Louisville making a push for the top overall seed in our latest bracket

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Healthy and hungry, the Louisville Cardinals are pushing toward the top position on the s-curve.  Duke retains that position for another week.  The Blue Devils’ overall body of work remains impressive, and Ryan Kelly’s foot injury is a bigger concern than a close loss to NC State in Raleigh.  If Kelly doesn’t return healthy, the NCAA Selection Committee will have to evaluate the Blue Devils without him.  We don’t yet know how that resume might compare, or how quickly Kelly might return.

All four No. 1 seeds remain the same as last week: Duke (East), Louisville (Midwest), Michigan (South), and Kansas (West).  The bracket and s-curve are for games played through Sunday (Jan. 13).  Teams chasing the top line as two-seeds include Indiana, Arizona, Minnesota, and Syracuse.

This week’s bubble includes Kentucky.  One could easily make the case that UK’s resume isn’t tournament-worthy.  It’s hard to argue for a team that’s 1-5 vs. RPI Top 150 opponents, and whose best win is fellow bubble-dweller Maryland.  But since it’s mid-January and UK is very talented, although young, the Wildcats remain as one of the last team’s in the bracket.  They open as a First Four participant against Indiana State.  The Sycamores’ wins over Miami-FL and Ole Miss – two teams in the current field – are just enough to keep ISU on the right side of the ledger.  Joining UK and ISU as First Four participants – Texas AM and Arizona State.

We still have a long journey toward Selection Sunday.  The next two weeks will give us a clearer picture of the overall landscape.  With unbalanced schedules, it’s hard to evaluate conference records at this point.  Later, it’s important to compare schedules within the conference.  It’s not just the number of conference wins, but who those wins are against that matters.  Similar records aren’t necessarily the same anymore.

Enjoy another great week of hoops.

UPDATED: January 14, 2013 | Through games played Sunday, January 13

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

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Kentucky vs. Indiana State | East Region
  • Texas AM vs. Arizona State | West Region
  • NORFOLK STATE vs. WAGNER | East Region
  • CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN vs. LONG BEACH | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

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

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Colorado State, Arizona State, Texas AM, Kentucky, Indiana State

First Five teams out (at large): Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland, BYU, Arkansas

Next Five teams out (at large): Florida State, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Rutgers

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

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

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

Pac 12 (5): Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State

SEC (5): Missouri, Florida, Kentucky, Texas AM, Mississippi

ACC (4): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Miami-FL

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

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

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference USA (1): Memphis

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

Carsen Edwards scores 40 points, No. 9 Purdue beats Illinois 93-86

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Carsen Edwards scored career-high 40 points and Dakota Mathias added 18 to help No. 9 Purdue outlast Illinois in a 93-86 victory on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers were without their second-leading scorer Vincent Edwards but had no problem scoring.

Purdue shot 58.3 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Edwards and Mathias each had four from behind the arc.

There were eight lead changes in the first half, highlighted by two big runs. With just under 10 minutes left Edwards stole the ball and went down for a huge dunk to spark a 17-6 run for the Boilermakers. The Illini responded with a 10-3 run to close out the half trailing 43-38.

Illinois stayed within striking distance the rest of the game, but ultimately Purdue’s size and Edwards scoring were too much. The sophomore scored 25 of his points in the second half, including a monstrous dunk on Trent Frazier with just under seven minutes to play.

The Boilermakers also outrebounded the Illini 33-20.

Leron Black led Illinois with 28 points, notching his fourth-consecutive 20-point game.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois continues to struggle in close games. The Illini have now lost 10 games this season by single digits.

After losing three straight games, Purdue has reestablished itself in the Big Ten with two close victories over Penn State and Illinois. The Boilermakers are one win away from tying the second most victories in school history.

Clark scores 17 as No. 11 Cincy rebounds, beats UConn 77-52

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — The Bearcats had three days to stew, and it showed when they took the court.

Gary Clark scored 10 of his 17 points during Cincinnati’s decisive opening spurt, and the 11th-ranked Bearcats shook off consecutive losses by beating short-handed Connecticut 77-52 on Thursday night for their fifth straight win over the Huskies.

The Bearcats (24-4, 13-2 American Athletic) recovered from a loss at Houston that ended their 16-game winning streak and a 76-72 loss to Wichita State that snapped their 39-game winning streak at home. They play back-to-back games against conference also-rans before finishing at Wichita State on March 4, a rematch that could decide the league title.

“Coming off two losses, you’ve got to come out with hunger,” Clark said. “Our season’s on the line. We’ve just got to try to get momentum going into the tournament and all of that.”

Clark had 10 points as Cincinnati surged ahead 34-19. The Bearcats got a lot of open shots against UConn’s zone defense and made 12 of their first 18 attempts. They led by double digits the rest of the way, a pleasing outcome after those two losses.

“Coach has been challenging us as a team and as individuals,” said Cane Broome, who had 13 points. “We can get better in certain areas. It’s not about this game; it’s for the rest of the season.”

The Huskies (13-15, 6-9) struggle on offense and were missing top scorer Jalen Adams, who was sick. Adams averages 17.8 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Christian Vital scored 15 points and Terry Larrier had 14 for the Huskies, who shot 29.5 percent from the field against the nation’s second-stingiest defense. Cincinnati dominated inside, getting 33 points in the paint while allowing only 16.

“The game plan was being unselfish and shortening the game, and I thought we took some bad shots that led to run-outs for them,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I don’t care if it’s anyone playing — if it’s the walk-ons playing — you have to follow the game plan.”

Despite the score, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense. The Bearcats gave up a lot of open shots that the short-handed Huskies missed.

“Those same shots got us beat the last two games,” Cronin said. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near where I need to get our team defensively, and that’s just the truth.”

BIG PICTURE

Connecticut: The Huskies have lost eight of 11 as the season winds down, matching their conference loss total from a year ago. They went 16-17 overall and 9-9 in the AAC last season.

Cincinnati: After the loss to Wichita State, Cronin bemoaned his team’s defensive breakdowns and rebounding. Cincinnati’s defense and rebounding were still an issue, though not as glaring. UConn got eight offensive rebounds in the first half while outrebounding the Bearcats 19-18.

T TIME

Cincinnati’s Nysier Brooks and UConn’s Kwintin Williams got technical fouls in the first half. Williams committed a foul as Brooks went up for a dunk, and they exchanged words. It was Williams’ third foul, landing him on the bench. Cronin also got one for complaining about calls with 4:28 left and Cincinnati up by 25 points.

NO 3-PEAT

UConn made a season-high 13 3-pointers and shot 58 percent overall during an 84-80 win at East Carolina on Sunday. The Huskies lost their touch against the Bearcats, going 6 of 22 from beyond the arc. Larrier missed all five of his 3-point tries.

ONE-SIDED

Cincinnati’s five straight wins against the Huskies are their most in the series. They’ve also won seven of eight.

NO HELP

UConn got only five points off its bench. Cincinnati had 40 from its non-starters.

“When people ask what’s going to get us farther in March, it’s our bench,” Clark said.

CBT Podcast: Michael Porter Jr is back, Duke and Kentucky might be back, Allonzo Trier’s gone

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Fun episode today. Rob Dauster was joined by one of the up-and-coming stars at ESPN, Dalen Cuff, to talk through the changes that Duke and Kentucky have made in recent weeks and whether or not that changes our perception of those teams moving forward. They also discussed Trae Young’s regression as well as the root of their soccer fandom, and all of that happened roughly 90 minutes before news broke that Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. was cleared by doctors to play while Arizona’s Allonzo Trier was once against ineligible for a positive PED test, so Travis Hines of NBC Sports jumped on the podcast to talk through all of that. The rundown:

OPEN: Should Michael Porter Jr. play this season?

10:05: Did Allonzo Trier get screwed by the NCAA?

16:55: Why did Dalen Cuff sully his name by becoming an Arsenal fan?

26:20: Why has Duke been better without Marvin Bagley III?

34:05: Is Jarred Vanderbilt the key to unlock Kentucky’s potential?

39:25: Have you changed your outlook on Duke or Kentucky in the long-term?

43:45: Texas Tech losing Keenan Evans was a bummer.

48:00: So let’s talk about this Trae Young slump.

Drexel sets Division I record with 34-point comeback

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A Drexel basket brought the score to an innocuous 5-3 in the first two minutes of its game against Delaware. The next 38 minutes were a lot more interesting.

The Blue Hens went on a 48-16 run to take a 34-point first-half lead on the Blue Hens, only to cough it up as Dragons outscored them 66-30 the rest of the way to complete the largest comeback in Division I history in an 85-83 victory.

The 34-point comeback tops the previous record of 32 by Duke on Dec. 30, 1950. That’s more than 67 years ago, for those keep score at home.

Delaware had a win probability of at least 99 percent for about 11 minutes in the middle of the game, but still lost.

Drexel shot 56.8 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range after halftime and got 29 points from Tramaine Isabell.

After shooting 61 percent from the floor in the first half, Delaware connected at just a 37.9 percent clip after the break.

The great thing about college basketball is you can get a historic performance out of Drexel and Delaware on a random Thursday night. And it’s not even March.

Allonzo Trier ruled ineligible by NCAA; Arizona appealing

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Arizona junior guard Allonzo Trier has been declared ineligible by the NCAA due to a second positive test for a banned substance, it was announced Thursday. The school is appealing the decision, claiming the positive test was leftover from of a substance that was found in Trier’s system in 2016.

Trier was tested in late January and the test “revealed the reappearance of a trace amount of a banned substance,” Arizona said in a statement. “The amount detected was miniscule by scientific standards and appears to be a remnant of a substance, which the NCAA agreed, Allonzo had unknowingly taken in 2016.

“The University is appealing the decision and is hopefully that Allonzo will regain his eligibility soon.”

This is a potential massive blow for a Wildcats team that began the season as one of the top national championship contenders, but has spent much of this season dealing with disappointment and distraction, from their part in the FBI corruption investigation to inconsistency on the floor and now this regarding one of its top players.

Trier is averaging 19.6 points and shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from the 3-point range.

The Wildcats play at Oregon State tonight and at Oregon Saturday before finishing the regular season at home against Stanford and Cal.

Attention will now turn to the NCAA appeals process – how quickly can it move and what determination will it make? Trier’s status will impact one of the most talented teams in the country, which by extension means it will impact the national championship race next month.

For a team that’s been in the center of controversy all season, and somehow has added another layer to a wild season.