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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)

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.