Tag: MAC

When Irish Eyes are Smiling (Welcome Coastal Carolina, Northern Iowa, North Florida)

Freshman Bonzie Colson (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Is this the year when coach Mike Brey gets his Notre Dame team to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Its something that hasn’t happened for Notre Dame in quite some time, but it looks like Brey finally has the squad to do.

Notre Dame has always been a great jump-shooting team, but now it looks like they have the total package. What’s separating the Irish this year is the late season emergence of freshman Bonzie Colson. Colson, with his long arms give the Irish a legitimate post presence.

Notre Dame looks right for a deep run this year. If they can show some toughness this March, they could be a sleeper in the tournament.

More Previews.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: The MEAC is one of the few leagues that saw a team roll through the regular season undefeated. North Carolina Central looks like the class of a MEAC that is as good as its been in recent memory. Norfolk St and UMES will challenge the Eagles, but expect Central to repeat as champions and return to the NCAA tournament.

MID-AMERICAN: As usual, the MAC was competitive like always with three teams, Central Michigan, Kent St and Buffalo, finishing tied for the regular season crown at 12-6. Behind those three, Bowling Green and Toledo finished tied for fourth with identical 11-7 records. Suffice it to say, this thing is completely up in the air. In the end, Kent St’s history navigating this tournament makes them the pick here.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Texas Southern, a team that has wins at Michigan St and Kansas St, rolled nearly wire-to-wire here. They have only two conference losses and look primed to make another run to the NCAA tournament. The only teams close, Southern and Alabama St, are ineligible for the postseason but are somehow allowed to compete anyway. Look for the Texas Southern to go dancing.

Last Four In: Illinois, Miami (FL), Texas, Purdue

Last Four Out: Indiana, UCLA, Old Dominion, Texas A&M

This bracket is good for games thru 3/8

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.St. Francis(NY)/North Florida(ASun) Louisville

8.NC State9.Dayton

5.Wichita St12.Stephen F. Austin Seattle

4.Louisville13.Central Michigan

6.Providence11.LSU Seattle

3.Gonzaga14.UC Davis

7.Iowa10.VCU Omaha

2.Kansas15.Albany

WEST

1.Villanova16.Texas Southern Pittsburgh

8.Georgia9.Ohio St

5.SMU12.Texas/Illinois Jacksonville

4.Notre Dame13.Iona

6.Georgetown11.BYU Jacksonville

3.Baylor14.Georgia St

7.Cincinnati10.Oklahoma St Portland

2.Arizona15.South Dakota St

SOUTH

1.Virginia16.Coastal Carolina(BSouth) Charlotte

8.St. John’s9.Temple

5.North Carolina12.Wofford Portland

4.Utah13.Valparaiso

6.Arkansas11.Purdue/Miami(FL) Columbus

3.Oklahoma14.New Mexico St

7.Oregon10.Boise St Omaha

2.Wisconsin15.North Carolina Central

EAST

1.Duke16.Montana/Lafayette Charlotte

8.Xavier9.Michigan St

5.West Virginia12.Louisiana Tech Louisville

4Northern Iowa(MVC)13.Yale

6.Butler11.Davidson Columbus

3.Iowa St14.William&Mary

7.San Diego St10.Mississippi Pittsburgh

2.Maryland15.Belmont(OVC)

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Super Nova (Welcome Wichita St, Mercer, Coastal Carolina)

Image
Villanova’s James Bell

How can a team, with recent Final Four pedigree and only three losses fly under the radar?  That’s exactly what’s happened to Villanova.  The Wildcats have quietly put together a great season, which has them in position to possibly be a No. 1 seed.

Villanova doesn’t have the star power of a Kansas or Duke, but that’s fine with them.  The Wildcats are still going to attack you.  As usual, the guard heavy Wildcats use their quickness to force turnovers and get out in transition.  In halfcourt sets, they move the ball and space the floor extremely well.

Coach Jay Wright has had teams with more star power and that have been held in higher regard, but he might have his best chance to win a national championship this season.  No one saw that coming.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: MEAC officials have to be praying that the tournament gets it right this season.  North Carolina-Central is by far the best team in this league and has the non-conference win over NC State to drive that point home even further.  This tournament won’t be a cakewalk as it’s in Tidewater, Va. where Hampton and Norfolk St will have huge contingent of fans.  Despite that, this Central team is too talented and they’re going dancing.

MID-AMERICAN: This is a tough one to call.  There are five teams with a legitimate shot to win this thing.  The MAC was competitive once again with Western Michigan and Toledo tying for the league title.  Western Michigan won the tiebreaker, but no favors were done as they’re staring down Akron or Ohio in the semifinal – both of whom will have plenty of supporters this week in Cleveland.  For that reason, I think Toledo will be able to sneak to the dance from the other side of the bracket.

CONFERENCE-USA: This is another tough one.  Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Tulsa and Middle Tennessee St finished in a four-way tie for first.  UTEP, the team that finished one game behind those four, has the honor of hosting the tournament.  The crowd in the Haskins center is sure to be raucous and will make tough for any opponent the Miners face.  UTEP will make its way back to the NCAA tournament.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: The NCAA has come down hard on the SWAC as four teams, Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State, Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, are ineligible for the NCAA because academic progress penalties.  The decision came down late and the SWAC is going to let all four teams participate in the conference tournament.  How the conference will decide the automatic bid is too convoluted so I’ll just go with Alabama St.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: Minnesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Saint Joseph’s

Last Four Out: California, Pitt, Georgetown, St. John’s

SOUTH

1.Florida16.Stony Brook Orlando

8.Oklahoma St9.Gonzaga

5.Creigton12.Harvard(Ivy) Orlando

4.Louisville13.Iona

6.New Mexico11.Iowa Buffalo

3.Syracuse14.Delaware

7.VCU10.Stanford St. Louis

2.Kansas15.Eastern Kentucky(OVC)

EAST

1.Villanova16.Wofford/Alabama St Buffalo

8.Kansas St9.Arizona St

5.Saint Louis12.Tennessee/Minnesota San Antonio

4.Cincinnati13.Boston U

6.UCLA11.Saint Joseph’s/Arkansas Milwaukee

3.Iowa St14.NC-Central

7.Memphis10.Colorado Raleigh

2.Duke15.Georgia St

WEST

1.Arizona16.Weber St San Diego

8.UConn9.George Washington

5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech San Diego

4.North Carolina13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Kentucky11.Nebraska Spokane

3.San Diego St14.UC-Irvine

7.Baylor10.BYU Milwaukee

2.Wisconsin15.Utah Valley

MIDWEST

1.Wichita St(MVC)16.Coastal Carolina(BSouth)/Wright St St. Louis

8.UMass9.SMU

5.Michigan St12.Western Michigan Spokane

4.Oklahoma13.North Dakota St

6.Texas11.Xavier San Antonio

3.Michigan14.Mercer(ASun)

7.Oregon10.Dayton Raleigh

2.Virginia15.Robert Morris

The Long Wait (Welcome Creighton, Liberty)

Middle Tennessee St’s Shawn Jones

It’s going to be a long agonizing week for the Middle Tennessee St Blue Raiders after their upset loss at the hands of Florida International in the Sun Belt Conference semi-finals (more on this later).  They were dominant in the regular season winning all but one conference games, but March is cruel as the Blue Raiders know all too well.

Last year they bowed out of the conference tournament in the quarterfinals after being the No. 1 seed as they lost to Arkansas St.  They didn’t get in last season and their prospects are grim for this season.  While they played a top-20 non-conference schedule they only have two top-100 wins and no top-50.  The committee may reward them for challenging themselves out of conference, but it’s unlikely.

You feel bad for the Blue Raiders, but March is cruel and unusual punishment for a team of their kind.  The punishment this week will be waiting.

We have some conference tournament finals that I didn’t get a chance to preview so here’s some predictions for some of tonight’s finals.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Sundays two semi-finals had fantastic finishes so both teams may be spent emotionally.  Northeastern came from 24 down to beat George Mason while James Madison had some fortunate calls to preserve victory over Delaware.  It’s going to be hard for the Huskies to beat a Virginia school in Richmond though and I expect the Dukes to go dancing for the first time since 1994.

SUN BELT: Neither Florida International nor Western Kentucky is supposed to be here.  It’s the second year in a row the Hilltoppers shocked the world to reach the final while Richard Pitino has turned around Florida International in one year after Isaiah Thomas screwed that job up too.  The Golden Panthers are a nice story, but the Hilltoppers are used to this and will go dancing again.

SOUTHERN: I watched Davidson go to Charleston earlier this season and put a beat down on the Cougars earlier this season.  The margin may be closer, but the result will be the same.  The gold standard of SoCon basketball is going dancing again.

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: Here is another tournament where the teams playing weren’t expected to be here.  Iona is a solid program and has proven it can hang with good competition this season.  Manhattan, on the other hand, is the beneficiary of getting to play the No. 7 seed in the semifinals.  Iona has endured its share of heartbreak in this tournament the past few years, the Gaels will get the job done this time around.

We all so have some other tournaments getting started today.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: It’s been an unusual year in the MEAC where two teams have been way ahead of the pack.  Last year’s NCAA tournament darling Norfolk St finished undefeated in league play and North Carolina Central finished with only one loss.  That loss didn’t come at the hands of the Spartans because the two didn’t play.  They will in the title game and the Spartans will repeat.

MID-AMERICAN: Akron was threatening to run away with this league and was possibly heading towards locking up an at-large bid.  Then came a surprising loss at Buffalo and the suspension of point guard Alex Abreu.  Those unfortunate series of events leave the Ohio Bobcats as the clear favorites to repeat as MAC champions and go to the big dance.

On to the Bracket:

Good for Games played thru 3/10

Last Four In: Virginia, Boise St, Tennessee, La Salle

Last Four Out: Kentucky, Mississippi, Iowa, Middle Tennessee St

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Florida International/Long Island  Dayton, OH

8.Wichita St9.San Diego St

5.Pittsburgh12.Bucknell Austin

4.Oklahoma St13.Louisiana Tech

6.VCU11.Minnesota Austin

3.Florida14.Valparaiso

7.Memphis10.Colorado St Philadelphia

2.Georgetown15.Florida Gulf Coast(ASun)

SOUTH

1.Louisville16.Southern/Liberty(BSouth)  Lexington, KY

8.NC State9.Temple

5.UCLA12.Tennesse/Boise St Salt Lake City

4.Kansas St13.Davidson

6.Creighton(MVC)11.Colorado Dayton, OH

3.Ohio St14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Butler10.Villanova Lexington, KY

2.Miami(FL)15.Iona

EAST

1.Duke16.Norfolk St Philadelphia

8.Iowa St9.Illinois

5.Saint Louis12.Cincinnati San Jose

4.Arizona13.Harvard(Ivy)

6.Syracuse11.Saint Mary’s Auburn Hills, MI

3.Michigan14.Vermont

7.UNLV10.California Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Long Beach St

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Northeastern San Jose

8.Oregon9.Missouri

5.Wisconsin12.La Salle/Virginia Kansas City

4.Marquette13.Akron

6.Notre Dame11.Belmont(OVCSalt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.South Dakota St

7.North Carolina10.Oklahoma Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan St15.Montana

Carolina BBQ (Welcome Creighton)

rwillett@newsobserver.com UNC's Tyler Zeller (44) applauds the reserve players after taking a place on the bench with teammate John Henson late in the Tar Heels' game against Clemson. Zeller scored 14 points and Henson had 13 in the Tar Heels' 74-52 victory.

On Saturday night the North Carolina Tarheels showed the world why they were ranked preseason No. 1.  North Carolina went to Duke and thoroughly defeated a team that will be a No. 2 seed at the least.  It was one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen this season and served notice to Syracuse and Kentucky that there’s one more legit contender for the national championship.

The Tarheels have possibly the best frontcourt in the nation with John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes to go along with perhaps the best pure point guard in Kendall Marshall.  This is a scary team to face because they can beat you with so many guys.

Defense and point guard depth is a concern, but good luck to any team that plans on outscoring the Heels.  They have their mojo back and are serious threats to cut down the nets.

MID-AMERICAN: This will be a competitive tournament as usual.  The MAC is one of the best mid-major conferences in the country and the action in Cleveland should be entertaining.  Akron won the regular season championship, but that was only by one game over Buffalo, who swept the season series.  Neither Akron or Buffalo will have to play until the semifinals, but it won’t matter as Ohio will get the automatic bid.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve never liked how the MEAC stretches its tournament out.  A league that’s constantly fighting to stay out of Dayton should be doing everything it can to make sure it’s best teams have the best chance of winning.  For that reason I don’t trust regular season champion Savannah St to win.  I’m going with the experience of Fang Mitchell’s Coppin St club to go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: Texas-Arlington cruised through league play and lost it’s only conference game in its last game.  It has been consistent all year and appear to be the favorite.  I’m not choosing the Mavericks though.  Ever since Pat Knight ripped his Lamar Cardinals they’ve been playing like a different team.  I expect that to carry over to an automatic bid.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Mississippi Valley State’s 17-1 conference record is an impressive feat.  The Delta Devils lone loss came on the last game of the regular season and I think it’ll serve as a wake-up call.  The fact that second-place finisher Southern is ineligble for postseason play on solidifies my belief that the Delta Devils will dance.

WESTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve seen the Nevada Wolfpack play multiple times and I’ve come away impressed every time.  They have a gaudy 25 wins and should have the support of plenty of Wolfpack fans in Las Vegas.  New Mexico St and Idaho will be threats, but won’t be good enough.

BIG WEST: The last thing the rest of the Big West needed to happen was to have Long Beach St lose it’s final regular season game.  The 49ers now have the extra motivation of avenging their only regular season conference loss.  I’m convinced that Long Beach St is among the best 35-50 best teams in the country and none of their Big West mates are even close.  Long Beach St will dance.

Today’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Tennessee, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern, Colorado St

Last Four Out: South Florida, California, Oregon, NC State

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Stony Brook/Savannah St Louisville

8.Saint Louis9.Cincinnati

5.UNLV12.Northwestern/Virginia Commonwealth Portland

4.Gonzaga13.Long Beach St

6.Wichita St11.Southern Mississippi Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Belmont(ASun)

7.Florida St10.West Virginia Columbus

2.Michigan15.Montana

WEST

1.North Carolina16.Bucknell Greensboro

8.Memphis9.Mississippi St

5.Creighton(MVC)12.BYU Albuquerque

4.Georgetown13.Oral Roberts

6.Notre Dame11.Xavier Columbus

3.Wisconsin14.Denver

7.New Mexico 10.Alabama Omaha

2.Missouri15.UT-Arlington

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.UNC-Asheville(BSouth)/Mississippi Valley St               Omaha

8.Louisville9.Virginia

5.Temple12.Drexel Nashville

4.Indiana13.Colorado St/Tennessee

6.Florida11.Miami(FL) Louisville

3.Marquette14.Akron

7.Kansas St10.Harvard Pittsburgh

2.Ohio St15.Loyola(MD)

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.St. Mary’s9.Purdue

5.Murray St(OVC)12.Texas Portland

4.San Diego St13.Nevada

6.Vanderbilt11.Washington Nashville

3.Michigan St14.Davidson

7.Iowa St10.Connecticut Greensboro

2.Duke15.Valparaiso

In Graphical Form

It’s March and Your Seed Will Not Save You (Welcome Indiana St)

VCU's Brandon Rozzell sinks a three-pointer in the first half against Vertrail Vaughns (11) and George Mason, which is 26-6 but not assured an NCAA bid. (John Mcdonnell/Washington Post)

Yesterday, all hell broke loose on the mid-major level. Number 1 seeds in the Colonial, Missouri Valley, Metro Atlantic Athletic, America East, and Sun Belt all lost.

In addition to that; College of Charleston had to come back from a double-digit second half deficit and Bucknell won with the aid of a no call to stave off disaster.

I say all of this to prove that’s its March and no one is safe. Not on the mid-major level. Not on the high-major level. Even Purdue lost to lowly Iowa on Saturday.

A lot of people, this time of the year, get extremely concerned with seeding, but that’s not nearly as important as playing well. Kansas was the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament last year and look how much that helped the Jayhawks in bowing out early in the Big Dance.

I know being a No. 1 seed is good and is helpful, but playing well helps even more. Last season, Butler and Michigan St both got to the Final Four as No. 5 seeds. The name of the game is not getting a high seed. It’s winning.

More Conference Tournament Previews:

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE: This was once again a sub par year in the MAC as failed to cracked the top-15 in Conference RPI. In fact, it sits at 20 with conferences such as the Northeast, Atlantic Sun and Ivy in front of it. Due to that fact, it’ll be another one-bid year for the conference, which magnifies the importance of the conference tournament. Kent St won the regular season title, but it was just by one game over Miami (Oh) and Western Michigan. Despite the one-game difference, I do expect the Golden Flashes to make it to the title game and reclaim the MAC championship.

SOUTHLAND: The Southland Conference has had some really good showings in the NCAA tournament in the past five years, but this doesn’t look like a year where that’s going to be the case. In fact, the winner of this tournament may be relegated to Dayton to play in one of the “First Four” games. McNeese St won the regular season title, but the difference between first and eighth place in this league is just three games. It’s going to be terribly difficult for the Cowboys to navigate this tournament successfully. Mike McConathy is the best tournament coach in this league and I expect him to lead his Northwestern St. ball club back to the NCAA tournament.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: The SWAC has needed one team to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league and that’s exactly what happened this season. Texas Southern was on auto-pilot for most of the conference season finishing with a four-game cushion for the league title. The Tigers should enjoy the same kind of success in the conference tournament. I expect Texas Southern to dance.

BIG WEST: Long Beach St has had no peer in the Big West this season, running away with the conference title. In fact, outside of a minor blip at the end of January, the 49ers have been downright dominant in the 2011 calendar year. This team has won 15 of its last 17 with ten of those wins coming by double figures. There is no reason to believe that Long Beach St is going to forget how to win. The 49ers are the pick to win the Big West.

Today’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Memphis, Colorado, Butler, Richmond
Last Four Out: Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth, Clemson, USC

Good for Games through 3/6

EAST
1.Ohio St16.McNeese St/Bethune-Cookman Cleveland
8.Villanova9.Gonzaga
5.Texas A&M12.Harvard Tampa
4.Kentucky13.Wisconsin-Milwaukee
6.Temple11.Georgia Washington, D.C.
3.Syracuse14.Kent St
7.Cincinnati10.Boston College Tulsa
2.Texas15.Bucknell
WEST
1.Duke16.Boston U Charlotte
8.Vanderbilt9.George Mason
5.St. John’s12.Butler/Colorado Washington, D.C.
4.Wisconsin13.Oakland
6.Georgetown11.Washington Denver
3.BYU14.Indiana St(MVC)
7.Tennessee10.UAB Chicago
2.Notre Dame15.Northern Colorado
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.UNC-Asheville(BSouth) Cleveland
8.Utah St9.Illinois
5.Kansas St12.Richmond/Memphis Tucson
4.San Diego St13.Belmont(ASun)
6.Connecticut11.Michigan St Tampa
3.Florida14.Charleston
7.UCLA10.Missouri Charlotte
2.North Carolina15.Long Island
SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas16.Texas Southern/Middle Tennessee St Tulsa
8.Old Dominion9.Marquette
5.West Virginia12.St. Mary’s Tucson
4.Xavier13.Iona
6.Arizona11.Florida St Denver
3.Louisville14.Morehead St(OVC)
7.UNLV10.Alabama Chicago
2.Purdue15.Long Beach St

In Graphical Form

Argument Against Expansion (Welcome Northern Iowa)

Underachieving Ed Davis and North Carolina would be an at-large candidate in a 96-team tournament

If there was ever a year where the talk of expansion was horrible, it would be this year. This is the weakest bubble I’ve ever seen and there’s talk about expanding to 96 teams.

The NCAA needs to take a step back and look at its priorities. You can’t get an eight-team playoff for football, but you can find a way to have a 96-team basketball tournament. That’s way too many. It devalues a regular season which many people already believe pales in comparison to its postseason.

Let’s be serious, in a 96-team tournament, we’re giving out at-large bids to Illinois St, St. John’s and possibly North Carolina. This is a tournament that’s supposed to crown a national champion. What business does any of those teams have playing in the tournament. Playing in the NCAA tournament is an earned privilege. North Carolina barely deserves to play in the NIT.

Expanding the field to 96 teams is a completely asinine idea and borderline irresponsible.

MID-AMERICAN: This is a conference that used to routinely get multiple bids, but that hasn’t happened in years. This season, there’s a small chance that could happen again. Kent St has six top-100 wins and really had its way with a solid mid-major conference this season. There is no reason to believe that any team will be to challenge the Golden Flashes this week in Cleveland. They’ve been impressive all season and look poised to get back to the NCAA tournament.

BIG WEST: UC-Santa Barbara would’ve strolled away with the regular season title, but some missteps on the road forced it into a tie for the league title with Pacific. UCSB swept the Pacific during the regular season including a double-digit win at Pacific early last month. You have to wonder about UCSB’s inconsistent play. This tournament is designed to protect the top two seeds and I think there will be a third meeting between Pacific and UCSB. Pacific coach Bob Thomason has been here before and he knows how to navigate through this tournament. The Pacific Tigers will go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: You may not find a more exciting team to watch than Sam Houston St, the Southland’s regular season champion. The Bearkats routinely score in the 90’s and have broken the 100-point mark twice this season already. They were tough for conference opponents to contend with as they only have two league-losses on their resume. It will not be easy as there are some experienced teams in the Southland like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UT-Arlington. However, having to go up-and-down with the Bearkats in a tournament setting will be a challenge this week and that’s why they’ll be going dancing.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Jackson St rolled through conference play at 17-1 and is the heavy favorite this week in the SWAC tournament. The Tigers played a tough non-conference schedule with nine of their first 11 games away from home. That schedule clearly prepared them for league play as no one was able to provide much resistance. For fans of the conference, you have to hope that the Tigers are able to cut the nets down and get some upsets in other conference tournaments because if not, they’ll be relegated to the play-in game.

Today’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: South Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia Tech
Last Four Out: Washington, Seton Hall, Memphis, Arizona St

Click the link below
NCAA Projected Bracket

Mountain Men

There are many teams in the Big East with instant name cache; UConn Georgetown, Syracuse, and Louisville to name a few.  West Virginia would be pretty far down that list.  However, the Mountaineers have staked their claim as a contender in the best conference in the country.

Alex Ruoff
West Virginia Guard Alex Ruoff

The Mountaineers are at full strength and are a force to be reckoned with.  Alex Ruoff, Da’Sean Butler, and Devin Ebanks are all capable of an offensive explosion.  Add in Darryl Bryant and the tough Joe Mazzulla and you have all the ingredients for a solid basketball team.

Ask Ohio St how potent West Virginia is.  What the Mountaineers did to the Buckeyes was criminal.  They took it to Ohio St from the tip and showed the rest of the country, just how deep the Big East is.

Stock Up: St. Mary’s.  After a questionable loss to UTEP in the 76 Classic, the Gaels have reeled off nine wins in a row including five on the road.  Patrick Mills is easily one of the best guards in the country and is a matchup problem for anyone.  Be clear folks, the West Coast Conference is not just about Gonzaga.

Stock Down: Gonzaga.  Portland St.  Tell me you did not lose to Portland St at home.  Tell me the “Mid-Major that Could” didn’t overlook another Mid-Major.  The Bulldogs have road contests at Utah and at Tennessee.  Mark Few better tighten his ballclub up in a hurry.

Stock Up: Chris Wright.  There was no doubt that Georgetown was going to be a tournament team, but on which weekend it met it’s demise would hinge on it’s point-guard play.  Well, early in the season, I think we have our answer.  Wright, fully recovered from the foot injury which sidelined him much of last season, has been everything John Thompson III could ask for and more.  He’s proving to be one of the best guards in the country.

Stock Down: Mississippi Head Coach Andy Kennedy.  I don’t know WHAT happened that night in Cincinnati.  What I do know is the coach of a college basketball team should not be out, at a bar, on a roadtrip at 1:00am.  I doubt the allegations of assault and racial slurs are true, but what good can come of that.

Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy

Stock Up: Minnesota.  If there is another coach to be happier for, I can’t find him.  Tubby Smith has the program in the Twin Cities turned around halfway through his second season and it’s great to see.  The Golden Gopher program had falllen on some hard times with the Clem Haskins’ scandal and Dan Monson’s tenure, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  That light appears to be a NCAA tournament berth.

Stock Down: Mid-American Conference.  Generally, the MAC is one of the better Mid-Major conferences in the country.  In fact, the MAC used the ring out like the Missouri Valley does now.  However, this appears to be a bad year for the conference.  With only three teams over .500 and every team in the West Division with a losing record, any hopes of an at-large bid seem to be all but shot.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

SOUTH
1.North Carolina16.Cornell Greensboro, NC
8.West Virginia9.Illinois
5.Baylor12.Utah St Portland, OR
4.Gonzaga13.Niagara
6.Florida St11.Butler Minneapolis, MN
3.Michigan St14.Vermont
7.Missouri10.Florida Philadelphia, PA
2.Georgetown15.East Tennessee St
WEST
1.Duke16.North Dakota St Greensboro, NC
8.Louisville9.Memphis
5.Minnesota12.Creighton Boise, ID
4.UCLA13.Portland St
6.Ohio St11.Boston College Miami, FL
3.Texas14.George Mason
7.St. Mary’s10.Davidson Dayton, OH
2.Notre Dame15.Pacific
MIDWEST
1.Oklahoma16.Quinnipiac Kansas City, MO
8.Arizona9.Marquette
5.Michigan12.Illinois St Minneapolis, MN
4.Xavier13.Western Kentucky
6.Villanova11.Texas A&M Miami, FL
3.Wake Forest14.Lamar
7.Stanford10.Wisconsin Philadelphia, PA
2.Connecticut15.American
EAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH
8.Dayton9.California
5.Clemson12.Northwestern Portland, OR
4.Tennessee13.Miami(OH)
6.Arizona St11.Maryland Boise, ID
3.Syracuse14.VMI
7.Kansas10.UNLV Kansas City, MO
2.Purdue15.Jacksonville St