CBB Round-Up: 2/26/18

The calendar turns to March this week, which means the greatest time of year is upon us! March Madness baby! Some conferences kick off their postseason tournaments this week, while the rest are now in the final week of the regular season. With the sports world focused on college basketball for the better part of the next month, I have a packed post for the start of this week!

I want to start off with my thoughts on the FBI scandal that is rocking the landscape of Division I college basketball. I may have an extended post about this coming soon, but it’s something that I feel should be addressed at least in short.

To sum it all up, a report was released last week tying several high profile programs and players to an FBI investigation into improper benefits and illegal recruiting tactics. The biggest reveal was that an FBI wiretap caught Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to current player DeAndre Ayton. Miller did not coach in Arizona’s loss to Oregon on Saturday, while Ayton was allowed to play.

Most people know that this kind of thing happens in college athletics, as it’s no secret that money rules everything. It is unfortunate that there is now a black eye on the sport this season. It seems like everybody has an opinion as to how the NCAA should fix this issue. I have always been of the thought that these players are being paid, in the form of a college education, something that most of us have to pay for. That being said, the best and easiest way to solve this problem is to allow the players to be paid.

There are a lot of factors in play here. You could just allow the schools to pay the players, but that would open up a huge can of worms. You could allow the players to have agents and accept money through sponsorships, but they would no longer be amateur athletes, something the NCAA wants to hold onto.

It’s a really difficult situation, but the quickest way to end it would be to allow the players to receive money. I don’t think a lot of people would be a fan of that, but coaches and programs are going to continue to break the rules and hope to get away with it if it doesn’t happen.

That’s just my two cents, but we’ll move on to the more exciting stuff now. We’ll start with a new feature here on We Love Sportz, Dan’s Betting Corner! My brother Dan is an avid sports better, and he expressed interest in sharing some of his thoughts on games as we near the end of the season! For today’s edition, Dan would like to share his picks for three big games taking place tonight, Monday February 26th.

Dan’s Betting Corner

Duke (-5.5) @ Virginia Tech
7:00 pm, ESPN

This line interests me because in their previous game this season, Duke beat the Hokies by 22 at Cameron Indoor. Virginia Tech is better at home but they are a tough team to bet because they have been up and down all year. The line seems a bit low based on the previous result, so for that reason, I would lean towards Virginia Tech +5.5.

Texas Tech @ West Virginia (-7)
9:00 pm, ESPN2

This could go down as the most competitive game of the night but a tough one to bet on. Texas Tech is coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Kansas and West Virginia is riding a two game winning streak. Texas Tech secured a one point win in the previous meeting between these two. I would take the Mountaineers to win this one outright, but the line is inviting you to take Texas Tech. I see the game staying close the whole way, so I would lean towards the Red Raiders +7.

Texas @ Kansas (-10.5)
9:00 pm, ESPN

This line has already moved from where it started at Kansas -9.5. While the line is fairly high, everything points to Kansas winning with ease. They would secure the outright Big 12 regular season title with a victory, they rarely lose at home and superstar Texas freshman Mo Bamba may be out with a toe injury he suffered Saturday against Oklahoma State. Bamba was dominant in their previous meeting and the Jayhawks still won going away. If Bamba is ruled out I would definitely go with Kansas -10.5. If Bamba ends up playing I would still lean towards Kansas but it would certainly be a bit tougher.

Jayson’s Bracketology

One more week and March Madness will be in full swing. Our first automatic Tournament bids will be handed out this weekend, with the Ohio Valley title game on Saturday and the Atlantic Sun, Big South, Missouri Valley, and Big Ten title games on Sunday.

My #1 seeds remain unchanged from last week, with Kansas moving ahead of Xavier for the #3 overall seed. There was a lot of movement elsewhere though. Follow the link below to view this week’s Bracketology (teams in color are projected auto-bids):

Jayson’s Bracketology 2-26-18

Last Four Byes: Virginia Tech, Missouri, Louisville, Kansas State

Last Four In: Syracuse, Baylor, USC, Texas

First Four Out: Nebraska, St. Bonaventure, Washington, UCLA

Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Temple, Boise State, Notre Dame

Big Ten Tournament Predictions

Last but not least today, Dan and I have filled out our first brackets of the year! Yes, we realize the NCAA Tournament doesn’t start for a couple more weeks, but in order to hold the event at Madison Square Garden in NYC, the Big Ten has played a compressed regular season schedule and moved their conference tournament up a week this year. The Big Ten Tournament will kickoff on Wednesday evening, and here is the bracket:

2018 Big Ten Tournament for Blog

The Big Ten always has one of the more exciting tournaments of the college basketball postseason, and we get it a week early this year! Michigan is looking to repeat as champions, but they have a tough road, losing the tiebreaker with Nebraska for the last double-bye into the quarterfinals, meaning they’ll have to win four games instead of three in order to defend their crown.

Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and the aforementioned Wolverines are safely into the NCAA Tournament, while a number of teams in this conference are on the Bubble, and might need a deep run here to reach the Big Dance. That includes Nebraska, Penn State, Indiana and Maryland. The rest of the field will need an unlikely run to earn the Big Ten’s automatic bid.

Here is how Dan and I see the Big Ten Tournament playing out:

Dan's Big Ten Bracket Prediction

Jayson's Big Ten Bracket Prediction

Dan and I both believe that Purdue will end up winning the Big Ten Tournament, we just disagree on who they’ll beat in the Championship game. Purdue’s seniors have failed to win the Big Ten Tournament their first three years, including a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Michigan last season. The leadership of those seniors is what I believe will lead the Boilermakers to a Big Ten title this year, getting revenge on Michigan in the title game. Dan likes them to triumph over regular season champs Michigan State in the championship game.

I’ll hopefully be back with another post around the end of the week, but in the meantime, enjoy the action! It’s time for some March Madness!!!

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CBB Weekend Preview: 2/24-2/25

There’s less than a week left in February, which means March is right around the corner! Can you believe it? Me either.

This college basketball season has been, well, I’m not sure if there’s a word to describe it, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably choose “crazy.” There’s been tons of parity, the top teams have lost to teams with losing records, and a report was released just this morning tying some of the top programs in the nation with illegal recruiting tactics, including Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State.

That situation could put a little damper on the March Madness that we know and love, but despite that, we could be in for one of the more exciting postseasons in recent memory!

A number of mid-major conferences will finish up their regular seasons this weekend, including the West Coast Conference with likely Tournament teams Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. The Big Ten will also finish up this weekend, with their tournament taking place a week earlier this year so that they could hold it at Madison Square Garden in NYC. I do not understand why the Big Ten Tournament would be in New York, but it will take place there next week, with the Championship Game next Sunday, March 4th, in essence kicking off this year’s Championship Week.

But before that, we have another action-packed weekend of regular season play, and today, I have a little preview of the action to come this Saturday and Sunday.

Also, a special Friday night pick for all of you gamblers out there. My brother Dan (an avid sports bettor), says that Indiana will cover the spread against Ohio State tonight. They are the home team, and they are 2-point underdogs. The Buckeyes won by 15 when the two teams played in Columbus earlier this season, so Dan believes that makes this a sucker bet with the close line. So, you might want to put some money on the Hoosiers tonight (I’ll stick to just watching the games myself).

Saturday

Baylor (17-11, 7-8 B12) @ TCU (19-9, 7-8 B12)
12:00 noon, ESPN2
First Meeting: Tuesday Jan. 2, TCU 81 Baylor 78 (OT) at Baylor
This is a big game in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, with these two teams currently tied for 5th. Baylor has been one of the hotter teams in the country, having just had a five-game win streak snapped on Tuesday night at home against West Virginia. This late season run has gotten the Bears back onto the Bubble and into the Tournament conversation. TCU has traded wins and losses in conference play after starting the season 12-0 in non-conference play with wins over SMU and Nevada.
Tournament Implications: A road win against a likely Tourney team would be big for Baylor’s chances of reaching the Big Dance. I don’t think a loss hurts TCU’s chances all that much, while a win would make them feel at least a little bit better heading into the home stretch of the regular season.

Louisville (18-10, 8-7 ACC) @ Virginia Tech (20-8, 9-6 ACC)
1:00 pm, CBS
First Meeting: Saturday Jan. 13, Louisville 94 Virginia Tech 86 at Louisville
Like the middle of the Big 12, the ACC is all sorts of bunched up, and both of these teams still have a chance at a double-bye in the ACC Tournament, being held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY this year. Deng Adel scored 27 points to lead Louisville to a victory the first time these teams met, but the situation is much different this time around. Back then in mid-January, Louisville was looking like a Tournament team, and the Hokies were likely on the outside, looking in. The script has now been flipped, with Virginia Tech having won at Virginia, and Louisville having lost six of their last nine games.
Tournament Implications: Louisville is squarely on the Bubble, and while a win at Virginia Tech wouldn’t clinch a berth for them, it would move definitely move them in the right direction. A loss here for Virginia Tech would not be awful, but a win would have them feeling pretty good.

#3 Villanova (25-3, 12-3 BE) @ Creighton (19-9, 8-7 BE)
2:30 pm, FOX
First Meeting: Thursday Feb. 1, Villanova 98 Creighton 78 at Villanova
If I had to put money on one team right now to win the National Championship, I’d choose Villanova. Despite a few losses, including a bad one at home to St. John’s, when healthy and playing their best, nobody can touch this team. Phil Booth just returned from injury, so they are at full strength at the best time. Creighton was humbled by the Wildcats in their first meeting, and that loss was the first of four the Bluejays have suffered in their last six games, with the only wins in that stretch coming over DePaul and Bemidji State (yes, they played a D-II team this late in the season).
Tournament Implications: Nova looks well on their way to a 1-seed, and could be the overall #1 seed if Virginia slips up. Meanwhile, Creighton is in no danger of missing the Tournament, but they are sliding down the seeds, and a win over Villanova could halt that slide immediately.

#8 Kansas (22-6, 11-4 B12) @ #6 Texas Tech (22-6, 10-5 B12)
4:15 pm, ESPN
First Meeting: Tuesday Jan. 2, Texas Tech 85 Kansas 73 at Kansas
Revenge will be a factor in this game between the top two teams in the Big 12. Kansas is looking to extend it’s historic conference championship streak, and they have been helped in that quest by Texas Tech losing two straight games, to Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders have yet to lose at home this year though, and they easily defeated the Jayhawks in Lawrence back in early January. The key to this game could be the health of Texas Tech star Keenan Evans. He was hurt in the loss to Baylor, and was ineffective at best against Oklahoma State.
Tournament Implications: A 1-seed is likely still in play for both of these teams, but Kansas looks to be in a better position for that. A road win over Texas Tech would make their chances all the better, while a season sweep of Kansas would look great on the Red Raiders’ resume.

Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 ACC) @ #5 Duke (23-5, 11-4 ACC)
6:00 pm, ESPN
First Meeting: None
It’s been a fascinating season for the Duke Blue Devils. They started 11-0 with wins over Michigan State, Texas and Florida, but then lost their conference opener to Boston College. They also have losses to NC State and St. John’s. They have won four in a row, all without star freshman Marvin Bagley, leading people to question if they might be better without him. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it certainly can be argued. Syracuse is squarely on the Bubble yet again, and they just missed a huge opportunity at home against North Carolina, falling 78-74. Even bigger would be a road victory over Duke, and I’m sure Coach Boeheim will have his guys motivated.
Tournament Implications: Duke is still in play for a 1-seed, but they cannot afford to lose at home to Syracuse. Meanwhile, the Orange could get themselves definitely onto the right side of the Bubble with a win in this game. If they fail, they may need to win their last two regular season games, at Boston College and at home against Clemson.

Arkansas (19-9, 8-7 SEC) @ Alabama (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
6:00 pm, SEC Network
First Meeting: None
And would you look at that, another super tight pack in the middle of a major conference. At 8-7, these two teams are among six that are tied for 3rd in the SEC behind Auburn and Tennessee. That means the winner of this game could earn a double-bye in the conference tournament. Arkansas just had a four-game winning streak snapped at home by Kentucky, and they’ll need to get back on track with a home game against Auburn coming up next week. Alabama has had an up and down season, and they’ll be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak in this one.
Tournament Implications: Both of these teams would likely be in if the season ended today, but I think Alabama could use this win more. A road loss in this one wouldn’t hurt the Razorbacks all that much.

Kansas State (20-8, 9-6 B12) @ Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 B12)
6:00 pm, ESPN2
First Meeting: Tuesday Jan. 16, Kansas State 87 Oklahoma 69 at Kansas State
Has there been a more confusing team in college basketball this season than Oklahoma? Freshman Trae Young is probably the most talented player in the country, but his team has relied on him way too much down the stretch. The Sooners were ranked in the Top-10 not too long ago, but they are currently on a six-game losing streak and have lost nine of their last 11, putting them in danger of missing the Tournament altogether if the slide continues. On the other side, Kansas State is right smack dab in the middle of the Bubble, and while a road win over Oklahoma doesn’t look as good now as it would have weeks ago, it would still be a nice addition to the Wildcats’ resume.
Tournament Implications: Just two weeks ago, the Selection Committee had Oklahoma as a 4-seed, but I cannot imagine they have them even close to that right now. The Sooners really could be in danger of missing the Big Dance, so they need a win. Kansas State would move further onto the right side of the Bubble with a win in this one.

Missouri (18-10, 8-7 SEC) @ Kentucky (19-9, 8-7 SEC)
8:15 pm, ESPN
First Meeting: Saturday Feb. 3, Missouri 69 Kentucky 60 at Missouri
Look at this, two more of the teams tied for 3rd in the SEC standings. Kentucky may be finally reaching it’s potential, scoring back-to-back wins over Alabama and Arkansas following a four-game losing streak, the longest in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky. They will be a scary team in March if they continue playing like this. Missouri has done nearly the exact opposite, losing their last two games to LSU and Mississippi after a five-game winning streak. They may have just gotten a boost though, as their superstar freshman Michael Porter Jr. was just cleared for all basketball activities. They’re still not sure if he’ll play this season, but if he does, this will be a team nobody wants to see in the Tournament.
Tournament Implications: Both these teams should be safe, but a road win and season sweep of Kentucky would look really good on Missouri’s resume. Kentucky meanwhile can continue to improve their seed with a win in this one.

Sunday

Penn State (19-11, 9-8 B10) @ Nebraska (21-9, 12-5 B10)
5:15 pm, Big Ten Network
First Meeting: Friday Jan. 12, Penn State 76 Nebraska 74 (OT) at Penn State
A battle between two true Bubble teams this late in the season always carries a ton of significance. This game could have an impact on the seeding in the Big Ten Tournament as well. The Cornhuskers are currently tied for 4th with Michigan, so with a win here and a Michigan loss, Nebraska would clinch a double-bye in NYC. Penn State is currently tied for 6th in the conference with Indiana, but this game is much bigger for their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Nittany Lions are ranked as the 27th best team in the nation by KenPom, but their resume as a whole isn’t as strong.
Tournament Implications: I believe that neither of these teams are currently in the field, but depending on other results, the winner of this one could sneak into the field. I think a win would mean more for Penn State given that they are the road team, but a loss will hurt both.

Bracketology: 2/19/18

It’s almost March, and if you paid attention to the college basketball landscape this past weekend, you would not be shocked by that. Here is a list of things that occurred Saturday and Sunday:

  • Oklahoma lost it’s fifth straight game and eighth in their last 10 in a home defeat to Texas 77-66. The Sooners are scuffling at the wrong time.
  • Providence backed up a big home win over Villanova by being outscored 36-19 in the second half en route to a 69-54 loss to Butler.
  • Miami had one of its worst shooting performances of the season (7-31 from 3PT range) in a 57-50 home loss to Syracuse, moving the Orange potentially to the right side of the Bubble.
  • #2 Michigan State trailed unranked Northwestern (who was 15-12 entering the game) by 27 points in the first half. The Spartans proceeded to outscore the Wildcats 38-11 in the second half, avoiding disaster with a 65-60 victory.
  • Some likely tournament teams out of the SEC suffered setbacks. Missouri fell to LSU 64-63, Arkansas dominated Texas A&M 94-75, 11-16 Vanderbilt shocked Florida 71-68, Tennessee was upset by Georgia 73-62 and Auburn lost just their third conference game 84-75 at South Carolina. They also lost key contributor Anfernee McLemore to a gruesome ankle injury.
  • The one SEC team that was able to get back on track was Kentucky, snapping a four-game losing streak with an 81-71 triumph over Alabama.
  • Villanova rebounded from the loss to Providence with a massive road victory over #4 Xavier 95-79. Donte DiVincenzo continued his smoldering hot play with a near triple-double, tallying 21 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
  • Baylor continued their late-season run at a tournament bid, holding off several late chances and securing a huge 59-57 win over #7 Texas Tech.
  • For the second time this season, West Virginia squandered a late lead to Kansas, losing this one at the Phog 77-69. Bob Huggins was tossed at the end, and I can’t really blame him. The free throw differential in this game was 35-2, and there’s just no way that should ever happen.
  • #8 Ohio State lost their second straight, falling 74-62 at #22 Michigan, a huge win for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have lost their lead in the Big Ten standings as a result of this loss.
  • Duke got a big victory with a 66-57 road win over Clemson. The confidence Duke should get from a win like this could be massive as they enter the home stretch of the regular season.
  • #5 Cincinnati has now suffered back-to-back losses, falling 76-72 at home to Wichita State. The Shockers get a major win for their resume, while the loss could hurt Cincinnati when it comes to their seed in the Tournament.
  • Purdue halted a three-game skid (barely) with a 76-73 win over Penn State. They were missing their second-leading scorer Vince Edwards (14.9 PPG) in this one. Word is he is questionable for the remainder of the regular season. The Boilermakers might be best served letting him fully heal, because they’ll need him in the postseason.

So yeah, a lot happened this weekend. That has led to some changes in my bracket preview for this week, which you can see by clicking the link below (teams in color are current conference leaders):

Jayson’s Bracketology 2-19-18

Last Four Byes: Virginia Tech, Baylor, NC State, Kansas State

Last Four In: Louisville, Texas, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure

First Four Out: USC, UCLA, Washington, Penn State

Next Four Out: Nebraska, Utah, Temple, Boise State

There are a couple big games tonight, the first of which being Notre Dame versus Miami in South Bend (7:00 pm, ESPN). The Irish have struggled in ACC play without Bonzie Colson, and also missing Matt Farrell for a number of games. They sit at 16-11, and need every win they can get if they hope to make the Tournament. Farrell is back, so they need to beat a struggling Miami team at home. The selection committee will take into account the fact that Colson has not played, meaning that if this team can make a run down the stretch and in the ACC Tournament, I could see them sneaking into the field.

Following that game, Oklahoma will look to snap their five-game skid when they head to the Phog to take on Kansas (9:00 pm, ESPN). Trae Young is a fantastic player, and he’ll be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, but the Sooners have been way too reliant on him as of late, and he has been struggling. That has led to them losing eight of their last ten games. I don’t think they are in any danger of missing the Tournament given the amount of big wins they’ve collected, but I think they should be sweating. We’ll see if they have any sense of urgency, because a win at Kansas would be massive.

 

Bracketology: 2/16/18

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee revealed their Top-16 teams on Sunday, the second year doing a reveal like this a month before Selection Sunday. It provides everybody an idea how the committee views some of these teams with just three weeks to go until conference tournaments begin.

Here is how the committee placed their top-16 teams (committee ranking in parentheses):

South Region – 1 Virginia (1), 2 Cincinnati (8), 3 Michigan State (11), 4 Tennessee (13)

East Region – 1 Villanova (2), 2 Duke (7), 3 Texas Tech (10), 4 Ohio State (14)

Midwest Region – 1 Xavier (3), 2 Auburn (5), 3 Clemson (9), 4 Oklahoma (16)

West Region – 1 Purdue (4), 2 Kansas (6), 3 North Carolina (12), 4 Arizona (15)

Some thoughts I have on this bracket preview…

  • I was prepared to get really angry at where some teams were seeded, but overall, I think they did a pretty good job considering how rushed the process was (the committee did a conference call the night prior to build this. That is not nearly enough time to properly seed the teams)
  • My biggest gripe was Oklahoma being among the top 16 teams. They have some great wins this season (at Wichita State, Texas Tech, Kansas), but they also had lost six of eight games heading into this bracket preview. I do not believe they are one of the 16 best teams, nor do they have a resume that belongs among the top 16 teams.
  • I also think North Carolina is a little high at #12 overall. They are playing well as of late, and I definitely think recency bias played a role in them being a 3-seed. They have some bad losses (Wofford and NC State, both at home), and I think a 4-seed makes more sense.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see Michigan State on the 3-line. They pass the eye test, and are likely one of the four best teams in the country, but their resume just doesn’t stack up. They played a mediocre non-conference schedule, and were punished for it on the seed-list. If they play well down the stretch, they can still earn a 1-seed, but a 3 is exactly where they should be right now.

Since the reveal on Sunday, we’ve had nearly a week’s worth of games, and some results certainly would have an impact on the seeding. For my bracketology this week, I used the committee’s Top-16 as a starting point, and made adjustments as I felt necessary given this past week’s results.

Click the link below to view my bracket for this week (teams with color backgrounds are current conference leaders, which would give them automatic bids to the Tournament).

Jayson’s Bracketology 2-16-18

Some notes…

  • Last Four Byes – Arkansas, TCU, Louisville, USC
  • Last Four In – Kansas State, Washington, Baylor, Temple
  • First Four Out – Texas, Boise State, St. Bonaventure, UCLA
  • Next Four Out – Penn State, Nebraska, Syracuse, Western Kentucky
  • Purdue’s loss to Wisconsin last night drops them to the 2-line, moving Auburn up to the final 1-seed following their win over Kentucky on Wednesday.
  • Arizona’s win at Arizona State last night did not move them up a seed-line, but they are my top 4-seed. A loss by a 3-seed or another big win for them could move them up.
  • Oklahoma has now lost seven of their last nine games after losing to Texas Tech on Tuesday, dropping them to a 5-seed. I think they should be lower than that, but that’s where I believe the committee would have them. It’s not going to get any easier for them either, as their next four games include hosting bubble teams Texas and Kansas State and hitting the road to face Kansas and Baylor.
  • I built my bracket prior to the conclusion of Saint Mary’s loss to San Francisco last night. That loss would drop them to a 6-seed for me, moving Creighton up to the 5-line.

I am off to the Jersey Shore this weekend, but enjoy the great action, highlighted by Villanova/Xavier on Saturday afternoon!

Bracketology: 2/7/18

I’m going to be pretty busy at work after today with high school basketball playoffs kicking off on Friday, so I have an early Bracketology this week.

A few notes from last night’s games:

  • Tennessee outlasted Kentucky at Rupp Arena in a 61-59 victory, sweeping the season series against the Wildcats for the first time since the late 1990s. The Volunteers are, in my opinion, one of the 10 best teams in the nation, and that is reflected in today’s bracket, as I have them up to a 3-seed. Kentucky stays on the 5-line despite the loss.
  • Butler threw everything they had at Xavier, overcoming a big deficit late with a barrage of three-pointers to send the game to overtime, but they came up just short, the Musketeers winning 98-93, their second consecutive OT victory. Xavier, as a result of the win, is my final 1-seed this week, thanks to losses by Kansas and Duke over the weekend. They enter their toughest stretch of the season now though, traveling to Creighton Saturday, then hosting Seton Hall and Villanova next week.
  • TCU gave Kansas a battle, but the Jayhawks were able to avoid losing consecutive home games, securing a 71-64 victory. Kansas is in the conversation for a 1-seed, but I have them on the 2-line after suffering that awful home loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend. TCU meanwhile is now just 4-7 in Big 12 play, and they could use a big win to enhance their resume. They have road games against West Virginia and Texas Tech remaining, and a win in one of those with no more bad losses should be enough to get them in.

With that, please follow the link below to view my bracket projection for this week:

Jayson’s Bracketology 2-7-18

Some things that didn’t make it into the document with my bracket…

Last Four Byes: Washington, Houston, NC State, Kansas State

Last Four In: Missouri, USC, Boise State, Nebraska

First Four Out: Marquette, Virginia Tech, SMU, Syracuse

Next Four Out: Western Kentucky, UCLA, Temple, Maryland

Here is a list of my top four seeds in each region, with how I have them ranked on the S-Curve I use to build my bracket…

East: 1 – Villanova (1); 2 – Michigan State (8); 3 – Cincinnati (9); 4 – North Carolina (16)
South: 1 – Virginia (2); 2 – Auburn (6); 3 – Ohio State (11); 4 – Texas Tech (14)
Midwest: 1 – Purdue (3); 2 – Kansas (5); 3 – Tennessee (12); 4 – Clemson (13)
West: 1 – Xavier (4); 2 – Duke (7); 3 – Arizona (10); 4 – Oklahoma (15)

Enjoy the games this weekend, and I’ll be back next week with more great content. Thanks for reading!

CBB Game Preview: 2/5-2/8

Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (anybody who knows me knows how difficult that was for me to type)! The best part about the Super Bowl being over is that the next major sporting event is the NCAA Basketball Tournament! Bring on March!

Now that all of you Eagles fans need something else to focus your energy on, and with the Flyers and Sixers struggling, why not check out some college ball this week? With that in mind, I have a little preview of the week to come in college basketball. If you have some time, or can’t find anything else on TV, you should definitely tune into some of these games.

Monday 2/5

Syracuse @ Louisville, 7:00 pm ESPN

Neither of these teams have played up to the standards that their respective fan bases expect from them, but they each still have a shot at reaching the Big Dance. The Cardinals are 16-7 in their first year under David Padgett, but they lack big wins, which could keep them from making the Tournament. They have lost their last two games, at Virginia and vs Florida State, so they need to get back on the right track.

If the season ended today, Syracuse would probably be on the outside looking in. They are 15-8 with some bad losses on their resume (St. Bonaventure, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest). Jim Boeheim is operating with just six scholarship players, and that has had a huge impact. They are also riding a two-game losing streak, but snapping that with their biggest win of the season would be a major coup.

#19 West Virginia @ #17 Oklahoma, 9:00 pm ESPN

This is a rematch from January 6, when the Mountaineers secured an 89-76 victory at home in Morgantown. This time they will travel to Norman, and likely National Player of the Year Trae Young and the Sooners will be out for revenge. Not only that, but Oklahoma lost a rivalry game this past weekend to Texas, so they’ll be looking to right the ship.

Each of these teams are having their troubles in Big 12 play, with West Virginia losing four of their last six in conference play and five of their last seven overall, and Oklahoma going down in three of their last five Big 12 games and four of their last six overall. Both West Virginia and Oklahoma will be 5-seeds or better in this year’s Tournament, but a win tonight would be big for either of them.

Tuesday 2/6

Pennsylvania @ Princeton, 6:00 pm ESPNU

This probably isn’t a game you’d think about watching, but this will be a well-played basketball game. These were the two favorites to win the Ivy League entering conference play, and I don’t think that’s changed. The Quakers are a perfect 5-0 in conference play, but this will probably be their toughest game remaining.

The Tigers have two conference losses already, but barely. They fell to Penn in the teams’ first meeting this year, 76-70 at the Palestra, and they were upset at home Saturday by Brown 102-100 in overtime. This is a Princeton team that holds a win over USC this season. I think the winner of this game has a great chance to go on to win the conference title.

#5 Xavier @ Butler, 6:30 pm FOX Sports 1

I don’t think a whole lot of fans realize just how good this Xavier team is. They returned most of a team that made a surprise run to the Elite Eight last season, and they are 21-3 so far this season. Joe Lunardi has them as a 1-seed in his most recent Bracketology, and I have a hard time disagreeing with him. That being said, they’ve had some close calls in conference play, narrowly winning both of their games against last place St. John’s, and surviving in overtime at home against Georgetown over the weekend.

And with so many close calls, you know a trip to Butler isn’t going to be easy for the Musketeers. First year head coach LaVall Jordan has Butler playing really good basketball, as they look on their way to another Tournament berth. They have wins over Ohio State and #1 Villanova this season, and they are looking for revenge following an 86-79 loss to Xavier back on January 2.

#15 Tennessee @ #24 Kentucky, 7:00 pm ESPN

The SEC is having it’s best season in men’s basketball in a very long time, and these teams are two big reasons why. You know about Kentucky, they’re always among the best teams in the land, but Tennessee is having a fantastic season under Rick Barnes. The Volunteers are 17-5 and ranked in the top-10 on KenPom. They boast a non-conference win over #3 Purdue, but they have lost most of their big games in SEC play (at Arkansas in OT, vs Auburn, at Missouri). They have a relatively easy schedule down the stretch, so this game may be their last chance to truly enhance their tourney resume prior to the SEC Tournament.

John Calipari has one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams he’s had while at Kentucky, and it has shown at times this season in losses to UCLA and South Carolina. They also failed to defeat the Volunteers in Knoxville back on January 6, losing 76-65. Revenge will be a factor in this one, and it would be a big time victory for the Wildcats.

Wednesday 2/7

#14 Ohio State @ #3 Purdue, 8:30 pm Big Ten Network

I think we all expected Purdue to be really good this season, but not so much Ohio State, making this a surprisingly massive game in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers slipped up in the Bahamas early in the season, losing back-to-back games to Tennessee and Western Kentucky, but they haven’t lost since, winning 19 games in a row. You could easily argue that they are the best team in the nation, but they’ll be tested on Wednesday.

The Buckeyes are 11-1 in conference play this year, which includes a win over Michigan State. Keita Bates-Diop has been a revelation in leading this team as a dynamic wing scorer, boosting his NBA Draft stock in the process. This will be the last chance for Ohio State to boost their resume in the regular season, and if they can snap Purdue’s winning streak in West Lafayette, they could be on their way to a very high seed in the Big Dance.

Texas A&M @ #8 Auburn, 9:00 pm ESPN2

Speaking of the SEC, the Auburn Tigers are probably the biggest surprise in all of college basketball this season. They had two key players suspended prior to the season, but they have proved that they don’t need them. Auburn is 21-2 this season, with their only losses coming to Temple in the Charleston Classic and by 5 at Alabama back on January 17. They have won five in a row, but they have a tough close to the regular season.

That starts Wednesday with this game against a Texas A&M team that is surprisingly fighting for their Tournament life right now. After an 11-1 start, the Aggies lost five games in a row. They have won four of their last six since, and look to continue on the right track with a big win at Auburn. I don’t like their chances, but we’ll see.

Thursday 2/8

#9 Duke @ #21 North Carolina, 8:00 pm ESPN

The biggest rivalry in college basketball. I couldn’t be bothered by it, but there are tons of Duke fans and tons of UNC fans. I don’t really need to sell this game to you, but here’s how the teams shape up. Duke has the most talented team in the nation, but they are very young, and their one experienced player, Grayson Allen, has been a shell of his former self this season. The Blue Devils are coming off a brutal loss to St. John’s on Saturday, so they’ll be out for blood.

Meanwhile, North Carolina is just 6-5 in ACC play this season, including a three-game losing streak that they just snapped against Pitt on Saturday. This will be their first of two meetings with Duke in the regular season, and you can throw everything out the window when these two teams meet. This will probably be a great game.

 

Bracketology: 2/2/2018

We have reached February, which means we are just a little over a month away from Selection Sunday. My oh my, how time flies. Most teams are around halfway through their conference schedules, so we have separated a lot of the contenders from the pretenders.

Starting today, and hopefully at least once a week from here on out, I will be posting a new bracket prediction. Each week I will build a new seed list, taking the 32 teams currently leading their conferences and 36 at-large teams, and ranking them from 1-68. Then I’ll build my bracket.

When we get to conference tournament season, we’ll see a lot of upsets, so a fair amount of the teams in today’s projection won’t actually be here come Selection Sunday, but for now, it makes the most sense to use the teams leading their conferences.

Please follow the link below to view this week’s bracket projection:

Jayson’s Bracketology 2-2-18

 

A few notes about my bracket…

  • I put this bracket together prior to last night’s games, February 1st. Some of the results last night have changed some things. I was able to seamlessly replace three former conference leaders with the new leaders (for ties, I broke them using the higher ranked team on KenPom).
  • In addition to those changes, Washington’s win over Arizona State moved them into my 68-team field. They replaced Western Kentucky in the First Four games played in Dayton, Ohio. I did not want to go to the trouble of re-seeding every team, but I would drop Arizona State from a 7-seed to an 8-seed following the loss.
  • SMU was another team who dropped based on a loss last night. They fell at Tulsa, which moved them from an 11-seed to the First Four, against Marquette.
  • Last Four Byes (last four at-large teams not required to play in the First Four): Kansas State, USC, Houston, NC State
  • Last Four In (four at-large teams playing in the First Four): Marquette, SMU, Boise State, Washington
  • First Four Out (four teams closest to moving into the field of 68): Western Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Missouri
  • Next Four Out (should be self-explanatory): Utah, Nebraska, Syracuse, Maryland

 

I also want to link you to some of my favorite Bracketologists so you can see how their brackets differ from mine…

Joe Lunardi – ESPN

Jerry Palm РCBS Sports 

Stewart Mandel – The Athletic (subscription required)

Chris Dobbertean – SB Nation

 

And finally, before you enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday night, here are some games with major bracket implications that you should check out this weekend!

Notre Dame at NC State, Saturday 2/3 12:00 noon ESPN

The Fighting Irish are struggling without Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, and they need a win here over fellow Bubble team NC State. Without a win, it might not matter what happens when those two stars return to the lineup.

#21 Kentucky at Missouri, Saturday 2/3 2:00 pm CBS

The Tigers are firmly on the Bubble, and a home win over a surging Kentucky team would be a huge feather in their cap.

South Carolina at Texas A&M, Saturday 2/3 2:00 pm ESPN2

The Gamecocks have some really good wins, but they are still probably on the outside looking in. A win in College Station would be a nice resume booster, and it would move the Aggies closer to falling out of the bracket.

Kansas State at #15 West Virginia, Saturday 2/3 4:00 pm ESPN2

K-State nearly knocked off Kansas on Monday night, but they get another chance to boost their tourney resume in Morgantown on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are in freefall mode, and they need a win to keep from dropping further down the seed-list.

#9 Arizona at Washington, Saturday 2/3 10:30 pm Pac-12 Network

The Huskies got a big win over Arizona State last night, but if they can turn around and knock off the Wildcats too, they will secure their spot on the right side of the Bubble (for now).