College Hoops Notebook
March Madness Package 3-0 Saturday with Miami-Fla, Wisconsin, and New Mexico
THE COLLEGE HOOPS NOTEBOOK: THE CLOCK IS TICK, TICK, TICKING DOWN TOWARDS SELECTION SUNDAY AT 6 P.M. EASTERN TIME - AND SO WHAT'S THE COMMITTEE GONNA DO?
By Jim Hurley:
Now that's the single word - more than any other that comes to mind the weekend of the NCAA Tournament's Selection Sunday - that really sets the mood.
There are a slew of College Basketball teams entering the big day having already gnawed off their fingernails while in anticipation of an NCAA Tournament berth and than there's the anticipation that comes with the hot-shot teams holding out hope for a No. 1 seed - and don't forget everyone (and their fans) want to know where they're exactly going and so there's an awful lot on the proverbial table this mid-March weekend and we'll try to set some of the matters straight here in this special edition of Jim Sez.
Still, there's lots of key Conference Tournament action still to be played and so here's a key reminder:
Okay, back to that ticking clock as we head towards 6 p.m. Eastern time come Sunday night - and the NCAA Tournament Committee has a ton of topics to tackle in the next several hours and here's just some of or Selection Sunday thoughts:
THE TOP SEEDS
Now do you know why we've been saying all along don't be too quick to hand out a #1 NCAA Tournament seed to the Duke Blue Devils!
The virtually wire-to-wire 83-74 win by 10-point underdog Maryland over Mike Krzyzewski's crew kayoed the Dookies from the ongoing ACC Tournament and so now you have a 27-5 team that didn't win its regular-season crown (Miami did, of course) and didn't even make it to the semifinal round of the ACC Tourney and yet there are still folks insisting that Duke should find its name on the #1 seed line come Sunday night ... and we say balderdash!
Hey, this is no Duke-hater stuff here - we've got absolutely nothing against a fine Blue Devils team that remains one of 10-to-12 legit national title hopefuls this year -- but no way does Duke deserve a #1 seed as that ought to go to Gonzaga, Indiana, Louisville and Kansas. 'Nuff said!
It's no shame that the Blue Devils should wind up on the #2 seed line with the likes of (and more likely than not) Miami, Michigan State and Florida providing the Gators win the SEC Tournament this weekend in Nashville.
SORRY, BUT YOUR BUBBLES HAVE BEEN BURST
We reserve the right to claim that someone still playing on this Saturday/Sunday could get knocked out of the at-large tourney mix but generally we believe the likes of Southern Miss, Alabama and Ole Miss are safe but as we write this is the wee hours of Saturday morning we must state that Maryland needs to get to the ACC Tournament Championship Game and thus beat favored North Carolina in the semis or else the Terrapins are toast - and thereby NIT-bound.
Other bubbles that have been burst in the past 24-to-72 hours include the following:
STANFORD (18-14) - Always thought the Cardinal had to get to 20 wins to cement a berth and Johnny Dawkins' guys blew it by losing overtime affair to Arizona State in Round I of the Pac-12 Tournament.
BOISE STATE (21-10) - Sorry, but a Mountain West Conference team with double-digit losses doesn't deserve one of the precious at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and blowing a late lead against San Diego State in the mini-tourney opening round squashed any/all "Big Dance" hopes.
MINNESOTA (20-12) - Okay, so this is a power conference team with 20 wins that still doesn't deserve a spot in the NCAA Tourney's field of 68 as the Golden Gophers didn't do enough away from "The Barn" and that Big 10 opening-round loss to Illinois on Brandon Paul's buzzer-beating shot sealed their fate. Sorry, Tubby!
ARKANSAS (19-13) - The way we saw things shaping up in the bubble-happy Southeastern Conference, both Arkansas and Tennessee had to win at least one game in the mini-tourney and only the Vols (20-12 following Friday's 58-48 loss to Alabama) were able to pull that off. No dice for these Hogs!
LA SALLE (21-9) - Don't include us in the crowd of folks that believe that the Atlantic-10 deserves five or maybe even six entries into this NCAA Tournament field 'cause we say it's Saint Louis, VCU, Butler and Temple and that's it unless UMass winds up "stealing" an automatic bid this weekend in Brooklyn.
IOWA (21-12) - Great late-season charge by the Hawkeyes but our mind-set was the black-and-gold needed to get to the Big 10 Tournament semifinal round before they earned a berth and Iowa's close-but-no-cigar (unless you bet it, of course!) 59-56 loss to 5 ½-point fav Michigan State on Friday night keeps the 'Eyes out of the NCAAs.
WHO GETS SHIPPED WHERE?
It's always major intrigue when discussing what higher-seeded teams get moved out of their respective regions and so here's a few quick-hitter predictions on our part:
If we stick to our guns as the NCAA Tournament's four No. 1 seeds than it would be Gonzaga in the West with the Sweet 16/Elite 8 games played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles; Indiana in the South with the Sweet 16/Elite 8 games played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas;
Louisville would get the No. 1 seed in the East where the Sweet 16/Elite 8 games will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.; and Kansas would get the top seed in the Midwest and note those Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Now, we won't get into every single team/locale for the opening rounds - or what nowadays the NCAA Tournament folks refer to as the "Second" and "Third" Rounds following those Tuesday/Wednesday "Opening Round" tilts in Dayton -- but we will say this as long as we're busy making predictions and so let's look at some of the venues ...
Thursday, March 21 & Saturday, March 23
Rupp Arena - Lexington, KY
There will be at least two SEC teams invading the home of the defending champion Wildcats although neither one of 'em will be John Calipari's kids who will get an at-large bid this year. Look for Florida and Ole Miss to get some neighborhood support in the Bluegrass State.
HP Pavilion - San Jose, CA
Gut feeling that there will be some "name" folks setting up shop here come March 21 & 23 with Gonzaga and UCLA helping to fill the joint with West Coast fans and don't be shocked if/when one of those high-profile teams from the Big 10 lands here. Maybe Michigan?
Friday, March 22 & Saturday, March 24
Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PA
Consider that the great state of North Carolina doesn't have a Second Round/Third Round site this year (now that's unusual, right?) and so it makes perfect sense that one of the state's blueblood programs - either aforementioned Duke or the North Carolina Tar Heels - will get shipped up to the Northeast and quite sure this region will be stocked with Big East/Atlantic-10 teams and it wouldn't surprise us if Syracuse, Georgetown and/or VCU all wound up playing in the City of Brotherly Love. Hey, you know how the NCAA folks always like to ship a couple of teams East-to-West or vice versa with "two-movie" trips: Here's suggesting that the school from the other coast that gets a game (or two) in here in Philly is none other than the Oregon Ducks ... quack, quack.
Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO
Okay, so you might have heard the ESPN broadcast team of Brent Musburger and Fran Fraschilla claiming that they "wouldn't be surprised" if both Oklahoma State and Kansas State were playing here in Kaycee next week/weekend but don't you think the Kansas Jayhawks will get first dibs on the site after their very special season? Odds are K-State or Okie State will be the other Big 12 team to join Kansas in this venue - just not both of 'em. Otherwise, count on a heavy dosage of Midwest-area teams filling up the eight-team board here and right now we're thinking Notre Dame, Illinois, Saint Louis and Wisconsin.
JUST WATCH ...
When CBS goes off the air with their Selection Sunday show at approximately 7 p.m. ET you can count on the following:
There will be at least two or three teams that will be screaming bloody murder that they didn't get into the field of 68 and the early-bird favorites for that whiny role goes to Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and Long Beach State.
Meanwhile, a couple of teams - although they won't publicly admit it - will be pleasantly surprised they got in including Virginia (21-11) and aforementioned Kentucky (21-11).
Gotta go - the clock's ticking!
NOTE: Get all our NCAA Tournament News & Notes beginning with our jam-packed Sunday column.
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