"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Eye on the Tourney: Today's Games to Watch

A busy Saturday brings us a few marquee match-ups with high NCAA Tournament seed ramifications, as a number of crucial contests will go a long way towards determining whether some teams are lucky enough to be seeded at all. 

Let's take a look.

Xavier (14-7, 5-4) at Seton Hall (14-6, 4-4) 12PM, Newark, NJ, FS1

The cluttered and underrated Big East (2nd rated RPI conference) gets us started with a match-up of two teams currently in the NCAA field, but eager to secure a spot at the expense of the other. Both are coming off of big wins. Xavier finally got a big road win (at Georgetown), while the Hall snapped a three-game losing streak at Marquette. The Pirates have some good news in the form of freshman Isaiah Whitehead's return. Prediction: Seton Hall 66, Xavier 63.

Providence (16-5, 6-2) at St. John's (12-7, 2-5) 12PM, New York, NY, FOX

More Big East action here, as underrated Providence goes into The World's Most Famous Arena and attempts to avenge the sound defeat they suffered at the hands of the Red Storm a couple weeks ago. The Johnnies will need to get this game as well, since they have lost six of their last eight and are seeing their tournament hopes dim with each disappointing loss. The Friars are looking like solid tourney participants and will want to keep up their current momentum. Point guard Kris Dunn has been spectacular of late and is coming off a triple-double performance versus DePaul. Prediction: St. John's 73, Providence 71.

Arkansas (16-4, 5-2) at Florida (11-9, 4-3) 1PM, Gainesville, FL, CBS

On to the SEC where Florida is very down, but not completely out. Something tells me the Gators are primed to make a run at the dance, after their tough 2-point victory at fellow bubble resident Alabama, this week. The Razorbacks are currently looking like the second best in the league and about a 6 seed in the NCAAs, but that's a tenuous position at best. Prediction: Florida 74, Arkansas 69.

#11 North Carolina (17-4, 7-1) at #10 Louisville (17-3, 5-2) 4PM, Louisville, KY, ESPN

Enter the marquee match-ups and the top-heavy ACC. Despite the rankings and even the records, UNC has the far better resume between the two teams. Louisville has yet to beat an elite opponent, including their one-point loss in Chapel Hill earlier this month. If the Cardinals are going to live up to their projections, it will likely have to start today against the talented, but injury plagued Tar Heels. Prediction: Louisville 75, North Carolina 70.

#14 Wichita State (18-2, 9-0) at #16 Northern Iowa (19-2, 8-1) 4PM, Cedar Falls, IA, ESPN2

It's not often that the Missouri Valley presents a must-see match-up in late January, but that's the case today. Many wondered whether anyone in the MVC would step up and challenge Wichita State's supremacy and the Panthers have come out of nowhere to do just that this season. UNI, like the Shockers, look like NCAA Tournaments locks. Wichita State will look to make a statement versus the league up-start, while Northern Iowa will be eager to protect their home court. Prediction: Wichita State 68, Northern Iowa 65.

#18 Texas (14-6, 3-4) at #23 Baylor (14-5, 3-4) 6PM, Waco, TX, ESPN2

You can't have a Saturday Games to Watch this year without an appearance from the Big 12. Texas, though very much on the radar and tournament bound, has been a bit disappointing despite their abundance of talent. Good leagues can do that to teams and Baylor knows all about disappointment. The Bears, too, look like a sure fire tourney team, but their eventual seed is very much uncertain. Both teams want this game badly. Prediction: Texas 72, Baylor 69.

#4 Duke (17-3, 4-3) at #2 Virginia (19-0, 7-0) 7PM, Charlottesville, VA, ESPN

Back to the ACC for the unquestioned game of the day. This is big boy stuff here, with #1 seeds in the mix. Virginia has been as impressive as any team in the country this year, and yes, that includes that team in Lexington. It's offense versus defense, but also a lot of youth versus a lot of experience. Charlottesville will be rocking. Prediction: Virginia 67, Duke 61.

#20 Oklahoma (13-7, 4-4) at Oklahoma State (13-6, 4-4) 8PM, Stillwater, OK, ESPN2

We finish with another Big 12 match-up of virtual tourney locks. Add to that the in-state component and identical league records and you have what should be a knock-down, drag-out affair. Oklahoma has the higher ceiling of the two, but the Cowboys are home where they rarely lose. The Sooners, like Texas, have been slightly disappointing of late, but they are coming off a 45-point victory at Texas Tech. Prediction: Oklahoma 70, Oklahoma State 66.

Other games of note...

#5 Wisconsin (18-2, 6-1) at Iowa (13-7, 4-3) 12PM, Iowa City, IA, ESPN
Kansas State (12-9, 5-3) at #9 Kansas (17-3, 6-1) 2PM, Lawrence, KS, ESPN
George Washington (16-5, 6-2) at Rhode Island (13-5, 6-2) 4PM, Kingston, RI
Georgia (14-5, 5-2) at South Carolina (9-9, 1-6) 4PM, Columbia, SC, ESPNU

Other Top 25 games:

#8 Notre Dame (20-2, 8-1) at Pittsburgh (12-8, 3-5) 12PM, Pittsburgh, PA, ESPN3
Texas Tech (11-10, 1-7) at #21 West Virginia (17-3, 5-2) 12PM, Morgantown, WV, ESPNU
#19 Georgetown (14-6, 6-3) at Creighton (10-12, 1-8) 2PM, Omaha, NE, CBSS
#7 Villanova (18-2, 5-2) at DePaul (11-11, 5-4) 2PM, Rosemont, IL, FS1
TCU (14-6, 1-6) at #15 Iowa State (15-4, 5-2) 2PM, Ames, IA, ESPNU
#24 Butler (15-6, 5-3) at Marquette (10-10, 2-6) 2PM, Milwaukee, WI
Richmond (11-9, 4-3) at #13 VCU (18-3, 8-0) 2PM, Richmond, VA, ESPN2
Fresno State (8-11, 5-3) at #25 Colorado State (17-3, 5-3) 6PM, Fort Collins, CO, CBSS
Alabama (12-7, 3-4) at #1 Kentucky (20-0, 7-0) 7PM, Lexington, KY, SECN
UCF (8-11, 2-7) at #22 SMU (16-4, 8-1) 8PM, Dallas, TX, ESPNU
Memphis (13-7, 6-3) at #3 Gonzaga (20-1, 10-0) 10PM, Spokane, WA, ESPN2

Vegas pick (6-6): 

Georgetown -2.5 at Creighton

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eye On The Tourney: Last Night's Recap - Tonight's Game To Watch

Last Night's Recap:

Big Wins:

Notre Dame vs. Duke, 77-73 - Notre Dame had been having a spectacular season even prior to last night's victory, but they surely helped their cause significantly. The Irish now look like a solid 2/3 seed.

Seton Hall at Marquette, 80-70 - You might be saying to yourself: how is beating a rebuilding Marquette program a big win? Well, previously ranked Seton Hall had lost three straight and were starting to trend downward, as far as their NCAA Tournament prospects were concerned. The Pirates were able to stem the tide a bit last night and are still in the current tourney field.

Oklahoma vs Texas Tech, 81-36 - Here's another result that has little to do with the opponent. The Sooners had lost four of their last six and many had started to question their ability to contend for the Big 12 title and a high NCAA Tournament seed. A 45-point win and handing Tubby Smith his worst loss ever may have put OU back on track.

Stanford at Washington, 84-74 - The Cardinal got a big road win versus another Pac 12 team with tournament aspirations. Johnny Dawkins's team took a step toward solidifying a spot in the dance.

Bad Losses:

Miami vs. Georgia Tech, 70-50 - Just when it looked like Miami was heading in the right direction after a rough stretch in December, the Hurricanes seemingly reverted back to their inconsistent selves. Losing by 20 at home to the previously winless in the ACC Yellow Jackets, pushes Miami into double-digit seed territory.

NC State vs. Clemson, 68-57 - If NC State wasn't on the bubble going into last night, they surely are now. A home loss to struggling Clemson could come back to haunt the Wolfpack in March.

Indiana at Purdue, 83-67 - While the Hoosier loss at Purdue was far from shocking, it is their second straight road semi blowout loss. Indiana is still solidly in the field, but they will need a few more big wins to feel completely safe.

St. John's at Creighton, 77-74 - The Johnnies' place in the tournament was tenuous at best entering last night and losing to the 10-12 Bluejays - though tough at home - was far from a good look. The Red Storm have now lost six of their last eight and need an exceptional finish to the season in order to avoid disaster for Steve Lavin & co. 

Washington - The Huskies were the last team in the field in my latest projections. If their 10-point home loss to Stanford is indicative of how they will look without the services of Center, Robert Upshaw, they can likely kiss the tournament goodbye.

Tonight's Game To Watch:

#17 Maryland (18-3, 6-2) at Ohio State (16-5, 5-3) 7PM, Columbus, OH, ESPN

Both of these squads look to be tourney bound, with the Terps currently looking like a 4 seed, while the Buckeyes are in the 8/9 seed range. However, OSU would love to move up and they look capable lately, after recording their best win of the season over Indiana on Sunday. Maryland has been the undisputed second best team in the Big Ten so far and a win at Ohio State would further solidify that. Prediction: Ohio State 72, Maryland 68.

Other games of note...

Connecticut (11-7, 4-2) at Cincinnati (14-5, 5-2) 8PM, Cincinnati, OH, ESPN2

Other Top 25 games:

Portland (10-9, 3-6) at #3 Gonzaga (19-1, 9-0) 9PM, Spokane, WA, ROOT
#1 Kentucky (19-0, 6-0) at Missouri (6-12, 1-5) 9PM, Columbia, MO, ESPN
#12 Utah (15-3, 6-1) at UCLA (11-9, 3-4) 10PM, Los Angeles, CA, ESPN2

Vegas Pick (6-5): 

Utah -6 at UCLA

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Bracketology - 1/28/15

As of games through Tuesday, January 27th.

WARNING: The predicted field/seeding is highly likely to change from day to day or minute to minute.

*Automatic bids in italics

1 SEEDS: Kentucky; Virginia; Duke; Kansas.

2 SEEDS: Arizona; Gonzaga; Villanova; Iowa State.

3 SEEDS: Wisconsin; Utah; North Carolina; Notre Dame.

4 SEEDS: Oklahoma; Maryland; Butler; VCU.

5 SEEDS: Wichita State; West Virginia; Georgetown; Baylor.

6 SEEDS: Louisville; Indiana; Arkansas; Texas.

7 SEEDS: San Diego State; Providence; Xavier; Northern Iowa.

8 SEEDS: Cincinnati; Oklahoma State; SMU; Georgia.

9 SEEDS: LSU; Ohio State; Dayton; Miami.

10 SEEDS: Stanford; Seton Hall; Michigan State; NC State.

11 SEEDS: Davidson; St. John's; Iowa; Texas A&M vs. Washington.

12 SEEDS: Mississippi vs. Colorado State; Old Dominion; Wofford; Buffalo.

13 SEEDS: Green Bay; Yale; Iona; Eastern Washington.

14 SEEDS: Long Beach State; North Carolina Central; Murray State; S.F. Austin.

15 SEEDS: Northeastern; Stony Brook; High Point; Georgia State.

16 SEEDS: South Dakota State; American; Texas Southern vs. New Mexico State; Florida Gulf Coast vs. St. Francis (PA).

LAST FOUR IN: Texas A&M; Mississippi; Colorado State; Washington.

FIRST FOUR OUT: Tennessee; BYU; St. Mary's; Tulsa.

NEXT FOUR OUT: George Washington; Alabama; Kansas State; Connecticut.

NEW ARRIVALS: Texas A&M; Mississippi; Green Bay; Yale; Northeastern; Murray State.

DROPPED OUT: George Washington; BYU; Valparaiso; Harvard; William & Mary; Eastern Illinois.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN (Multiple bids): ACC (7); Big 12 (7); Big East (7); Big Ten (6); SEC (6); Atlantic 10 (3); Pac 12 (4); AAC (2); Missouri Valley (2); Mountain West (2)

Note: Automatic bids are determined at this point by the highest RPI in each league.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Eye On The Tourney - Games To Watch/Pick of the Night - Tuesday

Last night, North Carolina and Iowa State took care of business, beating Syracuse and Texas respectively. The Tar Heels and Cyclones remained on pace for possible 2 or 3 seeds, while Syracuse is struggling to remain on the bubble and Texas is trending a bit downward from a coveted top 4 seed spot.

Tonight, there are a bunch of games with tournament and seeding implications. Let's take a look...

Xavier (13-7, 4-4) at #19 Georgetown (14-5, 6-2) 7PM, Washington, DC, FS1

The Hoyas come into this one on fire, having thrashed Villanova last week and survived a thriller at Marquette over the weekend. They have moved into the 5 seed range and the arrow's pointing upward. Xavier too would be in the current field, but their resume has been built almost exclusively at home. In order to secure a spot in the dance, the Musketeers will likely have to show they can win on the road. Prediction: Georgetown 72, Xavier 63.

#21 West Virginia (16-3, 4-2) at Kansas State (12-8, 5-2) 7PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPN2

The Mountaineers pulled off a Houdini act by somehow beating an improved TCU squad over the weekend. They are looking a lot like a 5 or 6 seed right now. Kansas State has rebounded from a shaky non conference showing to near the top of the Big 12 and more importantly, back into the NCAA Tournament discussion. Prediction: Kansas State 69, West Virginia 65.

George Washington (16-4, 6-1) at #13 VCU (16-3, 6-0) 7PM, Richmond, VA, CBSS

Big game tonight in the Atlantic 10, but an even bigger game tonight for GW, who are firmly on the bubble and can use a marquee win like this one would be. VCU, has been winning not so impressively lately, but winning nonetheless. The Rams are looking like a solid 4 seed at the moment. Prediction: VCU 73, GW 70.

Florida (10-9, 3-3) at Alabama (12-6, 3-3) 9PM, Tuscaloosa, AL, ESPN

In case you haven't heard, Billy Donovan and the Gators are squarely on the outside looking in when it comes to the tourney. They obviously could use this win and a few more. Bama's also likely on the wrong side of the bubble, but are a bit closer to their goal than Florida is. This should be an intense match-up between coaches who are also great friends. Prediction: Alabama 66, Florida 64.

Tennessee (12-6, 4-2) at Arkansas (15-4, 4-2) 9PM, Fayetteville, AR, ESPNU

The Vols are yet another SEC team with tenuous hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth. Don't count them out though, a couple of big wins like a win tonight would be, and they're right in the mix. Arkansas is looking good for an SEC team not named Kentucky. The Hogs are in the 7/8 seed range and are always tough at home, though Alabama took them to OT in Fayetteville last week. Prediction: Arkansas 71, Tennessee 68.

#23 Baylor (14-4, 3-3) at Oklahoma State (12-6, 3-4) 9PM, Stillwater, OK, ESPNN

This Big 12 match-up features two teams that you're very likely to see dancing in March. Baylor is the more secure of the two, having come up with big wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma in the last two weeks. Oklahoma State has been very tough at home and will need to keep that up in order to improve on their current 8/9 seed prospects. Prediction: Oklahoma State 74, Baylor 67.

#25 Colorado State (17-2, 5-2) at Boise State (12-6, 4-3) 11PM, Boise, ID, ESPNU

If you're going to be up late, you might want to check out this Mountain West match-up. Colorado State got a big win over San Diego State over the weekend that gave credence to their gaudy win-loss record. The Rams are likely in the current field, but barely, so a solid road win would help their cause greatly. Boise State isn't bad either, just a few good wins away from joining the discussion. Prediction: Boise State 66, Colorado State 63. 

Other games of note...

Vanderbilt (10-8, 1-5) at Georgia (13-5, 4-2) 7PM, Athens, GA, SECN
Nebraska (12-7, 4-3) at Michigan (11-8, 5-3) 7PM, Ann Arbor, MI, ESPN
Tulsa (14-4, 7-0) at Tulane (12-7, 4-4) 7PM, New Orleans, LA, ESPNN
Texas A&M (13-5, 4-2) at Auburn (9-9, 2-4) 9PM, Auburn, AL, SECN

Vegas Pick (6-4): 

Kansas State -1.5 vs. West Virginia

Monday, January 26, 2015

Top 25 - Week 11

Last week's notes:

 - Kentucky and Virginia remained undefeated.

- Villanova dropped a few spots, while Georgetown moved into the top 20 after the Hoyas' 20-point victory over the Wildcats in DC.

- Arizona is back on track and in complete control of the Pac 12.

- Speaking of control, Kansas has it - again - in the Big 12, after taking care of Oklahoma and Texas last week.

- Baylor, Butler and Colorado State rejoined the rankings thanks to strong performances last week.

1. Kentucky (19-0) [LW: 1] - Last week: beat Vanderbilt 65-57; won at South Carolina 58-43. Next week: at Missouri; Alabama.
2. Virginia (19-0) [LW: 2] - Last week: beat Georgia Tech 57-28; won at Virginia Tech 50-47. This week: Duke.
3. Gonzaga (19-1) [LW: 3] - Last week: beat St. Mary's 68-47; beat Pacific 91-60. This week: Portland; Memphis.
4. Duke (17-2) [LW: 5] - Last week: beat Pittsburgh 79-65; won at St. John's 77-68. This week: at Notre Dame; at Virginia.
5. Wisconsin (18-2) [LW: 6] - Last week: beat Iowa 82-50; won at Michigan 69-64OT. This week: at Iowa.
6. Arizona (18-2) [LW: 7] - Last week: won at Stanford 89-82; won at Cal 73-50. This week: Oregon; Oregon State.
7. Villanova (18-2) [LW: 4] - Last week: lost at Georgetown 78-58; beat Creighton 71-50. This week: at DePaul.
8. Notre Dame (19-2) [LW: 8] - Last week: won at Virginia Tech 85-60; won at NC State 81-78OT. This week: Duke; at Pittsburgh.
9. Kansas (16-3) [LW: 12] - Last week: beat Oklahoma 85-78; won at Texas 75-62. This week: at TCU; Kansas State.
10. Louisville (16-3) [LW: 9] - Last week: won at Pittsburgh 80-68. This week: at Boston College; North Carolina.
11. North Carolina (16-4) [LW: 10] - Last week: won at Wake Forest 87-71; beat Florida State 78-74. This week: Syracuse; at Louisville.
12. Utah (15-3) [LW: 11] - Last week: beat Washington State 86-64; beat Washington 77-56. This week: at UCLA; at USC.
13. VCU (16-3) [LW: 14] - Last week: won at Saint Louis 63-61. This week: George Washington; Richmond.
14. Wichita State (17-2) [LW: 17] - Last week: won at Missouri State 76-53; beat Drake 74-40. This week: Loyola Chicago; at Northern Iowa.
15. Iowa State (14-4) [LW: 13] - Last week: beat Kansas State 77-71; lost at Texas Tech 78-73. This week: Texas; TCU.
16. Northern Iowa (18-2) [LW: 18] - Last week: beat Indiana State 66-61; won at Illinois State 54-53. This week: at Southern Illinois; Wichita State.
17. Maryland (18-3) [LW: 15] - Last week: lost at Indiana 89-70; beat Northwestern 68-67. This week: at Ohio State.
18. Texas (14-5) [LW: 16] - Last week: won at TCU 66-48; lost to Kansas 75-62. This week: at Iowa State; at Baylor.
19. Georgetown (14-5) [LW: 25] - Last week: beat Villanova 78-58; won at Marquette 95-85OT. This week: Xavier; at Creighton.
20. Oklahoma (12-7) [LW: 19] - Last week: lost at Kansas 85-78; lost at Baylor 69-58. This week: Texas Tech; at Oklahoma State.
21. West Virginia (16-3) [LW: 22] - Last week: beat TCU 86-85OT. This week: at Kansas State; Texas Tech.
22. SMU (15-4) [LW: 24] - Last week: won at Tulane 66-52; beat Houston 80-59. This week: at South Florida; Central Florida.
23. Baylor (14-4) [LW: NR] - Last week: beat Oklahoma 69-58. This week: at Oklahoma State; Texas.
24. Butler (15-6) [LW: NR] - Last week: beat Creighton 64-61; beat Seton Hall 77-57. This week: at Marquette.
25. Colorado State (17-2) [LW: NR] - Last week: beat San Diego State 79-73. This week: at Boise State; Fresno State.

On the outside looking in: Indiana (15-5); Georgia (13-5); San Diego State (14-5); Dayton (16-3); Miami (14-5); Tulsa (14-4); Ohio State (16-5); Wyoming (15-3); Arkansas (15-4); Texas A&M (12-5); LSU (15-4).

Dropped out: Dayton; Iowa (13-7); Seton Hall (13-6).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Eye on the Tournament - Today's Games To Watch

Oklahoma State (12-5) at Kansas State (11-8) 12PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPN2

The country's most balanced conference kicks off my games to watch. OSU would be in the tournament relatively easily if it started today, however, K State has some work to do, despite their strong Big 12 start. Prediction: Kansas State 69, Oklahoma State 63.

Texas A&M (12-5) at Tennessee (12-5) 1PM, Knoxville, TN, ESPN3

On to the SEC for this one. Both of these teams are just a bit outside of the Tournament field right now, but they are well within striking distance and a win today would help their causes, particularly the home team Vols. Prediction: Tennessee 66, Texas A&M 64.

#12 Kansas (15-3) at #16 Texas (14-4) 2PM, Austin, TX, CBS

Both of these squads are comfortably in the field, so the stakes are higher. Believe it or not, Kansas is in 1st seed range at this early stage, while the Longhorns are not far behind, in the 3-5 seed range. Prediction: Texas 71, Kansas 67.

Miami (13-5) at Syracuse (14-5) 4PM, Syracuse, NY, ESPN2

The Cuse is barely on the outside looking in and a win today would be great for Boeheim and his young and battered team's cause. The Canes, on the other hand, have been playing well of late and trending upward from their current 11ish seed status. Prediction: Miami 70, Cuse 68.

#19 Oklahoma (12-6) at Baylor (13-4) 6PM, Waco, TX, ESPN2

The Big 12 gives us another solid match-up with two more pretty sure bet tourney teams. The Sooners are looking to prove they are top 3 seed caliber, while the Bears are looking to avoid that 8/9 seed territory. Prediction: Oklahoma 74, Baylor 70.

San Diego State (14-4) at Colorado State (16-2) 10PM, Fort Collins, CO, ESPNU

The Mountain West heats up as these two meet for league supremacy. The Aztecs are the more tested of the two and likely have a Tournament spot in good hands. CSU is still working on their resumé and this would be a huge win for their dancing prospects. Prediction: SDSU 66, CSU 65. 

Other games of note: 

#21 Iowa (13-6) at Purdue (11-8) 12PM, West Lafayette, IN, BTN
#1 Kentucky (18-0) at South Carolina (9-7) 12PM, Columbia, SC, ESPN
DePaul (11-9) at Xavier (12-7) 12PM, Cincinnati, OH, FS1
Michigan State (13-6) at Nebraska (11-7) 4PM, Lincoln, NE, ESPN
UCLA (11-8) at Oregon (12-6) 4PM, Eugene, OR, CBS
Florida (10-8) at Mississippi (11-7) 6PM, Oxford, MS, SECN

Other Top 25 games:

Florida State (10-9) at #10 North Carolina (15-4) 2PM, Chapel Hill, NC, ESPN
TCU (14-4) at #22 West Virginia (15-3) 2PM, Morgantown, WV, ESPNU
#25 Georgetown (13-5) at Marquette (10-8) 2:30PM, Milwaukee, WI, FS1
#13 Iowa State (14-3) at Texas Tech (10-9) 4PM, Lubbock, TX, ESPNU
Houston (7-11) at #24 SMU (14-4) 6PM, Dallas, TX, CBSS
#6 Wisconsin (17-2) at Michigan (11-7) 7PM, Ann Arbor, MI, ESPN
Pacific (7-10) at #3 Gonzaga (18-1) 8PM, Spokane, WA, ROOT
#7 Arizona (17-2) at California (11-8) 10:30, Berkeley, CA, P12N

Vegas Pick (5-4): 

Kansas State -2.5 vs. Oklahoma State

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Bracketology - 1/21/15

It's that time. Time to start worrying about who's in and who's out, who's on the bubble and whose bubble will eventually burst.

Here's a look at my first in-season Bracketology for 2014-15.

As of games through Tuesday, January 20th.

WARNING: The predicted field/seeding is highly likely to change from day to day or minute to minute.

*Automatic bids in italics

1 SEEDS: Kentucky; Virginia; Duke; Kansas.

2 SEEDS: Gonzaga; Villanova; Arizona; Iowa State.

3 SEEDS: Wisconsin; Utah; North Carolina; Oklahoma.

4 SEEDS: Maryland; Notre Dame; Texas; Wichita State.

5 SEEDS: Butler; VCU; Georgetown; West Virginia.

6 SEEDS: Seton Hall; Louisville; Baylor; Providence.

7 SEEDS: Arkansas; Northern Iowa; Cincinnati; San Diego State.

8 SEEDS: Oklahoma State; Michigan State; Xavier; Stanford.

9 SEEDS: Indiana; SMU; Georgia; Iowa.

10 SEEDS: Old Dominion; LSU; NC State; St. John's.

11 SEEDS: Davidson; Dayton; Ohio State; Miami.

12 SEEDS: George Washington vs. Colorado State; Washington vs. BYU; Buffalo; Harvard.

13 SEEDS: Wofford; Iona; Eastern Washington; Long Beach State.

14 SEEDS: William & Mary; Valparaiso; North Carolina Central; S. F. Austin.

15 SEEDS: High Point; Georgia State; Stony Brook; American.

16 SEEDS: Eastern Illinois; Texas Southern; St. Francis (PA) vs. Florida Gulf Coast; South Dakota State vs. New Mexico State.

LAST FOUR IN: George Washington; Washington; BYU; Colorado State.

FIRST FOUR OUT: Tennessee; Mississippi; Alabama; Syracuse.

NEXT FOUR OUT: Texas A&M; Florida; Connecticut; St. Mary's.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: ACC (7); Big 12 (7); Big East (7); Big Ten (6); Atlantic 10 (4); Pac 12 (4); SEC (4); AAC (2); Missouri Valley (2); Mountain West (2); West Coast (2)

Note: Automatic bids are determined at this point by the highest RPI in each league.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Top 25 - Week 10

Last week's notes:

- Kentucky and Virginia continued to separate themselves from the rest of the country, clearly taking their places as the top two teams in the country right now.

- Duke bounced back from back-to-back defeats to get an impressive win at Louisville, while Notre Dame just continued to win.

- Arizona jumped back into the top 10 with a statement win versus Utah.

- The Big 12 and Big East continued to eat their own.

1. Kentucky (17-0) [LW: 1] Last week: beat Missouri 86-37; won at Alabama 70-48. This week: Vanderbilt; at South Carolina.
2. Virginia (17-0) [LW: 2] Last week: beat Clemson 65-42; won at Boston College 66-51. This week: Georgia Tech; at Virginia Tech.
3. Gonzaga (17-1) [LW: 3] Last week: won at Pepperdine 78-76; won at Loyola Marymount 72-55. This week: St. Mary's; Pacific.
4. Villanova (17-1) [LW: 7] Last week: beat Xavier 88-75; won at Pennsylvania 62-47. This week: at Georgetown; Creighton.
5. Duke (15-2) [LW: 4] Last week: lost to Miami 90-74; won at Louisville 63-52. This week: Pittsburgh; at St. John's.
6. Wisconsin (16-2) [LW: 8] Last week: beat Nebraska 70-55. This week: Iowa; at Michigan.
7. Arizona (16-2) [LW: 12] Last week: beat Colorado 68-54; beat Utah 69-51. This week: at Stanford; at California.
8. Notre Dame (17-2) [LW: 9] Last week: won at Georgia Tech 62-59; beat Miami 75-70. This week:  at Virginia Tech; at NC State.
9. Louisville (15-3) [LW: 5] Last week: beat Virginia Tech 78-63; lost to Duke 63-52. This week: at Pittsburgh.
10. North Carolina (14-4) [LW: 10] Last week: won at NC State 81-79; beat Virginia Tech 68-53. This week: at Wake Forest; Florida State.
11. Utah (14-3) [LW: 6] Last week: won at Arizona State 76-59; lost at Arizona 69-51. This week: Washington State; Washington.
12. Kansas (14-3) [LW: 11] Last week: beat Oklahoma State 67-57; lost at Iowa State 86-81. This week: Oklahoma; at Texas.
13. Iowa State (13-3) [LW: 13] Last week: lost at Baylor 74-73; beat Kansas 86-81. This week: Kansas State; at Texas Tech.
14. VCU (15-3) [LW: 14] Last week: won at Rhode Island 65-60; won at Duquesne 70-64. This week: at Saint Louis.
15. Maryland (17-2) [LW: 15] Last week: beat Rutgers 73-65; beat Michigan State 75-59. This week: at Indiana; Northwestern.
16. Texas (13-4) [LW: 18] Last week: beat West Virginia 77-50. This week: at TCU; Kansas.
17. Wichita State (15-2) [LW: 17] Last week: beat Southern Illinois 67-55; won at Evansville 61-41. This week: at Missouri State; Drake
18. Northern Iowa (16-2) [LW: 19] Last week: won at Bradley 63-52; beat Missouri State 60-46. This week: Indiana State; at Illinois State.
19. Oklahoma (12-5) [LW: 16] Last week: lost at West Virginia 86-65; beat Oklahoma State 82-65. This week: at Kansas; at Baylor.
20. Dayton (15-2) [LW: 23] Last week: beat LaSalle 61-50; beat Saint Louis 61-45. This week: at Davidson; Richmond.
21. Iowa (13-5) [LW: NR] Last week: won at Minnesota 77-75; beat Ohio State 76-67. This week: at Wisconsin; at Purdue.
22. West Virginia (15-3) [LW: 20] Last week: beat Oklahoma 86-65; lost at Texas 77-50. This week: TCU.
23. Seton Hall (13-4) [LW: 21] Last week: lost to Butler 79-75 OT. This week: DePaul; at Butler.
24. SMU (13-4) [LW: NR] Last week: won at Temple 60-55; beat ECU 77-54. This week: at Tulane; Houston.
25. Georgetown (12-5) [LW: NR] Last week: won at DePaul 78-72; beat Butler 61-59. This week: Villanova; at Marquette.

On the outside looking in: Indiana (14-4); Baylor (13-4); Butler (13-6); Colorado State (16-2); Georgia (11-5); San Diego State (13-4); Stanford (13-4); Miami (12-5); Tulsa (12-4); Ohio State (14-5); Wyoming (16-3); Oklahoma State (11-5); Providence (14-5).

Dropped out: Arkansas (13-4); Providence; Michigan State (12-6).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday's Games To Watch

Well, it's the middle of January and it's, shall we say, brick outside, but it's about to get hot as far as college basketball is concerned.

Conference play is heating up, the term "bubble" is about to become a part of your vocabulary very shortly, and any minute now, Coach Calipari will start proclaiming that Kentucky is the underdog again.

Today is the season's most anticipated day of games to date, so if you haven't started paying attention, yet, this is the day to do so.

Here's a quick look at what you should be watching.

#4 Duke (14-2) at #5 Louisville (15-2) 12PM, Louisville, KY, ESPN

The day gets started with a doozy, as two of the ACC heavyweights bang heads. The Dukies are coming into the Yum Center on suddenly shaky ground, having lost two straight, at NC State and at home to Miami by a combined 28 points. The Cardinals won't make things any easier for the Blue Devils, as they boast one of the nation's best defenses and have lost only to Kentucky and North Carolina so far this season. Prediction: Louisville 77, Duke 72.

Miami (12-4) at #9 Notre Dame (16-2) 2PM, South Bend, IN, ESPN2

More ACC action here, as the Hurricanes try to make it two in a row on the road. Their confidence should not be lacking, after handing Duke a beat down in Cameron. The Irish lost a huge piece of their early season puzzle, Zach Auguste, to a season ending academic suspension.* They were able to hold off Georgia Tech on the road Wednesday, but the talented Miami squad is a different beast. Prediction: Notre Dame 81, Miami 79.

* Zach Auguste is back in the lineup today and has not been suspended as previously reported.

#1 Kentucky (16-0) at Alabama (11-4) 4PM, Tuscaloosa, AL, ESPN

The Wildcats took a break from overtime victories and smacked poor Missouri around Tuesday. That's probably good news for Bama, since the Cats are unlikely to be so angry today. The Tide is coming off a loss at South Carolina, but has been solid this season and is undefeated at home, albeit against light competition. Prediction: Alabama 67, Kentucky 66.

#25 Michigan State (12-5) at #15 Maryland (16-2) 4PM, College Park, MD, CBS

The Big Ten has been a bit disappointing so far, but they provide us with one of the day's best match-ups. This one is a quick turnaround rematch of Maryland's double overtime victory in Lansing two and a half weeks ago. Michigan State has won three straight since then, so expect the Spartans to have revenge on their minds. Prediction: Michigan State 69, Maryland 65.

#20 West Virginia (15-2) at #18 Texas (12-4) 6:15PM, Austin, TX, ESPN

The Big 12 has been anything but disappointing this year, arguably the best conference in America. The Mountaineers are coming off their best win of the season on the form of a 21-point blow out of Oklahoma. Texas has been struggle-city of late, having lost back-to-back games to the Oklahoma schools by double digits. Prediction: West Virginia 68, Texas 64.

 #6 Utah (13-2) at #12 Arizona (15-2) 7PM, Tucson, AZ, P12N

Pac 12 supremacy is on the line tonight in Tucson. We're used to seeing Arizona in this position, but the Utes? Not so much. Right now, however, you'd be hard pressed to find a team playing better than Utah. They have won their first four league games by an average of 24.5 points. Arizona hasn't been quite as sharp, having lost two of their last five to subpar competition. Prediction: Utah 61, Arizona 59. 

Oklahoma State (11-4) at #16 Oklahoma (11-5) 7PM, Norman, OK, ESPN2

Back to the Big 12 for this in-state rivalry. After starting off impressively, the Sooners have lost two straight league games, including a home loss to Kansas State. Oklahoma State has won their two home league games, while losing their two road contests. Prediction: Oklahoma 68, Ok St 61.

#11 Kansas (14-2) at #13 Iowa State (12-3) 9PM, Ames, IA, ESPN

What look like the top two teams in the Big 12 meet in what will be a raucous environment in Ames. Kansas is 3-0 in league play (what else is new?) and have been as solid as they come, minus two blowout losses. The Cyclones followed a big time road win at West Virginia with a tough 1-point loss at Baylor. Prediction: Iowa State 72, Kansas 68.

Other games of note:

#17 Wichita State (14-2) at Evansville (12-4) 2PM, Evansville, IN, ESPN3
Florida (10-6) at Georgia (10-5) 2PM, Athens, GA, CBS
Ohio State (14-4) at Iowa (12-5) 2PM, Iowa City, IA, ESPN
Baylor (13-3) at Kansas State (10-7) 3PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPNU
Butler (13-5) at Georgetown (11-5) 5PM, Washington, DC, FS1
UNLV (9-7) at San Diego State (12-4) 6PM, San Diego, CA, CBSS
Temple (12-6) at Cincinnati (11-5) 7:30PM, Cincinnati, OH, ESPNU
#24 Providence (13-5) at Creighton (9-9) 7:30PM, Omaha, NE, FS1
Connecticut (9-6) at Stanford (12-4) 9PM, Stanford, CA, ESPN2
Mississippi (10-6) at #22 Arkansas (13-3) 9:30PM, Fayetteville, AR, ESPNU

Other Top 25 games:

#2 Virginia (16-0) at Boston College (8-7) 2PM, Chestnut Hill, MA, ESPN3
#14 VCU (14-3) at Duquesne (5-9) 2PM, Pittsburgh, PA, CBSS
#3 Gonzaga (16-1) at Loyola Marymount (4-13) 4PM, Los Angeles, CA
#7 Villanova (16-1) at Pennsylvania (4-8) 7PM, Philadelphia, PA

Vegas Pick (5-3):

Davidson (11-3) pk at Richmond (9-8) 6PM, Richmond, VA

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Last Night's Recap - Tonight's Game To Watch

Last Night's Recap:

Big Wins:

St. John's at Providence, 83-70. - The Johnnies got their first Big East win of the season (now 1-3) and did so in a tough spot. Could this be the start of a Red Storm re-brewing?

Baylor vs. Iowa State, 74-73. - The Bears finally got that big win they were looking for, but it wasn't easy. They will need a solid road win or two to be considered a legitimate tourney team.

LSU at Mississippi, 75-71. - The Tigers, now 2-1 in the SEC, got their second league road win in a spot where they could have easily slipped up. LSU could be on the road to legitimacy.

SMU at Temple, 60-55. - The Mustangs have now won three straight and 11 of their last 12. They are 4-1 in the AAC and collected a nice road win over a fellow AAC contender.

San Diego State at Wyoming, 60-52. - The Aztecs are now 3-1 in the Mountain West, after a bit of a shaky stretch in November/December. They now may be able to lay claim to being the conference's best, after a nice road win versus an upstart.

Bad Losses:

Mississippi - Coming off of a strong performance in a loss at Kentucky and a nice win versus South Carolina, Ole Miss needed another solid home win to keep the momentum going. They could not get it done against LSU, a team in a similar position.

Wyoming - this was a bad loss only because they had a chance to claim legitimacy with a win over nationally respected SDSU. The loss throws shade on the Cowboys, who need to take advantage of their home opportunities versus tournament caliber opponents.

Tonight's Game To Watch:

Cincinnati (11-4) at Memphis (9-6) 7PM, Memphis, TN, ESPN2

There isn't much to choose from tonight, but this is a big game in the AAC. The Bearcats have won four of their last five, are 2-1 in league play, and can't afford to drop a game against a team they should probably beat, home or away. Memphis (2-2, AAC) has been shaky all season - by their standards - but has played slightly better of late. Prediction: Cincinnati 59, Memphis 54.

Other games of note...

Colorado (9-6) at #12 Arizona (14-2) 9PM, Tucson, AZ, ESPN2
Nebraska (10-6) at #8 Wisconsin (15-2) 9PM, Madison, WI, ESPN
#6 Utah (12-2) at Arizona State (8-8) 10PM, Tempe, AZ, FS1

Other Top 25 Games:

#3 Gonzaga (15-1) at Pepperdine (10-5) 10:30PM, Malibu, CA

Vegas Pick (4-3):

BYU -9 at Pacific 11PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tonight's College Basketball Games To Watch

Last Night Recap:

Big Wins: Butler, 79-75 at Seton Hall; Miami, 90-74 at Duke; West Virginia, 86-65 vs. Oklahoma; Tulsa, 66-58 vs. UConn; South Carolina, 68-66 vs. Alabama.

Bad Losses: Minnesota, 77-75 vs. Iowa; Arkansas, 74-69 at Tennessee.

Tonight's Games:

#10 North Carolina (12-4) at North Carolina State (12-5) 7PM, Raleigh, NC, ESPN2

Both of these ACC teams are coming off big wins. The Tarheels snuck out of Chapel Hill with a 1-point win over Louisville, while the Wolfpack sent the suddenly reeling Blue Devils, reeling. Raleigh is never an easy place for UNC to play. Prediction: UNC 73, NC State 70.

St. John's (10-4) at #24 Providence (13-4) 7PM, Providence, RI, FS1

Speaking of reeling, the Johnnies are 0-3 in the Big East and obviously in desperate need of win. However, league foes are not usually so friendly, especially when you visit them. Providence, 3-1 in league play, has won 7 of their last 8, including two solid Big East wins last week. Prediction: Providence 67, St. John's 63.

#13 Iowa State (12-2) at Baylor (12-3) 9PM, Waco, TX, ESPNU

The Cyclones are coming off an impressive road victory over West Virginia and look primed to make a run at the Big 12 title. The always talented Bears are in their familiar position of ranked, but unproven. They are 1-2 in league play and don't really have a good win to speak of. Prediction: Iowa State 70, Baylor 66.

Other games of note...

Harvard (8-3) at Boston College (7-7) 7PM, Chestnut, Hill, MA, ESPN3
#9 Notre Dame (15-2) at Georgia Tech (9-6) 7PM, Atlanta, GA, ESPN3
Davidson (10-3) at Massachusetts (9-7) 7PM, Amherst, MA
LSU (12-3) at Mississippi (10-5) 7PM, Oxford, MS, SECN
SMU (11-4) at Temple (12-5) 7PM, Philadelphia, PA, CBSS
San Diego State (12-4) at Wyoming (13-2) 11PM, Laramie, WY, ESPN2

Other Top 25 games:

Rutgers (10-7) at #15 Maryland (15-2) 7PM, College Park, MD, BTN
Southern Illinois (7-10) at #17 Wichita State (13-2) 8PM, Wichita State, KS
Xavier (11-5) at #7 Villanova (15-1) 9PM, Villanova, PA, FS1

Vegas Pick (3-3):

Dayton -7.5 vs. LaSalle

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tonight's Games To Watch

After an extremely light day yesterday, out of respect to the college football championship game, college hoops is back in action tonight with some key and intriguing match-ups.

Oklahoma State (11-3) at #11 Kansas (13-2) 7PM, Lawrence, KS, ESPN2

Ok. State has been solid so far this season, 2-1 in the Big 12 and coming off a nice victory over Texas. Kansas has been, well, Kansas, 2-0 in league play and, of course, undefeated at home. Prediction: Kansas 70, Ok St. 63.

Butler (12-5) at #21 Seton Hall (13-3) 7PM, Newark, NJ, FS1

Two teams with legitimate NCAA Tourney aspirations link up. Butler is coming off a home win over Xavier, while the Hall responded to a loss at Xavier with a 1-point win at Creighton last week. Such is life in the Big East. Prediction: Seton Hall 63, Butler 61.

#16 Oklahoma (11-4) at #20 West Virginia (14-2) 7PM, Morgantown, WV, ESPNews

Here's another great Big 12 game that should be a defensive battle. Oklahoma is coming off an impressive win at Texas, followed by a not-so-impressive loss to Kansas State last week. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers lost a heartbreaker to Iowa State on Saturday, which means they are now two possessions from being undefeated, after losing in similar fashion to LSU in December. Prediction: West Virginia 65, Oklahoma 62.

Miami (11-4) at #4 Duke (14-1) 9PM, Durham, NC, ESPNU 

The Hurricanes started out hot, winning their first eight games, but are 3-4 since. However, they took Virginia to double overtime and beat BC in their last two contests. Duke will be angry in front of the Cameron Crazies, after falling at NC State over the weekend. Prediction: Duke 78, Miami 70. 

Other games of note...

Penn State (12-4) at Indiana (12-4) 7PM, Bloomington, IN, BTN
Michigan (9-6) at Ohio State (13-4) 7PM, Columbus, OH, ESPN
#22 Arkansas (13-2) at Tennessee (9-5) 7PM, Knoxville, TN, ESPNU 
#14 VCU (13-3) at Rhode Island (11-3) 7:30PM, Kingston, RI, CBSS
Georgetown (10-5) at DePaul (9-8) 9PM, Rosemont, IL, FS1
Alabama (12-3) at South Carolina (9-5) 9PM, Columbia, SC, SECN
Iowa (11-5) at Minnesota (11-6) 9PM, Minneapolis, MN, BTN
Connecticut (9-5) at Tulsa (10-5) 9:30PM, Tulsa, OK, CBSS

Other Top 25 games:

Virginia Tech (8-7) at #5 Louisville (14-2) 7PM, Louisville, KY, ESPN3
#19 Northern Iowa (14-2) at Bradley (6-11) 8PM, Peoria, IL
Clemson (9-6) at #2 Virginia (15-0) 8PM, Charlottesville, VA, ESPN3
Missouri (7-8) at #1 Kentucky (15-0) 9PM, Lexington, KY, ESPN

Vegas Picks (season record: 2-1)

Missouri +23.5 at Kentucky 
Miami +15.5 at Duke
Connecticut pk at Tulsa 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top 25 - Week 9

By the look of things, it doesn't seem like any of the teams that have occupied the bottom of the rankings truly want to stay there. Once again, there is a mass exodus from 22-25, however, the top 20 seems pretty stable.

This means, right now at least, that the 2015 NCAA bracket (my bracketology will be out next week) is pretty set through the 5 seeds. But after that, it is up for grabs to an unprecedented extent.

Of course, the top of the rankings saw some movement as well this week, with Duke, Louisville, Wisconsin and Arizona all taking Ls. That leaves Kentucky (two overtime victories this week) and Virginia as the country's lone undefeateds.

1. Kentucky (15-0) [LW: 1] Last week: beat Ole Miss 89-86 OT; won at Texas A&M 70-64 2OT. This week: Missouri; at Alabama.
2. Virginia (15-0) [LW: 3] Last week: beat NC State 61-51; won at Notre Dame 62-56. This week: Clemson; at Boston College.
3. Gonzaga (15-1) [LW: 6] Last week: beat San Francisco 88-57; beat Santa Clara 79-57. This week: at Pepperdine; at Loyola Marymount.
4. Duke (14-1) [LW: 2] Last week: won at Wake Forest 73-65; Lost at NC State 87-75. This week: Miami; at Louisville.
5. Louisville (14-2) [LW: 4] Last week: beat Clemson 58-52; lost at North Carolina 72-71. This week: Virginia Tech; Duke.
6. Utah (12-2) [LW: 8] Last week: beat Colorado 74-49. This week: at Arizona State; at Arizona.
7. Villanova (15-1) [LW: 9] Last week: won at St. John's 90-72; beat DePaul 81-64. This week: Xavier; at Penn.
8. Wisconsin (15-2) [LW: 5] Last week: beat Purdue 62-55; lost at Rutgers 67-62. This week: Nebraska.
9. Notre Dame (15-2) [LW: 14] Last week: won at North Carolina 71-70; lost to Virginia 62-56. This week: at Georgia Tech; Miami.
10. North Carolina (12-4) [LW: 11] Last week: lost to Notre Dame 71-70; beat Louisville 72-71. This week: at NC State; Virginia Tech.
11. Kansas (13-2) [LW: 15] Last week: won at Baylor 56-55; beat Texas Tech 86-54. This week: Oklahoma State; at Iowa State.
12. Arizona (14-2) [LW: 7] Last week: won at Oregon 80-62; lost at Oregon State 58-56. This week: Colorado; Utah.
13. Iowa State (12-2) [LW: 16] Last week: beat Oklahoma State 63-61; won at West Virginia 74-72. This week: at Baylor; Kansas.
14. VCU (13-3) [LW: 18] Last week: beat Davidson 71-65; beat St. Joseph's 89-74. This week: at Rhode Island; at Duquesne.
15. Maryland (15-2) [LW: 12] Last week: lost at Illinois 64-57; won at Purdue 69-60. This week: Rutgers; Michigan State.
16. Oklahoma (11-4) [LW: 13] Last week: won at Texas 70-49; lost to Kansas State 66-63 OT. This week: at West Virginia; Oklahoma State.
17. Wichita State (13-2) [LW: 17] Last week: beat Bradley 63-43; won at Loyola Chicago 67-53. This week: Southern Illinois; at Evansville.
18. Texas (12-4) [LW: 10] Last week: lost to Oklahoma 70-49; lost at Oklahoma State 69-58. This week: West Virginia.
19. Northern Iowa (14-2) [LW: 23] Last week: beat Southern Illinois 55-39; won at Drake 64-40. This week: at Bradley; Missouri State.
20. West Virginia (14-2) [LW: 19] Last week: won at Texas Tech 78-67; lost to Iowa State 74-72. This week: Oklahoma; at Texas.
21. Seton Hall (13-3) [LW: 20] Last week: lost at Xavier 69-58; won at Creighton 68-67. This week: Butler.
22. Arkansas (13-2) [LW: NR] Last week: won at Georgia 79-75; beat Vanderbilt 82-70. This week: at Tennessee; Ole Miss.
23. Dayton (13-2) [LW: NR] Last week: won at St. Bonaventure 78-61; won at Fordham 76-58. This week: LaSalle; Saint Louis.
24. Providence (13-4) [LW: NR] Last week: won at Butler 66-62; beat Georgetown 60-57 OT. This week: St. John's; at Creighton.
25. Michigan State (12-5) [LW: NR] Last week: beat Indiana 70-50; won at Iowa 75-61; beat Northwestern 84-77 OT. This week: at Maryland.

On the outside looking in:

Baylor (12-3); Oklahoma State (11-3); Alabama (11-3); Wyoming (13-2); Ohio State (13-4); Syracuse (12-4); Butler (12-5); Iowa (11-5); Indiana (12-4); Davidson (10-3); SMU (11-4); Colorado State (14-2); Georgetown (10-5); St. John's (10-4)

Dropped out:

Butler; BYU (12-5); Iowa; Colorado State.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Today's Games To Watch

#4 Louisville (14-1) at #11 North Carolina (11-4) 2PM, Chapel Hill, NC, ESPN

The new, new look ACC gets it first taste of this blue blood match-up. North Carolina should be the more desperate team, as they are coming off of a home loss to Notre Dame and can't really afford to lose a second straight conference home game if they wish to contend in this league. However, Louisville may just be the better team. The Cardinals' only loss was at the hands of the nation's top team, but they have not looked dominant in their two ACC wins over Wake Forest and Clemson. Both teams will need to step their games up in order to come away with a victory today. Prediction: Louisville 74, North Carolina 71.

#3 Virginia (14-0) at #14 Notre Dame (15-1) 6PM, South Bend, IN, ESPN2

In case you hadn't figured it out, the ACC takes top billing tonight and Milk is chillin'. The Cavs are right there with Duke and Louisville as the ACC's best team so far, though they were seriously tested in their last ACC road game, surviving in overtime at Miami. Notre Dame is making a strong case to be considered in that top tier of the league, after their win at North Carolina Monday night. It will be Notre Dame's high powered offense versus Virginia's suffocating defense. Prediction: Notre Dame 72, Virginia 70.

#16 Iowa State (11-2) at #19 West Virginia (14-1) 8PM, Morgantown, WV, ESPN2

There's another good conference out there - some say the best - called the Big 12. Two of the league's early best bang heads in this one. The Cyclones have been impressive, but inconsistent so far this season. They have looked good in solid wins over Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma State. But they have losses to Maryland and South Carolina on neutral courts. As for the Mountaineers, many are proclaiming that Huggy Bear has them back to their formidable selves, and it is tough to argue with a 14-1 record. However, tonight's game will go a long way to validating their team and season so far. West Virginia's best win, to date, came against an up-and-down UConn squad in November. Prediction: West Virginia 73, Iowa State 69. 

Other games of note:

Cincinnati (11-3) at Connecticut (8-5) 11AM, Hartford, CT, ESPN2
Georgetown (10-4) at Providence (12-4) 12PM, Providence, RI, FS1
Ohio State (13-3) at Indiana (11-4) 12PM, Bloomington, IN, ESPN
Minnesota (11-5) at Michigan (9-6) 1PM, Ann Arbor, MI, ESPNU
#1 Kentucky (14-0) at Texas A&M (9-4) 1PM, College Station, TX, CBS
Alabama (11-3) at Tennessee (9-4) 2PM, Knoxville, TN, SECN
#20 Seton Hall (12-3) at Creighton (9-7) 2:15PM, Omaha, NE, FS1
#12 Maryland (14-2) at Purdue (10-6) 2:30PM, West Lafayette, IN, BTN
Baylor (11-3) at TCU (13-2) 4PM, Fort Worth, TX, ESPN2
DePaul (9-7) at #9 Villanova (14-1) 4PM, Villanova, PA, CBSS
Xavier (11-4) at #21 Butler (11-5) 4:30PM, Indianapolis, IN, FS1
South Carolina (9-4) at Mississippi (9-5) 5PM, Oxford, MS, ESPN3
#10 Texas (12-3) at Oklahoma State (11-3) 5PM, Stillwater, OK, ESPNU
ODU (13-1) at Western Kentucky (9-5) 5:30PM, Bowling Green, KY
Boise State (10-5) at Wyoming (14-2) 6PM, Laramie, WY, CBSS
Kansas State (8-7) at #13 Oklahoma (11-3) 7PM, Norman, OK, ESPNU
Georgia (9-4) at LSU (11-3) 9PM, Baton Rouge, LA, ESPNU

Other Top 25 games:

#25 Colorado State (13-2) at Air Force (8-6) 2PM, Colorado Springs, CO, ROOT
St. Joseph's (6-7) at #18 VCU (12-3) 2PM, Richmond, VA, CBSS
Texas Tech (10-5) at #15 Kansas (12-2) 3PM, Lawrence, KS, ESPNU
#23 Northern Iowa (13-2) at Drake (3-12) 4PM, Des Moines, IA, ESPN3
Santa Clara (7-9) at #6 Gonzaga (14-1) 8PM, Spokane, WA, ROOT

Vegas Picks:

Cincinnati +5 at Connecticut
Dayton -8 at Fordham
Louisville +3 at North Carolina

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tonight's Games To Watch

Last night provided one of the season's best 4-hour stretches of college basketball. The Big East, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all had meaningful and exciting early season contests.

All mighty Kentucky was taken to the brink at home by a previously struggling Ole Miss squad. Villanova showed they are still the class of the Big East by dismantling St. John's in the second half at Madison Square Garden. Arkansas got a meaningful road win against a solid Georgia squad. Iowa State escaped with a 2-point victory over Oklahoma State. Providence toughed out an important road win over Butler. And Ohio State recorded their second solid win in as many games, holding off Minnesota in overtime.

Tonight, the early conference season grind continues. As is usually the case, but even more so this year, many teams are vying for the NCAA Tournament, with parity and conference balance at an all-time high.

Davidson (9-2) at #18 VCU (11-3) 7PM, Richmond, VA

Davidson is one of the best teams no one's talking about. In this, their first year in the Atlantic 10, they are looking like a team that could challenge for an NCAA bid. The Wildcats' only losses came at the hands of North Carolina and Virginia and they have handled everyone else with relative ease. VCU has a similar resume, though slightly better, with good wins over Northern Iowa and at Cincinnati and losses to Villanova and Virginia. This should be a fun uptempo, competitive match-up. Prediction: VCU 83, Davidson 80.

#20 Seton Hall (12-2) at Xavier (10-4) 7PM, Cincinnati, OH, CBSS

Seton Hall is suddenly relevant again, but can they remain so is the question. Believe it or not, tonight's game is as big of a test as they've had, as Xavier is as tough to beat at home as they come. Case and point, the Musketeers handled Georgetown soundly in Cincinnati to start their Big East season, but then lost at DePaul. Obviously, home games will be huge for Xavier until they figure out how to put it all together elsewhere. Prediction: Xavier 66, Seton Hall 60.

#15 Kansas (11-2) at Baylor (11-2) 9PM, Waco, TX, ESPNU

The Jayhawks are coming off double-digit wins over Kent State and UNLV. They have been inconsistent for a Bill Self team, with good wins, but two lopsided losses, one to Kentucky and one at Temple. But, now it's Big 12 time and we know how Self and Kansas tend to handle that. Baylor is still an unknown entity this season. They are coming off a loss at Oklahoma and their best win so far was an early season one at South Carolina. Prediction: Kansas 69, Baylor 65.

Other games of note...

Syracuse (10-4) at Georgia Tech (9-4) 7PM, Atlanta, GA, ESPNU 
Florida (7-6) at South Carolina (8-3) 7PM, Columbia, SC, SECN
#12 Maryland (14-1) at Illinois (10-5) 9PM, Champagne, IL, BTN
TCU (13-1) at Kansas State (7-7) 9PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPNNews

Other Top 25 Games:

NC State (11-4) at #3 Virginia (13-0) 7PM, Charlottesville, VA, ESPN2
Purdue (10-5) at #5 Wisconsin (14-1) 7PM, Madison, WI, BTN
Bradley (6-9) at #17 Wichita State (11-2) 8PM, Wichita, KS
Wyoming (13-2) at #25 Colorado State (13-1) 9PM, Fort Collins, CO
Clemson (8-5) at #4 Louisville (13-1) 9PM, Louisville, KY, ESPN3
Colorado (9-5) at #8 Utah (11-2) 9PM, Salt Lake City, UT, ESPN2
#2 Duke (13-0) at Wake Forest (8-7) 9PM, Winston Salem, NC, ESPN3

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top 25 - Week 8

I'm The top 5 stays intact, while the bottom 5 is in total flux. 

Four new teams enter the rankings, lead by Seton Hall, who beat St. John's and Villanova last week.

Ohio State took the biggest fall, right out of the rankings, after a home loss to Iowa and nothing much to speak of as far as "good wins" go. St. John's was right behind the Buckeyes, based on two Big East losses last week and the even bigger loss of one of their best players, Rysheed Jordan, to an indefinite leave of absence.

Iowa State dropped from 9 to 16 after losing to South Carolina in Brooklyn.

1. Kentucky (13-0) [LW: 1] Last week: idle. This week: Ole Miss (won 89-86 OT); at Texas A&M.
2. Duke (13-0) [LW: 2] Last week: beat Toledo 86-69; beat Wofford 84-55, beat Boston College 85-62. This week: at Wake Forest; at NC State.
3. Virginia (13-0) [LW: 3] Last week: beat Davidson 83-72; won at Miami 89-80 2OT. This week: NC State; at Notre Dame.
4. Louisville (13-1) [LW: 4] Last week: beat Long Beach State 63-48; won at Wake Forest 85-76. This week: Clemson; at North Carolina.
5. Wisconsin (14-1) [LW: 5] Last week: beat Penn State 89-72; won at Northwestern 81-58. This week: Purdue; at Rutgers.
6. Gonzaga (13-1) [LW: 6] Last week: won at San Diego 60-48; won at Portland 87-75. This week: San Francisco; Santa Clara.
7. Arizona (13-1) [LW: 8] Last week: beat Arizona State 73-49. This week: at Oregon; at Oregon State.
8. Utah (11-2) [LW: 11] Last week: beat USC 79-55; beat UCLA 71-39. This week: Colorado.
9. Villanova (13-1) [LW: 7] Last week: beat Butler 67-55; lost at Seton Hall 66-61 OT. This week: at St. John's (won 90-72); DePaul.
10. Texas (12-2) [LW: 10] Last week: beat Rice 66-55; won at Texas Tech 70-61. This week: Oklahoma (lost 70-49); Oklahoma State.
11. North Carolina (11-3) [LW: 12] Last week: beat William & Mary 86-64; won at Clemson 74-50. This week: Notre Dame (lost 71-70); Louisville.
12. Maryland (14-1) [LW: 15] Last week: won at Michigan State 68-66 2OT; beat Minnesota 70-58. This week: at Illinois; at Purdue.
13. Oklahoma (10-3) [LW: 13] Last week: beat George Mason 61-43; beat Baylor 73-63. This week: at Texas (won 70-49); Kansas State.
14. Notre Dame (14-1) [LW: 14] Last week: beat Hartford 87-60; beat Georgia Tech 83-76 2OT. This week: at North Carolina (won 71-70); Virginia.
15. Kansas (11-2) [LW: 16] Last week: beat Kent State 78-62; beat UNLV 76-61. This week: at Baylor; Texas Tech.
16. Iowa State (10-2) [LW: 9] Last week: beat Mississippi Valley 83-33; lost vs. South Carolina 64-60. This week: Oklahoma State (won 63-61); at West Virginia.
17. Wichita State (11-2) [LW: 19] Last week: won at Drake 66-58; beat Illinois State 70-62. This week: Bradley; at Loyola Chicago.
18. VCU (11-3) [LW: 21] Last week: beat Cleveland State 72-63; won at Fordham 75-58. This week: Davidson; St. Joseph's.
19. West Virginia (13-1) [LW: 22] Last week: beat Virginia Tech 82-51; won at TCU 78-67. This week: at Texas Tech (won 78-67); Iowa State.
20. Seton Hall (12-2) [LW: NR] Last week: beat St. John's 78-67; beat Villanova 66-61 OT. This week: at Xavier; at Creighton.
21. Butler (11-4) [LW: NR] Last week: lost at Villanova 67-55; won at St. John's 73-69. This week: Providence (lost 66-62); Xavier.
22. BYU (11-4) [LW: NR] Last week: beat Portland 97-88; won at Santa Clara 81-46; won at San Francisco 99-68. This week: Pepperdine; Loyola Marymount.
23. Northern Iowa (12-2) [LW: 20] Last week: lost at Evansville 52-49; beat Loyola Chicago 67-58. This week: Southern Illinois; at Drake.
24. Iowa (10-4) [LW: NR] Last week: won at Ohio State 71-65. This week: Nebraska (won 70-59); Michigan State.
25. Colorado State (13-1) [LW: 24] Last week: beat Boise State 71-65; lost at New Mexico 66-53. This week: Wyoming; at Air Force.

On the outside looking in...

George Washington (11-3); Stanford (10-3); Dayton (11-2); Georgia (9-3); Baylor (11-2); Ohio State (12-3); St. John's (10-3); ODU (12-1); Indiana (11-3); LSU (11-2); Georgetown (9-4).

Dropped out:

Ohio State; St. John's; Washington (11-3); Baylor.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Georgetown Defeats Indiana at Madison Square Garden In A Game That Will Matter Come March

Georgetown and Indiana last Saturday in a game that's sure to have March Madness implications. Both teams were in similar situations with similar resumes. Both teams are talented and have shown flashes of being upper echelon squads in their respective leagues.

But, there were question marks about both, as well. Both have come up short against top competition, with both recording one truly good win apiece, Butler for Indiana and Florida for Georgetown.

So, Saturday was a big game and a measuring stick for them both. A neutral court game against a fellow top 30-ish team.

New York City and the iconic Madison Square Garden was the venue. 

For the Hoosiers, it was their second appearance in the World's Most Famous Arena this month, having lost to Louisville 94-74 on the 9th. As for Georgetown, this was the first of at least three Garden visits, with an away game versus St. John's and the Big East Tournament looming.

These two teams met in New York City two years ago. Indiana won that game in Brooklyn, 82-72 in overtime. Saturday's game had the same type of feel going into it. 

For the go-to guys on each squad, the connection runs much deeper. Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and Georgetown's D'Vaunte Smith-Rivera, both from Indianapolis, have been playing against each other since they were toddlers. They are friends and rivals, so this game was personal for both.

Smith-Rivera and Georgetown would ultimately come out on top, in an up-and-down, back-and-forth thriller, again in overtime, 91-87.

The first half belonged to Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and the Hoosiers, who took a 40-30 lead into the break. Ferrell and Blackmon had 12 points apiece with six 3-pointers between them.

In the second half, it was Smith-Rivera, Josh Smith and the Hoyas turn.

Smith Rivera took control early in the half on his way to scoring 24 of his 29 points in the 2nd half and overtime. He hit back to back 3s to start the half, quickly halting any momentum the Hoosiers may have carried over from the first half.

Indiana's weakness this year is their lack of an interior presence. That's a problem especially when you are playing against Georgetown's Josh Smith.

Smith got two quick fouls in the first half and Coach John Thompson III benched him to start the 2nd half in order to conserve him for the stretch run. The gamble paid off. When Smith reentered the game at the 14:04 mark, the Hoyas trailed by 10.

Georgetown immediately got the ball to Smith in the post on the next two possessions, and after he knocked down two free throws and converted a drop-step layup, the Hoosiers lead was cut to six and the Hoyas were right back in the game.

On the strength of Smith, Smith-Rivera and Aaron Bowen, Georgetown took a 74-69 lead with 1:38 left in regulation. But Yogi Ferrell refused to go out without a fight, hitting two late 3-pointers to tie the game at 77-77 and send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Smith and Smith-Rivera continued to make their presence felt, leading the Hoyas to a seven-point lead after the first two minutes of overtime. Indiana would get no closer than three the rest of the way.

Smith finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Bowen contributed 22 points on 10-13 shooting for the Hoyas.

For Indiana, Ferrell scored 27 points, Blackmon finished with 22, and Troy Williams added 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

After the game, Smith recognized the importance of the win for Georgetown. "A win like this is big for us. Our three losses were close, it came down to the other teams executing better than we did. This was a good game for us."

This game was good for them, indeed. It was a quality non conference win on a neutral court versus a quality opponent. It will not only improve their NCAA Tournament resume, but will also give the Hoyas much-needed confidence heading into the start of Big East play.

Indiana should not hang their heads either. They showed that they too are a dangerous team with a lot of talent that should be a serious factor come March.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Today's Games To Watch - Saturday, Jan. 3rd

The ACC joins the conference play party today, as they are back in full effect. On New Year's Eve, there was much drama and surprise, but home teams prevailed for the most part. That trend should continue, with balance being exhibited in the major conferences thus far.

#7 Villanova (13-0) at Seton Hall (11-2) 12PM, Newark, NJ, FS1

Seton Hall got a big-time win versus St. John's on New Year's Eve without the services of Super Frosh, Isaiah Whitehead. They will be without Whitehead for at least another three conference games, so they have sent notice that they will be a tough out, regardless. Villanova is coming off  a solid home win versus Butler, where the outcome was never really in doubt. Nova will look to stay undefeated by slowing down the Pirate backcourt and keeping the frisky Hall off the boards. Prediction: Villanova 73, Seton Hall 65.

#25 Baylor (11-1) at #13 Oklahoma (9-3) 4PM, Norman, OK, ESPN2

The Bears only have one loss this season, but the Sooners will present them with their toughest test by far, to date. Oklahoma is already battle tested, with losses to Wisconsin and Washington and a win over Butler. Both squads are stingy defensively, so this game will come down to whose offense steps up and makes shots. Prediction: Oklahoma 67, Baylor 60.

Butler (10-4) at #18 St. John's (10-2) 4PM, Jamaica, NY, CBSS

The Johnnies are coming off a somewhat shaky loss at Seton Hall, only in the sense that the Red Storm came out flat and seemingly overconfident. They do not have the depth nor size to fail to bring it every night. Butler lost at Villanova and were pretty much dominated in the effort. This is a big spot for both teams since neither wants to fall to 0-2 in the Big East. Look for a war in Queens between two contrasting styles. Prediction: St. John's 63, Butler 61.

#22 West Virginia (12-1) at TCU (13-0) 4PM, Fort Worth, TX

The presumptive best conference in America presents a nice opening match-up between two upstarts eager to prove themselves. The Mountaineers and Bob Huggins have been there before. TCU, not so much. West Virginia has wins over UConn and NC State and they have blown out inferior competition. The undefeated Horned frogs are yes, undefeated, but their best win was at Ole Miss. Regardless, Trent Johnson has them playing stout defensively. Prediction: West Virginia 68, TCU 63. 

#3 Virginia (12-0) at Miami (10-3) 5:30PM, Coral Gables, FL, ESPN2

The Hurricanes started of with a perceived bang, but that seems so irrelevant and distant now. After losses to Green Bay and Eastern Kentucky, the Canes didn't look bad in a loss to Providence in Brooklyn. However, Virginia is a different beast. You need to be tough and disciplined to beat the Cavs, something Miami has yet to prove they are. Prediction: Virginia 69, Miami 62

Other games of note...

SMU (9-3) at Cincinnati (9-3) 11AM, Cincinnati, OH, ESPN2
Minnesota (10-3) at #15 Maryland (13-1) 12PM, College Park, MD, BTN
Pittsburgh (9-3) at NC State (10-4) 12PM, Raleigh, NC, ESPN3
#10 Texas (11-2) at Texas Tech (10-3) 2PM, Lubbock, TX, ESPNU
Connecticut (6-5) at Florida (7-5) 2PM, Gainesville, FL, CBS
Georgia Tech (9-3) at #14 Notre Dame (13-1) 2:30PM, South Bend, IN, ESPN3
Illinois (10-4) at #17 Ohio State (11-3) 3:30PM, Columbus, OH, ESPNU
Creighton (9-5) at Georgetown (8-4) 4:30PM, Washington, DC, FS1
South Carolina (7-3) vs. #9 Iowa State (10-1) 6PM, Brooklyn, NY, CBSS
#24 Colorado State (13-0) at New Mexico (9-4) 8PM, Albuquerque, NM, CBSS

Other Top 25 games...

Boston College (7-4) at #2 Duke (12-0) 4PM, Durham, NC, ESPN3
#12 North Carolina (10-3) at Clemson (8-4) 8:15PM, Clemson, SC, ESPN
#6 Gonzaga (12-1) at Portland (8-4) 9:30PM, Portland, OR, ESPN2