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Bracketology: Don’t sleep on Duke

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After a home loss to NC State in late January, it was fair to wonder if this year’s talented group of Duke Blue Devils were ever going to reach the pinnacles set before them in November.  Most preseason bracket projections established Duke as the No. 1 overall seed, a prohibitive favorite to win another National Championship.  Then the injuries mounted, on the court and on the bench. Following the NC State defeat, Duke had lost three of four games and looked more like a middle-of-the-pack ACC group than a title contender.

Now, turn the page. Since that loss to the Wolfpack, the Blue Devils have reeled off six straight ACC wins, including three on the road – at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame, and last night at Virginia.  In less than a month, Duke has risen to 9-4 in the ACC, back among league contenders.  They’ve also taken a climb on today’s Seed List – claiming a No. 3 seed in the bracket, opening in Greenville.  If you fell asleep on the Blue Devils, it might be time to wake up.  It looks like Duke is back in play for a top-three seed on Selection Sunday.

Bubble Picture …

In the absence of distinct separating factors along the cutline, it was time to reconvene some advanced metrics.  Those models continue to favor the likes of Clemson, Wichita State, and Kansas State – despite the Wildcats’ recent streak of Big 12 losses.  For now, take your pick among the final 8 teams (Last IN, First OUT).  You can make cases for and against each of them.  Championship Week could well turn into a series of play-in games unless two or three teams from the group (or elsewhere) separate themselves in the next couple of weeks.

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

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

Last Four Byes (at large): Syracuse, Miami-FL, Arkansas, Seton Hall

Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Wichita State, Clemson, Kansas State

First Four OUT (at large): Georgia Tech, Providence, Georgetown, Marquette

Next four teams OUT (at large): Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Indiana, Georgia

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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 (1): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (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)

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.