Big East Perspective and Butler Preview vs. Providence

A large portion of the Big East conference play has come and gone.  Unfortunately, I have not been graced with the free time to cover the conference as I would have liked.  That said, I’m looking forward to giving more in depth views and perspectives of not only the Big East but also the landscape of all college basketball when the calendar turns to March.

The Big East continues to be a difficult task for any team to play through.  According to kenpom, as a conference, the Big East ranks 3rd in tempo, 3rd in turnover percentage, 2nd in effective field goal percentage, 3rd in assists per field goals made, 3rd in 3-point percentage, 3rd in 2-point percentage, and 1st in free throw percentage.  It’s been fun seeing scores come through week in and week out because every team is getting to the basket and scoring at a high clip.  The stats above are all areas that influence offense.  Which such high numbers, the defenses must not be as stout as coaches would like, but there’s time to improve.  As we enter the final four or five games for Big East teams, here are the current standings:

  1. Xavier (24-3, 12-2)  Xavier needs to win at home against Villanova and avoid a loss in their last three games to Providence, Georgetown, or DePaul to claim the Big East regular season title.  The Musketeers have all the pieces to make a Final Four run, but here’s another way to look at it: Xavier has 10 wins by 7 points or less this season.  If the ball rolls out rather than in, we may be looking at a team that isn’t on the one seed line at the moment.

2. Villanova (23-3, 10-3)  The Wildcats are in an odd position at this point in the year having lost to Providence, Butler, and last place St. John’s.  Their defensive efficiency is great, but not the elite level we’ve come to know in recent years.  It’s time for Villanova to respond because their one seed may be slipping.

3. Creighton (19-7, 8-5)  Creighton losing Martin Krampelj was a hit to their squad, yet the team has responded positively by beating the teams they should have and pushing Xavier to the end at home.  Creighton moves the ball very well and because of that, they frequently get open looks within 3 feet of the basket (See highlights when they hosted Butler earlier this season).  The Blue Jays currently rank 2nd in the NCAA in 2-point percentage.

4. Providence (17-9, 8-5)  The Friars pulled off a welcome upset against Villanova and claim stake to fourth place in the conference at this point.  The Friars have a tough close to the end of the season where Kenpom has them in what should be a battle each game.  If things fall their way, Providence will be as high as a three seed in the Big East tournament.  However, if things play out, they could be playing

5. Butler (17-10, 7-7)  The Bulldogs are frustrating to watch.  So much talent to compete at a high level, yet the team possesses Jekyll and Hyde characteristics.  I discuss more of the perspective of these inconsistent showings from game to game below.  The Bulldogs need to win out the rest of the season and win a game in the Big East tournament.

6. Seton Hall (17-9, 6-7)  The Pirate’s record is a head scratcher.  With a team that has experience on it’s side that is combined with talent, it’s a wonder how they have not won a few more games down the stretch.  I’m concerned that this is now a Seton Hall team that can be an upset for a midmajor squad in the NCAA tournament.

7. Marquette (14-11, 5-8)  The Golden Eagles can light up the scoreboard quickly.  With as quick they can score, they can fall cold.  Their defense is not elite nor great.  I don’t see Marquette doing much the rest of the season.  It will be a win if they win one game in the Big East tournament come March.

8. Georgetown (15-10, 5-9)  Georgetown seems to have made improvements as they have played with confidence as of late.  We can go a few avenues with the narrative on the Hoyas.  Looking at how they have fared since their double overtime win at home against St. John’s, they lost by one to DePaul, then by eight at Creighton, by five at Xavier in overtime, and by four at Providence.  In three of those losses, Georgetown had opportunities where the ball didn’t fall their way.  Close wins against Seton Hall and at Butler give Georgetown confidence as they look to stay hot through the remainder of the season.  They shot a blistering 68% in the first half at Butler and still ended at 64% for the game.

9. DePaul (10-15, 3-10)  DePaul seems to have most of the pieces.  I watched them play in the new Wintrust Arena and it is a beautiful, modern take on a home for a basketball team.  With the addition of Max Strus, DePaul has been in many more games than they have in previous seasons.  They have not been able to finish games off, or this would be a different narrative being written.

10. St. John’s (14-13, 3-11)  St. John’s looked like it was on its way to one of the worst outings in Big East play, but then Duke stopped by Madison Square Garden where Shamorie Ponds and the Red Storm dropped then #4 Duke.  To demonstrate it wasn’t a fluke, Ponds and Co went to then #1 Villanova and upended the Wildcats.  Maintaining their winning streak, St. John’s beat Marquette and DePaul.  Heading into the final few weeks, the Johnnies have an outside shot at winning out and somehow finishing 7-11.  I don’t think it will happen, but as the hottest team in the league, it’s tough to pick against them.

Butler Basketball Update

Success and failure seem to stem from the ability to make shots.  The Bulldogs are shooting just over 40% on mid-range jumpshots according to Haslemetrics.  That isn’t a poor number, as it slots the Bulldogs at 63rd in the country.  However, the decision making as of late has not been great.  Questionable decisions from Kamar Baldwin and Kelan Martin have seen them dribble into traffic to make a play rather than pass.  Their dribbling turns generally turns into taking a contested shot only to see the ball hit the rim and the defense grab a rebound for a quick outlet pass.  Both players have combined for 13 turnovers in the last 3 games.  Another telling number is Baldwin and Martin were a combined 1-13 on three-pointers against the Hoyas; the team 5-22.  Knowing that they are part of something larger, The Butler Way, will hopefully reinforce the “Team over self” narrative and reintroduce the idea of passing the ball effectively over the course of the regular season.

The Bulldogs lacked fire and, I’d say even go as far as to say, valor in their most recent outing at home against Georgetown.  They played to not lose instead of playing to win.  There was an observed hesitant approach to the game plan which made Butler look like they were a step behind on most plays.  If the Bulldogs wish to see successful play here on out, they will need to play with an edge.

There are a few players that have had large swings of productivity over the course of the season.  Tyler Wideman, Nate Fowler, and Paul Jorgensen can all play at a high level and have shown they are capable of doing so at different points during the season.  Before Paul scored a few off balance layups in the game against Georgetown, he had grown a three game shooting stretch to just 3 – 20 (15%).  I feel like understanding yourself as a player would translate to taking smart shots.  I think Paul is taking good shots, but the ones he is taking look rushed.  Fowler, a tall center for the Bulldogs, seems to find a way to make shots more difficult than they need to be.  At some point, he needs to go to the hoop strong with two hands and put the ball through the hoop without giving the entire Bulldog fan base a heart attack.  Finally, Tyler Wideman is a stud, but the lack of involvement is concerning.  Yes, Butler plays smaller in the middle.  However, Tyler possesses immense power where he should feel comfortable going up strong, taking the hit, and ultimately earning a trip to the free throw line.  Each of the three players I just spoke of are great guys.  I have faith that the coaching staff and players figure this out while they find their mojo again.

I need to be fair.  Butler currently ranks 8th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting at 78%.  Butler has not been shooting that well compared to the entire nation since 2007 when they finished 13th.  They are highly efficient on offense, with a comprehensive effective field goal percentage of 54.3%.  The Bulldogs keep most opponents off the glass, limiting offensive rebounds on less than 25% of their opponents possessions.

Preview Against Providence

On Saturday, Butler hosts the Providence Friars in the second of two meetings during regular season play.  The Friars won the first game at the Dunkin’ Donuts center.

Expect Butler to come out of the locker room and play with an edge.  In the midst of a three game losing streak, the Bulldogs will look to end the slide and beat a good Providence team that I expect to make the tournament.  Beyond just the emotion that can play a role in this game, Butler has a much more efficient offense than Providence does.  Both teams seem to be equal on defense.  One of the keys is Butler limiting the amount of fouls allowing the Friars to get to the line.  Kyron Cartwright moves so quickly and sees the floor so well that it will be a tough ask to slow him down.

Both teams share an impressive statistic.  Both have beat Villanova this year.  Butler did so at home on December 30th and Providence more recently at home on February 14th.

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Bracket Reveal and Bracket Predictions

One of the best days of the year in sport has greeted us!  I have had to do a lot of front end work knowing that I would be away from home!  I am currently sitting with close friends in the middle of a ski trip in Colorado!

I can’t believe this is already my third year walking through each of the matchups and sharing my predictions.  I read through last years write up I did and found a couple things I want to grow in.  Here are a couple changes this year that you will see.  First, I will give more background on the teams body of work.  You can expect to see the recency of a team is on for their last 8 games coming into the tournament.  This includes how they fared in their respective conference tournaments.

After the First Four matchups and Round of 64 games, I will give my thoughts on who will win each matchup based on statistical trends, what I’ve observed through watching teams play, and my gut.  I’ve always done this, but I’m expanding my scope of (hopefully) valuable information to consider.  2 years ago, I was 40-23.  I did not select a single Final Four team nor champion correctly.  Last year, I didn’t fare as well, going 38-25.  (That does not include correctly picking three of the four play-in games).  However, I did pick two Final Four teams and one team, Gonzaga, that made it to the National Championship.  Overall, that puts me at 78-48 (62%) for the last two NCAA tournaments.

We have finally arrived at a favorite time of the year for myself and other college basketball fans.  The bracket has been revealed and now it’s time to get the ink and project the results for the field of 68!  Just as I did last year, I will walk through my predictions of who will win matchups every round.  I will also include possible matchups that would be a lot of fun to watch.  So, are there any sleepers in this field?  Who has the easiest path?  Hopefully this helps you when you sit down to fill out your bracket!  My record predicting each game last year was 40-23 where I incorrectly guessed the entire Final Four and Championship games.  Take my insight with a grain of salt, I guess, but it’s always fun to attempt to predict the unpredictable!

Before listing my decisions for each matchup, I will review some helpful tips when selecting your bracket.

Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 19 of the 32 champions have been a 1 seed.  I’m not sure how much influence this actually has, but 7 of the last 10 have come from the top seed line.  Of course we love the upsets.  They make the tournament exciting and surprising.  However, a 1 seed has never lost to a 16 seed.  It’s rare for all four 1 seeds to reach the final four though.  It has happened once, in 2008.  On five occasions, 3 number 1 seeds have made it to the final weekend.

Take into account the more recent games (usually the last 8-10 games played).  A team can get better or worse over the course of a season. Recency is a factor in helping predict how a team will play in the NCAA tournament.  Vermont had a 15 game winning streak snapped in mid-February.

Pay attention to how many times a coach has been to the tournament and their results.

Here’s something to consider.  Previous winners have had a Kenpom defensive efficiency at or below 90.9.  Only 7 teams possess that going into the tournament.  One of the teams, Georgia Tech, is playing in the NIT.  The other 6 teams are: Virginia, Gonzaga, Florida, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Louisville.  Historically, teams have a top 3 offensive efficiency.  None of the 6 teams listed have that.  The closest is Gonzaga, which may be inflated due to their conference opponents being quite weak for the most part.

A note about seeding because I was surprised by where some teams fell.  What caught my eye was how Big East teams were seeded.  Due to the number of times teams meet during the season, rules or expectations have been put in place so those two opponents don’t meet again until a certain point in the bracket if they both continue to win.  For example, Butler and Villanova are in the region of the bracket.  They’ve already played each other three times this season, twice during conference play and the third coming during the Big East Tournament.  Because of those 3 meetings, they would not be allowed to play each other until the Elite 8.  Butler was slotted to be a 9 seed, yet found themselves a line lower.  The same goes for Providence, the Big East Tournament runner-up.  Due to them being in the same region as Xavier, the Friars who were to be a 9 seed were dropped a line to the 10.  If teams played each other twice, they could meet in the Sweet Sixteen; once, they would meet as early as the Round of 32 (that makes sense because Butler could potentially play Purdue in Detroit if both teams win their opening game).

First Four

Tuesday, March 13th

Game 1: LIU-Brooklyn vs. Radford – LIU Brooklyn experienced an average year and put together a nice run through their conference tournament, beating number 1 seed and favorite Wagner to reach the First Four games in Dayton.  They have 6 losses by 6 or fewer points. 3 guys make up a majority of the minutes played.  Radford went 0-3 this season against teams already in the tournament.  They are my pick to win this game and move on to play Villanova.

Game 2: St. Bonaventure vs. UCLA – The Bonnies have a tough ask playing against UCLA in an opening game.  Fortunately, they have one of the most experienced units in college basketball, something that can push them to move onto the second round.  UCLA likes to move the ball quickly, getting easy baskets in transition.  If they want to win this game, they are going to have to make shots.  Their youth has led to an up and down year, losing to Colorado a couple times during the regular season.  I’m going Bonnies here.

Wednesday, March 14th

Game 3: Texas Southern vs. North Carolina Central – After losing their first 13 games of the season, the former IU and UAB coach, Mike Davis, has his Tigers back in one of the First Four games for the second consecutive season.  They will play against North Carolina Central, a team that also made it back to back years in playing a First Four game.  My choice is Texas Southern, however, they are prone to a lot of turnovers.  If that happens, that could spell trouble.

Game 4: Syracuse vs. Arizona State – After a hot start to the season and a top 5 ranking, Arizona State fell off in a major way.  Bobby Hurley’s squad has the chops to knock off Syracuse, a team that probably should not have made the tournament.  The Orange are an abysmal shooting team.  Their length and zone are typically what keeps them in games.  The Sun Devils win this one, but it’s much closer because of Syracuse’s defense.

South Region

Round of 64

1 vs. 16 – Virginia vs. UMBC – The Retrievers make an appearance in the NCAA tournament only to be matched with the superior Cavaliers.  Virginia, a heavy favorite, will force turnovers and play a slow game.  I won’t be surprised if they break 70 points in this game though, something they did infrequently during the season.

8 vs. 9 – Creighton vs. Kansas State – Creighton, when they move the ball well, can beat any team in the country.  Their ball movement opens up passing lanes and has earned them the fourth best 2-point percentage in the country according to Kenpom.  Kansas State has an average interior defense and are awful from the 3-point line, the only thing that will make this a game.  Bluejays move on.

5 vs. 12 – Kentucky vs. Davidson – The Wildcats have a tough date with Davidson, a team that upset A10 favorites and stole a bid in the process of making the tournament.  Kentucky’s ability to guard the 3-point line well spells trouble for the Wildcats.  Davidson does not attempt many free throws per game nor do they gather many offensive rebounds.  The one thing on their side is their ability to score in an efficient way.  Because they shoot the ball so well, they have a great opportunity to stun what some consider a heavy favored Kentucky team.  I’m going with the uset and picking Davidson.

4 vs. 13 – Arizona vs. Buffalo – Buffalo is one of the fastest teams in the country, spending less than half the time with the ball on offense.  Because of this, they are able to put up a lot of shots and a lot of points.  Arizona will be a tough out, however, because of Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier.  With Arizona’s odd spotlight in the FBI probe, can they push out the noise and focus on winning games?  Once a team that was a heavy favorite to win the title, the Wildcats will have a tough road ahead if they’d like to see that expectation come to fruition.  I’m going with Arizona in this game.

6 vs. 11- Miami (FL.) vs. Loyola Chicago – Porter Moser has finally done it.  He has put together an impressive roster that is made up of a wide spectrum of players’ experience. The Ramblers demonstrated how the transfer market can be a benefit to a team.  Marques Townes (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Clayton Custer (Iowa State) have helped lead Loyola to their first NCAA tournament appearance in decades.  Loyola moves the ball so well and they shoot 40% from the 3-point line.  They are riding a 10 game winning streak into the match-up against Miami.  The Hurricanes are average 3-point shooters and take care of the ball well.  They are a slower paced team which plays in their favor if they are finding good shots.  They lack experience though and I see Loyola taking this game.

3 vs. 14 – Tennessee vs. Wright State – The Volunteers only play a 7 man rotation, something to consider when fouls become important.  The Volunteers boast a strong offense and defense, with their focus on defense being their calling card.  Their 2-point shooting is not great, mainly because they don’t have a tall line up.  That means they settle for jump shots or runners rather than layups.  Wright State is going to have a difficult time with this Volunteer team.  The Raiders are turnover prone and not great shooting the ball.  This game shouldn’t be close – Tennessee moves on.

7 vs. 10 – Nevada vs. Texas – Texas has subscribed to a slow, grind-out games this season and it hasn’t really paid off in their favor.  Essentially alternating wins and losses for a majority of the season, the Longhorns enter the tournament looking for a win against a strong and efficient Nevada Wolfpack team. Nevada’s defense can be iffy from time to time, but teams need offense to put up points and win games.  Nevada is a strong 7-seed and I see them moving on past the Longhorns.

2 vs. 15 – Cincinnati vs. Georgia State – Slow, laborious, tactful.  The Cincinnati Bearcats boast an impressive defense-minded team.  They create turnovers and force teams into taking contested shots.  This Georgia State team is not the same one that upset Baylor a few years ago.  Take Cincinnati in this game.

Round of 32

1 vs. 8 – Virginia vs. Creighton – Slow vs. fast pace.  Virginia plays the slow tempo in the land and Creighton plays one of the fastest.  The Cavaliers are deadly from beyond the arc, yet average from two.  Creighton crashes the boards on defense, making it difficult for teams to grab offensive rebounds.  The Bluejays losing Martin Krampelj really hurt the teams multidimensional offensive attack.  I think Creighton has a great chance to upset Virginia early.  They have to speed up Virginia to make it happen, and I think it will.  Bluejays stun Virginia and move on.

5 vs. 4 – Kentucky vs. Arizona – This will be a great match up if it does end up happening.  Kentucky is stringing wins together and Arizona boasts coachable talent.  As good as Arizona is, they have questionable losses and Deandre Ayton can fall away quietly in a game.  If he isn’t involved, the Wildcats become more one dimensional.  I think Kentucky has the ability to make that happen.  Wildcats move on.

11 vs. 3 – Loyola Chicago vs. Tennessee – Tennessee plays a 7 man rotation, something that can spell trouble if fouls begin to pile up.  Loyola will look to continue moving the ball to get open threes which they hit at a high clip.  I’m picking the Ramblers to ramble on (I really wanted to say that).

7 vs. 2 – Nevada vs. Cincinnati – Nevada’s solid shooting against Cincinnati’s sound defense should be a great game.  One thing that the Bearcats have lacked in other years is the ability to score.  They have that this year, but not at as an efficient rate as Nevada.  I have the Wolfpack in this game.

Sweet 16

8 vs. 5 – Creighton vs. Kentucky – They Wildcats are making a great run at the right time and I fear Creighton will get into a race up and down the floor, something they are generally good at.  This Kentucky team is good at that too and I foresee the Wildcats winning that race – UK moves on.

11 vs. 7 – Loyola Chicago vs. Nevada – What a fun mid-major matchup if it happens!  I think the Rambler’s have a great shot at winning this game if these two teams do meet.  The Wolfpack can put up points, but they aren’t stellar on defense.  I do think Nevada moves on though.

Elite 8

5 vs. 7 – Kentucky vs. Nevada – Kentucky should handle Nevada easily in this game.  There is a large mismatch on the defensive end that the Wolfpack can’t overcome.  Wildcats move on.

West Region

Round of 64

1 vs. 16 – Xavier vs. Texas Southern – The Musketeers have put together a strong season, getting quality play from every player.  It seems like the identity of playing with a chip on their shoulder continues to be their calling card.  They play an emotional style of basketball, getting in the heads of their opponents.  Xavier won’t have a difficult time with their opponent and moves on.

8 vs. 9 – Missouri vs. Florida State – Missouri, after having lost future NBA pick Michael Porter Jr. for most of the season, had their best player ready to go in the SEC tournament.  He fared well, but what’s more impressive is what Missouri did this season without Porter.  Florida State casts a shadow upon itself with lazy play from time to time which leaves them susceptible to turnovers, poor defense, and game mismanagement.  Look for the Missouri Tigers to move on.

5 vs. 12 – Ohio State vs. South Dakota State – After a less than stellar start, Chris Holtmann and his Buckeyes bring an unexpected and impressive season into the NCAA tournament.  They have a difficult opponent in South Dakota State, however.  Most people that follow college basketball will look to Mike Daum, a stellar basketball player in his own right who averages more than 20 points per game.  One who gets overlooked is his freshman guard teammate, David Jenkins.  The Jackrabbits shoot the three ball well, and they shoot it frequently.  If they hit double-digit threes in this game, I smell upset.  I do think Ohio State gameplans well and sees them to the next round.

4 vs. 13 – Gonzaga vs. UNC-Greensboro – Gonzaga has quietly put together a strong season again under Mark Few.  Thanks should go out to St. Mary’s for drawing most of the attention for a very solid Gonzaga team.  History is on their side having a few players back from their run to the NCAA championship last year before falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

6 vs. 11 -Houston vs. San Diego State – Houston plays a great brand of basetball…most of the time.  If they continue to move the ball well against a just better than average San Diego State team, Houston should wind up playing a game this weekend.  Houston moves on.

3 vs. 14 – Michigan vs. Montana – It’s going to be a tall task for the Grizz to out Michigan of the tournament.  The Wolverines won the Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship and should continue a deep run in NCAA’s.  I expect a hard fought game by Montana, but Michigan pulls away in the end.

7 vs. 10 – Texas A&M vs. Providence – Texas A&M had a great start but fell off quickly through the season.  Providence, the Big East tournament runner up that pushed Villanova to overtime is laden with seniors, a calling card to a deep tournament run.  I’m going with the Friars in this game.

2 vs. 15 – North Carolina vs. Lipscomb – North Carolina begins its defense of last year’s National Championship with an easy opening game.  The Tar Heels should win by double-digits.

Round of 32

1 vs. 8 – Xavier vs. Missouri – The Musketeers will hand the Tigers well.  Xavier’s weakness is their inability to put games away against inferior opponents.  Xavier moves on.

5 vs. 4 – Ohio State vs. Gonzaga – Ohio State’s overachieving season comes to an end as they play against Gonzaga.  The Bulldogs quietly obtained a 4 seed and with Mark Few at the helm, Gonzaga should move on.

6 vs. 3 – Houston vs. Michigan – Michigan matches up well against Houston.  I think Mo Wagner’s ability to spread the floor and shoot from distance helps Michigan move on.

10 vs. 2 – Providence vs. North Carolina – Although Providence can shoot well, they can go cold quickly and force unnecessary shots.  North Carolina’s length will cause trouble for Providence.  UNC moves on.

Sweet 16

1 vs. 4 – Xavier vs. Gonzaga – I think Gonzaga actually has a better front court this year than last year.  Xavier is a weak 1 seed, ranking 14th in kenpom’s ratings.  Their defense is not elite which is why I have the Bulldogs moving on.

3 vs. 2 – Michigan vs. North Carolina – This will be a fun game as both teams can put up points and shoot the ball well.  I think Michigan continues to make shots down the stretch that ultimately sees them through to the next round.

Elite 8

4 vs. 3 – Gonzaga vs. Michigan – Michigan’s defense will keep them in this game.  They will need to share the ball to get open looks and crash the boards against a Gonzaga team that is well grounded in the fundamentals of the game.  My take is Michigan in this game.

East Region

Round of 64

1 vs. 16 -Villanova vs. Radford – Villanova is dangerous.  Having both Phil Booth and Eric Paschall back playing are key for the Wildcats to have a deep tournament run.  Jalen Brunson helps guide Villanova with an unbelievable feel for the game.  This game will not be close.  Villanova moves on.

8 vs. 9 – Virginia Tech vs. Alabama – Funny enough, Virginia Tech went up one seed line in the same exact portion of the bracket from last year.  They run into a hot Alabama team coming off a small flurry of a run in the SEC tournament.  I believe Alabama has one more win in them before being squelched in the next round.

5 vs. 12 – West Virginia vs. Murray State – With two time Big 12 defensive player of the year, West Virginia seems to matchup nicely with Murray State.  The Hokies finished second to Kansas in the Big 12 Conference tournament.

4 vs. 13 – Wichita State vs. Marshall – It looks as if the Shockers move to the AAC has paid off as they were appropriately seeded for the first time in the last three years.  Wichita State should hand Marshall easily and move on to play against West Virginia.

6 vs. 11 – Florida vs. St. Bonaventure – Florida has had an up and down season.  Losing at home to Loyola Chicago early in the season was a wake up call for the Gators.  I think the sporadic play of missing a lot of shots dooms the Gators and sees the Bonnies move on.

3 vs. 14 – Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin – The Red Raiders have a great defense to go along with a pretty good offense.  I think Stephen F. Austin is in trouble unless they shoot better than 60% from 3, with an emphasis on making a lot of 3s.  Red Raiders move on.

7 vs. 10 – Arkansas vs. Butler – This game pits two teams that are lackluster in consistency.  Arkansas can string wins together, but they can also go cold quickly.  They shoot the ball very well from the 3-point line, just over a 40% clip.  The Razorbacks will have to make 3’s to keep this one close.  They give up a lot of offensive rebounds, something the Bulldogs will have to take advantage of.  Arkansas is an older team, led by seniors.  That usually spells success for a team that makes a deep tournament run.

2 vs. 15 – Purdue vs. CSFullerton – The Boilermakers have had a successful and odd year.  After a string of 2 losses early, they rattled off 19 consecutive wins before dropping 3 straight.  The Boilermakers have all the pieces to make a run, now it’s up to the coach to prepare them well to allow them to.

Round of 32

1 vs. 9 – Villanova vs. Alabama – As electifying as Collin Sexton is with the ball for Alabama, the Crimson Tide lack experience.  Villanova may be challenged for the first 25-30 minutes, but should pull away from a young Alabama team that is going to be good next year if everyone they expect to return, does.

5 vs. 4 – West Virginia vs. Wichita State – In what should be a great game, the Shockers and Mountaineers will play a passionate, smash-mouth style of basketball.  Wichita State plays the inside-out game well and can be difficult to guard.  West Virginia’s Jevon Carter is a two time Big 12 defensive player of the year.  I think the way his attitude goes is the way the Mountaineers go.  They played a close game with the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament title game until eventually losing by double-digits.  I think the Shockers move on.

11 vs. 3 – St. Bonaventure vs. Texas Tech – This is the end of the line for the Bonnies. Although both teams have decent offenses, Texas Tech’s defense is much better.  The Red Raiders are my pick in this game.

10 vs. 2 – Butler vs. Purdue – Butler is a dangerous 10 seed.  These two teams will be familiar with each other as they played earlier this season in mid-December.  Purdue won that game convincingly by 15.  Purdue looks like a team that has all of the parts for a deep run.  They will need to make sure that Carsen Edwards, Isaac Haas, and Matt Haarms are playing at a high level to see that deep run through.  Butler plays a closer game, but ultimately loses.  I think their kryptonite is their ball movement.  The Bulldogs, in their great wins, moved the ball well.  Even if their typical personnel ended up shooting the ball, they didn’t have to create space.  Purdue moves on.

Sweet 16

1 vs. 4 -Villanova vs. Wichita State – The Wildcats will have a tough match-up against the Shockers, a team that resembles Villanova’s style of play in some ways.  Both teams don’t get too rattled and are confident in their game plan.  I think Villanova makes more shots than Wichita State which sees them move on.

3 vs. 2 – Texas Tech vs. Purdue – Purdue is one of the most complete teams in the country which is why I think they won’t have too difficult of a time getting to this point in the tournament.  The one thing that can spell trouble is if they go cold from the 3-point line.  Texas Tech, when they play well, can compete with any team in the country.  They’re lack of consistency has me wary of them though.  Boilermakers move on.

Elite 8

1 vs. 2 – Villanova vs. Purdue – Two very complete teams, if this game should happen, it will be highly competitive.  I think Purdue’s ability to utilize their bigs down low and spread the floor will allow for the Boilermakers to take and make some open looks from 3.  I have the Boilermakers moving on.

Midwest Region

Round of 64

1 vs. 16 – Kansas vs. Penn – Kansas was on the ropes this season, having lost multiple times at home, a rare occurrence under Bill Self.  Now having won 13 straight Big 12 titles, Kansas has another opportunity to make a deep run.  They have been historically weak in the NCAA which causes concern for people wanting to pick Kansas to make a run through to second or third weekend.  To this point, if a 16 seed ever had a chance to beat a 1 seed, it’s this game.  Penn has a slow, efficient team that has a good chance to scare Kansas.  I still think the Jayhawks win this game.

8 vs. 9 – Seton Hall vs. NC State – Seton Hall, a roster filled with seniority, has not performed in the way I thought they would.  They are a strong team, but their seeding supports the idea that they can play well or poorly in a given game.  With the Wolfpack as an opening opponent, the Pirate’s must like their chances to secure an opportunity to play Kansas.  NC State has had great wins and questionable losses, making them a difficult team to project.

5 vs. 12 – Clemson vs. New Mexico State – The Tigers have had a stellar season and enter the tournament against a very strong New Mexico State team.  Clemson will be without a key player though which puts them on upset watch.  My analytical mind tells me to go with New Mexico State, yet my gut says Clemson.  Tigers move on.

4 vs. 13 – Auburn vs. Charleston – Bruce Pearl, after having lost 2 players and an assistant coach to the FBI probe that broke before the season began, has led his team to a surprising seeding.  Their opportunistic style of play makes them fun to watch.  Charleston, making the tournament for the first time in years, has a difficult match up.  I think Auburn wins this game and moves on even without one of their best players.

6 vs. 11 – TCU  vs. Arizona State – The Horned Frogs had consistently been in the top 25 for an early portion of the season. A few losses here and there saw Jamie Dixon’s team fall out of the national spotlight, but they haven’t fallen too far. The conundrum that is Arizona State is their ability to shoot the ball well in this one. Dixon generally has sound defensive teams.

3 vs. 14 – Michigan State vs. Bucknell – The Spartans begin their tournament run against the Patriot league champions, Bucknell. Michigan State’s coach, Tom Izzo, was surprised by the return of a projected NBA pick last season.  The Spartans should have little trouble handling Bucknell.

7 vs. 10 – Rhode Island vs. Oklahoma – Rhode Island, after a strong conference showing, lost to Davidson in the A10 title game.  For the past two years, the Rams have been an under the radar team to keep tabs on.  Their opponent, Oklahoma, is the first team to make the tournament after finishing the season on a 2-8 record over 10 games leading up to the tournament.  Oklahoma is electrifying when Trae Young is on, but beyond Young’s small supporting cast, the Sooners aren’t much of an opponent.  If young takes a high volume of shots, I expect Rhode Island to move on without question.  Hopefully the committee doesn’t make a similar mistake next year by allowing an undeserving team into the tournament.

2 vs. 15 – Duke vs. Iona – The Blue Devils, riddled with talent and a coach that has vast amounts of experience in the NCAA tournament begin with a difficult opponent in Iona.  Ultimately, I think Duke pulls away and wins big, but the continued development of the Blue Devil’s defense will see their season end abruptly or soldier on to the second weekend.

Round of 32

1 vs. 8 – Kansas vs. Seton Hall – I think Delgado and company don’t have what it takes to hang with Kansas in this so the Jayhawks move on.  It should be close early, but the Pirates are susceptible to poor shot selection.

5 vs. 4 – Clemson vs. Auburn – If both teams get here, it will be more impressive because they are both missing key players.  I think Auburn continues its run to the next round.

11 vs. 3 – Syracuse vs. Michigan State – Michigan State has only beat two opponents that are in the field this season.  Syracuse, by virtue of winning in the First Four and taking out an overseeded TCU team matchups up well, but the Spartans ability to stretch the zone defense sees them win.  Sparty moves on.

7 vs. 2 – Rhode Island vs. Duke – Unfortunately the Rams drew on the side of Duke and if they get past them, they meet Michigan State.  This is a difficult region to come out of on top.  It’s likely that whoever wins this region ends up as champion.  The Blue Devils, once abysmal on defense, especially in transition, grew over the season and have been become a stout defensive team.  Blue Devils move on.

Sweet 16

1 vs. 4 – Kansas vs. Auburn – Auburn’s run is cut short by a weak one-seeded Kansas team.  This will probably be the Jayhawks last win of the season in my opinion.

3 vs. 2 – Michigan State vs. Duke – In what should be a great game, I see Duke pulling away at the end, namely because of the ability to make shots.

Elite 8

1 vs. 2 – Kansas vs. Duke – Kansas’s defense is weaker than Duke’s.  The Jayhawks are also not as efficient and don’t share the ball as well.  Blue Devil’s move on.

Final Four

5 vs. 3 – Kentucky vs. Michigan – With Kentucky’s great run to the Final Four, Michigan looks to maintain it’s hot winning streak that sees them through to the championship game.

2 vs. 2 – Purdue vs. Duke – If this game happens, it will be a fun one because of the matchups of the bigs.  I think Duke’s bigs are more athletic and will draw out Purdue’s bigs.  Blue Devils move on.

Championship

3 vs. 2 Michigan vs. Duke – Again, a fun game that looms in the distance.  With the bigs of both teams and Michigan’s guards being able to draw multiple defenders and find the open man, there is a complimentary style of play that will provide for a lot of points.  I’m going with Duke as national champion this season.

 

 

Field of 68 Projection – March 10, 2018

The 1s: Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier

The 2s: North Carolina, Duke, Cincinnati, Purdue

The 3s: Tennessee, Michigan State, Michigan, Auburn

The 4s: West Virginia, Wichita State, Texas Tech, Arizona

The 5s: Gonzaga, Clemson, Kentucky, Ohio State

The 6s: Houston, Florida, Arkansas, Miami (FLA)

The 7s: TCU, Texas A&M, Seton Hall, Rhode Island

The 8s: Nevada, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Providence

The 9s: Creighton, Butler, Kansas State, Alabama

The 10s: St. Bonaventure, North Carolina State, Florida State, USC

The 11s: Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas, St. Mary’s (CA), Louisville, Loyola-Chicago

The 12s: New Mexico State, Western Kentucky, San Diego State, South Dakota State

The 13s: Buffalo, Murray State, UNC-Greensboro, College of Charleston

The 14s: Montana, Bucknell, Wright State, Georgia State

The 15s: Pennsylvania, Lipscomb, Maryland-Baltimore County

The 16s: UC Irvine, Radford, Southeastern Louisiana, LIU-Brooklyn, Texas Southern, North Carolina Central

Big East Tournament 2018 Predictions

 

Updated March 9 9:26 a.m.

 

 

We are in the midst of Championship Week, the height and conclusion where all college basketball teams will, for the most part, know if they are going dancing in the NCAA tournament.  The Big East begins their first round tournament games this evening at Madison Square Garden for the the thirty-sixth consecutive year.

First Round

St. John’s – Georgetown:  St. John’s is playing in their home away from home.  This can essentially be considered a home game for the Johnnies.  That gives them an advantage.  However, Georgetown’s size will stretch the Red Storm into taking awkward, more difficult shots.  If those shots are falling, St. John’s moves onto the Quarterfinals.  Give me St. John’s in this one.

Marquette – DePaul:  Marquette has one of the best shooting back courts in America – if they are firing on all cylinders.  DePaul has made leaps and bounds progress as a team since last year, keeping most of their Big East conference games competitive.  The Golden Eagles have been so up and down, it’s difficult to choose a winner in this one.  During the season, Marquette won at home by 18, DePaul won at home by 8.  I think this one is close and DePaul comes out on top.

Quarterfinals

St. John’s – Xavier: The Johnnies pulled out a win over an athletic and skilled Georgetown team.  They’ve gone toe-to-toe against Xavier too.  The Red Storm has shown they are capable of taking down high caliber teams.  I don’t see them dismantling Xavier.  Musketeers move on.

Creighton – Providence:  This game will be interesting played out on a neutral court.  It was a drubbing against Providence when they visited the Bluejays.  The Friars held their own when Creighton visited.  The Friars are 2-3 in their last 5 games.  I’m going with Creighton.  Their uptempo, share the ball first mindset carries them to a date with Xavier.

Marquette-Villanova: The Wildcats were pushed in both conference games against the Golden Eagles this season, winning 100-90 and 85-82.  If Marquette’s three-headed attack of Andrew Rowsey, Markus Howard, and Sam Hauser are firing on all cylinders, they have a chance to end Villanova’s conference tournament run much earlier than expected.  The consistent, level-headed play by the Wildcats has me picking them to move on, however.

Seton Hall – Butler: For the second time since the new-look Big East formed, Butler and Seton Hall finished the regular season playing each other and then meet one another in the first round of the conference tournament.  Butler was not grounded defensively in their final regular season match-up, which has been the case over the course of the season.  Seton Hall will have all four seniors back, a different look than last Saturday when two were out for the game.  The Bulldogs are favored to win, but it depends on which team shows up for them.  The Bulldogs are 2-5 in their last 7 games.  I think  the Pirates move on.

Semifinals:

Xavier – Providence: This season saw these two teams split the home and home match up, both winning on their own floor.  Providence will have to move the ball to get open looks.  I think the Friars have what it takes today to take down Xavier.  The Musketeers play an uptempo brand of basketball which makes it difficult to guard them, especially in transition.  I think Providence keeps it close enough where they eek out a win.

Villanova – Butler: Butler is going to need consistent shooting in this one coupled with stout defense if they’d like to move on.  Last night’s inspiring win over Seton Hall shows the Bulldogs can play at a high level.  They need to string together a full game to be in this one against Villanova.  The Wildcats displayed great shooting and sharing the ball in their win over Marquette yesterday.  To be fair, Marquette is abysmal on defense.  It’s no wonder the Wildcats had so many open shots.  The Golden Eagles rank 176 out of 351 division-I teams according to Kenpom.  Nova ranks first in the nation in effective field goal percentage.  Villanova moves on.

This article will be updated.

Conference Tournaments

Conference tournaments begin this week and for the first time, I will spend time predicting each conference tournament game to be played!  I won’t go too deep into explanation for some tournaments as I’ve never seen some of the teams play.  Generally in earlier tournaments, I will generally pick the favorite (higher seeded team) to win.

Atlantic Sun

Quarterfinals

8 USC Upstate at 1 Florida Gulf Coast – FGCU

6 Kennesaw State at 3 Jacksonville – Kennesaw State

5 North Florida at 4 NJIT – NJIT

7 Stetson at 2 Lipscomb – Lipscomb

Semifinals

6 Kennesaw State at 2 Lipscomb – Lipscomb

4 NJIT at 1 Florida Gulf Coast – FGCU

Final

2 Lipscomb at 1 Florida Gulf Coast – FGCU

 

Ohio Valley

I love the Ohio Valley Conference tournament because it’s four straight days that begin with 4 teams vying to play the next day.  Every game is played at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.

First Round

5 Tennessee Tech vs. 8 SIUE – Tennessee Tech

6 Tennessee State vs. 7 Eastern Illinois – Tennessee State

Quarter Final

5 Tennessee Tech vs. 4 Jacksonville State – Jacksonville State

3 Austin Peay vs. 6 Tennessee State – Austin Peay

Semi Final

4 Jacksonville State vs. 1 Murray State – Murray State

3 Austin Peay vs. 2 Belmont – Belmont

Final

1 Murray State vs 2 Belmont – Murray State

 

 

***This page will be updated over the next week***

Big East Perspective

With two weeks remaining before the NCAA tournament bracket is released, the Big East still remains up for grabs and there is a logjam in the middle of the conference with seeding up for grabs for the Big East tournament.  The tournament begins Wednesday, March 7th and concludes Saturday, March 10th.    A couple observations to consider regarding every team entering the conference tournament are a team’s offensive and defensive efficiencies.  The Big East does not possess an overall strong defense.  7 of the 10 Big East teams are outside the top 50 in defensive efficiency in Kenpom’s ratings.  That’s not a good sign if a team wishes to make the Final Four or Championship game.  However, the deficiency in defense for the conference as a whole has not been much of a problem because of how highly efficient the offenses are.  6 Big East teams rank in the top 25 in Kenpom’s ratings.  This helps explain the trends seen this year during conference play, with high scoring games.  Here’s a quick look around the conference and possible outcomes of seeding for the tournament.

  1. Xavier 25-4 (13-3)  The Musketeers have arguably the easiest close to the regular season which means they are close to locking up their first Big East title.  As conferences gear up for the post season, teams refocus and look to string some wins together in the hopes of reserving a spot in the field of 68.  The Musketeers have no problems with offense, yet they rank 72nd in defensive efficiency according the kenpom.
  2. Villanova 26-3 (12-4)  Another road loss, this time at Creighton, has likely relegated the Wildcats to a second seed going into the Big East Tournament.  For the first time in the new look Big East, Villanova will be seeded something other than 1.  Second is nothing to be concerned about as the Wildcats continue to produce and compete at a high level.  It comes down to matchups during this part of the season and playing to your strengths, something Villanova does well.
  3. Seton Hall 20-9 (9-7)  The Pirates won a unique game at Providence this past week, playing the game over two days at two venues.  Due to unseasonable temperatures out east, condensation formed during the game, postponing play until Thursday morning.  Seton Hall has an odd resume to this point in the season, having won three straight games after dropping four consecutive before that.  The Pirates close with two home games, playing host to Villanova and Butler.  Closing out 10-8 in conference will be deemed a success.
  4. Creighton 20-9 (9-7)  The Bluejays found life and beat Villanova in overtime for a much needed win.  With games against DePaul and Marquette, the Bluejays have an opportunity to steal the 3 seed by going 11-7.  Creighton seems like they can go cold, however, and that does not bode well for a team looking to build consistency heading into the conference tournament.
  5. Butler 19-10 (9-7)  The Bulldogs rank second in both offensive and defensive efficiency according to kenpom.  That bodes well heading into March.  Butler has shown that they can play well against high level opponents, but then go to the opposite end of the spectrum and look lost against an opponent they should beat.  Will Butler win their first Big East tournament game?  The Bulldogs have potential to run the table in the conference tournament or lay an egg and go out after their first game.  Inconsistency has been the issue for Butler over this season.  If they can string together some consistent games, the Bulldogs will be dangerous.
  6. Providence 18-11 (9-7)  The Friars play Xavier and St. John’s to conclude the season, where they will most likely go 1-1 and finish the conference season at 10-8.  The Friars, at this point, are likely in the tournament.  A win in the Big East tournament will help.
  7. Marquette 16-12 (7-9)  The Golden Eagles are highly efficient on offense and essentially choose to not defend.  They have the widest gap between offensive and defensive efficiencies according to kenpom.
  8. Georgetown 15-12 (5-11)  The Hoyas seemed to have figured out a flow and style that work for them.  They can be dangerous in the tournament depending on matchups.
  9. DePaul 11-17 (4-12)  DePaul has shown promise this season and hope to continue to build a program that challenges the top half of the conference in the coming years.
  10. St. Johns 14-15 (3-13)  The Johnnies surprised me this conference season by starting 0-11, then rattling off 4 consecutive wins including against Duke and at Villanova.  They’ve been disappointing, but their identity changed when the injury bug hit them.  With their recent burst of winning, will the Red Storm challenge in the conference tournament and steal a game or two?

Field of 68 Projection – February 24, 2018

The 1s: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas

The 2s:Duke, UNC, Michigan State, Auburn

The 3s: Purdue, Arizona, Texas Tech, Cincinnati

The 4s: Wichita State, Tennessee, West Virginia, Gonzaga

The 5s: Ohio State, Kentucky, Clemson, Michigan

The 6s: FSU, Virginia Tech, Houston, Rhode Island

The 7s: Arizona State, Butler, NC State, Missouri

The 8s: Alabama, Miami (FL), Seton Hall, Arkansas

The 9s:Creighton, Florida, Texas A&M, TCU

The 10s: Nevada, Oklahoma, Providence, Kansas State

The 11s: Saint Mary’s (CA), Middle Tennessee, LSU, Texas, Baylor, Washington

The 12s: New Mexico State, Loyola Chicago, Louisiana, St. Bonaventure

The 13s: East Tennessee State, Vermont, Murray State, South Dakota State

The 14s: Bucknell, College of Charleston, Rider, Buffalo

The 15s: Montana, UC-Irvine, Northern Kentucky, Wagner

The 16s: Southern, Savannah State, Nicholls, Florida Gulf Coast, Penn, UNC-Asheville

 

 

Next update: Tuesday, February 27

Field of 68 Projection – February 20, 2018

There are just 19 days until the 2018 NCAA Men’s bracket is revealed.  The lack of consistency across for teams ranked in the top third creates an uncertainty in predicting seed lines.  I don’t expect drastic fluctuations, but the volatility, especially the top 5 and 10 teams, has opened doors for teams to move fluidly.

The NCAA is transitioning what the committee looks at when deciding who is in the tournament and where they are seeded.  Below is a photo the NCAA shared back in December.  I’m going to create a similar resume sheet for teams that are living on the bubble over the next two weeks as a way to give insight and allow readers to mull over which teams are deserving to be invited to the tournament.

 

The 1’s: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas

The 2’s: Auburn, Purdue, Duke, Michigan State

The 3’s: Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Clemson, North Carolina

The 4’s: Ohio State, Tennessee, Arizona, Gonzaga

The 5’s: Wichita State, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Texas A&M

The 6’s: Kentucky, Michigan, Arizona State, Nevada

The 7’s: Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida State

The 8’s: Florida, Creighton, Houston, Arkansas

The 9’s: St. Mary’s (CA), Butler, TCU, Seton Hall

The 10’s: Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Providence, Kansas State

The 11’s: Louisville, Texas, St. Bonaventure, Baylor, NC State, Penn State

The 12’s: Loyola – Chicago, Buffalo, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State

The 13’s: Louisiana – Lafayette, Vermont, South Dakota State, East Tennessee State

The 14’s: Belmont, Montana, College of Charleston, Rider

The 15’s: Penn, Bucknell, UC Santa Barbara, Northern Kentucky

The 16’s: Nicholls State, Wagner, Florida Gulf Coast, Savannah State, Savannah State, Southern

 

Next update: Saturday, February 24

Butler Preview vs. Creighton

It seems odd to be writing about a Senior Day for Butler on February 20th, but here we are!  Today, the Butler Bulldogs host the Creighton Bluejays.  Regardless of outcome, the Butler basketball team and fans will be celebrating the successful careers of Tyler Wideman and Kelan Martin.

Beginning in his sophomore season, Tyler Wideman has started every game he has played in, playing an instrumental role down in the lane.  Listed at 6-8, he has always demonstrated hard work, fighting to put up shots and grab rebounds off the glass.  In his senior season, he is averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds.  He recently scored a career high 23 points in a win at Marquette.  Although he gives up a few inches, he is always fighting for position and hustling down the floor.  It’s been fun watching him grow over the past four seasons.  Tyler currently leads the Big East in field goal percentage at 69.9% from the floor.

The second senior joining Wideman in playing his last game in Hinkle is 6-6 forward, Kelan Martin.  Martin has grown immensely at Butler since he joined the team, especially in the last 2 seasons.  His maturity on the court has been critical to Butler’s success.  Over his career, he has averaged 14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  During his senior season, Martin has averaged 20.7 points, currently placing him third in the Big East, behind only Shamorie Ponds of St. John’s and Markus Howard of Marquette.

In their first outing of Big East play, Creighton dismantled Butler, running out to a 49-32 halftime lead.  The game was never seriously in doubt from about 10 minutes into the first half.  Creighton moves the ball well and Butler looked lost for a majority of the game.  One difference is the Bluejays will be without Martin Krampelj due to a season-ending knee injury.

What to expect:

Creighton plays an uptempo offense.  According to kenpom, the Bluejays have the eighth shortest length of possession at just over 15 seconds every trip down the floor.  Because of this pace, Creighton consistenly touches at least 70 possessions each game, maxing out at 84 possessions on two occasions this season.  The Bluejays will look to push the tempo against Butler.  Butler has been horrendous in transition defense in the 3-4 games before beating Providence.  Even then, the Bulldogs didn’t look great in the first half.

The frightening stat from the last time these two teams met that Butler needs to limit are the assists.  Creighton assisted on 23 of the 33 made baskets.

I spoke of Kelan Martin’s maturity earlier in this write up and he will have to display that this evening.  He was lethargic at best, going 5-12 and scoring 10 points with 6 turnovers in the January matchup.

Creighton has a system that works when the ball is moving.  Butler will need to play strong defensively.  According to Haslametrics, Creighton ranks 11th in near-proximity percentage, at 72.23%.  I foresee Butler playing a pack defense in the lane forcing Creighton to make shots from 15 feet.  If Creighton is on, it will be a rough night for Butler.

Butler has come across tentative in driving the ball until the second half of the Providence game.  Driving the ball in the lane and going up strong forces the referees to make a decision.  If there is help side defense, where a second defender is forced to come over to help stop the person driving the ball, it leaves someone open.  Butler will have to be crisp in their passing to get this win.

 

Field of 68 Projection – February 16, 2018

The 1’s: Virginia, Xavier, Purdue, Villanova

The 2’s: Auburn, Kansas, Cincinnati, Michigan State

The 3’s: Duke, Texas Tech, Clemson, Tennessee

The 4’s: Ohio State, North Carolina, Arizona, West Virginia

The 5’s: Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Gonzaga, Texas A&M

The 6’s: Wichita State, Kentucky, Creighton, Florida

The 7’s: Seton Hall, Arizona State, Miami (FL), St. Mary’s (CA)

The 8’s: Alabama, Nevada, TCU, Missouri

The 9’s: Michigan, Arkansas, Butler, Florida State

The 10’s: Virginia Tech, Houston, Providence, Louisville

The 11’s: NC State, Washington, UCLA, Kansas State, Texas, Syracuse

The 12’s: Loyola – Chicago, Vermont, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State

The 13’s: Louisiana – Lafayette, Buffalo, South Dakota State, East Tennessee State

The 14’s: Belmont, Montana, College of Charleston, UC Santa Barbara

The 15’s: Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, Rider, Northern Kentucky

The 16’s: Nicholls State, Wagner, Penn, Savannah State, NC-Asheville, Arkansas Pine-Bluff

 

The next Field of 68 update will be on Tuesday, February 20th.  You can read an update on the landscape of Big East basketball heading into the final few weeks of the regular season here: Big East Perspective and Butler Preview vs. Providence