Articles By David Fox

Path: /college-basketball/memphis-dj-stephens-enters-name-block-tournament-contention
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Memphis' 6-foot-5 guard D.J. Stephens continued to audition for the NCAA Tournament highlight reel with this athletic block of Michigan State's Adreian Payne in the first half.

Stephens' four blocks in the first half, including on back-to-back Michigan State possessions, helped Memphis crawl back from a 13-point deficit to a three-point Michigan State lead at halftime.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner gets plenty of credit for recruiting McDonald's All-Americans, but Stephens was a true find. Pastner admits he lucked into landing a "no-star" recruit, who now may be his most valuable player.

And in another lucky break, viewers got Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery on the call for Memphis in the Tournament.

Teaser:
<p> Memphis' D.J. Stephens enters name in Block of the Tournament contention</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 15:56
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-march-madness-schedule-saturday
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The NCAA Tournament has moved into the weekend where tickets to the Sweet 16 will be punched. Now that we’re into the Saturday slate of games, hopefully you don't have to sneak away from work to catch the action.

Here’s everything you need to know for Saturday’s slate of games, including the TV schedule, the network, announcers, predictions and bits of knowledge for all eight games to start the weekend.

From Friday's action:
Florida Gulf Coast upsets Georgetown

Henderson carries Ole Miss

La Salle sets up unlikely matchup

SATURDAY NCAA TOURNAMENT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m., Eastern

No. 5 VCU vs. No. 4 Michigan
Time and TV: 12:15, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., South
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Every other No. 4 seed will catch a No. 12 in the round of 32, but Michigan catches a VCU team that defeated undermanned Akron 88-42. The Rams’ 46-point win was the biggest margin of victory for a team seeded third or lower until Syracuse defeated Montana by 47.
Game in a Tweet: VCU’s winning number for forcing turnovers is 15, a mark Michigan hit once this season.
Prediction: VCU

No. 6 Memphis vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Time and TV: 2:45, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., Midwest
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Josh Pastner finally picked up his first NCAA Tournament win as Memphis’ coach. His prize? Michigan State, which suddenly has another big force in Derrick Nix (23 points, 15 rebounds in the round of 64 against Valparaiso).
Game in a Tweet: Tom Izzo is 10-2 in the round of 32.
Prediction: Michigan State

No. 8 Colorado State vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 5:15, CBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., Midwest
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Colorado State’s Dorian Green, limited with an ankle sprain late in the season, scored 26 points against Missouri. Now, he’ll face the Louisville press that had 20 steals against North Carolina A&T.
Game in a Tweet: Colorado State has five all-time Tourney wins, or one fewer than Louisville had last year.
Prediction: Louisville

No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 6 Arizona
Time and TV: 6:10, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Mark Lyons, a question mark entering the Tournament, scored 23 points in his round of 64 matchup against Belmont.
Game in a Tweet: Who says Harvard is a year away? Can Crimson match Cornell’s 2010 Sweet 16 from the Ivy?
Prediction: Arizona

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 4 Saint Louis
Time and TV: 7:10, TBS
Site and region: San Jose, Midwest
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Saint Louis’ Dwayne Evans will face off against defensive whiz Arsalan Kazemi (29 rebounds the last two games).
Game in a Tweet: The two teams trailed for a combined 2:13 in their wins Thursday.
Prediction: Saint Louis

No. 6 Butler vs. No. 3 Marquette
Time and TV: 7:45, CBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., East
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Who gets hot from long range first? Butler started 0 of 13 from three-point range against Bucknell, Marquette started 1 of 12 from three against Davidson.
Game in a Tweet: Marquette is seeking to be one of five teams with a chance to play in the last three Sweet 16s.
Prediction: Butler

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga
Time and TV: 8:40, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Where did Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early come from? He scored 21 points against Pitt after scoring a total of 15 in the Missouri Valley Tournament. The same could be said of Malcolm Armstead who scored 50 combined in the MVC final and against Pitt.
Game in a Tweet: Of the 11 No. 1s with a single-digit scare vs. No. 16, only two lost their next game.
Prediction: Gonzaga

No. 12 Cal vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Time and TV: 9:40, TBS
Site and region: San Jose, East
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Cal switched from a primarily man-to-man defense to a full-time zone to defeat UNLV. For its efforts, Cal draws Syracuse’s steadfast zone defense.
Game in a Tweet: Syracuse had 21 assists on 27 field goals in the Montana rout.
Prediction: Syracuse

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Schedule for Saturday</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/florida-gulf-coast-knocks-georgetown-biggest-upset-2013-tournament
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Andy Enfield has already been living a Cinderella existence. For starters, he convinced a supermodel to go to a St. John's NIT game for a first date. Then he married said supermodel.

For at least a day or so, the former Amanda Marcum will be the second-most famous name in her marriage. Enfield turned Florida Gulf Coast into the story of the NCAA Tournament so far as the 15th-seeded Eagles upset Big East champion Georgetown 78-68.

There are Cinderella stories, and there’s Florida Gulf Coast. For starters:

♦ Florida Gulf Coast didn’t have its first student until 1997.
♦ When it’s campus opened in Fort Myers, the student body got up close and personal with wildlife: “There were a couple dorm rooms and that was it. You’d see wild animals — wild boar, bobcats, alligators — crossing the road. It was unbelievable," FGCU senior Eddie Murray told the Newark Star-Ledger.
♦ FGCU wasn’t even eligible for the NCAA Tournament until two seasons ago.

From an upset perspective, the wins for No. 15 seeds are starting to pile up.

After No. 2 seeds went undefeated in the first round from 2003-11, two lost in the round of 64 last season (Duke to Lehigh and Missouri to Norfolk State). Now, three No. 2 seeds have lost in two seasons.

Or in other words, three of the seven No. 15 wins in the first round have come in the last two tournaments.

As Florida Gulf Coast cheers, Georgetown looks for answers. The Big East regular season champion Hoyas have exited the Tournament in the first weekend in each of their last five trips to the Tournament since reaching the Final Four in 2007.

The teams that upset Georgetown: No. 10 seed Davidson in 2008, No. 14 Ohio in 2010, No. 11 VCU in 2011, No. 11 NC State in 2012 and now No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast.

This latest Georgetown loss wasn’t even close at times. The Hoyas missed 10 consecutive shots at one point in the second half and trailed by as much as 19 in the second. Only a late burst powered by Markel Starks’ free throws and back-to-back threes made it close late.

Teaser:
<p> Florida Gulf Coast knocks off Georgetown for biggest upset of 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 22:10
Path: /college-basketball/ole-miss-la-salle-sets-2013s-most-unlikely-ncaa-tournament-pairing
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The Sweet 16 will feature either Ole Miss or La Salle.

Let that sink in a bit. Ole Miss and La Salle have been also-rans in their leagues for roughly a decade, and now one of them will reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Just to be clear, the fact that Ole Miss is a No. 12 seed and La Salle is a No. 13 is probably the least strange part about this round of 32 matchup:

♦ Neither program made the NCAA Tournament from 2002 to this season. La Salle hadn’t been to the Tournament since 1992 and had won only one Tournament game since 1955.

♦ Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson made one field goal in the first half, and the Rebels still defeated Wisconsin. La Salle hit only three field goals in the second half against Kansas State and still won.

♦ Both coaches entered the season under some pressure to reach the NCAA Tournament. The pressure was more on Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy, who had the Rebels in the NIT in five of the previous six seasons. La Salle’s John Giannini had not won 20 games in a season at La Salle through his first seven seasons before winning 21 last season.

And both have an affinity for the Landshark gesture (gif from The Big Lead):

 

Teaser:
<p> Ole Miss-La Salle sets up 2013's most unlikely NCAA Tournament pairing</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 18:18
Path: /college-basketball/henderson-keeps-ole-miss-advancing-ncaa-tournament-upset
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The Marshall Henderson Experience continues.

College basketball’s most divisive player will be mandatory watching for at least one more game as the Oe Miss guard heated up in the second half in the Rebels’ 57-46.

Henderson struggled to make shots for most of the game, but the law of averages being what it is, Henderson scored 16 of his 19 points in the final 11 minutes. Henderson started 1 of 13 from the field, but starting midway through the second half, he hit five of his final eight shots, including a 30-footer.

Wisconsin entered the game  allowing opponents to make 3.9 three pointers per game and shot 29.2 percent from the field. Ole Miss didn’t even match that but still earned a comfortable win. The Rebels hit three three-pointers (all from Henderson) and shot 20 percent from beyond the arc.

During his post-game press conference, Henderson, as usual, departed from the sports cliches:

MARSHALL HENDERSON:  "Yeah, I was just waiting for that first three to go down.  Couple of you guys in here followed us throughout the entire year.  Y'all know I told you all along Coach Kennedy has told me I've got to be, what is it?"
COACH ANDY KENNEDY:  "Serial killer.  But we won't say that in this environment."

And then a moment of introspection on his early struggles:

"How does this happen?  I've shot like 20 hundred million shots in my day.  Now that I make the NCAA tournament, why does this happen? The only thing that was running through my head was the Pittsburgh game, Tray Woodall, he's done so much for that program.  I thought he shot 1 for 12, probably played his worst game.  I felt so bad for him after everything that he had done, that was kind of going through my head.  'Man, I'm a fluke.'"

As a side note, how much of an intriguing coaching candidate will Andy Kennedy be? The Ole Miss coach started the season on the hot seat after going to the NIT in five or six seasons, and now he’s led the Rebels to their fourth NCAA Tournament win in school history and first since 2001.

Will he be considered a product of Henderson’s play or will he be given credit for not letting Henderson’s antics derail the season? It’s worth noting Ole Miss held Wisconsin, a 42.5 percent shooting team, to 15 of 59 from the field. The Rebels’ underrated frontcourt of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner combined for 19 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks.

 

 

Teaser:
<p> Henderson keeps Ole Miss advancing in NCAA Tournament upset</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 15:47
Path: /college-basketball/gonzaga-survives-scare-no-1-seed-ncaa-tournament
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The first win for a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed will have to wait. At least until tonight or tomorrow, if not next season.

Southern gave Gonzaga a scare keeping its round of 64 game close all the way to to the end in a 64-58 loss Thursday. Southern had the game tied at 56 with 3:47 remaining before guard Kevin Pangos led Gonzaga’s comeback with seven of the Bulldogs’ last 10 points and an assist on Gary Bell Jr.'s three-pointer.

In a game that included the son of John Stockton (Gonzaga's David Stockon) and Manute Bol (Southern's Madut Bol) Southern followed a tried-and-true method for an NCAA upset by hitting 10 of 23 three-point shots, but Gonzaga’s star center Kelly Olynyk  was too much in the second half for the SWAC champs.

If there was going to be a No. 16 over a No. 1 upset in this Tournament, Gonzaga’s game was a likely candidate. The Bulldogs were the last team selected as a No. 1 seed, and Southern was the only No. 16 seed to win both its regular season and conference tournament titles.

So what does this mean for Gonzaga? The Bulldogs are the 12th No. 1 seed of the 64-team era to defeat a No. 16 seed by fewer than 10 points and only the second since 1997.

Here’s how the others fared for the remainder of the Tournament. The tally includes one team reaching the title game, two reaching the Final Four, two reaching the Elite Eight, three reaching the Sweet 16 and two losing in their second-round game.

2013: Gonzaga def. Southern 64-58
2012: Syracuse def. UNC Asheville 72-65 (lost in Elite Eight to Ohio State)
1997: North Carolina def. Fairfield 82-74 (lost in Final Four to Arizona)
1996: Purdue def. Western Carolina 73-71 (lost in second round to Georgia)
1996: Connecticut def. Colgate 68-59 (lost in Sweet 16 to Mississippi State)
1990: Michigan State def. Murray State 75-71 in OT (lost in Sweet 16 to Georgia Tech)
1989: Georgetown def. Princeton 50-49 (lost in Elite Eight to Duke)
1989: Oklahoma def. East Tennessee State 72-71 (lost in Sweet 16 to Virginia)
1989: Illinois def. McNeese State 77-71 (lost in Final Four to Michigan)
1986: Duke def. Mississippi Valley State 85-78 (lost in championship game to Louisville)
1986: St. John’s def. Montana State 83-74 (lost in second round to Auburn)
1985: Michigan def. Fairleigh Dickinson 59-55 (lost in second round to Villanova)

Teaser:
<p> Gonzaga survives scare as No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 19:23
Path: /college-basketball/vander-blue-keeps-marquette-alive-ncaa-tournament
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Marquette busted out of a three-pointer slump just in time against Davidson, but the Golden Eagles didn’t dash the Wildcats’ upset hopes until a layup in the final seconds.

Marquette’s Vander Blue picked up the first bona fide game-winning shot of this year's Tournament on a drive to the basket in the final second of play for a layup to give the Golden Eagles a 59-58 win.

Davidson led by as much as nine in the second half, but went cold from long range and the free-throw line. The Wildcats missed two three-pointers and the front end of two one-and-ones to allow Marquette to narrow the gap.

Marquette, a 30.1 percent three-point shooting team during the regular season, missed 11 of its first 12 shots beyond the arc but quickly hit a hot streak late with three three-point shots in a row, including one from Blue to narrow the lead to two.

Before Blue’s game-winner, Davidson attempted to save a loose ball rolling out of bounds but failed, setting up Marquette for the go-ahead possession.

 The win helped Marquette pick up a round of 64 win in four of five seasons under Buzz Williams.

Teaser:
<p> Vander Blue keeps Marquette alive in NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 18:26
Path: /college-basketball/memphis-avoids-becoming-ncaa-tournaments-first-buzzer-beater-victim
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The whirlwind travel schedule finally caught up to Saint Mary’s.

After traveling from Moraga, Calif., to Dayton on Monday to defeat Middle Tennessee in the First Four on Tuesday, the Gaels skipped out of Ohio to go to Auburn Hills, Mich., against Memphis.

Memphis led by nine with three minutes to go, but Eividas Petrulis hit a three-pointer in the final five seconds to give Saint Mary’s a chance at the win. The Gaels’ deflected Memphis’ inbound pass of Tigers guard Joe Jackson to set up the potential game-winning shot.

The Tournament’s first chance at a buzzer-beater, though, missed wide with an airball from Matthew Dellavedova.

On the other side, Memphis got a much-needed NCAA Tournament win, the first under coach Josh Pastner. The fourth-year coach had been under pressure for a lack of big wins in his tenure, including Tournament losses to fifth-seeded Arizona and ninth-seeded Saint Louis. Pastner will have a shot at an even bigger win Saturday against third-seeded Michigan State.

Teaser:
<p> Memphis avoids becoming NCAA Tournament's first buzzer-beater victim</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 17:50
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournaments-first-big-star-sim-bhullar-emphasis-big
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Photo courtesy of nmstatesports.com.

The breakout star of the early round of NCAA Tournament games was kind of like the pace of the first block of games: Slow and lumbering.

The nation got to know New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar, who happens to be the tallest player in college basketball at 7-foot-5 and 340 pounds.

Bhullar, a Toronto-born freshman who played at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, is a defensive force, as one would imagine. He scored 10.2 points per game in the WAC and blocked a school record 82 shots. In the 64-44 loss to Saint Louis, he had 11 rebounds and scored four points.

But he was the star of the Tourney for a few minutes. That is, until his brother, Tanveer Bhullar, lands on a college roster. He's a mere 7-3.

Here's what others are saying about Sim Bhullar on Twitter:

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> The NCAA Tournament's first "big" star: Sim Bhullar (emphasis on big)</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 16:46
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-march-madness-viewers-guide-march-22
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Thursday (March 21) and Friday (March 22) will feature 16 NCAA Tournament games across four networks. An almost-continuous stream of college basketball will be fun, but it could be tiring.

Here’s everything you need to know for Friday’s slate of games, including the TV schedule, the network, announcers, predictions and bits of knowledge for each game Friday.

COMPLETE REGION PREVIEWS
East
| Midwest | South | West

FRIDAY NCAA TOURNAMENT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m., Eastern.

Related: Thursday NCAA Viewers Guide

No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke
Time and TV: 12:15, CBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, Midwest
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: How valuable is Ryan Kelly? Duke lost to Lehigh last season without him. The Blue Devils are 18-1 this season with him in the lineup and 108-14 during his career.
Game in a Tweet: Seth Curry, Quinn Cook and Ryan Kelly spent their entire careers ranked in the AP top 10.
Prediction: Duke

Related: Our best tips for your bracket pool

No. 12 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
Time and TV: 12:40, truTV
Site and region: Kansas City, West
Announcers: Marv Albert and Steve Kerr
What to watch: Word of caution for the Badgers’ ability to advance: Wisconsin ranked 322nd nationally in free throw percentage (63.3 percent)
Game in a Tweet: Wisconsin limited opponents to 3.9 threes per game. Good luck, Marshall Henderson.
Prediction: Wisconsin

Related: 10 Cinderella candidates for 2013

No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 NC State
Time and TV: 1:40, TBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, East
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Temple guard Khalif Wyatt averaged 15.8 shots from the field and 11.4 attempts from the free throw line in his last five games. Can NC State limit his scoring chances?
Game in a Tweet: Temple has only one NCAA Tournament win in the last decade.
Prediction: Temple

No. 15 Pacific vs. No. 2 Miami
Time and TV: 2:10, TNT
Site and region: Austin, Texas, East
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
What to watch: Jim Larranaga had more Tournament wins during George Mason’s Final Four run in 2006 than his enitre roster has NCAA Tournament appearances (one, belonging to Florida transfer Kenny Kadji).
Game in a Tweet: Bob Thomasen has been at Pacific since 1988-89, three years after Miami re-started basketball.
Prediction: Miami

No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton
Time and TV: 2:45, CBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, Midwest
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: Cincinnati ranked ninth in the country in defensive efficiency (allowing 0.872 points per possession) and now faces the highest-scoring player in the field in Doug McDermott.
Game in a Tweet: Creighton had the highest effective field goal rate (59.1 percent) since 2006-07 Florida.
Prediction: Creighton

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 4 Kansas State
Time and TV: 3:10, truTV
Site and region: Kansas City, West
Announcers: Marv Albert and Steve Kerr
What to watch: Like guard play? Four of La Salle's top five scorers are guards. Five of Kansas State's top six scorers are in the backcourt.
Game in a Tweet: Bruce Weber went 7-2 in the NCAA Tournament in his first two seasons at Illinois.
Prediction: Kansas State

Related: Ranking the top 16 teams’ chances of reaching the Sweet 16

No. 16 James Madison vs. No. 1 Indiana
Time and TV: 4:10, TBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, East
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: James Madison did just fine without suspended leading scorer Rayshawn Goins for a half in the First Four. Up next: Indiana.
Game in a Tweet: Indiana used the same starting lineup in all but one game this season.
Prediction: Indiana

No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois
Time and TV: 4:40, TNT
Site and region: Austin, Texas, East
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
What to watch: The Illinois-Colorado game features the bottom two teams in the field in terms of assists per field goal (42 percent).
Game in a Tweet: Illinois and Colorado went a combined 20-20 after Jan. 1.
Prediction: Colorado

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown
Time and TV: 6:50, TBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, South
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: Otto Porter carried Georgetown a Big East title, can he carry the Hoyas to a Final Four?
Game in a Tweet: Georgetown’s last Final Four (2007) was FGCU’s last season before joining Division I.
Prediction: Georgetown

No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Time and TV: 7:15, CBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, West
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Iona features one player who averages 20 points per game (Arizona transfer Lamont Jones) and another who averages a double-double (David Laury)
Game in a Tweet: Ohio State hasn’t needed Deshaun Thomas to score 20 in any of its eight consecutive wins.
Prediction: Ohio State

No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina
Time and TV: 7:20, TNT
Site and region: Kansas City, South
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: Villanova leads nation by scoring 28.1 percent of its points on free throws.
Game in a Tweet: North Carolina is a No. 8 seed, its lowest since 2000, when it advanced to the Final Four as an 8.
Prediction: North Carolina

No. 14 Northwestern State vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 7:27, truTV
Site and region: Austin, Texas, South
Announcers: Tim Brando and Mike Gminski
What to watch: Florida leads the field in scoring defense (53.4 ppg) while Northwestern State is the “fastest” team in the field in terms of offensive possessions per game.
Game in a Tweet: The Gators were 0-6 in games decided by single digits. Who will be the first to challenge Florida?
Prediction: Florida

No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 San Diego State
Time and TV: 9:20, TBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, South
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: San Diego State has only two NCAA Tournament wins in school history. Both came in 2011, over Northern Colorado and Temple.
Game in a Tweet: Lon Kruger is the first coach to take five teams to the Tourney (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, OU)
Prediction: Oklahoma

No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame
Time and TV: 9:45, CBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, West
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Iowa State has nine players averaging between nine and 15 points per game. Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley is one of six players in the field averaging a double-double per game.
Game in a Tweet: Iowa State leads the field by scoring 37.1 percent of its points on threes.
Prediction: Iowa State

No. 16 Western Kentucky vs. No. 1 Kansas
Time and TV: 9:50, TNT
Site and region: Kansas City, South
Announcers: Marv Albert and Steve Kerr
What to watch: Kansas has held opponents to less than 40 percent shooting every season under Bill Self, including a nation-leading 36 percent this season.
Game in a Tweet: Kansas starts four seniors. Western Kentucky has two seniors on the roster.
Prediction: Kansas

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA
Time and TV: 9:57, truTV
Site and region: Austin, Texas, South
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
What to watch: Jordan Adams’ was UCLA’s leading scorer during the last four weeks of the season. His absence gives UCLA a six-man rotation.
Game in a Tweet: Pressure is on Howland and Tubby, is it deserved?
Prediction: Minnesota

Related: All Athlon Sports 2013 NCAA Tournament content

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Viewer's Guide (March 22)</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-thursday-viewers-guide
Body:

Thursday (March 21) and Friday (March 22) will feature 16 NCAA Tournament games across four networks. An almost-continuous stream of college basketball will be fun, but it could be tiring.

Here’s everything you need to know for Thursday’s slate of games, including the TV schedule, the network, announcers, predictions and bits of knowledge for each game Thursday.

COMPLETE REGION PREVIEWS
East
| Midwest | South | West

THURSDAY NCAA TOURNAMENT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m., Eastern.

No. 14 Valparaiso vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Time and TV: 12:15, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., Midwest
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: The Spartans played the nation’s toughest schedule according to KenPom.com, which is to say they played in the Big Ten and piled on with Kansas, Miami, Boise State and UConn.
Game in a Tweet: Kids, ask your folks about Bryce Drew’s shot 15 years ago. He’s coaching Valpo now.
Prediction: Michigan State

Related: Our best tips for your bracket pool

No. 11 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Butler
Time and TV: 12:40, truTV
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., East
Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Butler will get to know Bucknell’s stat-sheet stuffer Mike Muscala (19 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.4 bpg). The Bulldogs will need Rotnei Clarke to get hot from three-point land.
Game in a Tweet: Bucknell is 2–3 round of 64 games despite never being seeded higher than No. 9.
Prediction: Bucknell

Related: Bucknell among our top Cinderellas for 2013

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh
Time and TV: 1:40, TBS
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Both Jamie Dixon and Gregg Marshall are looking for that elusive second weekend. Dixon has been to the Sweet 16 once in four tries since 2007, Marshall has never been.
Game in a Tweet: Pitt outscored opponents by 9.5 points per game in the second half, best in the country.
Prediction: Pittsburgh

No. 13 New Mexico State vs. No. 4 Saint Louis
Time and TV: 2:10, TNT
Site and region: San Jose, Midwest
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Saint Louis forward Dwayne Evans has averaged 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds since Feb. 6.
Game in a Tweet: A WAC team hasn’t won a Tournament game since Nevada went to the Sweet 16 in 2004.
Prediction: Saint Louis

No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 11 Memphis
Time and TV: 2:35, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., Midwest
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Saint Mary's is 17-0 since Jan. 1 against teams not named Gonzaga. The Gaels are defeating those teams by an average of 14.8 points per game.
Game in a Tweet: Six players contribute between 10 and 18 percent of Memphis’ scoring.
Prediction: Memphis

No. 14 Davidson vs. No. 3 Marquette
Time and TV: 3:10, truTV
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., East
Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Marquette has advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons — as a No. 3 seed last year and a No. 11 in 2011.
Game in a Tweet: Davidson was the only team to make at least 80 percent of its free throws (80.1).
Prediction: Marquette

Related: How safe is Marquette for another Sweet 16: We rank the top teams

No. 16 Southern vs. No. 1 Gonzaga
Time and TV: 4:10, TBS
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Indiana and Michigan spent most of the season in the top two, but Gonzaga finished the season first in points per possession.
Game in a Tweet: Gonzaga’s rotation includes two from Canada, one from Germany and one from Ivory Coast.
Prediction: Gonzaga

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State
Time and TV: 4:40, TNT
Site and region: San Jose, Midwest
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart may be one of the nation’s most indispensable players, but Oregon is much better than a No. 12 seed with Dominic Artis in the lineup.
Game in a Tweet: Oregon has six players averaging at least 8.5 ppg.
Prediction: Oklahoma State

No. 16 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 6:50, TBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., Midwest
Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Peyton Siva took over during Tournament time last season. Are we seeing the same after Siva won Big East Tourney MVP honors?
Game in a Tweet: Rick Pitino has only two round of 64 exits in his career. He’ll still have two after this game.
Prediction: Louisville

No. 13 South Dakota State vs. No. 4 Michigan
Time and TV: 7:15, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., South
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Don’t expect to see free throws: Michigan and South Dakota State were No. 1 and 2 in the country in limiting their opponents’ trips to the line.
Game in a Tweet: Trey Burke and Nate Wolters average a combined 45.7 points and 13.8 assists per 40 minutes.
Prediction: Michigan

No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Arizona
Time and TV: 7:20, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Belmont has one of the field’s most dynamic backcourts with Ian Clark from the perimeter and Kerron Johnson driving to the basket.
Game in a Tweet: Arizona is on upset alert, but Coach Sean Miller is 4-1 in the round of 64.
Prediction: Belmont

No. 12 Cal vs. No. 5 UNLV
Time and TV: 7:27, truTV
Site and region: San Jose, East
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Despite being led by the backcourt, Cal made the fewest three-pointers per game in the field (four).
Game in a Tweet: UNLV has only advanced to the Sweet 16 once — in 2007 as a No. 7 seed — since Jerry Tarkanian was forced out in 1992.
Prediction: Cal

No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Colorado State
Time and TV: 9:20, TBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., Midwest
Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Colorado State led the nation in rebound rate despite only one regular (leading scorer and rebounder Colton Iverson) taller than 6-6.
Game in a Tweet: The starting lineups feature a combined five transfers plus a first-year coach at Colorado State.
Prediction: Colorado State

No. 12 Akron vs. No. 5 VCU
Time and TV: 9:45, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., South
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: VCU picked up 11.2 extra scoring chances per game, nearly three more pre game than No. 2 Louisville.
Game in a Tweet: Take away suspended point guard Alex Abreu, and Akron has a 0.87 assist-to-turnover ratio. Good luck against VCU.
Prediction: VCU

No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 3 New Mexico
Time and TV: 9:50, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: The Lobos will look to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1974.
Game in a Tweet: New Mexico leads the field by assisting on 66.5 percent of its made shots.
Prediction: New Mexico

No. 13 Montana vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Time and TV: 9:57, truTV
Site and region: San Jose, East
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Which Syracuse shows up? Syracuse is 8–8 in its last 16 games. The Orange opened the season with an 18–1 record.
Game in a Tweet: Montana’s coaching pedigree: Jud Heathcote, Mike Montgomery, Stew Morrill, Larry Krystkowiak
Prediction: Syracuse

Related: All Athlon Sports 2013 NCAA Tournament content
 

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For every upset early in the NCAA Tournament, there’s a team on the other end heading home with unfulfilled expectations.

The top four seeds enjoy the most beneficial status in the field -- playing closer to home, playing against weaker competition. But every year, some of these will watch the Sweet 16 from their couches.

The No. 1 seeds are overwhelmingly favored to escape the second weekend, but that percentage drops with the No. 2 seeds and furthermore with the next eight teams.

Who could those early exits be this season? Which among the top 16 teams in the field are looking like upset bait and which look like sure things for the NCAA Tournament?

We ranked each of the top four seeds in each region from the most likely to last only one or two games in the Tournament to the most likely to advance to the Sweet 16.

Related: All Athlon Sports 2013 NCAA Tournament content

WHO COULD FLOP IN THE 2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT?
Ranking the top 16 seeds from upset bait to sure things


1. Michigan (No. 4 seed in the South)
It’s been easy to hype up South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters, but it’s going to be a tall talk for him to outplay Trey Burke, though it’s not impossible. VCU could be the toughest second-game opponent for any of the top 16 seeds, especially on one day’s rest. At 6-6 down the stretch, Michigan did not look like a team that wants any part of Shaka Smart’s defensive pressure.

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2. Kansas State (No. 4 seed in the West)
Bruce Weber may have the toughest scouting assignment in the first round, preparing for either Boise State’s up-tempo team or La Salle’s sound defense in the round of 64. After that, Kansas State could face a suffocating defensive team in Wisconsin or the sometimes-unhinged play of Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson. Playing in Kansas City will be a major advantage, though.

3. Florida (No. 3 seed in the South)
At one point, the Gators may have been our top team pegged for an early exit. Florida is 0-6 in games decided by single digits and was less than impressive playing away from Gainesville. The Gators shouldn’t have much trouble with an up-tempo Northwestern State team in the round of 64, and their second round opponents are less than inspiring. UCLA struggled with chemistry all season and now will miss one of the most valuable players in Jordan Adams. Minnesota has intriguing pieces to stage an upset with Trevor Mbakwe’s offensive rebounding and Andre Hollins boom-or-bust play, but the Gophers are limping into the Tournament.

Related: Our best tips for your bracket pool

4. Miami (No. 2 seed in the East)
The Hurricanes rebounded nicely from their late-season offensive woes to win the ACC Tournament. The Canes have the veterans, the balance, the talent and the coach to make a deep run in the Tournament, but they’re short on meaningful postseason experience. If Illinois has one of its hot-shooting nights, the Illini are capable of an upset, and Colorado’s Andre Roberson could cause problems for the Canes’ Kenny Kadji. Both Illinois’ and Colorado’s best days came before calendar turned to 2013, so they’ll have to regain form in a hurry.

5. Ohio State (No. 2 seed in the West)
Defending Iona’s Momo Jones in round of 64 will be tough, but Aaron Craft is up to the task. Seventh-seeded Notre Dame has had trouble advancing in the field over the years, so we’re more concerned about Iowa State. The Cyclones answered the call late in the season in defeating Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Iowa State also leads the country by making 9.8 three-pointers a game. If the Cyclones can get hot and stay hot from three, they have a chance.

6. Saint Louis (No. 4 seed in the Midwest)
Ask Michigan State how it feels about this Saint Louis group in the Tournament. Saint Louis came within four points of a Sweet 16 berth last season in a 65-61 loss to then-No. 1 seed Michigan State. Now, Jim Crews' team is playing its best basketabll of 2013. The Billikens haven’t lost a game in regulation since Jan. 12. What’s most worrisome about their draw is the round of 32, where they could face Oklahoma State’s precocious freshman Marcus Smart or an Oregon team that’s 21-4 with point guard Dominic Artis in the lineup. The Billikens still have the edge in experience with senior Kwamain Mitchell and junior Dwayne Ellis.

Related: 10 potential mid-major Cinderellas

7. Kansas (No. 1 seed in the South)
Bill Self is way beyond his early exit days in the NCAA Tournament, but the round of 32 should be of concern. North Carolina’s smaller lineup surged at the end of the season, and Villanova won’t be intimidated by playing a No. 1 seed. Both teams are capable of defeating a team that was prone to puzzling lapses this season (a three-game losing streak and a 23-point loss to Baylor).

8. Syracuse (No. 4 in the East)
The Orange might be more likely to be upset bait against a Montana team at full strength, but the 13th-seeded Grizzlies are without one of their three scorers averaging more than 13 points per game. If Syracuse advances, its fate may depend on which opponent shows up. UNLV has the talent to make a run to the Sweet 16 despite underachieving during the regular season. When he’s on, Anthony Bennett can be as good as any player in the Big East. Meanwhile, Cal is perhaps underseeded at No. 12 and will need its backcourt of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to take over.

Related: March Madness by the numbers

9. New Mexico (No. 3 in the West)
With only one senior and one junior, 14th-seeded Harvard probably doesn’t have the veterans to score an upset of this magnitude. Belmont may upset Arizona to face the Lobos, but do the Bruins have the ability to reach the Sweet 16? The most intriguing matchup for New Mexico may be Arizona. While New Mexico has been a balanced team with players like Kendall Williams, Tony Snell and Alex Kirk all able to carry their share, Arizona struggled to put its pieces together. The Wildcats still be able to push the pace on New Mexico.

10. Georgetown (No. 2 seed in the South)
We’re going to assume this Hoyas team is too good to lose to a No. 15 seed. The real questions are in the next round. No. 7 seed San Diego State, who face a non-descript Oklahoma team in the round of 64, will be one of the few teams with a player as valuable to his own team (Jamaal Franklin) as Otto Porter is to the Hoyas.

11. Gonzaga (No. 1 seed in the West)
The Bulldogs will face the strongest No. 16 seed in Southern, the only 16 seed to win both its regular season and conference tournament titles. No. 8 Pittsburgh and No. 9 Wichita State are solid teams, but Pittsburgh may be the most worrisome matchup for Gonzaga. If freshman Steven Adams can keep Kelly Olynyk in check, and Pittsburgh’s perimeter players have a good day, Gonzaga could be on upset alert.

12. Marquette (No. 3 in the East)
Buzz Williams has led his team to back-to-back Sweet 16 trips with a cast of players few people acknowledged until they started beating up on Big East teams. It’s easy to forget the Golden Eagles, though seeded third in the Big east Tourney, finished tied with Louisville and Georgetown for the league lead. If Marquette avoids an upset with Davidson, are you going to doubt the Golden Eagles’ ability to execute a scouting report against Butler’s Rotnei Clarke or Bucknell’s Mike Muscala?

13. Michigan State (No. 3 seed in the Midwest)
The Spartans shouldn’t lose to Valparaiso after navigating the gauntlet of the Big Ten. And while Michigan State has its flaws, especially at point guard, it’s tough to pick against Tom Izzo in the second round. Memphis is the best potential matchup against the Spartans in the second round, but Memphis hasn’t proven it can defeat top-flight teams under Josh Pastner, whether in the Tournament or the regular season.

14. Indiana (No. 1 seed in the East)
The biggest threat to the Hoosiers may be eighth-seeded NC State, which has the talent to stack up against Indiana. That said, NC State might not be able to play soundly enough and disciplined enough to defeat a Fran Dunphy-coached Temple team in the round of 64.

15. Louisville (No. 1 seed in the Midwest)
Being the top overall seed has its perks. The Cardinals will draw either a 20-loss Liberty team or MEAC No. 7 seed North Carolina A&T in the second round. In the second round, the Cardinals may be more concerned with facing No. 8 seed Colorado State and its rebounding prowess rather than No. 9 seed Missouri. The Cards defeated Missouri 84-61 in November on a neutral court. It’s tough to see either beating a hot Louisville team in Lexington.

16. Duke (No. 2 seed in the Midwest)
The Blue Devils won’t fall to a No. 15 seed two seasons in a row. Unlike last season, the Blue Devils are at full strength and Albany doesn’t have a player like Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum. In the second round the Blue Devils will draw one of two flawed teams in Cincinnati, who can’t score, or Creighton, who can’t defend.

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<p> Who could flop in the 2013 NCAA Tournament? Ranking the top 16 seeds from upset bait to sure things</p>
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Here comes the most fun task in the run up for the NCAA Tournament: Attempting to predict the unpredictable.

Teams from mid-major leagues upsetting heavy hitters, schools tucked away in the middle over nowhere knocking off state schools, programs with tiny enrollments and barely recruiting players defeating rosters full of McDonald’s All-Americans make the Tournament fun. Could this be the year for South Dakota State's Nate Wolters and other mid-major stars?

Here we’ll try to pinpoint the mid- to low-major programs with the best opportunity to advance in the NCAA Tournament.

For this list we looked at teams in the bottom half of the bracket -- i.e., teams seeded ninth or lower -- and then examined their early-round matchups for their likelihood to advance.

Related: Our best tips for your bracket pool

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10 POTENTIAL CINDERELLA TEAMS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

Bucknell
No. 11 seed vs. Butler in the East
One of surprises of Selection Sunday may be one of the surprises of the first day of the NCAA Tournament. The Bison are overseeded at No. 11 (keep in mind, Oregon and Cal were No. 12 seeds out of the Pac-12), but Bucknell has a legitimate star player in the frontcourt in Mike Muscala. The Bison won at Purdue to start the season and defeated Tourney teams New Mexico State and La Salle comfortably. But the eye-opening game may have been a 66-64 loss at Missouri when Phil Pressey was on his game and Laurence Bowers was healthy. It’s tough to pick against Butler and Brad Stevens in the NCAA Tournament, but this is not one of his better teams.

Belmont
No. 11 seed against Arizona in the West
Has the time come for the Bruins’ first NCAA win? Belmont gave Duke all it could handle in a 71-70 loss 2008 and has been a trendy upset pick in its last two Tournaments. Led by an underrated backcourt of Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson, Belmont is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, leading the nation in shooting inside the three-point line and second in effective field goal percentage. Arizona isn’t the strongest defensive team and has questions at point guard. Not to mention the Wildcats are 0-3 against Bruins (of the UCLA variety).

Middle Tennessee
First Four vs. Saint Mary’s for No. 11 seed against Memphis in Midwest
One of the last teams in the field has a good shot to advance, even beyond the First Four where the Blue Raiders will meet Saint Mary’s. Should the Blue Raiders defeat the Gaels and face Memphis, they’ll encounter a team that hasn’t won a Tournament game since 2009 under John Calipari. Can Middle Tennessee, ranked fifth nationally in points allowed per possession, guard Memphis’ athleticism? Of course, that’s only if Middle Tennessee can guard Saint Mary’s guard Matthew Dellavedova first.

Boise State
First Four vs. La Salle for No. 13 seed against Kansas State in West

The Broncos have ascended to major program status in football, but they remain a plucky upstart in basketball. If Boise State can defeat La Salle in the First Four, the Broncos are a strong candidate to win one more game. Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks can score in bunches, and the Broncos won’t be overwhelmed by Kansas State. Boise State already defeated Tournament teams San Diego State, Colorado State, UNLV and Creighton this season.

South Dakota State
No. 13 seed vs. Michigan in the South
A tricky game to pick for any college basketball junkie: South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters (22.5 points per game, 5.8 assists) is an NBA prospect and a favorite of college basketball nerds. Meanwhile, Michigan is an enigma in your bracket. The Wolverines looked the part of a national title contender when they started 20-1, but Michigan finished 6-6 and went 2-6 against the Big Ten’s other top five teams. Pick against Trey Burke at your own risk.

Montana
No. 13 seed vs. Syracuse in the East
Syracuse limped into the Big East Tournament with an offensive attack that looked lost. The Orange rebounded in Madison Square Garden, including a win over Georgetown. Will that inconsistency be enough to sink Syracuse against Montana? The Grizzlies won 25 games, but keep in mind their personnel: They lost Mathias Ward (14.8 ppg) for the remainder of the season but gained Will Cherry (13.9 ppg).

Wichita State
No. 9 seed vs. Pittsburgh in the West
Perhaps unfair to call Wichita State a Cinderella as the Shockers have won 20-plus games in each of the last four seasons. Nevertheless, they're seeded ninth out of the Missouri Valley. Wichita’s round of 64 game could be decided on the glass, where both the Shockers and Pittsburgh rank in the top 10 nationally in rebound rate. The No. 8/9 games are a crapshoot, so it’s an even bet for Wichita State to advance to face presumed opponent Gonzaga. The Bulldogs were the last No. 1 seed in the field.

Florida Gulf Coast
No. 15 seed vs. Georgetown in the South
Georgetown remade itself after January, winning 13 of the last 15 games, and Otto Porter is a legitimate superstar. But Florida Gulf Coast may be the best bet for a No. 15 to win a Tournament game. Since reaching the Final Four in 2007, Georgetown has had three early Tournament exits to NC State, Ohio, VCU and Davidson (granted, VCU reached the Final Four that year and Davidson had Stephen Curry). It may be a stretch for FGCU to upset Georgetown in its first appearance, but the Eagles defeated Miami in November and have been tested against VCU and Duke.

Davidson
No. 14 seed vs. Marquette in the East
Davidson was pinpointed as a mid-major to watch in the preseason and delivered with 17 consecutive wins to end the year, including an overtime win over Montana. The Wildcats defeated high-major programs Vanderbilt and West Virginia, though neither are in the field, and gave New Mexico all it could handle at The Pit. This is a tough draw, though, against a Buzz Williams team that has reached the Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons.

Iona
No. 15 seed vs. Ohio State in the West
It seems everyone is back on the Ohio State bandwagon after the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Tournament. But Ohio State will have a tough opponent in Iona, a MAAC team led by a Pac-12 transfer. Momo Jones played on Arizona’s Elite Eight team with Derrick Williams before transferring East. Aaron Craft should be able to guard Jones in front of the friendly Dayton crowd, but don’t be surprised if Ohio State is challenged.

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Basketball fans around the country are making their NCAA Tournament picks from early round upsets to the Final Four.

Our editorial staff was no execption. Here's a look at their picks in brief. For a full look at our staff picks for the Sweet 16, check our NCAA Cheat Sheets.

ATHLON SPORTS STAFF PICKS

  David Fox Braden Gall Mitch Light Mark Ross Nathan Rush
Champion: Indiana Indiana Michigan Indiana Indiana
Runner-up: Duke Duke Louisville Louisville Duke
Midwest: Duke Duke Louisville Louisville Duke
South: Kansas Kansas Michigan Michigan Michigan
West: New Mexico New Mexico Ohio State Ohio State Arizona
East: Indiana Indiana Miami Indiana Indiana
Round of 64 upsets Minnesota over UCLA Minnesota over UCLA Minnesota over UCLA Minnesota over UCLA Montana over Syracuse
  Iowa State over Notre Dame Boise State over Kansas State Iowa State over Notre Dame Iowa State over Notre Dame Boise State over Kansas State
  Oklahoma over San Diego State St. Mary's over Memphis Ole Miss over Wisconsin MTSU over Memphis Ole Miss over Wisconsin
  Cal over UNLV Oregon over Oklahoma State Colorado over Illinois Colorado over Illinois Colorado over Illinois
    Cincinnati over Creighton Bucknell over Butler Bucknell over Butler  
      Belmont over Arizona Cincinnati over Creighton  

Related: Our best tips for your bracket pool

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March Madness Bracket HelpThe day after Selection Sunday is not a great time to get caught up on the college basketball season.

As you start to fill out NCAA Tournament brackets for your pools, Athlon Sports did some of the homework for your basketball cram session. March Madness is unpredictable, and we expect it to be again this year after a season in which top teams lost on a nightly basis.

But there are some tried and true trends in the Tournament, and we’ll break them down here.

These are our favorite rules for picking our brackets, along with some of the examples from this year’s field.

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Advance all the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds
The turnover at the No. 1 spot all season prompted us to consider if this would be the year a No. 16 seed beats a No. 1. Sure, it might happen, but the 16 seeds this season aren’t going to do it -- a 20-loss team (Liberty), the No. 7 seed in the MEAC (North Carolina A&T), a team that started 5-10 (LIU Brooklyn), the third-place team in a watered-down CAA (James Madison), a .500 team from the Sun Belt (Western Kentucky) and the SWAC champion (Southern). The pair of No. 15 seeds winning last season may convince you to pick against a No. 2. Don’t. Before last season we went 11 years between 15 seeds winning in the first round. However...

Consider dropping a No. 1 or a No. 2 in the round of 32
The top seeds were unclear going into the conference tournaments, meaning few teams had iron-clad cases to be on the top line. The eight teams at the top have lost to teams in the No. 8-9-seed range sometime during the season, and may do so again in the Tourney. Consider: Only one No. 1 seed since 2004 failed to reach the Sweet 16 (2011 Pittsburgh, who lost to Final Four-bound Butler). During that same span, 12 of 28 No. 2 seeds failed to reach the the second weekend.
Our picks for vulnerable top-two seeds: Miami (cooled at the end of the rgular season, could face Illinois in round two), Georgetown (has not reached the Sweet 16 since 2007), Kansas (potential North Carolina or Villanova matchup is worrisome).

Don’t fall in love with upsets
We remember Final Four teams like Butler, VCU and George Mason. Don’t get too caught up trying to look smart by advancing a No. 11 seed to the FInal Four. Of the last 48 Final Four teams, 41 were top-four seeds, and four of the seven who were top-four seeds were No. 5 seeds. Butler, VCU and George Mason are memorable because they're outliers.

Related: NCAA Tournament Bracket Cheat Sheets

Pay attention to game sites as much as seeds
Coaches would prefer to drop a seed if it means playing closer to home and in front of a more friendly crowd. Trust the coaches on this. Also, make sure your upset pick isn’t playing too far from home. You may love an East Coast mid-major, but you may want to back off as it gets sent to San Jose. We don't need to tell you to favor Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed playing in Lexington, Ky., and potentially Indianapolis. Here are a few other team locations to consider in the rounds of 64 and 32:
Teams playing close to home in the early rounds: Cal (in San Jose against UNLV), Oregon (in San Jose, its own time zone against Oklahoma State), Kansas State (in Kansas City)
Teams playing far from home you may want to avoid: Colorado State (in Lexington, Ky., against Missouri), South Dakota State (vs. Michigan in Auburn Hills, Mich.), San Diego State (in Philadelphia, albeit against Oklahoma), Syracuse (in San Jose against Montana, then potentially Cal/UNLV), Florida and Miami (in Austin, Texas)

Related: March Madness by the numbers 

Pay attention to extreme free throw numbers
Expect closer games in the NCAA Tournament. That means free throws will play a critical role. If you’re on the fence about a team, give free throw numbers a look. Avoid falling in love with teams that can’t hit free throws.
Key teams with high free throw percentages: Davidson, Oklahoma, Creighton, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Missouri
Key teams with low free throw percentages: Wisconsin, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Pittsburgh

All that talk about bubble teams, forget it
We spent the last six weeks talking about bubble teams. Time to stop paying them any mind, especially bubble teams from major conferences. Teams had trouble clinching a Tourney bid because they couldn’t win consistently. Teams from major conferences had chances all year to prove they were Tourney teams and didn’t do it until the last week of the season. Knock them out early. The exception: Bubble teams from mid-major conferences. The inclusion of VCU and George Mason in recent years were criticized ... until they reached the Final Four.
Bubble teams to avoid beyond round of 64: Ole Miss, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Villanova

Give credit to coaches who win in the Tournament
Some coaches have a knack for winning the tournament. Some don’t. Does a coach always seem to win one more game than you expect? Does another continually let you down? For further reading, Peter Tiernen at Bracket Science explains overachievers and underachievers.
Coaches who overachieve compared to seed: Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Marquette’s Buzz Williams, Arizona’s Sean Miller, VCU’s Shaka Smart
Coaches who underachieve compared to seed: Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Temple’s Fran Dunphy, New Mexico’s Steve Alford, Georgetown’s John Thompson III, PIttsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Cal’s Mike Montgomery

When picking a mid-major to advance, do your homework
Look beyond the record. We like mid- and low-major teams that tested themselves against major competition, whether or not they won games. Make sure to look at a mid-majors conference record. Did a team play well during its conference season, or did it wait until the conference tournament to get hot?
Teams that challenged themselves in the non-conference: Belmont, Davidson, Florida Gulf Coast, Temple, Wichita State
Teams that didn’t: James Madison, LIU Brooklyn, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State, Valparaiso, Saint Mary’s

Use caution with teams that faded since February and early March
Are teams tired? Was there a major personnel change? Was there an injury? Did opponents catch up? In any case, we don’t like teams limping into the Tournament, no matter what they did from November through January. On the flip side, give credit to teams that got better as the season went along. Did a team get a player back from injury or make a key lineup change?
Teams that faded: Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma
Teams that faded prior to the conference tourneys: Creighton, Miami, Syracuse
Teams that improved through the season: Duke (with Ryan Kelly), North Carolina, Ohio State
Absences to consider: Akron (Alex Abreu, suspended) UCLA (Jordan Adams, injured)

When picking a champ or Final Four team, consider the point guard
An NBA-bound point guard isn’t necessary to reach the Final Four or win a title, but it’s tough to advance that far without consistent point guard play. Who has a steady point guard, who has a liability?
Good teams with questionable point guard situations: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State

Balance on offense and defense
Defense wins championship is a football saying. Don't let it take over your bracket. The key to winning in March is balance on both sides of the court, especially for teams that can play multiple tempos and styles. The last 10 national champions ranked in the top 20 in both of Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive and defensive rankings.
The teams in the top 20 in both this season are: Florida, Gonzaga, Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State and Pittsburgh

Related: All Athlon Sports 2013 NCAA Tournament content

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Every NCAA Tournament field is unique, yet the same.

Even with 68 teams, the teams selected for the field -- and those who arrive via automatic bid -- assemble a mix of national powers, regulars on the March Madness scene and newcomers.

We’re used to seeing Kansas in the field, as well as some familiar surnames. But some of the absences are notable, too. The SEC and the state of Texas rule the the college football scene, but not the NCAA Tournament. Philadelphia is one of the greatest cities for basketball talent, but rarely is it as well-represented in March as it is right now.
 

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Here’s a look at key numbers in the 2013 field of 68:

4. Tournaments in the last six with a Zeller, a Curry and a Plumlee
Three families have racked up frequent flyer miles to watch the Zeller, Curry and Plumlee brothers play in the NCAA Tournament. This is the fourth in the last six seasons to have all three, with Cody Zeller at Indiana, Seth Curry at Duke and Mason and Marshall Plumlee also at Duke. The other years with all three:
2012: Cody Zeller and Tyler Zeller (North Carolina), Seth Curry and Mason and Miles Plumlee (Duke).
2011: Tyler Zeller, Seth Curry, Mason and Miles Plumlee
2008: Luke Zeller (Notre Dame), Stephen Curry (Davidson) and Miles Plumlee

Related: Our best advice for your bracket pool

24. Consecutive Tournament appearances by Kansas
With 24 Tournament appearances in a row, the Jayhawks are closing on the record of 27 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances held by North Carolina (1975-2001). If Kansas reaches the field next season, it will tie Arizona (1985-2009) for No. 2 at 25 consecutive appearances. Other consecutive NCAA streaks: Duke (18), Michigan State (16), Gonzaga and Wisconsin (15)

5. Teams Lon Kruger has taken to the Tournament, most for any coach
Lon Kruger is one of the nation's best coaches when it comes to turning around programs. He did that once against with Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to their first Dance since Blake Griffin took OU to the Elite Eight in 2009. Kruger is the first coach to take five teams to the NCAA Tournament with Oklahoma joining Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV.

1. Team in ACC history to win the league’s regular season and tournament titles and not be a No. 1 seed
Much of Miami’s accomplishments this season have started with the phrase “the first ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to...” This time, it doesn’t need a qualifier. The No. 2 seed Hurricanes were the first ACC team to win the league’s regular season and tournament titles in the same season to not be a No. 1 seed since seeding began. Miami is also the first ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to win the outright regular season and tournament titles since a David Thompson-led NC State team in 1974.

1. Big East team to make the NCAA Tournament every season since 2006
Marquette has been securely in the field for some time, but it’s notable that the Golden Eagles are the only program from the Big East to reach the NCAA Tournament every season from the time the league expanded in 2005 to the time it splits after this season.

3. SEC teams in the field
Not only did the SEC tie its fewest number of NCAA bids since the field expanded to 64, it did so with a low batting average. The 14-league team sent three bids to the Tournament, with two being seeded ninth or lower (Ole Miss and Missouri). The Big East had the most bids with seven teams (of 15), but the Mountain West (five of nine teams) and Big Ten (seven of 12) sent more than half their membership to the Tournament.

8. Future ACC teams in the field
The Big East Tournament marked the dissolution of a legendary basketball conference, which for now is the ACC’s gain. Eight teams of the ACC’s future lineup are in the field (Duke, Louisville, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse). Compare that to five presumptive members of the new Big East/Catholic 7 (Butler, Creighton, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova) and two for the Conference To Be Named Later (Cincinnati, Memphis, Temple). In fact, five automatic bids were won by teams headed to new conferences in the next few years: Creighton (Missouri Valley to the Big East), Louisville (Big East to ACC), Pacific (Big West to West Coast) and Memphis (Conference USA to Big East). Only one team won an automatic bid as a member of a new league -- Belmont in the Ohio Valley.

3. Members of Philadelphia’s Big 5 in the field
The bubble was kind to Philadelphia. Villanova, Temple and La Salle were all on on the bubble through February and into March. All three reached the field, giving Philadelphia’s Big 5 schools (the others are Penn and St. Joseph’s) three teams in the Tourney for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 1997.

1989. The last time Middle Tennessee made the Tournament
One of the last teams in the field, Middle Tennessee, is the (proud) owner of the the longest NCAA Tournament drought ended in this field. The Blue Raiders last appeared in March Madness in 1989 when the Blue Raiders upset Florida State in the first round. Other notable droughts that ended were La Salle (first since 1992), James Madison (first since 1994) and North Carolina A&T (first since 1995). This doesn’t include Division I newcomer Florida Gulf Coast’s first Tournament.

20. Losses by Liberty, most for a Tournament team since 2008
When Liberty won the Big South Tournament on March 10, the Flames tied (15-20) a dubious record by becoming the second 20-loss team to reach the NCAA field. Coppin State won the MEAC Tournament with 20 losses in 2008.

3. Of the last six national title winners to miss the NCAA Tournament the next year
Rupp Arena will host the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but Lexington won’t even have Kentucky to watch in the postseason. With its facility in use, Kentucky will face Northeast Conference regular season champion Robert Morris on its home court in the NIT. Kentucky is the third defending national champion in the last six years to play in the NIT the following year, joining 2010 North Carolina and 2008 Florida.

1995. The last time Rick Barnes didn’t coach in the NCAA Tournament
The NCAA Tournament fate for Texas and Rick Barnes has been sealed since about the the time the Longhorns lost to Chaminade in Maui. But it’s still remarkable that this is the first Tournament without Texas since 1998 and the first without Barnes since 1995, who coached three consecutive Clemson teams to the Tournament. Other notable absences: Xavier (first miss since 2005), Purdue and BYU (first misses since 2006) and West Virginia (first miss since 2007).

0. Teams from the state of Texas in the field, first time since 1977
Stephen F. Austin, Prairie View A&M and UT Arlington, which all lost conference tournament finals, were the last hopes for a team from Texas making the field. Texas, Texas A&M, Houston, Texas Tech and others needed to win automatic bids to reach the field. Baylor was clinging to the bubble before losing to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament. That leaves this year’s field without a representative from the Lone Star State for the first time since 1977.

Related: All Athlon Sports 2013 NCAA Tournament content

Teaser:
<p> March Madness by the numbers: Kansas, Philadelphia, SEC among notables</p>
Post date: Monday, March 18, 2013 - 08:05
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/selection-sunday-analysis-ole-miss-erases-doubt-middle-tennessee-brings-questions
Body:

The NCAA Tournament begins in about 48 hours with the First Four. For now, though, we’ll have plenty of hand-wringing about Selection Sunday.

Most of the teams in the field weren’t a shock -- Ole Miss erased any doubt by winning the SEC Tournament. Kentucky played its way out by losing to Vanderbilt days earlier.

But the bracket brought its share of surprises anyway: What are Middle Tennessee and La Salle doing here? Where is Tennessee? What does an ACC regular season and tournament title get you these days? And who the heck seeded the Pac-12?

When the Tournament starts, everyone will forget the frustrations of the selection process, but for now, here’s what struck us as the bracket was revealed:

Miami left out of a No. 1 seed
The Hurricanes became the first team to win the ACC regular season and tournament titles and not be a No. 1 seed. Louisville and Kansas moved onto the first line by winning conference tournaments, and the final two No. 1 seeds instead went to Indiana and Gonzaga. The Hoosiers lost to Wisconsin in the Big Ten semifinals, but they were a possible No. 1 overall seed heading into the conference tournaments. With two losses, Gonzaga had the fewest losses in the country. The selection committee may have put weight on Miami’s finish late in the regular season, which included three losses in the final five games (at Wake Forest, at Duke, Georgia Tech). Miami was ranked fifth in the official seed list.

The South is the most interesting region, because:
Wolters vs. Burke? In a round of 64 game, Michigan will face South Dakota State, setting up a meeting between potential national player of the year Trey Burke against one of the most fun players to watch in the mid- to low-major ranks in Nate Wolters. The winner may draw VCU’s havoc defense, which will face an Akron team that just suspended its point guard.

Roy vs. Kansas: North Carolina’s hot streak earned the Tar Heels a No. 8 seed, where they may end up facing Kansas in the round of 32. Roy Williams coached at Kansas from 1988-2003, taking the Jayhawks to four Final Fours. Williams' old team also knocked North Carolina out of the Tournament in the Elite Eight last season. Of course, North Carolina won’t face Kansas if the Heels can’t defeat ninth-seeded Villanova, which reached the Tournament by knocking off big-name teams in the Big East.

Tubby vs. Howland: The most important coaching matchup for career trajectory may be between UCLA and Minnesota. Despite winning the Pac-12 regular season this year and reaching three Final Fours, Howland is under a microscope at UCLA. The same may be true for Tubby Smith, whose Minnesota team enters the Tournament on a three-game losing streak. One of these coaches will have an early exit.

Florida vs. Georgetown, part 2: Florida and Georgetown were scheduled to open the season on an aircraft carrier before the game was called at halftime due to moisture on the court. If the Gators and Hoyas can navigate the first weekend, they’ll meet in the Sweet 16, this time indoors.

Bucknell is the most over-seeded team
The official seeding list suggest Bucknell should be a No. 12 seed, but the Bison ended up with a No. 11 seed facing Butler in Lexington, Ky. With three top-100 wins (La Salle, New Mexico State, Loyola-Maryland), the Bison are a stretch here. Bucknell is also the Patriot League’s highest seed since 2006 when the Bison defeated Arkansas as a No. 9 seed.

The committee made a statement with non-power conference teams
Middle Tennessee and La Salle are in, Tennessee and Kentucky are out. Middle Tennessee won the Sun Belt regular season championship and 28 games before FIU knocked it out of the conference tournament. La Salle had a top-50 RPI and defeated Butler and VCU in January. The selection committee handed 11 at-large bids to teams outside of the six major conferences, matching last year’s total. Those at-large bids went to the Atlantic 10, Mountain West (four each), Missouri Valley, Sun Belt and  West Coast (one each).

The committee recognized the SEC struggled this year
The SEC landed only three teams in the field, fewest since 2009, and one of those teams (Ole Miss) was seeded at No. 12. The Rebels were the third-lowest seeded at-large team, according to the official seed list at No. 47. That’s one spot behind Saint Mary’s, two ahead of La Salle and three ahead of Middle Tennessee. The SEC ranked eighth in conference RPI, and it showed in the field. Two of the SEC’s three teams were sent to the lower half of the bracket with Missouri earning a No. 9 seed and Ole Miss at 12. Regular-season champion Florida, though, earned a No. 3 seed.

The committee devalued the Pac-12, too
It’s been five seasons since the NCAA Tournament had this many teams from the Pac-12, so maybe the committee was out of practice. Oregon and Cal landed as No. 12 seeds, despite both teams sharing second place at 12-6 in the league. Neither team was considered to be on the bubble for several weeks, but received seedings more likely to go to some of the last teams in the field. Oregon won the Pac-12 Tournament, finished one game behind UCLA in the standings and defeated the Bruins twice, yet the Ducks were six seeds behind UCLA. Colorado was seeded 10th while Arizona was seeded sixth. Which brings us to...

The strangest round of 64 game is No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 Cal
Not only is Cal’s No. 12 seed low, the Bears will play in a rematch of a regular-season game in the round of 64, a possibility the committee attempts to avoid. And what does UNLV get for its 76-75 win over Cal and a No. 5 seed? Playing Cal in its backyard in San Jose.

Teaser:
<p> Selection Sunday analysis: Ole Miss erases doubt, Middle Tennessee brings questions</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 20:13
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-basketball-john-caliparis-top-20-all-time-freshmen
Body:

Even since his first season as a college head coach at UMass, John Calipari has thrived with freshmen. That season in 1988-89, Calipari had a rookie Jim McCoy, who averaged 19.8 points per game.

That freshman and that team didn’t resemble the recruiting empire Calipari built at Memphis and Kentucky where a glut of talented freshmen sign with Cal, win a ton of college games in one year and then go on to be NBA Draft picks.

No, McCoy put up big numbers but went 10-18 at UMass as a freshman. He’s certainly one of Calipari’s best freshmen, but he’ll have trouble landing in the top 10 from recent years.

Sorting through Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, John Wall and more is a tall task, but we tried to tackle it here with Calipari’s top 20 freshmen.

We included three freshmen from this season’s team, but this early in the season, their grade is incomplete. We anticipate one or all three to make a move up this list, but for now, this elite group of rookies is tough one to crack.

JOHN CALIPARI’S TOP 20 FRESHMEN

Anthony Davis

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Season: 2011-12
Davis didn’t simply have one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history -- he had one of the best seasons of any player. If there was an award to be won or honor to receive, Davis earned it. He was the consensus national player of the year, a unanimous All-American, the national defensive player of the year and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. After leading Kentucky to its eighth national title and first championship since 1998, Davis was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The only other players to win the Naismith Award, the Final Four MOP and then be selected first overall in the draft all the in the same season were Kansas’ Danny Manning and. UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With a 7-foot-four wingspan, Davis was a defensive force, setting an NCAA freshman record and Kentucky record with 186 blocks.

2. Derrick Rose, Memphis
Season: 2007-08
Hard to believe as it is, Rose wasn’t the most decorated player on his own team as a freshman. That distinction went to All-American and Conference USA player of the year Chris Douglas-Roberts. Rose belongs on this list, though, as the point guard of a team that played for a national title before falling 75-68 in overtime to Kansas. Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game in the NCAA tournament, but his missed free throws late in regulation of the title game sealed Memphis’ fate. Months later, Rose was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Season: 2011-12
It’s never bad when the team’s most competitive player and glue guy happens to also be the No. 2 player in the NBA Draft (behind only teammate Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick). Kidd-Gilchrist’s intangibles were second-to-none, a trait that was absent on some of Calipari’s most talented teams. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, earning Most Outstanding Player honors for the East regional as the Wildcats reached the Final Four and eventually won the national title.

John Wall

4. John Wall, Kentucky
Season:
2009-10
Calipari started at Kentucky the same way he finished his time at Memphis – with an elite one-and-done point guard. Wall followed in the footsteps of Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis and preceded Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. In leading Kentucky to a 35-3 season, Wall was the National Freshman of the Year and the Associated Press and coaches’ pick for SEC Player of the Year (Oddly enough, teammate DeMarcus Cousins was the coaches’ pick for SEC freshman of the year). Wall was blocked for most national player of the year awards by Ohio State’s Evan Turner, but Wall did earn the Adolph Rupp Trophy. Go figure.

5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Season:
2010-11
Knight was a McDonald’s All-American, but his arrival wasn’t as heralded as John Wall’s to Kentucky or Derrick Rose’s to Memphis. Still, he brought similar results. Knight wasn’t a collegiate All-American like Wall, but he took Kentucky deeper into the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats first Final Four appearance since 1998.

6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Season: 2012-13
Before his devastating knee injury against Florida, Noel was having an award-worthy season even if his team paled in comparison to recent Calipari squads. When he did play, Noel was offensively limited but few were better on the defensive end of the floor. He could have challenged Davis’ blocked shots numbers and was a leading candidate for national defensive player and freshman of the year honors. The flat-topped center finished his season averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.


7. Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Season: 2008-09
After Calipari moved him to point guard, Evans had the unenviable task of stepping in for Rose, who had just led Memphis to the national championship game. Evans was a stat-sheet stuffer from the start with 17.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his single season at Memphis.

8. Dajuan Wagner, Memphis
Season:
2001-02
Before the deluge of one-and-dones followed Calipari to Memphis and Kentucky, he had Wagner with the Tigers. He averaged 42 points per game in high school before landing in Memphis, where he averaged 21.2 points for the Tigers. Calipari revoked Wagner’s sophomore scholarship to persuade him to enter the NBA Draft, where he became the No. 6 pick. However, health and injury issues derailed his promising career.

9. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Season:
2009-10
What could Cousins’ ceiling be if he were able to tackle his maturity issues? Kentucky fans may ask the same thing. He was dominant in his single season alongside Wall in 2009-10, averaging 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. His talent was undeniable, but so was his tendency to sulk on the sideline. Cousins and Wall went 35-3 in during the regular season before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia.

10. Marcus Camby, UMass
Season: 1993-94
Camby would go on to bigger things as a junior when UMass reached the Final Four and earning National Player of the Year honors, but his rookie season in Amherst wasn’t too shabby. Despite starting only 12 games, Camby was the Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.

Terrence Jones

Others of note:
11. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (2010-11)
12. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky (2009-10)
13. Sean Banks, Memphis (2003-04)
14. Jim McCoy, UMass (1988-89)
15. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (2011-12)
16. Darius Washington Jr., Memphis (2004-05)
17. Will Herndon, UMass (1989-90)
18. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (2010-11)
19. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (2012-13)
20. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky (2012-13)

Teaser:
<p> College basketball: John Calipari's top 20 freshmen</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 12:20
Path: /college-basketball/daily-march-madness-tracker-statements-illinois-and-syracuse
Body:

Caution employers: Work productivity may be down Thursday and Friday this week and next.

The wild ride continues as college basketball conference tournaments enter their most dramatic phase. Four games in one day in major conferences, championships in the one-bid leagues.

Athlon Sports will keep you up to date on the major news for the NCAA Tournament from the day’s games and what to watch in the day ahead.

MARCH 15 DAILY MARCH MADNESS TRACKER

And, this is why we liked Illinois in tournament play.
Against Minnesota, Brandon Paul had his highest-scoring game (25 points) and most field goals (10) since Dec. 8. That date is not insignificant. Paul had 35 points in the win that day over Gonzaga, now the No. 1 team in the country. True, Illinois needed Paul’s buzzer-beater to defeat Minnesota, but if the Illini can get D.J. Richardson going (2 of 12 against the Gophers), no one will want to face Illinois in the Tourney.

Should Cal be nervous?
Cal has looked like an NCAA Tournament lock for a few weeks, but the Bears now have reason to be nervous. Cal lost 79-69 in overtime to Utah, the 10th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. Why was Cal a lock in the first place? Defeating Arizona on the road, beating UCLA and Colorado at home, and sweeping Oregon plus no bad losses assembled a strong case. The wins over the Ducks aren’t as impressive, and now Cal has its worst loss of the season on the heels of losing to Stanford in the regular-season finale. Cal may still be in the field, but its seeding has taken a hit.

Syracuse surging?
After shaking off a tough first half against Seton Hall, Syracuse pulled off its most impressive win since Feb. 4 over Notre Dame, if not since Jan. 19 at Louisville, by defeating Pittsburgh 62-59. James Southerland has been on fire for the Orange, scoring 20 in both Big East Tournament games. Should we buy into Syracuse again? Let’s wait to see if the ‘Cuse can crack 50 against Georgetown today.

Iowa State climbing, Oklahoma slipping
The Cyclones entered the Big 12 on the right side of the bubble, but they can probably rest easy after defeating Oklahoma 73-66 in the first round of the conference tournament. Iowa State picked up its second top-100 win away from Ames and its first over a prospective tournament team. Against upcoming opponent Kansas, Iowa State has been a matchup problem against the Jayhawks with its ability to shoot threes. Iowa State made 17 and 14 threes in the two losses to the Jayhawks. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners have damaged their seeding in recent weeks with losses to Texas, TCU and now in the first game in the Big 12 Tournament.

Baylor, see you in the NIT.
Baylor entered the Big 12 Tournament fighting for its postseason life. No one told Baylor. Despite a late surge, the Bears fell behind big early on the way to a 74-72 loss to Oklahoma State. Baylor fans may want to gripe about a disputable foul call that sent Phil Forte, a 91-percent free throw shooter, to the line for the game-winning shots, but the Bears' 18-point halftime deficit didn't help, either. The Bears’ slim NCAA Tournament hopes are gone. A popular preseason pick to win the Big 12, Baylor wraps up one of the most disappointing seasons in the country.

Louisiana Tech’s fade
At one point this season, the Bulldogs won 18 games in a row, including a 16-0 start in the WAC as of March 2. Louisiana Tech’s at-large credentials at the time were debatable -- a top-50 RPI, one top-50 win (Southern Miss), one sub-200 loss (McNeese State). That’s gone after a three-game losing streak to end the season. Tech lost on the road to New Mexico State and Denver to end the regular season and then to No. 9 seed UTSA in the WAC quarterfinals. Louisiana Tech is heading to the NIT.

March Controversy
Charlotte’s 68-63 win over Richmond in the Atlantic 10 first round may be more notable for officiating miscues than its impact on the bracket. Charlotte hit eight straight free throws to turn a three-point deficit into a five-point win in the final five seconds. First, Richmond fouled a Charlotte shooter before a shot. Charlotte made the front end of the one-and-one but as the ball went through the hoop, Richmond’s Derrick Williams became entangled with a Charlotte player and was called for a deadball technical foul, resulting in three more free throws (two for the technical, one for the second half of the one-and-one). Charlotte made all three to take the lead, and took a commanding lead when making four of seven (three attempts on a shot from halfcourt and four more on two technicals on Mooney).

Related: Twitter accounts every March Madness fan should follow

KEY FRIDAY GAMES
All times Eastern

ACC quarterfinals
Virginia vs. NC State (2 p.m., ESPN2)

Atlantic 10 quarterfinals
Butler vs. La Salle (6:30 p.m.)
UMass vs. Temple (9 p.m.)

Big 12 semifinals
Iowa State vs. Kansas (6:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State (8:30, ESPNU)

Big East semifinals
Georgetown vs. Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN)
Louisville vs. Notre Dame (9 p.m., ESPN)

Big Ten semifinals
Indiana vs. Illinois (noon, ESPN)
Wisconsin vs. Michigan (2:30 p.m., ESPN)

Mountain West semifinals
New Mexico vs. San Diego State (9 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
UNLV vs. Colorado State (11:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network)

Pac-12 semifinals
UCLA vs. Arizona (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

SEC quarterfinals
Tennessee vs. Alabama (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ESPNU)
Missouri vs. Ole Miss (10 p.m., ESPNU)

BY THE NUMBERS
NCAA TOURNAMENT PROJECTED LOCKS (50)
ACC (4): Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Atlantic 10 (4): Butler, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast*
Big 12 (4): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova
Big South (1): Liberty*
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Colonial (1): James Madison*
Horizon (1): Valparaiso*
Ivy (1): Harvard*
Missouri Valley (1): Creighton*
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast (1): LIU Brooklyn*
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont*
Patriot (1): Bucknell*
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
SEC (2): Florida, Missouri
Southern (1): Davidson*
Summit (1): South Dakota State*
Sun Belt (1): Western Kentucky*
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
*clinched NCAA Tournament bid

ONE-BID LEAGUES (9)
America East, Big Sky, Big West, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Southland, SWAC, WAC
Note: Conference USA likely will be a one-bid league if Memphis wins its conference tournament.

THE BUBBLE: 15 teams for nine spots
Alabama
Arizona State
Boise State
Iowa
Iowa State
Kentucky
La Salle
Memphis
Middle Tennessee
Minnesota
Ole Miss
Tennessee
Saint Mary’s
Wichita State
Virginia

Teaser:
<p> Daily March Madness Tracker: Statements for Illinois and Syracuse</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 11:26
Path: /college-basketball/40-twitter-accounts-every-march-madness-fan-should-follow
Body:

College basketball can be a tough sport to follow, even for die-hard fans. Nearly 350 teams, more than 30 conferences, games everyday of the week make college hoops a great sport, but also difficult to get a comprehensive handle on.

But there’s also recruiting gurus and a new wave a statistic-loving experts who can make college basketball fandom an exhaustive affair.

If you’re on Twitter, here are the 40-plus folks to follow who can offer numbers, news, insight and humor.

THE MARCH MUST-FOLLOW

March Madness TV @MarchMadnessTV
Quiet during the regular season, CBS' account for March Madness ramps it up around the conference tournaments and into the NCAA Tournament. Want to know immediately who's in the field, where to watch the key games and best action and other factoids? This is a must-follow.

 

 

THE BIG NAMES

Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
If you follow college basketball, you probably know ESPN.com’s lead reporter on the sport already. His feed is a one-stop shop for news, comments and retweets of the college basketball media from ESPN and elsewhere.

 

 

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops
You can’t escape him on television as basketball season takes over on CBS on Saturday. He’ll Tweet his SI.com Hoop Thoughts, views he’s gleaned scouts on key players and his own opinions. He’s a big name for sure, but he takes questions from Twitter every week in Twenty for Tuesday.

 

Jay Bilas @JayBilas
ESPN’s best color and in-studio basketball analyst is also one of the most interesting voices on Twitter. His insight is valuable and witty, but perhaps his best quality is his unfiltered take on the NCAA. He also has a follower-to-following ratio in excess of 400,000-to-0.

 

The CBSSports.com team
Jeff Borzello @JeffBorzello
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanCBS
Matt Norlander @MattNorlander
Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS

Want a lesson in newsroom chemistry? The CBSSports.com college basketball team is it. Parrish is an ace columnist. Goodman seems to know every roster and assistant from North Carolina to North Carolina A&T. Borzello is the recruiting expert. Norlander curates the blog and the podcast. The banter and non-basketball Tweets, though, make them worth following as a group as they poke at Goodman’s obsessiveness, Parrish’s fashion choices, Norlander’s affinity for tempo-free stats.

 

The Bracket Experts
Joe Lunardi @ESPNLunardi
Jerry Palm @jppalmCBS

Face it: You probably have a handful of questions about your team. 1. Is my team in the NCAA Tournament or on the bubble? 2. Where is my team seeded? 3. What if X beats Y and Y beats Z? Lunardi and Palm have your answers. And they seem to take the constant questions and occasional criticism in stride.

 

 

Michael DeCourcy @tsnmike
Let’s step away from this ESPN/CBS dominance for a bit with DeCourcy, a staple from The Sporting News and now the Big Ten Network. He’ll be kind, critical but also unafraid to challenge the prevailing wisdom.

 

Pat Forde @YahooForde
Forde offers in-game notes and opinion on the most prominent teams. Cue the Kentucky fans: He’s from Louisville but gives both teams a fair shake.

 

Dick Vitale @DickieV
We’ve poked fun at Vitale, but the ESPN institution has taken to Twitter well. His enthusiasm for being on the road at college basketball’s best sites translates to social media, too. We’ll sum it up this way: If you like Vitale on air, you’ll like him on Twitter even in CAPS LOCK.

Luke Winn @lukewinn
Sports Illustrated’s top basketball writer puts out must-read power rankings throughout the season. @AndyGlockner and @RobDauster are also key follows from the SI team for nationwide info. Winn's work is rich in data, charts and visual aids. For example:

 

The rest of the ESPN team
Dana O’Neil @ESPNDanaONeil
Jason King @JasonKingESPN
Eamonn Brennan @eamonnbrennan
Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN
Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla
Jimmy Dykes @JimmyDykesLive

No one has more boots on the ground than ESPN, especially covering college basketball full-time. From the great feature writers (O’Neil and King) to the blog network (Brennan and Medcalf) and the on-air guys (Fraschilla and Dykes), you won’t starve for information.

 

GOING DEEPER

USA Today Voices
Eric Prisbell @EricPrisbell
Nicole Auerbach @NicoleAuerbach
Dan Wolken @DanWolken

USA Today recently expanded its online sports coverage. Prisbell reports and investigates, which means he may report some things you’ll hate to hear about your team and love to hear about your rivals. Auerbach covers the nationwide blog and curates a chat with Prisbell. Wolken is by trade a college football writer, but the former Memphis newspaper columnist has some biting basketball takes, too.

 

Ken Pomeroy @kenpomeroy
Remember when baseball statistics like OPS and BABIP and WAR started making the rounds? Tempo-free basketball stats are kind of like that. Ken Pomeroy and his ilk wants to be able to compare an up-tempo team like North Carolina to a low-tempo team like Wisconsin on an even playing field. You’ll have to visit his site and pay the subscription to get all the advanced stats, but Pomeroy brings a quirky sense of humor to Twitter.

 

The Recruiting Gurus
Eric Bossi @ebosshoops
Jerry Meyer @jerrymeyer247
Brian Snow @BSnowScout
Dave Telep @DaveTelep

Want to know who’s next up for your team or what coach is watching what recruit? Basketball recruiting hasn’t blown up quite like football on national signing day, but veteran recruiting reporters Eric Bossi, Jerry Meyer, Brian Snow and Dave Telep know their way around the AAU circuit.

 

The Independent Voices
Rush the Court @rushthecourt
Michael Rogner @RunTheFloor

Looking for a different take away from the big multimedia companies, try these two blogs to shuffle things up. Both gather links from around the web, create their own content and analysis and share opinions, especially live on game day.

 

The Coaches
Chris Mack @CoachChrisMack
Eric Reveno @CoachReveno

Admit it: Most coach Twitter accounts are boring, especially if he’s not the coach of your favorite team. Many accounts aren’t even run by the coach himself. We applaud Xavier coach Chris Mack and Portland coach Eric Reveno for sharing the coach experience with their followers. Both have occasionally self-deprecating senses of humor, especially when it comes to parenting and travel. But they also take on more heady issues. Reveno, in particular, Tweets about the tough job of a coach and offers suggestions to the NCAA.

 

Check Your Local Listings
Most of these on the list are national names. We couldn’t possibly go through the long list of great beat writers and local columnists out there. Some of our favorites for top teams this year including @RickBozich and @ericcrawford for Louisville, @JerryTipton and @kysportsradio for Kentucky, @insidethehall and @indystar_hutch for Indiana and @ACCSports, @DavidTeelatDP and @bylinerp for all things Duke, North Carolina and ACC.

Teaser:
<p> Twitter accounts every college basketball fan should follow</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 14:30
Path: /college-basketball/daily-march-madness-tracker-big-east-tournament-wont-disappoint
Body:

Caution employers: Work productivity may be down Thursday and Friday this week and next.

The wild ride continues as college basketball conference tournaments enter their most dramatic phase. Four games in one day in major conferences, championships in the one-bid leagues.

Athlon Sports will keep you up to date on the major news for the NCAA Tournament from the day’s games and what to watch in the day ahead.

Conference tournament previews:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big TenMountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


MARCH 14 DAILY MARCH MADNESS TRACKER

Villanova keeps climbing
The Wildcats were pretty safe after defeating Georgetown in the final week of the regular season, but Villanova now has a chance to move up the bracket after advancing in the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats pulled away from an undermanned St. John’s team 66-53 and will face Louisville today. Nova’s frontcourt of Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston pounded St. John’s for a combined 30 points and 16 rebounds. The Wildcats were characteristically effective from the line, shooting 19 of 23. File that number away.

Cincinnati pulls out of funk
After having to sweat in an overtime win over USF at home, Cincinnati defeated Providence 61-44 in a game that could have been problematic for the Bearcats. Cincinnati won’t have to beat Georgetown to get into the field. The Bearcats will just try to show any signs they can advance.

Syracuse stalls, then roars back
The Orange started its game against Seton Hall on Saturday looking as sluggish as it had for most of the last few months. Syracuse trailed by nine midway through the first half but finished with a 75-63 win. Most encouraging was the play of James Southerland and Brandon Triche. Southerland bounced back from an 0-for-8 performance against Georgetown to score 20. Triche broke out of his slump from the last few weeks to score 17.

Should UCLA fear Arizona State?
Arizona State lost an eight-point lead in the final 1:04 of regulation against a Stanford team that made attempted (and made) one field goal all game. The Sun Devils eventually won 89-88 in overtime to keep their slim NCAA hopes alive. Why should a team that nearly coughed up a win over the ninth-seeded team be a threat to the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12? Well, freshman Jahii Carson was unstoppable with 34 points. And UCLA hasn’t shown it can be trusted tto avoid a let down.

UNLV makes most of its break
Disappointing UNLV ended the season with a loss to Fresno State at home. The Rebels will advance on their homecourt by defeating Air Force 72-56, but UNLV caught a break. Air Force’s leading scorer Michael Lyons left with a knee injury. Still, the Rebels should be pleased with the win, especially with the play of Anthony Bennett. In February, he was one of the top freshmen in the country, but he scored in double figures only once since Feb. 16. Against Air Force, he was 10 of 14 from the field for 23 points with seven rebounds.

In the one-bid conference tourneys...
Bucknell clinched the Patriot League’s bid by defeating Lafayette in the title game. The Bison have a legit forward in Mike Muscala and gave Missouri fits earlier this season. No top four seed will want to meet Bucknell in the round of 64. ... Both of the top two seeds in the MEAC lost their first games in the conference tournament -- Norfolk State to eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina Central to seventh-seeded North Carolina A&T. You’ll recognize Norfolk State: The Spartans upset No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA Tournament last season. The MEAC frontrunners went a combined 31-1 in league this season.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

KEY THURSDAY GAMES
All times Eastern


Note: The first rounds of the Atlantic 10, ACC and Big Ten begin Thursday while the SEC moves into the second round.

Big 12 quarterfinals
Oklahoma vs. Iowa State (12:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor (9:30 p.m., Big 12 Network)

Iowa State is lingering on the bubble, but the Cyclones might feel pretty good if they can defeat Oklahoma for their second win over a top-50 team in eight days. The Sooners would have good reason to worry about their seed with a loss Thursday. They’ve already lost to Texas and TCU since the end of February ... Baylor will need to make a deep run to reach the NCAA Tournament, but back-to-back wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State will allow us to dream.

Big East quarterfinals
Cincinnati vs. Georgetown (noon, ESPN)
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh (2 p.m., ESPN)
Villanova vs. Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN)
Notre Dame vs. Marquette (9 p.m., ESPN)

As indicated above, the bubble work may be done for Cincinnati and Villanova. This is simply going to be great basketball in the final Big East Tournament as we know it. Three future conferences will be represented Thursday with the future Big East in name only (Georgetown, Marquette), the conference-to-be named (Cincinnati) and the ACC (Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame).

Big Ten first round
Illinois vs. Minnesota (noon, Big Ten Network)
Unless Michigan loses to Penn State for the second time in two weeks, the first day of the Big Ten Tournament will be most notable for the 8-9 game. Both Illinois and Minnesota this season defeated Indiana, whom the winner will draw in the next round. Minnesota was in a funk in the last week of the season. The Gophers need Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins to heat up to have a chance to win the postseason. Illinois lost its final two regular season games, too, but if Brandon Paul catches fire, no one will want to face the Illini.

Mountain West semifinals
UNLV vs. Colorado State (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Colorado State took care of business against Fresno State even without starting point guard Dorian Green. UNLV may be the luckiest team in the postseason -- the Rebels are playing on their home court and faced Air Force without their best player and are likely to face Colorado State without its point guard.

Pac-12 quarterfinals
Arizona State vs. UCLA (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Arizona vs. Colorado (5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

UCLA isn’t far removed from losing to Washington State on the road, and the Bruins must face a team that gave them fits in the regular season. The Sun Devils dominated inside in an 18-point win back in January, and UCLA needed it star freshmen to combine for 64 points to defeat Arizona State in overtime at home.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

BY THE NUMBERS
NCAA TOURNAMENT PROJECTED LOCKS (50)
ACC (4): Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Atlantic 10 (4): Butler, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast*
Big 12 (4): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova
Big South (1): Liberty*
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Colonial (1): James Madison*
Horizon (1): Valparaiso*
Ivy (1): Harvard*
Missouri Valley (1): Creighton*
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast (1): LIU Brooklyn*
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont*
Patriot (1): Bucknell*
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
SEC (2): Florida, Missouri
Southern (1): Davidson*
Summit (1): South Dakota State*
Sun Belt (1): Western Kentucky*
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
*clinched NCAA Tournament bid

ONE-BID LEAGUES (9)
America East, Big Sky, Big West, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Southland, SWAC, WAC
Note: Conference USA likely will be a one-bid league if Memphis wins its conference tournament.

THE BUBBLE: 17 teams for nine spots
Alabama
Arizona State
Baylor
Boise State
Iowa
Iowa State
Kentucky
La Salle
Memphis
Middle Tennessee
Minnesota
Ole Miss
Tennessee
Saint Mary’s
Wichita State
UMass
Virginia

Teaser:
<p> Daily March Madness Tracker: Big East Tournament won't disappoint</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /college-basketball/2013-atlantic-10-conference-tournament
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Atlantic 10.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Brooklyn (CBS)
First-round games (All Thursday):
No. 8 Richmond vs. No. 9 Charlotte
No. 5 Butler vs. No. 12 Dayton
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 St. Joseph’s
No. 6 Massachusetts vs. No. 11 George Washington

Byes to the quarterfinals
No. 1 Saint Louis
No. 2 VCU
No. 3 Temple
No. 4 La Salle

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Saint Louis
The Billikens finished the season on a tear, winning 12 of their last 13. Along the way, Saint Louis comfortably defeated the second seed (VCU) and fourth (La Salle) seed in the field and defeated the fifth seed (Butler) on the road. Dwayne Evans has been the key, averaging 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds in the final 13 games.

DARK HORSE: Xavier
A big roll of the dice to pick Xavier to win in a tournament setting. The Musketeers have the players (Semaj Christon, Travis Taylor) and have defeated good teams (Memphis on Feb. 26 and top-seeded Saint Louis on March 6). But Xavier also hasn’t won consecutive games since defeating Duquesne and Fordham, two of the bottom three teams in the A-10, in early February. During Xavier’s late stretch, the Musketeers let games slip away against VCU, UMass and Butler. They’ll have to figure out how to play more consistently in a hurry.

ATHLON’S PICK: VCU
The Rams’ swarming defense will be tough to break in a tournament setting. Be sure to track the turnover numbers. The Rams are undefeated when forcing 15 or more turnovers and winless when forcing fewer than 15.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Butler, Saint Louis, VCU

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Temple
After winning its final seven games, Temple is a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Owls lost to Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and Canisius early this season, but may have played their way in with a win over VCU in the regular season finale. The worst case scenario would be a loss to No. 11 George Washington in the A-10 Tournament opener, but the Colonials would first have to upset UMass. Even if that happens, it’s tough to see Temple missing the field unless there’s a numbers crunch for at-large bids.

La Salle
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much from La Salle, the No. 4 seed in the A-10 Tournament. Since defeating Butler and VCU in back-to-back games in January, the Explorers are 0-3 against the top three seeds in the A-10. Meanwhile, La Salle’s RPI and strength of schedule took a hit with four games against teams that didn’t even make the A-10 field. The Explorers’ RPI and strength of schedule numbers are marginal, so La Salle will rest easier if the Explorers defeat No. 5 seed Butler in the quarterfinals. If La Salle faces No. 12 seed Dayton and loses, the situation will be dicey.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:40
Path: /college-basketball/2013-sec-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the SEC.

SEC TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. (ABC)
Early round games
No. 12 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Mississippi State (Wednesday)
No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Auburn (Wednesday)
No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 LSU (Thursday)
No. 5 Tennessee vs. South Carolina/Mississippi State (Thursday)
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt (Thursday)
No. 6 Missouri vs. Texas A&M/Auburn

Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Florida
No. 2 Kentucky
No. 3 Ole Miss
No. 4 Alabama

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big 12 | Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12


THE FAVORITE: Florida
Florida stumbled down the stretch on the road in league play, but the Gators were clearly the best team in the league all season long. Florida will need to prove it can win away from Gainesville (the Gators went 7-6 on the road) and win close games (the Gators were 0-5 in games decided by single digits). Plan your brackets accordingly.

DARK HORSE: Tennessee
Any team with Jordan McRae, Trae Golden and Jarnell Stokes is capable of winning four games in four days. The Vols have won eight of nine, and probably need to win two more to secure an at-large invite to the NCAA Tournament. A talented team that went 8-1 down the stretch and needs to win games? Seems like a good mix.

ATHLON’S PICK: Florida
It’s always dangerous to pick against Kentucky — which will have the majority of the fan support — at the SEC Tournament, but the Wildcats simply have not been able to win consistently enough to trust them in the SEC Tournament. Florida has the talent and could re-focus in time to win its first SEC Tourney since 2007.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Florida, Missouri

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Kentucky
The Wildcats may have the strongest case of any of the five bubble teams in the SEC. Kentucky was in the field before Nerlens Noel got hurt and defeated Missouri and Florida at home in close games after Noel’s injury. But Kentucky also lost by 30 to Tennessee in Knoxville, plus on the road to Arkansas and Georgia. Avoid a loss to Vanderbilt or Arkansas in the first game, and John Calipari will feel more confident about defending his title.

Tennessee
The Volunteers surged at the end of the season with only one loss after Feb. 6. The run included wins at home over Kentucky, Florida and Missouri, but Georgia continued to be the Achilles’ heel for the Vols. Lucky for Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee won’t see the Bulldogs unless it’s in a conference title game. A bad loss to either South Carolina or Mississippi State might knock Tennessee out. A win over Alabama in the quarterfinals might be enough to keep the Vols in.

Ole Miss
The Rebels earned a bye to the quarterfinals, where they’ll hope to meet Missouri again. The Tigers will likely head to the NCAA Tournament with a strong non-conference resume, but they’re seeded sixth in the SEC. If Ole Miss draws Missouri, the Rebels will have a chance to prove their signature win of the season wasn’t a product of playing the Tigers in Oxford without Laurence Bowers.

Alabama
Losing to LSU and needing a miracle halfcourt shot to beat Georgia is not a great way to get into the field, especially for a Crimson Tide team with losses to Auburn, Tulane, Mercer and Dayton on the resume. It’s tough to see this team reaching the field without wins over Tennessee in the quarters and Florida in the semis, at least.

Arkansas
At home, Arkansas is a sure-bet tournament team. Away from Fayetteville, the Hogs are beatable by everyone but Auburn. We list Arkansas as a bubble team because of the Razorbacks’ potential when they’re on their games. That said, it may be automatic bid or bust.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 SEC Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Florida lived on the edge like few teams last season. No matter the opponent -- from Bowling Green and Louisiana-Lafayette to Texas A&M and LSU, the Gators made Saturdays interesting. In Will Muschamp’s third season, the coach will take the record (11-2) but maybe not the stress of games that shouldn’t be as close as they were.

Spring opens with plenty of questions, though. Jeff Driskel was a liability at times at quarterback last season, but he’s the focal point this season. On defense, many of the top playmakers are gone, opening doors for talented youth to make a move.

Florida Gators 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 13-April 6

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 4

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Jeff Driskel, 156 of 245, 1,646, 12 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Driskel, 118 car., 413 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Quinton Dunbar, 36 rec., 383 yds., 4 TDs
Tackles: Loucheiz Purifoy, 51
Sacks: Dominique Easley, 4
Interceptions: Jaylen Watkins, 3

Redshirts to watch: S Marcus Maye, QB Skyler Mornhinweg, TE Colin Thompson, DT Quinteze Williams

Early Enrollees to watch: LB Alex Anzalone, DL Joe Ivie, LB Daniel McMillian, OL Tyler Moore, WR Demarcus Robinson

JUCO Transfer to Watch: DT Darious Cummings

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31: Toledo
Sept. 7: at Miami
Sept. 21: Tennessee
Sept. 28: at Kentucky
Oct. 5: Arkansas
Oct. 12: at LSU
Oct. 19: at Missouri
Nov. 2: Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 9: Vanderbilt
Nov. 16: at South Carolina
Nov. 23: Georgia Southern
Nov. 30: Florida State

Offensive Strength: The offense as a whole is in transition with new faces on the offensive line and questions at running back and wide receiver. That leaves quarterback, or at least Jeff Driskel’s returning experience, as a strength. Driskel threw all but 43 of the Gators’ pass attempts last season.

Offensive Weakness: The Gators averaged an un-Florida-like 5.3 yards per play last season. Only Missouri and Kentucky averaged fewer in the SEC last season. The Gators will focus on a power run game under Will Muschamp and coordinator Brent Pease, but Florida will need to find playmakers with running back and Mike Gillislee and tight end Jordan Reed gone.

Defensive Strength: Florida is overflowing with numbers at cornerback, which is allowing Muschamp to tinker with moving players around. Loucheiz Purifoy will see time on offense while Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins may play safety.

Defensive Weakness: As usual, the Gators have plenty of talented players on defense, but there’s a question of who will become the big-play leader. Matt Elam led the team in interceptions (four) and was second in tackles for a loss (11), but he’s gone. Empty spots in the front seven mean Florida is also looking for a pass rusher to emerge.

Spring Storylines Facing the Gators

1. Can Jeff Driskel emerge? Driskel won’t be competing for his job after starting all but two games last season. Now, it’s time to see what he can do with a full spring as the No. 1 quarterback. He has a strong arm and he can scramble, but he needs to be able to make more plays downfield and avoid sacks. Two huge safety nets in Gillislee and Reed are gone, so Driskel needs to emerge as a playmaker in his own right.

2. Finding offensive playmakers. Where would Florida have been without the steady, grinding run game of Gillislee? That’s not a question the Gators hope to answer. The Gators used to have a steady stream of offensive playmakers, but there’s been a drought of reliable big play receivers. This spring, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy is working out at the position, and early-enrolling freshman Demarcus Robinson could make an impact. At running back, the race is on to replace Gillislee. Matt Jones came on late last season, including eight carries for 81 yards and a touchdown against Florida State. He’s one of three scholarship tailbacks in spring camp.

3. A new offensive line look. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including center Jon Harrison, right guard Jon Halapio and right tackle Chaz Green. Sophomore D.J. Humphries could take over at left tackle and may have a bright future there. Maryland transfer Max Garcia is a projected starter at left guard while Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore could press Green for playing time.

4. Changing of the guard in the front seven. The Gators will have a ton of turnover in the front seven with linemen Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter and all three starting linebackers gone. Linemen Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard are looking to build on positive freshman seasons. Ronald Powell, a former No. 1 prospect, is looking to make a return from a torn ACL. With defensive tackle Darious Cummings arriving from junior college, Florida will have candidates at line. The Gators will need help at linebacker, though.

5. Filling both safety spots. Where Florida is stocked at cornerback, the Gators have questions at safety. Matt Elam was Florida’s top defensive player last season. He left big shoes to fill. Josh Evans, who started the last two seasons, are also gone. Hopes are high for Marcus Maye to take over for Elam, but he’s a redshirt freshman.

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Teaser:
<p> Florida Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-basketball/daily-march-madness-tracker-sec-teams-baylor-stay-alive
Body:

Now that the calendar has turned to March, fans of bubble teams may be refreshing web sites of their favorite bracketologists.

As college basketball’s regular season and conference tournament season nears a close, Athlon Sports will keep you up to date on the key developments through the week. Each day brings key developments for the NCAA Tournament, so in this space, we’ll update which teams look to be in the field, which might be playing themselves out as well as the key games of the day.

Related: Key stats from March 4-10

MARCH 11 DAILY MARCH MADNESS TRACKER AND BUBBLE WATCH

SEC teams clinging to hope
Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee could audition for roles as monsters in bad horror movies. Just when their NCAA Tournament hopes appear to be dead, they keep coming back. Alabama lost back-to-back games to Florida and Ole Miss, but got a midcourt desperation shot from Trevor Releford to avoid a loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated Tennessee and Kentucky in the last week and half, but the Volunteers and Wildcats turned around to defeat the SEC’s top two teams (Missouri and Florida, respectively). After losing to SEC bottom feeders South Carolina and Mississippi State in a span of two weeks, Ole Miss won a head-to-head meeting with Alabama and defeated LSU on the road. Here’s a look at their resumes heading into the SEC Tournament:

  Alabama Kentucky Ole Miss Tennessee
SEC Record 12-6 12-6 12-6 11-7
RPI ranking 62 50 56 55
Kenpom.com ranking 69 35 45 62
Top-100 record 7-7 7-9 7-6 9-9
Best win Kentucky Florida Missouri Florida
Worst loss at Auburn at Georgia at Miss. State Georgia

Baylor not done yet
Baylor headed into its regular-season finale against Kansas riding a 1-5 streak that damaged the Bears’ NCAA hopes. An 81-58 win over the Jayhawks on Saturday alone won’t get Baylor into the field, but at least it hints at what Baylor can do when it plays to its potential. The Bears (3-10 against the top 50, ranked No. 62 in the RPI) open the Big 12 Tournament against Oklahoma State.

Big Ten bubble watch
Only a week or so ago, the Big Ten looked like it established clear tiers between the NCAA teams and the NIT teams. It remains to be seen if that has changed with Minnesota's recent struggles. At the very least, Minnesota’s seeding has taken a hit in the last week. The same team that defeated Indiana on Feb. 26 lost at Nebraska and at Purdue last week. The Gophers still have an 11-8 record against the top 100, which is a better mark than Iowa, for example. The Hawkeyes finished a game ahead of Minnesota in the Big Ten standings, but Iowa is 5-8 against the top 100. The difference in strength of schedule contributes to Minnesota’s RPI in the top 25 and Iowa’s at 75.

What’s going on in the Mountain West?
Saturday was drama-filled for the Mountain West with three of the four games potentially impacting the field. New Mexico started the day with a reasonable case for a No. 1 seed, but the Lobos lost 89-88 on the road to Air Force. Boise State further strengthened its case for an at-large with a 69-65 win over San Diego State to improve its record to 4-6 against the top 50. The Broncos’ signature win this season was on the road against Missouri Valley regular season and tournament champion Creighton on Nov. 28. The most puzzling result, however, was UNLV’s loss at home to Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 11-18 this season and 5-11 in the Mountain West, two of those wins coming against UNLV.

Temple picks up key win
Since a loss to RPI No. 219 Duquesne on Valentine’s Day, Temple has been fighting to stay in the field. The Owls ended its regular season with an 84-76 win over VCU that should be a a boost to their at-large hopes. Since the Duquesne loss, Temple has won seven in a row, including five top-100 wins (at UMass, La Salle, at Charlotte, Detroit and VCU). Fran Dunphy’s team earned the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and will catch either UMass or George Washington after a bye.

No guarantees in the Pac-12
UCLA clinched an outright Pac-12 title with a little help from Oregon, which lost to Colorado (without Andre Roberson) and Utah (which finished 5-13 in the league). A puzzling Saturday in the Pac-12 may hint at a wild conference tournament. For starters, Washington State started the week with two league wins but defeated the conference champion (UCLA) and then the hottest team in the league (USC). Colorado also found time to lose at home to Oregon State (4-14 in the league).

Cincinnati dodges one
The Bearcats have been on a slide to the NCAA bubble but avoided a problematic loss by defeating USF 61-53. The Bearcats needed overtime to defeat the 12-18 Bulls. Now, Cincinnati opens the Big East Tournament against a Providence team that defeated the Bearcats on Feb. 6 in addition to beating Villanova twice and Notre Dame.

Related: Video Slideshow: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13

KEY MONDAY GAMES
All Times Eastern

FIU vs. Western Kentucky (7 p.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt Championship

Davidson vs. Charleston (7 p.m., ESPN)
Southern Championship

Northeastern vs. James Madison (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
Colonial Championship

Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga (9 p.m., ESPN)
West Coast Championship

Iona vs. Manhattan (9 p.m., ESPN)
MAAC Championship

BY THE NUMBERS
NCAA TOURNAMENT PROJECTED LOCKS (39)
ACC (4): Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Atlantic 10 (3): Butler, Saint Louis, VCU
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast*
Big 12 (4): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big East (6): Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Big South (1): Liberty*
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Ivy (1): Harvard*
Missouri Valley (1): Creighton*
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont*
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
SEC (2): Florida, Missouri
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
*clinched NCAA Tournament bid

ONE-BID LEAGUES (15)
America East, Big Sky, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Summit, SWAC, WAC
Note: Conference USA and the Sun Belt likely will be one-bid leagues if their proejcted champions win their conference tournaments.

THE BUBBLE: 14 teams

RELATED:
All 2013 NCAA Tournament Coverage

Teaser:
<p> Daily March Madness Tracker: SEC teams, Baylor stay alive</p>
Post date: Monday, March 11, 2013 - 12:15

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