No. 20 Pitt a lock to be under-seeded in the NCAA tournament

Leave a comment

No. 20 Pitt is a really, really good basketball team.

They entered Saturday sitting second in the nation in KenPom’s rankings, a fact that was more-or-less supported when they went into College Park and knocked off Maryland, 83-79. Lamar Patterson led the way with 28 points, seven boards, seven assists and three steals while not making a three all night long.

The Panthers are sitting at 18-2 on the season. The only two games that they have lost this season have been to Cincinnati in NYC and at Syracuse. They came by a combined six points.

So why is Pitt only ranked 20th? Why are they only a No. 5 seed in the most recent NBCSports.com bracketology?

Because they still haven’t beaten anybody. The only team that they’ve beaten that currently is projected to be in the tournament is Savannah State, the leader in the MEAC. Their next win in non-conference play came against Stanford, who is currently 51st in the RPI. Their best league win? At N.C. State, who sits at 64th in the RPI.

The good news for Pitt is that there still have four teams on their schedule that are ranked in the RPI top 25, and all four of those games are at home — Duke, Virginia, Syracuse and Florida State. Those are all winnable games, especially in Pittsburgh. Then there is the ACC tournament. So the Panthers will have their chances.

But regardless of what happens in those four games, the Panthers are not going to have a notable road win on their resume this season. And that non-conference schedule isn’t going to get any better unless teams like Stanford and Texas Tech go on a crazy run over the last month of the season.

Pitt’s poor non-conference schedule put them behind the eight-ball this year. How about this for a hypothetical: if the Panthers lose to Duke and Syracuse, beat Florida State and Virginia, and then fail to notch a big win while losing in the ACC tournament semifinals, the Panthers will enter Selection Sunday with just five losses on the season and a resume that could end up keeping them outside the top four seed lines.

Has that ever happened for a power conference team?

Will that continue the trend of the Panthers losing early in the Big Dance?

Whatever the case, there is going to be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed that’s not happy to see Pitt in line for a Sweet 16 matchup.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
Leave a comment

No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
Leave a comment

The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.