A Conference-By-Conference Look At What You Can Expect To See On "Selection Sunday"
MARCH MADNESS PACKAGE GOES 3-0-1
Ohio (Pk) Akron 81-75 WON!
Minnesota (+2.5) Purdue 69-42 WON!
Washington (+2) Cal 79-75 WON!
Georgetown (+2) West Virginia 58-60 WON!
Now 18-7-1 in the Conference Tournaments!
And three more games to go!
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THE NCAA TOURNAMENT REPORT: A CONFERENCE-BY-CONFERENCE LOOK AT WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE ON "SELECTION SUNDAY"
By Jim Hurley:
Hey, don't shoot the messenger (that's us!) here but the fact of the matter is this year's College Basketball Conference Tournaments may have done more to "muddy the waters" than to clear things up when it comes to next week's NCAA Tournament.
Consider the following:
The NCAA Tournament folks went into conference tournament or mini-tourney play with the commonly held belief that Syracuse would get a #1 seed in the "Big Dance" - of course, the Orange went out and lost to Georgetown in the Big East quarterfinals;
The NCAA Tournament folks believed the likes of Minnesota, Illinois, San Diego State and Rhode Island were - at best - "on the bubble" but more likely on the outside looking in and here we exited Friday night's games and all of the above were still very much alive;
Finally, just when you thought that a slew of teams would nudge each other around for the #2 and #3 seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, the likes of - and in no particular order - Villanova, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State and New Mexico all lost even before they could get to their respective conference tourney's semifinal round of play.
The Big East Tournament, the ACC Tournament and the Big 10 Tournament - just to name just a few - all went absolutely haywire at conference tourney time with a slew of #8 and #11 and #12 seeds going deeper than anyone could imagine and so now the NCAA Tournament Committee has the toughest task in memory:
How to come up with the best and most qualified 34 at-large teams when - as ESPN analyst Jay Bilas rightfully has been stating all along - this is the "weakest at-large field" in a long, long time?
Suffice to say, the results on this March weekend will carry a lot of weight into who goes where in this year's NCAA Tournament but we figured to take a conference-by-conference shot at what lies immediately ahead - and we'll get to our Jim Sez NCAA Tournament Report in just a moment but first this ultra-important reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the weekend's College Basketball Conference Tournament Winners and all the NBA Winners too when you check in with us on game days after 10 a.m. ET either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
Editor's Note: We will have all the day-time NCAA Tournament games this coming Thursday/Friday after 10 a.m. ET with the night games released sometime after 1:30 p.m. ET - so make sure you're all aboard for the next stage of "March Madness"!
Okay, so let's check things out with first a look at the power conferences and note our final line in each segment includes a first-round NCAA Tournament First-Round matchup we'd love to see:
Did you realize that six of the first eight games played in the ACC Tournament were outright upsets (two apiece by Miami and N.C. State) and so the whole darn mini-tourney fell apart right at #1 seed Duke's feet...now talk about getting the breaks!
If the veteran Blue Devils do go on and win the ACC Tourney crown, then you can bet your last Ben Franklin that Mike Krzyzewski's club will snatch up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and our best guess is that the Dookies would be playing the first two rounds in the Jacksonville site (Friday & Sunday).
Expect Maryland to be a #3 seed despite that 69-64 ACC Tourney loss to 4-point underdog Georgia Tech while Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest all wind up in either #8-vs.#9 games or #7-vs.#10 tilts - and don't expect Virginia Tech to make the NCAA Tournament field unless all the other "bubble teams" have their dreams burst on Saturday/Sunday of this Conference Championship weekend.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Wake Forest vs. Texas
It's safe to say that West Virginia will get a #2 seed no matter how you slice it - their Big East Tournament Championship Game win against Georgetown isn't gonna elevate Bob Huggins' crew to a #1 seed. We touched on Syracuse who appears to have dodged any/all bullets and will get a #1 seed after all - you know, body of work jazz and all that stuff - and it says here that the Orange will get to play in Providence for its first two rounds (Thursday & Saturday) and that could be the reward site too for whoever wins Saturday night's Big East Tourney affair at "The World's Most Famous Arena".
Meanwhile, the Big East will get eight teams into this year's NCAAs with Villanova and Pittsburgh getting either #3 or #4 seeds while Notre Dame, Louisville and Marquette all will get fitted anywhere between a #5 seed and a #8 seed.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Louisville vs. San Diego State
Let's just say that Evan Turner's 45-foot bomb that beat Michigan on Friday afternoon might well have catapulted the Ohio State Buckeyes to a #2 NCAA Tournament seed - no questions asked - and a Big Ten Tournament Championship would ensure Thad Matta's club of being the "best" of the #2 seeds when the committee folks are drawing that "S curve" bit that actually numbers the teams in order from 1-thru-65.
Still, there's so much other juicy stuff coming from this conference with Michigan losing to Minnesota 72-67 in OT - thus shoving "Sparty" down to no better than a #3 seed and more than likely a #4 seed - plus Purdue could be a big winner here on Selection Sunday as just getting to the mini-tourney title game (must beat Minny) would convince the committee folks that the Boilers are still rock-solid even without injured star forward Robbie Hummel.
If Purdue just gets to Sunday, then it punched its ticket to no worse than a #3 seed while Wisconsin should settle in at a #5 seed and born-again Illinois can count on being a double-digit tourney seed unless Bruce Weber's club sweeps through Indianapolis and wins this weekend's whole shindig.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Michigan State vs. Siena
It's no secret that the Kansas Jayhawks will be a numero uno seed in this year's NCAA Tournament (and we say they'll be playing first- and second-round games in Oklahoma City) Kansas State will march into the NCAA's with a #2 seed and - no surprise here - won't be in the same bracket as heavyweight Kansas but could well be playing in Okie City come Thursday/Saturday.
The one team that took a seeding hit thanks to a Big 12 Tournament opening-round loss is Missouri but you got the sense that head coach Mike Anderson didn't want to stress his Tigers in that mini-tourney even if it meant risking a one- or two-seed drop - expect Mizzou to be a #7 seed while Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas all figure on being between #5-thru-#9 (with the Texas Longhorns a sure bet to be playing in one of those #8/#9 games).
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Texas A&M vs. Saint Mary's
Maybe the NCAA Tournament Committee folks were cut a break by the way the Pac-10 Tournament fell just right - if UCLA or Stanford would have pulled off a semifinal win (instead they lost on Friday night by 13 and 15 points, respectively, to Cal and Washington) than there could have been lots of sweaty palms out there in bubble-land but instead the disappointing Pac-10 gets a mere two teams and gotta believe the mini-tourney winner will get to "stay home" and play a first- and possibly second-round game in San Jose (Thursday/Saturday).
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...California vs. UTEP
It was a slam dunk (at least in our opinion) that all four teams that entered Saturday's SEC Tournament semifinals in Nashville were headed to berths in the NCAA Tournament:
Kentucky's getting a #1 no matter how the current weekend turned out for 'em; Tennessee could be as high as a #2 if the Vols could pull off the mini-tourney upset; and Vanderbilt and Mississippi State both have locks on tourney bids no matter who loses that head-to-head battle on Saturday afternoon and so that makes Ole Miss the lone "bubble team" from this league that must sweat things out during the Selection Show on Sunday.
The fact the up-and-down Rebels lost 76-65 to Tennessee (note that Ole Miss had a one-point halftime lead) in SEC Tourney quarterfinal play likely has Andy Kennedy's team on the outside looking in right now but a winning record in league play (9-7 in the regular season) could squeak Ole Miss in ahead of someone such as Minnesota or Rhode Island. Stay tuned.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Vanderbilt vs. Richmond
Now, let's touch on some of the so-called mid-majors...
Expect four teams from this getting-better-all-the-time league to land NCAA Tournament berths and look for regular-season champ New Mexico to be rewarded for its "body of work" and not penalized for losing a heart-stopping 72-69 verdict against 2 ½-point underdog San Diego State in the MWC semifinals. Fact is Los Lobos could be as high as a #5 seed and could wind up being part of the field that plays first/second-round games in Oklahoma City.
Meanwhile, BYU also won't be hurt badly by its mini-tourney loss in the semis to "host" UNLV - while both those Runnin' Rebels and the San Diego State Aztecs will find their way in after battling on Saturday night for the conference championship although both will be double-digit seeds.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...BYU vs. Notre Dame
Folks, this is only gonna be a one-bid league as long as favored Utah State tops New Mexico State in Saturday's WAC Championship Game in Reno - the fact that Nevada was bopped 80-79 by NMSU late Friday night kayoed the Wolf Pack once and for all from the party scene.
Still, if Utah State wins that mini-tourney game and thus enters the NCAA Tournament with a total of 28 wins, we believe the Aggies will be seeded higher than usual for a WAC champ - maybe a #7 seed.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Utah State vs. Mississippi State
It's no cinch that four-or-more teams are going to get bids to the NCAA Tournament from this league that seems to have an inferiority complex - hey, those joker announcers who are talking up Saint Louis and Dayton can drop that argument after both were beaten Friday in mini-tourney play and it's Temple, Xavier and Richmond who are locks and Rhode Island who might have to sweat if Jim Baron's Rams don't at least get to Sunday's championship round.
Put it this way: If Rhodie is ultra-competitive against Temple on Saturday but loses, we'll still be tempted to put 'em into the field of 65.
NCAA Tournament First-Round Matchup We'd Love to See...Xavier vs. Marquette
NOTE: We'll dig deep into this year's NCAA Tournament News & Notes - like who's in and who's not and why - in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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