Friday, March 24, 2017

Trevon Bluiett, #11 Xavier Knocks Off #2 Arizona, Advancing To West Regional Final

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 23, 2017

Off a nice high-low feed from Malcolm Bernard, Sean O'Mara scored a layup with 40 seconds left, giving #11 seed Xavier a two point advantage, enough to upset No. 2 Arizona 73-71 in the West Region Thursday night. Arizona had a number of opportunities to score, but could not, their last chance a desperation heave from three-point land by Allonzo Trier that nicked off the front of the rim.

Leading all scorers was 6'6" junior, Trevon Buuiett, who has been nothing short of brilliant leading the Musketeers into the Elite Eight. Bluiett netted 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting with three three-pointers. He was 4-for-4 from the line and added two rebounds and a pair of assists.

Bluiett scored 21 in Xavier's 76-65 first round win over #8 seed Maryland, then had 29 when the Musketeers dumped #3 Florida State, 91-66.

Now having bested the #2 and #3 seeds in the region, Xavier next faces #1 Gonzaga on Saturday (6:09 pm tip), themselves narrow winners over #4 West Virginia, 61-58, in the other half of the regional semi-final.

At #11, Bluiett and his Musketeer mates are the highest seed remaining in the national championship tournament.

In the Midwest Region, #1 Kansas blew out #4 Purdue, 98-66; #3 Oregon barely escaped #7 Michigan, 69-68.

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Thursday (3/23) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 7-8 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (2)
Big East (7) 6-5 Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (3)
Big Ten (7) 8-6 Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)
Big 12 (6) 9-4 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (3), Baylor (2)
SEC (5) 7-2 Florida (2), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (2), South Carolina (2)
PAC 12 (4) 9-2 USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (3), UCLA (2)
Atlantic 10 (3) 1-3 Rhode Island (1)
American (2) 1-2 Cincinnati (1)
West Coast (2) 4-1 Gonzaga (3), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) 4-23 Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kentucky-UCLA Among Awesome Friday Sweet 16 Match-Ups

NCAA Sweet 16 South and East Regions Previews

South Region

(1) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (4) Butler Bulldogs
7:09 pm ET, CBS

North Carolina (29-7) is the last remnant of the ACC, the conference that was touted by many "in the know" analysts as the best in the nation. What we know now is that the "best" conference has a record of 7 wins and 8 losses, leaving the Tar Heels (who won the regular season but lost in the conference tournament final to Duke) as the lone representative. Thus, it's not a stretch to believe that North Carolina is not long for this tournament. The logic is that since every other team has from the ACC has been eliminated, how soon will the Tar Heels fall?

So far, they've had it relatively easy, dropping #16 Texas Southern in the opening round, 103-64, then disposing of a very game #8 Arkansas squad in the second round, 72-65. The Razorbacks had the Heels on their toes, leading 65-60 with under three minutes to play, but North Carolina closed out the game on a 12-0 run to survive and move forward. The Heels shot just 38.1%, the worst for a Carolina squad in the tournament since 1968.

If Carolina plays as poorly offensively as they did against the Razorbacks, Butler may make them pay dearly and send them home early. The bulldogs come out of the Big East, which sent seven teams and has only two remaining (the other, Xavier), so this could be rated as a meeting between survivors of the two most overrated conferences. If that's the case, 25-8 Butler (2nd in the Big East, 12-6), a 7 1/2-point underdog, has a very good chance of upending the Tar Heels.

Butler got through round one by defeating #13 Winthrop 76-64, and then took down a highly-touted #12 in Middle Tennessee State, 74-65. As far as tenacious is concerned, the Bulldogs are as fierce as they come. North Carolina should not expect an easy time, but this group may not be as talented as some previous NC tournament teams, and they are very young and inexperienced. Thus, anything can happen, and Butler could come out ahead.

(2) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (3) UCLA Bruins
9:39 pm ET, CBS

In what could be the best Elite Eight game of all, the Bruins and Wildcats take back seats to almost no teams in the tournament. Kentucky cruised through the SEC regular season, posting a 16-2 mark (31-5 overall), two games better than runner-up Florida, and they won the conference tournament handily as well.

What's a little disturbing about the Wildcats - other than their relative youth, though that's become a feature of most tourney teams of late - is the closeness of their two wins: 79-70 over #15 seed Norther Kentucky, a team the Wildcats should have beaten by 30; and, their 65-62 victory in the second round over #10 Wichita State, which almost pulled off a monumental upset. The Shockers, however, may have been vastly underrated, so Kentucky can get a pass on that one.

At 31-4 UCLA has the look of a team nobody really wants to be playing at this juncture, largely because of the presence of the presumptive #1 draft pick, freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who led the nation in assists, at 7.6 per game. Scoring an average of 14.7 per outing, Ball leads a team with six double figure scorers, a rarity in the college ranks. Ball will match up against Kentucky's freshman sensation, De'Aaron Fox, who's no slouch at 4.6 assists and 14.1 points per game, but he'll have his hands full on defense against the crafty Ball. The line favors the Bruins by one, but they could win by more if Ball is all he's supposed to be.

Both conferences are well-represented. The SEC sent five teams and three are remaining (Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida). The PAC-12 holds the best record of any conference at 8-1, having sent just four teams. Only USC has bowed out, but they won two games (First Four and First Round). UCLA, Arizona and Oregon remain.

East Region

(3) Baylor Bears vs. (7) South Carolina Gamecocks
7:29 pm ET, TBS

Baylor had a very solid season, but fell short in the strong Big 12, finishing tied with West Virginia and Iowa State for second place at 12-6, behind champion Kansas. The Bears are 27-7 overall, after dusting #14 New Mexico State in the opening round, 91-73, and slipping by a better-than-advertised #11 USC, 82-78. Baylor is probably the tallest team by position in the tourney, with seven-footer, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., and 6'10" Johnathan Motley anchoring the front line. While they may be long and lanky, the Baylor forwards are not exceptionally strong, and South Carolina brings plenty of muscle, which they used to upend undersized and heavily-favored #2 seed Duke, 88-82, after disposing of #10 Marquette, 93-73.

The Gamecocks went through the regular season in and out of the Top 25, slipping up as the regular season ended with five losses in their final eight games and then losing to Alabama in the opening round of the SEC tournament, 64-53.

But, South Carolina has rebounded well and they will hit the boards hard against Baylor. If this turns into a front court scrum, look for South Carolina to at least cover the 3 1/2-point spread and possibly win outright. Sindarius Thornwell and Chris Silva will lead the charge, but the Gamecocks are not particularly deep.

(8) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (4) Florida Gators
9:59 pm ET, TBS

The elite Eight ends with a couple of rank outsiders matching up in what should be an exciting contest. Wisconsin's main claim to fame is beating #1 seed in the East, Villanova, 65-62, in the second round, marking them as giant-killers and raising all kinds of rancor from pundits who thought the Badgers were under-seeded as a #8. While that may be true - because they did go 26-9 and were runners-up in the Big Ten to Purdue, at 12-6 - they did tie with Maryland in second, and the Terps were shuffled off in the first round by Xavier. So, there are arguments either way, but the reality is that the Badgers are big and bad and disciplined, probably moreso than the Gators, who lost consistently to Kentucky this season, but were otherwise well-regarded, also ranked in the Top 25 throughout the season.

The Gators grabbed a #4 seed and it appears to be well-deserved. In the first round, they took care of #13 East Tennessee State handily, 80-64. In the second round, the Gators chomped down on #5 Virginia, holding the Cavaliers to 29.6% shooting (16-54) in a 65-39 rout. While Virginia was not regarded by anyone as a team of sharpshooters, the Florida defense was strangulating and the same kind of effort might turn this meeting against Wisconsin into a game of first-to-50.

That kind of grinding atmosphere might be right up Badger alley, but all indication are that the two-point favorite Gators are going to advance here.

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Sunday (3/19) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 7-8 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (2)
Big East (7) 5-5 Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (2)
Big Ten (7) 8-4 Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)
Big 12 (6) 8-3 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (2), Baylor (2)
SEC (5) 7-2 Florida (2), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (2), South Carolina (2)
PAC 12 (4) 8-1 USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (2), UCLA (2)
Atlantic 10 (3) 1-3 Rhode Island (1)
American (2) 1-2 Cincinnati (1)
West Coast (2) 3-1 Gonzaga (2), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (4-23) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)

ESPN updated NCAA tournament bracket

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Midwest and West Match-ups, Previews

Midwest and West NCAA Tourney Match-ups

With four games Thursday and four more Friday, the Sweet 16 will, by late Friday night, be reduced to the Elite Eight (and the unfortunate eight, the losers).

Thursday offers games from the West and Midwest regions, so we'll take a look at those contests today, and cover the East and South on Thursday. That way, everybody will have ample time to make their picks and either agree or throw things at College Basketball Daily's best guesses as to which teams are advancing.

Midwest Region:

(3) Oregon Ducks vs.
(7) Michigan Wolverines
(7:09 pm ET, CBS):

The Ducks come out of the PAC-10 as the runner-up in both the regular season and the conference tournament to Arizona. Oregon was ranked nationally all season, and they are currently #9 in the AP poll. Not that it should matter at this point, but Oregon has been highly-regarded all season, while the Wolverines were more or less an afterthought for an at-large bid until they won the Big Ten tournament and received the automatic bid. Otherwise, Michigan might be playing in the NIT, but, here they are, the #7 seed in the region, upsetting #2 Louisville, 73-69.

Oregon will continue to miss Chris Boucher, injured during the conference tourney, in the post, but they managed to ride the likes of Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey through wins over Iona (93-77), and Rhode Island (75-72). The Rams gave them a scare and they'd be wise to take the Wolverines very, very seriously. Michigan may just be the tournament's Cinderella team, plane crash, practice jerseys and all.

Michigan nailed 16 three-pointers and needed every one of them in their 92-91 win over #10 Oklahoma State, but proved multi-dimensional in beating the Cardinals, hitting just six from downtown. The Ducks can drain them as well, but this game may not be a shoot-around some are expecting. Look for Michigan to play better defense and exploit Oregon's inside weakness with crisp ball movement.

(1) Kansas Jayhawks vs.
(4) Purdue Boilermakers
(9:39 pm ET, CBS):

Kansas (30-4) has had its way with both opponents thus far, smashing #16 seed UC Davis, 100-62, and demoralizing Tom Izzo and his #9 seed Michigan State Spartans, 90-60, establishing the Jayhawks as the team with the largest average margin of victory remaining, at 29 points. That's usually a big factor when the tournament reaches this level, as teams that squeak by are normally eliminated by those that have routed their opponents and given subs some playing time and starters some rest.

Speaking of rest, the Jayhawks have had plenty of it, as they lost in the opening round of the Big 12 tourney but were assured a solid seed after dominating the regular season in the conference.

Kansas is led by senior Frank Mason III, an all-American if ever there was one, averaging 36.1 minutes, 20.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. His backcourt running mate, Josh Jackson is an explosive freshman, averaging 16.6 points and 7.1 boards per outing.

25-7 Purdue is not going to be bowled over by the impressive resume Kansas brings. They also won their conference - the Big Ten - handily, and lost in the opening round to - guess who? - Michigan, in the conference tournament. The Boilermakers are big inside and play a very controlled offense with few miscues. As it turns out, this may be one of the great match-ups of the tournament, with Purdue intent on controlling the paint and Kansas seeking to bomb from outside.

Oddsmakers have Kansas a 4 1/2-point favorite, but it may well be closer than that. Purdue beat #13 seed Vermont by 10 in the opening round and took down Iowa State (a thorn in the side of Kansas) 80-76. They're on a par with the Jayhawks here, but the game is really too close to call. Instinct says go with the #1 seed; emotion says pray for the underdog.

West Region:

(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. (4) West Virginia Mountaineers
(7:39 pn ET, TBS)

Gonzaga (34-1) has been ranked in the top five all season and were undefeated until they lost the very last game of the season to BYU, 79-71. Apparently, the Zags just brushed it off, winning the WCC tournament with three straight wins, topping St. Mary's (for the third time this season) in the final, 74-56.

The Bulldogs whipped #16 South Dakota State by 20 in the opening round, then dispatched #8 Northwestern, 79-73, to move into this round. That game against the Wildcats may have been a tell for the Zags, as the knock on them is that they do not come from a major conference, thus, their gaudy record is unconvincing. Maybe so, but their non-conference schedule was not for the feint of heart, with Arizona, Tennessee, Florida, Iowa State and Washington in the mix, and they beat them all.

Gonzaga has been close before, but, with the field thinned down and the demise of the ACC, this could be their year.

West Virginia didn't scare anybody all season, but they finished tied with Baylor for second place in the Big 12, with a record of 12-6, and they were 28-8 overall, plus, they have the distinct advantage of being coached by one of the greats, Bob Higgins, who rose to fame with Cincinnati. Of course, Gonzaga's Mark Few is certainly no slouch, so this game may mark a high point in coaching acuity. The Mountaineers, who lost in their conference tournament final to Iowa State, have shown the ability to tear up opponent's game plans with a deep, nine or ten-man rotation and scathing defense. They may have had a case of nervousness when they beat Bucknell, 86-80 in their opener, but showed all their skills dominating #5 Notre Dame, 83-71.

West Virginia is a three-point underdog, which is acceptable, but they can beat the Zags if they're on from three-point land. They have four players, including starters Esa Ahmad and Jevon Carter, who can hit at nearly 40% from beyond the arc. If Gonzaga gives up open looks, the Mountaineers will make them pay.

(2) Arizona Wildcats vs.
(11) Xavier Musketeers
(10:09 pm ET, TBS)

Of all the metch-ups presented for Thursday night, this one looks to be the most lopsided and the oddsmakers agree, installing the Arizona Wildcats as 8-point favorites. That's not unexpected, as Xavier, a #11 seed is the highest (or lowest, according to your own perspective) seed in the Sweet 16. The Musketeers are the one of the two remaining teams from the seven sent by the Big East, which included #1 seed and last year's champion, Villanova, so perhaps the Big East wasn't as "big" as the selection committee thought.

However, Xavier is a scrappy bunch, checking in with a 23-13 mark, after going just 9-9 in conference. In a way, the Musketeers simply shouldn't be here. They lost six straight near the end of the regular season, but then won two games in the Big East tourney before falling to Creighton in the semis. Once into the NCAA tournament, however, Xavier raised its game, taking down Maryland, 76-65, in the first round, then absolutely crushing Florida State, 91-66, to reach this level.

Arizona is another story altogether. They conquered the PAC-12 both in the regular season and in the conference tournament, having to deal with top-notch squads from UCLA and Oregon en route. Their 32-4 record includes tournament wins over #15 North Dakota, 100-82, and #7 St. Mary's, 69-60, the same team the #1 seed in the West, Gonzaga, whipped three times this season, so the Wildcats have taken measure of what may be their ultimate opponent in the region.

That does not mean they can look past Xavier. The Wildcats can play inside and out, especially with their resident Finnish frosh, Lauri Markkanen, who is a double-double match-up nightmare, capable of stroking it from the outside or taking to the hole. He averages 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds and hits threes at a .433 rate. Allonzo Trier is the leading scoring, putting down 17.1 per game. The Wildcats go nine deep and they an all play. As a team they hit at 39.6% from three-point range. Look out. They'll beat the Musketeers and maybe win the whole shooting match.

Tomorrow: East and South Region Previews

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First And Second Round NCAA Tournament Post-Mortems

With the ACC decimated over the previous weekend, leaving North Carolina as the only representative, four conferences - the PAC-12, SEC, Big 12, and Big Ten - have emerged as the best in the nation, each represented in the Sweet 16 by three teams, replete with mountains of egg splashed across the collective faces of the tournament selection committee.

Remember when there was talk of 11 teams from the "elite" ACC headed to the NCAA tourney? Yes, there was madness circulating even before March. Now that Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Florida State, etc. have all been embarrassed and kicked to the collegiate curb, perhaps the genii which operates the tournament might consider smaller conferences or, perish the thought, more teams from the other power conferences.

Along with the ACC, the Big East took it on the chin pretty hard as well. After Villanova was bounced in the second round by Wisconsin (Big Ten strikes again), only Butler and Xavier remained of the seven teams originally offered bids to the tournament. The other four - Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette and Providence - didn't win a single game. Another blunder by the almighty committee. Providence, which finished with a positive, 10-8, record in the conference, was awarded a play-in proposition, but couldn't muster past USC, from the PAC-12, which sent only four teams.

Of those, three remain: UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona, seeded 3, 3 and 2, respectively. Incidentally, the USC Trojans not only defeated Providence, but they also slipped by everybody's "sleeper" pick, #6 SMU in the East region, so the four teams from the PAC-12 have conspired against the tournament elitists to an 8-1 record, clearly the best of any conference. Maybe Utah (11-7 conf., 20-12) or Cal (10-8, 21-13) might have had a case, rather than the harping and crying over Syracuse, bounced out of the NIT by Ole Miss at the Carrier Dome?

There was much crying and griping in Philadelphia (Been there lately? You'd complain, too.) after sweetheart Villanova went down in disgrace to the #8 seed in the East, Wisconsin. The complaints generally questioned how a team that was ranked in the Top 25 almost all season could end up a #8, upsetting the path to the championship for the beloved Wildcats. One could lay the blame for that squarely on the selection committee's head again, which is why committees, whether they be in the corporate, political or sporting world, just plain suck. Next year, the NCAA might think about using computers to make up the 68 team field, rather than obviously flawed humans. But, I digress, because, after all, I'm a human, too. (I love my computer. Really, I do.)

Let's not forget the Atlantic-10 and American conferences when it comes to epic fails, though. The A-10 sent Dayton, VCU and Rhode Island to the tourney, none remain. VCU, in case anybody hasn't noticed, isn't the same kind of team since Shaka Smart left, and Dayton, despite winning the conference regular season with a 15-3 mark, lost their final game to George Washington and opened the conference tourney with an embarrassing 73-67 loss to Davidson.

The Flyers got whacked by Wichita State, 64-58. The Shockers were a solid team that took Kentucky, the #2 seed in the South, right to the final buzzer, losing 65-62. Not bad for a #10 seed. The Shockers made the case for Illinois State, as it were.

Rhode Island was the only team from the A-10 with a win, over Big East blowhard, Creighton, but the Rams were eliminated in the next round by Oregon. Boo-f-ing-hoo.

Out of the American conference came SMU (we already know what happened to them) and Cincinnati, which won its perfunctory one game, downing Kansas State, 75-61 in the opening round. Honestly, the Wildcats of K-State should have gone to the NIT. They were 8-10 in the Big 12. They got stomped, but, proving that the American conference is anything but red-blooded, the Bearcats were easily handled by UCLA, 79-67, in the second round.

If anything is clear, it's that the PAC-12, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 have the best teams remaining and those two "Big" conferences were fairly represented, with the possible exclusion of Kansas State, though the Wildcats did beat up wake Forest in the play-in game. Of the seven Big Ten schools, only two - Maryland and Minnesota - lost in the opening round, and from the Big 12, only the Cowboys of Oklahoma State failed to win a single game.

The SEC sent five teams, and three of them, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina are still alive. Arkansas won one game, dumping Seton Hall (Big East) in the opening round before scaring the bejeezus out of Narth Carolina, losing to the Tar Heels, 72-65. Nobody was convinced Vanderbilt belonged, and those skeptical were rewarded with a first round loss to Northwestern, by a mere deuce. Speaking of Northwestern, since it was their first ever appearance in the tournament, they deserved to win, but they probably should not have been picked.

So, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan will soldier on for the Big Ten and the Big 12 teams remaining are Kansas (overrated), Baylor and West Virginia.

All the excuses in the world cannot lift the veils of stupidity and bias from the selection committee. The NCAA tournament has become like everything else in America, too complex, over-hyped and flawed by excessive media attention, the same media that has polluted our politics, our prime time viewing and entire generations of formerly sensible people (Baby Boomers and GenXers, and Millenials).

If the United States of America is ever to rise from the ashes in which it currently smoulders, East coast bias must be trampled forever into dust. There's a real world out there in the hinterlands of Minnesota, Nebraska, Utah and elsewhere, and yes, some of those people can play hoops. When media powerhouses like CBS and TNT readily share blame for egregious lapses of sanity such as the NCAA seeding process, perhaps the country can move ahead again.

Of course, there might still be the circus known as the US congress in Washington, DC, with which to contend, but that's a story for another day, in another place.

Tomorrow: Match-up Madness in the West and Midwest Regions
Wednesday: South and East Sweet 16 Match-ups


NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Sunday (3/19) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 7-8 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (2)
Big East (7) 5-5 Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (2)
Big Ten (7) 8-4 Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)
Big 12 (6) 8-3 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (2), Baylor (2)
SEC (5) 7-2 Florida (2), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (2), South Carolina (2)
PAC 12 (4) 8-1 USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (2), UCLA (2)
Atlantic 10 (3) 1-3 Rhode Island (1)
American (2) 1-2 Cincinnati (1)
West Coast (2) 3-1 Gonzaga (2), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (4-23) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trevon Bluiett, Sindarious Thornwell, Moritz Wagner Lead Xavier, South Carolina, Michigan to Sweet 16

Editor's Note: Due to car issues and internet unavailability (when we say "off the grid" we mean it) College Basketball Daily fell flat on the most critical of weekends, but, happily, we're almost back in business. The vehicle is under repair, and the internet is well, available. We did manage to keep track of events as they unfolded over the past three days and are presenting the last three players of the day for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus the updated Conference Tournament Scoreboard, in this bonus posting. More as the week unfolds... we hope!

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 17, 2017

South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell was not only the high scorer in the Gamecock's 93-73 rout of Marquette, he was the high scorer of any of the 16 winning teams in the NCAA tourney on Friday. Only one player scored more. Norbertas Giga of Jacksonville State had 30 in a losing effort to Louisville.

Beyond his 29 points, Thornwell was also busy on the boards, collecting 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. The 6'5" senior from Lancaster, SC, was on target, making 10 of 19 shots from the floor, including a 3-for-6 effort from beyond the arc, adding 6-for-7 from the foul line.

Thornwell and his South Carolina teammates matched up with Duke on Sunday in a classic in which Thornwell had 24 points as the #7 seed Gamecocks ousted the #2 Blue Devils from the East Region. The result left the low seed in the region as #3 Baylor, who faces South Carolina Friday night in one of the two regional semi-final games.



College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, March 18, 2017

Junior swingman Trevon Bluiett helped Xavier defeat Maryland, 76-65, in Thursday night's "First Four" play-in game with 21 points, but he and his teammates made sure nobody underestimated them as the Musketeers slaughtered Florida State, 91-66. Bluiett led all scorers with 29 points, pitching in three assists and six boards in 36 minutes of floor time.

Bluiett was 8-for-14 from the field with three 3-pointers and canned 10 of 14 from the charity stripe. As a team, the Musketeers shot 55.6% from the field (30-54) and an amazing 64.7% from three-point land (11-17). The Seminoles were completely outplayed and outclassed, outscored by 10 at the end of the first half, and going down 47-32 in the second half.

Xavier, the #11 seed in the West region is the highest seed remaining in the tournament's Sweet 16. They face #2 seed Arizona Thursday night in San Jose, California.



College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 19, 2017

In a day replete with upsets, one of the biggest (and the earliest) was Michigan's stunning 73-69 defeat of #2 seed Louisville in the Midwest region. The seventh-seeded Wolverines hung with their ACC rivals throughout, and forged to a late lead to hang on for the victory.

Playing his best string music, 6'11" sophomore from Berlin, Germany, Moritz Wagner, scored a career-high 26 points in the effort, knocking down 11-for-14 from the field, including his lone three-point attempt, and hitting three of six from the foul line.

As winners of the Big Ten tournament, the 26-11 Wolverines received the automatic bid to the NCAA and are making the most of it, advancing to the Sweet 16 where they will face the region's #3 seed, the Oregon Ducks.

As the Wolverines set the stage for a memorable day of upsets, including South Carolina's 88-81 win over Duke in the East Region, as mentioned above.

The losses by Duke and Louisville, along with previous losses by Notre Dame, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Wake Forest, left the North Carolina Tar Heels as the only team remaining from the ACC, now bearing the moniker of "overrated", the tournament selection committee with egg on all of their faces.

Of the major conferences, the team with the smallest representation (four teams) has the best record, that being the PAC-10 at 8-1, with only USC out of the mix. UCLA, Arizona and Oregon all advanced to the Sweet 16 round. The Big 12, which sent six teams to the tourney has an 8-3 record and three teams (Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia) advancing, along with the 7-2 SEC (Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina) and the 8-4 Big Ten (Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue).

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Sunday (3/19) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 7-8 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (2)
Big East (7) 5-5 Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (2)
Big Ten (7) 8-4 Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)
Big 12 (6) 8-3 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (2), Baylor (2)
SEC (5) 7-2 Florida (2), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (2), South Carolina (2)
PAC 12 (4) 8-1 USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (2), UCLA (2)
Atlantic 10 (3) 1-3 Rhode Island (1)
American (2) 1-2 Cincinnati (1)
West Coast (2) 3-1 Gonzaga (2), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (4-23) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)

ESPN Tournament Bracket (updated)

Friday, March 17, 2017

NCAA Tournament: Dwayne Bacon Powers Florida State Past Florida Gulf Coast

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 16, 2017

There was plenty of hype to go around concerning the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles playing Florida State in the first round of the NCAA tournament's West region, but, thanks largely to the effort of Seminole sophomore Dwayne Bacon, the #3 seed Seminoles had their way.

Bacon, a 6'7" guard from Lakeland, Florida, had his way with the FGCU backcourt, making 11 of 17 shots despite missing on all three of his 3-point attempts. Adding three of four free throws, Bacon, who averages 17.1 points per game, led Florida State in scoring with 25 while pulling down nine rebounds and dishing a pair of assists.

The Seminoles nearly let a double digit lead slip away in the late stage of the game, but managed to make free throws and enough defensive plays to keep the Eagles at bay, winning, 86-80, and advancing to the second round against #11 seed Xavier on Saturday.

Florida State will have something of a home court edge against the Musketeers being that the game is being held in Orlando, Florida. Xavier defeated Maryland, the #5 seed in the West, 76-65, to advance.

ESPN Tournament Bracket Page

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Thursday (3/16) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 3-2 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1)
Big East (7) 3-1 Villanova (1), Butler (1), Xavier (1)
Big Ten (7) 3-2 Purdue (1), Wisconsin (1), Northwestern (1),
Big 12 (6) 3-0 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (1), Iowa St. (1)
SEC (5) 1-1 Florida (1)
PAC 12 (4) 2-0 USC (1), Arizona (1),
Atlantic 10 (3) 0-1 ---
American (2) 0-0 ---
West Coast (2) 2-0 Gonzaga (1), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (3-13) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wesley Iwundu Leads K-State; USC Tops Providence on Benny Boatwright's 24

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Senior forward Wesley Iwundu's 24 points were instrumental in leading the Kansas State Wildcats to a 95-88 victory over Wake Forest in one of Tuesday night's "First Four" match-ups.

Iwundu, a senior, averaged just 12.4 points per game this season, but came up big in the high-scoring affair, hitting on six of nine shots from the field and making 11 of 13 free throws to go with his six rebounds and seven assists.

The Wildcats shot an incredible 66% from the field (31-for-47) and also out-rebounded the Demon Deacons, 29-21. Kansas State will play Cincinnati, the #6 seed in the South region, Friday in Sacramento.

In the early game, Mount St. Mary's squeaked by New Orleans, 67-66 and advances to play #1 tournament seed, Villanova Thursday.

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Benny Boatwright's game-high 24 points lifted the USC Trojans to a 75-71 victory over the Providence Friars in Wednesday's edition of the NCAA Tournament "First Four" play-in games.

Boatwright was 8-for-16 with three three-pointers. The 6'10" sophomore added seven boards and chipped in three assists. The Trojans - one of just four PAC-12 teams invited to the tourney - lifted the conference profile with the win and will have an opportunity to do more resume-building when they they meet East Region #6 seed SMU on Friday.

The other play-in contest on Wednesday saw the Aggies from UC Davis win their first NCAA tournament game in school history, topping North Carolina Central, 67-63.

The Aggies have a date with the #1 seed in the Midwest region, Kansas, on Friday.

Tomorrow: Thursday night results and the first appearance of the CBD Tournament Conference Scoreboard.