Rob Dauster

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)

AP POLL: Kansas, Michigan State take over top two spots

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The Jayhawks won their 12th consecutive regular season title on Saturday, and they were rewarded with the top spot in the new AP Poll.

Michigan State slides into the No. 2 spot while Villanova falls to third after their loss to Xavier. Virginia resides in fourth while Xavier remains in the top five after beating the No. 1 team in the country and losing to Seton Hall.

Here is the full AP Poll:

[   NBCSports.com Top 25 | Coaches Poll | NBC Bracketology   ]

1. Kansas (25-4, 63 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (24-5, 2)
3. Villanova (25-4)
4. Virginia (22-6)
5. Xavier (25-4)
6. Oklahoma (22-6)
7. Miami (FL) (23-5)
8. North Carolina (23-6)
9. Oregon (23-6)
10. West Virginia (22-7)
11. Louisville (22-7)
12. Indiana (23-6)
13. Utah (23-7)
14. Maryland (23-6)
15. Purdue (22-7)
16. Iowa (20-8)
17. Duke (21-8)
18. Arizona (22-7)
19. Baylor (21-8)
20. Texas A&M (22-7)
21. Iowa State (20-9)
22. Kentucky (21-8)
23. Texas (19-10)
24. SMU (24-4)
25. Cal (21-8)

COACHES POLL: Kansas is a near-unanimous No. 1

Wayne Selden Jr.
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Kansas moved back into the No. 1 spot in the Coaches Poll thanks to clinching at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title while Villanova’s loss to Xavier dropped them all the way to … No. 2.

Michigan State was the only other team in the country to receive a vote for the No. 1 spot, and they only got one vote.

Here is the full Coaches Poll:

[   NBCSports.com Top 25 | AP Poll | NBC Bracketology   ]

1. Kansas (25-4, 31 first-place votes)
2. Villanova (25-4)
3. Michigan State (24-5, 1)
4. Virginia (22-6)
5. Xavier (25-4)
6. Oklahoma (22-6)
7. Miami (FL) (23-5)
8. North Carolina (23-6)
9. West Virginia (22-7)
10. Oregon (23-6)
11. Indiana (23-6)
12. Maryland (23-6)
t13. Purdue (22-7)
t13. Utah (23-7)
15. Iowa (20-8)
16. Arizona (22-7)
17. Baylor (21-8)
18. Texas A&M (22-7)
19. Kentucky (21-8)
20. Iowa State (20-9)
21. Duke (21-8)
22. Texas (19-10)
23. Wichita State (23-7)
24. St. Mary’s (24-4)
25. Cal (21-8)

Atlantic Sun Tournament Preview and Conference Postseason Awards

North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll speaks with guard Dallas Moore during the second half of an NCAA  college basketball game against Illinois at the Prairie Capital Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. North Florida defeated Illinois 93-81. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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The Atlantic Sun has had quite a bit of tournament success in recent years. Mercer, who has since left the conference, picked off No. 3 seed Duke in the 2014 tournament while FGCU became #DunkCity after the Eagles flew to the Sweet 16 with wins over No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 10 seed San Diego State.

The conference didn’t have many marquee wins during the regular season, but they did pick off a couple high-major program. North Florida won at Illinois. NJIT beat St. John’s in Carnesecca Arena. FGCU got UMass at home. And while none of those teams are tournament teams, it is a sign that this league, in general, may be more competitive than you may think. Can you say ‘Upset City’?

The Bracket 

2016_MBB_Bracket

When: March 1, 3 and 6

Where: Campus sites, hosted by the higher seed

Final: March 6th, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Favorite: North Florida

The Ospreys won a competitive conference that plays a true, double round-robin league schedule by two full games. They’re the best team in the league, meaning that they get home court advantage through the tournament, and they’ve lost just a single game at home all season long. Throw in the fact that this group is one of the nation’s most potent offensive attacks — you’d be hard-pressed to find a better back court at this level than Dallas Moore and Beau Beech — and you may want to get out of their way if their shots are going down.

And if they lose?: NJIT

It’s their first year in the conference, but I think NJIT can make a run. For starters, traveling all the way to New Jersey for a game is not an easy thing for teams located in the south to do, and the Highlanders will have home court throughout the tournament unless they get UNF in the title game. Then throw in the fact that this team A) Has one of the league’s best players in guard Damon Lynn and B) has beaten Michigan, Duquesne, South Florida and St. John’s in the last two years, and it’s not difficult to picture them making a run.

Other Contenders

  • FGCU: The Eagles are arguably the most talented team in the conference, but they’ll have to lock horns with UNF in the semis if they win.
  • Kennesaw State: Al Skinner’s Owls struggled for much of the season, but they were the hottest team in the league down the stretch, winning four of their last five games.

Atlantic Sun Player of the Year: Dallas Moore, North Florida

More was the best player on the best team in the conference, which, generally speaking, is usually enough to earn an award like this. He led the conference in scoring (19.7 points) and assists (6.1). This wasn’t a difficult pick.

Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year: Al Skinner, Kennesaw State

On Jan. 23rd, the Owls, who were picked to finish last in the league in the preseason, were 3-16 against Division I opponents, but Skinner was able to turn things around down the stretch. KSU won six of their last nine games to get to .500 in league play, which is A) something that has not happened for this program since 2007 and B) tied for the best record the Owls have ever had in the league as a Division I program. In the previous four seasons, KSU had a total of nine league wins.

First-Team All-Atlantic Sun:

  • Dallas Moore, North Florida
  • Damon Lynn, NJIT
  • Kendrick Ray, Kennesaw State
  • Beau Beech, North Florida
  • Marc-Eddy Naurelia, FGCU

CBT Prediction: North Florida protects their home court and earns the automatic bid.

NEW PODCAST: Kansas’ wins the Big 12, Indiana wins the Big Ten and sleepers/upset targets in March

Kansas players celebrate at the end of the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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In the latest episode of the College Basketball Talk podcast, we dig into Bill Self’s 12th straight Big 12 regular season title and what makes it so impressive, we chat about Indiana’s Big Ten title and whether or not Tom Crean should look for an out at Indiana and who will be the biggest surprises and the biggest disappointments when we get into the NCAA tournament.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Or if you prefer, just click “play” in the embedded player below. Thanks for listening!

WEEKLY AWARDS: Jaysean Paige is West Virginias hero, and Seton Hall is dancing

West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) takes a shot at the basket while being pressured by Oklahoma State guard Joe Burton (4) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Paige led West Virginia scoring with 17 points in the 70-56 win over Oklahoma State. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jaysean Paige, West Virginia

Paige has been terrific for the Mountaineers this season, leading the team in scoring despite operating as their sixth-man. He was once again phenomenal this week, going for 34 points in a 97-87 win over No. 17 Iowa State in Morgantown earlier this week. He followed that up with 17 points in a win at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

The reason that Paige is such an important piece for WVU is due to the way that the Mountaineers play. They press and press and press largely due to the fact that they need to be able to get points in transition if they want to score. This is not exactly the Golden State Warriors offensively. But Paige is their most dangerous shooter and their best scorer, meaning he is the guy that allows them to be able to get into their press even when the press is not working all that well.

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Davon Reed, Miami: In wins over No. 3 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville, Reed averaging 19.0 points while shooting 13-for-15 from the floor. Not bad for the fourth-best perimeter player that Jim Larrañaga has at his disposal.
  • Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead was sensational for the Pirates this week, averaging 23.5 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 boards and 4.0 blocks in wins over Providence and No. 2 Xavier. He’s a guard, by the way.
  • Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin: Koenig was the best player on the floor for the Badgers in wins at No. 8 Iowa and over Michigan on Sunday. The Badgers all-but clinched their NCAA tournament at-large bid and are a 2-0 week away from winning a share of the Big Ten title.
  • Brandon Taylor, Utah: Taylor came up huge in Utah’s win over No. 9 Arizona on Saturday, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the second half, hitting the dagger with this filth.
  • AJ Hammons, Purdue: Hammons had one of his best games of the season on Saturday, helping the Boilermakers overpower No. 10 Maryland’s front line.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Seton Hall Pirates

The Pirates punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament this week with two dominating performances in Newark. It started on Wednesday, when they sent the Friars back to Providence with an 18-point loss and continued on Sunday as they pounded No. 5 Xavier, who was coming off of a win over then-No. 1 Villanova.

Think about where this team and this program was a year ago. They had players transferring in the middle of the year. They were reports that there was a complete fracture in the locker room. They had gone from a top 15 team in January to a team that missed the NCAA tournament. The assistant that was hired specifically to get Isaiah Whitehead onto campus was sent packing. They were picked seventh in the conference in the preseason.

And here they are, tournament bound and a borderline top 25 team.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Colorado: The Buffaloes will be dancing this season. They locked that up with wins over the Arizona schools this week.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes bounced back from a dreadful loss at UNC to beat both Virginia and Louisville in Coral Gables.
  • Wisconsin: After wins at Iowa and over Michigan, if the season ended today, the Badgers would be the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
  • Texas: The Longhorns avoided a loss at Kansas State and followed that up with a win over No. 3 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday.
  • Vanderbilt: The Commodores played their way onto the right side of the cut line (for now) by winning at Florida and knocking off No. 16 Kentucky in Nashville.

SET YOUR DVR

No. 2 Kansas at No. 25 Texas, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
No. 19 Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 18 Indiana at No. 8 Iowa, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
Cal at No. 9 Arizona, Thu. 9:00 p.m.
No. 17 Iowa State at No. 2 Kansas, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 7 North Carolina at No. 15 Duke, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
No. 11 Louisville at No. 3 Virginia, Sat. 8:30 p.m.
No. 10 Maryland at No. 18 Indiana, Sun. 4:30 p.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TALK TOP 25: Kansas remains No. 1 as Top 25 bloodbath shakes things up

The Kansas bench celebrates during the second half of a NCAA college basketball game against  San Diego State on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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This is the week where it all went to hell.

16 of the top 25 teams in the AP Poll lost in the last week, with two of those 16 — Arizona and Iowa — losing twice. So at this point … I don’t even know. I may let you maniacs do this for me next Monday, because the struggle to find teams that are good enough to be ranked, let alone in and around the top ten, is way harder than it looks.

Anyway, here is today’s CBT Top 25:

[   Coaches Poll | AP Poll | NBC Bracketology   ]

1. Kansas (25-4, LW: No. 1): The Jayhawks clinched their 12th straight Big 12 title on Saturday, which is a run that we may never, ever see matched again.

2. Michigan State (24-5, LW: No. 3): For my money, the Spartans are the best team in the country right now and are just about assured a spot in my Final Four when the brackets are released in 14 days.

3. Virginia (22-6, LW: No. 5): I was not a believer in Virginia earlier in the year. Their improvements on the defensive end of the floor, combined with Malcolm Brogdon’s emergence as a bonafide superstar, gets them the title of best team in the ACC.

4. Villanova (25-4, LW: No. 4): I’m not putting too much stock in Villanova losing at Xavier when they beat Xavier by 31 points at home.

5. Xavier (25-4, LW: No. 6): For me, the loss at Seton Hall on Sunday was almost as concerning as the win over Villanova was on Wednesday.

6. Oklahoma (22-6, LW: No. 2): The Sooners took another loss this week, this time to Texas. They’ve lost three of their last four games, a stretch in which they are shooting 33.1 percent from three.

7. West Virginia (22-7, LW: No. 9): I don’t trust the Mountaineers as an elite team — I don’t trust anyone that relies on an all-out press the way Press Virginia relies on an all-out press — but I don’t trust anyone else either, so …

8. Oregon (23-6, LW: No. 11): I went all-in on Oregon three weeks ago, before they went and lost at Stanford and Cal. I’m back all-in on the Ducks.

9. Utah (22-7, LW: No. 19): I think I’m also all-in on Utah, assuming the Brandon Taylor we’ve seen the last three weeks is, you know, the new Brandon Taylor.

10. Miami (23-5, LW: No. 16): The Hurricanes bounced back from the embarrassing loss at North Carolina by beating Virginia and Louisville. Not bad, ‘Canes. Not bad.

11. Kentucky (21-8, LW: No. 10)
12. Louisville (22-7, LW: No. 13)
13. Duke (21-8, LW: No. 14)
14. North Carolina (23-6, LW: No. 8)
15. Cal (20-8, LW: No. 23)
16. Texas (19-10, LW: No. 24)
17. Purdue (22-7, LW: No. 17)
18. Indiana (23-6, LW: No. 20)
19. Iowa (20-7, LW: No. 7)
20. Wisconsin (19-10, LW: UR)
21. Maryland (23-6, LW: No. 12)
22. Arizona (22-7, LW: No. 15)
23. Iowa State (20-9, LW: No. 18)
24. Baylor (21-8, LW: No. 22)
25. Notre Dame (18-9, LW: No. 21)

DROPPED OUT: No. 25 USC
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 20 Wisconsin