NCAA
NCAA Men's Tourney Talk - Friday Action
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAATournament CollegeBasketball ProvidenceCollegeFriars StephenFAustin MercerBears DukeBlueDevils

Before delving into the men's NCAA slate of games for Friday, I wanted to take a quick look at some other tournament action I'm following.

In the Men's Division 3 tourney, Amherst College got blown out in the national semifinals ending the hope I had for a Massachusetts school to win a title on the men's side of things.

In the Women's Division 3 tourney, Tufts University lost a close game in the national semifinals. They also had a special guest for their run at the title you can learn more about that via this article: http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-women/article/2014-03-21/jumbo-impact

In the WNIT bracket I've got going, the first round is now complete and I went 25-7 in the first round. Not bad overall, but not great. I lost two of the teams I had picked for the Elite Eight.

In the NIT bracket, I was 11-5 in the first round. I know that it is rather pathetic. Worse yet was I lost one of the Final Four picks and an Elite Eight choice as well.

And now for the Men's NCAA tourney action from Friday.

In the South region, Stanford pulled a mild upset when they knocked off New Mexico. Kansas advanced despite having a little trouble with Eastern Kentucky for the entire first half. UCLA beat Tulsa handily.

But the game of the night was VCU-Stephen F. Austin. In the final 5-12 game of the tourney, it was SFAU pulling off a 77-75 overtime win after being down by 11 points. I wish I could say I watched the game like I had planned to, but old fart that I am, I fell asleep. As usual, this meant I missed a hell of a game.

In the West region, Baylor advanced over Nebraska by 14 points. Nebraska coach Tim Miles was making his first appearance in the tourney and got ejected after he got called for a 2nd technical foul. While he earned the first one, the 2nd tech was given while he was trying to alert the refs that the shot clock wasn't working properly.

Creighton advanced over Louisiana-Lafayette. I saw the end of this game and while the 10 point margin was probably closer than Creighton would've liked, they seemed to be in control as the game wound down and I didn't feel like they were in danger of having to hold off a comeback.

Arizona had a close game with Weber State, winning by just 9 points. I watched the Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game and that was pretty entertaining as the Zags ended up holding off the Cowboys.

In the Midwest region, Wichita State easily advanced over Cal Poly. Kentucky had a close game against Kansas State but advanced.

But the real action of the day was in the Raleigh, North Carolina pod. UMass laid an egg against Tennessee and lost by 19 points. They were getting bombed from the beginning and were never really in the game despite being the higher seed. Being a Massachusetts team, I'm bummed that they did not give a good accounting for themselves. As for the Volunteers, they seem to be peaking at just the right time.

But it was the Mercer-Duke game that had everyone buzzing for the whole day. Mercer upset the Blue Devils 78-71 by playing a fantastic game. I joked online that instead of the pre-tournament whining Coach K did about the Atlantic 10 conference getting so many teams into the tournament, he should've focused his attention more on the Atlantic Sun conference that Mercer came out of.

Another sign that it wasn't a good day for the Blue Devils was who showed up to root them on:

Seriously, when "fans" that are so incompetent at their job show up to root you on in your job, it is just begging for a bad result.

In the East region, Virginia and Memphis advanced in close games while Iowa State cruised by North Carolina Central.

But the game of the nighttime slate had to be the Providence-UNC game. I picked UNC to win the game but was pulling for Providence to win in a temporary solidarity move with my buddy Brian who is a rabid PC men's basketball fan.

Unfortunately, Providence couldn't hold on to their late game lead and UNC picked up the two point win from the foul line. But the Friars really put on a show for a national audience. And senior Bryce Cotton had a monster game with 36 points. I don't think I've ever been more disappointed to win a game on the bracket, because I would've loved to have seen this "Iron Man" brand of basketball that Providence has played all season continue onward.

NCAA Men's Tourney Talk - Thursday Action
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAATournament HarvardCrimson DaytonFlyers NorthDakotaStateBison

In the men's NCAA tournament on Thursday, there was a bunch of exciting games and results throughout the entire day.

In the South region, Florida struggled with Albany but came away with a 12 point win. The funniest thing was the post game interview where Gator coach Billy Donovan told the sideline reporter, "I have no idea what's going on with my team."

Pittsburgh slaughtered Colorado and launched more than a few columns about the seeding process. This despite the fact that it was an 8-9 game and anything can happen in those games.

Dayton was the first team to pull off an upset on Thursday when they kicked Ohio State out the tourney 60-59. Syracuse won their first round game going away over Western Michigan.

In the East region, Villanova won easily over Milwaukee. UConn trailed St. Joseph's but came back and won in overtime.

My lack of faith in Harvard for bracket picking purposes didn't pay off because the Crimson beat fifth seeded Cincinnati 61-57. Despite messing up my bracket a little, I was still happy for Harvard. 

I watched the second half of the Michigan State game and despite a valiant effort from Delaware, the Spartans exerted their dominance to win handily.

In the West Region, San Diego State (a Final Four pick of my buddy Brian) beat New Mexico State in a tight game. Oregon easily beat BYU.

When Wisconsin was down 7 points to American, I saw a Badgers fan complaining about Wisconsin's defense. I wonder how that fan felt after Bo Ryan's team turned things around and waxed their opponent by 40 points.

I saw the end of the North Dakota State - Oklahoma game. And was very happy as I picked the Bison to upset the Sooners.

In the Midwest, Michigan handled Wofford easily. Texas beat Arizona State by 2 points. Louisville got by Manhattan by 7 points in a tough game.

I watched the Saint Louis - NC State game and was disgusted by the finish by the Wolfpack. They were up by 16 points and then managed to lose in overtime because they forgot a basic tenet of the game. "Free throws win ball games".

Overall, I went 13-3 on Day 1 of the official part of the tournament.

My Women's Tourney Bracket Talk
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA WNIT CollegeBasketball WomensCollegeBasketball

The women's NCAA and NIT brackets were released last night and despite my fandom for women's hoops in general, I'm not really all that enthused about either tournament.

 

Of the teams I follow, only Tennessee made postseason play. They are a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney. And let's face it, barring a rather miraculous set of circumstances, there is no mystery to the tournament.

 

I haven't seen most of the teams in the WNIT so there is no real rooting interest there for me.

 

So here's a really brief look at the two brackets.

 

WNIT

 

After going through the bracket, I have Minnesota, Washington, Michigan and Mississippi State in the Final Four. Of course, I have zero confidence in these picks, but that's another story.

 

The Harvard women's team made the WNIT, so I would like to see them do well, but don't really see that happening.

 

NCAA

 

I have UConn, Stanford, Notre Dame and Tennessee making the Final Four. See I told you, no mystery here. I have UConn repeating by knocking off Notre Dame.

 

A couple of first round games have  piqued my interest though.

 

Middle Tennessee takes on Oregon State. I read a good article on Oregon State, about how they'd come from nearly being shut down after coach abuse allegations to making the tourney. I'd like to see them make a good showing for themselves.

 

And the California vs. Fordham game has my interest with Fordham having been so bloody bad in recent years and now making the Big Dance.

 

But otherwise, that's about it, not counting Tennessee's games of course.

My Men's NCAA & NIT Tourney Talk
Category: NCAA
Tags: CollegeBasketball NCAATournament NIT

With the men's tournaments kicking off tonight, here's my thoughts on the NIT and the NCAA brackets.

 

MEN'S NIT

 

After going through the bracket, my Final Four picks here are: Arkansas, Boston University, Missouri and Georgia.

 

Being a New England guy, the two teams that hold the most interest for me is the aforementioned Boston University and Vermont. Unfortunately for the Catamounts, I have them going out in the first round.

 

MEN'S NCAA

 

I'll be able to catch some of the two play in (first round) games tonight, but not all of them.

 

My Final Four picks here are Florida out of the South, Michigan State out of the East, Louisville out of the Midwest and Wisconsin out of the West. I've got Florida beating Louisville in the title game.

 

South

 

My pick of Florida has the seeding holding to form here. 

 

My first round games of interest are:

 

VCU vs Stephen F. Austin (who hasn't lost a game since November) in a 5-12 matchup. But I have VCU advancing.

 

The 4-13 game between UCLA and Tulsa matches teams coached by two former standout players. The Bruins have Steve Alford and Tulsa has Danny Manning. I have UCLA winning.

 

Ohio State faces another Ohio team in Dayton for the 6-11 game. I have the Buckeyes advancing.

 

East

 

With my choice of the fourth seeded Michigan State coming out of this region, obviously things are going to happen somewhere on the road to the Final Four for the three higher seeded teams.

 

My first round games of interest are:

 

#4 Michigan State vs. Delaware. The Blue Hens have three players averaging double figures so I'm hoping they provide a good game even if I don't think they'll win.

 

The 5-12 game in this bracket features Cincinnati vs. Harvard. I think the Bearcats win the game but I would love to see Harvard pull another upset.

 

My buddy Brian's Providence College Friars are the 11 seed against #6 North Carolina. I'd love to see the Friars win but don't have enough confidence in that desire to pick against the Tar Heels. I'd be happy if it happened though, even if it does mess up my bracket.

 

West

 

I have Wisconsin taking out #1 seed Arizona in the regional final.

 

My first round games of interest:

 

I have picked an upset in the 5-12 game between Oklahoma and North Dakota State.

 

Midwest

 

After getting insulted by the selection committee and handed a 4 seed, I think Louisville is going to burn their way through this region.

 

My first round games of interest are:

 

I want to see if Louisville lays the smack down in their first round game with Manhattan to send a message to the selection committee.

 

I have North Carolina State winning their play in game to become the #12 seed against St. Louis and then pulling off the upset.

 

I'm happy to see #6 UMass back in the tournament. I have them playing Tennessee after the Volunteers win their play in game. But the Minutemen will advance to the next round.

The Final Spec
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA College Basketball

Spec Sheet 3-15

Like the old Kenny Loggins tune “This is it!” Selection Sunday is finally here and the 68 team field for the 2014 NCAA basketball championship, there are still a few variables and some teams could be sweating at 6p EDT when the field will be announced. But by and large this is who I think will be going

 

Atlantic Coast
Conference Class-Power
Going: Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Pitt

Hoping for the Best: Florida State, Clemson, NC State
Skinny on the ACC: Nothing changing here, NC State gave it a go, but is done. I cant put them in. The finalists today are going regardless, and of the other three teams, Pitt has the shakiest resume, but I think they are good to go.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Duke vs Virginia Sunday 1p (ESPN) Greensboro Coliseum; Greensboro, NC

Projected Bids: 6

Atlantic Ten
Conference Class- Major
Going Saint Louis, George Washington, UMass, St. Joes, Dayton,VCU

Hoping For the Best: St. Bonaventure

The A-10 Spec is: St. Joes put all doubts away and are going, UMass and Dayton are the two teams I think are sweating but I think are safe, this is one of the better conferences in the country and yes deserve to send more teams than either the SEC or ACC…there I said it and don’t regrert it. Both teams in the final today are safe

Key Game: 

 

Atlantic 10 Conference Championship: VCU vs St. Joseph Saturday 1p (CBS) Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Projected Bids: 6

 

American

Conference Class-Major

Clinched: Louisville

Going: Cincy, UConn, Memphis, SMU

All-American Spec: Louisville rolled to the title and have likely locked down a #2 seed, I would love to see them on the opposite end of the big bracket of Wichta State for them to face each other in the final. One can dream. Five teams here have been locked in for a couple weeks now

 

The American Champions: Louisville

Projected Bids: 5

 

Big East 

Conference Class-Major

Clinched: Providence

Going: Creighton, Xavier, Villanova


Big East Skinny: Providence! Yes the Friars took advantage of a rare bad shooting night by the prolific Doug McDermott to win their first Big East title in 20 years. They will lead four teams in, was this a bid steal? Maybe, but there are some other teams that didn’t want to see the Friars take the auto bid with the other three teams good enough to garner bids of their own. Xavier will be sweating till they see their name but I think that they will

Big East Champions: Providence

Projected bids: 4


Big Ten 
Conference Class-Power
Going: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State

Hoping for the Best: Minnesota, Iowa

The word on the Big Ten is: A grudge match for the finale, but both teams are safe. This is another conference that I think had a number of bids reduced. I don’t have Iowa or Minnesota going

 

Big Ten Championship Michigan State vs Michigan Saturday 3:30 (CBS)  Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Projected Bids: 5

 

 

Big 12
Conference Class-Power
Clinched: Iowa State

Lock: Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Hoping For the Best: West Virginia
Skinny from the heartland:  The Cyclones tore through Kansas City and clinched their first Big 12 title since 2000, they shockingly didn’t score 90+ but didn’t need to. There will be 7 teams going, but one of them wont be West Virginia who despite making a late run cant get a seat on this crowded bus

  

Big XII Champions: Iowa State

Projected Bids: 7
 


Conference USA 
Conference Class-Mid-Major
Going: Tulsa

Solid: La. Tech
Hoping for the Best: Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee

Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: The Hurricane was indeed going as they outdueled a game La. Tech team to take the CUSA title. I dare say that the Bulldogs are good enough to garner an at-large spot. Southern Miss and MTSU will unfortunately will be on the wrong side of the cut line.

 

Conference USA Champions: Tulsa

Projected Bids: 2


Missouri Valley
Conference Class-Mid Major
Clinched: Wichita State

Missouri Valley Skinny: Salute the Shockers! The rolled by Indiana State and are the first team since the 90-91 UNLV Rebels to head to the tourney unbeaten. They will likely get a #1 seed and try to be the first team to win 40 games in one season. The Sycamores best chance to make it was by defeating the rampaging Shockers and will likely be headed to the NIT

Missouri Valley Conference Champions: Wichita State

Projected Bids: 1
 


Mountain West
Conference Class-Major
Clinched: New Mexico

Going: San Diego State
Spec from the Mountains: The Lobos are the Mountain West’s best, they outslugged their arch rivals in San Diego State and are headed back to the NCAA as the auto seed.

 

Mountain West Championship New Mexico vs San Diego State Saturday 6p (CBS) 

Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

Projected Bids: 2


Pacific 12
Conference Class-Power
Clinched: UCLA

Going: Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Stanford, Arizona State

Hoping for the Best: Cal
Spec from the left coast: The Bruins are the Pac-12’s best in a stunner over Arizona (will that cost them a #1 seed?) Cal is the one team hoping for the best but will be on the wrong side of the cut line.

Pac-12 Conference Championship Key Games: UCLA vs Arizona Saturday 6p (FS1)  

 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

Projected Bids: 6

 


Southeastern 
Conference Class-Power
Going: Florida, UK

Looking Good: Tennessee, Georgia
Hoping for the Best: Mizzou, Arkansas
Spec is Down South:  Ok here’s where the brickbats will come flying at me. The two teams you see in this afternoons final are all who are going. Georgia, Tennessee Mizzou and Arkansas are simply not good enough. And spare me the SEC pedigree, I cant reward mediocrity and this conference save for Florida and (barely) Kentucky there aren’t tourney worthy teams here.

 Southeastern Conference Championship: Kentucky vs  Florida 1p Sunday (ESPN) Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Projected Bids: 2


West Coast 
Conference Class- Mid Major
Clinched: Gonzaga
Hoping For The Best: BYU, San Francisco
West Coast Spec: Many thought that BYU would give the Bulldogs their toughest fight but in the end, the WCC crown went where most pundits (me included) figured it would go. This should be a one bid, though BYU and San Francisco had good seasons their relatively weak resumes will not get them in.

 

West Coast Conference Champions:  Gonzaga

Projected Bids: 1

There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial (Delaware) and Big South (Coastal Carolina) always are in the mix. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid (projected winners in parentheses, conference winners in bold): Amer. East (Albany), Atlantic Sun (Mercer), Big Sky (Weber State), Big West (Cal-Poly) , Horizon (Milwaukee), Ivy (Harvard), MAC (Western Michigan) , MAAC (Manhattan) , MEAC (NC Central), Northeast (Mount St. Mary’s), Ohio Valley (Eastern Kentucky) , Patriot (American), Southern (Wofford), Southland (SF Austin), Sun Belt (Georgia St.) , Summit (North Dakota St.), and SWAC (Texas Southern) and Western Athletic (New Mexico St). 
Remember that this is still speculation, nothing here is ever solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?

 

Spec Wrapup: Tomorrow

 

 

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