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Category:NCAAB
Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Pitt's No. 1 seed suddenly in jeopardy

Kemba Walker put Connecticut in the Big East tournament semifinals.

He might've also knocked Pittsburgh down to a No. 2 seed in next week's NCAA tournament.

As they say, we shall see. But Pittsburgh fans would be wise to spend the rest of the week rooting against Notre Dame, Duke and maybe even BYU, San Diego State and North Carolina, because if any of those schools win their league tournaments, they could earn one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament that's long been reserved for Jamie Dixon's team. That's the byproduct of Pitt's 76-74 last-second loss to Connecticut on Thursday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals. Suddenly, the Panthers no longer control their own destiny. They're instead just one of several teams hoping to get one of the two No. 1 seeds that Ohio State and Kansas haven't already essentially clinched.

Yesterday, Pitt was a safe bet to do exactly that.

But Kemba Walker put things in doubt.

And now the Panthers probably need Notre Dame, Duke and a few others to exit early, too.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 9, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:39 am
 

Wednesday Wrap-up

Baylor was bad.

The St. John's-Rutgers officials were worse.

Here's Wednesday's Wrap-up to recap the day in college basketball.

Teams that punched tickets: Long Island and Northern Colorado each earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament on Wednesday. That means 13 of the 68 spots in the field are now claimed.

Best game: The contest was terrific but the officiating at the end of St. John's' 65-63 win over Rutgers in the second round of the Big East tournament was embarrassing and inexcusable, and that's putting it nicely. Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton somehow missed St. John's senior Justin Brownlee travel and then step out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. By doing so, they committed what Big East commissioner John Marinatto later acknowledged were "two separate officiating errors" that cost Rutgers a chance to tie or win at the buzzer. Those "two separate officiating errors" should also cost Burr, Higgins and Walton future assignments.

Other best game: Long Island's 85-82 win over Robert Morris in the title game of the Northeast tournament represented everything that makes small-conference basketball great. It was a bunch of players most folks have never heard of competing in front of a rowdy crowd in a rare national television appearance with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, and it ended with a court-storming. Jamal Olasewere's career-high 31 points turned him into a name worth remembering heading into next week. That's when the Blackbirds will play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997.

Team whose dream remained alive: Colorado was down six with less than three minutes to play in a potential bubble-bursting game. Then Alec Burks made a jumper, sparked a comeback and led the Buffaloes to a 77-75 win over Iowa State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Burks got 25 of his 29 points in the final 17 minutes. It was a performance that kept Colorado's quest to make the NCAA tournament intact, though the Buffaloes probably need a win over Kansas State in Thursday's quarterfinals to feel reasonably good about their at-large chances.

Team whose dream was crushed: Nebraska entered Wednesday on the bubble thanks to a resume that included wins over Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri, and just three losses outside of the top 100 of the RPI. But the Huskers still needed to do work, everybody agreed. And now the Huskers are off the bubble, everybody agrees, thanks to a 53-52 loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

Performance I hope you witnessed: I voted Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough the Big East's Player of the Year. So I can't join those who think Connecticut's Kemba Walker was slighted for that award because I'll never give Player of the Year honors to somebody whose team finishes in the bottom half of a league. That said, it's baffling that Walker wasn't a unanimous all-league selection, and he showed why in the Huskies' 79-62 win over the Chris Wright-less Georgetown Hoyas in the second round of the Big East tournament. Walker was 10-of-18 from the field. He finished with 28 points. "I think he's the best player in the country," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. "That should be more important."

Performance I hope you missed: UCF's 75-60 loss to East Carolina means the Knights, in a span of three months, transformed from a nationally ranked team with non-league wins over Florida and Miami into a nationally unranked team that was bounced in the first round of its league tournament. Marcus Jordan was 1-of-9 from the field with four turnovers against the Pirates. It was a fitting ending to a strange season.

Three other things worth noting

1. Baylor's bad day that started with the announcement that star freshman Perry Jones has been suspended because of a violation of NCAA rules ended with an 84-67 loss to Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. So the Bears' season began with their best guard (LaceDarius Dunn) suspended and it will end with their best big (Jones) suspended. It'll also end in the NIT, most likely.

2. Marquette's 67-61 win over West Virginia in the second round of the Big East tournament ensured the Golden Eagles won't have to spend Selection Sunday worrying whether they're in or out. They're in. Safely. Regardless of what happens Thursday against Louisville.

3. Manhattan fired Barry "Slice" Rohrssen on Wednesday while Northern Illinois fired Ricardo Patton. There will be more firings Thursday, I'm certain. It's that time of the year, you know?

Final thought: Texas Tech announced early this week that Pat Knight won't return next season.

Lots of possible replacments have been mentioned.

I'd hire Billy Gillispie.

Yes, I know Gillispie has had issues, and those must be addressed. But don't let two weird years at Kentucky make you forget that he was considered among the nation's best and hottest coaches just four years ago, and that he earned that reputation by winning at two Texas schools (UTEP and Texas A&M).  At Kentucky, Gillispie was out of his element, and he didn't handle it well. A subsequent drinking-and-driving arrest further damaged his reputation, but it should be noted that he's stayed free of negative headlines for the past 18 months. That's not everything. But it's something.

Bottom line, Gillispie's pros outweigh his cons at a place like Texas Tech.

I bet he would win there if given the chance.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Guess who's in the NCAA tournament again?

Gonzaga was No. 12 in the preseason Associated Press poll.

Butler was 17th.

Neither school met those expectations this season. But in the past two days they've both still managed to do what they always do -- make the NCAA tournament somehow, someway. The Zags earned a spot with Monday's 75-63 win over Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference tournament title game. Then on Tuesday, Butler went on the road and beat Milwaukee 59-44 to win the Horizon League's automatic bid.

So now everything makes sense.

And do you see why Gonzaga and Butler are both great coaching spots?

While power-conference jobs like Clemson, Marquette, Minnesota, Alabama, Baylor, Southern California and countless others require coaches to build to the point where they can hopefully earn at-large bids during nice years, Gonzaga and Butler are setup to make the NCAA tournament in good and bad times alike. Both are national brands that garner intriguing non-league opportunities. When things go well, the Zags and Bulldogs receive Top 25 votes and remain ranked most of the season. When they don't, the programs are still solid enough to win their inferior leagues, which is why Gonzaga is about to play in its 13th straight NCAA tournament, Butler in its fifth straight.

That's also why Few has never left Gonzaga.

And it's why Stevens probably won't leave Butler (unless Indiana calls someday).

In a sport where coaches secure contract extensions with NCAA tournament bids and get fired after consecutive NITs, this season proved why Few or Stevens would be foolish to leave a job with so many built-in advantages for a middle-of-the-pack power-conference gig. At most BCS-affiliated schools, a coach has to at least slightly overachieve to make the NCAA tournament. But Gonzaga and Butler are so strong relative to their conference brethren that coaches there can reasonably expect to make the Field of 68 regardless of the circumstances or even if they underachieve.

That's the definition of a great job.

And by great, I mean really, really safe.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler, Gonzaga
 
Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:33 am
 

My final 20 for Wooden Award

I was asked to submit a final list of 20 for the Wooden Award.

Here's what I filed:

(Players listed in alphabetical order)
  • Norris Cole (Cleveland State)
  • Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
  • Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  • Jordan Hamilton (Texas)
  • Ben Hansbrough (Notre Dame)
  • Tu Holloway (Xavier)
  • Charles Jenkins (Hofstra)
  • John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)
  • JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
  • Brandon Knight (Kentucky)
  • Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State)
  • Jon Leuer (Wisconsin)
  • E'Twaun Moore (Purdue)
  • Marcus Morris (Kansas)
  • Jacob Pullen (Kansas State)
  • Nolan Smith (Duke)
  • Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  • Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin)
  • Kemba Walker (Connecticut)
  • Derrick Williams (Arizona)
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Wooden Award
 
Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:54 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

Whitelaw Reid was the only voter who put Duke No. 1 last week. I ignored it because I'm kind. But now Whitelaw's done gone and went straight Whitelaw on us again, and I can't ignore him a second time. So welcome back to the Poll Attacks, Mr. Reid. It really has been too long.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: Let's make this simple and just compare two resumes blindly.

----- Team A -----

Overall record: 24-6
RPI: 6
Record against the Top 50: 6-4
Record against the Top 100: 14-5
Wins over teams ranked in the latest AP poll: 2

----- Team B -----

Overall record: 25-6
RPI: 16
Record against the Top 50: 2-4
Record against the Top 100: 8-5
Wins over teams ranked in the latest AP poll: 0

Team A is clearly more accomplished, right? Team A has a better RPI, a better record against the top 50, a better record against the top 100 and two wins over schools ranked in the latest AP poll compared to Team B's zero wins over schools ranked in the latest AP poll. Team A is North Carolina. Team B is Arizona. And their resumes aren't even close, which is why the Tar Heels are ranked sixth and the Wildcats are ranked 16th this week.

Guess who has that damn-near backwards?

Yep, Poll Attacks veteran Whitelaw Reid from The Daily Progress.

He's got Arizona ranked No. 9 and North Carolina ranked No. 15 on his ballot.

I can't make sense of it.

I bet he can't either.

Coaches poll: I doubted and discounted Cincinnati much of this season and applauded those who were with me. But at some point it's impossible to ignore the Bearcats' resume, and we reached that point over the past week when Cincinnati won at Marquette and then beat Georgetown. Yes, the win over Georgetown is a win over the Hoyas sans Chris Wright. But it's still a win that pushed the Bearcats to 24-7 and allowed them to finish sixth in a Big East conference that has seven members ranked in the latest coaches poll.

The problem?

Cincinnati isn't one of the seven.

Which is crazy considering the Bearcats have five top-25 RPI wins and zero losses outside of the top 35 of the RPI. Not to pick on Utah State, but the Aggies have zero top-25 RPI wins and a loss to Idaho (129th in the RPI), and they're ranked 17th in the coaches poll that doesn't rank UC at all. Again, that's crazy. And you'll see just how crazy next Sunday when the Bearcats get a better seed than Utah State in the NCAA tournament despite being ranked much lower in the coaches poll.
Posted on: March 6, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Updated Top 25 (and one)

The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.

Here's how it will look:
  1. Ohio State (29-2)
  2. Kansas (29-2)
  3. Pittsburgh (27-4)
  4. Notre Dame (25-5)
  5. North Carolina (24-6)
  6. Duke (27-4)
  7. BYU (28-3)
  8. San Diego State (29-2)
  9. Texas (25-6)
  10. Wisconsin (23-7)
  11. Purdue (25-6)
  12. Syracuse (25-6)
  13. Florida (24-6)
  14. Kentucky (22-8)
  15. Louisville (23-8)
  16. St. John's (20-10)
  17. West Virginia (20-10)
  18. Connecticut (21-9)
  19. Cincinnati (24-7)
  20. Xavier (24-6)
  21. UNLV (23-7)
  22. Kansas State (21-9)
  23. Georgetown (21-9)
  24. Vanderbilt (21-9)
  25. Texas A&M (23-7)
  26. Temple (24-6)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Source: Les out at Bradley

Jim Les is out as Bradley's men's basketball coach after nine seasons at his alma mater, a source confirmed to CBSSports.com on Sunday.

An official announcement is expected shortly.

The development was first reported by FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman.

Les led Bradley to the Sweet 16 of the 2006 NCAA tournament, but the Braves never finished better than fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in his nine years. They finished last in the league this season with a 4-14 MVC record. They ended their season Friday with a loss to Wichita State in the MVC tournament.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Bradley, Jim Les
 
Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:22 am
 

Notre Dame is a No. 1 seed (at this moment)

Notre Dame's win at Connecticut combined with Duke's loss at North Carolina pushed the Irish into a position where receiving a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament next Sunday is a realistic possibility. Mike Brey's team is now 25-5 with 10 top-50 RPI wins, no home losses and just one loss to a school with an RPI outside of the top 25. That's a strong body of work. The reward for it will come a week from today.

My four No. 1 seeds (at this moment) look like this:
  • Ohio State
  • Kansas
  • Pittsburgh
  • Notre Dame
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com