Bracket Update: Virginia chasing another No. 1 seed

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As we begin the march toward Selection Sunday, Virginia has again put itself in position to compete for a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers completed an unbeaten non-conference slate and have all the resume numbers firmly intact. Only a tough Atlantic Coast Conference docket, which includes projected ACC champion Duke, is keeping UVA off the top line in today’s bracket.  Who are the No. 1 seeds?  The same four teams who opened the season atop the Field of 68 – Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

As noted in the New Year’s Day update, we have some quirky resumes on the at-large board.  Take for example, Providence. The Friars have quality wins over Notre Dame and Butler and own a solid 7-2 mark vs. the current RPI Top 100. Those same Friars also own losses to Boston College and Brown (at home).  It’s been one of those years.

Then we have a team like Wyoming – which could ultimately be bogged down by weak non-conference schedule. The Cowboys look like an NCAA team but will need a strong Mountain West effort to overcome a non-conference SOS ranked No. 343 (out of 351 teams).

The Seed List for today’s bracket remains quite fluid.  If you don’t like the final at-large projections, check back soon.  It’s likely to change.  Keep in mind, a team’s entire resume matters, and since we’re still early in league play, close losses to quality teams – especially on the road – isn’t a huge issue, even if it means a losing conference record.

On a final note … league record isn’t the only factor used to determine a projected automatic bid.  The further we advance through conference play, the more weight will be given to overall league standings.  DePaul is a perfect example. The Blue Demons currently lead the Big East, but it seems a bit premature to project that DePaul is more likely than Villanova to win the league title.

Enjoy the latest update.  Another huge weekend of college hoops awaits.

UPDATED: January 9, 2015

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc).

Several new bracketing principles were introduced last year. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Georgia vs. Colorado State West Region
  • Alabama vs. Georgia Tech South Region
  • ST. FRANCIS (NY) vs. AMERICAN | East Region
  • NORTH DAKOTA ST vs. TX-SOUTHERN Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWESTCleveland EAST – Syracuse                          
Louisville Charlotte
1) KENTUCKY 1) DUKE
16) N. DAKOTA ST / TX-STHERN        16) AMERICAN / ST. FRAN (NY)         
8) St. John’s 8) Dayton
9) Michigan State 9) Cincinnati
Jacksonville Seattle
5) WICHITA STATE 5) OLD DOMINION
12) GREEN BAY 12) Alabama / Georgia Tech
4) VCU 4) Iowa State
13) WOFFORD 13) S.F. AUSTIN
Columbus Pittsburgh
6) Seton Hall 6) Northern Iowa
11) LSU 11) Xavier
3) Louisville 3) Maryland
14) MURRAY STATE 14) IONA
Omaha Pittsburgh
7) Washington 7) Ohio State
10) Indiana 10) Stanford
2) KANSAS 2) VILLANOVA
15) SC-UPSTATE 15) NORTHEASTERN
WEST – Los Angeles SOUTH – Houston
Portland Omaha
1) ARIZONA 1) WISCONSIN
16) NEW MEXICO ST 16) COASTAL CAROLINA
8) Iowa 8) SAN DIEGO STATE
9) TEMPLE 9) Syracuse
Louisville Jacksonville
5) Texas 5) North Carolina
12) Colorado State / Georgia 12) EASTERN WASHINGTON
4) Notre Dame 4) Oklahoma
13) BUFFALO 13) HARVARD
Columbus Portland
6) Arkansas 6) Baylor
11) Providence 11) Wyoming
3) West Virginia 3) Utah
14) UL-LAFAYETTE 14) HAWAII
Charlotte Seattle
7) Georgetown 7) Butler
10) George Washington 10) SMU
2) Virginia 2) GONZAGA
15) NC-CENTRAL 15) STONY BROOK

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona. Next four (2-seeds in order): Virginia, Gonzaga, Villanova, Kansas.

Last Five teams in (at large): Wyoming, Colorado State, Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech

First Five teams out (at large): Oklahoma State, Connecticut, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota

Next five teams out (at large): South Carolina, BYU, Oregon, Michigan, Miami-FL

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (7): Duke, Virginia, Louisville, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Big East (7): Villanova, Seton Hall, Butler, Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Xavier

Big 10 (6): Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, Indiana

Big 12 (6): Kansas, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor

SEC (5): Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, Alabama

Pac 12 (4): Arizona, Utah, Washington, Stanford

American (3): Temple, Cincinnati, SMU

Atlantic 10 (3): VCU, Dayton, George Washington

Mountain West (3): San Diego State, Wyoming, Colorado State

Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

ONE BID LEAGUES: Old Dominion (C-USA), Louisiana-Lafayette (SBELT), Harvard (IVY), Eastern Washington (BSKY), Green Bay (HZN), S.F. Austin (SLND), Wofford (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Iona (MAAC), South Carolina Upstate (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Northeastern (CAA), Coastal Carolina (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), American (PAT), St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)

 

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.