Kansas State v Kansas

NBCSports.com Bracketology: Kansas, Iowa, and San Diego State climb bracket ladder

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Kansas is among the top movers in this week’s bracket projection.  The reasons are pretty clear: two quality road wins and an overall schedule ranked No. 1 in the nation. Those types of statistics always play well on Selection Sunday.

In the span of a week, the Jayhawks won road games at Oklahoma and Iowa State – sandwiched with a lopsided home victory over improved Kansas State.  It’s mid-January and KU already has seven wins against Top 50 teams (RPI – through Monday, January 13).  Thus, Kansas finds itself as a No. 2 seed in today’s update.  Also worth noting: the Jayhawks’ four losses are by a combined 17 points and only one of those – San Diego State – occurred in the past month.

Which brings us to SDSU – another of the recent seed climbers.  San Diego State followed up its monumental victory at KU by handling Boise State at home and Air Force on the road.  The Aztecs are 5-0 away home.  None bigger than the one in Lawrence.

Iowa vaulted up the seed list after an impressive win at Ohio State.  The somewhat undervalued Hawkeyes are 12 points from a perfect season – having lost only on a neutral court to Villanova, at Iowa State, and at Wisconsin.  If there is a knock on the Hawkeyes’ resume, it’s an overall weakish non-conference schedule.  How that affects Iowa’s final seeding remains to be seen.  Continuing to win league road games will erase much of the concern.

Let’s also mention Cincinnati.  The Bearcats have won eight straight.  The most impressive victory in that streak was a 16-point road win at Memphis.  UC has moved from a potential bubble team to No. 19 on the current s-curve.

Other than rising Virginia – and to some extent Oklahoma after its home win over Iowa State – there hasn’t been a lot of movement around the bubble.  If you check last week’s bracket, the names appear much the same – perhaps in a slightly different order.  Arkansas is the first team out in today’s update.  The Razorbacks continue to struggle on the road – a problem that has plagued them in recent years.

It’s still a little early to be overly concerned with conference standings but there are some potential pitfalls ahead.  Take, for example, North Carolina.  The Tar Heels are 0-3 in ACC play after their loss at Syracuse.  This week’s game with Boston College is huge – which is followed by a trip to Virginia and a home date with Clemson.  It’s time for UNC to make a u-turn or risk falling out of the Field.  Despite three quality wins, a 1-5 league mark would put UNC on an uphill climb toward tourney selection.

UPDATED: January 14, 2014

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid based on current standings with RPI as a tiebreaker for teams with the same number of losses. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc).

Several new bracketing principles were introduced after last year’s tournament. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Stanford vs. Texas | Midwest Region
  • George Washington vs. Tennessee | South Region
  • WAGNER vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE | East Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. HAMPTON | West Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

WESTAnaheim EAST New York                              
San Diego Buffalo
1) ARIZONA 1) SYRACUSE
16) HAMPTON / SOUTHERN 16) WAGNER / NC-ASHEVILLE
8) Virginia 8) California
9) Dayton 9) Kansas State
Spokane Raleigh
5) Michigan 5) MASSACHUSETTS
12) GREEN BAY 12) HARVARD
4) SAN DIEGO ST 4) Ohio State
13) BELMONT 13) AKRON
Orlando San Antonio
6) Pittsburgh 6) New Mexico
11) VCU 11) Illinois
3) Iowa 3) Baylor
14) DELAWARE 14) NO COLORADO
St. Louis Buffalo
7) Creighton 7) Missouri
10) GONZAGA 10) Connecticut
2) KANSAS 2) VILLANOVA
15) IPFW 15) MERCER
SOUTH – Memphis MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Milwaukee Milwaukee
1) MICHIGAN STATE 1) WISCONSIN
16) DAVIDSON 16) STONY BROOK
8) Florida State 8) Xavier
9) UCLA 9) North Carolina
San Diego Raleigh
5) CINCINNATI 5) Memphis
12) LOUISIANA TECH 12) Stanford / Texas
4) Colorado 4) Kentucky
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) MANHATTAN
Spokane San Antonio
6) Oregon 6) Duke
11) Tennessee / Geo Washington 11) Georgetown
3) Iowa State 3) WICHITA STATE
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) UC-IRVINE
Orlando St. Louis
7) Saint Louis 7) Louisville
10) Oklahoma 10) Minnesota
2) FLORIDA 2) Oklahoma State
15) BOSTON UNIV 15) GEORGIA STATE

NOTES on the BRACKET: Arizona is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Georgetown, Tennessee, Geo Washington, Stanford, Texas

First Five teams out (at large): Arkansas, SMU, NC State, Arizona State, Wake Forest

Next five teams out (at large): LSU, Indiana State, Notre Dame, Indiana, Providence

Breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (7): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota

Big 12 (7): Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas

Pac 12 (6): Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, UCLA, California, Stanford

ACC (6): Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Virginia

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee

Atlantic 10 (5): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, Dayton, Geo Washington

American (4): Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati

Big East (4): Creighton, Georgetown, Villanova, Xavier

Mountain West (2): New Mexico, San Diego State

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Louisiana Tech (C-USA), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Georgia State (Sun Belt), Boston University (Patriot), IPFW (Summit), Green Bay (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), New Mexico State (WAC), Manhattan (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Akron (MAC), Mercer (A-Sun), Harvard (IVY), UC-Irvine (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Stony Brook (American East), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), Hampton (MEAC), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Wagner (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson