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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)

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.