Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.
Welcome to the top line, San Diego State. The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update. SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.
The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East. As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them. Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall. And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed. The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.
The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …
UPDATED: January 20, 2020
FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
NC State vs. VCU
PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)
SOUTH – Houston
WEST – Los Angeles
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST
16) MONMOUTH / ST. FRANCIS (PA)
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST
12) NC State / VCU
13) S.F. AUSTIN
13) NEW MEXICO ST
11) NORTHERN IOWA
11) Saint Mary’s
14) NORTH TEXAS
14) LITTLE ROCK
2) SETON HALL
EAST – New York
MIDWEST – Indianapolis
1) SAN DIEGO STATE
6) Penn State
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown
3) West Virginia
14) WRIGHT STATE
7) Ohio State
7) Wichita State
10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State
2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) AUSTIN PEAY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST
Last 4 Byes
Last 4 IN
First 4 OUT
Next 4 OUT
Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State Seed List
Breakdown by Conference … Big Ten (10) Big East (7) ACC (5) SEC (5) Big 12 (5) Pac 12 (5) American (3) West Coast (3) Atlantic 10 (2) Mountain West (1)
College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Baylor and Gonzaga lead the way
Baylor is not the No. 1 team in my poll, and I suspect that they are going to be the No. 1 team in the country when the AP poll is released on Monday morning. The only reason they weren’t No. 1 last week is because four people (like me) had Duke at No. 1, stealing votes from the Bears. That … did not go well, so here we are.
I also want to talk through something else: Last week, I wrote extensively about why I think that it’s foolish to allow the result of one possession games to have a significant impact on the way that you view a team. One shot in a 70 possession game that is just one of more than 30 games that will be played this season is insignificant when determining the quality of a team, and I truly believe that.
But I also think it is important to consider how and why teams are winning close games, not just games that are one-possession games.
So let’s use Duke and Baylor for this example once again.
One thing that the Bears have proven over and over this season — at Texas Tech, at Kansas, at Oklahoma State — is the ability to close out a tough game, particularly on the road. That’s because they have a number of players on the roster that are capable of taking and making clutch shots. Against Tech, it was Jared Butler. Against Oklahoma State, it was Devonte Bandoo. The Bears may not look as good in the metrics because they haven’t obliterated the mediocre teams they have played, but they are 15-1 because they come through in the clutch.
Now, some of that may eventually regress. I believe in the clutch gene because I think life — not just sports, but everything every human being does — is confidence. Baylor has confidence in clutch situations, as much as anyone in the country. They do not get rattled by the moment, and they have a number of different options they can go to down the stretch.
Duke, on the other hand, does not. Their three losses this season have all been close games where the Blue Devils have struggled to find an outlet for offense in the final minutes. Maybe that will come with more experience — Duke is loaded with freshmen, Baylor is as old as anyone in the country — but as it stands, that’s the difference between these two teams.
The other thing that I want to discuss in this space is where I have San Diego State and Dayton ranked in the college basketball top 25. They are currently sitting and eighth and ninth in my poll, exactly where they have been for a couple of weeks now. And that is where they are going to stay for the foreseeable future.
The reasoning for me is simple: I don’t want to fall into the trap where I’m bumping a team up in the rankings simply because they keep winning in a league that is not as tough as the leagues where the rest of the teams in consideration for the top ten are playing, and losing.
I’m sure there are going to be people in San Diego and Dayton that call me a hater for this, and that’s fine. Maybe I am being a hater.
But the truth is this: I love both of these teams. SDSU is so tough defensively and Malachi Flynn has proven himself to be a flat-out winner at the point, while Dayton runs a pro-style, aesthetically-pleasing offense heavy on three-balls and Obi Toppin.
I just don’t believe they are one of the top six or seven teams in the country, and beating the likes of Nevada and Saint Louis is not going to change my mind.
Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.
Here’s everything else you need to know from around the country:
1. Brad Davison gets a little more unlikeable in the Big Ten
Every league has a guy that everyone just seems to despise. Everyone except his own team, of course. A player that just drives fans of opposing conference teams insane. Usually, he’s not the best player on a team, but certainly a very good one that impacts winning in annoyingly effective ways. Typically, he’s an upperclassmen, with familiarity breeding contempt. Maybe the best-known of these guys recently on a national level is Grayson Allen. Excellent player, loved by Duke and absolutely loathed by just about anyone else.
Wisconsin’s Brad Davison is absolutely one of those dudes, and he showed exactly why in helping the Badgers knock off No. 17 Maryland in Madison, 56-54.
It started with an absolutely God-awful offensive possession by the Badgers generally and Davison, specifically. Davison put the possession, with Wisconsin down one with under 20 seconds to play, in serious jeopardy when he picked up his dribble on the perimeter without a plan. A couple passes later, he got it back and had to heave an airball that resulted in a shot clock violation and putting Wisconsin in serious trouble.
That’s when Davison stepped in with a helluva couple plays that are sure to make him reviled in College Park, joining campuses across the conference in that club.
Maryland’s Darryl Morsell struggled to inbound the ball after the shot clock violation, and tried to put his pass in a small window. It got deflected back toward the baseline, where it hung up and Morsell stood watching. Davison came flying in and battled the ball at Morsell, who was, of course, standing out of bounds.
Wisconsin then inbounded the ball into the short corner to Davison, who promptly drilled an off-balanced 3-pointer to put the Badgers up two. Maryland couldn’t score on the ensuing possession, and certainly will be boarding the plane make east tonight muttering about how maddening Brad Davison is.
Davison takes a lot of heat for his, um, talent (?) for drawing charges, but the same basketball IQ, grittiness, and ruthlessness that it takes to draw all those offensive fouls are also what it takes to put together two back-to-back plays like this. The rest of the Big Ten might curse him, but they’d sure like to have him on their teams.
2. Kansas gets big contribution from Isaiah Moss
If you’re going to criticize Kansas and start finding reasons why the Jayhawks might not win the Big 12 or get to a Final Four, you could do worse than starting at their 3-point shooting. The Jayhawks shoot a good-but-not-great 36.1 percent from deep while only taking 32.7 percent of their shots from distance, which is 280th in the country.
Isaiah Moss looked like a real answer to that issue.
The Iowa transfer made 6 of 11 from distance to help the Jayhawks keep Oklahoma at bay, 66-52, in Norman and bounce back from Saturday’s home loss to No. 2 Baylor.
The Jayhawks were without Devon Dotson, who is ailing with a hip injury that Kansas is calling a hip pointer and a deep bruise. That made Moss’ emergence even more important.
Kansas has just three players that have attempted at least 50 3-pointers in Dotson (29.8 percent), Ochai Agbaji (38.6 percent) and Moss, who was shooting 33.9 percent before his outburst against the Sooners. Moss shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range as a junior in Iowa City, and came to Lawrence with the hope he could provide the boost that his shooting could provide – both on the scoreboard and from a spacing perspective with Udoka Azubuike needing all the relief he can get from double- and triple-teams.
Moss, who has been hampered by injury, hasn’t been fully able to do that for the Jayhawks, but if this performance is a sign of things to come and not a flash in the pan – and Moss’ historical numbers suggest this is something he’s capable of – than it could go a long way in making what is already a dynamic Kansas offense even better.
3. DePaul’s tumble continues
Think back to late November and early December, when DePaul was beating Iowa, Minnesota and Texas Tech. Could the Blue Demons, in Year 5 in the return of coach Dave Leitao, be on track for a return to the NCAA tournament? It sure looked like it.
Now, not quite as much.
DePaul lost its fourth-straight game to start Big East play with a 79-75 overtime loss to Villanova on the road. It was the Blue Demons’ 19th-straight loss to the Wildcats.
DePaul’s hot start to the season now seems awfully long ago with its offense seriously faltering and a defense that’s not much better. Those NCAA tournament dreams now seem to be fading fast.
Potter leads Wisconsin to 58-49 win over No. 20 Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Micah Potter scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Wisconsin over No. 20 Penn State 58-49 on Saturday.
Brad Davison had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Badgers (10-6, 3-2 Big Ten), who bounced back nicely after losing 71-70 to Illinois on Wednesday night. Kobe King added 10 points.
It was a successful start to a key stretch for Wisconsin, which hosts No. 12 Maryland on Tuesday night and visits No. 8 Michigan State on Friday.
Lamar Stevens had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (12-4, 2-3), who had won 13 in a row at home. Isaiah Brockington scored 15 points.
Wisconsin never trailed and led by as many as 12 with 14:13 to play.
Myreon Jones gave Penn State some life when he hit an off-balance 3-pointer that sparked a 10-2 run that cut the Badgers’ lead to four.
But the Nittany Lions missed their next three shots, all 3-pointers, and Wisconsin got baskets on back-to-back possessions, with a 3 from Davison putting the game out of reach.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start. It took nearly five minutes for either team to find the basket.
The Badgers went 0 for 7 from the floor before Potter hit a layup. Potter then hit two 3s and another layup before Stevens snapped Penn State’s 0-for-12 skid with a turnaround jumper.
Brockington made a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to cut Wisconsin’s halftime lead to 31-22.
While Potter was the biggest star for Wisconsin, the Badgers have gotten contributions from up and down the lineup all season. They entered with one of the most balanced lineups in the Big Ten, with all five starters averaging over 8.5 points per game.
Penn State hadn’t scored fewer than 58 points in a game this season. Now the Nittany Lions have struggled offensively in back-to-back outings. They lost 72-61 to Rutgers on Tuesday night.
More college basketball all-decade team content here.
The 2010s are coming to an end, which should make you feel incredibly old.
We’ve now gone a full decade with John Calipari in charge of the Kentucky Wildcats. We’re more than a decade removed from the existence of Psycho T on a college basketball campus. In the last ten years, we’ve seen Kentucky and Duke win titles by playing as young as possible, Virginia win by playing as slow as possible, Villanova win by shooting as many threes as possible and UConn win a pair of titles by hoping a star point guard can carry them through a six-game tournament.
We’ve experienced Jimmermania. We survived Zion Williamson’s Shoegate. We watch Louisville win a national title and then had the NCAA erase it from our collective memory because an assistant coach like to turn dorm rooms into the Champagne Room.
It’s been a wild ride.
And over the course of the next two weeks, we will be taking a look back at some of the best parts of the decade.
Today, we are taking a look at the best college basketball all-decade players.
The criteria for picking the all-decade teams was kind of tricky with the one-and-done rule in effect.
On the one hand, some of the very best players that we have ever seen in the collegiate ranks spent all of six months playing college basketball. How do we weigh that against guys that had sensational three or four year careers without ever reaching the heights that some of those one-and-dones reached.
It was difficult to balance, and after spending too many hours thinking about it, I’ve come to the decision that there is no right answer.
And that that is OK.
So without further ado, here is college basketball’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.
McDermott’s path to becoming one of the greatest college basketball players of a generation, not just the decade, was not typical.
He played his high school ball in Ames, Iowa, where he was completely overshadowed by his teammates, Harrison Barnes. His father, Greg, was the head coach at Iowa State at the time, but Doug committed to play for his dad’s old school, Northern Iowa. He eventually left Iowa State and took the head coaching gig at Creighton. Ben Jacobson let McDermott out of his letter of intent so that he can play for his pops at a league rival, and that turned out to be a costly decision.
Doug played in the Missouri Valley for three season. He averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 boards as a freshman, seeing that number jump to 22.9 points and 8.2 boards as a sophomore and 23.2 points and 7.7 boards as a junior. As a senior, when the Bluejays made the jump to the Big East, he led the nation by averaging 26.7 points.
He left Creighton as the fifth-best scorer in Division I history, amassing 3,150 points; he’s since been surpassed by Chris Clemons from Campbell. He was the first player in 29 years to be named a first-team AP All-American for three consecutive seasons. He is one of just three players in the history of men’s basketball to record 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and he owns an NCAA record by scoring in double figures in 135 games. He only played in 145 games for the Bluejays.
Not bad for a kid that was the second-best player on a public high school team in Ames.
JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova
If things had gone the way that the Brunson family had wanted them to go, Jalen never would have ended up at Villanova. He would have played for their city rival, Temple. That’s where his father, Rick, played, and where he was going to get a job as an assistant before a legal issue ended that dream.
So Jalen went to Villanova, where he would become a starter that averaged 9.6 points and 2.5 assists, an integral piece of a team that won the 2016 national title. He was a first-team all-Big East player as a sophomore, but it was his junior season that is the real reason he is a first-team All-Decade player. Brunson would average 18.9 points and 4.6 assists, putting together one of the most efficient seasons in college basketball history en route to a National Player of the Year award and a second national title in three seasons for the team we named as the best in college basketball this decade.
In three seasons with Villanova, Brunson went 103-13 with a 45-9 record in the Big East. He won two Big East regular season title, two Big East tournament titles and two national titles. That’s decent.
That is the line that I will always remember about Kemba Walker’s 2010-11 season, which is wild when you really do think about it.
Because that line was delivered by Dave Pasch in the quarterfinal of the Big East tournament. Granted, the line was justified. Kemba had just dropped Pitt’s Gary McGhee to give UConn, the No. 9 seed in the Big East tournament, their third win in three days over the league’s regular season champs. He would go on to lead UConn to eight more wins in a row, taking home not only the Big East tournament title but the national title as well.
Which leads me to one of the most incredible information nuggets that I’ve come across in my years as a college basketball writer: After averaging 23.5 points, 5.4 boards and 4.5 assists for a team that became the first to win a major conference tournament title by winning five games in five days before leading that same team to a national title as a No. 3 seed, Walker did not win any Player of the Year awards.
There are six major college basketball Player of the Year awards, mind you. And not a single one of them determine that Kemba was the best college basketball player that season.
Zion makes this list despite playing just 33 games in his college career thanks to Duke’s Elite Eight exit and a knee injury that stemmed from a shoe that exploded in the middle of a game against North Carolina. No one on any of these teams will have played fewer games.
But I didn’t think I could justify have the best player that I have ever seen in the college ranks not on the list. He finished the year averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 boards, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks. No one has done that since at least 1992-93, which is as far back as basketball reference’s database goes, and he was a freshman playing in the ACC. He holds the record for the highest PER in college basketball since 2009-10, which is as far back as that data goes.
We’ll never see anything like Zion Williamson ever again, so I have no problem making an exception to get him on this list.
ANTHONY DAVIS, Kentucky
I love the Anthony Davis story because I love the trajectory of his career.
When he was a sophomore in high school he was a goofy, 6-foot-2 guard that wore rec specs and was completely inconsequential. When he was a junior he grew to 6-foot-6 and got an offer from Cleveland State, but he was only part way through his growth spurt, as he eventually sprouted to 6-foot-11 without losing any of those guard skills while adding a 7-foot-5 wingspan, making him just an absolutely perfect player for modern basketball.
Suddenly, the dude that looked like this when he was a sophomore is the No. 1 recruit in the country and putting up 14.2 points, 10.4 boards and 4.7 blocks to lead Kentucky to their first national title since 1998 before becoming the No. 1 pick in the draft and, eventually, LeBron’s running buddy in LA.
But that’s jumping ahead.
Because in college, Davis was an absolute game-changer to the point that everyone that saw the Wildcats play immediately knew who their best player was despite the fact that he took the fourth-most shots on the team.
Best Bets: Previewing Louisville-Kentucky and West Virginia-Ohio State
It’s going to feel pretty gross, but I think the smart money here will be on Kentucky.
We’ve seen this story before with the Wildcats. They struggle throughout the first two months of the season before they put together one, statement performance that lights a fire under the program and turns the season around.
I think this is going to be the performance.
Kentucky is coming home after five days and two losses in Vegas. They are going to be playing their first meaningful game in Rupp Arena this season, and it just so happens to come against their arch-rival Louisville.
I also think this is going to be a tough matchup for the Cardinals. They struggled against Texas Tech when the Red Raiders were able to get out and pressure Louisville’s ball-handlers. They beat Michigan at home, but that win was a product of Louisville’s defense. They only managed to score 58 points on 66 possessions. This is also going to be their first road game since the first game of the season, a win over Miami.
BEST BET: I’m hoping to be able to get this at Kentucky (+3), in which case I’d probably just end up on the Kentucky ML. What will worry me is if the line ends up around a pick-em or with Kentucky laying points. The major concern here is that the Cardinals are the second-best defensive team in the country, according to KenPom, and Kentucky has not exactly proven to be good offensively this year.
No. 22 WEST VIRGINIA at No. 2 OHIO STATE, Sun. 12:00 p.m. (FS1)
KENPOM: Ohio State 72, West Virginia 65
TORVIK: Ohio State 70, West Virginia 66
HASLAMETRICS: Ohio State 74, West Virginia 60
West Virginia has quietly put together a pretty impressive resume this season. They sit at 10-1 overall with wins over Pitt, Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Rhode Island, all of which are top 100 wins on KenPom. They are top 25 in the AP Poll and on KenPom.
The strength of this team is their frontcourt, where Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver are both threats to go for a double-double on a nightly basis. They pound the offensive glass, they erase the paint defensively and they are as good as anyone in the country at running opponents off of the three-point line.
This matters in this matchup, because the Buckeyes are a team that ideally wants to have four shooters on the floor surrounding Kaleb Wesson, who also happens to be a 46 percent three-point shooter. The trouble this causes is that this will pull one of their big men away from the bucket, and they can do it even if they are forced to play with Wesson and Kyle Young for the majority of the game.
BEST BET: Without knowing what the line is this is tough to project. If it is Ohio State (-4), as Torvik projects, then the value is on Ohio State. If it’s West Virginia (+14), as Haslam projects, then the value is on the Mountaineers. And if it is Ohio State (-7), than I’d lean the Buckeyes, but it will probably be a stay-away for me.
No. 5 KANSAS at STANFORD, Sun. 3:00 p.m. (ABC)
KENPOM: Kansas 69, Stanford 64
TORVIK: Kansas 70, Stanford 63
HASLAMETRICS: Kansas 70, Stanford 60
This is a sneaky game for the Jayhawks, who played on the road in their final pre-Christmas game – a loss at Villanova – and will start out their post-holiday run with a road game on the other side of the country.
The Cardinal have not exactly played a loaded schedule this season, but they’ve looked really good in the games that they have played. Their best win is over Oklahoma on a neutral, and they played Butler to a one-possession game in Kansas City, but those are the only two high-major programs they’ve faced. In the week before Christmas, the Cardinal had closer-than-expected wins over San Francisco and San Diego.
The key here is going to be how well you think the Cardinal can score against Kansas and whether or not Marcus Garrett plays. Let’s start with the latter: Garrett practiced on Thursday and, at this point, the Jayhawks staff believes they are going to have him available on Saturday afternoon. That’s big, He is not only the secondary playmaker and the best perimeter defender on the Stanford roster, but he is one of the guys that lets them play small.
He’s one of the biggest reasons the Jayhawks have been a top five defense in the country this season, which brings me to the other point: Stanford’s strength this season has been on the defensive end. They have not been great offensively despite shooting the ball really well because they turn the rock too much and fade the offensive glass.
BEST BET: It’s hard to make a pick here without knowing what the line is going to be. Assuming it is Kansas (-5), which is what KenPom’s projections list, I lean the Kansas side but will personally be staying away. If the line is Stanford (+10), as Haslametrics projects, then there is value on the Cardinal and I’ll be on Stanford.
WISCONSIN at TENNESSEE, Sat. 1:30 p.m. (CBS)
KENPOM: Tennessee 62, Wisconsin 57
TORVIK: Tennessee 59, Wisconsin 56
HASLAMETRICS: Tennessee 59, Wisconsin 56
I’ve included Wisconsin-Tennessee here because I think that it is worth noting that this is the first game that the Vols have played since losing point guard Lamonte Turner. He has not been healthy for the majority of the season when he has played, and his ineffectiveness was a major reason why the Vols had been struggling to score of late.
The Vols have a freshman point guard from Uruguay coming in, Santiago Vescovi, but he only just enrolled and will not arrive in Knoxville until Saturday morning. That means that the only player that can even pretend to be a point guard on the Tennessee roster is five-star freshman Josiah-Jordan James.
That’s not an ideal situation.
And neither is betting on a Wisconsin team that has lost four of their last six games and is 0-5 in games away from the Kohl Center.
BEST BET: If the line ends up being Wisconsin (+5), which is where KenPom has it, I think that’s where the value is. But I’m going to assume that this will open lower and get bet towards the Wisconsin side, at which point I’ll be on Tennessee, hopefully somewhere around a pick-em.
I also think the under is in play if the total opens at 119. The Vols already were a really good defensive team that is only going to get better now that they’ll be playing five guys 6-foot-6 or taller.
LIBERTY at LSU, Sun. 1:30 p.m. (SECN)
KENPOM: LSU 70, Liberty 66
TORVIK: LSU 68, Liberty 66
HASLAMETRICS: LSU 69, Liberty 66
Wherever this line opens up, I think I am going to be on Liberty here. This is a chance for the Flames to really make a statement. They are currently undefeated on the season, but they only have one win over a high-major opponent, and it came against Vanderbilt, which may not even count. Ritchie McKay is one of the best x’s and o’s coaches in the sport – ask Mississippi State, who lost in last year’s NCAA tournament to Liberty – and while I do respect Will Wade’s coaching acumen, he does not exactly have the most disciplined team.
BEST BET: I like the Liberty side, and anything less than (+2.5) I’ll be betting the money line.