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)

Ball State forward Zach Hollywood found dead in off-campus apartment

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Zach Hollywood, a redshirt freshman on the Ball State basketball team, has died, the university confirmed to multiple local news outlets Tuesday.

He was 19 years old.

Hollywood redshirted last season at Ball State after averaging 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a senior at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in Bradley, Ill.

Muncie police are investigating the death at Hollywood’s off-campus apartment, according to WTHR-TV.

“On behalf of Ball State University, it is with profound sadness that we learned today of the passing of Zachary “Zach” Hollywood, a student from Bradley, Illinois,” the school said in a statement. “Zach has been a part of our family for the past year. During his time on campus, he was a member of men’s basketball team and made many positive impressions throughout campus.

“This is a tragedy. Our heartfelt condolences are with his family, friends and teammates. “For members of our Ball State family who need support during this difficult time, we encourage them to take advantage of the numerous resources available on- and off-campus.”

Hollywood’s death is a tragic turn in an already devastating story for his family, which lost Zach’s mother, Susan, suddenly just over one year ago.

3-on-3 at the Final Four for $100,000? It’s happening

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The Final Four just got more exciting.

On Tuesday, Intersport announced a 3-on-3 tournament that they will be hosting at the Final Four with a $100,000 payout for the winners. The participants must be seniors that have exhausted their collegiate eligibility, the teams will be created based on conference and the rules will be standard, international 3-on-3 rules: one-point for a bucket inside the arc, two points for a bucket outside the arc, 12-second shot clocks and games played to 21 points, or whoever has the highest score after 10 minutes. Each all-star team will feature four players, including one sub.

And, well, this is awesome.

I cannot express enough how much I love this idea.

One potential pothole here is that teams that are playing in the Final Four will, quite clearly, not have players eligible to participate.

It also should be noted that since “three-pointers” are now worth two points and “two-pointers” are now worth one, the value of long-range shooting is increased even more.

With all that in mind, why don’t we make a quick power ranking of the teams that can be created from the nine biggest conferences in college hoops:

  1. ACC: Grayson Allen (Duke), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Joel Berry II (North Carolina), Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech)
  2. Big East: Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Marcus Foster (Creighton)
  3. Big 12: Devonte’ Graham (Kansas), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Jeffery Carroll (Oklahoma State), Zach Smith (Texas Tech)
  4. AAC: Rob Gray (Houston), B.J. Taylor (UCF), Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Obi Enechionya (Temple)
  5. Pac-12: Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart (USC), George King (Colorado), Thomas Welsh (UCLA)
  6. Big Ten: Nate Mason (Minnesota), Scottie Lindsay (Northwestern), Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas (Purdue)
  7. Atlantic 10: E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell (Rhode Island), Peyton Aldridge (Davidson), Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure)
  8. SEC: Yante Maten (Georgia), Deandre Burnett (Ole Miss), Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford (Arkansas)
  9. WCC: Jock Landale and Emmett Naar (Saint Mary’s), Jonathan Williams III (Gonzaga), Silas Melson (Gonzaga)

I had way too much fun putting this together.

What did I miss?

Harsh Reality: Indiana did not do Grant Gelon wrong, getting cut is part of sports

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What happened to Grant Gelon sucks, and I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would try to argue otherwise.

A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Crown Point, Indiana, Gelon accepted a scholarship offer from then-Indiana head coach Tom Crean as a member of the Class of 2016. His commitment was something of a surprise at the time; Gelon was a two-star prospect, according to Rivals, and ranked 402nd in the class, according to 247 Sports. At the time, Gelon reportedly had seven scholarship offers: Central Michigan, UIC, Toledo, Iona, Youngstown State, IUPUI and Western Carolina.

It was a reach for Crean, but it was also a dream come true for an Indiana kid getting a chance to don the cream and crimson.

Which is what made what happened this spring particularly painful.

Crean was fired on March 16th. Indiana hired Archie Miller to replace him on March 27th. Five weeks later, after a handful of workouts with the new coaching staff, Miller called Gelon into his office — the date, according to the Northwest Indiana Times, was May 3rd — and told him that he was being cut. There was not going to be minutes available, the staff said, for a sophomore that played in just 12 games last season, and that finding a place to transfer would be Gelon’s best option.

“I told them I wanted to stay,” Gelon told the Indy Star. “I told them, I’m making my mind up, I’m gonna push hard, show them what I can do, I’m here for a reason. When I said that, it was like, ‘Whoa, slow down.’ They were kind of making that sound like it wasn’t an option.”

That’s because it wasn’t.

Miller was cutting Gelon.

He was not cutting his scholarship, mind you. The Indiana student-athlete bill of rights protects players from losing their tuition due to poor performance on the court or the field. Gelon would still be getting his education paid for if he opted to remain at Indiana, he just wouldn’t be playing for the Hoosiers. Gelon’s departure opened up a scholarship for the Hoosiers that eventually went to Race Thompson, a four-star power forward that reclassified into the Class of 2017 in order to enroll at Indiana this year.

“Coach Miller believes honesty in evaluating talent, while often difficult, is the appropriate measure to take at all times and in the best interest of each player,” a statement released by the Indiana athletic department read. “Grant was made aware that our staff believed his abilities were not of the caliber that would allow him to receive playing time of any kind in the future for the IU program.”

I feel for Gelon here. I really do. Getting cut sucks, and everyone reading this now has probably gone through it at some point in their life. It happens all the time, in every sport, at every age group. Once you get to a level in athletics where you’re playing in more than your hometown rec league, it gets competitive. If you’re not good enough, you don’t make the team. That is how this works. Gelon found that out the hard way.

And frankly, what Miller did is not uncommon. It’s called running a player off, and it happens all the time at every program. Gelon had a bad enough season as a freshman that there is no guarantee that he would have kept his spot on the team had Crean kept his job. Simply put, he is not a Big Ten basketball player. I’d wager that two out of every five transfers at the Division I level are the result of a player transferring out of a school — either because he was forced or because the writing was on the wall — to a lower level, one more in line with his skill-set.

That’s what happened with Gelon. He’s now at State Fair Community College in Missouri, where he’ll spend a year before looking to climb his way back into the Division I ranks, most likely at the low-major level.

And no matter how many interviews that he or his family gives, you won’t find me saying that Indiana handled this the wrong way.

Was Miller callous?

That wouldn’t surprise me. He’s not the type of guy to mince words, and there really is not a good way to sugar-coat, ‘You are not good enough for us.’

But Gelon was not having his scholarship taken away. Indiana was living up to their promise of paying for his education. They did not do him wrong. The staff gave him more than a month to prove himself as a player and, eventually, made the decision he would not be in their plans moving forward.

So he was cut. That opening allowed a four-star power forward to enroll this year.

That’s the harsh reality of life in the Big Ten.

And there’s nothing wrong with the coach of a basketball team doing what Miller and Indiana did.

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

Screengrab via Instagram
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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

Light

A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”