University of Louisville's Gorgui Dieng(10) blocks the shot of Notre Dame's Jerian Grant (22) during the second half of play in their NCAA basketball game a Yum! Center in Louisville

March 11 Bracket: Louisville reclaims No. 1 seed

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In November, the Louisville Cardinals were projected to be a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament began.  Now, less than a week until Selection Sunday, the Cardinals have reclaimed their spot on the top line.  Louisville sits as the fourth No. 1 seed, heading to the South Region.  Duke (East), Indiana (Midwest), and Gonzaga (West) are in front of the Cards.  The race isn’t over, though.  Kansas, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team could still claim one of the top spots.  It’s going to be an important week for both the top and bottom of the bracket.

Speaking of the bubble, Kentucky is the final at-large team on the board today. They are joined in the First Four by Saint Mary’s, La Salle, and Iowa State. The margin between these teams, and those around them, is minimal. If we see an upset or two this week, the last few spots could change several times between now and Sunday. Which conference tournaments are most likely to produce a surprise winner?  On the surface, it looks like the Atlantic 10, SEC, or the Pac-12.  While Memphis has dominated Conference USA, the Tigers haven’t wrapped up the automatic berth.  Any stumble would likely claim an at-large spot.

As for seeding, the middle of the bracket is an interesting adventure. One could almost throw names in a hat (for say, seeds 7-10) and line them up that way. Again, we could see some shifting on those lines, both due to resume adjustments and for geography. For all practical purposes, teams in the 8/9 games are essentially the same.  Enjoy the final ride to March Madness.

UPDATED: March 11, 2013 | 12:00 pm ET

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)

  • La Salle vs. Kentucky | South Region
  • Iowa State vs. Saint Mary’s | East Region
  • Norfolk State vs. LIBERTY | Midwest Region
  • Southern vs. LIU-Brooklyn | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis           
Philadelphia Dayton
1) Duke 1) Indiana
16) Northeastern 16) LIBERTY / Norfolk State
8) Memphis 8) Missouri
9) Illinois 9) Cincinnati
San Jose Austin
5) UNLV 5) Saint Louis
12) Saint Mary’s / Iowa State 12) BELMONT
4) Marquette 4) Oklahoma State
13) Valparaiso 13) Akron
Austin Lexington
6) Butler 6) UCLA
11) Oklahoma 11) Temple
3) Florida 3) Miami-FL
14) HARVARD 14) S.F. Austin
Auburn Hills Philadelphia
7) CREIGHTON 7) Colorado State
10) Villanova 10) Minnesota
2) Michigan State 2) Georgetown
15) Vermont 15) Iona
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Lexington Salt Lake
1) Louisville 1) Gonzaga
16) Southern / LIU-Brooklyn 16) Western Kentucky
8) Oregon 8) NC State
9) Wichita State 9) San Diego State
Kansas City San Jose
5) Wisconsin 5) Syracuse
12) La Salle / Kentucky 12) Louisiana Tech
4) Kansas State 4) Arizona
13) Bucknell 13) Davidson
Dayton Auburn Hills
6) Pittsburgh 6) Notre Dame
11) Tennessee 11) Boise State
3) Ohio State 3) Michigan
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) South Dakota State
Salt Lake Kansas City
7) VCU 7) North Carolina
10) California 10) Colorado
2) New Mexico 2) Kansas
15) Long Beach 15) Montana

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

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

First Five teams out (at large): Virginia, Baylor, Middle Tennessee, Alabama, Iowa

Next Five teams out (at large): Massachusetts, Arkansas, Xavier, Southern Miss, 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

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

SEC (4): Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky

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), Western Kentucky (Sunbelt), South Dakota State(Summit), Valparaiso (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), Louisiana Tech (WAC), Niagara (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Akron (MAC), FLORIDA GULF COAST (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), Long Beach (Big West), Northeastern (Colonial), Vermont (American East), Montana (Big Sky), Norfolk State (MEAC), LIBERTY (Big South), LIU-Brooklyn (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.