Miami, Florida grab No. 1 seeds, Kentucky in the tournament?

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This probably isn’t a surprise: Indiana and Duke are one-two on the s-curve and are the strongest No. 1 seed candidates as we move toward March.  Since a last-second loss at Illinois, the Hoosiers have reclaimed the outright Big Ten lead by winning at both Ohio State and Michigan State.  A victory at Minnesota tonight puts IU in the driver’s seat for the league’s regular season crown and top seed in the Big Ten tournament.  That scenario would also give the Hoosiers the inside track toward the top spot in the Midwest Region – which flows through Indianapolis.  Duke has steadily worked its way through the absence of Ryan Kelly.  The Blue Devils are No. 1 in the RPI and have played the nation’s second toughest schedule.

Miami-FL and Florida are the final No. 1 seeds.  It’s hard to know if either will hold those positions in two weeks.  A second Big Team is likely to grab a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.  And if Gonzaga closes out a perfect West Coast Conference season and wins its conference tournament, it might be hard for the Committee to deny the Bulldogs a top seed.  Regardless, there’s enough parity among the top three or four seed lines to make the Sweet 16 very entertaining.

Every Selection Committee member has his or her own personal views on which resume items are most important.  Just take a look at some of today’s bubble teams.  Arizona State, Mississippi, Baylor, and Kentucky all have obvious flaws.  If RPI and schedule strength – particularly out of conference – are sticking points, than the Sun Devils are probably out.  At the same time, ASU has two wins over Colorado to go along with victories over UCLA and California.  That’s four wins against three teams currently projected in the Field of 68 – which is more than any of the other three.  Safe to say, the next two weeks will be critical for all of the above.

UPDATED: February 26, 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)

  • Kentucky vs. Saint Mary’s | Midwest Region
  • Virginia vs. Arizona State | West Region
  • NORFOLK STATE vs. SOUTHERN | East Region
  • CHARLESTON SO vs. ROBERT MORRIS | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

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

NOTES on the BRACKET: Indiana is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Duke, Miami-FL, and Florida. Next in line are Gonzaga, Michigan State, Michigan, and Kansas.

Last Five teams in (at large): Iowa State, Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Kentucky, Arizona State

First Five teams out (at large): Baylor, Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Alabama

Next Five teams out (at large): Arkansas, St. John’s, Charlotte, Boise State, Indiana State

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

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

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

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

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

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Kentucky

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

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

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), CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN (Big South), ROBERT MORRIS (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.