Kendall Williams

1 seeds still up for grabs in new NCAA tourney projections

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We should be in for an exciting week.  It’s not often that so many potential at-large spots and seeding questions remain this close to Selection Sunday.  Which means several teams – many from the SEC in particular – will be paying close attention to conference tournament results.  A surprise winner or two could jolt the at-large pool.

For now, Duke reclaims the overall top seed.  Ryan Kelly has returned and is playing at a high level.  That brings the Blue Devils’ full profile back into play, and it’s pretty good.  But the race isn’t over.  Gonzaga, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team are all contenders for a No. 1 seed.  Conference tournaments could play a decisive role.

The bubble remains what it is.  So despite some losses this week, not a lot has changed.  Thankfully, a week remains to help sort things out.  Given the turmoil, several teams could still make a late push.  We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.  Buckle up.

Quick note: As we’ve entered conference tournament play, teams in ALL-CAPS no longer appear in the bracket.  We’ll begin using the CAPS as a indication of a team’s automatic bid.  The first of which will be handed out on Saturday.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Virginia vs. Tennessee | East Region
  • Iowa State vs. La Salle | South Region
  • Norfolk State vs. Charleston-Southern | South Region
  • Southern vs. Northeastern | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis              
Philadelphia Dayton
1) Duke 1) INDIANA
16) Mercer 16) Southern / Northeastern
8) Illinois 8) Missouri
9) Memphis 9) Cincinnati
San Jose Salt Lake
5) Arizona 5) Saint Louis
12) Belmont 12) Middle Tennesse State
4) Marquette 4) UNLV
13) Bucknell 13) Louisiana Tech
Kansas City Austin
6) Pittsburgh 6) VCU
11) Tennessee / Virginia 11) Boise State
3) Kansas State 3) Miami-FL
14) S.F. Austin 14) Montana
Auburn Hills Lexington
7) Butler 7) Oregon
10) California 10) Wichita State
2) Michigan State 2) Louisville
15) Niagara 15) South Dakota State
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Kansas City Salt Lake
1) Kansas 1) Gonzaga
16) Norfolk St / Charleston-So 16) Long Beach State
8) Colorado State 8) San Diego State
9) Creighton 9) Colorado
San Jose Dayton
5) Wisconsin 5) Oklahoma State
12) Saint Mary’s 12) Villanova
4) Syracuse 4) Ohio State
13) Davidson 13) Akron
Lexington Auburn Hills
6) Notre Dame 6) UCLA
11) Iowa State / La Salle 11) Temple
3) Florida 3) Michigan
14) Stony Brook 14) Valparaiso
Austin Philadelphia
7) North Carolina 7) NC State
10) Minnesota 10) Oklahoma
2) New Mexico 2) Georgetown
15) Robert Morris 15) Princeton

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Gonzaga, Indiana, and Kansas. Next in line: Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Michigan State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Saint Mary’s, La Salle, Iowa State, Tennessee, Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts

Next Five teams out (at large): Arkansas, Maryland, Baylor, Xavier, Providence

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

Mountain West (5): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State, Boise State

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

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, Tennessee

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), PRINCETON (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)

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.