2011 NCAA Tournament Scores, Bracket, Schedule & Picks: UCLA Falls To Florida, San Diego State Survives Temple

California has only one school left in the Big Dance--San Diego State. Can they go all the way to the Final Four?

  • Live
86 Total Updates since March 7, 2011
  • Important 84
  • Updates 86
  • All Updates 86

New 2011 NCAA Tournament Stream Available

If you happen to stumble across this 2011 NCAA Tournament stream, we've moved on to a new stream to begin our coverage of the Sweet 16 and beyond. Head over to check out more recent coverage.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Sunday Bracket Predictions For The Money Part 2

We're officially through to the Sweet 16 and this first week of action did not disappoint. We saw buzzer-beaters and back-and-forth matchups, while also getting a chance to enjoy some thorough domination by top-flight teams. The final four games of this first weekend were not quite as entertaining as the rest of the weekend with three blowouts, although two of the blowouts were rather unexpected.

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 11 VCU - Purdue was a nine-point favorite against VCU and I expected the Boilermakers to roll the Rams. Boy was I wrong. The Rams trailed 24-23 with 6:05 to play in the first half but they used a 13-0 run to take the lead and control of the game and never looked back. Purdue never cut the lead below eight from then on and VCU thoroughly dominated the Boilermakers en route to a 94-76 victory.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Marquette - Syracuse was a 4 ½-point favorite against Marquette and I had the Golden Eagles covering and winning. I hit this one on the head as Marquette sprung the upset to advance to the Sweet 16, winning 66-62. Syracuse looked strong early, but Marquette stormed back late in the first half to turn it into a close game. The two teams exchanged leads throughout the second half before Darius Johnson-Odom hit a monster three with 27 seconds left. Syracuse couldn't hit their own three and it was just about over from there.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Illinois - Kansas was an 8 ½-point favorite against Illinois and I had the Jayhawks covering with ease. While Kansas pulled away easily late, the Illini did give them a bit of a fight into the final ten minutes of the game. The Illini hung about four points back and were five back with 6:35 to go. However, Kansas used a 10-0 run to build a sufficient cushion and cruise the rest of the way, winning 73-59.

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Florida State - Notre Dame was a 5 ½-point favorite against Florida State and I had the Irish covering. Another big time wrong in the vein of VCU-Purdue, although FSU had to work a little bit harder to nail down this win. The Seminoles defeated the Irish 71-57 in a game that was both closer than that and more of a blowout. FSU led big most of the game but Notre Dame made a mini-run late. However, the Seminoles withstood the barrage and pulled away for the victory.

Final Tally
I went 2-2 against the spread and 2-2 straight up as I was able to pick the Marquette upset and the Kansas victory. I did not see the VCU or Florida State victories coming, even after they went by with such ease. We now head into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament with some interesting matchups. Kansas would seem to have a cakewalk into the Final Four, but this weekend has shown us that anything is possible.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Results: Arizona Uses Three Point Shooting, Texas Turnovers To Advance To Sweet 16

The Texas Longhorns and the Arizona Wildcats had a controversial finish in Tulsa, but there were 39 and a half other minutes that are left to be discussed, and a lot of it ended up ensuring a close finish.  (For further discussion of the controversial Texas-Arizona ending, go here). All stats courtesy of SCACCHoops.

Arizona ruling downtown. Texas had one of the best three point defenses in the country, so it's shocking to see them get lit up by Arizona (which did have one of the best three point offenses, but you'd expect some regression against such a good perimeter defense). The Wildcats nailed an incredible 57% of their three pointers (Jordin Mayes 4 for 4, Brendon Lavender 2 for 2, Kyle Fogg 1 for 1, Kevin Parrom 1 for 2). This gave Arizona the lead early, and they hung on for dear life.

Texas, by contrast, could not hit anything from outside against Arizona's strong three point defense. 3 for 11, all three three pointers coming from Jordan Hamilton (J'Covan Brown went 0 for 3). Dominating the triples battle gave Arizona all the advantage they needed.

Texas fumbles. The Longhorns could not handle the ball. Hamilton, Gary Johnson, and Cory Joseph, three Longhorns who are excellent at ball control, committed multiple turnovers and eight overall. Joseph committed the controversial five second violation at the end of the game that gave Arizona the opportunity to win late. Sads.

Other numbers: Both Texas and Arizona crashed the offensive glass quite well--the Horns dominating the offensive glass was expected, but Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill made their mark with four offensive rebounds apiece ... Arizona, usually an excellent free throw shooting team, undid a lot of their three point work by missing eight free throws, six missed freebies from the usually solid Williams (74% before this game); Texas hit 82%, Arizona 64% from the charity stripe.

For more reaction on the game, head on over to Arizona Desert Swarm (U of A) & Burnt Orange Nation (Texas) for further discussion.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Sunday Bracket Predictions For The Money Part 1

We’re halfway through the last day of the first weekend of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (that’s a mouthful) and it was a wild morning gambling-wise, but fairly sane when considering the chalk. We had the two North Carolina schools failing to cover but escaping with victories. We had Ohio State absolutely dismantle George Mason. And we had a fun Arizona victory over Texas. A quality morning of basketball with four games remaining.

No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Washington – The Tarheels were a 4 1/2-point favorite against Washington and I went with UNC to get the late cover. This ended up being a fairly wild affair to which UNC barely held on. Washington gave Carolina all they could handle but it was not quite enough. Even more unfortunately, Carolina held on without covering as they won 86-83.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 Michigan – Duke was an 11 ½-point favorite over Michigan and I went with Duke to cover but having to work for it into the second half. The latter part of the prediction really doesn’t matter for gambling purposes, but I figured it was worth including anyway. Well, things ended up a lot closer than I expected as Michigan hung around and even had a chance to force overtime at the buzzer before losing 73-71. Duke threatened to pull away numerous times but the Wolverines managed to get big shots and hang around until the end. At the end of regulation Darius Morris drove into the lane and shot a runner at the basket but it bounced off and time expired.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 George Mason – Ohio State was an 11 ½-point favorite against the Patriots and I went with Ohio State to win and cover fairly easily. The Patriots took an early lead and seemed set to hang in, but then Ohio State decided to take this game seriously. By the end of the first half, the Buckeyes had doubled up George Mason 52-26 and never looked back. Ohio State seemed intent on destroying George Mason and sending a message to the rest of the field as they finished with an easy 98-66 victory. The field only gets more difficult, but the Buckeyes are looking good right now.

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Arizona – Texas was a six-point favorite against Arizona and I took Texas to cover late. Arizona ended up in control for most of this game before escaping with a late win thanks to a huge and-on with 9.6 seconds left. Arizona led by as many as 13 points before Texas made a late run. The Longhorns led by two and had the ball with 14 seconds left. However, freshman Cory Joseph turned the ball over out of a timeout (plenty on that little clusterf***) and Arizona managed the key and-one. Texas drove the lane to close the game but could not score as time expired.

Final Tally
It was a less than stellar showing this morning as I went 1-3 against the spread. I did manage to go 3-1 straight up, which helps me in my bracket. Of course for more bracket, I need San Diego State at least in the title game to have a chance to win some money. It was a fun morning of basketball though, with four more games to go and VCU currently dominating Purdue.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Bracket & Predictions, East Regional: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Kentucky Wildcats

The first matchup of the East Regional in the Sweet 16 is set. Ohio St. dismantled the George Mason Patriots to move onto the next round in Newark. Their next opponent should test them quite a bit--John Calipari's athletic Kentucky squad, which eliminated West Virginia in the second round.

Let's take a brief look at each squad.

#1 Ohio St. Buckeyes

Ken Pomeroy says ... 2nd best offense, 7th best defense, slow tempo (246th). Great shooting offense (both top ten with regards to two pointers and three pointers). Strong rebounding squad, particularly on the defensive end (solid on the offensive end too). Excellent at forcing the opponent to taking jump shots. Great ball handling team that is good at forcing turnovers.

The weaknesses of Ohio State are being an average shooting defense; their specialty is keeping teams away from the foul line, but their defensive percentages are pretty weak. Also, they're not a particularly deep team, going only six men deep.

#4 Kentucky Wildcats

Ken Pomeroy says ... 7th best offense, 24th best defense, average tempo (193rd). Great shooting offense (particularly with the three point shot) and great shooting defense (particularly with the two point shot). Pretty good rebounding on both sides. Excellent at holding onto the ball, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense. Good at getting blocks.

The biggest weakness with Kentucky is they're an average rebounding squad, which could cause them trouble against big and strong teams. Also, they're young yet again. Famed procurer of one-and-done talent John Calipari had to replace almost all of his entire starting lineup, leaving him with three starting frosh carrying the load this season. Youth don't usually win national championships, no matter how talented their lineup is. And this is a thin team that doesn't have much to turn to if the frosh suffer.


Prediction
: If Ohio State is to lose, it's going to be to a team with a strong rotation that can wear down the Buckeye starters and/or get them into foul trouble. Kentucky does not look like that team, as they do not force the issue and get to the line. Unless they hit their threes all game long, this is looking like an Ohio State victory, although it's far from a given.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Results: Washington Huskies Fumble Victory Away To North Carolina Tar Heels

It's strange to point the finger at the offense of the Washington Huskies as the culprit for their 86-83 defeat to the North Carolina Tar Heels, but that's exactly what happened. After putting up 76 points in the first 34:19 minutes, UW managed only 7 in the final 5:41, as Lorenzo Romar's inability to make Washington run a set offense doomed them down the stretch as the Huskies fumbled the ball around the perimeter and ended up with bad shot opportunities.

Washington turned the ball over four times in the final five minutes and shot 3 for 12 down the stretch, which ultimately doomed them in this contest. UW ran a couple of plays for Venoy Overton, who is normally their defensive stopper, and Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (usually their biggest offensive threats) barely touched the ball down the stretch. It's all the stranger because Washington is usually an excellent ball-handling team and North Carolina isn't that great at forcing turnovers.

Some things that do go as scripted? As we mentioned in our preview, Washington is terrible at getting to the line and keeping teams off of it. Washington shot 7 free throws (made them all, to their credit), but allowed UNC to get there 23 times, making 18 of them. Washington & North Carolina were both excellent at getting offensive rebounds. And of course, points points points, as both teams were happy to let it fire all game long. They nailed over 46% of their field goals and 50% of their three pointers combined. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller led North Carolina home with 22 and 23 points respectively.

But UW will look back at those last five minutes and wonder what could have been. Romar really will have to ponder his coaching decisions down the stretch (or lack thereof).

For more on the Huskies, go to UW Dawg Pound. For Tar Heel perspective, check out Carolina March.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Results: San Diego State Defense On Temple Carries Aztecs To Sweet 16

As we noted in the game preview, the San Diego St. Aztecs and Temple Owls matched up very well with each other, and a lot of our predictions turned out to be right.

San Diego State shooting defense held down Temple's shooting. San Diego State held Temple to 38% shooting from the field and only three points in the final overtime period, and 36.5% from two point land. Lavoy Allen, 5 for 16 shooting, Rahlir Jefferson 2 for 8 shooting, Juan Fernandez 5 for 16 shooting. If not for the Owls knocking down six threes (four from Fernandez), the Aztecs would've probably won this outright in regulation.

The Aztecs had trouble shooting twos. Usually a great two point field goal offense, SDSU could get nothing in this one. D.J. Gay shot only 2 for 9, Kawhi Leonard 5 for 13. Billy White and Malcolm Thomas got theirs inside, but the struggles for Gay and Leonard cancelled out the struggles for Allen, Jefferson and Fernandez.

The Aztecs nailed their threes. Although their inside game betrayed them, the outside saved them against Temple's porous three point defense, particularly Chase Tapley. He nailed four of San Diego State's threes and kept the team from falling into too huge an offensive rut.

Take a look at the Four Factors below and you'll see that SDSU won almost every critical category at the end.

 

 

So for those Aztecs fans a little nervous about how close this one is, don't sweat it. It was a tough matchup and you're still playing. It's better than being Pitt.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update & Predictions, West Regional: Duke Blue Devils vs. Michigan Wolverines

Duke continues its march in trying to go back-to-back as NCAA basketball champions. Their second round matchup will tip-off around 11:45 AM PT/2:45 PM ET on CBS (click here for the full schedule). Let's take a look at both teams.

#1 Duke Blue Devils

Ken Pomeroy says ... 4th best offense, 2nd best defense. Runs one of the fastest tempos in the country. Great shooting team on both offense and defense (inside, outside, free throw line, you name it). Good at forcing teams into jump shots and holding onto the basketball. Decent at forcing steals.

The weaknesses with Duke are rebounding. They struggle to get defensive rebounds. They also don't get to the free throw line a lot, although some of that may have to due with the number of blowouts they've been involved in this year.

#8 Michigan Wolverines

Ken Pomeroy says ... 37th best offense, 28th best defense, one of the slowest basketball teams in the country. The Wolverines are a strong shooting team, particularly from the inside. They take care of the basketball and draw few turnovers. They're strong at defensive rebounding, good at keeping other teams off the free throw line and forcing them into tougher shots (particularly outside).

The weaknesses with Michigan: They're a one shot and done offense; the Wolverines are a poor offensive rebounding team. They also rarely get to the free throw line and have trouble forcing turnovers. They're also not a terribly great two point shooting defense and can't block shots or get steals.

Prediction: Really hard to see Michigan being the team that knocks off Duke. The Wolverines are a good basketball team, but they're stuck in a rut with trying to deal with Duke's size inside and speed from the outside. They'll have to play the defensive game of their life, keep the possessions down and execute efficiently against one of the toughest offenses in the country.

It probably won't be enough. Duke.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update & Predictions, East Regional: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Washington Huskies

The first game on this Sunday of March Madness takes place in Charlotte to send the second team from the East regional into the Sweet 16. Game tips off at 9:15 AM PT/12:15 PM ET (click here for the full schedule).

Let's take a look at both teams.

#2 North Carolina Tar Heels

Ken Pomeroy says ... 42nd best offense, 8th best defense. One of the fastest paces in the league. Excellent rebounding team and good at keeping opponents off the line. Good at holding onto the ball. Strong field goal defense. Excellent at getting blocked shots and not getting their shots blocked.

The weaknesses for North Carolina are poor three point shooting and poor free throw shooting. Also the Heels are prone to getting their passes stolen while not being able to force turnovers themselves.

#7 Washington Huskies

Ken Pomeroy says ... 10th best offense, 49th best defense. They run almost as fast as North Carolina. Excellent shooting offense, particularly inside. Not a terrible shooting defense either. Don't get their shots blocked and they block a lot of shots. Great offensive rebounding team too.

The weaknesses for Washington are poor free throw shooting, but more importantly they resort to jump shooting too much and never get to the foul line. Worse, they allow other teams to get to the free throw line as well, which keeps their opponents in games too much. Finally, they probably shoot too many threes, considering their excellent efficiency inside.

Prediction: North Carolina. Usually when great defense meets great offense, great defense wins. It's likely to be an up-tempo game, so Washington might be able to jump start themselves with some great shooting, but with UW playing an essential road game in Charlotte in Tar Heel territory, the homecourt advantage should give UNC all the advantage they need (well, unless the Dukies in the stands start getting behind Washington).

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds: Sunday Second Round Bracket Predictions For The Money

We're back for one more day of basketball to wrap up the always exciting first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The 2011 version has not disappointed. There have certainly been some stinkers on the schedule, but there have been enough wild finishes to more than make up for the stinkers. We wrap things up with the final day of the second round to complete the field for the Sweet 16. All your odds are available at Odds Shark.

No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Washington - The Tarheels are sitting as 4 1/2-point favorites over Washington. Initially I thought this line seemed a little bit low, but in looking at Ken Pomeroy's ratings (http://kenpom.com/) this could prove to be a fun little matchup. Washington ranks 9th in offense and 48th in defense, while UNC is 7th in defense and 41st in offense. I'm a believer in defense winning championships so I think UNC wins. I'm going with the UNC cover as well on late free throws.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 Michigan - Duke is an 11 ½-point favorite over a Michigan team that surprised a few people by absolutely destroying Tennessee. That game sort of threw me for a loop as Michigan has had quite the up and down season. Duke is one of the best teams in the country and only improved with the return of Kyrie Irving. He is a bit of a wildcard for them, although he impressed in his return in Duke's opening game. I think Duke wins this game, and I think they end up covering, but not before Michigan makes them work at least a little bit in the second half.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 George Mason - Ohio State is an 11 ½-point favorite against an old school Cinderella favorite. Before Butler went to the title game last year the Patriots shocked the world by going to the Final Four. Ohio State is rated as the best team in the country as they can bring it on offense and defense. The Patriots are solid but they haven't faced anybody like the Buckeyes. The number one overall team in this tournament is a beast as they are led by Jared Sullinger. I think the Buckeyes will be covering in this win and rolling to victory.

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Arizona - Texas is a six-point favorite against Arizona. Both teams had some struggles in their opening matchups but escaped with victories. Texas brings a very good defense and a rock solid offense. Arizona is solid on offense but isn't quite up to Texas' level on defense. I think the Longhorns are going to pull this one out and I think they'll be able to cover the spread, although it will take some late free throws to make it happen. I'm just not quite sold on Arizona.

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 11 VCU - Purdue is a nine-point favorite against VCU as the Rams look to continue their Cinderella run. VCU was given a lot of crap for making the tournament but have knocked off USC and Georgetown in their attempts to prove they belong. However, Purdue marks their toughest opponent yet, by a big margin. The Boilermakers bring one of the most efficient defenses in the country and a solid offense to boot. VCU can be efficient on offense, but it remains to be seen if it's enough against Purdue. I'd love to see a CAA squad slide into the Sweet 16 but I think the VCU dream comes to an end today as Purdue has little trouble with them.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Marquette - Syracuse is a 4 ½-point favorite against Marquette. This could actually be worth picking the underdog Golden Eagles. Syracuse is better on paper, but not so much that an upset couldn't be in the offing. If Marquette can push the pace and hit some baskets, they could pull off the upset. Marquette actually beat Syracuse by six in a Big East matchup earlier this season. March Madness is a whole different beast but I'm going to go with Marquette to cover and also spring the upset.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Illinois - Kansas is an 8 ½-point favorite against Illinois. The Illini had an ugly finish to the regular season but they seemed to put all that behind them in destroying UNLV in the first hand. I think Kansas is on a bit of a mission however and will have little trouble with an inconsistent Illinois squad.

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Florida State - Notre Dame is a 5 ½-point favorite against the Seminoles. This could be an interesting matchup courtesy of Florida State having what Ken Pomeroy rates as the most efficient defense in the country. Notre Dame has one of the most efficient offenses in the country, which could make for one heck of a battle. I mentioned above that I believe defenses win championships and I think that could get FSU within striking distance. I just don't know if it's quite enough. I think Notre Dame wins but FSU covers.        

Continue

March Madness 2011 Sunday TV Schedule & Announcers

For those who missed the full Sunday schedule to conclude the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round of 32 action. Here it is updated with times.

9:15 AM PT/12:15 PM ET: #7 Washington Huskies vs. #2 North Carolina Tar Heels, CBS, East Regional in Charlotte
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Tracy Wolfson (sideline)

11:45 AM PT/2:45 PM ET: #8 Michigan Wolverines vs. #1 Duke Blue DevilsCBS, West Regional in Charlotte
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Tracy Wolfson (sideline)

2:15 PM PT/5:15 PM ET: #1 Ohio St. Buckeyes vs. #8 George Mason Patriots, CBS, East Regional in Cleveland
Announcers: Gus Johnson, Len Elmore, Marty Snider (sideline)

3:10 PM PT/6:10 PM ET: #4 Texas Longhorns vs. #5 Arizona Wildcats, TNT, West Regional in Tulsa
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager (sideline)

4:10 PM PT/7:10 PM ET: #3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #11 Va. Commonwealth Rams, TBS, Southwest Regional in Chicago
Announcers: Spiro Dedes, Bob Wenzel, Jaime Maggio (sideline)

4:45 PM PT/7:45 PM ET: #11 Marquette Eagles vs. #3 Syracuse Orangemen, truTV, East Regional in Cleveland
Announcers: Gus Johnson, Len Elmore, Marty Snider (sideline)

5:40 PM PT/8:40 PM ET: #1 Kansas Jayhaws vs.#9 Illinois Fighting Illini, TNT, Southwest Regional in Tucson
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager (sideline)

6:40 PM PT/9:40 PM ET: #10 Florida St. Seminoles vs. #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, TBS, Southwest Regional in Chicago                   
Announcers: Spiro Dedes, Bob Wenzel, Jaime Maggio (sideline)

You can also watch all the games online on March Madness On Demand by clicking here.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Bracket & Predictions, West Regional: Connecticut Huskies vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Connecticut has had a pretty leisurely road in the NCAA tournament compared to most of their other Big East compatriots--in fact, they're the first team to make it to the Sweet 16, with only the Syracuse-Marquette winner and Notre Dame left to join them.

Now, their road to the West Regional final could not be more difficult, as they'll have to traverse over 3,000 miles cross-country to Anaheim to take on what amounts to a road game against SDSU. Does Kemba Walker have any magic left to keep UConn dancing?

#2 San Diego St. Aztecs

Ken Pomeroy says SD State is a solid offense coupled with an outstanding defense. Very efficient halfcourt offense, and good at getting two point field goals. Great offensive rebounding team. Strong shooting defense, both in two point and three point field goals.

The weaknesses for SDSU are their poor three point shooting and inability to get to the free throw line.

#3 Connecticut Huskies

Ken Pomeroy says UConn enjoys a strong offense and a solid defense that moves at a methodical middle-of-the-road tempo. Great offensive rebounding and great turnover %. Excellent at forcing opposing teams into jump shots. Excellent free throw shooting team.

The weaknesses of UConn is poor shooting from downtown and bad defensive rebounding. They also have trouble getting to the free throw line, which sort of negates their ability to make free throws.

Prediction: San Diego State had to drag themselves to a double overtime victory over a Temple squad that was not their equal in terms of talent, so it definitely has the feel of an "anything can happen" game. However, San Diego State does have a couple of distinct advantages--offensive rebounding. Extra possessions for SDSU against a poor defensive rebounding UConn squad could make all the difference, so let's ride with the Aztecs.

Continue

Sweet 16 Bracket & Predictions: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Butler Bulldogs

After impressive and close victories over the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers and fifth-seeded Kansas St. Wildcats in the Southeast regional, Butler and Wisconsin are readying themselves for a big matchup in the Sweet 16 in New Orleans. Let's take a look at how both of these teams match up.

#4 Wisconsin Badgers

Ken Pomeroy says one of the best offenses in the country, pretty good defense, also one of the slowest teams. Highest free throw shooting percentage in the nation, best at ball handling and not turning over the ball. Great defensive rebounding squad as well and forcing opponents into tough shots.

The biggest weaknesses of Wisconsin are they don't force turnovers and they're a poor three point shooting defense. Also, for being one of the best free throw shooting teams, the Badgers barely manage to get to the line.

#8 Butler Bulldogs

Ken Pomeroy says good offense, above-average defense, one of the slowest tempos in the country. Good at handling the ball, solid shooting team, good free throw shooting team, don't get many of their shots blocked or stolen. Strong defensive rebounding team.

The weaknesses of Butler is that they let teams get to the line and they can't force turnovers or block shots.

Prediction: I know I said Pitt would end Butler's run, but apparently they forgot how to hold onto the basketball or defend the three pointer. Although Wisconsin isn't good at three point defense, they shouldn't be handing Butler any extra possessions and force Butler into tougher shots. Wisky is used to playing at Butler's pace, and although it figures to be another close affair with so few possessions at stake, I lean the way of the Badgers. Mushroom, mushroom.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Saturday Bracket Predictions For The Money

The 2011 NCAA Tournament is halfway through the round of 32 (second or third round depending on who you ask) and we had a solid day, that was all about late covers. Two different games got the cover at just about the last second and we've got a pair of Cinderellas headed into the Sweet 16. Richmond and Butler should make for interesting decisions next week for the sports books.

No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia - Kentucky was a 3 ½-point favorite over the Mountaineers and I took UK to cover. It was looking ugly early as the Mountaineers were in control in the first half. However, the Wildcats flipped some kind of switch at the beginning of the second half to take over the game. It was back and forth late but six late points on free throws were the difference-maker as Kentucky covered.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 UCLA - Florida was a five-point favorite in this game and I took the Gators to cover due to a line that I thought was a bit low. Vegas knew something I didn't (not surprising) as the game was a tight back and forth affair late into the second half. Fortunately Florida closed strong with a 7-0 run to win 73-65 and get the cover.

No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 13 Morehead State - The Spiders were a 3 ½-point favorite in this battle of Cinderellas and I took Richmond to cover. Morehead State could not sufficiently dominate the boards and always seemed a step behind. Richmond covered with ease as they dominated the Eagles 65-48.

No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 7 Temple - San Diego State was a six-point favorite and I took my national title pick to cover the spread. SDSU managed to cover that spread but the road there was a bumpy one as Temple took the Aztecs to double overtime. Both teams had some chances to put the game away before the second overtime but ugly basketball was on display. It was a crazy finish for gamblers. The Owls cut the lead to three and eventually had to foul SDSU late. Kawhi Leonard hit a pair of free throws to put the Aztecs up five with 30 seconds left. Temple turned the ball over in a position for an easy SDSU dunk to go up seven. The Owls had a shot at a layup but missed and SDSU ran out the clock to get the cover. An exciting finish indeed.

No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Butler - Pitt was an eight-point favorite and I thought I was betting with my head by taking the number one seed. Instead, last year's Cinderella is back in the second weekend of the tournament after one of the craziest endings in a long time. My own description can't do it justice, so please just check out the video in that link.

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 11 Gonzaga - The Bulldogs actually were a two-point favorite in this game and I thought the matchup favored them. Apparently this displeased Jimmer Fredette and company as BYU absolutely blasted Gonzaga, winning 89-67. I almost prefer that to missing the spread by a point or two.

No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Kansas State - The Badgers were a three-point favorite and I took them to cover courtesy of late free throws. And in a bit of a rarity I nailed that one perfectly on the head. The two teams went back and forth all game long and seemed destined for a buzzer-beater. Wisconsin had a three point lead late when Jordan Taylor fouled Jacob Pullen as he attempted a three. However, Pullen missed one of the free throws. K-State sent Wisconsin to the line and they made both free throws, followed by the Wildcats missing a three. Wisconsin grabbed the rebound and was fouled again. Two free throws later and I went from push to cover.

No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 6 Cincinnati - UConn was a 3 ½-point favorite against the Bearcats and I took UConn to cover. Cincy hung close but they just didn't have enough to hang with Kemba Walker and UConn. Cincinnati ran out of gas and the Huskies were able to pull away late for the cover, winning 69-58.

Final Tally
We rallied for a strong Saturday performance going 6-2 against the spread. We were also 6-2 straight up as our two losses involved picking favorites Pittsburgh and Gonzaga. Let's just hope we don't follow our Thursday-Friday pattern with an ugly Sunday. We'll see you tomorrow with more predictions against the spread.        

Continue

Sweet 16 Bracket & Picks, Southeast Regional: Florida Gators vs. BYU Cougars

The first matchup of the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament was set up after Florida squeaked by UCLA and BYU blitzed Gonzaga to oblivion on Saturday. This is a rematch of last year's first round incredible double overtime matchup, which BYU won 99-92 (where Jimmer Freddette scored 37 points). Let's take an early look at the two teams who will be fighting for the right to advance to the Elite 8.

#2 Florida Gators

Ken Pomeroy says ... Pretty great offense and pretty good defense that plays at a very slow tempo; great two point offense and good three point offense to go along with solid three point defense. Good at forcing jump shots and keeping teams off the line. Florida gets a lot of rebounds (particularly offensive boards).

The weaknesses for Florida are they don't get to the free throw line and they don't shoot free throws very well then they get there (which could or could not be a weakness if you think about it further). They are a pretty good jump shooting team, but if they're in a close game late, this could be an Achilles heel.

#3 BYU Cougars

Ken Pomeroy says ... Excellent offense and pretty good defense that plays an up-pace tempo (23rd fastest in the country); They're an efficient shooting offense and defense as they can score and defend both threes and twos fairly well (not great at either, but plenty good). Great at holding onto the ball. Excellent free throw shooting team. Solid at defensive rebounding and forcing other teams into taking jump shots.

The weakness for BYU is their over-reliance on Fredette in terms of possessions used. He might be one of the best players in the country, but if a team can lock him down defensively, they could be in trouble. It could very well come here. Also they're not that great at offensive rebounding.


Early prediction: Florida.
Given that it's a rematch, the Gators probably will have better answers for the Cougars this time around. BYU managed to get by running it up against a Gonzaga team that never slowed down the pace in Denver, but they will have to get down and dirty in New Orleans, and this should be where their road ends.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Results, NorCal Players: San Diego State Defeats Temple, UCLA Dropped By Florida

As the 2011 NCAA Tournament advanced into the round of 32, we were left with a pair of teams that included Northern California natives. The UCLA Bruins battled the Florida Gators this morning with Modesto native Reeves Nelson and Rocklin native Brendan Lane. The San Diego State Aztecs just wrapped up their round of 32 matchup with the Temple Owls, which included a strong effort from Sacramento native Chase Tapley.

The Bruins were an underdog heading into their game with Florida, but they managed to hang with the Gators for much of the game. Florida eventually pulled away for the 73-65 win, but they had to battle for it. Reeves Nelson (Modesto) was a key to keeping UCLA in the game. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Nelson finished the 2010-2011 season averaging 13.9 points per game and 9 rebounds per game. It will be interesting to see whether or not he returns to UCLA next season.

The San Diego State Aztecs managed to escape with a victory over the Temple Owls in double overtime, winning 71-64. Sacramento’s Chase Tapley finished the game with 12 points, 2 steals, 1 assist and 1 rebound. Additionally he had a shot at the end of regulation to win that just missed. The Aztecs advance to face the winner of Connecticut and Cincinnati in the Sweet 16.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Basketball Scores: Poor Three Point & Free Throw Showing Doom UCLA Against Florida

The seventh-seeded UCLA Bruins have been an inconsistent team all season long, but they put up an excellent effort against the second-seeded Florida Gators for most of the game. Unfortunately, their shooting weaknesses did them in. As we pointed out in our preview, UCLA has been excellent at getting buckets inside, but the Bruins missed several point-blank layups in offensively advantageous situations. And it was compounded by poor free throw shooting, where the Bruins got to the line 24 times and missed eight of the bunnies. Other than Tyler Honeycutt, the Bruins could nail nothing from behind the arc, going 3 for 14 (all three made threes courtesy of Honeycutt).

Josh Smith had an efficient 7 for 11 shooting game with 16 points, as no one could really match up with him;  Reeves Nelson put up a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Malcolm Lee (14 points) and Honeycutt provided good support (13 points). Florida also took advantage of UCLA's poor three point defense, nailing six big triples, particularly Erving Walker nailing a pull-up three with 1:13 left in the game to push a one-point Florida lead to four. Walker finished with 21 points to lead the Gators and Kenny Boynton chipped in with 12 in support, as seven Gators finished with 7 points or more.

For more on the game, go to Bruins Nation to discuss with UCLA fans, and to Alligator Army to discuss with Florida fans.

Continue

March Madness Bracket Update & Predictions: Connecticut Huskies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

The Big East has been hailed as the best college basketball conference, and the second round of the tournament will feature two matchups concerning four of their teams. The first one takes place in the Saturday night cap on TBS at 6:40 PM PT/9:40 PM ET (click here for the schedule).

#3 Connecticut Huskies

Ken Pomeroy says 14th best offense, 27th best defense, 205th fastest tempo. Great offensive rebounding and great turnover %. Excellent at forcing opposing teams into jump shots. Excellent free throw shooting team.

The weaknesses of UConn is poor shooting from downtown and bad defensive rebounding. They also have trouble getting to the free throw line, which sort of negates their ability to make free throws.

#6 Cincinnati Bearcats

Ken Pomeroy says 50th best offense, 14th best defense, one of the slowest tempos in college basketball. Good at holding onto the ball and forcing turnovers. Excellent offensive rebounding team and strong defensive rebounding squad overall. Great shooting defense.

The weaknesses of Cincinnati are poor shooting from everywhere on the court. Also, Connecticut won their first matchup with Cincinnati IN Cincinnati, which probably doesn't bode well for their chances on a neutral court. Not very good at shooting threes and worse at shooting free throws.

Prediction: It's a toss-up game, so I can only lean in one direction (in other words, even though I might pick a team, you shouldn't really use it as a barometer). Both teams are evenly matched and familiar with one another, so it figures to be a barnburner. Connecticut is the better offense, Cincinnati is the better defense, but neither team shoots all that well. I'd lean Cincinnati, only because UConn has been playing with fire for over a month now, and eventually hot streaks just end.

Right?

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds: Saturday Second Round Bracket Predictions For The Money

After a first round filled with some crazy finishes and big upsets, the big boys are starting to emerge and get some separation from the pack, while a few potential Cinderellas are still sticking around into the weekend. You don't have your traditional 5-12 upsets to pick and teams become a little bit harder to delineate. We've got some matchups that seem fairly cut and dried, but it's not going to be easy to win money this round. All your odds are available at Odds Shark.

No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia - The Wildcats are a 3 ½-point favorite after narrowly escaping Princeton's upset bid. West Virginia had a battle early with Clemson but pulled away late with relative ease. Kentucky brings one of the best offenses in the nation into this game, along with an extremely solid defense. Their problem has been consistency. However, they're on a role right now and I think the Princeton game will shake off the cobwebs. I'm going with the Wildcats to cover.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. UCLA - The Florida Gators currently sit as five point favorites against a UCLA squad that was rolling on Thursday before narrowly averting disaster late against Michigan State. Although Florida's blowout win on Thursday was only against a 15 seed, this line seems a little low to me. UCLA isn't a bad team but I think Florida is going to have their way with them and cover fairly easily.

No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 13 Morehead State - Richmond is a 3 ½-point favorite in a battle of the potential Cinderellas. The Spiders have several advantages, but Morehead State has a huge advantage on the boards thanks to Kenneth Faried. If they can take full advantage of the rebounding disparity, MSU could spring a second upset. However, I'm going to have to take Richmond to cover on this one.

No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 7 Temple - The Aztecs are a six-point favorite and as previously mentioned remain my pick to win the whole thing. Temple escaped with a buzzer beater over Penn State. Statistically, KenPom.com indicates the two teams actually match up decently well. SDSU comes across as the better team, but not so much that they should blow this one out. The Aztecs had little trouble with Northern Colorado in getting their first ever NCAA tournament win. If Temple wants to spring the upset, an early lead could test SDSU's mettle given its lack of postseason success. I think SDSU wins and covers, but this could be a tough one for them.

No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Butler - The Pitt Panthers are an eight point favorite against the darling of last year's NCAA Tournament, the Butler Bulldogs. Butler did manage to buzzer-beating victory over Old Dominion, but it will be interesting to see what they can do when the level of competition is ratcheted up a notch. My heart sees a close loss for Butler, my head says go with Pitt to roll last year's Cinderella. If this was UNLV I'd bet my heart, but it's not so we're going with Pitt to cover.

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 11 Gonzaga - Although BYU opened as a one point favorite, the line has swung to Gonzaga, with the Bulldogs now a two point favorite. I'm a little surprised by this given the amount of Jimmer love in America, but I actually think Gonzaga takes this one. While Jimmer can be a one-man show, losing Brandon Davies has hurt BYU against teams with a strong inside presence. While Gonzaga doesn't have the inside presence of some teams, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, and Sam Dower all bring some serious inside physicality. All four measure at over 6'7 and I just don't know if BYU has the inside depth to match up with that. I'm taking Gonzaga to cover.

No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Kansas State - Wisconsin is a three-point favorite in this matchup. The Badgers might be one of the more undervalued teams in this tournament. They rate eighth overall in Ken Pomeroy's ratings, while K-State is 28th. The Badgers had little trouble with Belmont in the first round while KSU had to battle late to shake Utah State. Wisconsin brings an efficient offense to the table, although they closed the Big Ten season and tournament with some fairly abysmal performances. I think Wisconsin wins a close one but covers thanks to late free throws.

No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 6 Cincinnati - UConn is a 3 ½-point favorite against the Bearcats. I was a little concerned about UConn's legs after winning five games in five days in the Big East Tournament. However, they had little trouble dispatching Bucknell. Cincinnati struggled early but eventually rolled Missouri with relative ease. These two teams are fairly evenly matched. Connecticut has the slight edge overall, and Kemba Walker is quite the difference-maker. If this line was a little larger I'd be concerned, but I think UConn can cover this.

Continue

March Madness Bracket Picks & Preview: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kansas State Wildcats

Wisconsin and Kansas State will have to do battle in a Saturday primetime matchup to advance to the Sweet 16 in the Southeast Regional. The game is expected to tip off around 5:40 PM PT/8:40 PM ET, with the game being telecast on TNT (click here for the full Saturday schedule).

#4 Wisconsin Badgers

Ken Pomeroy says 2nd best offense in the country, 64th best defense; one of the slowest teams as well. Highest free throw shooting percentage in the nation, best at ball handling and not turning over the ball. Great defensive rebounding squad as well.

The biggest weaknesses of Wisconsin are they don't force turnovers and they're a poor three point shooting defense. Also, for being one of the best free throw shooting teams, the Badgers barely manage to get to the line.

#5 Kansas St. Wildcats

Ken Pomeroy says 51st best offense in the country, 29th best defense; fast-paced team. Excellent at grabbing rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass. Good at forcing turnovers.

The biggest weaknesses of Kansas State are they struggle to handle onto the ball (something Wisconsin rarely exploits because they don't force turnovers) and keep teams off the foul line (something Wisconsin does not do despite their excellent FT shooting). Unlike Wisky though, they do not shoot free throws well.

Prediction: This is an ideal matchup for K-State. They're a better defensive squad, and they foil really well with an excellent three point offense to counter Wisconsin's porous three point defense. Add in their rebounding prowess, their ability to force turnovers, and the low number of possessions, and Kansas State is my pick in this matchup to pull off a close victory.

Continue

March Madness Bracket Picks & Preview: BYU Cougars vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

The 2011 NCAA basketball tournament Round of 32 is in high gear, and tonight's national primetime matchup features two of the best teams in the conference.  This game will be the CBS nightcap at 4:45 PM PT/7:45 PM ET (click here for the full schedule).

#3 BYU Cougars

Ken Pomeroy says ... 8th best offense, 38th best defense, up-pace tempo (23rd fastest in the country); Efficient shooting offense and defense (good at threes and twos). Great at holding onto the ball. Excellent free throw shooting team. Solid at defensive rebounding and forcing other teams into taking jump shots.

The biggest weakness with BYU is their over-reliance on Jimmer Fredette in terms of possessions used. He might be one of the best players in the country, but if a team can lock him down defensively, they could be in trouble. Not sure if it's coming here though. Also not great at offensive rebounding.

#11 Gonzaga Buldogs

Ken Pomeroy says ... 42nd best offense, 28th best defense, slightly average tempo (113th). Great shooting offense (solid on threes, great on twos) and very solid defense (particularly against two pointers). They’re a great free throw shooting team and are generally quite effective on offense, but they can struggle with turnovers at times.

The biggest weakness with Gonzaga is defending the three.

Prediction: Gonzaga with the upset. The Bulldogs are superior at crashing the boards and making shots and defending shots. Unless the Cougars get hot from downtown, Gonzaga could score a huge upset and punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update, Schedule & Picks: Butler Bulldogs vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

We enter the third round of the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament  (click here for the schedule for the Saturday Round of 32 Games), and we take a look at the Southeast Regional. The game will tip off on TBS at 4:10 PM PT/7:10 PM ET (go here for the rest of the schedule).

#1 Pittsburgh Panthers

Ken Pomeroy says ... 6th best offense, 17th best defense, one of the slowest tempos in the country. One of the best rebounding teams in the country (particularly on the offensive glass). Awesome three point shooting offense and two point shooting defense, good two point shooting offense and three point shooting defense. Good at getting to the line and keeping other teams off of it.

The weaknesses of Pitt is that they're a terrible free throw shooting team. Also, they don't force turnovers.

#8 Butler Bulldogs

Ken Pomeroy says ... 40th best offense, 71st best defense, one of the slowest tempos in the country. Good at handling the ball, solid shooting team. Strong defensive rebounding team.

The weaknesses of Butler is that they let teams get to the line and they can't force turnovers or block shots.

Prediction: Butler's had a good two season run in the tournament. This is the end though; the Panthers are strong where they are strong (rebounding), and a little bit stronger where they're at their best (shooting). Pitt.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update, Schedule & Picks: UCLA Bruins vs. Florida Gators

The UCLA Bruins are going to have an uphill version against the Florida Gators in Round of 32 action in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament. This will be the second game of Saturday's March Madness action, which will be televised on CBS at 11:45 AM PT/2:45 PM ET (click here for the full schedule). Here's our first look at these two teams.

#2 Florida Gators

Ken Pomeroy says 17th best offense, 35th best defense, very slow tempo. Strong shooting team, particularly with regards to two point field goals, plus excellent three point defense. Good at forcing jump shots and keeping teams off the line. Florida gets a lot of rebounds (particularly offensive boards).

The weaknesses with Florida is they don't get to the free throw line and they don't shoot free throws. They are a pretty good jump shooting team, but if they're in a close game late, this could be an Achilles heel.

#7 UCLA Bruins

Ken Pomeroy says 85th best offense, 37th best defense, average tempo. Good two point shooting offense and defense. Excellent at getting to the free throw line and keeping the opposing team off of it.  Good offensive rebounding team (average defensively).

The weaknesses with UCLA is that they're a poor three point shooting offense and an average three point shooting defense. Could hurt them when they fall behind. They're also turning over the ball and not forcing turnovers.

Prediction: If this was on a neutral court, the Bruins could probably pull off the upset. Their two point defense matches up well with the two point offense of the Gators. Their rebounding is decent enough to hold them down, and they can get to the line and get a huge advantage at the stripe. It could definitely be a toss-up game.

But they're playing in Tampa/St. Petersburg, which is essentially the worst type of road game. Yeah. Not happening. Gators.

Continue

2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: San Diego State, UCLA Battle Today With Northern California Natives

The 2011 NCAA Tournament moves on to the second round today (the play-in games were “opening round matchups” as far as I’m concerned). We’ve got eight intriguing matchups, and while none of them involves Bay Area basketball teams, we do have three natives of Northern California playing for San Diego State and UCLA.

The second-seeded San Diego State Aztecs face the seventh-seeded Temple Owls and will be looking for a strong contribution from sophomore guard Chase Tapley. The Sacramento-native Tapley is averaging 8.6 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists per game in 24.9 minutes per game. In the Aztecs opening game, Tapley was the team’s second leading scorer behind Kawhi Leonard, with 14 points.

The seventh-seeded UCLA Bruins face the second-seeded Florida Gators and will be looking for big contributions from forwards Reeves Nelson and Brendan Lane. Nelson, from Rockville, is the Bruins leading scorer and rebounder with 13.9 PPG and 9.0 RPG in 31.2 minutes per game. Lane comes off the bench and averages 3.1 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. The Bruins will need everything they can get if they’re going to knock off a strong Florida Gators squad.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Friday Morning Bracket Predictions For The Money

The 2011 NCAA Tournament is approximately halfway through day two of the first round and my results betting against the odds are less than stellar. After a strong start yesterday morning but things quickly went downhill in the afternoon/evening session. Today wasn't as bad as yesterday afternoon against the spread, but it wasn't spectacular. You can check out my picks from the morning before checking out the results below.

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 Oakland - Texas went into the game as a ten or eleven point favorite and I had them covering against Oakland. We seemed well on our way to the cover midway through the second half before Oakland made a late run and covered. The Longhorns led by 15 with just over four minutes remaining, but an 18-7 Oakland run ended the game at 85-81 and me losing.

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Tennessee - The Vols were a two-point favorite but I went with Michigan to cover and win. I wasn't 100% sold on the pick, but I also liked nothing about Tennessee. Well, Michigan covered and decimated the Vols with one of the biggest blowouts of the first round, winning 75-45. Combine that with Duke's easy win over Hampton and Sunday could bring an intriguing second round matchup between these two.

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Akron - Notre Dame was a 14-point favorite against the Zips and I picked the Irish to cover. Akron played them incredibly close in the first half and were able to hang close enough to the cover to get it at the end. Notre Dame hit a pair of free throws late but couldn't get any other shots off and missed the cover by two points.

No. 8 George Mason vs. No 9 Villanova - The Wildcats were a slim one-point favorite but I took George Mason to get the win. Villanova was in control for most of the game but could never completely pull away from the Patriots. At the same time, it seemed like GMU could never get over the hump and recapture the lead. However they grabbed a lead late and a huge Luke Hancock three-pointer was the difference-maker as the Patriots won 61-57.

No 5. Arizona vs. No. 12 Memphis - Arizona was a 5 ½-point favorite and I picked the Wildcats to cover against Memphis. The game bounced back and forth and Memphis had their chances to steal the victory. However, it seems like the talent disparity was just a little too much and the Wildcats held on to win. Unfortunately for me Arizona did not cover in their 77-75 victory.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 Hampton - The Blue Devils were 23 point favorites against Hampton and just blew this one out from the get-go, winning 87-45 and never even sniffing the spread. I decided to go with three separate bets on the number one's covering and this was certainly a solid start.

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Florida State - The Aggies were a 1 ½-point favorite against Florida State but I went with FSU to cover and win. I went with them in part due to a highly rated defense (http://kenpom.com/team.php?team=Florida%20St.) and it paid off as FSU dominated late to defeat Texas A&M 57-50.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 16 UT-San Antonio - Ohio State was a 23 ½-pt favorite heading into this game and I went with the Buckeyes as part of my clean sweep of number one seeds. After nailing Duke earlier I was able to continue with a second win in this one as the Buckeyes had little trouble with UTSA, winning 75-46.

Final Tally
We had a bit of a bounce-back effort today, going 5-3 against the spread. More impressively I was 8-0 straight up, which is great for brackets and survivors. Considering how yesterday developed in the afternoon I won't get too confident. Of course, all I really want is a UNLV win. Everything else is secondary for me.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions, Southwest Regional: UNLV Runnin Rebels vs. Illinois Fightin Illini

UNLV and Illinois is the final matchup taking place in the Tulsa regional of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The winner will take on the Kansas-Boston University winner (click here for the Friday schedule). The game will be on TBS at 6:20 PM PT/9:20 PM ET (or 20-30 minutes after conclusion of Kansas-BU).

Let’s take a look at each team. Let me warn you ahead of time that I grew up in Las Vegas and UNLV remains my favorite college basketball team. You’ve been forewarned of my biases.

#8 UNLV Rebels

UNLV is rated the 57th best offense, 17th best defense and top third in terms of the pace they run. This team is really built around a defense that has made up for some horrendous shooting games. In a somewhat ironic twist, UNLV is 226th in three point shooting but they’ve still managed to maintain the longest 3-point shooting streak in the country, hitting at least one three in every game since the three-point line was introduced. If the Rebels are hitting their threes they can beat anybody in the country. If they’re not hitting their threes they need a monster defensive effort and easy buckets in transition.

I watched upwards of half of UNLV’s games and followed the rest on some kind of game tracker and their biggest weakness has been inconsistency inside the paint. They send out a trio in Quintrell Thomas, Carlos Lopez and Brice Massamba. If they can get any kind of scoring out of these three it’s a plus. However, if they’re struggling UNLV can fall in love with the three-ball even if it’s not falling. If that happens they don’t have enough offense to make up the difference.

#9 Illinois Fighting Illini

Ken Pomeroy rates the Illini as the 34th best offense, 21st best defense, and middle of the pack when it comes to the tempo they push. They are one of the best teams in the country in hitting the three-ball and also defending against the three. They cover shooters well and bring serious size to the table. The Illini struggle in getting to the line and forcing turnovers.

Prediction: The numbers would seem to indicate that Illinois is the team to beat in this contest. UNLV is a slim favorite but in checking brackets and the "average bracket" from around the country, more and more people are picking the Illini. However, I’m going with my Runnin Rebels. Aside from the fact that I’m a UNLV fan, I think the Rebels are playing better. The Illini seem better on paper but they went in the tank to close out the year, while UNLV was playing some strong basketball at the end of the season. I’ll go with that momentum.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Bracket Picks, West Regional: Arizona Wildcats vs. Memphis Tigers

Arizona and Memphis is the second of four matchups taking place in the Tulsa regional. The winner will take on the Texas-Oakland winner from earlier this morning (click here for the Friday schedule). The game will be on CBS at 2:45 PM PT/11:45 AM ET.

Let's take a look at each team.

#5 Arizona Wildcats

Ken Pomeroy says 17th best offense, 71st best defense, average pace. 7th most efficient shooting team, able to score from most areas of the court thanks to likely All-American Derrick Williams. Also one of the best teams at getting to the line (and great at shooting free throws when they get there) and a great defensive rebounding group.

The weaknesses with Arizona are interior defense. One of the easiest teams in the tournament to score on inside, which makes the success of their perimeter defense all the stranger.

#12 Memphis Tigers

Ken Pomeroy says 136th best offense, 64th best defense, faster pace. Great offensive rebounding squad, good at forcing turnovers, decent shooting defense.

The weaknesses with Memphis are shooting threes and defensive rebounding. They also turn the ball over a lot.

Prediction: Arizona should be able to have the advantage in rebounding and sink in on the paint with Memphis's three balls a total non-threat. The Tigers aren't really that good compared to past tournament teams, and probably wouldn't even be here if they hadn't won the C-USA tournament. Arizona.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Picks, East Regional: George Mason Patriots vs. Villanova Wildcats

The afternoon brings us another really excellent-looking #8/#9 matchup, with the winner moving onto likely face the Ohio State Buckeyes (take a look at the rest of the Friday schedule here). Let's take a look at both teams.

#8 George Mason Patriots

Ken Pomeroy says 29th best offense, 44th best defense. Moderately slow tempo.  Excellent shooting offense and defense, and one of the best in the country at nailing and defending the three ball. Solid at defensive rebounding and forcing teams into jump shots.

The weakness with the Patriots is a six man rotation; only player off the bench plays more than ten minutes a game. If foul trouble becomes a problem, look for that to factor in late in the game.

#9 Villanova Wildcats

Ken Pomeroy says 23rd best offense, 56th best defense. Good at getting to the foul line and very solid at getting rebounds on both sides of the ball. Great shooting defense as well. Excellent free throw shooting team.

The weakness with the Wildcats is they're not a good shooting team. Average from both three and two point land.

Prediction: Narrow edge to Villanova. George Mason puts up excellent shooting numbers, but Villanova should be able to get more shots thanks to excellent rebounding and free points by getting to the line and getting George Mason players into foul trouble. It'll be a coin flip game, and I like teams that can get rebounds.

Continue

NCAA Tournament Picks, West Regional: Michigan Wolverines vs. Tennessee Volunteers

One of the most competitive early matchups of the second day of Round of 64 action takes place in Charlotte between Michigan and Tennessee. The game will be telecast on 12:40 PM ET/9:40 AM PT on truTV (click here for the rest of Friday's schedule).

Michigan Wolverines

Ken Pomeroy says 50th best offense, 48th best defense, one of the slowest basketball teams in the country. Strong shooting team, particularly from the inside. Takes care of the basketball (few turnovers), strong defensive rebounding, good at keeping other teams off the free throw line and forcing them into tougher shots (particularly outside).

The weaknesses with Michigan: One shot and done; the Wolverines are a poor offensive rebounding team. They also rarely get to the free throw line and have trouble forcing turnovers. Not a terribly great two point shooting defense and can't block shots or get steals (although both stats are a little overrated).

Tennessee Volunteers

Ken Pomeroy says 71st best offense, 49th best defense, average tempo. Adequate shooting defense, adequate at forcing turnovers and ball handling, adequate defensive rebounding and EXCELLENT offensive rebounding team, good at getting blocks and turnovers.

The weaknesses with Tennessee: Shooting. They're not a very good shooting team. Their three point shooting percentage is one of the worst in the country. They also get a lot of shocks blocked and stolen.

Prediction: Pretty much a tossup. Michigan is a great three point defense (which should totally shut down the outside), but their two point defense leaves something to be desired. I'll lean Wolverines, since they should be able to negate Tennessee's strong effort at hitting the offensive glass with their own defensive board prowess.

Continue

Bracket Picks, West Regional: Texas Longhorns vs. Oakland Grizzlies

This is the first game today in Round of 64 action, telecast on CBS at 12:15 PM ET/9:15 AM PT (click here for the full schedule). Here's our brief look at each team.

#4 Texas Longhorns

Ken Pomeroy says...21st best offense, best defense in the country. Middle tempo. Best field goal defense, good at locking teams from outside and inside. Great ball-handling team, great rebounding team, good at getting to the foul line and forcing other teams to take jumpers.

Texas's biggest weakness is they're a bad free throw shooting team, which could do them in a close game. They also don't force turnovers, although their halfcourt defense is so good, it rarely matters.

#13 Oakland, Mich. Golden Grizzlies

Ken Pomeroy says...15th best offense, 200th best defense in the country. Fast-paced tempo. Great shooting team, particularly inside. Good at blocking shots and not getting shots blocked.

Oakland's biggest weakness is they're a bad shooting defense. Their three point defense is among the worst in the country.  They force barely any turnovers.

Prediction: Texas. Oakland probably will be able to go shot for shot and challenge the Longhorn defense as well as anyone, but getting stops (ANY stops) could be a challenge, and that should be the difference down the stretch. (Of course, this is Rick Barnes, so I wouldn't blame you if you hesitated, but this is probably a game even he can't mess up.)

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds: Friday First Round Bracket Predictions For The Money

We're halfway through the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and I'm sitting at 7-8-1 against the spread. I had a strong showing early yesterday, but faded late and had my clock cleaned by most of the late afternoon and early evening games. I did fairly well in straight-up picks, but I'd imagine my brackets will take some sort of beating today. Anytime I get my hopes up things fall apart. Once again, we get our odds from Odds Shark.

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 Oakland - Texas sits as a ten to eleven point favorite against Oakland. The Longhorns got popped by Kansas in the Big Twelve but bring a lot of talent to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, I think they're a team that could beat Duke in the Sweet 16, assuming both make it that far. Texas is going to defeat Oakland and I think the Longhorns number one ranked defense will be the difference-maker. Texas struggled, closing out the season 4-4, but I think they can rebound with a strong win, covering the spread in this one.

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Tennessee - The Volunteers appear to be two point favorites after Michigan opened as a one point favorite. Tennessee is riding all sorts of controversy as nobody knows what Bruce Pearl's future is with the team. On the other hand Michigan rode a strong run late in the season to get into the tournament and get a decent seed. I go with the hot Wolverines to cover and actually win against the Volunteers.

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Akron - Notre Dame comes in as a 14-point favorite over the Akron Zips. Number two seeds were on a roll yesterday as San Diego State and Florida both covered, with Florida thoroughly dominating the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos. Notre Dame seems to have a strong edge over Akron at kenpom.com so I'll take that and the number two seeds' Thursday dominance as a sign of Friday domination. Maybe not the best idea, but I'll still go with the Fighting Irish to cover.

No. 8 George Mason vs. No. 9 Villanova - Villanova is a one-point favorite in spite of being the slightly lower seed. Kenpom.com has these teams ranked right next to each other with the Patriots at 25 and the Wildcats at 26. The CAA won its opening round game when VCU took care of USC, but then lost yesterday when Old Dominion lost a heart-breaker to Butler. The CAA gets a crack at the Big Easy today with VCU playing Georgetown later tonight. I view 8-9 games as gut instincts, and my gut is telling me George Mason to cover the small spread and win.

No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 12 Memphis - Arizona comes in as a 5 ½ point favorite against the Memphis Tigers. Memphis ran the table to win the Conference USA title after entering the conference tournament on the bubble. Arizona lost the Pac-10 title game in overtime to Washington. I was pondering the 5-12 upset, but I just don't think the Tigers have enough talent to spring the upset. I think they'll hang close but be doomed by free throws late and miss the cover by a couple points. Go with Arizona and the points.

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 Hampton - The Blue Devils are 23-point favorites and fresh off their thrashing of North Carolina in the ACC title game. Hampton rates as one of the worst teams in the tournament this year. I don't see this one being close at any point outside of shortly after tip-off. This is a big spread, but I think Duke covers.

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Florida State - Texas A&M is a slim 1 ½ point favorite over the Florida State Seminoles. Kenpom.com rates the Seminoles eight spots higher and ranks them second in the nation on defense. A strong defense can make up for offensive struggles and lead to some fast-break points, which can really pull momentum in your favor. I'm taking Florida State to win outright.

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 16 UT-San Antonio - Ohio State is a 23 ½ point favorite over a UT-San Antonio squad that rated out as the worst in the country in the current tournament field. I have the Buckeyes in the final four and I'm willing to bet they roll the Road Runners much worse than the Road Runner did to Wile E. Coyote. Give me Ohio State to cover.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Boston University - Kansas is a 23-point favorite against the Boston University Terriers. Normally I'd say there is at least one close 1-16 matchup, but nothing about the four one seeds gives me any indication they'll struggle or not cover. I just don't see it in any of these matchups; which is exactly why I'll get crushed by them at some point. Nonetheless I'm going with Kansas to cover.

No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 15 Long Island - The Tarheels are a 17 ½ point favorite after the line opened at 20. I'm not sure why people are betting heavy on the Blackbirds but it has me questioning things right now. UNC was easily handled by Duke but I don't see that translating to this first round game. Both teams play an up-tempo style of play, which could make for an interesting game early on, but I think UNC's defense would eventually prove to be a difference-maker. I'll take UNC to cover the big spread.

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 St. Peter's - Purdue comes into this game as a 14 ½ point favorite after stumbling late in their Big Ten season, losing to Iowa to close the regular season and then Michigan State in their opening game of the Big Ten tournament. St. Peter's has a fairly awful offense but a very strong defense. I worry about their ability to score buckets, but Big Ten teams can sometimes struggle scoring. I'm going to say Purdue victory, but St. Peter's cover.

No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11 Marquette - The Musketeers are 2 ½ point favorites, but Kenpom.com might have another upset special for us. He ranks Marquette three spots higher than Xavier (34 to 37). It's not a make-or-break philosophy, but it seems to hint that maybe Marquette is a little undervalued as an 11 seed. For that reason I'm going to go with Marquette to win outright.

No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Illinois - UNLV is currently a 2 ½ point favorite. If we were going with my Xavier-Marquette philosophy using kenpom.com, I'd probably take Illinois. However, I grew up in Las Vegas and simply cannot bet against the Rebels. I suppose that means I should just stay away from this game. However, the Rebels are playing well enough and Illinois has been inconsistent enough lately (6-10 over last 16) that I'm taking UNLV to cover. Just remember I warned you about my bias.

No. 7 Washington vs. No. 10 Georgia - Washington is a 5 ½ point favorite over a Georgia team that might have gotten a little lucky in getting in after a blown SEC tourney game against Alabama. Washington was a bit inconsistent late but pulled things together to win the Pac-10 tournament on an overtime buzzer beater against Arizona. If this turns into an up-tempo game it would seem to favor Washington's strong offense. I think Washington has enough offense to win, but I don't really know if they can cover. I'm going to go with a Georgia cover but Washington victory late. Something about the Huskies has me questioning whether they can dominate in this tournament..

No. 6 Georgetown vs. No. 11 VCU - Georgetown is a 5 ½ point favorite against the VCU Rams. Georgetown struggled down the stretch, losing five of their last six. Of course those losses all came to Top-25 rated teams, so you can only criticize them so much. I think that spread is a little low. VCU could hang with Georgetown, but I have to think Big East play has them ready to take on lesser competition. VCU is a solid team, but I just don't think they're in Georgetown's class. Hoyas with the cover.

No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Indiana State - Syracuse is a 12 ½ point favorite against the Sycamores of Indiana State. ISU was on the outside of this tournament looking in before running the table in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. ISU isn't a bad basketball team, but I think Syracuse is on their way to a solid run in this tournament. I think they handle the Sycamores and get the cover.

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament TV Schedule & Announcers: Round Of 32, Saturday

With all the games concluded for Thursday night, our eight matchups for Saturday are set.

9:15 AM PT/12:15 PM ET: #5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #4 Kentucky Wildcats, CBS, East Regional in Tampa
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, David Aldridge (sideline)

11:45 AM PT/2:45 PM ET: #7 UCLA Bruins vs. #2 Florida Gators, CBS, Southeast Regional in Tampa
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, David Aldridge (sideline)

2:15 PM PT/5:15 PM ET: #13 Morehead St. Eagles vs. #12 Richmond Spiders, CBS, Southwest Regional in Denver
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Lesley Visser (sideline)

3:10 PM PT/6:10 PM ET: #7 Temple Owls vs. #2 San Diego St. Aztecs, TNT, West Regional in Tucson
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, Reggie Miller, Sam Ryan (sideline)

4:10 PM PT/7:10 PM ET: #8 Butler Bulldogs vs. #1 Pittsburgh Panthers, TBS, Southeast Regional in Washington D.C.
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski, Lewis Johnson (sideline)

4:45 PM PT/7:45 PM ET: #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #3 BYU Cougars, CBS, Southeast Regional in Denver
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, Lesley Visser (sideline)

5:40 PM PT/8:40 PM ET: #5 Kansas St. Wildcats vs. #4 Wisconsin Badgers, TNT, Southeast Regional in Tucson
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, Reggie Miller, Sam Ryan (sideline)

6:40 PM PT/9:40 PM ET: #6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #3 Connecticut Huskies, TBS, West Regional in Washington D.C.
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski, Lewis Johnson (sideline)

Continue

2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: San Diego State, UCLA Advance With Northern California Players

Although the 2011 NCAA Tournament does not include any Bay Area teams, the first day of first round action (we’ll call the play-in games “opening round” action) saw six schools hit the court with Northern California natives on their teams. UC-Santa Barbara lead the way with five players (one late addition down near Monterey), followed by UCLA, San Diego State, Princeton, Louisville, and Bucknell.

UC-Santa Barbara vs. Florida – This game featured five Northern California players on the UCSB Gauchos roster. The Gauchos took a beating at the hands of the Gators but they managed to receive some strong contributions from their Northern California players. UCSB’s top two scorers were Orlando Johnson from Seaside (near Monterey) and James Nunnally from Stockton. Johnson had 21 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, while Nunnally finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist. Other NorCal performances:

Justin Joyner (Antioch) – 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal
Will Brew (Oakland) – 2 points, 1 steal

UCLA vs. Michigan State – The Bruins escaped a near collapse in defeating the Spartans 78-76. The Bruins received solid contributions from their two NorCal players, Brendan Lane (Rocklin) and Reeves Nelson (Modesto). Lane finished the game with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block. Nelson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and an assist. Additionally, Nelson made the free throw that proved to be the difference-maker for UCLA. His free throw made the score 77-73 and the Spartans never got past 76 points. UCLA advances to face Florida in the second round on Saturday.

San Diego State vs. Northern ColoradoChase Tapley of Sacramento had a strong showing in San Diego State’s 68-50 rout of Northern Colorado. Tapley finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. The Aztecs advance to face Temple in the second round on Saturday

Princeton vs. Kentucky – The Tigers lost on a last second shot as their upset bid came up just short. Guard Dan Mavraides of San Mateo led Princeton with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals.

Louisville vs. Morehead State – The Cardinals were stunned 62-61 by the Eagles on a late three. Forward Terrence Jennings of Sacramento finished the game with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 blocks. A late foul by Jennings put Kenneth Faried on the free throw line, allowing the Eagles to cut the Cardinals lead to two. Demonte Harper followed that up with the game-winning three.

Bucknell vs. Connecticut – The Bucknell Bison struggled in a blowout defeat at the hands of the UConn Huskies. The lone Bay Area player, forward Enoch Andoh of San Jose, had two points and a rebound in the loss.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Thursday Night Bracket Predictions For The Money

We’ve reached the end of day one of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (sorry the four play-in games don’t quite count for me) and it was a mixed showing in the betting odds. After a strong morning showing in which I was 5-2-1 against the spread, I fell apart this afternoon going 2-6 against the spread as I got my butt kicked. As we go through the games, just a reminder about my predictions this morning.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 Santa Barbara – The Gators were 13 point favorites over the Gauchos and I went with UCSB to cover. While it’s not the worst mistake of my life, I definitely was wrong on this one as the Gators blew out UCSB 79-51. The Gators looked real good and I’d imagine folks will be betting them heavily against UCLA on Saturday.

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 14 WoffordBYU was an 8 1/2 point favorites against Wofford and I thought Jimmer would score enough to get them the cover. Jimmer scored enough for them to win, but his 32 points failed to get me a cover as BYU won by eight points. That’s a painful “loss.” Throw in the fact that I don’t like BYU (my UNLV fandom) and it stings a little more.

No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 14 Bucknell – UConn was favored by 13 points and I thought they might be tired enough for Bucknell to hang around and cover. Well, if they are tired at this point, they hide it well as they blew out Bucknell 81-52. That seems relatively close to the line but the game was never really that close. UConn continues to play some hot basketball.

No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Belmont – Wisconsin was a five to six point favorite, but Belmont was a team people liked as an upset bid. I went with that in a way, picking Belmont to cover but lose. Well, I was half right. The Bruins were beaten 72-58 and didn’t have much of a chance in the second half. Loss for me.

No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan State – Michigan State entered this game as a two point favorite but I took UCLA to cover and win nonetheless. I haven’t been sold on Michigan State this year and although it was a tight one late, the Bruins held on to cover and win. I think Florida kills UCLA on Saturday, but the Bruins get some time to enjoy a tight one.

No. 6 St. John’s vs. No. 11 Gonzaga – St. John’s was a 1 1/2 point favorite and I took them to cover. Although I lost in this, I will say that further research after posting the gambling predictions caused me to change my bracket and have Gonzaga beat St. John’s as well as BYU in round two. A look at kenpom.com revealed a supremely undervalued team that matched up well with SJU and would seem to have too much size inside for the Cougars. We’ll see if that plays out, but I’m happy my bracket lives to fight another day.

No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 11 Missouri – Cincinnati was a one point favorite over Missouri and due to my lack of knowledge of both teams I went with chalk and took the Bearcats to cover. Missouri hung tough early but Cincinnati rolled late and cruised to victory and the cover.

No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Utah State – Kansas State was favored by 2 1/2 points but I joined much of America in going with the Aggies to spring the upset. Didn’t quite work out as Kansas State held on late to defeat Utah State

Final Tally
After a strong showing in the morning my confidence was riding high. Of course, as is often the case I was slapped back to reality by a poor showing in the afternoon. I was 2-6 against the spread but I did manage to go 6-2 straight-up. That doesn’t help with the sports book, but it does provide hope for my bracket. When it comes to my brackets in spite of what Andy Dufresne said, Hope is not a good thing. As Red said, it is in fact a dangerous thing.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update: Temple Owls vs. San Diego State Aztecs, West Regional Round Of 32 Preview

After a competitive first half, the San Diego St. Aztecs cruised to victory over their first round opponent, the Northern Colorado Bears. SDSU will now move onto face Temple, who squeaked by Penn State.

#2 San Diego St. Aztecs

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 25th best offense, 4th best defense. Very efficient halfcourt offense, and good at getting two point field goals. Great offensive rebounding team. Strong shooting defense, both in two point and three point field goals.

The weaknesses for SDSU are their poor three point shooting and inability to get to the free throw line.

#7 Temple Owls

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 53rd best offense, 36th best defense. Modestly slow team. Doesn't turnover the ball, average shooting squad, but better at holding other teams down (particularly with regards to two pointers). Strong defensive rebounding team, and really good at keeping teams off the free throw line. Temple's strengths were just enough to squeak them by to the Round of 32 past a tough Penn State team.

The weaknesses for Temple are their pedestrian three point shooting defense and average shooting offense (ranked in the 100s in three point, two point and free throw percentage conversion rate).

Prediction: Temple actually matches up real well in terms of being good at shutting down two point shooting teams, and SDSU has no shooters to stretch the floor. Plus the Aztecs probably won't get many easy points either.. But the Aztecs are definitely a better shooting defense and should be able to lock down on Temple's shooting. San Diego State.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Update & Picks: Kentucky Wildcats vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Second Round Rematch

This was the first set game for the second round of the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament. Let's take an early peek.

Kentucky Wildcats

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 7th best offense, 22nd best defense, average tempo (164th). Great shooting offense and defense. Decent rebounding team, excellent at not losing the ball to the other team, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense, and good at swatting that ball away from the basket.

The biggest weakness with Kentucky is that they're young, and it showed through the first round. Famed procurer of one-and-done talent John Calipari had to replace his entire starting lineup, leaving him with three starting frosh carrying the load this season. Youth don't usually win national championships, no matter how talented their lineup is. It showed in their matchup with senior-laden Princeton, where the Wildcats frosh played only marginally well to edge them over the upset-lurking Tigers.

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 31st best offense, 29th best defense. Great at holding down the shooting numbers of other teams, particularly those who shoot three pointers. Great offensive rebounding team, one of the best in the country. They're adept at getting to the free throw line. They are also a senior-laden team with plenty of experience a year off a Final Four appearance, with seven upperclassmen to rely on.

The biggest weakness with West Virginia is that they're not a really good shooting team. They also give up a lot of offensive rebounds, and both of their weaknesses were on display against Clemson early before the Tigers wore out and WVU wore them down.

Prediction: It'd be hard not to take West Virginia after the way Kentucky played against Princeton. As for those thinking about grudge match...most of the Kentucky players are gone from that team, so West Virginia's players should actually have more familiarity with them than the other way around.

That being said...Kentucky. The Wildcats should have the advantage in the two crucial categories--rebounding and shooting. Playing at a slow tempo again will probably be infuriating, but the Wildcats have probably been preparing all week for a potential rematch with the Mountaineers, and I wouldn't be surprised if they look much better on Saturday.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds Results: Bracket Predictions For The Money

We’re halfway through day one of the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament and as expected we’ve had some big upsets and thrilling buzzer-beater victories. We’ve also had some of the beatdowns that have become typical of some of the bigger mismatches. We made some predictions earlier today based on the betting odds and we’ve had a mixed result thus far.

No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson – The Mountaineers were 2 1/2 point favorites this morning and I thought the Mountaineers would have a battle but pull away late to cover. They were battling early but West Virginia seemed in control for a big chunk of the second half. They covered with an eight point victory, so even though I was a bit off in how they got there, I won some money anyway (or would have had I bet if that were legal!)

No. 8 Butler vs. No. 9 Old DominionODU was the nine seed but emerged as a slim favorite heading into the game. This contest provided our first buzzer-beater of the tournament as Butler battled a game Monarchs squad down to the wire. I lost on this one as ODU could not get the cover or even the victory.

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Morehead State – Louisville was a sizable favorite but a late game three by Morehead State gave the Eagles the stunning upset. I predicted a close game that the Cardinals would eventually pull out but MSU would cover. Given that I took the Eagles to cover that’s at least a victory for me. If I had had any balls I would have taken MSU money-line.

No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Penn State – Temple was a slim two point favorite and yet another buzzer-beater, this time by the Owls gives us our first push of the day. When it comes to gambling, a push is a win unless you find yourself in many parlay situations.

No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Princeton – Kentucky was a 13 1/2 point favorite over the Princeton Tigers this morning. This was my biggest mess-up of the day as the Tigers gave the Wildcats all they could handle before Kentucky won on a late basket. The Wildcats did not look all that impressive and will have to bring their A-game if they want to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 32.

No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville – The Pitt Panthers were an 18 points favorite and I predicted a win by 22. This was my best performance as far as getting the cover AND the win (thus discounting my MSU prediction) as the Panthers won by 23. UNCA gave Pitt all it could handle early, but as is often the case, the number one seed pulled away strong in the second half and cruised to victory. Cash for me.

No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Richmond – Vanderbilt was a small favorite in this one but I had Richmond to cover and snag the upset. Although the Commodores had chances to build on a lead, the always tough Spiders climbed back on top and held on late to spring the 5-12 upset.

No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 15 Northern Colorado – The San Diego State Aztecs came into this game as 15 1/2 point favorites and my personal pick to win the national title. While Northern Colorado battled them into halftime, the Aztecs pulled away in the second half and cruised to a comfortable 18 point victory to get the cover. I actually expected a bigger score differential, but a cover is a cover is a cover.

Final Tally
For the first half of the first day I emerged 5-2-1 against the spread, with my two losses against the spread being Kentucky and Louisville, with Temple drawing a push. Given how crazy the NCAA tournament can be, I’ll take that kind of winning percentage every day of the week. If you’re just looking at straight-up predictions, not counting the spread, I was 6-2 as Kentucky and Temple swing into the win column and Morehead State swings into the loss column (covered but won when I picked Louisville). Not a bad first day here.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament, First Round Day One: Morehead State Upsets Louisville With Buzzer Beater Three-Pointer

The 2011 NCAA tournament is off to a fast start as the upsets and buzzer beaters are coming at a quick pace. This first day of the first round is not even half finished and we’ve had several buzzer beaters, or at least late second shots. The biggest of the day so far has to be Morehead State’s late three to defeat the Louisville Cardinals 62-61.

The Eagles trailed Louisville 61-59 with less than ten seconds to play and Demonte Harper dribbling out the clock near halfcourt. With eight seconds remaining, Harper started moving towards the three point line. He crossed over to drive the defender back just a step, which freed Harper up to pull up for a three at the three point line. The shot hit nothing but net as Bill Raftery went bananas. You can view video of the shot down below.

The victory is the first NCAA tournament victory for Morehead State since 1984 and advances them to a second round matchup with the winner of Richmond and Vanderbilt. The Spiders lead 64-63 in a back and forth affair that looks to be coming down to the wire. Follow all of our coverage in our 2011 NCAA Tournament stream.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament, First Round Day One: Butler Defeats Old Dominion With Buzzer Beater

We’re only halfway through day one of the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and the buzzer beaters are coming fast and furious. Some of these games aren’t quite victories AT the buzzer, but they’re last second shots that bring all sorts of drama.

In one of the first games this morning, the Butler Bulldogs got things going with a closing second shot to take down the slightly favored ninth seeded Old Dominion Monarchs. The teams were tied at 58 and Butler had the ball with the last few seconds ticking down. Butler’s Shawn Vanzant went in for a layup that was missed, followed by Andrew Smith getting an offensive board and missing. Fortunately for Butler, Matt Howard crashed the boards hard and got a final game-winning tip as time expired. Butler advances to face top seeded Pittsburgh who routed 16th seeded UNC-Asheville thanks to a strong second half run. Check out video below of the Butler buzzer-beater.

Continue

Gonzaga vs. St. John's, 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket: TV Schedule, Announcers, Preview

This is one of our late evening games of March Madness on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (click here for the full Round of 64 schedule with additional previews of other games). It’ll air at 6:45 PM PT/9:45 PM ET on CBS and will have the fantastic pairing of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery (ONIONS!!!)

#6 St. John’s Red Storm

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 47th best offense, 35th best defense, 143th fastest tempo (close to the middle of the pack). Middle of the pack offense (solid on two pointers, poor on three pointers) and fairly poor on defense, although 14th in the country in forcing turnovers. They are weak at getting to the free throw line and struggle in preventing rebounds at times.

St. John’s really struggles in three point defense and could face some trouble fro a Gonzaga squad that can hit the three. The biggest weakness though is the loss of D.J. Kennedy, who tore his ACL in the Big East tournament. Kennedy was their third leading scorer and their top rebounder.

#11 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 49th best offense, 29th best defense, upper third in the country in tempo. Great shooting offense (solid on threes, great on twos) and very solid defense (particularly against two pointers). They’re a great free throw shooting team and are generally quite effective on offense, but they can struggle with turnovers at times.

The biggest weakness with Gonzaga is defending the three. Of course St. John’s struggles with shooting the three so it might be a wash. Beyond that Gonzaga has been an overall surprisingly effective team in spite of their struggles at times this season

Prediction: When I first looked at the bracket I was set to go with the Red Storm in this game. However, upon further review Gonzaga might be a great buy right now. They’re 28th overall in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings with only Clemson and Belmont being further up with worse seeds. I actually think the Bulldogs could win this one with relative ease. Crazy things can happen in the tournament but now I’m thinking the Bulldogs are going to win.

Continue

March Madness Bracket Picks, East Regional: Syracuse Potential Sleeper For Ohio State?

Let's take a look at the key stats for each of the teams in the East regional that have a decent shot of making it to the Final Four.

#1 Ohio St. Buckeyes

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: Top offense in the country. Tenth best defense in the country. Pretty slow pace, but fourth best shooting team in the country and third best at shooting threes. Average field goal shooting defense, but the best in the country at keeping teams from going to the line (probably because most teams fall into too deep a hole to recover). They're great at holding onto the ball and pretty good at forcing turnovers. Great at grabbing defensive boards and decent at grabbing offensive boards.

The biggest weakness with Ohio State is that they only run six-seven deep, with a bench they rarely rely on. If anyone can get Ohio State's players into foul trouble and not settle for jump shots, they could be vulnerable. Also, outside of early victories over Florida and Florida State (both comfortable wins despite being on the road in both contests), they are not well-tested out of conference. Finally, they're a pretty young team, relying on two starting frosh to log big minutes in the NCAA tournament. 

Brief player synopsis

Jared Sullinger (6'9", 280 lb) has been a one man wrecking ball in the Big Ten. He gets a lot of shots inside and nails most of them, grabs boards, doesn't turn it over, goes to the foul line a lot. Dallas Lauderdale (who doesn't play as much, but is a big body at 6'8, 255 lb) also helps to clean up on the boards and can disrupt the offense with his blocking skills.

Aaron Craft (6'2', 195 lb) is the primary ball-handler and is good at distributing the ball, but he is prone to turning the ball over.

David Lighty (6'5", 220 lb) is good at grabbing steals and nailing outside shots, as is William Buford (6'5", 205 lb).  Jon Diebler (6'6", 205 lb) is perhaps the most efficient shooter in the country; although he doesn't take as as many shots as the other two wings, he's usually at least at .500 or above in his shooting numbers.

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 5.

 

#2 North Carolina Tar Heels

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 37th best offense in the country, 7th best defense, 21st fastest tempo. Pretty good at field goal defense (48th). They're second only to Ohio State in keeping their opponents from shooting a lot of free throws (although they also don't shoot that many themselves. Strong offensive rebounding team, decent defensive rebounding team.  Very good at preventing blocks on offense and getting blocks on defense.

The biggest weakness with UNC is that they're not a great shooting team, particularly at the line. They shoot a pedestrian 33 percent from beyond the arc and a horrid 66% from the charity stripe. They're also a young team, and have struggled to put together consistent efforts through the season.

Brief player synopsis

Harrison Barnes (6'8", 210 lb) takes most of the shots--he's a decent if not efficient scorer, although he's proven that he can take a lot of big shots and make them.

Tyler Zeller (7'0", 250 lb) is UNC's most efficient scorer and a pretty good offensive rebounder and blocker as well. He also gets to the foul line a lot.

John Henson (6'10", 200 lb) also is involved in plenty of possessions and is just as good a scorer as Zeller is from the field, plus he's proven he can rebound the ball fairly well. But he is disastrous at shooting free throws (47% from the line as opposed to 51% from the field).

Kendall Marshall (6'3", 186 lb) is the primary ball handler and has one of the best assist rates in the country, but his turnover rate is just as high. He's an average shooter (44% 2 point shooter, 37% 3 point shooter, 67% free throw shooter).

Dexter Strickland (6'3", 180 lb) is pretty good at getting to the line, but he shoots only 67% when he gets there.

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 69.

 

#3 Syracuse Orange

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 17th best offense, 16th best defense, an average tempo (174th). Pretty efficient scoring offense because of their ability to get two point buckets. They're great at locking down teams on defense with that nightmare zone defense. Also a great offensive rebounding squad and one of the best shot blocking and stealing teams in the country.

The biggest weakness with Syracuse is that they allow a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities. They are also a terrible free throw shooting team (although they hardly get to the line anyway for it to matter, keep that in mind when they're in a close game) and they rarely rely on anyone outside their starting five.

Brief player synopsis

Scoop Jardine (6'2", 190 lb) leads the charge with strong assist and steal rates.

Kris Joseph (6'7", 207 lb) is one of the team's best offensive threats (50% on two pointers, 37% on three pointers) and always manages to get to the free throw line (he's average when he gets there though, shooting only 70%). Also able to get steals.

Brandon Triche (6'4", 198 lb) is just as efficient at Joseph with two point baskets, but also shoots better from the free throw line.

Rick Jackson (6'9", 240 lb) is Syracuse's big man disrupter in that zone, and he does all the heavy rebounding. He also shoots 59% from the field, although he's not terribly good at the line (50%). Jackson also has one of the highest block rates in the country.

C.J. Fair (6'7", 200 lb) grabs offensive boards, blocks shots, and steals the ball a lot. Like almost everyone else on Syracuse's starting lineup, an excellent two point shooter.

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 31.

 

#4 Kentucky Wildcats

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 7th best offense, 22nd best defense, average tempo (164th). Great shooting offense and great shooting defense. Pretty good rebounding on both sides. Excellent at holding onto the ball, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense. Good at getting blocks.

The biggest weakness with Kentucky is that they're young, again. Famed procurer of one-and-done talent John Calipari had to replace his entire starting lineup, leaving him with three starting frosh carrying the load this season. Youth don't usually win national championships, no matter how talented their lineup is.

Player synopsis

Terrence Jones (6'8", 244 lb) is the team's most talented and NBA-ready player. He's good at grabbing rebounds on both sides of the floor, gets to the line extremely well, swats shots away for blocks, and does not lose the rock. His biggest weakness is his shooting--only a 66% free throw shooter and 30% from outside the arc.

Brandon Knight (6'3", 185 lb) logs a lot of minutes as the team's only true point guard. Good assist rate and a decent shooter (39% from behind the three point line, 48% from the two point line, 79% from the free throw stripe).

Josh Harrellson (6'10", 275 lb) is the team's biggest body, and helps clean up along with Jones on the defensive glass. Harrelson is also one of the best offensive rebounders in the country and is an extremely efficient shooter.

Doron Lamb (6'4", 195 lb) is the team's best shooter. 80% from the line, 52% on two ponters, 47% on three pointers. Deadly guy to leave alone.

Darius Miller (6'7", 228 lb) is the team's second best shooter. 85% from the line, 52% on two pointers, 46% on three pointers. Not much difference, eh?

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 30.

 

#5 West Virginia Mountaineers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 31st best offense, 29th best defense. Great at holding down the shooting numbers of other teams, particularly those who shoot three pointers. Great offensive rebounding team, one of the best in the country. They're adept at getting to the free throw line. They are also a senior-laden team with plenty of experience a year off a Final Four appearance, with seven upperclassmen to rely on.

The biggest weakness with West Virginia is that they're not a really good shooting team. They also give up a lot of offensive rebounds.

Player synopsis

Darryl Bryant (6'2", 205 lb) is the point guard with excellent assist totals. He gets to the free throw line often, negating some of his poor shooting numbers from the field. Joe Mazzulla (6'2", 200 lb) also has a high assist rate while getting to the foul line at an excellent pace.

Casey Mitchell (6'4", 220 lb) takes a great deal of West Virginia's shots despite only being on the floor for limited minutes. Cam Thoroughman (6'7", 235 lb) distributes the ball while at the same time getting plenty of offensive rebounds.

Deniz Kilicli (6'9", 270 lb),  Kevin Jones (6'8", 255 lb) and John Flowers (6'7", 215 lb) provide the offensive and overall rebounding punch. Kiliclii and Flowers are also the primary blockers, and Flowers and Jones are pretty good finishers inside.

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 373.

 

#6 Xavier Musketeers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 30th in offense, 61st in defense, slow tempo team (205th). One of the best two point shooting teams in the country and one of the best two point shooting defenses in the country, very adept at handling the ball, very strong at getting to the line and making their free throws, very good defensive rebounding team. Xavier is one of the tallest teams in the country with regards to effective height.

Weaknesses with Xavier include no outside shooting (only a third of their three pointers go in) and average three point defense. Also a very thin team outside of their starting five.

Player synopsis

Tu Holloway (6'0", 185 lb) logs nearly 38 minutes a game and is still a very offensively efficient player. He shoots the ball well, distributes it at a high rate and also gets to the free throw line at an impressive rate (87% FT shooter, 49% on two point field goals, 35% on three point field goals).

Mark Lyons (6'1", 195 lb) plays about 35 minutes a game, but doesn't really have the same shooting prowess as Holloway. He can score, but he's probably the weak link on offense.

Jamel McLean (6'8", 235 lb) & Kenny Frease (7'0", 265 lb) are their big bodies, and are very tough to handle on the boards. McLean specializes in grabbing offensive rebounds and getting to the line, Frease takes the defensive glass. Both are proficient blockers as well.

Dante Jackson (6'5", 195 lb). He plays a lot, but for a wing player he's not very good at scoring. Not as bad as Lyons, but the lack of production outside from the two of them keep Xavier opponents from respecting the outside shots.

Odds to win national championship: 1 out of 1167

 

#7 Washington Huskies

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 9th best offense in the country, 42nd best defense, 16th fastest tempo in the country. Efficient shooting team, particularly on the inside, good at ball control and not turning it over, strong offensive rebounding unit. Great at blocking shots and avoiding getting their own shots blocked. They are also a very deep team, with nine rotation players likely to suit up every game. A very dangerous team when their offense gets going.

Weaknesses with Washington are not being able to earn free points, or stop the other team from earning them. Thanks to the design of Lorenzo Romar's offense, Washington generally is a pull-up jump shooting team that doesn't run much set offense. The Huskies rarely get to the line, and when they do they stink at making those free points. Conversely, the Huskies put their opponents at the line way too often, meaning teams can hang around with Washington if they slow the pace down.

Player synopsis

Isaiah Thomas (5'8", 185 lb) is the engine that makes Washington go. He's a very efficient player (36% three point shooter, 52% two point shooter, 71% free throw shooter), and is able to get to the line and distribute the ball while keeping his turnover levels down.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning (6'9", 240 lb) has complemented Thomas well inside as Washington's primary big man. He isn't a great foul shooter even though he can get to the line (him and Thomas seem to be the only two guys willing to get there), but he's 55% from the field and is a potent rebounder on both sides of the court and can block shot.

Justin Holiday (6'6", 180 lb) is a pretty good athlete (as shown by his blocking ability), and is a pretty good shooter.

Venoy Overton (5'11", 185 lb) is a solid secondary ball-handler who is also a menace to deal with on the defensive side of the ball.

Aziz N'Diaye (7'0", 260 lb) is a big body who still is ineffective offensively. He can grab rebounds and swat away shots though.

Darnell Gant (6'8", 225 lb) could probably start for most Pac-10 teams because of his ability to crash the boards and knock shots away. He's part of a logjam after the big three for Washington.

C.J. Wilcox (6'5", 180 lb) and Scott Suggs (6'6", 185 lb) are starting to play more, and they're both very efficient in running the offense and nailing outside shots.

Odds to win national championship: 1 out of 104.

 

#8 George Mason Patriots

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 29th best offense, 45th best defense, average tempo team. Excellent shooting, particularly at the three point line (but not too shabby at the two either). Good shooting defense as well, almost as good at defending behind the arc as they are at converting from it. Very good at holding onto the ball. Generally good at keeping teams off the line and from grabbing offensive rebounds.

The biggest weakness for George Mason is the fact that they're playing in the deadly #8/9 slot. Kiss of death for a good-executing team. They're an average free throw shooting team as well.

Player synopsis

Cam Long (6'4", 187 lb): Great offensive player who doesn't take many bad shots (43% from downtown, 51% on two pointers, 76% on free throws). Gets steals too and holds onto the ball.

Ryan Pearson (6'6", 230 lb): Holds onto the ball and is the best rebounder (although it feels more like George Mason primarily team rebounds rather than having anyone who specializes at it). Gets to the line the most of anyone and is a decent 70% when he gets there.

Luke Hancock (6'5", 189 lb): Unusual to see a 6'5" guy be a primary ball-handler, but Hancock fills the job pretty well (although he does turn it over a bit too much). Still, he's shooting 81% from the line, 55% from the two point line and 34% from beyond the arc.

Andre Cornelius (5'10", 172 lb): The team's smallest player doesn't really make many passes, but he can shoot effectively (49% on two pointers, 39% on three pointers, 83% on free throws). You're starting to see a recurring trend of a team that can shoot very well in all categories.

Mike Morrison (6'9", 222 lb): Probably the biggest dose of athleticism GMU has, as he's nationally ranked in both rebounding categories and blocks

Isaiah Tate (6'4", 214 lb): Sixth man for GMU is actually their second best three point shooter at 42%.

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 890.

 

#9 Villanova Wildcats

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 23rd best offense, 58th best defense, average tempo. Decent shooting defense (particularly guarding the three point line). Thanks to good height, they're pretty good at getting second chance opportunities and keeping opponents off the board. Good at getting to the line, and an excellent free throw shooting team when they get there.

Weaknesses for Villanova include average shooting offense. They're middle of the pack hitting their threes and their twos. They also get a lot of their shots blocked and their bench sees very limited action, which means we'll be seeing a lot of the starting five.

Player synopsis

Corey Fisher (6'1", 200 lb) is one of two primary ball-handlers for the Wildcats, as Villanova favors a lineup that has two guys equally adept at passing at the guard position. Fisher is not only good at passing the ball, but he also doesn't turnover the ball either. He also gets to the line a lot and nails 78% of them; it's too bad he has trouble shooting (48% from two point land, 33% from behind the three point line).

Maalik Wayns (6'1", 185 lb) can pass the ball just as well as Fisher, although he has trouble holding onto it just as much. He's even more adept at getting to the free throw line, which is critical since he's an excellent free throw shooter at 82%. Unfortunately, he's an even worse shooter than Fisher (47% from two point land, 27% from three point land).

Mouphtaou Yarou (6'10", 250 lb) is the team's big rebounder on both sides of the court--Antonio Pena (6'8", 235 lb) is also fairly good at getting on the defensive glass--and also is good at getting blocks.

Corey Stokes (6'5", 220 lb) likes making shots. All sorts of shots. 89% free throw shooter, 46% two point shooter, 43% three point shooter. Yikes. If Fisher and Wayns could get their own things going...

Odds to win national championship: 1 in 963.

 

Round of 64 predictions

#1 Ohio St. over #16 UT San Antonio

#2 North Carolina over #15 Long Island

#3 Syracuse over #14 Indiana St.

#4 Kentucky over #13 Princeton

#5 West Virginia over #12 Clemson

#11 Marquette over #6 Xavier

#7 Washington over #10 Georgia

#8 George Mason over #9 Villanova

 

Round of 32 predictions

#1 Ohio St. over #8 George Mason

#2 North Carolina over #7 Washington

#3 Syracuse over #11 Marquette

#4 Kentucky over #5 West Virginia

 

Sweet 16

#1 Ohio State over #4 Kentucky

#3 Syracuse over #2 North Carolina

 

Elite 8

#3 Syracuse over #1 Ohio State

Continue

NCAA Bracket Picks, Southeast Regional: Pittsburgh Panthers Final Four Favorite

Round of 64

#1 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #16 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs: Pitt. I hope I don't have to justify this one.

#2 Florida Gators vs. #15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos: One of the ingredients for a big-time upset is rebounding, and UCSB isn't very good at that. Florida.

#3 BYU Cougars vs. #14 Wofford TerriersSee here for more info on this game. Yeah, BYU is weaker without Brandon Davies, but they're not that weak. BYU.

#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 Belmont BruinsSee here for more info on this game. Wisconsin by a smidge.

#5 Kansas St. Wildcats vs. #12 Utah St. Aggies: Kansas State grabs offensive rebounds. Utah State grabs defensive rebounds. Kansas State can't hold onto the ball. Utah State can't take it away from them. The Wildcats can't shoot though. The Aggies can, at least a little bit better than KSU. Utah State was seeded way too low here.

#6 St. John's Red Storm vs. #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs: These are practically identical teams...except in one facet. Neither side can defend threes. Only Gonzaga can shoot them. Gonzaga.

#7 UCLA Bruins vs. #10 Michigan St. Spartans: I'm a Pac-10 follower, and UCLA is just a step slower than  Michigan State. UCLA shoots threes as badly as Sparty defends them, Michigan State crashes the glass and should keep UCLA off of it. The Bruins are also more turnover prone, which doesn't help their cause. Michigan St.

#8 Butler Bulldogs vs. #9 Old Dominion Monarchs: See here for more info on this game.  Slight lean to Old Dominion.

 

Round of 32

#1 Pitt vs. #9 Old Dominion: A battle of the two best offensive rebounding teams in the country! And also one of the best three point shooting teams against one of the worst three point shooting defenses. Blowout city. Pitt.

#2 Florida vs. #10 Michigan St.: The Gators are a weak two seed, but they've been handled a gift bracket to the Sweet 16. Too bad. Florida.

#3 BYU vs. #11 Gonzaga:  Don't think there isn't serious upset potential brewing here. These are both pretty even teams with Freddette gone. Still, think long and hard about pulling Gonzaga, even with their great two point offense and defense. all the way into the Sweet 16.

I won't. Gonzaga.

#4 Wisconsin vs. #12 Utah St.: This is a Sweet 16 matchup coming to us a round early. Wisconsin they should have an edge because they hold onto the ball and won't lose it back to the Aggies, which should allow them to run their offense at Wisconsin's pace. Both teams are defensive rebounding stalwarts. I'm going with Utah State in the upset here; they're solid in many categories, and can play defense at the same pace that Wisconsin plays offense. Perfect matchup for the Aggies.

 

Sweet 16

#1 Pitt vs. #12 Utah St.:  This is not a perfect matchup for the Aggies, since Pitt is pretty much a better version of them.

#2 Florida vs. #11 Gonzaga: You know the Bulldogs haven't been to the Elite 8 since 2000? Time to change that by taking advantage of one of the weakest bottom halves of a bracket anyone has ever seen. Bulldogs.

 

Elite 8

#1 Pitt vs. #11 Gonzaga: It really didn't matter who was going in the second slot--Pitt was miles better than any of the other teams in the bracket, and this is the year they're headed to the Final Four.

Continue

Bracket Picks, Southeast Regional: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Belmont Bruins

This is one of the night matchups on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA tournament (click here for the schedule). It'll air on truTV at 4:27 PM PT/7:27 PM ET. Here's a brief rundown of Thursday's game.

#4 Wisconsin Badgers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 2nd best offense in the country, 64th best defense; one of the slowest teams as well. Highest free throw shooting percentage in the nation, best at ball handling and not turning over the ball. Great defensive rebounding squad as well.

The biggest weakness of Wisconsin is they don't force turnovers and they're a poor three point shooting defense. Also, for being one of the best free throw shooting teams, the Badgers barely manage to get to the line.

#13 Belmont Bruins

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 31st best offense, 18th best defense; one of the fastest teams in the country. Great offensive rebounding ability as well.

The biggest weakness of Belmont is they allow teams to get to the free throw line a lot and they get a lot of their shots blocked and stolen. Average defensive rebounding and ball-handling as well.

Prediction: This is a fascinating matchup that could really end up deciding who wins or loses a lot of their brackets, because Wisconsin has the skills to go deep; Belmont does not. However, both teams complement each other very well, and it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top.

I lean Wisconsin because the Bruins haven't played a great team in months, and their ability to ball handle overcomes Belmont's ability to force turnovers. Plus Belmont does foul a lot, and Wisky is the best free throw shooting team in the nation.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Picks, Southwest Regional: Kansas Jayhawks To The Final Four

Round of 64

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #16 Boston Terriers: Boston has a pretty good defense and could stymie Kansas for awhile. Unfortunately, they can't really shoot that well inside, and the Jayhawks have one of the best three point shooting defenses in the country outside. Kansas.

#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #15 Akron Zips: Like Boston, Akron isn't a bad defensive unit. But they don't get easy buckets and they probably won't get to the free throw line much. This could be a competitive game for awhile, but Akron simply isn't efficient enough on either side to compete for 40. Notre Dame.

#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #14 St. Peter's Peacocks: The trend of great mid-major defenses culminates with St. Peter's, who have proven they're pesky enough to keep teams down off their offensive highs. Unfortunately, they combine this great defense with perhaps the worst offense in the tournament. Bad shooting, bad free throws, bad turnovers, everything. Worse for them, Purdue is great at both offense and defense. Purdue.

#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #13 Morehead St. Eagles: See here. Louisville.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #12 Richmond Spiders: See here. Toss-up game, slight lean Richmond.

#6 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #11 VCU Rams: VCU might have proven they could beat a depleted USC team, but the only way they beat Georgetown is by forcing turnovers ad infinitum. Georgetown is one of the best shooting teams in the country and they won't fall apart here.

#7 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #10 Florida St. Seminoles: They're a lot of trendy ten seeds to pick, but I like Florida State's killer second ranked national defense. All but one of FSU's losses have come to top 50 teams, and Texas A&M is straddling that border. The only issue with going with the Seminoles is that the Aggies are a much better offensive team, but they are turnover and block-prone, which is why Florida State seems like the pick here.

#8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs. #9 Illinois Fighting Illini: UNLV got royally screwed here, and they end up drawing a pretty good Illinois team to boot. I guess I lean Illinois; they have a really good three point defense to counter UNLV's awful three point offense (not that they take many, but it could really make it tough for the Rebels to get good looks).

Round of 32

#1 Kansas vs. #9 Illinois:  This could be a very competitive game. Although Kansas should end up winning, Illinois has played all their top ten foes (Texas, Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio St.) fairly close to the vest. But there's a reason Illinois's a nine seed--they only went 2-6 against such competition, and five straight losses. Still, the Jayhawks best be wary.

#2 Notre Dame vs. #10 Florida State: The Seminoles are an oddity in that they're a great defensive team, yet they like to pick up the pace offensively. The Irish DO have the horses offensively to handle FSU's defense, and their defense should be just good enough to throttle a lackluster Seminole offense for Notre Dame to move through.

#3 Purdue vs. #6 Georgetown: The Boilermakers are just a better team on both sides of the ball, and match Georgetown fairly well. Turnovers could be the difference, as the Hoyas lose the ball a lot and can't force turnovers, while Purdue can. Purdue.

#4 Louisville vs. #12 Richmond: If you want a Cinderella team to hitch your wagon to, it's Richmond. And they are the worst possible matchup for Louisville--careful at holding onto the ball, their weaknesses cancel out Louisville's, and they're a great shooting team that plays at a slow pace. Richmond. (It's odd to say, but Louisville would much rather play Vanderbilt.)

Sweet 16

#1 Kansas vs. #12 Richmond: The Jayhawks aren't about to get upset by Cinderella two years in a row. Their three point shooting defense should hold down the Spiders, and their rebounding ability should be a distinct advantage. Kansas.

#2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Purdue: The Irish might be great offensively, but their defense has been a weak spot and they can't seem to get pressure on the ball consistently. Purdue is just too solid all-around.

Elite 8

#1 Kansas vs. #3 Purdue: The Boilermakers definitely have the ability to beat Kansas. Will they? They're probably a step or two behind, but I would like their chances more if they were playing with a full team. There's a reason people were griping about the Southwest. Sometimes you've just got to play it safe. Kansas.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Betting Odds: First Round Bracket Predictions For The Money

Now that the additional "play-in games" are finished, we now get to the main course of the first week: the Thursday and Friday first round matchups. We've got a mix of huge and slim favorites in the 2011 NCAA Tournament betting odds and I thought I'd look at the spreads and offer up some of my own predictions based on the odds. The folks at Odds Shark have the odds for today's games for your "entertainment." Just to warn folks: Given my past history with sports betting, you might be smart to take the opposite of what I suggest here. Much of this is a gut feeling so take it with a grain of salt.

No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson - The Mountaineers are sitting as 2 1/2 point favorites against a Clemson team that clobbered the UAB Blazers. In my bracket I was strongly considering taking the Tigers to upset West Virginia, but I decided against it. My concern is over-valuing Clemson after a win against a less than stellar opponent. I think this ends up being a tight game, but I think West Virginia pulls away courtesy of late free throws, winning by five or six points.

No. 8 Butler vs. No. 9 Old Dominion - Old Dominion is actually sitting as a 2 1/2 point favorite at this point. The 8/9 game is always a tough one to figure out and it usually comes down to a flip of the coin. Public sentiment appears to be against the defending national runner up Butler Bulldogs. I've often heard you should not trust public sentiment in gambling, but I have to go with ODU to cover, in part because I think they're better and in part because I went to American University when they were in the same conference as ODU. Can you see the excellent analysis there?

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Morehead State - Louisville is ranging from an eight to ten point favorite. I'll be honest I don't know enough about Morehead State other than the fact that I recall they have a crazy solid rebounder. I'm not all that sold on Pitino's Cardinals. I think Louisville wins this game but barely escapes an upset that has the announcers panting at the end of a thriller. Maybe even Morehead State getting a crack at a last second shot to win or tie the game.

No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Penn State - The Temple Owls are two points favorites over the Penn State Nittany Lions. PSU made a brilliant run to the Big Ten final, only to come up short against Ohio State (who won me $200 in a Sunday parlay). I like Temple in this one to cover in what should be an incredibly dull game.

No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Princeton - Kentucky is a 13 1/2 point favorite over the Princeton Tigers. While history may not repeat itself, the Princeton Tigers have claimed their share of upsets. However, after seeing Kentucky dismantle Florida on Sunday I'm taking Kentucky and the points as I think they roll Princeton in the second half.

No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville - The Pitt Panthers are an 18 point favorite. Everybody loves seeing the underdog 16 seed hang close and have the other channels switch over to that game. And I actually think of the four number ones, Pittsburgh is the most vulnerable. They won't lose in the first round, but one has to wonder if that vulnerability will be exposed at least a little bit today. I think Pitt pulls away at some point and wins by 22 or so.

No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Richmond - The Commodores are two to three point favorites in a game everybody is thinking will be an upset. The Spiders have a history of upsets, but more importantly they appear to be a bit underseeded coming off their run to the Atlantic-10 title. The SEC isn't bad but it's not exactly dominant this year. I have Richmond upsetting the Commodores in my bracket, so I'll put my money on them to cover.

No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 15 Northern Colorado - The San Diego State Aztecs are 15 1/2 point favorites and they're also my pick to win the entire tournament. I grabbed them at 18/1, as well as 7/2 to get out of the West region. They are uber-physical inside and I think they've got a complete game. For this first game, I think they run Northern Colorado out of the building with a mix of fast breaks and inside bullying.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 Santa Barbara - The Gators are 13 point favorites over the Gauchos. As a UNLV fan UCSB became a stubborn rival for me back in the Big West days. I think Florida is in good shape to make a strong run through the tournament, but I could see UCSB giving them some early trouble. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a Florida win but not a cover. I'm thinking a 10 or 11 point win courtesy of late free throws, but UCSB doesn't let them off the hook without making them work.

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 14 Wofford - The BYU Cougars are 8 1/2 point favorites. The loss of Brandon Davies has hurt them on the interior, but they still have Jimmer Fredette jacking up shots. I think they get enough from Jimmer to cover this game, but physical teams will have their way with the Cougars.

No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 14 Bucknell - UConn is favored by 13 points in a game they would normally win running away. However, one has to wonder how exhausted their five wins in five days has left them. This could be as big a hurdle in the NCAA Tournament as any one or two seed. I think UConn has to come out strong and take an early lead. I don't expect them to fall behind to Bucknell, but if the Bison grabbed an early lead, the exhaustion might catch up with them. I think you don't go against a streaking team but I also think Bucknell will keep this close. I think UConn wins but Bucknell covers.

No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Belmont - Wisconsin sits as a five to six point favorite. Initially I thought this was too low, but Ken Pomery rates Belmont at No. 18 (he has Wisconsin at 9). I think this could end with an exciting finish, particularly given Wisconsin's inability to score for stretches at a time. Count me in for Belmont to cover but lose a tight one.

No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan State - The Spartans have actually emerged as a two point favorite against the higher seeded Bruins. I'm not particularly sold on Michigan State and would take UCLA to cover, even if the Bruins were the one's favored by a couple points.

No. 6 St. John's vs. No. 11 Gonzaga - St. John's is a 1 1/2 point favorite as everyone's favorite old Cinderella is back in a position to make some noise. I guess I'll have to be the hater that puts a stop to Cinderella. Gonzaga was hot late so that might indicate sticking with the hot team, but I think St. John's has what it takes to win this game. And when you get down to a 1 1/2 point line, it's close enough to a pick 'em for me. Of course this is where a buzzer beater would kick me in the butt. Either way I'm taking the Red Storm to cover.

No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 11 Missouri - The Bearcats are a one point favorite over the Tigers. I can honestly say I know nothing about either of these teams and have not seen either play a single game. That means I should either stay away from betting on this or go with chalk and the Cincy cover. I'll go with the latter since it's too easy to NOT bet on the game.

No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Utah State - K-State is favored by 2 1/2 points in a game that is another upset special. Folks are jumping all over Utah State to win this game. The Aggies rolled through the WAC and finished 17th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. My problem with all this is that aside from a win over St. Mary's they really haven't beaten anybody of real significance. How am I supposed to bet on them? I actually have Utah State getting the upset in a bracket of mine, so I suppose that goes against my thoughts. What do I really know at this point? I might as well stick with my gut and the 

Continue

March Madness Tournament Bracket Predictions, Southeast Regional: BYU Cougars vs. Wofford Terrirers

This is the tenth game of March Madness on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It'll air at 4:15 PM PT/7:15 PM ET on CBS (click here for the full Round of 64 schedule with additional previews of other games). Here's a brief look at both teams.

#3 BYU Cougars

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 8th best offense, 38th best defense, up-pace tempo (23rd fastest in the country); Efficient shooting offense and defense. Great at holding onto the ball. Excellent free throw shooting team. Solid at defensive rebounding and forcing other teams into taking jump shots.

The biggest weakness with BYU is their over-reliance on Jimmer Fredette. He might be one of the best players in the country, but if a team can lock him down defensively they could be in trouble. Not sure if it's coming here though. Also not great at offensive rebounding.

#14 Wofford Terriers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 42nd best offense, 192nd best defense, slow team in general. Good at shooting (particularly from behind the arc), at getting offensive rebounds, at maintaining possession.

The biggest weakness with Wofford is defense. They are not a good defensive team, giving up way too many trips to the free throw line, they don't get a lot of defensive rebounds, and they are below average in letting teams shoot on them. 

Prediction: Could take awhile, but BYU should eventually roll.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Predictions 2011, Southwest Regional: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Richmond Spiders

This is the seventh game of March Madness on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (click here for the full Round of 64 schedule with additional previews of other games). It'll air at 1:10 PM PT/4:10 PM ET on TBS.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 13th best offense, 73rd best defense, 113th fastest tempo (a little speedy, but not too speedy). Good shooting offense  (particularly on two pointers and three pointers) and defense (particularly inside the three point line). Great at getting to the foul line and forcing other teams off of it. 

The biggest weakness with Vanderbilt is average rebounding. They are also adept at getting shots blocked and passes stolen. 

#12 Richmond Spiders

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 48th best offense, 50th best defense, glacial tempo (slow team). Great shooting offense (particularly on three pointers) and defense (particularly on three pointers). Not a terrible two point shooting team. Also good at holding onto the ball.

The biggest weakness with Richmond is rebounding. One of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country (although some of that probably has to do with their excellent shooting), and even worse at getting to the free throw line (some of that probably has to do with their reliance on three point shots).

Prediction:  If you like upsets, this is probably one of your best bets. What Vanderbilt is best at (shooting offense & defense), Richmond is better at. The Spiders also will do their best to slow the game down and play long possessions, which should favor their three point defense. This should be one of those wire-to-wire contests that Vanderbilt will have all sorts of trouble winning. (If you're gambling, bet for Richmond to cover is what I'm saying).

Continue

NCAA Tournament TV Schedule, West Coast: Round Of 64 Set With VCU Beating USC

The Va. Commonwealth Rams completely stymied the USC Trojans in the final of the First Four matchups, as VCU used their amazing defense to totally shut down USC. VCU's zone completely mystified USC, as they could barely find any baskets down the stretch and were totally suffocated in the second half. VCU also got almost everyone for USC into foul trouble, as Nikola Vucevic, Marcus Simmons and Jio Fontan all left the game with five fouls.

VCU now moves onto the second round to take on a Georgetown Hoyas team they feel they matchup with real well. Here is the schedule for the next two days of college basketball.

Round of 64: March 17 (Thursday). All times are Pacific Time. Games with a (*) are approximate start times dependent on the finish of the previous game on the network.

Round of 64: March 18 (Friday)

Continue

NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions 2011, East Regional: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Princeton Tigers

This is the fifth game of March Madness on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It'll air at 2:45 PM ET/11:45 AM PT on CBS. Here's a brief look at both teams.

#4 Kentucky Wildcats

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 7th best offense, 22nd best defense, average tempo (164th). Great shooting offense and great shooting defense. Pretty good rebounding on both sides. Excellent at holding onto the ball, excellent three point shooting offense and strong two point shooting defense. Good at getting blocks.

The biggest weakness with Kentucky is that they're young, again. Famed procurer of one-and-done talent John Calipari had to replace his entire starting lineup, leaving him with three starting frosh carrying the load this season. Youth don't usually win national championships, no matter how talented their lineup is.

#13 Princeton Tigers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 106th best offense, 82nd best defense, slow tempo (284th). Efficient shooting team (top 50 in three point shooting, top 55 in free throw shooting, top 75 in three point shooting), and goes all out on the defensive glass (sixth best in the nation). They're also a fairly tall team, although not very skilled.

The biggest weakness with Princeton is they're usually a one and done team (no offensive rebounds). They also get a lot of shots blocked and struggle to force turnovers. In their one contest with elite competition (Duke), they lost by 37. And worst of all, they have no depth to counter Kentucky's athleticism.

Prediction: Kentucky blowout. They should have ample opportunities to grab offensive rebounds, and their ability to block shots will make it tough for Princeton to get opportunities inside. Athleticism should rule this one.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions, West Regional: Temple Owls vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

This is the fourth game of March Madness on Thursday of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It'll air at 2:10 PM ET/11:10 AM PT on TNT. Here's a brief look at both teams.

#7 Temple Owls

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 53rd best offense, 36th best defense. Modestly slow team. Doesn't turnover the ball, average shooting squad, but better at holding other teams down (particularly with regards to two pointers). Strong defensive rebounding team, and really good at keeping teams off the free throw line.

The weaknesses for Temple are their pedestrian three point shooting defense and average shooting offense (ranked in the 100s in three point field goal percentage, two point field goal percentage, and free throw percentage).

#10 Penn St. Nittany Lions

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 34th best offense, 59th best defense. One of the slowest teams in the country. Very good at holding onto the basketball, skilled at shooting free throws and hitting two point shots. Also good defensive rebounding squad and keeping teams off the line.

The weaknesses for Penn St. are many. They're a poor shooting defensive team, particularly from behind the three point line (giving up 37%). They also are a good free throw shooting team but rarely get to the line. They also can't shoot threes (which could really come in handy in this one).

Prediction: Temple pulls away late. The Owls will neutralize Penn State's free throw shooting ability and should take advantage of their pretty bad shooting defense while stifling them on their two point field goals. Temple is also well-suited for Penn State's grind it out playing style.

Continue

Bracket Predictions, Southwest Regional: Louisville Cardinals vs. Morehead St. Eagles

This is the third game of Thursday's March Madness schedule. Time is at 1:40 PM ET/10:40 AM PT on TBS. Here's our abbreviated breakdown.

#4 Louisville Cardinals

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 39th best offense, 5th best defense. Average tempo. Good shooting offense (particularly with two point field goals), great shooting defense (especially on the outside). Forces a lot of turnovers (as is common with a Rick Pitino team), one of the best steal percentages and block percentages on defense.

The biggest weakness with Louisville is they never, ever, ever get to the free throw line. Which might not be the worst thing, since they're not very good when they get there.  They're also not a great rebounding team.


#13 Morehead St. Eagles

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 109th best offense, 89th best defense. Slow tempo. Decent shooting offense, particularly on two point field goals, and pretty good two point defense too. They get to the line frequently and they are a great rebounding team. Excellent at forcing turnovers too.

The biggest weakness with Morehead State is they can't hold onto the ball. One of the worst teams in the country at turnover %. They also are patently bad at three point defnese.

Prediction: Louisville rout. Turnovers should make all the difference as Morehead State will struggle with the Cardinals press defense as the game wears on. Unless Morehead is able to break that press consistently, hard to see them pulling the upset unless they absolutely wipe out Louisville on the glass.

Continue

March Madness Predictions, 2011 Southeast Regional: Butler Bulldogs vs. Old Dominion Monarchs

This is the second game of Thursday's March Madness schedule. Time is at 12:40 PM ET/9:40 AM PT on truTV. Here's our brief breakdown.

#8 Butler Bulldogs

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 40th best offense, 76th best defense, very slow team (277th). Very good at holding onto the ball and getting defensive rebounds. Solid at shooting, mostly from behind the arc and from the free throw line.

The biggest weakness with Butler is that they have trouble stopping teams with size (a below average two point field goal defense team). They're also not they're great at forcing turnovers and they allow other teams to get to the line.

#9 Old Dominion Monarchs

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy
: 69th best offense, 49th best defense, glacially slow team (332nd). One of the best rebounding teams in the country--they're the best offensive rebounding team in the tournament and have a great defensive rebounding squad. They also keep teams off the foul line. They're pretty good at guarding twos.

The biggest weakness with Old Dominion is they can't shoot threes and can't guard threes. They also turn the ball over a lot and are terrible at the free throw line.

Prediction: Tossup. Old Dominion's going to crash the boards and Butler's going to rain threes. I'll lean Old Dominion, barely. Another fun one to start March Madness.

Continue

NCAA Bracket Predictions, 2011 East Regional: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Clemson Tigers

This is the first game of Thursday's March Madness schedule. Time is at 12:15 PM ET/9:15 AM PT on CBS. Here's our brief breakdown.

#5 West Virginia Mountaineers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 31st best offense, 29th best defense. Great at holding down the shooting numbers of other teams, particularly those who shoot three pointers. Great offensive rebounding team, one of the best in the country. They're adept at getting to the free throw line. They are also a senior-laden team with plenty of experience a year off a Final Four appearance, with seven upperclassmen to rely on.

The biggest weakness with West Virginia is that they're not a really good shooting team. They also give up a lot of offensive rebounds.

#12 Clemson Tigers

Dossier courtesy of Pomeroy: 77th best offense, 9th best defense. Good at taking away the ball, keeping buckets out of the basket, taking the ball away, guarding outside and inside. Their defense is generally good enough to beat teams that struggle offensively.

The biggest weakness with Clemson is their offense. Not a good sign if your offense is the thing that's holding you back.

Prediction: Tossup, with a slight lean to West Virginia. Clemson's defense is good enough that they could disrupt West Virginia's offense, but West Virginia's defense is no easy sledding either, and Clemson's offense is much worse than WVU's.  Worst comes to worse, the Mountaineers could get to the line to get their points, because Clemson would not be good at stopping them. Best comes to best, the first game of the madcap Thursday schedule could go to the wire.

Continue

2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: UC-Santa Barbara, UCLA Among Teams With Bay Area Natives

The 2011 NCAA basketball tournament is officially underway and the Bay Area is more or less absent from the proceedings. All the Bay Area basketball teams failed to make this year’s NCAA tournament, ending up in the NIT, CBI and CIT postseason tournaments. As the Bay Area Sports Guy pointed out, Bay Area college basketball finds itself in quite the slump right now.

Fortunately we do have another angle related to the Bay Area: players! California produces a large number of quality basketball players and a run through the 68 tournament teams reveals several that call the Bay Area home. Of course, even in that contingent the number is not that large. As the NCAA tournament proceeds, we have ten college basketball players that are listed at ESPN.com as having a hometown in the Greater Bay Area (reaching out to Sacramento and Stockton). Here is a rundown of those players, their hometown, and their college:

UC-Santa Barbara
Justin Joyner, Antioch
Will Brew, Oakland
James Nunnally, Stockton
Lucas Devenny, Santa Rosa

UCLA
Brendan Lane, Rocklin
Reeves Nelson, Modesto

San Diego State
Chase Tapley, Sacramento

Princeton
Dan Mavraides, San Mateo

Louisville
Terrence Jennings, Sacramento

Bucknell
Enoch Andoh, San Jose

Coincidentally enough, all these players will be playing tomorrow. We’ll provide updates on how their respective teams perform and also their own individual performances. Of those teams, San Diego State, Louisville, and UCLA would appear to have the best chances of advancing.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Odds, Play-In Games: Clemson, UNC-Asheville Favored Today

The 2011 NCAA Tournament gets underway today and tomorrow with three separate play-in games. The traditional 16 vs. 16 play-in game features UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock. Today we also get the first of two play-in games that are part of the “First Four.” Today’s matchup features No. 12 UAB and No. 12 Clemson. Both matchups will take place in Dayton, Ohio and we’ve got some early tournament odds for you.

The 16 vs. 16 play-in games feature the annual patsies that advance to face the top number one seeds. The winner of UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock will advance to face Pittsburgh on Thursday in Washington, DC. As of this post UNCA is approximately a 3 1/2 point favorite with the spread swinging as far as 4 1/2. Thus far this season UNC-Asheville has only been available for wager four times and is 3-1 against the spread. Arkansas-Little Rock is 13-14 against the spread according to Odds Shark.

In tonight’s 12 vs. 12 matchup, the Clemson Tigers are anywhere from a 4 1/2 to 5 point favorite against the UAB Blazers. The Tigers are 13-13-2 against the spread while the Blazers are 17-11-1. The winner of this matchup will advance to face the fifth seeded West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday in Tampa.

We’ll be back tomorrow with odds for Texas-San Antonio vs. Alabama State and USC vs. VCU.

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011 First Four Preview: Clemson Tigers vs. UAB Blazers

The first big matchup of the 2011 NCAA tournament gets going tonight when the Clemson Tigers and the UAB Blazers play each other tonight at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on TruTv. Let's take a look at each of the two teams and how they matchup against each other, thanks to Ken Pomeroy's excellent stats (also, click here for the Clemson file and here for the UAB file)

Clemson

Stat breakdown

107.8 offensive rating (77th)
88.7 defensive rating (9th)
253rd in adjusted tempo
45.2 eFG% defense (21st)
23.0 forcing turnover % (38th)
32.2 three point % defense (59th)
43.7 two point % defense (25th)
13.5 block % (20th)
12.2 steal % (22nd)

Analysis: This is a team that prides itself on its defense. Good at taking away the ball, good at keeping buckets out of the basket, good at taking the ball away, good at guarding outside and inside. Their offense is not quite up to par, but their defense is generally good enough to beat teams that struggle offensively.

Key players

Milton Jennings (6'9", 225 lb): Takes most of the shots on this team, pretty good rebounder. Should be forbidden from ever taking threes (only shooting 30%).

Jerai Grant (6'8", 220 lb): Probably the most efficient player on this team. Grant seems to be the weakside defender who comes over and takes away the drives, and also shoots the ball the best for the Tigers.

Devin Booker (6'8", 235 lb): Another solid rebounder.

Andre Young (5'9", 170 lb): One of the two primary ball handlers, he's pretty good at dishing the ball, holding onto the rock, and pick pocketing opposing teams. He's their best three point shooter, although he struggles shooting elsewhere.

Demontez Stitt (6'2", 175 lb): Actually has a higher assist rate than Young and is pretty good at distributing the ball and hanging onto it as well. Both Stitt and Grant are good at drawing fouls.

Tanner Smith (6'5", 220 lb): Pretty good at getting assists just like Stitt and Young, and he also gets a lot of steals. It seems everyone on Clemson's big six contributors has some defensive asset that makes them so tough to deal with as a unit. Clemson racks up the steals, rebounds, blocks on the statsheet, all while forcing teams to a low percentage shooting.

UAB

Stat breakdown

108.1 offensive rating (74th)
94.1 defensive rating (49th)
318th in adjusted tempo
45.6 eFG% defense (32nd)
31.0 three point % defense (24th)
50.9 two point% offense (45th)
71.9 FT% (91st)

Analysis: The Tigers and Blazers cancel out in terms of rebounding rate, and while the Tigers aren't great at holding onto the ball, the Blazers aren't great at taking it either. The Blazers also can't get to the line that well. UAB is going to have to be able to nail their two point shots effectively or find a way to get extra possessions, and hope Clemson plays lazy and shoots too many threes (something they're only average at, yet continue to persist at shooting).

Key players

Aaron Johnson (5'8", 185 lb): One of the best distributors in the country (fourth in assist rate in the entire country), but also turns over the ball a lot as a consequence of usage rate. Johnson is really good at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line; efficient at the free throw line and inside the three point arc, but should be banned from ever taking shots from downtown (20 for 86, only 23%). Clemson's guards cannot let him get to his spots on the floor.

Jamarr Sanders (6'4", 200 lb): Takes the majority of the shots as the recipient of Johnson's passes, and is a pretty good shooter from anywhere on the floor. If UAB is to pull the upset, both Johnson and Sanders are going to have to play the games of their lives to beat a solid Clemson defense.

Cameron Moore (6'8", 225 lb): Primary rebounder and shot-blocker for the Blazers, and is also efficient with his production offensively.

Ovie Soko (6'8", 225 lb): Moore takes the defensive boards, Soko crashes the offensive glass. He's an average foul shooter, which isn't good for a guy who takes the second most free throws on the team.

Dexter Fields (6'2", 190 lb): Second big three point shooter outside of Sanders.

Prediction: Clemson. Both teams are even offensively, but the defense of the Tigers should rule the day by forcing turnovers on a turnover-prone UAB squad and forcing an already average shooting Blazers team into even worse numbers. With four freshman on the bench for UAB, it's likely the Blazers will have to get out to an early lead and hang on for dear life to spring the upset.

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011 First Four Preview: USC Trojans vs. VCU Rams

The 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament kicks off tonight with the beginning of the First Four. The big matchup Wednesday night is between the USC Trojans and the Va. Commonwealth Rams. As you see from our First Four Schedule, the game is on TruTV at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. Let's take a look at some of the individual matchups, thanks to Ken Pomeroy. Click here for stats on the USC team, click here for stats on the VCU team. National rank is in parenthesis.


Point guard
VCU: Joey Rodriguez (5'10", 175 lb); 82.5% of minutes (190th), 28.5 assist rate (125th), 2.7 steal % (329th), 44.9 eFG% (only shoots 37% from the two point line and 33% from the three point line), 103.1 offensive rating.

USC: Maurice Jones (5'7", 155 lb); 86% of minutes (92nd), 19.1 assist rate (493rd), 3.7 steal % (61st), 43.8 eFG% (only shoots from 39% from the two point line and 34% from the three point line), 94.2 offensive rating.

Jio Fontan (6'0", 185 lb) has a 26.0 assist rate (195th).

Analysis: Pretty much a wash offensively. Two pretty inefficient points who are better off leaving other players to shoot the ball. Both of them enjoy stealing the ball though. Advantage to Rodriguez for being a better distributor, but Jones does have some speed. Expect Fontan to play a lot if the freshman Jones struggles, even though he's not much better offensively and can't get to the bucket as easily.

Big men

VCU: Jamie Skeen (6'9", 240 lb)--119.1 offensive rating (93rd), 56.9 eFG% (143rd), 61.7 TS% (77th), 9.1 Offensive Rebounding % (425th), 19.6 Defensive Rebounding % (202nd), 14.0 TORate (251st), 3.8 Block % (309th), 2.4 Fouls called/40 minutes (299th), Fouls drawn/40 minutes (118th), FT Rate (73rd)

USC: Nikola Vucevic (6'10", 240 lb)--86.6% of minutes (80th), 115.5 offensive rating (164th), 25.4% of possessions (302nd), 27.1% of shots (242nd), 53.8 eFG% (314th), 57.6% TS% (300th), 9.8 offensive rebounding % (350th), 25.8 defensive rebounding % (23rd), 11.8 turnover rate (90th), 4.3 block % (260th), 4.6 fouls drawn/40 minutes (495th)

Alex Stepheson (6'9", 235 lb)--81.7% of minutes (216th), 56.0 eFG% (188th), 55.8 true TS% (452nd), 11.7 offensive rebounding % (146th), 22.2 defensive rebounding % (95th), 3.5 block % (341st)

Analysis: BIG edge to USC. Vucevic and Skeen probably cancel each other out unless Skeen can get Vucevic into foul trouble--something he's prone to--but to start the game, USC has no one to match BOTH Vucevic and Stepheson. Juvonte Reddic, Toby Veal and D.J. Haley are the other bigs, but all of them are horrid offensively and aren't great rebounders to boot. USC should be able to get a lot of extra possessions and have no trouble holding VCU to one-and-done possessions.

Shooters/wings

VCU: Bradford Burgess (6'5", 225 lb)--84.1% of minutes (143rd), 118.3 offensive rating (106th), 57% eFG, 60.5 true shooting %, 13.5 turnover rate, 2.4 fouls called per 40 minutes.

Ed Nixon (6'4", 210 lb)--3.0 steal %.

Brandon Rozzell (6'2", 190 lb)--112.3 offensive rating (315th), 52.7 eFG%, 26.6% of shots (284th), 9.9 turnover rate (23rd), 3.4 steal rate (107th).

USC: Donte Smith (5'11", 180 lb)--36.1% three point shooter, 51.1 eFG%, 14.0 turnover rate (246th).

Marcus Simmons (6'6", 200 lb)--42.4 FT rate (466th).

Analysis: Advantage VCU, but only slightly because Simmons (Pac-10 defensive player of the year) should shut down Burgess or Rozzell. USC might have some of the best bigs in the Pac-10, but they give it all away because only Smith is a real good shooter--Garrett Jackson is actually pretty efficient, but Simmons eats up his minutes because of his defensive lockdown ability. Thankfully for the Trojans, VCU does not have the size to neutralize that advantage.

Team analysis.

USC Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (76th) vs. VCU Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (143rd)
USC Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (30th) vs. VCU Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (59th)
USC Effective FG% Offense (113th) vs. VCU Effective FG% Defense (235th)
USC Effective FG% Defense (53rd) vs. VCU Effective FG% Offense (87th)
USC Turnover % Offense (52nd) vs. VCU Turnover % Defense (33rd)
USC Turnover % Defense (268th) vs. VCU Turnover % Offense (48th)
USC Offensive Rebound % (234th) vs. VCU Defensive Rebound % (319th)
USC Defensive Rebound % (19th) vs. VCU Offensive Rebound % (216th)
USC FTA/FGA Offense (257th) vs. VCU FTA/FGA Defense (95th)
USC FTA/FGA Defense (141st) vs. VCU FTA/FGA Offense (198th)
USC Adjusted Tempo (313th) vs. VCU Adjusted Tempo (177th)

Analysis: USC has a clear cut advantage on offense and both defense and they should own the boards. VCU is a gambling team in terms of playing for steals, but USC could come right back at them.

What could play in VCU's favor is tempo; because USC plays at such a slow pace, they really have trouble blowing out good teams because of the small number of possessions. Also depth is an issue, as the Trojans are basically playing a seven man rotation.

If Southern California does blow this one, Kevin O'Neill will have a lot of explaining to do, and it won't all have to do with AA meetings.

Prediction: USC

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011 Friday TV Schedule

Here is the television schedule for the second day of the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament (to find out the schedule for Thursday's game). All games will be streamed on March Madness On Demand. Again, if you're not aware, all the games are being broadcast on four separate channels this year; CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV

Round of 64: March 18 (Friday). All times are Pacific Time. Games with a (*) are approximate start times dependent on the finish of the previous game on the network.

(Information courtesy of CBS Sports Twitter. HT to mattsarz)

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011 Thursday TV Schedule

To see the Friday TV schedule for the Round of 64, click here.

Here is the schedule for the first day of the second round of the 2011 NCAA tournament (although I'm pretty sure no one will actually call it the second round). All games will be streamed on March Madness On Demand. Again, if you're not aware, all the games are being broadcast on four separate channels this year; CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV

Round of 64: March 17 (Thursday). All times are Pacific Time. Games with a (*) are approximate start times dependent on the finish of the previous game on the network.

(Information courtesy of CBS Sports Twitter. HT to mattsarz)

Continue

NIT Tournament Bracket & TV Schedule 2011: Cal To Play Ole Miss, St. Mary's Against Kent State

As expected, the California Golden Bears and the St. Mary's Gaels are both in the same western-minded regional! Could they potentially match up in a Bay Area special? Only time will tell; they have tough games ahead to get to a potential regional final.

TV times are announced below. All games will be streamed on ESPN3.com.

NIT Regional #1
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #8 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Tuesday, 4 PM PT, ESPNU
#4 New Mexico Lobos vs #5 UTEP Miners, Tuesday 6 PM PT, ESPN2
#3 Missouri St Bears vs #6 Murray St. Racers, Tuesday 6 PM PT
#2 Miami Hurricanes vs #7 Florida Atlantic Owls, Wendesday 4:30 PM PT

NIT Regional #2
#1 Colorado Buffaloes vs. #8 Texas Southern Tigers, Wednesday, 4 PM PT
#4 Cal vs #5 Mississippi Rebels, Wednesday 6 PM PT, ESPN2
#3 Colorado St. Rams vs. #6 Fairfield Stags, Tuesday 6 PM PT
#2 St. Mary's, Calif. Gaels vs. #7 Kent St. Golden Flashes, Tuesday, 8 PM PT, ESPN2

NIT Regional #3
#1 Boston College Eagles vs. #8 McNeese St. Cowboys, Tuesday, 6 PM PT, ESPNU
#4 Northwestern Wildcats vs. #5 Wis.-Milwaukee Panthers, Wednesday, 5 PM PT
#3 Oklahoma St. Cowboys vs. #6 Harvard Crimson, Tuesday, 4:30 PM PT, ESPN
#2 Washington St. Cougars vs #7 Long Beach St. 49ers, Wednesday 7 PM PT, ESPNU

NIT Regional #4
#1 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. #8 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Wednesday, 5 PM PT, ESPNU
#4 Wichita St. Shockers vs #5 Nebraska Cornhuskers, Wednesday, 4 PM PT, ESPN2
#3 Dayton Flyers vs #6 College of Charleston Cougars, Tuesday, 4 PM PT, ESPN2
#2 Cleveland St. Vikings vs. #7 Vermont Catamounts, Tuesday, 4 PM PT

Continue

NIT Selection Show & Bracketology: St. Mary's Likely A Top Seed, Cal Also Probably In

After being snubbed for the 2011 NCAA tournament, the St. Mary's Gaels will have to look toward winning the NIT and focus on finishing as the 69th best team in the country. Along with teams like Virginia Tech, Colorado and Alabama, they might be on their way to taking out their frustration on the other teams not ready to dance. St. Mary's is now updated to be a top seed in the National Invitation Tournament by Bracket Project (against Bethune-Cookman), which would mean they'd be guaranteed to play all of their games in Moraga before heading to Madison Square Garden for the Final Four.

The California Golden Bears might be on their way to playing in the NIT for quite awhile, although they might be just hovering near bubble territory, so they can't really take anything for granted. With a record of 17-14, Cal will probably have to go on the road to get to New York. Right now they're listed as a fifth seed against Oklahoma State, meaning they'd have to head to Stillwater. Safe to say the Bears will have a longer and harder road than the Gaels on their NIT journey.

The NIT Selection Show is at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on ESPNU.

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011 Snubs: St. Mary's, Virginia Tech, Colorado Among Those Likely Headed To NIT

The 2011 NCAA tournament brackets are set (printable NCAA bracket) and as is always the case, various schools have room to complain about being snubbed by the selection committee. The Bay Area has one such team in the form of the St. Mary’s Gaels. The Gaels finished the 2010-2011 basketball season 25-8 with an RPI of 46, but it was not enough to get them in over the likes of the 19-14 USC Trojans.

In reality a team looking for one of the last at-large bids can only complain so much, particularly as the field was watered down even more by the move to 68 teams. St. Mary’s had plenty of opportunities to avoid this exclusion. They could have beaten an awful San Diego Toreros squad on the road. They could have put away Utah State in their Bracketbuster Saturday matchup. They could have beaten Portland on the road. And of course they could have beaten Gonzaga in last week’s WCC title game.

I wish the Gaels had gotten in, but I don’t think they were viciously snubbed. And really I don’t think anybody this far down the list can say they absolutely should have gotten in to the tournament. Some might have deserved it more than others, but each one of these teams had their chance to do more. Now they all will likely get a chance for NIT glory. I do feel bad for seniors like Mickey McConnell, but these things happen.

Continue

NCAA 2011 Bracket: First Four Schedule In Dayton Features USC Trojans Playing VCU Rams

The Pac-10 brought four teams, one of them making it despite being precariously placed on the bubble mere hours ago. Still, that team's road is far from easy. The USC Trojans will have to play in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament to get into the regular field of 64, placing them in a matchup with the VCU Rams, who were a big surprise to even make the 68-team bracket altogether. VCU is ranked 85th in Pomeroy, and their biggest resume win is a victory over George Mason in the CAA tournament. The only thing they can share in common with USC is they've both beaten UCLA this year.

Here is the schedule for the First Four teams in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

All the games are in Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio and on TruTV.

Tuesday, March 15th: UNC Asheville plays University of Arkansas Little Rock at 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT. The winner takes on the Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday.
Tuesday, March 15th: UAB plays Clemson at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. The winner takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday.

Announcers for the Tuesday games are Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr, with Tracy Wolfson as the sideline reporter. This is also the eventual crew for the Final Four in Houston.

Wednesday, March 16th: University of Texas-San Antonio plays Alabama State at 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT. The winner takes on the Ohio St. Buckeyes on Friday.
Wednesday, March 16th: USC plays VCU at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. The winner takes on the Georgetown Hoyas on Friday.

Announcers for the Wednesday games are Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, with Craig Sager as the sideline reporter.

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011: Men's Basketball Field Of 68 Is Set

The 2011 NCAA Tournament field has been decided and your men’s NCAA brackets are complete. We’ll be here throughout the tournament in spite of the omission of the St. Mary’s Gaels. The expanded field of 68 includes some intriguing matchups and some possible stinkers. We’ve got some surprising entrants, including the USC Trojans and Virginia Commonwealth Rams, and we’ve got plenty of the old guard as well.

I’ll go on record right now and say my overall darkhorse candidate is San Diego State. I realize a two seed is hard to call a darkhorse but given the Big East love we’ve had this year and how good teams like Kansas and Duke are, I think the Aztecs can fly under the radar a little bit. Throw in the fact that they will be playing just up the road from their home town and I think there’s a lot to like about them.

East
Fooch’s Take: Kentucky’s my darkhorse here, but I think an Ohio State-North Carolina Elite Eight matchup is in the cards with the Buckeyes coming out of this region. They have been arguably the most consistent team in a season filled with a string of upsets. I think Jared Sullinger can carry them through. It’s boring to pick the top team in a bracket, but I like what they bring to the table.

(1) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (16) Texas-San Antonio/Alabama State
(8) George Mason Patriots vs. (9) Villanova Wildcats

(4) West Virginia Mountaineers vs. (13) UAB/Clemson
(5) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (12) Princeton Tigers

(6) Xavier Musketeers vs. (11) Marquette Golden Eagles
(3) Syracuse Orange vs. (14) Indiana State Sycamores

(7) Washington Huskies vs. (10) Georgia Bulldogs
(2) North Carolina Tarheels vs. (15) Long Island University Blackbirds

West Region
Fooch’s Take: I already declared my allegiance to San Diego State so I certainly won’t change it here. They’re certainly no lock to come out of the West, but I really like what they bring to the the table. They’ve got the inside game with guys like Kawhi Leonard and Malcom Thomas. If the outside shots are falling they’re as good as anybody in the country. UConn will give them trouble, as will Duke, but I think this is their region to win.

(1) Duke Blue Devils vs. (16) Hampton Pirates
(8) – Michigan Wolverines vs. (9)Tennessee Volunteers

(4) Arizona Wildcats vs. (13) Memphis Tigers
(5) Texas Longhorns vs. (12)Oakland Golden Grizzlies

(3) UConn Huskies vs. (14) Bucknell Bison
(6) Cincinnati Bearcats vs. (11) Missouri Tigers

(7) Temple Owls vs. (10) Penn State Nittany Lions
(2) San Diego State Aztecs vs. (15) Northern Colorado Bears

Southwest Region
Avi’s Take: The Kansas Jayhawks might be in a really good position with this Southwest Regional bracket. There are a lot of decent but not overwhelming opponents standing in their way for a return to the Final Four. The USC Trojans are heading back as well, as they are one of the last four into the tournament. They’ll be playing the surprising VCU Rams in the First Four Tuesday and Wednesday on truTV. This should be real intriguing.

(1) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (16) Boston University Terriers
(8) UNLV Runnin Rebels vs. (9) Illinois Fightin Illini

(4) Louisville Cardinals vs. (13) Morehead State Eagles
(5) Vanderbilt Commodores vs. (12) Richmond Spiders

(3) Purdue Boilermakers vs. (14) Saint Peter’s Peacocks
(6) Georgetown Hoyas vs. (11) USC Trojans/Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

(7) Texas A&M Aggies vs. (10) Purdue Boilermakers
(2) Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. (15) Akron Zips

Southeast Region
Avi’s Take: If Pitt can’t make the Final Four they’ll be really kicking themselves for this one. Florida is not a strong #2 seed, although they’ll essentially be playing at home in Tampa, so the UCLA Bruins will have a long fight uphill to try and get to the Sweet 16 (not to mention Michigan State is no easy cookie either).

(1) Pittsburgh Panthers vs. (16) UNC Asheville/Arkansas Little-Rock
(8) Butler Bulldogs vs. (9) Old Dominion Monarchs

(4) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (13) Belmont Bruins
(5) Kansas State Wildcats vs. (12) Utah State Aggies

(3) BYU Cougars vs. (14) Wofford Terriers
(6) St. John’s Red Storm vs. (11) Gonzaga Bulldogs

(7) Michigan State Spartans vs. (10) UCLA Bruins
(2) Florida Gators vs. (15) UC-Santa Barbara Gouchos

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011: Southeast Region Bracket Features Pittsburgh, Florida

The 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament brackets are now being released we now have a completed Southeast region bracket, based out of New Orleans. The number one seeded Pittsburgh Panthers could face some trouble if they get the Florida Gators in the elite eight. However, other than that this strikes me as a relatively soft region.

I would have had Brigham Young as my darkhorse, but losing Brandon Davies kills them inside. I had a chance to watch them this weekend in the Mountain West conference tournament and San Diego State just destroyed them in the paint. Jimmer Fredette put up 52 points in the semifinals against New Mexico and they needed just about all those points to beat the Lobos. I need to look at their draw a bit more, but even if they made it to the elite eight, Pittsburgh would decimate them.

If I had to pick a darkhorse, I suppose Kansas State could do it. I will say that Pittsburgh does get an interesting matchup in the second round if Butler can advance. Who would have thought Pittsburgh would face the defending national runner up?

1 – Pittsburgh Panthers
16 – UNC Asheville/Arkansas Little-Rock

8 – Butler Bulldogs
9 – Old Dominion Monarchs

4 – Wisconsin Badgers
13 – Belmont Bruins

5 – Kansas State Wildcats
12 – Utah State Aggies

3 – BYU Cougars
14 – Wofford Terriers

6 – St. John’s Red Storm
11 – Gonzaga Bulldogs

7 – Michigan State Spartans
10 – UCLA Bruins

2 – Florida Gators
15 – UC-Santa Barbara Gouchos

Head over to SBNation.com for printable brackets and NCAA tournament updates.

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011: Southwest Region Bracket Features Kansas, Notre Dame

The 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament brackets are now being released we now have a completed Southwest region bracket, based out of San Antonio. The number one seeded Kansas Jayhawks have an interesting path to the Final Four with Notre Dame as the number two seed.

This particular region might have killed St. Mary’s bracket chances. VCU and USC both made the tournament after appearing to be well down the bubble. My personal favorites, the UNLV Runnin Rebels, find themselves facing Coach Long Kruger’s former Illinois squad, and then having to deal with Kansas if the top seeds hold. I’d have preferred a 7 seed, but being in the tournament is better than sitting at home.

Louisville is probably the only real darkhorse I see at this point. I think Kansas could roll to the final four in this region. I suppose Purdue could make a run but I really don’t trust the Big Ten come tournament time.

1 – Kansas Jayhawks
16 – Boston University Terriers

8 – UNLV Runnin Rebels
9 – Illinois Illini

4 – Louisville Cardinals
13 – Morehead State Eagles

5 –  Vanderbilt Commodores
12 – Richmond Spiders

3 – Purdue Boilermakers
14 – Saint Peters Peacocks

6 – Georgetown Hoyas
11 – USC Trojans/Virginia Commonwealth University Rams

7 – Texas A&M Aggies
10 – Purdue Boilermakers

2 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
15 – Akron Zips

Head over to SBNation.com for printable brackets and NCAA tournament updates.

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011: West Region Bracket Features Duke, San Diego State

The 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament brackets are now being released we now have a completed West region bracket, based out of Anaheim. Duke is the number one seed in the region, with San Diego State picking up the two seed. That is actually incredibly interesting given that Anaheim is driving distance from San Diego. It’s not home court advantage and at the end of the day the Aztecs will still have to win some games, but their path to the Final Four is just a little bit easier because of that.

If I had to pick a darkhorse I guess I’ll be a regional homer and go with the Arizona Wildcats. At the same time, I could see them getting knocked off by Memphis, so maybe it’s not the best darkhorse pick. I actually really like San Diego State’s chances at this point. They’re playing really well, they can bang with the big teams, and they’re playing in a good location. Sign me up!

1 – Duke Blue Devils
16 – Hampton Pirates

8 – Michigan Wolverines
9 – Tennessee Volunteers

4 –  Texas Longhorns
13 – Oakland Golden Grizzlies

5 – Arizona Wildcats
12 – Memphis Tigers

3 – UConn Huskies
14 – Bucknell Bison

6 – Cincinnati Bearcats
11 – Missouri Tigers

7 – Temple Owls
10 – Penn State Nittany Lions

2 – San Diego State Aztecs
15 – Northern Colorado Bears

Head over to SBNation.com for printable brackets and NCAA tournament updates.

Continue

Selection Sunday: 2011 NCAA Tournament Top Seeds Are Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Duke

The number one overall seed is the Ohio St. Buckeyes, finishing 32-2 and winning the Big Ten regular season title and Big Ten tournament title. They will be leading up the East regional. Their Final Four regional would be in Newark.

Leading up the Southwest region and the second overall seed (and the second #1 seed in the NCAA tournament) are the Kansas Jayhawks, who won the Big 12 regular season title and the Big 12 tournament title. Their Final Four regional would be in San Antonio.

Taking the head of the Southeast region and the third overall seed (and the third #1 seed in the NCAA tournament), Pittsburgh Panthers, who won the Big East regular season title. Their Final Four regional would be in New Orleans.

Finally, the team that will be at the top of the West region and the fourth overall seed will be the Duke Blue Devils, who won the ACC Tournament title and are trying to win back-to-back titles. They would have to get back to the Final Four by going through the Anaheim Regional.

Continue

NCAA Bracket 2011: East Region Bracket Features Ohio State, North Carolina

The 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament brackets are now being released and Ohio State has received the number one overall seed. They’ll play in the East region, which is based in Newark. Your other number ones are Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Duke.

This year’s East bracket features Ohio State getting the play-in game winner. Additionally we’ve got a few bubble teams right off the bat including Georgia, Clemson, and UAB. It’s safe to say the Bay Area’s St. Mary’s Gaels are sweating a little bit right now. I think they should be in as an 11 or 12 seed, but it’s tough to tell.

If I had to pick somebody other than Ohio State or North Carolina I’d go with the youthful Kentucky Wildcats. I have a friend who went to Kentucky so maybe I’m a little biased, but I think they could get sufficiently hot. Their dominant win over Florida today showed me something.

1 – Ohio State
16 – Texas-San Antonio/Alabama State

8 – George Mason
9 – Villanova

4 –  Kentucky
13 – Princeton

5 – West Virginia
12 – UAB/Clemson

6 – Xavier
11 – Marquette

3 – Syracuse
14 – Indiana State

7 – Washington
10 – Georgia

2 – North Carolina
15 – Long Island University

Head over to SBNation.com for printable brackets and NCAA tournament updates.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Conference Tournament Upsets Affecting Bubble Watch

Yesterday saw a variety of upsets that have put a crimp in St. Mary’s 2011 NCAA tournament plans. The bubble watch was out in force yesterday and fans of upsets were not disappointed. Penn State would seem to have locked in a bid with their win over Michigan State. They face Ohio State today with a chance to guarantee that spot, but I think they’re in at this point. Memphis had a strong weekend in making their run to the Conference USA title. UAB and UTEP find themselves waiting to see if the selection committee shows them some love.

One of the big question marks is what to do with the Harvard Crimson. They lost on an absolute heartbreaker and have an interesting resume. They have a an RPI of 35, but a strength of schedule of 140. Dick Vitale thinks they deserve a bid and while I think they deserve consideration, I don’t expect it to happen. St. Mary’s is praying for that.

Continue

NIT Bracketology Has St. Mary's & USC Potentially #1 Seeds, Cal & Washington State Also In Mix

Bay Area's own St. Mary's Gaels and the Pac-10 stalwart USC Trojans could be in the NCAA tournament, but their fate is up in the air. If they don't end up making it though, their likely destination is back home, to host the National Invitation Tournament in their arenas for the next few weeks. They are projected as number one seeds by multiple sites that track NIT bracketology. Both NIT-ology and the Bracket Project have USC as a 1 seed, and the Bracket Project has St. Mary's as a one seed too.

Of course, their fates will have to wait for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, who could take one and/or the other.

The California Golden Bears and the Washington St. Cougars are almost certainly going to the NIT. Wazzu had a disappointing season, but Klay Thompson is expected to suit up at least a few more games as a Cougar, as Washington State is projected a two seed by NIT-ology and a three seed by the Bracket Project. Cal is seeded fourth by NIT-ology and fifth by the Bracket Project, and neither team seems in danger of hitting the somewhat less notable NTI bubble.

Continue

Bracketology 2011: Pac-10 NCAA Tournament Projections Favor Arizona, Potentially Washington, NOT UCLA

So we know now that the USC Trojans will be standing on pins and needles wondering whether they'll be participating in March Madness. But there are three other Pac-10 conference teams that definitely know they're going. Where they're going could be a blessing or a cruse for their national championship chances. Here's a look at each team after their conference tournament performances.

The Washington Huskies must think they're so cute, the way they game the system. Washington shows barely a pulse for the entire month of February, and now they might leap all the way back up to a favorable spot after knocking off Arizona in the Pac-10 Tournament Championship. Winning a tournament championship, particularly against a regular season conference champion, can be a huge boost to a team's ratings this close to the Dance. Washington did this last year and earned an 11th seed, and proceeded to find its way to the Sweet 16.

Joe Lunardi has leapfrogged UDub all the way back to a 7th seed and a matchup with Villanova in the first round in Tucson, with San Diego State likely drawing them in the second round. Trust me, I will be very angry if UDub ends up with a favorable bracket for the second year in a row after a pretty pedestrian regular season (especially since a team like Cal had an excellent regular season and ended up drawing Duke in the Round of 32 last year, while Washington got the easiest possible road to the second weekend).

No real change for the Arizona Wildcats--they might've made a jump up a seed or two by winning their tournament, but they seem pretty locked into a fifth seed with a comfortable matchup  against one of the First Four winners forthcoming (by Lunardi's infinite wisdom of course). The real loser seems to be the UCLA Bruins, whose lackluster Pac-10 tournament performance may cost them today. Lunardi dropped them all the way to the 8th seed, which means even if they win their first game, they draw a number one seed in the second round (in this case, the de facto #1 in Ohio State). Not a good sign for supporters of Westwood.

Continue

Bracketology 2011: USC Trojans Last Bubble Team Into NCAA Tournament, According To Joe Lunardi

The Pac-10 might be on the verge of sending four NCAA teams after all. But it's safe to say no USC Trojans fan will really know their team's fate until the Selection Sunday show is over.

Joe Lunardi projects USC will be the final team into the NCAA tournament field of 68. The Trojans would have to play the Clemson Tigers in Chicago in the First Four tournament, meaning they'd have to play three games in one weekend of March Madness to get to the Sweet 16, but a tougher ticket is better than no ticket at all.

That being said, last team in does not necessarily bode well for USC's chances. At 19-14, USC has beaten all the other NCAA tournament bound teams from the Pac-10 at least once (Washington, Arizona, UCLA), and crushed Texas at home and upset Tennessee in Knoxville. They have some quizzical losses though that could hold their candidacy back (Bradley, Rider, TCU). Their Pac-10 tournament showing might've been strong enough, but it also might've just fallen short of what was necessary to get them over the hump. And one has to wonder if the suspension of head coach Kevin O'Neill will have any impact on whether the Pac-10's best defensive team will get to showcase their talents to the world, or settle on trying to finish 69th best team in the land in the NIT.

Also, after Penn State's upset of Michigan State, Chris Dobbertean (SB Nation's bracket expert) has USC as his second team OUT of the tournament. So at this point, you might as well flip a coin to figure out whether Southern California will be going dancing.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracketology: St. Mary's Hanging In There As Selection Sunday Approaches

As we enter the final two days of conference championships leading up to Selection Sunday approaches. Bracketology reports are posting fast and furious in advance of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and the St. Mary’s Gaels are hanging around for now. SB Nation released their latest bracketology report and they once again have Saint Mary’s in the 12 vs. 12 “play-in” game. They have St. Mary’s taking on Georgia with the winner advancing to face the fifth seeded Arizona Wildcats. If Arizona wins today’s Pac-10 Championship game, I’d imagine the Wildcats would climb a bit.

Over at ESPN, Joe Lunardi has released his latest bracketology report and he has St. Mary’s a little bit safer. Lunardi includes the Gaels as an 11 seed facing the sixth seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in the Tampa pod. The winner of that game would face the winner of Florida and Indiana State. Although Lunardi does not have St. Mary’s as a last four in, they’ve got to be real close.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: St. Mary's Dominates Weber State

In early February, the St. Mary’s Gaels sent out a press release indicating they had added Weber State to their schedule after the conclusion of the 2011 WCC tournament. It was meant as a tuneup if they won the tournament, but instead it turned into a dangerous speed bump when the Gaels lost in the finals to Gonzaga. A win would get them to 25 wins while a loss would likely kill their 2011 NCAA Tournament chances and end their bubble watch.

Fortunately for the Gaels they shook off the tough loss to Gonzaga and thoroughly dominated Weber State winning 77-54. Rob Jones led the way with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Mickey McConnell added 15 points and eight assists.

The team now gets to wait out two days of conference championships, hoping teams can avoid the upset bug. The big game is Richmond vs. Temple in the A-10 title game. Richmond enters the game 25-7 with an RPI of 56. They’re on the bubble with a decent shot of making the tournament. However, if the Spiders win today it removes any doubt.

Additionally the Gaels will be rooting for Utah State to take care Boise State and Ohio State to dominate Michigan. The Wolverines probably make it in the tournament off the bubble, but a win over Ohio State would just about guarantee a Michigan spot in the Big Dance.

Continue

NCAA Basketball Tournament TV Schedule: Watch Every Game On CBS, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Or Online

As championship week winds down, we look ahead to March Madness. The NCAA Tournament has changed up since last year, so we should probably inform you of the changes to watch out for.

In case you missed it, here's how things are different from last year.

Last year: All the games were on CBS.

This year: The games are being split up on four different networks thanks to the new Turner deal. CBS, TNT, TBS, & TruTv will split television coverage up to the Sweet 16, when CBS will take over and broadcast the Final Four.

Last year: Games on CBS were on at the same time. If you wanted to watch multiple endings at once, you'd generally have to hope for the guys at the studio to be quick on cutting back and forth between games

This year: Every game starts on a staggered schedule, so you'll be guaranteed to watch every ending to every game without having to worry about flipping channels.

Last year: You could watch every game online with March Madness On Demand.

This year: Ditto.

Here is the current TV schedule and gametimes, courtesy of Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. SB Nation Bay Area will update this with the teams later. Times are all Pacific Time (PT).

First Four: March 15 (Tuesday)

  • truTV: 3:30 PM, 6 PM

Round of 64: March 17 (Thursday) and March 18 (Friday)

  • CBS: 9 AM, 11:30 AM, 4 PM, 6:30 PM
  • truTV: 9:30 AM, noon, 4:15 PM, 6:55 PM
  • TBS: 10:30 AM, 1 PM, 3:45 PM, 6:15 PM
  • TNT: 11 AM, 1:30 PM, 4:15 PM, 6:45 PM

Round of 32: March 19 (Saturday)

  • CBS: 9 AM, 11:30 AM, 2 PM, 4:30 PM
  • TNT: 3 PM, 5 PM
  • TBS: 4 PM, 6:30 PM

Round of 32: March 20 (Sunday)

  • Same as Saturday's schedule, except truTV airing the 4:30 PM game instead of CBS

Sweet 16: March 24 (Thursday) & March 25 (Friday)

  • CBS: 4 PM, 6:30 PM
  • TBS: 4:15 PM, 6:55 PM

Elite 8: March 26 (Saturday) & March 27 (Sunday)

  • CBS on Saturday: 1:20 PM, 3:55 PM
  • CBS on Sunday: 11:10 AM, 1:55 PM

Final 4: April 2 (Saturday)

  • CBS: 3 PM, 5:30 PM

National Championship Game: April 4 (Monday)

  • CBS: 6 PM
Continue

NCAA Tournament Bracketology 2011: St. Mary's Among Final Teams In For Now

As we head into this final weekend of NCAA basketball leading up to the 2011 NCAA Tournament SB Nation’s bracketology reports have the St. Mary’s Gaels among the final four teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, benefiting greatly from the expansion of the tournament from 65 to 68 teams. The bracketology projection includes the Gaels in one of the new twelve seed matchups. They would face Clemson with the winner advancing to face No. 5 seed Xavier in Cleveland.

The Gaels actually have one more game to play today as they host Weber State in a game added in February. A win doesn’t really help the Gaels while a loss would destroy their NCAA tournament chances. I’d say that qualifies as a bad idea. Either way, the Gaels head into this weekend doing a whole lot of scoreboard watching. I happen to be down in Las Vegas for the Mountain West tournament and SMC is rooting like crazy for BYU to take care of New Mexico today. It’s one of many games SMC will be “enjoying” this weekend.

Continue

Bracketology 2011: USC First Four Out, Cal & Washington State Likely NIT-Bound

Whatever remote chance of there was of the Washington Huskies being knocked onto the bubble dissipated Thursday night, as UW solidified their NCAA tournament bid by narrowly edging Klay Thompson's incredible 43 point performance and beating their cross-state rivals Washington St. Cougars. In Joe Lunardi's latest bracket, the Huskies moved up to a ninth seed in the Southeast Regional, slated to face the Missouri Tigers in the first round in Chicago.

As reported yesterday, three Pac-10 teams had legit chances at an NCAA tournament at-large bid, but only one is left with a legitimate shot. The USC Trojans beat the California Golden Bears convincingly on Thursday, but it still looks like they need another win to ensure an NCAA tournament bid, as Lunardi didn't give them any traction. USC is still listed among the First Four Out. It's likely that one more victory over the Pac-10 regular season champions Arizona Wildcats next round will be enough to put them over the top, as they'll have plenty of requisite victories over top-notch basketball teams.

Cal and Washington St. both lost on Thursday, so they are now off the bubble and are likely NIT bound.

Continue

Bracketology 2011: Joe Lunardi Has USC, Washington State, Cal Hovering On Bubble

Joe Lunardi has his newest bracket out, and it contains some intriguing developments for the Pac-10. With Baylor and Nebraska seemingly out of contention for an at-large bid, the USC Trojans have moved up to the awful status of "first team out", and the Washington St. Cougars have taken a step up into that first group. Joining them? Mike Montgomery's California Golden Bears, who are now the last team in the next four out (placing them in the 76th spot).

Of course, that doesn't suddenly mean five Pac-10 teams now will make the tournament; Cal and USC will play each other in a few hours, and one of them will immediately drop off the bubble. But it's safe to say if at least one of these teams wins multiple games in the Pac-10 tournament, then they'll have a shot at the Dance, even if it means playing an extra play-in game.

USC: Beat Cal, Beat Arizona--IN!
Washington State: Beat Washington, Beat UCLA--IN!
Cal: Beat USC, Beat Arizona--Maybe??? 19-13 is a pretty impressive record given our difficult strength of schedule, but nothing is certain unless a few more teams ahead of the Bears drop off as well (USC would drop by default if Cal beats them, but they'd probably need a few more wins than that). Also, it'd be hard to see four Pac-10 teams getting bids, so the Washington Huskies would have to completely fall out of the picture for someone like Cal to get in.

It's a fun game we'll be playing these next few days with regards to the Pac-10 tournament.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: USC Trojans & The Pac-10 Basketball Tournament

The USC Trojans are right at the edge. They're so close to an NCAA tournament bid they can smell it. But they haven't done quite enough in the regular season to justify an NCAA at-large bid. With the Pac-10 still struggling as the sixth best conference in the country, USC might have to win out to earn their shot with the field of 68.

Obviously, win three games and USC gets in. The bigger question: Will two be enough?

As mentioned before on this site, the Trojans are probably a longshot to win three straight games because of the probable difficulty of each individual matchup, but two is definitely a possibility. And obviously it matters who they play: A second victory over the Arizona Wildcats would be a huge resume booster, while a victory over Oregon State/Stanford means nothing. Beating Cal would be nice, but certainly wouldn't be enough on its own to get them in.

Currently, Joe Lunardi and Chris Dobbertean (bracketologists for ESPN & SB Nation respectively) have the Trojans listed in their First Four Out, meaning USC is hovering right along that bubble surface without being able to pop through it. Two wins might just be enough to nudge them over. The best USC can probably hope for in either circumstance is a play-in game unless they're really impressive in the tournament, but hey, a second-class ticket to the Dance is better than no ticket at all.

Continue

2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament Bubble Watch: Washington Huskies & The Pac-10 Tournament

The Washington Huskies had a great start to the season and looked to be steamrolling to a Pac-10 regular season championship as late as the final week of January. At 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the conference, the only thing that could stop UW was UW.

Well, that appears to have happen. Since January 30th, the Huskies have gone 5-6 since that time, and 4-6 in the conference. Washington seems to have felt the loss of sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy over the past month, as Isaiah Thomas has logged heavy minutes and his production has sagged off over that period. And now the losses are accumulating at the worst possible time, with Venoy Overton suspended for the Pac-10 tournament due to an alcohol charge and Justin Holiday potentially out for the first game with a concussion.

Their first opponent in the tournament? Washington State, who swept them in the regular season series. Down to potentially seven players, it could get ugly for the Huskies unless they summon a Herculean effort on Thursday night.

But these losses could be felt in their NCAA tournament hopes as well. The NCAA selection committee likes to factor in end-of-season performance, and Washington's medicore February could be their undoing. Joe Lunardi and Chris Dobbertean already have the Huskies lined up as a tenth seed, and they could slide even further with a bad loss on Thursday. At 20 wins, they are probably in, but a bad showing could knock them into one of the four play-in games.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracketology: The Bubble Watch And St. Mary's

The St. Mary’s Gaels were unable to nail down an automatic bid in last night’s 2011 WCC Championship game, but that loss to Gonzaga does not necessarily end their 2011 NCAA Tournament hopes. While Saint Mary’s does sit squarely in the cross hairs of the Bubble Watch, they managed to avoid any embarrassing losses in the WCC tournament.

Chris Dobbertean over at the dot com put together his latest NCAA Tournament Bracketology report and he has kept the Gaels in his tournament projection, slotting them in as an 11 seed. He has SMC facing Georgetown in the Charlotte pod, with the winner facing the winner of North Carolina and Bucknell. He includes St. Mary’s as one of the final eight teams in the tournament, which makes sense at this point.

Joe Lunardi updated his own bracket projection at ESPN and he also leaves the Gaels in the tournament. He has them as a ten seed facing UCLA in the Chicago pod, with the winner facing the winner of Notre Dame and St. Peter’s. This inclusion as a ten seed would seem to indicate a greater confidence in St. Mary’s tournament hopes.

Continue

Pac-10 Basketball Tournament: NCAA Bracketology Implications

Chris Dobbertean for SB Nation and Joe Lunardi for ESPN both released their latest brackets, and both have nearly identical predictions for Pac-10 qualifiers. Three teams will make it, while everyone else will be sitting this one out.

Arizona Wildcats: Dobbertean has them as a fifth seed in the Southwest Regional in Denver facing off against the Marquette Golden Eagles/Virginia Tech Hokies winner; Lunardi has them as a fifth seed also, but in the West regional in Washington DC playing against the Michigan St. Spartans/Virginia Tech winner (remember the tournament has expanded to 68 teams).

UCLA Bruins: Dobbertean has them as an eighth seed in the Southeast Regional in Washington DC playing the Tennessee Volunteers. Lunardi has them as a seventh seed in the East Regional in Chicago, playing against the St. Mary's Gaels.

Washington Huskies: Dobbertean has dropped them all the way to the tenth seed in the West Regional, and they would face the seventh seeded Florida St. Seminoles in Tucson. Lunardi has also dropped them to a tenth seed in the Southwest Regional, playing the Cincinnati Bearcats. Safe to say that their hopes of dancing are on thin ice.

What IS interesting is that two other Pac-10 teams are suddenly back on the bubble.

USC Trojans: Dobbertean has the Men of Troy as the 72st bid in his First Four Out. Lunardi has them 71st.

Washington St. Cougars: Dobbertean has Ken Bone's team 76th in his Next Four Out. Lunardi has them 74th.

What could both these teams do to get into the tournament conversation? More on that in a bit.

Continue

2011 NCAA Tournament Bracketology: St. Mary's Repping Bay Area

The folks at the SB Nation mothership have released their latest 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracketology. The St. Mary's Gaels are the lone representative for the Bay Area and are currently slotted in as a ten seed against the UNLV Rebels out of the Mountain West Conference. Under this bracket projection, St. Mary's would be in the Chicago pod, playing their first round game on Friday. The winner of that game would face the winner of No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 15 Long Beach State. The West Coast Conference is projected to send two teams as Gonzaga is also slotted in as a ten seed facing Temple. Both the Gaels and the Bulldogs are firmly on the middle of the bubble heading into tonight's WCC title game.

Chris Dobbertean projects three teams from the Pac-10 with Arizona as a five seed, UCLA as an eight seed, and Washington as a ten seed. He has USC as one of the first four teams out and Washington State as one of the next four teams out. USC and WSU will have an opportunity to boost their bubble resume this week in the 2011 Pac-10 tournament. The Trojans face Cal in the quarterfinals while the Cougars face their in-state rival Washington. A USC win over Cal won't do much to boost the Trojans resume, but a Washington State victory over Washington would be a big boost for the Cougars.

Continue
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Bay Area

You must be a member of SB Nation Bay Area to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Bay Area. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Bay Area

You must be a member of SB Nation Bay Area to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Bay Area. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.