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

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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)

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”