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Latest NCAA tournament projections all about 1 seeds, bubbles and more

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Put your fingers together very closely.  That’s the margin we now have in the race for No. 1 seeds.  At least among the five leading contenders – Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Texas, Kansas, and Duke.  San Diego State and BYU could be in play if one wins both the outright Mountain West title and the MTW conference tournament crown.  Despite losses by all top four seeds this week, the top line remains status-quo.  Kansas keeps a slight edge for the final No. 1 spot thanks to a few more Top 100 wins.  Winning the ACC (league and tourney) would likely vault the Blue Devils above the Jayhawks, but this is where we’re at for a few more days.

The bubble remains highly suspect, although we did lose a few teams this week.  More to come in an updated Bubble Banter (Tuesday).  Not sure you like any of the final few teams in or out?  Same here. We still have a lot to be decided.  Virginia Tech is once again right on the cutline, and the Hokies project to just miss (again) today.

As always, rebounds welcome.  Bring along some notes.  Follow more on Twitter at BracketguyDave.  Enjoy the hoops.  Next bracket update will be Friday as we begin two-a-weeks until Selection Sunday.

UPDATED: Monday, February 21 | Records reflect Division I games only – through February 20.

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 … Gonzaga vs. Richmond | Boston College vs. VCU | Texas Southern vs. McNeese State | Murray State vs. Hampton. 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.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Cleveland   Cleveland
1) OHIO STATE (25-2)   1) PITTSBURGH (24-3)
16) HAMPTON / MURRAY ST     16) NcNEESE ST / TX-SOUTHERN
8  UNLV (20-7)   8  Washington (18-8)
9) Old Dominion (22-6)   9) Tennessee (16-11)
     
Washington, DC   Tampa
5) Vanderbilt (20-6)   5) Syracuse (22-6)
12) CHARLESTON (21-7)   12) Gonzaga / Richmond
4) Connecticut (20-6)   4) North Carolina (20-6)
13) FAIRFIELD (22-5)   13) CLEVELAND STATE (21-5)
     
Tampa   Chicago
6) West Virginia (17-9)   6) St. John’s (17-9)
11) Colorado State (17-9)   11) Memphis (20-7)
3) FLORIDA (21-5)   3) Purdue (22-5)
14) COASTAL CAROLINA (21-3)   14) BUCKNELL (19-8)
     
Charlotte   Denver
7) Temple (21-5)   7) GEORGE MASON (23-5)
10) Kansas State (17-9)   10) Marquette (16-11)
2) DUKE (25-2)   2) BYU (24-2)
15) LONG ISLAND (22-5)   15) VERMONT (22-6)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Tulsa
1) TEXAS (23-4)   1) Kansas (24-2)
16) LONG BEACH (15-10)   16) MONTANA (17-8)
8  Florida State (19-7)   8  Cincinnati (21-6)
9) UTAH STATE (24-3)   9) Illinois (17-10)
     
Denver   Washington, DC
5) ARIZONA (23-4)   5) Kentucky (19-7)
12) MISSOURI STATE (21-7)   12) Boston College / VCU
4) Louisville (20-7)   4) Villanova (21-6)
13) UTEP (19-6)   13) OAKLAND (19-9)
     
Tucson   Charlotte
6) Missouri (20-6)   6) Texas AM (20-5)
11) ST. MARY’S (20-6)   11) Michigan State (14-11)
3) Wisconsin (20-6)   3) Georgetown (21-6)
14) PRINCETON (19-5)   14) BELMONT (25-4)
     
Chicago   Tucson
7) XAVIER (20-6)   7) UCLA (19-8)
10) Alabama (18-8)   10) Georgia (18-8)
2) Notre Dame (21-5)   2) SAN DIEGO STATE (25-1)
15) KENT STATE (16-9)   15) FLA ATLANTIC (17-9)

 

 

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Memphis, Boston College, Gonzaga, Richmond, VCU

First Five teams out (at large): Virginia Tech, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Clemson, Minnesota

Also Considered: Baylor, Butler, Penn State, Wichita State, Washington State

Bracket adjustments: None in this bracket.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

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

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

Big 12 (5): KANSAS, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri, Kansas State

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

ACC (4): DUKE, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College

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

Pac 10 (3): ARIZONA, UCLA, Washington

Atlantic 10 (3): XAVIER, Temple, Richmond

Colonial (3): GEORGE MASON, Old Dominion, VCU

West Coast (2): ST. MARY’S, Gonzaga

Conference USA (2): UTEP, Memphis

Missouri Valley (1): MISSOURI STATE

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)

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.