Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:48 am
 

Today's Specials: Tourneys take center stage

Murray State won two close games against Tennessee Tech during the season. Can Tech upset the Racers on Friday? (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Quite a diverse schedule on the docket for Friday. The Mid-American and Ivy are still in the regular season, eight conferences are in the midst of tournament there’s a top-25 Big East team in action too.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: Tennessee Tech vs. No. 12 Murray State (7 p.m., ESPNU). Outside of the Racers, Tennessee Tech might have the most talent in the Ohio Valley. The duo of Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard combine to average nearly 39 points per game, and they combined for 42 in the quarterfinals win over SEMO. Murray State won the two regular-season meetings by a combined 13 points. The key could be free throws; Murray State had a 66-38 advantage in the first two games.

Second-best game: Akron at Kent State (7 p.m., ESPN2). A showdown in the MAC between two of the league’s perennial powers. Akron can clinch the outright title with a win on Friday night, while Kent has a chance to tie for second-place with a victory in the finale. Akron won the first meeting by nine points, having one of its better offensive performances of the season. For Kent State, the key will be contesting shots and keeping Akron from getting easy looks inside the arc.

Another one to watch: Butler vs. Milwaukee (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). The Horizon League has a wide-open conference tournament this season, and these two teams have the pieces to make a run and get the automatic bid. The two teams split the regular-season meetings 1-1, with each team winning on its homecourt. Both teams play very good defense, with Milwaukee defending the arc closely and Butler preferring to control the glass and interior.

Guaranteed win: The Ivy League race took a surprising turn last weekend when Penn knocked off Harvard in Cambridge. The two teams are now tied in the loss column at the top of the standings. Both teams should get wins on Friday night, though, as Penn hosts Brown (7 p.m.) and Harvard visits Columbia (7 p.m.).

Potential upset: The Atlantic Sun had its first upset on Thursday, but the fun might continue on Friday. No. 6 Florida Gulf Coast handled No. 3 USC-Upstate by 10 points despite star freshman guard Brett Comer struggling from the field and turning it over five times. Can the Eagles knock off No. 2 seed Mercer at home (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). FGCU can score in different ways, and Mercer has had trouble keeping teams off the glass. Belmont faces East Tennessee State in the other semifinal (6 p.m., ESPN3). 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  • Conferences with tournament action on Friday: Southern, CAA, Missouri Valley, Horizon, MAAC, Ohio Valley, WCC and Atlantic Sun. The best set of games to keep an eye on could be the Missouri Valley quarterfinals. Only one team finished below .500 in the league, and it will be interesting to see if Wichita State and Creighton both survive.
  • BYU likely needs to get to the WCC title game to feel good about an at-large bid. That means the Cougars can’t lose to San Diego on Friday night (11 p.m.).
  • There’s another top-25 team playing Friday: No. 20 Notre Dame is hosting Providence in the season finale for both teams (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Irish want a double-bye in the Big East tourney, while PC is looking for its third win in a row.
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:55 pm
 

Freshman of the Year: Beal continues to impress

Brad Beal has stepped up his game as the season progressed, averaging 16.5 points and 7.6 boards in his last 10. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

This is the next-to-last Freshman rankings of the season, as next week marks the final stretch before the NCAA tournament. Right now, the No. 1 spot is locked up for Kentucky's Anthony Davis to take home. It would surprise me if anyone else even garners a vote for the Freshman of the Year award. There's still some decisions to be made for the all-freshman team, though. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has seen his offensive drop off the last month, while Moe Harkless just got injured. Brad Beal is making a move, while Austin Rivers continues to get better. It looks like conference tournaments could decide some of the final dilemmas facing the Freshman of the Year rankings.

The Freshman of the Year rankings are released every Thursday afternoon, shortly after Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish’s Player of the Year rankings.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Last Week: 1): 14.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.8 bpg, 65.8 FG%
If there were any questions remaining about Davis, he answered them against Vanderbilt. He shot 10-of-11 from the field, finishing with 28 points, 11 boards and five blocks.

2. Cody Zeller, Indiana (Last Week: 2): 15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 63.4 FG%
Going against Michigan State’s physical frontline on Tuesday, Zeller went for 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. If the Hoosiers are to advance in March, though, he needs to consistently rebound.

3. Trey Burke, Michigan (Last Week: 3): 14.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.8 apg
Burke didn’t have a vintage effort against Purdue, struggling with his shot and turning it over four times. He’s only shot 50 percent or better twice in the past 10 games.

4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (Last Week: 4): 12.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Kidd-Gilchrist slowed down late in the season, averaging just 8.9 points and shooting 40.6 percent from the field in the final eight games. He was still a factor on the glass and the defensive end, though.

5. Moe Harkless, St. John’s (Last Week: 5): 15.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg
Harkless played just 22 minutes against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, finishing with four points. He injured his right ankle and looked limited once he came back into the game.

6. Brad Beal, Florida (Last Week: 7): 14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Beal is playing his best basketball of the season in the last month, being far more aggressive offensively and also rebounding extremely well for his position. Five double-doubles this season.

7. Austin Rivers, Duke (Last Week: 8): 15.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 39.3 3PT%
Rivers is diversifying his game late in the season. He took 17 free throws against Virginia Tech, eight 3-pointers against Florida State and nine 2-pointers against Wake Forest.

8. Tony Mitchell, North Texas (Last Week: 6): 15.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 58.1 FG%
Mitchell will have his chance to carry the Mean Green with the Sun Belt tourney beginning this weekend. He’s slowed down offensively lately, averaging 9.7 points in his last three games.

9. Tony Wroten, Washington (Last Week: 9): 16.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg
When Wroten is doing what he does well – attacking the rim and making plays – he’s at his best. Forcing shots is not. 21 points, six rebounds and five assists looks good, but it can’t take him 18 shots. 

10. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (Last Week: 10): 17.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Harrison set the St. John’s freshman scoring record on Wednesday night, finishing with 21 points and four 3-pointers. If only he actually made his inside shots, we could see him average 25 a game.

Notes:

  • Once again, no one moved in or out of the rankings.
  • It's neck and neck with Harrison and B.J. Young of Arkansas for the No. 10 spot right now. Young is an efficient scorer who knocks down 3-pointers, and is averaging 20.3 points in his last seven games. This could come down to the wire. The other nine players are fairly secure in the top 10, although there's still potential for changs.
  • As you should know by now, I look for every reason to get a Delaware mention in here. Well, in his last five games, Jarvis Threatt is averaging 19.8 points and 4.6 boards.
  • LaDontae Henton totaled 42 points and 22 rebounds in two wins over DePaul and Connecticut.
  • Wonder if Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes is ready for a big finish to the season. He shot 9-of-10 with 18 points and seven rebounds in an overtime win against LSU on Wednesday.
  • Stanford’s Chasson Randle is really hitting his stride offensively. He’s had at least 16 points in five of his last six games, averaging 17.0 points in that span.
  • Matt Carlino will be a key heading forward for BYU. The Cougars need him to score, but taking 23 shots (Gonzaga) and 19 shots (San Francisco) isn’t the trick.
  • Charleston Southern has one of the more underrated freshman duos, in guards Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. They’re combining to averaging 26.0 points.
  • Binghamton has only one win this season, but Ben Dickinson is averaging 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in his last four games.
  • Freshman leaders – Points: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State (18.0); Rebounds: Tony Mitchell, North Texas (10.8); Assists: Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State (6.9)
Posted on: March 1, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 3:28 pm
 

What-to-know conference previews: Sun Belt

After not being selected to win the Sun Belt in the preseason, Middle Tennessee used a non-conference campaign with quality wins to pick up momentum and steam roll the league. The Blue Raiders did lose two of its last six games, though; could we see an upset?

Middle Tennessee beat UCLA, Belmont, Akron and Ole Miss prior to conference play starting, and didn’t slow down from there. Kermit Davis’ group started 10-0 in the Sun Belt, prior to stumbling in a couple games late. They might make a case for an at-large if they lose in the tournament, but the season finale loss at Western Kentucky really wrecks those chances. The Blue Raiders play excellent defense, contesting shots and forcing turnovers. Offensively, they get inside very effectively, leaning on Player of the Year LaRon Dendy.

Behind Middle Tennessee, there are two teams that were chasing for much of the season. Arkansas-Little Rock has won seven of its last nine, and was fairly consistent throughout league play. The Trojans get to the free-throw line effectively and also force turnovers.

Middle Tennessee only lost two games during the league season, heading into the tourney as the favorite. (US Presswire)

Denver seems to be hitting its stride at the right time, winning its final four games of the season to get the three seed. The Pioneers are very efficient offensively, with plenty of shooters on the perimeter. Despite their slow pace, they force turnovers and really share the ball. Chris Udofia is dominant inside.

North Texas has been up-and-down for much of the season, but the Mean Green have the pieces to make a run in the conference tournament. Tony Mitchell is the most talented player in the conference, with the ability to rack up 20 points, 15 boards and five blocks every night out. The Mean Green also defend as well as any team in the conference.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Title game: Tuesday, March 6 on ESPN2 (6 p.m., ET)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Tony Mitchell, North Texas
  2. LaRon Dendy, Middle Tennessee
  3. Chris Udofia, Denver
  4. Augustine Rubit, South Alabama
  5. D’Andre Williams, Arkansas-Little Rock

Conference RPI: 19

KenPom.com rating: 19

Sagarin rating: 19

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Middle Tennessee

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans: 2011, No. 16 seed, lost to UNC-Asheville 81-77 in the opening round.
  • Arkansas State Red Wolves: 1999, No. 15 seed, lost to Utah 80-58 in the first round.
  • Denver Pioneers: N/A.
  • Florida Atlantic Owls: 2002, No. 15 seed, lost to Alabama 86-78 in the first round.
  • Florida International Golden Panthers: 1995, No. 16 seed, lost to UCLA 92-56 in the first round.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns: 2005, No. 13 seed, lost to Louisville 68-62 in the first round.
  • Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders: 1989, No. 13 seed, beat Florida State 97-83 in the first round, followed by a 104-88 loss to Virginia in the second round.
  • North Texas Mean Green: 2010, No. 15 seed, lost to Kansas State 82-62 in the first round.
  • South Alabama Jaguars: 2008, No. 10 seed, lost to Butler 81-61 in the first round.
  • Troy Trojans: 2003, No. 14 seed, lost to Xavier 71-59 in the first round.
  • Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: 2009, No. 12 seed, beat Gonzaga 83-81 in the first round, followed by a 76-72 loss to Illinois in the second round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:50 am
 

Today's Specials: Conference tourneys heat up

Florida State and Virginia battle in what should be one of the defensive matchups of the season. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Thursday is a monster night for conference tournament action, with some of the most intriguing games taking place in the Big South. There’s also some bubble implications on the line.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 22 Florida State at No. 24 Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN2). Neither team is peaking right now, but this should be a tremendous defensive battle. Florida State has dropped two in a row to fall out of the ACC title race, while Virginia has lost four of its last seven. The Cavaliers should win this one on Thursday night just to feel safe about its NCAA tournament hopes as well. Florida State relies heavily on blocked shots and controlling the paint, while Virginia contests shots and doesn’t allow offensive rebounds.

Second-best game: No. 13 Michigan at Illinois (7 p.m., ESPN). Illinois was left for dead after its six-game losing streak, but the Fighting Illini finally got back on the right track with a win over Iowa. With win on Thursday night and then again on Sunday night at Wisconsin, and Illinois could get back in the mix. With that said, Illinois will have trouble stopping Michigan’s 3-point shooting and also need to knock down shots. Can the Wolverines win on the road?

Another one to watch: Colorado at Oregon (10:30 p.m., FSN affiliates). This is essentially an at-large elimination game if either team has a legitimate shot at receiving a bid. Moreover, both teams are still in the mix for the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 tournament. Colorado won the first meeting by one point on its homecourt, but Oregon is ahead in the at-large pecking order right now.

Guaranteed win: The only way No. 1 Kentucky really loses to Georgia on Thursday night (9 p.m., ESPN) is if it looks ahead to Florida on Sunday and completely forgets it’s actually playing a game. Georgia has been OK lately, beating Mississippi State and Florida in its past five games, but the Wildcats aren’t falling on Senior Night against the Bulldogs.

Potential upset: I’ll start this section with this: I don’t think this upset will actually happen. However, the top seed in the Big South, UNC-Asheville, will play No. 4 seed Charleston Southern (8 p.m., ESPNU) in a rematch of one of UNCA’s two conference losses this season. Asheville had trouble keeping Southern off the glass in the first meeting, and Kelvin Martin has been dominant on the inside lately. This will be close.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Plenty of conference tournament action on Thursday night. The Atlantic Sun, Big South, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley, America East and West Coast are all in play. Some of the more interesting games include VMI vs. Winthrop (6 p.m., ESPNU), Central Connecticut State vs. Wagner (7 p.m.), and SEMO vs. Tennessee Tech (7 p.m.).
  2. Mississippi Valley State goes for an 18-0 SWAC campaign against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (8:30 p.m.).
  3. Some regular-season championship notes: Washington can clinch a share of the Pac-12 if it beats USC (10:30 p.m.), while Nevada gets the outright WAC title with a win over New Mexico State (11 p.m., ESPN2).
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 11:10 pm
 

Breakdown of Shabazz Muhammad's unofficial visits

By Jeff Borzello

On Wednesday evening, CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish reported that the NCAA has contacted each of the teams recruiting Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 2-ranked player in the class of 2012, and told them to be careful of his amateur status. According to the report, the NCAA is interested in connections between Muhammad’s family and two financial advisers that paid for at least two of Muhammad’s unofficial visits.

In researching the article, we found nearly 15 unofficial visits from Muhammad – not including trips to UNLV, which is only about 10 minutes away from Muhammad’s home in Las Vegas. That’s a very high amount, especially considering how many trips were to non-local schools. It's worth noting, though, that the visits during AAU tournaments (Duke, Kansas) are not uncommon. 

Here’s a timeline of non-UNLV visits:

March 5, 2010: Duke and North Carolina; the two teams played in Durham that weekend
May 2010: After AAU team played at the Tournament of Champions, he spent time at Duke
August 4, 2010: Memphis, on his way to Adidas Nations
October 2010: Late Night with Roy at North Carolina
November 27, 2010: Louisville for game vs. Marshall 
December 5, 2010: North Carolina for game vs. Kentucky
January 15, 2011: Duke
March 1, 2011: Kentucky for Senior Night vs. Vanderbilt
May 2011: Kansas, while team was playing in the Jayhawk Invitational
May 9, 2011:
Arizona, the day after Sean Miller turned down Maryland
August 7, 2011: USC for basketball practice, while at Adidas Nations
August 10, 2011: UCLA for a football practice with Kyle Anderson, while at Adidas Nations
October 29, 2011: USC for football game vs. Stanford

Official Visits

  • Texas A&M - Weekend of September 22-24, 2011 for football game vs. Oklahoma State
  • Kentucky - Weekend of October 14-16, 2011 for Big Blue Madness
  • Kansas - Weekend of February 24-26, 2012 for game vs. Missouri
  • Duke - Weekend of March 2-4, 2012 for game vs. North Carolina

Category: NCAAB
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 29, 2012 1:54 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 1:11 pm
 

What-to-know conference previews: Southern

There’s no Stephen Curry in the league, but Davidson ran through the Southern Conference this season and remains the favorite heading into the conference tournament. Can the Wildcats end Wofford’s two-year NCAA tournament streak?

Davidson went into Kansas and beat the Jayhawks on December 19 – and hasn’t really looked back since. They started out 9-0 in league play, running away with the regular-season title by four games. Bob McKillop has a balanced squad with five double-figure scorers paced by De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen. They push the ball effectively and get to the free-throw line. There are multiple 3-point shooters as well as guys like Brooks and Cohen who can score inside.

Wofford had a three-game losing streak in early February, but has won its last four conference games to forge a second-place finish in the division. The Terriers slow things down and rely on Brad Loesing and Kevin Giltner to carry the load. Georgia Southern made a nice run late in the season before losing its final two games. The Eagles are one of the most inside-dependent teams in the league, with Eric Ferguson.

Player of the year De'Mon Brooks leads a balanced attack for top-seeded Davidson. (US Presswire)

We would also be remiss not to mention UNC-Greensboro, which completely turned things around upon the resignation of head coach Mike Dement. Wes Miller took over the program and steered the Spartans to a North Division title.

The sleeper heading into the conference tournament is perennial contender Charleston. The Cougars have won seven of their last nine games and have some of the most talent in the league. Antwaine Wiggins and Trent Wiedeman are all-conference-caliber players and Andrew Lawrence is a playmaker. This team is a threat.

Davidson looks like the favorite, but there are plenty of threats to the Wildcats’ quest for an automatic bid.

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Title game: Monday, March 5 on ESPN2 (9 p.m., ET)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. De’Mon Brooks, Davidson
  2. Brad Loesing, Wofford
  3. Eric Ferguson, Georgia Southern
  4. Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro
  5. Antwaine Wiggins, Charleston

Conference RPI: 23

KenPom.com rating: 23

Sagarin rating: 25

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Appalachian State Mountaineers: 2000, No. 14 seed, lost to Ohio State 87-61 in the first round.
  • Chattanooga Mocs: 2009, No. 16 seed, lost to Connecticut 103-47 in the first round.
  • The Citadel Bulldogs: N/A.
  • College of Charleston Cougars: 1999, No. 8 seed, lost to Tulsa 62-53 in the first round.
  • Davidson Wildcats: 2008, No. 10 seed, beat Gonzaga 82-76 in the first round, beat Georgetown 74-70 in second round, beat Wisconsin 73-56 in the Sweet 16, followed by a 59-57 loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight.
  • Elon Phoenix: N/A.
  • Furman Paladins: 1980, No. 10 seed, lost to Tennessee 80-69 in the first round.
  • Georgia Southern Eagles: 1992, No. 15 seed, lost to Oklahoma State 100-73 in the first round.
  • Samford Bulldogs: 2000, No. 13 seed, lost to Syracuse 79-65 in the first round.
  • UNC-Greensboro Spartans: 2001, No. 16 seed, lost to Stanford 89-60 in the first round.
  • Western Carolina Catamounts: 1981, No. 16 seed, lost to Purdue 73-71 in the first round.
  • Wofford Terriers: 2011, No. 14 seed, lost to Brigham Young 74-66 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:46 am
 

Today's Specials: Last chance for bubble teams?

Northwestern could really boost its at-large hopes with a home win over Ohio State on Wednesday. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

There are no top-25 matchups on Wednesday night, but there are plenty of opportunities to get marquee wins. Plus, conference tournaments. What more can you ask for?

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: Iowa State at No. 7 Missouri (8 p.m., ESPN3). If you’re looking for a couple of teams who do the most without having a lot of size, look no further. Both teams utilize four perimeter players most of the time, with Iowa State relying heavily on Royce White to make plays for himself and teammates and Missouri utilizing a lot of penetration and dishing. The key in this one will be Iowa State’s ability to keep Ricardo Ratliffe from getting a lot of easy baskets in the paint, and Missouri guarding Iowa State’s plethora of shooters.

Second-best game: No. 8 Marquette at Cincinnati (7 p.m., ESPN2). After Cincinnati’s late loss to South Florida on Sunday, the Bearcats still need to do some work in order to get an at-large bid. A home win over the top-10 Golden Eagles would certainly do the trick. Marquette is getting plenty of hype as a sleeper Final Four team, and the battle on the perimeter on Wednesday night should be fun. It will be interesting to see how Jae Crowder and Yancy Gates battle each other. Can Gates get out and guard Crowder on the perimeter? Can Crowder body up with Gates?

Another one to watch: No. 10 Ohio State at Northwestern (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). This is basically a must-win for Northwestern. The Wildcats missed out on its big chance last week against Michigan, and now need a marquee win for their ledger. Ohio State is reeling right now, having lost three of its last five games to drop to third place in the conference standings. Northwestern won’t be able to stop Jared Sullinger down low, but the Wildcats’ host of 3-point shooters – and John Shurna – could create problems at the other end.

Guaranteed win: New Mexico beat Air Force by 39 on the road the last time the two teams played. This time, the rematch is at The Pit (8 p.m., Mountain). The margin might not near 40 points again, but the Lobos should roll. Moreover, Texas-Arlington will look to stay undefeated in the Southland by hosting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (8 p.m.). Corpus Christi is 5-23 on the season, and won’t pull the major upset.

Potential upset: Colorado State has ignited its at-large hopes on the strength of two big wins over San Diego State and New Mexico. Can the Rams complete the Mountain West trifecta with a win over No. 17 UNLV on Wednesday night (10 p.m.)? A victory would certainly put them in good shape heading into the conference tournament. To pull the upset, they need to slow down the game and defend the perimeter more effectively than they have recently. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Plenty of conference tournament action on Wednesday night. The Atlantic Sun, Patriot and Ohio Valley kick things off, while the Big South continues.
  2. Must-wins for bubblers: Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure (7 p.m.); Dayton at Richmond (7 p.m.); Mississippi State at South Carolina (8 p.m., ESPN3); Miami (Fl.) at North Carolina State (9 p.m., ESPN3); Texas hosting Oklahoma (9 p.m., ESPN2). Alabama, Purdue and Southern Miss would also be smart not to lose.
  3. South Florida has a chance to get a big win for its resume on the road at No. 19 Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN3). 
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
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