Tag: San Diego St

2018-2019 Mountain West Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Caleb Martin, Nevada

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Jordan Caroline, Nevada

Justin James, Wyoming

Caleb Martin, Nevada

Sam Merrill, Utah St

Deshon Taylor, Fresno St

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Jordan Brown, Nevada

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Nevada

The Wolfpack will have no peers in this conference as it doesn’t have many peers nationally. Nevada will be one of the best teams in the country and the Mountain West, generally, isn’t a league that’ll have multiple teams that can compete with a team like that. Seniors Caleb and Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew all return to help create one of the more talented and experienced starting fives in America.

2. New Mexico

The Lobos were poised to become a serious NCAA tournament contender, but transfer guard Jaquan Lyle tore his Achilles – dealing a blow to New Mexico’s chances and the possibility for more than one at-large bid from this league. Senior guard Anthony Mathis and sophomore Makuach Maluach return and there are enough quality transfers to keep them in the top half of the league.

3. San Diego St

The Aztecs finished the year on a high note by winning the Mountain West tournament and playing a great first-round game against Houston in the NCAA tournament. They will have to replace Tre Kell, Malik Pope and Max Montana so this season will be a bit of a challenge. Senior guard Devin Watson will have to lead this team while sophomore forwards Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell will be part of bright future for the program.

4. Utah St

Junior guard Sam Merrill and senior Dwayne Brown Jr. return for a Utah St team that’ll be one of the better teams in the Mountain West this season. Merrill will be an all-conference performer, but he’ll need to Brown to step up production to offset the loss of Koby McEwen. Junior guard Diogo Brito will have to produce as well and the Aggies will need their juco transfers to contribute immediately.

5. Fresno St

The Bulldogs lost Bryson Williams, Jaron Hopkins, Ray Bowles and Jahmel Taylor, but there’s enough to keep Fresno competitive in the Mountain West. Senior guard Deshon Taylor will be one of the best players in the conference while transfers Braxton Huggins and Noah Blackwell are well-equipped to make sure Taylor isn’t a one-man show. This team will be just fine in the Mountain West.

6. UNLV

The Rebels aren’t ready to challenge the top of the conference this season, but under coach Marvin Menzies, it’s only a matter of time before they’re at the top of this league and in the national conversation again. Senior Shakur Juiston will lead the team. Freshmen Bryce Hamilton and Trey Woodbury will compete for minutes. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua is an intriguing prospect.

7. Wyoming

The Cowboys are going to be a tough out this year with senior guard Justin James at the helm. He’ll be great, but without Hayden Dalton, Alan Herndon and Louis Adams he’ll have to be. Sophomore guard Hunter Maldanado is the top candidate to help James shoulder the load.

8. Boise St

Head coach Leon Rice has done a remarkable job building this program up, but he’ll be without his top three scorers this year in Chandler Hutchison, Christian Sengfelder and Lexus Williams. Senior center Zach Haney and junior forward Justinian Jessup will have to step up while juco transfer Roderick Williams will need to provide an additional boost.

9. Colorado St

This program was in disarray as former coach Larry Eustachy  had to resign in the middle of last season. Despite that, new coach Niko Medved comes with promise and hope for a program that has proven it can be good. Juniors Anthony Bonner and Nico Carvacho and seniors J.D. Paige and Deion James return to give Medved a nice group to work with for this season.

10. Air Force

The military academies are the toughest jobs in Division I basketball. While Army and Navy are better equipped in the Patriot League, it’s a whole other ball game in the Mountain West. The Falcons struggled last season and will most like do so again. Junior forwards Lavelle Scottie and Ryan Swan will be the top players this season.

11. San Jose St

This was one of the very worst teams in the country last season and it may not get much better this season. Head coach Jean Prioleau is in his second season and this rebuild is massive. His top three scorers are all gone. Freshman guard Seneca Knight will be asked to be the savior of this program.

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BRACKETOLOGY: Sunday March 11, 2018 AM (Welcome UMBC, NC-Central, Texas Southern, Kansas, San Diego St, Villanova, Buffalo, Montana, Virginia, Marshall, Stephen F. Austin, Arizona, New Mexico St, CS Fullerton)

This bracket is good for games through 3/10

Last Four In: Arizona St, Florida St, Oklahoma, Baylor

Last Four Out: USC, Middle Tennessee, Saint Mary’s, Louisville

Next Two Out: Notre Dame, Syracuse

SOUTH

1.Virginia(ACC)16.LIU-Brooklyn(NEC)/North Carolina Central(MEAC) Charlotte

8.Butler9.Texas A&M

5.Texas Tech12.Marshall(C-USA) Dallas

4.Houston13.South Dakota St(Summit)

6.Rhode Island11.Baylor/Florida St Detroit

3.Michigan St14.Wright St(Horizon)

7.Kansas St10.St. Bonaventure Nashville

2.Tennessee15.Iona(MAAC)

WEST

1.Xavier16.Radford(BSouth) Pittsburgh

8.Virginia Tech9.Missouri

5.Wichita St12.New Mexico St(WAC) San Diego

4.Arizona(P12)13.UNC-Greensboro(SoCon)

6.Miami(FL)11.Oklahoma/Arizona St Boise

3.Michigan(B10)14.Bucknell(Patriot)

7.Nevada10.Creighton Charlotte

2.North Carolina15.Harvard

MIDWEST

1.Kansas(B12)16.Georgia St Wichita

8.Providence9.NC State

5.Ohio St12.San Diego St(MWest) Boise

4.Gonzaga(WCC)13.College of Charleston(CAA)

6.Arkansas11.Texas Wichita

3.Purdue14.Montana(BSky)

7.TCU10.UCLA Nashville

2.Duke15.UMBC(AEast)

EAST

1.Villanova(BEast)16.Cal St Fullerton(BWest)/Texas Southern(SWAC) Pittsburgh

8.Alabama9.Seton Hall

5.Kentucky12.Buffalo(MAC) San Diego

4.West Virginia13.Murray St(OVC)

6.Clemson11.Loyola-Chicago(MVC) Dallas

3.Auburn14.Lipscomb(ASun)

7.Florida10.Oklahoma St Detroit

2.Cincinnati15.Stephen F. Austin(Southland)

What will the committee do with UCF?

 

bj taylor mercer
(Jason Beede – 247Sports)

 

This was the most anticipated regular season in UCF basketball history. After making it to the NIT final four, many predicted the Knights may challenge for the school’s first at-large bid ever. However, the injury bug hit the Knights and derailed their plans a bit.

First there was the injury to junior guard Aubrey Dawkins in the preseason and then in the first game of the season; the team’s best returning player, junior guard B.J. Taylor, went down with a foot injury. Taylor is expected to return soon, but the question now is how will the NCAA selection committee evaluate the Knights?

UCF is currently 9-4 after last night’s 56-51 loss at SMU. It was the fifth RPI top-50 opponent UCF has faced without Taylor. They’re 1-4 in those games with the lone win coming at Alabama. They are projected to have a top-65 non-conference strength of schedule nationally and they get another shot at SMU, plus round-robins with Temple, Cincinnati, and Wichita St with another game with Houston at home.

Will the committee punish them for not doing better in the non-conference without Taylor or will it judge them for what they are with Taylor? They’re certainly a different team as Taylor presents a significant scoring option for one of the best defensive teams in the country.

As long as the Knights do as well in the American as expected, some interesting decisions will be made by the committee leading up to Selection Sunday.

Other Notes:

Despite losing its head coach, Tyler Lewis, Kethan Savage, Avery Woodson and Andrew Chrabascz off of last year’s Sweet 16 team, Butler finds itself squarely in the discussion for another at-large bid. That’s because it challenged itself with a top-40 schedule and has solid wins over Ohio St and Utah. The Bulldogs are projected to have a top-20 strength of schedule by the time the season’s over. A 9–9 or 10-8 record in the Big East will probably be enough for them to get in.

Some will overreact to San Diego State’s loss at Wyoming last night. I won’t. That’s an in-conference loss to a RPI top-100 team. It’s not a bad loss and, long term, it’s not a damaging loss to their at-large hopes. They’re not in great shape right now, but they shouldn’t be panicking over bracketology at this point either.

Tonight’s Providence-St. John’s game is huge for both teams, but probably moreso for the Red Storm as Chris Mullin tries to make his first NCAA tournament. Right now, they appear to be the better team than the Friars and with road games with Seton Hall and Creighton to follow, losing this one could very well lead to a 0-3 start for St. John’s.

West Region Breakdown

1. Duke Blue Devils
Location:
Durham, NC
Record: 30-4
Automatic Bid: Atlantic Coast Conference Champions
Key Players: Nolan Smith (21.3 ppg, 5.2 apg), Kyle Singler (17.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Seth Curry (9.5 ppg), Mason Plumlee (8.5 rpg)
Strength: Duke is one of the most experienced teams in the country as it returns much of the team that won the national championship last season. Led by seniors, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, the Devils picked up where they left off last season. This team has been focused and primed for a repeat and are very capable of doing that. The Blue Devils may have been the most surprising No. 1 seed to ever win a national championship last season, but they won’t shock anyone if they repeat.
Weakness: This is a solid three-point shooting team, but if it’s off it really throws them into a tizzy. Almost 35 percent of Duke’s field goal attempts are from behind the arc so if its not making a good percentage of them it makes it very difficult for it to score. Duke has size inside, but it must learn to lean on it a bit more or it could come back to haunt it.

2. San Diego State Aztecs
Location:
San Diego, CA
Record: 32-2
Automatic Bid: Mountain West Conference Champions
Key Players: Kawhi Leonard (15.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg), Malcolm Thomas (11.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), D.J. Gay (11.2 ppg), Billy White (9.9 ppg), Chase Tapley (8.4 ppg)
Strength: This is a very tough team. The Aztecs are grown men on the boards as they are first in the Mountain West in rebounding margin. They also defend as they only allow their opponents to shoot 39.6 three from the field and 30.9 percent from three. They do a great job taking teams out of what they like to do and just pound teams into submission. Any team that wants to beat them will have to match their toughness and judging by their record, that’s been easier said than done.
Weakness: The Aztecs have been able to get through the Mountain West schedule with a seven-man rotation, but that’s not going to cut it in the NCAA Tournament. D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Kawhi Leonard all play a lot of minutes and that could come back to haunt the Aztecs. This is a supremely talented team, but it’s going to take more than just the talent in the starting five to make it to the Final Four.

3. Connecticut Huskies
Location:
Storrs, CT
Record: 26-9
Automatic Bid: Big East Champions
Key Players: Kemba Walker (23.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Jeremy Lamb (10.3 ppg), Alex Oriakhi (10 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Shabazz Napier (8.3 ppg), Roscoe Smith (5.1 rpg)
Strength: The world knows by now that to beat Connecticut you have to find a way to contain Kemba Walker. Walker, a national player of the year candidate, has been hard for everybody to stop. Teams have tried zone and man against him and somehow, he’s managed to still score and carry his team. The show he put on in the Big East Tournament was amazing and he’s fully capable of duplicating that in the Big Dance.
Weakness: Outside of Walker, the Huskies just haven’t gotten consistent production from the rest of the roster all year. There have been nights when Jeremy Lamb or Alex Oriakhi have really scored, but not on a night-in night-out basis. Due to that, many teams have played zone against Connecticut and it has worked. The Huskies shoot only 43.3 percent from the field. If Walker’s supporting cast doesn’t step up Connecticut could ripe for an upset.

4. Texas Longhorns
Location:
Austin, TX
Record: 27-7
At-Large Bid: Big XII Conference
Key Players: Jordan Hamilton (18.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Tristan Thompson (13.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg), Gary Johnson (11.5 ppg, 7 rpg), Cory Joesph (10.5 ppg), J’Covan Brown (9.8 ppg)
Strength: Texas may have the most talented starting five in America. Texas has any number of guys who can fill it up led by freshman Tristan Thompson. The Longhorns have shown they can beat anyone in the country as evident by their win at Kansas. They are hard to guard together and can score in bunches. This team will be tough to beat and is capable of making a deep run in the Big Dance.
Weakness: Texas is still a very young team. The Longhorns get a lot of production from underclassmen and that could be a detriment in the tournament. They’ve already shown a lack of maturity in some of their losses this year and it’s quite possible that it can happen again. Texas’ young players are no doubt talented, but that was also the case in 2007 with Kevin Durant and that ended with a second round loss to USC. There’s plenty of evidence here to say that may happen again.

5. Arizona Wildcats
Location:
Tucson, AZ
Record: 27-7
At-Large Bid: Pac-10 Conference
Key Players: Derrick Williams (19.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg), Lamont Jones (9.6 ppg), Kyle Fogg (8.3 ppg)
Strength: It’s easy to see why the Wildcats have had a renaissance year and he wears No. 23. Derrick Williams is an All-American and a load in the paint. He has carried this team all season long with his stellar play. He really has no peer at his position in college basketball and his teammates have done a good job of playing off of him. Williams is a great college basketball player – one with the talent to take the Wildcats on a long run.
Weakness: The Wildcats struggle mightily when they turn the ball over. They sit in eight place in the Pac-10. The team can be really explosive when they’re playing well, but they can also give games away with their carelessness. Even Williams, as good as he is, is a turnover factory as he leads the team with 86 turnovers and just 37 assists. If the Wildcats don’t take care of the ball they could lose to anybody.

6. Cincinnati Bearcats
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
Record: 25-8
At-Large Bid: Big East Conference
Key Players: Yancy Gates (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Dion Dixon (11.6 ppg), Sean Kilpatrick (9.9 ppg), Cashmere Wright (8.9 ppg), Rashad Bishop (8.1 ppg)
Strength: The Bearcats, just like most teams in the Big East, are an awesome defensive team. Cincinnati’s 41.1 percent field-goal percentage defense yields just 59.2 points per game from opponents; good enough for first in the conference. Their guards are great at pressuring the basketball and they have enough length to bother jump shooters. Cincinnati may have flown under the radar, but they’ll prove to be a match-up nightmare in the NCAA Tournament.
Weakness: Cincinnati struggles mightily to score. The Bearcats are one of the worst shooting teams in the Big East as they only shoot 43.6 percent from the field on the year. In fact, the Bearcats second through fifth leading scorers don’t come anywhere near shooting 50 percent. Cincinnati has to make games ugly to win, but if they play against a team that gets hot, there won’t be much it can do to stay in it.

7. Temple Owls
Location:
Philadelphia, PA
Record: 25-7
At-Large Bid: Atlantic-10 Conference
Key Players: Ramone Moore (14.9 ppg), Lavoy Allen (11.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Juan Fernandez (10.7 ppg), Khalif Wyatt (10 ppg), Rahlir Jefferson (5.1 rpg)
Strength: Temple has one of the most frustrating styles of play to prepare for. The Owls play a deliberate style where they control tempo on offense and play tough defense. They’re physical and tough inside with Lavoy Allen. Their experienced on the perimeter with the unflappable Juan Fernandez. It’s not the most beautiful brand of basketball to watch, but it is very effective.
Weakness: Injuries have really depleted the Owls this season. Temple’s rotation is virtually nonexistent now. Temple only played seven players in their Atlantic 10 semifinal loss to Richmond. The Owls cannot afford any foul trouble because all that’s left at this point are walk-ons. If Temple plays a team with great depth, it may be in serious trouble.

8. Michigan Wolverines
Location:
Ann Arbor, MI
Record: 20-13
At-Large Bid: Big Ten Conference
Key Players: Darius Morris (15.2 ppg, 6.7 apg), Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.9 ppg), Jordan Morgan (9.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Zack Novak (8.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Strength: Coach John Beilein has one of the most unusual styles of play in America. The Wolverines love to spread teams out and shoot three pointers. They have outstanding guards, who’ve led the team to shoot a respectable 35.3 percent from behind the arc. Once teams decide to guard Michigan on the three point line, it opens up the lane for layups. Beilein’s West Virginia team got hot and made it to the Elite 8 in 2005 so there’s no reason to believe this Michigan team can’t have success too.
Weakness: The Wolverines are extremely weak on the boards. It’s surprising that Michigan was successful in the rugged Big Ten. Michigan was 10th in the conference in rebounding Margin with the likes of Iowa and Indiana finishing ahead of it. That’s part of the reason why the Wolverines were a middling team in the conference and could be the reason why they are booted out of the Big Dance quickly.

9. Tennessee Volunteers
Location:
Knoxville, TN
Record: 19-14
At-Large Bid: Southeastern Conference
Key Players: Scotty Hopson (17.4 ppg), Tobias Harris (15.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Cameron Tatum (8.9 ppg), Melvin Goins (8.1 ppg), Brian Williams (7.7 rpg)
Strength: Scotty Hopson had a great season for Tennessee. He is one of the most explosive players in the nation and has put up huge numbers against solid defensive teams. Hopson scored 27 on Pittsburgh and 32 on Georgia. He has solid teammates around him who complement his talents very well. If Hopson gets going in the Big Dance, he can carry Tennessee to the second weekend.
Weakness: There was only one team in the SEC that got to the free-throw line more than Tennessee, yet it is only eighth in free-throw percentage. Three key guys in the Volunteers’ rotation shoot sub-70 percent from the charity stripe. This is key in pressure situations when free-throws are so important. The Vols have to get the right people to the line or they may give a win away.

10. Penn State Nittany Lions
Location:
State College, PA
Record: 19-14
At-Large Bid: Big Ten Conference
Key Players: Talor Battle (20.1 ppg), Jeff Brooks (13.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg), David Jackson (9.8 ppg), Andrew Jones (5.5 rpg)
Strength: Penn St goes as Talor Battle goes. The Nittany Lions follow the lead of Battle who is one of the best players in the nation. Battle has toiled in relative obscurity in State College for four years, but he finally gets his moment in the sun making the first NCAA Tournament of his career. If he gets hot, he can be the catalyst to get the Nittany Lions to the second weekend.
Weakness: Watching Penn St play on offense is not a pleasant experience. The Nittany Lions are one of the worst teams in the tournament offensively as they score only 63 points per game. They have no explosion offensively and cannot get down by double digits. The Lions want to grind wins out, but on offense, it seems as though that strategy backfires.

11. Missouri Tigers
Location:
Columbia, MO
Record: 23-10
At-Large Bid: Big XII Conference
Key Players: Marcus Denmon (17.1 ppg), Laurence Bowers (11.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Ricardo Ratliff (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Kim English (10.2 ppg), Michael Dixon (10.2 ppg)
Strength: Coach Mike Anderson’s “fastest 40 minutes in basketball” is basketball on roller skates. It’s fun to watch, but it’s also difficult to prepare for and that’s what makes Missouri tough. The Tigers employ one of the nation’s most effective full court pressure defenses. They force over 18 turnovers a game and they use those turnovers to fuel their offense. If the Tigers can impose their will with their style of play, they can make a little noise in the Big Dance.
Weakness: This is one of the worst rebounding teams in the Big XII. The tigers get out-rebounded by nearly two boards per game. A lot of that has to do with the Tigers wanting to get out and run, but it also has to do with the fact that Missouri’s big men don’t give consistent production going to the glass. Rebounds can be had against this team and if it gives up too many, it could be one-and-done.

12. Memphis Tigers
Location:
Memphis, TN
Record: 25-9
Automatic Bid: Conference-USA
Key Players: Will Barton (12.3 ppg, 5 rpg), Joe Jackson (9.9 ppg), Tank Black (9.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Wesley Witherspoon (9 ppg)
Strength: Memphis is one of the most athletic teams in the country. Josh Pastner has built this team in the mold that his predecessor, John Calipari, built his teams. The Memphis roster is full of guys who love to get up-and-down the court and they do it well. The Tigers are treacherous on the fast break and can turn a game into a highlight reel in a hurry. It’s the way they like to play and it’s the way they earned their way to the tournament.
Weakness: Memphis is young and very mistake-prone. The Tigers are ninth in Conference-USA in turnover margin as they turn the ball over 15.3 times per game. The Tigers can be exciting to watch, but they can also be frustrating at the same time. They’ve lost games with their out-of-control play this year and they’ll have to reign it in if they expect to have staying power in the Big Dance.

13. Oakland Grizzlies
Location:
Rochester, MI
Record: 25-9
Automatic Bid: Summit League Champions
Key Players: Keith Benson (18 ppg, 10.1 rpg), Reggie Hamilton (17.4 ppg, 5.4 apg), Will Hudson (12.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Travis Bader (10.5 ppg), Larry Wright (9.8 ppg)
Strength: This team can score and can do it in bunches. Oakland is second nationally in points per game at 85.6. The Grizzlies have four guys who average double figures led by Keith Benson, a future pro. This team is difficult to guard and that’s evident in their win over Tennessee where it scored 89 points. If this team gets hot, it’s not only a threat to win one game, but don’t be shocked to see it in the Sweet 16.
Weakness: The Grizzlies can be so focused on scoring that they can forget that they have to play defense as well. Oakland allows its opponents to score over 76 points per game, second worst in the Summit League. The Grizzlies will not be able to outscore everyone, especially given the talent level in the Big Dance. If Oakland doesn’t make a commitment to the defensive end, it could be one-and-done.

14. Bucknell Bison
Location:
Lewisburg, PA
Record: 25-8
Automatic Bid: Patriot League Champions
Key Players: Mike Muscala (14.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Bryson Johnson (11.7 ppg), G.W. Boon (8.8 ppg), Darryl Shazier (8.3 ppg, 5.6 apg)
Strength: Bucknell was able to rip through Patriot League competition on the strength of its defense. The Bison were first in the Patriot League in field-goal percentage defense, three-point field-goal percentage defense, and points allowed. That kind of success on the defensive end yielded only one loss in league play and can make the Bison competitive in the Big Dance. Bucknell has a history of success in the NCAA Tournament. If it is able to defend like it has all season, it may add to that.
Weakness: Bucknell likes to play close to the vest and control tempo because of its lack of depth. That may be an issue if the Bison get in any foul trouble. Bucknell has seven players averaging 20 minutes or more per game and then there’s a huge drop off in before the next closest player. The book on Bucknell will be to press them or get them into foul trouble and if Bucknell isn’t able to manage that it may have a very short stay in the tournament.

15. Northern Colorado Bears
Location:
Greeley, CO
Record: 21-10
Automatic Bid: Big Sky Conference Champions
Key Players: Devon Beitzel (21.4 ppg), Neal Kingman (10.6 ppg), Chris Kaba (9.5 ppg), Mike Proctor (5.6 rpg), Taylor Montgomery (5.7 rpg)
Strength: Northern Colorado is one of the best rebounding teams on the mid-major level. The Bears are No. 1 in the Big Sky in rebounding margin at 5.4 per game. They’re also second in the conference in offensive rebounds and first in offensive rebound percentage getting over 35 percent of their misses. If the Bears are able to out-rebound their opponent, they may be able to cause a scare.
Weakness: This is a team that is too reliant on Devon Beitzel to score. Beitzel, the conference’s player of the year, is a great player, but he’s going to need help for Northern Colorado to be successful. If he has an off night this team isn’t capable of being close to anyone in the tournament. Beitzel not only has to score, but he’s going to have to get some partners in crime to be successful.

16. Hampton Pirates
Location:
Hampton, VA
Record: 24-8
Automatic Bid: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champions
Key Players: Darrion Pellum (17.7 ppg), Kwame Morgan (16.5 ppg), Charles Funches (10.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg)
Strength: Hampton is easily one of the best defensive teams on the mid-major level. The Pirates hold their opponents to just 37.9 percent shooting – good enough for first in the MEAC. It’s allowed Hampton to do major things in the non-conference portion of it’s schedule, including beating George Washington, Colorado St and fellow NCAA Tournament team, Boston University. Teams only averaged 57 points per game against the Pirates in the MEAC Tournament and they hope to duplicate that play in the Big Dance.
Weakness: The Pirates offensive efficiency is some of the worst you’ll see in the NCAA Tournament. Hampton shoots only 40.7 percent from the field and 32.5 percent form behind the three-point line. The Pirates are even bad from the free-throw line only making 65 percent of those as well. This all leads to a poorest 67.2 points per game in the MEAC. If the Pirates can’t score in the tournament, they’ll have no chance to even be close.

BRACKETLOGY: Sunday Morning March 13, 2011 (Welcome Memphis, Boston, Hampton, Princeton, UT-San Antonio, Alabama St, Akron, Connecticut, San Diego St, Utah St, Kansas, UC-Santa Barbara, Washington)

Last Four In: Alabama, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Clemson
Last Four Out: USC, Boston College, Saint Mary’s, Harvard

Good for games through 3/12

EAST
1.Ohio St16.Arkansas-Little Rock(SBelt)/UT-San Antonio(SLC) Cleveland
8.Marquette9.George Mason
5.Texas A&M12.Butler(Horizon) Tucson
4.Kentucky13.Belmont(ASun)
6.Cincinnati11.Richmond Tucson
3.San Diego St(MWC)14.St. Peters(MAAC)
7.Tennessee10.Michigan St Washington, D.C.
2.Connecticut(BEast)15.Long Island(NEC)
WEST
1.Duke16.UC-Santa Barbara(BWest) Charlotte
8.Gonzaga(WCC)9.UCLA
5.West Virginia12.Michigan Denver
4.BYU13.Oakland(Summit)
6.Georgetown11.Illinois Tulsa
3.Texas14.Indiana St(MVC)
7.Vanderbilt10.Memphis(CUSA) Chicago
2.Notre Dame15.Boston U(AEast)
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Hampton(MEAC) Cleveland
8.Utah St(WAC)9.Colorado
5.Arizona12.Alabama/Clemson Denver
4.Purdue13.Morehead St(OVC)
6.Xavier11.Missouri Chicago
3.Louisville14.Wofford(SoCon)
7.UNLV10.Penn St Charlotte
2.North Carolina15.Akron(MAC)
SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas(B12)16.UNC_Asheville(BSouth)/Alabama St(SWAC)Tulsa
8.Temple9.Washington(P10)
5.St. John’s12.Virginia Tech/Georgia Tampa
4.Wisconsin13.Princeton(Ivy)
6.Kansas St11.Florida St Washington, D.C.
3.Syracuse14.Bucknell(Patriot)
7.Old Dominion(CAA)10.Villanova Tampa
2.Florida15.Northern Colorado(Bsky)

In Graphical Form

The Other Commonwealth

Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg

While Kentucky gets pub for being a hotbed of college hoops; it’s neighbor to the east isn’t doing too shabby itself. The commonwealth of Virginia is having a great this season with mid-majors and Virginia Tech.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and George Mason all harbor at-large hopes after performing well in the non-conference. All have sub-60 RPIs and sit atop of the conference.

George Mason has the highest RPI with 29 with a resume, which on the surface, seems to be a bit inflated. However, the OPatriots’ wins against Harvard and Duquesne may become key parts of their profile.

Old Dominion is the second of the three with a RPI of 32, but it has stumbled a bit out of the gate in league play. That still does not fully diminish an extremely impressive non-conference resume which includes wins over Xavier, Dayton, Clemson and Richmond.

Virginia Commonwealth has a rather low RPI for a mid-major trying to get into the tournament as an at-large at 58, but don’t be fooled. This team beat UCLA on a neutral floor and won at Old Dominion. The Rams uptempo style is tough to prepare for and will put them in consideration Selection Weekend.

Virginia Tech checks in with a RPI at 63, but it’s set up so well for the home stretch. This extremely talented squad has a great opportunity to stack up a lot of wins in a power conference. The ACC is indeed down this year, but not to the point where five league losses won’t get you the tournament. That’s realistic for the Hokies in a year they may get them off the snide.

Now we come to Richmond. The Spiders have an RPI of 66, but has one of the best non-conference wins of anybody when the shocked Purdue in Chicago. They also lay claim to a win over Virginia Commonwealth and are sitting pretty in second in 3rd place in the Atlantic 10. This team hasn’t fully lived up to expectations so far, but it is capable of taking home the A-10 regular season championship.

Stock Up: Ohio St. I didn’t believe in the Buckeyes before the season started, but Jared Sullinger has made a believer out of everybody. He may be the toughest cover in college basketball and gives them so many options offensively. Last year was the Evan Turner show in Columbus, but Sullinger and company maybe in for an even better year.

Stock Down: Wake Forest. My apologies to the Auburn Tigers who I incorrectly called the worst BCS conference basketball team in the country last week. It’s clearly Wake Forest. I hope there’s a plan in place, but I didn’t think Jeff Bzdelik was a good hire and so far I’m being proven right. I know he has to get his players to fit his system but the Demon Deacons lost by 35 to Georgia Tech. That’s downright pathetic.

Stock Up: The Showdown in Provo. It might be the biggest game in the history of the Mountain West Conference on Jan. 26 when San Diego St travels to face BYU. Two top-ten teams and one of the best players in the country in Jimmer Fredette will take the national stage in the clear game of the night. So sad that it won’t happen next year with BYU moving on the West Coast Conference.

Stock Down: UCF. It was all good just two weeks ago. It’s not now. UCF has lost four of its five conference games and, in the process, ruined any at-large hopes it was harboring. The Knights have a chance to salvage their season, but they probably need an automatic bid to go dancing.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: UCLA, Colorado, Richmond, Gonzaga
Last Four Out: Colorado St, Kansas St, Butler, Dayton

Good for games through 1/24/2011

EAST
1.Ohio St16.Tennessee St/Texas Southern Cleveland
8.Utah St9.Boston College
5.Georgetown12.Gonzaga/UCLA Tampa
4.Kentucky13.Harvard
6.Illinois11.Marquette Tucson
3.Texas A&M14.Belmont
7.Tennessee10.UNLV Washington, DC
2.Villanova15.Coastal Carolina
WEST
1.Kansas16.Florida Atlantic Tulsa
8.Arizona9.Temple
5.Florida12.Virginia Commonwealth Tampa
4.Notre Dame13.Oakland
6.Florida St11.Wichita St Charlotte
3.Syracuse14.Hampton
7.Michigan St10.St. John’s Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Northern Colorado
SOUTHWEST
1.Duke16.Long Island Charlotte
8.Cincinnati9.Missouri St
5.Minnesota12.Old Dominion Chicago
4.Missouri13.Charleston
6.Vanderbilt11.Virginia Tech Chicago
3.Purdue14.Bucknell
7.Xavier10.Oklahoma St Washington, DC
2.Connecticut15.Maine
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Long Beach St/Lamar Cleveland
8.North Carolina9.Georgia
5.Washington12.Richmond/Colorado Denver
4.Wisconsin13.Valparaiso
6.West Virginia11.Memphis Denver
3.BYU14.Ball St
7.Louisville10.St. Mary’s Tulsa
2.Texas15.Fairfield

In Graphical Form

Rock Chalk

Marcus Morris leads the Jayhawks

I haven’t seen a more impressive team this season then Kansas. Coach Bill Self’s squad lost Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich and hasn’t skipped a beat.

The Morris twins are proving to be a load in the paint. Marcus and Markieff are averaging 30 points and 15 rebounds between the two of them and in Mondays game against Baylor, they were unstoppable.

Kansas has also been getting good guard play. Tyshawn Taylor held down the fort for the beginning of the season, but now Josh Selby is in the fold giving them another dimension.

Selby is explosive and can create his own shot and shots for his teammates. The athletic freshman out of Baltimore is hell in Nikes and will burn the Big XII up this year.

Stock Up: San Diego St. The Aztecs have run roughshod over their competition this year. With wins over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Wichita St., UNLV and New Mexico, the Aztecs have a very impressive resume. Kawhi Leonard, D.J. Gay and Malcolm Thomas are three of the best players in the nation and come March everyone will become acquainted with them.

Stock Down: Sun Belt. Sun Belt officials tried to come up with strategies to increase at-large bid opportunities for the conference. What’s transpired has been a failure on all levels. The conference has underachieved mightily with no team being more disappointing than Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers went down to the San Juan Shootout hoping to get some quality wins and came back 1-2 with a loss to Davidson. The rest of the conference hasn’t been much better as it is ranked 26 out 31 conferences in RPI. Looks like it might be time to look over the plan for the conference again.

Stock Up: Xavier. It’s almost to the point where it’s like death and taxes with the Musketeers. We shouldn’t be surprised to see them atop the Atlantic-10 again. Year after year they contend for the title and it looks like this year will be no different. They bounced back nicely after their loss to Cincinnati by winning their first three conference games. With a trip to St. Bonaventure followed by two home games, the Musketeers can really distance themselves.

Stock Down: Auburn. How can a BCS conference team be so bad? I know people may be asking if I’ve seen Depaul play. Yes I have live and they’d mop the floor with Auburn. How the Tigers beat Florida St. is beyond me, but they’re already 0-3 in league play and it can get really ugly down the stretch. Thank God for football.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Marquette, Butler, Cincinnati, Miami (FL)
Last Four Out: Memphis, New Mexico, Dayton, UCLA

Good for games through 1/17

SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas16.Northern Colorado/Morgan St Tulsa
8.North Carolina9.Tennessee
5.Wisconsin12.Xavier Tampa
4.West Virginia13.James Madison
6.Louisville11.Utah St Chicago
3.Purdue14.Vermont
7.Washington10.Gonzaga Washington, DC
2.Connecticut15.Bucknell
WEST
1.Duke16.Austin Peay Charlotte
8.Vanderbilt9.Missouri St
5.Minnesota12.Cincinnati/Butler Chicago
4.Missouri13.Oakland
6.Colorado11.Old Dominion Denver
3.Villanova14.Coastal Carolina
7.St. John’s10.Boston College Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Chattanooga
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Long Island Cleveland
8.St. Mary’s9.Oklahoma St
5.Florida12.Southern Mississippi Tampa
4.Michigan St13.Ball St
6.Illinois11.Miami(FL)/Marquette Denver
3.BYU14.Belmont
7.Arizona10.Wichita St Tulsa
2.Texas A&M15.Long Beach St
EAST
1.Ohio St16.McNeese St/Jackson St Cleveland
8.Temple9.Georgia
5.Notre Dame12.Harvard Tucson
4.Texas13.Valparaiso
6.Georgetown11.Florida St Charlotte
3.Kentucky14.Iona
7.UNLV10.UCF Washington, DC
2.Syracuse15.Florida Atlantic

In Graphical Form