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Posted on: March 4, 2012 9:50 pm
 

Michigan State loses Branden Dawson to ACL

By Jeff Goodman

Michigan State lost the opportunity to win the Big Ten outright title today -- and that's not all the Spartans lost. 

Tom Izzo also watched starter Branden Dawson go down with a torn ACL early in the loss to Ohio State. 

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Dawson was averaging 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season. He had four points in the loss to Ohio State prior to the injury. 

This is a significant blow to the Spartans -- who will now have to put Brandon Wood back in the starting lineup. 

Dawson is a big-time athlete who brings toughness, defense and a rebounding from the wing spot. 

Posted on: March 4, 2012 9:34 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:09 pm
 

WCC title game preview: SMC vs. Gonzaga

It is again how it's been for so many years now: Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's to decide the WCC champ. What's on the line aside from the obvious? I'd say a definitive mark in the seed sand. Whoever wins this is likely to get a five seed, while the loser could be a six, maybe even a seven. (You can make the case Saint Mary's should be a six if it wins, yes.)

The game tips at 9 ET on ESPN.

The battle of two entertaining guards will guide the title game. Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos is on his way to becoming a household name. He had 30 points in Gonzaga's 77-58 win over BYU Saturday night. He's turning into the Bulldogs' primary scoring option, and that will only grow as the years come. Pangos has in fact had a few nights this season where he's gone bombs-away and killed off some teams. He has an offensive rating of 122.8, which is quite good.

Pangos' foil is Saint Mary's junior guard Matthew Dellavedova. Delly almost never leaves the floor for SMC. He's reliable and fun as hell to watch. He is also the Player of the Year in the WCC. If you're looking for other reasons to watch, Elias Harris vs. Rob Jones, a couple of forwards, could get interesting. 

What this boils down to is we'll likely have a very entertaining game between two teams capable of making the second weekend of the NCAAs. With all this tense, rousing basketball in so many conference tournaments, it is nice to get a few games out there that are for pride, some seeding and bragging rights. Neither of these teams will be pressing if they lose by 10, and that's OK.

One more note about the final. In a rare smart move by organizers of tournaments, the center-court sticker has been taken off for the ultimate game at the Orleans Arena. There had been multiple slips on the surface in the previous rounds, and so to avoid any serious injury, the teams will play the game on its natural appearance. What a concept.

-- Matt Norlander
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Pac-12 a one-bid league? It's possible

With Cal, Arizona and Washington all losing this weekend, the Pac-12 is in at-large trouble. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The mediocrity of the Pac-12 has been a running joke in the college basketball world this season, but this weekend took it to a new level.

Washington lost to UCLA, but still won the outright regular-season championship after California lost to Stanford on Sunday evening. Arizona, which had seen its at-large hopes get better and better recently, lost to Arizona State. The only team that helped its Selection Sunday chances was Oregon, which put a whooping on Utah.

The chances that the Pac-12 was only going to get one bid to the NCAA tournament seemed pretty low prior to the weekend, but now it’s not a far-fetched idea. To be honest, no one should feel remotely comfortable about its at-large chances heading into the conference tournament.

Let’s look at the resumes, in the correct pecking order.

California: The Golden Bears clearly have the best at-large resume of the quartet, and also went 3-0 against Oregon and Washington. The computer profile is pretty solid, and they are 6-5 against the top 100. On the other side, they have three sub-100 losses and didn’t finish with a share of the league title. The non-conference profile is also mediocre, as the best win outside of the Pac-12 was over Weber State. They probably felt safe for much of the season, but there’s still work to be done.

Washington: The Huskies don’t have a great profile, but they nonetheless won the outright regular-season championship, which will be a great bargaining chip on Selection Sunday. They are only 1-6 against the top 50 and 3-8 against the top 100. The only bad loss was Saturday’s defeat at the hands of UCLA. Overall, the Huskies did not beat a single NCAA tournament team, as the best non-league wins are over UC-Santa Barbara and Georgia State. Those are their only two non-conference wins over teams ranked in the top 200 of the RPI.

Oregon: The Ducks have slowly but surely played themselves into at-large contention over the past month, winning 11 of their last 14 games. Moreover, they thumped Washington by 25 points in early February. The RPI has moved into the top 50, as well. Now, for the bad. 19 of their 22 wins are over teams ranked outside the top 100, and they are 0-5 vs. the top 50. There’s one sub-100 loss, a home defeat to Oregon State. The non-conference profile is barren, with the best wins coming over Nebraska and UTEP. The thing that complicates their profile is Devoe Joseph, who missed the first six games of the season.

Arizona: The Wildcats are essentially finished when it comes to an at-large bid, after their terrible loss at Arizona State. It dropped them to fourth in the Pac-12, and is a sub-250 loss. The computer profile is mediocre, and 17 of their 21 wins came from outside the top 100. There is a road win at California on the ledger, but that won’t carry them to a bid. Arizona now needs to win the Pac-12 tournament if it wants a bid.

Can the Pac-12 really only get one bid? If California wins the tournament, it’s possible.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:15 pm
 

Updated Top 25 (and one)

By Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman

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

Here's how it will look ...
  1. Kentucky (30-1)
  2. Syracuse (30-1)
  3. North Carolina (27-4)
  4. Kansas (26-5)
  5. Duke (26-5)
  6. Missouri (27-4)
  7. Ohio State (25-6)
  8. Michigan State (24-7)
  9. Marquette (25-6)
  10. Baylor (25-6)
  11. Georgetown (22-7)
  12. Michigan (23-8)
  13. Wisconsin (23-8)
  14. Murray State (30-1)
  15. Indiana (24-7)
  16. Florida State (21-9)
  17. UNLV (25-7)
  18. Notre Dame (21-10)
  19. Wichita State (27-5)
  20. San Diego State (24-6)
  21. Creighton (28-5)
  22. Louisville (22-9)
  23. Florida (22-9)
  24. Iowa State (22-9)
  25. Temple (24-6)
  26. *Saint Mary's (26-5)/Gonzaga (25-5)

* We will let Monday night's WCC Tournament title game decide No. 26.

In this week: Creighton, Saint Mary's/Gonzaga

Out this week: Virginia, Vanderbilt

Click this link to see last week's Top 25 (and one) and compare it to this week's Top 25 (and one).

Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:16 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:59 pm
 

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

By Jeff Borzello

We’ve been hearing it all year, but it had been getting louder recently. The talk about Jared Sullinger not being as dominant as last season, the talk about William Buford’s inconsistency, the talk about the lack of 3-point shooters, the talk about a lack of toughness and chemistry.

Well, despite the supposed flaws and weaknesses, one thing is clear: Ohio State is still a Final Four-caliber team.

The Buckeyes demonstrated that potential during their 15-point comeback and late victory at Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. Sullinger struggled, but still managed to get 14 points and 10 rebounds. Buford made big shot after big shot down the stretch, including the game-winner with 1.0 seconds left. Aaron Craft had seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

This team has the pieces. Sullinger is still a hoss on the low block, capable of carrying Ohio State on the offensive end and getting opposing big men in foul trouble. He hasn’t been as effective as he was last season, but he’s still one of the nation’s best big men.

When Buford is hitting shots, he’s nearly impossible to guard. He steps up at clutch times, and is not afraid to take the big shot. Buford has deep range on his shot and can create his own look and get separation for pull-up jumpers.

Craft might not be a shot-maker, but he’s still one of the toughest point guards in the country. He’s a pest defensively, and completely takes opponents out of their preferred offensive sets. Aside from a few transition layups, Keith Appling really struggled as a result of Craft’s defensive intensity.

The X-factor going forward could be Deshaun Thomas. He can knock down 3-pointers, and has really picked up his play of late. Prior to the Michigan State contest, he was averaging 21.5 points in his last four games. Thomas is difficult to guard because of the multiple ways in which he can get off shots.

Of course, there is also that Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes are extremely efficient at that end of the floor, dominating the defensive glass and forcing turnovers at a high rate. They also limit fouls, which is why Thad Matta isn’t forced to go to his bench very often. Ohio State didn’t allow Draymond Green to control the game, which helped slow down Michigan State’s offense in the second half. Moreover, the Buckeyes made a concerted effort to get back on defense after the Spartans beat them down the floor for easy transition baskets early on.

When a team has studs at the point guard position, on the wing and inside, they are a team no one wants to face come March. That’s exactly what Ohio State has – and then some.

There are certainly some flaws, but the Buckeyes proved on Sunday that they are still a major threat to reach New Orleans. 

Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:57 pm
 

Canisius parts ways with Tom Parrotta

By Jeff Goodman

The latest coach to lose his job is Canisius' Tom Parrotta. 

Parrotta compiled a 64-121 mark in six seasons - including a 5-25 record overall and just one victory in Metro Atlantic play this season. 

Parrott was a former assistant at Hofstra under Tom Pecora. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:53 pm
 

What-to-know conference previews: MAC

Year in and year out, there might not be a more consistently competitive league than the Mid-American Conference. Or more specially, the East Division of the Mid-American Conference. It’s rare you see a team run away with the title, and this season was no different.

Akron came out with the regular-season championship, winning it by one game over Buffalo. Division brethren Ohio, Kent State and Bowling Green also all finished above .500 in the conference. The Zips head into the tournament as the favorite, but they lost three of their last five games after starting 11-1 within the league. Akron guards the perimeter extremely well, but the Zips are susceptible on the inside and on the defensive glass. Akron is a balanced outfit, with no one averaging more than 10.3 points. 7-footer Zeke Marshall is a tough matchup, though, at both ends of the floor.

Buffalo beat Akron twice and boasts the league’s best duo in forwards Mitchell Watt and Javon McCrea. Both players are very efficient and are capable of carrying the Bulls offensively and on the glass. The key for Buffalo will be turnovers; the Bulls need to take care of the ball.

Ohio has won five of its last six games to end the season, and guard D.J. Cooper is one of the best players in the conference. The Bobcats force turnovers and play an aggressive – and foul-prone – brand of defense. A sleeper could be Bowling Green, which won seven of its last 10 to end the season. The Falcons are led by A’uston Calhoun and Scott Thomas.

Expect an intense race for the bid, which is nothing new for the MAC.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Title game: Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2 (8 p.m., ET)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Julian Mavunga, Miami (Ohio)
  2. Rian Pearson, Toledo
  3. D.J. Cooper, Ohio
  4. Jarrod Jones, Ball State
  5. Mitchell Watt, Buffalo

Conference RPI: 17

KenPom.com rating: 17

Sagarin rating: 15

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Akron Zips: 2011, No. 15 seed, lost to Notre Dame 69-56 in the first round.
  • Ball State Cardinals: 2000, No. 11 seed, lost to UCLA 65-57 in the first round.
  • Bowling Green Falcons: 1968, lost to Marquette 72-71 in the first round.
  • Buffalo Bulls: N/A.
  • Central Michigan Chippewas: 2003, No. 11 seed, beat Creighton 79-73 in the first round, followed by an 86-60 loss to Duke in the second round.
  • Eastern Michigan Eagles: 1998, No. 13 seed, lost to Michigan State 83-71 in the first round.
  • Kent State Golden Flashes: 2008, No. 9 seed, lost to UNLV 71-58 in the first round.
  • Miami (Ohio) RedHawks: 2007, No. 14 seed, lost to Oregon 58-56 in the first round.
  • Northern Illinois Huskies: 1996, No. 14 seed, lost to Texas Tech 74-73 in the first round.
  • Ohio Bobcats: 2010, No. 14 seed, beat Georgetown 97-83 in the first round, followed by an 83-68 loss to Tennessee in the second round.
  • Toledo Rockets: 1980, No. 9 seed, lost to Florida State 94-91 in the first round.
  • Western Michigan Broncos: 2004, No. 11 seed, lost to Vanderbilt 71-58 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:06 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:22 pm
 

Tiny Dancers: Creighton Bluejays

ST. LOUIS -- It would've been a shame to have an NCAA Tournament without Doug McDermott.

Now we know we won't.

Truth is, the Bluejays did enough in the regular season to secure an at-large bid. So nobody was sweating Sunday's MVC Tournament title game. But Creighton earned the league's automatic bid with an 83-79 victory over Illinois State and thus positioned itself to receive the type of seed that should give Greg McDermott's team a real shot to advance in the Field of 68.

The Bluejays are now 28-5 with a Top 25 RPI.

They could get a five seed but will probably get a six or seven.

Either way, the good news is this: Creighton's performance here in St. Louis will allow it to avoid the eight-nine game and, by extension, avoid a game against a No. 1 seed in the Round of 32. So the folks in Omaha can dream big. These Bluejays have the star power (Doug McDermott) and shooting ability (42.6 percent as a team from 3-point range) to cause problems. A Sweet 16 is a reasonable goal, a Final Four is a realistic dream. Sure, they'll need to guard a little better in spots to chase those things. But if you can score in March you can win in March, and there's no denying the Bluejays can score. They have one of the nation's best offenses. When they make shots, they're a tough out.

Player to know -- Doug McDermott. Remember what Steph Curry did for Davidson a few years back? This sophomore forward could do the same for Creighton. McDermott is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds this season, and he had 33 points in the MVC title game. He's a big-time talent at the right kind of school to be a big-time player, and there's no perfect way to guard him at the collegiate level. McDermott can beat you on the perimeter or in the post. He's not just a coach's son. He's a coach's dream (and an opposing coach's nightmare).

The Vitals:
  • Record: 28-5, 14-4 in the MVC
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2007
  • We’re thinking: Six seed
  • KenPom ranking: 35
  • Sagarin ranking: 25
  • RPI: 23
  • Best wins: Wichita State, San Diego State, Long Beach State, Northwestern
  • Worst losses: Missouri State, Evansville
  • Notable stat: Creighton has an effective field goal percentage of 58.5 percent. That ranks first nationally.
-- Gary Parrish

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