Scoreboard Watching: January 17, 2017

In The Books

Creighton 72, Xavier 67: The Musketeers are the ones getting caught up in the Big East wash, dropping their last 3 games all against the conference's top teams and falling to 3-3 in conference.

Villanova 76, Seton Hall 46: The Wildcats show just how large the gap is between themselves and teams in the middle of the at-large pack.

Butler 88, Marquette 80: If Marquette is to make the tournament, they need to make hay against the mid-to-low Big East teams, because they simply can't get over the hump against the conference's elite teams.

North Carolina 85, Syracuse 68: The Tar Heels are rolling and may already be eyeing their February 4th home tilt with ACC leader Notre Dame.

Kansas 76, Iowa State 72: The Jayhawks survive their biggest road test of the season this far, while Iowa State falls to 3-3 in conference play.

Tipping-Off Tonight

Arkansas at Texas A&M: The Aggies have been woeful in SEC play, starting 1-4 and only besting lowly LSU so far.  This may be their last call.

Pittsburgh at North Carolina St: Both teams are fighting for bubble bids, making these head-to-head games that much more meaningful

Michigan at Wisconsin: The Wolverines are sliding thanks to a woeful defense, but look to build off a home win over Nebraska and right the ship on the road against the Big Ten favorites.

Illinois at Purdue: The Boilermakers' first appearance since falling to Iowa is a home tilt against an Illinois squad that has proven worthy of bubble consideration.

Ohio at Akron: The top two teams in the MAC's Eastern Division collide.


Bracketology 2017: January 16

Seed List
1: Villanova, Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga
2: Kentucky, Baylor, North Carolina, West Virginia
3: Florida State, Creighton, Louisville, Oregon
4: Duke, Butler, Purdue, Wisconsin,
5: Notre Dame, Arizona, Virginia, Cincinnati
6: South Carolina, Saint Mary's, Florida, Maryland
7: Dayton, Minnesota, Northwestern, Xavier
8: USC, Arkansas, Indiana, Seton Hall
9: SMU, TCU, Utah, Iowa State
10: California, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL)
11: Clemson, Kansas St., Pittsburgh, Marquette, Michigan State, UNC Wilmington
12: Nevada, Chattanooga, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee
13: Princeton, Vermont, Oakland, Lehigh
14: Florida Gulf Coast, New Mexico State, Akron, Monmouth
15: Belmont, Georgia Southern, Weber State, UNC Asheville
16: North Carolina Central, North Dakota State, UC Irvine, Mount St. Mary's, Sam Houston State, Texas Southern
 
Bullets
  • Teams are selected and seeded based on an "If the season ended today" scenario.  This is not a projection of where I think they will end up, but where think they'd be based on season-to-date showings.  I expect Gonzaga to fall as their strength of schedule weakens, while Michigan St. should rise as they get healthy and win games in the B1G.  Doing it this way lets us track a team's stock as the season progresses.
  • Automatic bids are awarded to the team KenPom projects to win the regular season.  We'll keep it that way though January, before flipping over to the teams in first place in the conference standings.
  • Villanova takes the #1 overall seed back after Baylor was embarrassed last week at West Virginia.  The Bears fall off the top line all together and are now a 2-seed.
  • The bubble remains a mess.  In the end, I took Texas Tech, Miami, Marquette, Michigan State, Marquette, Kansas State and Pitt over Michigan, Oklahoma St., Rhode Island, Houston and Wichita State.
Conferences with multiple bids
10: ACC
7: Big 12, Big Ten
6: Pac-12, Big East
4:  SEC
2: American, WCC
 
In/Out This Bracket:
In: Marquette, Michigan State, Illinois State, Georgia Southern, Nevada, Akron, Lehigh, Sam Houston State, Mount Saint Mary's
Out: Michigan, VCU, UT Arlington, Boise State, Ohio, Bucknell, New Orleans, LIU Brooklyn, Wichita State

Scoreboard Watching: January 16, 2017

In The Books

Thursday

Notre Dame 67, Miami FL 62: The Irish pick up a solid road win an improve to 4-0 in ACC play.   Meanwhile, Miami falls to 1-2.

Cincinnati 67, SMU 64: A battle for the drivers seat in the AAC goes to the Bearcats at home.

Utah 86, USC 64: The Trojans are 1-3 after their 14-0 start to the year, while the Utes pick up a much needed win to help sure their spot on the right side of the bubble.

UCLA 104, Colorado 89: The Buffaloes were no match for the nation's top offense, paced by a 37-point showing from Bryce Alford.  Colorado falls to 0-4 in Pac-12 play.

Iowa 83, Purdue 78:  The Boilermakers fall just days after beating Wisconsin and looking like the class of B1G.  Iowa gets back over .500 in conference play heading into a weekend meeting with Northwestern.

Friday

Detroit 93, Oakland 88: Gigantic upset in the Horizon League changes the league race quite a bit.  The Titans had just one win against D-I competition and were in last place in the Horizon, while Oakland was still riding high off last week's statement road win at Valpo.

Saturday

Louisville 78, Duke 69: Life without Coach K isn't going so well for the Blue Devils, who go 0-2 on the road this week.  Meanwhile, Patino, the Cards defense has gotten them back over .500 in ACC play.

Baylor 77, Kansas State 68: The Bears get back to their winning ways after a woeful showing at West Virginia on Tuesday.

North Carolina 96, Florida State 83: The Tar Heels went small and neutralized FSU's strengths.  The Seminoles have been the team to use their depth to pull away late, but it was UNC who dominated the end of each half to put this one away.

Virginia 77, Clemson 73: With 7 wins against the KenPom Top 100, there's little doubt Clemson is a good team.  But at 1-4 in ACC play, they need to start putting wins together if they want to avoid sliding to the bubble.

Notre Dame 76, Virginia Tech 71: The Irish remain undefeated in ACC play.  They'll take that record into Tallahassee in what may be their biggest test of the season to date.

Gonzaga 79, Saint Mary's 56: The battle for WCC supremacy wasn't much of a battle at all.  Gonzaga is still alive for a 1-seed at 17-0 on the year.

TCU 84, Iowa State 77: Jamie Dixon's team keeps fighting to stay on the good side of the bubble.

Butler 83, Xavier 78:  Huge win for the Bulldogs, who now own wins against the two teams they'll likely battle for the Big East crown.

UCLA 83, Utah 82: Utah narrowly misses the signature win they so badly need.

Illinois State 76, Wichita State 62: The drivers seat in the MVC changes hands - which could leave the shockers out of the field fo 68.

Miami FL 72, Pittsburgh 46: In a fitting summary of ACC chaos, Pitt falls to 1-4 in conference, with their lone win coming against ACC power Virginia.

Oklahoma 84, Texas Tech 75: The Red Raiders profile simply isn't one of a tournament team right now, especially with the weakest non-conference SOS according to KenPom.

Maryland 62, Illinois 56: Nice week for the Terps, who take down B1G bubble teams Michigan, Indiana (who had slid themselves to the bubble) and Illinois in seven days' time.

Providence 65, Seton Hall 61: The Friars need wins like this to get themselves back into the thick of things.

Penn State 52: Minnesota 50: It took the Nittany Lions awhile to click, but they're playing well suddenly with back-to-back wins over Michigan State and the Gophers - who fall to 3-3 in B1G play.

Troy 93, UT Arlington 71: A bad week at the office for the Mavericks, who are no longer Sun Belt favorites according to KenPom. That mark now belongs to Georgia Southern - who UTA doesn't play until February 20 in Statesboro.

Sunday

Ohio State 72, Michigan State 67: A microcosm of the Spartans season - days after disposing of Minnesota at home, they fall again on the road, now 12-7 on the year.  They need to get to 20/21 wins to feel safe on selection Sunday, which won't come easy in the B1G.

Northwestern 89, Iowa 54: Days after downing Purdue, Iowa lays an absolute egg against Northwestern - showing why they have struggled to get into the tournament field.  On the other hand, the Wildcats aren't just in the field, they're comfortably in at this point and would need to go on a slide just to get back to the bubble.  

USC 71, Colorado 68: The Buffs badly needed at least a 1-1 weekend against the LA schools, but couldn't quite get there, dropping the two games by a combined total of 4 points.

Tipping-Off Tonight

Kansas at Iowa State: It's never easy to win in Ames, which hosts the toughest true-road trip thus far for current #2 overall seed Kansas.  The Cyclones return homes after falling at TCU on Saturday.

Creighton at Xavier: Big East heavyweights collide as Creighton looks to stay keep pace with Villanova while Xavier hopes to avoid their third straight loss in conference play.

Marquette at Butler: The Bulldogs have to feel like they have new life again after a big win against Xavier over the weekend.  Marquette needs a signature win in a bad way to help sure up their tournament status.

Seton Hall at Villanova: The Wildcats are back to the #1 overall seed while Seton Hall continues to fight for a bubble bid.

Syracuse at North Carolina: Meanwhile, the Orange need a signature win just to get back into the bubble conversation at 11-7.  UNC looked elite in their win over Florida State on Saturday, and look to hold pace among the ACC's top teams.


Scoreboard Watching: January 12, 2017

A brief family vacation this means we're previewing the weekend a day early; but first, a look back...

In The Books

Creighton 75, Butler 64: The Jays ran away with this game at home, handing Butler their third lost of the season and second in Big East play.

Michigan State 65, Minnesota 47: The Spartans locked down defensively, holding the Gophers to .72 points/possession, their lowest opponent point total of the year.

Iowa State 96, Oklahoma State 86: The Cyclones pick up a good road win, while OK State falls to 0-4 in Big 12 play.

North Carolina 93, Wake Forest 87: The Tar Heels escape Winston Salem with a win, setting up their huge showdown with Florida State at home on Saturday.

Illinois 85, Michigan 65: The Wolverines defense is a mess.  A tournament bid seems like a long shot at this point.

Tipping Off This Weekend

Thursday

Notre Dame at Miami FL: The Irish take their 3-0 ACC record south to the Watsco Center.

UCLA at Colorado: The Bruins last road swing saw their first loss of the year at Oregon.  Colorado would love nothing more than pulling of the signature win they so badly need.

SMU at Cincinnati: The AAC drivers seat is on the line, especially if the Mustangs can pull the upset on the road.

USC at Utah: A big opportunity for the Utes to get on firmer ground, bubble-wise.

Ohio State at Wisconsin: The Badgers look to bounce back at home from Sunday's loss at Purdue.

Saturday

Duke at Louisville: The Blue Devils are back on the road after falling to Florida State on Tuesday in which Grayson Allen looked disjointed and Harry Giles was only available for a handful of minutes.  The loser will be dealt their third off of ACC play.

Virginia at Clemson:  Two more ACC teams looking to avoid their third ACC loss.

Florida State at North Carolina: Here's the biggest reason neither of the previous teams want to pick up their third ACC loss, the winner of this game will hold a three-game advantage over those teams.

Baylor at Kansas State: How to the Bears bounce back from such a poor showing on Tuesday, their first after getting the consensus #1 ranking.

Wichita State at Illinois State: The road test will be the Shockers biggest in conference play.

UCLA vs Utah: The Bruins look to survive a tough weekend road swing, while Utah badly needs a signature win.

Xavier at Butler: Both teams are coming off decisive losses and look to send a message that they're still ready to contend for Big East supremacy.

Saint Mary's at Gonzaga: The first round of the WCC's battle of titans takes place in Spokane.

Sunday

Michigan State at Ohio State: Both teams were on the outside of my latest Bracketology 2017, but wins like this could put them back on the right side with time to play themselves onto solid ground.

USC at Colorado: The Buffalo are favored in this home contest, one they'll definitely want to win to prove themselves as tournament-hopefuls.

Iowa at Northwestern: The Wildcats continue their quest for their first ever NCAA Tournament berth.


TheBracketBlog Mid-Season Awards

Most Outstanding Player – Josh Hart, Villanova
Hart returned to college with the goal of helping his NBA stock and defending their national championship – and he’s absolutely delivered this far.  Hart is the lifeblood of the nation’s best team, paying 84% of his teams minutes while shooting 65% from 2 and 38% from 3.  His 37 point performance against Notre Dame in Newark included a 14-14 FT performance to go along with 11 rebounds.  Take him off Villanova and they quickly fall into the mix with the rest of the Big East.
Most Outstanding Coach – Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Florida State was long labeled as a team that played suffocating defense while offensive talent went to waste and the team would fight for tournament bids on a yearly basis.  There was a large contingent of Florida State fans last season who were calling for Hamilton’s job after he failed to make the tournament with hyped freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasly joining the team.  This year’s team has not wasted an ounce of talent.  With Beasly off to the pros, Hamilton has balanced a star freshman Jonahthan Isaac with the experience of Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes with a slew of role players to find a winning formula.
Speaking of role players, that’s been where Hamilton has really done an amazing job this season.  The Seminoles go an incredible 12 players deep, wearing teams with shorter benches down and routinely taking control of games in the last 10 minutes.  All the sudden, pundits are calling the Seminoles Final Four contenders.  Not to bad for a team without a player with NCAA tournament experience.
Mid-Season All-American Team
G: Josh Hart, Villanova
G: Malik Monk, Kentucky
F: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
F: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
C: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Most Surprising Team – Baylor
Baylor was barley on anybody’s radar before they knocked off Oregon at home in the season opening week.  After they completed a monster comeback to beat Louisville for the Battle 4 Atlantis title Thanksgiving weekend, everyone noticed.  They climbed all the way to #1 in all the major rankings, which was inevitably met with a quick demise as West Virginia ran them out of the gym last night.  They’re still contenders in the Big 12 and major players for a 1-seed – a far cry from the 8/9 season they were thought to be pre-season.
Most Disappointing Team – Michigan State
Injuries have definitely beset Tom Izzo’s team, but their struggles seem to far surpass that.  Losses to Northeastern and Penn State, along with a narrow escape at home to Florida Gulf Coast has left the Spartans on the outside of the field looking in currently.  They have plenty of opportunities to play themselves back in, but they need to get with it before they continue to dig their hole any deeper than it already it.

Scoreboard Watching: January 11, 2017

In The Books

Florida State 88, Duke 72: The Seminoles are for real.  They're deeper than just about any top team and still run out some elite scoring talent in Xavier Rathan-Mays, Dwayne Bacon and the raw talented freshman Jonathan Isaac.  FSU looks solidly seated on the 2-seed line with the win.  They'll take their 16-1 record into the Dean Dome on Saturday in a battle of teams KenPom currently projects atop the ACC.

West Virginia 89, Baylor 68: The Bears come crashing back down to earth just a day after earning the consensus #1 ranking.  Nathan Adrian's 22 PTS lead the Mountaineers, who are now 5-2 against the KenPom Top 100 and 2-0 against the Top 10.

Villanova 79, Xavier 54: The Wildcats are definitely back to form with a dominating display over one of their top conference rivals.

Maryland 75, Indiana 72: The Hoosiers missed a three at the buzzer that would have pushed things into overtime, but the Terps seemed to have control of this thing late after trailing for much of the second half.  The loss drops IU to a woeful 1-4 in B1G play, squarely into bubble territory with a lot of work left to do.

Virginia Tech 83, Syracuse 73: The Hokies get things back on track after a woeful road swing last week saw them drop games to NC State and FSU.

Texas Tech 66, Kansas St. 65: Another big win for the Red Raiders, who remain undefeated at home.

Tipping Off Tonight

Butler at Creighton: Two teams looking to stay with Villanova atop the conference standings - and a spot in the Brackets Top 4 seeds - square off in Omaha.

North Carolina at Wake Forest: The Tar Heels need to be careful not to look ahead toward Saturday's game against FSU and take care of business down the road in this one first.

Minnesota at Michigan St.: The Spartans took another big blow over the weekend, losing to Penn State and falling to 11-6 on the season.  Meanwhile, Minnesota comes in hot, winning three in a row since this teams first squared off in the B1G opener December 27.

Michigan at Illinois: Two teams squarely in bubble territory square off in a game that likely puts the loser in next week's Bracketology 2017 and leaves the loser out.

Seton Hall at Marquette: Opportunities to play themselves into the field are slipping away for Marquette.  They need wins like this at home.

Iowa St. at Oklahoma St.: It's much of the same story for the Cowboys, who have to win games like this at home if they're going to make the dance.


Scoreboard Watching: January 10, 2017

All eyes last night were on football.  No basktball to wrap-up from Monday, but a ton of action tonight.

Tipping Off Tonight

Duke at Florida State: This may be the biggest basketball game in Tallahassee since I moved here 9 years ago.  The crowd will be electric as the Noles look to stay undefeated in conference against against a strong Duke team.

Baylor at West Virginia: The Bears are the #1 team in the country, but face their biggest test of the season tonight in Morgantown.  If they can get by this, all eyes immediately turn toward their February 1 trip to Lawrence.

Indiana at Maryland: The Hoosiers did beat Illinois over the weekend, but plenty of questions remain.  Maryland looked good in their weekend win at Michigan.

Kansas St vs Texas Tech: Both teams reside squarely on the bubble.  This could be a play in game for next week's edition of Bracketology 2017.

Xavier at Villanova: The first big test since losing to Butler least week is this home contest against the Muskateers.  Xavier is 1-1 against the KenPom top 25 this season, looking to improve that tonight with a signature win.

Syracuse at Virginia Tech: It's a long road back to the bubble for the Orange, but after back-to-back wins against likely tournament bound ACC foes, it's not impossible.  They need road wins like this one to get back in the hunt.  Meanwhile, Va Tech looks to bounce back from a bad 0-2 road swing at NC State and FSU


Bracketology 2017: January 10, 2017

Seed List
1: Baylor, Villanova, Kansas, UCLA
2: Kentucky, Gonzaga, West Virginia, Duke
3: Oregon, Florida St., North Carolina, Louisville
4: Butler, Purdue, Wisconsin, Creighton
5: Notre Dame, Arizona, Flroida, Virginia
6: Virginia Tech, Saint Mary's, Cincinnati, Xavier
7: Maryland, South Carolina, Dayton, Minnesota
8: Seton Hall, USC, Indiana, Arkansas
9: Northwestern, Clemson, SMU, Iowa St.
10: Texas Tech, Miami FL, Pittsburgh, Kansas St.
11: Wichita St., TCU, Michigan/Utah, California, VCU
12: UNC Wilmington, Chattanooga, Oakland, Middle Tennessee
13: UT Arlington, Boise St., Vermont, Florida Gulf Coast
14: New Mexico St., Monmouth, Belmont, Bucknell
15: Ohio, UNC Ashville, Weber St., New Orleans
16: North Dakota St., Princeton, LIU Brooklyn/North Carolina Central, UC Irvine/Texas Southern
 
Bullets
  • Teams are selected and seeded based on an "If the season ended today" scenario.  This is not a projection of where I think they will end up, but where think they'd be based on season-to-date showings.  I expect Gonzaga to fall as their strength of schedule weakens, while Michigan St. should rise as they get healthy and win games in the B1G.  Doing it this way lets us track a team's stock as the season progresses.
  • Automatic bids are awarded to the team KenPom projects to win the regular season.  We'll keep it that way though January, before flipping over to the teams in first place in the conference standings.
  • With Villanova's first loss since last year's tournament began, Baylor takes over the #1 overall seed.  Only the Bears and Gonzaga remain undefeated. 
  • It was a bad week for bubble teams, with a ton losing leaving us with a pretty unimpressive pool at the end.  I wound up taking Texas Tech, Miami, TCU, Michigan, Cal, VCU and Utah over team like Oklahoma St., Rhode Island, Marquette, Houston and Michigan St.
Conferences with multiple bids
10: ACC
7: Big 12, Big Ten
6: Pac-12
5: Big East
4:  SEC
2: American, WCC, A10

Scoreboard Watching: January 9, 2016

Nothing tip off tonight of note...enjoy the football National Championship Game
 
Friday
Dayton 67, Rhode Island 64: The Rams miss a great opportunity slip away after surrendering their lead in the final ten minutes. Dayton tightens their grip on the A10 lead.
 
Oakland 78, Valparaiso 66: The Grizzlies recent ascension to Horizon League favorites is secure with their road win over their nearest competitor.
 
Saturday
Notre Dame 75, Clemson 70: Clemson is still on solid ground, but will need to right hte ship against Georgia Tech on Thursday after a 1-2 ACC start.
 
Cincinnati 67, Houston 58: At 12-4 but with only only one win against the KenPom Top 50, the Cougars' chances to play themselves in the dance continue to slip away.
 
Butler 85, Georgetown 76 (OT): The Bulldogs biggest problem has been stringing good wins together.  They needed the extra period, but survived this one and remain as one of the better teams in the field.
 
Creighton 78, Providence 64: The Friars need a signature win to get them over the hump.
 
Kansas 75, Texas Tech 68: After knocking off West Virginia at home, the Red Raiders are sound humbled by the Big 12 powerhouse. 
 
Florida St 93, Virginia Tech 78: The Seminoles only loss this season was a last second one to Temple.  Meanwhile, they've beaten six KenPom Top 100 teams including a road win at Virginia and this decisive win at home.  Tuesday's game against Duke will be one of the biggest in Tallahassee in quite some time.
 
Syracuse 77, Pittsburgh 66: At 10-6 the Orange still have a world of work to do to get htemselve sinto the dance, but wins over Miami and Pitt was a promising first two steps.
 
Penn St 72, Michigan St 63: Just when it looked like the Spartans were picking themselves up off the mat, they're knocked right back down with a tough loss in the Pelestra.
 
South Carolina 79, Texas A&M 68: The Aggies fall to 1-5 against the KenPom Top 100 while South Carolina is beginning to turn around their own skid with two wins in a row.
 
Baylor 61, Oklahoma St 57: The Bears are sure to be the #1 team in this week's polls.
 
Villanova 93, Marquette 81: The Wildcats bounce back from their first loss since Selection Sunday.
 
Maryland 77, Michigan 70: The Wolverines have not shown much life since Thanksgiving and are in danger of slipping into NIT purgatory.
 
West Virginia 82, TCU 70: The Mountaineers get back in the win column after falling at Texas Tech.
 
Indiana 96, Illinois 80: The Hoosiers pick up their first win of B1G play.
 
Kentucky 97, Arkansas 71: The Wildcats prove once again they are the clear class of the SEC.
 
Arizona 82, Colorado 73: An 0-3 start to PAC 12 play for the Buffs, with UCLA and USC calling could spell N-I-T if they can't right the ship.
 
Texas Southern 87, UT Arlington 73: A big upset in the Sun Belt.
 
Sunday
Purdue 66, Wisconsin 55: Huge win for the Boilermakers, smothering Wisconsin and making their presence known as B1G contenders.
 
North Carolina 107, North Carolina St 56: Nothing like a 51 point win over your rival to remind everyone you're ready to play for the ACC title.
 
Minnesota 78, Ohio St 68: The Gophers continue to look like a tournament team, while you cannot be so sure about the Buckeyes.
 
California 74, USC 73: Cal continues to play themselves onto the bubble, while the Trojans drop to 1-2 in PAC-12 play after a 14-0 non-conference showing.