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Tag:Connecticut
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:53 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 1:50 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Separation day for bubblers

Texas might have locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament with its quarterfinal win over Iowa State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The Thursday of conference tournament week is always a big day for separation when it comes to bubble teams. Nearly every power-conference bubbler is in action across the country, with most of them facing must-win opportunities or one last chance at a marquee victory. This season is no different, as the docket is filled with teams looking to punch their ticket or simply keep their at-large hopes alive. The bubble picture should look very different tomorrow than it does today.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Southern Miss avoided a bad loss to East Carolina and locked up a bid. (US Presswire)

Locking things up:

Southern Miss: Had the Golden Eagles lost their opener in the Conference-USA tournament, things might have been a little troublesome on Selection Sunday. While it took an extra five minutes, Southern Miss got it done – and now should be fine for the NCAA tournament. They finished second in the league and have a top-20 RPI, along with wins over Memphis, Colorado State and South Florida. 9-4 against the top 100 is great compared to some of the other bubble teams.

Cincinnati: 
If there were any questions about the Bearcats' at-large status, they were answered on Thursday afternoon. Cincinnati faced Georgetown in a tournament quarterfinal, and made plays down the stretch en route to a double-overtime win. The absolutely awful non-conference schedule and mediocre overall computer profile could potentially only affect seeding at this point; the Bearcats are in. They are now 6-3 against the top-50 and are 9-5 away from home. They could wear home jerseys in the round of 64. 

Alabama: The Crimson Tide were in good shape heading into the SEC tournament, but a loss in the first round would have made it a long couple of days for them. However, that won't be a problem, as Alabama pulled out a win against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide were around a No. 9 seed earlier in the week, so they seem pretty safe there. They are 3-5 against the top 50, and 9-9 against the top 100, but they also bounced back nicely from the personnel situation they had in February. 'Bama could jump to a No. 8 with another win. 

Purdue: The Boilermakers were in the field of 68 no matter what happened in the Big Ten conference tournament, but it's nice to avoid a bad loss and stay in good position for a solid seed. Heading into the week, Purdue was arguably the last No. 8 seed in the S-Curve, and beating Nebraska keeps them on track to wear a home jersey in the round of 64. The Boilermakers are 5-8 against the top 50, although they only beat two definite NCAA tournament teams in Michigan and Temple. Ohio State is next.

Still safe:

Connecticut: The Huskies are fine despite their late loss to Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals. A win over the Orange would have skyrocketed Connecticut up in terms of seeding, but the Huskies are still in the mix for an 8-9 game in the NCAA tournament. The No. 3 strength of schedule and 10 top-100 wins make them a lock to hear their name called in three days. 

Kansas State: The Wildcats are still very comfortable heading into the weekend. A win over Baylor would have really solidified their resume, but the Wildcats already have victories over Missouri – twice – Baylor, Alabama and Long Beach State. The sweep at the hands of Oklahoma and a 6-8 top-100 record could bring down their seeding somewhat, but a No. 8 or No. 9 seed seems very likely.

It's tough to imagine Colorado State missing the NCAA tournament at this point. (US Presswire)

Winners:

Colorado State:
I really don't see how Colorado State can miss out on an at-large berth this season, after thoroughly handling TCU in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West. The Rams have a terrific computer profile, with a top-25 RPI and top-10 SOS. They have three wins over top-50 teams in UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico, and they are now 3-0 on neutral courts. The two sub-100 losses and 3-9 record on the road gives cause for a closer look, but compared to other bubble teams, Colorado State should be safe. A loss to San Diego State in the semifinals likely wouldn't drop them several spots. 

California: It wasn't clear if the Golden Bears could survive a quarterfinals loss to Stanford, but we don't need to worry about that just yet. They move on to face the winner of Oregon/Colorado, in a game that could clinch California's bid if it gets to the title game. The at-large resume isn't all that impressive, with the best non-conference win coming against Weber State. The Golden Bears did sweep Oregon, but those are the best victories on the resume, along with Washington. Cal could really cement things with at least one more win.

Texas: The Longhorns took advantage of their chance at a big win on Thursday, coming back in the second half to beat Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Given Texas' resume and the way things are shaking out across the bubble landscape, that might have been a win-and-in situation for the Longhorns. They improve to 4-9 against the top 50, although it's only 5-10 against the top 100. They have wins over Temple, Kansas State and two over Iowa State. They face Missouri in the Big 12 semis; a win there would lock things up completely. They might be able to survive a loss, though.

North Carolina State
: The Wolfpack needed to beat Boston College in order to get a chance at Virginia in the quarterfinals. That one is the must-win for NC State. As it stands, the Wolfpack still don't have a top-50 win on their resume, going 0-8 against teams in that category. They do have two wins over Miami (Fl.) and one over Texas, which could help in bubble comparisons. They are also now 8-5 away from home, but the lack of good wins and two sub-100 losses complicate things.

Miami (Fl.): The first half wasn't pretty whatsoever for the Hurricanes, but they actually scored some points in the second stanza and also locked down on the defensive end, cruising to an easy win over Georgia Tech. They're still just 3-10 against the top 100, but two of the wins did come over Duke and Florida State. Miami will need to do more damage in the ACC tournament, starting with Florida State on Friday. A win there, and the Hurricanes could be in OK shape. A loss, and they will be sweating it out.

Arizona: I don't see how the Wildcats will get a bid, but the door is now open for the Wildcats to at least get to the Pac-12 title game after they beat UCLA in the quarterfinals and No. 1 seed Washington was upset by Oregon State. The computer profile is still terrible, and they have only defeated one NCAA tournament team (California). A win over Oregon State won't put them in the Dance, and it's unlikely a close loss in the championship game would do it either. Because of the Arizona State loss to end the season, I think Arizona needs to win the tournament.

Ole Miss: The Rebels still likely have to get to the SEC title game to have a chance at an at-large bid due to their 1-6 top-50 record, but beating Auburn easily was a good start. They have one good win over Alabama, but they also beat a couple of bubble teams in Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. Ole Miss only has one sub-100 loss, and the Rebels did play 17 games against teams in the top 100; they only went 6-11 in those games, though. If they beat fellow bubbler Tennessee in the quarterfinals, a semifinal contest against Vanderbilt could be a huge chance.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack have a mediocre at-large profile, but they will have a shot if they can get to the WAC title game. After a lackluster first half against San Jose State, they rolled to a double-digit win. The strength of schedule is terrible, and they don't have a single top-50 win, but they did lose just one game in conference play and are above .500 against the top 100.

Long Beach State: With the way things are going, the 49ers could certainly get an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West tournament. However, they need to get to at least the title game in order to have hopes. They didn't waste any time dispatching of UC-Davis in the quarterfinals, winning by 34. Moreover, No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton was knocked out, which means an easier path for LBSU to the automatic bid. We'll take a closer look at their resume should they lose.

Washington will have a long three days to wait until Selection Sunday. (US Presswire)

Losers:

Washington: Wow, what a weird game for the Huskies. In the first half, the Huskies looked like they were headed to the NIT, going into halftime with a 13-point deficit against Oregon State. However, they came back to take the lead -- before Tony Wroten missed four free throws and the Beavers came out with a win. Will Washington's regular-season title be enough for an at-large bid? That's doubtful. The Huskies simply have a very mediocre at-large profile. They beat zero NCAA tournament teams and were just 1-7 against the top-50, 4-8 against the top 100. They also now have two sub-100 losses. Washington's only potential saving grace will be its regular-season title and the eye test. There's nothing else to like in their resume.

South Florida: The Bulls were so close to locking up a bid to the NCAA tournament, but Notre Dame pulled out an overtime win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. That leaves South Florida in precarious position. It is just 1-9 against the top 50, although it does have a 5-1 record against teams in the 50-100 range. They have one really good win, over Louisville, but they also have victories over Seton Hall and Cincinnati. One thing that could be tough to pass up is the 12 Big East wins that Stan Heath's club came away with in conference play; that trumps many of the middling league records that some of the power-conference bubblers have. South Florida also has three sub-100 losses. It will be close, but the Bulls are probably in for now. 

Northwestern: Another year, another disappointment for Northwestern. The Wildcats came into the Big Ten tournament needing at least one -- more likely two -- win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive. Unfortunately, Minnesota came back in the final minutes to snatch away a victory in overtime. This is a devastating loss for Northwestern, which now has an excruciatingly long three days until Selection Sunday. Right now, I highly doubt they will hear their name called. The Wildcats are just 1-10 against the top 50, and 5-13 against the top 100. They have no bad losses, but that won't save them this season with an 8-11 overall Big Ten record. Although the door hasn't completely shut yet, it's going to be tough for Northwestern to get an at-large bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will have one of the worst finishes to the season in terms of bubble teams, going just 2-6 in their final eight games. The latest defeat was at the hands of Georgia in the first round of the SEC tournament, their second loss to the Bulldogs in the last month. A loss to Auburn was also included in that recent stretch. Mississippi State is now in serious trouble. It has a bad computer profile, with an RPI that will likely drop to the 70s after tonight. There are three sub-100 losses. On the plus side, they are 8-8 against the top 100, with wins over bubblers West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arizona, as well as top-35 wins against Vanderbilt and Alabama. A 3-6 road record isn't doing them any favors, though. The talent is there, but the resume might not be. It will be a long few days for Rick Stansbury.

Oregon: It's looking more and more like the Pac-12 could be a one-bid league if California wins the regular-season title. The Ducks saw a door open when Washington went down in the quarterfinals -- two wins might have done it for the Ducks. Instead, they couldn't make plays in the final minute and lost to No. 6-seed Colorado. Oregon's at-large hopes are basically done at this point. They have 0 top-50 wins and the best non-conference victories are over UTEP and Nebraska. The computer profile looked OK heading into the week, but now the RPI and SOS will drop. Assuming the committee doesn't value sub-100 record over everything else, I'm not sure Oregon can get a bid.

Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 3:56 pm
 

It's not last year, but UConn has tourney magic

UConn's come-from-behind overtime win against West Virginia set up a quarterfinal showdown with Syracuse. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

NEW YORK - Two down, three to go. 

It's already begun, with people tossing around the name "Kemba" after the UConn Huskies have reeled off two wins in the Big East tournament. It's in reference to last year's ridiculous run to the tourney crown, but this isn't the same team. Jim Calhoun knows it and so do veterans like Alex Oriakhi, who was around for last year's memorable five victories in five days. 

That team was fun to watch. 

This team is a complete enigma. 

"We're just taking it one game at a time," Oriakhi said after the 71-67 victory. "It's been a tough year." 

The Huskies were down nine points with less than four minutes remaining against West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon before Shabazz Napier did his best Kemba Walker impression -- going off in the second half to rescue UConn. He went for 22 of his 26 points after the break. 

"It was looking ugly," Oriakhi added. 

Now Calhoun, who has led his team to three straight victories since returning from back surgery, should be able to breathe easy when the NCAA Selection Committee unveils the bracket on Sunday. It would be difficult to imagine a scenario that doesn't have UConn in the field. 

"I'm so proud of this team," Calhoun said. 

For what? 

This group has earned the 2011-12 title of "Ultimate Underachievers." The Huskies have a pair of likely lottery picks in Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, in addition to a few more guys that could well be playing in the NBA one day. Sure, their Hall of Fame coach missed 11 games this season and freshman guard Ryan Boatright sat out two separate occasions due to an NCAA investigation.  

"No excuses," Calhoun said. 

UConn will face Syracuse in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon -- and a win against the Orange will bring more questions about a repeat of last season. 

"There's no magic," Calhoun said. "It's just us." 

Napier showed why he's the most important player on the UConn roster on Wednesday. He brings the consistent toughness to the table that's clearly lacking with Drummond and Lamb. 

"We already felt like we're in the tournament," he said after the win. "We're trying to prove to ourselves. It's all about us." 

The interesting aspect now for next week becomes whether the Huskies can pull of the upset of the Orange and move up to an 8-9 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Just imagine a matchup in the round of 32 between UConn and, say, a Kentucky or North Carolina. 

But once again, we're starting to get ahead of ourselves -- just as some were doing at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. 

"It way too early," Oriakhi said. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves." 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 7, 2012 2:38 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:56 pm
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Focus is on Big East bubblers

South Florida kept itself in the at-large discussion by winning ugly over Villanova. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The bubble of the Big East has been discussed nonstop for the past several weeks, and the conference takes center stage on Wednesday. All four of the bubble teams are in action, with two of them facing off. Cincinnati is in good shape, especially with the double-bye, so it gets a reprieve until Thursday. It remains to be seen if anyone that loses today can survive on Selection Sunday; teams need to get to the quarterfinals.

Winners

Connecticut: Thank you, Shabazz Napier. The Huskies have essentially locked up a bid, by coming from behind and knocking off West Virginia in overtime. Now we don’t need to really debate whether Connecticut is worthy of an at-large bid. The Huskies are 6-6 against the top-50, with 10 wins against the top 100. They needed to win three in a row at some point down the stretch, and they finally reached that achievement. Connecticut is now 7-8 away from home, so the negatives on the resumes are becoming limited. No matter what happens against Syracuse on Thursday, Connecticut will hear its name on Selection Sunday.

South Florida: It wasn't pretty -- or even remotely attractive -- but the Bulls came out with a win over Villanova in the second round of the Big East tournament. Will that be enough to get an at-large bid? South Florida went 12-6 in conference play, and has a pretty solid computer profile. Avoiding a bad loss to Villanova was important, as it gives them something to separate from Seton Hall and West Virginia. The Bulls are only 1-9 against the top 50, with the lone victory coming at Louisville a week ago. They did go 5-0 against teams 50-100, but there's also three sub-100 losses. In the quarterfinals, South Florida will be pitted against Notre Dame. If the Bulls can knock off the Fighting Irish, there will be no need to sweat on Selection Sunday. A loss there, and the lack of quality wins could catch up to them.   

Losers

West Virginia: Heading into the Connecticut vs. West Virginia matchup, the stakes were pretty clear: the winner is a lock heading into Selection Sunday, and the loser will sweat it out. Well, the Mountaineers blew a late lead and couldn’t execute in overtime en route to a 71-67 defeat. West Virginia moves to 4-8 in its last 12 games, and although that’s not a criterion anymore, it doesn’t bode well. The Mountaineers have a solid computer profile, but they are just 4-8 against the top 50 (and one of those wins, Oral Roberts, is on the cutline). They have nine top-100 wins and are 4-2 on neutral courts. What could help them is the bubble wins; West Virginia has defeated Miami, Cincinnati, South Florida and Oral Roberts. The best wins are Georgetown and Kansas State, but they also have two sub-100 losses. It will be a close call, but we have West Virginia in as of today. 

Seton Hall: The Pirates will have a long next four days to wait until Selection Sunday, after losing to Louisville in the second round of the Big East tournament. Seton Hall now has losses in three of its last four games, and four of its last games. The two games that the Pirates may end up regretting if they get left out could be the season-ending losses to Rutgers and DePaul. Had they won those two, Seton Hall would have been a lock heading into the Big East tournament. Now, the Pirates are in trouble. The computer profile is not very impressive, and the non-conference strength of schedule is fairly high. The Pirates are 4-8 against the top 50, with wins over Georgetown and Connecticut. They have also defeated fellow bubblers West Virginia, Dayton and Saint Joseph's, which could help. The three sub-100 losses and 5-10 record to finish the season could cost them, though. 

Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:06 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 10:02 pm
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Do-or-die in league tourneys

Seton Hall kept its at-large hopes alive with a dominant win over Providence in the Big East first round. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

It truly is do-or-die time for bubble teams. With a loss, they will be left to sit on the sidelines until Selection Sunday, anxiously awaiting the committee to announce their fate. With a win, they get to keep boosting the profile and also stay squarely in the forefront of the committee’s collective mind. With the Big East and Atlantic 10 tournaments getting underway on Tuesday, several bubble teams have work to do.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Winners

Connecticut: The Huskies, with their quintet of top-50 wins and terrific strength of schedule, seem to still be in pretty good shape. What they couldn’t afford, however, would have been a loss in the first round to DePaul. Jim Calhoun’s troops obliged, cruising to an easy win over the Blue Demons. Connecticut improves to 6-8 away from home, which doesn’t look as bad anymore. The Huskies will play fellow bubble team West Virginia on Wednesday. The winner will be locked in, the loser will sweat until the selections. 

Seton Hall: The Pirates likely had to win two Big East tournament games to get into the NCAA tournament (or at least feel remotely comfortable about it), and they accomplished the first step of that task on Tuesday. Seton Hall overcame a slow start to throttle Providence over the last 20 minutes. Next up for the Pirates is a battle with Rick Pitino and Louisville. Can Seton Hall survive a loss there? Depending on what else happens around the country, they might not be able to. A win would certainly help.

Dayton:
The Flyers still have a extremely strange profile, but they also have at-large hopes after taking care of business against George Washington in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. In the quarterfinals, Dayton will get Xavier for the third time this season. It's a huge bubble game, as both teams need a win and neither team might be able to overcome a defeat. The Flyers have three very good wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama, but four sub-100 losses makes things difficult.

Saint Joseph's:
The Hawks have a lot of work to do in order to get an at-large bid, but they are still alive after holding off Charlotte in the second half. Next up is a rematch with St. Bonaventure, which beat Saint Joseph's last week and really hurt the Hawks' at-large hopes. If SJU wants to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, it needs to beat the Bonnies and then probably also beat Temple in the semifinals. 
 
Harvard:
The Crimson will not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday, and they certainly won't have to sweat a one-game playoff on Saturday. Princeton beat Penn in the regular-season finale, meaning Harvard clinched the outright Ivy League championship for the first time since 1946. Harvard is going to the NCAA tournament.

Everyone else:
With Harvard getting the automatic bid, there is no chance the Ivy League gets two bids to the NCAA tournament. For yet another time this season, it seems power conference teams on the fence are continuing to luck out. The bubble hasn't shrunk yet. 

Losers

Proponents of mid-majors:
As I mentioned in the prior sentence, the bubble hasn't shrunk yet. What that means is that we haven't seen the mid-major conferences get any extra bids as a result of a surprising tournament champion. We almost saw it happen in the Missouri Valley, where Creighton had to hold off Illinois State, while Murray State barely escaped Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley. Moreoever, with Penn losing tonight, there's no chance that both Harvard and the Quakers get a bid. Throw in the fact that Oral Roberts, Iona, Middle Tennessee and Drexel all lost in their conference tournaments, and we're on the path to seeing a plethora of middling power-conference teams get a bid -- and very few potential upset picks in the first round. It could make the NCAA tournament slightly less exciting on the first two days. 

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:02 pm
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Iowa State answered all remaining questions about its at-large candidacy with a win over Baylor. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Saturday is not just for Duke vs. North Carolina and a trio of conference championship games. The final weekend of the regular season has bubble implications galore. There are intriguing bubble battles, chances for bubble teams to get big wins and other spots where bubble teams just simply can’t lose if they want an at-large bid. For some teams, losing might mean their hopes are dashed even before the conference tournament.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Locking things up

Memphis: The Tigers are all set after clinching the outright Conference-USA regular-season title with a win at Tulsa on Saturday. They finished the conference season with a 13-3 record, have a top-20 RPI and SOS, and own nine top-100 victories. They could wear home jerseys for the first round of the NCAA tournament at this point.

Saint Louis: The Billikens essentially clinched things with their win over Xavier earlier in the week, but avoiding a loss at Duquesne – without head coach Rick Majerus – on Saturday cements things even more. There aren’t any truly marquee wins, but an 8-4 record against the top 100 and a top-30 RPI will get the job done.

Iowa State: If there was any debate about whether the Cyclones would get an at-large bid, it ended on Saturday, when Iowa State knocked off Baylor to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. They now have four top-50 wins, including victories over Kansas and a sweep of Kansas State. The soft non-conference schedule was a question mark for a bit, but there's no keeping out Iowa State anymore.

Helped itself

West Virginia picked up a big bubble win by defeating South Florida. (AP)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had the biggest bubble win in the first few hours of Saturday, going into South Florida and knocking off the Bulls in the final minutes. The win gets West Virginia to .500 in the Big East, and is their fourth top-50 win of the season. The bubble pecking order in the conference is completely up in the air, but two wins in the Big East tournament would likely get a bid for West Virginia.

Connecticut: The Huskies simply couldn’t lose to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unless they had plans to make a run to the Big East title game. It wasn’t pretty, but Connecticut pulled out a win in the final two minutes. 8-10 in the Big East doesn’t look great, but the Huskies have five top-50 wins, including victories over fellow bubblers South Florida, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The No. 2-ranked SOS is also a huge plus. They will need a couple of wins in the Big East tourney as well.

Dayton: Beating George Washington isn’t going to get the Flyers in the dance, but it keeps their hopes alive heading into the conference tournament. They have three top-30 RPI wins over Temple, Alabama and Saint Louis, as well as a win over bubbler Xavier. Nine top-100 wins are more than most bubble teams can say. On the negative side, the computer profile is mediocre and they have three sub-100 losses. They might need a marquee win in the A-10 tournament; could that mean a trip to the title game?

Cincinnati: For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bearcats went into Villanova and came out with a win. They improve to 12-6 in the Big East, including six top-50 wins. The Bearcats should feel pretty comfortable right now, but the three sub-100 losses and the horrendous non-conference SOS still make things shaky. The RPI is slowly getting better, and one win in the Big East tournament could be enough to get the job done for Mick Cronin's crew.

Xavier:
For a while on Saturday, it looked like the Musketeers were ready to see their bubble popped. They were down at home to Charlotte, before going on a huge run in the second half and pulling out the win. Xavier is currently third in the Atlantic-10 standings, which could be helpful for the profile. It looks like they will need a semifinal win to really improve the profile, though. There are good wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, as well as victories against bubblers Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's. They will be an interesting case.

Northwestern:
The Wildcats escaped at Iowa, finishing at 8-10 in the Big Ten. A loss on Saturday would have ended their chances, but now they still have life heading into the Big Ten tournament. They are only 2-10 against the top 50, but suffered zero sub-100 losses and have a top-10 strength of schedule. The win over Michigan State back in January carries some weight, but there's not a ton of heft besides that victory. There is damage to be done in the tourney.

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes were one of the last teams out of the field heading into the weekend, but they stayed alive with a dominant victory over Boston College. With Maryland sneaking into the top 100, Miami has four top-100 wins, including victories against Duke and Florida State. However, the 4-11 record against the top 100 is a huge eye sore and the computer profile isn't overly impressive. They need another big win for the ledger, meaning they have to win a couple games in the ACC tourney. 

Colorado State: The Rams took care of business at Air Force, avoiding a letdown after the huge win over UNLV earlier this week. Had Colorado State lost to the Falcons, most of the good vibes earned by the UNLV win would have been erased. That's irrelevant now, though. The Rams have a very solid resume, with wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as a great computer profile. Moreover, Saturday's win gives them another road victory (they only have three). One in the MWC tourney should get it done. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to finish the season, winning their final two regular-season games and getting back to .500 in the SEC. They still have to do work in the SEC tournament, as the computer profile is mediocre. However, they do have eight top-100 wins, including victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and fellow bubbler West Virginia. Mississippi State will need to get at least one win in the SEC tournament, and two wins would be more comforting. 

Oregon:
The Ducks continue to make a run toward at-large consideration, hammering Utah to finish 13-5 in the Pac-12. However, they are only 3-7 against the top 100 and 19 of their 22 wins are against teams ranked below 100. They are playing well at the right time, and the availability of Devoe Joseph is certainly something the committee will consider. They need to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, though, as the profile is rather barren at this point.

Drexel: As the outright CAA champion, Drexel has a nice chip compared to some of the other bubble teams, but the Dragons need to get to the tournament title game to have a legitimate chance. They took the first step there by handling UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals. We’ll look again if they win in the semifinals.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU needs to get to the title game to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Rams handled Northeastern on Saturday, meaning one more win would get them there. The Rams have a terrible SOS and two sub-100 losses, but they are very good away from home and did beat South Florida. The lack of meat on the resume could be a problem.

Tennessee: It seems there is another movement afoot to get the Volunteers some at-large consideration. I would still hold off on that talk, though. The computer profile is poor and they have four sub-100 losses. Even factoring in the arrival of Jarnell Stokes, the overall resume is still mediocre. With all that said, if the Vols get the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney and make a run to the title game, things could get interesting.

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles nearly lost to IPFW in their first game of the Summit tournament, but they pulled out a win late to keep things somewhat interesting. I still think they need to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA tournament, but a close loss in the title game could raise some questions. Zero top-50 wins is a major problem. 

Harvard:
Could the Crimson have survived a loss to Cornell and a second-place finish in the Ivy? We came close to finding out on Saturday night, as Harvard barely pulled out a win in the season finale. Now, the Crimson will wait and see what Penn does at Princeton this week. If the Quakers win, Harvard has a one-game playoff with Penn for the automatic bid. As far as at-large consideration, the win over Florida State looks good, but the schedule is terrible. 

Hurt itself

Kevin Willard knows his Seton Hall Pirates are in trouble. (US Presswire)

Seton Hall: The biggest bubble loser of the day has to be the Pirates. Going into the week, Seton Hall was in good shape. It just had to beat Rutgers and DePaul and things would be pretty comfortable heading into the Big East tournament. Well, the Pirates lost both games, including an absolutely embarrassing performance on Saturday against the Blue Demons. Things are now very shaky for Seton Hall. The Pirates finished just 8-10 in the Big East and have three sub-100 losses. They now have to win at least two games in the conference tournament; falling short of the quarterfinals won't get it done. 

South Florida: The Bulls had a chance to get a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a home win over West Virginia, which would have looked fantastic on the resume. However, they couldn’t make plays late in the game and dropped an important one to the Mountaineers. South Florida is only 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 50, but they have a solid computer profile and 12-6 in the Big East is nothing to scoff at. They need at least one win in the conference tourney, and most likely two.

Washington: If the Huskies had won the outright Pac-12 title, it would be a heck of a chip heading into Selection Sunday. However, after their loss at UCLA on Saturday, it's likely they will need to share the championship with California. The resume on its own is far from impressive. The Huskies have yet to beat an NCAA tournament team and 18 of their 21 wins are from the sub-100 region. The computer profile isn't awful, but Saturday's loss gives them a sub-100 loss. They need to reach the title game, at the very least.

Southern Miss:
 The Golden Eagles continue to make things difficult for themselves, after losing at Marshall to drop to 11-5 in Conference-USA. The RPI is still in the top 20 and they have a 9-4 record against the top 100, but there are also three sub-100 losses. Moreover, by finishing at 11-5, there is little separation betwen Southern Miss and the rest of the league. They have work to do in the conference tournament if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still very likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they missed out on a chance to truly lock themselves in by losing at Ole Miss on Saturday. Alabama has a very solid computer profile and a 9-7 SEC record, with 10 wins against the top 100. The lack of truly good wins against the top 50 is something of a wart on the resume, but it would be tough to leave Alabama out at this point. Winning one game in the SEC tournament would solidify things, though.  

Texas: I'm not sure anyone actually thought the Longhorns were going to go into Lawrence on Senior Night and knock off Kansas, but the loss hurts nonetheless. Texas drops to 3-9 against the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100, which doesn't compare favorably with most other bubblers. They also have two sub-100 losses. Getting the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, Texas will have a quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win that one to have an at-large chance. Two wins would seal the deal. 

Long Beach State: A loss in the Big West championship game is one thing, but a loss in the season finale is quite another. The 49ers dropped Saturday night's game late to Cal State Fullerton, and now enter the conference tournament in some trouble. If they lose in the championship game, I'm not sure they can survive as an at-large team. They did beat Xavier and Pittsburgh in the non-conference, but neither win is all that impressive right now. They are 0-6 vs. the top 50 and now have a bad loss on the resume.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:54 pm
 

Night Court: Napier saves UConn's season

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Shabazz Napier saved Connecticut’s season. After it looked like the sophomore guard wouldn’t play at all, Napier contributed key minutes and then hit a pull-up 30-footer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 73-70 win at Villanova. Connecticut got behind by 18 points in the first half, but fought back to tie it at halftime. Jeremy Lamb went for 32 points, constantly bailing out the Huskies down the stretch. If Connecticut makes the NCAA tournament, it might look at Napier’s shot as the one that put them there.

Win to brag about: Mississippi Valley State clinched the SWAC regular-season championship in the best way possible – on a 3-pointer with under a second left by 6-foot-8 big Paul Crosby. The shot gave the Delta Devils a 56-53 win over Texas Southern, and also improved them to 15-0 in conference play. Remember, this is a team that was 1-11 in the non-league. Quite the turnaround for Sean Woods’ club.

Loss to hide from: Texas needed this one. The Longhorns, coming off a loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, had a chance to solidify their resume with a home win over a reeling Baylor club. After getting off to a double-digit lead, they let the Bears come back on the glass – and on the scoreboard. Baylor pulled it out late, 77-72, after J’Covan Brown turned it over in the final minute. Texas’ NCAA hopes are now in trouble, while Baylor is back on the right track. Quincy Acy had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears.

Player who deserves improper benefits: North Florida’s Parker Smith is gunning lately. He’s knocked down at least five 3-pointers in four of his last six games – but nothing topped his performance on Monday. The Ospreys’ guard went 11-for-17 from behind the arc – and also knocked down 9-for-9 from the free-throw line – en route to 46 points in a 75-66 win over Mercer. The loss for the Bears is their second in a row, dropping them two games behind first-place Belmont.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: There weren't too many disappointing performances tonight, although a couple caught my eye. DePaul's Jamee Crocket had taken 82 3-pointers the entire season heading into Monday night; that's slightly over three attempts per game. For some reason, he took 11 shots from behind the arc against St. John's, only making one in the loss. Meanwhile, even though Baylor won, Perry Jones struggled once again. He shot 3-for-11 from the field -- he still needs to step up in big games.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: The number of Atlantic Sun wins Kennesaw State has this season, after falling just short, 73-71.
  • 0: The number of MEAC wins South Carolina State has this season, after the Bulldogs lost by one to Florida A&M.
  • 5: Delaware State has now had five games in a row decided by either one possession or in overtime. The Hornets won Monday in double overtime over Hampton.

Three other notable results:

  1. St. John’s is now in 11th place in the Big East after beating DePaul by seven. Given what the Red Storm have been through, that’s an accomplishment.
  2. It looks like Belmont will win the Atlantic Sun, after defeating USC Upstate, 88-79. The Bruins are now up by two games on Mercer with just two games left.
  3. Savannah State took a full game lead in the MEAC standings by demolishing Bethune-Cookman, who entered Monday only one game back of first.

Notes:

  • Look out for Fairfield in the MAAC tournament. The Stags won their seventh straight league game by beating Marist on the road.
  • Kyle O’Quinn struggled offensively, but still grabbed 16 rebounds as Norfolk State picked up an easy win over Longwood.
  • Southern looks likely to finish second in the SWAC after improving to 11-4 on Monday, but the Jaguars are ineligible for the conference tournament and won’t thus be able to take down MVSU.
  • There was a false report claiming that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun would return for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. It was denied by school officials. 
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 1:11 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Kansas State might have been the biggest winner of the day, getting a marquee road win at Baylor. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

While BracketBusters is getting most of the attention this weekend, it’s also a BubbleBurster type of weekend. According to most projected brackets, there are still 10-12 spots that could go to any number of teams. Of course, most of those teams are in action today. There are bubble battles and chances for marquee wins across the board, so keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

New Mexico:
The win at San Diego State might have vaulted the Lobos into a more comfortable position -- but Saturday's victory over UNLV locks it up. Moreover, New Mexico has the inside track to a regular-season title in the Mountain West after knocking off the SDSU and UNLV in a matter of days. This is a team that can do some damage in March. The Lobos have Drew Gordon on the inside, plenty of shooters on the perimeter, a 10-deep rotation and they play really good defense. 

Kansas State: I wrote last week that Kansas State needed to get one its "big three" games: Kansas, Baylor and Missouri. On Saturday, the Wildcats went into Waco and came out with a huge resume-boosting win over Baylor. They now own wins over Missouri and Baylor, along with decent scalps against Alabama, Texas and Long Beach State. Moreover, today's win will likely vault Kansas State into the top 50 of the RPI, where it's a lot more comfortable. At 7-7 in the Big 12, the Wildcats are in much better shape than they were this morning. Really, really good win.

Miami: The Hurricanes were one of the last teams in the bracket this week, and they couldn't afford to lose to Wake Forest at home. They obliged, pulling away in the second half for a 74-56 win. At 7-5 in the ACC, they continue to inch ahead of North Carolina State in the ACC argument, despite losing to the Wolfpack. The win over Duke remains the only top 50 win for the Hurricanes, but it's not a bad trump card come Selection Sunday. They need to beat Maryland on the road next week, then comes two tough ones vs. Florida State and at NC State. 

Alabama ended its two-game losing streak and stayed in the field by beating Tennessee. (US Presswire)

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will remain an interesting case as long as they're not at full strength. With that said, though, they stayed in relatively comfortable position even without their studs. On Saturday, they welcomed in a hot Tennessee team and dominated the second half to win, 62-50. Alabama only has one marquee win -- over Wichita State -- but its victory over Purdue helps in bubble comparisons. If the Crimson Tide can go 3-1 down the stretch, they will finish above .500 in the SEC and be in pretty good shape. 

Iowa State: It wasn't of the same caliber as Kansas State, but the Cyclones handled their business on Saturday in a 80-69 win over Oklahoma at home. Interestingly, with the win and Baylor's loss, the two teams are now tied for third-place in the Big 12 at 9-5. The win over Kansas a few weeks ago really helps matters, although only three top-100 wins and the lack of road victories remain trouble spots. The three-game stretch to finish the season -- at Kansas State, at Missouri, vs. Baylor -- will decide their fate. 

Washington: What the Pac-12 has been looking for all season is some separation at the top of the league standings. Washington's win over Arizona on Saturday provides some. If California wins this weekend, both teams will have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference -- exactly what the conference needs. In terms of the Huskies' at-large hopes, the victory now gives them a season sweep of Arizona, which is basically the only thing boosting up Washington's resume at this point. Washington now has three road games to finish the season, but the Huskies needed this one. 

Cincinnati: Despite the Bearcats' horrendous computer profile, they're still in at-large consideration thanks to their quality wins. They picked up a monster bubble victory on Saturday, getting off to a hot start against Seton Hall and holding off the Pirates down the stretch. Cincinnati had already beaten Georgetown, Notre Dame and Connecticut, and Saturday's win puts them at 5-5 against teams ranked in the top 100. The bad losses are certainly bringing the profile down, but 9-5 in the Big East keeps the Bearcats in the mix for now. Big chance at home against Louisville next week.

Saint Louis: Isn't it about time we consider the Billikens a step ahead of the bubble? The win over Fordham wasn't profile-boosting by any stretch, but Saint Louis is now 10-3 in the Atlantic-10, with a top-25 RPI. They only have one top-50 win, over Saint Joseph's, but they've also beaten fellow bubblers Washington, Xavier and Dayton. They're 6-5 against the top 100 and have zero bad losses. Barring a collapse, the Billikens will make the Dance.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks kept their at-large hopes alive by going into Washington D.C. and beating George Washington, 73-66. They don't have an eye-popping at-large profile, but they do own a win over Creighton and also defeated Dayton (and a rapidly-improving Drexel team). For now, the Hawks are on the outside looking in, but 8-5 in the A-10 looks solid. Next Saturday's home game against Temple will be huge for their Selection Sunday chances.

Northwestern: The Wildcats had a couple of road losses heading into the weekend, but they bounced back nicely with a double-digit victory over Minnesota. The win separates them somewhat from Illinois and Minnesota, putting them at 6-8 in the Big Ten. There is still plenty of work to be done, though, as Northwestern sits at 2-8 vs. the top 50. The Wildcats get both Michigan and Ohio State at home down the stretch, so there are chances to add to their marquee win category, which currently includes Michigan State. 

BYU:
With Saturday's win over Santa Clara, the Cougars have now won five in a row and improved to 11-3 in the West Coast Conference. As other bubble teams around BYU start to lose, the Cougars' profile looks better and better. They are 10-3 away from home, and they have a top-20 RPI win over Gonzaga. On Thursday, BYU heads to Spokane in a huge game against Gonzaga -- the Bulldogs could be playing for a chance to share the league title, while BYU would lock up a bid with a win. If the Cougars lose that one, we will reassess. 

UCF: Despite their loss to Southern Miss during the week, the Knights have quietly played themselves back into the at-large picture. They kept those hopes alive with a 64-55 win over East Carolina on Saturday. UCF still sits at just fourth in Conference-USA, so it needs to break into the top three to have a better chance, but wins over fellow bubblers Memphis and Connecticut are decent. Two sub-100 losses do hurt, though. A road game at Memphis on Feb. 28 could be a make-or-break contest.

Xavier: This was a must-win for Xavier, which could have dropped to fifth in the A-10 pecking order with a loss at home to Dayton. However, Tu Holloway came through in the clutch and the Musketeers got an overtime win over the Flyers. The Musketeers are third in the Atlantic-10, and it gives them another nice bubble win, to add to Saint Joseph's, Cincinnati and Purdue. Throw in a victory over Vanderbilt, and Xavier could be in decent shape right now. Road games at Massachusetts and Saint Louis in the final four games make things interesting.

Colorado State: In what boiled down to a Mountain West elimination game, the Rams knocked off Wyoming, avenging a 16-point loss earlier this season. They get back to .500 in the conference and win for only the third time in their last eight games. However, the upcoming three-game stretch will decide their fate: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State, vs. UNLV. If they can get wins in two of those three, the Rams could be an interesting case heading into the conference tournament. 

California: The Golden Bears kept pace with Washington in the Pac-12 standings, rolling in the second half over Oregon State. Cal still has the best overall profile in the conference, with good computer numbers and a 7-4 record against the top-100. They do face three road games to finish the season, though, and getting separation at the top of the league is important to getting an at-large bid. 

Connecticut is in serious bubble trouble after losing nine of its last 13 contests. (US Presswire)


LOSERS:

Connecticut: The Huskies dominated DePaul during the week, but missed out on a chance to solidify their at-large standing against Marquette. The Huskies got down early and never got closer than four in the second half en route to a 79-64 loss. They now drop to 6-8 in the Big East and 5-6 against teams ranked in the top 50. However, there’s no one marquee win that puts the Huskies over the top. Florida State, Notre Dame and Harvard are good – but Marquette would have been a huge profile-booster. UConn is in serious trouble heading into the final four games – they might need to beat Syracuse next weekend.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini have officially packed it in. After not pulling a win out earlier in the week against Purdue, Illinois went into Nebraska and just got destroyed. The Cornhuskers went on a 31-4 run that ended up being a 52-12 stretch. The final was 80-57, and that wasn't even indicative of how bad Illinois played in the final 20 minutes. Bruce Weber sounded defeated after the loss to Purdue; one can only imagine how he feels now. The Fighting Illini still have really good wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Gonzaga, but they are now 5-9 in the Big Ten and have lost eight of their last nine games. Barring a 3-1 finish with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan, Illinois is finished.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have officially entered a danger zone. A week and a half ago, it looked like Mississippi State was primed to rattle off some victories and cement itself into the dance -- now, it has lost three in a row after the latest setback to Auburn on Saturday. After being considered in good shape for much of the season, a closer look reveals that the Bulldogs are in serious trouble. There's the win at Vanderbilt, a couple of nice wins against West Virginia and Alabama, but not much else. They're now 6-6 in the SEC, 4-6 away from home and have two sub-100 losses. This week is enormous: home vs. Kentucky, and at Alabama. 

North Carolina State: After blowing a 20-point lead to Duke on Thursday, the Wolfpack were one of the last teams considered for projected brackets on Friday. They needed to bounce back and get a quality win against Florida State on Saturday. That didn't happen. Florida State took command early in the first half and never looked back, hammering NC State, 76-62. The Wolfpack's resume doesn't have too many good wins, with Texas and Miami (Fl.) leading the way. A win today (or Thursday) would have boosted the profile. Now, this week's game at home against North Carolina amounts to a must-win.

Memphis: Despite not having an overwhelming resume, the Tigers avoided the "real" bubble by beating the teams they were supposed to beat and not suffering bad losses. Well, they suffered a bad loss on Saturday, falling 60-58 to UTEP at home. It was the Miners' first road victory of the season. Taking a closer look at Memphis' resume, and the loss could be trouble. UTEP was ranked No. 183 in the RPI heading into Saturday, and gives Memphis its first true bad loss of the season. Combine it with a 2-6 record vs. the top 50, and Memphis is far from a lock at this point.  

Arizona: The Wildcats had plenty of at-large momentum in recent weeks, moving past Washington in the bubble pecking order. However, they needed to knock off the Huskies on the road on Saturday -- but they fell short, 79-70. Arizona drops to fourth-place in the Pac-12 at this point, and its resume is still based off one win: at California. The Wildcats need more beef to the profile, meaning a trip to the Pac-12 championship game might be necessary. 

Seton Hall: Even though the Pirates' had a six-game losing streak earlier in the Big East season, their resume was still better than many bubblers. In a huge bubble battle against Cincinnati on Saturday, though, they fell short. Seton Hall drops to 7-8 in the Big East, heading into next week's game against Georgetown. If the Pirates beat the Hoyas, they're back in good shape. However, the four good wins -- Connecticut, West Virginia, Saint Joseph's, Dayton -- aren't exactly "marquee." 

Minnesota couldn't get past Northwestern, and now faces a difficult path to an NCAA bid. (AP)

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a golden opportunity to boost their at-large profile on Saturday, but they couldn't stop Northwestern's outside shooting and lost, 64-53. It was Minnesota's third straight loss and dropped the Gophers to 5-9 in Big Ten play. What makes it worse is the next three games: vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Wisconsin. Minnesota might need to sweep those three -- or at least nab two of three -- to have a chance again. They're 2-6 vs. the top-50, with a road win at Indiana highlighting the resume. 

Texas:
With Kansas State and Iowa State winning today, the last thing Texas needed was a loss to Oklahoma State. So the Longhorns went to Stillwater and lost to Oklahoma State, 90-78, as Keiton Page dropped 40 points for the Cowboys. The loss drops Texas to 7-7 in the Big 12, with some separation between itself and the two teams tied for third place. Texas is only 3-8 against the top-100, but wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State are pretty good. The Longhorns face Baylor at home next week; that has become a must-win for Rick Barnes' troops.

Ole Miss: The Rebels needed to bounce back from getting destroyed by Vanderbilt earlier in the week. Playing Kentucky wasn't the answer. They hung with the top-ranked Wildcats for a half, but Kentucky just steamrolled in the second half en route to a 77-62 win. Ole Miss is now just 1-7 against top-50 teams, with the best wins coming over Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. The Rebels are ninth place in the SEC and 3-10 vs. the top 100. That doesn't get it done. 

Arkansas: The Razorbacks' homecourt dominance was enough to keep them in the at-large conversation, but that's no longer the case. Florida absolutely annihilated Arkansas today in a 98-68 victory, despite freshman B.J. Young going for 31 points in the loss. The Razorbacks drop to 5-7 in the SEC and are still 0-8 away from home. With losses in five of their last seven games, and four sub-100 losses, Arkansas has a long way to go to get back in the at-large hunt. It was fun while it lasted. 

Wyoming: If the Cowboys could have swept Colorado State, they would still be in the mix for a fourth at-large coming out of the Mountain West. However, they lost by eight, and now sit at 4-6 in the conference. Moreover, they still have road games at San Diego and UNLV remaining. Anything short of an unbeaten run to the league title game won't be enough. 

Dayton:
The Flyers' plethora of decent wins had kept them hanging around the last few spots in the bracket for a couple of weeks now. A win at Xavier would have certainly boosted their profile heading down the stretch. Kevin Dillard and co. couldn't pull it out in overtime, though, and now are in big trouble. Saint Joseph's might have passed them in the pecking order, and they certainly did in the standings. Dayton is now eighth in the league table, and the bad computer numbers don't help. Wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama only get you so far.

Southern Miss:
 This was a bad day for Conference-USA. Southern Miss could have taken control of the conference, as Memphis lost at home to UTEP earlier in the day. So the Golden Eagles went out and lost to Houston. Going into the weekend, Southern Miss should have felt pretty confident about its at-large hopes. It has a great RPI and wins over Memphis and Colorado State. Looking closer, though, the wins aren't great and losses to Houston and UAB are bringing the resume down. They need a regular-season title. 

Long Beach State: If the 49ers lose in the Big West conference tournament, their loss late to Creighton could be the game that keeps them out. To be clear, they do deserve a bid. But what will the Selection Committee see? The team that dominated the Big West? Or the one that missed out on several chances in the non-conference season? There's really only one good win on the resume, Xavier, as the victory over Pittsburgh doesn't look as good as it used to. With the way the 49ers are handling their league, though, this will be a moot point. 

Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:19 pm
 

No. 1 senior Nerlens Noel discusses recruitment

By Jeff Borzello

Nerlens Noel's recruitment has heated up since he reclassified to 2012. (MassLive.com)

Since Nerlens Noel announced a few weeks ago that he was reclassifying to the class of 2012, he’s been the most talked-about recruit in the country.

Noel, a 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native who plays at Tilton (N.H.), immediately moved to the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Moreover, the schools pursuing him have really turned up the heat.

“Recruiting has gone crazy all of a sudden,” Noel told Jeff Goodman on SiriusXM’s Inside College Basketball on Thursday afternoon. “I just need to plan out some visits to get out to all these schools. Keep talking to coaches, build better relationships with them.”

Noel is currently considering Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown and Connecticut. He later tweeted that Providence was also on his list, but did not mention them during the interview with Goodman.

He visited Syracuse this past weekend for the Orange’s win over Connecticut, and he will trip to Kentucky this coming weekend.

“I’m talking to a few more coaches to get down to their campuses during vacation,” Noel said.

Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country, and would immediately be the best in the college game too. He has tremendous dexterity defensively, able to cover a lot of ground and alter shots with either hand. Noel’s offensive is constantly getting better, and he is developing post moves and is taking defenders off the dribble as well.

He would dominate defensively wherever he ends up.

“Just a good program where I can go and play and be comfortable with the coaching staff, the whole program,” Noel said. “I know I can develop as long as I’m there, as a player and a person.”

Noel maintains that he is wide open among the six schools he mentioned, and he is still a long way from making a decision.

“I don’t really have a timeframe,” Noel said on the show. “I just want to make sure I get in all my visits to these schools. However long that takes.”

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