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Bracketology: Kansas moves up, bubble tightens

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Kansas moves into the Midwest Region courtesy of the Jayhawks’ win over Kansas State and Xavier’s loss to Providence.  The Musketeers remain the fourth No. 1 seed this morning, shifting to the West Region.  Close behind, now, is North Carolina, which beat Duke for a second time. If the Tar Heels beat Virginia in the ACC title game, they could find themselves as a No. 1 seed come Sunday morning.

Elsewhere, the bubble has tightened thanks to some upsets – particularly in the Mountain West.  Nevada is a likely at-large candidate, meaning their loss to San Diego State opens the door for SDSU or New Mexico to grab a seat, courtesy of the league’s automatic bid.  That’s bad news for teams along the cutline.

We still have more questions than answers, but as of this morning, Arizona State slides into the First Four and hopes to hang on.  If the Committee considers the non-conference season as important as the conference season, it’s hard to ignore ASU’s wins over Kansas, Xavier, and Kansas State (not to mention San Diego State and St. John’s).

The reality, however, hasn’t really changed.   There are eight or nine teams for what amounts to two or three spots.  The Committee has its hands full.  And that number could still shrink.  Memphis is alive in the American and Davidson, in particular, is threat in the Atlantic 10.  In other words, until today’s games are complete, we’re still in a holding pattern.

The latest …

UPDATED: March 10, 2018

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Oklahoma vs. USC | East Region
  • Arizona State vs. Saint Mary’s South Region
  • SE Louisiana vs. LIU-BROOKLYN | East Region
  • Hampton vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

SOUTH Atlanta    EAST – Boston           
Charlotte Pittsburgh
1) Virginia 1) Villanova
16) Hampton / Ark-PB 16) SE La / LIU-BROOKLYN
8) Providence 8) Rhode Island
9) Nevada 9) Kansas State
San Diego San Diego
5) Florida 5) Clemson
12) Western Kentucky 12) MURRAY STATE
4) West Virginia 4) Arizona
13) Louisiana 13) Vermont
Nashville Dallas
6) Miami-FL 6) Houston
11) Arizona St / Saint Mary’s 11) Oklahoma / USC
3) Auburn 3) Tennessee
14) CHARLESTON 14) BUCKNELL
Detroit Detroit
7) TCU 7) Seton Hall
10) Butler 10) NC State
2) Cincinnati 2) Purdue
15) WRIGHT STATE 15) LIPSCOMB
WEST – Los Angeles MIDWEST – Omaha
Pittsburgh Wichita
1) Xavier 1) Kansas
16) RADFORD 16) Harvard
8) Virginia Tech 8) St. Bonaventure
9) Alabama 9) Florida State
Boise Boise
5) Texas Tech 5) Ohio State
12) New Mexico State 12) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
4) GONZAGA 4) Wichita State
13) UNC-GREENSBORO 13) Buffalo
Dallas Wichita
6) Kentucky 6) Arkansas
11) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 11) Texas
3) MICHIGAN 3) Michigan State
14) New Mexico 14) Montana
Charlotte Nashville
7) Missouri 7) Texas AM
10) Creighton 10) UCLA
2) North Carolina 2) Duke
15) UC-Irvine 15) IONA

NOTES on the BRACKET: Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed – followed by Villanova, Kansas, and Xavier

Last Four Byes (at large): Butler, Creighton, UCLA, Texas

Last Four IN (at large): USC, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Saint Mary’s

First Four OUT (at large): Louisville, Marquette, Oklahoma State, Baylor

Next four teams OUT (at large): Middle Tennessee, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Penn State

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, Florida State, NC State

SEC (8): Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas AM, Missouri, Alabama

BIG 12 (7): Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma

Big East (7): Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence, Butler, Creighton

Big 10 (4): MICHIGAN, Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State

Pac 12 (4): Arizona, UCLA, USC, Arizona State

American (3): Cincinnati, Wichita State, Houston

Atlantic 10 (2): Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Mountain West (2): New Mexico, Nevada

ONE BID LEAGUES: LOYOLA-CHI (MVC), IONA (MAAC), Western Kentucky (C-USA), Louisiana (SBELT), Harvard (IVY), Montana (BSKY), WRIGHT STATE (HORIZON), SE Louisiana (SLND), UNC-GREENSBORO (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), LIPSCOMB(ASUN), MURRAY STATE (OVC), CHARLESTON (CAA), RADFORD (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), SOUTH DAKOTA ST (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), BUCKNELL (PAT), LIU-BROOKLYN (NEC), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC)

Four-star guard becomes LSU’s first 2019 commit

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Expected to be a factor both within the SEC and nationally this season, these are good times for the LSU men’s basketball program. Head coach Will Wade and his staff received more good news Tuesday, as 6-foot-2 combo guard James Bishop (Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph HS) announced that he will be a Tiger next season.

Bishop, considered to be one of the top scoring guards in the class, is LSU’s first 2019 verbal commitment. Bishop’s pledge comes just over a week after his official visit to LSU, and just days after a visit to St. John’s. LSU beat out St. John’s, NC State, Marquette and VCU in the race for the Baltimore product, and given the Tigers’ current roster this is an important commitment.

LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is considered to be one of the nation’s best, with point guard Javonte Smart being one of the five-star prospects in that quintet (forwards Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams being the others). Add in sophomore Tremont Waters, who’s coming off of an outstanding freshman season, and LSU could be in a position next summer where its top two lead guards are at the very least testing the NBA draft waters.

Landing Bishop gives LSU another talented option, and some cover should the program lose either Waters or Smart — or both — in 2019.

Calhoun officially named head coach at DIII St. Joseph

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jim Calhoun has officially been named the head coach at Division III University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut.

The Hall of Famer had already announced he would be taking the job and has been working for a year to establish a men’s basketball program at the small Catholic university, which was an all-women’s school until this school year.

Calhoun also has continued to serve in an advisory role at UConn, where he served as coach for 26 seasons and led the Huskies to three of their four national titles before retiring in 2012.

The 76-year-old will return to the sidelines with a career record of 873-380 when the Blue Jays open the season on Nov. 9 against William Paterson University.

That game will be played at Trinity College in Hartford, which has a gym that seats about 2,200 people, about 1,000 more than the gymnasium at Saint Joseph.

Oregon State announces addition of transfer Payton Dastrup

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Tuesday afternoon Oregon State announced that former BYU power forward Payton Dastrup has joined the program as a transfer. Dastrup, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in just under eight minutes per game last season, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Oregon State will file a waiver on his behalf in hopes that Dastrup will be granted immediate eligibility.

Should the waiver request be denied, Dastrup will not be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season. For Oregon State’s sake, even with Dastrup’s career numbers he would fill a need for a team that bid farewell to its best big man during the spring.

Drew Eubanks’ decision to turn pro left a noticeable hole in Oregon State’s interior rotation, with senior Gligorije Rakocevic and junior Ben Kone being the most experienced returnees. Those two combined to average 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2017-18, with Rakocevic averaging 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances off the bench.

In addition to those two the Beavers add three scholarship newcomers to the mix this season in junior college transfer Kylor Kelley and freshmen Warren Washington and Jack Wilson. Dastrup has the ability to step away from the basket, which would give Oregon State a little versatility in the interior to go along with a perimeter/wing rotation led by Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.

Oklahoma State lands third 2019 commitment

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Oklahoma State managed to add another verbal commitment in its 2019 class on Tuesday, as four-star combo guard Avery Anderson III announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball for Mike Boynton. Anderson picked Oklahoma State over offers from Florida, LSU, TCU and Texas Tech.

Anderson is Oklahoma State’s third commitment in the class, as the Justin, Texas product joins twins Kalib and Keylan Boone. The Boone brothers made their pledge in mid-April, and all three took official visits to Stillwater this past weekend.

Anderson’s commitment is key for two reasons. First there’s the fact that he can be used at either guard spot, and that versatility will be valuable for Oklahoma State once he arrives on campus. Also, while Oklahoma State will be quite young in the front court this coming season that isn’t the case on the perimeter.

Of Oklahoma State’s current crop of guards/wings only two, freshman Isaac Likekele and redshirt sophomore Michael Weathers, are underclassmen. The Cowboys have just one senior in the group, Mike Cunningham, but getting a guard in the 2019 class was key for Boynton’s program.

At this point, all 13 of Oklahoma State’s scholarships for the 2019-20 season have been filled with Anderson’s commitment.

Dan Hurley lands first commitment as UConn head coach

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First-year UConn head coach Dan Hurley landed his first commitment in the Class of 2019 on Tuesday, as four-star guard James Bouknight announced that he will play his college ball for the Huskies.

A native of New York that has played in the prep ranks for the MacDuffie School and has been a member of the same PSA Cardinals AAU program that produced Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba, Bouknight is a 6-foot-4 off-guard that still has quite a bit of potential to grow into. He’s an athletic scorer with upside, exactly the kind of player that UConn is going to need in a year where they will be losing Jalen Adams while Alterique Gilbert continues to struggle with shoulder issues.

Much is expected from Hurley at UConn, and he has found himself in the mix for a number of high-profile recruits in and around the Northeast. Putting together a couple of strong classes at the start of his tenure is critical for a coach looking to bring the Huskies back to the heights they were at under Jim Calhoun.

And Bouknight is a terrific was to start that process.