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Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:45 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:50 pm
 

UCF announces self-imposed sanctions

Donnie Jones and UCF will appear before the NCAA in April. The school self-imposed sanctions today. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

UCF will appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in April, but the school announced Monday several self-imposed sanctions in both football and basketball.

On the basketball side, there were no self-imposed postseason bans, but scholarships, recruiting hours and wins were taken away. From the Orlando Sentinel:

  • Vacate all wins for the three seasons from 2008-2011.
  • Remove one scholarship for the next two seasons, from 13 to 12.
  • Reduce the number of coaches allowed to simultaneously recruit off-campus from three to two, while also prohibiting all basketball coaches from engaging in off-campus during two of the three July evaluation periods for the next two years.
  • Reduce the number of recruiting days to 25.
  • Issue letters of reprimand to head coach Donnie Jones and assistant coach Darren Tillis. Jones was suspended for the first three Conference USA games, while Tillis was suspended for two.
  • Jones and Tillis cannot receive bonuses or salary increases for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.

The issue with the NCAA stems from reports in April that said Ken Caldwell was acting as a runner between agents and potential UCF recruits. Caldwell also allegedly acted as a representative of the university, according to reports in the New York Times and ESPN.com.

Senior guard A.J. Rompza was ineligible for the first 12 games of this season after it was found out he received $900 in payments from Caldwell. Overall, there were 11 potential UCF recruits tied to Caldwell, although only Rompza was the only one who ended up with the Knights. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:12 pm
 

Marquette proves it has Final Four potential

Jae Crowder's ability to create matchup problems means Marquette will be a difficult opponent come March. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

No more life on the bubble for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles have lived on or around the bubble for each of the last few seasons, needing to either make a late run in the regular season or overcome a late-season collapse to make the Big Dance.

That won’t be the case this season, as Buzz Williams’ club has won 10 of its last 11 games and is likely to finish either second or third in the Big East standings.

Moreover, it’s looking like the Golden Eagles could be a legitimate threat to reach the Final Four. They don’t have as much size and inside production as some other teams; they don’t have a ton of depth; and they get off to slow starts far too often. With all that said, there are several teams with the chops to make a run to New Orleans this season, and Marquette is one of them.

It starts with the duo of guard Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder. Johnson-Odom is a strong guard who is capable of scoring in multiple ways, while Crowder is one of the most difficult individual matchups in the country. Crowder is the biggest player in the lineup and he’s often undersized, but he makes up for it with his inside-outside ability at the other end.

Marquette has plenty of playmakers on the perimeter. Junior Cadougan is capable of running the offense and getting his teammates open shots, and Todd Mayo creates his own looks and gets to the rim. Vander Blue has really come on strong lately. The key lately has been Jamil Wilson, who stepped up when Davante Gardner was injured. Wilson has averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last eight games.

Without Gardner – and Chris Otule, who was injured earlier in the season – Marquette has had to play undersized during its recent stretch. The Golden Eagles’ defensive rebounding has been about the same, though, and that’s the team’s biggest weakness.

They more than make up for it at the other end of the floor. With at least four guys who can hit the 3-point shot on the court at once, Marquette creates an enormous number of matchup problems. The Golden Eagles love to force turnovers and push the ball, and there aren’t many teams that can keep up with them. In a halfcourt setting, they know how to get into the lane and either finish at the rim or draw fouls.

Only Kentucky and Syracuse have shown enough consistency to be considered favorites to reach the Final Four, and there are a dozen teams capable of making a run to New Orleans. With the way Marquette is playing lately, the Golden Eagles are now part of that group.

It’s certainly better than the bubble.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:25 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:49 pm
 

Today's Specials: Texas, UConn need wins

By Jeff Borzello

Coming off an unbelievable weekend, you might still need more time to recovery. Fortunately, there are only a few good games to keep an eye on.

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

Best game: No. 13 Baylor at Texas (9 p.m., ESPN). Coming off three losses in its last four games, Baylor needs to bounce back with a win. Meanwhile, Texas needs another quality scalp for its resume after dropping a road game at Oklahoma State over the weekend. Texas likes to attack the rim and get points from the free-throw line, but the Longhorns will have to knock down corner shots to beat the Bears’ zone defense. On the other side, Baylor has to crash the offensive glass.

Second-best game: Connecticut at Villanova (7 p.m., ESPN). This is a must-win for Connecticut after the Huskies lost at home to Marquette over the weekend. It starts a four-game stretch where they need to go 3-1 or beat Syracuse at home later in the week. Villanova is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame in which the Wildcats blew a 20-point lead. If UConn is to break through with a victory, it needs to dominate the offensive glass and keep ‘Nova off the free-throw line.

Another one to watch: USC Upstate at Belmont (8 p.m.). Belmont took control of the Atlantic Sun race over the weekend, by beating East Tennessee State and seeing Mercer drop one to Jacksonville. USC Upstate has quietly won eight of its last nine games, and moved into third place in the standings. The Spartans sit two games back of Belmont. The key to pulling the road upset will be taking advantage of second chances and defending the perimeter.

Guaranteed win: Norfolk State had a stranglehold on the MEAC two weeks ago, but the Spartans have three of their last five and dropped behind Savannah State in the standings. They will look to get back on the right track, with a home non-conference game against Longwood (7 p.m.). 

Potential upset: Delaware State has won eight straight MEAC games to move into contention for the league title, but the Hornets head on the road to face Hampton (8 p.m.). The Pirates have struggled for much of the past six weeks, losing eight their last 11, but they’ve been close in nearly all of the losses. Hampton defends 2-point shots effectively, and Darrion Pellum can carry them offensively.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Mississippi Valley State can improve to 15-0 in the SWAC and clinch the regular-season title with a win over Texas Southern (5:30 p.m., ESPNU).
  2. The MEAC race is getting exciting at the top. Bethune-Cookman sits one game behind Savannah State, but the two teams face off tonight (8 p.m.).
  3. Mercer lost its grasp on a share of first place in the Atlantic Sun by losing over the weekend, but the Bears can keep pace at North Florida tonight (7 p.m.).
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2012 5:41 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:39 am
 

Night Court: Bubbles, upsets & BracketBusters



By Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander

We broke down every bubble game as the day went on, over at the Poppin' Bubbles page. For all the analysis and ramifications of the bubble's winners and losers, check it there. We'll recap all the non-bubble things here. 

Game of the Night: Everyone knew that Long Beach State vs. Creighton would be filled with plenty of offense and two teams that really wanted to prove themselves on national television. It certainly didn't disappoint -- what a game. LBSU was in control for most of the game, leading by as many as 10 points in the second half. However, Doug McDermott and Creighton kept coming and kept coming. A missed layup by Casper Ware and a turnover allowed Creighton to get the last shot. Antoine Young took advantage, and -- well, I'll let the video above tell the rest of the story. 

Game of the Night, Vol. 2:
Dayton. Xavier. City rivals. Both desperate for a bubble win. The game lived up to the drama, with the two teams going back and forth for 40 minutes -- and then an extra five after Dayton's Kevin Dillard made a layup with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game. Tu Holloway controlled the overtime, reverting to the clutch form he showed during Xavier's 8-0 start to the season. If he continues to play like that, might the Musketeers regain their magic? 

Game of the Day: 
Kansas State, perhaps you’ll no longer be underrated. That was the case at the mock selection meetings this week in Indianapolis. The Wildcats were placed into the 8/9 game, and now they’re certainly on the seven line at worst after beating Baylor 57-56 in Waco.

New Mexico, best of the West?: New Mexico, I’ve praised you in recent Power Pyramids, and now I’m fully in love with what the Lobos are capable of. They didn't mess around against UNLV, winning at home 65-45 and taking full control of the Mountain West chase. I've seen a lot of people mention the fact they liked New Mexico at the start of the season. I actually didn't. I came around on them soon, but didn't think they'd be this good. UNLV's a really nice team; the Lobos made them look like Air Force this afternoon at The Pit. 

Michigan, darkhorse Big Ten contender?: With Michigan beating Ohio State at home on Saturday night, the Wolverines could be a potential sleeper in the Big Ten title race. They are only a half-game back of Michigan State in the standings, and are now tied with Ohio State for second place. They also don't play any of the contenders the rest of the way. 

Murray State shows out: Saint Mary's has now lost three of its last four, but Murray State dominated the Gaels from the opening tip and showed that it's still a threat to win at least a game or two in the NCAA tournament. The Racers played tremendous defense all night, and got timely baskets from Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole. 

Rough day for Conference-USAUTEP gets its first road win of the season. Where does it come? FedEx Forum. Memphis sticks a hot dagger right into its foot with a 60-58 loss to the .500 Miners. Conference USA can be a two-bid league, but only if Memphis takes the auto bid and Southern Miss keeps winning until the semis or finals of the conference championship game. No time for duds for Josh Pastner’s team, especially at home against middling foes. That wasn't the only problem for the league. Southern Miss went into Houston and dropped one to the Cougars. Now there's very little separation at the top of the standings -- and that could limit the number of bids from the league.

No soup for you, personally: Perry Jones III. Had four points, four rebounds and fouled out. I’ve recently talked to a few former players who think PJ3 is the real deal. He isn’t showing it, and I’ve never actually seen it. This isn’t just Scott Drew, either (plenty want to criticize his coaching of this talented team). Jones lacks semblance of urgency, anger and pride on the floor. He seems likely to be a big factor in costing Baylor a game in March.

Saturday all-stars

  1. Wichita State is the truth and Joe Ragland is among the best “mid-major” players in the country. The guard who’s shorter than half the guys in your social circle is one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. He put up 30 and seven rebounds in a 91-74 road win against a more-than-decent Davidson team. Shockers were a four seed in the mock selection process. They can easily get that if they win the Valley tournament.
  2. Drew Gordon had 27 points and 20 rebounds, officially. (One UNLV beat writer is shooting down that 20-boards stat). For as much as I’ve been pushing UNM this season, I’ve said they won’t go next level until Gordon plays to his talent. He did that today. UNLV was playing in mud and Gordon did what he wanted. Can be a difference-maker in the tournament, certainly.
  3. Nate Wolters led South Dakota State to a BracketBusters beatdown on Buffalo, taking out the Bulls 86-65. Wolters had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds. #NatersGonnaNate
  4. Jae Crowder with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette in its 79-64 road win at UConn. It’s always been Crowder, not Darius Johnson-Odom, who’s been the most critical piece for the Golden Eagles the past two years.
  5. Keiton Page dropped 40 points in Oklahoma State's win over Texas.
  6. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson went for 32 points and 13 boards, continuing his dominance outside the nation's watchful eye.
  7. South Dakota's Louie Krogman lost, but 37 points and six assists? Not too bad.

Other action worth your attention

  1. San Diego State lost its second in a row, stumbling on the road at Air Force. Xavier Thames' 3-pointer hit the front rim at the buzzer, and now the Aztecs are out of the Mountain West title hunt.
  2. It was almost pretty bad, and certainly a seed line sacrifice for Louisville in Chicago this afternoon. The Cardinals needed overtime — and were sort of luck to get there — to take out DePaul, 90-82. my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  3. I think one of the two most important wins of the day came in Seattle. Washington earned a season sweep of Arizona, definitively putting UW over U of A when it comes to whether or not either deserves an at-large. (And as of now, I’d say neither.) However, the 79-70 win for the Puppies was one of the best for Lorenzo Romar, as he had 25 come from Terrence Ross and 22 come from Tony Wroten, Jr. Washington can be fun to watch—but they’ve been like this for years, now. Fun, inconsistent. Loves to run, stumbles over itself.
  4. Tennessee’s not that good, but boy was that a big win for Alabama to just stop the bleeding and beat the Vols in Tuscaloosa.
  5. Mercer lost its share of the Atlantic Sun title, Bucknell lost its second straight game in the Patriot, and Harvard grabbed control of the Ivy League. Mississippi Valley State also improved to 14-0 in the SWAC, while Middle Tennessee continued to cruise.
  6. Texas-Arlington ended its 16-game winning streak with a loss at Damian Lillard and Weber State.
  7. What a comeback by Notre Dame. Down by 20 points, the Fighting Irish stormed back against Villanova and won in overtime. Pat Connaughton had 21 points, and Jack Cooley continued his surprising dominance with 18 points and 13 boards.
  8. Iona simply outran Nevada in the second half. The Gaels forced the Wolf Pack to play too fast and made them turn the ball over left and right.
  9. Gonzaga lost to San Francisco for the third consecutive season, as Rashad Green hit a runner with less than three seconds left. Saint Mary's still has control of the WCC standings.
  10. Georgetown beat Providence. Goodman has his reaction to the game.
Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts
  • If you think we missed any of the bubble talk, just go to Poppin' Bubbles. Everything is over there.
  • If you want UConn thoughts, we touched on that earlier today.
  • Iowa State is going to coast through the backdoor into the tournament, FYI. The Cylcones won 80-69 over Oklahoma today. The resume keeps getting more cushion. Mildly concerning was Royce White only scoring four points. A lot of variance in his game.
  • Drexel starting to feel like a CAA team on a huge come, but the 69-49 win at Cleveland State was also about the Vikings having the floor fall through their season yet again.
  • Tiny thought. One seeds don’t lose in conference on the road against bad teams. Missouri 71, Texas A&M 62. Kansas kept pace, by steamrolling Texas Tech on the road.
Oh, and the video below is maybe the best buzzer-beater of the day: Pacific's Trevin Harris knocking down a 3 to beat Idaho State. (h/t @bigskybball

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 17, 2012 7:16 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 7:20 pm
 

Ga. Tech suspends leading scorer Glen Rice Jr.

By Jeff Borzello

Georgia Tech’s quest to get out of the cellar of the ACC has taken a hit.

Glen Rice Jr., the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, has been suspended indefinitely and will not travel to Virginia Tech this weekend, head coach Brian Gregory announced after practice on Friday.

Rice Jr. was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules.

Gregory did not get into specifics about the latest suspension.

Rice Jr., a 6-foot-5 swingman, is averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season. Georgia Tech has lost 12 of its last 14 games and currently sits at 2-9 in the ACC.

Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:15 pm
 

Today's Specials: Mid-majors rule the day

Bradford Burgess and VCU look to jump-start another late-season run in the BracketBusters vs. Northern Iowa. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

We usually don’t do a “Today’s Specials” on Friday, but Bracket Busters kicks off tonight and we need to bring you into the weekend right.

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

Best game: Northern Iowa at VCU (7 p.m., ESPN2). Both teams had at-large aspirations for certain parts of the season, but neither team is in the mix right now. Northern Iowa could be a bid-stealer in the Missouri Valley, as the Panthers have shown the ability to beat quality teams in and out of the league. VCU lost a heartbreaker to George Mason earlier in the week, and now sits in third in the CAA. Defensively, VCU will look to force turnovers and pressure the perimeter, and Northern Iowa wants to dominate the defensive glass.

Second-best game: Valparaiso at Loyola Marymount (9 p.m., ESPNU). Two teams that are hitting their strides at the right time. Valparaiso has won nine of its last 11 games, and currently sits atop the Horizon standings with a 1.5-game lead on Cleveland State. Loyola Marymount is coming off a 15-point road win at Saint Mary’s, and has won five of its last six. Loyola Marymount’s perimeter defense will look to stifle the Crusaders’ shooters, while Valparaiso has to keep LMU off the foul line.

Another one to watch: Cornell at Penn (7 p.m.). With Harvard losing last week, things have opened up a little bit in the Ivy League standings. Cornell and Penn are both within striking distance, as Penn is 5-2 and 1.5 games back, while Cornell is two games back in fourth place. The winner of this one stays in the hunt. The key will be 3-point shooting – Penn relies heavily on 3-pointers, but Cornell guards the perimeter effectively.

Guaranteed win: Harvard suffered its first league loss of the season last weekend at Princeton, and the Crimson probably can’t afford another defeat if they want to keep their at-large hopes alive. 7-18 Brown will be the sacrificial lamb on Friday (7 p.m.); the Bears lost the first meeting at home by nine. Expect a bigger margin this time around.

Potential upset: I would be shocked if there were any upsets on Friday night. There simply aren’t chances for it. But let’s see if Dartmouth can keep it close against Yale at home (7 p.m.). Sure, Dartmouth only has three Division-I wins all season and Yale is 16-6 this season, but I think the Big Green will hang in there. Dartmouth has only lost by double-digits at home twice this season. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Florida Gulf Coast has had a surprising season in the Atlantic Sun this year, and the Eagles currently sit in fourth place. Stetson comes to visit (7 p.m., ESPN3).
  2. How will Princeton respond after handing Harvard its first league loss last weekend? The Tigers host Columbia (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  3. Nothing else. Seriously, there are only seven games. With five categories, there can’t be three more things to watch.
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:33 am
 

Hold off on the Tennessee at-large talk for now

By Jeff Borzello

Jarnell Stokes' arrival has revitalized Tennessee's at-large chances. But temper your hopes for now. (US Presswire)

As you know by now, my colleague Matt Norlander is at the Mock Selection Committee event in Indianapolis. He took a picture this morning of the group’s at-large board – and Tennessee was a team under consideration.

Combine that with the fact several people in the media have been pushing the “Tennessee as a potential at-large team” train, and we have a full-blown situation here.

Tennessee?? The Volunteers currently sit one game over .500 with a 1-9 record away from home, four sub-100 losses and an RPI in the triple digits. Yes, one game over .500.

It seems that the reasoning for Tennessee’s chances gaining steam over the past few weeks has been the arrival of freshman forward Jarnell Stokes. Well, the team is 5-4 with him in the lineup, and he played a grand total of 11 minutes in the second win over Florida – he wasn’t on the team for its first Gators victory. With Stokes on the team, Tennessee lost at Georgia and was obliterated by Vanderbilt (and Kentucky, but everyone gets obliterated by Kentucky). It’s not like the team is suddenly some juggernaut with him in the lineup. The Volunteers are one game above .500 with him in the lineup, and one-game above .500 with him out of the lineup.

There is still plenty of work to be done – but Tennessee has chances.

It starts this weekend with a road trip to Alabama. Three of the final five are on the road, and they end the season with a home game against Vanderbilt. If the Volunteers can go 4-1 in their final five games, they will have a chance. They need to start winning on the road, and beating Alabama or Vanderbilt would be another top-50 win. Moreover, 4-1 in the last five would give them eight wins in nine games heading into the SEC tournament.

With no one seeming to want a potential fifth bid from the SEC, Tennessee could step forward and make a run.

But the Vols shouldn’t be in the mix just yet.

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