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Bracketology: Florida moves up to No. 1 overall seed

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Florida has not lost a college basketball game in almost three months.  Only undefeated Wichita State owns a longer streak.  So it’s no surprise that both the Gators and Shockers remain No. 1 seeds in today’s bracket.  Given back-to-back losses by Syracuse, it’s also not surprising to find Florida as the top overall seed with Arizona, Wichita State, and Syracuse next in line.

If Kansas wins its remaining regular season games or wins the Big 12 Tournament next month (or both), the Selection Committee will have some difficult decisions to make about the four No. 1 seeds – assuming all finish strong.  The Jayhawks have played an incredible 21 games against the RPI Top 100.  That’s impressive, even if you’re not a fan of the formula.  Kansas has won 15 of those games – with more Top 100 games on tap.  At some point, we may also have to factor in Wisconsin or Michigan.  Few teams had a better non-conference season than the Badgers.  In other words, the race for No. 1 seeding is far from over.

Today’s seeding curve hit a proverbial snag at about No. 27 – which is right in the middle of the seven-seed line.  From that point, until the final few teams IN, we find a glob of teams with more interesting profiles – positives, negatives, and a bunch of stuff in-between.  Which basically means those spots, along with the those along the cutline, are very much in a state of flux.  Unless we have a few conference tournament upsets, we could be in for a very interesting Selection Sunday.

Enjoy your week of hoops!

UPDATED: February 24, 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)

  • Providence vs. Dayton | Midwest Region
  • Missouri vs. Georgetown | West Region
  • ALABAMA STATE vs. WEBER STATE | Midwest Region
  • ROBERT MORRIS vs. HIGH POINT | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

SOUTH – Memphis MIDWEST Indianapolis                
Orlando St. Louis
1) FLORIDA 1) WICHITA STATE
16) ROB MORRIS / HIGH POINT 16) WEBER ST / ALABAMA ST
8) Connecticut 8) SMU
9) VCU 9) Arizona State
Spokane Spokane
5) North Carolina 5) Louisville
12) BYU 12) HARVARD
4) Iowa State 4) VIRGINIA
13) MIDDLE TENNESSEE 13) DELAWARE
San Antonio Raleigh
6) Texas 6) Oklahoma
11) St. John’s 11) Providence / Dayton
3) San Diego State 3) Michigan State
14) NEW MEXICO ST 14) WESTERN MICHIGAN
Milwaukee St. Louis
7) Massachusetts 7) Stanford
10) Colorado 10) GONZAGA
2) Wisconsin 2) KANSAS
15) GEORGIA STATE 15) NC-CENTRAL
EAST – New York WEST – Anaheim
Buffalo San Diego
1) SYRACUSE 1) ARIZONA
16) VERMONT 16) DAVIDSON
8) George Washington 8) Memphis
9) California 9) Pittsburgh
Orlando San Diego
5) Ohio State 5) Kentucky
12) GREEN BAY 12) NORTH DAKOTA ST
4) CINCINNATI 4) SAINT LOUIS
13) BELMONT 13) IONA
Buffalo Raleigh
6) UCLA 6) NEW MEXICO
11) Saint Joseph’s 11) Missouri / Georgetown
3) Villanova 3) Duke
14) MERCER 14) S.F. AUSTIN
Milwaukee San Antonio
7) Kansas State 7) Iowa
10) Xavier 10) Baylor
2) MICHIGAN 2) CREIGHTON
15) BOSTON UNIVERSITY 15) UC-SANTA BARBARA

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Saint Joseph’s, Missouri, Providence, Dayton, Georgetown

First Five teams out (at large): Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oregon, Richmond

Next five teams out (at large): Florida State, Nebraska, LSU, Minnesota, Southern Miss

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

Atlantic 10 (6): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, George Washington, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton

Big East (6): Creighton, Villanova, Xavier, Providence, St. John’s, Georgetown

Big Ten (5): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin

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

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

SEC (3): Kentucky, Florida, 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), New Mexico State (WAC), Iona (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Western Michigan (MAC), Mercer (A-Sun), Harvard (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), Alabama State (SWAC)

Southern Conference to keep championships in North Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The Southern Conference will keep four league championships in North Carolina despite the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference withdrawing championships because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

The league said it will honor commitments for these tournaments: men’s soccer in Greensboro, men’s and women’s basketball in Asheville and men’s golf in Pinehurst.

“We don’t want to punish the local host communities by pulling the championships out of the state this year,” Commissioner John Iamarino said Friday. “That point did resonate with presidents and chancellors.”

The league said in a statement its presidents and chancellors “reaffirmed their resolute opposition to legislation that discriminates against any individual.”

Iamarino said his conference was prepared for criticism in light of the NCAA and ACC decisions over the North Carolina’s law, which excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections. It also requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.

HB2 was signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended it as a commonsense safety and security measure.

The Southern Conference is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Its 10 schools – Citadel, Chattanooga, East Tennessee, Furman, Mercer, UNC Greensboro, Samford, VMI, Western Carolina and Wofford – are in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The decision on the championships came after two conference calls among league leaders.

“While not unanimous, we found enough common ground to get to this point,” Iamarino said.

He said the league was influenced by the North Carolina host communities, all urging the conference to hold its events as planned. In Asheville, Iamarino said he met with about 30 people, including some from the LGBT community, who promised to fight the HB2 law but wanted the basketball tournaments to remain.

Iamarino said the venues involved are privately controlled and the league is confident of there will be an inclusive atmosphere at the events. The men’s golf event will be held at Pinehurst Country Club and the basketball at a neutral site in Asheville.

The soccer will be played on the Greensboro campus.

Earlier this month, the NCAA removed seven championships from North Carolina, including first- and second-round games of the men’s basketball tournament scheduled for Greensboro. The ACC soon followed suit, pulling 10 of its championships from the state, including the football title game that was scheduled for Charlotte.

The ACC on Thursday relocated the football game to Orlando, Florida.

Iamarino said Southern Conference presidents and chancellors will meet in May to see if more action is necessary. He said there’s concern similar laws could extend beyond North Carolina.

“This could be a long-term issue,” he said.

Iamarino said he’s also concerned the schools against keeping the championships in North Carolina might take their own actions, perhaps boycotting the league events played there.

“It’s a real concern,” he said. “We’ll continue to communicate and prepare for everything.”

Report: Virginia Tech forward Blackshear still recovering from offseason foot surgery

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Kerry Blackshear Jr. #24 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Kamari Murphy #21 of the Miami Hurricanes go for a rebound in the second half during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Virginia Tech sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear will miss the start of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, according to a report from Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6-foot-10 Blackshear played in all 35 games for the Hokies last season as he battled through the foot injury to average 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. According to Barber’s report, Blackshear had surgery on his right foot five days after the 2015-16 season ended, but he’s still wearing a walking boot to help recover. There has been no timetable given for Blackshear’s return.

Blackshear will be a key piece for a Virginia Tech team that is a bit thin up front this season. Freshman Khadim Sy can provide some minutes up front, but he’s inexperienced and center Nick Fullard has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Getting a healthy Blackshear will be a key storyline for a Virginia Tech team that many will have in the preseason top 25.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.