Jeff Eisenberg

  • Three potential bid thieves bubble teams should dread

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    When Saint Joseph's went from the fringes of the NCAA tournament picture to winning the Atlantic 10 tournament last March, it was bad news for bubble teams hoping to hear their names called on Selection Sunday.

    The Hawks claimed an automatic NCAA tournament bid, forcing teams with stronger profiles from their league into the at-large pool and reducing the number of spots available to bubble teams by one.

    This March, there will surely be an interloper or two that uses an unexpected league tournament run to make its way into the NCAA tournament field this season. Here's a look at some potential bid thieves that fans of potential bubble teams should watch out for during the next two weeks of conference tournament action.

    Three other dark horses:

    Saint Mary's (21-8, 13-5): Gonzaga is the WCC's juggernaut and BYU is the top challenger, but the best of the rest in that league is the Gaels. They've split with the Cougars this season and led the Zags deep into the second half in Moraga 10 days ago. They also boast one of the nation's most undervalued players in Brad Waldow.

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  • Latest escape has Kentucky one win from perfect regular season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 12 hrs ago

    They stormed back from six down late in the second half at LSU. They survived overtime against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. They thwarted Florida's spirited upset bid.

    In a year in which Kentucky has needed to engineer some artful escapes against SEC opponents to preserve its undefeated record, the Wildcats saved one of their best for last.

    Kentucky moved within one win of an unbeaten regular season with a 72-64 road victory over a Georgia team that had the Wildcats teetering several times in the second half. The Bulldogs shredded Kentucky's typically formidable defense most of the night by spreading the floor and attacking the rim, enabling them to open leads of nine with nine minutes to play and six with five minutes to play.

    Just like it has in previous tests, Kentucky gathered itself and responded, this time seizing back control with a game-ending 16-2 surge. Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns scored a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats including the go-ahead basket with 2:53 to go when he recovered his own miss, absorbed contact and laid the ball in.

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  • Archie Miller should be one of this spring's most coveted coaches

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 14 hrs ago

    There's no need to wait until after the NCAA tournament to identify who the most coveted coach on the market will be this spring. 

    Dayton's Archie Miller has already secured that title by doing an even more remarkable job this season than he did last year when he led the Flyers to the Elite Eight.

    When Miller had to dismiss his only two big men in December, it left Dayton with only six scholarship players and nobody taller than 6-foot-6. The Flyers responded by vowing not to make any excuses, reinventing themselves on the fly and exceeding all expectations.

    Dayton's 75-59 rout of co-Atlantic 10 leader Rhode Island on Tuesday night moved the Flyers within one win of securing at least a share of their first conference title since joining the Atlantic 10 in the 1995-96 season. If Dayton (23-6, 13-4) wins at La Salle on Saturday, Davidson (21-6, 12-4) will have to win its final two games against VCU and at Duquesne just to forge a tie.      

    The secret to Dayton's success the past couple months has been finding ways to exploit its quickness advantage on offense without getting pummeled in the paint or on the glass defensively.

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  • Arkansas sent its entire team to watch its top recruit

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    When a college basketball coach wants to demonstrate a prospect is a priority, he'll occasionally show up to one of that player's games with all three assistants in tow as a message that there's no one else the staff values more.

    Arkansas coach Mike Anderson even topped that on Monday night. The entire Razorbacks team joined him at Fayetteville High School to watch elite class of 2016 prospect Malik Monk.

    The entire Razorback basketball team showed up to watch Malik Monk tonight. pic.twitter.com/IjQ9LRBYJG

    Every Arkansas player sat side-by-side in the first row of the bleachers for Bentonville High School's lone visit to Fayetteville this season. Monk led Bentonville with a game-high 26 points, but Fayetteville pulled a 72-59 upset in the regular season finale for both teams. 

    The recruiting ploy from Arkansas reflects Monk's stature as one of the most coveted prospects to come out of the state in the past decade.

    Video highlights of Malik Monk:

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  • Costly technical foul ignites massive Iowa State comeback

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Oklahoma's Isaiah Cousins awakened the Cyclones from their game-long slumber with a technical foul that he now probably wishes he hadn't committed.

    When Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler swatted a shot by Georges Niang out of bounds with his team leading by 20 points five minutes into the second half, Cousins shouted something profane in the direction of the Iowa State bench. Referees assessed a technical foul on Cousins for abusive language, igniting an unfathomable run from the Cyclones that propelled them to a 77-70 victory.

    Iowa State scored on seven straight possessions immediately after the Cousins technical, stringing together stops and parlaying them into transition opportunities. The surge reached 22-0 when Dustin Hogue buried a corner 3-pointer to give the Cyclones their first lead of the game and 37-8 when Monte Morris sank a jumper to extend the advantage to nine with five minutes to go.  

    Iowa State's victory ensured Kansas will win at least a share of the Big 12 crown for an astonishing 11th straight season. The only league title streak longer than that of the Jayhawks in college basketball history belongs to UCLA, which captured 13 straight from 1967-79.

  • Texas still has a pulse thanks to Isaiah Taylor's game-winning floater

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The first time Texas had a chance to hold for the final shot on Monday night, the outcome was a contested 25-foot jumper from Jonathan Holmes that barely even drew iron.

    The Longhorns were a bit more successful the second time.

    With Texas and Baylor tied in the final seconds of overtime, Javan Felix drove right, drew the attention of the defense and zipped a cross-court pass to teammate Isaiah Taylor. Lester Medford and Taurean Prince got caught watching the ball and were slow to rotate, enabling Taylor to split them both off the dribble and sink a floater to give his team a potentially season-saving 61-59 victory.

    Had Texas not overcome a 10-point deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation against the No. 14 team in the nation and then found a way to win in overtime, its flickering hopes of earning an at-large NCAA bid likely would have been snuffed out.

    In reality, Texas (18-12) will still have work to do to make the NCAA tournament even if it wins its final Big 12 game to improve to 8-10 in the league.

    Members of both teams jawed at one-another again as Baylor left the floor after postgame handshakes, a bad look for both under the circumstances.

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  • Report: Sexual assault allegations preceded Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    A bombshell report from Duke's student newspaper Monday shed light on the school's mysterious decision to dismiss guard Rasheed Sulaimon five weeks ago.

    Two female Duke students had accused Sulaimon of sexual assault during the 2013-14 school year, the Duke Chronicle reported.

    Both students spoke with their peers about the alleged sexual assaults during a pair of off-campus retreats designed to promote open discussion of social issues, but neither formally reported them to the police nor to Duke's Office of Student Conduct. The fear of backlash from the Duke fan base was a factor in the decision the two female students made to not pursue the allegations, according to the Chronicle.

    The allegations were brought to the attention of a team psychologist in March 2014, the Chronicle reported. High-ranking Duke officials, including the coaching staff and athletic director Kevin White, learned of the allegations later that month.

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  • Ranking the seven contenders for the last three No. 1 seeds

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The race for the NCAA tournament's final No. 1 seeds takes on greater importance than usual this season for one simple reason.

    All the other contenders want to be spared the possibility of having to face top-ranked Kentucky until at least the Final Four. 

    While the unbeaten Wildcats have all but locked up the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed, the three remaining No. 1 seeds are still up for grabs entering the final week of the regular season. Below is a look at the seven contenders for those three spots in order of most likely to least likely to get one.  

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    Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • BYU could be one of March's most hotly debated bubble teams

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Before BYU snapped third-ranked Gonzaga's 41-game home winning streak on Saturday night, the Cougars were an NCAA tournament-caliber team without an NCAA tournament-caliber résumé.

    They had zero victories against RPI top 50 opponents. They had a pair of sub-100 RPI losses to Pepperdine and a third at San Diego. The most notable wins they had attained all season were at home against fellow bubble team Stanford and at home against likely NIT teams UMass and Saint Mary's.

    One monumental road win in Spokane isn't a quick fix for those flaws in BYU's résumé, but it will force the selection committee to take a closer look at the Cougars. What they'll find is a profile that will test their philosophies and a team the eye test and computer numbers agree is probably better than its lack of notable victories suggests.

    BYU is No. 26 in the KenPom rankings mostly because the use of margin of victory as a tool to determine a team's strength favors the Cougars.

    If bubble teams like Temple or Tulsa get in over BYU, however, thats where the Cougars would be justified in complaining.

    If that happens, let the great BYU debate begin.

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  • Gonzaga's loss to BYU will likely cost it a No. 1 seed

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Gonzaga found one way to settle the debate over whether it deserves a No. 1 seed despite playing in a weaker league than the other contenders.

    The Zags suffered a 73-70 home loss to BYU on Saturday night that likely removes them from consideration barring a flurry of setbacks from other top teams.

    Though Gonzaga boasts a 29-2 record and quality non-league victories over SMU, St. John's, Georgia and UCLA, the Zags' eight top 100 RPI wins are the fewest among the nation's elite teams. That's not Gonzaga's fault since it did its best to assemble a formidable non-conference schedule, but it's a byproduct of playing in the RPI's ninth strongest league.

    Whereas it was easier to overlook the flaws in Gonzaga's resumé when its lone loss was in overtime at Pac-12-leading Arizona in December, a loss at home to a BYU team that was on the fringes of the bubble picture prior to Saturday changes that. The Zags can still get a No. 2 seed if they win the WCC tournament in Las Vegas, perhaps in the West if Arizona either ascends to the No. 1 line or suffers another loss or two and drops below Gonzaga in the pecking order.

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