Posted on: April 15, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 2:18 pm

Horizon League coach to Miami?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Could a Horizon League coach end up making the leap to leading the Miami Hurricanes?

No, not that one. Brad Stevens would actually be taking a step down if he headed to Coral Gables. The man who's on the radar in pastel paradise is the one who actually won the Horizon League's regular-season championship this year, and skunked Stevens' team twice in the process. Had he done it one more time on March 8 in the Horizon tourney final, this year's national runner-up would not have even made the Big Dance, in all likelihood.

I'm talking about the head coach of the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers, who is a candidate for the Miami job, according to a tweet from the always-accurate Jeff Goodman. "Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, according to sources, meeting with new Miami AD Shawn Eichorst tonight in Wisconsin," Goodman tweeted the evening of April 14.

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Jeter's name might not be high on anyone's wish list, so why did he get the preliminary call? Because Miami's new AD is Shawn Eichorst, who got a chance to observe Jeter up close when he was deputy AD at Wisconsin. Jeter is a branch from the Bo Ryan coaching tree, so he more or less starts from a position of underrated efficiency just like his mentor.

Reviewing Jeter's work at UWM, it's tough to determine exactly what he'll bring to the job if he's offered the Miami position. Jeter's Panther teams haven't been particularly consistent at anything over the past few years, though defensive rebounding often pops up as a positive in looking at the numbers. Jeter had his best team in 2005-06, his first season at the school after Bruce Pearl left. That squad made the NCAA tournament, beat Oklahoma and lost to Florida in the second round. No UWM team since has made it back to the Big Dance. This season, Jeter's reward for winning the Horizon was automatic entry into the postseason NIT, where his team promptly lost to Northwestern by nine points.

None of that makes Jeter a bad coach. It's not easy gaining ground in the shadow of the mighty Butler Bulldogs, after all. But it will make Jeter a tough sell to the fan base, should he be offered the job. Then again, it can't be as tough a sell as one more year of Haith, which was an onerous proposition to most 'Cane fans. 

If you want recent ACC history to back up why this might work (based completely on unrelated circumstantial evidence, but still), look at former Wright State head coach Brad Brownell, who had a pretty sharp first season at Clemson.

Jeter was a candidate for the Bradley University job when it was open last month, but withdrew from consideration to stay at UWM. If Miami, and a familiar boss, come calling, he may find the combination too sweet to turn down.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: March 28, 2011 1:57 am

Southeast wrap-up: The best and worst of 15 games

Posted by Matt Jones

In the history of the NCAA tournament, there are very few accomplishments that match what Butler pulled off this weekend in New Orleans. With their victory over Florida, Butler is now going to back to back Final Fours, an utterly unbelievable feat for a program that lives outside of the BCS power conferences.

When Brad Stevens’s group made it to the national championship game last season, it was considered by most to be an exceptional Cinderella run, brought about by a unique combination of a NBA lottery pick leader, outstanding clutch play and a run of good fortune. But now, after four consecutive thrilling wins that will send Butler to Houston for another go-around on college basketball’s biggest stage, such simplistic reasoning will no longer suffice.

With the win on Saturday, Butler basketball has shown that it deserves to be seen as one of the top ten current basketball programs in the country. It is only one of those types of programs that can lose a player like Gordon Hayward to the NBA draft and then come back and contend immediately again. Teams like Kentucky, Duke, UNC and Kansas are used to seeing superstars leave, and then immediately reloading. Now we must put Butler in that same group.

This year’s Butler group is now realistically on the brink of winning a national championship. Matt Howard’s last second win over Old Dominion got the tournament off to a rocking start and showcased just how clutch a performer the senior has been throughout the course of his career. The upset over Pittsburgh produced the most shocking ending of March, and removed the biggest obstacle to a second Final Four run. 

And then in New Orleans, the Bulldogs came to play, but not as the upstart from a small conference seeking to shock the world. Rather, they were the cool, calm and collected team that had been there before and could handle the moment. The Bulldogs handled their business from the opening tap in the Sweet 16 against Wisconsin and then were the more poised team down the stretch against a veteran Florida team who they rattled in the final minutes. 

Butler now goes to Houston with a chance to win the whole thing. It will be favored against VCU in the national semifinal and in a one game scenario against either Kentucky or UCONN, the Bulldogs would once again have a chance to shock the world. What Butler has accomplished is unheard of in modern college basketball and it may not yet be over.

Regional MVP: Shelvin Mack: Since Butler turned around its performance midway through the season, Shelvin Mack has been the driving force in big moments. Saturday’s final versus Florida was no different, as Mack scored 27 points and hit a number of crucial shots. Mack may be the most clutch performer left in the NCAA tournament and he showcased in New Orleans that he could be the most underrated perimeter player in America.

All-Regional team

C Vernon Macklin, Florida
F Matt Howard, Butler
F Alex Tyus, Florida
G Shelvin Mack, Butler
G Kenny Boyton, Florida

Game to remember: Butler 71, Pittsburgh 70. This is a game that will be remembered for a long time and could define these programs for years to come. Butler’s win allows the Bulldogs to lay claim to one of the great accomplishments in recent college basketball history. While Pittsburgh’s loss means that Jamie Dixon will not yet be able to get rid of the stigma of having never made a Final Four. Add to it, the bizarre late foul calls and the Nasir Robinson pain of costing his team the game late, and this will be one of the 2-3 most remembered games of the tournament.

Game to forget: Wisconsin 72, Belmont 58.  It happens every year. One trendy upset pick comes into the tournament and lays a total egg, making everyone who talked about them all week look silly. This year’s team was Belmont, who most thought had earned respect through its demolition of the Atlantic Sun and thus respect was given before playing against a slow team from the Big Ten. But that slow team controlled tempo, used its dominating size and the game was a dud. Never listen to the 4-13 pick that is trendy...it rarely works.

Biggest disappointment: St. John’s. It was a great regular season for Steve Lavin’s club and a late injury did temper expectations. But after the senior-laden squad did so well, the Johnnies fans wanted more than simply a harsh defeat to Gonzaga. Lavin will have St. John’s back sooner, rather than later. But a better showing this year was expected.

Best individual performance in a losing effort: They don’t get much better than the show Jacob Pullen put on for Kansas State in its 70-65 loss to Wisconsin. Pullen willed his team to the tournament towards the end of the season and then showcased all of that same desire in his two games. 38 points against Wisconsin was part of one of the great tournament performances so far, win or lose.

Most memorable moments:

  • Matt Howard makes a great putback at the buzzer to get March Madness off to a great start. We knew the tournament was back in session. 
  • Michigan State put forth an amazing comeback, down 25 late, but coming back and only losing by two. It was a miserable performance up until the end, but Tom Izzo teams can never totally be counted out.
  • Any time Jimmer Fredette plays, it is worth watching. He ran out of magic against Florida, but in the first two games, his deep threes were quite a sight.
  • The late fouls by Shelvin Mack and Nasir Robinson in the Pitt-Butler game won’t soon be forgotten and ignited a debate on the roll of officials at the end of games.
  • How can a team like Gonzaga look so dominant against St. John’s and then so terrible against BYU? Every game is different.
  • Billy Donovan coached well all tournament...until the end. I still do not know what the offensive gameplan was at the end of regulation or in overtime versus Butler.

Team to watch out for next year: This was a senior-laden bracket, with most of the best teams losing most of their best players. But there were some signs that UCLA could get out of its recent funk. Josh Smith is fun to watch and is able to do some amazing things in the paint. If Ben Howland can keep everyone around, the Bruins will join Arizona at the top of the Pac 10 once again next year.

Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:20 am

Wisky's tourney play as disappointing as Duke's

Posted by Matt Norlander

There is no easier, lazier, misguided writing assignment today than to proclaim Duke lost because it inserted Kyrie Irving into its lineup, screwing up the chemistry of the Blue Devils' crew.

This is a waste of your and my time. Duke struggles in the Sweet 16 on the regular. More to the point, it lost because Arizona had an aberration of a performance (stun-worthy!), one that had little to do with the fact Kyrie Irving was on the floor. In fact, the numbers suggest it's even more embarrassing for Mike Krzyzewski if his NBA-bound point guard isn't a part of the demolition. No college basketball team was beating Arizona last night, and that's the biggest thing to take away from Arizona 93, Duke 77.

So let's instead talk about another polarizing, all-encompassing, always-intriguing topic: Wisconsin basketball. Wait! Wait! Don't go. I can tie this in with Duke, you see? Is that enough to keep you around for a few more paragraphs? Because Wisconsin is almost as — if not more so; actually, probably more so — disappointing than Duke in March. This is especially true when you remember — anybody home? — that Duke kind of, sort of won a national title last season. Wisconsin does not come close to winning titles, nor is it expected to, despite consistently ranking high in a number of important tempo-free categories.

When we talk about PASE, we talk about teams who played beyond what they're expected to do; that's what PASE stands for: Performance Above Seed Expectation. How far do you go in the tournament, and are you beating teams you shouldn't be by doing so? Certain teams, like Butler, for instance (how appropriate it was the one to beat the Badgers last night) have incredible PASE. Michigan State's another one.

Duke, which has lost eight of the past 10 years in the tournament to an inferior seed, is put at a "disadvantage" by that misleading stat, as it's often a one or a two. So, in a way, Duke's sort of set up to fail. If it loses before the Final Four, then it's PASE is hindered. Wisconsin's different. Wisconsin isn't consistently holding down bracket from the very top or bottom.

Unfortunately, that focused, clock-burning swing offense comes back to haunt Wisconsin in the Big Bracket, despite so many experts telling us you must play the half-court game in March to win. Yet few teams execute more fastidiously in the half-court than the Badgers. Here they are again, though, executed at the hands of a lower number. It's about matchups, of course, but you can't deny the pattern that's now arced over Bo Ryan's career.

Awesome, awesome coach. Just isn't capable winning with his style once the snow melts.

Last night was the fourth loss in five years for UW in which it was felled by an inferior seed. No. 12 Cornell chopped down Wisconsin's tree last season. Before that, 2008, when Steph Curry captured America's imagination. And five years ago, Wisconsin was a two seed and got clipped by No. 7 UNLV. It's a shame Bo Ryan's teams do this to themselves. Rubbing salt in the wound, bad free-throw shooting last night cost the Badgers the all-time, single-season record for free-throw efficiency.

Wisconsin's loss gets overshadowed by Butler reaching back-to-back Elite Eights and the Duke conversation going full throttle until tonight's second batch of Sweet 16 games start. In a way, Ryan and the Badgers are lucky; if you're going to underwhelm in March, make sure you do it when one of the bluebloods crashes and burns at the same time. Doesn't change the fact the Badgers have been too good for too long to continue to do come up short like this.

Photo: AP

More NCAA tournament coverage
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke, Wisconsin
Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 10:19 pm

16 stories to watch in the Sweet 16

Posted by Matt Jones

1. Ohio State’s quest for dominance
:  College basketball has been decidedly mediocre as a whole this season, with no real difference between most of the teams in the top 25. But all year, Ohio State has seemed to be on a different plane. Its two losses during the regular season were both on the road, against ranked teams in the Top 15. And now in the tournament, as Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, etc have struggled at times in their games, the Buckeyes have rolled and looked absolutely dominant. Now however they are rewarded only with the two winningest programs in college basketball history, Kentucky and North Carolina. Win those two in a convincing manner and they will be cutting the nets down in Houston.

2.  The era of Jorts in full effect:  The most improved player in college basketball is the lone senior on a program known for its freshman, who played 35 total minutes last season. Josh Harrellson is a fan favorite in Lexington, Kentucky, in part because of his Cinderella story and in part because of his unique personality. In addition to becoming a force on the glass down low, Harrellson has embraced the nickname “Jorts,” given to him because he famously wore jean shorts on his campus recruiting visit. The denim legend has a chance to enter UK lore if he can somehow slow down Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and make Kentucky so filled with jean shorts, that it looks like Gainesville on a Saturday college football afternoon.

3.  Buzz Williams’s final audition:  Coach Buzz Williams is absolutely focused on taking Marquette to another Final Four, and to do so, he will have to beat two of the North Carolina, Ohio State, Kentucky trio. But Williams will also be a hot commodity when the season ends, as he is likely to be pursued by all of the job openings left in college basketball. Marquette is not the most attractive BCS-level job and Williams will have the opportunity to jump ship if he so chooses. Either way, a number of college Athletic Directors will be watching his Golden Eagles play, waiting for a loss and a chance to call his cell phone for a quick inquiry.

4.  Harrison Barnes lives up to the hype:  Thanks in large part to the success of freshman John Wall last season, many in the national media felt the need to crown North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes national preseason player of the year before he had even played a game in Chapel Hill. Early in the year, Barnes did not live up the hype, causing some painful growth and verbal reprimands to the press by coach Roy Williams. But as the year has gone on, Barnes has hit his stride and looks an awful lot like the number one player in America he was coming out of high school. A run to the Final Four and the Harrison Barnes redemption story will be told far and wide, likely followed up with a top 5 pick this spring in the NBA Draft.

5. Duke goes for the repeat:  Only two teams have gone back to back in the NCAA tournament in the last 35 years and both were considered some of the best in the history of college basketball. This year's Duke team has the chance to replicate the accomplishment, but do so in a different manner than the two prior winners. Both the 1992 Duke and 2007 Florida teams were dominant from start to finish, but this year's Duke team has been a notch below Ohio State and Kansas all season. They escaped against Michigan on Sunday and now are four games away from college basketball immortality...even if many of us aren't sure that they are all that good.

6. Arizona announces it is back:  It hasn't been that long since Arizona was the dominant college basketball power on the west coast. But then came the rise of UCLA, the decline of the Lute Olson era, Kevin O'Neill and all of a sudden, Arizona basketball became somewhat of an afterthought. Well regardless of what happens in the Sweet 16 versus Duke, the Wildcats' program under Sean Miller has proven that it is once again a power. Derrick Williams has made some of the most athletic plays of the tournament and Arizona has won two hard-fought battles over Memphis and Texas. With a strong recruiting class coming next season, Arizona basketball is back regardless of if they beat Duke. but if they sneak up and knock out the Blue Devils, well Arizona will announce that it is a top ten program once again, this time to stay.

7. Kemba Walker's time:  There isn't much left for Kemba Walker to accomplish at Connecticut. He has had an amazing season and his run in the Big East tournament ensures that he will be remembered forever around the Huskies' program. But he is two wins away from taking his UCONN team to a Final Four, completing a postseason that will have few equals in recent history. His ability to score and will wins at the end of games is unbelievable to watch and Walker now must do it as an underdog two more times to reach his ultimate goal. In a year where the stars have come out, Kemba still has the chance to be the biggest one yet, with two games in Anaheim to tell the tale.

8. Steve Fisher's redemption:  Everyone thinks Steve Fisher is a bad coach. Regardless of his amazing tournament run to the title in 1989 and his time spent overseeing the Fab Five, the reality is that media and most college basketball fans think Fisher is synonymous with "good recruiter/bad coach." But San Diego State has had a tremendous season in a tough conference and now has a chance to prove its mettle versus arguably one of the two best players in the game (Kemba Walker) and the defending national champions (Duke) over the next five days. Win both of those games and Fisher may not quiet the critics, but they will have much less ammunition than they would prefer.

9. Learn about the Morris twins:  Coming out of high school, most figured the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, to be super talented, but likely headed for a substantial amount of trouble during their time at Kansas. That opinion was bolstered by a stupid moment from Markieff, as he shot a BB gun out of a dorm window and ended up arrested on a battery charge. But since then, the Morris twins have gotten better on and off the basketball court and are the leaders of a Kansas team with a legitimate chance to win a title. Both players are forces on the glass and can score, making them not only a great brother tandem, but a matchup nightmare. In a relatively open bracket, it should be easy pickings for the brothers Morris.

10. Richmond tries to keep going:  Every year a team comes from out of the first weekend as a big underdog, heads into the second weekend with lots of press and excitement, only to fall in their Sweet 16 game to a stronger opponent. Last year that team was Cornell from the Ivy League and this year it is the familiar NCAA tournament success story, the Richmond Spiders. Unlike past heroes of the little guy, Richmond is from a near-major conference (Atlantic 10) and counts some good athletes and one great player, Kevin Anderson. Richmond plays great defense and has the ability to beat anyone in the tournament...except perhaps Kansas, who creates matchup nightmares for the Spiders. This is the spot where teams like Richmond exit stage left. We shall see if the Spiders will follow the script.

11. Could VCU be great?:  No team had a better first weekend than VCU. Who would have ever imagined that the Colonial team would put absolute smackdowns on USC, Georgetown and Purdue, all three in games that were never really all that close. VCU coach Shaka Smart has become the hottest name in the coaching community and our CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel suggested that they might be the most impressive team so far in the tournament. VCU plays a straightforward offensive style, in which every player can score and all on the court have a variety of skills. It makes them tough to prepare for in a given game and nearly impossible to defend when clicking. It is tough to see VCU coming out of this bracket and beating Kansas, but making the Elite Eight and giving the Jayhawks a good game? I would call it likely.

12. Florida State goes for respect:  Every year there is one team like Florida State that makes the Sweet 16. Usually they are from a power conference, were average all year, often underachieving, and then they get the perfect draw and make a run to the tournament's second weekend. The Seminoles were blessed by getting to play the decidedly unathletic and overseeded, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and are now onto play America's new fascination, VCU. When healthy, Chris Singleton is the type of player that can lead FSU over anyone and there will be no team they will see that they can't match up with athletically. But FSU has always been a team that skeptics dismiss and Leonard Hamilton is a coach that usually brings out the eye rolls from those in the college basketball community. This weekend could change that.

13. Brad Stevens tries to do it again:  Butler's move to the championship game last year was remarkable and a testament to the ability of Brad Stevens and a great group of Butler players, led by Gordon Hayward. But this Butler team's set of last-second wins last weekend may have even been more impressive. While Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack are both playing well, there was a time this year that Butler was completely in turmoil, losing to lower level Horizon League teams and looking like a fragment of the team that was a half court shot from cutting down the nets. But Stevens never gave up, the team got better and now two one point wins have put the Bulldogs two victories from the Final Four. The Southeast bracket is wide open and there is no reason that Stevens cannot make magic again.

14. Jordan Taylor will impress:  Jordan Taylor is a phenomenon to watch. While he plays on a painfully boring team that at times can suck the life out of any room it is in, he is an explosive scorer that also has the ability to get his teammates involved and control a game. Taylor will get overshadowed this weekend by Jimmer, Kemba and the rest, but he is as good a player as they are and at the top of his game, potentially a better NBA prospect. Wisconsin is prime to sneak in under the radar and make a trip to the Final Four, because they play great defense and are a style contrast for most teams. Bo Ryan can get it done with this group, but it will be Jordan Taylor who makes it happen.

15. Jimmer: He is the biggest star in college basketball and has become a sports figure so well known, that he can be called only by his first name. Jimmer Fredette draws the highest ratings of the NCAA tournament and is everyone's second favorite player in the nation. But what he doesn't have is a Final Four, an accomplishment that will make him an all-timer in the sport. Florida is a team that BYU beat last year and the Cougars might be favored against either Wisconsin or Butler. Jimmer can do it and if he does, he will become the Tim Tebow of college basketball.  All it takes is two more wins.

16. The under-appreciated Gators: Florida is playing its best basketball of the season and is one of only a few teams left in the tournament that has a scoring threat at every position. This Florida team has generally been overlooked all season and was thought by most to be way overseeded in the No. 2 spot in the Southeast region. But the Gators played two great games in Tampa and come to New Orleans with the most open bracket in the field and are the odds-on favorite to advance. Billy Donovan is extremely overlooked as a coach...three national title games in 11 years and a chance to go to a fourth Final Four this year. Get that done and he has to be considered one of the five best coaches in the game, a group he is rarely placed into.

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 12:26 am

Southeast Regional Preview

Posted By Matt Jones

The New Orleans Regional was supposed to be the most wide open of any of the four regions and after the first weekend, that is still the case. With No. 1 seed Pittsburgh losing to Butler, a case can be made for any of the four remaining teams ending up in the Final Four. None of the four teams provide significant matchup issues for the others and all four have the capability of beating each other in a one-game scenario. No matter what happens in New Orleans, the games there will be the hardest to forsee and thus likely, the most exciting.


Three storylines dominating New Orleans

  1. Jimmer Fredette tries to will his BYU team to the Final Four
  2. Butler seeks to prove last year was not a fluke and get to the Final Four for the second consecutive year.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan goes for his fourth Final four in just over a decade

How they got to New Orleans

No. 2 Florida:  The Gators have been one of the most impressive teams so far in the NCAA tournament and are playing their best basketball of the season. SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons led Florida throughout the year with his ability to score both inside and outside and hit the offensive glass. However in the last four weeks, guard Erving Walker has also stepped up and shown that not only does he want to take the big shots, he can also finish them. The Gators dominated UC-Santa Barbara in the first round, in as thorough a win as any team took in the round of 64. In the round of 32, the Gators struggled at times with UCLA, but executed down the stretch, thanks to the multitude of scoring weapons and Walker’s big play. No team in the New Orleans region has more weapons and the Gators will be the one team that can exploit advantages at its fourth and fifth options in both regional games.

No. 3 BYU:  It was unknown just how the Cougars would respond in the NCAA tournament, after the loss of Brandon Davies just two weeks prior. But BYU has answered the call and played some inspired basketball. The story with BYU will always be Jimmer Fredette, who was amazing once again in the Cougars’ round of 32 victory over Gonzaga. The win over the Zags was one of the most impressive of the tournament due to just how thorough it ended up being. Most believed that the Cougars were susceptible to a team that played physical and would try to exploit them on the interior, but BYU showcased that when its offense is clicking, defensive mismatches will not have much of an effect. They go into New Orleans with an opening game against a team they defeated last year and with a legitimate chance to overcome the late season turmoil and reach the Final Four.

No. 4 Wisconsin:  After the Badgers played so dreadfully in a 36-33 loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament, Wisconsin was considered a potential first round upset victim in the NCAA tournament. But after a convincing win over Belmont in the round of 64 and a gritty, hard-fought victory over Jacob Pullen and Kansas State, Wisconsin now moves on to New Orleans for the Southeast regional. Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer are one of the best one-two punches left in the tournament and will be difficult for any of the teams remaining in New Orleans to stop. The Badgers must however have other players step up and hit big shots to advance. Against Kansas State, Tim Jarmusz and Mike Bruesewitz both hit big shots from behind the three-point arc and it will require a repeat performance in New Orleans for Wisconsin to make a trip to Houston for the Final Four.

No. 8 Butler:  The Butler Bulldogs are as close to America’s team in college basketball right now as anyone in the sport. After two exciting, harrowing winds in Washington D.C., Butler is now on to try and make another miracle run to the Final Four for the second consecutive year. Matt Howard’s lay-up at the buzzer versus Old Dominion was the culmination of a great battle between two teams playing each other far too early in the tournament. The Bulldogs then moved on to get an impressive win over Pittsburgh in one of the better first weekend games in the past decade in the NCAA tournament. While most will remember the game for the bizarre ending, Butler had a near perfect performance throughout and showcased just how much it has improved since its rough early start to the season. Now the Bulldogs go to a regional in which there is no team it cannot beat and a Final Four is once again on the doorstep. 

New Orleans’s five best players

  1. Jimmer Fredette: The biggest star in college basketball has had an amazing season and is two games away from entering college basketball immortality.
  2. Jordan Taylor: There is no more explosive player in the country that is lesser known than the Wisconsin star who is one breakout performance away from stardom.
  3. Chandler Parsons: The SEC Player of the Year has had ups and downs in his career, but when he plays well, he is a matchup nightmare for any defender.
  4. Matt Howard: One of the best tournament players of the last 15 years. He finds a way to score in the post where it seems impossible.
  5. Jon Leuer: The Wisconsin big man is a load to handle and can step out and shoot, making him a very dangerous weapon.

This is the most wide open regional and a case can be made for any of the teams advancing. I will pick the Florida Gators, only because they have the most variety of weapons and are thus best suited to withstand a bad game by one of their star players. I look for Florida to play Wisconsin in the regional final and get the victory to send Billy Donovan to yet another Final Four.

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 8, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 2:37 pm

Projecting the first-round destinations

Posted by MATT JONES

I am a dork. Let’s get that out of the way right up front, because otherwise what I am attempting to do below will make no sense. While everyone else on the internet is giving their latest Bracketology projections and attempting to define the bottom half of the field of 68, I have a completely different goal. I want to try and get in the tournament committee’s minds and figure out exactly where the top seeds in the NCAA tournament will play their first round games .

Now this may seem like a silly enterprise, as on the surface it seems impossible to predict. If the process was random, with 68 teams and 8 different locales, projecting any team to any first round destination would be complete folly. But the process isn’t random and there is some logical basis to the assignments. In fact, if you understand two rules, projecting the assignments of some top teams can come rather easily:

1. The committee will try to put teams seeded in the top 4  teams in their region close to home.

2.  Duke will play in the state of North Carolina

Those two rules if not officially set in stone, are nearly always followed and thus give us some logical basis to begin a projection. At this point, our resident bracketologist Jerry Palm has these teams as the top 4 seeds:

  1. Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame
  2. Duke, Syracuse, Purdue, San Diego State
  3. North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida
  4. Louisville, Kentucky, St. Johns, BYU

While the order of those teams may change a bit and a couple of teams could crash the group (Vanderbilt, West Virginia, UCONN), it is likely that the vast majority of these teams will represent the 16 top seeds. For this year’s tournament, there are eight cities hosting first round games:


Washington DC


Each city will be the host site of two of the top 16 seeds. So using our two rules above, we can begin projecting teams to particular sites based upon location. Cleveland is just a hop, skip and a jump from two No.1 seeds, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Tulsa is the closest to Kansas and Chicago is virtually an extension of Notre Dame. So after placing the top seeds, the list looks like this:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Notre Dame
Washington DC:




Duke is a 2 seed and Charlotte is in North Carolina, thus making the Blue Devils a lock for the banking capital of America due to Rule No. 2. Purdue is within a quick drive to Chicago and Tucson is the only host city anywhere close to San Diego State. Syracuse would probably prefer to be in Cleveland, but because that locale is full, Washington DC becomes the most likely destination.

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Notre Dame, Purdue
San Diego State
Washington DC:



North Carolina is apparently still located in North Carolina and thus placing the Tar Heels in Charlotte ensures a packed house for each session. Tulsa is the location closest to Texas, making the Longhorns a likely candidate for that beautiful city. Tampa is in Florida and has a huge arena to fill, potentially enticing the fickle Gators fans to make the short drive. Wisconsin has no obvious destination, as nothing left is very close to Madison. But with Denver in that same general part of America and only one other western team, the Badgers seem likely headed for the Rockies:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Notre Dame, Purdue
San Diego State
Washington DC:
Kansas, Texas
Duke, North Carolina

This is when it starts to get tricky. BYU is the farthest west and can’t play on Sunday, meaning that Tucson is the likely home for the Cougars. St. John’s is in New York, which likes to think of DC as its dorky extension, thus sending the Red Storm to the nation’s capital. Louisville and Kentucky are both not close to either remaining destination, but the Cardinals are slightly farther west, sending them to Denver and Kentucky to Tampa. That makes the final split look like this:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Notre Dame, Purdue
Wisconsin, Louisville
Tucson: San Diego State, BYU
Florida, Kentucky
Washington DC:
Syracuse, St. Johns
Kansas, Texas
Duke, North Carolina

Of course it is just as likely that the committee follows none of these parameters and just does what it wants. But if logic is used, you can book your travel destinations now.

Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:17 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 7:20 am

The Morning Drive: Ohio State sets 3-point record

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Sunday was perfect for college basketball fans. There was a top-10 match-up, an SEC rivalry battle, a conference title game and dozens of conference tournament games. There were statement wins, upsets galore and quality performances across the board. Let’s dive into the action. Follow me during Championship Week on Twitter: @jeffborzello

Conference Tournament Updates

America East: The finals are set for next Saturday, as No. 5 Stony Brook will face No. 2 Boston University. The Seawolves upset top-seeded Vermont by 22 yesterday, holding the Catamounts without a field goal in the final 5:26. Boston beat Hartford for its 10th straight win. Top performer: Leonard Hayes, Stony Brook (20 points, six rebounds)

Colonial: The first bid thief emerged on Sunday, as VCU outplayed George Mason throughout the game, beating the Patriots by 16. In the other semifinal, Old Dominion held Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins to just 16 points en route to a 77-69 win over the Pride. The two teams will go at it tonight. Top performer: Bradford Burgess, VCU (16 points, 13 rebounds)

MAAC: Another conference that saw its favorite fall, top-seeded Fairfield was down by 25 at the half before falling to No. 4 St. Peter’s, 62-48. The Stags made a run in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. The Peacocks will face No. 2 Iona, who hammered Rider by 24, in the title game. Top performer: Jermel Jenkins, Iona (20 points, five assists, six 3-pointers)

Missouri Valley: The lone automatic bid to be handed out on Sunday, Indiana State defeated regular-season champion Missouri State and will represent the MVC in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears shot just 19 percent in the second half, losing their three-point halftime lead rapidly. Top performer: Aaron Carter, Indiana State (15 points, four rebounds)

Northeast: Both semifinal games were decided by two points, with top-seeded Long Island defeated Central Connecticut State, 69-67, and No. 3 Robert Morris knocking off No. 2 Quinnipiac, 64-62. LIU has won 12 in a row, while RMU is on an eight-game streak. The title game is on Wednesday. Top performer: Jamal Olasewere, Long Island (16 points, 12 rebounds)

Patriot: Another tandem of semifinals that were decided by two points each, the Patriot was also host to the shot of the day – a 3-pointer from the wing by No. 6 Lafayette’s Jim Mower with 0.5 seconds left to beat American in double overtime. Top-seeded Bucknell escaped against Lehigh, 66-64. Top performer: Vlad Moldoveanu, American (25 points, nine rebounds)

Southern: We will get the finals match-up that everyone wanted, as regular-season champion Charleston will face defending champion Wofford for the right to go to the Big Dance. Wofford beat Western Carolina, 86-72, while Charleston came back to knock off Furman, 63-58. Top performer: Andrew Goudelock, Charleston (31 points, seven rebounds)

Summit: There were two quarterfinal games last night in the Summit. No. 5 South Dakota State defeated No. 4 IPFW, 85-75, going up by as many as 19 points in the first half. Third-seeded IUPUI destroyed UMKC by 24. Oakland will face SDSU, while Oral Roberts and IUPUI will battle in the semifinals. Top performers: Leroy Nobles, IUPUI (37 points, seven rebounds, six 3-pointers); Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (30 points, seven rebounds, five assists)

Sun Belt: What a night in the Sun Belt. Only one of the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals, with Middle Tennessee dominating Florida International, 73-38. Regular-season champ Florida Atlantic was defeated by defending champion North Texas, while Louisiana-Lafayette, which had won 11 in a row, lost to Western Kentucky. Arkansas State fell victim to Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman and Arkansas-Little Rock, 59-52. Top performers: Tristan Thompson, North Texas (36 points, 20-20 FTs); Sergio Kerusch, Western Kentucky (25 points, eight rebounds)

West Coast: We’re headed for round three of Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga tonight. The Gaels took a two-point lead into halftime and never trailed the rest of the way, shooting 51.5 percent from the field. Gonzaga needed some late-game mistakes from San Francisco in order to knock off the Dons, but the Bulldogs prevailed nonetheless. Top performer: Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara (22 points, four rebounds)

Individual Honors

Top Performer: This wasn’t difficult. Ohio State’s Jon Diebler went 7-for-8 from 3-point range en route to 27 points, six rebounds and four assists, leading the Buckeyes to a dominant victory over Wisconsin, 93-65. Diebler went 10-for-12 from deep against Penn State earlier in the week, making him an unbelievable 17-for-20 in the two games. He also averaged 28.5 points for the week.

Stat-Sheet Stuffer: Florida State has been looking for a go-to-guy since Chris Singleton went down with an injury. While Derwin Kitchen might not be in the same mold as Singleton, he is certainly stepping up his production. Last night, Kitchen went for 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Seminoles to a 72-62 win over North Carolina State.

Filling it up: Penn State’s Talor Battle kept the Nittany Lions alive in the at-large hunt, going for 22 points and four 3-pointers to lead them to an important, 66-63 road victory over Minnesota. Battle didn’t have his best day from the field, but he was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and also pitched in with two rebounds and three assists.

In a Losing Effort: Wake Forest has had an absolutely miserable season, but freshman Travis McKie has been a bright spot for the Demon Deacons. Yesterday, McKie had another solid effort, finishing with 21 points and six rebounds in an 84-68 loss to Boston College. McKie went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and grabbed four offensive boards. He also blocked two shots.

Set the DVR: There are three automatic bids to be handed out tonight. VCU and Old Dominion face off in the Colonial, with bubble teams rooting heavily for ODU. Saint Peter’s looks to keep its hot run going against No. 2 seed Iona, while Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s settle the season series. The Summit League and Sun Belt have their semifinals. 

Numbers Don’t Lie:

  • Ohio State set a record by going 14-for-15 from 3-point range. The Buckeyes shot a ridiculous 93.3 percent from behind the arc.
  • After Jon Diebler missed the first three of the game, Ohio State made its last 14 3-point shots. 14 in a row is a Division-I record.
  • According to ESPN, the chance of a 40.5 percent shooting team making 14 straight 3-pointers was 1 in 373,000.
  • Tennessee lost to Kentucky at home on Sunday – it was the first time since 1994-95 that the Volunteers finished with eight home losses.
  • Florida State won 11 games for just the third time in program history.

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 7:07 pm

Ohio State the best of a parity-filled field

Posted by Jeff Borzello

We’ve all heard the same thing this season: there are no “great” teams in college basketball, with the No. 1 ranking a revolving door and no one team separating itself from the rest of the pack.

While that may still be the case, we certainly have a favorite heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State proved on Sunday it is the team to beat right now, taking apart No. 10 Wisconsin in a dominant 93-65 victory that gave the Buckeyes the Big Ten title. Theyavenged an earlier 71-67 loss to the Badgers, a game that sprouted some bad blood between the two clubs.

After that contest, Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger said a Wisconsin fan spit in his face, an allegation to which Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan responded, “We won the game. Deal with it.” The Buckeyes wanted revenge from the opening tip, distributing towels to fans that read “Deal With It” and showing a pregame video with the same motto.

Fueled by seven points from Jon Diebler in a span of 49 seconds, Ohio State took a 22-15 lead and never looked back. The closest Wisconsin got in the second half was 59-48 with 12:48 remaining, but the Buckeyes responded with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. 

Diebler knocked down seven 3-pointers, finishing with 27 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Jared Sullinger dominated the paint with 22 points and eight boards. Freshman point guard Aaron Craft dished out six assists and held Jordan Taylor to a 2-for-9 shooting performance.

As a team, Ohio State shot an unbelievable 93.3 percent from 3-point range, going 14-for-15 from behind the arc.

When the Buckeyes are playing their best, there’s not a team in the country that can beat them. Their ceiling is simply higher than the ceiling of the rest of the national title contenders.

Sullinger is the nation’s most dominant inside player; Diebler might be the most dangerous 3-point shooter in the country; Craft provides defense and ball-handling off the bench; David Lighty is the arguably the best defender in America and the quintessential “glue guy”; and William Buford is lethal from mid-range and a future NBA player. Throw in Dallas Lauderdale’s defense and rebounding, and this team has everything a champion needs.

Looking for weaknesses? Good luck. Ohio State is the nation’s most efficient team according to kenpom.com. The Buckeyes take care of the ball offensively and can hurt you inside and out. Defensively, they force turnovers as well as anyone in the country, but also have the best foul rate in the country.

Ohio State isn’t perfect – no one in college basketball is this season.

But heading into the postseason, the Buckeyes are clearly the favorite to cut down the nets in Houston.

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com