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Latest NCAA tourney projections kind to Kansas, not Ohio St.

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After a somewhat bumpy weekend, not a lot has changed from Saturday.  Kentucky (South), Syracuse (East), Michigan State (Midwest), and Kansas (West) remain No. 1 seeds.  Ohio State’s home loss to Wisconsin drops the Buckeyes to No. 8 on the s-curve.  That means the Buckeyes are one spot from falling to a No. 3 seed.  Baylor, Marquette, and Georgetown are all in play for OSU’s spot heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Duke is next in line for a one-seed, and does hold tie-breaker advantages over both MSU and KU thanks to head-to-head victories.  As we noted Saturday, however, the Spartans and Jayhawks both have outright leads in the Big Ten and Big 12.  Although Duke won the its initial matchup with North Carolina, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are tied for the ACC lead.

Overall, we have just two changes to today’s bracket – plus some minor seeding adjustments.  Colorado State and Arizona slide out.  St. Joseph’s and Northwestern move in and join the First Four groupings in Dayton.  In Arizona’s case, the Wildcats were simply passed on the s-curve. Barely beating UCLA at home wasn’t enough help. UA hold its final at-large position.  Colorado State lost at San Diego State.  Not a bad loss, but it drops the Rams to 2-9 on the road.  St. Joseph’s (Creighton) and Northwestern (Seton Hall) also have better out-of-conference wins than CSU.

The margins separating these teams – along with several others – are very thin.  Expect this give and take to continue until someone plays their way in, or more likely, out.  Among those considered for the final spots, Northwestern was the only team without a sub-100 RPI loss.  In fact, all but two of the Wildcats’ losses have come to Top 40 RPI teams.  That alone won’t carry NW into the NCAAs, but it’s enough to give them a slight edge today.  Compared side-by-side, Northwestern has six (6) Top 100 wins while Miami has three (3).  That and a higher strength of schedule gives the Wildcats a small edge on the Hurricanes.

You’ll notice that both First Four winners are slotted into 11-seed locations.  As one at-large First Four game will be played Tuesday and one Wednesday, the Selection Committee will try to locate one to a Thursday-Saturday site and one to a Friday-Sunday site.  That is replicated here.  The only way that could be accomplished within the current bracket was to send them to Louisville and Columbus (plus both are close for travel from Dayton).  Washington and Southern Mississippi fall to the 12-seed line by virtue of the procedural bump.

March is three days away.  Enjoy the hoops.

UPDATED: Monday, Feb. 27

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)

  • Dayton (18-10) vs. Texas (18-11) | West Region
  • St. Joseph’s (19-11) vs. Northwestern (17-11) | Midwest Region
  • MISS VALLEY ST (17-11) vs. SAVANNAH ST (17-10) | South Region
  • STONY BROOK (18-8) vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE (16-9) | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta                                      
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (29-1) 1) KENTUCKY (28-1)
16) UNC-ASHEVILLE / STONY BROOK 16) MS VALLEY ST / SAVANNAH ST
8) Purdue (19-10) 8) Virginia (21-7)
9) MEMPHIS (21-8) 9) Cincinnati (20-9)
Portland Albuquerque
5) Florida (22-7) 5) UNLV (22-6)
12) BYU (22-7) 12) Xavier (18-10)
4) TEMPLE (22-6) 4) Indiana (22-7)
13) ORAL ROBERTS (26-5) 13) DREXEL (25-5)
Albuquerque Nashville
6) Creighton (25-5) 6) Florida State (19-9)
11) California (23-7) 11) Mississippi State (19-10)
3) Baylor (23-5) 3) Georgetown (20-6)
14) NEVADA (21-5) 14) AKRON (19-9)
Greensboro, N.C. Pittsburgh
7) Gonzaga (23-5) 7) Kansas State (19-9)
10) West Virginia (17-12) 10) St. Louis (21-6)
2) North Carolina (25-4) 2) Ohio State (23-6)
15) VALPARAISO (18-10) 15) BELMONT (23-7)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Columbus Omaha
1) MICHIGAN STATE (23-5) 1) KANSAS (24-5)
16) LONG ISLAND (22-8) 16) UT-ARLINGTON (20-6)
8) Iowa State (21-8) 8) ST. MARY’S (23-5)
9) Alabama (19-9) 9) Connecticut (17-11)
Portland Nashville
5) Notre Dame (20-9) 5) Louisville (22-7)
12) WASHINGTON (20-8) 12) Southern Mississippi (21-6)
4) WICHITA STATE (25-4) 4) Wisconsin (20-8)
13) LONG BEACH (19-7) 13) IONA (24-6)
Louisville Columbus
6) MURRAY STATE (25-1) 6) Vanderbilt (19-9)
11) St. Joseph’s / Northwestern 11) Dayton / Texas
3) Marquette (24-5) 3) Michigan (20-8)
14) MID TENNESSEE ST (22-5) 14) DAVIDSON (21-7)
Omaha Greensboro
7) San Diego State (20-6) 7) New Mexico (21-6)
10) HARVARD (22-4) 10) Seton Hall (19-10)
2) Missouri (25-4) 2) DUKE (25-4)
15) WEBER STATE (21-4) 15) BUCKNELL (21-8)

 

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Xavier, Dayton, Texas, St. Joseph’s, Northwestern

First Five teams out (at large): Miami (Fla), Colorado State, VCU, South Florida, Arizona

Bracket adjustments: Several one-line adjustments were made to accommodate bracket principles and procedures.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (9): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Seton Hall

Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Northwestern

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

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

Atlantic 10 (5): Xavier, St. Louis, Temple, Dayton, St. Joseph’s

ACC (4): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State

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): Washingon, California

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Conference leaders/champions … Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt), 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), Savannah State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

Report: Dillon Brooks to return to Oregon

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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Dillon Brooks will be returning to Oregon for his junior season.

Brooks, a 6-foot-6 forward that averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 boards and 3.1 assists as a sophomore, went through the NBA Draft process without hiring an agent. He did not receive an invitation to the NBA Draft combine, however, and that is as good of a sign as any that he was not likely to get drafted.

According to a report from ESPN, he has heeded the advice he received and will be returning to Eugene.

Brooks is a versatile player whose role for the Ducks is similar to what Draymond Green plays for the Warriors, but he’s not the athlete that Green is. Returning to school, tightening up his shooting stroke and getting into better shape could help him play his way into a spot where he can get a guaranteed contract after next season.

The Ducks are still awaiting word on whether or not rising sophomore Tyler Dorsey will return to school as well. With both players back in the fold, Oregon is a potential top five team next season.

Malik Newman to return to school, considering transfer

Mississippi State guard Malik Newman (14) dribbles past a Northern Colorado player during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/15712769/mississippi-state-malik-newman-withdraw-draft-transfer
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Malik Newman will withdraw his name from consideration and return to school for his sophomore season.

Newman was a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2015, a high-scoring combo-guard that opted to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead of enroll at one of the blue bloods that was recruiting him. He averaged 11.3 points as a freshman, but it was a largely disappointing season as he spent the year off of the national radar playing inefficient basketball.

Put another way, the fourth-leading scorer on a 14-17 SEC team isn’t exactly a lock for the lottery.

But here’s the catch: he may not be returning to Mississippi State, as Newman is considering a transfer, according to a report from ESPN. That report quotes a source close to the situation saying “unhappy with his role and how he was utilized.”

It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Newman would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I program, and for a kid that thought he was destined to be a one-and-done star, locking himself into a three-year college career would be an odd move.

Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft.

Whitehead announced his intention to stay in the draft last night on his Twitter account.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

brimah
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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.