AP Photo/Phil Sandlin

Bracketology: Florida, Arizona battle for No. 1 overall seed

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AP Photo/Phil Sandlin

We’re two weeks from Selection Sunday and we’ve got a long way to go.

Championship Week is going to be fun and tension-filled.  As this juncture, as many as 15 at-large spots remain uncertain.  That’s a high number entering March.  Here’s what we do know.  Barring an unexpected turn of events, Florida and Arizona will be No. 1 seeds.  Although the Gators retain their overall No. 1 seed today, the Wildcats may pass them soon.  Either way, it’s about time to lock them in to the South and West regions.

Today’s bracket is also quite unsettled when it comes to the seed list.  The first four lines (s-curve spots 1-16) are pretty solid.  The middle tier could fluctuate greatly depending on conference tournament results.  Teams are that tightly bunched.  As for the bubble, it continues to move and shift.  Depending on which resume criteria or metrics you prefer, the final teams in and first teams out could be ranked in a variety of orders.  Every Selection Committee member will have his or her own viewpoint.  Hopefully, a few things will clear between now and March 16.

It’s also worth mentioning the potential for bid thieves – a surprise team winning its conference tournament.  For example, if Wichita State were to lose in the Missouri Valley tourney, there would be one less at-large bid available.  We saw this happen at the SEC tournament a year ago.

Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.

UPDATED: March 3, 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)

  • Missouri vs. Oregon | Midwest Region
  • Colorado vs. Tennessee | West Region
  • ALABAMA STATE vs. FLA GULF COAST | South Region
  • WEBER STATE vs. HIGH POINT | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

SOUTH – Memphis WEST Anaheim                                  
Orlando San Diego
1) FLORIDA 1) ARIZONA
16) FLA GULF COAST / ALABAMA ST 16) UTAH VALLEY
8) SMU 8) VCU
9) Stanford 9) Baylor
Spokane San Diego
5) Oklahoma 5) Louisville
12) SOUTHERN MISS 12) HARVARD
4) North Carolina 4) Michigan State
13) DELAWARE 13) NORTH DAKOTA ST
Buffalo San Antonio
6) Connecticut 6) NEW MEXICO
11) BYU 11) Colorado / Tennessee
3) VILLANOVA 3) Iowa State
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Milwaukee Raleigh
7) Kansas State 7) Massachusetts
10) Pittsburgh 10) GONZAGA
2) MICHIGAN 2) VIRGINIA
15) DAVIDSON 15) UC-IRVINE
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
St. Louis St. Louis
1) KANSAS 1) WICHITA STATE
16) ROBERT MORRIS 16) WEBER ST / HIGH POINT
8) Iowa 8) Arizona State
9) George Washington 9) Xavier
Orlando Spokane
5) UCLA 5) Texas
12) GREEN BAY 12) Missouri / Oregon
4) CINCINNATI 4) San Diego State
13) TOLEDO 13) BELMONT
San Antonio Raleigh
6) Kentucky 6) SAINT LOUIS
11) Oklahoma State 11) California
3) Creighton 3) Duke
14) IONA 14) GEORGIA STATE
Buffalo Milwaukee
7) Ohio State 7) Memphis
10) Saint Joseph’s 10) Arkansas
2) Syracuse 2) Wisconsin
15) VERMONT 15) NC-CENTRAL

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

Last Five teams in (at large): BYU, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee

First Five teams out (at large): Dayton, Providence, Georgetown, Nebraska, Minnesota

Next five teams out (at large): Florida State, St. John’s, LSU, Clemson, Marquette

Breakdown by Conference …

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

Pac 12 (7): Arizona, UCLA, California, Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon, Colorado

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

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

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

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

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee

Big East (3): Creighton, Villanova, Xavier

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

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Southern Miss (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), Toledo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun), Harvard (IVY), UC-Irvine (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Vermont (American East), Weber State (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), High Point (Big South), Robert Morris (NEC), Alabama State (SWAC)

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson