1 seeds still up for grabs in new NCAA tourney projections

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We should be in for an exciting week.  It’s not often that so many potential at-large spots and seeding questions remain this close to Selection Sunday.  Which means several teams – many from the SEC in particular – will be paying close attention to conference tournament results.  A surprise winner or two could jolt the at-large pool.

For now, Duke reclaims the overall top seed.  Ryan Kelly has returned and is playing at a high level.  That brings the Blue Devils’ full profile back into play, and it’s pretty good.  But the race isn’t over.  Gonzaga, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team are all contenders for a No. 1 seed.  Conference tournaments could play a decisive role.

The bubble remains what it is.  So despite some losses this week, not a lot has changed.  Thankfully, a week remains to help sort things out.  Given the turmoil, several teams could still make a late push.  We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.  Buckle up.

Quick note: As we’ve entered conference tournament play, teams in ALL-CAPS no longer appear in the bracket.  We’ll begin using the CAPS as a indication of a team’s automatic bid.  The first of which will be handed out on Saturday.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Virginia vs. Tennessee | East Region
  • Iowa State vs. La Salle | South Region
  • Norfolk State vs. Charleston-Southern | South Region
  • Southern vs. Northeastern | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis              
Philadelphia Dayton
1) Duke 1) INDIANA
16) Mercer 16) Southern / Northeastern
8) Illinois 8) Missouri
9) Memphis 9) Cincinnati
San Jose Salt Lake
5) Arizona 5) Saint Louis
12) Belmont 12) Middle Tennesse State
4) Marquette 4) UNLV
13) Bucknell 13) Louisiana Tech
Kansas City Austin
6) Pittsburgh 6) VCU
11) Tennessee / Virginia 11) Boise State
3) Kansas State 3) Miami-FL
14) S.F. Austin 14) Montana
Auburn Hills Lexington
7) Butler 7) Oregon
10) California 10) Wichita State
2) Michigan State 2) Louisville
15) Niagara 15) South Dakota State
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Kansas City Salt Lake
1) Kansas 1) Gonzaga
16) Norfolk St / Charleston-So 16) Long Beach State
8) Colorado State 8) San Diego State
9) Creighton 9) Colorado
San Jose Dayton
5) Wisconsin 5) Oklahoma State
12) Saint Mary’s 12) Villanova
4) Syracuse 4) Ohio State
13) Davidson 13) Akron
Lexington Auburn Hills
6) Notre Dame 6) UCLA
11) Iowa State / La Salle 11) Temple
3) Florida 3) Michigan
14) Stony Brook 14) Valparaiso
Austin Philadelphia
7) North Carolina 7) NC State
10) Minnesota 10) Oklahoma
2) New Mexico 2) Georgetown
15) Robert Morris 15) Princeton

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Gonzaga, Indiana, and Kansas. Next in line: Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Michigan State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Saint Mary’s, La Salle, Iowa State, Tennessee, Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts

Next Five teams out (at large): Arkansas, Maryland, Baylor, Xavier, Providence

Breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Villanova

Big Ten (7): Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois

Mountain West (5): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State, Boise State

Pac 12 (5): Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, California

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, VCU, Temple, La Salle, Saint Louis

ACC (5): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Miami-FL, Virginia

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Tennessee

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … BELMONT (Ohio Valley), BUCKNELL (Patriot), MIDDLE TENNESSE ST (Sunbelt), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE(Summit), VALPARAISO (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), LOUISIANA TECH (WAC), NIAGARA (MAAC), STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (Southland), AKRON (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), PRINCETON (IVY), LONG BEACH (Big West), NORTHEASTERN (Colonial), STONY BROOK (American East), MONTANA (Big Sky), NORFOLK STATE (MEAC), CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN (Big South), ROBERT MORRIS (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

VIDEO: Deandre Ayton NBA Draft Prospect Profile

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Over the course of the next month, I will be putting together NBA Draft Prospect Profiles for our sister site, Pro Basketball Talk, of the most talented and promising prospects from the college ranks.

Today, the first example of those profiles went live. It’s of Deandre Ayton and you can read all of the 1,500 words here. We take a good long look at why he’s the best prospect in the draft and the reasons why he may never actually reach his immense ceiling.

If you’re not into reading, here is a four-minute video breakdown of his strengths, his weaknesses and how he can turn the latter into the former.

Florida State’s leading scorer gets extra year of eligibility

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Florida State announced on Friday that Phil Cofer has been granted a fifth-year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Cofer is a 6-foot-8 power forward that averaged 12.8 points and 5.1 boards a season ago, shooting 37.5 percent from three and providing the kind of versatility defensively that allowed the Seminoles to play they way that they needed to play.

“I am happy to announce that I will be returning to Florida State’s basketball team next season,” Cofer said in a statement. “I have been working hard, on and off the court, to prepare for another incredible season. I can’t wait to put the Florida State uniform back on.”

The Seminoles are currently ranked 13th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Jessie Govan returning to Georgetown for senior season

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Jessie Govan is returning to Georgetown.

The 6-foot-10 center who averaged a double-double last season will withdraw from the NBA draft to play his senior season with the Hoyas, according to multiple reports.

Govan’s return to D.C. is a huge development for the Hoyas. As a junior, Govan averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. He shot 50.8 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from distance. He went from a nice contributor as a sophomore to a breakout star last season for first-year coach Patrick Ewing.

Without Govan, the Georgetown frontcourt would have been very young and unproven. Now Ewing gets back a major impact player who will not only help the Hoyas compete in 2018-19, but bridge the gap to NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven’s eligibility in 2019.

The Hoyas were surprisingly competitive in Ewing’s first year back at his alma mater, and now has a chance to see an even bigger uptick this season with its anchor in the middle back in the fold.

Mizzou settles lawsuit brought by South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley

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An ugly episode has reached its conclusion with the University of Missouri paying $50,000 and its athletic director apologizing to South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Mizzou will donate $25,000 to Staley’s charity foundation and the other $25,000 going to her attorneys after she filed a defamation lawsuit stemming from an incident last winter when Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk claimed she “promoted that kind of atmosphere” after he alleged that Missouri players were called racial epithets and spit on after a game at South Carolina in January.

“Following a very spirited and intense game I attended in late January between the nationally ranked Missouri and South Carolina women’s basketball teams, I made comments in a local radio interview that were construed to suggest that Coach Staley promoted the negative experiences of racial epithets and spitting,” Sterk said in a statement Missouri released Thursday.

“I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in February, stemmed from an incident after a Missouri player claimed she had been spit after a loss in Columbia in January.

“We had players spit on and called the ‘N’ word and things like that,” Sterk said on Jan. 30, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere. And it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”

With Thursday’s announced settlement, both parties are looking to put the incident in the past.

“I accept his apology and I appreciate the contribution of $25,000 to INNERSOLE, a not for profit organization I co-founded that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” Staley said in a statement. “I’m glad we can share in support of this worthy cause and I look forward to moving past this with a continued spirited but positive competition amongst our programs.”  

 

SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchups unveiled

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A meeting between two of the sport’s most successful programs highlights this year’s slate of games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which was unveiled Thursday.

Kansas will visit Rupp Arena to play Kentucky on Jan. 26 as part of the annual event’s sixth year of competition.

The Jayhawks have won three-straight against the Wildcats with two being part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and last year’s meeting part of the Champion’s Classic. Both teams ranked in the top five of our preseason Top 25.

Another marquee matchup will be defending SEC champ and likely top-10 preseason ranked Tennessee hosting Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton will welcome his alma mater to Stillwater with South Carolina the Cowboys’ matchup.

All games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 26. The challenge was split 5-5 last season. The Big 12 holds a 3-1-1 advantage in the event with its teams holding an overall record of 29-21.

2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Alabama at Baylor

Iowa State At Ole Miss

Kansas at Kentucky

Kansas State at Texas A&M

Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

South Carolina at Oklahoma State

Florida at TCU

Texas at Georgia

Arkansas at Texas Tech

West Virginia at Tennessee