Bracket Projection: Monday, December 11

Click HERE for Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day featuring Siena and Vermont (also featuring video of Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos)

This week, it is HoopsHD Correspondent John Stalica’s turn to do the weekly bracket projection. As a reminder, this projection is part checkpoint and part eye test (in John’s eyes) as to how the field can be expected to play out.

Thanks to their win at Kansas yesterday, Arizona State not only cemented their status as a protected seed (i.e. Top 4 seed), they are now on the #1 line thanks to wins against Kansas State and Xavier away from home.

Teams like Duke, Notre Dame and Kansas have blips on their radar, although Kansas is now in the midst of a 2-game losing streak against a very unlikely pair of Pac-12 teams. Florida also had a pair of toe stubs at home (Florida State and Loyola-Chicago), but righted their ship for now with a notable win in the Never Forget Tribute against Cincinnati over the weekend.

Arizona has rebounded quite nicely from the disaster in Atlantis, but USC has now taken a turn for the worse. They miss out on this week’s bracket projection thanks to their recent slide.

Without further ado, here is the weekly bracket:

 

COMMENTS FROM DAVID

-John already alluded to this, and we all know it, but we are still not to a point to where all is definitive.  You have some teams that will likely end up in the top half of the bracket in March, but that aren’t even in this bracket due to having won only buy games up to this point.  We also have other teams like Washington that are in the bracket due to one or two really big wins, but that may turn out to be one-hit wonders and end up missing the field.

-One team that I like that isn’t in this bracket (and perhaps at this point doesn’t deserve to be yet) is Houston.  They don’t have the best of credentials yet, but they’ve shown signs of having a ton of potential to get them once they get into conference play.  They do have a rather ugly loss to Drexel, but that’s their only loss of the year and it came in the second game of the year.  They have a blowout win at home against Arkansas (who’s on John’s #4 line) and another decisive win at Saint Louis, who isn’t great, but it’s still impressive to see them win back to back games by a huge margin with one of them being on the road.  They have another big week this week with games at LSU and a neutral floor game against Providence.  If they get both of those then we’ll have to start thinking of them as an at-large candidate.

-I’m a little surprised at the lack of love for Northern Iowa.  Their only two losses are Villanova and North Carolina, and they’ve managed wins against SMU, NC State, UNLV and UT Arlington.  Their next two games are against Iowa State and Xavier with Xavier being at home.  It’s unfortunate that the students are on break for that one because that could have been an incredible environment.  Some bad news for Northern Iowa is that they were cited for their first Ten Commandments Infraction for playing two games against nondiv1 teams.

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Under the Radar Game of the Day: Siena at Vermont

Siena at Vermont, 7:00 PM, espn3

Burlington, Vermont is the site of tonight’s Under the Radar Game of the Day as the hometown Catamounts play host to the Siena Saints.  Vermont was projected as one of the top Under the Radar teams heading into the season, and their 6-1 start seemed to be confirming our projections.  Unfortunately, three straight losses (at Bucknell, at Marquette and at Northeastern) have the Catamounts desperate to turn the tide and get back to winning games.  Trae Bell-Haynes did not play in the loss at Northeastern due to a concussion, and hopefully will be back in the lineup soon.  A win tonight will be even more special for Vermont as they will be dedicating their court in a pre-game ceremony to the school’s most winning all-time coach, and the man who put Vermont basketball on the map, Tom Brennan.

Siena enters tonight’s game at only 2-7 on the season, coming off a home loss to rival Albany this past weekend.  Nico Clareth, the Saints’ sixth man who can be a prolific scorer, was held to only 10 points in the loss to the Great Danes, and will need to score more than that if his team wants to pick up the big road win tonight.  Of course, patrolling the Siena sidelines will be one of our favorite current head coaches, Jimmy Patsos.  How can he not be after he did this?

 

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

-Arizona State won at Kansas yesterday.  With an unbeaten record, a neutral floor blowout win against Xavier, a true road win at Kansas, and other notable wins against K State, Saint John’s, and San Diego State, they have the early makings of a #1 seed profile.

-Bryant @ Louisville – buy game
-Chicago State @ Northwestern – buy game
-Drake @ Minnesota – buy game
-Texas Southern @ Oregon – buy game

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Sunday, Dec 10th

NEWS AND NOTES

It was another fantastic Saturday in college basketball!

-Down goes #1!!  Duke, who clearly had the best resume of the season and perhaps the best team of the season, went down at Boston College yesterday.  There are several things to take away from this.  BC is much better than what we’re used to, perhaps Duke isn’t quite as good especially considering one of their big wins came against Florida and they’ve had their struggles, but the third and perhaps most notable thing is how hard it is to win your first true road game regardless of who you are.  We’ve seen protected seeds, and even #1 seeds, lose their first true road games before.  So, while it’s never fun, I wouldn’t chalk this up as a hugely damaging loss for Duke.  They need to win some road games at some point, but they’ll have other opportunities.

-Naturally, Cal goes on the road for the first time this season and steals a win at San Diego State after blowing a double-digit lead in the 2nd half. 2 free throws by Juhwan Harris-Dyson in the closing seconds put the Bears ahead for good and gave the Aztecs a damaging loss in the friendly confines of Viejas Arena. If you had told me at the beginning of the day that Cal would win their first road game and Duke would not, there is a very good chance that Chad and the rest of the HoopsHD panel would have me committed.

-Florida got a nice win against Cincinnati up in Newark that they really needed after losing two straight.  I like this Cincinnati team, but their guard play could use some work and they still don’t have a solid win on their resume.

-Since being outscored in a situation where the game ended up 5-on-3 against Alabama, Minnesota has lost three out of four and were absolutely blasted yesterday by Arkansas.

-West Virginia was blowing out Pitt in the renewal of the Backyard Brawl, but Pitt somehow closed it up and made the game very interesting in the final minutes.  Still, it was the first true road win of the year for West Virginia, and getting it against a hated rival should give them some momentum.

-Marquette went into Wisconsin and dispatched the Badgers from the planet.  Perhaps Marquette is better than we thought.  Perhaps Wiscy is worse.  Perhaps it’s some sort of combination of those two things. Perhaps the Badgers also have a very short bench now that 2 of their guards are out indefinitely with injuries.

-Alabama didn’t get the win at Arizona, but I think I was more impressed with their effort and how well they played in this game than in any other I’d seen before.  This is a legit top 25 caliber team that Bama has, and I don’t recall the last time that was the case.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-TULANE AT FLORIDA STATE.  Tulane looks to be much improved, but still has a ways to go.  Florida State looks to be much better than we thought in the preseason.  They come in at a perfect 8-0 and that includes a road win at Florida.

-LA SALLE AT VILLANOVA (Big Five).  Nova has blown through their schedule and rolled in every Big Five game they’ve played so far.  Today probably won’t be any different.

-ARIZONA STATE AT KANSAS.  Arizona State has proven that they are a solid tournament team, and at times they’ve looked like they’re good enough to end up as a protected seed.  If they can win at Allen Fieldhouse, it is an indication that they are perhaps good enough to end up as a #1 seed.  Kansas is coming off their first loss of the year earlier in the week to Washington and will be looking to rebound from that.

-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT OHIO.  This WKU team has a pretty solid profile so far, but this is their first true road game of the season so there is something to be gained here.

-MISSOURI STATE AT ORAL ROBERTS.  A win for MO State gets them to 10-2 on the year and to 3-0 in true road games.

-GONZAGA AT WASHINGTON.  Not only is the rivalry back, the intrigue is now back!  Washington is 7-2 and they’re coming off a huge win against Kansas in Kansas City.  They have the makings of being an NCAA Tournament caliber team and if they can pick up this win against the Zags, they’ll suddenly have all kinds of momentum.

-UMES @ Virginia Tech – buy game
-Dubuque (nondiv1) @ Northern Iowa – buy game
-Alcorn State @ Iowa State – buy game
-IUPUI @ Purdue – buy game

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Under the Radar Game of the Day: St. Francis (Pa) at Niagara

St. Francis (Pa) at Niagara, 2:00 PM Eastern, purpleeagles.com

The Under the Radar Game of the Day is on its way to Niagara, New York this afternoon, to take in the incredible sites of Niagara Falls, eat a little Beef on Weck, and, most importantly, watch St. Francis (Pa) take on the hometown Niagara Purple Eagles.  The Purple Eagles enter today’s game at 4-5 on the season, including a pair of road wins at St. Bonaventure and at New Hampshire.  They feature a two-headed scoring monster with Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott.  Dukes has topped the 20 point mark seven times already this season, including 31 in the New Hampshire win.  Scott has been over 20 seven times as well, with his most notable game having been 36 in a loss at BYU.

The Red Flash of St. Francis University are currently 3-5 on the season with only 2 wins against D1 competition.  Despite their slow start, they still remain one of the favorites in the Northeast Conference this year.  They also are desperately in need of a solid game after a somewhat disastrous 124-67 loss at Duke last time out.  Keith Braxton has been their top player so far, with three double-doubles on the year.  He and his teammates will need to step up their games, and find a way to slow down Dukes and Scott for Niagara, if they want to get back into the win column this afternoon.

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Under the Radar Game of the Day: Valparaiso at Ball State

Valparaiso at Ball State, 2:00 PM Eastern, espn3

Next Saturday, Butler, Purdue, Indiana and Notre Dame will be matching up in the Crossroads Classic doubleheader featuring the four power conference teams in the State of Indiana.  Those games may be good ones, but we have an even better all-Indiana battle this afternoon as the Valparaiso Crusaders hit the road to take on the Ball State Cardinals, a team playing for a lost teammate this season.

Valpo enters today’s agme at 8-1 on the season, though all 8 wins came against teams that will almost certainly need an automatic bid to make it to the Big Dance.  The Crusaders first real test of the season came just a couple nights ago, and it did not go well as they fell at Purdue by 30 points.  Tevonn Walker has had a strong season so far for the Crusaders, including a 25 point effort in a home win over Utah State.

Ball State is 5-4 on the season, though the Cardinals have certainly not shied away from top opponents.  Their four losses all came on the road — at Bucknell, Dayton, Oregon and Oklahoma.  The Dayton loss was by only a single pint while the Bucknell game was by 4.  Even more notable is what Ball State did last time out — heading to Notre Dame and pulling off the thrilling upset over the Fighting Irish by a final score of 80-77 thank to a 3 pointer by Tayler Persons with under 2 seconds left on the clock.  The excitement of such a win meant even more to this team as Zach Hollywood, a redshirt freshman, had tragically passed away in late August.  Ball State is playing for Hollywood this season, with #RIPwood becoming a rallying cry.  Zach was certainly proud of what his teammates did this past week, and will assuredly be smiling down on them again as they host Valpo today.

For the rest of today’s action, scroll down.

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Saturday, Dec 9th

NEWS AND NOTES

-TCU remains unbeaten and has now beaten a ranked team away from home.  Of all the games I’ve seen TCU play this year, this was clearly the most impressive.  They led for most of the game and although Nevada got back into it in the final minutes, TCU was never really sweating them out.  They’ve got a good basketball team for the first time in recent memory.  Chad said they’d be a protected seed prior to the start of the season.  I thought he was crazy then, but he may have been right.

-Arizona State and Oklahoma were also winners in what was a triple header out in the Staples Center.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-DUKE AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ACC).  BC is much improved on the season, and this is Duke’s first true road game.  Having said that, Duke is the clear favorites and should roll

-MONMOUTH VS KENTUCKY (MSG, New York).  Monmouth has had some good teams in recent past, but this year’s edition is somewhat of a rebuilding project.  Kentucky is young and has room for improvement, but they’re still clearly the superior team and their only loss was a close game against Kansas.

-UCLA AT MICHIGAN.  Both teams could really use this win as both profiles could use some work.  For UCLA it’s their first true road game.

-MARQUETTE AT WISCONSIN.  Both these teams are off to somewhat of a sluggish start and both could really use this win to help turn things around.

-INDIANA AT LOUISVILLE.  Both teams come into this with a sense of urgency.  Louisville has yet to win a game that wasn’t a buy game, and Indiana is just 5-4 with no really good wins yet either.

-VALPARAISO AT BALL STATE.  Valpo has just one loss, but it was their only real test and it was a blowout loss at Purdue.  Ball State is coming off a huge upset win at Notre Dame and will have a lot of momentum coming into this one.

-YALE AT SAINT BONAVENTURE.  Yale had a slow start but is starting to play a little better.  Saint Bonaventure is trying to improve to 7-2 on the year and stay on the committee’s radar.

-LIPSCOMB AT TENNESSEE.  This is a buy game, but it’s intriguing enough to highlight.  Lipscomb is really on a roll since getting back to full strength, and Tennessee has cracked the rankings after pulling off some nice early season wins.  This should be a fun inner-state matchup.

-NEBRASKA AT CREIGHTON.  Creighton has dominated this series to the point that it’s difficult to even call it a rivalry.  Nebraska is 7-3 on the year and is coming off a nice win against Minnesota, but they have no true road wins yet.  If they can pull this one off then they’ll be on the committee’s radar.  At least for now.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT TEMPLE (Big Five).  Temple is 5-2 on the year with four nice wins away from home and another against Wisconsin.  This win will help sustain what is actually a rather impressive early season profile.

-VCU AT SETON HALL.  VCU has struggled early and has yet to cash in a win of this caliber.  Seton Hall is off to a strong start and can improve to 8-1 on the year with a win today.

-PROVIDENCE AT UMASS.  Providence has a solid 7-2 record, but is still looking for their first true road win.

-RICE AT STEPHEN F AUSTIN.  SFA is coming off a really nice road win at Louisiana Tech and can improve to 9-1 on the season with a win today.

-FLORIDA GULF COAST AT UT ARLINGTON.  UTA is coming off a really close loss on the road against a very good Northern Iowa team.  They’ll have limited chances at statement wins the rest of the way, but they could put together a really solid record and at least end up landing in the committee’s discussion.

-WICHITA STATE AT OKLAHOMA STATE.  Oklahoma State has not yet lost at home, but they’ve not yet played a team anywhere close to as good as the one they’ll be facing today.  Wichita is on pace to end up as a protected seed.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT PENN STATE.  Penn State has a pretty decent profile so far and shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a win over a GW team that’s struggled so far.

-MURRAY STATE AT ILLINOIS STATE.  We haven’t talked much about the Racers, but they have just one loss and can pick up their second true road win today.

-VERMONT AT NORTHEASTER.  Vermont is pretty much out of strikes.  If they win out they should be inside the bubble, but anything sort of that and they’ll probably need the automatic bid.

-UAB AT AUBURN.  Auburn has just one loss on the year and they take on a modest UAB team that comes in 6-3 against a rather weak schedule.

-COLORADO AT XAVIER.  Both teams come into this game with just one loss, but Xavier has clearly been the much more tested team.  Colorado has yet to win a true road game.  This is a chance for them to pick up a signature win and really change the complexion of their profile, but that’s a task that is much easier said than done.

-CALIFORNIA AT SAN DIEGO STATE.  This is not a buy game, but chances are it will end up looking like one.  Cal has been atrocious this year.

-CINCINNATI VS FLORIDA (Newark, NJ).  Both teams are good, and chances are both will end up having big years, but you get the sense that both teams have a huge sense of urgency coming into this game.  Florida is coming off back to back losses at home, which includes a blowout loss to rival Florida State, and Cincinnati was beaten handily by Xavier the last time they took the floor, which is the only quality team they’ve faced so far.

-PACIFIC AT WYOMING.  Wyoming may be running out of strikes.  They don’t have any really bad losses, but they are a long ways from anything resembling a good win yet either.  If they fail to hold serve in games like this it could cripple their resume.

-OLE MISS AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE.  Middle has just one loss on the year, and has some pretty good wins to go along with it.  Ole Miss hasn’t looked nearly as good and could be in for a really long evening.

-MINNESOTA AT ARKANSAS.  I think both of these teams will end up in the tournament and this is a chance for them to add a quality OOC win to their resume.

-NOTRE DAME AT DELAWARE.  This is a nice showcase home game for Delaware against their former head coach.  That being said, they appear to be way overmatched.  This would be the second true road win of the year for the Irish if they’re able to pull it off.

-BOWLING GREEN AT OLD DOMINION.  Both teams decent records and it should be an evenly matched game, but both need some high level wins if they want the committee to notice them.

-UTAH STATE AT UTAH.  It’s a rivalry game, but Utah clearly looks like the superior team and should be able to hold serve in this one.

-ALBANY AT SIENA.  Another rivalry game.  Albany is trying to improve to a very impressive 10-1 on the year and pick up their fourth true road win.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT PITTSBURGH.  The Backyard Brawl is back!!!!!!  This is a bitter rivalry that is finally returning after a hiatus due to conference realignment.  Unfortunately this is a huge mismatch and it may be more of a Backyard Maul than a Backyard Brawl.

-HOUSTON AT SAINT LOUIS.  This Houston team really got my attention with their blowout win against Arkansas last week.  They can improve to 8-1 on the year as well as pick up their second true road win.  They haven’t played the toughest schedule in the world, but that is still a very solid profile.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT UTEP.  Wazzu has looked awful in their last two games after starting out 6-0.  They need to turn it around against a UTEP team that is in a bit of a crisis and who’s program is in the midst of a reboot.

-NEW MEXICO STATE AT NEW MEXICO.  This is the second leg of this rivarly.  A win for the Aggies gets them to 7-2 with their second true road win of the year on their profile.

-BYU VS WEBER STATE (Salt Lake City, UT).  This should be a fun matchup.  BYU can pick up another win away from home and improve to 8-2 on the year.

-ALABAMA AT ARIZONA.  A late tip between an up and coming Alabama team and an Arizona team with high expectations that struggled early, but that had a huge week and appears to have things turned around.

-FRESNO STATE AT CAL POLY.  It’s not the most challenging of road games or of schedules, but a win for Fresno gets them to 8-2 on the year with two true road wins, which isn’t great, but isn’t bad either, especially when you consider they’ll have chances in conference play to build a good resume if they themselves are good enough.

-ILLINOIS AT UNLV.  UNLV is better, but it’s hard to say whether they’re good enough to be considered an NCAA Tournament caliber team.  Illinois comes in with a 7-3 record, but they’ve stumbled in some games (including their last game against Austin Peay that they barely won) and are still looking for their first true road win.

 

BUY GAMES

-William & Mary @ Ohio State
-Coastal Carolina @ South Carolina
-Youngstown State @ Butler
-Gardner Webb @ Maryland
-Bryant @ Memphis
-Southern @ UCF
-UMKC @ NC State
-Colgate @ Syracuse
-Coppin State @ UConn
-Canisius @ Evansville – a win for Evansville gets them to 8-2
-UMBC @ Towson – not a true buy game, but a win for Towson gets them to 10-1 on the year
-NC A&T @ Georgetown
-Samford @ Clemson
-Norfolk State @ Loyola Chicago
-Sacramento State @ Boise State
-Prairie View A&M @ Texas A&M
-North Georgia (nondiv1) @ Mississippi State
-Southern Utah @ Michigan State
-Randall (nondiv1) @ Baylor
-Fairleigh Dickinson @ Rutgers
-Jackson State @ Louisiana Tech
-Tulsa @ Kansas
-Seattle @ Saint Mary’s
-Green Bay @ Missouri
-Pine Bluff @ Oregon State

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