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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)

Xavier lands second top 100 commitment in 2017

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Xavier landed a key commitment on Friday morning in Naji Marshall, one of the Musketeers’ top targets in the Class of 2017.

Marshall is a la 6-foot-5 wing from Washington D.C. that is currently ranked 62nd in the 2017 class by Rivals. He’s a scorer that has shown off a versatile offensive game, averaging better than three assists on the Under Armour Association circuit.

This is the third commitment from head coach Chris Mack in the class and the second top 100 player to pledge to the Musketeers. Marshall picked Xavier over Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia Tech, among other.

Four-star 2018 guard Coby White commits to North Carolina

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, center, reacts with his team behind him after a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament against Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Washington. North Carolina won 88-71. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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With guards Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek having committed in their 2017 recruiting class, North Carolina received a commitment from one of the better guards in the Class of 2018 Thursday night. Four-star guard Coby White, who’s ranked 61st in his class by Rivals.com, made his pledge to Roy Williams’ program. News of White’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com.

The 6-foot-4 White is a native of Wilson, North Carolina, where he attends Greenfield HS, and he played his grassroots basketball for the CP3 16U basketball program this summer. His commitment to UNC comes just a couple days after the ACC school offered him a scholarship.

White took an unofficial visit to UNC in June, and his play in July ultimately led to the program making the aforementioned scholarship offer. By the time White enrolls in Chapel Hill, current veterans such as Joel Berry II and Nate Britt will be out of eligibility. Among the perimeter would could potentially be on campus in 2018 are freshmen Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson, and sophomore Kenny Williams.

White is the second commit in the 2018 class for the Tar Heels, with 6-foot-7 guard Rechon Black being the first.

Point guard Small to transfer from Oregon

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 18:  Kendall Small #21 of the Oregon Ducks shoots over Derek Mountain #40 of the Holy Cross Crusaders in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 18, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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After navigating a lack of depth at the point to win the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and earn the program’s first-ever one seed in the NCAA tournament, Oregon will have no such issues in 2016-17. Dylan Ennis, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, is back for another season as is returning starter Casey Benson. Add in freshman Payton Pritchard, whose shooting ability can help a team that struggled from three a season ago, and Dana Altman has multiple players to call upon at that spot.

That left Kendall Small, who played just under eight minutes per game as a freshman, in a spot where it would have been tough to earn more playing time as a sophomore. As a result he’s decided to transfer, with the news first being reported by Scout.com.

In addition to the three guards mentioned above, sophomore Tyler Dorsey also has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Small will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at whichever school he chooses to transfer to, and he’ll have to sit out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules.

A 6-foot guard from Anaheim, Small’s best outing came in Oregon’s 77-59 win over Savannah State on November 23. In that game Small accounted for nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes of action. But he played double-digit minutes in just four games after the Ducks began Pac-12 play in early January, the last of which being Oregon’s win over Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

LIU Brooklyn loses second-leading scorer Hermannsson to pro ranks

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Bryan Sekunda #22 of the Stony Brook Seawolves attempts a pass around Martin Hermannsson #24 of the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds in the first half at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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After finishing tied for sixth place in the Northeast Conference last season, LIU Brooklyn will look to make the climb up the conference standings under head coach Jack Perri in 2016-17. However that climb got a bit tougher Thursday, as it was announced that guard Martin Hermannsson has decided to forego his final two years of eligibility and turn pro.

Hermannsson, a native of Iceland, has signed with French Pro B division team Etoile de Charleville-Mézières Ardennes.

Hermannsson was one of two first team All-NEC honorees for the Blackbirds last season, with redshirt junior forward Jerome Frink being the other. Hermannsson, a 6-foot-3 guard, finished the season with averages of 16.2 points and 4.7 assists per game, shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from three. Originally on track to return the highest scoring tandem in the NEC, LIU Brooklyn has to account for the loss of their starting point guard and second-leading scorer without much time to do so before classes begin.

With Hermannsson moving on, the Blackbirds will call upon veterans such as seniors Joel Hernandez and Iverson Fleming to carry the load on the perimeter. LIU Brooklyn will also have to account for the loss of guard Aakim Saintil, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.7 assists in his lone season of eligibility. LIU Brooklyn will add two freshmen to its backcourt in Julian Batts and Ashtyn Bradley, and they’ll have an even greater opportunity to earn minutes than anticipated.

h/t Blackbirds Hoops Journal

University of Louisville president’s resignation accepted

James Ramsey, Getty Images
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) University of Louisville trustees on Wednesday accepted the resignation of embattled President James Ramsey, whose long tenure was dogged by scandal.

The action at a special meeting of the school’s board signaled the end of an era. Ramsey, a former state budget director, has led the university for 14 years.

After six hours of closed-door deliberations, the board announced late Wednesday that Ramsey will be paid $690,000 and will resign immediately, with an agreement not to sue the school.

Ramsey was credited with raising academic standards and boosting the school from a commuter campus to a distinguished research institution. But he came under increasing fire for embezzlement scandals and a string of other embarrassments, including an FBI investigation of top university officials for alleged misuse of federal money and an NCAA investigation into whether a university employee paid women to strip and have sex with basketball players.

The controversies boiled over in the past two years. The Courier-Journal reported last year that the Board of Trustees challenged Ramsey’s salary of more than $600,000, with millions more in deferred compensation paid by the university foundation.

Then, in October, an escort named Katina Powell released the book “Breaking Cardinal Rules” that alleged a basketball team employee hired her and other dancers to entertain players and recruits at sex parties. The NCAA launched an investigation and Ramsey announced in February that the team would not play in post-season tournaments.

Dozens of professors signed a letter to him complaining about the “drumbeat of crises” and some trustees attempted a no-confidence vote to have him ousted in the spring. Ramsey said at the time that he would not resign.

But Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin dismantled the former Board of Trustees last month. Ramsey wrote the governor a letter offering to tender his resignation to the newly appointed board, launching a bumpy series of meetings that led to his eventual ouster late Wednesday.

The afternoon began with an agreement seemingly far more generous for Ramsey: He would collect his salary for a year as he served as interim president while the school searched for a new leader. Ramsey sat silently at Wednesday’s board meeting, wearing a polo shirt, then left for his office upstairs.

But the board’s closed-door negotiations stretched hours into the night. Chairman Pro Tem Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman left several times to visit Ramsey’s office, where the president was working with various advisers, he said.

The board announced just before 11 p.m. that Ramsey would be out immediately. University Provost Neville Pinto, who is on vacation, will serve as temporary leader until a new president is selected.

“In the end, it was just the decision on both sides, what everyone thought was best,” Bridgeman said of the final resolution. He said it was a sad moment in the university’s history despite the controversies that have colored Ramsey’s tenure. He pointed to the president’s accomplishments, improving graduation rates and the university’s footprint in the city.

“Dr. Ramsey is always going to be a gentleman,” he said about Ramsey’s reaction to the final decision. “He’s always going to talk about what’s best for the university. And that was the discussion. It wasn’t any more than that.”

The board’s actions will have no bearing on Ramsey’s status with the University Foundation, a separate board where Ramsey is paid more than $300,000 in addition to his salary as president. Bridgeman would not speculate on what that board will choose to do about his employment.

The trustees also voted to immediately begin its search for a new president.

The decision ends weeks of unrest and confusion about Ramsey’s status.

Shortly after Bevin dismantled the old board and appointed new members, Ramsey read his letter offering to resign as the board met in a private session at its first meeting earlier this month. Ramsey then left the meeting, walked directly to his office and didn’t return.

His method apparently left trustees confused. Bridgeman told reporters that Ramsey had not offered his resignation. A day later, Bridgeman said Ramsey’s letter had amounted to an offer to step down. Trustees met for a second time last week, reviewing budget and tuition issues but taking no action on Ramsey’s status.

They scheduled a meeting to discuss his resignation for Tuesday morning, abruptly canceled it then rescheduled it for Wednesday afternoon.

Now, even with Ramsey’s immediate departure, the school’s leadership remains uncertain.

Democratic state Attorney General Andy Beshear is challenging Bevin’s authority to disband the school’s former board and appoint a new one, saying the reorganization was illegal.

During a hearing last week, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said Bevin’s action replacing UofL’s board was “problematic” because it put the school’s independence in jeopardy. His ruling is pending. If Shepherd rules against Bevin and finds the current board invalid, it’s unclear whether the board’s decisions will stand, including Wednesday’s negotiations over Ramsey’s departure.