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

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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 29, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:14 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Colorado State likely punched its ticket to the Big Dance with another big win, this time over UNLV. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Wednesday amounts to a last chance for some bubble teams. Certain ones are facing opportunities to nab marquee wins to boost their resume, while others are just looking to avoid the true “bubble.” Meanwhile, there is another handful of teams that can’t afford a loss if it wants to stay in the bracket. All in all, a monster night of bubble games is on the agenda.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. To see how our Jerry Palm saw the bubble picture heading into the night, check out his Bubble Watch

Winners

Cincinnati: The Bearcats were the first team to take advantage and get a marquee win on Wednesday night, getting off to a great start against Marquette and blowing out the Golden Eagles. It could be the win that gets Cincinnati into the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats have now defeated Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Notre Dame, and are 11-6 in the Big East. They face Villanova on the road to end the season; a win there, and Cincinnati will be in good shape despite its horrendous non-conference schedule.  

South Florida: The biggest questions facing the Bulls surrounds their lack of good wins -- and if their gaudy Big East record was only a result of their soft in-conference schedule. They answered some of those questions on Wednesday, going into the KFC Yum! Center and knocking off No. 17 Louisville. South Florida is still just 2-7 against the top-50, but it has wins over the Cardinals, Seton Hall and Cincinnati. The computer numbers are good and a 12-5 record in the Big East is very good. The Bulls get a desperate West Virginia team at home over the weekend, and could really solidify things with a victory. Right now, it's tough to picture them getting left out. 

Colorado State: Methinks the Rams have punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. They needed another marquee win for the ledger, and last week's win over New Mexico got them closer. On Wednesday, Colorado State came back from a 16-point deficit to knock off UNLV and give the Rams a 3-3 split against the top three of the league. The Rams have a great computer profile and just need to win at Air Force in the season finale to feel comfortable about a bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are still alive for now, after Brian Bryant knocked down a game-winner at the buzzer to beat South Carolina and avoid a five-game losing streak. They have a chance to get back to .500 in the SEC with a home contest against Arkansas to finish the season. A win over the Razorbacks wouldn't be enough for an at-large bid, but it will give them hope heading into the conference tournament. The Bulldogs' computer profile is average, and the best wins are over Vanderbilt, Alabama and ... not much else.

Texas: It looked to be over for the Longhorns, who needed a second-half comeback to take care of business against Oklahoma and keep their at-large hopes alive. Now comes this weekend's showdown at Kansas. A win in Lawrence would obviously put Texas into the Dance, but if the Longhorns fall short? They will be 3-9 against the top 50 with the three wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State. Not overly compelling. With a loss this weekend, Texas needs to pick up some wins -- ideally another marquee one -- to feel safe.

Purdue: It’s tough to imagine the Boilermakers not getting a bid at this point. Their dominant victory over Penn State was their 10th Big Ten win of the season, and improved them to 9-1 against teams ranked below them in the conference standings. Purdue still has six top-50 victories, and a fairly solid computer profile. The Boilermakers have won five of their last six, and can really lock things with a road game at Indiana to finish the season.

Alabama:
The Crimson Tide are looking pretty good right now. They have now won seven of their last nine after holding off Auburn on Wednesday night. At 9-6 in the SEC and nine top-100 wins -- plus the whole suspension/reinstatement situation of early February -- Alabama should feel pretty comfortable. A road win at Ole Miss to end the season would clinch a bid.

Southern Miss: They certainly don't like to make things easy. The Golden Eagles let SMU stay in the game for far too long on Wednesday, but they pulled away late and stayed in the field. They have a top-15 RPI and are one game out of the Conference-USA lead. If they can just avoid bad losses -- Marshall on Saturday probably wouldn't classify -- they're in good shape. 

Losers

Northwestern: Jared Sullinger completely devastated Northwestern's at-large hopes. His basket as the clock wound down to give Ohio State a two-point win over the Wildcats could be the one that ultimately send Northwestern to the NIT. The best they can do is 8-10 in the Big Ten, and that would include a very difficult road win at Iowa this weekend. Northwestern is just 2-10 against the top-50, and one of those is against fellow bubbler Seton Hall. The Wildcats swung and missed too many times. 

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes, coming off a big win over Florida State last weekend, just needed to get past a reeling North Carolina State team and then take care of Boston College at home. The Wolfpack didn't give in to that plan, though, holding off the Hurricanes down the stretch to get the win. Miami (Fl.) is just 3-10 against the top 100, and that one win over Duke is not going to carry the rest of the profile come Selection Sunday. The Hurricanes are in trouble. 

Dayton:
The Flyers were in the at-large mix due to a host of good wins, despite a mediocre computer profile and four sub-100 losses. However, they couldn’t afford another bad loss – and they just suffered one on Wednesday night, to Richmond. It drops them to 8-7 in the Atlantic 10 and will push their RPI into the 70s, most likely. A home win over George Washington Saturday might not do the trick; the Flyers have work to do in the A10 tournament. 

Saint Joseph's: It was not a vintage night for the Atlantic 10. The Hawks had two chances to beat St. Bonaventure, leading in the final minute of both regulation and overtime, but couldn't close the deal and dropped one to the Bonnies in two overtimes. Saint Joe's was one of the last teams in the field on Tuesday afternoon, and this might end their hopes entirely. They have two good wins over Xavier and Creighton, but there's four sub-100 wins and SJU is just 2-5 against the top-50.  

Note: Tennessee and North Carolina State both won on Wednesday night. Neither is on the bubble right now, but could conceivably make a run with a few more wins. 

Posted on: February 22, 2012 8:30 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 12:40 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Avoiding bad losses is key

Wyoming saw its bubble burst with an overtime loss at San Diego State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Tuesday was a prove-it day for bubble teams, as seven of them played ranked teams and another two had to pass road tests. Only three teams out of that group came out victorious. Wednesday is another huge night for bubblers, but in a different ways. Only a few have a chance to get statement wins, but nearly a dozen teams have to avoid bad losses. With so many different things at stake, we’ve expanded our categories too. 

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

Status quo

Purdue: The Boilermakers didn’t suffer the same fate as Illinois over the weekend, throttling Nebraska out of the gate en route to an 83-65 win. The win moves the Boilermakers to 8-7 in the Big Ten heading into their final stretch against Michigan, Penn State and Indiana. If Purdue can get one of the two road games (Michigan, Indiana), it will feel awfully comfortable heading into the conference tournament.

Memphis: The Tigers suffered a really bad loss at home over the weekend to UTEP, so they could not afford to lose another questionable game. That wasn't a problem, as Memphis handled East Carolina with ease in the second half. The Tigers also took over first place in the league standings after Southern Miss' loss, but their Selection Sunday fate will be decided down the stretch. They have road trips to Marshall and Tulsa sandwiched around a home against UCF. The Tigers need to prove themselves in those three games.

Iowa State: Heading into a very difficult three-game stretch to finish the season, the Cyclones needed to beat Texas Tech on Wednesday to get to 10 wins in the Big 12. It wasn't as easy as expected, but they still dominated the final 10 minutes en route to an 18-point win. With road games at Kansas State and Missouri and a home date with Baylor still on the docket, Iowa State will have chances to seal its bid. One win would make the Cyclones feel pretty good.

Hurt itself

West Virginia
: The Mountaineers hung with Notre Dame for a half, but the Fighting Irish came out of the break with a bang and simply ran away with the game. The loss is West Virginia's sixth defeat in eight games, and drops them to 7-8 in the conference. On Friday, Marquette comes to Morgantown in a game that would really solidify the Mountaineers' at-large hopes. If they drop that one, they need to win the final two games of the regular season and then do some damage in the league tourney.

Southern Miss: Things are getting dicey for the Golden Eagles. They survived a loss to Houston over the weekend and remained in pretty good shape, but Wednesday's double-overtime loss to UTEP (by the way, when did the Miners become such a giant-killer?) moves them into suspect territory. They are now tied for second-place with Tulsa in the standings and have three sub-100 losses. Southern Miss has to survive its next two games -- Rice and SMU -- before the season finale against Marshall. The Golden Eagles are still in, but nowhere near as safe. 

South Florida: Despite a gaudy Big East record, the biggest knock on the Bulls is their lack of good wins and their soft conference schedule. They jumped out to a double-digit lead at Syracuse, but couldn't make plays late in the game and fell short. They are now 10-5 in the league with three games left. They have Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia remaining -- two of them coming at home -- so there are still chances. Right now, though, one good win over Seton Hall isn't getting it done.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks were one of the final teams out of the bracket this week, but that will change next week after their loss at home to Richmond, which came into Wednesday with an RPI nearing 150. Unless the Hawks beat Temple and St. Bonaventure to finish the season and then get a couple quality wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament, Phil Martelli's club won't have a happy Selection Sunday.

Minnesota: Farewell, at-large hopes. The Golden Gophers have now lost four in a row and six of their last eight, and suffering a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State. Tubby Smith's troops had the game in their grasp, but completely malfunctioned in the last three and a half minutes and will now be relegated to the NIT. Barring a crazy run the rest of the season, Minnesota is done. 

UCF: The talk of the Knights as an at-large team seemed to be jumping the gun a little bit in the past couple weeks, and Wednesday's horrible second-half loss to Rice pushes them further out of the field. They now drop to a fourth-place tie in the league standings, and still have to go to Memphis in next-to-last game of the season. 14 of their 17 wins are sub-100. 

Still alive

Dayton:
The Flyers made it into several brackets this week on the basis of their seven top-100 wins and victories over Temple and Saint Louis. However, they are only one questionable loss from falling from the picture. They survived on Wednesday, going on the road and beating Duquesne. They still probably need to win their final three regular-season games.

Marshall:
The Thundering Herd shook off a double-digit first half deficit to dominate Houston in the second half. It is their third straight win, and with chances sitll remaining against Memphis and Southern Miss, Marshall has the opportunity to play itself into the league title -- and at-large -- race.

Drexel: The Dragons still have plenty of work to do to move into consideration for an at-large berth, but the Dragons stayed alive with a win over James Madison. An outright regular-season title could really help their profile, so they need to win at Old Dominion on Saturday and also hope George Mason drops one to VCU.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU just needs to keep winning and hope quantity of wins is enough for the Selection Committee. The Rams survived a trip to UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday night, and now get a shot at co-league leader George Mason this weekend. A win there and a Drexel loss to Old Dominion would give the Rams a share of the regular-season title.

LSU: The Tigers popped on the radar in the past week, and they kept their winning ways going with a victory over Georgia on Wednesday. That's now four straight victories for the Tigers, leaving them 7-6 in the SEC -- good enough for fourth in the conference standings. If they can win out in the regular season, LSU will have an interesting at-large case. It owns wins over Marquette, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Bubble Popped

Wyoming:
The Cowboys looked like they were about to revive their at-large hopes by leading at San Diego State for most of the game. However, the Aztecs tied it late and then dominated the overtime period. Wyoming is now 4-7 in the Mountain West and in sixth place. Their at-large hopes are likely gone. 

Ole Miss:
The Rebels have completely fallen off since getting some serious consideration a couple weeks back. Their 13-point loss at Tennessee on Wednesday night was their third in a row, and fifth in their last six games. Barring an amazing run to -- at least -- the SEC title game, no NCAA for them. 

La Salle: If the Explorers could have won out and then done damage in the conference tournament, they had a chance. Their overtime loss to Temple on Wednesday ends their at-large hopes.  

George Mason: The Patriots can still win a share of the CAA title with a win over VCU this weekend and a Drexel loss, but their loss at Northeastern on Wednesday night ruins their at-large hopes. Despite their 14 CAA wins, they have just two top-100 wins and four sub-100 losses. 

Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:20 am
 

Podcast: The MWC can no longer be undervalued

By Matt Norlander

We can't turn our heads anymore. The Pac-12 is miserably bad, perhaps continuing in the worst season in its existence -- that dates back to when it was the Pac-8 and the Pac-10. What's the reason for this? Is it doomed to become a one-bid league? The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg says no, even if you want to upchuck your dinner just following this league.

Today's 'cast isn't all negative, though. Jeff and I also give our top five non-BCS teams, waxing on the Mountain West in the process. The MWC could be the fourth-best league in the nation. Let's start talking about that over peanut butter and crackers.

On to the podcast:
  • From the beginning: Banter before the basketball.
  • 1:15: Addressing, examining and a lack of mockery -- but heavy pity -- for the Pac-12. What the biggest story lines with the league right now?
  • 4:26: How'd the Pac-12 get to this point? How'd a Big Six conference become so laughable?
  • 9:27: How many bids is this league setting up to get? Calling it a one-bid conference is easy, and understandable, but by March, two teams getting in seems likely.
  • 12:30: Moving on to the Mountain West -- the fourth-best conference in the country. Believe it, fools!
  • 16:04: Eisenberg's top five non-BCS teams. Xavier makes it. Fo' real.
  • 22:06: We get to this point of the year, there's always a team or two who's undervalued despite playing well. We give our picks.
  • 24:55: Louisville, Missouri, Florida and UConn all fell Saturday. Top 15 teams. Which one will wind up playing the worst the rest of the way?

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Dayton's Archie Miller mature beyond years

By Jeff Goodman

The first thing nearly every new head coach says after taking a job is say how he "needs to change the culture." It's almost a rite of passage within the coaching carousel.

"These guys had a great culture," Dayton coach Archie Miller said Thursday afternoon, just hours after his team pulled the upset over a ranked Alabama team.

Does Miller admit he needs to increase the talent in the program? Sure. Add depth on the frontline? Absolutely.

But the culture?

"These guys go to class, come to practice and work hard," Miller said. "Do I believe in everything from A to Z the way they've done things? No, but give Brian Gregory and his staff credit. They did a great job establishing a culture here."

That's maturity, coming from a guy who just turned 33 on October 30.

Want more?

"The key to this team is how they handle success and adversity at the same time," Miller said. "It's a delicate balance."

What Miller, the younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller is referring to is the fact that this is a team that has dealt with the challenge of winning the Old Spice Classic down in Orlando only to follow it up with a pair of blowout losses to Murray State and Buffalo. Then came the victory over the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.

"We'll be up and down a little bit," Miller said. "That's because of who are are as a team. ... We have some good players and really good kids, but at the end of the day, we have holes."

And it'll take time for the holdovers, who played for a rigid coach in Gregory who called no shortage of sets, to learn to play with more freedom.

"It's been an adjustment at times," Miller admitted.

Chris Johnson and Southern Illinois transfer Kevin Dillard both bounced back from dismal performances against Murray State and were terrific in the win over Alabama, but the truth is that this team is a star away from being a true contender in the A-10. Sure, the Flyers could well finish somewhere in the Top 4 or 5 in the league this season - especially with a rising star in Miller at the helm.

Dayton has already knocked off three teams from the Power 6 leagues: Minnesota, Wake Forest and now Alabama. The Flyers also took care of Fairfield, one of the better mid-major teams in the country this season, down in Orlando.

Sean Miller deserves a ton of credit -- and is receiving plenty -- for what he's done down in Tucson, but his younger brother may not be far behind.

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Trippin': Get to know Dayton's new coach

In our Trippin' series we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin' related stories.

By Matt Norlander


If you’re tired of the Brad Stevens driver’s license jokes, prepare for yourself later next season for the onslaught of Archie Miller cracks. The new Dayton coach is 32 years old, has a stomach full of fire but looks like he’d be the perfect candidate to be your local high school’s starting point guard. Plus, that name: Archie. It just rings with whippersnapper undertones.

And then there’s the fact he’s Sean Miller’s younger brother. Miller’s ready for those questions and stories to come when the season begins, too. But right now, he and his team just got back from a European trip wherein they went 4-0 against the Holland U-23 national team as well as other junior teams in Belgium and France.

Miller didn’t care much for the games though. It was about the practices. This was the first time he got to work with his team; Miller was hired in April after Brian Gregory took the Georgia Tech job. Miller said he was very serious and direct in practice from the start. That’s his style. He has to offset those youthful looks and inexperience at the head-coaching level with a tone and demeanor with his new guys.

He said they responded terrifically, a credit to Gregoy and his staff.

“Eighty percent of the learning curve of how we practice is now out of the way,” Miller said. “Now it’s why we practice and why were’ doing certain things.”

What Miller learned: “I think the one thing most coaches want to learn about is their depth. But I also learned we have to be really, really smart the way we practice and how we protect ourselves. As a coach, in terms of strength, I think we’ve got a conditioned a group that works really hard.”

Who or what impressed him:  “For me, the most positive things happened before the games even started. But also, Kevin Dillard and Chris Johnson were a step above in terms of where they’re at talent-wise and experience-wise in where we play. Other guys had terrific stretches in games, but the way I look at us and how I see us, they’re above right now.”

What concerned him: “The frontcourt productivity is a question mark and a concern as of now.”

— The team currently has 10 scholarship players. Two incoming freshman jumped ship once Gregory left for Tech.  “I know people can say, ‘You could say there’s not a lot of whole lot of depth and continuity in their classes,’” Miller said. “It’s up to us to do a great job of recruiting going forward. We’ll do just fine with what we have.”

The Flyers will also have transfers from Georgetown (Vee Sanfaord) and LSU (Matt Derenbecker) available for 2012-13.

— More on who Miller is. When I asked him to sell himself to me, he responded: “I’m very nuts-and-bolts. I have always been that way, not only with being a player (at N.C. State), but the everyday process is so important to me. That’s what we’re about. Every day they’re competing, getting better. Me, personally, am very direct and very honest. When I played I was very blunt and in telling people both what they do and don’t want to hear, because it’s about the bottom line.”

— Injury-wise: The Flyers were down two in Europe: sophomore Ralph Hill, who’s dealing with a stress fracture in his foot; and sophomore Devin Oliver, who caught mono in early August and missed the trip. Paul Williamswent on the trip and played,  which was a victory. He’d been battling a deep knee bruise since the end of last season. It was so bad they almost elected to have him go under the knife.

— Miller said Dillard and Johnson are the only surefire starters as of now. He rotated starting lineups on the trip to “keep guys honest,” and said his frontcourt is up for grabs. It’s likely Paul Williams will also crack the starting five come the fall.

“I’m not as concerned as to who’s starting, but more concerned with roles and rotations,” Miller said.

— On his relationship with his brother: “It’s instant and daily communication. He’s everything to me. We’re obviously family, but part of the reason we went to Arizona is to achieve something together. Our relationship will go from practice comments to planning. Scheduling to recruiting to shooting the [expletive] about anything.”

— And on the pressure of comparison to his brother: “I put a lot of pressure on myself because, number one, I think anyone in college basketball knows it’s a hard-ass job. I have one of the best jobs in the country. This is a really special place. I think, as a young coach, having a chip on your shoulder or not, it’s about having a fearless approach, no matter who you are.”

Posted on: August 15, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 4:06 pm
 

A-10 Offseason Report



By Jeff Goodman


A-10 Offseason Report

Charlotte – The 49ers will play against Miami, at Memphis (12-31) and at Arkansas. Gokhan Sirin left the program and DeMario Mayfield is eligible after sitting out last season following a transfer from Georgia.

Dayton – The Flyers are in the midst of a trip overseas to Amsterdam and France. Archie Miller put together a staff of Kevin Kuwik (Ohio State), Allen Griffin (Hofstra), Tom Ostrom (Arkansas) and Bill Comar as the director of operations. The Flyers will play in the Old Spice Classic and also have non-league games vs. Alabama (11-7), vs. Seton Hall (12-21), vs. Mississippi (12-30) and at Miami. Brandon Spearman (Indian Hills) and Juwan Staten (West Virginia) left the program while Vee Sanford (Georgetown) transferred in. Kevin Dillard (Southern Illinois) is eligible this season after sitting out last year.

Duquesne – Ron Everhart’s team is in the tail end of a trip to Canada. Amadou Koundoul replaces Greg Gary, who left to go to Purdue. The Dukes will play in the Coaches vs. Cancer event and also have non-league games against Pittsburgh (11-30), against Penn State (12-10) and at George Mason (12-21). Joel Wright (Blinn JC) left and Rodrigo Peggau graduated early and enrolled at Seton Hall College.

Fordham – Derrick Phelps left his position as the video coordinator to join King Rice’s staff at Monmouth. The Rams will play at Syracuse (11-12), at St. John’s (12-17) and at Georgia Tech (12-29). Brian Freeman, Rayner Moquete and Fahro Alihodzic all transferred out of the program.

George Washington – New coach Mike Lonergan (above) brought Hajj Turner with him from Vermont – and added Pete Strickland (N.C. State) and Kevin Sutton (Montverde Academy) as well as former Maryland video coordinator Matt Lisiewski as his director of basketball operations. He also added former Vermont guard Maurice Joseph as his assistant DOBO. The Colonials will play in the CBE Classic against Cal and also will face VCU in the BT&T Classic (12-4) at the Verizon Center yet. GW will also play at Kansas State (12-1), at Syracuse (12-10), vs. UAB (12-28) and at Harvard (1-14) in the non-conference. Chris Fitzgerald (Columbia) and Tim Johnson both left the program.

La Salle – John Giannini and the Explorers just returned from a trip to Canada. La Salle will play in the Hoop Group Classic (11-25/26) and also has non-league games at Villanova (11-15) and at Pittsburgh (11-22). Aaric Murray (West Virginia) transferred out while Ramon Galloway (South Carolina) came in and will be eligible to play this season after receiving a waiver from the NBA. Taylor Dunn (Winthrop) is also eligible this season after sitting out last year.

Rhode Island – Larry Harris (N.C. State) replaced Kevin Clark (Towson). The Rams will play in the Legends Classic (at Texas on Nov. 15) and also in the UCF Holiday Classic along with James Madison and Stetson. Non-league games include at BC (1-2), at Nebraska (11-20), vs. Virginia Tech (12-7) and vs. Providence (12-23). Akeem Richmond transferred to East Carolina. Billy Baron (Virginia) and Andre Malone (Auburn) are both eligible after the first semester.

Richmond – The Spiders replaced director of basketball operations Marcus Jenkins, who left for Princeton, with Kim Lewis. Chris Mooney’s team will play in the Cancun Challenge and also has non-conference dates at Wake Forest (12-3), at VCU (12-10), at UCLA (12-23) and at home against Old Dominion (12-20).

Saint Louis – Rick Majerus is expected to go with the team from Aug. 19-29 to Canada. Porter Moser took the head job at Loyola-Chicago and Tony Young was promoted. The Billikens will play in the 76 Classic in Anaheim and also have non-conference games against Washington (11-20) and at New Mexico (11-31). Christian Salecich transferred to Missouri Southern while Jake Barnett (Toledo) is eligible this season and Kwamain Mitchell will return to the court after missing last year.

Saint Joseph’s – Phil Martelli’s team will play in the Charleston Classic and also has non-league contests vs. Villanova (12-17), vs. Penn State (11-26), vs. Creighton (12-10) and at Harvard (12-31). Carl Baptiste (Delaware) and Justin Crosgile (Eastern Washington) left while Todd O’Brien graduated early and has enrolled at UAB. Hanil Kanesevic (Hofstra) is eligible and should be an impact player for the Hawks immediately.

St. Bonaventure – Mark Schmidt’s team will play at Virginia Tech (11-27), at Illinois (12-7) and against N.C. State (12-20) in Rochester. Brett Roseboro transferred to UMBC.

Temple – Matt Langel got the head job at Colgate and was replaced by Dwayne Killings (BU). The Owls will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and also have a non-conference slate that includes games at Penn (11-14), vs. Villanova (12-10), at Texas (12-17), vs. Duke (1-4) and vs. Maryland (1-21) at the Palestra. Dalton Pepper transferred in from West Virginia and will sit out this season.

UMass – Derek Kellogg’s team will play in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The Minutemen will play at BC and against Siena. Chaz Williams is eligible after transferring in from Hofstra a year ago.

Xavier – Chris Mack replaced Pat Kelsey and Brian Thornton with Kareem Richardson (Drake) and Jeremy Growe. The Musketeers will play in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii (12-22/25) and also have a non-league slate that includes home games against Georgia (11-25), Purdue (12-3), Cincinnati (12-10) Gonzaga (12-31) and road contests against Vanderbilt (11-28), Butler (12-7) and Memphis (2-4). Jay Canty (Appalachian State) and Jordan Latham (Loyola) transferred out while Isaiah Philmore (Towson) transferred in. Andree Walker (Vandy) also came in and is eligible for his final year this season. Travis Taylor is also eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from Monmouth. Justin Martin sat out last season due to academics.

Offseason reports: Big 12 Pac-12 | Big Ten | ACC | Big East | SEC

Photo: AP
 
 
 
 
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