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Big East rules our updated NCAA tournament projections

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This Valentine’s Day some teams are feeling the love more than others.  If you’re Colorado State, Baylor, Richmond, Washington State, and Wichita State you are the final invitees to this week’s Dance.  Congratulations.  For now.  Our bubble remains as big as ever.  We’re also seeing a late push by Butler and even Gonzaga to get back in the at-large picture.  And then there’s Colorado, which now owns a sweep of K-State thanks to a heart-swelling close-up replay that saved the Buffaloes from a last-second loss in Boulder.  On the flip side, few cities have a bigger heartache this year than Manhattan, Kansas.

More news and updates at Bracketville.  As always, rebounds are welcome.  Hope you’re ready for an exciting finish.  No reason to think these next couple of weeks won’t be wild.  Just image Championship Week if we get a couple of upsets.

UPDATED: Monday, February 14 | Records reflect Division I games only – through February 13.

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 … Baylor vs. Richmond | Wichita State vs. Washington State | Texas Southern vs. McNeese State | Murray State 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 21.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Cleveland   Cleveland
1) OHIO STATE (24-1)   1) PITTSBURGH (23-2)
16) LONG BEACH / MURRAY ST     16) HAMPTON (18-5)
8  Washington (17-7)   8  GEORGE MASON (21-5)
9) Virginia Tech (16-7)   9) Illinois (16-9)
     
Tucson   Washington, DC
5) Missouri (18-6)   5) Syracuse (20-6)
12) Alabama (16-8)   12) Baylor / Richmond
4) Louisville (19-6)   4) North Carolina (18-6)
13) CLEVELAND STATE (20-5)   13) OAKLAND (17-9)
     
Tampa   Denver
6) West Virginia (16-8)   6) Texas AM (18-5)
11) MISSOURI STATE (20-6)   11) MEMPHIS (19-6)
3) FLORIDA (20-5)   3) Wisconsin (19-5)
14) COASTAL CAROLINA (20-2)   14) BELMONT (23-4)
     
Charlotte   Denver
7) Temple (19-5)   7) St. John’s (15-9)
10) Minnesota (17-8)   10) Georgia (17-7)
2) DUKE (23-2)   2) BYU (23-2)
15) VERMONT (21-5)   15) FLORIDA ATLANTIC (16-9)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Tulsa
1) KANSAS (24-1)   1) Texas (22-3)
16) TX SOUTHERN / McNEESE ST   16) MONTANA (16-7)
8  Florida State (18-7)   8  ST. MARY’S (20-4)
9) UNLV (18-7)   9) Cincinnati (19-6)
     
Washington, DC   Tampa
5) Kentucky (17-7)   5) Vanderbilt (18-6)
12) Wichita St / Washington St   12) Colorado State (16-7)
4) Villanova (19-6)   4) Connecticut (19-5)
13) CHARLESTON (19-7)   13) FAIRFIELD (19-5)
     
Chicago   Charlotte
6) XAVIER (18-6)   6) ARIZONA (21-4)
11) Marquette (15-10)   11) Boston College (16-9)
3) Purdue (20-5)   3) Georgetown (20-5)
14) KENT STATE (16-7)   14) PRINCETON (18-4)
     
Chicago   Tucson
7) UCLA (18-7)   7) Tennessee (15-10)
10) Old Dominion (20-6)   10) UTAH STATE (23-3)
2) Notre Dame (21-4)   2) SAN DIEGO STATE (23-1)
15) BUCKNELL (18-8)   15) LONG ISLAND (20-5)

 

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Colorado State, Baylor, Richmond, Washington State, Wichita State

First Five teams out (at large): Kansas State, VCU, New Mexico, Michigan State, Duquesne

Also Considered: Oklahoma State, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Gonzaga, Clemson, Butler, Colorado

Bracket adjustments: Vanderbilt moves up a line (5) and West Virginia falls one line (6) due to Big East conficts/restrictions.

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

SEC (6): FLORIDA, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama

Big 12 (5): KANSAS, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri, Baylor

Big Ten (5): OHIO STATE, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota

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

Mountain West (4): SAN DIEGO STATE, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State

Pac 10 (4): ARIZONA, UCLA, Washington, Washington State

Atlantic 10 (3): XAVIER, Temple, Richmond

Colonial (2): GEORGE MASON, Old Dominion

Missouri Valley (2): MISSOURI STATE, Wichita State

West Coast (1): ST. MARY’S

Conference USA (1): MEMPHIS

Horizon (1): CLEVELAND STATE

Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Murray State (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), Vermont (America East), McNeese State(Southland), Texas Southern (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.