Keith Appling

Michigan State grabs No. 1 seed in latest bracket projection

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Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans are at it again.  The Spartans have lost just once in 2013 (at Indiana), and they play the Hoosiers tonight in a heavy-weight tilt in East Lansing.  IU and MSU are tied at the top of a strong Big Ten conference.  All this considered, Michigan State joins IU, Miami-FL, and Florida as a No. 1 seed in today’s bracket.  Duke, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Louisville (among others) are chasing. Those four fall into spots five through eight on the current s-curve.  Kansas and Syracuse could also re-enter the No. 1 seed debate over the next few weeks.  Arizona has fallen off a bit, but it’s not impossible for the Wildcats to regain some traction if they win out.

Kentucky is among our first five out.  Bottom line: UK is 0-1 without Nerlens Noel, and that was a lopsided loss at Tennessee.  The Wildcats have time to re-establish their NCAA position, but they have to show the Selection Committee they can win without one of their most important players.  North Carolina is among the last five in today.  The Tar Heels still have just one Top 50 RPI win (UNLV).  Villanova, Arizona State, Temple, and Virginia join UNC as the final teams in the bracket. They are paired in the First Four.  Teams just missing today? St. John’s, Maryland, Charlotte and Indiana State – along with aforementioned Kentucky.

While things are starting to settle some, we still have a fair amount of fluidity in the middle and bottom of the bracket.  We also have a couple of procedural bumps today.  Illinois – which has played its way off the bubble – is a true eight seed, but moves up to the No. 7 spot in the Midwest because of conference conflicts.  UCLA is the team that falls a line, dropping from a true seven to an eight.  Those things happen on a fairly regular basis.  The Selection Committee tries to follow its s-curve (now referred to as Seed List) as closely as possible, but exceptions have to be made.

Geography also plays a factor.  Gonzaga is rewarded with the No. 2 seed in the West Region even though they are behind Duke and Michigan on the s-curve rankings.  Again, this can – and does – happen.  The region is re-balanced later.  Kansas, the top three-seed today, is moved West.  These are tweaks the Committee uses to create balance based on its Seed List.  Enjoy another great week of hoops.
UPDATED: February 19, 2013

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid based on current standings. 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)

  • Temple vs. Arizona State | East Region
  • Villanova vs. Virginia | South Region
  • NORFOLK STATE vs. SOUTHERN | Midwest Region
  • HIGH POINT vs. WAGNER | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC                MIDWESTIndianapolis
Philadelphia Dayton
1) MIAMI-FL 1) INDIANA
16) NORTHEASTERN 16) SOUTHERN / NORFOLK STATE
8) Minnesota 8) UCLA
9) Missouri 9) Creighton
Salt Lake Austin
5) Colorado State 5) Pittsburgh
12) Temple / Arizona State 12) BELMONT
4) Marquette 4) Oklahoma State
13) LOUISIANA TECH 13) DAVIDSON
Philadelphia Salt Lake
6) OREGON 6) NC State
11) MID TENNESSEE ST 11) California
3) SYRACUSE 3) NEW MEXICO
14) VALPARAISO 14) STONY BROOK
Auburn Hills Lexington
7) VCU 7) Illinois
10) Oklahoma 10) La Salle
2) Michigan 2) Louisville
15) HARVARD 15) S.F. AUSTIN
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Auburn Hills Lexington
1) Michigan State 1) FLORIDA
16) HIGH POINT / WAGNER 16) MERCER
8) UNLV 8) MEMPHIS
9) WICHITA STATE 9) Saint Louis
Kansas City Austin
5) Butler 5) Wisconsin
12) Villanova / Virginia 12) Iowa State
4) KANSAS STATE 4) Georgetown
13) AKRON 13) BUCKNELL
San Jose Kansas City
6) Ohio State 6) Notre Dame
11) Baylor 11) North Carolina
3) Arizona 3) Kansas
14) MONTANA 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Dayton San Jose
7) Cincinnati 7) San Diego State
10) Mississippi 10) Colorado
2) Duke 2) GONZAGA
15) NIAGARA 15) LONG BEACH

NOTES on the BRACKET: Indiana is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Miami-FL, Michigan State, and Florida. They are followed by Duke, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Louisville on the s-curve as two-seeds.

Last Five teams in (at large): North Carolina, Villanova, Arizona State, Temple, Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): St. John’s, Maryland, Kentucky, Charlotte, Indiana State

Next Five teams out (at large): St. Mary’s, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Air Force

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

Big 12 (6): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, VCU, Temple, La Salle, Saint Louis

ACC (5): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Miami-FL, Virginia

Pac 12 (6): Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, California, Arizona State

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Mississippi

Mountain West (4): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … BELMONT (Ohio Valley), BUCKNELL (Patriot), MIDDLE TENNESSE ST (Sunbelt), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE(Summit), VALPARAISO (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), LOUISIANA TECH (WAC), NIAGARA (MAAC), STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (Southland), AKRON (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), LONG BEACH (Big West), NORTHEASTERN (Colonial), STONY BROOK (American East), MONTANA (Big Sky), NORFOLK STATE (MEAC), HIGH POINT (Big South), WAGNER (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

Wisconsin ends No. 2 Maryland’s 27-game home win streak

Wisconsin forward Vitto Brown (30) shoots during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Maryland, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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Just over a month ago Wisconsin lost at Northwestern, dropping to 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten and had the look of a team that would have to fight simply to get into the NIT. Since then, Greg Gard’s Badgers have won seven straight games with the most recent triumph being a 70-57 victory at No. 2 Maryland. Not only did Wisconsin become the first Big Ten team to beat the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center since Maryland joined the Big Ten, but they also ended Maryland’s 27-game home win streak.

And it was Wisconsin’s offensive balance that stood out, as four starters scored in double figures led by forward Vitto Brown.

Brown, who accounted for 18 points and five rebounds in Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska Wednesday night, was even better against Maryland as he scored a career-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. While Bronson Koenig (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Nigel Hayes (14 and six rebounds) are the ones expected to shoulder much of the load, players such as Brown, Ethan Happ and Zak Showalter (11 points) will also be key as Wisconsin makes its push for an NCAA tournament bid.

In Wisconsin’s first five conference games Brown averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. Since then he’s averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, scoring in double figures in each of Wisconsin’s last three games.

Overall Wisconsin’s looked far more fluid offensively during this win streak, and over the last three games the Badgers have shot very well from the perimeter as they made nearly 51 percent of their attempts (12-for-26 against Maryland). Add in Wisconsin’s ability to take advantage of Maryland’s defensive rebounding issues, converting 13 offensive boards into 20 second-chance points, and it was easy to see why Wisconsin was able to grab control of the game in the first half during a 20-0 run that gave them the separation they needed.

Maryland’s issues throughout conference play remain the same, as they struggled to end defensive possessions while also turning the ball over far too often (seven times) during the aforementioned Wisconsin run. With Melo Trimble not playing at the level he’s capable of reaching (he may not be completely healthy), Maryland has some things to address during this stretch run.

But more than anything, Saturday was the product of a Wisconsin team that’s starting to click at the right time. And as crazy as it may seem, given how Wisconsin began Big Ten play, the Badgers only two games out of first place.

No. 5 Xavier finds shooting touch in 74-57 blowout at Butler

Xavier head coach Chris Mack talks with James Farr (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Indianapolis. Xavier won 74-57. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 5 Xavier learned its lesson.

To keep winning, it must continue do the dirty work.

Four days after stumbling at Creighton, the Musketeers got back to basics and used a balanced offense and a smothering defense to run away from Butler 74-57 on Saturday.

“We played much better today and after about the first four or five minutes, we defended,” coach Chris Mack said. “Our shots were, in my opinion, really good ones because we got in the lane, we made the extra pass and I thought that was the difference.”

Whatever the explanation, the Musketeers (22-3, 10-3 Big East) certainly looked worthy of the highest ranking in school history.

After making a season-low 30 percent from the field and just 1 of 21 3-point attempts in Tuesday’s loss, Xavier rebounded by shooting 56.9 percent and going 9 of 18 beyond the arc. J.P. Macura led the way with 13 points while Edmond Sumner and Remy Abell each had 12.

But the biggest improvements showed up in other areas – defense, rebounding and effort. They allowed 36 points over the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“Everybody was boxing out and rebounding, and on the offensive end we have so much talent we could get whatever we wanted,” said Abell, who started his college career playing for the Indiana Hoosiers.

The difference was obvious.

Butler (17-8, 6-7) was held almost 25 points below its season average.

Kelan Martin, with 15 points, and Andrew Chrabascz, with 12, were the only players to score more than 10. And the top three scorers – Martin, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones – were a combined 11 of 39 from the field as the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak came to an end.

Xavier crushed the Bulldogs so thoroughly that chants of “Let’s Go X” resounded throughout sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse over the final minutes.

“We didn’t have near the effort, the juice, the purpose defensively and we didn’t move the ball offensively and that was actually the case from the opening minute,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “We mentioned that in the four-minute media and said that had to improve and when it doesn’t these things happen.”

Butler used a 9-0 first-half run to take a 21-13 lead midway through the first half.

Xavier answered with a 27-6 run that included four 3s and a three-point play in a 27-6 run to make it 40-27. The Bulldogs got as close as 47-39 early in the second half, which later became a seven-point deficit after a replay review gave Dunham a 3.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t get closer.

“You can go 1 for 21 one game, and then the next game it’s – I’m sure it was better,” Macura said. “That’s basketball.”

POINTERS

Xavier’s dominance showed up in two key stats on the box score. The Musketeers outscored Butler 36-14 in points off the bench and 36-18 in the paint despite having only two offensive rebounds. Xavier has won six of its last seven.

ON THE ROAD

Even the road has been kind to the Musketeers this season. They have won seven times in true road games, their highest season total since 2010-11. They have also won five Big East games on the road – more than they won in either of their first two seasons in the league and they have won 10 of the last 13 at Hinkle.

MOVING UP

Dunham continues his ascent on the Bulldogs’ career scoring list. After moving from 14th to sixth on the list in the first 23 games this season, Dunham moved passed Lynn Mitchem (1,798) for fifth and within one point of A.J. Graves (1,807) for fourth. Matt Howard is third (1,939) and the only 2,000-point scorers in school history are Chad Tucker (2,321) and Darrin Fitzgerald (2,019).

TIP-INS

Xavier: Former Indiana prep star Trevon Bluiett had 11 points and four rebounds and James Farr had 12 rebounds. … Each of Xavier’s 22 wins has come by at least seven points. … The Musketeers were the highest-ranked team to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse since No. 3 DePaul visited Feb. 23, 1981.

Butler: Shot 33.3 percent overall and was 8 of 22 on 3s. …. The Bulldogs only have three wins at home against Top 10 teams – No. 8 Gonzaga in January 2013, No. 3 Michigan in 1965-66 and No. 5 Tennessee in 1958-59. … Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended the game.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts No. 20 Providence on Wednesday.

Butler hosts Creighton on Tuesday.