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North Carolina, Kentucky top preseason bracket projection

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source: AP

March is five months away.  Thousands of college basketball games will be played before Selection Sunday.  Yet two things seem pretty clear in early November.  North Carolina and Kentucky are loaded, and the Tar Heels and Wildcats are heavy favorites to reach the Final Four in New Orleans.  So it’s no surprise that UNC and UK are the top two teams in our preseason bracket projection.

From there, it gets interesting.  Debates rage across the internet and college hoops magazines about the next group of teams.  Defending champion Connecticut returns a host of talent, as does 2011 top seed Ohio State.  Other teams in the early running for No. 1 seeds: Syracuse and DukeFlorida and Vanderbilt both have the talent to challenge Kentucky in the SEC.  Louisville and Pittsburgh are potential threats to the Orange and Huskies in the Big East.  Memphis has the horses to dominate an improved Conference USA.

There are also plenty of good mid-major programs to watch.  Belmont could be an at-large candidate if it navigates an opportunistic non-conference schedule.  Detroit will test Butler in the Horizon League.  As many as three or four teams could push for bids from the Colonial and Atlantic 10.  Both the Missouri Valley and Mid-American have multiple bid options.  Our preseason projection has two teams each from the Colonial, MVC, and Horizon.  Hopefully, we’ll see that – or more – play out next spring.

Further down the bracket, it’s educated guesswork …

Last 5 teams IN: Virginia, Minnesota, Wichita State, Drexel, St. Louis.  First 5 teams OUT:  Notre Dame, BYU, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s.  The next group includes Kent State, VCU, Indiana, Old Dominion, and Central Florida.  None of these would be huge surprises.  That’s the beauty of college hoops.  We play the games and what happens on the court matters more than public opinion.

Here’s to a great season.  Let’s enjoy the ride to Selection Sunday.

2012 PRESEASON BRACKET PROJECTION

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc).

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

Minnesota vs. Drexel | Wichita State vs. St. Louis | STONY BROOK vs. LONG ISLAND | TX-SAN ANTONIO vs. ALABAMA ST.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTBoston SOUTH – Atlanta
Pittsburgh Greensboro
1) CONNECTICUT 1) NORTH CAROLINA
16) HAMPTON 16) STONY BROOK / LONG ISLAND
8) Texas 8) Mississippi State
9) Purdue 9) Temple
Portland Omaha
5) UCLA 5) Cincinnati
12) Minnesota / Drexel 12) Oklahoma State
4) XAVIER 4) Wisconsin
13) IONA 13) Wichita State / St. Louis
Omaha Nashville
6) Texas A-M 6) Florida State
11) BUTLER 11) Detroit
3) Vanderbilt 3) Louisville
14) WEBER STATE 14) DAVIDSON
Greensboro Louisville
7) Michigan 7) Washington
10) West Virginia 10) Illinois
2) Duke 2) Florida
15) BUCKNELL 15) FLORIDA ATLANTIC
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Louisville Pittsburgh
1) KENTUCKY 1) OHIO STATE
16) TX-SAN ANTONIO / ALABAMA ST 16) UNC-ASHEVILLE
8) Miami-FL 8) NEW MEXICO
9) Villanova 9) CREIGHTON
Portland Albuquerque
5) Michigan State 5) Marquette
12) Oregon 12) Virginia
4) Kansas 4) ARIZONA
13) UTAH STATE 13) AKRON
Columbus Albuquerque
6) Alabama 6) California
11) BELMONT 11) Marshall
3) Pittsburgh 3) BAYLOR
14) HARVARD 14) LONG BEACH STATE
Nashville Columbus
7) Missouri 7) GONZAGA
10) UNLV 10) GEORGE MASON
2) MEMPHIS 2) Syracuse
15) ORAL ROBERTS 15) TENNESSEE STATE

 

NOTES on the BRACKET: North Carolina is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Kentucky, Connecticut and Ohio State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Virginia, Minnesota, Wichita State, Drexel, St. Louis

First Five teams out (at large): Notre Dame, BYU, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s

Next Five out (at large): VCU, Kent State, Indiana, Old Dominion, Central Florida

Bracket adjustments: None in this update.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Marquette, Villanova, West Virginia

Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota

Big 12 (6): Baylor, Kansas, Texas A-M, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma State

ACC (5): North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Miami-FL, Virginia

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi State,

Pac 12 (5): Arizona, UCLA, California, Washington, Oregon

Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, St. Louis

Mountain West (2): New Mexico, UNLV

Colonial (2): George Mason, Drexel

Horizon (2): Butler, Detroit

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Marshall

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference leaders/champions … Utah State (WAC), Tennessee State (OVC), Iona(MAAC), Akron (MAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt), Harvard (Ivy), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Hampton (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-San Antonio (Southland), Alabama State (SWAC)

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.41.16 PM
Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.