Cardinals head coach Pitino instructs guard Siva while playing the Orange during the second half of their NCAA men's championship final basketball game at the 2013 Big East Tournament in New York

Updated Bracket: Who is No. 1 in the Midwest?

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Who will be the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region?

That’s one of the biggest questions we’ll all wait to have answered later tonight.  With Louisville’s win over Syracuse on Saturday, combined with Indiana’s loss to Wisconsin, the floor is open for debate.  It will come down to this:  Which of those two teams is the top overall seed when the Selection Committee puts together its final seeding list – often referred to as the s-curve.  Both the Cardinals and the Hoosiers would relish the opportunity to go through Indianapolis.  Based on Indiana’s outright Big Ten regular season title, we’re leaving the Hoosiers in the Midwest.  After a fresh review, we’ll see if that stands.  The other pending question at the top of the bracket is whether Kansas will be a one-seed over either Duke or Gonzaga?  Valid arguments can be made for all three.

At the bottom of the bracket, Mississippi is making a push toward an at-large bid (and an automatic berth).  By beating Vanderbilt, the Rebels avoided an untimely loss and play Florida in the SEC title game.  Given that scenario, the Rebels have slid into the First Four – along with Tennessee, La Salle, and Saint Mary’s.  That leaves Middle Tennessee as the first team out.  For a lot of reasons, it would be rewarding for the Committee to recognize the Blue Raiders on their excellent season.  And depending on your point of view, valid arguments can be made for any of the last few in or first few out.  It’s the nature of the bubble.

We’ll post a final update Sunday afternoon before the NCAA Selection Show.  It’s going to be a great tournament.

UPDATED: March 17, 2013 | 1:40 a.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)

  • Mississippi vs. Saint Mary’s | South Region
  • Tennessee vs. La Salle | West Region
  • JAMES MADISON vs. LIBERTY | Midwest Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. N. CAROLINA A&T | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

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

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

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

First Five teams out (at large): Middle Tennessee, Kentucky, 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)

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)
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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.

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.