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)

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.