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Bracketology: Kentucky returns to top line

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Kentucky began its bracket journey last October as the projected No. 1 seed in the South Region.  As March nears, the Wildcats return to the top line, holding the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region.  For context, UK has lost just twice since the start of 2019, by a combined four points.

Duke continues as the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia and Gonzaga.  Tennessee, North Carolina, Michigan State and Michigan remain in the top-seed discussion.  All eight have a lot at stake these next three weeks.

The cutline is equally compelling.  Will some early contenders make late runs to regain a look?  Will teams like Texas, Minnesota, and Ohio State hold on?  Will this be the year we see an at-large bid or two granted to deserving mid-majors?  The Madness is about to begin.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 25, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Temple vs. Alabama
MIDWEST REGION UCF vs. Utah State
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION PRAIRIE VIEW vs. RIDER

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

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Texas Temple Butler Dayton
Minnesota Alabama Clemson UNC-Greensboro
Arizona State UCF Georgetown Davidson
Seton Hall Utah State Furman Murray State

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

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

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

SEC (8): KENTUCKY, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama

Big East (4): MARQUETTE, Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall

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

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Wright State (HORIZON), Sam Houston State (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), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketing principles: read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com.

Introducing Cinderella: Lipscomb headed to first-ever NCAA tournament

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ConferenceAtlantic Sun

CoachCasey Alexander

Record23-9 (10-4 Atlantic Sun)

Ratings and Rankings:

– Kenpom177
– RPI: 108
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

SeedingThe Bisons finished two games out of first place in the Atlantic Sun, and historically that likely means they’re set up for a 16th seed.

Names you need to knowJunior Garrison Matthews can absolutely fill it up. The 6-foot-5 wing averaged 21.7 points per game and had a 43-point outing against Kennesaw State in January. Roby Mayberry is no slouch offensively either, averaging 16.7 points on 61.4 percent shooting. Eli Pepper grabs eight rebounds per game.

Stats you need to knowLipscomb wants to go fast. Overall, they rank seventh in adjusted tempo according to KenPom. Offensively, they have the 12th-shortest average possession length in the country and clock in at 14th defensively. They shoot quickly themselves and then get opponents to go fast as well. Their defensive rebounding kick-starts their transition offense.

Big wins, bad lossesThe Bisons played Belmont home-and-away in the non-conference season and won both times, giving them their only two top-100 wins of the year. Losses to North Florida and Jacksonville are serious drags on the resume. They did top ASun champ Florida Gulf Coast twice, including in dramatic fashion Sunday.

How’d they get here?The Bisons got up by 32 in the second half against the Eagles and then went into near-complete meltdown mode. FGCU pulled as close as five points, but were unable to pull off one of the biggest come-from-behind wins in NCAA history.  Lipscomb has won eight-straight heading into the NCAA tournament.

OutlookLipscomb is going to find itself some tough sledding in the NCAA tournament. The Bisons are likely a 16-seed, a spot from which no team has ever gotten out of the first round, and their high-possession style is rarely a recipe for an upset. There isn’t a lot about their profile that screams Cinderella.

How do I know you?You don’t. Or at least not from the NCAA tournament. This will be Lipscomb’s first-ever trip to the Big Dance. If you’re a big NAIA fan, though, you might remember the 1986 Lipscomb squad that won the national championship in that division.

Pregame Shootaround: No. 14 Iowa State needs to be on upset alert tonight

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Earlier today, we posted a preview of the Tip-Off Marathon, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

To read about all of those games, go here.

But those aren’t the only games of the night. Here’s a look at the rest of the college hoops action:

Game of the Night: Georgia State at No. 14 Iowa State, 9:00 p.m.

Georgia State is one of the best mid-major teams in the country this season, as they trot out a trio of high-major guards in Ryan Harrow, Kevin Ware and R.J. Hunter, a future first round pick. Iowa State is talented in their own right, and they will actually be playing at a bit of a disadvantage on Monday as Jameel McKay is still not eligible. The Panthers won’t have an answer for Georges Niang, but can the Cyclones slow down GSU’s perimeter attack? If the Panthers want to get an at-large bid, this is one of those games that borders on being a must-win.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Belmont at Lipscomb, 8:00 p.m.

The Battle of the Boulevard. One of the nation’s best rivalries that no one knows about. Lipscomb and Belmont are not league foes anymore, but they’ve hated each other since their NAIA days. They once packed 16,000 people into an arena to see them square off in a regular season game before either had made the jump to Division I.

Story line of the Night: Texas Southern at Indiana, 6:00 p.m.

Mike Davis will make his triumphant return to Bloomington. Davis was the man that replaced Bobby Knight as Hoosier head coach, eventually getting run out of town to make room for Kelvin Sampson. They went well, didn’t it? Anyway, he’s not the head coach at Texas Southern.

Top 25:

  • Jacksonville at No. 7 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.
  • Maryland-Eastern Shore at No. 12 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.
  • Bucknell at No. 24 Michigan, 8:00 p.m.

Legendary head coach Don Meyer passes away at age 69

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Don Meyer, one of the most successful and winningest college basketball coaches the game has seen, passed away on Sunday in South Dakota following a battle with cancer. Meyer was 69.

The former head coach at Lipscomb, Northern State and Hamline, Meyer went 923-324 during a 38-year career. Meyer had recently gone into hospice care and passed away at 6:52 a.m. on Sunday at his home in Aberdeen, according to family spokesperson Brenda Dreyer.

Meyer retired in 2010 as the NCAA’s winningest coach in men’s basketball history. After surviving a near-fatal car accident and a diagnosis of liver cancer in 2009, Meyer passed Bobby Knight for the NCAA wins record later in the same year. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski later passed Meyer’s wins mark in 2012.

Meyer was remarkably consistent in his 38-year career, as he only had four losing seasons. The legendary head coach left a big mark on the game of college basketball through his camps and coaching clinics and Meyer compiled records of 37-41 at Hamline, 665-179 at Lipscomb, and 221-104 at Northern State.

The head coach was also honored with ESPN’s Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2009 ESPY Awards and also was given the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2010.

Meyer graduated from Norther Colorado in 1967 after playing basketball and baseball and he began his head coaching career with three seasons at Hamline in 1972.

After his time at Hamline, Meyer spent 24 seasons at Lipscomb which included a title in 1986 and Meyer twice earning NAIA coach of the year honors. Meyer closed out his career at Northern State in 1999, which included a streak of seven straight 20-win seasons.

Meyer is survived by his wife Carmen and three children.

The Meyer family set up a website to honor Don Meyer’s life and coaching career.

Daniel huge as Murray State survives Lipscomb

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Ed Daniel could be turning into this season’s Kenneth Faried in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Daniel went full-on Faried for Murray State, scoring 20 points, pulling down 18 rebounds and swatting five shots in helping the Racers get past Lipscomb on the road, 88-79.

The 18 rebounds were a season-high for Daniel, a 6-7 senior from Birmingham, Ala. He’s been on a tear on the glass lately though after a 15-board effort in a win over Old Dominion on Saturday. It makes four straight double-digit rebounding games for Daniel, too.

Canaan had another monster night himself, going for 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-for-11 from three-point range, with six boards and four assists. Stacey Wilson chipped in 21 points in the win as well.

While the result is a lot closer than most thought, having two other players go for 20-plus is a big positive for coach Steve Prohm. Though these does leave a few questions about their depth. Zay Henderson was the lone player to score on the bench, with just two points, one of just three shots taken by non-starters. No doubt Zay Jackson would be a big help with that, but he’s suspended for the season.

It’s the early season, and after losing three starters, no one is expecting the dominance of the conference like last season’s Racers had. But bench production is an issue. While nine players average double-digit minutes for Murray State early on, only one player outside of Canaan, Daniel and Wilson is averaging above nine points per game, that’s Dexter Fields’ 9.2.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.