Iowa State forward Georges Niang (31) works against Kansas forward Perry Ellis, back, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Niang scored 24 points in the game. Kansas won 92-81. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dillon Brooks, Oregon
The Pac-12 may not be as strong at the top as the other power conferences in college basketball, but there may not be a league in the country that is as balanced. There are as many as ten teams that are still in the running for an NCAA tournament bid, and the difference between No. 2 and No. 10 is really not all that drastic.
I say No. 2 because, at this point, I think that the Ducks are the clear-cut best team in the conference. They proved that this week, as they mollywhopped Colorado in Eugene and followed that up with a double-figure win over Utah. Dillon Brooks looked like an All-American on Sunday, putting 30 points and nine assists on the Utes, who had the reputation of being one of the better defensive teams in the conference entering the day.
Brooks’ offensive arsenal is just silly, but his name doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as some of the other stars in college basketball, probably for the same reason Oregon is flying under the radar. They were injured early and suffered a couple of ugly losses early in the year, to UNLV in Las Vegas and at Boise State. But they’ve won six in a row in the league (how about this run: USC, UCLA, at Arizona, at Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) and nine of their last ten. I think Oregon is Final Four good. Let’s see if anyone else picks up on it.
THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- Brandon Sherrod, Yale: Sherrod broke the NCAA record of consecutive field goals made in Friday night’s win over Columbia, when he scored 25 points and grabbed eight boards. He had made 30 straight shots since January 16th.
- Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State: Iwundu had 15 points, five boards and five assists in a loss at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, but he made this list for the 22 points and seven assists he had in the win over No. 1 Oklahoma, when he also was tasked with guarding Buddy Hield, who he “held” to 23 points.
- Darryl Reynolds, Villanova: Reynolds had 13 boards in a win over Creighton during the week and followed that up with 19 points and 10 boards in the win at Providence. He entered the week averaging just 2.3 points with a reputation for being little more than the reason that Daniel Ochefu needed to play so many minutes.
- Ryan Anderson, Arizona: The 31 points and 12 boards at Washington State were nice. The 22 points and 15 boards at Washington were even better. The road sweep that Arizona landed? The best.
- Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia: Maybe it’s Virginia’s struggles on the road. Maybe it’s because they’re a “boring” team to watch. Maybe it’s because their pace keeps his numbers down a bit. Whatever the case may be, no one is paying near enough attention to how good Brogdon has been this season. Myself included. He was terrific against in wins against Boston College and at Pitt this week.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: West Virginia Mountaineers
Here we are, the morning after the Super Bowl has ended, and none other than West Virginia is leading the Big 12.
It’s West Virginia.
Not Oklahoma. Not Kansas. Not Iowa State. West Virginia.
And I know what your initial reaction is going to be. “A schedule fluke”, right? Well, no. Not really. The Mountaineers beat Kansas at home. They lost to Oklahoma in Norman on a tip-in by Khadeem Lattin at the buzzer. This week alone they won at Iowa State and beat Baylor in impressive fashion in Morgantown. Bobby Huggins has this team playing some great basketball, and when they’re forcing turnovers, crashing the glass and getting Jaysean Paige to play like an all-Big 12 guard, they’re tough to beat.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Michigan State: The Spartans are back. After seeing Michigan State go into Ann Arbor and work over the Wolverines, I feel pretty comfortable saying that.
- Louisville: The Cardinals got rocked by the news of their postseason ban, and responded by blowing out Boston College on Saturday. So good for them. The win over North Carolina was nice, too.
- Texas: The Longhorns kicked off the week by winning at Baylor and followed that up with a better-than-you-think win over Texas Tech.
- Oregon: Like we mentioned earlier, no one in the country is playing better ball right now than the Ducks.
- Maryland: The Terps not only picked up a win at Nebraska during the week, but they also held serve against Purdue at home over the weekend, which gave them their second top 50 win of the season.
SET YOUR DVR
No. 10 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
No. 14 West Virginia at No. 7 Kansas, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
No. 5 Iowa at No. 22 Indiana, Thu. 9:00 p.m.
No. 7 Kansas at No. 1 Oklahoma, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
Gonzaga at No. 12 SMU, Sat. 10:00 p.m.
No. 22 Indiana at No. 10 Michigan State, Sun. 1:00 p.m.
USC at No. 23 Arizona, Sun. 9:00 p.m.
With the Super Bowl in our rear-view mirror, eyes turn toward Selection Sunday – apologies to the diehard baseball fans who toss in the start of Spring Training ahead of March Madness. Anyway, we’re a month away from the annual NCAA Tournament Selection Show and few bracket positions have been secured. If you’re just joining the college hoops landscape, it’s been that type of season. Welcome, by the way.
Oklahoma continues to lead the Field of 68, but the No. 1 seed line is far from certain. At this point a year ago, we pretty much knew that Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke would be No. 1 seeds. This year, we can’t lock anyone into place. Positioning along the top three lines is very much in flux, even if we have a good idea about the contenders. The bubble is no different. Strap on your seatbelt; it could be a bumpy ride to the finish.
As a reminder, Louisville self-imposed a post-season ban last Friday, which eliminates the Cardinals from bracket consideration. SMU did the same before the season. Thus, two at-large teams will be Dancing on Selection Sunday courtesy of the Cards and Mustangs. Today, those two teams are Clemson and Saint Joseph’s. In the Tigers’ case, a solid group of ACC wins (mostly at home) is lifting up non-conference schedule ranked No. 341. Ultimately, that could cost Clemson a month from now – we’ve seen it before. When a team goes 7-5 against one of the worst non-conference schedules in the nation, it takes an exceptional conference season to overcome the disparity.
Enjoy your week of college hoops. You can find the complete Seed List at Bracketville.
UPDATED: February 8, 2016
Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. In the event of a tie in the loss column, RPI is first tiebreaker. Notes: To simulate actual bracket conditions, we’ve used current conference leaders to receive the automatic bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (ex: UCLA)
Several new bracketing principles were introduced a couple of years ago. 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)
- Cincinnati vs. Saint Joseph’s | Midwest Region
- Clemson vs. George Washington | East Region
- BUCKNELL vs. WAGNER | Midwest Region
- HAMPTON vs. TEXAS-SOUTHERN | South Region
BRACKET PROJECTION …
|SOUTH – Louisville||MIDWEST – Chicago|
|Oklahoma City||Des Moines|
|1) OKLAHOMA||1) Kansas|
|16) TX-SOUTHERN / HAMPTON||16) BUCKNELL / WAGNER|
|8) WICHITA STATE||8) VCU|
|9) Colorado||9) Syracuse|
|5) DAYTON||5) Arizona|
|12) VALPARAISO||12) MONMOUTH|
|4) Miami-FL||4) Texas AM|
|13) AKRON||13) ARK-LITTLE ROCK|
|6) Providence||6) Baylor|
|11) SAINT MARY’S||11) Cincinnati / St. Joseph’s|
|3) OREGON||3) Michigan State|
|14) UAB||14) NC-WILMINGTON|
|7) Duke||7) Pittsburgh|
|10) Seton Hall||10) Washington|
|2) Maryland||2) Xavier|
|15) BELMONT||15) NEW MEXICO ST|
|EAST – Philadelphia||WEST – Anaheim|
|1) VILLANOVA||1) IOWA|
|16) NORTH FLORIDA||16) MONTANA|
|8) CONNECTICUT||8) Florida State|
|9) Florida||9) SAN DIEGO ST|
|5) Kentucky||5) USC|
|12) Clemson / Geo Washington||12) CHATTANOOGA|
|4) Purdue||4) Texas|
|13) STONY BROOK||13) UC-IRVINE|
|6) Notre Dame||6) Utah|
|11) LSU||11) Gonzaga|
|3) WEST VIRGINIA||3) Iowa State|
|14) YALE||14) SO. DAKOTA ST|
|7) Indiana||7) South Carolina|
|10) California||10) Michigan|
|2) Virginia||2) NORTH CAROLINA|
|15) NC-ASHEVILLE||15) S.F. AUSTIN|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Oklahoma is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Iowa, and Villanova. Next in line: Virginia, North Carolina, Xavier, Maryland
Last Four Byes (at large): California, Seton Hall, Michigan, Gonzaga
Last Four IN (at large): Cincinnati, George Washington, Clemson, Saint Joseph’s
First Four OUT (at large): Oregon State, Butler, UCLA, Wisconsin
Next four teams OUT (at large): Georgia, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Temple
Breakdown by Conference …
ACC (9): NORTH CAROLINA, Virginia, Miami-FL, Notre Dame, Duke, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Syracuse, Clemson
Pac 12 (7): OREGON, USC, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Washington, California
Big 12 (6): WEST VIRGINIA, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas, Baylor
Big 10 (6): IOWA, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan
SEC (5): LSU, Texas AM, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida
Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Providence, Seton Hall
Atlantic 10 (4): DAYTON, VCU, George Washington, Saint Joseph’s
American (2): CONNECTICUT, Cincinnati
West Coast (2): SAINT MARY’S, Gonzaga
Mountain West (1): SAN DIEGO STATE
MAAC (1): MONMOUTH
Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE
ONE BID LEAGUES: UAB (C-USA), Ark-Little Rock (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), Stephen F. Austin (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), North Florida (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)