Christian Watford, Joseph Bertrand

Final Bracket: One hour to go…

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Depending on your viewpoint, it’s a 50-50 call on whether Indiana or Louisville will be the No. 1 overall seed and thus the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region.  Early this morning, we had Indiana in that spot.  After a few more hours to think about it, the Hoosiers stay put.  An outright regular-season title in the Big Ten and the strength of road wins at Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan could be enough to keep IU close to home.  Ironically, back in November, we had Indiana and Louisville as the top two seeds on our pre-season bracket.  And here we are, back where we started.  If the Selection Committee tabs the Cardinals as the overall No. 1 seed, no argument here.  Both teams are very deserving.

We may never know if Ole Miss had a spot in the Field of 68 before winning the SEC tournament title today.  The Rebels took care of business, beat Florida, and secured a spot.  There are bound to be a few close calls, and we could see a surprise team in the bracket.  We’ll know soon.  It’s been a great season, and it’s going to be a great tournament.

UPDATED: March 17, 2013 | 4:30 p.m. 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)

  • Tennessee vs. Saint Mary’s | East Region
  • Boise State vs. La Salle | South Region
  • JAMES MADISON vs. NO CAROLINA AT | East Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. LIBERTY | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis            
Lexington Dayton
1) LOUISVILLE 1) Indiana
16) JAMES MADISON / NC A&T 16) LIBERTY / SOUTHERN
8) Illinois 8) NC State
9) Wichita State 9) San Diego State
San Jose Kansas City
5) UNLV 5) Marquette
12) Saint Mary’s / Tennessee 12) BELMONT
4) SAINT LOUIS 4) Kansas State
13) DAVIDSON 13) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Dayton Austin
6) Notre Dame 6) VCU
11) MISSISSIPPI 11) California
3) Ohio State 3) Florida
14) NORTHWESTERN STATE 14) HARVARD
Lexington Philadelphia
7) UCLA 7) CREIGHTON
10) Temple 10) Minnesota
2) MIAMI-FL 2) Georgetown
15) ALBANY 15) IONA
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Philadelphia Kansas City
1) Duke 1) KANSAS
16) LIU-BROOKLYN 16) WESTERN KENTUCKY
8) Missouri 8) Colorado State
9) MEMPHIS 9) Cincinnati
Austin San Jose
5) Oklahoma State 5) Arizona
12) Boise State / La Salle 12) BUCKNELL
4) Syracuse 4) Wisconsin
13) AKRON 13) NEW MEXICO STATE
Auburn Hills Auburn Hills
6) Butler 6) Pittsburgh
11) Oklahoma 11) Iowa State
3) Michigan State 3) Michigan
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) VALPARAISO
Salt Lake Salt Lake
7) OREGON 7) North Carolina
10) Villanova 10) Colorado
2) NEW MEXICO 2) GONZAGA
15) PACIFIC 15) MONTANA

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

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

First Five teams out (at large): Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts

Next five teams out (at large): Iowa, Alabama, Southern Miss, Arizona State, Stephen F. Austin

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, Mississippi

Missouri Valley (2): CREIGHTON, Wichita State

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … BELMONT (Ohio Valley), WESTERN KENTUCKY (Sun Belt), BUCKNELL (Patriot), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit), VALPARAISO (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC), IONA (MAAC), NORTHWESTERN STATE (Southland), AKRON (MAC), FLORIDA GULF COAST (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), PACIFIC (Big West), JAMES MADISON (Colonial), ALBANY (American East), MONTANA (Big Sky), NORTH CAROLINA A&T (MEAC), LIBERTY (Big South), LIU-BROOKLYN (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.