Lincoln College of New England doesn’t have a gym. The team works out on outdoor courts. They made the Junior College Division III national tournament. This short film chronicles their journey.
How good has Purdue been?
Let’s take a quick peek … the Boilermakers haven’t lost since returning from Atlantis in November. They are 5-0 in true road games, own a 6-2 mark against the NCAA’s new “Group 1” category, and have won 19 games by an average margin of 22.6 points. This morning, Purdue ranks No. 1 on the Sagarin index and No. 2 at Ken Pom. The Boilers also have a favorable Big Ten schedule; they only play Ohio State (home) and Michigan State (road) once. In other words, without a slip up, Purdue is well on its way toward a potential No. 1 seed come March.
UPDATED: January 22, 2018
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)
- Kansas State vs. USC | South Region
- Houston vs. Missouri | West Region
- WAGNER vs. NC A&T | East Region
- FLA GULF COAST vs. ARK-PINE BLUFF | Midwest Region
BRACKET PROJECTION …
|EAST – Boston||MIDWEST – Omaha|
|1) VILLANOVA||1) PURDUE|
|16) NC A&T / WAGNER||16) FL GULF CST / ARK-PB|
|8) Miami-FL||8) SAINT MARY’S|
|9) Alabama||9) Florida State|
|5) Florida||5) Tennessee|
|12) BUFFALO||12) MID TENNESSEE|
|4) Ohio State||4) Texas Tech|
|13) E TENNESSEE ST||13) LOYOLA-CHICAGO|
|6) Kentucky||6) Wichita State|
|11) SMU||11) Washington|
|3) Oklahoma||3) Clemson|
|14) VERMONT||14) WILLIAM & MARY|
|7) Michigan||7) NEVADA|
|10) Butler||10) Arkansas|
|2) North Carolina||2) Xavier|
|15) CANISIUS||15) MONTANA|
|WEST – Los Angeles||SOUTH – Atlanta|
|1) Duke||1) VIRGINIA|
|16) RADFORD||16) PENNSYLVANIA|
|8) TCU||8) Providence|
|9) Marquette||9) Texas|
|5) RHODE ISLAND||5) Arizona State|
|12) NEW MEXICO ST||12) SOUTH DAKOTA ST|
|4) Michigan State||4) CINCINNATI|
|13) BELMONT||13) LOUISIANA|
|6) Gonzaga||6) Seton Hall|
|11) Houston / Missouri||11) Kansas State / USC|
|3) ARIZONA||3) AUBURN|
|14) S.F. AUSTIN||14) WRIGHT STATE|
|7) Creighton||7) Louisville|
|10) Texas AM||10) Georgia|
|2) KANSAS||2) West Virginia|
|15) HAWAII||15) BUCKNELL|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed – followed by Purdue, Virginia, and Duke
Last Four Byes (at large): Butler, Texas AM, SMU, Washington
Last Four IN (at large): Houston, Missouri, USC, Kansas State
First Four OUT (at large): Boise State, NC State, Baylor, Notre Dame
Next four teams OUT (at large): Syracuse, Maryland, UCLA, LSU
Breakdown by Conference …
SEC (9): AUBURN, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas AM, Missouri
ACC (7): VIRGINIA, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Louisville, Miami-FL, Florida State
Big East (7): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Seton Hall, Creighton, Providence, Marquette, Butler
BIG 12 (7): KANSAS, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas, Kansas State
Big 10 (4): PURDUE, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan
American (4): CINCINNATI, Wichita State, SMU, Houston
Pac 12 (4): ARIZONA, Arizona State, Washington, USC
West Coast (2): SAINT MARY’S, Gonzaga
Atlantic 10 (1): RHODE ISLAND
Mountain West (1): NEVADA
ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Louisiana (SBELT), Penn (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Wright State (HORIZON), S.F. Austin (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), William & Mary (CAA), Radford (BSO), North Carolina A&T (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC)
Bracketing principles: read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com.
Remember all that stuff we said about how this is the year the streak ends and how Kansas is no longer the favorite to win the Big 12 regular season title?
Kansas is awesome again, apparently.
The Jayhawks managed one of the most impressive comebacks of the season on Monday, erasing a 16-point deficit at West Virginia to pick up a massive road win before hanging on against Baylor at home. Bill Self’s club now holds sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and a win on the home court of the only team that’s within a game of first-place: West Virginia.
Not even losing Billy Preston can put a damper on a week like that.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- KANSAS STATE: The Wildcats thrust themselves into the NCAA tournament picture by knocking off both No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 24 TCU at home this week. The win over the Sooners was particularly impressive, as TCU held Trae Young to his worst game of the season.
- SAINT MARY’S: Remember when we said that Saint Mary’s was the favorite to win the WCC this season? That seemed crazy for a while. Not so much now that the Gaels own a win over Gonzaga in Spokane.
- PROVIDENCE: The Friars are working their way back into the NCAA tournament picture. This week, they picked off Butler and Creighton at home. The Friars have now won four straight – including Xavier – and currently sit just a game out of first place in the Big East.
- NEVADA: The Wolf Pack moved into sole possession of first place in the Mountain West after they knocked off Boise State in Reno late on Saturday night. Eric Musselman is looking more and more like a guy that can take his team on a run in the NCAA tournament.
- ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide extended their winning streak to four games after back-to-back wins this week, including a win over Auburn. Most impressive, however, is that both of those wins came without Collin Sexton healthy.
Prior to this week, Saint Mary’s season had been defined by a slump at the most inopportune time.
The Gaels lost to both Washington State and Georgia in the Wooden Legacy, the only two non-conference games they played against relevant opponents, and it put the program behind the eight-ball when it came to trying to earn bid to the NCAA tournament.
What Saint Mary’s needed to do was win at least won – and quite likely two – games against Gonzaga during the WCC regular season. Consider the first step complete. Landale finished with 24 points, 12 boards, three assists and two blocks on Thursday night as Randy Bennett took his team into Spokane and picked off the No. 13 Zags. Saint Mary’s followed that up with a tougher-than-expected win over Pacific where Landale finished with 32 points and seven boards.
All told, Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of first place in the league and in the midst of a 14 game winning streak, the final four of which all came on the road.
And Landale, who has quietly been one of the most productive and efficient big men in college basketball, led the way once again. He’s now averaging 22.4 points and 10.2 boards for a team that should get ranked in the top 25 this week. He’s very much in consideration for an All-American team now, and I’m not sure that would have been the case without that win on Thursday night.
THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- SHAKE MILTON, SMU: Milton played the best game of his career in the most important game of the season for the Mustangs, putting 33 points on 11-for-14 shooting and five assists on No. 7 Wichita State and Landry Shamet in a road win. He followed that up with 20 points, five boards and five assists in a win against Tulane.
- JAMES PALMER, Nebraska: Palmer scored 24 points and hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating three against Illinois, following that up with 19 points, four boards and a pair of assists in a blowout win over No. 23 Michigan.
- DEAN WADE, Kansas State: The Wildcats put themselves firmly in the NCAA tournament picture with a pair of wins over ranked teams this week, beating No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 24 TCU. Wade, in those two games, averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 boards and 6.5 assists with four steals and two blocks.
- J.P. MACURA, Xavier: Macura scored 16 points on Wednesday night to help Xavier put away St. John’s before leading the Musketeers with 27 points and five boards in a 73-64 win at No. 19 Seton Hall. The Musketeers had lost their previous two games on the road.
- PARKER JACKSON-CARTWRIGHT, Arizona: Jackson-Cartwright has gotten plenty of stick this season for his issues on the defensive end of the floor, and it’s not necessarily unfair. But in a game at Stanford with first place in the Pac-12 on the line, Jackson-Cartwright made two massive defensive plays down the stretch to help seal the win.
I’m not sure that this Kentucky season can be considered a worst-case scenario.
Kentucky fans have seen a worst-case scenario.
That came during the 2012-13 season, when a Wildcat team that was trending towards the back end of the top 25 lost their star center Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL in February, dooming them to the NIT, where they lost in the first round to Robert Morris.
That is a worst-case scenario, and barring something totally unforeseen, this Kentucky team is not going to turn into that Kentucky team.
This group looks much more like the team we saw the following year, the one that featured Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed with a 24-10 record before making a run to the national title game. That team had plenty of talent, but they never quite gelled until March.
This year’s team does not have that same level of talent, but they are running into some of the same problems.
The question is whether or not this group actually has the potential to come together and make a run like that 2014 team.
RELATED: Kentucky just is not that good
And frankly, I still think they do. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a go-to guy while Kevin Knox had seemingly regained his confidence before a poor performance in the home loss to Florida. Quade Green has returned to the lineup, as has Jarred Vanderbilt, who might be the key to unlock the potential on this roster.
In an ideal world, Kentucky’s length and athleticism allows them to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams while the playmaking of Vanderbilt and Green makes their offense fluid enough that they overcome some of their shooting issues. I can still tell myself a story where Kentucky finds a way to put it all together for six straight games in March.
But that’s not who they are right now.
And with each passing game, I grow less and less confident that the elite will ever come out of this group.
Kentucky is not a top 25 basketball team right now. They are nowhere near one of the favorites to win a national title right now. And, at this point, Kentucky fans would do well to adjust their expectations, as a trip out of the Sweet 16 should be considered a success.
Here is the full top 25.
1. Villanova, 18-1 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Purdue, 19-2 (2)
3. Virginia, 18-1 (5)
4. Kansas, 16-3 (13)
5. Michigan State, 17-3 (7)
6. Duke, 17-2 (10)
7. West Virginia, 16-3 (4)
8. Arizona, 16-4 (8)
9. Xavier, 18-3 (11)
10. Oklahoma, 14-4 (6)
11. North Carolina, 16-4 (17)
12. Texas Tech, 15-4 (3)
13. Cincinnati, 17-2 (19)
14. Ohio State, 17-4 (22)
15. Auburn, 17-2 (18)
16. Tennessee, 13-5 (23)
17. Wichita State, 15-4 (9)
18. Clemson, 16-3 (20)
19. Saint Mary’s, 19-2 (NR)
20. Gonzaga, 17-4 (16)
21. Nevada, 18-3 (NR)
22. Florida, 14-5 (NR)
23. Rhode Island, 15-3 (NR)
24. Arizona State, 15-4 (14)
25. TCU, 14-5 (25)
DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Seton Hall, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 21 Michigan, No. 24 Miami
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 19 Saint Mary’s, No. 21 Nevada, No. 22 Florida, No. 23 Rhode Island
Northern Colorado knocked off North Dakota on Saturday night thanks to a half court buzzer-beating three from Andre Spight.
Spight is averaging 20.3 points on the season and finished with 34 points and six assists in the 94-91 win.