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Bracketology: Making sense of a wild week of college hoops

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You probably don’t remember the last time Northwestern made the NCAA tournament.  That’s because the Wildcats have never enjoyed the Madness of March.  This year’s team could change that, dancing into history in the process.  Entering today, the Wildcats are 5-2 in the Big Ten and look poised to make a run at finally hearing their name called on Selection Sunday.  February is going to be a fun month in Evanston.

Top Seeds 

It was a rocky two days for the top two seed lines, but other than a little re-ordering, the No. 1 seeds remain in tact; that’s what happens when everyone in the group loses (except for Gonzaga, of course).  Also, keep an eye on Arizona.  Those Wildcats look awfully good at full strength.

The Bubble

It’s a tangled mess around the cutline.  The number of teams under at-large consideration with losing conference records (even as bad as 1-6) is rather incredible, really.  It’ll be interested to see how all of these bubble teams perform down the stretch, especially in the ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of mid-major at-large contenders. The clubhouse leaders would be Middle Tennessee State, UNC-Wilmington, Illinois State, and Wichita State.  We’ll see how they navigate the next month.

UPDATED: January 26, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, 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)

  • TCU vs. VCU | East Region
  • Wake Forest vs. Michigan West Region
  • NEW ORLEANS vs. WEBER STATE | Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC CENTRAL | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

SOUTH Memphis                    EAST – New York
Tulsa Buffalo
1) BAYLOR 1) VILLANOVA
16) NEW ORLEANS / WEBER STATE 16) NC-CENTRAL / MT ST MARY’S
8) DAYTON 8) Virginia Tech
9) Minnesota 9) MID TENNESSEE ST
Orlando Sacramento
5) Duke 5) MARYLAND
12) NEVADA 12) VCU / TCU
4) Purdue 4) Oregon
13) MONMOUTH 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Indianapolis Milwaukee
6) Creighton 6) Florida
11) Texas Tech 11) Georgia Tech
3) Louisville 3) Butler
14) WINTHROP 14) FLA GULF COAST
Indianapolis Greenville
7) Xavier 7) USC
10) ILLINOIS STATE 10) Michigan State
2) KENTUCKY 2) NORTH CAROLINA
15) PRINCETON 15) BUCKNELL
MIDWEST – Kansas City WEST – San Jose
Tulsa Salt Lake City
1) Kansas 1) GONZAGA
16) UC-IRVINE 16) TX-SOUTHERN
8) Northwestern 8) Arkansas
9) Marquette 9) Iowa State
Milwaukee Buffalo
5) Wisconsin 5) CINCINNATI
12) AKRON 12) Wake Forest / Michigan
4) Notre Dame 4) West Virginia
13) VALPARAISO 13) VERMONT
Sacramento Greenville
6) Saint Mary’s 6) South Carolina
11) NC State 11) Seton Hall
3) UCLA 3) Virginia
14) BELMONT 14) CHATTANOOGA
Orlando Salt Lake City
7) Indiana 7) SMU
10) NC-WILMINGTON 10) Kansas State
2) Florida State 2) ARIZONA
15) GA-SOUTHERN 15) NORTH DAKOTA ST

NOTES on the BRACKET: Baylor is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Villanova, Gonzaga, and Kansas.

Last Four Byes (at large): Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State, Seton Hall

Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Michigan, Wake Forest, VCU

First Four OUT (at large): California, Wichita State, Miami-FL, Clemson

Next four teams OUT (at large): Pittsburgh, Illinois, Tennessee, Oklahoma State

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): NORTH CAROLINA, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State, Wake Forest

Big 10 (8): MARYLAND, Purdue, Wisconsin, Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

Big 12 (7): BAYLOR, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Butler, Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall

SEC (4): KENTUCKY, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas

Pac 12 (4): ARIZONA, UCLA, Oregon, USC

Atlantic 10 (2): DAYTON, VCU

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), Georgia-Southern (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mt. St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.