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)

No. 15 Cincinnati extends home streak, beats Memphis 87-74

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 04:  Troy Caupain #10 of the Cincinnati Bearcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Fifth Third Arena on February 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI (AP) After a dominant first half, No. 15 Cincinnati relaxed and wound up sweating one out.

Jacob Evans III scored 12 of his 15 points during the Bearcats’ lopsided first half on Thursday night, and they let most of a big lead slip away before holding on for their 25th straight home victory, 87-74 over Memphis.

Cincinnati (25-3, 14-1 American Athletic) led by as many as 24 points during its highest-scoring opening half in conference play this season, pulling ahead 51-32 at the break. The Tigers cut the lead to six points before fading.

“We got off to a big lead, and in the second half I feel we started to coast a little bit,” Evans said. “We can’t do that. If we want to make a deep run in March, we can’t take a half off against any team. Our energy on defense went down.”

The Bearcats’ front line dominated on offense. Gary Clark had 13 points and nine rebounds while Kyle Washington had 16 points and six rebounds. The problem was the sluggish defense in the second half, which left shooters open.

“For about 30 minutes, I thought we played about as well as we can play,” coach Mick Cronin said. “My halftime speech gets an F. I talked to our guys about defense. Our defense was nonexistent for most of the second half. We learned our lessons.”

Memphis (18-10, 8-7 ) has dropped a season-high three straight. Jeremiah Martin led the Tigers with 23 points and 11 assists. Dedric Lawson had 21 points with 10 rebounds.

“They were a little bit intimidated to start the first half because (Cincinnati) was making shots,” Memphis coach Tubby Smith said. “And when you get in a hole like that, it’s tough.”

The Tigers cut the lead to 75-69 on Martin’s three-point play with 5:18 left. Evans’ 3-pointer – his only basket of the second half – ended the comeback. It was his only 3-pointer of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: Lawson got his 35th double-double, the sixth-most by an active player. His 18 double-doubles this season are a career high for the sophomore. He has 282 rebounds this season. The AAC record is 321 by UConn’s Daniel Hamilton.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ 25 straight home wins match the second-longest streak at Fifth Third Arena, which opened in 1989. The arena record is 41 straight wins from 1997-2000.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Bearcats have won four straight since a 60-51 loss at SMU on Feb. 12, minimizing the damage of their only conference loss.

BAD START

The Tigers were playing from behind the entire time because of their horrible start. They missed 10 of their first 15 shots – Lawson was 0 for 3 – while the Bearcats rolled out to a 26-11 lead.

LOOKING UP

Lawson got a loose ball while sitting under the basket in the second half and took a shot that bounced off the rim. After the slow start, he ended up 9 of 16 from the field.

CUMBERLAND BACK

Freshman Jarron Cumberland sat out Cincinnati’s last game because of a curfew violation. He was back on Thursday and had nine points in 22 minutes.

UP NEXT

Memphis: The Tigers host Houston on Saturday. They won at Houston 79-67 in overtime on Jan. 19.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats play at Central Florida on Saturday. They beat Central Florida 60-50 on Feb. 8.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Five Maine players suspended following a fight over locker room music

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Bob Walsh of the Maine Black Bears prepares for their game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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There wasn’t much love being spread in the Maine basketball locker room on Valentine’s Day.

A locker room fight led to the suspensions of five players, including the team’s leading scorer. According to Larry Mahoney of the Bangor Daily News, who obtained the police report, the incident was the result of teammates Wes Myers and Marko Pirovic arguing over locker room music on Feb. 14.

Myers wanted the music off, Pirovic, who stands five inches taller and outweighs Myers by 25 pounds, refused. This led to both throwing punches, one of which connected on Pirovic’s face, breaking his jaw.

Jaquan McKennon, Ilija Stojiljkovic and Dusan Majstorovic were all suspended, but reinstated on Wednesday, for telling head trainer Ryan Taylor that Pirovic’s injuries resulted from him falling in the shower.

Myers, a junior guard averaging a team-best 16.9 points per game, remains suspended indefinitely.

Pirovic declined to press charges. All involved could still face punishment from the university, according to the Bangor Daily News.

It’s been a long season for the Black Bears. Maine owns the America East’s worst record at 6-24 (3-12). Outside of a modest three-game winning streak in late January, the Black Bears have not won a game in 2017. They close out the regular season on Saturday at home against Binghamton.

How did Gary Clark catch that alley-oop?

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 24:  Gary Clark #11 of the Cincinnati Bearcats shoots the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at Fifth Third Arena on January 24, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.

Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?

Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.

Cassius Winston ends half with half-court 3-pointer

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Cassius Winston #5 in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.

The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.

Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.

Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.

 

CBT Podcast: Mark Titus recaps Wednesday’s games

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 22: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks lays the ball up against JD Miller #15 and Jaylen Fisher #0 of the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse on February 22, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.

Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom