Notre Dame’s the new No. 1 in our latest NCAA tourney projections

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Less than a week until Selection Sunday and we have a lot to be decided in conference tournaments.  We also have at least one spot up for grabs at the top.  Today, Notre Dame grabs the final No. 1 seed and is slotted out West – with opening games in Chicago.  Ohio State is a lock for the top line. Pittsburgh and Kansas are looking very strong, too. 

Here are some teams who have the most at stake entering conference tournament play: Michigan State, Alabama, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Boston College, Marquette, Penn State, Colorado State, Washington State, and Memphis. I would expect we’ll see some changes at the bottom of the bracket throughout the week – especially if we get a few upsets.  Stay tuned.

UPDATED: Monday, March 7 | Records reflect Division I games only – through March 6.

NEW: Teams in CAPS represent the AUTOMATIC bid 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 … Alabama vs. Butler | Michigan State vs. Clemson | Texas Southern vs. McNeese State | UNC-ASHEVILLE vs. Bethune-Cookman. 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: Wednesday, March 9.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Cleveland   Cleveland
1) Ohio State (29-2)   1) PITTSBURGH (27-4)
16) Beth-Cookman / NC-ASHEVILLE   16) McNeese State / Texas-Southern
8  UCLA (22-9)   8  George Mason (26-6)
9) Old Dominion (25-6)   9) Illinois (19-12)
     
Tampa   Tampa
5) Texas AM (22-7)   5) Connecticut (21-9)
12) Alabama / Butler   12) BELMONT (30-4)  
4) Louisville (23-8)   4) Florida (24-6)
13) Harvard (21-5)   13) Charleston (24-9)
     
Washington, DC   Denver
6) Vanderbilt (21-9)   6) Temple (24-6)
11) Michigan (18-12)   11) Gonzaga (23-9)
3) Syracuse (25-6)   3) Wisconsin (23-7)
14) Milwaukee (19-12)   14) Kent State (20-10)
     
Charlotte   Tulsa
7) UNLV (23-7)   7) Arizona (25-6)
10) Richmond (24-7)   10) Marquette (18-13)
2) Duke (27-4)   2) Texas (25-6)
15) Long Island (26-5)   15) MOREHEAD STATE (23-9)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Chicago
1) Kansas (28-2)   1) Notre Dame (25-5)
16) Boston University (19-13)   16) North Texas (20-10)
8  Utah State (27-3)   8  Missouri (21-9)
9) Tennessee (18-13)   9) Florida State (21-9)
     
Washington, DC   Tucson
5) Xavier (24-6)   5) West Virginia (20-10)
12) Michigan State / Clemson   12) UAB (22-7)  
4) St. John’s (20-10)   4) Kentucky (22-8)
13) Iona (22-10)   13) Oakland (22-9)
     
Chicago   Charlotte
6) Cincinnati (24-7)   6) Georgetown (21-9)
11) Boston College (19-11)   11) St. Mary’s (22-7)
3) Purdue (25-6)   3) North Carolina (23-6)
14) INDIANA STATE (19-13)   14) Bucknell (24-8)
     
Tucson   Denver
7) Villanova (21-9)   7) Kansas State (21-9)
10) Georgia (20-10)   10) Washington (20-10)
2) San Diego State (27-2)   2) BYU (27-3)
15) Northern Colorado (17-10)   15) Long Beach State (18-10)

 

 

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Michigan, Michigan State, Butler, Clemson, Alabama

First Five teams out (at large): Virginia Tech, Colorado, VCU, Penn State, Missouri State

Next in Line: Colorado State, New Mexico, Washington State, Memphis, Baylor

Bracket adjustments: None in this update.

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

Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan

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

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

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Clemson

Pac 10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington

Mountain West (3): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV

Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond

Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion

West Coast (2): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga

Horizon (2): Milwaukee, Butler

Conference USA (1): UAB

Missouri Valley (1): INDIANA STATE

Conference leaders/champions … Utah State (WAC), MOREHEAD STATE (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), BELMONT (Atlantic Sun), North Texas (Sun Belt), Harvard (Ivy), UNC-ASHEVILLE (Big South), Bethune-cookman (MEAC), BUCKNELL (Patriot), Boston University (America East), McNeese State(Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC)

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.