Tag:BYU
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
 

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Only once before, in 2008, has West Coast Conference earned three bids to the Big Bracket.

It could and should happen again this year.

Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.

The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.

The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.

Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)

The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.

So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
  2. Elias Harris, Gonzaga
  3. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
  4. Brandon Davies, BYU
  5. Noah Hartsock, BYU

Conference RPI: 11

KenPom.com rating: 11

Sagarin rating: 11

NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
  • Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
  • Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
  • Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
  • Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
  • San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
  • San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
  • Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.

By Matt Norlander

Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:45 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 8:57 am
 

Wakeup: Ultimate reference list to conf tourneys

Hoyas fans dressed proudly and in unison for Senior Night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander


Time-traveling hipster will be all over your Tumblrs and Facebook feeds by Wednesday afternoon. // Volcano eruption imminent. // Seems like such a nice guy. // One of my former colleagues helped write a riveting story about a cannibal. Read it ...

★ Marcus Morris allegedly got punch-happy at a bar after Kansas knocked out Missouri.

★ Wow. This is an incredible piece of reference. It has every single school playing in conference tournament with links to online streams, radio stations. Very valuable.

Derek Needham done for the year for Fairfield, which means the fourth-seeded Stags' hopes to win the MAAC just became realllly slim.

★ I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS PHOTO OF MICHAEL SWEETNEY.

Depressing but not at all surprising.

★ Heady analysis here by Jason Lisk; his definition of the bubble completely matches mine.

★ This Dan Hanner chunky soup of a column reinforces my undying love for college basketball. Sorry to get crude, but it's a terrific poop-and-read.

★ Yes is this a superb column from Pat Forde on Sean Woods.

★ The best big man you've never seen play.

★ This column on Calipari from Doyel makes you think.

★ Keiton Page is now the 3-point leader for Oklahoma State, all-time.

Duke as a No. 1 seed is an impossibility to get a handle on until the Blue Devils' home game against the Tar Heels completes this Saturday.

★ Montana and Weber State play tonight. That game has big implications.

★ Thinking this Kindle/eBook on college basketball tournament trivia is the perfect thing for you.

★ Really like the assortment of good reads in today's Wakeup Call. Scott Powers put together this piece for ESPNChicago.com.

★ New Orleans begins its prep for the Final Four.

♬ The best radio hit OK Go's had is "Do What You Want." Good power pop band. Feel better about yourself; it's Tuesday.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:44 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Iowa State beating Kansas State on the road highlighted a big day of bubble winners and losers. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Another February Saturday means another monster day for bubble implications. With the overall bubble so weak this season, there are still plenty of bids up for grabs in the NCAA tournament. Moreover, several teams are trying to play themselves into consideration after being an afterthought for much of the season. In the past week, we actually saw some teams play their way into the tournament, as opposed to losing and just hanging on. Which will we see on Saturday?

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

Iowa State: The Cyclones needed one win in their last three games against Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor to feel comfortable about their NCAA hopes. They broke through on the road on Saturday, holding off Kansas State down the stretch for the victory. Iowa State is now 11-5 in the Big 12, with two wins over Kansas State and another win over Kansas. Moreover, the lack of any sort of good win away from home is no longer a glaring weakness.

Purdue: The only thing holding the Boilermakers back in the at-large hunt was the lack of good wins over the Big Ten's best teams. That is no longer the case after Saturday, as Purdue went into Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan. It gives the Boilermakers a marquee victory, to add to Temple. Purdue improves to 9-7 in the Big Ten, with a home game against Penn State coming up this week. With this win, the Boilermakers are in very good shape heading forward. 

Alabama: 
The Crimson Tide regained the services of the suspended JaMychal Green, and they cruised to a win over fellow bubbler Mississippi State. It was their third victory in a row, and sixth in their last eight games, to solidify their fourth-place spot in the conference pecking order. A home game against Auburn, and a road trip to Ole Miss, still await, but Alabama is in good shape for now. The win over Wichita State looks better and better, and the victory over Purdue is also solid. 

Arizona:
The Wildcats just need to keep winning in order to stay in consideration for an at-large bid. They just survived on Saturday, needing a missed jumper from UCLA's Jerime Anderson to come out with a 65-63 victory. Arizona has now won seven of its last eight games, and sit at 12-5 in the conference standings. The profile is still not impressive in general, with only a win over California standing out. However, if the Wildcats win at Arizona State to finish the season and then get some wins in the conference tournament, it could be tough to leave them out.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks picked up a huge win Saturday night over Temple, their fourth win in their last five games. The win also gives them a second top-25 victory, with a previous victory over Creighton also on the docket. Saint Joe's has also defeated Dayton and Drexel, which could help in bubble comparisons. A win at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday would get them to 10-6 in the Atlantic-10, and a trip to the conference tournament semifinals could get it done. 

Memphis: The Tigers were in pretty good shape, but they really solidified things by beating Marshall on Saturday. It kept them on pace to stay atop the league, and it also gives them another decent win for the resume. The next two games will still have a say in their Selection Sunday fate, though -- vs. UCF and at Tulsa. Win both, and Memphis won't even be sweating its inclusion to the NCAA tournament. 

Washington: The Huskies didn't make it easy on themselves, but they did come out with a win at Washington State. They are still tied atop the Pac-12 standings with California, which is a nice trump card come Selection Sunday. The lack of marquee wins is still a problem, but a sweep this week over UCLA and USC would guarantee at least a share of the title. Washington will be a very interesting case for inclusion.

Drexel:
The Dragons had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament, but their win at Old Dominion on Saturday gave them the outright regular-season title. That is a big-time addition to the at-large resume, especially since Drexel has won 17 in a row and has lost just once in 2012. There aren't any great wins on the docket, but a run to the CAA title game would give them 27 wins -- would the Committee leave them out?

Texas: For much of Saturday, it looked like the Longhorns might kiss their NCAA hopes goodbye. However, they came back down the stretch against Texas Tech and pulled out a late victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and puts them back at .500 in the Big 12. A win next Saturday at Kansas would likely clinch a bid, but without a victory there, Rick Barnes' club will need to make some noise in the conference tournament.  

Xavier: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead and holding Richmond scoreless for about 10 minutes was enough for the Musketeers to get the win and improve to 9-5 in the conference. The big game for Xavier will be this week at Saint Louis. If the Musketeers can get the key road win, they could feel a lot better about their chances heading into the A10 tournament. 

Dayton: The Flyers has now won four of its last five after handling Massachusetts on Saturday. Their record in the Atlantic 10 improved to 8-6, which puts them in position to potentially make a run to third-place. The wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama are pretty solid, and they also defeated Xavier. Upcoming, the Flyers have winnable games against Richmond and George Washington -- a 10-6 finish in the league and a couple of wins in the conference tournament could get it done. 

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles don't like making anything easy, barely escaping with a two-point home win over Rice to move to 10-4 in the league. They remain one game behind Memphis in the conference standings, but should take care of business against SMU this week. Next week's game at Marshall could be a key win. 

Northwestern: John Shurna's two free throws with 2.6 seconds left might have saved the Wildcats' season. A loss to Penn State would have really hurt their at-large hopes, but now they still have a chance to finish .500 in the Big Ten. It won't be easy, though. The Wildcats host Ohio State this week, which would be a huge chance at a marquee victory, and a road trip to Iowa next weekend looks tough. A win over Michigan State looks very good, but 2-8 vs. the top 50 isn't pretty. They might need to beat Ohio State. 

VCU: The Rams fell short of the CAA title, but beating George Mason gave them 14 wins in their last 15 games and another top-100 win for the resume. They still need to make a run to the championship game of the conference tournament, but a loss here would have dropped them to third in the league standings and would have made it difficult to get a bid. 

BYU: The Cougars only had to avoid a bad loss to Portland, and they obliged, getting the win and finishing in third in the WCC standings. With only a win over Gonzaga standing out on the resume, it's likely that BYU needs to make a run to the conference title game -- which would mean another win over Gonzaga in the semifinals. 

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles improved to 26-5 overall with a two-point win at Southern Utah, finishing 17-1 in the Summit League. Should they lose in the conference tournament, they will be an interesting look. The best win is over Xavier, but the computer profile is better than several bubble teams and they've played consistently well all season.

UCF: The loss earlier in the week at Rice really hurt the Knight's chances, but their win over UTEP keeps them in the conversation for now. They need to win at Memphis on Tuesday to have a shot.  

Nevada: It took three overtimes, but the Wolf Pack finally dispatched of Fresno State to improve to 11-1 in the WAC. Will a gaudy record be enough for an-large bid? Probably not, but they have defeated Washington. Nevada just needs to keep winning. 

LOSERS:

Saint Louis: The Billikens should have felt pretty confident about their NCAA hopes heading into the weekend. The lack of great wins was masked by a good Atlantic 10 record and wins in nine of their last 10 games. On Saturday, Saint Louis lost to 5-23 Rhode Island -- and now Saint Louis gets a second look and is no longer a lock. The Billikens don't have a single top-50 win and the URI defeat is in the sub-250 region. Tuesday's hoem contest with Xavier is now a must-win for both teams. SLU is still OK, but things could get dicey.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are falling apart. After making a valiant effort at Kentucky, they looked terrible in the second half against Alabama and fell for their fifth loss in a row. They are now just 6-8 in the conference, and could be on the outside looking in at this point. The resume isn't overly impressive, with the win over Vanderbilt the only truly standout victory. Wins against Alabama and West Virginia are OK. The Bulldogs still face South Carolina and Arkansas down the stretch -- they need to win both. And then win at least one or two in the SEC tourney.

Seton Hall: 
After beating Georgetown this week, the Pirates were in good shape -- as long as they could avoid a bad loss to either Rutgers or DePaul down the stretch. Well, they lost to Rutgers on Saturday in overtime, and now head back to the bubble. If they can beat DePaul in the season finale and then get a win in the Big East tournament, things will look OK. They have a good computer profile (although the loss to Rutgers didn't help) and a really good win over Georgetown plus some other bubble victories. Today's loss does leave less room for error, though.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were not in good shape heading into the weekend, and they got their bubble completely popped by losing in overtime to Clemson on Saturday. They are now just 7-7 in the ACC, and the rest of the resume is still paltry. NC State is 0-8 vs. the top-50, has two sub-100 losses and its computer profile is getting worse. The best wins are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas. That's not going to get it done. They need to make a run to the conference tournament title game.

Connecticut: The Huskies came so close to feeling very comfortable about a bid, but they couldn't make the plays down the stretch against Syracuse and fell short. Right now, they would still get a bid due to their tremendous SOS and six top-50 wins. With that said, they need to win at Providence and home vs. Pittsburgh to get to 9-9 in the Big East and get some momentum heading into the Big East tournament. Things can still go either way.

Colorado State: After the Rams' victory over New Mexico earlier in the week, a win at San Diego State could have really solidified their profile. However, they fell short -- but get another chance at a marquee win on Wednesday against UNLV. The computer profile is pretty solid, with an RPI around 30. They do need another key victory, though. They're only 6-6 in the Mountain West, and have two sub-100 losses. 

LSU: Well, that was fun. The Tigers had made their way to the bubble after winning four in a row to get to 7-6 in the SEC. However, after getting destroyed on the road at Ole Miss on Saturday, they're likely no longer under consideration. There are a couple of good wins on the docket, but the overall resume isn't impressive. LSU would need to win out and then do serious damage in the SEC tournament.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd were attempting to play themselves back into the NCAA discussion by taking advantage of their big shots down the stretch: vs. Memphis and vs. Southern Miss. If they could win both, they might have had a chance. Instead, they got destroyed down the stretch by Memphis, losing by 20 on their homecourt. Marshall is now amongst a large group of teams in the middle of Conference USA. Their NCAA hopes are extremely dim at this point.

Harvard: The Crimson now deserve a closer look after losing to Penn on Saturday night and moving back into a tie for first place with the Quakers. Should they stay tied, a one-game playoff will be necessary; if Harvard loses that one, will they get an at-large bid? Their best wins are over Florida State and Saint Joseph's, and they have an RPI in the high 30s. The loss at Fordham in early January looks horrible, but they're 13-3 away from home, and are 7-3 against the top-100. For their sake, they should just take care of business in the potential playoff.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 1:11 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Kansas State might have been the biggest winner of the day, getting a marquee road win at Baylor. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

While BracketBusters is getting most of the attention this weekend, it’s also a BubbleBurster type of weekend. According to most projected brackets, there are still 10-12 spots that could go to any number of teams. Of course, most of those teams are in action today. There are bubble battles and chances for marquee wins across the board, so keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

New Mexico:
The win at San Diego State might have vaulted the Lobos into a more comfortable position -- but Saturday's victory over UNLV locks it up. Moreover, New Mexico has the inside track to a regular-season title in the Mountain West after knocking off the SDSU and UNLV in a matter of days. This is a team that can do some damage in March. The Lobos have Drew Gordon on the inside, plenty of shooters on the perimeter, a 10-deep rotation and they play really good defense. 

Kansas State: I wrote last week that Kansas State needed to get one its "big three" games: Kansas, Baylor and Missouri. On Saturday, the Wildcats went into Waco and came out with a huge resume-boosting win over Baylor. They now own wins over Missouri and Baylor, along with decent scalps against Alabama, Texas and Long Beach State. Moreover, today's win will likely vault Kansas State into the top 50 of the RPI, where it's a lot more comfortable. At 7-7 in the Big 12, the Wildcats are in much better shape than they were this morning. Really, really good win.

Miami: The Hurricanes were one of the last teams in the bracket this week, and they couldn't afford to lose to Wake Forest at home. They obliged, pulling away in the second half for a 74-56 win. At 7-5 in the ACC, they continue to inch ahead of North Carolina State in the ACC argument, despite losing to the Wolfpack. The win over Duke remains the only top 50 win for the Hurricanes, but it's not a bad trump card come Selection Sunday. They need to beat Maryland on the road next week, then comes two tough ones vs. Florida State and at NC State. 

Alabama ended its two-game losing streak and stayed in the field by beating Tennessee. (US Presswire)

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will remain an interesting case as long as they're not at full strength. With that said, though, they stayed in relatively comfortable position even without their studs. On Saturday, they welcomed in a hot Tennessee team and dominated the second half to win, 62-50. Alabama only has one marquee win -- over Wichita State -- but its victory over Purdue helps in bubble comparisons. If the Crimson Tide can go 3-1 down the stretch, they will finish above .500 in the SEC and be in pretty good shape. 

Iowa State: It wasn't of the same caliber as Kansas State, but the Cyclones handled their business on Saturday in a 80-69 win over Oklahoma at home. Interestingly, with the win and Baylor's loss, the two teams are now tied for third-place in the Big 12 at 9-5. The win over Kansas a few weeks ago really helps matters, although only three top-100 wins and the lack of road victories remain trouble spots. The three-game stretch to finish the season -- at Kansas State, at Missouri, vs. Baylor -- will decide their fate. 

Washington: What the Pac-12 has been looking for all season is some separation at the top of the league standings. Washington's win over Arizona on Saturday provides some. If California wins this weekend, both teams will have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference -- exactly what the conference needs. In terms of the Huskies' at-large hopes, the victory now gives them a season sweep of Arizona, which is basically the only thing boosting up Washington's resume at this point. Washington now has three road games to finish the season, but the Huskies needed this one. 

Cincinnati: Despite the Bearcats' horrendous computer profile, they're still in at-large consideration thanks to their quality wins. They picked up a monster bubble victory on Saturday, getting off to a hot start against Seton Hall and holding off the Pirates down the stretch. Cincinnati had already beaten Georgetown, Notre Dame and Connecticut, and Saturday's win puts them at 5-5 against teams ranked in the top 100. The bad losses are certainly bringing the profile down, but 9-5 in the Big East keeps the Bearcats in the mix for now. Big chance at home against Louisville next week.

Saint Louis: Isn't it about time we consider the Billikens a step ahead of the bubble? The win over Fordham wasn't profile-boosting by any stretch, but Saint Louis is now 10-3 in the Atlantic-10, with a top-25 RPI. They only have one top-50 win, over Saint Joseph's, but they've also beaten fellow bubblers Washington, Xavier and Dayton. They're 6-5 against the top 100 and have zero bad losses. Barring a collapse, the Billikens will make the Dance.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks kept their at-large hopes alive by going into Washington D.C. and beating George Washington, 73-66. They don't have an eye-popping at-large profile, but they do own a win over Creighton and also defeated Dayton (and a rapidly-improving Drexel team). For now, the Hawks are on the outside looking in, but 8-5 in the A-10 looks solid. Next Saturday's home game against Temple will be huge for their Selection Sunday chances.

Northwestern: The Wildcats had a couple of road losses heading into the weekend, but they bounced back nicely with a double-digit victory over Minnesota. The win separates them somewhat from Illinois and Minnesota, putting them at 6-8 in the Big Ten. There is still plenty of work to be done, though, as Northwestern sits at 2-8 vs. the top 50. The Wildcats get both Michigan and Ohio State at home down the stretch, so there are chances to add to their marquee win category, which currently includes Michigan State. 

BYU:
With Saturday's win over Santa Clara, the Cougars have now won five in a row and improved to 11-3 in the West Coast Conference. As other bubble teams around BYU start to lose, the Cougars' profile looks better and better. They are 10-3 away from home, and they have a top-20 RPI win over Gonzaga. On Thursday, BYU heads to Spokane in a huge game against Gonzaga -- the Bulldogs could be playing for a chance to share the league title, while BYU would lock up a bid with a win. If the Cougars lose that one, we will reassess. 

UCF: Despite their loss to Southern Miss during the week, the Knights have quietly played themselves back into the at-large picture. They kept those hopes alive with a 64-55 win over East Carolina on Saturday. UCF still sits at just fourth in Conference-USA, so it needs to break into the top three to have a better chance, but wins over fellow bubblers Memphis and Connecticut are decent. Two sub-100 losses do hurt, though. A road game at Memphis on Feb. 28 could be a make-or-break contest.

Xavier: This was a must-win for Xavier, which could have dropped to fifth in the A-10 pecking order with a loss at home to Dayton. However, Tu Holloway came through in the clutch and the Musketeers got an overtime win over the Flyers. The Musketeers are third in the Atlantic-10, and it gives them another nice bubble win, to add to Saint Joseph's, Cincinnati and Purdue. Throw in a victory over Vanderbilt, and Xavier could be in decent shape right now. Road games at Massachusetts and Saint Louis in the final four games make things interesting.

Colorado State: In what boiled down to a Mountain West elimination game, the Rams knocked off Wyoming, avenging a 16-point loss earlier this season. They get back to .500 in the conference and win for only the third time in their last eight games. However, the upcoming three-game stretch will decide their fate: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State, vs. UNLV. If they can get wins in two of those three, the Rams could be an interesting case heading into the conference tournament. 

California: The Golden Bears kept pace with Washington in the Pac-12 standings, rolling in the second half over Oregon State. Cal still has the best overall profile in the conference, with good computer numbers and a 7-4 record against the top-100. They do face three road games to finish the season, though, and getting separation at the top of the league is important to getting an at-large bid. 

Connecticut is in serious bubble trouble after losing nine of its last 13 contests. (US Presswire)


LOSERS:

Connecticut: The Huskies dominated DePaul during the week, but missed out on a chance to solidify their at-large standing against Marquette. The Huskies got down early and never got closer than four in the second half en route to a 79-64 loss. They now drop to 6-8 in the Big East and 5-6 against teams ranked in the top 50. However, there’s no one marquee win that puts the Huskies over the top. Florida State, Notre Dame and Harvard are good – but Marquette would have been a huge profile-booster. UConn is in serious trouble heading into the final four games – they might need to beat Syracuse next weekend.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini have officially packed it in. After not pulling a win out earlier in the week against Purdue, Illinois went into Nebraska and just got destroyed. The Cornhuskers went on a 31-4 run that ended up being a 52-12 stretch. The final was 80-57, and that wasn't even indicative of how bad Illinois played in the final 20 minutes. Bruce Weber sounded defeated after the loss to Purdue; one can only imagine how he feels now. The Fighting Illini still have really good wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Gonzaga, but they are now 5-9 in the Big Ten and have lost eight of their last nine games. Barring a 3-1 finish with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan, Illinois is finished.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have officially entered a danger zone. A week and a half ago, it looked like Mississippi State was primed to rattle off some victories and cement itself into the dance -- now, it has lost three in a row after the latest setback to Auburn on Saturday. After being considered in good shape for much of the season, a closer look reveals that the Bulldogs are in serious trouble. There's the win at Vanderbilt, a couple of nice wins against West Virginia and Alabama, but not much else. They're now 6-6 in the SEC, 4-6 away from home and have two sub-100 losses. This week is enormous: home vs. Kentucky, and at Alabama. 

North Carolina State: After blowing a 20-point lead to Duke on Thursday, the Wolfpack were one of the last teams considered for projected brackets on Friday. They needed to bounce back and get a quality win against Florida State on Saturday. That didn't happen. Florida State took command early in the first half and never looked back, hammering NC State, 76-62. The Wolfpack's resume doesn't have too many good wins, with Texas and Miami (Fl.) leading the way. A win today (or Thursday) would have boosted the profile. Now, this week's game at home against North Carolina amounts to a must-win.

Memphis: Despite not having an overwhelming resume, the Tigers avoided the "real" bubble by beating the teams they were supposed to beat and not suffering bad losses. Well, they suffered a bad loss on Saturday, falling 60-58 to UTEP at home. It was the Miners' first road victory of the season. Taking a closer look at Memphis' resume, and the loss could be trouble. UTEP was ranked No. 183 in the RPI heading into Saturday, and gives Memphis its first true bad loss of the season. Combine it with a 2-6 record vs. the top 50, and Memphis is far from a lock at this point.  

Arizona: The Wildcats had plenty of at-large momentum in recent weeks, moving past Washington in the bubble pecking order. However, they needed to knock off the Huskies on the road on Saturday -- but they fell short, 79-70. Arizona drops to fourth-place in the Pac-12 at this point, and its resume is still based off one win: at California. The Wildcats need more beef to the profile, meaning a trip to the Pac-12 championship game might be necessary. 

Seton Hall: Even though the Pirates' had a six-game losing streak earlier in the Big East season, their resume was still better than many bubblers. In a huge bubble battle against Cincinnati on Saturday, though, they fell short. Seton Hall drops to 7-8 in the Big East, heading into next week's game against Georgetown. If the Pirates beat the Hoyas, they're back in good shape. However, the four good wins -- Connecticut, West Virginia, Saint Joseph's, Dayton -- aren't exactly "marquee." 

Minnesota couldn't get past Northwestern, and now faces a difficult path to an NCAA bid. (AP)

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a golden opportunity to boost their at-large profile on Saturday, but they couldn't stop Northwestern's outside shooting and lost, 64-53. It was Minnesota's third straight loss and dropped the Gophers to 5-9 in Big Ten play. What makes it worse is the next three games: vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Wisconsin. Minnesota might need to sweep those three -- or at least nab two of three -- to have a chance again. They're 2-6 vs. the top-50, with a road win at Indiana highlighting the resume. 

Texas:
With Kansas State and Iowa State winning today, the last thing Texas needed was a loss to Oklahoma State. So the Longhorns went to Stillwater and lost to Oklahoma State, 90-78, as Keiton Page dropped 40 points for the Cowboys. The loss drops Texas to 7-7 in the Big 12, with some separation between itself and the two teams tied for third place. Texas is only 3-8 against the top-100, but wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State are pretty good. The Longhorns face Baylor at home next week; that has become a must-win for Rick Barnes' troops.

Ole Miss: The Rebels needed to bounce back from getting destroyed by Vanderbilt earlier in the week. Playing Kentucky wasn't the answer. They hung with the top-ranked Wildcats for a half, but Kentucky just steamrolled in the second half en route to a 77-62 win. Ole Miss is now just 1-7 against top-50 teams, with the best wins coming over Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. The Rebels are ninth place in the SEC and 3-10 vs. the top 100. That doesn't get it done. 

Arkansas: The Razorbacks' homecourt dominance was enough to keep them in the at-large conversation, but that's no longer the case. Florida absolutely annihilated Arkansas today in a 98-68 victory, despite freshman B.J. Young going for 31 points in the loss. The Razorbacks drop to 5-7 in the SEC and are still 0-8 away from home. With losses in five of their last seven games, and four sub-100 losses, Arkansas has a long way to go to get back in the at-large hunt. It was fun while it lasted. 

Wyoming: If the Cowboys could have swept Colorado State, they would still be in the mix for a fourth at-large coming out of the Mountain West. However, they lost by eight, and now sit at 4-6 in the conference. Moreover, they still have road games at San Diego and UNLV remaining. Anything short of an unbeaten run to the league title game won't be enough. 

Dayton:
The Flyers' plethora of decent wins had kept them hanging around the last few spots in the bracket for a couple of weeks now. A win at Xavier would have certainly boosted their profile heading down the stretch. Kevin Dillard and co. couldn't pull it out in overtime, though, and now are in big trouble. Saint Joseph's might have passed them in the pecking order, and they certainly did in the standings. Dayton is now eighth in the league table, and the bad computer numbers don't help. Wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama only get you so far.

Southern Miss:
 This was a bad day for Conference-USA. Southern Miss could have taken control of the conference, as Memphis lost at home to UTEP earlier in the day. So the Golden Eagles went out and lost to Houston. Going into the weekend, Southern Miss should have felt pretty confident about its at-large hopes. It has a great RPI and wins over Memphis and Colorado State. Looking closer, though, the wins aren't great and losses to Houston and UAB are bringing the resume down. They need a regular-season title. 

Long Beach State: If the 49ers lose in the Big West conference tournament, their loss late to Creighton could be the game that keeps them out. To be clear, they do deserve a bid. But what will the Selection Committee see? The team that dominated the Big West? Or the one that missed out on several chances in the non-conference season? There's really only one good win on the resume, Xavier, as the victory over Pittsburgh doesn't look as good as it used to. With the way the 49ers are handling their league, though, this will be a moot point. 

Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:49 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 11:53 am
 

Podcast: Does CBB not have 25 great players?

By Matt Norlander

There's a grouping of surprising college basketball teams who've yet to feel the swoon of conference play. But are they for real? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman present their cases. They also discuss UConn's Final Four chances, why they'll come together.

There's also the matter of the Mountain West, which I believe is the fourth-best league in hoops, better than the ACC and Pac-12. Goodman and Parrish can't quite go there. It's a longer podcast today, 42 minutes, and at this point you know what you're getting on the Wednesday show: unfiltered bickering mixed in with some smart analysis.

Timesheet:
  • From the beginning: We had to record this Tuesday afternoon because Goodman is travelling to New York today. We started talking the Wooden Award ballots, primarily the bickering behind them.
  • 6:39: Compiling a list of 25 worthy players for this list proved to be tough. Isn't that a bad sign? Parrish equates it to the bubble.
  • 7:40: UConn is going to get it together, meaning they're going to resemble a team most will see making the Final Four, Elite Eight at the worst.
  • 12:51: UNLV landed Khem Birch and damn are the Rebels getting it done immediately with Dave Rice.
  • 16:35: I make the case the Mountain West is the fourth-best league, top to bottom. My superiors scoff in my general direction. Actually, they do more than that.
  • 19:54: The A10 is a jumbled mess -- can it afford to be one?
  • 23:37: Who's for real? There are six teams out there. "I think they're a real basketball team" makes me laugh much more than it should.
  • 32:08: The final 10 minutes ... it's just a bunch of gabbing. Goodman's schedule, Parrish feeling slighted I didn't ask about his schedule, me lamenting the most epic #whitepeopleproblem of all-time, me vs. Bob Huggins.

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: November 9, 2011 5:27 pm
 

BYU's Davies speaks for 1st time since suspension

By Matt Norlander

The entire YouTube video of his Tuesday meeting with the media is below, but I wanted to dedicate a post this, considering Brandon Davies' suspension stirred a national debate for nearly a week last season. He's back now, he's one of the 100 most talented players in college basketball this season, and if BYU's to win the West Coast Conference title in its first year in that league, Davies will be the reason why.

Plus, he'll be the biggest deal in Provo now that Jimmer's gone.

Davies was prepared and handled himself well with the cluster of media Tuesday. He admitted he had an internal debate over whether or not to leave BYU after his Honor Code violation caused him to sit out for the NCAA tournament.

"There were a lot of thoughts going through my head, trying to deal with it all," he said, adding that he wasn't contacted by any other program about transferring, and didn't think about going to another school. (Admittedly, he seemed to hop on both sides of the fence here. Was he thinking about turning pro, then?)

When asked if he was happy with the way BYU handled his situation, Davies responded, "I'm just happy to be back. It doesn't matter what I had to go through to get here, I'm just glad to be here and back here where I'm supported and loved by so many."

As for playing on the road -- that's going to be something this season. Plenty of opposing fans will be locked and loaded, ready to rib Davies for his act that isn't tolerated at BYU, yet is commonplace and part of the college experience at 99 percent of other campuses across the country.

"I love the hostile environment," he said. "I don't know what's going to be said, but I'm ready for it. I'm pretty good at ignoring things like that. That's part of the game. It's one of the toughest places to play so we all expect it. But it doesn't matter. It's not going to affect me."

That's the BYU SID leering over Davies' shoulder, juuuust in case a reporter asks a question the school isn't comfortable with Brandon answering. Fortunately that didn't happen.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:21 pm
 

Trippin': Revamped, Jimmer-Less BYU post-Greece

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Goodman

The Jimmer is gone and so is his backcourt mate, three-year starter Jackson Emery. BYU associate head coach Dave Rice got the head job at his alma mater, UNLV, and the Cougars will make their debut in a new league, the WCC, this season.

"I had a few things come my way this past offseason," Rose admitted in terms of new job opportunities. "And I felt this was almost like a new job."

Rose recently returned from a trip to Greece, where he brought nine guys with him and said that just about every game was one-sided - one way or the other.

"We were either way better or the team was better than us," Rose said. "But it was a great experience. We learned a lot - and a couple of guys stepped up."

What he learned from his trip: "How different we'll be as far as scoring the ball is concerned. You don't truly realize it until you play without those two guys. We were backcourt dominated and over the years it hasn't been that way. We'll go back to relying on our frontcourt."

Who stood out on the trip: "Brock Zylstra was our leading scorer. He's a guy who redshirted as a freshman, went on a mission and has been Jackson's back-up the last two years. We played him at the point and he was pretty effective at that position."

What concerns you: "The point guard position. I'm comfortable with the frontcourt, where we've got experience, depth and leadership. Our two-guards will be able to score, but point guard is a question. We've got four guys who have a chance - maybe even five." The five are Matt Carlino, junior Nick Martineau, walk-on Craig Cusick, freshman walk-on Austin Nelson and Zylstra.

- Recently reinstated big man Brandon Davies was one of five players who did not play on the trip. Davies' season ended early last year when he was suspended for breaking the school's honor code. "He enrolled in school a little more than a week ago and went through individual workouts this week," Rose said. "It's nice to see him back. He looks good; a little out of shape." Rose said that the 6-foot-9 junior could be the focal point of the offense. "I think so. I hope to use him like we did Trent (Plaisted) and throw him the ball in the post. He needs to make positive plays in the post and that doesn't always mean scoring the ball."

- Carlino, who transferred in last year from UCLA, did not play on the trip. He was allowed to practice and will be eligible in mid-December. "I like him. He's got a lot of qualities that are really good for us in a point guard. He advances the ball, sees the floor, can create and can shoot."

- A pair of big guys who returned from missions - Nate Austin and Ian Harward - didn't go on the trip. "Both are really big inside guys who can run. Nate is skilled on the perimeter and can shoot it from 17 to 19 feet while Ian is more of an inside player - a rugged type who is a good defensive rebounder. I don't know how big of a scorer he'll be."

- Chris Collinsworth, who underwent a microfracture knee surgery, didn't play on the trip. However, Rose is optimistic that the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward will be ready for the start of practice in mid-October. "From the conversations I've had with the doctors, I'm optimistic. He's going to be a really good player for us."

- Rose confirmed he'll coach an exhibition game in Provo on Sept. 22 involving what he's told could wind up being as many as a dozen first-round picks. Rose will lead a team with Jimmer Fredette, who has been working out at BYU throughout the lockout, while San Diego State coach Steve Fisher will coach a group led by ex-Aztecs star Kawhi Leonard. Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith have also been confirmed participants.

- Emery has opted to go into the business world instead of playing overseas. "He had a couple of offers overseas," Rose said. "But he was a business major and had an offer in the private sector, with ownership in the business. It was hard for him, but it was a terrific offer."

- Rose spoke highly of freshman wing Demarcus Harrison and the job he did on the trip.

- Rose also said the trip was beneficial with the staff change. Former Kentucky forward and Wake Forest assistant Mark Pope replaced Rice and will work with the big men.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 4:55 pm
 

BYU to the Big 12: Can it happen? Should it?

By Matt Norlander

And the carousel spins again.

With Texas A&M's departure from the league, there's a scramble to see which program can be lured to keep the Big 12 not only alive and legitimate, but prosperous and afoot in the great college football race. As of right now, it appears the Big 12 has sprained one ankle while having its other foot lopped off. There aren't many schools with real cache that can get the Big 12 vital again and would want to join. Nebraska and Texas A&M, two of the five most relevant schools in the league, have now gotten out within a year's time.

And, yes, you're reading this on a college basketball blog. Football waves the wand, but these decisions do have impact in the second largest inter-collegiate sport.

BYU seems like they might be willing to flirt. Cougs in the Big 12. Hmm. Does it work? In order for that to happen, it's going to need promises and plenty of chatter with other schools. Specifically, the Big 12 needs to accurately advertise and get a dozen teams in its conference again. That way, a conference championship game in football can be held. That's paramount. 

The funny part of this fledgling saga is how BYU is publicly acting so disturbed by having its name injected into expansion talks once again. Like the girlfriend that's cheated before and is stuck with that stigma, BYU's proven it will jump to a new conference, so it's just going to have to deal with that reputation. The school jettisoned the Mountain West last year and is currently an independent in football. All its other programs now reside in the West Coast Conference.

The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew has a story out today that details BYU's ongoing disucssions with the Big 12, despite its claims to the contrary.
The Salt Lake Tribune has learned that BYU officials have had discussions with Big 12 officials within the past week regarding the school’s interest in joining the conference, and what conditions and assurances it would need to make the jump exactly a year after announcing they were breaking away from the Mountain West Conference.

It is unclear whether the talks have included an invitation from the Big 12.

A BYU source said the talks have included the school’s desire to utilize its own television network, BYUtv, in a BCS automatic-qualifying conference much as it plans to this year. The talks have also included ESPN officials and even some input from Notre Dame representatives, whom BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has referred to as “partners” in the past year.

On the surface, if this is true, the Big 12 should probably not go to BYU's well, or at the very least look too desperate. Another school with a TV network and aspirations of separating its brand from the conference? That can't be good for league morale. BYU, a league newbie, would already have the upper hand over longtime members, even schools like Kansas, which has tremendous pull in basketball. BYU, like the Big 12, does have a deal with ESPN (who knows what kind of commitments are up in the air and how tangled that slinky is right now; that's an entirely different set of problems), so there could be arrangements negotiated there that could really hold things up.

Could it be football in the Big 12 and all other sports remain in the West Coast? A funky setup, but anything will be accommodated in the name of football. Right now, it looks like it's BYU ... then everything else. The Cougars, being independent, are on an island and the Big 12 will want to rope them in with the prospect of poaching two other schools (New Mexico? Houston? Memphis? Pulling TCU away from the Big East?) afterward.

Is the Big 12 ultimately doomed, though? Very well could be. Richard Justice's lede in his Houston Chronicle blog post today indicates he is on to something. Oklahoma can't be happy right now, and Oklahoma State should also be looking about moving West. The priorities for Big 12 officials right now need to be easing the mind of its current members while simulatenously and swiftly putting back together a league that's been waiting to buckle under its own weight for more than a year.

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com