Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 2

Yes, it is. There are conference tournaments under way across the country. Rutgers has won two games in Madison Square Garden — something the Scarlet Knights rarely did when they played there back in their Big East.

In just a few short days, we’ll have a handful of teams locked into the bracket, with the first bid going to the winner of the Ohio Valley title game on Saturday.

But, for now, let’s take one last look at the bracket before we gear up for true championship week, and the inevitable chaos that will ensue.

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (27-2, 16-1 ACC)
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE (21-9, 15-2 Southland) / No. 16 GRAMBLING (16-14, 12-5 SWAC)

No. 8
Seton Hall (20-10, 9-8 Big East)
No. 9 Arkansas (21-9, 10-7 SEC)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 NEVADA (26-5, 15-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 VERMONT (25-6, 15-1 America East)

No. 4 Texas Tech (22-8, 10-7 Big 12)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (25-5, 15-3 Missouri Valley)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Michigan (25-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
No. 11 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (24-5, 16-1 Conference USA)

No. 3 AUBURN (24-6, 12-5 SEC)
No. 14 BUCKNELL (23-9, 16-2 Patriot)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Creighton (21-9, 10-7 Big East)
No. 10 St. Bonaventure (23-6, 13-4 Atlantic 10)

No. 2 MICHIGAN STATE (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten)
No. 15 CHARLESTON (23-7, 14-4 Colonial)


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (26-4, 13-4 Big East)
No. 16 MONTANA (22-7, 15-2 Big Sky)

No. 8 
Florida State (19-10, 8-9 ACC)
No. 9 Houston (23-6, 13-4 American)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky (21-9, 10-7 SEC)
No. 12 BUFFALO (22-8, 14-3 MAC)

No. 4 Clemson (22-7, 11-6 ACC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (24-5, 11-2 WAC)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (19-11, 8-9 SEC)
No. 11 Louisville (19-11, 9-8 ACC)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (26-4, 15-2 American)
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY (22-8, 15-3 Horizon)

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Michigan (25-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
No. 10 Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC)

No. 2 Duke (24-6, 12-5 ACC)
No. 15 UC DAVIS (20-9, 11-4 Big West)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (26-4, 14-3 Big East)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST (23-10, 12-2 Atlantic Sun)  / No. 16 BETHUNE-COOKMAN (18-13, 12-4 Mid-Eastern)

No. 8 
Saint Mary’s (27-4, 16-2 West Coast)
No. 9 NC State (20-10, 10-7 ACC)

(Dallas, Tex.
No. 5 West Virginia (22-8, 11-6 Big 12)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (26-4, 16-1 Sun Belt

No. 4 Ohio State (24-7, 15-3 Big Ten)
No. 13 RIDER (22-8, 15-3 Metro Atlantic)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida (19-11, 10-7 SEC)
No. 11 Kansas State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12)

No. 3 Wichita State (24-5, 14-3 American)
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO (24-7, 15-3 Southern)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Butler (19-11, 9-8 Big East)
No. 10 Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-7 ACC)

No. 2 Purdue (26-5, 15-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA (21-7, 11-1 Ivy)



WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS (24-6, 13-4 Big 12)
No. 16 UNC ASHEVILLE (21-11, 13-5 Big South)

No. 8 
Florida State (19-10, 8-9 ACC)
No. 9 Arizona State (20-9, 8-9 Pac-12)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA (27-4, 17-1 West Coast)
No. 12 Texas (17-13, 7-10 Big 12) / No. 12 Southern California (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12)

No. 4 Tennessee (22-7, 12-5 SEC)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (25-6, 13-1 Summit)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 RHODE ISLAND (23-5, 15-2 Atlantic 10)
No. 11 Providence (18-12, 9-8 Big East) / No. 11 Baylor (18-12, 8-9 Big 12)

No. 3 ARIZONA (23-7, 13-4 Pac-12)
No. 14 MURRAY STATE (24-5, 16-2 Ohio Valley)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Missouri (19-11, 9-8 SEC)
No. 10 Oklahoma (17-12, 7-10 Big 12)

No. 2 North Carolina (22-8, 11-6 ACC)
No. 15 WAGNER (22-8, 14-4 Northeast)


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
Virginia Tech
Oklahoma
Louisville
Kansas State

Last Four In
Providence
Baylor
Texas
USC

First Four Out
Washington
Syracuse
UCLA
Boise State

Next Four Out
Nebraska
Temple
Penn State
Marquette

 

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Anatomy of a Dynasty

A dynasty can simply be described as a team or individual that dominates their sport for an extended period of time.

In the beginning stages of a dynasty, it is hard to see if a team may become something better than just the average, but there are teams currently in basketball who have become dynasties.

At the beginning of the college basketball season it always seems you know the teams that will be good; Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are always ranked in college basketball preseason polls. How do teams each year compile a star roster, that wins games, and reaches the national championship game season after season? The simple answer is recruiting.

Creating and displaying the fact that your team can win games is enough for a recruit to picture himself at center court holding up the trophy in March.

Confetti only rains down on one champion and everyone wants to be part of that team. The key? You’re a team, compiled of many players with various skill sets all working together to win each game.

How do you become that team? These four schools have the answer.

Kansas

Last Saturday, Kansas proved its dominate track by securing at least a share of the Big 12 title. With Texas Tech’s loss to West Virginia last night, Kansas once again will be the lone Big 12 regular season champion, a title they are used to. The Jayhawks have won their league 14 years in a row, setting a new NCAA record.

Kansas always has strong guard play from a shorter than average guy who runs the team, as well as a strong inside presence. This year those two spots are filled by Graham and Azubuike.

The Jayhawks are currently a projected number one seed and have a real chance to win the tournament this year, if they fit all the pieces together come March.

Duke

Coach K can do many things well, but his top skill is recruiting. Duke has the number one, two and three recruits coming to their court next season.

At the beginning of the season Duke’s hope of remaining a top contender in the ACC was starting to slip away, just like many other teams on this list. By the time conference play was upon them the Blue Devils had come to play.

Duke is a team full of one-and-done players, those who play to their fullest potential in college for one season before moving onto the draft. This style of play would normally not work for a basketball team, unless you became such a contender in the national championship game each season top recruits dream of playing on your team. That is exactly what has happened at Duke. Call it reputation but Duke has secured themselves as a dynasty. If you’re a big-time player, you want to have an offer to play at Duke, and that is exactly what Duke wants you to think or else their game plan would fail.

Kentucky

You love to hate Kentucky for many reasons but a main one is the platoon style play. First coined and used effectively by coach Calipari, the Wildcats implement a style of play that is hard to prepare for and makes matchups difficult.

It is called platoon style, a simple yet difficult way to play basketball. Other teams in the NCAA have developed their own version of platoon play on a smaller scale but none compare to Kentucky. Platoon play is players are divided into two “platoons” these platoons are made up of five players who play each of the five positions and work well with each other. When the first platoon is tired the second will come in. A group of five completely different players all fully rested coming off the bench to supply a spark for the team.

The platoon style makes Kentucky a tough team to game plan for because you are taking on ten players that alternate at position. To perfectly execute this style of play you must have skilled players and a determination to win.

North Carolina

One of the common things all of these teams have, besides being a dynasty, is their coaches have seen it all, and Roy Williams is no exception. Leaving his post at Kansas to join the Tar heels left a hole in many Kansas fans hearts, later to be filled by current coach Bill Self, Williams has experience coaching winning teams.

His style of play is similar to that of Kansas with talented guards and a quality rebounding team. Second chance baskets can help any good team be great.

North Carolina this season looks to do what they did last year, bring home the trophy. This year that path is more tangled with many talented teams this year it is hard to predict who will win.

Any of these dynasty teams are a safe bet to bring home the trophy this year.

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 26

It’s championship week! For a handful of small conferences — and the Big Ten — at least.

Entering the busiest couple of weeks of the college basketball season, there are bound to be surprise teams picking up steam — looking at you, Houston — and others falling off of cliffs.

We already talked about Oklahoma.

But before things get wild, let’s take one more crack at the field of 68 and beyond:

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 MONTANA

No. 8 
Alabama
No. 9 Seton Hall

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 NEVADA
No. 12 VERMONT

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Michigan
No. 11 Virginia Tech

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Butler
No. 10 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 CHARLESTON


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST / No. 16 BETHUNE-COOKMAN

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Houston

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 USC / No. 12 Baylor

No. 4 Tennessee
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Louisville

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Miami
No. 10 Oklahoma

No. 2 MICHIGAN STATE
No. 15 UC IRVINE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 GRAMBLING

No. 8 
TCU
No. 9 NC State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 West Virginia
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Ohio State
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Kansas State

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Arkansas

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 Duke
No. 16 UNC ASHEVILLE

No. 8 
Saint Mary’s
No. 9 Arizona State

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 5 RHODE ISLAND
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 RIDER

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 Kentucky
No. 11 Texas / No. 11 Providence

No. 3 ARIZONA
No. 14 MURRAY STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 St. Bonaventure

No. 2 KANSAS
No. 15 WAGNER


Oh, and here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
St. Bonaventure
Virginia Tech
Louisville
Kansas State

Last Four In
Providence
Texas
USC
Baylor

First Four Out
Syracuse
Boise State
Washington
Temple

Next Four Out
UCLA
Nebraska
Penn State
Maryland

Four More
Marquette
Western Kentucky
Mississippi State
Georgia

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 23

 

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of movement his week.

Most of the top seeds held serve. Even a lot of the teams below them did the same.

And then there’s Oklahoma.

Trae Young and his perceived one-trick-pony Sooners have been on a tailspin into the finally week of the season, losing six straight and seven of their last eight. They may just miss the tournament, but we’ll get to that in a week or so…

But, yeah, other than Oklahoma falling five seed lines — I had been trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’ll admit — this bracket won’t look much different than Monday’s iteration.

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (25-3, 12-3 Big East)
No. 16 GRAMBLING (15-12, 11-3 SWAC) / No. 16 NC A&T (17-11, 10-3 MEAC)

No. 8 
Alabama (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
No. 9 Florida State (19-8, 8-7 ACC)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 5 NEVADA (24-5, 13-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 ACC) / No. 12 Texas (16-12, 6-9 Big 12)

No. 4 Ohio State (23-7 14-3 Big Ten)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (24-5, 14-3 Missouri Valley)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Florida (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
No. 11 Louisville (18-10, 8-7 ACC)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (24-4, 13-2 American)
No. 14 BUCKNELL (21-9, 15-2 Patriot)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Michigan (23-7, 12-5 Big Ten)
No. 10 St. Bonaventure (21-6, 11-4 Atlantic 10)

No. 2 North Carolina (22-7, 11-5 ACC)
No. 15 CHARLESTON (23-6, 14-3 Colonial)


SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (25-2, 14-1 ACC)
No. 16 MONTANA (20-7, 13-2 Big Sky)

No. 8 
Creighton (19-9, 8-7 Big East)
No. 9 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (22-5, 14-1 Conference USA)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA (26-4, 16-1 West Coast)
No. 12 VERMONT (23-6, 13-1 America East)

No. 4 Clemson (20-7, 9-6 ACC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (23-5, 10-2 WAC)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (17-11, 6-9 SEC)
No. 11 Virginia Tech (20-8, 9-6 ACC)

No. 3 Texas Tech (22-6, 10-5 Big 12)
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY (20-8, 13-3 Horizon)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Miami (19-8, 8-7 ACC)
No. 10 Arkansas (19-9, 8-7 SEC)

No. 2 KANSAS (22-6, 11-4 Big 12)
No. 15 UC IRVINE (15-5, 10-4 Big West)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (25-4, 13-3 Big East)
No. 16 PENNSYLVANIA (19-7, 9-1 Ivy)

No. 8 
Arizona State (19-8, 7-8 Pac-12)
No. 9 Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 Big 12)

(San Diego, Calif.
No. 5 West Virginia (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
No. 12 BUFFALO (20-8, 12-3 MAC)

No. 4 Wichita State (22-5, 12-3 American)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (24-6, 12-1 Summit)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 6 Saint Mary’s (26-4, 15-2 West Coast)
No. 11 USC (20-9, 11-5 Pac-12)

No. 3 MICHIGAN STATE (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten)
No. 14 EAST TENNESSEE STATE (23-6, 14-2 Southern)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri (18-10, 8-7 SEC)
No. 10 Houston (21-6, 11-4 American)

No. 2 Purdue (25-5, 14-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 WAGNER (21-7, 14-3 NEC)


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 Duke (23-5, 11-4 ACC)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST (21-10, 12-2 Atlantic Sun / No. 16 NICHOLLS ST. (19-9, 13-2 Southland)

No. 8 
TCU (19-9, 7-8 Big 12)
No. 9 Seton Hall (19-9, 8-7 Big East)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 RHODE ISLAND (22-4, 14-1 Atlantic 10)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (24-4, 14-1 Sun Belt)

No. 4 Tennessee (20-7, 10-5 SEC)
No. 13 MURRAY STATE (23-5, 15-2 Ohio Valley)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 Kentucky (19-9, 8-7 SEC)
No. 11 Providence (17-11, 8-7 Big East) / No. 11 Kansas St. (20-8, 9-7 Big 12)

No. 3 ARIZONA (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12)
No. 14 RIDER (21-8, 14-3 Metro Atlantic)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Butler (19-10, 9-7 Big East)
No. 10 NC State (19-9, 9-6 ACC)

No. 2 AUBURN (24-4, 12-3 SEC)
No. 15 UNC ASHEVILLE (20-10, 13-4 Big South)


Oh, and here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
St. Bonaventure
Louisville
Virginia Tech
USC

Last Four In
Providence
Kansas State
Texas
Syracuse

First Four Out
UCLA
Boise State
Baylor
Maryland

Next Four Out
Washington
Penn State
Nebraska
Marquette

Four More
Temple
Utah
LSU
Western Kentucky

Bombshell development in NCAA basketball investigation

Federal documents obtained by Yahoo Sports show violations of NCAA rules by at least 20 Division I Basketball teams, according to a Friday morning report.

The documents show players from big-name programs such as Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Villanova received illegal benefits from ASM Sports agency, ranging from small amounts of money to thousands of dollars.

Markelle Fultz, the first player selected in the 2017 NBA Draft received $10,000 according to the documents. Other current NBA players listed include Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks.

Current college stars Miles Bridges and Collin Sexton were also linked to the documents.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement following the release of the documents.

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York’s indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it’s clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.”

-via NCAA.org

Once the investigation is complete, the NCAA will have a lot of work on their hands when it comes to sanctions and penalties.

Gearing up for Champ Week, Part I: ACC, Big Ten, Big East

It’s February 21.

That means there’s about two weeks left of the regular season, unless you’re the Big Ten, and you thought it was a genius idea to end your season week early so you could play your conference tournament in an arena that’s in a different time zone than more than half of your league.

But for the sane power basketball conferences — you know, your ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC and Pac-12 — there’s still two more weeks to sure up seeding and scenarios for championship week.

We’re taking a look around the country to see how our power-conference friends are preparing for early March, starting with the ACC:

Atlantic Coast Conference

The Details: Mar. 6-10 // Barclays Center // Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Frontrunners: No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 2 seed Duke. If one of these two teams doesn’t win the ACC I’ll be shocked. The Cavaliers have the defense to hold any team in this league and in the country to under 65 point, and the Blue Devils have the talent to score more than 75 on just about any team. I mean, it was pretty good game last time they played.

If you’re a casual basketball fan, you’re hoping and praying these two teams meet again on Saturday night in Brooklyn. And they probably will. But then again…

The Dark Horse: …It’s March, and this is the ACC. It’s a deep league, with teams with the talent and coaching to conceivably catch fire in a four-day span. Take Clemson, which somehow survived a season-ending injury to Devonte Grantham and still sits in the AP Top 15. Or North Carolina, with upperclassman leadership in Luke Maye and Joel Berry III, guys who have experience playing at a high level deep into March — oh, yeah, they won it all last year. These two are right behind UVA and Duke in terms of their chances to win the league.

The Bubble teams who need thisThere’s quite a few of them. There’s NC State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Louisville, all of which are either 19-8 or 18-9 and hovering right around .500 in conference play. There a some good athlertes in that bunch, too, like Louisville forward Deng Adel, ‘Cuse shooting guard Tyus Battle, Virginia Tech sharpshooters Justin Robinson and Justin Bibbs and NC State big man Omer Yurtseven. All these teams could make a run, and they all probably need at least one win to feel completely comfortable with their standing on Selection Sunday.

Spongebob-i-need-it-gif-20.gif

The seeding storylines: Syracuse, Miami and Florida State are all within a half-game of one another in the 8-9-10 positioning, which means one of these three will likely be forced to play on the first day of tournament play, Tuesday, against likely No. 15 seed Pittsburgh. That probably means any easy win, which all three could use. The top four — the “double-byes,” Virginia, Duke, UNC and Clemson — all seem to be a step above the pack, but NC State is nipping at the heels of a bye into Thursday, just half a game behind Clemson. Keep an eye on the Wolf Pack.

Intrigue Score: 9.5 out of 10. Great basketball, talented teams, interesting storylines. This will be the kind of tournament you’ll want to have open on your laptop when you get bored at your day job in the early afternoon.

Big Ten

The Details: Feb. 28-Mar. 4 // Madison Square Garden // New York, N.Y.

Side Note: The 2018 Big Ten Tournament will be played a week early so the league can access the Garden, which is locked down by the Big East for the typical large-conference championship weekend. 

The Frontrunners: Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State. That’s really it. This league is shallow, but the top of it is outstanding. At least two of these three teams will be in the semifinals, and those two — yes, I’m talking about Purdue and MSU, sorry Buckeyes — will be playing for the league title. And it will be must-see television.

Again.

The Dark Horse: Okay, Michigan’s pretty good, too. The Wolverines have a handful of talented players like junior forward Moritz Wagner and senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman; these guys helped Michigan win the Big Ten as a No. 8 seed last year, not to mention reach the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 7 seed a week later. I don’t like how they match up with the two true elites of this league, but don’t be surprised if they slip back into Sunday afternoon’s title game.

The Bubble teams who need this (see Spongebob-I-Need-It.gif)Penn State is kind of intriguing. Tony Carr is one of the best young point guards in the country and has led the Nittany Lions into the bubble conversation in his sophomore season.

You remember this, right?

https://twitter.com/TitanicHoops/status/956730298934484992

Penn State’s probably going to need about two wins in NYC to get on the right side of the bubble. As for fellow bubble teams like Maryland and Nebraska, the Terps and ‘Huskers probably need to reach Sunday if they want to see the Big Dance. Either that, or they’re going to need some serious help from the rest of the bubble.

The seeding storylines: After the clear top three, Nebraska and Michigan are separated by half a game for the fourth double-bye. The Wolverines has a pair of road games against hungry bubble teams (PSU and Maryland), and the CornHuskers have one more game, at home against the Nittany Lions. Advantage Nebraska, I guess? Even still, I think Michigan gets by Nebraska in a potential No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. Other than those two, all other bye situations are set in stone with two wins separating No. 8 Maryland and No. 9 Northwestern.

Intrigue Score: 6 out of 10. There won’t be a lot going on for the first three days of this tournament, but the last day or two will be thrilling. You’ll probably want to watch the Big Ten semifinals on Saturday, and you’ll definitely want to watch the title game on Sunday, especially because there will be nothing else on TV. But yeah, that’s about it.

Big East

The Details: Mar. 7-10 // Madison Square Garden // New York, N.Y.

The Frontrunners: To the fan who loves elite teams, here’s your reason to watch the Big East Tourney: Villanova and Xavier. Two potential No. 1 seeds, two bonafide Final Four contenders, a handful of NBA prospects, two player-of-the-year candidates… that’s about all you need to know. One of these teams should cut down the MSG nets, and could very well do the same in San Antonio. If they meet for Nova-Xavier Part III Saturday night, it’s going to be a fun one.

The Dark Horse: To the fan who loves college basketball as a whole, here’s your reason to watch the Big East Tourney. Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall all have the talent to make a run. Butler has beaten ‘Nova in three of its last four tries. Providence beat ‘Nova and Xavier. Creighton has Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Seton Hall has Angel Delgado. Marquette has Markus Howard. Watch your back, Wildcats and Musketeers.

The Bubble teams who need this: Marquette and Providence still have work to do, and will probably still have work to do when they hit the Garden. Looking at the Big East standings, there’s a decent possibility the two could meet in the quarterfinals, and I think both teams will probably need to advance from said round to feel safe on Selection Sunday. There’s also the anomaly case of St. John’s, which has proven it can knock off giants like Villanova and Duke, and could do the same in March if it didn’t already have 13 losses on its record. The Red Storm need a Big East title and nothing less.

The seeding storylines: After the top two, there’s a whole lot of jockeying for position. Seeds three through seven are separated by two games with about four games left. In the Big East, though, with ten teams, six get byes into the quarterfinals with the other four forced into opening round games. With this in mind, one of those five bubble teams in the middle of the league standings will be pushed into Wednesday evening action, and as of right now, it looks like that’ll be Marquette.

Intrigue Score: 8 out of 10. It’s the Big East Tournament, it’s the Garden, it’s how things should be during Champ Week. Villanova and Xavier are phenomenal, the excitement of the bubble situation in this league is second to none, except maybe the Big 12, and even some of the bottom-dwellers have a flair for the dramatic. Classic Big East.

Louisville stripped of 2013 title

Louisville’s impressive run through the 2013 NCAA Tournament — one in which the Cardinals overcoming an unforgettably gruesome injury to guard Kevin Ware — has been removed from NCAA record books after the University’s appeal fell through.

The Cardinals have also been forced to vacate 123 wins between 2012 and 2015, all as a result of the recent scandal involving former head coach Rick Pitino and illegal benefits for under-aged recruits.

In the 2012-13 season, Louisville earned the No. 1 overall seed after finishing the regular season 26-5 and winning the Big East championship over Syracuse.

The Cardinals rolled through the midwest regional, losing Ware in a dominant elite-eight win over Duke, before picking off Wichita State in the Final Four.

In the national championship game in Atlanta, Louisville defeated Michigan, 82-76, behind 22 points from Luke Hancock and another 18 from tournament MVP Peyton Siva.

Of course, the record books say otherwise following the NCAA’s ruling, but that won’t change the tattoo on Pitino’s back commemorating the red-hot 2013 run.

Pitino was fired prior to the 2017-18 season in response an entirely different scandal, the recent FBI probe involving Adidas and players receiving financial compensation in return for college commitments.

Since Pitino’s firing, head coach David Padgett has led Louisville to an 18-9 record and will likely have the Cardinals playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 19

We didn’t exactly learn a ton this weekend. At least, not nearly as much as we’ve learned over the last couple weeks of upset-filled, action-packed hoops.

We learned that Baylor — now that it’s finally healthy — may be a legitimate tournament contender after knocking off both Kansas and Texas Tech. We learned that Purdue isn’t actually imploding, although the Boilermakers nearly picked up a third-straight loss, at home, against Penn State. We learned that Kentucky may not be done yet when the Wildcats fended off Collin Sexton and his feisty Alabama side.

That’s about it.

But what we did get was a reminder.

In case you forgot, Villanova has been the most consistently elite team in college hoops over the last four years. Yes, the Wildcats took a couple of recent losses to St. John’s and Providence, but when they went into Cincinnati and absolutely ran away from then-No. 4 Xavier, they reminded us that they’re one of the most fearsome teams in the country.

So, for that reason, ‘Nova is back in the No. 1 overall spot in our latest bracket. Here’s the rest of the field:

Ed. Note: all-caps denote current conference leaders.

~~~

EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (24-3, 11-3 Big East)
No. 16 GRAMBLING (15-12, 11-3 SWAC) / No. 16 SAVANNAH STATE (13-14, 10-2 Mid-Eastern)

No. 8 
Alabama (17-10, 8-6 SEC)
No. 9 Florida State (19-8, 8-7 ACC)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Tennessee (19-7, 9-5 SEC)
No. 12 VERMONT (22-6, 12-1 America East)

No. 4 Ohio State (22-7, 13-3 Big Ten)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (23-5, 13-3 Missouri Valley)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 6 Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC)
No. 11 St Bonaventure (20-6, 10-4 Atlantic 10)

No. 3 Michigan State (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten)
No. 14 BUCKNELL (20-9, 14-2 Patriot)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 St. Mary’s (25-4, 14-2 West Coast)
No. 10 Arkansas (19-8, 8-6 SEC)

No. 2 North Carolina (21-7, 10-5 ACC)
No. 15 CHARLESON (22-6, 13-3 Colonial)


SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (24-2, 13-1 ACC)
No. 16 MONTANA (20-7, 13-2 Big Sky)

No. 8 
Houston (21-5, 11-3 American)
No. 9 Seton Hall (18-9, 7-7 Big East)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 NEVADA (23-5, 12-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 UCLA (19-8, 10-5 Pac-12) vs. No. 12 Kansas St. (19-8, 8-6 Big 12)

No. 4 Clemson (20-6, 9-5 ACC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (22-5, 9-2 WAC)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (17-10, 6-8 SEC)
No. 11 Texas (16-11, 6-8 Big 12)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (23-4, 12-2 American)
No. 14 WRIGHT STATE (20-8, 12-3 Horizon)

(Nasvhille, Tenn.)
No. 7 Miami (18-8, 7-7 ACC)
No. 10 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (22-5, 14-1 Conference USA)

No. 2 AUBURN (23-4, 11-3 SEC)
No. 15 UC SANTA BARBARA (20-6, 9-3 Big West)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (24-4, 12-3 Big East)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST  (20-10, 11-2 Atlantic Sun) / No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE (18-9, 12-2 Southland)

No. 8 
Arizona State (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12)
No. 9 TCU (18-9, 6-8 Big 12)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 West Virginia (19-8, 8-6 Big 12)
No. 12 BUFFALO (20-7, 12-2 MAC)

No. 4 Wichita State (21-5, 11-3 American)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (23-6, 11-1 Summit)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Kentucky (18-9, 7-7 SEC)
No. 11 USC (19-9, 10-5 Pac-12)

No. 3 Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4 Big 12)
No. 14 BELMONT (22-7, 14-2 Ohio Valley)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri (18-9, 8-6 SEC)
No. 10 NC State (!8-9, 8-6 ACC)

No. 2 Purdue (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 WAGNER (20-7, 13-3 Northeast)


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 DUKE (22-5, 10-4 ACC)
No. 16 PENNSYLVANIA (19-7, 9-1 Ivy)

No. 8 
Creighton (19-8, 8-6 Big East)
No. 9 Butler (18-10, 8-7 Big East)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Oklahoma (16-10, 6-8 Big 12)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (23-4, 13-1 Sun Belt)

No. 4 GONZAGA (25-4, 15-1 West Coast)
No. 13 EAST TENNESSEE STATE (23-5, 14-1 Southern)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 RHODE ISLAND (21-4, 13-1 Atlantic 10)
No. 11 Providence (17-10, 8-6 Big East) / No. 11 Virginia Tech (19-8, 8-6 ACC)

No. 3 ARIZONA (21-6, 11-3 Pac-12)
No. 14 RIDER (21-7, 14-2 Metro Atlantic)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Michigan (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten)
No. 10 Louisville (18-9, 8-6 ACC)

No. 2 Kansas (21-6, 10-4 Big 12)
No. 15 WINTHROP (18-9, 12-4 Big South)


Oh, and here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
NC State
St. Bonaventure
Texas
USC

Last Four In
Virginia Tech
Providence
UCLA
Kansas State

First Four Out
Syracuse
Baylor
Boise State
Washington

Next Four Out
Penn State
Maryland
Nebraska
Marquette

Four More
Temple
Utah
LSU
Western Kentucky

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 16

There I was, Thursday afternoon, thinking to myself, “Man, there’s not a ton of change on this bracket I’m going to be releasing tomorrow.”

And then college basketball decided to be college basketball.

On Thursday night alone, Villanova fell at Providence, Saint Mary’s lost to San Francisco, Penn State obliterated Ohio State, Purdue lost to Wisconsin, and a wild night-cap saw Arizona take down rival Arizona State on the road.

Okay, now things are looking a bit different. And the bubble certainly isn’t immune to such movement.

Let’s take a look:

Last Four Byes
NC State
USC
Providence
Virginia Tech

Last Four In
Texas
UCLA
St. Bonaventure (NEW)
Kansas State

First Four Out
Syracuse
Baylor
Boise State
Temple

Next Four Out
Nebraska
Penn State
Washington
Maryland

Four More
Marquette
SMU
Utah
Western Kentucky

As for the rest of the field…

Ed. Note: all-caps denote current conference leaders.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (24-2, 13-1 ACC)
No. 16 WINTHROP (17-9, 11-4 Big South)

No. 8 
Butler (17-10, 7-7 Big East)
No. 9 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (21-5, 13-1 Conference USA)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Wichita State (20-5, 10-3 American)
No. 12 BUFFALO (19-7, 11-2 MAC)

No. 4 Tennessee (19-6, 9-4 SEC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (22-4, 9-1 WAC)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 6 Florida (17-9, 8-5 SEC)
No. 11 Virginia Tech (18-8, 7-6 ACC)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (23-3, 12-1 American)
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY (19-7, 12-2 Horizon)

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Kentucky (17-9, 6-7 SEC)
No. 10 Seton Hall (17-9, 6-7 Big East)

No. 2 Duke (21-5, 9-4 ACC)
No. 15 BUCKNELL (19-9, 13-2 Patriot)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (24-3, 12-2 Big East)
No. 16 PENNSYLVANIA (17-7, 7-1 Ivy) / No. 16 GRAMBLING (14-12, 10-3 SWAC)

No. 8 
Michigan (21-7, 10-5 Big Ten)
No. 9 Florida State (18-8, 7-7 ACC)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 RHODE ISLAND (21-3, 13-0 Atlantic 10)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (22-4, 12-1 Sun Belt)

No. 4 Oklahoma (16-9, 6-7 Big 12)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (22-5, 12-3 Missouri Valley)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Miami (18-7, 7-6 ACC)
No. 11 USC (18-9, 9-5 Pac-12)

No. 3 MICHIGAN STATE (25-3, 13-2 Big Ten)
No. 14 UCSB (20-5, 9-2 Big West)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 7 Missouri (18-8, 8-5 SEC)
No. 10 NC State (17-9, 7-6 ACC)

No. 2 TEXAS TECH (22-4, 10-3 Big 12)
No. 15 CHARLESTON (21-9, 12-3 Colonial)


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (23-3, 10-3 Big East)
No. 16 SAVANNAH ST. (13-13, 10-1 Mid-Eastern) / No. 16 NICHOLLS ST. (17-9, 11-2 Southland)

No. 8 
Arizona State (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12)
No. 9 TCU (17-9, 5-8 Big 12)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 West Virginia (19-7, 8-5 Big 12)
No. 12 VERMONT (22-5, 12-0 America East)

No. 4 Ohio State (22-6, 13-2 Big Ten)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE  (22-6, 10-1 Summit)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (17-9, 6-7 SEC)
No. 11 Texas (15-11, 5-8 Big 12) / No. 11 UCLA (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12)

No. 3 North Carolina (20-7, 9-5 ACC)
No. 14 BELMONT (21-7, 13-2 Ohio Valley)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Alabama (17-9, 8-5 SEC)
No. 10 Louisville (18-8, 8-5 ACC)

No. 2 Purdue (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 WAGNER (19-7, 12-3 Northeast)


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 1 AUBURN (23-3, 11-2 SEC)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST (20-9, 11-1 Atlantic Sun)

No. 8 
Saint Mary’s (24-4, 13-2 West Coast)
No. 9 Houston (20-5, 10-3 American)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 NEVADA (22-5, 11-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 St. Bonaventure (19-6, 9-4 Atlantic 10) / No. 12 Kansas St. (18-8, 7-6 Big 12)

No. 4 ARIZONA (21-6, 11-3 Pac-12)
No. 13 EAST TENNESSEE STATE (22-5, 13-1 Southern)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 GONZAGA (24-4, 14-1 West Coast)
No. 11 Providence (17-9, 8-5 Big East)

No. 3 Clemson (20-5, 9-4 ACC)
No. 14 RIDER (20-7, 13-2 Metro Atlantic)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Creighton (19-7, 8-5 Big East)
No. 10 Arkansas (18-8, 7-6 SEC)

No. 2 Kansas (20-6, 9-4 Big 12)
No. 15 MONTANA (20-6, 13-1 Big Sky)

Weekend Preview: Big Ten headliners, bounce-back opportunities, bubbles to be burst

We’ve only got about four more of these left in the dwindling college basketball season. You know, those weekends where you can wake up in the late morning and spend your whole day bouncing around the country as the entire hoops landscape explodes with storylines.

February 10 and 11 will be no different.

If you’re a college hoops addict like myself, here’s how you should be spending your next 48 hours:

Saturday

Butler @ No. 1 Villanova | Noon EST | FOX
Up until its loss to St. John’s at home Wednesday, Villanova seemed pretty much unbeatable this season — other than, of course, its eight-point loss at Butler. The Bulldogs have recently become a kryptonite for ‘Nova in Big East play, having now won three in a row in the series, two of which coming when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the nation. Villanova’s sometimes-suspect defense will be once again put to the test, as a Butler team that ranks No. 26 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency ratings posted 101 when it hosted ‘Nova on December 30. Prediction: Villanova 92, Butler 87 // Chances of Upset: 45%

No. 10 Kansas @ Baylor | 2 p.m. EST | CBS
Baylor? Really? Yes, really. Just a week ago, the Bears sat at 12-10 with a dismal 2-7 mark in Big 12 play, and had taken single-digit losses to Kansas State, Oklahoma and Kansas. Two impressive wins over Iowa State and at Oklahoma State over the past seven days have Baylor back in the tournament conversation. On the flip side, the Jayhawks, which recently lost by five to those same Cowboys, have a brutal stretch ahead with a trip to Ames, followed by home tilts with West Virginia and Oklahoma, followed only by a trip to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. I don’t think Kansas slips up here, but if they do, they could find themselves in a tough spot going into the final week of the season. Prediction: Kansas 74, Baylor 66 // Chances of Upset: 30%

No. 21 North Carolina @ NC State | 2 p.m. EST | ACCN
Who on earth is NC State? My best answer: A bonafide giant killer. The Wolf Pack continue to hover on the bubble despite wins over Duke, North Carolina and Arizona. The biggest reason is inconsistency. A loss to Virginia Tech and a scare against Pittsburgh have kept NC State from building real momentum, but that could change with a sweep of the Heels. The Wolf Pack, after Saturday, enter a stretch of three winnable games (@ SYR, @ WAKE, vs. BC). I’m not saying Saturday’s game will be an upset, but UNC is riding a high and could easily fall into a trap when it visits Raleigh. Prediction: North Carolina 88, NC State 84 // Chances of Upset: 42%

Texas @ TCU | 2 p.m. EST | ESPNU
The Big 12 bubble landscape is one of the most intriguing in any league and these two teams epitomize it. The difference? TCU got to this point by starting red-hot and then opening conference play 2-6, whereas the ‘Horns took a few early-season losses but gradually put together a decent résumé. Texas got the better of TCU by just a point in Austin earlier this month in 2OT and I have a feeling this matchup will be just as exciting. The Horned Frogs, though, get it done and stay on the right side of the bubble. Prediction: TCU 85, Texas 83 

No. 3 Purdue @ No. 4 Michigan State | 4 p.m. EST | ESPN
This one just speaks for itself — the Big Ten’s best, two top-five teams, two bonafide No. 1 seed candidates, a handful of NBA prospects. Miles Bridges. Isaac Haas. Vincent Edwards. The Izzone. Matt Painter. Not much more needs to be said. Just watch this one, okay? You won’t be sorry. Prediction: Purdue 68, Michigan State 67

No. 15 Tennessee @ Alabama | 6 p.m. EST | SECN
Collin Sexton. Collin Sexton. Collin Sexton. Oh, yeah, Tennessee is pretty darn good, too. The Volunteers’ recent win over Kentucky solidified them as an SEC contender and a potential top-four seed in March. Going into Tuscaloosa will be no easy task, though, as the Vols will have their hands full with Sexton —  whose 18 points recently led ‘Bama over Trae Young and Oklahoma — and the Crimson Tide. I’m going to go ahead and call upset, but certainly believe Tennessee could get through this test and ultimately go on to compete for an SEC title. Prediction: Alabama 74, Tennessee 71 // Chances of Upset: 64%

UCLA @ Arizona State | 7 p.m. EST | PAC12
Pac-12 basketball just got very interesting with the rise of the Bruins. When UCLA took three losses in a row against Colorado, Oregon State and Oregon, it was a mile away from the Tournament conversation. The Bruins covered that mile in about two weeks, lopping off California, Stanford, USC and Arizona all in a row to revive their season. Coming off a win of its own over USC, Arizona State is looking to do the same and get itself essentially within one or two wins of a locked-up March bid. UCLA’s hot, ASU’s seemingly figuring things out, both teams need it. This one should be fun. Prediction: UCLA 78, Arizona State 74 

No. 7 Texas Tech @ Kansas State | 8 p.m. EST | ESPNU
At this point, it’s pretty hard to watch a Big 12 game without there being some kind of intriguing storyline. This one pits arguably the nation’s most surprising team as it competes for a conference title and a No. 1 seed. No one saw that coming. What no one else would also see coming would be a Kansas State upset, as the Wildcats — a bubble team in the truest sense of the term — look to pick up another résumé win. They’ve already beaten Oklahoma by 18, TCU by five, and came just one point from beating Kansas. There’s also the revenge factor — Tech took down K-State by 16 on January 7. For those reasons, I’m giving the Wildcats a good chance to win, but favoring Texas Tech in a close one. Prediction: Texas Tech 76, Kansas State 70 // Chances of Upset: 38%

No. 24 Kentucky @ Texas A&M | 8:15 p.m. EST | ESPN
Speaking of the revenge factor, enter Texas A&M. The Aggies came inches from a win at Rupp Arena back on January 9, as a full-court pass went out of bounds beyond the outstretched hands of center Tyler Davis, who was arguably fouled by UK’s Wenyen Gabriel as time expired. Reed Arena will be electric in a whiteout and I don’t think Kentucky’s young team will be ready for a red-hot A&M team on the road, especially one that just topped Auburn on the road. Prediction: Texas A&M 77, Kentucky 74 // Chances of Upset: 70%

No. 12 Gonzaga @ No. 11 Saint Mary’s | 10 p.m. EST | ESPN2
Ah, yes, the one time the country pays attention to West Coast Conference basketball. It’s for good reason, especially this year. Saint Mary’s has pretty clearly been the better of the two WCC Goliaths, with losses only to Washington State (by 5) and Georgia (by 2) on neutral courts in early December. This team is a deep tournament threat and you should start getting to know them before you see them pop up as a five- or six-seed in your bracket. The Gaels toppled Gonzaga in Spokane earlier this season, 74-71. The Bulldogs have the pieces for revenge, but I’ve got Saint Mary’s taking a stranglehold on the WCC with the conference tourney just three weeks away. Prediction: Saint Mary’s 79, Gonzaga 72 // Chances of “Upset:” 35%

USC @ No. 13 Arizona | 10:15 p.m. EST | ESPN
Pac-12 after dark at its finest! Arizona, the odds on favorite to win this chaotic league, has lost two in a row for the first time since its dismal trip to the Bahamas back in November. As for USC, blowing a nine-point lead to ASU means they’re right back in the thick of the bubble, and another loss or two away from trouble. Another situation out in the Pac-12 where two of the league’s likely four or five tournament teams both need key victories. Don’t count out USC — which matches up well with the Wildcats, especially down low — but Arizona’s going to get it done on their home court before a monumental trip to Tempe Thursday. But if you’re not asleep yet, give this one a watch to close out a jam-packed day of hoops. Prediction: Arizona 82, USC 72 // Chances of Upset: 20%

Sunday

No. 6 Cincinnati @ SMU | 2 p.m. EST | ESPN
Yes, more basketball on Sunday, thanks to the American Athletic Conference! If you haven’t noticed yet, the Cincinnati Bearcats are a legitimate contender; I don’t think they’ll compete for a No. 1 seed due to their conference’s reputation, but they’ll be a dangerous No. 2 or No. 3 seed. SMU’s dangerous, too, having beaten Wichita State on the road, not to mention neutral victories over Arizona and USC. But coming off of two tough road losses, the Mustangs need this one to get back on the right side of the bubble. Cincinnati doesn’t have any particular “need” in this one, aside from keeping first place in the American to themselves, but they’ll probably get it done anyway. Check this game out if for no other reason than to get an early look at one of the most physical teams you’ll be seeing in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: Cincinnati 68, SMU 60 // Chances of Upset: 25%

Tulane @ Houston | 4 p.m. EST | ESPNU
Okay, you’re only going to want to check this one out if you’re truly a college basketball junkie, but Houston is worth watching as a potential upset special with a No. 10 or No. 11 seed in March. Tulane’s got some unfinished business, too, with a few impressive wins over SMU and Temple under their belt. In order to make some tournament noise, though, they’ll need to erase their recent 1-4 stretch, pick up this win in Houston, and probably win five of the six contests that follow. All of that is pretty unlikely, but Tulane’s nine-point home win over Houston earlier in the season proves they’ve at least got a good shot on Sunday. Prediction: Houston 77, Tulane 68