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Bubble Watch: Breaking down every team in at-large conversation

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It’s that time of the year again, which means that we are diving head first into our annual NCAA tournament bubble watch.

The way that it will work is simple: We’ll be looking at every team that our Dave Ommen, the best bracketologist in the business, considers in the mix for an at-large bid. In an effort to keep this somewhat manageable, we are going to assume that the top 36 teams in the field — every team that is a No. 9-seed or above — is “off the bubble”. This does not mean those teams are a lock to dance, it just means that they have given themselves enough room for error that we can take them out of the conversation until they do something dumb.

Dave’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

So with all that in mind, let’s get into the full NCAA tournament bubble watch:



ACC BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Louisville (NBC: 2), Duke (NBC: 2), Florida State (NBC: 3)

VIRGINIA (NET: 55, NBC: 11): Virginia landed an overtime win over Notre Dame (53) on Tuesday night, their fourth win in the last five games and their fifth win in the last seven games. The Wahoos are now 16-7 overall with a 6-6 mark against the top two Quads thanks to this win. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but just one of them — Florida State (14) at home — is a surefire Quad 1 win to go along with a Quad 3 loss at Boston College (145). Perhaps the biggest issue is that UVA has just two potential Quad 1 wins left on their schedule. They can’t afford slip-ups, and could really use a win over Duke (6) or Louisville (7) next month.

N.C. STATE (NET: 60, NBC: Play-in game): The Wolfpack landed their third Quad 1 win of the season by going into the Carrier Dome and picking off Syracuse (69) on Tuesday night. N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team, but they do have those three Quad 1 road wins and a home win over Wisconsin (33). Two Quad 3 home losses weigh things down, but they’ll earn their tournament bid in the next three games: they have to go on the road to Boston College (141) before hosting Duke (6) and Florida State (14) next week.


AMERICAN BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Houston (NBC: 8)

WICHITA STATE (NET: 47, NBC: Play-in game): The power of a narrative is strong. After back-to-back last-second losses to Tulsa (84) and Cincinnati (48), Wichita State got absolutely trucked by Houston (26) on the road on Sunday. What was a couple of competitive, tough-luck losses has suddenly turned into an inflection point in the season, and now Wichita State’s standing as an NCAA tournament team looks pretty precarious. The good news is they snapped that losing skid on Thursday night with a win at UCF (124). They have beaten VCU (42) and Oklahoma (45) at home, and they don’t have any truly terrible losses, but with just three potential Quad 1 games left on their schedule — all of which are on the road — the Shockers need to get hot, and soon.

MEMPHIS (NET: 59, NBC: First four out): The Tigers saw their three-game losing streak get blown up on Saturday when they lost at home to South Florida (115), and they followed that up by blowing a 10-point lead in the final six minutes in their biggest game of the season, at Cincinnati (48). They’ve now lost four of their last seven and six of their last 11 games, they are playing without D.J. Jeffries, their second-leading scorer, they have more Quad 3 losses (two) than Quad 1 wins (one) and the two best teams that they have beaten on the season are slated to play in a play-in game in Dave Ommen’s latest bracket. I don’t think this ends well for Memphis.

CINCINNATI (NET: 48, NBC: Play-in game): The Bearcats bounced back from a tough, overtime loss at UConn (74) to beat Memphis (59) in overtime in a come-from-behind win at home on Thursday. They’ve won six of their last seven games and eight of their last ten, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are two major problems with Cincinnati’s resume right now: They don’t have an elite win and the best win available to them during league play is at Houston (29) in three weeks. They do have a pair of Quad 1 wins and an 8-5 mark against the top two Quads, but with three Quad 3 losses to their name, there is still some ground for them to makeup if they want to feel comfortable. They need to keep on winning, but the Bearcats are now within striking distance of the NCAA tournament. My gut says they do enough to get there.


ATLANTIC 10 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Dayton (NBC: 2)

VCU (NET: 42, NBC: Next four out): The Rams are in serious trouble after losing at home to a George Mason (154) team that entered the game sitting at 2-8 in the league with four straight losses. VCU now has as many Quad 4 losses as they do Quad 1 wins; they beat LSU (27) at home on Nov. 13th. They are now just 3-5 overall against the top two Quads. They are in a bad, bad spot, but the good news is that their next three games are all Quad 1 games, which means the next eight days are the most important stretch of their season: at Richmond (55), Dayton (5), at Saint Louis (74). The Rams have a ton of work left to do, but the fact that their worst loss is against Tennessee (65) up is a good thing. They need to get hot.

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 34, NBC: 11): In a battle for first place in the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island lost at Dayton (5) on Tuesday night. No shame in that, and the truth is that URI’s resume is currently strong enough to withstand it. They’re 18-6 overall and they have just one Quad 1 win, but they are 6-5 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (236) is ugly, but as long as URI avoids the landmines on their schedule, I think they can get an at-large even with a loss to Dayton at home in March.

RICHMOND (NET: 52, NBC: Next four out): For my money, the Spiders’ at-large hopes are more or less dead. I cannot see how they are going to be able to get enough wins to jump six or seven teams that play in tougher leagues with a schedule that includes a bunch of bad teams and a home game against VCU (35). I’ll leave them here for now since our Dave Ommen has the Spiders as one of the next four out.


BIG 12 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Baylor (NBC: 1), Kansas (NBC: 1), West Virginia (NBC: 3), Texas Tech (NBC: 7), Oklahoma (NBC: 9)

TEXAS (NET: 70, NBC: Off the bubble): Texas had three chances to land a marquee in the last two, and they lost at Kansas (4) and to both Texas Tech (16) and Baylor (3). At this point, there just isn’t enough good on this resume to keep them in the mix. They’re 2-8 in Quad 1 opportunities and 3-10 against the top two Quads. This is the last time they’ll be in this space without some kind of winning streak.


BIG EAST BUBBLE WATCH

Top 9: Seton Hall (NBC: 3), Villanova (NBC: 4), Butler (NBC: 4), Creighton (NBC: 4), Marquette (NBC: 6)

XAVIER (NET: 44, NBC: 10): The Musketeers had their three-game winning streak snapped at Butler (12), which is hardly the worst loss in the world. After that loss, they are 8-9 against the top two quads with the two Quad 1 wins I mentioned above. They also have just one sub-Quad 1 loss, and it’s a Quad 2 loss at Wake Forest (100). They suddenly have the resume of a team that might have some room to spare. With home games left against Butler (12) and a visit from Villanova (22), the Musketeers still have a couple of more chances to improve their resume as well.

GEORGETOWN (NET: 54, NBC: First four out): Georgetown is now 14-10 on the season after beating DePaul (67) at home on Saturday. I’m not quite ready to give up on this team yet. They do have three Quad 1 wins now that SMU (72) and Oklahoma State (71) have jumped into the top 75, and their “worst” loss came at home to UNCG (61). Plus, Mac McClung has missed some of Georgetown’s losses and there’s the complicating factor of Georgetown’s ugliest losses coming while they were dealing with personnel issues in the first month of the season. There are plenty of elite wins left on their schedule as well.


BIG TEN BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Maryland (NBC: 2), Penn State (NBC: 4), Michigan State (NBC: 5), Iowa (NBC: 6), Ohio State (NBC: 6), Illinois (NBC: 7), Michigan (NBC: 7), Wisconsin (NBC: 8), Indiana (NBC:9), Rutgers (NBC: 9)

Given how tough the remaining schedule is for both Minnesota and Purdue, I thought it was prudent to share this, from our Dave Ommen: “Historically, the most losses we’ve seen for an at-large team is 15.  And it’s extremely rare for teams to receive at-large bids when their overall record isn’t at least four games above .500.  Something to keep in mind, especially with losses mounting for several teams in the Big 10.  Last year’s Indiana team finished 19-16 with six Quad 1 wins and 9 Quad 1/2 wins and was one of the teams to just miss – largely because of a 3-9 road record and 4-10 record away from home overall.”

PURDUE (NET: 61, NBC: 10): Purdue got worked over at home on Tuesday by Penn State (18), dropping them to 14-11 on the season. The Boilermakers are 4-8 against Quad 1 opponents with seven Quad 1 and 2 wins and just one Quad 3 loss, at Nebraska (168). They do have a 29-point home win over Michigan State (11) and a 36-point home win over Iowa (30), but their only top 150 road win came at Indiana (58) last weekend. Their remaining schedule is brutal: at Ohio State (23), at Wisconsin (31), Michigan (28), Indiana (58), at Iowa, Rutgers (32). The note above? That is very relevant to this team.

MINNESOTA (NET: 40, NBC: Off the bubble): The Gophers have lost three of their last four and four of their last six games. They are 4-9 against Quad 1 opponents and sit at 6-11 against the top two Quads. Their 12-11 record on the season is certainly a problem, but their “worst” loss is DePaul (67) at home. The biggest red flag with Minnesota is that they have just one win away from home on the season — at Ohio State (15). They need to start winning, but they are in a place where getting hot for two weeks will be enough to get them up as high as a No. 8 seed.


PAC-12 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Oregon (NBC: 5), Colorado (NBC: 5), Arizona (NBC: 7), USC (NBC: 8)

STANFORD (NET: 33, NBC: First four out): The Cardinal lost their third straight game on Thursday night at home against Arizona State (49). It was their sixth loss in the last seven games. Their best player, Oscar da Silva, missed the game because of a head injury he suffered over the weekend. They have an ugly Quad 3 loss to Cal (155) and just two Quad 1 wins. Saturday’s game against Arizona (9) is absolutely enormous.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 49, NBC: 10): The Sun Devils won their fourth straight game on Thursday night, winning at Stanford (33). They’re now 4-6 against Quad 1 opponents with three of those wins coming on the road. They are 7-8 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents and their “worst” loss is a Quad 2 loss at Washington State (107). Should I mention that they are tied for the lead in the Pac-12 with four other teams? Arizona State is in a good spot right now.

UTAH (NET: 78, NBC: Off the bubble): Utah had a two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday, falling at Oregon State (64). They still have a lot of work left to do if they are going to have a real chance at getting into the tournament, and they can start on Sunday by winning at Oregon (25). The Utes have beaten Kentucky (24) on a neutral and BYU (21) at home, which keeps them in the conversation. Their issue? The three ugly losses: at UCLA (103) and then Tulane (186) and Coastal Carolina (200) in South Carolina.


SEC BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Kentucky (NBC: 4), Auburn (NBC: 4), LSU (NBC: 6)

FLORIDA (NET: 38, NBC: 10):  The Gators could not afford to lose to Texas A&M (133) on Wednesday night, and they got the win they needed, beating the Aggies by 17 in College Station. As it stands, Florida’s resume is more or less built on a home win over Auburn (13) and a neutral court win over Xavier (44). They are 5-9 against the top two Quads without a Quad 3 or 4 loss, but this is still not a very strong resume. With two games left against Kentucky (24) and a home date with LSU (27), the Gators are not as comfortable is it may seem, but they will have chances to improve.

ARKANSAS (NET: 43, NBC: Play-in game): After getting smoked by Tennessee (65) on the road on Tuesday, the Razorbacks have now lost three in a row, four of their last five and six of their last eight. They have two Quad 1 wins and are currently sitting at 4-8 against the top two Quads. They do have good computer numbers and have won four games on the road this season, but they have just one win over a top 60 team, and it’s at Alabama (39). The biggest issue, however, is the fact that this group has lost Isaiah Joe and had star guard Mason Jones get benched. Can they actually turn it around?

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 51, NBC: First four out): The Bulldogs took a loss they really couldn’t afford on Tuesday night, losing by 25 points at Ole Miss in a game they led by 13 in the first half. This is a problem because Mississippi State has two Quad 3 losses and just a single Quad 1 win, which came at Florida (45). Making matters worse is the fact that they only have one more potential Quad 1 win left on their regular season schedule, and it’s against an Arkansas (43) team that is fading awfully fast.

ALABAMA (NET: 39, NBC: Off the bubble): The Tide lost for the fourth time in the last five games on Wednesday, falling at Auburn (15) in an overtime game they had a real chance of winning. Alabama is now 13-11 on the season with just a single Quad 1 win and a Quad 3 loss to Penn (151). With a 5-10 mark against the top two Quads and just a single Quad 1 win — Auburn at home — Alabama is in real trouble.

TENNESSEE (NET: 65, NBC: Next four out): The Vols landed another solid win on Tuesday, picking off Arkansas (43) at home by 21 points. I’m not going to sugar coat it: This is a team with a lot of ground to make up. But the Vols play a tough schedule down the stretch, getting Auburn (15) twice, Kentucky (24) on the road, Arkansas on the road and Florida (38) at home. They need to get hot.


BUBBLE WATCH FOR EVERYONE ELSE

TOP 9: Gonzaga (NBC: 1), San Diego State (NBC: 1), BYU (NBC: 8), Saint Mary’s (NBC: 9)

UTAH STATE (NET: 46, NBC: First four out): The Aggies have won three in a row and six of their last seven games, ensuring they are still in the NCAA tournament mix and fully turning around a season that looked like it was lost as recently as three weeks ago. Wins over LSU (27) and Florida (38) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-85 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses? They don’t play another top 100 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can get in without beating San Diego State (1) in the MWC tournament.

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 35, NBC: 11): Their strong NET and wins at Colorado (17) and over South Carolina (66) on a neutral keep the Panthers in the conversation, but losses at Southern Illinois (148) and Illinois State (202) are killers. UNI cannot lose another game unless it is against Loyola-Chicago (102) in the MVC tournament if they really want a chance at an at-large.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 41, NBC: 11): The Buccaneers would have a real chance to get into the NCAA tournament as an at-large if they hadn’t lost to Mercer (205) at home in January. They have a road win at LSU (27). They swept UNCG (61). Their only other losses this season came at Kansas (4), at Furman (73) and at North Dakota State (131). Without a Quad 4 loss, they might actually have a chance to get in. They are certainly good enough to be an at-large, but the question isn’t going to be whether they are good enough. It’s whether they have a good enough resume, and if they lose to anyone other than Furman or UNCG in the SoCon tournament, they are likely NIT bound.

Final Four dream died, but Carsen Edwards still heads home a March legend

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What do you remember about the 2008 NCAA Tournament?

Can you tell me who was in the Final Four? Off the top of your head, do you know who won the title that year?

Kansas fans sure do. Memphis fans probably do as well. But for the rest of America, the lasting image of that NCAA tournament was some skinny 20-year old from Davidson setting the world on fire. That was the year that Stephen Curry became Steph. He put 40 on Gonzaga in the first round. He had 30 against No. 2 seed Georgetown and Roy Hibbert in the second round. No. 3 seed Wisconsin caught 33 in the Sweet 16, setting up a showdown with Bill Self for the right to get to the Final Four.

The Wildcats would end up losing in the Elite Eight despite 25 points from Curry, but that didn’t change the fact that the 2008 tournament was Steph’s tournament.

This year’s tournament is far from over, but it has the distinct feel of being an event we remember for Carsen Edwards going nuclear as much as anything else.

Edwards had 42 points on Saturday night in Purdue’s overtime loss to Virginia. It was the second time in the span of six days that he dropped 42 points, something that had not happened in the NCAA tournament in 15 seasons prior to this year. One of those 42-point performances came against the reigning national champs, Villanova. The other came against the best defensive basketball program in the sport in UVA. In the proces, he became the first player to score at least 25 points in each of the first four games of the NCAA tournament since Steph did it in 2008.

The show that he put on in the Yum! Center on Saturday night is not something that is soon going to be forgotten.

The man they call C-Boogie came to the tourney to dance, and he danced all over anyone that got in his way.

Edwards was probably always going to be drafted whenever he decides to leave school, but what he during over the course of the last nine days might be enough to get his name called in the first round as early as this June. The NBA is always looking for athletic, shot-making microwave scorers that can come off the bench and put up 25 points on a given night, and Edwards should be able to thrive in that role. And while NBA scouts have known for a long time that this kind of shot-making is something that Edwards is capable of, seeing him to it to this degree on this stage against this defense is staggering.

When you consider the context of what Edwards did, you’ll understand.

As I detailed in the video breakdown below, what Purdue wants to do on the offensive end of the floor is to run dribble-handoff actions to create shots for Ryan Cline and chances for Carsen Edwards to turn a corner and get downhill with a defender on his hip. Virginia completely took this away by guarding these DHOs like they would a ball-screen, with the big — Mamadi Diakite and Jack Salt — hedging hard and forcing Edwards and Cline further out than they want to be.

What this forced Purdue to do was to turn their offense into the Carsen Edwards Show, allowing him to work off of ball-screens and, eventually, just clear-out 1-4 low and allow Edwards to go make a play:

Put simply: There is no defense in college basketball that is more difficult to do this against, particularly when the guy guarding you is De’Andre Hunter.

And Edwards scored 26 of his 42 points in the second half.

It was one of the most impressive individual performances that I have seen in an NCAA tournament game, one that I am not going to forget anytime soon.

That certainly won’t be any consolation for Edwards or the Boilermakers, as they head back to West Lafayette instead of north to Minneapolis, and it shouldn’t be. I’m sure Edwards would trade every single one of those points for a win, and there is no doubt that he’d trade anything up to a appendage for one more chance at the final possession, a turnover he committed when Purdue had a chance to tie with 5.9 seconds left.

But it is something that Purdue fans will always be able to remember. And it’s the performance from the first two weekends of the tournament that I will carry with me for the longest amount of time.

67 of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament are going to head home with a loss.

If you’re not going to win the thing, you might as well leave a legacy as a March legend.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Aaron Harrison’s clutch three-pointer lifts Kentucky past Michigan

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INDIANAPOLIS — Before the season, Kentucky — the No. 1 team in America in the preseason — was expected to advance to its 16th Final Four in program history.

With a loaded roster that included seven McDonald’s All-Americans and potential NBA players coming off of the bench, many believed Kentucky would coast to its third Final Four in the last four years and ludicrous talk of a 40-0 season was even present.

But John Calipari’s young team had many bumps in the road, and after a 24-10 regular season, the Wildcats entered the Midwest Regional as the No. 8 seed. Kentucky peaked at the right time, however, as the Wildcats knocked off their third consecutive team from last season’s Final Four with a thrilling 75-72 win over No. 2 seed Michigan on Sunday in the Elite 8 of the Midwest Regional.

With the game tied 72-72 with 27 seconds left, Kentucky went to Aaron Harrison for the game’s deciding bucket as the freshman shooting guard nailed a contested three-pointer from the left wing with 2.3 seconds left to give the Wildcats the 75-72 lead. After a timeout, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas (24 points) missed a three-pointer near the time line as Kentucky mobbed each other at center court.

A massive weight had been lifted off the Wildcats’ chest.

“I wasn’t really there for my team in the first half and I knew I had to knock down some shots at the end and that’s what I did,” Harrison said after the game.

Scoreless in the first half, Harrison knocked down four three-pointers in the second half to help send Kentucky to the Final Four for the third time in the last four seasons under Calipari.

After an entertaining 37-37 first half, Kentucky started the second half on an 8-2 run before the Wolverines hit some shots and got back in the game to take a 55-53 lead with 10:52 left. But the Wildcats made a strong final push — as they have all tournament long — and didn’t trail for the final 8:52 of the game.

Freshman forward Julius Randle recorded his fourth consecutive double-double of the 2014 NCAA Tournament with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Wing James Young knocked in multiple clutch — and Michigan momentum-killing — three-pointers to finish with 13 points while Lee came off the bench to score 10 points and grab eight rebounds after scoring nine points total in all of 2014.

Despite struggling to hit shots for much of the game, Andrew Harrison finished with eight points, six assists and three rebounds for the Wildcats.

Kentucky (28-10) bested No. 9 seed Kansas State, 56-49, previously-undefeated No. 1 seed Wichita State, 78-76, and No. 4 seed and last year’s NCAA champion Louisville, 74-69 before Sunday’s win to reach the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

In a season in which the headlines were dominated by a strong freshmen class, Kentucky’s elite group of first-year players — headlined by six McDonald’s All-Americans — are the only ones left standing after Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker didn’t make it out of the first weekend of games.

The Wildcats started five freshmen again on Sunday and two other freshmen — forward Marcus Lee and point guard Dominique Hawkins — came off the bench to provide a key lift for Kentucky.

Kentucky’s freshmen seem to be coming together on both ends of the floor at just the right time and many people would say they’re the most talented team in the Final Four, despite losing three times this season to No. 1 overall seed Florida — a fellow SEC Final Four team.

The Wolverines (28-9) finish this season coming up just short of a second consecutive Final Four. Stauskas led all scorers with 24 points while sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III added 14 points. Battling foul trouble for much of the game, senior center Jordan Morgan finished with 11 points for Michigan.

No. 8 seed Kentucky moves on to face No. 2 seed Wisconsin, the winner of the West Regional.

Defense and toughness lifts Stanford to unlikely Sweet 16 status

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ST. LOUIS — As Chasson Randle sat at the podium following the Cardinal upset victory over No. 2 seed Kansas on Sunday afternoon, the junior guard, and Stanford’s leading scorer, was asked if he felt motivated by Jayhawk freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden not knowing who he was after the duo was asked about him at Saturday’s pre-game press conference and didn’t know how to respond.

“We definitely saw that video. (Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins) told me not to talk about it,” Randle said as he and his head coach shared a laugh. “But, you know, I definitely took it as a challenge. So did my teammates. It wasn’t just a stab at me, it was a stab at our team. And we took it as a challenge. And it was a little bit extra motivation for today’s game.”

Dawkins and Randle have plenty of reason to smile after Stanford’s win over Kansas on Sunday. Despite shooting 0-for-9 from the three-point line and turning the ball over 16 times against Kansas, Stanford is on its way to an unlikely Sweet 16 appearance against No. 11 seed Dayton in Memphis on Thursday because of the toughness and determination they showed against Kansas on the defensive end of the floor.

MOREKansas loses to No. 10 Stanford | Bill Self’s fifth tourney loss to No. 9 seed or lower

“We beat a very good Kansas team. I could not be any more proud of my guys and how they played for 40 minutes tonight,” Dawkins said. “I thought the energy, the effort, especially on the defensive end, is probably as good as I have seen it all season long. I was really proud of the way our guys stepped up when they made runs and was able to sustain some momentum at the end.”

The Stanford defense was a major reason why the Cardinal are moving on and why they’re a major contender to make the Elite 8. The length of Stanford’s defense gave Kansas issues for the entire game and senior forward Josh Huestis relentlessly shadowed Kansas star freshman forward Andrew Wiggins when Stanford didn’t switch into a 2-3 or, briefly, a 1-3-1 zone. Wiggins finished with four points on 1-for-6 shooting and was limited to single digits in points for only the fifth time this season.

“We wanted to make it difficult for (Wiggins) to do anything. And him being young, we wanted to see if he would work for it after he got a little frustrated and as you saw, he started to defer,” Huestis said. “He only took six shots and scored four points so the coaches gave us a great game plan. He stopped moving as much, he wasn’t looking for his shot nearly as much and wasn’t trying to rebound as much. So we did a great job.”

Kansas head coach Bill Self also acknowledged that Stanford’s overall length presented a major problem for the Jayhawk offense as Kansas was limited to 32 percent shooting (19-for-58) for the game.

“They played better, made more plays, made the most of their inside touches and we struggled scoring over their length,” Self said.

“We definitely spent a lot of time talking about — and preparing for — their bigs,” senior center Dwight Powell said. “And the way they like to attack the rim. Very athletic team. So I guess it was definitely one of our focuses to just be physical and have guys in the lane and be ready to help because they were quick on drives. And make sure we made the proper rotations.”

Powell was also big on the offensive end for Stanford as he went for a team-high 15 points. With the senior center playing well, the Cardinal are a different ballclub and Powell bounced back from an 0-for-8 shooting night against New Mexico in the Round of 64 as he fouled out with only three points and four rebounds.

“Dwight has had an amazing career here for us. He has been one of our leaders. He was one of my first elite recruits. And he’s responded,” Dawkins said. “And so when he had a tough time, you know, I know he is mature enough to bounce back. I know no one was feeling any worse about his performance the other night than Dwight. So what I wanted to tell Dwight is make sure he concentrates on the things he does very well every night and the rest will just happen. And I thought he did that tonight.”

Not many probably expected Stanford to go through St. Louis unbeaten, but for an experienced team like the Cardinal, it’s something they’ve worked towards all season.

“I think every season, something we talk about (is) every season is like a lifetime. Obviously you will have your ups and downs throughout different games and throughout different stretches of games,” Powell said. “But from day one — before we even started preseason — we always had a goal to make the tournament and to make a run. And we never lost sight of that and never lost hope, and we never stopped fighting for that every single game regardless of how things were going.”

Upset Watch: Meet the little guys that could win in the Round of 64

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source: AP
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It’s always fun to root for the little guy.

Every year, people across the country always root for upsets in the NCAA Tournament because it brings a unique excitement to America’s most unpredictable sporting event. Whether you’re just purely into the “David topples Goliah” storyline, or you want to be that person that brags to their friends about knowing way too much about Ohio Valley Conference basketball, everyone seems to root for lower seeds to beat some of the most storied programs in America.

PREVIEWS: East Region | South Region | Midwest Region | West Region

Here are five potential upsets in the Round of 64 involved double-digit seeds.

No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 seed VCU

Winners of 28 straight games, the Lumberjacks went through the Southland Conference unscathed as first-year head coach Brad Underwood has done a tremendous job this season getting this balanced group to bye in. With five starters averaging at least 9.6 points per game — and all five shoot at least 35 percent from the three-point line — Stephen F. Austin is incredibly dangerous on offense thanks to their balance and ability to stretch the floor at all five positions. If the Lumberjacks can handle VCU’s pressure, they could hit enough shots to get past Shaka Smart’s ballclub.

No. 12 seed North Dakota State over No. 5 seed Oklahoma

Senior-laden North Dakota State will be a tough out in the Round of 64 thanks to their tremendous shot selection and leadership. Summit League Player of the Year Taylor Braun is a do-it-all senior forward that shoots it well from everywhere on the floor and senior center Marshall Bjorkland has been in the top-ten in the country the last two seasons in field goal percentage, as he hovered in the mid-60s — percentage wise — both seasons. With the way Oklahoma can give up easy buckets, you have to like Bison’s chances if they can get stops on the other end.

MORE: 8 teams that can win it all | TV times | Bracket contest

No. 12 seed North Carolina State over No. 5 seed Saint Louis

If N.C. State can get past Xavier in Dayton — and they should — they pose a major threat for the rest of the field thanks in large part to sophomore scoring sensation T.J. Warren. The forward is the most ruthless and effeicient scorer in the country not named “Doug McDermott” and he’s a matchup nightmare for nearly every team in the field. Saint Louis is also struggling, having lost four of their last five games entering the tournament. If Warren gets hot enough, N.C. State is a very dangerous team in this field.

UPDATE: NC State beat Xavier, 74-59, on Monday.

No. 11 seed Tennessee over No. 6 UMass

If Tennessee gets past Iowa in Dayton, then they should be a potential upset to watch against No. 6 seed UMass. The Volunteers are playing much better basketball down the stretch and won five straight games before falling to No. 1 overall seed Florida in the SEC Tournament. Four of those wins came by double-digits and the inside-outside combination of Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes is tough to stop. The Minutemen also struggled entering the field as they’ve alternated wins and losses since March began and lost all three games that they played against NCAA Tournament teams during that stretch.

No. 11 Providence over No. 6 North Carolina

After winning the Big East Tournament in dramatic fashion at Madison Square Garden, the Friars are very confident heading into the tournament. Even though senior guard Bryce Cotton is an All-American performer, the Friars won two of the Big East Tournament games with Cotton playing well below his normal output. Providence only goes six deep, but all six players contributed heavily in the Big East Tournament and the Friars can get points and rebounds from nearly everyone on the floor. It’s not that North Carolina is susceptible to a loss as much as Providence is playing well and matches up well with the Tar Heels. This should be a good one.

Have any upset predictions of your own that we didn’t profile? Let us know your Round of 64 upsets — and why — in the comments section.

Florida, Wichita State, Arizona, Virginia claim No. 1 seeds

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CBT’s Printable 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket

Florida, Wichita State, Arizona and Virginia claimed the No. 1 seeds in the 2014 men’s NCAA tournament, while the seeding committee also dished out a few surprises in the bracket, ensuring yet another lively March Madness.

The Gators (32-2), ranked No. 1 in the polls, claimed the tournament’s top overall seed and the top spot in the South Region after beating Kentucky in the SEC tournament title game. They’ll face the winner of the Colorado-Pittsburgh, while Kansas, Syracuse and UCLA round out the top four seeds in the region.

Virginia (28-6) won its first ACC Tournament since 1976 with a win over Duke and they were rewarded with the fourth No. 1 seed in the East Region. The experienced Cavaliers gets Memphis or George Washington in the third round while Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State loom as potential threats as the remaining top four seeds in the region. Should the Cavaliers been the fourth No. 1 seed?

Wichita State (34-0) got the top line in the Midwest Region, but could face Kentucky in the round of 32, a matchup that would feature the team with the most NBA prospects vs. the only unbeaten program in the field. If the Shockers get past Kentucky, they’ll likely face Louisville, the 4 seed in the region. Michigan and Duke are the 2 and 3 seeds in the region.

Arizona (30-4) may have fallen to UCLA in the Pac 12 Tournament title game but can the Wildcats bounce back to get by a West Region that includes Wisconsin, Creighton and San Diego State?

RELATED: Unsure about your bracket? Prep on mid-majors here

First Four games (Tuesday, Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio)

No. 16 seeds: Cal Poly (13-19) vs. Texas Southern (19-14), Albany (18-14) vs. Mount St. Mary’s (16-16

No. 12 seed: N.C. State (21-13) vs. Xavier (21-12)

No. 11 seed: Iowa (20-12) vs. Tennessee (21-12)

That’s the rundown. Now you’ll need to prep for your bracket. The links below will get you started.

Here’s the official seed list for the 2014 NCAA Tournament and the conference breakdown.

Which teams got snubbed by the committee? We take a look at the bubble teams that didn’t make it.

CBT’s 2014 NCAA Tournament South Region Instant Analysis. Does Florida make it past Kansas, Syracuse and UCLA?

CBT’s 2014 NCAA Tournament East Region Instant Analysis. Can Villanova, Michigan State and Iowa State trump No. 1 seed Virginia?

CBT’s 2014 NCAA Tournament West Region Instant Analysis. Does Arizona have enough to get past Wisconsin, Creighton and San Diego State?

CBT’s 2014 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Instant Analysis. Can Wichita State navigate past a loaded region that includes Michigan, Duke and defending champion Louisville?

Now that you’ve gotten the information you need on all things March Madness are you feeling confident with your bracket? Then be sure to enter College Basketball Talk’s bracket challenge to see if you can beat our experts.

And be sure to follow CBT on Twitter for the latest Selection Sunday thoughts and updates throughout the NCAA Tournament:

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