- The Dagger36 mins ago
Bubble teams will find out their fate Sunday at 6 p.m. EST 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 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 Dagger8 hrs ago
In less than 16 hours, the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee will email a completed bracket to CBS to unveil on the selection show. A look at some of the most difficult decisions that the committee will have to make between now and then:
1. Florida, Arizona and Wichita State will all be No. 1 seeds. Who will get the fourth one?
Michigan could make things fairly easy on the selection committee if it defeats rival Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. Not only would the Wolverines be the regular season and tournament champs of one of the nation's toughest leagues, they also would have an impressive 10-4 record against the RPI top 50 and a trio of victories over Michigan State. That would be enough to outweigh seven losses, including an ugly one to Charlotte back in November.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger11 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.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger18 hrs ago
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.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger20 hrs ago
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.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger1 day ago
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.”
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.
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:
Four weeks after cracking the top 10 for the first time in nearly five decades, Saint Louis no longer looks like a threat to make a deep March run.
The top-seeded Billikens lost for the fourth time in five games on Friday, surrendering a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to St. Bonaventure's Jordan Gathers and crashing out of the Atlantic 10 tournament with a 74-71 quarterfinal loss.
St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt asked guard Charlon Kloof to attack the rim on the final possession, but he ran into a wall of Billikens defenders as he drove right. Instead Kloof shrewdly kicked back to Gathers spotted up behind a screen at the top of the key and the junior guard buried the game winner as time expired to spark a wild celebration from the victorious Bonnies.
- Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
LAS VEGAS --- Midway through the second half of his team's 82-63 Pac-12 quarterfinal victory over Oregon, UCLA guard Jordan Adams walked to the end of the bench, called over a trainer and pointed to his legs.
Déjà vu? Another season-altering injury at the Pac-12 tournament?
"Nope, just a cramp," Adams said with a chuckle.
UCLA is glad Adams survived intact because he was one of the keys to one of the Bruins' most impressive victories. The 6-foot-5 sophomore scored a team-high 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and nabbed three steals as the second-seeded Bruins broke open a tight game after halftime and advanced to a semifinal matchup against either Stanford or Arizona State.
Just being on the MGM Garden Arena floor against Oregon was a relief for Adams after what he endured this time last season. One night after scoring 24 points in a Pac-12 semifinal victory over Arizona but breaking his foot on the final play of the game, Adams helplessly sat on the bench with a cast on his foot as Oregon toppled UCLA 78-69 in the title game.