Argument starter: A 2012-13 NCAA tournament projection

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As Big Blue Nation continues to celebrate its eighth NCAA championship, it’s certainly possible that UK will be a No. 1 seed again next March – depending on how many current Wildcats return. Even with some expected departures, coach John Calipari is bringing another Top 5 recruiting class to Lexington. So let’s go ahead and write in UK as a No. 1 seed in our very early look at the 2013 bracket.

A lot will change over the next week or so as players decide whether to enter the NBA Draft. In the months ahead we’ll also see how the final recruiting pieces fit together.

As of today, Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas join Kentucky as projected No. 1 seeds. Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan, and Florida are next in line.

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This far in advance the bracket is guess work – based on returning players, some realistic expectations, and a few potential surprises. We also have several teams changing conference affiliation in 2012-13. Notable teams include Missouri and Texas AM moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. Oral Roberts moves to the Southland and Belmont to the Ohio Valley. We’ll take a look at these and other changes in greater depth at a later date.

Expect Butler to return to March Madness next spring. Maryland makes the early bracket, too, as does Pittsburgh. And John Groce has the pieces to give the Illini a chance. Even Bruce Weber should return – with Kansas State. All in all, a lot of fun. November isn’t too far away.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Tulsa vs. Saint Mary’s | West Region
  • Oklahoma State vs. Northern Iowa | East Region
  • Ms Valley State vs. Savannah State | Midwest Region
  • Charleston Southern vs. Mercer | South

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWESTIndianapolis   SOUTHDallas
Dayton   Dayton
1) Kentucky   1) Indiana
16) Savannah St / Ms Valley St   16) Charleston S’thern / Mercer
8) Minnesota   8) UCLA
9) Notre Dame   9) Florida State
     
Salt Lake City   San Jose
5) Creighton   5) Cincinnati
12) Drexel   12) Nevada
4) Texas   4) San Diego State
13) Ohio   13) Loyola-MD
     
Philadelphia   Kansas City
6) Butler   6) Tennessee
11) Massachusetts   11) VCU
3) North Carolina   3) NC State
14) Princeton   14) South Dakota State
     
Auburn Hills   Austin
7) Marquette   7) Wisconsin
10) Stanford   10) Villanova
2) Michigan   2) Baylor
15) Middle Tennessee St   15) UC-Santa Barbara
     
WEST – Los Angeles   EAST – TBA (not decided)
Kansas City   Lexington
1) Kansas   1) Louisville
16) Vermont   16) LIU-Brooklyn
8) Georgetown   8) Kansas State
9) Missouri   9) Alabama
     
San Jose   Salt Lake City
5) UNLV   5) Memphis
12) Purdue   12) Illinois
4) Arizona   4) Duke
13) Tulsa / St. Mary’s   13) Oklahoma St / No. Iowa
     
Austin   Auburn Hills
6) Gonzaga   6) Xavier
11) Colorado   11) New Mexico
3) Syracuse   3) Michigan State
14) Oral Roberts   14) Davidson
     
Lexington   Philadelphia
7) St. Louis   7) Pittsburgh
10) Murray State   10) Maryland
2) Ohio State   2) Florida
15) Montana   15) Lehigh

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas. Next in line are Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan, and Florida.

Last Five teams in (at large): Illinois, Saint Mary’s, Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, Tulsa

First Five teams out (at large): Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, LSU, Iowa

Also considered: St. John’s, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Temple, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Loyola-Marymount, Texas AM, La Salle, Arkansas, Valparaiso, Detroit, California, Wake Forest, Long Beach, Houston, Northwestern, George Mason, Iona, Fairfield, Miami-FL, Georgia Tech, BYU, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico State, Kent State, Akron, Milwaukee, Duquesne, South Carolina, Marshall, Southern Mississippi.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Villanova

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

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri

ACC (5): North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Florida State, Maryland

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

Pac 12 (4): Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Colorado

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

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

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Tulsa

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Northern Iowa

Colonial (2): Drexel, VCU

Conference champions … Butler (Horizon), Murray State (OVC), Nevada (WAC), Loyola-MD (MAAC), Ohio (MAC), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Southland), South Dakota State (Summit), Princeton (Ivy), Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt), Montana (Big Sky), Lehigh (Patriot), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), LIU-Brooklyn (NEC), Charleston Southern (Big South), Vermont (America East), Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC), Savannah State (MEAC)

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.