NCAA tournament

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Report: North Carolina to miss out on NCAA events through 2022 if HB2 not addressed by Thursday

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North Carolina is in danger of losing out on hosting NCAA events through 2022 if the state does not make changes to HB2, the controversial so-called “bathroom bill” by Thursday afternoon, according to the leader of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

“I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now,” Scott Dupree, the head of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids.”

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

The NCAA, as it reminded North Carolina last week, is making its determinations on hosts for events from 2018-2022 this week. There was movement last week at the North Carolina statehouse for a compromise on the bill, but that apparently stalled out, the News & Observer reported, though there remain efforts to make progress on a pact.

Should lawmakers not reach an agreement in time, the state’s flagship basketball programs will be without an NCAA tournament home-court advantage that they have often enjoyed. HB2 just this past year moved the first and second rounds out of the state and to South Carolina, where No. 2 seed Duke lost to the seventh-seeded Gamecocks in their home state.

Clearly, there’s much more to consider here than NCAA tournament implications, but it’s another reminder of the economic impact the bill has made in North Carolina. This week, The Associated Press estimated it will cost the state $3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

NCAA announces changes to selection committee, process

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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With the position of NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee Chair being a one-year responsibility, the NCAA announced its choice for chairman for the 2017-18 season. Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen will move into that role in 2017, replacing current chair and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis. Among the responsibilities for the chair are to answer the questions that come after the selection committee releases the NCAA tournament bracket and to hand out the national championship trophy.

That wasn’t the only change announced by the NCAA either, with one such alteration being quite the departure from the way in which the selection committed used to do things.

Per the NCAA, the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament will get to choose where they play the first weekend of the tournament. Teams considered to be in the running for the top overall seed will submit their preferences to the selection committee well in advance of Selection Sunday, so there won’t be any knowledge of possible opponents at that time.

While this is a change to how the NCAA has done things in past brackets, going primarily by mileage when looking to place top seeds as close to their campus as possible, this isn’t exactly a seismic shift since the top overall seed won’t be known until Sunday. But it does give those top teams an option, with designs on it being an additional perk that those programs will have earned.

The bigger change to the selection process is the attempt to revise some of the metrics used by the committee when selecting teams and filling out the bracket, with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) recommending that the men’s basketball committee take a look at this.

The committee also agreed in concept with the NABC recommendation, as evidenced by past practice in the process, that criteria such as quality wins, overall and non-conference strength of schedule, and road/neutral wins were primary criteria in selecting and seeding the tournament field. Further analysis and study of refining and possibly redefining those specific criteria for the future will be considered by the basketball committee and ad hoc group representatives over the next year. Finally, a longer-term discussion will be ongoing regarding the use of geography and impact of intra-conference matchup possibilities in the principles and procedures for bracketing.

The RPI is a metric that has been used by the selection committee for years, but with the growth in analytics the RPI has come under fire for being outdated. And given the number of options at our disposal these days, the formula used to put together the RPI looks even more archaic. Anything that can be done to modernize that particular metric, especially if the committee will continue to use it, can only benefit college basketball down the line.

Holy Cross extends postseason run in a game that showcased First Four flaws

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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The nearly unthinkable Holy Cross postseason run is still alive.

The Crusaders won their first NCAA tournament game since 1953 with a 59-55 victory over Southern on Wednesday at the First Four in Dayton in a matchup of 16 seeds.

A total afterthought in the Patriot League just two weeks ago after a 5-13 league season, the only thing Holy Cross has done since is win. The Crusaders, which finished one spot above last in the league, won four-straight games on the road to win the conference tournament, despite not having won a single conference road game the entire regular season.

Now, they’ve stopped an eight-game NCAA tournament losing streak, and coach Bill Carmody has a Big Dance win on his resume after famously failing to get Northwestern into the contest for 13 years as the Wildcats’ head coach.

Robert Champion led the way for the Crusaders with 19 points while Anthony Thompson had 12. Southern’s Adrian Rodgers had 14 points.

Despite it providing a continuation of a nice story for Holy Cross, the story of this game was once again exposing the flaws of the First Four and the way it’s constructed. For most of the night, the level of play was low and the watchability of it even lower. And that should be no surprise, considering the committee had these two teams pegged as the field’s worst. What’s the point of pitting them against each other? It’s certainly not an alchemy that will often produce entertaining basketball.

Which is to say nothing of how it is a disservice to the low- and mid-majors that have often populated Dayton during the First Four’s five years. This is not a true tournament experience for them. There’s no build up to enjoy the accomplishment. They’re immediately sent to purgatory in western Ohio not to play the sport’s bluebloods or any particular year’s top teams, but to face a school with little name recognition and not likely any better than the competition they’ve faced all year in their own conference. Not to mention you’re televised on a channel few watch in a timeslot no one wants.

Congratulations to Holy Cross, but they, Southern and the college basketball public deserve better.

Shockers join the rest of the field

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With the game slipping away, Wichita State suddenly looked like NCAA tournament veterans. Composed and lethal.

A two-point lead with under 8 minutes to play became a cruise to the finish line for the Shockers after they hit Vanderbilt with a 14-0 run to set up a 70-50 victory in the Tuesday nightcap of the First Four in Dayton.

The 11th-seeded Shockers will now head east to Providence to face No. 6 Arizona in the first round of the South region.

Throughout parts of the game, it looked as though Wichita State was the team the NCAA tournament committee thought they were when they sent them to Dayton following their Missouri Valley Conference semifinals loss to Northern Iowa, struggling to score or find separation from Vandy. Senior Ron Baker in particular struggled, finishing 3 of 11 from the field.

Then, after the midway point of the second half and with their season certainly hanging in the balance, the Shockers looked like the team that won 16 of 18 MVC games, finished the year ranked 12th in KenPom and had tons of NCAA tournament experience.

Baker (who made 7 of 8 free throws) finished with 14 points, as did fellow senior Fred VanVleet, who also suffered a cut above his right eye.

Riley LaChance and Joe Toye both had 10 points for Vanderbilt, which finishes the season 19-14.

The headline for Wichita State was that its top-ranked KenPom defense has the ability to tighten the screws against a very good offense from the SEC. The Commodores managed just 20 second-half points and just two in the last 8 minutes, 42 seconds. They shot 30.2 percent from the floor. and 15.8 percent from 3-point range. It was truly a dominant defensive performance down the stretch.

The Shockers may have backed into the field, but their defense showed Tuesday it may be good enough to keep them there for some time.

FGCU thrashes Fairleigh Dickinson in First Four

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Dunk City is back at it again.

Florida Gulf Coast ripped Fairleigh Dickinson, 96-65, on Tuesday night in a First Four matchup between two 16 seeds.

The Eagles will now travel to Raleigh, N.C. to face the East region’s top seed, North Carolina on Thursday night.

In its first NCAA tournament appearance since captivating the country in their 2013 run to the Sweet 16 as a 15th seed, the Eagles jumped all over the Knights from the outset and never looked back. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never let up en route to the 31-point shellacking.

Marc Eddy Norelia mad 10 of his 11 shots to finish with 20 points while Julian DeBose and Christian Terrell both had 14 points as the Eagles shot 59.6 percent from the floor while holding the Knights to 32.9 percent.

Earl Potts, Jr. led the way for Fairleigh Dickinson with 16 points.

The Tar Heels and FGCU will tip off at 7:20 p.m. ET on Thursday evening with the game being broadcast by TBS.

The Eagles became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 three years ago, and they will have the opportunity to make history again as no No. 16 has ever beaten a No. 1. That, of course, would be a monumental task as North Carolina, besides being one of the sport’s all-time powerful programs, finished this season as the ACC’s regular season and conference champions, having won five-straight games entering the postseason and with a pair of All-Americans in Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige.

College basketball calendar won’t change anytime soon

Associated Press
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Early Wednesday Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury wrote an article in which he made note of a conversation he had with NCAA vice president of men’s basketball Dan Gavitt about the possibility of moving back the start of the college basketball season. This idea was proposed by Pac-12 deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich in March (and others before him), with the move to make college basketball a one-semester sport seen as something that could potentially benefit all involved.

Gavitt did note to Wilner that there are some within college sports would like to see the possibility be addressed, but that doesn’t mean the NCAA is anywhere near deciding to begin the college basketball season in mid-December. Wednesday evening Gavitt issued a statement on the matter, noting that the NCAA has tournament dates locked in through 2018 (first/second and regional rounds) and 2021 (Final Four).

That’s one important reason why a calendar switch won’t be coming anytime soon.

“The topic of shifting the NCAA men’s basketball season and the championship is not currently under formal discussion nor on the agenda of the Division I men’s basketball committee,” Gavitt said in the statement.

Of course with “March Madness” being a staple in American sports, more than a few reacted negatively to suggestions that college basketball should be played in just one semester. Also worth considering, which was noted by Gavitt in Wilner’s story, is the need for arenas during the NCAA tournament.

In the current setup the NCAA won’t have an issue setting dates for the NCAA tournament. However moving to one semester would likely put the NCAA tournament up against the NBA and NHL playoffs when it comes to arena dates should they want to use pro arenas, and good luck getting those franchises to give up those dates.