Tag:Matt Norlander
Posted on: February 22, 2012 12:05 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:32 am

Night Court: Many close games makes us happy

It's not over yet, Northwestern. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday night’s entertaining and landscape-shifting set of games …

Game of the Night: Northwestern got taken to, then beat in, overtime by 13th-ranked Michigan. The Wildcats aren’t out of this NCAA chase, though. I’ll save the majority of the bubble talk for the Poppin’ Bubbles (Borzello, what a predictably awful name you came up with), but it’s key to remember Northwestern still has chances, and if it wins its final three games (Ohio State, at Iowa, at Penn State) and gets one win in the Big Ten tournament, it’s probably getting in.

The game itself was as riveting as 49-all affairs with less than a minute left can be. Michigan played Northwestern's 1-3-1 fairly well and continually hit tough shots. Northwestern did as well. Then the 3-point barrage came in OT, with the Wolverines making three straight and never letting Northwestern flirt with a W.

Win to brag about: Few teams actually do what K-State just did, meaning it walked into a tough road environment desperately needing a prove-it win and getting it. Very impressive by the Wildcats, who are on track for a six seed with the wins they've put together. Rodney McGruder's 24 set the tone, and if he can do that continually? Kansas State can make the Sweet 16.

Loss to hide from: Picking on Illinois here, but man, oh, man did Illinois get dumptrucked at Ohio State tonight. Brandon Paul left the game briefly with an injury, Meyers Leonard got an elbow to the mouth. Buckeys won 83-67 and it wasn't that close.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Because of the field’s relative weakness Creighton is still in OK shape, but man would it have made things a lot hairier if it hadn’t come back at home to beat Evansville 93-92 in overtime. The Bluejays trailed by 14 in the second half thanks to Aces junior Colt Ryan, who went for 43. Forty-three on the road? From a guy named Colt? Love it.

Another player who deserves improper benefits: Kendall Marshall put up 22 points, was 4-of-5 from 3-point range, dished 13 assists and didn't have a turnover in the North Carolina 86-74 win over North Carolina State. It was a game every N.C. State fan not named Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani hated.

Player team who does not deserve improper benefits: 73-55. I don't know. Seton Hall really needed a win (and got a career-best 29 from Jordan Theodore), but there's something so ordinarily boring about Georgetown. Don't trust this team. Remember the Hoyas group that got waxed by Ohio in the first round two years ago? It's not that I think a repeat of that is coming, but this team could still earn a three or four seed and stand a decent chance at getting swiped in its first NCAA game. Nate Lubick is better than he displays himself on a lot of nights. Hollis Thompson only had eight points in this one -- and he wasn't commanding enough.

Numbers don’t lie

  • Kentucky finished its win over Mississippi State with a 20-4 run. There's not much for me to write about UK here, as Gary Parrish was at the game and he'll have is no-way-UK-isn't-winning-it-all column up on the site shortly.
  • 38:18. Amazingly, that is the 3-point to 2-point ratio Michigan had tonight. Insane. But, worked.
  • 32.7 pct and 38.3. According to ESPN, Missouri's two worst shooting performances this season from the field have come against Kansas State.

Other games of note:

  1. Colorado State defeated New Mexico at home, 71-63. That'll quiet some of the New Mexico horns, but what it really does it keep Colorado State's faint hopes of getting into the dance alive.
  2. I could have easily placed this in the loss-to-hide-from category, but since it was a road game, and since Miami is Miami, I didn’t. Blowing a lead and losing 75-70 at Maryland was a brutal job, but the Hurricanes aren’t really an NCAA tournament team anyway. I always appreciate when the fringers go out and lose in hideous fashion. Just let the fruit rot a little quicker.
  3. Virginia got out of Blacksburg with a 61-59 win over the Hokies. The Cavs were always in, but this cemented their status in the NCAAs. Tony Bennett’s team could lose every game until Selection Sunday and it’s still getting in.
  4. Oh, right. Xavier lost. At UMass, 80-73. Goodman was there and he'll have something up on the blog about it Wednesday morning.


  • If you missed it, I talked with Binghamton’s head coach after the Bearcats dodged having the first 0-30 season in college basketball history.
  • Will Yeguete's got a broken foot, so he's now believed to be done for the season at Florida. Gators could realistically turn into a five seed before this thing gets to tournament time.
  • I do find myself intrigued and unable to pull away from following Butler, which got to 11-6 in the Horizon tonight. This pairs with Cleveland State losing its fifth straight game and relinquishing the Horizon League lead. Truth be told the Bulldogs aren’t a threat for the second weekend this year, but if they do win the league, man would I love to be sent to the region they play in.
  • With Cleveland State out, Valpo earns at minimum a share of the title thanks to beating Loyola (Ill) to get to 13-4. Bryce Drew doing a great job in his first year as head coach.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:43 pm

Mark Macon never let the losses get him down

Mark Macon's Binghamton group was the last team to win a game this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

Binghamton dodged history Tuesday night, giving Vermont a 57-53 loss, meaning the Bearcats won't go 0-30 this season. There have been wire-to-wire winless ball clubs in college basketball history before, but none have ever played 30 and lost 30.

That will still be the case. The Bearcats delivered what Ken Pomeroy dubbed the upset of the season when they held on at home against the top-ranked team in the America East, the 19-11 Catamounts (now 12-3 and in danger of losing the No. 1 seed in the league tournament to Stony Brook).

Binghamton had lost 27 in a row dating back to last season, when it played its last game in a loss to, yep, UVM. Overall, the Bearcats had dropped 39 of 41 games prior to Tuesday night's morale-boosting victory. Macon's working with a team that has no seniors on it (it's been ravaged a by the fallout of the academic and drug scandal), and because of that he's remained positive all the way.

No, really. After the game, I spoke to Macon on the phone and  tried my best to squeeze out of him what the low point from this season was. He wouldn't budge.  He was relentless in his positivity. 

“There were no low points at all because it was about building and rebuilding and creating winning ways,” he said. “The biggest thing is to know there’s another game and another chance to win. You’ve got to keep your focus as a coach and a coaching staff.”

This was a team that once averaged 20 turnovers per game. Now it's down to 13.1 giveaways per game, a 23 percent rate, which is still in the bottom fifth in all of hoops, but "that's growth," Macon said.

Vermont defeated Binghamton by 20, 73-53, on Jan. 12 in Burlington. The Catamounts were successful inside all night long on that Thursday. Tuesday night that was not the case. Macon said his primary scouting report objective was to fight the post and own it inside before the UVM bigs ever got the ball. They did, and since some shots finally fell for this team -- which, shooting 45 percent from the field qualifies as "finally" -- the Bearcats scraped to get the bagel out of the W column.

Macon had adjusted his starting lineups all season long, too. At one point he went totally young, starting three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. He's leaned toward an older group as of late, though. Javon Ralling, Taylor Johnston, Jimmy Gray (juniors); Robert Mansell (sophomore); and Ben Dickinson (freshman) started in the Vermont game for Binghamton.

The win allowed Macon, for the first time this season, to say how the preface to tonight's game was the same as it was all year long for he and his coaches.

“I don’t go into games thinking we’re not going to win,” Macon said. “And for me to even think that way would not be who I am. My life is built on positivity. There’s really nothing to be negative about. I can only control what I can control. I don’t even have to discuss being 0-30 because it’s not going to happen."

No, it is not. Once again, college basketball is filled with 345 teams that share two things in common: none are without flaw and all know what it's like to go to sleep as a winner.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:45 pm

Our ballots for the top 16 teams of all time

John Wooden's 1973 UCLA team, above, and his '68 squad were in the top three of every ballot. (AP)

By Gary Parrish

In March, the CBS Sports Network will air one big show in four parts, on two nights, on the best 16 college basketball teams in history.

They asked me to submit a ballot.

They asked Jeff Borzello, Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander to do the same.

After a whole lot research and subsequent debate on Twitter, we finally filed our lists. Lots of you asked to see them. We decided to let you. So take a look and tell us what you think. And don't forget the the best team in this sport doesn't always win the national championship because that fact of life is reflected in our ballots. Teams in italics did not win national titles.

Kentucky in 1995-96 was absolutely ridiculous. (AP)
----- Gary Parrish's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1973 UCLA
  4. 1982 North Carolina
  5. 1976 Indiana
  6. 2008 Kansas
  7. 2009 North Carolina
  8. 1991 UNLV
  9. 1999 Duke
  10. 1992 Duke
  11. 2005 North Carolina
  12. 2007 Florida
  13. 1956 San Francisco
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1974 North Carolina State
  16. 2000 Cincinnati

----- Jeff Goodman's Ballot -----

  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1996 Kentucky
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 1990 UNLV
  9. 1974 North Carolina State
  10. 1984 Georgetown
  11. 1979 Michigan State
  12. 1960 Ohio State
  13. 1967 UCLA
  14. 2007 Florida
  15. 2005 North Carolina
  16. 2009 North Carolina
The longer we go without a team going buzzer to buzzer without a loss, the better 1975-76 Indiana looks for being the last team to accomplish the feat. (AP)
----- Jeff Borzello's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1996 Kentucky
  6. 1972 UCLA
  7. 1991 UNLV
  8. 1982 North Carolina
  9. 1992 Duke
  10. 1974 North Carolina State
  11. 1990 UNLV
  12. 1967 UCLA
  13. 1954 Kentucky
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1984 Georgetown
  16. 1960 Ohio State

----- Matt Norlander's Ballot -----

  1. 1973 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1968 UCLA
  4. 1976 Indiana
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1956 San Francisco
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 2005 North Carolina
  9. 1974 N.C. State
  10. 1957 North Carolina
  11. 1991 UNLV
  12. 2001 Duke
  13. 2007 Florida
  14. 1984 Georgetown
  15. 1999 Duke
  16. 2008 Kansas

CBS Sports Network will be celebrating the 16 greatest college basketball teams of all time in the upcoming, four-part series, "16." Our CBS Sports panel of experts has voted, and on March 19 and 20, you'll be able to see which teams make up our list. You can help us celebrate your favorite team by sending us your tweets -- use the hashtag #CBS16 -- or leave your comments below. Then, look for your content as we'll work to incorporate the best submissions into the series.

You can also chime in on Facebook: Eye on College Basketball or CBSSports.com

Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:07 pm

Slip into the poll booth once again

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. All of these games will be discussed on CBS Sports Network programming this week, airing on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET, then against on Inside College Basketball (Wednesday night/Thursday morning at midnight)

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you 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.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:52 am

Cincy-Xavier likely to continue rivalry

Cooler, smarter heads have prevailed and it appears Xavier-Cincy will continue their rivalry. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

The brouhaha that briefly marred college basketball's reputation in December won't prevent one of the most intense rivalries from continuing as (to be) scheduled.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting perspective has prevailed: the Cincinnati-Xavier basketball rivalry will most likely keep on keeping on in the coming years. The fight was of course unacceptable, and people beyond the players (namely the officials who let things get past the point of civility) were at fault for the transgressions. Animosity has always been the most pungent ingredient to X vs. Cincy, but so long as 2011's Crosstown Shootout fiasco was an aberration, there's no reason to stop this once-a-year appointment.

“Every indication is that we are going to play next year,” University of Cincinnati president Greg Williams said Monday. “We’re looking at it. (Xavier University president) Father Graham and I have talked about it a number of times.”

Williams, who emphasized that a final decision has not been made, said a group of advisors is looking at “what the game should look like going forward” and that the group will make recommendations to him. Asked if any possible changes might include moving the game to a neutral site, Williams said, “There’s been a lot of issues that need to be considered. I don’t want to pre-empt any recommendations that a committee might make.”

Xavier has always been in favor of continuing the rivalry, said XU athletic director Mike Bobinski.

“I haven’t changed my thoughts, nor do I believe Xavier has changed our thoughts at all,” Bobinski said. “Absolutely, we would like to see the game continue for the good of both institutions, college basketball, the city, all of the above. We all agree we’ve got work to do to put a different feel and flavor to the thing, but it’s worth doing so. Those conversations are yet to come.”

Bobinski said he would be opposed to playing the game at a neutral site.

Those quotes are pretty relieving. You've got men at the head of the table for each school speaking matter-of-fact-like about the rivalry, its importance and the perspective of what it means to each program, its fans and the community. Williams and Bobinski are in touch with it all, and that's relieving to see.

Expect the final decision/formal word on the rivalry's continuation in March. There's still debate over whether the game should be played on a neutral court. I think keeping it in home arenas is fine, you're just going to have to up the security very noticeably in the next few years. Fans will be fans and I'm sure a few who don't even know it yet are already destined to get themselves thrown out.

But as long as the players stay in the game and basketball is basketball, one of the sports top-five rivalries deserves to continue.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:57 am

Wakeup Call: Debating the final two No. 1 seeds

Great work by ESPN to get this shot last night. This was after Napier's ridiculous 3 fell through. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

Slick newspaper design is a passion of mine. Here are what's considered the five best in the world. // Physical history gets the digital touch. Ten amazing letters from United States Presidents. // If you like The Simpsons, you can't not read this. // And the best cameos in Simpsons history ...

★ “I think that there’s too much sugar in the world and not enough salt." Read the story of Buzz Williams.

★ The best part of messageboards (can't believe I just wrote that) is the memes. Kansas fans went wild on Steve Moore.

★ The Summit League's diamonds.

Big week for Temple, even if it doesn't seem like it from the outside.

★ Dan Wolken opines on the long-term problems that could be facing UConn.
★ Michigan State's defense is a lot of fun to watch this season. Why?

★ Staying with the Spartans, some more perspective on Draymond Green's ridiculous season.

★ If the Big East tournament started today ...

★ Immediate reaction to BracketBusters and a check-in on how it didn't immediately affect seeding in prognostications. Long-term, by Selection Sunday, will there be impact?

★ The chase for the final two No. 1 seeds is great and up in the air, but I think Missouri's almost definitely got that third top line locked up.

★ The player I talked to who's had the 10th point three straight years at Taylor University's Silent Night was chosen for the same award as Andrew Luck.

★ This is how Vegas sees the differences between the top 20 teams in the country.

★ Wherein Seth Davis takes up on behalf of the RPI, unfortunately. Smart guy; don't get why he's antediluvian when it comes to this.

★ As for the RPI, listen to this takedown of the system by Scott Van Pelt.

★ Rhode Island is the worst state in college basketball.

★ I don't know John Shurna too well -- I've only met him once -- but from all I've seen and heard, this column nails who the kid is.

► Take a time lapse through Hinkle.

♬ No band rec today. Instead, let's look at a cover. What makes covers worthwhile? The twist on the tune's original recording, of course. When an artist can pay tribute to another by making a song their own, that's when a cover's at its best. And this is a cover of a cover. Cornell's one of the 10 best -- in terms of control and range and power -- voices in the history of rock, by the way.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:30 am

Podcast: Nate Silver, John Gasaway talk mock

This is the room where the magic, and brain cramps, got made. (NCAA)

By Matt Norlander

The podcast reaches its wonky zenith today. John Gasaway, the driving force behind Basketball Prospectus, and Nate Silver, renowned New York Times political blogger and NCAA tournament projector, join me. Both were at the mock selection meetings last week in Indianapolis.

The process was a lot of fun, a lot of work and a bit flawed. All aspects are covered in the podcast. If you're interested in learning how the bracket is built, there is no better source of knowledge for enlightenment than today's 40-minute conversation. It easily could have been two hours. If you like getting smart, follow John and Nate on Twitter, if you aren't already.

Enjoy -- the tournament starts in 22 days. 

  • From the beginning: Nate tells us why he was intrigued by the mock selection and what good he thinks it does do for his research. John shares his overview of the process as well.
  • 6:06: Why some of the process was unnecessarily tedious.
  • 8:16: Taking you into the room and sharing the details of who was in there, what we did when, etc.
  • 10:15: Expounding on my column, Nate and John explain why the RPI is still an undeniably big part of committee evaluation.
  • 19:25: Going over the bracketing and seeding. What fun! If only we had more time to do it.
  • 24:46: Regions and lack of balance all over the bracket. We get into why that's inevitable. This is a lot of Nate discussing his work related to travel and why the West Coast's lack of good teams also plays into this. Additionally, John makes the case for more rematches in the tournament.
  • 31:55: The teams or scenarios that surprised us the most after hours of evaluations.
  • 37:00: Pod wrap-up with good reviews of the NCAA and perspective on how tough this job is to do but also reinforcing how easy it would be to implement better data into the process and make the master seeding less flawed.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast -- whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

Get CBSSports.com College Basketball updates on Facebook   

Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:51 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:06 am

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 14


By Matt Norlander

Color me confused. I didn’t expect this much rotation and shift in the Power Pyramid during its penultimate posting. (The last edition is next Monday, and then it goes in the freezer throughout the conference tournaments, sure to return around Thanksgiving.) But here we are, with multiple top-level teams in the rankings suffering back-to-back losses and generally regressing since the calendar turned to February.

For most of this season we had a lot of talented teams winning a high rates and creating separation between themselves and most teams in their conferences. Now we’re seeing the mean creep in, and few teams are going to get to March with four losses or less. At the mock selection process last week in Indianapolis, a number of these squads weren't viewed in high favor by the committee. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case, so long as Middle Tennessee State, Drexel and Oral Roberts all reach their conference title games.

Top Tier

1. Wichita State (24-4). A Sentence: Go back and check the first Power Pyramid, you’ll see I’ve championed the Shockers from the get-go. A Statistic: At one point this season, Wichita State had 2.56 years of experience on this team, per KenPom. Now it’s at 2.51. The Shockers have actually figured out how to get younger, and I think we all know the answer lies somewhere in Gregg Marshall’s hair. The Schedule: at Illinois State, Wednesday; vs. Drake, Saturday.

2. Murray State (26-1). A Sentence: I’ll contradict my SDSU sentiment and say, despite the 59 KenPom ranking, I think Murray State has Sweet 16 potential in those bones. A Statistic:  All five Racers starters score more than 1.1 points per possession — that’s just sexy.  The Schedule: at Tennessee  State, Thursday; at Tennessee Tech, Saturday.

3. Temple (21-5). A Sentence: It’s actually reached a point where Temple’s being criminally underappreciated, so I’m doing what I can by putting them this high in the Pyramid. A Statistic: When he was snaring 34.6 of defensive-rebound opportunities in early December, Michael Eric was the best on that end of the floor in the country. Now it’s 28 percent and he’s no longer elite, despite the fact he’s still critical to this team’s big-picture legitimacy. The Schedule: at La Salle, Wednesday; at St. Joseph’s, Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. New Mexico (22-4). A Sentence: At this point, if you’re detracting from New Mexico then I’m going to go ahead and assume chocolately desserts aren't your bag either. A Statistic: Rankings-wise, UNM is a much better team from 3 (39.5 percent is 16th-best) than 2 (49.7 percent is No. 100 in D-I). The Schedule: at Colorado State, Tuesday; at TCU, Saturday.

5. UNLV (22-6). A Sentence: I’m actually loving the fact UNLV’s tripping a bit here, because now fewer people think this team is capable of reaching the second weekend (suckers!). A Statistic:  UNLV’s first three losses came in a span of 64 days. The next three losses took two weeks. The Schedule: vs. Boise State, Wednesday; vs. Air Force, Saturday.

6. Gonzaga (21-5). A Sentence: Just when you want to believe in Gonzaga, it goes out and reminds you that it’s still plenty fallible (loss at San Francisco, but still, this team's talented). A Statistic: At least the Bulldogs have remained aggressive. They’re 48-percent free-throw rate is top-five in the nation, where Gonzaga’s been sitting all season. The Schedule: vs. BYU, Thursday; at San Diego, Saturday.

7. Harvard (23-3). A Sentence: Don’t let the three losses trick you into thinking this team is better than five-loss 2010 Cornell. A Statistic: Harvard’s deep, and that’s great, but it’s also been healthy. Seven vital players on the team have played in every game so far. The Schedule: vs. Princeton, Friday; vs. Penn, Saturday.

Bruiser Flint's Dragons are closing in on 20 straght Ws. (AP)

8. Saint Mary’s (23-5). A Sentence: Like UNLV, SMC lost back-to-back games this week and has dropped three of four.  A Statistic: I’m looking at where a lot of teams have gotten better or worse in a stat as opposed to two or three months ago. Saint Mary’s used to be the third-best defensive rebounding team in the country. Now it’s 18th (73 percent). The Schedule: at Portland, Thursday; at San Francisco, Saturday.

9. Oral Roberts (25-5). A Sentence: If ORU’s anything worse than a 12, and if it wins the Summit title, then it’s a screw job by the committee. A Statistic: What remains most impressive about ORU is the fact it doesn’t have a player taller than 6-9, yet it’s most efficient at blocking. The Schedule: at Southern Utah, Saturday.

10. San Diego State (20-6). A Sentence: I should’ve sold on SDSU last week, because now it’s lost three straight and the frontcourt issues become more glaring as the games go by. A Statistic: The average KenPom rating for SDSU on the year. What do you think it is? I’ll give you a second here. … OK, it’s actually 57. Right now, the Aztecs are 61. Always been too low for my taste, but I wonder if this is a sign that SDSU will be hard-pressed to reach the second weekend. The Schedule: vs. Wyoming, Wednesday; vs. Colorado State, Saturday.

Base Blocks

11. Creighton (23-5). A Sentence: That win over Long Beach State, I think, was about as great of a way to stop the bleeding as the ’Jays could have asked for.  A Statistic: One of my favorite stats to track this season was Creighton’s shooting. They’ve remained, all year, long, the best eFG team in the country. At 58.7, they cling to the lead by .4 over Denver. The Schedule: vs. Evansville, Tuesday; at Indiana State, Saturday.

12. Virginia Commonwealth (23-6). A Sentence: It might be tough to believe, but I don’t see VCU with a chance at an at-large (I know, where have you heard this before?) unless it reaches the CAA title game. A Statistic: This is fodder for a post I’m doing later this week (so none of you bloggers reading this can take it), but VCU of 2011 is the opposite of VCU of 2012. Last year’s offense and defensive adjusted rankings: 32 and 86, respectively. This year: 91 and 28. The Schedule: at UNC Wilmington, Wednesday; vs. George Mason, Saturday.

13. Middle Tennessee State (24-4): A Sentence: All one-loss conference teams that are above .500 in non-con play deserve the courtesy of a look; MTSU will be 17-1 if it wins two more. A Statistic: The Blue Raiders are so good because they’re weak league allows eight player to shoot better than 50 percent in eFG%. The Schedule: at Louisiana Monroe, Thursday; at Western Kentucky, Saturday.

14. Drexel (23-5). A Sentence: New to the Pyramid, can the Dragons get in without a CAA title? A Statistic: The Dragons get in during the second-to-last go-around of the Pyramid because they’re the best Pyramid team at defending shots, allowing 42.9 percent effective field goal percentage from opponents. The Schedule: vs. James Madison, Wednesday; at Old Dominion, Saturday.

15. Southern Miss (22-5). A Sentence: I’m doing my best not to overreact to a two-point loss at Houston. A Statistic: And yet, I know if Southern Miss makes the tournament there’s now no chance I’m taking them to win a game. They’re 43.6 percent from the field from 2-point range. That’s putrid — and USM isn’t a top-100 defense as is. Smoke and mirrors, I’m afraid. The Schedule: at UTEP, Wednesday; vs. Rice, Saturday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦ Out: Long Beach State. In: Drexel.
♦ With one more week to go, chance for tossing teams in and out is slim-to-none. Would take some bad losses on Drexel, MTSU, VCU and Southern Miss’ behalf to get expelled.

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