Tag: WAC

Nothing Cavalier about the Cavaliers

Virginia guard Justin Anderson (Photo: Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports)

In a conference boasting the likes of Duke, Louisville,North Carolina and Syracuse, there’s one team that’s standing out above all those. The Virginia Cavaliers are one of the best teams in the country and looks to be the class of the ACC.

With Virginia, it’s all about defense.  Virginia’s pack line defense has befuddled foes ever since head coach arrived on campus. This year has been no different as Virginia is fifth nationally in defensive efficiency, second in field-goal percentage and second in points per game.

That kind of defense keeps the Cavaliers competitive in every game and if they’re able to continue to do this all year, they might be on their way to the Final Four.

Stock Up: Kentucky. This is the only team with better defensive numbers than Virginia. Kentucky’s size, length, athleticism and skill makes it the heavy favorite to win the national championship.

Stock Down: Pac-12.  I thought the league was on the cusp of a basketball renaissance, but it looks like its going to take a step back this season.  If it weren’t for the surprisingly good season for Utah, the Pac-12 would really be in trouble.

Stock Up: Wichita St.  The Shockers clearly aren’t undefeated this year, but they’re still a real threat to go to the Final Four.  They have one of the best backcourts in the country and can play with anybody.

Stock Down: WAC. Quietly, the biggest loser in conference realignment.  The WAC went from having teams like Utah, New Mexico and BYU to Grand Canyon, Utah Valley and Cal State Bakersfield.  Even the MEAC has a better RPI as a conference.

On to the bracket

Last Four In: Mississippi, Kansas St, Tennessee, Washington

Last Four Out: Colorado St, Texas A&M, Ohio St, Alabama

It’s good for games through 1/19/2015.

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.Grand Canyon/North Florida Louisville

8.Old Dominion9.Oklahoma St

5.Texas12.Green Bay Jacksonville

4.Louisville13.Buffalo

6.Iowa11.Xavier Columbus, OH

3.Notre Dame14.Murray St

7.SMU10.NC State Pittsburgh

2.Maryland15.Coastal Carolina

SOUTH

1.Duke16.St. Francis(NY) Charlotte

8.Seton Hall9.Stanford

5.Oklahoma12.Western Kentucky Jacksonville

4.Wichita St13.Harvard

6.Indiana11.Tennessee/Kansas St Columbus, OH

3.Villanova14.Texas Southern

7.Arkansas10.George Washington

2.Wisconsin15.Louisiana-Monroe Omaha

WEST

1.Arizona16.Monmouth Portland

8.Northern Iowa9.Cincinnati

5.San Diego St12.Tulsa Seattle

4.Iowa St13.Northeastern

6.Georgetown11.Washington/Mississippi Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Dayton10.Miami(FL) Seattle

2.Gonzaga15.UC Davis

EAST

1.Virginia16.North Dakota St/Colgate Charlotte

8.Butler9.Georgia

5.West Virginia12.Wofford Pittsburgh

4.VCU13.Eastern Washington

6.Baylor11.Michigan St Portland

3.Utah14.North Carolina Central

7.Providence10.LSU Omaha

2.Kansas15.Albany

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BRACKETOLOGY: Tuesday March 11, 2014 (Welcome Delaware, Manhattan, Wofford)

The last of our conference tournament previews.  We’re going to start with the Summit League championship game.

SUMMIT LEAGUE: North Dakota St and IPFW will be meeting for the this league’s title and judging by the semifinal results, North Dakota St is ready to go dancing.  However, things don’t always go that way.  Expect a really competitive game and North Dakota St to go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: If you’re a regular of this blog, you know how I feel about the Southland conference champion.  Stephen F. Austin dominated the regular season going a perfect 18-0 in league play.  So far, that hasn’t proven to translate into conference tournament success, but there’s something to be said about a team that won every time it stepped on a court in league play.  I fully expect the Lumberjacks to go dancing.

BIG SKY: Weber St has the luxury of not only having a bye into he semifinals, but the Wildcats will also be hosting this tournament.  While, that didn’t work for Green Bay in the Horizon League, Weber St has recent history of navigating through this tournament.  In Ogden, at elevation and on short rest I don’t think there will be anyone who can beat the Wildcats this week.

BIG WEST: There have been years where the Big West has been much better, but with the loss of Pacific it may take a while for the remaining schools to get to that level.  UC-Irvine and UC-Santa Barbara spent much of the season jostling for the No. 1 spot in the league with UC-Irvine finishing a game ahead.  That puts the Gauchos on the other side of the bracket with third-place finisher Long Beach St.  The 49ers know this tournament all too well and I think they’ll be the squad going dancing.

WESTERN ATHLETIC: No matter what happens in Vegas this week, everyone will think about the ugly incident that took place at Utah Valley when they defeated New Mexico St.  It just so happens that those two teams finished 1-2.  I believe they’re on a collision course and there will be plenty of bad blood between the two teams.  New Mexico St is the more talented team and the Aggies will return to the dance.

SUN BELT: Here is another league that was hurt by defections to other leagues.  That has hurt he overall quality of the teams.  Georgia St entered the conference from the CAA and immediately staked its claim as the top dog.  At 17-1 the Panthers look to be on the fast track to the big dance.  Despite that, Western Kentucky sitting around as a team that’s won this tournament recently is a scary site.  Georgia St won’t have to play until the semifinals though and the five-game difference in the standings is enough to project the Panthers as winners of this tournament.

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(IvyOrlando

4.Louisville13.Stephen F. Austin

6.New Mexico11.Iowa Buffalo

3.Syracuse14.Delaware(CAA)

7.VCU10.Stanford St. Louis

2.Kansas15.Eastern Kentucky(OVC)

EAST

1.Villanova16.Wofford(SoCon)/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.Manhattan(MAAC)

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