Eron Harris

Bracketology: Valentines for Wichita State and West Virginia


source: AP

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the February 14 bracket projection offers special gifts to Wichita State and West Virginia.

After chasing the top line for a month or so, Wichita State holds the final No. 1 seed (Midwest) in today’s bracket.  And West Virginia has the distinction of being today’s final team IN the Field of 68.  Whether either team holds onto its current status remains to be seen.

Several heavyweights are vying for top seeds – including Kansas and Michigan State.  Should Wichita State reach Selection Sunday with an unbeaten record, it’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee handles the Shockers.  Especially if Kansas and Michigan State, for example, were to win Big 12 and Big Ten titles.  We also can’t forget about the potential for strong finishes from Villanova and Michigan, or even Duke – if the Blue Devils were to win the ACC.

The bubble continues to be a mosh pit.  It changes daily.  West Virginia and St. John’s are two teams who have steadily climbed the seed list during the past couple of weeks.  They are right next to each other on the s-curve if you remove the lower-seeded automatic qualifiers.  St. John’s happens to be today’s first team OUT.  Come Monday, things could well be different.  It’s been that kind of season around the cutline.  Even with all of their recent troubles, Oregon and Baylor remain capable of grabbing bids (again) in the next couple of weeks.  And who knows about the SEC beyond Florida and Kentucky.

Enjoy a great weekend of college hoops.

UPDATED: February 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 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)

  • Saint Joseph’s vs. Tennessee | East Region
  • Providence vs. West Virginia | South Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. UTAH VALLEY | Midwest Region


EASTNew York WEST Anaheim                                
Buffalo San Diego
8) Massachusetts 8) GONZAGA
9) Xavier 9) SMU
Spokane Spokane
5) Ohio State 5) SAINT LOUIS
4) Kentucky 4) Iowa State
Raleigh Milwaukee
6) UCLA 6) Connecticut
11) Tennessee / Saint Joseph’s 11) Georgetown
Buffalo San Antonio
7) North Carolina 7) Memphis
10) Colorado 10) California
MIDWEST – Indianapolis SOUTH – Memphis
St. Louis Orlando
8) New Mexico 8) VCU
9) George Washington 9) Oklahoma State
San Diego Orlando
5) Texas 5) Iowa
12) SOUTHERN MISS 12) Providence / West Virginia
4) Wisconsin 4) Virginia
Raleigh San Antonio
6) Louisville 6) Oklahoma
11) Minnesota 11) Missouri
3) Duke 3) Creighton
St. Louis Milwaukee
7) Pittsburgh 7) Kansas State
10) Arizona State 10) Stanford
2) KANSAS 2) Michigan State

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Missouri, Tennessee, Providence, Saint Joseph’s, West Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): St. John’s, Dayton, LSU, Richmond, BYU

Next five teams out (at large): Louisiana Tech, Florida State, Arkansas, NC State, Saint Mary’s

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

Atlantic 10 (5): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, Geo Washington, Saint Joseph’s

SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri

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

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

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), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Robert Morris (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.