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)

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.