NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice

NCAA Tournament bracketing principles officially changed

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The NCAA officially announced changes to the tournament’s bracketing principles on Thursday afternoon.

The changes were made in an effort for the tournament to reflect the true seeding of each team that is invited. There are two major changes to pay attention to:

1) Teams from the same conference will no longer be required to wait until the Elite 8 to play if eight or fewer teams from the conference reached the tournament. The new rules:

  • Conference foes that played once during the regular season can face-off in the Round of 32.
  • Teams that played twice during the year can play each other in the Sweet 16.
  • If teams played three times during the season — a home-and-home during the regular season and a matchup in their conference tournament — they will have to wait until the Elite 8 to play.

2) The top four teams from a given conference will be placed in separate regions only if they are all to four seeds. Previously, the top three teams from a given conference had to be in different regions regardless of where they were to be seeded.

The committee also decided that rules against rematches from the regular season will be relaxed. If possible, they will be avoided in the First Four and the Round of 64, but it will not be a hard-and-fast rule, particularly for the teams headed to the First Four.

“We want to remain as true to the seed lines as possible,” Ron Wellman, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Wake Forest University, said in a release. “Too often we have had to move teams up and down a line because we have been limited by our principles on teams from the same league.”

“When you move a team off of a seed line,” he added, “you’re not only affecting that team, you’re affecting the team it would play.”

Per the NCAA’s release, “an average of ten teams per year have moved up or down at least one line on the bracket”.

“We have determined that 90% of the seed lines moves that occurred in the last three years would have been eliminated if the new principles were in effect,” Wellman said.

The changes stem from complaints about Oregon receiving a No. 12 seed last season despite winning the Pac-12 tournament. Cal was also dropped to a No. 12 seed, where they were essentially given a home game in a rematch with No. 5 UNLV.

The fact that conferences are getting larger and more teams from each league are making the Big Dance also helped push these changes along. Same conference bracketing principles aren’t as much of an issue when there are five or six teams from a league getting a bid. When there are 11 Big East teams, as there were in 2011, it’s more difficult.

The only change that the NCAA needs to make now is to stop referring to the Round of 64 as the second round and the Round of 32 as the third round.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.