Who’s in, who’s out? Our latest NCAA tourney projections


With the Super Bowl behind us, college basketball takes center stage.  The Missouri Tigers grabbed the spotlight Saturday night in Columbia by beating Kansas.  That victory, combined with an earlier win at Baylor, vaults Mizzou to No. 4 on the s-curve and into the final No. 1 seed position  in our latest bracket.  North Carolina is right behind, joining Baylor, Kansas and Duke as two-seeds. Syracuse (East), Kentucky (South), and Ohio State (Midwest) remain as top seeds.

The lower end of the bracket continues to be somewhat fluid.  As we’re at or past the midpoint of conference play, league standings are becoming more important. We’re also beginning to distinguish between schedule strength within the conference.  All of those factors are at play in today’s outlook.  Xavier, Mississippi, NC State, and Miami (Fla.) are headed to Dayton as First Four participants.  Those just missing: Northwestern, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Colorado State, and Arizona.

Of those, Pittsburgh is the most interesting case.  How much consideration will the Selection Committee give to the Panthers now that Tray Woodall is back from injury?  Pitt has won four straight and is playing more like the team we expected.  The Panthers have two winnable road games this week, in what figures to be a significant seven-day stretch.  Miami is another team trending in the right direction, having won four straight as well – most notably Sunday’s victory at Duke.   The Hurricanes are also one of the few teams under consideration without a sub-100 RPI loss.

Arkansas has quality home wins over Mississippi State, Michigan, and Vanderbilt, but the Razorbacks are 0-6 in road games.  That’s the type of statistic that will show poorly on Selection Sunday.

With the exception of Temple, the Atlantic 10 has seen some of its best at-large hopefuls hit significant road bumps.  Despite a series of good wins, Dayton has lost four straight and is below the horizon within the league.  Xavier blew a late lead at Memphis is sits squarely on the bubble.  Massachusetts – much like Dayton – lost a game to RPI-killing Rhode Island.

This week’s schedule includes a premium of important games.  Sit back and enjoy.

UPDATED: Monday, February 6

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc). Records are for games against Division I teams only.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Mississippi (14-8) vs. NC State (17-7) | Midwest Region
  • Xavier (15-5) vs. Miami-FL (14-7) | West Region
  • MISS VALLEY ST (11-11) vs. STONY BROOK (14-7) | East Region
  • NC-ASHEVILLE (15-7) vs. UT-ARLINGTON (16-5) | Midwest Region


EASTBoston   SOUTHAtlanta                                    
Pittsburgh   Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (23-1)   1) KENTUCKY (23-1)
8) TEMPLE (17-5)   8) Notre Dame (15-8)
9) HARVARD (18-2)   9) Iowa State (17-6)
Louisville   Nashville
5) Mississippi State (18-5)   5) Wisconsin (17-6)
12) BYU (18-6)   12) California (18-6)
4) Michigan (16-7)   4) FLORIDA STATE (16-6)
13) MID TENNESSEE ST (20-4)   13) CLEVELAND STATE (18-4)
Columbus   Columbus
6) Vanderbilt (16-7)   6) Wichita State (19-4)
11) Cincinnati (16-7)   11) St. Louis (17-5)
3) Michigan State (17-5)   3) Georgetown (17-4)
14) IONA (19-5)   14) AKRON (15-7)
Omaha   Greensboro
7) ST. MARY’S (20-2)   7) Kansas State (16-6)
10) New Mexico (18-4)   10) Minnesota (17-7)
2) Kansas (18-5)   2) Duke (19-4)
15) BELMONT (16-7)   15) BUCKNELL (17-6)
MIDWEST – St. Louis   WEST – Phoenix
Pittsburgh   Omaha
1) OHIO STATE (20-3)   1) MISSOURI (21-2)
8) SO. MISSISSIPPI (18-3)   8) Connecticut (15-7)
9) Gonzaga (18-4)   9) Alabama (15-7)
Portland   Portland
5) SAN DIEGO ST (18-3)   5) Indiana (18-6)
12) Mississippi / NC State   12) Xavier / Miami-FL
4) Marquette (19-5)   4) CREIGHTON (21-3)
13) LONG BEACH ST (15-6)   13) ORAL ROBERTS (21-5)
Nashville   Albuquerque
6) Virginia (18-4)   6) MURRAY STATE (20-0)
11) WASHINGTON (16-7)   11) Purdue (15-8)
3) Florida (19-4)   3) UNLV (19-4)
14) DAVIDSON (16-5)   14) NEVADA (17-4)
Albuquerque   Greensboro
7) Louisville (18-5)   7) West Virginia (16-8)
10) Illinois (16-7)   10) Memphis (16-7)
2) Baylor (19-4)   2) North Carolina (20-3)
15) WEBER STATE (16-4)   15) DREXEL (19-5)

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Syracuse, Ohio State, and Missouri. Next in line are North Carolina, Baylor, Kansas, and Duke.

Last Five teams in (at large): Cincinnati, Xavier, Mississippi, NC State, Miami-FL

First Five teams out (at large): Northwestern, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Colorado State, Arizona

Next Five teams out (at large): Seton Hall, Central Florida, St. Joseph’s, Colorado, Wyoming

Bracket adjustments: Illinois moves down a seed line (No. 10) and Harvard moves up a line (No. 9) to avoid conference conflicts. Illinois is a true 9-seed and Harvard and 10 seed. Cincinnati moves to an 11-seed and BYU to a 12-seed. BYU has to be placed in Thursday/Saturday sites only and in either the East or West Regions.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (8): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Cincinnati

SEC (6): Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi

ACC (6): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, NC State, Miami-FL

Big 12 (5): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, St. Louis, Temple

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi

Mountain West (3): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico

West Coast (3): Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, BYU

Pac 12 (2): Washingon, California

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Sun Belt (1): Middle Tennessee State

Conference leaders/champions … Cleveland State (Horizon), Akron (MAC), Drexel (CAA), Nevada (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Harvard (Ivy), NC-Asheville (Big South), Norfolk State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

Providence hires Kim English as next head coach


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Kim English is just 34 years old, but has already moved around a lot in his coaching career, serving as an assistant at three schools over six years before landing his first head coaching job at George Mason in 2021.

It was going to take a special opportunity for him to pack up and move again.

“Every place I’ve been, I’ve wanted to stay there forever. I really want to stay at a place for a long time,” English said Thursday. “I’m sick of moving,”

He believes he has found that place in Providence.

English was named the Friars’ new head coach, ending a fast search by first-year Providence athletic director Steve Napolillo that was created after Ed Cooley left to take the job at Big East rival Georgetown.

English becomes the 16th coach in school history. Cooley resigned on Monday following 12 seasons. He complied a 242-153 record with the Friars that included seven appearances, but just three March Madness victories.

English was 34-29 in two seasons at George Mason, leading the Patriots to a 20-13 record this past season. It was the first time the school reached the 20-win milestone since 2016-17.

George Mason president Gregory Washington said it would begin a national search to replace English.

In English, the Friars get a hungry, young coach who has built his reputation on recruiting. He said his secret sauce finding players is simple.

“You work at it. You do it every day. You’re relentless,” English said.

He played college basketball at Missouri and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round in 2012. But his NBA tenure was short and he was waived in 2013. He had a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls in 2014 and also played two years professionally overseas.

English began his coaching career as an assistant under Frank Haith at Tulsa in 2015 and spent two seasons there before being hired by Tad Boyle in 2017 as an assistant coach at Colorado. In 2019, former Friars coach Rick Barnes brought English to Tennessee as an assistant coach and he stayed until being hired by George Mason

He feels as if he has found a kindred spirit in Napolillo, who sold him on the passion the administration and community have for the Friars’ basketball program.

The intel he got about Providence and Napolillo aligned with what he observed when he got the chance to meet him.

“His passion, his fire, his love for Providence basketball really speaks to me. It really spoke to me what he was looking for,” English said. “As a first-year athletic director to be in this situation and to go at it and not just do what other people may have been comfortable with. … That’s what you want in a partnership.”

English also said he’s impressed by facilities at Providence that he said are among the best he’s seen.

Napolillo said the reason he was able to move so quickly on the hire was because he heeded the advice of his mentors who told him to always be prepared to have to fill a coaching vacancy.

“You always need to have names in a drawer for any coaching situation. You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. ”This year, as noise kept growing and growing, I had a list in my drawer.”

That list also included a Sports Illustrated article he saved from last year that listed some rising coaches. He can’t recall why, but for some reason he highlighted English’s name in the story.

English has already started working and began recruiting not long after signing his contract on Wednesday night, he said.

He also confirmed that Dennis Felton, one of his assistants at George Mason, will join him at Providence. Felton served as a Friars assistant under Barnes from 1992 to 1994.

In a Big East that is stacked from top to bottom with coaching talent, English feels as if the pieces are in place to build something special.

“I’ve had no reason to take a bad job,” English said. “I was a 20-something-year-old assistant in the SEC. I didn’t have to rush. If I’m going to have interest in it, it’s going to be really good.”

For him, that translated into being in a position to bring the Friars a national championship.

“If you want to win the big trophy, you’ve got to be in the big dance,” English said. “At the mid-major level it’s getting increasing harder to get to the big dance. This gives us an opportunity. If we are competing for Big East championships, we’re going to be in the show.”

Report: Notre Dame closing deal with Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame is finalizing a deal to make Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry its new men’s basketball coach, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because contract details were still being completed and needed school approval.

Shrewsberry, in his second season at Penn State (23-14), led the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and a tournament victory for the first time since 2001.

The Nittany Lions beat Texas A&M and were eliminated by Texas in the second round.

Notre Dame has been searching for a replacement for Mike Brey, who spent the last 23 season as coach of the Fighting Irish. He announced in January that this would be his last season with Notre Dame

The Irish finished 11-21.

Shrewsberry grew up in Indianapolis and went to school at Division III Hanover College in Indiana.

He was the head coach at Indiana University South Bend, an NAIA school located in the same city as Notre Dame, from 2005-07.

He later worked as an assistant coach at Butler and Purdue, with a stint as an assistant with the Boston Celtics in between.

ESPN first reported Notre Dame was close to a deal with Shrewsberry.

Armando Bacot says he’s returning for fifth season at North Carolina

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina forward Armando Bacot is returning to play a fifth season for the Tar Heels.

Bacot announced his decision Wednesday, giving North Carolina fans a bit of good news after the Tar Heels failed to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The 6-foot-11 Bacot is North Carolina’s career leader in rebounds, double-doubles and double-figure rebounding games.

Bacot led North Carolina to a runner-up finish in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and his decision to return was a major reason the Tar Heels were ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25.

The Tar Heels didn’t come close to meeting those expectations. They went 20-13 and opted against playing in the NIT. Bacot earned Associated Press All-America third-team honors and averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds.

He averaged 16.3 points and 13.1 rebounds in 2021-22. He capped that season by becoming the first player ever to have six double-doubles in one NCAA Tournament.

Bacot participated in North Carolina’s Senior Night festivities this year. He has a fifth year of eligibility because of the waiver the NCAA granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ed Cooley takes over at Georgetown with lofty aspirations

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Ed Cooley’s task at Georgetown is to bring a once-storied program back to prominence in a competitive conference that has three teams still part of March Madness in the Sweet 16.

Cooley’s lofty aspirations go beyond lifting the Hoyas up from the bottom of the Big East Conference. After leaving Providence, which he took to the NCAA Tournament seven times in 12 years, he already is talking about trying to coach Georgetown to its first championship since 1984.

At his introductory news conference Wednesday that felt like a pep rally, Cooley said he wanted current and former players to envision cutting down nets and watching “One Shining Moment” with the nets hanging around their necks. He promised wins – many of them – and plotted a path forward that he knows will involve some tough times.

“It’s a process, and the process now, because you have a changing landscape in athletics, you’ll have an opportunity to probably move it quicker than you would have 10, 20 years ago,” Cooley said. “We’re going to lose some games. It’s OK. Losing’s part of growth. But over the course of time, it will pay off.”

Georgetown has lost a lot the past couple of years under Patrick Ewing, who was fired earlier this month after six seasons. The team went 7-25 this season after going 6-25 last season and lost 37 of 39 games in Big East play.

While Cooley at Providence was responsible for four of those defeats, the 53-year-old distanced himself from Georgetown’s recent run of losing.

“I don’t have anything to do what happened yesterday,” he said. “My job is to move us forward from today.”

Cooley’s mere presence is an acknowledgement that Georgetown needed a major change to become relevant again. After late Hall of Fame coach John Thompson’s 27-year-old run led to longtime assistant Craig Esherick succeeding him and then son John Thompson III and Ewing getting the head job, Cooley is the school’s first outsider in the position in a half-century.

His only connection to the Hilltop – beyond coaching in the Big East – is his daughter, Olivia, attending Georgetown. Cooley, a Providence native, said her desire to live in the Washington area played into his decision to leave for a conference rival.

It was certainly no accident that athletic director Lee Reed and school president John J. DeGioia used phrases like “new era” and “new chapter” when discussing Cooley. DeGioia said he believes Cooley will “uplift and restore this team” to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

“He has a proven record of success,” Reed said. “We knew we needed a leader, someone who understood our identity and could reimagine Georgetown basketball to fit today’s unique basketball landscape.”

That landscape, including players being able to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and more easily transfer schools, are the biggest changes Cooley has seen since landing his first head job at Fairfield in 2006. He expects to be aggressive, and given the high volume of Georgetown players coming and going via the transfer portal, could rebuild the roster in his image sooner rather than later.

“You have to find student-athletes that fit the way you want to play, your style of play, that fit you as a coach,” Cooley said. “We need to find players that can play for me that can attend Georgetown, not the other way around.”

Cooley acknowledged that some luck is needed but also stressed recruiting local talent to keep the best players in the region around. That’s just one building block to putting Georgetown back on the map, which Cooley wants the time and latitude to do.

“The word patience is always hard because everybody wants it and they want it right now,” he said. “Everybody wants it right now. Have a little bit of patience.”

Texas’ Arterio Morris plays amid misdemeanor domestic violence case

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas — In a season when Texas fired coach Chris Beard after a felony domestic violence arrest, it has allowed a reserve guard to keep playing while he awaits trial on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Second-seed Texas has advanced under interim coach Rodney Terry to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2008, and the Longhorns play No. 3 Xavier in Kansas City, Missouri.

Arterio Morris, a freshman who was one of the top recruits in the country last year, was initially scheduled to stand trial March 29, three days before Final Four weekend. Denton County prosecutors were granted a delay to an unspecified date.

Beard was fired Jan. 5, about three weeks after he was arrested on suspicion of a felony charge of choking his fiancée in a fight during which she also told police he bit, and hit her. She later recanted the choking allegation and the Travis County district attorney dismissed the case, saying prosecutors were following her wishes not to got to trial and that the charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Morris is charged with Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury to a family member, which in Texas includes dating relationships. It stems from a June 2022 confrontation in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The charge carries penalties ranging from probation and fines to up to a year in jail if convicted.

Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, said the charges against Beard and the player are different.

“(Beard) was charged with a felony family assault,” Moore said. “That was far more serious as to what Arterio was alleged to have to committed. We maintain Arterio’s innocence.”

According to police, the ex-girlfriend said Morris grabbed her arm and pulled her off a bed, and later pulled the front of her sports bra, causing an injury to her neck and shoulder area. Police reported seeing a sizable bruise or scratch.

Texas officials declined comment. Beard said before the season that school officials he would not identify determined the freshman could play this season.

Moore defended Texas officials’ decision to not suspend Morris.

“I do believe Texas has taken this seriously. They’ve also allowed Arterio to enjoy his due process rights,” Moore said.

Morris has played in all 36 games this season, although his minutes and have been limited on a senior-dominated team. He averages nearly 12 minutes and 4.7 points per game. His biggest moment was a soaring alley-oop dunk against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

Attempts to reach Morris’ ex-girlfriend through family members were not successful. According to online records, prosecutors sought the trial delay to “procure witness availability.” Prosecutor Jamie Beck did not immediately return messages.