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Bracketology: Committee delivers ACC message

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If we learned anything after Saturday’s sneak peak into the 2017 Selection Committee’s thinking – at least in mid-February – it’s this: Quality RPI wins still matter and the Atlantic Coast Conference is the top game in town.  The road to Selection Sunday is far from over, but as of Noon this past Saturday, ACC teams gobbled up five of the 16 seed lines released (31 percent).  The Big 12 and Pac-12 each took three (19 percent each).  The Big East and SEC two each (12.5 percent).  The Big Ten?  A discussion point, but not worthy, and that was before Wisconsin lost at home Sunday night to Northwestern; a huge win for the Wildcats, by the way, who are poised to make their first-ever appearance in March Madness.  Cincinnati and SMU (American) were also on the outside looking in at the top four lines.

Now, take a breath.  If college basketball has taught us anything, it’s too expect the unexpected.  Although the very top of the bracket is certainly taking shape, nothing is set in stone.  Based upon the Committee’s seeding, three ACC teams (North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State) are still in play for a No. 1 seed.  One could say the same for an eventual Pac-12 champion, especially if say Oregon or Arizona wins the regular season and P12 tourney titles.  As for Gonzaga?  With their trip to Saint Mary’s in the rearview mirror, it’s looking more and more likely the Bulldogs will wrap-up a perfect season.  If they do, a No. 1 seed awaits.  If they were to stumble, we’ll see.  The Committee is not as enamored with their perfect record as compared to the number of power wins by say teams like Kansas or Baylor.

There’s nothing new to report along the bubble.  It’s as messy as ever.  Stay tuned.

UPDATED: February 13, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, 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)

  • Wichita State vs. Seton Hall | East Region
  • Arkansas vs. Georgia Tech | Midwest Region
  • WEBER STATE vs. UC-DAVIS | Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC CENTRAL | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York MIDWEST Kansas City             
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) NC-CENTRAL / M.S. MARY’S 16) WEBER ST / UC-DAVIS
8) Iowa State 8) USC
9) Virginia Tech 9) Minnesota
Sacramento Milwaukee
5) WISCONSIN 5) CINCINNATI
12) VALPARAISO 12) ILLINOIS STATE
4) UCLA 4) Duke
13) BOISE STATE 13) VERMONT
Indianapolis Salt Lake City
6) Maryland 6) Creighton
11) Wichita State / Seton Hall 11) Arkansas / Georgia Tech
3) Kentucky 3) ARIZONA
14) PRINCETON 14) ARKANSAS STATE
Indianapolis Orlando
7) Dayton 7) Northwestern
10) Michigan State 10) TCU
2) Louisville 2) Florida State
15) NO DAKOTA ST 15) NC-ASHEVILLE
WEST – San Jose South – Memphis
Salt Lake City Tulsa
1) GONZAGA 1) Baylor
16) TX-SOUTHERN 16) NEW ORLEANS
8) Oklahoma State 8) VCU
9) California 9) Syracuse
Buffalo Milwaukee
5) Notre Dame 5) Purdue
12) AKRON 12) NC-WILMINGTON
4) West Virginia 4) Butler
13) MONMOUTH 13) BELMONT
Greenville Orlando
6) South Carolina 6) SMU
11) MID TENNESSEE ST 11) Kansas State
3) Virginia 3) FLORIDA
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) BUCKNELL
Sacramento Greenville
7) Saint Mary’s 7) Xavier
10) Miami-FL 10) Michigan
2) Oregon 2) NORTH CAROLINA
15) CSU-BAKERSFIELD 15) FURMAN

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

Last Four Byes (at large): TCU, Michigan, Miami-FL, Kansas State

Last Four IN (at large): Wichita State, Arkansas, Seton Hall, Georgia Tech

First Four OUT (at large): Wake Forest, Georgetown, Marquette, Clemson

Next four teams OUT (at large): Rhode Island, Indiana, Providence, Tennessee

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): NORTH CAROLINA, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami-FL, Georgia Tech

Big 10 (7): WISCONSIN, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State

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

Pac 12 (5): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, USC, California

SEC (4): FLORIDA, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas

Atlantic 10 (2): VCU, Dayton

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (2): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

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

Indiana hires Dayton head coach Archie Miller

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Indiana is expected to hire Dayton head coach Archie Miller, the school announced.

The deal will be for seven years, according to The Vertical. Miller had spent the last six seasons as the head coach at Dayton, getting to four straight NCAA tournaments, including the Elite 8 in 2014, while winning the last two Atlantic 10 regular season titles.

Miller had been targeted by seemingly every high major program with an opening since he reached the Elite 8, but similar to Shaka Smart when he left VCU, Miller simply waited for the right job to come long.

Indiana is the right job.

There had been some speculation that Miller wouldn’t want to take Indiana, that his dream job is Ohio State and that the idea of coaching in a fishbowl like Bloomington is not something that would be all that appealing to him. But Indiana is an elite job. It’s the kind of opening that happens once every four or five years, and if Miller had said no to the Hoosiers now, it’s very possible that an opportunity like this wouldn’t come along for years, if ever.

Elite 8 Preview: Saturday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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So Friday got good.

If Zak Showalter’s game-tying three and subsequent discount double-check wasn’t enough, we had Canyon Barry’s chasedown block and, well, this game-winner from Chris Chiozza.

And all that came after De’Aaron Fox took out what felt like a season’s worth of frustration out on Lonzo Ball.

What is on tap for tonight?

No. 1 GONZAGA (-8) vs. No. 11 XAVIER, 6:09 p.m., TBS: Someone is going to be making their way to the Final Four for the first time on Saturday night, as Xavier’s Chris Mack and Gonzaga’s Mark Few square off for the right to play on the final weekend of the season.

And in a way, this is the perfect Final Four game. Both the Zags and the Musketeers are basketball schools in basketball leagues. They come from outside the power structure and have head coaches that have spurned jobs from within the power structure to remain there. They are built for a run like this, even if they were both overlooked on the way here.

Xavier was obvious. Playing without Edmond Sumner and Myles Davis, the Musketeers just haven’t been the team that they were supposed to be this season. That’s why they lost six straight games in February, but things have turned around in March, as Trevon Bluiett has put the program on his back and willed them to the Elite 8. Gonzaga is the opposite. They went 29-0 to start the season, but they have yet to be accepted as a legitimate title contender by most of the people that watch the games.

My guess on Saturday night is that the Zags make their statement and emphatically get into the Final Four.

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-8)

No. 1 KANSAS (-7) vs.  No. 3 OREGON, 8:49 p.m., TBS: This matchup is a lot tastier on paper than it is likely going to end up being on the floor. As good as Oregon has been this season, they are, essentially, Kansas light. They play two lead guards together and they play small-ball, with a natural wing lined up at the four.

The problem?

The Kansas guys are just better. Josh Jackson is a better player than Dillon Brooks. His length and athleticism should give the Oregon star fits. Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham are better than whatever combination of Payton Pritchard, Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis the Ducks opt to use.

And, for that matter, no team is playing better right now that they Jayhawks, who beat Michigan State by 20, Purdue by 32 and became the first team to score 90 points in their first three NCAA tournament games since 1995. I think that trend continues on Saturday night.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-7)

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.