AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

Bracketology: Happy Valentine’s Day for Duke, LSU

1 Comment

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ll sweep the epic crumbles of futility – otherwise known as this year’s bubble – under the proverbial rug and try not to look.

Instead, we’ll send Happy Heart greetings to the Duke Blue Devils and LSU Tigers, both of whom celebrated huge road wins in the Commonwealth on Tuesday.  For their efforts, Duke remains the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket.  LSU rises to No. 12 on the seed list, good for the final No. 3 seed.

As for those crumbles, today’s cutline decisions included serious consideration for teams like Oklahoma, Indiana, Butler, and Florida, all of whom have significant resume issues. There are no clear answers, especially with regards to how the Selection Committee will use the NCAA’s new NET ratings.  The good news for those four, and others, is we still have games to play.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 14, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
WEST REGION Clemson vs. Arizona State
MIDWEST REGION UNC Greensboro vs. Utah State
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Quinnipiac
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) QUINNIPIAC / NORFOLK ST 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Baylor
9) Alabama 9) Syracuse
San Jose Salt Lake City
5) Wisconsin 5) KANSAS STATE
12) LIPSCOMB 12) BELMONT
4) Iowa State 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Tulsa
6) Florida State 6) Maryland
11) UCF 11) Texas
3) Marquette 3) HOUSTON
14) YALE 14) UC-IRVINE
Hartford Jacksonville
7) Mississippi State 7) Ohio State
10) NC State 10) Seton Hall
2) Michigan 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Hartford
1) GONZAGA 1) Virginia
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) ROB MORRIS / PR VIEW
8) St. John’s 8) WASHINGTON
9) Auburn 9) TCU
San Jose Des Moines
5) Louisville 5) Texas Tech
12) Clemson / Arizona State 12) NC-Greensboro / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Purdue
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) HOFSTRA
Jacksonville Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Temple 11) VCU
3) LSU 3) Kansas
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Columbus Columbus
7) Ole Miss 7) Cincinnati
10) WOFFORD 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) Kentucky
15) MONTANA 15) TEXAS STATE

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Clemson Oklahoma Arkansas
Texas Arizona State Indiana Georgetown
UCF UNC-Greensboro Butler Fresno State
Temple Utah State Florida Davidson

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (2): WOFFORD, UNC-Greensboro

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Quinnipiac (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Committee pens Duke, Tennessee as 1-2 punch

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
1 Comment

Few of us were surprised on Saturday when the Selection Committee announced that Duke and Tennessee were Nos. 1 and 1A on their Seed List.  After an action-filled weekend, neither position has changed, although one could argue that Duke’s win at Virginia, giving the Blue Devils a regular-season sweep, might create a more distinct line of separation between those two.

The only top-line move this morning was lifting Gonzaga to No. 3 on the Seed List and dropping Virginia to No. 4.  Gonzaga still reigns over the West Region and Virginia the Midwest.  Elsewhere, team positions on the first four lines mirror what the Committee gave us on Saturday.  One could argue whether or not Iowa State would stay after a home loss to TCU, or about how losses by Louisville and Wisconsin might also impact those lines.  For today, we’ll let the Committee’s voice be heard.

Unfortunately, the Committee didn’t provide us any sort of insight into what has become a very mediocre bubble picture.  Then again, why take on that headache right now? Hopefully, some cleaner lines of separation will develop over the next three weeks.

UPDATED: February 11, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Butler vs. UCF
WEST REGION Oklahoma / Temple
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Canisius
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC      SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) NORFOLK ST / CANISIUS 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Syracuse
9) Alabama 9) Baylor
San Jose San Jose
5) LSU 5) Texas Tech
12) BELMONT 12) Butler / UCF
4) Iowa State 4) NEVADA
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Des Moines Hartford
6) Virginia Tech 6) Florida State
11) VCU 11) Seton Hall
3) Marquette 3) Purdue
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) YALE
Columbus Jacksonville
7) Cincinnati 7) Mississippi State
10) Texas 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
MIDWEST – Kansas City WEST – Anaheim
Hartford Salt Lake City
1) Virginia 1) GONZAGA
16) PR VIEW / ROB MORRIS 16) SAM HOUSTON
8) St. John’s 8) Auburn
9) Ole Miss 9) TCU
Salt Lake City Columbus
5) KANSAS STATE 5) VILLANOVA
12) LIPSCOMB 12) Oklahoma / Temple
4) Wisconsin 4) Louisville
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) OLD DOMINION
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Maryland 6) Iowa
11) Arizona State 11) Clemson
3) HOUSTON 3) Kansas
14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST 14) UC-IRVINE
Jacksonville Des Moines
7) Ohio State 7) WASHINGTON
10) NC State 10) WOFFORD
2) Kentucky 2) Michigan State
15) MONTANA 15) MONTANA

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Butler Georgetown Providence
Arizona State UCF NC-Greensboro Utah State
Seton Hall Oklahoma Arkansas Florida
Clemson Temple Indiana Creighton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

NBC Sports Top 25: Duke is No. 1, Virginia remains top five

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There wasn’t much change in the top ten for me this week. Virginia was the only member of the top six to lose, and they lost on a night where the No. 1 team shot 13-for-21 from three. As I wrote from that game, it’s hard to think any less of them after that.

Michigan State is the team in the top ten that is the hardest to rank right now. On the one hand, they did lose three straight games, culminating in that loss at Illinois on Tuesday night. On the other hand, everyone lost last week. Villanova lost to Marquette who lost to St. John’s, both games decided by a single point. Kansas lost. Virginia Tech lost twice. I can’t bump any of them over the Spartans, and I also am not yet ready to bump Nevada or Houston past them. Nevada’s best win this season is Utah State at home. They haven’t even played a Q1 game this year, let alone landed a Q1 win.

Purdue and Michigan State are basically the same team and split the season series. The only difference is that Purdue lost early and Michigan State lost recently.

Beyond that, figuring out how to rank the Big 12 is like throwing darts blindfolded. As of today, I have Kansas State as the highest ranked team in the league — how can I not? — with Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas right behind them, in that order, but I’m not actually convinced that the Wildcats aren’t the worst of that group of four teams.

We are at the point in league play where college basketball is starting to get weird.

And I am here for it.

Here is the rest of the NBC Sports Top 25:

1. Duke (21-2, Last Week: 1)
2. Tennessee (22-1, 2)
3. Gonzaga (23-1, 3)
4. Virginia (20-2, 4)
5. Kentucky (20-3, 5)
6. Michigan (22-2, 6)
7. North Carolina (19-4, 8)
8. Michigan State (19-5, 7)
9. Marquette (20-4, 10)
10. Villanova (19-5, 11)
11. Nevada (23-1, 13)
12. Purdue (17-6, 15)
13. Houston (23-1, 16)
14. Kansas State (18-5, NR)
15. Iowa State (18-6, 14)
16. Texas Tech (19-5, 17)
17. Kansas (18-6, 12)
18. Virginia Tech (18-5, 9)
19. Wisconsin (17-7, 18)
20. LSU (19-4, 20)
21. Louisville (17-7, 21)
22. Iowa (19-5, 25)
23. Buffalo (20-3, 23)
24. Florida State (18-5, NR)
25. Wofford (21-4, NR)

Dropped Out: 19. Mississippi State, 22. Baylor, 24. Auburn
New Additions: 14. Kansas State, 24. Florida State, 25. Wofford

Waters, Mays lead No. 21 LSU past Auburn, 83-78

AP Photo/Bill Feig
Leave a comment

BATON ROUGE, La. — Tremont Waters had 19 points and 10 assists and No. 21 LSU overcame a sluggish start to beat Auburn 83-78 on Saturday.

Skylar Mays had 20 points for LSU (19-4, 9-1 SEC), which bounced back from its lone conference loss with a pair of league victories heading into its toughest road test yet at fifth-ranked Kentucky.

While Auburn shot better from deep, Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams helped LSU own the paint, where it outrebounded Auburn 47-34 and outscored it 38-18.

Reid finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including a reverse, tomahawk dunk late in the second half. Bigby-Williams, an Oregon transfer in his first eligible season at LSU, grabbed 10 rebounds to go with seven points, highlighted by a couple of vicious two-handed dunks.

Jared Harper scored 25 for Auburn (16-7, 5-5), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.

Harper sank five of Auburn’s 16 3-pointers, his last with 31 seconds left to trim LSU’s lead to 79-76. LSU then turned the ball over on a 5-second violation, and Auburn made it 79-78 on Chuma Okeke’s layup with 26 seconds left.

After Mays hit two pressure free throws, Harper’s heavily guarded 3 for the tie missed. Auburn corralled the offensive rebound for one more chance, but Bryce Brown appeared to be hit from behind as his 3 missed. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl screamed and gestured at officials, pleading for a foul call he never got, and Waters sealed it with two more free throws in the final second.

Auburn hit eight 3s in the first nine minutes of the game, taking its largest lead when Harper hit from deep to make it 26-10.

Harper hit four of his first five from long range, reaching 14 points when his fast-break layup gave Auburn a 41-31 lead with 2:28 to go in the opening half.

But LSU held Auburn scoreless until halftime and pulled to 41-38 on Waters’ right-side 3 as time expired.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: Playing on the road has been difficult for Auburn since conference play began. Auburn is now 1-4 in the league away from home. Auburn exceeded its average of nearly 12 made 3s per game but had more turnovers (19) than assists (10). Auburn is 13-2 when it has more assists than turnovers.

LSU: LSU missed six of its first seven 3s and was sluggish in its perimeter defense early on but held Auburn to five 3s in the second half. LSU attempted fewer 3s (13) than Auburn made, but it was able to use its size and athleticism to impose its will while digging out of its early double-digit deficit.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

LSU registered a comeback victory at Mississippi State earlier this week and the victory over Auburn further augments its credentials to climb back into the top 20.

Bracketology: Duke holds No. 1 position

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
2 Comments

It’s been a relatively even week, leaving us with the same Field of 68 that we had on Monday.

Minor Seed List adjustments have been made to reflect valuable road wins by teams such as Louisville and LSU.  The same principle applies for teams in the middle of the bracket like St. John’s.  The Red Storm certainly helped themselves by winning at Marquette.

As we enter the stretch run, bubble teams will solidify their standing, remove themselves from consideration, or put themselves into a stressful Championship Week scenario.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 7, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION TCU vs. VCU
MIDWEST REGION Seton Hall vs. Temple
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Robert Morris
MIDWEST REGION Rider vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) NORFOLK ST / R. MORRIS  16) BUCKNELL
8) Buffalo 8) Baylor
9) Ohio State 9) St. John’s
Tulsa Salt Lake City
5) LSU 5) Iowa
12) BELMONT 12) LIPSCOMB
4) HOUSTON 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Hartford
6) Virginia Tech 6) Florida State
11) Oklahoma 11) TCU / VCU
3) Marquette 3) Purdue
14) BOWLING GREEN 14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY
Des Moines Jacksonville
7) Auburn 7) Mississippi State
10) Syracuse 10) Indiana
2) Michigan State 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) PRINCETON
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Hartford
1) GONZAGA 1) Virginia
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) RIDER / PR. VIEW
8) Minnesota 8) Ole Miss
9) Alabama 9) Arizona State
San Jose San Jose
5) KANSAS STATE 5) Iowa State
12) HOFSTRA 12) Seton Hall / Temple
4) NEVADA 4) Wisconsin
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) UC-IRVINE
Jacksonville Tulsa
6) Texas Tech 6) Maryland
11) DAVIDSON 11) WOFFORD
3) Louisville 3) Kansas
14) RADFORD 14) TEXAS STATE
Columbus Columbus
7) WASHINGTON 7) Cincinnati
10) NC State 10) Texas
2) MICHIGAN 2) Kentucky
15) MONTANA 15) SOUTH DAKOTA ST

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Syracuse TCU UCF Utah State
Indiana VCU Butler Florida
NC State Seton Hall Arkansas Arizona
Oklahoma Temple Clemson Creighton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

Big 10 (9): MICHIGAN, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Syracuse, NC State

BIG 12 (8): BAYLOR, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (3): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Atlantic 10 (2): DAVIDSON, VCU

Mid American (2): BOWLING GREEN, Buffalo

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bubble Banter: St. John’s lands critical win at No. 10 Marquette

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

February is here!

And now that we are nearly halfway through conference play, it is time for us to get fully invested in the “who’s-in-who’s-out” discussion. Bubble Banter has never been more important!

Some quick housekeeping before we dive into it:

  • This page will be updated throughout the night. 
  • We’ll update them best that we can, but the NET rankings will be accurate through Tuesday morning. 
  • If you see something we missed, if you have an issue with a team we left out or if you want to congratulate us on a job well done, drop a comment below or hit us up here: @RobDauster.
  • On Monday, our Dave Ommen released an updated bracket. It is the only bracket you need to be up to date on. 

Onto Tuesday’s action.

WINNERS

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 45, SOS: 65): The Johnnies won at No. 10 Marquette on Tuesday night in an absolute thriller as Shamorie Ponds outdueled Markus Howard (again) in what was the best possible win St. John’s could land the rest of the season.

Marquette is a top 20 team in NET. St. John’s entered the week as one of the teams that right on the cutline. Our Dave Ommen had St. John’s as the last team in the field to avoid a play-in game. That’s not a comfortable place to be, not when your non-conference SOS is 193 and when you have a pair of Q3 home losses on your resume. This win, however, is massive. The Johnnies are now 4-4 in Q1 games with a sweep of Marquette. They have now won four true road games against Q1 and Q2 competition, and their neutral court win over fellow bubble-dweller VCU looks good right now.

But the most important part of this win is that the Big East is not the Big 12, or the ACC, or the SEC. The Johnnies have just one more shot at another Q1 win during the regular season, and that comes against Villanova in Madison Square Garden. Lose that, and they are likely heading into the Big East tournament with those four wins — and that’s assuming that VCU stays in the top 50 of NET.

This gives them some breathing room, and that’s something they desperately needed.

AUBURN (NET: 21, SOS: 34): The Tigers are in pretty good position right now despite the fact that they don’t have a ton of great wins. They are just 1-5 against Q1 opponents but their worst loss is a Q2 road loss against South Carolina and they do have six Q2 wins. The best news is probably that they have five more chances to land Q1 wins.

ARKANSAS (NET: 57, SOS: 36): The Razorbacks have won three in a row and, after their win at LSU on Saturday, they have put themselves in a position to have a shot at the tournament. The win at LSU is their only Q1 win in six tries and they only have a pair of Q2 wins to go along with two Q3 losses, but with the way the bubble is shaping up, the Razorbacks are in first eight out territory.

LOSERS

N.C. STATE (NET: 34, SOS: 261): The good news for N.C. State is that they cracked 25 points on Tuesday night. The bad news is that they gave up 113 to North Carolina. The Wolfpack are in a bad spot right now. They have now lost three straight games and four of their last five. The only win during that stretch came in a game where Clemson gave the game away in the final 20 seconds by missing four straight free throws. Their four ACC wins came against Miami, Pitt, Notre Dame and Clemson. They are 16-7 on the season, but they are just 1-6 against Q1 opponents, and the one win came against an Auburn team that only has a single Q1 win.

The Wolfpack are still in a pretty good spot, but with a non-conference SOS that is currently sitting at 352nd out of 353 teams and a Q3 loss at Wake Forest, I would not feel comfortable if I was Kevin Keatts. They need to snap out of this funk, and fast.

SYRACUSE (NET: 42, SOS: 33): The Orange are such a weird team. They get whipped up a lot more than good basketball teams should. Tuesday, it was an 18 point beatdown at home against Florida State. There was the 22 point loss to Virginia Tech. Oregon and UConn worked them over. Old Dominion and Georgia Tech did the same. They’ve played just two Q1 league games and have just a 2-2 record in Q1 games overall and a 5-5 mark against Q1 and Q2.

Yet, they also have what might end up being the single best win in college basketball this season, when they went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and beat Duke. That will cover up a lot of warts.

FLORIDA (NET: 40, SOS: 57): Entering the week, Florida was our first team out, and losing at Auburn certainly isn’t going to help them out. The Gators are now sitting at 12-10 on the season, and while they look pretty good in the metrics, there isn’t a lot here. They have just one Q1 win (at Arkansas) and they have a Q3 home loss to South Carolina. If there is a saving grace, eight of their ten losses are Q1 losses, but they have to find a way to start winning some games.

It doesn’t get any easier, either. Florida playing at Tennessee on Saturday and still has to play at Alabama, LSU twice and at Kentucky.