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Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 2:54 pm
 

What-to-know conference previews: MVC

The Missouri Valley Conference breaks down like this: Wichita State, Creighton ... and everybody else.

The Shockers and Bluejays went a combined 30-6 in the league.

The next five teams in the standings were a combined 45-45.

So anything other than a Sunday showdown between No. 15 Wichita State and No. 25 Creighton will be a surprise. But this event has surprised us before -- most recently last March when Indiana State won the MVC's automatic bid despite going 12-6 in the league and finishing third. That sent regular-season champion Missouri State -- and its former coach, Cuonzo Martin -- to the NIT, and the MVC was a one-bid league. Again. Which was frustrating for Doug Elgin, who is one of the nation's most likable conference commissioners.

Elgin won't have to worry about a similar situation this season.

Wichita State is a lock.

Creighton is, too.

Dough McDermott could be setting up for an epic March. (AP)
So the MVC will place two schools in the NCAA Tournament at worst, and three if somebody besides Wichita State or Creighton spends Sunday cutting nets. Either way, it's all good for this consistently under-valued league. Good coaches. Good fans. Good teams. Good times. There's a reason why I'm traveling to St. Louis this week and it's not to visit the Arch. It's for Arch Madness. Should be fun.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday in St. Louis

Title game: Sunday

BEST PLAYERS  

  • Doug McDermott, Creighton
  • Joe Ragland, Wichita State
  • Colt Ryan, Evansville
  • Garrett Stutz, Wichita State
  • Kyle Weems, Missouri State

Conference RPI: 8

KenPom.com rating: 8

Sagarin rating: 9

NCAA Tournament Locks: Wichita State, Creighton

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance

  • Bradley: 2006
  • Creighton: 2007
  • Drake: 2008
  • Evansville: 1999
  • Illinois State: 1998
  • Indiana State: 2011
  • Missouri State: 1999
  • Northern Iowa: 2010
  • Southern Illinois: 2007
  • Wichita State: 2008

-- Gary Parrish

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gary Parrish, MVC
 
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:33 pm
 

It's our bulkiest Tuesday poll yet

By Matt Norlander

We're back again with our weekly Tuesday poll and we want you to click through and let us know who you're picking for this week's marquee games. This is by far and away the most we've ever included in a poll, which means it will take you 20 seconds instead of the normal 13 to decide.

As usual, all of these games will be discussed on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET. Before or after you vote, I also implore you to like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter. That newsleter is fantastic -- send it along to a parent or relative who you think would want that in their mailbox this time of year, too.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:24 pm
 

What-to-know tourney previews: America East

Listen, just because we’re doing a preview for every conference tournament doesn’t mean it has to be nothing but roses, rainbows and sweetmeats. The America East is one of the worst leagues in basketball. Its winner is going to be seeded 16th and could very well go to Dayton for the First Four.

Am I getting you down? Sorry, it’s just … this league has a 6-32 record in the NCAAs, and it’s looking like a good chance that will become 6-33 by March 17. As for the league tournament, there comes some better news. There's unpredictability! There is a good chance the top seed doesn’t win it all. That top seed is Stony Brook, and it’s only the No. 1 because Vermont fell at Binghamton, giving the Bearcats their only win of the season. The Seawolves haven’t been to the NCAAs since ... ever. Nearly half the league can, unfortunately, say the same.

Before I get to the key parts to this conference bracket, let's talk about the bracket itself. In order to get its title game on television, the America East has one of the quirkier setups. It has its first three rounds of play in back-to-back-to-back days, and then it's nearly a week wait for the title game. I love the fact that the higher seed always hosts the title game -- something that I think I want for most small-major leagues -- but the long layoff is out of rhythm with the rest of the season. Oh, well. At least both teams can get healthy and the coaching staff can truly prepare for the game. It's because of this that we've often had very compelling America East championship games.

Let's hit on the four best teams. Stony Brook and Vermont, the top two, split the series in the regular season. I've got a soft spot for the Catamounts, seeing as I grew up 10 minutes from the UVM campus. But I always love seeing programs who've never made the NCAAs earn their first trip. Stony Brook has a great chance so long as it gets to March 9's title game. The Seawolves are led by senior guard Bryan Dougher, who led the team in scoring. Vermont has a couple of nice pieces -- and the overall better collection of talent -- and it's guided by first-year coach John Becker. The Cats beat league foes by an average of 11.5 points per game.

Al Rapier (right) and the Stony Brook Seawolves are chasing their first NCAA berth. (AP)

Boston University, who repped the league in last year's field, reigned over the AE for so long. It finished third this year, but despite that it's got this Butler-like clasp on the league. You can never count out the Terriers, who are very good and not fouling and not turning the ball over.

Fourth-place Albany actually has the best offense in the league, putting up 1.07 points per possession. The Great Danes (supremely underrated moniker in all of hoops), unfortunately, have the third-worst defense in the league; that's why they finished fourth.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: March 1-3, 9
Title game:
Friday, March 9, ESPN2.

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Gerardo Suero, Albany
  2. Matt Glass, Vermont
  3. Brian Voelkel, Vermont
  4. Darryl Partin, Boston University
  5. Brian Benson, New Hampshire

Conference RPI: 29

KenPom.com rating: 29

Sagarin rating: 29

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Albany Great Danes: 2007, 13 seed, an 84-57 loss to Virginia
  • Binghamton Bearcats: 2009, 15 seed, an 86-62 loss to Duke
  • Boston University Terriers: 2011, 16 seed, a 72-53 loss to Kansas
  • Hartford Hawks: N/A
  • Maine Black Bears: N/A
  • Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers: 2008, 15 seed,  a 66-47 loss to Georgetown
  • New Hampshire Wildcats: N/A
  • Stony Brook Seawolves: N/A
  • Vermont Catamounts: 2010, 16 seed, a 79-56 loss to Syracuse in the first round

By Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:19 am
 

Today's Specials: NCAA implications galore

Michigan State can clinch the outright Big Ten regular-season title with a road win at Indiana. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

After a very weak slate on Monday, we have a far better schedule on Tuesday. There are bubble games, top-25 showdowns and more.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Indiana (7 p.m., ESPN). If Michigan State gets a win here, the Spartans will clinch the outright regular-season championship in the Big Ten. Tremendous job by Tom Izzo. On the other side, Indiana is still looking for a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and a win here would certainly help. The battle between Indiana’s offense and Michigan State’s defense should be fun to watch. The Hoosiers are great from the perimeter, but the Spartans guard the arc very well. Who defends Draymond Green for Indiana?

Second-best game: No. 16 Florida at Vanderbilt (9 p.m., ESPN). Second-place is on the line in the SEC, in a rematch of Florida’s 73-65 win back in early February. The Gators will clinch second if they win, while Vanderbilt will force a tie heading into the season finale. Both teams love to shoot the 3-pointer, and we’ll certainly see a gunning match between Vandy’s John Jenkins and Florida’s Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. Moreover, the inside players – Festuz Ezeli and Patric Young – could hold the key to each team’s March success.

Another one to watch: Xavier at Saint Louis (9 p.m., CBS Sports Network). A monster bubble game in the Atlantic 10. Saint Louis had a very good profile – until it lost at Rhode Island over the weekend. The Billikens are still in the field, but things could get a little dicey if they lose on Tuesday. On the other side, Xavier really needs to win in order to get a bid. The Musketeers could conceivably finish second in the conference with a win here, which would look good on the Selection Sunday profile. Saint Louis won the first meeting between the two teams, at Xavier in late January.

Guaranteed win: There are a couple of games that should be confident picks. West Virginia hosts DePaul in an absolute desperate setting (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Mountaineers cannot afford another loss if they want to get an at-large bid, and we think they will come out and crush the Blue Demons. Also, even though No. 4 Duke hasn’t been overwhelming lately, the Blue Devils need to win at Wake Forest (9 p.m., ESPNU) in order to keep a hold on a No. 1 seed.

Potential upset: Both Texas A&M and Providence have had some close calls lately, and Tuesday night could be the day they break through. The Aggies host Kansas State (7 p.m., ESPN2) in the final home game of what has been a tumultuous season filled with injuries, disappointments and Billy Kennedy being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It will be an emotional game. Also, Connecticut needs to beat Providence to continue to feel good about an at-large bid, but the Friars have been plucky at home in Big East play. They have the firepower to keep up with the Huskies (7 p.m., ESPN3). 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. The Big Sky regular-season championship is on the line as Weber State and Montana square off. Both teams are tied at 14-1 in the season heading into the finale (9 p.m., Altitude). The winner gets homecourt throughout the conference tournament.
  2. The Horizon League tournament gets started on Tuesday night, with four first round games to tickle your fancy. The most intriguing? Let’s go with Green Bay vs. Youngstown State (7:05 p.m.).
  3. There are several former bubble teams in action tonight: Minnesota at No. 14 Wisconsin (8 p.m., Big Ten Network); Ole Miss at Arkansas (7 p.m., ESPNU); UCF at Memphis (9 p.m.); TCU at Wyoming (9:30 p.m., Mountain). 
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
 

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Only once before, in 2008, has West Coast Conference earned three bids to the Big Bracket.

It could and should happen again this year.

Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.

The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.

The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.

Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)

The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.

So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
  2. Elias Harris, Gonzaga
  3. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
  4. Brandon Davies, BYU
  5. Noah Hartsock, BYU

Conference RPI: 11

KenPom.com rating: 11

Sagarin rating: 11

NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
  • Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
  • Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
  • Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
  • Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
  • San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
  • San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
  • Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.

By Matt Norlander

Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:13 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 9:24 am
 

What-to-know conference previews: Atlantic Sun

Belmont was the Atlantic Sun's overwhelming favorite in the preseason, and the Bruins won the league title by three games. That's good. But they just didn't get enough done in the non-league part of their schedule to ensure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins lost to Duke, Memphis and Marshall, and they split with Middle Tennessee State to finish 1-3 against the Top 50 and 2-4 against the Top 100.

So they'd better win the Atlantic Sun Tournament that starts Wednesday.

Otherwise, they're likely headed to the NIT.

The only Atlantic Sun schools to beat Belmont this season were USC-Upstate and Lipscomb. Both are on the other side of the bracket here, meaning the Bruins won't deal with either until a presumed title game. Still, Mercer is the No. 2 seed. The Bears are led by Langston Hall, who had 13 points in Saturday's 62-61 loss to Belmont. Put another way, Mercer nearly clipped Belmont three days ago. So while the Bruins are the favorite, they're clearly vulnerable and need Kerron Johnson to play big this week to avoid an upset that'll have Rick Byrd sweating on Selection Sunday.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: Feb. 29-March 3
Title game:
Saturday

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Ian Clark, Belmont
  2. Torrey Craig, USC-Upstate
  3. Langston Hall, Mercer
  4. Drew Hanien, Belmont
  5. Kerron Johnson, Belmont

KenPom.com rating: 16

Sagarin rating: 17

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Belmont

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Belmont: 2011
  • Campbell: 1992
  • ETSU: 2010
  • Florida Gulf Coast: Never
  • Jacksonville: 1986
  • Kennesaw State: Never
  • Lipscomb: Never
  • Mercer: 1985
  • North Florida: Never
  • Stetson: Never
  • UC-Upstate: Never

-- Gary Parrish

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:45 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 8:57 am
 

Wakeup: Ultimate reference list to conf tourneys

Hoyas fans dressed proudly and in unison for Senior Night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander


Time-traveling hipster will be all over your Tumblrs and Facebook feeds by Wednesday afternoon. // Volcano eruption imminent. // Seems like such a nice guy. // One of my former colleagues helped write a riveting story about a cannibal. Read it ...

★ Marcus Morris allegedly got punch-happy at a bar after Kansas knocked out Missouri.

★ Wow. This is an incredible piece of reference. It has every single school playing in conference tournament with links to online streams, radio stations. Very valuable.

Derek Needham done for the year for Fairfield, which means the fourth-seeded Stags' hopes to win the MAAC just became realllly slim.

★ I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS PHOTO OF MICHAEL SWEETNEY.

Depressing but not at all surprising.

★ Heady analysis here by Jason Lisk; his definition of the bubble completely matches mine.

★ This Dan Hanner chunky soup of a column reinforces my undying love for college basketball. Sorry to get crude, but it's a terrific poop-and-read.

★ Yes is this a superb column from Pat Forde on Sean Woods.

★ The best big man you've never seen play.

★ This column on Calipari from Doyel makes you think.

★ Keiton Page is now the 3-point leader for Oklahoma State, all-time.

Duke as a No. 1 seed is an impossibility to get a handle on until the Blue Devils' home game against the Tar Heels completes this Saturday.

★ Montana and Weber State play tonight. That game has big implications.

★ Thinking this Kindle/eBook on college basketball tournament trivia is the perfect thing for you.

★ Really like the assortment of good reads in today's Wakeup Call. Scott Powers put together this piece for ESPNChicago.com.

★ New Orleans begins its prep for the Final Four.

♬ The best radio hit OK Go's had is "Do What You Want." Good power pop band. Feel better about yourself; it's Tuesday.

Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:11 am
 

Night Court: Kansas clinches eighth straight

In a "rebuilding" year, Bill Self led Kansas to its eighth straight Big 12 title. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games … in a different format than usual to accommodate the less-than-stellar slate.

Eight in a row: Heading into the season, not many people had Kansas winning the Big 12. In what may have been Bill Self’s best coaching job, though, the Jayhawks got better as the season went on and clinched the Big 12 regular-season title with a win at Oklahoma State on Monday night. It’s not a vintage Kansas team, it doesn’t have a lot of depth or a ton of offensive options – but Self has the Jayhawks in contention for a No. 1 seed. Unbelievable stuff.

Georgetown under the radar?: It’s tough for a top-12 team to fly under the radar this late in the season, but if anyone fits that description right now, it could be Georgetown. The Hoyas just throttled Notre Dame on Monday night, locking the Irish down defensively and making plays at both ends of the floor. Because Georgetown has had some hiccups this season – double-digit losses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh – the Hoyas might not get the attention they deserve.

Notre Dame needs to find its shot: The Fighting Irish are not the 3-point heavy team they’ve been in the past, but still, they’re not playing well right now. They shot just 4-of-31 from deep against St. John’s over the weekend and they didn’t do much better on Monday, knocking down just 3-of-17 from behind the arc. Throw in the fact that Jack Cooley only had two points, and Notre Dame simply did not look dangerous.

Everything Baylor: I know it was only Texas Tech, but when Baylor plays like it did on Monday night, the Bears are still a pretty tough team to beat. Perry Jones and 15 points and 10 rebounds in only 27 minutes, while Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy and A.J. Walton also scored in double-figures in the 77-48 win. Turnovers were still a problem, but it was a reminder that Baylor – despite its weaknesses – still has a ton of talent.

17-0: Mississippi Valley State improved to 17-0 in the SWAC with its win over Jackson State on Monday night, led by Kevin Burwell’s 30 points. The Delta Devils can finish the regular-season unbeaten if they beat Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Thursday.

MEAC race heats up: Savannah State stayed atop the standings with its win over North Carolina A&T, but Norfolk State remained only one game up after beating Florida A&M on the road. Delaware State dropped a one-point game at home to Morgan State, putting the Hornets out of the hunt.

March Madness comes early: The month of March technically doesn’t start until Thursday, but conference tournaments kicked off tonight in the Big South. VMI and High Point both advanced, meaning Radford and Gardner-Webb are both headed home.

More College Basketball coverage
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com