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Tag:Gonzaga
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:55 am
 

Four more in the field

Four more teams clinched berths in the tournament tonight in down-to-the-wire championship games.

VCU held off a Drexel rally to win the Colonial title and will get a chance to make back-to-back Final Four runs.  Despite the media shilling for the Dragons, at the moment, their tournament profile doesn't measure up to at-large status.

Loyola of Maryland is in the tournament for just the second time ever after beating Fairfield for the MAAC championship.

St. Mary's needed overtime to beat Gonzaga for the West Coast title.  The last time the Zags came away without a regular season or conference tournament title was in 1997.

Davidson took two overtimes to disperse Western Carolina to win the Southern Conference championship.  This is the Wildcats' first trip back to the tournament since their Elite Eight run in 2008.

Oral Roberts was knocked out of the Summit league tournament by Western Illinois.  The Golden Eagles are the fourth non-major team that started their conference tournament as the top seed and in the top 50 of the RPI to lose before the finals of their tournament.

The Sun Belt had another upset tonight as Western Kentucky took out Denver, the top remaining seed.  The NO. 7 seed Hilltoppers will play 5th-seeded North Texas in the final for a trip to Dayton and the play-in games.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:07 am
 

Carolina back on top

Today's bracket is up and shows North Carolina on the top line, replacing Duke after the Heels whipped the Blue Devils at Cameron. 

That's not final by any means.  Michigan State and Ohio State could jump in.  They play Sunday, plus possibly again next Sunday.  Duke could take it back with an ACC tournament win.  Missouri could get in there with a win over Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.  There's still a long way to go.

Washington's loss to UCLA knocked the Huskies out of sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, and out of the bracket.  They were replaced by Miami.

My twitter feed blows up after every game -- sometimes during games -- with "we should in now" after someone wins or "they should be out" after some bubble team loses.  Fans tend to overreact to one game, but the committee does not.  It's just one of the 30ish games on your schedule.

So, yeah, Seton Hall got embarrassed today at DePaul, and yeah, that may eventually help cost them a spot in the field, but not quite yet.

South Florida lost, but they aren't out...yet.  Northwestern won, but they aren't a lock and probably never will be. 

Cincinnati
isn't a lock either.  The Bearcats have some historically bad negatives on their resume, but they may eventually become a lock.  They are this year's Alabama, which last year went 12-4 in the SEC, but was so poor out of conference that they were left out anyway.  The Bearcats' non-conference performance isn't quite as bad as Bama's, and the Big East is much better than the SEC West was last year, so they are in better shape than Alabama was last year.

But this team is an example that you can't just look at you conference record/performance.  A team's entire season counts.  Cincinnati had to post 12 conference wins to have a chance to overcome the non-conference part of its season.  Same thing for USF, which only went 6-6 and took three bad losses in non-conference play.

Even more extreme is Tennessee.  Cuonzo Martin's sqaud went 7-7 in non-conference play with four bad losses, but came back to finish 10-6 in the SEC and will be the second seed in the conference tournament if Kentucky beats Florida today.  The addition of Jarnell Stokes has helped, to be sure, but the committee can't ignore what happened before he joined the team.  Either their credentials will be good enough to get in or not.  Right now, they're not, and they might have to win the conference tournament before they are.

BYU became the first bubble team to lose in its conference tournament.  Gonzaga handled the Cougars easily last night in the WCC semifinals.  All they can do now is sit back and hope what they have done is enough.

Wichita State is the first team top seed to lose in its conference tournament.  The Shockers lost to Illinois State in the MVC semifinals.  If the Redbirds beat Creighton today, some potential at-large team will be headed to the NIT.

We also had a near-bid stealer with Murray State.  The Racers needed a last-second layup to beat Tennessee State and win the Ohio Valley Conference title.  Sighs of relief we heard everywhere.

Finally, we have to say goodbye to Butler, the two-time national runner-up.  I was at the ARC at Valparaiso last night when the top-seeded Crusaders ended the Bulldogs season 65-46, and the career of senior Ronald Nored, who was a key contributor on those two Final Four teams.




Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:20 am
 

Jam packed Saturday

There have been no changes to the bracket the last couple of days, but it is sure to change tomorrow as many teams end their regular seasons, and three conferences crown their tournament champions.

The Atlantic Sun, Big South and Ohio Valley conferences will decided their automatic qualifiers Saturday.  All bubble teams will be watching the OVC game closely as Tennessee State tries to steal an at-large bid away when it faces Murray State.  The Racers are in the NCAAs, win or lose.

Harvard can also clinch the Ivy League title with a win at Cornell and a loss by Penn to Yale.

Everyone will be talking about North Carolina and Duke, which could have top seed implications, but the games involving teams trying to fight their way into the bracket are more interesting.

West Virginia is at South Florida in a battle of bubble teams.  The winner isn't necessarily a lock and the loser isn't necessarily eliminated, but the winner could have a leg up on the loser if they are competiting for a spot in the bracket.

Texas has a chance to make a big splash, and fill a big hole in its tournament profile, when it travels to Kansas.  The Longhorns do not have a win away from home of any significance, but I think it's safe to say, winning at Phog would be significant.

Northwestern will try to keep its number of bad losses at zero as it goes on the road to play Iowa.  The Hawkeyes have been playing much better the last few weeks, but they are not a tournament team, so it's a must win for the Wildcats.

Washington can wrap up an outright Pac-12 championship with a win at UCLA.

Finally, BYU has a chance to pick up its best win of the season when it faces Gonzaga in the semifinals of the WCC tournament.  The Cougars beat the Zags at home earlier this year.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:48 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Bracket notes; Purdue, ISU get big wins

Purdue and Iowa State picked up huge, resume building wins on Saturday in what was a very busy day.

The Boilermakers got their biggest win of the season at Michigan.  The win for Purdue is just its second over a team that is sure to make the tournament.  It was Michigan's first loss at home all season.

Iowa State picked up its first away-from-home win of any significance when it completed the season sweep of Kansas State.  The Cyclones now have four top 100 RPI wins (despite a gaudy 11-5 conference record), and should be safe if they can get one more.  Teams with just four top 100 wins have received 13 at-large bids in the last 18 years, but that's out of 250 teams.

It was a tough day to be a conference leader.  Temple, Harvard, New Mexico, Long Island, and Middle Tennessee all lost.  Duke, Syracuse, Kansas, Belmont, Drexel, Murray State, Oral Roberts, Nevada and St. Mary's all were pushed to the brink.

Alabama put another nail into Mississippi State's coffin with a win in Tuscaloosa.  The Bulldogs have lost five straight and travel to South Carolina next.  They are only 2-6 on the road.

Northwestern kept its hopes alive with a one-point win at Penn State.  The Wildcats don't have many good wins (just six top 100), but none of their 11 losses have come to non-contenders.  They have a chance to make a statement next when Ohio State visits.

Saint Louis took its worst loss of the season at Rhode Island on Saturday.  For a team with few good wins, that's not a good sign.  Also in the A-10,  Saint Joseph's played their way back onto the bubble with a win over Temple.

Notre Dame lost at St. John's, which is the fourth bad loss of the season for the Irish.  It's also the first loss of any kind since January 16th.

Kansas clinched at least a tie for the Big 12 title with an overtime win over Missouri.  The Jayhawks are continuing their push for a No. 1 seed.

St. Mary's won the West Coast title outright, ending an 11-year streak during which Gonzaga either won or shared the regular season title.

Mostly irrelevant fact of the day: The Ivy League has half its teams in the top 100 of the RPI.  Conference USA, the Colonial, Missouri Valley, Pac-12 and West Coast conferences can't say that.

The bubble watch will be updated this morning.


Posted on: February 25, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Weekend Bubble Watch - Feb. 26 and 27

by Jerry Palm

There are great opportunities ahead for some teams on the bubble to make a strong statement that they belong in the NCAA.

Virginia Tech will try to play their way off the Seth Greenberg Memorial Bubble when they host Duke on Saturday.  The Hokies could really use a quality win, but unfortunately, the ACC doesn't provide a lot of chances for those.  You have to take advantage of the ones that present themselves.

Baylor's hopes are fading fast, but they can resurrect them with a win over Texas A&M, which would complete the season sweep of the Aggies.  The Bears are coming off a home loss to Texas Tech, so perhaps that is asking too much.

Kansas State
hopes to continue its run of good play when it hosts Missouri.   The Wildcats have breathed some life into their tournament hopes by winning five of six, including that blowout of Kansas.   A win over the Tigers would be its second over a top 50 RPI opponent.

Michigan visits Minnesota in a crucial game for both teams.  Michigan needs to beat quality teams, or at least other contenders, to pump up its tournament profile.  The Gophers just need to stop the bleeding.  They have lost six of eight since the injury to star Al Nolen.

UCLA not only has a chance to pick up a quality win when it hosts Arizona on Saturday, but the Bruins can also pull within a game of first place in the Pac 10.  UCLA's tournament resume is missing quality wins away from home.  That can't be fixed on Saturday, but every good win helps.

Alabama travels to Ole Miss, the only other top 100 RPI team in the SEC West.  The Tide cannot afford to be caught looking ahead to Tuesday night's battle at Florida.   The Rebels tournament at-large hopes appear to be dashed, but they can still play spoiler here.

Also on Saturday, St. Mary's hosts Portland.   The last time they met was also right after the Gaels played Gonzaga, and St. Mary's had a let down after a big win and got beat.   Now, they have to keep from hanging their heads after a tough loss and letting Gonzaga beat them twice.  If St. Mary's is going to hold out hope for an at-large bid, they cannot afford to lose to Portland.

Dayton has a chance to add a little zip to an otherwise bland tournament profile when they host rival Xavier in the A-10.  So far, the Flyers biggest win is over George Mason at home, and if that's all they have on selection weekend, that probably won't be enough.

And finally, Michigan State can all but punch its ticket when it hosts Purdue on Sunday.  They can also make a statement that they are back to being the Spartans we are used to seeing.


Posted on: February 25, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: February 25, 2011 11:28 am
 

Feb. 25 Bracket - Marquette Makes a Move

by Jerry Palm

Thursday night, Marquette filled a big hole in its tournament resume when it won at Connecticut.   That was Marquette's first quality road win of the season, and the first of top 100 RPI road wins they picked up on the evening.

The other came from UW Milwaukee, which won at Cleveland State and the impact was felt in other places as well.  The biggest thing it did was make a jumble of the Horizon League standings, which is important because the top seed hosts the tourament.  UWM knocked the Vikings back into a three-way tie with themselves and Butler, and assumed control of its down destiny for the top seed.  It would have been a four-way tie, but Valparaiso was upset at home by Loyola.

Butler also got a boost, and not just in the conference race.  UWM moved into the top 100 of the RPI (94th), taking two of the Bulldogs' 100+ RPI losses off the board.  That is good because Butler had five of them before that game, and historically speaking, it's virtually impossible to get an at-large bid with that many bad losses.  UWM may end up back below that line again at some point, but for now, their rise to the top of the league has erased a little bit of the problems with the Butler profile.

St. Mary's
slide continued last night with a loss at home to Gonzaga.   That forged a tie between the two for first place in the WCC.  The Gaels win my RPI tiebreaker at the moment.  During their three-game losing streak, they have fallen 25 spots in the RPI and out of the top 50.  The team that affects the most is Utah State, which is lacking wins of any substantive quality, and having St. Mary's go into a slump devalues the Aggies' best win.

Michigan State continues to climb, aided by a win at Minnesota this week.  The Gophers though are in the tank ever since the loss of Al Nolen.  I still have them hanging on by a thread, but they may not make it.  Minny has a couple of winnable games left, but you have to wonder what qualifies as "winnable" for them.

A banked three-point shot at the buzzer by Wisconsin's Josh Gasser gassed Michigan's spot in the bracket for now.  Dayton moved in, and is in a First Four game, which is played on their home court.  Yes, that's allowed.

I'll have more in the Bubble Watch later today.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.



Posted on: February 5, 2011 9:04 am
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Busted Brackets

by Jerry Palm

Earlier this week, the bracket buster matchups were announced.  The bracket buster is a decent concept in many ways.  Several smaller schools can get some late season TV exposure they would have never received before.  It also helps with scheduling because part of the deal is that each year's games are the front end of a home-and-home for the participants.

However, despite the name, no bracket is actually harmed, let alone busted, in the playing of these games.

The only team that may -- may -- have made the NCAA tournament in part because of a win in the bracket buster was George Mason in 2006.  Mason won at Wichita State and looked to be one of the last few teams in the field that year.  Of course, that team was the ultimate bracket buster.  The Patriots went all the way to the Final Four.

The reason we can't say for certain that Mason made the tournament because of the bracket buster win is that if the Patrios hadn't played that game, they would have played someone else of unknown quality and with an unknown result.

Nevertheless, if there is a list of teams that benefitted from the bracket buster, Mason is the only team on it.

This year's games don't appear to even have the cache of some other years.  Butler and Gonzaga are sitting it out (Gonzaga hasn't participated in a long time), although, given how those teams are doing, it probably wouldn't matter if they did.

The most intriguing game of the set is Utah State at St. Mary's .  The Aggies have crept into the bottom of the top 25 without a single win over a top 100 RPI team and in only two attempts.  They lost a competitive game at in-state rival BYU and were easily dispatched at Georgetown .  They have 21 wins, but 17 of them have come against teams ranked outside the top 150.  Those other four all came on their home floor, where they rarely lose.  Why this team is getting votes in a poll is beyond me, but this game is a much-needed opportunity for them to show they are worthy of the voters' respect.

Other than that, you have Cleveland State at Old Dominion , Mason at Northern Iowa and Missouri State at Valpo .  Fun games, but other than maybe ODU, there isn't really a decent at-large candidate in the bunch, and those games won't change that.

See complete Bracketology coverage here .




Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:13 pm
 

Stats to Watch and the First Four

by Jerry Palm

In my 17 years of tracking the RPI and the selection process, there are a few things that I follow closely when trying to figure out which teams could get at-large bids, or at least should get consideration.

One of those is RPI top 100 wins.  No team has received an at-large bid with fewer than three.  It has taken at least four, if a team doesn't have a top 50 RPI win.  When I do mid-season brackets, I'm not necessarily looking for three, but a team isn't likely getting on my board without at least two.

So, that eliminates from consideration -- at least for the moment -- Wichita State , which doesn't have any.  Utah State wouldn't be on my board either if they weren't a conference leader.  I shake my head when I see them in the polls.  I also have UTEP off because it only has one top 100 win.

Another thing I look for is at least a .500 record vs teams in the top 200 of the RPI.  Now, I've been through three NCAA mock selection meetings, and that stat has never come up, but only two teams in the last 17 years received at-large bids without meeting that standard.  This is one that we may see slide some with three more NIT-quality teams in the field going forward.

Teams that are below .500 against the top 200 of the RPI as of this morning include Michigan State , UCLA , Cal , Marquette and Gonzaga .  The Spartans are unique in that they have not played a game against teams ranked 101-200, so they are 7-8 vs the top 100 RPI teams, and also against the top 200.

Finally, you may have noticed that Dayton is right on the fence when it comes to the bracket.  It's possible that the Flyers could be one of the last four teams in.  If that happens, the committee has said that they are eligible to play in the First Four, even though those games are played on Dayton's home floor.  I'm almost never skeptical when it comes to the committee, but I'll believe that one when I see it.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com