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Bracketology: Wichita State pushing toward No. 1 seed

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Alongside Syracuse, Wichita State is one of two unbeaten teams in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.  The Shockers’ resume speaks for itself – a Top 10 RPI, Top 50 non-conference strength of schedule, and an 11-0 record away from home.  Given WSU’s remaining Missouri Valley Conference schedule, it’s likely the Shockers will enter the MVC tournament with a perfect record.  Regardless of the league, that’s impressive.

So what’s keeping Wichita State off the top line?

Not much at this point.  When it comes to separating teams at the very top (or at the cut-line) the margins are often small.  And there are only four No. 1 seed slots available, which means someone has to be No. 5 on the s-curve.  As of today, that’s Wichita State.  By comparison, here are the records of the current No. 1 seeds vs. Top 100 RPI opponents:  Syracuse (12-0), Arizona (12-1), Kansas (15-5), Florida (8-2).  Wichita State is 5-0.  Again, these are small differences sometimes – particularly with respect to Florida – but something the Selection Committee has to evaluate.

(MORE: Take a loot at NBCSports.com’s latest Top 25)

The other two-seeds today stack up like this against the Top 100: Michigan State (10-4), Villanova (10-2), San Diego State (6-1).  If there’s a reason why Wichita State and San Diego State remain two-seeds on Selection Sunday (even if they keep winning), it won’t be because they are not worthy.  It’ll be because the other teams, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, are more worthy.  And keep in mind, only one No. 1 seed (Louisville) made the Final Four last April, so while earning at No. 1 seed is noteworthy, it doesn’t necessarily equate to March success.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Shockers or Aztecs in an Elite 8 or Final Four showdown.

Enjoy another week of college hoops.

UPDATED: February 10, 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)

  • BYU vs. MissouriWest Region
  • LSU vs. Georgetown South Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. HIGH POINT East Region
  • ROBERT MORRIS vs. DAVIDSON Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST – New York WEST – Anaheim                        
Buffalo San Diego
1) SYRACUSE 1) ARIZONA
16) SOUTHERN / HIGH POINT 16) UTAH VALLEY
8) Memphis 8) Oklahoma State
9) Geo Washington 9) Xavier
Spokane Spokane
5) Oklahoma 5) Wisconsin
12) GREEN BAY 12) BYU / Missouri
4) Kentucky 4) Creighton
13) IONA 13) MERCER
Milwaukee San Antonio
6) Louisville 6) Connecticut
11) Tennessee 11) Arizona State
3) MICHIGAN 3) Iowa State
14) NORTH DAKOTA ST 14) UC-SANTA BARBARA
Buffalo San Antonio
7) New Mexico 7) North Carolina
10) California 10) Minnesota
2) VILLANOVA 2) SAN DIEGO STATE
15) VERMONT 15) NC-CENTRAL
SOUTH – Memphis MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Orlando St. Louis
1) FLORIDA 1) KANSAS
16) WEBER STATE 16) DAVIDSON / ROB MORRIS
8) Kansas State 8) GONZAGA
9) Stanford 9) VCU
San Diego Orlando
5) Iowa 5) Ohio State
12) Georgetown / LSU 12) TOLEDO
4) SAINT LOUIS 4) Virginia
13) DELAWARE 13) BELMONT
Raleigh Raleigh
6) Texas 6) Massachusetts
11) Providence 11) SOUTHERN MISS
3) Duke 3) CINCINNATI
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) GEORGIA STATE
St. Louis Milwaukee
7) UCLA 7) Pittsburgh
10) SMU 10) Colorado
2) WICHITA STATE 2) Michigan State
15) AMERICAN 15) YALE

NOTES on the BRACKET: Syracuse is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Arizona, Kansas, and Florida.

Last Five teams in (at large): Providence, Georgetown, BYU, Missouri, LSU

First Five teams out (at large): Florida State, Ole Miss, St. Joseph’s, St. John’s, Dayton

Next five teams out (at large): Richmond, Indiana, Clemson, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech

Breakdown by Conference …

Big 12 (6): Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas

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

Big Ten (6): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota

ACC (5): Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia

American (5): Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati, SMU

Big East (5): Creighton, Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Georgetown

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

Atlantic 10 (4): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, Geo Washington

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

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Southern Miss (C-USA), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Georgia State (Sun Belt), American (Patriot), North Dakota State (Summit), Green Bay (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), Utah Valley (WAC), Iona (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Toledo (MAC), Mercer (A-Sun), Yale (IVY), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Vermont (American East), Weber State (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), High Point (Big South), Robert Morris (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Judge to review surveillance video in Appling gun case

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Keith Appling #11 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Connecticut Huskies during the East Regional Final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) A Michigan judge will review surveillance footage from the night former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling was arrested outside a strip club on weapons and drug charges.

Appling’s defense attorney presented the footage at Friday’s preliminary examination. It includes security videos from the Pantheon Club parking lot and video from police dashboard cameras.

The hearing was adjourned until Aug. 5 to allow Judge William Hultgren time to review the footage.

The 24-year-old Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and had two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic this season.

He was arrested in May after two guns and suspected marijuana were found in a vehicle he was in.

Appling also faces a trial in Detroit where he was charged in June with carrying a concealed weapon.

Arkansas hoping for more backcourt depth and stronger press in 2016-17

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Dusty Hannahs #3 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drives to the basket against Michael Humphrey #10 of the Stanford Cardinal  at Barclays Center on November 27, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Arkansas is coming off of a disappointing 16-16 season in which they missed the postseason.

The Razorbacks lost two key guards in Anthlon Bell and Jabril Durham — who both exhausted their eligibility — but they’re hoping a couple of additions will bolster the depth of their backcourt and make their trademark press stronger.

In a story from Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Razorbacks are excited about the possibilities of their new backcourt.

Although Arkansas lost two talented seniors and a transfer in Jimmy Whitt, they return Dusty Hannahs, Manny Watkins and Anton Beard while also getting two of the best junior college guards in the country. Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon come in highly touted for next season and both junior college guards garnered a lot of praise from their play last season.

With Arkansas also bringing in some freshman guards like C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper, head coach Mike Anderson is hoping to have enough bodies to play fast and use his press. The team appears to be optimistic as well.

“I think we’ll have a lot more toughness at the guard position, and depth,” Watkins said to Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of guys. When we’re pressing and stuff, we’ve got bodies we can bring in.”

Arkansas also returns an SEC Player of the Year candidate in big man Moses Kingsley and they could be an intriguing team to track this season if Barford and Macon are as good as advertised. They’ll certainly have more bodies to throw at opposing guards and that should help Arkansas play faster than they did last season.

College career over for Nevada’s Hallice Cooke due to heart issue

DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Hallice Cooke #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones celebrates after hitting a three pointer in the second half against the Arkansas Little Rock Trojans during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The college basketball career of Nevada guard Hallice Cooke is over, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-3 native of New Jersey will stay with the program as a volunteer assistant as a heart issue will force Cooke to end his career prematurely.

Cooke started his career at Oregon State before transferring to Iowa State and eventually ending up at Nevada. During the 2015-16 season, Cooke was a role player for the Cyclones as he averaged 10 minutes per game off the bench.

Obviously it’s unfortunate to see someone’s career end early, but it’s also good that Cooke is still going to be involved with the game as an assistant. This could be the type of thing where Cooke eventually ends up coaching in college basketball and it’ll be interesting to see if he tries to stay in the game and get serious about coaching.

N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. fully recovered, ready to go

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Dennis Smith Jr. sure looks ready.

North Carolina State’s prized freshman point guard is pushing through a workout in the practice gym on a hot July afternoon, and there’s no sign of the knee injury that defined his past year.

He’s sprinting along the baseline to bury a catch-and-shoot corner 3-pointer. He’s dribbling between chairs and stutter-stepping his way to a pull-up jumper. He’s launching himself at the rim for a dunk off the dribble.

“I don’t expect to be rusty at all,” Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I was feeling kind of nervous at one point, but I went in and did a workout and then I was thinking, `I’m putting in all this work so all the nervousness should be out of my mind.’ I had no reason to be timid.

“I just have to go out there and perform, no excuses.”

A lot has happened for Smith in 12 months. The Fayetteville native suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a game during the Adidas Nations event featuring top prospects. He had surgery, picked N.C. State, graduated from high school early and enrolled in college in January to rehab and learn the Wolfpack’s system before his debut later this year.

Tuesday marks one year since the injury for the 6-foot-3 Smith, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 1 point guard when he signed last fall.

“We’ve tried to be real conservative with him as far as not letting him do too much too fast,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “At his age, he can’t wait. He’s dying to play every day.”

Smith started earning his leadership role as soon as he arrived in Raleigh, pointing out instructions to teammates or calling them to the gym for extra work even though he couldn’t play. He figures that time observing from the sideline has prepared him to replace high-scoring floor leader Anthony “Cat” Barber.

“I feel like I’ve gotten smarter, definitely,” Smith said. “I see the game totally different now. I read pick-and-roll easier. I feel like I’ve gotten more sound on defense because I understand angles better.”

The physical work to get back has been tougher.

Roughly a year ago, Smith was lying in a bed after surgery trying to stay positive. He asked trainer Ja-Rell Bailey to bring him some free weights for upper-body exercises even if he couldn’t do much else, an example of why Bailey described Smith as “a man determined.”

Smith’s father said the rehab emphasized building leg strength to protect and stabilize the injured knee, something his son said he will keep doing in both legs for years to come. Smith’s work has helped him go from 180 pounds to a college-ready 192-pound frame.

“He’s got his bounce back, so he can dunk and everything,” Dennis Smith Sr. said. “But what Junior has got, God gave it to him. . A lot of times you run into kids who are built off of hype because they do a fancy move or have a good game. Junior ain’t hype. He’s the real deal.”

Regardless, Gottfried expects Smith to have “a learning curve.”

“For me,” he said, “I think what you see in November is going to be much different than what you see in January.”

The Wolfpack will look much different, too, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. N.C. State welcomes Scout.com’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class that includes five-star Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven. Senior guard Terry Henderson returns from an ankle injury that sidelined him 7 minutes into last season. Charlotte transfer and former Conference USA freshman of the year Torin Dorn Jr. will play after sitting out last year.

Still, Smith is the guy stirring the most buzz for Wolfpack fans – something he has no trouble embracing.

“I really don’t feel that pressure though,” Smith said. “I feel like if you come in and you expect to play well, then you should have those expectations of people talking. It’s just playing basketball to me. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Washington lands commitment from Mamoudou Diarra

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For the second time this summer, Washington has landed a commitment from a forward in the Class of 2017.

On Friday, it was Mamoudou Diarra that pledged his future to Lorenzo Romar. Diarra is a 6-foot-8 combo-forward that is currently unranked by Rivals but was targeted by a number high major program.

Washington landed a commitment from Michael Porter Jr. earlier this summer, and given Porter’s standing as the potential No. 1 player in the class, the Huskies will be in the mix for the best crop of freshmen in the country in 2017-18. Romar has also landed commitments from four-star guard Jaylen Nowell and three-star guard Blake Harris.

RELATED: How the Michael Porter Package Deal came to fruition

Diarra played his high school basketball in St. Louis.