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Bracketology: All Hail the Wolverines

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With Duke’s home loss to Syracuse, and with the status of Blue Devils’ point guard Tre Jones uncertain following a shoulder injury, Michigan climbs the final rung on the latest Seed List ladder.

The Wolverines hold the No. 1 overall position in today’s bracket, followed closely by Virginia and Tennessee.

The real debate involved the fourth No. 1 seed position.

One could make a compelling case for Duke, Kansas, or Michigan State.

The Blue Devils were without two of their primary players for much of the loss to Syracuse.

In the end, however, the Jayhawks’ eight Group 1 wins, plus victories over both Tennessee and Michigan State, proved to be the difference.

UPDATED: January 17, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION VCU vs. Pittsburgh
WEST REGION Texas vs. Arizona State
SOUTH REGION Norfolk State vs. Prairie View
EAST REGION Sam Houston vs. UMKC

SOUTH Louisville   EAST – Washington, DC          
Columbus Columbia
1) MICHIGAN 1) VIRGINIA
16) PR VIEW / NORFOLK ST  16) SAM HOUSTON / UMKC
8) NC State 8) Kansas State
9) Mississippi State 9) Minnesota
Salt Lake City Des Moines
5) Florida State 5) VILLANOVA
12) LIPSCOMB 12) VCU / Pittsburgh
4) Marquette 4) Maryland
13) GEORGIA STATE 13) YALE
Des Moines Jacksonville
6) Nebraska 6) Indiana
11) SAINT LOUIS 11) Arizona
3) HOUSTON 3) Kentucky
14) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 14) VERMONT
Jacksonville Tulsa
7) LSU 7) Auburn
10) TCU 10) Syracuse
2) Duke 2) Texas Tech
15) RIDER 15) UTSA
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Tulsa Columbia
1) KANSAS 1) TENNESSEE
16) WEBER STATE 16) WAGNER
8) Purdue 8) Ohio State
9) St. John’s 9) Seton Hall
Hartford San Jose
5) Iowa 5) Louisville
12) Texas / Arizona State 12) MURRAY STATE
4) North Carolina 4) Oklahoma
13) HOFSTRA 13) UC-IRVINE
San Jose Hartford
6) Iowa State 6) BUFFALO
11) WOFFORD 11) Temple
3) NEVADA 3) Virginia Tech
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Salt Lake City Columbus
7) Wisconsin 7) Ole Miss
10) Cincinnati 10) WASHINGTON
2) GONZAGA 2) Michigan State
15) RIDER 15) LEHIGH

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
TCU Texas Butler Clemson
Cincinnati Arizona State UCF San Francisco
Temple VCU Florida Fresno State
Arizona Pittsburgh Alabama Dayton

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

Breakdown by Conference …

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

ACC (9): VIRGINIA, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

SEC (6): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State

BIG 12 (6): KANSAS, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State, TCU, Texas

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

American (3): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple

Pac 12 (3): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Arizona State

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

Atlantic 10 (2): SAINT LOUIS, VCU

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Rider (MAAC), UTSA (C-USA), Georgia State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Lipscomb (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), UMKC (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

No. 16 Buffalo holds off upset-minded WMU 88-79

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Buffalo was finally challenged in conference play — and coach Nate Oats wasn’t thrilled with how his team handled it.

Jeremy Harris had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and the 16th-ranked Bulls held off upset-minded Western Michigan 88-79 on Tuesday night, but this game was close throughout after Buffalo won its first three Mid-American Conference games by a combined 70 points.

“It’s as close as we’ve had in a while,” Oats said. “It’s not the worst thing to happen to us, but we’ve got to fix some stuff. We’re not headed the right direction.”

Nick Perkins added 14 points for the Bulls (16-1, 4-0), who trailed by 11 in the first half and struggled to shake free of WMU until the very end. The Bulls led by just four when star guard CJ Massinburg — who had been scoreless in the second half — connected from 3-point range to make it 86-79 with under 90 seconds remaining.

The Broncos (6-11, 0-4) went on a 15-0 run in the first half and led 33-22, but Buffalo rebounded quickly and led 43-39 at halftime.

“When they needed to, they got to the free throw line, or they got to layups,” WMU coach Steve Hawkins said. “Kudos to them. They did what they had to do.”

The Bulls led 69-68 when Perkins and Ronaldo Segu made consecutive 3-pointers. Buffalo pushed the lead to nine, but WMU answered with seven straight points to make it 77-75.

Josh Davis scored 24 points for WMU.

BIG PICTURE

Buffalo: The Bulls were probably due for a closer game, especially on the road, and they committed 14 turnovers, their highest total in six games. But they did not look overly rattled toward the end in their first tight game in a while.

The Bulls are 16-1 for the first time in program history. Buffalo went 15-1 in a 16-game season in 1929-30, and went 15-0 in 1930-31. Tuesday’s game could be valuable if the Bulls take the right lessons from it.

“The MAC is a very competitive league. If we don’t play our best, any team in the MAC is going to take us down to the wire, if not beat us,” Massinburg said. “We’ve just got to bring it every night and never get complacent.”

WMU: The Broncos weren’t afraid to push the pace against Buffalo, and although they gave up the double-digit lead quickly in the first half, they hung tough throughout the second.

“This is a tough, hard-nosed group,” Hawkins said. “I told them afterward that I was really proud of their fight.”

RECOVERED

Perkins hobbled off with a sprained left ankle in his team’s previous game, but he was back and looked no worse for wear. He played 31 minutes and had a big part in an important stretch for Buffalo.

After sinking a 3-pointer to push the lead to four, he blocked a shot, brought the ball up the court and assisted on Segu’s 3 that made it 75-68.

BIG NAME

There was at least one celebrity fan in attendance for WMU’s home game against a ranked team. The matchup was intriguing enough for Darius Slay of the Detroit Lions, who came to watch. The star defensive back spent plenty of time posing for pictures with young fans.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win is a win, but this one didn’t have much in the way of style points for Buffalo.

UP NEXT

Buffalo: The Bulls return home to face Eastern Michigan on Friday night. Buffalo beat EMU 74-58 earlier this month.

WMU: The Broncos play at Bowling Green on Saturday night.

NBC Sports Top 25: Buh-bye Iowa State, hello Ole Miss?

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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The #DausterCurse strikes again!

After going all-in on Iowa State, taking them from outside the top 25 to No. 10 in the country based on a dominant win against Kansas and buying into the (what I thought was an accurate) eye-test, the Cyclones never stood a chance. They lost by three at Baylor on Tuesday night and followed that up by blowing a late lead and losing at home to Kansas State on Saturday.

So much for that.

While I still do believe that Iowa State is really, really good and that they may actually be the second-best team in the Big 12 this season — two one possession losses are just that, one possession losses — I can’t justify ranking them in the top 25 today and keep any shred of credibility that I have remaining.

Beyond that, there isn’t anything to talk about in the top ten. Duke won on the road against Florida State despite playing without Zion Williamson for an entire half, further solidifying by belief that they are the best team in the country. Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia all logged impressive wins at every turn. Michigan State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech took care of business, and Gonzaga survived what may be the toughest test they face in league play, a trip to San Francisco.

Things get weird outside the top nine, as Ole Miss beating Auburn at home and Mississippi State on the road threw things for a loop. So did North Carolina. The Tar Heels went into Raleigh and beat N.C. State before turning around and getting blown out at home against Louisville, but I could only drop them one spot because A) they still beat N.C. State on the road, and B) everyone in that group of teams directly behind them lost at some point this week, too.

The only really notable development near the bottom of the top 25 was that Villanova jumped back into my rankings. The Wildcats have won five in a row, just handled Creighton in Omaha fairly easily and now sit as the lone undefeated team in the Big East at 4-0.

Here is the full NBC Sports Top 25:

1. Duke (14-1, Last Week: 1)
2. Michigan (17-0, 2)
3. Tennessee (14-1, 3)
4. Virginia (15-0, 4)
5. Gonzaga (16-2, 5)
6. Michigan State (15-2, 6)
7. Kansas (14-2, 7)
8. Texas Tech (15-1, 8)
9. Virginia Tech (14-1, 9)
10. Kentucky (12-3, 11)
11. Nevada (16-1, 14)
12. Marquette (14-3, 19)
13. North Carolina (12-4, 12)
14. Florida State (13-3, 13)
15. Ole Miss (13-2, NR)
16. N.C. State (14-2, 15)
17. Auburn (12-3, 16)
18. Mississippi State (12-3, 17)
19. Buffalo (15-1, 20)
20. Maryland (14-3, NR)
21. Villanova (13-4, NR)
22. Houston (16-1, 21)
23. Oklahoma (13-3, 25)
24. Indiana (12-4, 24)
25. Louisville (11-5, NR)

New Additions: 15. Ole Miss, 20. Maryland, 21. Villanova, 25. Louisville
Dropped Out: No. 10 Iowa State, No. 18 Ohio State, 22. St. John’s, 23. Wisconsin

Jeremy Harris leads No. 19 Buffalo in 88-64 win over Miami (Ohio)

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AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) — With Jeremy Harris and the rest of Buffalo’s offense misfiring, the senior guard took comfort in knowing the Bulls could still rely on their defense.

“I think that’s the reason why we’re so good, is because we’ve got so many good players that can break out any given night,” Harris said. “It’s fun playing with these guys. We’re all unselfish.”

Harris scored 17 points and No. 19 Buffalo shook off a cold-shooting start to cruise past Miami (Ohio) 88-64 on Saturday.

The Bulls (15-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) extended their school-best home winning streak to 19, dating to a 73-62 loss to St. Bonaventure on Dec. 2, 2017. Buffalo has won 15 of its first 16 games for the second time in school history after going 15-1 in a 16-game season in 1929-30.

The Bulls won despite their leading scorer, C.J. Massinburg, hitting 2 of 7 for 10 points, and an offense that missed 12 of its final 13 shots over the final 10:49 of the first half.

The difference was Dontay Caruthers coming off the bench to shut down the RedHawks’ top threat, Nike Sibande, in the first half. Caruthers then helped seal the game by scoring six consecutive points — two off steals — to cap a 19-2 run that put Buffalo ahead 63-42 with 8:34 left.

“When I started Caruthers in the second half, I thought he completely turned the game around,” coach Nate Oats said. “He comes downhill at you so hard on offense. He creates turnovers, gets us out in transition. And that’s when we’re at our best.”

Caruthers had 11 points, six assists, six rebounds and finished with a game-high three steals. Nick Perkins scored 12 points before hobbling off with what Oats called a Grade 1 sprained left ankle.

Sibande finished with 18 points, seven coming in the first three minutes before Caruthers entered the game. Darrian Ringo had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the RedHawks (8-8, 0-3).

Miami coach Jack Owens said the difference was experience. While he has a rebuilding team starting three sophomores, Buffalo features a senior-laden lineup.

“They started the second half with five seniors on the court at once, where they really turned up the heat, where we have to get better is executing against that pressure,” he said.

The RedHawks were the last MAC team to beat Buffalo, with an 84-81 win at Oxford, Ohio, on Feb. 20. Owens got a firsthand glimpse of how much better the Bulls are this year.

“I think they have a team that can get to a Final Four,” he said.

Miami kept the game close by hitting 50 percent of its shots through the first 26 minutes, which slowed the pace of the game and prevented Buffalo from turning to its potent transition attack.

The wheels fell off the RedHawks after Mekhi Lairy scored on layup to cut Buffalo’s lead to 44-40 with 14:29 remaining.

The Bulls responded with Perkins taking control down low at the offensive end. He scored seven of Buffalo’s next 10 points over a 3 1/2-minute span before leaving the game with 10:30 left. Perkins had just scored a contested layup at the left post when he had his leg kicked out from behind him by Sibande.

Perkins returned to the bench with about eight minutes left. Oats said there’s a possibility he can return to practice on Monday and play the following day at Western Michigan.

HI MOM

Four days after scoring a career-best 34 points in a 110-80 win over Toledo, Harris was in for a family reunion. His mother, Nancy, traveled from North Carolina for the game Saturday and spent the pre-game warmup hiding in Oats’ office so she could surprise her son following the game.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: A young rebuilding team that starts three sophomores showed resolve in playing Buffalo tough into the second half. Junior forward Bam Bowman particularly caused Buffalo’s problems from scoring in the paint.

Buffalo: The Bulls deserve credit for leaning on their defense to keep them in a game until their offense finally found its legs. Buffalo has now outscored its first three MAC opponents by a combined 272-202, putting the Bulls in a position to inch up in the rankings.

UP NEXT:

Miami: At Toledo on Tuesday night.

Buffalo: At Western Michigan on Tuesday night.

Go and download the new NBC Sports Scores app

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The easiest way for you to read, watch and engage with any and all of the content that NBC Sports has to offer is now here.

The new NBC Sports Scores app is now ready and available to download on your mobile devices, which is the only way for you to truly keep up to date on everything happening in the world of sports.

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So go and download the app now.

Bracketology: Virginia climbs to top line

AP Photo/Steve Helber
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Yes, Virginia, another No. 1 seed is yours for the taking.  Thanks to the unbeaten Cavaliers’ dominant win over Florida State and Kansas’ loss at Iowa State, UVA climbs to the top line in this week’s bracket update.  With its No. 1 NET rating (as of early this morning), Virginia also edges out Tennessee for No. 3 on the seed list, effectively bumping the Volunteers to the West Region.

A quick housekeeping note … now that conference play is underway, current league leaders receive the automatic bid for the bracket.  Tie breakers in the loss column are settled by NET rating at the time of publication.  As an example, Fresno State receives the Mountain West’s auto bid today after Nevada’s loss at New Mexico.

We still have a variety of hit-or-miss resumes on the board.  Conference play will help separate teams over the next month.  Enjoy your college hoops!

BRACKET UPDATE: January 10, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Arizona vs. Temple
MIDWEST REGION Purdue vs. Alabama
EAST REGION NC A&T vs. Sacred Heart
SOUTH REGION Purdue-FW vs. Sam Houston

EAST Washington, DC                 SOUTH – Louisville
Columbia, SC Columbus
1) DUKE 1) MICHIGAN
16) NC A&T / SACRED HEART  16) P-FT. WAYNE / SAM HOUSTON
8) Mississippi State 8) LSU
9) TCU 9) Arizona State
Hartford San Jose
5) BUFFALO 5) VILLANOVA
12) WOFFORD 12) MURRAY STATE
4) Indiana 4) Kentucky
13) YALE 13) GEORGIA STATE
San Jose Jacksonville
6) Maryland 6) Ohio State
11) Arizona / Temple 11) VCU
3) Nevada 3) North Carolina
14) UC-IRVINE 14) RADFORD
Tulsa Salt Lake City
7) Seton Hall 7) Iowa State
10) Syracuse 10) Ole Miss
2) TEXAS TECH 2) GONZAGA
15) LEHIGH 15) GREEN BAY
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Jacksonville Columbia, SC
1) TENNESSEE 1) Virginia
16) NORTHERN COLORADO 16) RIDER
8) Minnesota 8) Nebraska
9) Louisville 9) Cincinnati
Salt Lake City Des Moines
5) Wisconsin 5) Marquette
12) FRESNO STATE 12) LIPSCOMB
4) Florida State 4) Houston
13) HOFSTRA 13) NORTH TEXAS
Hartford Des Moines
6) Iowa 6) NC State
11) Texas 11) Purdue / Alabama
3) Virginia Tech 3) Oklahoma
14) VERMONT 14) GRAND CANYON
Tulsa Columbus
7) St. John’s 7) Auburn
10) WASHINGTON 10) UCF
2) Kansas 2) Michigan State
15) TEXAS SOUTHERN 15) VALPARAISO

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Cincinnati Purdue Kansas State Florida
Ole Miss Temple Butler Clemson
Syracuse Arizona Creighton San Francisco
Texas Alabama Saint Louis Missouri

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

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

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

BIG 12 (6): TEXAS TECH, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, TCU, Texas

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

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

Pac 12 (3): WASHINGTON, Arizona State, Arizona

Mountain West (2): FRESNO STATE, Nevada

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Valparaiso (MVC), Rider (MAAC), North Texas (C-USA), Georgia State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Northern Colorado (BSKY), Green Bay (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), WOFFORD (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Lipscomb (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), NC A&T (MEAC), Purdue-Fort Wayne (SUM), Grand Canyon (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), Sacred Heart (NEC), Texas Southern (SWAC)