(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

2017 NCAA tournament top 16 teams unveiled for the first time


The NCAA tournament men’s basketball selection committee unveiled its first early look at 2017 tournament on Saturday.

In an effort to draw more attention to the NCAA tournament and college basketball’s regular season, for the first time, the committee announced the 16 teams that would be the top four seeds in each region if the 2017 NCAA tournament were to begin today.

Obviously, these teams and seeds will change dramatically over the final month of the season but it is a useful look at how the committee might view certain teams as we move closer to Selection Sunday.

Defending champion Villanova is currently the No. 1 overall seed.

East Region

  1. Villanova (overall No. 1 seed)
  2. Louisville (overall No. 7 seed)
  3. Kentucky (overall No. 12 seed)
  4. UCLA (overall No. 15 seed)

Midwest Region

  1. Kansas (overall No. 2 seed)
  2. Florida State (overall No. 6 seed)
  3. Arizona (overall No. 9 seed)
  4. Duke (overall No. 16 seed)

South Region

  1. Baylor (overall No. 3 seed)
  2. North Carolina (overall No. 5 seed)
  3. Florida (overall No. 11 seed)
  4. Butler (overall No. 13 seed)

West Region

  1. Gonzaga (overall No. 4 seed)
  2. Oregon (overall No. 8 seed)
  3. Virginia (overall No. 10 seed
  4. West Virginia (overall No. 14 seed)

There was hardly surprise with the No. 1 seeds. Gonzaga, Kansas, Villanova and Baylor have earned the right to sit atop their individual regions.

North Carolina and Florida State are the two most interesting teams on the No. 2 seed line, as an outright winner of a league as strong as this year’s ACC will have a very strong argument for being a No. 1 seed. Florida State in particular seems to be the team valued more by the committee than by the polls, as they are currently ranked 14th in the country.

Oregon ended up as the No. 2 seed out west, which means that the committee factored in the injuries that Dillon Brooks has dealt with this season. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the Pac-12 season shakes out, because Arizona, who is currently a No. 3 seed in the Midwest, is sitting all alone in first place in the league standings.

Easily the most exciting region is the East, where No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Kentucky appear to be on a crash course to meet in the Sweet 16, where they will move on to play the winner of Villanova and No. 4 seed UCLA.

The other interesting team to watch?

Duke, who is the No. 4 seed in the midwest, is on track to face off with Kansas in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils are finally healthy and playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.

Perhaps the biggest storyline here is the total lack of a Big Ten presence in the top 16. No Wisconsin, no Purdue, no Maryland, a fact that may be all the more surprising considering that the Badgers are currently ranked No. 7 in the polls and that our most recent bracket projection has eight Big Ten teams in the tournament.

This may not be a good sign for the Big Ten teams on the bubble – looking at you, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern. If the committee doesn’t value the league enough to think that Wisconsin or Purdue deserve a top five seed at this point, how much are they going to value teams at the bottom of the conference whose best wins came against the top of the league?

Still, it’s important to remember that this is hardly a done-deal.

Just because you’re favorite team is a No. 1 seed doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be a No. 1 seed 19 days from now.

On this day one year ago, our bracket projection had Iowa as a No. 1 seed in the West Region while Wisconsin wasn’t even in the field. Both ended up as No. 7 seeds on Selection Sunday. Oregon, who ended up as the actual No. 1 seed out west, was a No. 3 seed, as was Michigan State, who entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed – a questionable decision – and the overall favorite to win the tournament.



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.