News, Notes, Championship Week Banter, and Highlighted Games for Tuesday, Mar. 3rd

NEWS AND NOTES

-We have some very important links for you.  Our most recent Bracket Racket Podcast and our first Championship Week Video Notebook Podcast, where we preview all of tonight’s conference tournament action, can both be seen by – CLICKING HERE 

-Also included in that link is a viewing guide for all of tonight’s conference tournament action.

-Our NCAA Tournament Survival Board has been updated.  We’ve mentioned this before, but the reason this document is so important is because it is the best thing for the Selection Committee to look at so they know what teams that should and should not be evaluating.  It will be updated all throughout Championship Week.  If you are a Selection Committee member, or just a regular fan, and you would like to view that board – CLICK HERE

-For Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day – CLICK HERE

 

TONIGHT’S HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-NORTH CAROLINA AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC).  Georgia Tech is far from being decent, let alone good, but they have been somewhat competitive at home.  UNC really cannot afford a slipup if they’re fighting for a protected seed.

-GEORGETOWN AT BUTLER (Big East).  Both teams appear to be safely in and it’s all about padding the resume for the seeding now.  Butler can still end up with a protected seed if they finish strong.

-RHODE ISLAND AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten).  A huge game tonight as both are fighting for an out right first place finish.  Rhody’s chances aren’t great, but a first place finish helps them out immensely.  As we discussed in our podcast last night, Dayton has shown more guts this year than just about any other team across the country and can keep that momentum going with what would be the ultimate feel good win at home.

-IOWA AT INDIANA (Big Ten).  We think both teams are in, but both also have a lot of room for improvement, and a win here would help that happen.

-MARYLAND AT RUTGERS (Big Ten).  Maryland has had a great year and is hovering around the #3 line, with perhaps an outside shot of moving up to the #2.

-OLE MISS AT ALABAMA (SEC).  I like this Ole Miss profile and they have good chance of adding another road win to it today.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT KANSAS (Big Twelve).  Kansas has an incredible profile which could still land them on the #1 line despite the fact that they have six losses.  West Virginia has played well too, but they don’t have a road win anywhere close to this caliber on their resume, so this would improve it to yet another level.

-NC STATE AT CLEMSON (ACC).  We always say it, but it continues to be true.  NC State is a bubble team, so every game has a pivotal feel.  If they win, it looks good that they picked up a road win.  If they lose, then it’s a loss to a non-tournament team, which is never good when you’re on the bubble.

-KENTUCKY AT GEORGIA (SEC).  Kentucky is in pursuit of the perfect season, and although this game isn’t getting as much attention as this past weekend’s game against Arkansas got, it may be a tougher game than what most realize.  Georgia appears to be in the field, and if they win this one there will be little doubt that they’ll make it.  It’s still much easier said than done.  All the teams Kentucky has struggled against seem to like to play half court games, which is why I think Georgia can make this one interesting.

-TEXAS A&M AT FLORIDA (SEC).  TAMU is right on the bubble, so winning on the road would really help them.

-VILLANOVA AT CREIGHTON (Big East).  Nova should end up on the #1 line if they win out, which they are certainly good enough to do.

Under the Radar Game of the Day – Tuesday, March 3, 2015: Toledo at Central Michigan

For our latest Bracket Racket, Video Notebook, Viewing Guide and more, CLICK HERE.

Toledo at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM Eastern, espn3

We have reached the stretch run of the regular season with conference tournament play tipping off tonight and the final regular season games being played this week among all remaining conferences.  Given that every single conference tournament game qualifies as the UTR Game of the Day, as in past seasons, this column will be strictly limited to regular season games.  Tonight, we have a pair of great games in the MAC with first place at stake in both divisions.  In the East, Kent State (10-6, tied for second place) is at Bowling Green (11-5, first place) in a game that could guarantee Bowling Green at least a share of the division title.  The UTR Game of the Day, however, comes from the West Division where Toledo travels to Central Michigan in a battle of the two teams tied for  first place, both at 11-5 in league play.

Toledo enters play today with an overall record of 19-10 and an RPI of 74.  Despite being our preseason pick to win the MAC, the Rockets struggled in non-conference play, losing games to the likes of Oakland and Detroit while failing to score a key win in any of their games against NCAA-tournament at-large caliber teams.  However, the Rockets have been playing much better lately and enter play tonight having won 9 of their last 11 contests.  A win tonight will put them in first place in the West, and if they follow it up with a victory at Eastern Michigan Friday night, they will guarantee themselves one of the two “triple byes” into the conference tournament semifinals.  The Rockets have been led this season by Julius Brown, J.D. Weatherspoon and Justin Drummond.  All three will need to step up their games tonight if they want to score the victory in Mount Pleasant.

The Chippewas of Central Michigan are currently sitting at 21-6 overall with an RPI of 78.  They have been one of the more remarkable turn-around stories in the NCAA this year, after not having posted a winning record since their great 25 win season back in 2002-03 when they advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.  Keno Davis, in his third year at the helm in Mount Pleasant, could arguably be the Coach of the Year in the MAC (though the job that Chris Jans has done in Bowling Green will give him stiff competition for the award).  The Chippewas went 10-1 in non-conference play this year, though against a very weak schedule (non-conference SOS of 279).  However, they served notice on the conference in their very first league game of the season, winning at Toledo on January 6, 65-62.  Further they swept a pair of games from Buffalo this year, and the Bulls hold the highest RPI in the MAC at 31 (though this number appears to be overinflated due to Buffalo having played and lost at Kentucky and at Wisconsin this season).  CMU will be looking for big games from Chris Fowler, Rayshawn Simmons and Braylon Rayson tonight as they look to capture at least a share of the division and overall MAC regular season titles tonight.

 

Bracket Racket and Championship Week Video Notebook and Viewing Guide: March 3rd

We’ve got two videos for you tonight.  First is this week’s edition of the Bracket Racket where Chad and David are joined by Lee Delvecchio.  They start off talking about BYU’s big win at Gonzaga and Boise State’s big win at San Diego State and debate just how much those wins will impact the profile.  Are those teams still on the bubble, or are they in the field??  They also talk about the ACC, SEC, Big Twelve, Mountain West, American, Big Ten and Big East Conferences.  They go through each league and talk about what seed they feel each team should get, and which teams are on the bubble.  The three agree on almost nothing, especially with parts of Lee’s seed list that are very different from the Hoops HD consensus, so there is quite a bit of banter…

 

Up next is this year’s first edition of the Championship Week Video Notebook.  Chad, David and Lee look at the Atlantic Sun, Horizon League, and Patriot League Tournaments that tip off tonight, and talk particularly about Northern Kentucky participating despite being a transitional team, and the big Army at Navy game tonight.  They also touch on some of the teams they didn’t get to in the first podcast such as Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, the Pac Twelve teams, and they close it out talking some Atlantic Ten and what a good story Dayton has been…

 

In addition, here is your Viewing Guide for tonight’s conference tournament games:

ATLANTIC SUN
Tuesday, March 3 – Quarterfinals
7:00 PM – (2) Florida Gulf Coast vs (7) Jacksonville, espn3
7:00 PM – (3) South Carolina Upstate vs (6) Kennesaw State, espn3
7:00 PM – (4) Northern Kentucky vs (5) Lipscomb, espn3
7:30 PM – (1) North Florida vs (8) Stetson, espn3

HORIZON LEAGUE
Tuesday, March 3 – First Round
7:00 PM – (5) Detroit vs (8) Youngstown State, espn3
8:00 PM – (6) Illinois-Chicago vs (7) Wright State, espn3

PATRIOT LEAGUE
Tuesday, March 3 – First Round
7:00 PM – (8) Holy Cross vs (9) Loyola, patriotleague.org
7:00 PM – (7) Navy vs (10) Army, patriotleague.org

 

And for you radio lovers, below are mp3 versions of the shows….

Bracket Projections: March 2nd

For today’s Under the Radar and highlighted games, CLICK HERE.

Below is my most recent Bracket Projections, which are my own projections and not the consensus of everyone here at Hoops HD.  Just below the bracket is Chad Sherwood’s commentary.  He will agree with some things, and everything he agrees with will be correct.  He will disagree with other things, which is fine, but everything he disagrees with will ultimately be incorrect.

-Bracket and Notes reflect all games played through March 1st.

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NOTES

-Xavier and BYU had to switch seed lines to accommodate the bracketing rule of BYU not playing on Sundays.

-Teams that were next in line are Texas A&M, Tulsa, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Texas, UCLA, Minnesota, Stanford, Old Dominion, UConn

 

CHAD’S NOTES ON DAVID’S BRACKET

– I know my job here is to rip David’s bracket apart but all in all, I think he did a pretty good job, especially at the top.  I cannot disagree with any of his top 8 seed lines (top 32 teams) as I would have all of them at least within one seed line of where he placed them.

– I do have several major disagreements with David once we get to the bottom half of the bracket, starting with his inclusion of Boise State on the 9 line.  I agree that they belong on the field after the huge win at San Diego State, but I do not see them as a single digit seed.  This team is still carrying too many bad losses, including that awful game at Fresno State, a home game against Utah State and a neutral court loss to Loyola-Chicago.

– I also do not understand David’s dislike for this Indiana profile.  He has them among the First Four, while I would probably have them on the 8 or 9 line (honestly, I would just flip them and Boise in the bracket and it would make sense to me).  Indiana only has one somewhat bad loss (this past week at Northwestern) offset by five top 50 wins (including a neutral court win over Butler) plus a road win over a bubble-caliber Illinois team and a home win over Minnesota which was also considered by David.  That profile is way better, in my opinion, than any team on David’s 10, 11 or 12 line.

– I also could not more strongly disagree with David’s inclusion of BYU as a 10 seed (moved down to 11 for bracketing purposes).  This is a case by David, and by the majority of the national media at the same time, of completely overvaluing a single win just because it happened in the past few days.  BYU still has way too many ugly warts on their resume, including three losses right around the RPI 150 line (twice to Pepperdine and at San Diego).  They have exactly one win against any team in the field and only one more win (and a home one to boot) against anyone under consideration (Stanford).  They only have one top 100 win away from home as well.  I can see the argument for BYU, and if they make it to the WCC finals and lose there to the Zags, I will make it for their inclusion as well, but they are not so far in as to avoid the First Four yet.  They really need a neutral court win over St. Mary’s in the WCC Semifinals to help their resume, which means they need to not only win their own quarterfinal, but root for the Gaels to knock off Portland.

– I also do not agree on the selection of Miami.  Just as with BYU, Miami really only has one win of note, albeit a huge one at Duke.  The bottom of their resume is even uglier than BYU’s with four sub-100 losses, two of which came at home.  They are also sitting on 11 losses overall, worse than BYU again.  The only thing they have slightly better than BYU is wins against bubble teams, with two of them (NC State and Illinois at home), rather than just one by the Cougars.  Needless to say, I do not feel the ‘canes are in right now.  The good news for Miami is they will have more chances than BYU to add to their resume, starting this week at Pittsburgh.

– Illinois is the first of two teams on David’s OUT list that I would have had in.  The Illini only have one bad loss (at Nebraska) while they have four wins against teams in the field or on the bubble.  Two of those wins are a home win over a protected seed (Maryland) and a huge neutral court win over a team that has a chance to start sniffing the 2 line (Baylor).  They also have a solid road win over Michigan State, who is closer to being a lock than being out.

– The other team that I would put in right now is a bit of a toss-up, but I would lean to the likes of Texas, Tulsa or UCLA.  All three profiles have tons of ugliness on them, but I believe that they are all better than Miami at the moment and perhaps better than BYU as well.  Texas does not have the bad losses, but just has too many of them.  Tulsa is lacking in quality wins and has a very ugly loss to a non-D1 team.  UCLA is also sitting on a ton of losses and a lack of road wins, though their win at Stanford does help.  I could even see BYU as the last team in — my bigger problem with David is how high he had them rated, not his inclusion of them.  In the end, I would probably go with Texas for now, though that will change when they likely lose to Baylor tonight.

– One other team that I think merits being Under Consideration that David did not even look at is Kansas State.  I have been outspoken for years now in my dislike for Bruce Weber, but I cannot ignore a resume with 7 top 50 wins, including a season sweep of Oklahoma and home wins over Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State.  That is 5 wins over protected seeds!  When you add in a home win over Oklahoma State, and neutral court wins over bubble teams Texas A&M and Purdue, you simply cannot overlook them.  I know that 15 losses, including 5 sub-100 losses is bad.  But when you go 5-6 against the top 25 including a true road win, you get my attention.  And honestly, if you are going to include BYU and Gonzaga based on one great win, how can you ignore Kansas State who has five of them?  The Wildcats have one regular season game left, at Texas on March 7.  If they win that and get at least one Big 12 tournament win, they may get in the field despite 16 losses!

– I do not have too many complaints about the single-bid conferences though I would have included Sacramento State instead of Eastern Washington in the Big Sky.  The Hornets are a game up in the conference standings and will likely be hosting the Big Sky tournament.  Eastern Washington has been falling apart the past few weeks.  Other than that, while I have some minor disagreements, I do not have any major ones.

Under the Radar Game of the Day – Monday March 2, 2015: Grambling State at Mississippi Valley State

Grambling State at Mississippi Valley State, 9:00 PM Eastern, No TV

Tonight is our last chance in the UTR Game of the Day to check in on the most coveted of awards that are given out here at HOOPS HD, the Centenary Award.  For those that are new to our site, this Award is given out by our staff here each year to the worst team in Division I.  The winner of the Award will by on our Mock Committee’s “Under Consideration” board throughout the selection process, even if the team is otherwise ineligible for postseason play.  Four teams have been locked in a battle for the award this season, though Central Arkansas’ home win this weekend over Southeastern Louisiana has cut that number down to three.  With San Jose State playing a much tougher SOS than the other two, in the end, it will probably come down to a choice between Florida A&M and Grambling.  FAMU does have one D1 win, and if they lose later this week at home to Savannah State will at least enter the clubhouse with a tough record to beat.

Despite FAMU’s woes, my personal current pick to win the award, for the second time in three years, is the Grambling State Tigers.  Grambling enters play tonight at 0-15 in SWAC play and 2-23 overall, though both those wins were over non-D1 foes.  They rank dead last in RPI and KenPom, though are only second to last, behind FAMU, in the BPI.  Grambling has done all of this against the #344 SOS, and enter play today ranked dead last at #351 if offensive efficiency and #349 in defensive efficiency.  The Tigers had rebounded somewhat last season from their 2013 Centenary Award, picking up four D1 wins.  However, the surprise (and, in my personal opinion, highly disappointing) firing of head coach Joseph Price and hiring of Shawn Walker late in the offseason clearly has not helped this program in its rebuild.  The best thing that the Tigers have going for them is that they have three regular season games plus a potential conference tournament game left this year, starting with tonight’s contest at Mississippi Valley State.  However, if they play the way they did in a loss last week at #321 Jackson State (72-33!!), they will not have much of a chance in any of those games.

Tonight’s opponent for Grambling is the Mississippi Valley State Delts Devils.  MVSU enters the game at 4-12 in conference and 5-24 overall.  Their RPI is 343, BPI is 348 and KenPom is 346.  The Delta Devils are currently tied with Alcorn State for 8th place and look to be headed to a first round play-in game in the SWAC tournament.  MVSU was also the team that came closest to losing to Grambling all so far this season, winning 68-65 at Grambling back on February 2.  The Delta Devils have lost 6 out of 7 games since that contest and need to pick up a victory tonight in order to try to begin turning things around as they approach the SWAC tournament.  They also do not want to be the team that lost to Grambling this year, no matter how tough of a season they have had.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-VIRGINIA AT SYRACUSE (ACC).  Virginia is still gunning for the #1 line and an out right first place finish in the ACC.  This would be a big resume game for Syracuse if only they were eligible for the postseason.

-BAYLOR AT TEXAS (Big Twelve).  It’s a conference game.  It’s a rivalry game.  It’s a game that Texas simply must win if they want to get on the right side of the bubble.  They are just 6-10 in league play, and if they fall to 6-11 they would end the season no less than four games under .500, and there has only been one team in history to get a bid that was that far below .500 in league play.  Baylor, on the other hand, is playing very well right now and should come into this one with a purpose.

-OKLAHOMA AT IOWA STATE (Big Twelve).  Like so many Big Twelve games, it’s a game between two teams that appear to be protected seeds and are looking for a chance to add another good win to their profile.  Only one game separates them in the standings, so if Iowa State wins they’re tied.

Highlighted Games for Sunday, March 1

HAPPY MARCH MADNESS EVERYBODY!!

-For our most recent NCAA Tournament Survival Board Update – CLICK HERE

- For all of your Conference Tournament Brackets – CLICK HERE

-SMU AT UCONN (American).  SMU is very safe at this point, and this is a chance for them to add another notable road win to their profile.  UConn is way outside the bubble, but if they win out to the AAC final they may at least get a look.

-IONA AT SAINT PETER’S (Metro Atlantic).  This is Chad’s UTR Game of the Day.  CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT IT.

-MARQUETTE AT PROVIDENCE (Big East).  Providence is looking like a first ballot team and should be fine if they hold serve.

-MICHIGAN STATE AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten).  Wisconsin looks like they’ll be a #2 seed at best, and Michigan State is near the bubble, still looks to be safely inside.  If they can pull off a big upset like this they’ll obviously be a lot more safe.

-PITTSBURGH AT WAKE FOREST (ACC).  Pitt can still get in, but they need a very strong finish which needs to include some notable wins.

-OREGON AT STANFORD (Pac Twelve).  I think both are squarely on the bubble.  The biggest hole in Oregon’s profile is road wins, and picking one up against another bubble team will help them out a ton.

-PURDUE AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten).  Purdue has been playing well lately, and if pick up this win on the road I think it puts them inside the bubble.  Ohio State’s profile could use some improvement as well.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT UCLA (Pac Twelve).  UCLA is right on the bubble and cannot afford a home loss to a weak Wazzu team.