half lead in an 82-78 loss to the Commodores. It was Mississippi's fourth loss in its past five games, and it dropped them to 5-6 in conference and into third place in the SEC West. The Rebels still have no wins over tourney-caliber SEC teams, and even if they beat Florida at home this weekend, they'll be on the outside of the bracket looking in on Monday. A.J. Ogilvy had 27 points and eight rebounds in the win for Vandy, who welcomes 2nd-ranked Kentucky to Nashville this weekend. If the Commodores can upset the Wildcats (they're 13-0 at home this season), they'll be a 3 seed in our bracket next Monday.

Minnesota's at-large hopes appeared all but over after a road loss to Northwestern this past weekend, but they showed Thursday night that they can't be written off just yet. With their heads shaved in honor of teammate Paul Carter's sister - who was recently diagnosed with cancer - the Gophers played inspired ball and blew out Wisconsin 68-52 at Williams Arena. Blake Hoffarber scored 18 points and added nine rebounds to lead Minnesota, who improved to 6-7 in the Big Ten with the win. The Gophers still have a long way to go to get back in the bracket - they already have 10 losses and still have games left against Purdue at home and against Illinois on the road - but they are now ahead of Northwestern in the race for the Big Ten's sixth bid. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is now two games behind Michigan State for first place in conference with just four games remaining. The Badgers host Northwestern this weekend and then finish with games at Indiana, at home against Iowa, and at Illinois.

The silver lining for Wisconsin fans was that leading scorer Jon Leuer made his long-awaited return to the lineup against Minnesota, scoring four points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field. Leuer missed nine games with a broken wrist, and the Badgers went 6-3 without him.

For the second time in three weeks, Gonzaga got more than it could handle from a WCC opponent on the road. The Zags lost at San Francisco back on Jan. 30, and on Thursday night, they blew a double-digit first half lead and were upset 74-66 at Loyola Marymount. It was the first win for the Lions over a ranked team since the 1990 NCAA tournament, when they upset Alabama in the West Regional semis. Gonzaga led by three at the half, but made seven of their 27 field goal attempts in the second half to let Loyola back in the game. The loss will knock the Zags down a seed line next week, and even if they win out, there's a chance they might not get back to the 4 line that they were on to start the week.

Just when the Pac-10 looked like it might be a two-bid league, it reminded us just how pathetic it really is. Cal, who was in line for a potential at-large bid next week if it could just sweep the Oregon schools on the road, lost by 16 at Oregon State, and Washington, who would have been the front runner to be our automatic bid had we given the Pac-10 two bids, lost at home to USC. The Huskies had won five of their past six games coming in, but their loss to the Trojans (who, let's face it, may be the best team in the Pac-10) dropped them to 7-7 - and sixth place - in the Pac-10. The Bears fell to 9-5 thanks to their loss to the Beavers, and they're now just a half game up on Arizona State in conference. Whoever is in from the Pac-10 next week (it'll probably still be Cal) will be a 10 seed at best.

And finally, a big B101 fist bump goes out to Tim O'Shea and the Bryant Bulldogs, who snapped a 28-game losing streak and picked up their first victory of the season Thursday night, winning 53-51 at Wagner. Raphael Jordan hit two free throws with one second left to clinch the win for Bryant (1-26), which won for the first time since a 70-46 victory over NJIT on Feb. 17, 2009. The win moved the Bulldogs up two spots to No. 344 in the RPI, but they still aren't worthy of any at-large consideration just yet. They have no absolutely OOC resume to speak of, and they are a mediocre 0-26 against the RPI Top 330. They'll have to win at Mount St. Mary's on Saturday to get themselves back in the bubble discussion.

Of note: Florida beat Auburn at home; Dayton beat LaSalle at home; St. Mary's won at San Diego.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Wednesday

Our quick thoughts on Wednesday's results:

Purdue isn't a 1 seed - yet - but they certainly looked the part on Wednesday night. Led by JuJuan Johnson's 24 points, the Boilermakers got out to an early double-digit lead and held off a late Ohio State rally to pick up a huge 60-57 win over Evan Turner and the red-hot Buckeyes in Columbus. The win is Purdue's fourth over a team ranked in the top 10 this season and their sixth Top 50 win overall. The Boilers have now won eight straight Big Ten games, and are now just a half game behind Michigan State for first place in conference. If they beat Illinois at home on Saturday and if Villanova loses at Pitt, they'll be the final 1 seed in Monday's bracket. Ohio State, meanwhile, will fall from their spot on the 2 line next week, and how far they fall will depend on how they fare in East Lansing on Sunday. If the Buckeyes beat the Spartans, it would create a pretty big logjam atop the Big Ten, with three teams potentially separated by just a half a game.

Maybe we shouldn't have added that fifth A-10 bid after all. Both Charlotte and Rhode Island suffered damaging (and potentially resume-killing) losses on Wednesday night, and as a result, both may be out of our next bracket on Monday. The 49ers blew a 10-point first half lead in an 83-77 home loss to lowly Duquesne, and Rhode Island became Saint Louis' second upset victim in the last five days, losing 62-57 on the road to the Bilikens. Both losses were bad, but Rhode Island's is definitely worse. The Rams have now lost three in a row, and at 7-5, they are alone in seventh place in the A-10 standings. Even if they win at home against Fordham on Saturday, it's hard to see them staying in the field next week. Charlotte very well could join URI on the outside of the bracket looking in, but the 49ers have one more chance to keep their bid - if they can find a way to beat Xavier at home on Saturday. If they lose, they'll be out, too. The biggest winner in this whole mess is Dayton - who will (finally) get into our field if they can just beat LaSalle at home on Thursday and Duquesne on the road on Sunday. (See, Flyer fans, we don't hate you after all.)

Saint Louis' win - their sixth in a row - makes them the most intriguing team in the A-10 right now. The Bilikens are now 8-3 in conference, and they still have home games with Xavier and Temple and a road game at Dayton left. If they could ever win out (they also have a road game at UMass on Sunday and a home game against Duquesne next Saturday), they would leap frog their way into the bracket heading into the A-10 tourney.

It was good night for a couple of teams hanging on or around our Last Four In list. Oklahoma State led by as many as 20 in the first half and hung on for a 69-64 win at Iowa State, and UAB overcame a surprisingly tough test from Southern Miss to beat the Golden Eagles 59-54 in Hattiesburg. Oklahoma State's win snapped a two-game road losing streak in conference and moved them to 6-5 in conference with a critical home game against Baylor looming on Saturday. The Cowboys would be in the field if we did a bracket today, but their remaining schedule (Baylor, at Texas, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Nebraska) leaves them little room for error down the road. The same can be said for UAB, who moved into sole possession of third place in C-USA with their win and Tulsa's home loss to Marshall. The Blazers face Houston at home on Saturday, and if they win, they'll remain in our bracket next week. If they lose, C-USA could very well be back to a one-bid league.

Louisville needed 10 extra minutes to do it, but the Cardinals also picked up a huge bubble win on Wednesday, beating Notre Dame (sans Luke Harangody) 91-89 in double overtime at Freedom Hall. Samardo Samuels was unstoppable inside for Louisville in the victory, scoring a career-high 36 points, hitting 16-of-19 free throws, and almost single-handedly fouling out four Irish players. Tim Abromaitis (29 points) did everything he could in Harangody's absence to keep ND in the game, but in the end, the shorthanded Irish couldn't pull the upset. Louisville's next game is at DePaul on Saturday, and then the Cardinals begin a season-defining four-game stretch to finish the year (vs. Georgetown, at UConn, at Marquette, vs. Syracuse). If they just split those games, they're in. Anything less, and they'll have to do some damage in the Big East tourney to get a bid.

It's been nearly impossible for teams to win on the road in the Big XII this season, and that trend continued Wednesday in Columbia. Kim English scored 18 points, including 11 in one key six-minute stretch in the second half, to lead Missouri to an 82-77 home win over Texas. The win improved the Tigers to 7-4 in conference and sent the skidding Longhorns to their sixth loss in their last nine games. If Missouri can win at Nebraska on Saturday, they'll likely be a 6 seed in our next bracket. Texas, who is now 6-5 in the Big XII, will need a win at Texas Tech on Saturday to avoid falling into the 8/9 game next week.

Northwestern has found plenty of creative ways to miss out on the NCAA tournament over the years. This year, they'll be on the outside looking in because they couldn't beat the two worst teams in the Big Ten. Exactly one week after the Wildcats suffered a crippling loss at lowly Iowa, their at-large hopes were officially dealt a knockout blow Wednesday night at the hands of Penn State (Penn State!), a team that was 0-12 in conference coming in. Not only did the Nittany Lions win by 11 in Evanston, they did so with their leading scorer, Talor Battle, scoring just 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting. The only hope Northwestern has now of getting an at-large (besides the tournament expanding to 96 teams tomorrow) is to win out and to win two games in the Big Ten tourney. Any takers on that bet?

UNLV's slide toward a double-digit seed continued on Wednesday night, as they lost 66-61 at Utah. It's the third straight loss for the Runnin' Rebels, who, at 7-5, are now a game behind San Diego State and alone in fourth place in the Mountain West. That normally wouldn't be a good place to be in a conference that figures to get three bids, but the Rebels' schedule is very easy from here on out. They play Colorado State at home on Saturday and then finish up with a home game against TCU, a game at Air Force, and a home game against Wyoming. They should win all of those games and be in good shape to grab a bid heading into the MWC tourney.

Of note: West Virginia won at Providence; Duke won at Miami; Maryland won at N.C. State; Florida State won at Virginia; Kansas State beat Nebraska at home; Tennessee beat Georgia at home; New Mexico beat Wyoming at home; BYU won at Colorado State; Temple won at St. Bonaventure; Xavier beat St. Joseph's at home; Richmond beat Fordham at home; Butler beat Illinois-Chicago at home; Utah State beat Louisiana Tech at home; Wichita State edged Evansville at home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

B101's Weekday Tweets - Tuesday

Our quick thoughts on Tuesday's results:

The comments section of this site is going to have to find another bubble team to complain about. Virginia Tech's not only off the bubble, they're a single digit seed. The Hokies dominated in the second half against Wake Forest on Tuesday night, scoring 55 points en route to an 87-83 upset of the previously red-hot and newly-ranked Demon Deacons. Malcolm Delaney scored 31 points for Virginia Tech in the win, which moved them into second place in the ACC at 8-3. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 21 first half points for Wake, which led 40-32 at the break, but he scored just four points in the second half. The win is obviously gigantic for Virginia Tech's tourney resume, as it now gives them a second Top 50 win and puts them in great shape to finish 11-5 in conference. Even with a loss at Duke this weekend, the Hokies will be at least an 8 seed next week, and they will likely be ahead of Clemson and Georgia Tech in terms of seeding. (Remember two and a half weeks ago when we said this was going to happen...?)

Dear Jerry Palm, it's time to put the Hokies in your field. Love, B101.

If Mississippi State fails to make the tournament, they will look back at tonight's loss to Kentucky and kick themselves. The Bulldogs had a chance to extend their winning streak over the Wildcats to four games in front of a record home crowd, but instead squandered a seven point lead with three minutes to play and ended up losing 81-75 in OT. The loss drops the Bulldogs to an unimpressive 6-5 in conference, but they do have a relatively easy schedule remaining (at LSU, Alabama, at South Carolina, at Auburn, Tennessee). If they get to 10-6, with a win over the Vols, they will still be in good shape for a bid as long as they win a game in the SEC tourney. Anything less than that would be dangerous, since all they have OOC is a win over Old Dominion to go along with a few questionable losses. Assuming they beat LSU, they will be one of our last teams in or out this weekend, and their ultimate fate will depend on what their fellow bubble teams do.

We know it's the work of just a few idiots, but between the dozens of harassing (and allegedly racist) voicemails and texts sent to DeMarcus Cousins in the days leading up to the game and the water bottle throwing to end the game (you stay classy, Starkville), it's safe to say that Bulldog Nation could brush up a little on its sportsmanship before its next home game.

BTW, how great was Cousins' "call me" sign to the crowd after one of his dunks in the first half? A very nice comeback, indeed.

The biggest bubble battle of the night took place in the Big East, and it was South Florida who came out with a huge 65-57 win over Cincinnati at home. Dominique Jones (who else?) scored 26 points to lead the Bulls, who for the moment are now the front-runners for the Big East's eighth bid. They still have a lot of work to do to secure an at-large, but their schedule isn't all that tough the rest of the way (save a road game at Villanova next week.) The Bulls play St. John's at home on Saturday, and after the 'Nova game, they play Providence at home, at DePaul, and at home against UConn. That game against the Huskies on March 6 might be a bubble-bursting game for the loser, while the winner would likely head into the Big East tournament needing just two wins to feel good about their chances at an at-large. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is now tied with USF in conference at 6-7, but their remaining schedule is brutal, and they'll be lucky to finish 8-10.

Of note: Michigan State won at Indiana; Baylor beat Texas Tech at home (LaceDarius Dunn scored 30 points for the Bears); Georgia Tech beat North Carolina at home; Northern Iowa beat Creighton at home; Old Dominion beat Towson at home; Northeastern won at UNC-Wilmington; William & Mary won at George Mason; San Diego State won at TCU; Murray State beat SE Missouri State at home; Stony Brook won at UMBC; Princeton won at Penn.

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." This week's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi, SI.com's Andy Glockner, and CBSSports.com and CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent bracket, all of which were released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 15 Bracket
Last week, your Last Four Out was full of Big East teams. This week, it's full of SEC teams. When will you start making some tough decisions about the big conference bubble teams? There's no way that the SEC gets only three bids when all is said and done.

How in the world is St. Mary's still in the field? The Gaels have a better resume than Florida, Mississippi, and Cincinnati? How exactly?

How is Dayton still in after their loss at Saint Louis? More importantly, how are they a 10 seed still?

Old Dominion is safely in as an at-large right now? Really? If you like them that much, why not just put them in and leave Northeastern, who they are tied with in conference, out?

How did New Mexico win at UNLV and at Utah and fall from a 3 seed to a 4? If they lose a game this week, will they be back up to a 3?

Jerry Palm (CBS, CollegeRPI.com) - Feb. 15 Bracket
If the season ended today, how would a 20-4 team that is 7-3 in the ACC not be in the tournament? There's absolutely no way you can have Virginia Tech out of a "season ending today" bracket right now.

How many losses does West Virginia need to have to fall off the 2 line?

How is Clemson a 12 seed (after a two-win week)? How is UNLV still a 6 (after a two-loss week)?

Having Dayton in is questionable enough, but giving them a 9 seed? How do they deserve that?

Isn't Cal a little low at a 12? Isn't URI a little high at an 8?

Andy Glockner (SI.com) - Feb. 15 Bracket
Virginia Tech is a 9 now? It seems like only yesterday you were questioning us on Twitter about why we had the Hokies in. Ah, memories....

How is Georgetown still a 2 seed after losing at Rutgers?

You went from five Big East teams in last week to eight in this week? Can you please make up your mind on how many Big East teams deserve bids?