Calm Before the Storm: Day 7 gives us a quiet Waiting Line so we're got Notes on Buffetology

In the spirit of full disclosure for the more casual fan among you -- the MEAC and MAC got started tonight. Full looks at them will come tomorrow, if at all, time is the just the most limiting resource of all.  Anyway, for a very comprehensive look at them now, and a place you should be visiting on the regular as it is, www.hoopshd.com is the place to go.

Now the bracket movement following a great weekend of hoops

  • 1 line: Unchanged - but if Gonzaga wants to keep hold of those #1 seed hopes, they must make it through the WCC with the championship.
  • 2 line:  Louisville has jumped ahead to the 2 from the 3 - simple strength of the win over Notre Dame versus Oregon not having to play as difficult of team.  As I've said all along, I strongly believe the Pac12 tournament champion ends up as a #2 seed. But, we'll see what holds (and, as usual, what the rest of the finish of the 13 days of conference tourneys has in store.
  • 3 line: Butler was primed to take a step until the home loss to Seton Hall, as mentioned Oregon call 3 home for now, and Florida dropped off the 3 after their loss to Vandy caused me to take a deeper look at their resume, and felt stronger about UCLA's resume with those road wins - but if TJ Leaf doesn't play, this isn't a 2, 3, or 4 seed, no matter the resume, also Purdue B10 season title and nice win in an emotional and charged atmosphere in the close of Welsh-Ryan Arena and the send off to the first team in NW history to make the tournament was enough to tip their scales up to 3 (2 line won't be far off if they run to the B10 tourney title).
  • 4 line - Florida State is a new face moving up to 4 seed, a long look at Virginia pushed them around for me. Florida lands here after the Vandy loss, Duke and West Virginia stays put.
  • 5 line - Here's Virginia's landing spot, no line movement for Notre Dame despite the loss.
  • 6 line - No change
  • 7 line - Wisconsin bounced back from their loss to Iowa nicely, pushing them back to 7 - they're a team who can see the biggest Buffetology bounce, if they show the January Badgers are back.
  • 8 line - Michigan and VCU flip flop, but I expect that to change, South Carolina was the victim of Wisconsin's win over Minnesota, Wichita State earned a nice MVC championship bump - problem is teams can pass them by with their work in their respective tournaments, so stayed tuned there.
  • 9 line - Melo Trimble sent Michigan State to 9, here's VCU, the rest stay put
  • 10 line - Big mover here is Vanderbilt, who spent 3/3 Buffetology as one of the first 4 teams out, now they're strongly in. Sweeping Florida will do that. Virginia Tech was the victim of Wichita's Arch Madness, Seton Hall might be ranked 4 in this group, but they had the best weekend of all, their tournament bid got sealed.
  • 11 line - Here we go with the true Waiting Line... Syracuse has nice wins, but only 2 and they're not that nice away from the Carrier Dome - the best is Clemson (and we're trying to include neutral site games, but the next one Syracuse wins will be their first.  Xavier is suddenly clinging. Hard to blame a team for injuries and losing Edmond Sumner for the season and Trevon Blueitt until recently has been killer, bc without them I'm not sure their a tournament team.  From Jan 29th on, they've won 4 games: Creighton minus Mo Watson, DePaul twice, and St. John's -- they've lost the rest, if they lose to DePaul to start the BE tournament, it's curtains.  Middle Tennessee finds themselves here, because we believe they've a strong team, here's hoping they don't need an invite, but if they do, as of now, they're in.
  • 12 line - UNC-Wilmington finds themselves just one slot ahead of the final play-inners, they just won their conference tournament to render the Waiting Line... moot, but we probably put them in the Last 4 in, had they lost.  Our final 2 are Wake Forest -- who the BOOP just LOVES, so we're listening, and USC, who is CLINGING, but a couple wins in the P12 should do the trick.
  •  Just out but ready to pounce: Iowa, Rhode Island and Clemson
  • Bad Illinois weekend -- Illinois ruined all their good juju with a loss to Rutgers, and Illinois State did absolutely nothing wrong, they lost to a better team, but just not seeing enough in that resume to justify a bid. 
  • Dear MAAC - HAVE YOUR CHAMPION HOST THE TOURNAMENT.
  • Also keep an eye on their conference tournament performances: Georgia Tech, California, and Houston

Jacksonville State steals Northwestern's narrative, an MVC heavyweight fight, Battle of Florida for the A-Sun, and Camel Nation: #RISEUP

It's Cinderella Day at 

It's Cinderella Day at 

It's a day to hand out bids. At 10pm PT, the team of the Buffet, Campbell goes for 4 wins in a week and turn a 13-16 season into a 18-16 with their 2nd tournament appearance all time. Keon Johnson & Xavier Cooks have gotten a bit lost in the Chris Clemons shuffle, Keon has put up 31 points on back to back nights, and Xavier has gone double double-doubles - leading Winthrop passed Charleston Southern and threw an OT scare versus Gardner-Webb.

Then at 11, it's the MVC's version of Ali/Frasier  

Illinois State. Wichita State. One teams gets an automatic invite. The other team spends a long week begging for chalk in all of the major conference tournaments. Both schools have mopped up - Wichita State did evil things to Bradley in an 82-56 win and then cruised through Missouri State 78-63. Meanwhile, Illinois State let Evansville linger long than the game seemed to dictate in a 80-69 win, and then put the lights out on Southern Illinois 63-50, in a game that was 63-50 at halftime. Come tomorrow morning, or perhaps we'll go Winthrop Xavier Cooks and put up a double-double of our own, and give you a Sunday evening Buffet, we'll deep dive into the loser of this game at-large chances.

And, finally down at the home of Florida Gulf Coast, Brandon Goodwin and Marc-Eddy Norelia and the rest of Dunk City take on the team that made the Buffet prophetic, A-Sun player of the year Dallas Moore and the rest of the #birdsoftrey, North Florida Ospreys look for their 2 tournament appearance in 3 years...

But, for a second let's celebrate Jacksonville State

Successful at Division II Kentucky-Wesleyan, embattled at Western Kentucky, having resigned under a shroud of mystery, player suspensions and the cloak of federal privacy laws, Ray Harper was hired at Jacksonville State. Maybe his magic is Division II school, because he brought a former DII school that joined the OVC in 2003 to its first final and first tournament all in the same season. Erik Durham led the Gamecocks with 17, Greg Hunter scored all 14 of his points in the first half, as the Gamecocks took down the flu-riddled Skyhawks 66-55.

Elsewhere today:

  • Iowa is currently hosting Penn State in a game they must get if they want to keep their recently boosted Waiting Line chances at lofty levels.
  • Houston hosts East Carolina in what should be a cruise of a win, although UConn learned recently that might not be the case
  • Northwestern, who cemented their invite with their buzzer beating win over Michigan, could climb the seed line ladder beating B10 champ Purdue at home today
  • Minnesota is as hot as it gets, Wisconsin is the opposite, can the Badgers restore some order to their season as the regular season closes?
  • Michigan travels to Nebraska trying to climb into a white uniform seeding situation come next Sunday

WHAT ABOUT YESTERDAY? 

  • It got started with an amazing buzzer beater from St Francis to reach the NEC final versus Mount Saint Mary's on Tuesday.
  • Indiana stayed in the conversation winning at Ohio State
  • Kentucky doused the smoldering embers that were any Texas A&M hopes (which were computer aided at best and not actual performance based)
  • Providence avoided let down and handled their business at St. John's.
  • Rutgers sent Illinois to the NIT (assuming no Big10 tournament championship)
  • Tennessee did to Alabama what they've done to themselves since beating Kentucky - eliminated them from at-large conversation.
  • California continued their run to the NIT, getting swept in the Mountains by Colorado after getting humbled by Utah on Thursday
  • Maryland did exactly what the Buffet asked them to, getting this winner from Melo Trimble to take out Michigan State at home
  • Villanova, Kansas, Arizona, Oregon, and Virginia all did the work top 1-4 seeds should.
  • Louisville enhanced their protected seed chances with a spirited win over Notre Dame
  • VCU stayed in control of their at large positioning with a home win over George Mason
  • VANDY VANDY VANDY -- a new Buffetology will be posted later, but it WILL include Vanderbilt who got themselves a huge win, and season sweep over Florida.
  • Kansas State put the whole Texas Tech thing to bed, and pushed themselves ever closer to the front of the Waiting Line...
  • Florida State's 9 point win over Miami probably locked them into a 3 seed floor next week
  • Xavier ended their slide with a big second half to get a double-digit win at DePaul
  • Marquette punched their own ticket before the BE tournament with a win over Creighton
  • Ditto Seton Hall, they went into Hinkle and came away with a huge road win over a team that might have been the hottest in the country in Butler
  • Um TCU, thanks for coming out. Also, Oklahoma isn't going to win the B12 tournament, but I wouldn't want to have to face them, Lon Kruger has this talented young team playing well right now, even if the W/Ls don't show it.
  • Utah. Utah? Really? On some level yes, wining 5 of 7, including the 30 point win over California, you must at least mention them. So we did. Hopefully that's the last time, nice finish to the season, empty resume.
  • Clemson blew out Boston College to stay in consideration.
  • SMU made Memphis look silly.
  • Syracuse blew out Georgia Tech at home, which may have put the finishing touches on the Yellow Jackets at large chances, barring something special next week in the ACCT
  • Wake Forest, however, did the opposite, a big road win for them, and @TiedyeNation will likely find themselves safely in the next Buffetology projection
  • Rhode Island survived at large hopes disaster, outlasting Davidson in OT at home.
  • Middle Tennessee announced that they're more than the likely conference tournament champ with a 34 point home win over Florida Atlantic
  • USC bounced back from last week's Arizona sweep and poor first half to take out Washington playing without Markelle Fultz
  • Smart people basketball:
    • Princeton had zero issues dispatching Dartmouth and finishing perfect in the Ivy
    • Penn notched a 3 point win over Harvard while Columbia fell at Yale, pushing the Quakers into the 4th slot in the first ever Ivy tournament.
  • South Dakota needed OT to avoid the fate of fellow top seed North Dakota St, who lost by 19 to IUPUI
  • The Horizon League was turned upside down as this happened to Oakland:
  • And Milwaukee won a rock fight with Valpo that was 16-12 at halftime and finished 43-41, sending the Panthers and Youngstown to a top 2 seed-less semifinal against the winners of a pair of quarterfinal matchups going on today
  • Nevada clinched the Mountain West season title and the top seed next week using a 20-3 second half run to cruise to a 85-72 win over Colorado State
  • Dayton, fresh off their A10 clinching win over VCU took the day off, falling at George Washington, and probably knocking them down a seed line or two...
  • North Carolina took suspense out of the perennially most overhyped game of every season, taking control of a see saw matchup with over 6 minutes to play, not a blow out but the outcome was clear over the course of those final six minutes
  • Texas-Arlington made sure we knew they need to win their conference tournament if they're going to be playing anywhere near the NCAA tournament, falling at UL-Lafayette.
  • Ole Miss kept themselves relevant next week, beating likely tournament team South Carolina at home
  • Is BYU a thing? Well, keeping things going in the WCC tournament means they're not not a thing, if they were a thing to begin with.
  • Gonzaga started slow (27-25 lead at halftime), but finished on a blitz (55-25 second half) to dispatch Pacific...
  • The TJ Leaf-less UCLA Bruins kept things needlessly interesting, but finally used a 14-0 run to close the game, Lonzo Ball setting the Pac-12 assist record, and this Ike Anigbogu block ( http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=18827279) to put away Washington State in Westwood
  • And Saint Mary's capped the night with relatively drama free (it was 5 at halftime but...) win over Portland

AND WE'LL SEE YOU ALL LATER TONIGHT... enjoy your Sunday Basketball Buffets, where ever you are watching...

Climbing to the Summit, Edge of Perfection AND tournament

  • March 4 & 5
    • Game 1 3/4: 1 South Dakota v 8 Western Illinois
    • Game 2 3/5: 4 South Dakota St v 5 Denver
    • Game 3 3/5: 3 Nebraska-Omaha v. 6 IPFW
    • Game 4 3/4: 2 No Dakota St v IUPUI
  • March 6
    • Game 1 Winner v Game 2 Winner
    • Game 2 Winner v Game 3 Winner
  • March 7
    • CHAMPIONSHIP - ESPN2 6PM PT

This shapes up to a be a fun one. On February 4th, South Dakota St, North Dakota, IPFW, Nebraska-Omaha, and Denver were all within 2 games of each other.  From there, fates varied. South Dakota St, not listed there, were in the midst of winning 6 of 8, and getting to the tournament 4th seed, Denver went on to lose 4 of 5, IPFW finished out .500, Nebraska-Omaha went 3-2, but the top two seeds up their game.  North Dakota St won 4 of 5 going into the season finale against Neb-Omaha, sitting tied with South Dakota who 6 straight to close the season. And that season finale? A loss to the Mavericks that gave South Dakota the outright season championship.

Nebraska-Omaha plays the wild card role in this tournament.  Beaten soundly by the top seeds at the turn of the year,  they made February a different story, beating both of them at home, to both propel themselves to the 3 seed AND put doubt into the inevitable (they also hold a road win at Iowa)...

N Dakota St ended January 7-1 in conference, but then February saw some fumble lead them to the second seed.  Led by Paul Miller & Dexter Werner, they split a pair of games with the Coyotes of So Dakota, and had the magic that led them to holding their own conference championship destiny, but the stumbles are troubling.

So Dakota is the opposite, a middling non-conference (9-6) and a shaky conference start (4-3) finished at 12-4.  They played their best ball in February, when you want to -- watch their trio: Matt Mooney, Tyler Flack (15 pts, 7 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) and Trey Dickerson.

Others to watch, despite their struggles closing the season, IPFW was strong enough to take down Indiana. And South Dakota St, got themselves to the 4 seed and boast the Summit POY.

Prediction: Upset special time! Jackrabbit closed on a 3 game winning streak, Mike Daum is a dude who can it up, and you know, this is in South Dakota, oh which TWO schools call a home state.

Jack Leasure Madbomber Candidate Award:  Mo Evans, IPFW, 91 3s, 44%

Accidental omission earlier -- West Coast Conference Candidate:  Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara, 99 3s, 37.1%

IVY LEAGUE PERFECTION

I don't have inside info how the vote went, but I imagine Princeton would like to change theirs (if they voted for a tournament) to start the tournament in 2018 - because with a home win today over Dartmouth, the Tigers will become the 14th team to run through the Ivy League regular season perfect.

The first ever 4-team (non tie-break required) Ivy tournament begins next week at the Palestra in Philly.  Princeton is obviously the top seed, Harvard and Yale have also both secured their spots.

The 4th slot is muy complicated.  It is down to Penn & Columbia.

  • If Penn wins, and Columbia falls - Penn is in.
  • If Columbia wins and Penn falls -- Columbia is in
  • If both teams win or lose today -- the other two games will determine this race
    • If Darmouth beats Princeton (unlikely) - Columbia is in no matter what
    • More likely, when Princeton beats Dartmouth - then Brown/Cornell is the deciding game
      • Brown winning gives the 4 seed to Columbia
      • Cornell winning gives the 4 seed to Penn

And that readership closes the Buffet for today because life calls...  Enjoy the hoops.

Congrats to Vandy, Seton Hall & Marquette who all did their work today to push themselves closer, in, and very in for next week's unveiling...

It's a Breakfast Buffet.... It's a Camels World, A Waiting Line Saturday, On the Precipice of Ivy League Perfection and our FIRST automatic bid..

Breakfast Buffet.gif

It's day 6 of Conference Tourneys, get your plates!

ITS A CAMELS WORLD, AND WE'RE JUST ALL GETTING TO LIVE IN IT...

A day after announcing to the world he had arrived, Chris Clemons poured in a "ho-hum" 33 points, to go along with 9 boards (reminder: He's 5'9"), and 4 assists to propel Campbell to the Big South championship game tomorrow against tournament host, top seeded, and possessor of their freak athlete under 6', Keon Johnson.  The Eagles fell into a common trap of top seeded tournament hosts (See: Belmont below), being on autopilot rather than just taking care of business.  Winthrop was down 6 after a low scoring first half, but Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks' will took over and wouldn't let the Eagles fall into the NIT just yet.  Johnson dropped five 3s as part of his game high 33 points, and Cooks added a double-double, 23 points to go with 15 rebounds, and a pair of go ahead free throws to give Winthrop a championship-game advancing win.  Tomorrow morning, 10am PT, ESPN.

First NIT Bid is out - we alluded to host teams working on autopilot. And we're not talking to Detroit, hosting the Horizon League putting up an absolute dud, falling by 25 to Milwaukee, a team they had just taken out 85-60 last Friday night, which makes me think of this, so I share it with you:  

No, I'm talking Bruins of Belmont. For the 3rd time in 5 years (same amount of seasons they've been in the Ohio Valley Conference), they entered Nashville Municipal Auditorium, a short drive from their campus, as the top seed and left as an NIT team.  So, today, at 5pm pacific time, we've got a pair of teams who can't act like they've been there before because they wouldn't know how that goes, because they haven't - in what's hopefully shaping up as the year of the first time bids, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks play the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. 

Behind 21 from Malcolm Drumwright and 18 from Greg Tucker, and a suffocating defense (Belmont was held to 37% shooting), Jacksonville State has forced the team that went 15-1 during the conference regular season will be watching the final (or not) from home. 

On the other side of things, after being down at halftime, Matthew Butler, 17 points, was a 1-man scoring run that put Tennessee-Martin up early in the second half, a lead they never relinquished and extended further to 10 points with 5:51 left. They never looked back.

Other happenings from yesterday, saw Micah Seaborn, who has been hampered with a left knee injury since February 3rd (he has struggled to only 7.5ppg and 28from deep -- he had been at 15.7 ppg scorer and 35% three-point shooter), re-aggravated the injury (revealed to be a torn meniscus), went down and was helped off the court, to lockerroom before returning to the bench with crutches, ice on the knee and an uncertain immediate future. Hawks' head coach King Rice expressed optimism about Seaborn MAAC tournament availability, citing Seaborn's toughness and ability to play through it to this point, but then also said, confirming his status as top 5 coolest men coaching college hoops, "We need him, but Micah's going to get to play after college. We can't worry about us and mess his knee up."  

NO, not that Seaborn                                     That's the one.

NO, not that Seaborn                                     That's the one.

The Gonzaga & St Mary's Invitational got started last night.  But Gonzaga and St. Mary's did, so we made an editorial call to hold preview until today, and boy did we pay the price. The Portland Pilots, who beat such non-conference luminaries as Lewis & Clark, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Walla Walla and Oregon State (that might sound impressive, but do a quick dive into Oregon State in 2016/17), knocked off Pepperdine and Pacific to go 2-0 in conference play, then scored 75 points total in a pair of losses, and it was off to a different kind of races -- a race to lose 16 straight WCC games. Some of it is tied to the loss of Senior Alec Wintering to a torn ACL, but that devastating injury came once 1/4 of the 16 straight losses had already been tallied.  But when you've got a leader named Jazz Johnson, you're never out of it. Although, against St. Mary's today, you might be.

Let's look deeper at St. Mary's, currently slotted on the 6-line, and 22nd overall, the Gaels ride into the tournament having won 26 of 29 games (otherwise known as "their season"), and I bet you can guess who 2 of those losses are to (the 3rd is to fringe at-large hopeful Texas-Arlington).  Like every year, St. Mary's resume won't stack favorably with most major conference #2 teams -- but it does have a little more positive than in Waiting Line years past. There's an impressive win at A10 champ Dayton, a win over WAC co-leader Nevada (who plays Colorado State today in a regular season title championship game),  they swept conference mates San Francisco & BYU (conference 3/4 seeds, and only teams that help not hurt your numbers in the WCC & won at Stanford, before we realized Stanford was not very good. Despite losing twice to Gonzaga, game 2 had a tinge of doubt to it, as St Mary's kept cutting the lead to 5, but couldn't get closer, foul trouble to Jock Landale and poor perimeter shooting (4/15 from 3) was the culprit here, as after Landale's 24 points, no other Gael could reach double figures.  What St Mary's could really use is it's supporting cast to step up.  The NCAA tournament is likely to feature the Gonzaga blueprint -- ok, Jock Landale, you of the cool name, baller Australian accent and over 100% increase in PPG, you can get yours, but no one else gets to.  Either one of their two sharpshooters, Calvin Hermanson or Emmett Naar, or even BC transfer Joe Rahon (you might remember his brother James Rahon, as the sharpshooter off the bench for the Kawhi Leonard Sweet 16 SD State team in 2011) must rise above their current levels of contribution if any sort of WCC upset from SMC or even 2nd weekend tournament run is going to take place.

We'll get to Gonzaga in a moment.  First, let's discuss the 3 and 4 seeds - San Francisco had quietly put together a resurgent season for themselves.  Punctuated by a pair of quality wins  in Honolulu in December over Pac12's Utah and Waiting Line hopeful, Illinois State. But, WCC play didn't go exactly according to plan, ending up with a disappointing 10-8 record, 6 of those losses at the sweeping hands of Gonzaga, SMC and BYU - by an average of ~18 points.  But capable is capable, and with a trio of double-digit scorers, Ronnie Boyce, Chase Foster and Charles Mineland, plus Frankie Ferrari and his 40% 3pt shooting off the bench, a San Fran surprise would be shocking but not super left field...

Speaking of surprises, anyone catch a game played in Spokane on February 25? Despite being down 58-46 midway through the second half, a Mark Few technical, and endless work in the paint by Eric Mika propelled BYU to spoil Gonzaga's undefeated season. In the non-conference season BYU proved a maddening team - beating Princeton and Colorado but losing to Valpo, USC, Illinois and inexplicably Utah Valley.  Their conference play was spotty, finishing 12-6, but anytime you knock off the #1 and undefeated team at the Kennel, the world is going to take notice. So we are - With a tough inside (Eric Mika 20.2 ppg/9.4)/outside (Nick Emery & TJ Haws) combination, with Elijah Bryant chipping in 11 points, Yoeli Childs adding 8 rebounds, and L.J. Rose giving them 4 assists and 5 rebounds per game - this is a young team (only Rose and the injured Kyle Davis are seniors) that can attack you from all fronts, that they haven't figured out how all their pieces work together is a testament to their youth. Did they get it figured out on Feb 25?

Now Gonzaga. West Coast Conference player of the year, Washington transfer Nigel-Williams Goss, who showed what being freed from the poor coaching tentacles of Lorenzo Romar can do for a man.  Mountain of a man Przemek Karnowski (7'1/300), glue guy Johnathan Williams, and a pair of effective distance shooters - Jordan Matthews and Josh Perkins -- stop me if you've heard this one before, this could be Gonzaga's most complete team. Neutral court wins over Arizona & Florida suggest there's most than just a lot of wins to this team.  Now, the key to their depth could be a player the Buffet previously though was intra-roster replacable, volley ball leaper Killian Tillie. A deeper dive shows that Gonzaga's frontcourt is most efficient with Tillie on the floor, especially defensively, as was evidenced in the BYU loss and win over SMC as Eric Mika (29) and Jock Landale (24, even with foul trouble), had their way inside with Gonzaga.  Let's make the assumption Gonzaga carries themselves to the WCC tournament title - still waiting in the wings will be Kentucky, Baylor and possibly Oregon to snatch that 1-seed from them. Don't believe Arizona can do it, even with a P12 double (season/tournament) because of the neutral court win Gonzaga holds over them. Staying out West, don't know if UCLA can bounce all the way from 3-seed (projected) to 1-seed by winning the P12 tournament, though they boast what could be considered the two best road wins of any resume (Kentucky at Rupp, Arizona at McKale).

Today is such a bananas Waiting Line day, the last Saturday of regular season action - so let's skip to the head of the line, as they say, and give a glimpse of today and bring you back an afternoon Buffet previewing the Summit...

  •   Indiana @ Ohio State - Numbers 58 & 59 on the latest BOOP, both are likely gone, but with a quality win haven that is the Big10 tournament, the winner won't be vanquished completely from discussion. The loser will be, from the Buffet's that is. Others can discuss whatever they want.
  • Kentucky @ Texas A&M - Kentucky looks to add another road win to their ledge in their last season quest for a #1 seed.
  • Providence @ St. John's - Providence is a little above teetering, but they are teetering-adjacent, losing at St. John's is ill-advised.
  • Illinois @ Rutgers -- Illinois snuck in as a last four in in the latest Buffetology, losing at Rutgers will have the opposite effect.
  • Texas Tech @ Kansas State -- your prototypical Waiting Line elimination, Kansas St is much closer to an invite than Tech, so they're more advised to protect their home court here.
  • California @ Colorado - California might have doomed themselves with their massive due at Utah on Thursday, but a road win is a road win, and with some damage in the P12 tournament, perhaps they can vault themselves in the thick of Waiting Line thoughts and prayers...
  • Michigan State @ Maryland - Both these teams are in, but would like to see Maryland beat a quality team at home to close the season given their recent struggles in this regard
  • Xavier @ DePaul - Buffet is more down on Xavier than it seems other prognosticators, but it is really difficult to ignore 6 straight losses - even if they are all to likely tournament teams. At some point you have to beat a tourney team or two to prove you are a tourney team. DePaul is not a tournament team, which means losing to them, and pushing the streak to 7, might edge Xavier out of the next Buffetology (which will come tomorrow evening)
  • Florida @ Vanderbilt - Vanderbilt's 19 point lead evaporation to Kentucky knocked them out of brackets, but can't be lost that Vandy built a 19 point lead on Kentucky in Rupp on 1 and Done Night (Senior Night can't be a thing there) - a signature home win to close to the season would likely get them right back in.
  • Georgia @ Arkansas - Georgia stays relevant somehow, a road win over a likely tournament would end the "somehow" of that statement.
  • Creighton @ Marquette - Marquette's road win at Xavier wasn't quite the statement you'd think - given Xavier's collapse, but it was likely enough to get them in.  Winning this one would seal it. Creighton could still really use to keep proving the loss of Mo Watson isn't as crippling as the Buffet thinks it is, road win here stamps that proof.
  • Seton Hall @ Butler - Seton Hall is pretty safe to not see their place in the tournament disappear with a loss here, but a road win at one of the hottest teams in the nation? That'd be an invite sealant.
  • TCU @ Oklahoma -- TCU, your chances are slim, lose to Oklahoma and they become none.
  • Southern Illinois vs Illinois, MVC semifinal - As previously stated, Illinois St, you will not get in without 1 of 2 outcomes: win the tournament or lose the final to Wichita St.
  • Loyola Mary vs BYU, WCC Quarters -- I don't know if it's accurate to launch BYU into consideration off a road win at Gonzaga, but it's my writing space, so I will. Lose to Loyola here, and I won.t
  • Boston College @ Clemson - Lose to BC and #Clemsoning, which is a thing, look it up will be over.
  • Georgia Tech @ Syracuse - Set me free why don't cha babe. Get out my life why don't cha babe. 'Cause you don't really love me. You just keep me hangin' on - that's how I feel about Georgia Tech's place on the Waiting Line.  But if they win at Syracuse, keep me hangin on is how it'll be. Waiting Line Elimination feel to this one. But with the ACC having 3247 tournament caliber teams, nothing can be over until the ACC tournament plays out.
  • Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech - Wake snuck into the last Buffetology as well - a win over Virginia Tech would cement their place (not for good, but for one more Buffet, at least). A loss probably tips them out, due to the thin line of the Waiting Line, not bc a loss at Va Tech is a "bad' loss or unexpected.

We will reconvene with the 2pm PT and onward later today.  For now, enjoy your breakfast.

On the 5th Day of Conference Tourneys... the Buffet previews, reviews and celebrates the greatness of Chris Clemons

*Webmaster note -- I apologize for the consistent MailChimp malfunctions - working with them to get it figured out, but no one likes a spammer, and that's what we've become last 2 days...

What's that they say about best intentions? There was an intent to get you a developed set of notes on the Bracket. It didn't happen, full stop.

Yesterday morning, which we touch on yesterday, but when you drop 51 on the conference co-champ and 2-seed, you get a rehash.  We saw the spirit of Isaiah Thomas manifest itself through the body of Chris Clemons.  You probably wouldn't have given Campbell a punchers chance in this one.  Campbell came into the Big South tournament under .500, had lost to the Bulldogs twice by 29 points total.  Asheville had won 15 of 17, claimed a share of the regular season title. These teams were going in opposite directions. But, guess what, when the puncher is Chris Clemsons, it's not your usual punchers chance.

When you score all 9 of your team's first 9, you might be on to something.  But then, Asheville went on a 16-0 run, and it seemed whatever Clemons might be up would be overshadowed by a impending blow out. Then a 5'9 Sophomore from Raleigh, North Carolina decided he wasn't just going to have a big game, he was going to take over the game.  A Mogga Lado dunk and Clemons 3 stopped the Asheville scoring run. Then this happened...

That's 5'9 on 6'9, and that's when a game turns for good.  For those scoring at home, that's 14 of his team's 16 points in 12 minutes, a ridiculously athletic block, and his stamp on the Big South tournament before we hit the under 8 timeout. 37 points later - we've got 51 and Campbell is still playing and the co-champs are still trying to figure out the train that just ran through them

Chris Clemons scored 24 points per game as a senior at Millbrook High School in Raleigh -- he held offers from UNC-Greensboro, Gardner-Webb and his eventual choice - Campbell.  His athleticism allowed him to do things like this:

This actually may be more impressive (though the first video made ESPN top plays) because it was more in the flow of the game, with opponent "resistance"...

The name Dennis Smith, Jr. may be familiar to you. He's a money basketball player at NC State, guess what Chris Clemons did against his squad in high school? Dropped 32 points. 

"If Chris was 6-3 or 6-4, he would be starting in the ACC right now. He's special." - that's a quote from his high school coach.  Hey NC State - maybe you ought to have given a call to both players in that Trinity/Millbrook game...

TJ LEAF UPDATE: According to report from Ben Bolch at the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/la-sp-ucla-tj-leaf-injury-20170302-story.html) -- TJ Leaf, through his father, Brad, is said to be aiming for a return to the lineup by the time the Pac12 tournament tips off. Whether that proves to be true remains to be seen, but it at least gives the indication the sprain isn't a severe one, and at a minimum he should be healed up in a pair of weeks when the NCAA tournament starts. 

THE BOOP

THE BOOP

What is the BOOP? It's that section of this website that you all skip by, after checking out the latest bracket and skimming the newest edition of Today's Specials. So with a brand new BOOP posted, thought we dive in it a bit.

Essentially, you can track who the BOOP predicts will be in the field by noting where consensus bracket start to delineate from at-large invitees to automatic qualifiers. That appears to be at about the end of the 12-line (or the 50th team in the rankings). According to the current BOOP, that would be Illinois, Providence, Seton Hall as the formulas predicted last few in.  Of course, you look above, and you'll see Rhode Island, Kansas State, Clemson, Georgia all in, with Syracuse and Illinois State below that line.  Of note, Wake Forest, Xavier, USC are all more safely in that the most recently Buffetology suggests.

At the top, the BOOP loves Florida. But the line is slim - between Florida, Gonzaga, Kentucky and North Carolina the difference is no greater than 2.7 points, that when you factor the games remaining and who they'll likely face means a single win for all of them (or in Gonzaga's case, winning the WCC tournament). 

In the scrum that has been seeding the Pac12 teams, you can go to BracketMatrix.com and see the consensus look, each of the three is slotted somewhere different from prognosticator to prognosticator.  Buffet has consistently had Arizona, by the slimmest of margins, ahead of the other 2.  They traded road wins with UCLA, and while they were hammered by Oregon, they beat them in McKale, and Oregon will not likely shoot from deep like they did in that game again (60+% from 3, 62% overall), or else they're going to be national champions. Arizona is still considered the conference leader, and because of where they sit in the BOOP explains their position in the latest bracket.

When the ratings are updated Sunday evening -- will get a good sense of where/how individual games can really really affect the field's bottom line.

THE SOCON...

March 3-6 - Asheville, NC - U.S. Cellular Center - all games ESPN3, Championship ESPN

  • 3/3
    • Game 1: 8 Western Carolina v. 9 The Citadel
    • Game 2: 7 Samford v. 10 VMI
  • 3/4
    • Game 3: UNC-Greensboro v. Game 1 Winner
    • Game 4: 4 Chattanooga v. 5 Wofford
    • Game 5: 2 Furman v. Game 2 Winner
    • Game 6: 3 ETSU v. 6 Mercer
  • 3/5
    • Game 3 Winner v Game 4 Winner
    • Game 5 Winner v Game 6 Winner
  • 3/6 CHAMPIONSHIP - ESPN 7pm ET

Three teams all 14-4 in conference. Furman seemed to be in a straight line for the regular season title until the co-champs showed up opposite of them on the floor and turned a 10 game winning streak into a 2-game winning streak. That put E Tennessee State in the driver's seat, at 13-3, but a season concluding loss in Greensboro, at 72-66, a game that was all square with 3:45 left, turned this in a 3 team co-championship dance. 

T.J. Cromer (ETSU), Desonta Bradford (ETSU), Devin Sibley (Furman), Kris Acox (Furman), Francis Alonso (UNCG), and Diante Baldwin (UNCG) -- those are the names to know from your top seeds. 

Greensboro walks in as your hottest SoCon team -- having won 7 straight to close to season with a win the win over Furman being at the Paladins. UNC-G swept 3 seed ETSU this year, and took Wake to wire, so the ability to run this table is there. They are also 6-2 against possible opponents prior to the championship game. 

Furman was picked to finish dead central (5th) in the preseason poll - and their presence all of the postseason awards demonstrate just the level of season they had. Watching sole possession of the regular season crown snatched away in 2 late season games had to be crushing, but they are primed for a run. They avoid Chattanooga & Wofford, who are the only other team to hang Ls on them, and both UNCG & ETSU know that for both victories can a corresponding earlier defeat.  They also stepped out of conference effectively - a 6 point loss at Michigan featured 12 lead change and 8 ties (and needed 3 from Derrick Walton Jr with 25 second left to turn a 3 point game into a 6 point game), led Georgia in Georgia with 8 minutes left before a Bulldog spurt to close the game ran UGA to a 6 point win, took Winthrop to OT in Rock Hill, and gave up a 3 with 3 seconds left to fall by a single point, and routed UAB in Birmingham by 10. 

You know TJ Cromer. He's back and ETSU has the bitter taste of a Feb 27 loss to UNC-Greensboro holding them from having the regular season crown to themselves and the top seed this weekend. Before that was a 6 game win streak and true dominant momentum heading into the tournament.  On a season-wide look, ETSU is probably the most complete team, being able to both score and defend on a level above the rest of the conference.

Other team to watch is Chattanooga, they were the consensus favorites in the preseason, they did little to dispel that reputation with their non-conference play, going 9-3, with a victory over Tennessee in Knoxville and playing Vanderbilt to a 2-point loss in Nashville.  But the Mocs just couldn't leave up to expectations - the tournament is their opportunity to quickly erase those memories.

Also keep tabs on Wofford -- they hold wins over all 3 of the top seeds, and Fletcher Magee can light it up from outside (more on him below). VMI isn't likely going places, but if they do it's be QJ Peterson, the conference's leading scorer, took them to those places.

Prediction: Furman is a great story, a good all around team and the league's most all-around player -- but ETSU's efficiency numbers are on another level, and here's thinking so is this team come March 6.

Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Fletcher Magee, Wooford, 103 3s, yep not a typo, on 42% shooting, Wowsers, Fletcher Magee is a Shooter McGee.

MOTOR CITY MADNESS from Joe Louis Arena March 3-7

  • 3/3
    • Game 1: 8 Cleveland State v. 9 Youngstown St
    • Game 2: 7 Detroit v 10 Milwaukee
  • 3/4
    • Game 3: Game 1 Winner v 1 Oakland
    • Game 4: Game 2 Winner v 2 Valparaiso
  • 3/5
    • Game 5: 4 Northern Kentucky v Wright State
    • Game 6: 3 Green Bay v 6 Illinois-Chicago
  • 3/6
    • Game 3 Winner v Game 5 Winner
    • Game 4 Winner v Game 6 Winner
  • 3/7 CHAMPIONSHIP ESPN

There was a point in time when the Horizon championship both regular season and tournament seemed preordained for the Crusaders of Valparaiso.  10-3 in non-conference including wins versus Alabama, BYU, Rhode Island and quick MVC sweep of Indiana St and Missouri St. But a 7 point home loss to Santa Clara in late December proved to be subtle harbinger.  And a Jan 6 loss to Oakland proved to be omniscient. They did rattle off 8 straight conference wins, but then a 17 point loss at Green Bay, and then giving Oakland the season sweep with an 11 point loss in mid-February, followed up with a 3 gm winning streak snapped with the 4th conference loss to close the season at Northern Kentucky. And suddenly, the preordained will take an upset to achieve.  This is still a nicely loaded team, with Horizon player of the year Alec Peters leading the way, with fellow upperclassmen Tevonn Walker and LSU-transfer and Dutch-born (and fellow first teamer) Shane Hammink filling out a formidable top 3. The focus dropped towards the end of the season, and the team that beat all the Waiting Line squads early on most re-emerge.

It is not as though Oakland's regular season title came out of nowhere, despite Kay Felder graduating to the NBA. They were picked to finish 2nd preseason, but an impressive 9-game win streak to take the crown (technically they were co-champs, but the season sweep of Valpo gets them the top seed). Jalen Hayes and Martez Walker lead this squad who handled Valpo in both games this season, and stepped out of the Horizon to beat Georgia by 7 in late December, so this isn't a mid-major slouch.

If you're looking past the top two for a team that could emerge, best bet there is Northern Kentucky.  The Norse finished the season winning 9 of 11, beat Valpo to close the season, and have one of the Horizon's best on their squad in Drew McDonald.

Prediction: It's the old cliche: beating a team 3 times is difficult, especially when everything you know about the teams if you erase the h2h matchups and late February swoon says the team who lost twice is better. Seeing Valparaiso figure life out and get through this tourney as the champs.

Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Cole Murray, Northern Kentucky (I told you they're a solid darkhouse to bet on), 96 3s, 42%

CAA Men's Basketball Championship - North Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, SC Mar 3-6

  • 3/3
    • Game 1: 8 Hofstra v 9 Delaware
    • Game 2: 7 James Madison v 10 Drexel
  • 3/4
    • Game 3: Game 1 Winner v. 1 UNC- Wilmington
    • Game 4: 4 William & Mary v 5 Elon
    • Game 5: Game 2 Winner v. 2 Charleston
    • Game 6: 3 Towson v 6 Northestern
  • 3/5
    • Game 3 Winner v Game 3 Winner
    • Game 5 Winner v Game 6 Winner
  • 3/6 CHAMPIONSHIP -  CBS Sports Network - 7pm ET

On February 2nd, the CAA was tied at the top. But by the end of the season, Kevin Keatts had the Seahawks of UNC-W where they haven't really been since the days of Brad Brownell & Brett Blizzard (this season's version just set a UNC-W school record for wins in a season)  The Seahawks played a just tough enough schedule (135th in the country), to challenge themselves at the level they'd need to be prepared for come CAA play. And they were ready - they blasted out to a 9-0 record, before a midseason 2 game losing streak forged the tie, but then found their footing to a 6 of 7 finish (including 4 straight to close out), to gain the conference championship.  UNC-W placed a pair of players on the all conference team, CJ Bryce & Chris Flemmings, who combine for 32 per game, abnd are led down low by the conference's second leading rebounder, Devontae Cacok. They also have outside bomber, Denzel Ingram who with 7 3s in the tourney will get to 100 made on the season...

Charleston, on the other hand, has the whole, home tournament thing going for them, in addition to a strong season. After their Feb 2 upset of UNC-W, Charleston had a direct line to sitting at home as the top seed in their tournament, until their own 2-game losing streak derailed them.  The Cougars enter the tournament on a 4 game winning streak of their own. Joe Chealey leads (17ppg) a trio of player who average double digits: Jarrell Brantley (Brantley also pulls down 8.2 rebounds per game) and Grant Riller. And Charleston is the CAA's stingiest team -- having given up the lowest PPG in the conference.

You want a sneaky upset candidate? Look no further than 6th seeded Northeastern.  Why would a team coming into the tournament having lost 6 of 8 be on our radar? They boast the conference player of the year in TJ Williams. The CAA leading scorer. They have wins over Michigan State (granted on Dec 18, it was a different looking Spartan team than who's out there today, but still winning in East Lansing is winning in East Lansing), at Vermont, at Connecticut, at Oakland, and here in Charleston over Charleston.  That spells not a favorite, but don't be surprised...

Prediction: UNC-Wilmington is the best team in this conference - but, home is home, and that's why we're going Charleston in this one.

Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Denzel Ingram, 93 3s, 35% (not the most accurate, but he hoists 'em up)

Time is the ultimate master. And with the schedule being light on tourney implication, we will review Thursday's action tomorrow, and blip over today then as well. Just know Iowa did nice things for themselves yesterday, Illinois State preserved their chances today, and now Monmouth and Wichita State are headlong into action to do the same

A seeding implication in a rare Friday night B12 tilt sees Iowa State try to keep momentum going in West Virginia, who'd really like to stay in protected (top 1-4) seed land, and maybe rise to 3 going into the B12 tournament.

Enjoy.

And They're Off.. (plus our return to the Patriot uncovers a POY robbery from @LehighMBB)

It may have been day 3,  but last night, officially (and coincidentally because the calendar turned to March), it's on... 

And, as if on cue, just as this was being drafted -- 2 Big South game came down to the buzzer, both finishing in upsets, and one of which featured Chris Clemons of Campbell nearly single-handedly staging a big upset, the 7th seeded Campbell Camels taking out the regular season co-champs, UNC-Asheville. Clemons performance was stuff of March legends.  Down 23-69 early, this game turned for good at 23-11, when the sequence went Clemons three, then the 5'9 Clemons reached up for a block shot of a dunk attempt by 6'9 Giacomo Zilli, then ran out for a jumped, and suddenly it was 23-16, and there was really not turning back.. Mad respect to @GoCamelsBB and Clemons for a sick performance.

  • We came down to the final buzzer, twice, in the MEAC.
  • The Buffet made a prediction, and they lost, to the 7 seed, at home in the first tournament game
  • The Ohio Valley took us to 3 overtimes over 2 games
  • VCU & Dayton played like a pair of Atlantic 10 powerhouse wanting that regular season crown, and Dayton snatched it
  • TCU, TCU'd - losing their second straight by single digits in a game they needed
  • Marquette walked into Xavier and walked out with a double-digit win, all bought clinched a berth for the Golden Eagles. They finish at home with Creighton, then, no matter how the vast tie-breaking scenarios shake out, they've earned a bye and will face: Providence, Creighton again, or Seton Hall.  None of those would be a "bad" loss.  So essentially, the question is: have they done enough already - we think so.
  • Wake Forest (more on that later) and Illinois got the wins that two teams barely in the discussion badly need.
  • And, finally, Northwestern did this:

And the thing is...

On the 4th day of Conference Tourneys...

The goodness of it all means we're bring you, the readers, double barrel action today

  • Early Editions: Today's Conference Tournament Previews, Last Night's Results Review, Injury trouble in Westwood?
  • Late Edition: Where Are We Now: Update the Buffetology through yesterday's game with deeper dive into team's seeding, chances 

IT'S A MAAC-N-CHEESE FEST...

That is NOT just a Leif Beaver approved pun, that's a thing: 

And so is the conference tournament which gets started today at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. And we've got our second small conference at-large contender and all around solid team in Monmouth. First the schedule

  • 3/2: (All games on WATCH ESPN, save championship on ESPN2)
    • Game 1: 8 Quinnipiac v 9 Niagara
    • Game:2: 7 Canisius v 10 Marist
    • Game 3: 6 Rider v 11 Manhattan
  • 3/3
    • Game 4: Monmouth vs. Game 1 Winner
    • Game 5: Saint Peter's v. Game 2 Winner
  • 3/4
    • Game 6: Fairfield v. Game 3 Winner
    • Game 7: Siena v Iona
  • 3/5
    • Game 4 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner
    • Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner
  • 3/6: CHAMPIONSHIP - ESPN2 6pm PT

Monmouth returned 6 of their top 7 producers from their painful 2015/16 team that went 27-7, beat UCLA, Notre Dame, Drexel, USC, Georgetown and went 17-3 in conference. This year? They did one better in conference, finishing on a 16-game winning streak and an 18-2 conference record.  Unfortunately, the path to at large may be just a dimly lit. They only hold wins over Memphis & Princeton, failed to add another in a 1-point OT loss to South Carolina back in November, were blown out by Syracuse and North Carolina, and while losing in conference is a thing that happens, it also gave them a pair of tough losses (134 & 198). The question will be, will 1 top 100 wins, a top 50 RPI, but middling numbers via the other computer rankings, 2 100+ losses but stillz a gaudy record (26 D1 wins to this point), 18-2 in the 16th ranked conference be enough. Doesn't seem likely. So let's check them in a MAAC context.

Their road to the autobid will travel through Quinnipiac, Niagara, Siena, and last year's season devastator Iona, before a likely championship versus Saint Peter's.  This season, Monmouth beat Quinn twice by 19, and swept Niagara (home win by 18, by 7 on the road), Then it's get a little interesting.  Whether it was season fatigue, or a foreboding sign after beating Iona & Siena by an average of 19 points in previous matchups, Monmouth closed the season with a pair of wins but by only 6 and 4, respectively. Iona had it tied at 61 with 5:35 to play, before a 5-0 run helped seal it, and against Siena at home, they Saints closed a 7 point halftime deficit to a see-saw second half, and was within 2 for the entire final minute, before a pair of FTs gave the final score.  Now a final versus St. Peter's has the potential for something special... St. Peter's ran over a 10-4 Monmouth team on January 2 by 10 points, and then on February 3rd Monmouth eeked out 1 point OT win... conference player of the year favorite Justin Robinson nearly replicated his is 2016 season scoring 19 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and dishing 5 assists per game. He had an 8 game streak scoring 20 or more points, and a 40 point performance versus Siena. Enter WATCHESPN.com into your browser and watch this kid play. Full stop. As long as he doesn't run into another 2-9 (1-6 from 3) game against St. Peter's, Monmouth should punch their ticket.  But, the supporting cast is a year more experienced, so watch for Micah Seaborn, Je'lon Hornbeak, Chris Brady and Austin Tilghman to be more equipped to provide reinforcements in the event of a Robinson cold spell. Especially Micah Seaborn who averaged 20 points in game where Robinson failed to reach his season average, 

Let's talk St. Peter's -- who has won 6 straight, 8 of 11, and those 3 losses were by a combined 6 points, 2 OTs, and a layup with 0.1 seconds left to prevent a 3rd OT.  In fact, 5 of their 6 conference losses were by an average of 2 points, the lone outlier coming back on December 2.  They tried to hang with Maryland by lulling them to sleep - it was successful, they turned a 61-40 deficit with 4+ minutes to the 10 point final, but it's tough to eliminate 20 point deficits through 4 corners basketball.  They hung a bit with Notre Dame, again working back from down 18 points through their slow down basketball (Notre Dame finished 22 points below their season average), to cut it to 9 with 5 minutes left, and ultimately fell by 8. They play slow, deliberate basketball (their Opp PPG is 9th in the nation), and an experienced group led by 3 seniors and a junior - the Peacocks have just the formula to frustrate the up-tempo, high scoring Hawks. But, let's stay measured, 6 conference losses is still 6 conference losess, no matter the final spread, and staying in striking distance but not actually striking in their toughest games is not a total achievement - and it exposed the real difficulty for the Peacocks -- getting the big shot when they need it most. Manufacturing offense is an Achilles' heel for this squad.

Siena, they of the recent close loss to Monmouth, does hold wins over both Iona and St. Peter's, There was a stretch of the season, following a 3-4 conference start, the Iona looked to have figured things out, running off 6 straight wins, including back to back wins over St. Peter's and Siena.  But, the inconsistency bug plagued them down the stretch 9-4 became 12-8... But  this is a capable team lead by Jordan Washington inside, and Fordham transfer, Jon Severe and UConn transfer, Sam Cassell, Jr. on the perimeter.  Hottest team not named Monmouth, Rider and their modest 3 game win streak.

Prediction: Monmouth still has the bitter taste in their mouth from last year's championship game. With so many returning contributors and the talents of Justin Robinson -- here's to them putting that taste to bed.

Jack Leasure Mad Bomber Award Candidate: Kassius Robertson, Canisius, 92 3s, 41%

(honorable mention to Justin Robinson, Monmouth, 84 3s, 40% and Ryan Funk, Marist, 80 3s 41%)

LET'S GET ARCHIE!

No, not that Archie.

No, not that Archie.

Yes. That Archie.

Yes. That Archie.

It's the MADNESS. From the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

  • 3/2 (MVC TV Network)
    • Game 1: 9 Indiana St v. Evansville
      • Game 2: 10 Drake v. 7 Bradley
  • 3/3 (MVC TV Network)
    • Game 3: Game 1 Winner v. #1 Illinois State
    • Game 4: Southern Illinois v. Loyola
    • Game 5: Game 2 Winner v. #2 Wichita State
    • Game 6: #3 Northern Iowa v. #6 Missouri State
  • 3/4 (CBS Sports Network)
    • Game 3 Winner v Game 4 Winner
    • Game 5 Winner v Game 6 Winner 
  • 3/5 Championship 11AM CBS

Yes, you read that right -- mid-major Waiting Line... darlings Wichita State isn't the top seed in this tournament. The other new candidate for mid-major Waiting Line... darlings, Illinois State is. Both teams are trying to move themselves to an at-large invite.  But, we don't think that's possible for both. Wichita COULD earn a bid without the tournament championship, and losing to one of the non-Illinois State teams (but please for anxiety sake, make it Missouri State or Northern Iowa), but Illinois State only path to the tourney is chalk walking Arch Madness or losing to Wichita St in the final.  Basically, MVC has a potential for 2 bids, but best bet is to have those 2 Waiting Line squads in the tournament final to maximize those odds.

The top-seeded Redbirds are led by MVC Larry Bird player of the year, Paris Lee.  Lee fills the stat sheet, with 13 points, 5 assist, and 2 steals (he's ISU all time steals leader). He's back by team leading scorer Deontae Hawkins (14 points + 7 rebounds), Phil Fayne (6 rebounds and 1 block per game) and MilKyle McIntosh.  In conference, Illinois St suffered a single loss, a Feb 4 road game in Wichita, it was pretty brutal, 86-45, but they bounced right back put Drake down on the road 82-53, and then finished the season on a 6 game win streak.  They did handle Wichita at home 76-62, but they've faced their fair share of close calls (Two wins over Missouri State by a total over 4 points, 5 point win over Indiana State, and a 4 pt win over Southern Illinois), so the 17-1 was impressive but not always dominant. Illinois State is an interesting at-large case, and will help in the tournament chances evaluation.  Their top win is the Wichita win (which is dulled slightly by the later 40 point loss), a home win over New Mexico and a Diamond Head Classic win in Hawaii over Tulsa,   Again, dulled slightly by the earlier loss to Tulsa (by 2), and they have bowling shoe ugly loss to Murray State (#236) that they will have to shake out of committee's minds.  Here's what they do have: A share of the regular season title, 9 true road wins, a 6 game win streak, a top 50 and top 100 wins, and a 48th ranking average across computers... here's what they'll need to have - extended that winning streak to 8, and then the loss will HAVE to be to Wichita State, or else it's another, at best, top 100+ loss, on top of a resume that is simply barebones, no matter how much the eye test might tell us this is a better team than Georgia Tech, California or Rhode Island (to name a few Waiting Liners...)

Do you recognize Wichita State? I do not. They are recognizable in their continued MVC dominance and overall NCAA tournament worthiness - but where's Van Vleet and Ron Baker? Rising in their place, are familiar faces, but new lead actors: Markis McDuffie & redshit freshman Landry Shamet (who briefly appeared in 3 games before a stress fracture injury to his foot required surgery and ended his true freshman season) are both first team MVCers. Kansas transfer Connor Frankamp and Shaquille Morris (3rd teamers) are also carrying more of a load, and their are joined by Darral Willis, Jr., who was named to the MVC-all newcomer team.  The Shockers spent their MVC season in far fewer close shaves than Illinois St. Other than the single loss, only 2 other games finished within 10 points, both were better games than their final scores, but ultimately Wichita St flexed their will (turning a 3point game vs Indiana State to an 8 point win and overcoming an 8-point second half deficit to beat Drake by the same 8). Wichita State is another computer darling (25th average), but with a bit more meat on their resume bones.  27 wins, 9-1 road record, but other than a dominant road win over the Mountain West co-leader Colorado State, its an equally bereft group of wins (now, its tough that Tulsa, Oklahoma, or even LSU aren't remotely the teams they were last year), but failing to finish games versus Louisville, Oklahoma State, and Michigan State could prove haunting.  Will inconsistent and poor overall showings with flashes of beating the best, or overall consistent teams who dominated lesser opponents, hung with better ones but ultimately couldn't finish the job be of more value to this year's committee -- that's the intrigue, given the state of the Waiting Line.

It's a steep drop from the top to third (we go from a pair of 1-loss conference teams to #3 seed at a 9-9 record -- now you see why we're so emphatic Illinois St only loses to Wichita State, if they're going to lose at all, and semi-emphatic the same goes in the reverse for WIchita). Both Northern Iowa & Missouri State can play solid basketball -- but ultimately don't stack up. Actually, your hottest squad not at the top is 7-seed Bradley, on a 3 game win streak.  Keep your eye on Indiana State, who played both Wichita & Illinois St tough, nearly knocked off Iowa State on a neutral court, and upset Butler in Terre Haute in December - led by conference #2 scorer Brenton Scott.  They suffered ugly losses and finished 4-12 in conference, but their showings on bigger stages suggest capability.  Also, keep tabs on Evansville -- why do we care about a 6-12 MVC team? Well, they spent February going 5-3 (including a 4 game win streak), knocked off Boise State at home, and feature the conference leading scorer in the dynamite Jaylon Brown (average 5 points more per game than the next player in MVC).

Prediction: Just find Wichita to be a better team than Illinois State AND we get to pick something other than chalk.

Jack Leasure Mad Bomber Award Candidate: Landry Shamet, 64 3s made, 45.7%  It is a shame they lost this kid so early last year, almost assuredly would've avoided the first 4, who knows with him supporting Baker & Van Vleet where they could have gone.

NEVER FORGET THE PATRIOT LEAGUE

So, the omitted Patriot picks back up today. 

  • 3/2 (Campus sites - Patriot League Network)
    • Game 1: 8 Army @ 1 Bucknell
    • Game 2: 5 Holy Cross @ 4 Navy
    • Game 3: 6 Colgate @ 3 Lehigh
    • Game 4: 7 Loyola MD @ 2 Boston U
  • 3/5 (Campus sites - CBS Sport Network)
    • Game 5: Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 2
    • Game 6: Winner Game 3 v Winner Game 4
  • 3/8 (Campus site - CBS Sports Network) - CHAMPIONSHIP

Well look who's back in first. It's our good friends the Bison of Bucknell with their 5th Patriot League title in 6 years. Unfortunately for them, history exists, and history says no top seed has won the Patriot League tournament since 2013. Bucknell features 4 players named to the 3 all league teams, including Patriot POY Nana Foulland, carrying the brusing Center tradition of Bucknells of xmas past, like Mike Muscala -- Foulland averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game. He's got held in the form of Zach Thomas, Kimbal Mackenzie, and Stephen Brown. Finishing 23-8, Bucknell never extended themselves to 2 losses consecutively, However, Lehigh is a conference nemesis, having swept the Bison in a pair of games (not to mention an inexplicable road loss at Loyola). While there isn't a path to an at-large invite -- Lehigh is the next best team in conference, and at over 100 RPI, losing to them a 3rd time, would not only be losing to a sub-100 team a third time, but also another dark mark on the resume. But, this is not an unaccomplished team out of conference -- a very impressive road win over Vanderbilt and a home win over Richmond, suggests their strength might be overwhelming to the League.

You know who disagrees with that last sentence? And up and down Patriot League slate left them at 12-6, but 2 of those 12? We already said it -- earned in a season sweep of the tournament #1 seed.  They also hold a W over Ivy league undefeateds Princeton and walked into Starkville and knocked off MIssissippi State. And while MIss State isn't outstanding by any stretch, walking into an SEC gym and beating the SEC team is never assumed.  Lehigh's probably has been an inconsistent offense -- during the Patriot league, they put up 45, 60, and 59 in their last 3 losses, after averaging ~78 otherwise. They are led by the player who the Buffet believes was robbed of the POY award -- Tim Kempton, Jr. (son of former Phx Sun, Tim Kempton) - who averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and a block per game. So he scored more points, averaged more rebounds, been this effective for 3 years, and swept the team who was given whose player won the award simply because the team won 3 more games? Nana Foulland is a real good player and by all account a good kid, but this was poor form Patriot League. Chip on his shoulder and 4 double-digit scorers on the roster? I hope so, that will make for a fun tournament.

The 2 seed around here is Boston U - led by Eric Fanning and Justin Alston who literally carry this team. While they swept Lehigh, though also suffered losses to Army and 20-point blow to Bucknell.

Prediction: This is a conference of tournament surprises, and while it's a call not on the level of Holy Cross storming though -- we are seeing a Tim Kempton marathon, and Lehigh victory here. You want 2017s Patriot version of Holy Cross? That would likely be Loyola MD and their pair of scorers Jarred Jones and Andre Walker (with Cam Gregory support). And poor February left them 8-10 and in 6th place, but momentum can come from playing an extra game (2.28 win over Lafayette) and they do hold conference wins over both Bucknell and Lehigh (they swept the Mountain Hawks, in fact).  

Jack Leasure Madbomber Candidate: NIck Lindner, Lafayette, 77 3s, 37.7% (safe to say the award will not be tagged to the Patriot League)

Last night's bonkers action

  • First, the most potential NCAA tournament impact came out of Westwood, where TJ Leaf went down with an ankle sprain early and did not return.  The import of TJ Leaf to UCLA cannot be overstate or lost in the Lonzo Ball shuffle.  He's their clear #2, and when they turned the tides in late season wins over Oregon & Arizona, it was moving to a power game down low, and a stretch 4 with a variety of inside moves is catalyst for that... Only information we've uncovered is Steve Alford confirming it is not a broken ankle, that he does not believe the sprain to be a severe one, but that Leaf's ankle is going to be immobilized in a walking boot and the next 48 hours will give them much more information. Foot injuries for basketball players suck.

 

  • Georgia cannot be dismissed, YET and BARELY, they edged Auburn at home 79-78
  • Rhode Island did just what you are supposed to do in the Waiting Line.. blew out a lesser team and they did it on the road.
  • Wagner survived a spirited Fairleigh Dickinson team in their NEC quarterfinal
  • This - http://collegebasketball.nbcsports.com/2017/02/23/five-maine-players-suspended-following-a-fight-over-locker-room-music/ - happened to Maine, and then a 86-41 loss to Vermont happened to Maine
  • We showed you the shot above, and guess what NORTHWESTERN IS UNDOUBTEDLY REACHING THEIR FIRST NCAA TOURNAMENT EVER regardless of outcome of any of their Big10 tournament games.
  • Florida bounced back from their loss to Kentucky with a nice 13 point win over likely tournament bid receiver Arkansas
  • Oh Connecticut. Oh Connecticut, I'll just leave it there.
  • Tennessee finished their post-Kentucky victory demise with an ugly loss at LSU
  • In the first of two games reaching OT in Nasheville, SE Missouri State got a 3 from Tahj Eddy with 2 seconds to go, giving them a 3 point OT win over Tennessee State, keeping their tourney hopes alive
  • The second of 2 OT games was somehow even more a thriller. Behind 41 points and 3 with six seconds left from Jonathan Stark, Murray State downed Tenn Tech in double OT 85-84. A Tenn Tech run out flush with 1 second left forced the first OT.
  • Clemson won't go away. They outlasted the corpse of NC State basketball 78-74
  • Dayton was going to the tournament before, during and after last night, regardless of outcome. But they avenged an earlier loss and won the outright regular season A10 title with their 7 point home win over VCU, so good on them.
  • Alabama stayed in the discussion, with a nice 15-point win over Ole Miss, who probably leaves the consideration discuss with that (to be reviewed in deeper depth later today in Buffetology)
  • In a major NEC shocker, 12-18 Bobby Mo strolled into Brooklyn, and eliminated the best basketball team (college or pro) from the NEC tournament -- sometimes the Buffet makes predictions, USUALLY they're wrong.
  • Texas Tech kept a bad loss from appearing on their resume beating a interest fading Texas team by 10,
  • Marquette EMPHATICALLY made a statement, walking into Xavier and walking out winners by 10. Xavier meanwhile similarly made a statement, but it was wildly different as their February (and now March) is an ongoing results disaster.
  • Hi Illinois, we're the Buffet, we will not leave you behind in discussions, just yet.
  • USC did what a team wanting to be included should do when coming off an ugly loss - they 23 point dusted Washington State.
  • @tiedyenation! @tiedyenation! @tiedyenation! Wake did what the needed to do, a HUGE signature win over Louisville. The promised deeper dive in Wake is coming in the second barrel, we vow.
  • Houston @ Cincinnati - first, why is it so hard for me to spell Cincinnati? Second, big chance for Houston to stick something real nice right at the top of their resume
  • Tulane @ Memphis - just don't lose to Tulane here, Memphis. Even if the CIT or CBI is your ceiling this year.
  • California travels to Utah, hoping to move that road record closer and closer to .500 and rise above the last 4 in line...
  • Iowa @ Wisconsin - Iowa isn't dead, and Wisconsin is getting in -- but, of late, beating Wiscy is turning to a good one into an expected one.  There's a ton of room at the front of the Waiting Line, so we'd prefer to see Wisconsin reassert themselves here...
  • FIU @ Middle Tennessee -- After their Saturday scare, time for Middle Tenn to re-flex their C-USA dominance and show their tournament worthiness
  • Nebraska @ Minnesota - Minnesota is well above the Waiting Line... but this time of year, finishing poorer teams is always the best medicine
  • UCF @ South Florida --  UCF has won 4 straight, just came off a win over Cincinnati -- a win here pushes their road record to .500, won't do much for their SOS, but would keep an awful loss off their resume when they've already got 6 semi-awful losses to date.

How can an American forget the Patriot?

On the third day of conference tourneys, the Buffet gave to me...

  • 3 more tournaments get under way
  • A Buffet mea culpa
  • Chalk walking in conference tournaments
  • Taking Care of Bubble Business
  • Intriguing night on the Waiting Line...

First thing First -- Buffet - SAY IT AIN'T SO.

Cue Kelly Preston from For Love of the Game

IS THIS NOT AMERICA!

Somehow, some way we omitted a preview of the Patriot League, which got underway last night, with Army and Loyola-Maryland dispatching of the lower seeded American & Lafayette, respectively.  Army handled it in dominating fashion, whereas the Greyhounds finally took the lead with just under 3 minutes left, and never looked back, en route to a 3 point win.  As the tournament does not resume until tomorrow night, we will commence with the preview tomorrow before the next round gets going.

LET'S PLAY UP IN THE NORTHEAST

  • March 1, 4 & 7 (ESPN2) - campus sites, tournament reseeds after results of quarterfinals.
    • 8 Sacred Heart @ Mt Saint Mary's
    • 5 Bryant @ St Francis-PA
    • 6 Fairleigh Dickinson @ 3 Wagner
    • 7 Robert Morris @ 2 LIU-Brooklyn

An old face returned to the top of the NEC heap, while no stranger to the NCAAs, having just visited in 2014, Mount Saint Mary's had not won the regular season crown since 1996. The Buffet was graduating HS, Braveheart was Best Picture, and the Macarena was the Billboard hottest music.  Yes, people, that's 1996 for you.  Well, it's 2017, and despite a late stumble, and a home loss to Long Island-Brooklyn that made things interesting, MSM took down St. Francis (NY) last Saturday to clinch the outright NEC title. Elijah Long is the straw that stirs this drink, leading the team in point, assist and rebounds.

The last paragraph had a note to keep your eye on. On February 23rd, Long Island went to Emmitsburgh and knocked off the Mountaineers, this after a thrilling 2-point buzzer beating loss to them in late December.  The Blackbirds are a potential problem for the NEC champs. Then again when isn't LIU a tournament threat come March? But after all the turnover - With a trio of scorers this could be the non-chalk the Buffet's been waiting for.  Would be so much nicer if key senior Joel Hernandez hadn't suffered a season-ending injury to his thumb back in a non-D1 game to start the season, but this inconsistent team and throw it in first gear - especially with their own NEC all-ever performer, Jerome Frink, who is joined by a pair of scorers -  Iverson Fleiming and Jashuan Agosto.

Looking down the standings, where might the upsets come from? Well, we could've gotten funky and highlighted Central Connecticut State, who was 4-14 in conference and has  wins over both LIU & Mount Saint Mary's, but, sadly these Blue Devils aren't playing in a conference tournament. Bryant, who knocked off MSM by 1 in early January, boasts the conference's leading scorer in Nisre Zouzoua, at 20 points per game. Wagner, who just lost a 4 point game and holds a win over the conference champs AND walked into Connecticut and won can't be ignored.  Robert Morris enters the tournament playing good ball, having won 3 straight -- problem is they run right into a road game against a team who has won 6 straight.

The most interesting case? Fairleigh Dickinson.  Why would the 7th place team be interesting? For one, Darian Anderson is good. Earl Potts has found a stride. But this team was hanging at the top, 8-1 in conference on January 27th.  Then their inexplicable slide began, losing 8 of their final 9. That's not exactly playing your best basketball in March, but this team is capable, only 1 of those losses was double digits (1o points) and only 2 were even above 6. Watch for this team. 

Prediction: LIU-Brooklyn is the conference's hottest team having won 6 straight entering the tournament.  We like teams playing well. They avoid Mount Saint Mary's until the final, and then they get a chance to do what they did just about a week ago - beat the regular season champs in the road. We say here that they will. 

Jack Leasure Madbomber Candidate: The previously mentioned Nisre Zouzoua of Bryant, 89 3s at 37%

VERMONT VERMONT VERMONT

  • American East Tournament 3/1, 3/6, 3/11 (ESPN) - campus sites (no re-seed)
    • 8 Maine @ 1 Vermont
    • 5 UMBC @ 4 New Hampshire
    • 6 Hartford @ 3 Albany
    • 7 Binghamton @ 2 Stony Brook

When you run the table in conference, you get long period of the Buffet's previous of your conference tournament devoted to you. Vermont - you have earned the word count. An 18-game winning streak (which is an on-going program record for consecutive wins - previously 15), While they're never going to blow you away with their offense output (although they do sit 53rd in KenPom adjust offense) but they have 3 guys averaging 11+ per game, and another 4 between 6 and 9, but they also are the 19th best team, from a point allowed per game basis, are considered a top 50 win by those who believe in the RPI, but how good are they? The lack of at-large resume win and their height ceiling of 6'8, does draw their overall basketball team standing into question, but for now, until they actually hit the tournament, we just analyze them versus the rest of their conference -- and in that context, they have the newly crowned AmEast player of the year, Trae Bell-Haynes, the conference freshman of the year, Anthony Lamb 6th man of the year, Darren Payen and coach of the year, John Becker, oh yeah, they ran through the conference season 15-0. 

Now, they did have a couple close calls -- none closer than Feb 12 in Baltimore, Maryland versus UMBC. After K.J. Maura of UMBC hit a baseline jumped to cut it to 2 with 20 seconds left, the Retrievers actually stole the ball and had a chance to tie, but questionable decision-making led to a rushed/forced air ball, a few free throws and strategic fouling by Vermont to prevent tying 3-point attempt later, and Vermont escaped  But in 2 games versus UMBC, who had an inconsistent conference season to finish a 9-7 fifth place showing, but anytime you have Will Darley & all-world talent Jairus Lyles (18 ppg) taking the floor, you're a threat.

Speaking of threats, not possible to discuss the America East tournament without discussing Lucas Woodhouse and Stony Brook. The Seawolves started the conference season going toe-to-toe with Vermont at 5-0, then a couple stumbles (which against an undefeated juggernaut is fatal), but they figured it out to go on a 6 game February win streak -- but then came the 2 teams listed in the previous 2 paragraphs, and 27 points of losses later, the momentum was halted. But as the 2 seed and AmEast Conference tested, don't lose sight of them.

Who else not to lose sight of? The streaky Wildcats of New Hampshire. The team some folks thought would be the class of America East, showed flashes, but not enough light. In conference steaks of 2, 3, were paired with a 4 game losing streak that ultimately gave way to a season closing 5 game winning streak that makes them the hottest conference team not named Vermont. That opening rounder between them and UMBC should be fun, as both teams can offer some resistance of substance to the Catamounts. They do hold the conferences best non conference work -- both road games -- beating Winthrop in Rock Hill and Temple in Philly. Keep your head towards Tanner Leissner and his 17 points, automatic free throw shooting (and second most attempts in the conference), and 7 rebounds per game. And as you'll see below, Daniel Dion drop 3point BOMBS

Hard to see a path for the 3 seed, though they did win several impressive road games -- at Penn State, New Hampshire and swept UMBC -- but hard to see them as a threat (which probably means they'll win the thing).  Equally tough to see Hartford taking a run, but Jalen Ross can score in this conference, so you never know...

Prediction: Except you do. Vermont.

Jack Leasure Madbomber Candidate: Daniel Dion, New Hampshire, 91 3s at 42%

WHAT'S UP BELMONT, TIME TO DO THIS AGAIN?

The always complicated, but structured to give the top seeds the advantage, minus the whole part where they don't just play at campus sites, OVC schedule

3/1-3/4 (espn2) Nashville

  • 3/1: Game 1 - 5 SE Missouri St v. 8 Tenn State; Game 2: 6 Tenn Tech vs 7 Murray St
  • 3/2 Game 3 - Game 1 Winner vs. 4 Jacksonville State; Game 4 - Game 2 Winner v. 3 Morehead State
  • 3/3 Game 3 Winner vs 1 Belmont; Game 4 Winner vs. 2 UT-Martin
  • 3/4 Championship

For the fifth straight year, Belmont walks into the OVC tourney with the top seed and conference best record, losing only once in conference play. Problem is, they're only 2-2 in coming out of the tournament and into the NCAAs.  Also, they've never advanced past NCAA round 1 (the best showing a 1 point loss to Duke in 2008). But let's focus on the hear and now.  This is a veteran team,: there's still Evan Bradds along with Taylor Barnette, Amanze Egekeze and a much more significant contribution from returners Nick Smith, Dylan Winder and especially Austin Luke, who has slid into the floor leader spot vacated Craig Bradshaw, and, in our opinion, has been more effective. The issue with Belmont is they just didn't challenge themselves enough out of conference, and failed to stake a claim to a victory when they did (usually not terribly competitively -- losses to Florida, Middle Tennessee (at home), Rhode Island and Vanderbilt - all those teams are in, mostly in, or maybe in), but they ran through the OVC, finished the season winning 18 of 19, their only slip up was at Tennessee Tech, who would have to run through the entire bottom of the bracket to see Belmont again.  

First, before evaluating spoilers we trim the fat -- Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, SIU-Edwardsville, and defending tourney champs Austin Peay all did not finish high enough in the OVC to qualify -- Austin Peay tried it, winning 3 of 4 to close the season, but ultimately the one in that 4 was one too many.  Now, as for close shaves versus Belmont? We mentioned their loss to Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State gave them a run in Nashville (falling by 5) and Morehead held a second half lead before falling by 6.  Other than that? We can manufacture close games, Murray State had it tied at 54, before losing 12? Just keep an eye on Jonathan Stark who fills the scoreboard 21 per game, as well Jacolby Mobley of Tenn-Martin and Antonius Cleveland of SE Missouri State, and hopefully watch Belmont cruise, so we can see exactly what they've developed in at the NCAA level.

Last night in the Waiting Line...

Last night was all about this:

TAKING CARE OF WAITING LINE BUSINESS

  • Seton Hall won at home over Georgetown 62-59
  • Maryland went on the road and used a dominant second half to get a 20 point win
  • Texas A&M, to whatever extent they're still in the conversation, won at Missouri 60-43
  • South Carolina defending home against Mississippi State 63-57
  • Creighton blew out St. John's at home 82-68, to quell some concerns about their tournament-ability
  • Ohio State went into computer darling Penn State and came away with a 1 point, 71-70 win
  • Providence handled DePaul at home 73-64
  • Georgia Tech notched their 8th conference win, moved to 16-14 with a 61-52 home win v Pittsburgh. Hey #JonRothstein yes that;s 8 conference wins not ZERO - for those unsure what the Buffet is referring to, go HERE ASAP.
  • There was even losing, TCOB, in the Buffet's opinion
    • Oklahoma State wasn't in the waiting line, but other than a mishandled final possession with a chance to tie, they showed something impressive at Hilton, dropping a 3-point game, and even more important is if Jawun Evans found his long range jumped
    • And yes, they blew a 19-point lead, but ignoring that, Vanderbilt showed they can hang with Kentucky at Rupp, in the midst of a very impressive run by Kentucky, thats tournament worthy play
  • Only teams not to TCOB were marginally in the conversation anyway:
    • Boise State dropped a home game to Fresno 67-74
    • Penn St's aforementioned loss
    • Indiana losing at Purdue by 11 isn't a bad loss or a tournament invite hurtful loss, but the win there meant more than the loss negatively impacted, and they couldn't do it.

Conference tournament results 2/28

  • Patriot League results are found at the beginning of the post: Army over American 74-58 ; Loyola-MD def Lafayette 67-64
  • Big South: Charleston Southern over Longwood 79-74 in a much more difficult fashion than should have been; Campbell handled Presbyterian 81-62
  • Tonight, in the Waiting Line...:
    • Georgia tries to stay in the discussion by not losing to Auburn.
    • Rhode Island tries to add a road win to its ledger against a bad team, Saint Joe's
    • Michigan, who almost assured themselves a bid winning against Purdue, can pay it forward by dropping its road game tonight at Northwestern
    • Does Tennessee have a late season run to SEC title in them, and would that be enough? Road win in Baton Rouge is a must have.
    • VCU at Dayton -- nothing to see here from the Waiting Line... but, 1 game separates these team in the Atlantic 10 regular season race with a game in hand over Dayton, a 1-game deficit to the Flyers in the standings, and a pair of gimmes for each team on deck, can VCU forge a regular season tie and snatch the tournament top seed?
    • NC State v. Clemson -- Under consideration -- which is the nice thing you say about teams who really aren't making it into the tournament, but have enough going for them (good wins, or road wins, or conference wins, or computer numbers, etc) that they can't be outright dismissed.  We're outright dismissing the loser here, even though, really we've outright dismissed them already. In reality, Clemson is more "under consideration" than the discarded Wolfpack.
    • Ole Miss at Alabama - not sure if this is an elimination game or not, but both teams need this win, so basically, it is
    • Kansas State at TCU - same here. Kansas State is either in or toeing the line depending on the formula, prognosticator, etc, you follow -- TCU is dying for another resume win. Kansas State ain't great, but they do offer some value. A road win for K-State would be equally valuable.
    • Texas at Texas Tech -- Texas Tech, I don't think you can get in, but don't lose to awful Texas.
    • Marquette at Xavier -- this one bears some discussion.  Xavier is in free fall. Marquette has looked tournament worthy in stretches, and NIT worthy in other.  Both teams are .500 in conference, Marquette finishes home to Creighton, Xavier with DePaul. A win here by Xavier means they likely (barring a disaster against the Blue Demons) a conference record over .500, and that should be enough for an invite (pending, of course, what their BE tournament matchup looks like, and they don't bomb out there). Marquette would likely equally cement themselves with a strong road win, no matter if they finish 10-8 or 9-9 in the Big East (of course, same tournament performance qualifier applies). Now if Xavier loses this game? That'd be 6 straight, all over tournament caliber teams, questions will be raised, and bids could be lost...
    • Michigan State @ Illinois - Michigan State is in, and Illinois has redeemed their season where a loss by the Spartans wouldn't be considered negative anyway. Now could Illinois play themselves into the real conversation not the under consideration conversation? If they can get to .500 in conference (winnable road game at Rutgers closes the season), with 4 top 50 wins, 9 top 100 wins, no bad losses, and a decent Big10 tournament showing -- the Waiting Line... resumes are ugly, so yes, yes they could.
    • Louisville @ Wake Forest -- Every time we run the BOOP, Wake Forest pops up higher than ever expected. Beat Louisville, and a long look will be taken. In fact, here's the vow -- beat Louisville and we'll do it tomorrow, with a social media link so the WF basketball program knows it happened.
    • Washington State at USC -- Southern Cal lost to the curtain of distraction. That's not a typo. Which is a strong factor why you see them in the last 4 in. Don't lose to Washington State, the word next to your name won't be "in" anymore...