Tag: VCU

Ute Nation

Utah’s Delon Wright (AP Photo)

It was apparent last season that Larry Krystkowiak was on to something. However, no one knew he was on to this. The Utah Utes have staked their claim as one of the premier teams out west and it’s because of the talent they can roll out there.

The Utes are led by do everything guard Delon Wright, who is tracking to be a first-team all-American. The senior guard is averaging nearly 15 points, over four rebounds and a little under six assists per game. He leads an attack that also features Jakob Poeltl, the Austrian import that has NBA scouts watching, and three-point marksman Brandon Taylor.

They are efficient. They can defend. They’re big. They’re good. This is a team that appears to be a legitimate contender to get to the Final Four.

Stock Up: Albany. The Great Danes are undefeated in the America East and seem very interested in making a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

Stock Down: Texas. The Longhorns have lost 5 out of their last 7. I understand that the Big XII is competitive, but they should probably put a few wins together.

Stock Up: UCLA. The Bruins aren’t in the bracket below, but a 2-0 week would be huge after beating Colorado and Utah last week.

Stock Down: VCU. Unfortunately for the Rams; Briante Weber went down with a season-ending knee injury in their loss to Richmond. He was the heart and soul and the key to VCU’s havoc defense.  It’ll be interesting to see if VCU can bounce back.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: Michigan St, Miami(FL), NC State, Iowa

Last Four Out: Texas A&M, Colorado St, Temple, St. John’s

This bracket is good for games thru 2/1

MIDWEST

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

8.Xavier9.Dayton

5.Wichita St12.Stephen F. Austin Seattle

4.Baylor13.UC Davis

6.San Diego St11.Iowa/Miami(FL) Pittsburgh

3.Villanova14.North Carolina Central

7.SMU10.Tennessee Charlotte

2.Duke15.High Point

EAST

1.Virginia16.New Mexico St Charlotte

8.Cincinnati9.Oklahoma St

5.Georgetown12.NC State/Michigan St Columbus

4.Iowa St13.Yale

6.Northern Iowa11.Mississippi Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Iona

7.Providence10.Georgia Omaha

2.Wisconsin15.Texas Southern

SOUTH

1.Kansas16.North Dakota St/Colgate Omaha

8.Tulsa9.Stanford

5.Oklahoma12.Wofford Jacksonville

4.Maryland13.Valparaiso

6.Ohio St11.George Washington Pittsburgh

3.Louisville14.Akron

7.Indiana10.Old Dominion Portland

2.Utah15.Sacramento St

WEST

1.Arizona16.Georgia Southern Portland

8.LSU9.Texas

5.Butler12.Murray St Jacksonville

4.West Virginia13.Louisiana Tech

6.VCU11.Kansas St Columbus

3.Notre Dame14.William & Mary

7.Arkansas10.Seton Hall Seattle

2.Gonzaga15.Albany

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SHOCKing Results

Fred VanVleet has led Wichita St to a 19-0 record

Threw almost three months of the season there is one team whose undefeated record is as surprising as its run to the Final Four last season.  Wichita St rolled through its non-conference schedule and with Creighton in the Big East, it looks like the Shockers will face little resistance in the Missouri Valley this season.

Led by one of the best point guards in the country in Fred VanVleet, the Shockers destroyed Indiana St, the only other team in the Valley with real at-large aspirations.  He runs the show and is surrounded by talent that plenty of high majors schools are probably envious of.  Throw in Gregg Marshall, a man who’s legitimately one of the best coaches in the country and this is a team that looks like a national title contender.

Stock Up: Tyler Ennis.  The Syracuse freshman has taken this team to another level.  Any thoughts of a drop off after Michael Carter-Williams have been erased as Ennis has made the Orange the favorite to win the ACC.

Stock Down: Big East favorites.  Both Georgetown and Marquette are sputtering to find themselves as injuries, suspensions and early departures have crushed their respective rosters.  Both squads thought they’d perform much better this season but neither have been close to upholding the standard the each program has set.

Stock Up: Kansas.  The Jayhawks are putting it together and its going to get scary for everyone else.  It appears that Joel Embiid has taken the reigns as the best player on this team and everyone else has followed.  Kansas already has four losses, but it could be a good while before it losses again…if it losses again.

Stock Down: VCU. The Rams have been figured out.  If you limit VCU’s transition opportunities they can’t score.  This team can get hot from deep, but it’s not consistent when the Rams are off, they’re extremely easy to defend.

On to the bracket:

First one of the year.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Stanford, Providence, SMU

Last Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Boise St, Purdue, Georgetown

 

WEST

1.Arizona16.Robert Morris/Chattanooga               San Diego

8.Baylor9.Florida St

5.Ohio St12.Providence/Stanford             Raleigh

4.Duke13.Mercer

6.Memphis11.Texas       San Antonio

3.Wichita St14.Georgia St

7.Kansas St10.George Washington           Milwaukee

2.Wisconsin15.Vermont

SOUTH

1.Florida16.Radford        Orlando

8.UCLA9.Xavier

5.Pittsburgh12.Toledo   San Diego

4.Cincinnati13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Gonzaga11.Clemson   Spokane

3.Oklahoma St14.Boston

7.Michigan10.Harvard    Buffalo

2.Villanova15.Utah Valley

MIDWEST

1.Michigan St16.Southern            Milwaukee

8.California9.Southern Miss

5.Iowa St12.Missouri      Raleigh

4.Louisville13.Manhattan

6.Oklahoma11.Green Bay            San Antonio

3.UMass14.Northern Colorado

7.Virginia10.Oregon        Spokane

2.San Diego St15.UC Irvine

EAST

1.Syracuse16.South Dakota/Morgan St  Buffalo

8.Minnesota9.Colorado

5.Saint Louis12.SMU/North Carolina        Orlando

4.Kentucky13.Belmont

6.Creighton11.VCU         St. Louis

3.Iowa14.Towson

7.UConn10.New Mexico               St. Louis

2.Kansas15.Old Dominion

Hurricane Larranaga

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has his team rolling towards an ACC title

You didn’t see it coming.  I didn’t see it coming.  They didn’t see it coming.  One team is taking the college basketball world by storm this season and it’s the Miami Hurricanes.

After fighting through some early season injuries that left unfavorable results, the Hurricanes have run roughshod over the ACC.  They’ve beaten both North Carolina and Duke by more than 20 at home and went to Raleigh to steal a road victory over NC State.

In an era of all-world freshmen, the key to Miami’s success is its age.  Miami is one of the most experienced teams in the ACC and you can see it with the way its being physical with its foes.

Every once a while a team pops up out of nowhere to have a special season a la Saint Josephs in 2004 and Auburn in 1999.  This could be one of those seasons for the ‘Canes.

Stock Up: The Atlantic 10.  The additions of Butler and VCU to the conference are paying instant dividends as the quality of the A-10 rivals most power six conference.  The league could legitimately send 5 or 6 teams to the Big Dance and some of those teams would be real threats to make it to the second weekend.

Stock Down: Colonial Athletic Association. Yikes.  What a difference a year makes.  This was a league you could rely on to possibly send two teams to the NCAA tournament.  Not this year.  The conference champion would do well to get a No. 14 seed in the tournament.

Stock Up: Louisiana Tech.  The Bulldogs haven’t lost a game since December 12 and is coasting through the WAC right now.  At 21-3, they’ve already dispatched Denver, New Mexico St, and Utah St, their chief rivals once and have return meetings set up.  Those three games are the only thing keeping me from declaring that race completely over.

Stock Down: The NCAA.  Collegiate athletics is taking so many L’s these days it’s not even funny.  From the way the organization handled the Myck Kabongo situation to the way it handled the Shabazz Muhammad situation, there’s no consistency and what seems to be selective enforcement.  At a time where colleges are grabbing more power for themselves the NCAA needs to stop self inflicting wounds.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: North Carolina, Arizona St, Baylor, Temple

Last Four Out: Stanford, Alabama, St. John’s, California

This bracket is good for games played through 2/10

MIDWEST

1.Indiana16.Charleston Southern/Norfolk St Dayton, OH

8.San Diego St9.Colorado

5.Marquette12.Belmont Kansas City

4.Kansas13.Middle Tennessee

6.Kentucky11.Indiana St Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Davidson

7.NC State10.Saint Louis Philadelphia

2.Syracuse15.Florida Gulf Coast

WEST

1.Michigan16.Northeastern Auburn Hills, MI

8.UCLA9.Wichita St

5.Oklahoma St12.Temple/North Carolina   Austin

4.Louisville13.Lehigh

6.Cincinnati11.La Salle  Salt Lake City

3.New Mexico14.Valparaiso

7.Minnesota10.Oklahoma San Jose

2.Gonzaga15.Montana

EAST

1.Duke16.Bryant Philadelphia

8.Missouri9.Creighton

5.Wisconsin12.Baylor/Arizona St  San Jose

4.Pittsburgh13.Stephen F. Austin

6.Oregon11.Mississippi Dayton, OH

3.Butler14.Vermont

7.Notre Dame10.Iowa St Auburn Hills, MI

2.Michigan St15.Long Beach St

SOUTH

1.Miami(FL)16.Niagara/Southern  Lexington, KY

8.Memphis9UNLV

5.Ohio St12.Louisiana Tech  Austin

4.Georgetown13.Akron

6.Colorado St11.Virginia Kansas City

3.Kansas St14.Harvard

7.VCU10.Illinois Lexington, KY

2.Florida15.Western Illinois

In graphical form

BRACKETOLOGY: Tuesday March 6, 2012 (Welcome Virginia Commonwealth, Loyola-MD, Saint Mary’s, Davidson)

Last Four In: Tennessee, Drexel, Texas, Colorado St

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

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Savannah St/North Texas Louisville

8.Saint Louis9.Cincinnati

5.St. Mary’s(WCC)12.Texas Portland

4.UNLV13.Long Beach St

6.Wichita St11.Southern Mississippi Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Montana

7.Florida St10.West Virginia Columbus

2.Michigan15.Valparaiso

WEST

1.North Carolina16.Stony Brook Greensboro

8.Memphis9.Purdue

5.Creighton(MVC)12.BYU Albuquerque

4.Georgetown13.Akron

6.Notre Dame11.Xavier Columbus

3.Wisconsin14.Davidson(SoCon)

7.New Mexico 10.Alabama Omaha

2.Missouri15.Bucknell

MIDWEST

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

8.Louisville9.Mississippi St

5.Temple12.Miami(FL) Nashville

4.Indiana13.Colorado St/Drexel

6.Florida11.Washington Louisville

3.Marquette14.Belmont(ASun)

7.Gonzaga10.Harvard Pittsburgh

2.Ohio St15.UT-Arlington

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Kansas St9.Virginia

5.Murray St(OVC)12.Northwestern/Tennessee Portland

4.San Diego St13.Nevada

6.Vanderbilt11.Virginia Commonwealth(CAA) Nashville

3.Michigan St14.South Dakota St

7.Iowa St10.Connecticut Greensboro

2.Duke15.Loyola(MD)(MAAC)

In Graphical Form

Conference Tournament Predictions Continued

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC: Iona has been on my radar since I watch it go blow-for-blow with Purdue in November.  This team can flatout score.  This is one of the most dangerous mid-majors in the country as it has three pros on the roster.  That being said, the Gaels don’t really care to much to play defense and that’s why a team like Loyola is a real threat.  Despite that, I don’t think Iona will be denied this year.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Up until mid-February, people were talking about the down year in the CAA.  Then came Bracketbusters where the CAA once again flexed its mid-major muscle.  Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Old Dominion all scored big wins leading many pundits to say this is a multi-bid league again.  I’m not so sure of that but I do know that Drexel and VCU will play a classic championship game.  That game will be won by Drexel.

SOUTHERN: Davidson served notice to the nation earlier this season when it beat Kansas.  It followed that impressive win up with a 16-2 league record.  The Wildcats have a solid RPI and is far and away the best team in this league, but I don’t have a good feeling about them winning the conference championship.  There’s one team though, which has been knocking on the door and that’s the College of Charleston.  The Cougars have won six of their last seven and they’ll carry that momentum into a SoCon championship.

SUN BELT: Middle Tennessee St put the nation on notice when it took UCLA apart in November.  With only five losses, the Blue Raiders have done that to most of their opponents this season.  This team is the class of the Sun Belt and, with the exception of Denver, has no peer.  The Blue Raiders are going dancing.

SUMMIT LEAGUE: You’re 17-1 in league play and one of the best mid-majors in the nation.  How are you rewarded – by playing the conference tournament on the homecourt of the second place team in the conference.  That’s what Oral Roberts’ dilemma is as it prepares for the conference tournament hosted by South Dakota St.  That South Dakota St team is responsible for Oral Roberts lone conference loss.  On March 6, it’ll be responsible for Oral Roberts’ second conference loss.

BIG SKY: Weber St and Montana went toe-to-toe all season long in a conference race that wasn’t decided until the last game of the regular season.  That game determined where the conference tournament would be played.  Unfortunately for Weber St, they’re going to have to go through the regular season champion Montana on its home court.  Not likely.  The Grizzlies are going to the NCAA tournament.

Dragon’s Lair

Image
Drexel hopes to celebrate in Richmond in early March

Will this be the year?  Will this be the year a team other than one from Virginia wins the Colonial Athletic Association.  If the Drexel Dragons have anything to say about it, it will.

It’s been six years since UNC-Wilmington won the regular season title in the CAA.  That’s six long years for the rest of the league as George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion have dominated the league.  In that span, Mason and VCU have gone to Final Fours and Old Dominion has gone to the NIT semifinals in addition to winning a first-round tournament game.

This year may be different though.  Drexel is currently in a three-way tie for first with Mason and VCU, but it has beaten both teams and has lost only one time in is last 18 games.

The Dragons are hot and only have one game remaining against a team with more than three conference wins remaining.  They’re in prime position to win the CAA title.

Stock Up: Travon Woodall.  He’s made such a difference for the Panthers since returning from injury.  This team looked completely lost without him and now look like one of the best teams in the Big East.  If the tournament began today I don’t think Pitt would be in it, but I’m willing to bet money we’ll see Pitt in the Big Dance and that’s all due to Woodall.

Stock Down: Connecticut.  I’ve never seen this before out of a UCONN team.  The Huskies have had some down years, but what’s going on right now is downright embarrassing.  As I write this, Louisville is currently beating them as if the Cardinals are the Dream Team and the Huskies are Angola.  I’m pretty shocked.

Stock Up: Southern Miss Golden Eagles.  The school that Brett Favre built is having quite a season.  The Eagles are sitting at 20-3 and are atop the Conference-USA standings.  They’ve achieved a season split with Memphis have beaten title contenders Marshall and UCF.  They have a favorable schedule down the stretch and can solidify an at-large bid.

Stock Down: Duke’s Homecourt Advantage. First reports surface that student demand for tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium isn’t as high as it’s been in the past.  Then the Blue Devils go out and lose to Florida St and Miami.  Not the Heat, the “U.”  Obviously this says more about Duke than it does about Cameron, but it’s definitely surprising to see.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: California, Minnesota, Wyoming, UCF
Last Four Out: Colorado St, NC State, Arkansas, Northern Iowa

Good for games through of 2/5

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.UNC-Asheville/Norfolk St Louisville

8.Southern Miss9.Iowa St

5.Temple12.Minnesota/Wyoming Columbus

4.Marquette13.Long Beach St

6.Gonzaga11.New Mexico Nashville

3.Florida St14.Akron

7.Michigan10.Connecticut Omaha

2.Kansas15.Belmont

WEST

1.Missouri16.Stony Brook/Mississippi Valley St Omaha

8.Virginia9.Illinois

5.Louisville12.Saint Louis Albuquerque

4.UNLV13.Middle Tennessee St

6.Wisconsin11.BYU Louisville

3.Georgetown14.Oral Roberts

7.Harvard10.Alabama Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Bucknell

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Wichita St9.Washington

5.Mississippi St12.Purdue Portland

4.St. Mary’s13.Cleveland St

6.Vanderbilt11.Miami(FL) Columbus

3.Michigan St14.Davidson

7.West Virginia10.Memphis Albuquerque

2.Baylor15.Weber St

MIDWEST

1.Ohio St16.UT-Arlington Pittsburgh

8.Notre Dame9.Kansas St

5.San Diego St12.California/UCF Portland

4.Creighton13.Iona

6.Murray St11.Xavier Nashville

3.Florida14.Nevada

7.Indiana10.Cincinnati Greensboro

2.Duke15.Drexel

In Graphical Form