Texas vaults to No. 1 seed status in NCAA tournament projections

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As we move into February, one this is clear: not much is clear.  Especially in the Big 12.  Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Colorado have all spent time in the bracket, but none appear today.  Who returns by March?  We’ll see.  More on this in Bubble Banter which debuts Tuesday evening.  It’s not atypical for late January, but we have more questions than answers right now.  We have very few “locks.” 

What we do know is that Ohio State is undefeated – by a whisker at Northwestern – and remains No. 1 overall.  The Buckeyes are followed on the S-Curve by Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Texas.  Connecticut leads a group of two-seeds that include Duke, San Diego State, and BYU.  If you have a different order, no argument.  The goal is to offer perspective of how the bracket is shaping up.  Thankfully, there’s a lot of basketball yet to be played.  Rebounds always welcome.  Follow on Twitter at BracketguyDave.  More at Bracketville.

UPDATED: Monday, January 31 | Records reflect Division I games only – through January 30.

Teams in CAPS represent the projected conference champion for this bracket. Exceptions are made for those teams that traditionally use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc).

NOTE: In the new 68-team format you will notice two pairing games that represent the First Four pairings. In this bracket the First Four games in Dayton would be … UCLA vs. Old Dominion | Richmond vs. Wichita State | Jackson State vs. McNeese State | Austin Peay vs. Long Beach. The final four at-large teams are paired along with the teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve. The matchups are indicated in the bracket below.

Next Update: Monday, February 7.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Cleveland   Cleveland
1) OHIO STATE (22-0)   1) PITTSBURGH (20-2)
16) LONG ISLAND (16-5)     16) HAMPTON (15-5)
8 Georgia (14-6)   8 Illinois (14-7)
9) St. John’s (12-8)   9) XAVIER (15-5)
     
Tampa   Tucson
5) Syracuse (18-4)   5) Tennessee (14-7)
12) Gonzaga (13-8)   12) UCLA / Old Dominion
4) Missouri (16-4)   4) Texas AM (16-3)
13) Richmond / Wichita State   13) OAKLAND (15-8)
     
Chicago   Charlotte
6) Wisconsin (15-5)   6) West Virginia (14-6)
11) Washington State (15-6)   11) Virginia Tech (14-6)
3) Notre Dame (17-4)   3) KENTUCKY (16-4)
14) BUCKNELL (15-8)   14) BELMONT (19-4)
     
Charlotte   Denver
7) Vanderbilt (15-5)   7) Cincinnati (18-4)
10) MEMPHIS (16-5)   10) Penn State (12-8)
2) DUKE (19-2)   2) BYU (19-2)
15) FLORIDA ATLANTIC (14-7)   15) MONTANA (14-5)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Tulsa
1) KANSAS (20-1)   1) Texas (18-3)
16) McNEESE ST / JACKSON ST   16) LONG BEACH / AUSTIN PEAY
8 Arizona (18-4)   8 Florida State (15-6)
9) Michigan State (12-8)   9) Marquette (14-8)
     
Tampa   Denver
5) Florida (16-5)   5) WASHINGTON (15-5)
12) CLEVELAND STATE (17-3)   12) UTAH STATE (20-2)
4) Georgetown (16-5)   4) Louisville (17-4)
13) CHARLESTON (15-7)   13) FAIRFIELD (16-4)
     
Chicago   Washington, DC
6) North Carolina (15-5)   6) Minnesota (16-5)
11) MISSOURI STATE (16-5)   11) VCU (18-5)
3) Purdue (18-4)   3) Villanova (17-4)
14) COASTAL CAROLINA (16-2)   14) PRINCETON (13-4)
     
Washington, DC   Tucson
7) UNLV (16-5)   7) Temple (15-5)
10) ST. MARY’S (16-4)   10) Boston College (14-7)
2) Connecticut (17-3)   2) SAN DIEGO STATE (19-1)
15) MAINE (13-7)   15) KENT STATE (13-7)

NOTES on the BRACKET: Ohio State is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Texas. The two seeds in order are Connecticut, Duke, San Diego State, BYU

Last Five teams in (at large): Gonzaga, UCLA, Old Dominion, Wichita State, Richmond

First Five teams out (at large): Kansas State, Baylor, George Mason, Clemson, Maryland

Also Considered: UAB, Duquesne, Butler, Colorado State, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Rhode Island, Northern Iowa, South Carolina, Southern Mississippi, UTEP, California, Portland, Arkansas, Alabama, New Mexico

Bracket adjustments: Memphis moves up a seed line and Virginia Tech drops one to avoid conference conflicts.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (11): PITTSBURGH, Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John’s, Marquette

Big Ten (7): OHIO STATE, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State

SEC (5): KENTUCKY, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia

ACC (5): DUKE, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Florida State

Big 12 (4): KANSAS, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri

Pac 10 (4): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Washington State, UCLA

Mountain West (3): SAN DIEGO STATE, BYU, UNLV

Atlantic 10 (3): XAVIER, Temple, Richmond

Missouri Valley (2): MISSOURI STATE, Wichita State

West Coast (2): ST. MARY’S, Gonzaga

Conference USA (1): MEMPHIS

Colonial (1): VCU

Horizon (1): CLEVELAND STATE

Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Austin Peay (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Montana (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), Long Beach (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt), Princeton (Ivy), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Hampton (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Maine (America East), McNeese State (Southland), Jackson State (SWAC)

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.

Appalachian State freshman shooter to transfer

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A 3-point threat became a late addition to the transfer market earlier this week.

Appalachian State rising sophomore Patrick Good informed head coach Jim Fox on his intentions to leave the program. He was granted his release on Wednesday, according to Bret Strelow of the Winston-Salem Journal.

“I was pretty shocked when he came in to tell me he was leaving,” Fox told the Winston Salem-Journal. “He was a guy who had a very good freshman season, and we’re surprised to see him go.”

“I enjoyed being around the team and the experience that I got from the first year,” Good added. “I don’t think I would change that for anything. I just felt like moving forward, there is just so much more that I was capable of.”

Good appeared in 29 of 30 games, all of the bench, for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His biggest asset to his newest team will  be in his ability to shoot from deep, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts during the 2016-17 season.

If Good plans to remain in at the Division I level, avoiding a year spent at a junior college, he will need to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Iowa State adds graduate transfer Zoran Talley

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Iowa State added a scoring option on Thursday night, one who is eligible immediately.

Zoran Talley, who spent his first three seasons at Old Dominion, will join the Cyclones as a graduate transfer this season.

“We are excited to add Zoran to our program,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said in a statement issued by the athletic department. “He has had great success, both personally and as a team, at ODU and will be an asset for our team. Zoran brings versatility on both ends of the floor and his ability to play and guard several positions will benefit us. He can score and make plays and with him being immediately eligible, that is great for us.”

Talley, a 6-foot-7 wing, averaged 11.3 points for the Monarchs last season as a sophomore. However, he was dismissed from the team in April for a violation of team rules. This was preceded by two separate suspensions during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, according to Ed Miller of the Virginia Pilot.

He redshirted the 2014-15 season, leaving him two years of eligibility remaining at Iowa State. He is set to graduate in August.

Talley and fellow graduate transfer Hans Brase (Princeton) provides a boost in scoring, as well as in experience, in a frontline that returns Solomon Young, the rising sophomore big man.

Ex-NCAA scoring leader Daniel ready to return for new team

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee guard James Daniel III finally has the chance to deliver a follow-up performance to his 2015-16 NCAA scoring title, an opportunity that essentially eluded him last season.

After an ankle injury caused Daniel to play just two games last season at Howard, the 6-foot graduate transfer brings experience and offense to Tennessee’s backcourt.

“I wanted to go on the biggest stage for my last year and try to pursue my hopes and dreams since I’ve been a little kid, which was to get to the NBA,” Daniel said.

Daniel likely won’t be shooting or scoring as much as he did at Howard, where he averaged 27.1 points per game to lead all Division I players in 2015-16. He’s more interested in getting to the NCAA Tournament, something he hasn’t done and Tennessee hasn’t accomplished since 2014.

“At this point in my career I’m ready to win,” Daniel said. “That’s pretty much what I have to do. I feel like if we win, my personal goals will be met.”

Daniel believed that NCAA berth would come last season as Howard was favored to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Those plans quickly went awry.

Daniel was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss the first 14 games of the season. After returning and playing just two games, Daniel learned he had a chipped bone in his ankle. With Daniel out for the rest of the season, Howard finished 10-24.

That injury allowed Daniel to redshirt the 2016-17 season, giving him one more year of eligibility. He decided to spend that season in a bigger conference and considered Michigan, Ohio State and DePaul before selecting Tennessee.

Daniel remembered watching Tennessee games when he was younger and appreciating prolific guard Chris Lofton, who starred for the Volunteers from 2004-08. When Daniel visited Tennessee, he bonded with the team and sensed a family atmosphere.

“They’re competitive,” Daniel said. “They all want to win. That was the most intriguing part.”

Although Daniel’s ankle leaves his status uncertain for Tennessee’s three exhibition games next month in France and Spain, he’s expected to be ready in plenty of time for the start of the season.

Tennessee is counting on the additions of Daniel and Vincennes University transfer Chris Darrington to solidify a backcourt that struggled with inexperience last year.

“With Chris Darrington and James Daniel, we felt like we could get guys who liked to score and were not afraid to go make plays,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I think that’s going to help these younger guys because they were put in situations they’d never been put in before.”

Barnes cited the maturity Daniel brings as Tennessee’s lone senior. Daniel will turn 24 on Jan. 29, about a month after Tennessee begins Southeastern Conference play. Nobody else on Tennessee’s roster is older than 20, though juniors Kyle Alexander and Brad Woodson will have their 21st birthdays before the season starts.

“He’s older than all of us, so I think I can learn some things from him,” Darrington said.

Daniel’s teammates will learn plenty about his knack for drawing fouls. Not only did Daniel lead all Division I players in scoring during that 2015-16 season, he also topped the nation in free-throw attempts with 331.

They’ll also learn about his work ethic. Daniel’s father, James Daniel Jr., remembers how his son used to take about 200 jump shots every morning before his classes started at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia.

“He’s just been a workaholic,” James Daniel Jr. said. “Well, we’d call it a workaholic, but he’d probably say it was something that he loved doing.”

All that practice helped Daniel overcome his lack of height at Howard to become an NCAA scoring leader. Now he’s ready to compete at a higher level.

He got an idea of what to expect from Quinton Chievous, who made the move in reverse by leading MEAC program Hampton to the NCAA Tournament after starting out at Tennessee. Daniel said Chievous told him he “should do really well here.”

Daniel agrees.

“I don’t think they would have brought me here if they didn’t think I could compete at this level,” Daniel said.