Bracketology: No. 1 seed line remains unsettled

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With just over a week until Selection Sunday, the No. 1 seed line remains unsettled.  Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed; that much is clear.  We’re also confident that some combination of these teams will comprise the other three spots on the top line: Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, Arizona, or Gonzaga.  That’s six teams for three spots.

Virginia also looks pretty locked-in as a one-seed; it would take a loss Saturday at Louisville, and an earlier-than-expected exit from the ACC tournament, to create the potential for a slip.  Which leaves us, more realistically, with five teams for two spots.  In today’s bracket, Duke and Villanova hold spots three and four on the Seed List, with Wisconsin and Arizona next in line.  Gonzaga will be discussed, but the Bulldogs likely need every team ahead of them to lose in order to move back up.

Order of the final Seed List is also uncertain – after you get past Kentucky.  It matters because it helps determine which team(s) end up in which regions.  Virginia has second choice today, so the Cavaliers slot East.  Duke (South) and Villanova (West) are next.  Arizona would stay West regardless of which No. 1 seed position they might obtain, but if the Tucson version of the Wildcats remains a two-seed, slots three and four will determine which of those teams remains closer to home.

Championship Week begins tomorrow.  Our next bracket update is Monday.  For the complete Seed List regarding today’s bracket, visit Bracketville.

UPDATED: March 6, 2015

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid.  In the event of a tie in the loss column, RPI is the first tiebreaker used. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc).

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Boise State vs. BYU West Region
  • Texas AM vs. Illinois West Region
  • BUCKNELL vs. ST. FRANCIS (NY) Midwest Region
  • NORTH FLORIDA vs. GA SOUTHERN East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWEST – Cleveland                      EAST Syracuse                                  
Louisville Charlotte
1) KENTUCKY 1) VIRGINIA
16) ST. FRANCIS / BUCKNELL 16) NO FLORIDA / GA SOUTH
8) DAYTON 8) VCU
9) Xavier 9) Mississippi
Seattle Jacksonville
5) North Carolina 5) West Virginia
12) S.F. Austin 12) WOFFORD
4) WICHITA STATE 4) Arkansas
13) HARVARD 13) IONA
Columbus Pittsburgh
6) Georgetown 6) Providence
11) LSU 11) Davidson
3) Iowa State 3) Maryland
14) CENTRAL MICHIGAN 14) NC-CENTRAL
Columbus Omaha
7) SAN DIEGO ST 7) Butler
10) NC State 10) Purdue
2) WISCONSIN 2) KANSAS
15) NORTHEASTERN 15) SO DAKOTA ST
WEST – Los Angeles SOUTH – Houston                        
Pittsburgh Charlotte
1) VILLANOVA 1) Duke
16) TEXAS-SOUTHERN 16) ALBANY
8) Georgia 8) Ohio State
9) Oregon 9) Oklahoma State
Jacksonville Portland
5) Louisville 5) Northern Iowa
12) Texas AM / Illinois 12) MURRAY STATE
4) Baylor 4) Utah
13) LOUISIANA TECH 13) VALPARAISO
Louisville Omaha
6) Iowa 6) SMU
11) Boise State / BYU 11) Colorado State
3) Notre Dame 3) Oklahoma
14) HIGH POINT 14) UC-DAVIS
Portland Seattle
7) St. John’s 7) Michigan State
10) Indiana 10) Cincinnati
2) ARIZONA 2) GONZAGA
15) NEW MEXICO ST 15) EASTERN WASHINGTON

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Virginia, Duke, and Villanova. Next in line: Wisconsin, Arizona, Gonzaga, and Kansas.

Last Five teams in (at large): Davidson, Boise State, BYU, Texas AM, Illinois

First Five teams out (at large): Tulsa, Temple, Texas, UCLA, Miami-FL

Next five teams out (at large): Old Dominion, Stanford, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island

Breakdown by Conference …

Big 10 (8): Wisconsin, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Illinois

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

ACC (6): Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville, North Carolina, NC State

Big East (6): Villanova, Butler, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Xavier

SEC (6): Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas AM

Pac 12 (3): Arizona, Utah, Oregon

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

Atlantic 10 (3): Dayton, VCU, Davidson

American (2): SMU, Cincinnati

Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU

Conference USA (1): Louisiana Tech

ONE BID LEAGUES: Georgia Southern (SBELT), Harvard (IVY), Eastern Washingotn (BSKY), Valparaiso (HZN), S.F. Austin (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Davis (BWEST), Central Michigan (MAC), Iona (MAAC), North Florida (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Northeastern (CAA), High Point (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Albany (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), St. Francis – NY (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.