Rasheed Sulaimon, Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook, Josh Hairston

Duke headlines first NCAA tournament projection of 2013

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Through the first two months of the college basketball season, no team has accomplished more than Duke.  Thus, the Blue Devils hold the top spot on the s-curve and the No. 1 overall seed in our first bracket projection of 2013.  For what it’s worth, Duke is No. 1 in the RPI, has played the nation’s third best schedule, is 10-0 vs. the RPI Top 50, and has wins over Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Temple, and Ohio State.  That’s about as good as it gets.  The other No. 1 seeds are Louisville, Michigan, and Kansas.

As expected, the lower half of the current bracket is quite fluid.  Even some national headliners have suspect resumes to this point: Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina come to mind.  Of those three, Kentucky seems most likely to push for a significantly higher seed come tournament time.  We also have teams whose non-conference schedules could prove costly in March:  Virginia (No. 329), Maryland (No. 323), Georgia Tech (No. 302), Charlotte (No. 300), Wyoming (No. 281), Iowa (No. 276), Pittsburgh (No. 255), and St. Mary’s (246) are just a few.  How these teams – and others – handle conference play will define their seasons because their non-conference numbers won’t help much.  (SOS numbers are from ESPN’s RPI rankings).

Quick note:  The current bracket is for games played through Sunday, January 6.  It does not include games played Monday (Jan. 7).  Notre Dame’s win at Cincinnati will be included in the next bracket and s-curve update.

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)

  • Arizona State vs. Wisconsin | South Region
  • Virginia vs. Oklahoma | West Region
  • NORFOLK STATE vs. SOUTHERN | Midwest Region
  • CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN vs. WAGNER | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis                    
Philadelphia Lexington
1) DUKE 1) LOUISVILLE
16) CHARLESTON STHN / WAGNER 16) NORFOLK ST / SOUTHERN
8) Wyoming 8) Temple
9) MEMPHIS 9) UCLA
Dayton Auburn Hills
5) Ohio State 5) NC State
12) BUCKNELL 12) MURRAY STATE
4) Cincinnati 4) Illinois
13) DETROIT 13) MID TENNESSEE ST
Austin Austin
6) Georgetown 6) New Mexico
11) Colorado State 11) Indiana State
3) CREIGHTON 3) MISSOURI
14) CANISIUS 14) UTAH STATE
Dayton Kansas City
7) Oklahoma State 7) VCU
10) Oregon 10) Marquette
2) Indiana 2) Minnesota
15) NORTHEASTERN 15) MERCER
WEST – Los Angeles SOUTH – Dallas
Kansas City Auburn Hills
1) KANSAS 1) MICHIGAN
16) WEBER STATE 16) STONY BROOK
8) Kentucky 8) Baylor
9) Miami-FL 9) Maryland
San Jose San Jose
5) Notre Dame 5) BUTLER
12) Saint Louis 12) Arizona State / Wisconsin
4) Michigan State 4) SAN DIEGO STATE
13) NORTH DAKOTA ST 13) DAVIDSON
Salt Lake City Lexington
6) UNLV 6) Kansas State
11) Virginia / Oklahoma 11) North Carolina
3) GONZAGA 3) Florida
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) OHIO
Salt Lake City Philadelphia
7) Wichita State 7) Colorado
10) Pittsburgh 10) Boise State
2) ARIZONA 2) Syracuse
15) HAWAII 15) HARVARD

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Louisville, Michigan, and Kansas.

Last Five teams in (at large): Saint Louis, Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Oklahoma

First Five teams out (at large): Iowa, Iowa State, Dayton, California, Tennessee

Next Five teams out (at large): Belmont, Texas, BYU, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss

Breakdown by Conference …

Big East (7): Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh

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

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

Mountain West (6): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming, Boise State, Colorado State

Atlantic 10 (4): Butler, VCU, Temple, Saint Louis

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

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

Missouri Valley (3): Creighton, Wichita State, Indiana State

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Kentucky

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … MURRAY STATE (Ohio Valley), BUCKNELL (Patriot), MIDDLE TENNESSE ST (Sunbelt), NORTH DAKOTA ST (Summit), DETROIT (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), UTAH STATE (WAC), CANISIUS (MAAC), STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (Southland), OHIO (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), HAWAII (Big West), NORTHEASTERN (Colonial), STONY BROOK (American East), WEBER STATE (Big Sky), NORFOLK STATE (MEAC), CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN (Big South), WAGNER (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.