Tag: SWAC

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)

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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

BRACKETOLOGY: Tuesday March 12, 2013 (Welcome Western Kentucky, Davidson, James Madison, Gonzaga, Iona)

Before we get to the bracket I’m going to preview tonight’s Summit League final as well as the conference tournament in the SWAC, Southland, Big Sky, WAC and Big West.

SUMMIT LEAGUE: This was a nice three-team race to watch between finalists South Dakota St and North Dakota St along with Western Illinois.  The two teams split the regular season match-up and I expect a barnburner in the third.  It’s on the Jackrabbits home court so you have to give SDSU the edge.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Three teams are missing from this conference tournament due to APR penalties leveled against them. Two of those teams, Texas Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff won the regular season championship and finished tied for second respectively.  That leaves the Southern Jaguars as the heavy favorites to win the SWAC.

SOUTHLAND: This is a tournament that protects its top teams from playing until the semifinals.  Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern St have been impressive all season.  They split the two regular season games including a one-point win by the Lumberjacks 10 days ago.  I think Northwestern St gained confidence from playing them so tough though and on a neutral floor I expect the Demons to go dancing.

BIG SKY: There’s no doubt that Montana and Weber St are on a collision course.  These have been the best programs in the Big Sky for a number of years and they are head and shoulders above the rest of the league.  They’ll meet one more time in the finals where Montana’s home court will give them the edge.

WESTERN ATHLETIC: Louisiana Tech was running away with the league title for much of the year, but their two toughest games were in the last week.  Road games at New Mexico St and Denver resulted in double digit losses for the Bulldogs – tarnishing a possible at-large resume.  It’s tough to think they’ve recovered from those defeats in time for the WAC tournament and I think Denver will make its first ever trip to the Big Dance.

BIG WEST: Long Beach St by far has the most talent of any team in the Big West, but the 49ers aren’t playing their best ball.  They’re coming off a 20-point beatdown at the hands of Pacific.  That game was the last scheduled home game Bob Thomason is going to coach and his Tigers gave an inspired performance.  I expect them to have the same inspiration as they try to get him to one last NCAA tournament.  Pacific is going dancing.

On to the Bracket

Last Four In: Virginia, Boise St, Saint Mary’s, Tennessee

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

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Western Kentucky(SBelt)/Long Island Dayton, OH

8.Wichita St9.San Diego St

5.Pittsburgh12.Saint Mary’s/Virginia 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.James Madison(CAA)/Liberty(BSouth) Lexington, KY

8.NC State9.Temple

5.UCLA12.Tennesse/Boise St   Salt Lake City

4.Kansas St13.Davidson(SoCon)

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

3.Ohio St14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Butler10.Villanova Lexington, KY

2.Miami(FL)15.Iona(MAAC)

EAST

1.Duke16.Norfolk St Philadelphia

8.Iowa St9.Illinois

5.Saint Louis12.Cincinnati San Jose

4.Arizona13.Harvard(Ivy)

6.Syracuse11.Bucknell  Auburn Hills, MI

3.Michigan14.Vermont

7.UNLV10.California Kansas City

2.Kansas15.Long Beach St

WEST

1.Gonzaga(WCC)16.Southern San Jose

8.Oregon9.Missouri

5.Wisconsin12.La Salle Kansas City

4.Marquette13.Akron

6.Notre Dame11.Belmont(OVC)  Salt 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

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