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Bracketology: Final No. 1 seed up for grabs

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After a somewhat crazy Thursday, the bubble continues to shift in multiple directions.  And with Villanova’s stunning loss to Seton Hall, the final No. 1 seed slot is wide open as action resumes throughout the college hoops landscape.  Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Virginia all take to the hardwood with their eyes on the top of the East Region.  We also can’t completely eliminate teams like Syracuse.

Quick notes about today’s (March 14) bracket update …

Florida State slides into the final at-large spot.  One could go any number of directions among the bubble contenders, but the Seminoles have a couple of small advantages: non-conference wins over two tournament teams (VCU, Massachusetts) and a road win at Pittsburgh.  As a side note, FSU lost to Michigan by two and Florida by one in its pre-conference slate.  By comparison, Providence and Minnesota have done their best work at home and neither has two NCAA-level non-league wins.  We’ll see how the Seminoles fare moving forward.  Next up: Virginia.  It’s Moving Day – Part II on the bubble.

RELATED: Thursday’s Bubble Banter

Missouri and Minnesota have statement opportunities today.  The Tigers play Florida; Minnesota plays Wisconsin.

Seton Hall joins the Bid Thief Watch.  If the Pirates upset Providence they will be one victory from an automatic bid.

Southern Methodist (SMU) remains on the right side of the bubble, but the Mustangs could be closer to the edge than many think.  A horrible non-conference schedule could be even more in play after Thursday’s loss to Houston.  SMU is just 4-6 vs. Top 100 RPI teams (albeit four good wins) and owns a victory at Connecticut.  But they’ve also lost to South Florida, Temple, and the aforementioned Cougars.  SMU ended the season losing three straight.

RECAP: All of Thursday’s relevant college hoops action here

Arkansas falls into the First Five OUT after losing to South Carolina.  Cal remains in that group as well following its loss to Colorado.  While both likely need help to re-enter the bracket.  Let’s wait until more resumes are complete before casting a final decision.

We’ll see what’s in store today.

UPDATED: March 14, 2014

MORE: Who has a bid on the line on Friday?

Teams in CAPS represent AUTOMATIC bids.  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)

  • BYU vs. Tennessee | South Region
  • SMU vs. Florida State East Region
  • Alabama State vs. Weber State Midwest Region


SOUTH – Memphis WEST Anaheim                              
Orlando San Diego
1) Florida 1) Arizona
16) WOFFORD 16) Utah Valley
8) Kansas State 8) George Washington
9) Colorado 9) GONZAGA
Orlando San Diego
5) Ohio State 5) Oklahoma
12) BYU / Tennessee 12) Toledo
4) Louisville 4) Michigan State
13) S.F. Austin 13) NORTH DAKOTA ST
Buffalo San Antonio
6) New Mexico 6) Baylor
11) Xavier 11) Nebraska
3) Syracuse 3) Creighton
14) MERCER 14) UC-Irvine
Milwaukee Raleigh
7) VCU 7) Kentucky
10) Arizona State 10) Saint Joseph’s
2) Wisconsin 2) Virginia
15) AMERICAN 15) Stony Brook
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Buffalo St. Louis
1) Villanova 1) WICHITA STATE
16) CO CAROLINA / MT ST. MARY’S 16) Weber State / Alabama State
8) Oklahoma State 8) Memphis
9) Stanford 9) Oregon
Spokane Spokane
5) North Carolina 5) Texas
12) Louisiana Tech 12) HARVARD
4) San Diego State 4) Duke
San Antonio Raleigh
6) Massachusetts 6) Saint Louis
11) SMU / Florida State 11) Pittsburgh
3) Iowa State 3) Cincinnati
14) EASTERN KENTUCKY 14) Georgia State
Milwaukee St. Louis
7) Connecticut 7) UCLA
10) Dayton 10) Iowa
2) Michigan 2) Kansas
15) NC-Central 15) MILWAUKEE

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Xavier, SMU, Tennessee, BYU, Florida State

First Five teams out (at large): Providence, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, California

Next five teams out (at large): Southern Miss, Illinois, Green Bay, Georgetown, St. John’s

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

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

Big Ten (6): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska

ACC (6): Duke, Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Florida State

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

SEC (3): Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee

Big East (3): Creighton, Villanova, Xavier

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

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Brigham Young

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Louisiana Tech (C-USA), EASTERN KENTUCKY (Ohio Valley), Georgia State (Sun Belt), AMERICAN (Patriot), NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit), MILWAUKEE (Horizon), WOFFORD (Southern), Utah Valley (WAC), MANHATTAN (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Toledo (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), UC-Irvine (Big West), DELAWARE (Colonial), Stony Brook (American East), Weber State (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), COASTAL CAROLINA (Big South), MOUNT ST. MARY’S (NEC), Alabama State (SWAC)

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.