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)

CBT Podcast: Reminiscing about a road trip and the NCAA Selection Committee meeting

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Mississippi Rebels and Xavier Musketeers players run by the logo at mid-court during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Here is the latest episode of the College Basketball Talk podcast, featuring my former colleague Troy Machir talking about a road trip we took five years ago and Andy Glockner going over what was discussed at the meeting of the analytic minds in Indianapolis with the NCAA Selection Committee this weekend.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

Arizona’s Miller elaborates on Trier’s suspension

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21: Allonzo Trier #35 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for a layup against TJ Leaf #22 of the UCLA Bruins during the first half of the game at Pauley Pavilion on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Arizona sophomore guard Allonzo Trier sat out the first 19 games of the season for reasons not made clear until last week.

Now that Trier has been cleared to play after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, Wildcats coach Sean Miller is able to elaborate on the process and the need to be so tight-lipped through it.

“It’s a process that had no history,” he said during his weekly news conference Monday. “I think the NCAA did the best they could. They were extremely fair. I think they really had the student-athlete welfare at the forefront of a lot of things. It might not have felt that way to the outside, but they were very communicative, very direct, vert cooperative, trying to hold to the standards that they need to hold these types of issues to.”

Trier was expected to be the key cog for No. 7 Arizona after bypassing a chance at the NBA to return for his sophomore season. Instead, he was replaced at the last minute for Pac-12 media day and spent the first three months of the season on the bench unable to play.

Trier issued a statement last Wednesday saying he tested positive for a banned PED he received to treat an injury from someone not affiliated with the university. Trier was conditionally cleared to play in November, contingent upon the PED leaving his system. He was cleared before Saturday’s game against UCLA, finishing with 12 points in the Wildcats’ 96-85 victory.

“There are just too many unknowns,” Miller said of not providing information on Trier’s suspension before last week. “The No. 1 here is to protect the student-athlete privacy of a situation that was very complicated and to not at all harm him in any way. There are no secrets, nobody is hiding anything. It’s just a matter of trying to do right by the young man. We would much rather have the criticism pointed toward us than to do something that is unnecessary and could potentially harm a young person.”

Arizona (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) has played well through Trier’s suspension and a string of injuries, winning 11 straight games before his return on Saturday. Their 12th consecutive win moved the Wildcats up seven spots in Monday’s AP Top 25.

No. 3 Gonzaga improves to 20-0 with win over Portland

SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 07:  Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against the Washington Huskies in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center on December 7, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  Gonzaga defeated Washington 98-71.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Zach Collins had 13 points and No. 3 Gonzaga remained the nation’s only undefeated Division I team with an 83-64 victory over Portland in a game Monday night that was rescheduled because of a winter storm earlier this month.

The Bulldogs have won 20 straight games, their longest streak since winning that many in the 2005-06 and 2003-04 seasons. Gonzaga is now 8-0 in West Coast Conference play.

Silas Melson and Jordan Mathews each added 12 points for the Zags, who led by as many as 33 points and had four players in double-digits.

Rashad Jackson and D’Marques Tyson had 15 points apiece for Portland, which won its first two games in conference but has lost six straight since then. The Pilots (9-11, 2-6 WCC) are playing their first season under former NBA player and coach Terry Porter.

The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 7, but a winter storm in Portland forced it to be postponed. Portland opened up extra seats and Gonzaga’s fans outnumbered the home team’s crowd.

The two teams had met just two days ago in Spokane, with Gonzaga leading from the start to win 73-52. But Portland, playing without top scorer Alec Wintering, out-rebounded the Zags 41-33 and held them to 45 percent shooting.

The Zags fared better on Monday, out-rebounding Portland 41-36 and shooting 42 percent.

Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who left the game against Portland because of a left hip injury with about five minutes left, was questionable against Portland but started.

But freshman forward Killian Tillie appeared to injure his right leg under Portland’s basket with 9:38 to go in the game, and teammates helped him from the floor. The 6-foot-10 Tillie, who is from France, is averaging 4.8 points this season.

Wintering, a senior, was hurt in last Thursday’s game against San Francisco and the Pilots announced this weekend that his college career was over because of a torn left ACL.

Wintering averaged 19.5 points and 5.6 assists a game this season. He was on Portland’s bench in street clothes, but during warmups before the game and at the break he was on the court, offering his teammates advice and encouragement.

Gonzaga jumped out to a 9-0 run but the Pilots closed within 9-8 following Philipp Hartwich’s dunk. Portland was competitive, answering Melson’s 3-pointer for Gonzaga with Jackson’s 3 that got the Pilots within 22-19.

But the Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run to go up 30-19 and went into halftime with on a 16-4 run for a 38-23 lead. Melson and Jonathan Williams led Gonzaga at the break with eight points apiece. Jackson’s 13 first-half points for Portland were a new career high for a game.

Gonzaga extended the lead to 50-26 on Przemek Karnowski’s layup with just under 16 minutes to go, the Bulldogs were on the way to their 20th straight win.

THE BIG PICTURE:

Gonzaga: The Zags have won eight straight against Portland. … The Bulldogs’ longest winning streak was 22 games, set in the

Portland: Portland Trail Blazers President Neil Olshey was at the game. … The game, originally scheduled to be played over winter break, was sold out. So despite school being back in session, the usual student section wasn’t as large for the televised game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS: Gonzaga rose a spot from No. 4 and only trails No. 1 Villanova (19-1) and No. 2 Kansas (18-1) in the AP rankings released earlier in the day. The Bulldogs were also ranked No. 3 in the Feb. 23, 2015 poll.

VIDEO: Andrew Jones nails deep three to give Texas win over Oklahoma

AUSTIN, TX - DECEMBER 27: James Banks #4 and Andrew Jones #1 of the Texas Longhorns react during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Kent State Golden Flashesat the Frank Erwin Center on December 27, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Texas freshman Andrew Jones nailed one of the most heroic game-winners of conference play with a dagger against Oklahoma on Monday night.

The Longhorns put together an 84-83 win over the Sooners as Jones took the final possession off of a missed free throw to dribble across the floor and fire an NBA-range bomb over a defender.

This win isn’t going to save a struggling Texas season, but it’s a nice win and a confidence-boosting shot for a McDonald’s All-American who has the potential to be a big-time player with some more seasoning. Jones finished with 16 points in the win as the Longhorns are now 8-12 and 2-6 in the Big 12.

(H/t: Mike Leslie)

VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. caps N.C. State win with thunder dunk

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 23:  Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives in for a dunk as time expires during their win against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 23, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 84-82.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Dennis Smith Jr. showed why he is a potential top three pick in this year’s draft and why he was the reason many thought that the Wolfpack could be an Elite 8 team coming into the season on Monday, popping off for 32 points and six assists as N.C. State won at No. 17 Duke, 84-82.

He capped off the performance with the perfect exclamation point, a dunk contest-worthy throwdown:

Let’s get another angle of that dunk, shall we?: