- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger2 mins ago
There's only one more time-honored Selection Sunday tradition than filling out an NCAA tournament bracket: Second-guessing the selection commitee's decisions.
This year's committee did a good job with some aspects of the bracket but missed the mark on others. Here's a look at three things the committee got right and three it got wrong:
What they got right: The fourth No. 1 seed
If the most difficult decision for this year's committee members was selecting the final No. 1 seed, then credit them for making an inspired choice. Big East champ Villanova (28-4) had fewer losses than Virginia and Big Ten champ Michigan (25-8) had more quality wins, but neither of them accomplished more than Virginia (28-6).
Besides No. 1 overall seed Florida, the Cavaliers were the only major-conference team to sweep both the regular season and conference tournament championships in their league. They won 19 of their last 21 games after a rocky non-conference season, defeating Syracuse, North Carolina and Pittsburgh in the regular season and avenging a previous loss to Duke in Sunday's ACC title game in Greensboro.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger2 hrs ago
Hall of fame coach Larry Brown's first NCAA tournament game since winning the 1988 national title with Kansas will have to wait at least another year.
SMU was expected to receive one of the final at-large bids on Sunday, but Brown's team instead became the most surprising omission from the field of 68. NC State, BYU, Tennessee and Xavier were among the bubble teams the selection committee decided were more worthy even though the Mustangs were ranked 25th in the edition of the AP poll released last Monday.
Committee chairman Ron Wellman told CBS that SMU's modest strength of schedule outweighed its 23-9 record and four victories against NCAA tournament-bound teams from its league.
"SMU had an outstanding resume but their non-conference strength of schedule was in the 300s, which is not very good obviously," Wellman said. "Their overall strength of schedule was 129. The next lowest strength of schedule in the field is 91, so there was quite a bit of difference between their strength of schedule and the other teams in the field.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger2 hrs ago
We already knew Florida, Arizona and Wichita State would be three of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Now we know which team will be joining them on the top seed line.
Virginia's reward for sweeping the ACC regular season and tournament titles was receiving the fourth No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament bracket was unveiled Sunday evening. Big Ten regular season champ Michigan (25-8) had more quality wins and Villanova (28-4) had fewer losses, but the committee apparently felt the Cavaliers (27-6) accomplished more.
SEC regular season and tournament champion Florida is the top overall seed as expected and will headline the South Region. Unbeaten Wichita State earned the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region and Pac-12 champion Arizona will be the No. 1 in the West.
Here are the full West Region matchups:
San Diego (Friday) No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Weber State No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State
Spokane (Thursday) No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 13 New Mexico State
Milwaukee (Thursday) No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 American No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 BYU
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger12 hrs ago
Bubble teams will find out their fate at 6 p.m. ET Sunday when CBS unveils the NCAA tournament bracket. Here's a look at how the contenders for the final at-large spots in the field compare against one another and my assessment of which teams will sneak in and which ones will have their bubble burst:
63. SMU (23-9, 12-6): All SMU had to do to sleep easy Saturday night was not lose to Houston in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament. Alas, the Mustangs fell by four and now find themselves closer to the bubble than they anticipated a few weeks ago. SMU has four great wins -- two over UConn and another two at home against Cincinnati and Memphis. The problem is those are the only four top 100 wins the Mustangs have, plus their profile is weighed down by a trio of losses to teams 140 and worse in the RPI. That explains why SMU's own RPI has slipped to 55. There's a good chance SMU makes the field and even avoids the First Four, but it's closer than many would have thought as recently as last week.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger23 hrs ago
LAS VEGAS --- The difference between elation and dejection for UCLA on Saturday night essentially came down to deceiving one of the nation's best perimeter defenders.
When Kyle Anderson drove right around a Jordan Adams top-of-the-key screen with the score tied and less than 50 seconds remaining, the UCLA point guard's job was to lure his screener's defender into trying to cut off his path to the rim. Arizona guard Nick Johnson took two steps to his left and could not recover in time, giving Adams the space to catch a pass from Anderson, set his feet and bury a 3-pointer that propelled UCLA to a scintillating 75-71 Pac-12 title game victory.
"It's a really hard play to guard," Adams said. "Nick has to help on Kyle or Kyle has a straight line to the basket. When they both help, I'm wide-open for a kickback. I looked back and once I saw Nick help, I got my feet set and focused on the shot."
Adams' 3-pointer was the signature moment of a UCLA victory that signals the Bruins (26-8) may be a team to be feared in the NCAA tournament.
At the height of Tulsa's success in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Golden Hurricane were a mid-major to be feared.
They made the NCAA tournament eight times in 10 years, won at least one tournament game all but one of those seasons and reached the Elite Eight under Bill Self in 2000.
It may be a little while before Tulsa inspires the fear and respect from opponents that it did back then, but Danny Manning has the Golden Hurricane back on the upswing again. They culminated a breakthrough season Saturday afternoon by outlasting Louisiana Tech 69-60 in the Conference USA title game to earn their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2003.
Tulsa's win caps a late-season surge that elevated the Golden Hurricane from a mid-tier Conference USA team to the top of the league. They won nine straight to secure a share of the league title before dispatching of Tulane, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech to secure the automatic bid.
When CBS unveils the NCAA tournament bracket on Sunday, every coach will respond by describing his team's opening-round opponent as though they were 1996 Kentucky or 1976 Indiana.
Don't believe them if they draw one of the teams below.
A look at four struggling or injury-riddled teams that are limping into the NCAA tournament and should be favorable draws for whoever gets them.
LAS VEGAS --- Hugh Greenwood had just finished explaining why New Mexico had been hoping to get a third crack at San Diego State all week when his coach interjected.
“Hugh that was really good,” Craig Neal told his junior guard. “You’ve just got to be careful about being real honest about things.”
Yes, now that New Mexico has defeated Boise State 73-70 in the Mountain West semifinals, it’s OK for the Lobos to admit the obvious. As much as they tried to keep their focus on Fresno State and Boise State this week, they’re thrilled to get the chance to redeem themselves for blowing a 16-point lead with 11 minutes to go last Saturday at Viejas Arena with the regular season league title at stake.
“It’s been in the back of our minds since that game,” Greenwood said. “We’ve always taken it one step at a time, one game at a time. We took care of Fresno, took care of Boise. Now we want a rematch. The city of Albuquerque wants a rematch. We’re definitely looking forward to the challenge.”
- Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
Eager to improve on his league's disappointing 2012-13 season in which it only produced three NCAA tournament bids, SEC commissioner Mike Slive confronted the problem head on.
He hired former NCAA tournament guru Greg Shaheen to advise the league's coaches on their non-conference schedules and asked that every team submit its non-league slate to the conference for guidance and approval.
Slive's plan is smart in the long run, but it apparently is going to take more than stronger schedules to improve whatever ails SEC basketball. One year later, the league looks likely to get only three NCAA tournament bids again, an embarrassing total for a 14-team power conference.
Top-ranked Florida of course is a lock, as is Kentucky. And bubble team Tennessee moved closer to joining the Gators and Wildcats in the field on Friday by taking out South Carolina to set up an intriguing SEC semifinal matchup with Florida.
Aside from that, however, the outlook is pretty bleak.
- Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
Even though the selection committee insists it doesn't assemble the bracket with an eye on creating must-see matchups, there has been plenty of evidence to the contrary over the years.
How many times has a coach faced his former school soon after leaving? And how many times have two programs met in a rematch of a previous epic NCAA tournament game?
If the selection committee has an eye on making some compelling matchups this season, there are plenty of realistic options. A look at five I'd love to see when the pairings are unveiled Sunday evening: