Southwest Regional breakdown, team capsules

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Who wins, who’s overrated and what’s the best game? I’m here to help.

Here’s a Southwest Regional breakdown with team capsules below. Enjoy.

Underrated: UNLV
By nearly any measure — victories, RPI, rating — the Rebels deserved better than an underperforming Big Ten team capable of insane shooting performances and a second-round matchup with Kansas.

Not that it’s a no-win situation. Lon Kruger’s team (24-8) is filled with athletic players who thrive on defense and create matchup difficulties for nearly any team. UNLV as an 8 seed? No respect.

Overrated: Vanderbilt
Giving the Commodores a 5 seed isn’t horrible. They posted another solid season and have three fine players in John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli. But they were third in the SEC East and faded down the stretch.

Last year, they fell to Murray State as a 4 seed. Could Vandy be the 5-12 upset this time around?

Most likely first-round upset
I already mentioned Richmond-Vanderbilt, so let’s target another first-round game: No. 11 USC vs. No. 6 Georgetown. The Hoyas (21-9) lost five of their last six games, three of which came when point guard Chris Wright went out with a hand injury. He’ll be back for the NCAA tournament, but he’ll almost certainly be rusty, as will the Hoyas’ offense.

As for the Trojans (19-14) they do have to get past VCU first. But USC has the talent and the game-breaking player in Nikola Vucevic to get to the second round.

Best matchup: Kansas vs. Louisville
A possible regional semifinal game looms as perhaps the toughest test for the top-seeded Jayhawks. Kansas struggles against quick guards who can hit from outside, and the Cardinals (23-8) have two in Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles.

Not that it’s about the upset — it should be a wildly entertaining game, too. Louisville loves to push the pace and Kansas (32-2) has never been shy about running when given the chance. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, should be salivating at the thought of the Cardinals’ post defense.

Impact player
It could be Chris Singleton, Florida State’s outstanding defender and best player. He hasn’t played since fracturing his foot on Feb. 12, but maintains he’ll play again this season. He would certainly be the difference in the first round vs. Texas A&M, and would make life miserable for the No. 2 Irish.

But, in light of his uncertain status, I’ll go with Purdue’s JaJaun Johnson. The senior center is the best player in the region. He’s a double-double machine, blocks shots and provides the big plays when the third-seeded Boilermakers need them. He’ll be the reason why Purdue gets to the Elite Eight.

Champion: Kansas.
Alas, Johnson isn’t enough. The Jayhawks are too deep, too talented and playing too well to pick anyone else. No, this wasn’t written last season when Kansas was doing all those things entering the tournament only to lose in the second round.

The difference is that Kansas isn’t as reliant on one player to do all the clutch scoring and has more threats on the outside. Plus, point guard Tyshawn Taylor — demoted after a late-season suspenion — got motivated to play. He smoked Texas in the Big 12 title game.

The Jayhawks are motivated and the’re playing like it. That’s enough.


No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks

Location: Lawrence, Kan.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Bill Self

Pre-tournament record: 32-2, 14-2

Best wins: Arizona, Missouri (twice), Kansas State

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Junior forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, senior guard Tyrel Reed, sophomore guard Elijah Johnson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, shooting, depth.

Weaknesses: Sloppy play, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Perhaps the deepest and most talented team in the tournament, the Jayhawks boast impressive offensive stats – they make 58 percent of their 2s, 39 percent of their 3s and hit the offensive glass – and a defense that occasionally wins games, too. Self’s team isn’t as good at man-to-man defense as the 2008 champs, but the offense usually makes up for any defensive lapses. The Morris twins – or Morrii, if you prefer – have developed into game-breaking forwards. Marcus is more versatile and more likely to step back for a 3, while Markieff is essential to Kansas’ defense and rebounding. Kansas doesn’t have any guards who can consistently create their own shot, but that hasn’t been an issue when teams have to account for the Morrii down low. When Kansas is on, they’re the best team in the country. Then again, that’s what we wrote about last year’s team, too.

No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Location: South Bend, Ind.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Mike Brey

Pre-tournament record: 26-6, 14-4

Best wins: Pitt, Wisconsin

Surprising losses:None

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Ben Hansbrough, senior forward Tim Abromaitis, senior forward Carleton Scott.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, perimeter defense.

Outlook: Notre Dame’s always had a good offense under Brey. The problem’s been defense. This season, the Irish are better at contesting shots and grabbing misses. They’re not Purdue, but it’s been enough. Question is, will that decent defense and superb offense be enough for a Final Four run? Much of its depends on Hansbrough and Abromaitis. The pair are lethal from deep – they’ve hit 44 percent of their 333 attempts beyond the arc – which opens things up for their undersized forwards inside. You can’t force the Irish into a fast game, either. Hansbrough excels at dictating the tempo and takes over when needed. Your best hope? Get in their face and force the two into rushed shots.

No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

Location: West Lafayette, Ind.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Matt Painter

Record: 25-7, 14-4

Best wins: Ohio State, Wisconsin

Surprising losses: Richmond, Minnesota, Iowa

Team stats

Key players: Senior center JaJuan Johnson, senior guard E’Twaun Moore, junior guard Lewis Jackson.

Full team roster

Strengths: On-ball defense, ball-handling, interior defense, 3-point shooting.

Weaknesses: Offensive rebounding, shooting slumps.

Outlook: They don’t come much better than Moore and Johnson. The seniors have been Boilermakers’ mainstays since their freshman seasons, and have improved greatly each year. Johnson’s perhaps the best post player in the nation, boasting a repertoire of moves and a fine spot-up jumper. Moore excels at creating his own shot, usually a pull-up jumper from 12 feet, though he’s also improved his outside shot. Jackson, a 5-9 point guard, is tough, quick and thrives when foes underrate his scoring ability. Those are Purdue’s horses, but Painter also has a deep bench that fill outside shooting and defensive roles. But Purdue is perplexing. Just two weeks ago, it had won seven straight and was eyeing a No. 1 seed. Now it enters the Big Dance having lost two in a row. This team’s capable of reaching the Final Four, but the Sweet 16 might be realistic right now.

No. 4 Louisville Cardinals

Location: Louisville, Ky.

Conference: Big East

Coach: Rick Pitino

Pre-tournament record: 25-9, 12-6

Best wins: Pitt, Syracuse, UConn

Surprising losses:Drexel, Providence

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore guard Peyton Siva, senior guard Preston Knowles, junior forward Terrence Jennings, junior guard Kyle Kuric.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, shooting, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Defensive rebounding, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: The Cardinals go as their guards go. When Siva’s able to shake off defenders and get into the lane, and when Knowles and Kuric are hitting from outside, Louisville’s a tough, tough out. Kuric’s the most consistent shooter, but can’t create his own shot like Knowles and Siva. The guards are quick, aggressive and can spark a run and open a big lead in a matter of minutes. Still, for every big run the Cardinals make, they’re also as likely to go cold on a moment’s notice. If the defense isn’t creating easy baskets off turnovers and the shots aren’t falling from outside, Louisville’s a team primed for an upset. Teams with physical post players or who have good guards are trouble. That’s Morehead State exactly.

No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores

Location:Nashville, Tenn.

Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Kevin Stallings

Pre-tournament record: 23-9, 9-7

Best wins: North Carolina, Kentucky, Belmont

Surprising losses: South Carolina, Arkansas

Team stats

Key players: Junior guard Jeff Taylor, sophomore guard John Jenkins, junior center Festus Ezeli.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, 3-point defense, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, rebounding.

Outlook: Vandy is like half a dozen other tourney teams: When the Commodores are hot from outside, they’re tough. If not, they’ll be home early. Simple as that. With Jenkins and Taylor, Vandy has two of the game’s outstanding shooters. They can hit from anywhere, at any time. But Jenkins dealt with a bum ankle during the SEC tournament and Jenkins has been struggling lately. That leaves a lot for Ezeli to do down low. And really, it’s just those three. Murray State stunned Vandy last year in a 4-13 matchup. Another exit could be in the works.

No. 6 Georgetown Hoyas

Location: Washington

Conference: Big East

Coach: John Thompson III

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 10-8

Best wins: Syracuse, Louisville

Surprising losses: None

Team stats

Key players: Senior wing Austin Freeman, senior guard Chris Wright, junior guard Jason Clark.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, guard play.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, fouls.

Outlook: Two of the 11 Big East teams in the field finished the season on a swoon: Villanova and Georgetown. Yet the Hoyas have escaped the naysayers bemoaning the Wildcats’ season, mostly because point guard Chris Wright broke his hand on Feb. 23 vs. Cincinnati. The Hoyas haven’t won since. Freeman remains a supremely talented offensive player and Clark’s capable of scoring in bunches. But without Wright’s ability to break down defenses, Georgetown becomes one-dimensional on offense. As an added worry, the Hoyas have no reliable post players and struggle on defense. Remember the first-round loss to 14-seed Ohio last year? History could repeat itself.

No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies

Location: College Station, Texas.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Mark Turgeon

Pre-tournament record: 24-8, 10-6

Best wins: Temple, Missouri, Kansas State

Surprising losses: Baylor (twice), Nebraska

Team stats

Key players: Sophomore forward Khris Middleton, junior forward David Loubeau, senior guard B.J. Holmes.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, defense, deliberate play.

Weaknesses: Shooting, sloppy play.

Outlook: The Aggies would feel right at home in the Big Ten. They rarely push the pace and focus on maximizing each possession. They rebound well and rarely allow an easy look at the basket. Sometimes it’s ugly, but it works. Where A&M gets into trouble is when it faces teams with elite scoring talents. The defense gets stretched, then the Aggies fall behind and don’t have enough offensive firepower to catch up. They have underrated guards and a solid scorer in Middleton, though he’s been less aggressive looking for his shot of late. A Sweet 16 berth would be a fine accomplishment for this team.

No. 8 UNLV Rebels

Location: Las Vegas

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Lon Kruger

Pre-tournament record: 24-8, 11-5

Best wins: Wisconsin, Kansas State, Virginia Tech

Surprising loss: UC Santa Barbara

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Tre’Von Willis, junior forward Chase Stanback, junior guard Oscar Bellfield, sophomore forward Quintrell


Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Fouls, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: If the Rebels could hit shots consistently, they’d be dangerous. They’re a dynamite defensive team that relies on its physical man-to-man to force turnovers and force bad shots. That’s not a bad scheme when you’re loaded with athletic players – all between 6-3 and 6-8 – who also do a fair job on the boards. And yet, there’s the shooting. UNLV works for its shots by breaking down defenders and ball movement. Just one outside threat would make it so much easier. The Rebels will be a tough out, but the Sweet 16 is a long shot.

No. 9 Illinois Illini

Location: Champaign, Ill.

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Bruce Weber

Pre-tournament record: 19-13, 9-9

Best wins: North Carolina, Wisconsin, Gonzaga

Surprising losses: Illinois-Chicago, Indiana

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Demetri McCamey, senior center Mike Tisdale, sophomore guard Brandon Paul, senior forward Mike Davis.

Full team roster

Strengths: Perimeter defense, shooting, shot-blocking.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, settling for jump shots.

Outlook: The talent’s there for a Sweet 16 run. Maybe even further. But the Illini will be lucky to get out of the first round. Few teams are more baffling. McCamey’s a gifted point guard and has drawn comparisons to Deron Williams, but he makes too mistakes. Davis and Tisdale are skilled big men, but very soft inside. When’s Paul’s shot is falling, he’s impossible to stop. But that’s becoming increasingly rare. And, for all of Illinois’ defensive ability, they don’t get stops when it matters most. But this isn’t a team to be taken lightly. A few favorable matchups could result in the Illini heating up from outside and making it to the second week of the tournament. But odds aren’t good.

No. 10 Florida State Seminoles

Location: Tallahassee, Fla.

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Leonard Hamilton

Pre-tournament record: 21-10, 11-5

Best wins: Duke, Clemson

Surprising loss: Auburn

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Derwin Kitchen, sophomore guard Michael Snaer, junior forward Bernard James, junior forward Chris Singleton.

Full team roster

Strengths: Interior defense, shot-blocking, offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Ball-handling, 3-point shooting.

Outlook: There are two FSU teams. One plays nasty defense and beats teams like Duke. The other plays good defense and comes up short in losses to North Carolina. The difference? Singleton. Their best player and defensive stopper has missed five games with a fractured foot. Even if he plays, he won’t be the same Singleton foes saw for most of the ACC season. He has the height (6-9) to guard forwards and the mobility to handle guards. Without him, FSU is more limited on defense and offense. This athletic team will be a tough out, but without a fully healthy Singleton, it won’t see the weekend.

No. 11 USC Trojans

Location: Los Angeles

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Kevin O’Neill

Pre-tournament record: 19-14, 10-8

Best wins: Texas, UCLA, Washington, Arizona

Surprising losses: Mercer, TCU, Bradley, Oregon State

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Nikola Vucevic, junior guard Jio Fontan, senior wing Marcus Simmons, senior forward Alex Stephenson.

Full team roster

Strengths: Ball-handling, defensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding, shooting.

Outlook: USC’s the most bi-polar team in the field. The Trojans have beaten Texas, yet lost to Bradley. They beat Washington, but lost to TCU. They took down Arizona, yet fell to Mercer. At home. They’re athletic, sturdy on defense, have one of the Pac-10’s best talents in Vucevic and a floor leader in Fontan. The problem? USC just makes dumb plays sometimes. Maybe it’s a fatigue factor. O’Neill rarely goes to his bench and rides his starters as long as he can. But the Trojans are capable of brilliance. You just never know when. There’s not a more difficult team to predict in the field. Beating VCU and Georgetown? It’s possible.

No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Location: Richmond, Va.

Conference: Colonial Athletic

Coach: Shaka Smart

Pre-tournament record: 23-11, 12-6

Best wins: UCLA, ODU, George Mason

Surprising losses: Georgia State, Northeastern

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Joey Rodriguez, senior forward Jamie Skeen, senior guard Brandon Rozell.

Full team roster

Strengths: Forcing turnovers, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, interior defense.

Outlook: The Rams lost six of their last 11 games, but somehow snuck into the tournament. But the strength of the CAA and a win vs. George Mason in the conference tournament was apparently enough. They’ll have their hands full vs. USC as well. The Rams will have decent athletes, but nobody who can check athletes from major conference schools. They’ll need to open up space for Skeen and find Rodriguez and Rozzell open on the wings for 3-pointers. Might not make it out of the First Four.

No. 12 Richmond Spiders

Location: Richmond, Va.

Conference: Atlantic 10

Coach: Chris Mooney

Pre-tournament record: 27-7, 13-3

Best wins: Purdue, Duquesne

Surprising losses: Rhode Island, Bucknell

Team stats

Key players: Senior guard Kevin Anderson, senior center Justin Harper, senior forward Dan Geirot.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shooting, ball-handling, perimeter defense.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, settling for jump shots.

Outlook: The Spiders’ aggressive man-to-man defense doesn’t force as many turnovers as last season, but it’s still an effective deterrent of open shots. They even do it without getting into foul trouble. This team’s capable of beating elite teams, too. A win vs. Purdue is awfully impressive. Anderson’s an excellent talent, flanked by Harper and Geirot up front. But take caution: the Spiders rarely rebound. It’s just not how they play. That means if their shots aren’t falling – not usually the case – they’re in trouble. They’ll have a chance against Vandy, but only if John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor aren’t hitting.

No. 13 Morehead State Eagles

Location: Morehead, Ky.

Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Donnie Tyndall

Pre-tournament record: 24-9, 13-5

Best win: College of Charleston

Surprising loss:at Eastern Illinois

Team stats

Key players: Senior forward Kenneth Faried, senior guard Demonte Harper.

Full team roster

Strengths: Rebounding, interior defense, forcing turnovers.

Weaknesses: Turnovers, perimeter defense, free-throw shooting.

Outlook: Faried grabs all the attention because of his ferocious rebounding – he broke Tim Duncan’s career mark this season and is the top offensive and defensive rebounder this season – and freakish athletic ability. After Florida escaped with a six-point win over Morehead State back in November, coach Billy Donovan called Faried “the next Dennis Rodman.” But Faried’s far from the only star at Morehead. Harper’s the team’s second-leading scorer and assist leader and, at 6-foot-4, has the size to play against anyone. This is the tandem’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament, which could pay dividends in a close game. And given their defensive style of play, expect a close game.

No. 14 St. Peter’s Peacocks

Location: Jersey City, N.J..

Conference: Metro Atlantic

Coach: John Dunne

Pre-tournament record: 20-13, 11-7

Best win: Alabama

Surprising loss:Lehigh

Team stats

Key players: Senior swingman Jeron Belin, senior guard Nick Leon, senior guard Wesley Jenkins.

Full team roster

Strengths: Challenging shots, steals.

Weaknesses: Making shots.

Outlook: For most of the season, the Peacocks won with their defense. Few teams are better at forcing teams into bad shots. Opponents make just 40.6 percent of their 2-pointers and 30.5 percent of their 3s, both well below the D-I average. But here’s the thing: When St. Peter’s ripped off three wins to take the MAAC tourney title, it made 47 percent of its field-goal attempts. That’s not great, but was far better than what St. Peters’ did most of the year. If the Peacocks come close to that vs. Purdue, they’ll be in position to pull off the upset.

No. 15 Akron Zips

Location: Akron, Ohio.

Conference: Mid-American

Coach: Keith Dambrot

Pre-tournament record: 23-12, 9-7

Best wins: Kent State (twice), Detroit

Surprising losses: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan

Team stats

Key players: Junior forward Nikola Cvetinovic, sophomore center Zeke Marshall, senior guard Steve McNees.

Full team roster

Strengths: Shot-blocking, ball-handling.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, interior scoring, fouls.

Outlook: The Zips are an aggressive, defensive-oriented team that relies on its depth to wear out opponents (mostly because the offense can’t reliably hit shots). They blocked 15 shots in the MAC tournament championship vs. Kent State. Much of that credit goes to Marshall, who blocked nine of those himself. But unless someone emerges as a scoring threat (senior guard Darryl Roberts, maybe?), the Zips probably won’t pull off an upset like Ohio did last year against Georgetown.

No. 16 Boston Terriers

Location: Boston

Conference: America East

Coach: Patrick Chambers

Pre-tournament record: 21-13, 14-4

Best wins: Vermont, Nevada

Surprising losses: Maryland-Baltimore CO, Hartford, New Hampshire

Team stats

Key players: Senior wing John Holland, junior forward Darryl Partin, freshman guard D.J. Irving.

Full team roster

Strengths: Offensive rebounding, challenging shots.

Weaknesses: Forcing turnovers, defensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Terriers have won 11 straight, but that’s quickly coming to an end. Outside of Holland, Boston doesn’t have any game-breaking players. That’s not a dig on their fine run to end the season, just a realistic assessment of their tournament chances. Their biggest strength is challenging shots on the perimeter and inside, but they don’t have the height to compete inside and their guards will be a step too slow for Kansas. It could stay close for a while if Holland heats up, but that’s about it.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Three Things To Know: Shaka’s seat heats up, Baylor survives, Virginia doesn’t

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It was a slow night for college hoops on Monday, but there is still plenty to talk about after some weird results.

Here are the three things you need to know:


The Shaka Smart era at Texas feels like it has hit an inflection point.

On Monday night, the Longhorns went into Morgantown, W.V., and found themselves wishing Country Roads would take them home before the first half came to a close. No. 14 West Virginia, coming off of blowout loss at Kansas State on Saturday, used a 28-2 run over a 10 minute stretch in the first half to turn a 15-13 lead into a 43-15 blowout. They would go on to win 97-59.

The loss dropped Texas to 12-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns certainly are not out of it just yet — three of their four Big 12 losses came against teams that currently rank in the top six at KenPom — but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the situation that’s brewing in Austin. Texas has now lost four of their last six and five of their last eight. They are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

But perhaps the biggest concern is that the Longhorns just don’t seem to be growing as a program. Last year, while Texas ended up missing the tournament, they finished as a top 25 team on KenPom and made a run all the way to the NIT title. It’s worth noting that before the tournament started, they were already a top 30 team on KenPom; their ranking wasn’t skewed by getting hot for three weeks in a tournament no one cares about.

The problem this season is that there has been no progression. Texas has been a program under Shaka that has hung their hat on defense, but this is the worst defensive team he has had in his tenure. That becomes even more of an issue when you factor in that they cannot score. They’re 111th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is what happens when your offense is, essentially, a spread ball-screen into a contested three.

KenPom has Texas favored to win just three more games the rest of the season. They’re projected to finish 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.

That’s not good.


It looked like Baylor was going to cruise to a pretty easy win at home against Oklahoma, but the Sooners had other ideas. They hung around long enough in the second half to make things interesting late. Oklahoma hit back-to-back threes in a 40 second span to cut a 59-51 lead to 59-57 with 41 seconds left, and after Baylor couldn’t find a way to score on their next possession, Austin Reaves cut off a 3-on-1 break to flare to the corner and fire up a wide-open, go-ahead three with less than five seconds left.

He missed.

Baylor won.

And No. 1 lived to fight another day.


The reigning national champions lost for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday night, this time falling at home against N.C. State, 53-51.

Like Oklahoma, Virginia had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, as N.C. State fouled up three and then missed free throws of their own at the other end. But Virginia is the 346th-best three-point shooting team in the country for a reason, and Casey Morsell missed the game-winner as time expired.

At this point, it’s getting harder to see how Virginia is going to find a way to play their way into the NCAA tournament.

Chris Mack: David Johnson’s shoulder ‘is fine’

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The biggest concern coming out of Louisville’s win at Duke on Saturday evening was the status of David Johnson’s shoulder.

Johnson was the best player on the floor for Louisville, finishing with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks as the Cardinals landed a much-needed win in Cameron. But with three minutes left in the game, he landed on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and had to leave the game. He returned to the bench, but he did not return to the game.

Head coach Chris Mack did not seem overly concerned about the injury after the game, and he confirmed as much in a conference call on Monday.

“The shoulder is fine,” Mack said. “He’s just a little sore, but he’ll practice the next couple of days and we fully expect him to play on Wednesday.”

Bracketology: Welcome to the top line, San Diego State

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Welcome to the top line, San Diego State.  The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update.  SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.

The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East.  As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them.  Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall.  And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed.  The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 20, 2020

EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE

Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Virginia Tech Purdue Washington
DePaul NC State Minnesota Saint Louis
Saint Mary’s Georgetown Arizona State St. John’s
BYU VCU Xavier Richmond

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

AP Poll: Baylor leapfrogs Gonzaga, seventh No. 1 team this season

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor and Gonzaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 spot in college basketball AP poll on Monday, using wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the history of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 season.

Gonzaga (20-1) was merely a victim of its conference schedule. The Bulldogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough voters considered those wins to be less impressive than the Bears’ perfect Big 12 start. Baylor received 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel while Gonzaga received 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when different people step up, especially guys that have been working hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot different after Duke, Auburn and Butler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 in the college basketball AP poll after victories over Oklahoma and Texas, the latter requiring a big comeback in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) remained perfect with wins over Fresno State and Nevada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot after it beat reigning national champion Virginia and survived overtime to best Miami.

The Seminoles haven’t lost since playing Indiana in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge the first week of December.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot earlier this season, jumped five spots to sixth after beating Pittsburgh in overtime and handling the Blue Devils. Dayton was next, followed by Duke, Villanova and Seton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clemson earlier in the week, sending coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tumbling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said after the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long journey. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, playing these two teams. Getting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long journey.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in getting a tough lesson last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 after losing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked Butler was bounced all the way to 13th after the Bulldogs followed up a loss to Seton Hall by getting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here is the full college basketball AP poll:

1. Baylor (33 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (31)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Duke
9. Villanova
10. Seton Hall
11. Michigan State
12. Oregon
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Maryland
18. Texas Tech
19. Iowa
20. Memphis
21. Illinois
22. Arizona
23. Colorado
24. Rutgers
25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Wichita St. 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, N Iowa 42, Ohio St. 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn St. 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, ETSU 6, Indiana 6, Southern Cal 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1.

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in another fresh Top 25:


The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.


Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.


The Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.


No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.


More AP college basketball: and

Monday’s Overreaction: Myles Powell, Payton Pritchard, David Johnson and the two worst chokes of the year

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Myles Powell, Seton Hall

Seton Hall improved to 6-0 in Big East play this season with wins over Butler and St. John’s, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whose story here.

The Pirates trailed by double-figures at halftime of both of those games. Both of those games were on the road. They were down 40-30 at the break at No. 5 Butler, but Myles Powell came to the rescue, scoring 19 of his 29 points after the break to lead the Pirates to a 78-70 win.

Then on Saturday, Seton Hall trailed St. John’s 43-30 at the Garden at halftime, but Powell — again — took over, scoring 23 of his 29 points in the second half as Seton Hall remained perfect in the Big East.

It took him a while to get fully healthy, but now that he is, Powell is showing everyone why he is a favorite to win National Player of the Year.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

What Steve Pikiell has done with this Rutgers program should never, ever be overlooked.

After a week in which the Scarlet Knights beat both Indiana and Minnesota at the RAC, They are now sitting at 14-4 over and 5-2 in the Big Ten, good for second in the toughest conference in college basketball. They are 24th in KenPom, which is the highest that this program has ever ranked in the metric we all use the most when evaluating teams. They are 18th in the NET with a 2-3 mark against Quad 1 opponents and five Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins combined.

Put another way, Rutgers is very much in a position where missing the NCAA tournament this season would be something of a disappointment.

Now, it should be noted that this is when their schedule gets tough. They play at Iowa on Wednesday and still face off with Michigan twice, Maryland twice, Purdue twice and play at Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. A home game against No. 24 Illinois is about their sixth-toughest game left on the schedule.

It won’t be easy.

But getting to 14-4 wasn’t easy in the first place.



Louisville may have finally found an answer to their point guard problems.

David Johnson, a freshman from Louisville that has spent the season to date trying to get back up to speed after offseason shoulder surgery, had his coming out party in a big way on Saturday, going for 19 points and seven assists as Louisville went into Cameron and knocked off Duke.

That is incredibly important news for a Louisville team that has desperately been searching for a guy to do all of the things that Johnson did on Saturday night.

The way he scored those points is the most significant part of the equation. He broke down defenses. He dribbled right past Jordan Goldwire and drove the lane for a dunk. He created out of ball-screens. He handled Duke’s ball-pressure like he was playing against high school opponents.

And then there was the passing (see below):


This is what the Cardinals have been waiting for. It’s been a talking point all season long, and every time I have mentioned it, I have also mentioned that Louisville was just waiting to see if Johnson would ever get healthy. That staff believed he was a pro after getting him on campus, and anyone that watched him play on Saturday night would be inclined to agree.

If he can remain healthy and play somewhere close to this level for the rest of the season, then this Louisville team is much, much more dangerous.


The reason Payton Pritchard is one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year is the fact that he is putting up terrific numbers this season for a top ten team and doing so while putting together some incredibly impressive performances in crunchtime.

Saturday might have been his statement game.

Oregon erased a 13-point second half deficit thanks in large part to Pritchard, who hit a huge three with a minute left to tie the game. In overtime, he hit a floater to give the Ducks the lead before burying this insane three to win the game with 3.2 seconds left:

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Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

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No. 8 Oregon avoided going 0-2 on the Washington road trip with a 64-61 win. Pritchard finished with 22 points. The Ducks are now 3-0 in overtime games this season largely due to the fact that Pritchard is arguably the most clutch player in college basketball.

Is there anyone that you would want taking a big shot in a big game more than him?


I talked about this in depth at the 19:00 mark of the podcast, but with the exception of an early season loss against Washington — I’ll get to that — the Bears have been arguably the best team in college basketball down the stretch of close games.

Whether it’s wins at Texas Tech, or Kansas, or Oklahoma State, Baylor has consistently been able to execute in situations where teams like Duke have not been able to execute. That is why they are sitting at No. 1 in the country right now and Duke has three losses to their name.

And as far as the Washington game is concerned, the Huskies play zone. Baylor was totally lost against that zone down the stretch. Oklahoma State played zone as well, and Baylor discovered the answer in the second half: Matthew Mayer. They plugged him in at the high post, and it launched a comeback.

So now they have an answer for that, too.


Auburn entered this seek as one of just two undefeated teams left in college basketball, but there were question marks.

The Tigers don’t have a single win over a team ranked in the top 40 on KenPom. They have only played three Quad 1 games this season. Their only Quad 1 win is barely a Quad 1 win: It came at Mississippi State, who currently ranks 70th in the NET; the cutoff for Quad 1 road wins is top 75.

The other two Quad 1 games that Auburn has played this season?

They were both this week.

And they were both ugly losses.

On Tuesday, it was Alabama that ran over Auburn in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl, 83-64. On Saturday, it was Florida doing the damage, as they held Auburn to 25.5 percent shooting from the field, 4-for-23 shooting from three (17.4%) and to just a single point during an eight-minute stretch late in the second half that saw the Gators push their lead from 47-43 to 69-44. They won 69-47.

Suddenly, those concerns look prescient.

The truth is this: Auburn is dangerous. They are a team that can make a lot of threes, that can force turnovers and play in transition and has the ability to play big (with Austin Wiley) or small (without Austin Wiley). They have a lottery pick in Isaac Okoro and they have a couple of guards on their roster capable of taking games over in J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty.

But they haven’t consistently played up to the level of a top five team, and their 15-0 record was inflated by feasting on teams that are just good enough to make us believe.

Auburn is still good.

They’re just not a top five team.


Stanford was up 46-25 in the second half of their loss at USC on Saturday evening. They led by 15 points with less than 10 minutes left. They were up by five points with 15 seconds left and the ball out of bounds underneath USC’s basket, and not only did they find a way to lose that game in overtime, but they got lucky to actually get to OT. USC missed a free throw that could have won the game in regulation.

According to KenPom, USC had a 3.8% chance to win this game at the half, a 3.6% chance to win the game with 10 minutes left and just a 0.7% chance to win with 15 seconds left.

But that’s not as bad as what happened to Utah State.

The Aggies led 66-48 with less than 4:10 remaining. Boise State had a 0.3% chance of winning this game with five minutes left. Turnovers, fouls, missed threes. Utah State did it all, but they still led 73-67 with 15 seconds left, 75-70 with eight seconds left and 75-73 with three seconds left and the ball.

And they lost.

That just does not seem possible.