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Latest NCAA tourney projections a seeding mess in middle

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source: AP

With Valentine’s Day arriving on Tuesday, the Missouri Tigers will find a lot to love about our latest bracket projection.  Mizzou moves up to No. 3 on the s-curve – behind Kentucky and Syracuse – which positions the Tigers for a little home cooking in St. Louis via the Midwest Region.  If Missouri fans are so inclined, they can send a kind word to East Lansing.  Michigan State knocked off Ohio State in Columbus and bumped the Buckeyes out West.  Kansas is right behind OSU and the two teams are slotted 1-2 in the West Region.  If you have a different order, that’s fine.  It was a very close call.  After that, it’s Duke, Michigan State, and North Carolina on the two-line.

The middle of the bracket is a seeding nightmare.  It’s hard to find a lot of differences between a 6 to 8 seed in this bracket, or for that matter, an 8 to 11 seed.  You could slot them several ways.  Hopefully, a few of these things will become more clear over the next three weeks.  Other than Kentucky, it wasn’t a particularly good week for the SEC.  Florida lost to Tennessee (again), Mississippi State lost to Georgia, and Alabama suspended several key players.  Thus, the Tide take a little sharper hit this week, falling to an 11-seed in the East.  That might be a tad low, but let’s see how the team comes back together if players are reinstated.

We still have a very weak bubble.  That makes it easier for teams like Illinois, West Virginia, and others to work through losing streaks.  When you start comparing resumes, quality wins help separate pretenders from contenders.  Remember, a team’s record in it last 12 games is no longer an official criteria used by the Selection Committee.

I’ll be at the NCAA’s Mock Selection exercise later this week in Indianapolis.  It will be fun to see how the group works through some of the selection and seeding issues with this year’s landscape.  Enjoy a great week of hoops.

UPDATED: Monday, Feb. 13

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

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Miami-FL (14-8) vs. Minnesota (17-8) | West Region
  • Xavier (16-9) vs. Seton Hall (17-8) | South Region
  • MISS VALLEY ST (13-11) vs. STONY BROOK (15-8) | East Region
  • NC-ASHEVILLE (16-7) vs. UT-ARLINGTON (18-5) | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (25-1) 1) KENTUCKY (25-1)
16) STONY BROOK / MS VALLEY ST 16) NORFOLK STATE (17-7)
8) St. Louis (19-5) 8) Memphis (18-7)
9) Kansas State (16-7) 9) Connecticut (15-9)
Portland Nashville
5) San Diego State (18-4) 5) WICHITA STATE (21-4)
12) NC State (18-7) 12) Xavier / Seton Hall
4) Indiana (19-6) 4) Wisconsin (18-6)
13) MID TENNESSEE ST (22-4) 13) DAVIDSON (18-6)
Albuquerque Louisville
6) Creighton (21-5) 6) TEMPLE (19-5)
11) Alabama (16-8) 11) CALIFORNIA (20-6)
3) Baylor (20-4) 3) Marquette (21-5)
14) NEVADA (19-4) 14) IONA (20-6)
Columbus Greensboro
7) Virginia (19-5) 7) Mississippi State (19-6)
10) HARVARD (20-3) 10) Purdue (16-9)
2) Michigan State (19-5) 2) North Carolina (21-4)
15) BELMONT (18-7) 15) BUCKNELL (19-6)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Omaha Omaha
1) MISSOURI (23-2) 1) OHIO STATE (21-4)
16) LONG ISLAND (18-7) 16) UT-ARLINGTON / NC-ASHEVILLE
8) Notre Dame (17-8) 8) SO. MISSISSIPPI (19-4)
9) New Mexico (19-4) 9) Iowa State (18-7)
Portland Nashville
5) Gonzaga (20-4) 5) ST. MARY’S (21-3)
12) Washington (17-8) 12) Minnesota / Miami-FL
4) Michigan (18-7) 4) Louisville (20-5)
13) LONG BEACH ST (17-6) 13) ORAL ROBERTS (23-5)
Columbus Albuquerque
6) Florida (19-6) 6) Florida State (17-7)
11) Texas (16-9) 11) BYU (19-6)
3) Georgetown (18-5) 3) UNLV (20-4)
14) DREXEL (21-5) 14) AKRON (17-7)
Greensboro Omaha
7) MURRAY STATE (21-1) 7) Vanderbilt (17-8)
10) Illinois (16-9) 10) West Virginia (16-10)
2) DUKE (21-4) 2) Kansas (20-5)
15) VALPARAISO (16-9) 15) WEBER STATE (18-4)

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Syracuse, Missouri, and Ohio State. Next in line are Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina.

Last Five teams in (at large): Washington, Minnesota, Seton Hall, Miami-FL, Xavier

First Five teams out (at large): Northwestern, Arizona, Mississippi, Dayton, Cincinnati

Next Five teams out (at large): Colorado State, UCF, Oregon, Arkansas, Colorado

Bracket adjustments: There are several one-line adjustments to accommodate both conference conflicts, bracketing principles, and efforts to avoid regular-season rematches.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (8): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Seton Hall

ACC (6): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, NC State, Miami-FL

Big 12 (6): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas

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

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

Mountain West (3): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico

West Coast (3): Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, BYU

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi

Pac 12 (2): California, Washington

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Sun Belt (1): Middle Tennessee State

Conference leaders/champions … Valparaiso (Horizon), Akron (MAC), Drexel (CAA), Nevada (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Harvard (Ivy), NC-Asheville (Big South), Norfolk State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

Report: Virginia Tech forward Blackshear still recovering from offseason foot surgery

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Kerry Blackshear Jr. #24 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Kamari Murphy #21 of the Miami Hurricanes go for a rebound in the second half during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Virginia Tech sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear will miss the start of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, according to a report from Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6-foot-10 Blackshear played in all 35 games for the Hokies last season as he battled through the foot injury to average 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. According to Barber’s report, Blackshear had surgery on his right foot five days after the 2015-16 season ended, but he’s still wearing a walking boot to help recover. There has been no timetable given for Blackshear’s return.

Blackshear will be a key piece for a Virginia Tech team that is a bit thin up front this season. Freshman Khadim Sy can provide some minutes up front, but he’s inexperienced and center Nick Fullard has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Getting a healthy Blackshear will be a key storyline for a Virginia Tech team that many will have in the preseason top 25.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.

Penn State loses freshman on day practice starts

Patrick Chambers
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
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On the day that college basketball practice is to start, Penn State head coach Pat Chambers announced that his roster would be changing.

Joe Hampton, a 6-foot-8, 290 pound power forward from Maryland, will be leaving the program.

“Joe has made the decision to leave the program based on personal reasons,” Chambers said. “We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

Hampton was a three-star prospect that missed his senior season at Oak Hill Academy with torn ACL, but he reportedly enrolled at Penn State in May, before the rest of the Nittany Lion recruit class.