Syracuse v Miami Bracketology: A couple of Saints march into First Four

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source: Getty Images

Here’s a polite way of summarizing the current NCAA Tournament bubble picture:  if you don’t like today’s First Four match-ups, wait for the next bracket on Friday.  Today’s update finds a couple of Saints marching into Dayton:  Saint Joseph’s and St. John’s.  They are joined by BYU – fresh off a victory at Saint Mary’s – and Georgetown – which lost to St. John’s on Sunday night.  It would have been interesting had three Big East teams ended up among the last four at-large teams; Providence was one spot away, a single slot ahead of St. John’s on the s-curve.

On a final bubble note, the Oklahoma State situation bears watching.  How will the Selection Committee handle the Marcus Smart suspension?  Each member may look at it differently, and it may depend on how the Cowboys play when he returns.

With its victory at Kentucky on Saturday, Florida passed Arizona for the No. 2 spot on the overall seed list.  It’s worth noting, but doesn’t really impact the bracketing process.  The Gators and Wildcats are not vying for the same natural Region (as we had with Louisville and Indiana last year).  Syracuse continues to be the top overall seed with Wichita State as the fourth No. 1 seed.

Seeding for the two-line is ramping up fast and furious.  Besides Kansas, five teams were in contention for three spots:  Michigan State, San Diego State, Creighton, Villanova, and Duke.  There’s not a right or wrong way to rank them.  For now, MSU, SDSU, and Creighton grabbed those slots, with Villanova and Duke as the top two three-seeds.  That should play its way out in the next three weeks.

Enjoy your hoops.  March is right around the corner.

UPDATED: February 17, 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. St. John’s East Region
  • BYU vs. Georgetown South Region
  • SOUTHERN vs. UTAH VALLEY Midwest Region


EAST – New York SOUTH – Memphis                           
Buffalo Orlando
8) Kansas State 8) VCU
9) Stanford 9) California
San Diego Spokane
5) Kentucky 5) Iowa
12) GREEN BAY 12) BYU / Georgetown
4) SAINT LOUIS 4) Virginia
Orlando Raleigh
6) Connecticut 6) Oklahoma
11) St. John’s / Saint Joseph’s 11) Missouri
Milwaukee Milwaukee
7) Pittsburgh 7) New Mexico
10) Colorado 10) Xavier
2) CREIGHTON 2) Michigan State
MIDWEST – Indianapolis WEST – Anaheim
St. Louis San Diego
8) Memphis 8) GONZAGA
9) Arizona State 9) George Washington
San Antonio Spokane
5) Texas 5) Ohio State
4) Wisconsin 4) Iowa State
13) Iona 13) BELMONT
Buffalo Raleigh
6) UCLA 6) Louisville
11) Minnesota 11) Providence
3) Villanova 3) Duke
St. Louis San Antonio
7) North Carolina 7) Massachusetts
10) SMU 10) Oklahoma State

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Providence, Saint Joseph’s, St. John’s, BYU, Georgetown

First Five teams out (at large): Dayton, Richmond, West Virginia, Tennessee, Baylor

Next five teams out (at large): Arkansas, LSU, Marquette, NC State, Indiana State

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

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 (2): Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Georgia State (Sun Belt), Boston University (Patriot), North Dakota State (Summit), Green Bay (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), Utah Valley (WAC), Iona (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Western Michigan (MAC), Mercer (A-Sun), Yale (IVY), UC-Irvine (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Vermont (American East), Weber State (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Robert Morris (NEC), Southern (SWAC)

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.

No. 24 Cincinnati beats George Washington 61-56

Troy Caupain
AP Photo
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NEW YORK (AP) Troy Caupain scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:38 to play, and No. 24 Cincinnati beat George Washington 61-56 on Saturday in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic.

The fact the game came down to a three-point play was ironic as both teams took 22 3-point attempts and there were times it seemed a 3-point shooting broke out.

Caupain’s traditional three-point play gave the Bearcats (7-0) a 55-54 lead. After a missed 3 by the Colonials (6-1) Octavius Ellis, who chosen the tournament MVP, scored on a tip-in. Patricio Garino scored on a drive for George Washington with 29 seconds left.

The Colonials let the Bearcats pass the ball around and they finally fouled when Ellis touched the ball with 14 seconds to play. Ellis, a 56 percent free throw shooter, clinched his MVP award by making both for a 59-56 lead. Two free throws by Caupain with 6.1 seconds left capped the scoring.

Farad Cobb and Kevin Johnson both had 11 points for the Bearcats while Ellis had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garino had 15 points for George Washington, Tyler Cavanaugh had 13 and Joe McDonald 11.

The Colonials finished 11 of 22 from 3-point range, not bad for a team that came in shooting 27.9 percent (29 of 104) from there. The 50 percent doesn’t look so good when you consider the Colonials made five of their first six 3-point attempts and were 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. They went 16:42 between 2-point field goals but led 30-27 at halftime.

The Bearcats were 7 of 22 from 3-point range but their advantage came at the free throw line where they were 10 of 12 compared to George Washington’s 3 of 4.


George Washington: The Colonials beat Tennessee in the opening round and they were 3 of 15 on 3s. … George Washington was off to its best start since it was8-0 in 2005-06. … The Colonials finished 10 for 34 from 2-point range.

Cincinnati: The win gives the Bearcats a 13-1 all-time record against George Washington and this was their sixth straight. The last win came on Jan. 31, 1976. … Cincinnati is 7-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons. … The Bearcats are 51-8 in and have won 24 of 25 in November under coach Mick Cronin. They have won 49 straight games when scoring over 60 points. The 60th point against the Colonials came with 6.1 seconds to play.


George Washington hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Cincinnati hosts Butler on Wednesday.