Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mills Out Four Weeks

As first reported by Andy Katz of, Saint Mary's sophomore Patty Mills will miss four weeks with a broken right wrist. He injured the wrist in Thursday night's loss to Gonzaga, in which Mills scored 18 points in just 17 minutes. Mills did not play in the second half due to the injury.

"It's going to be an adjustment," head coach Randy Bennett said. "It's not just the points, he's a monster leader for us. Everybody has to play with confidence without him. It's not just the Xs and Os, it's the leadership. It will take 11 guys to get this done."

Against Gonzaga, the Gaels were a completely different team without Mills, as they struggled to score and were a shell of their former self overall offensively. They were outscored by 13 points without Mills in the game.

Mills, a 6-0 guard from Australia who played in the Olympics last summer, is one of the best point guards in college basketball. He is averaging 18.7 points, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game for the Gaels. In his place, fellow Aussie Carlin Hughes will have to take on more responsiblity at the point guard position. Sixth man Mickey McConnell played 34 minutes against Gonzaga and will likely move into the starting lineup.

This is a huge loss for Saint Mary's, who was 18-1 heading into the Gonzaga game. The Gaels have no marquee wins on their resume and also have a loss to UTEP. Their RPI is hovering around 50 and their SOS is in the mid-250s. Furthermore, Mills is going to miss the second match-up against Gonzaga, a game which the Gaels need to win in order to boost their at-large profile. Also, any loss in the West Coast Conference will be considered a "bad loss," given the computer numbers of the rest of the teams in the league. Big men Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan will really have to step up for the Gaels if they want to avoid the bubble come Selection Sunday.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Preview

As January departs and February arrives, all college basketball fans know that means one thing: the stretch run in college basketball. Conference title races, rivalries, bubble teams, RPI, quality wins – the best two-month stretch of the year starts now. From here until Selection Sunday, nearly every game matters – for seeding, conference standings, and for inclusion to the Big Dance. Since it’s only the midpoint for many conferences, most leagues are still up for grabs. There are plenty of games this week that will have a direct effect on the conference standings and potential postseason hopes; furthermore, all the games are over before the Super Bowl starts, so football’s last week won’t even interfere with the start of the hoops stretch run. However, there are only a few weeks left until conference tournaments, so it's time to make a move – either in or out of the NCAA Tournament.

Top Games

West Virginia at No. 7 Louisville (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Should be a very entertaining Big East game. Both teams have a lot of talent and play excellent on-ball defense. Louisville is one of the hottest teams in the country, and WVU is still young. Prediction: Louisville 73, West Virginia 65

Notre Dame at No. 3 Pittsburgh (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Both teams are coming off of a loss this week – well, Notre Dame is coming off multiple losses. The Irish need to bounce back, but they won’t likely happen against a hungry Pittsburgh team looking to get back on the right track. Prediction: Pittsburgh 78, Notre Dame 66

Michigan at No. 16 Purdue (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS): Purdue is slowly creeping back into the Big Ten title picture after some early struggles. Michigan is doing the opposite, and could really use a road win to solidify its NCAA Tournament hopes. Manny Harris vs. E’Twaun Moore should be interesting. Prediction: Purdue 65, Michigan 54

No. 25 Georgetown at No. 8 Marquette (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
A few weeks ago, this would have been a game that hoops fans would have circled on their calendars (if people do that anymore). However, with the recent Georgetown struggles and DaJuan Summers’ injury, Marquette has a huge edge heading into the game. Prediction: Marquette 75, Georgetown 66

South Carolina at No. 24 Kentucky (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Kentucky was looking like the favorite in the SEC before its loss to Mississippi this week, while South Carolina is trying to get in the NCAA Tournament mix. A win here would do that. Prediction: Kentucky 80, South Carolina 70

Providence at No. 2 Connecticut (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A battle in New England. Providence is the surprise of the Big East campaign, starting 6-2 thus far. However, Connecticut is rolling and a win here would make them the overall No. 1 seed come Monday. Prediction: Connecticut 84, Providence 69

No. 23 Washington at No. 14 Arizona State (Saturday, 5:30 PM, Regional TV): Both teams suffered losses on Thursday in games they were favored to win. Washington gave up 69 points in the second half against Arizona, while ASU lost to a struggling Washington State team at home.
Prediction: Arizona State 72, Washington 64

Baylor at Missouri (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Expect plenty of points in this Big 12 battle. Baylor has lost two in a row and four of its last seven, and needs a win to stay above .500 in the Big 12. Missouri was blown out by Kansas State, but has been playing great basketball this season.
Prediction: Missouri 89, Baylor 82

Virginia Tech at Boston College (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two of the middle-of-the-pack ACC teams hoping to garner a bid to the Dance. Va. Tech blew a 15-point lead against Clemson Thursday, while BC has won three in a row after losing four straight.
Prediction: Boston College 69, Virginia Tech 66

Florida at Tennessee (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): SEC East rivalry game. Florida might be the best team in a watered-down SEC this season, while Tennessee has lost two in a row and five of its last eight to fall to 12-7 overall. The Vols need to get some wins to avoid the dreaded bubble. Prediction: Tennessee 83, Florida 76

California at USC (Saturday, 11:30 PM, FSN): Southern California vs. Northern California. Cal has lost three of four after starting the Pac-10 season 4-0. USC is starting to get some momentum in the conference, having won four of its last five to move to 5-3 in the league.
Prediction: USC 70, California 62

Penn State at No. 9 Michigan State (Sunday, 12:00 PM, Big Ten Network): The favorite in the Big Ten vs. one of the surprises in the Big Ten. Penn State is 5-3 in the league and has won three in a row. Michigan State is looking better and better, and has won 13 of its last 14 games.
Prediction: Michigan State 67, Penn State 52

Conference Clashes

Washington State at Arizona (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS):
Both teams picked up wins on Thursday to salvage any NCAA hopes. Washington State went into Arizona State and knocked off the Sun Devils by 10. Arizona lit up Pac-10 leader Washington for 106 points, 69 in the second half. Prediction: Arizona 63, Washington State 51

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN): This could be a huge bubble game in the Big 12 come March. Oklahoma State has already beat the Aggies once, and a sweep would be crucial. Ok State has lost three of its last four, while A&M has lost four of six in Big 12 play. Prediction: Texas A&M 76, Oklahoma State 70

Stanford at No. 17 UCLA (Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS):
Another intrastate battle this weekend. Stanford fell a point short of knocking off USC on the road Thursday, while UCLA beat up on a slumping California team. Stanford has now lost four of six, while UCLA has gone 2-2 ini its last four.
Prediction: UCLA 71, Stanford 59

No. 5 North Carolina at North Carolina State (Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS):
Tobacco Road rivalry game. North Carolina is coming off an exciting win over Florida State on Ty Lawson’s three-point at the buzzer, while NC State beat Miami (Fl.) in overtime. They had lost five of six prior to that game. Prediction: North Carolina 86, North Carolina State 73

Kansas State at No. 11 Texas (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Kansas State is not a Big 12 contender, but it did blow out Missouri this week and is 13-7 overall. Texas is staying on the heels of Oklahoma and Kansas in the Big 12 race, having won three in a row.
Prediction: Texas 75, Kansas State 60

Arkansas at LSU (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): SEC West clash. Arkansas picked up its first SEC win of the year on Thursday, defeating Alabama at home. LSU, meanwhile, went into Tennessee and knocked off the Volunteers, pushing them to 4-1 in the SEC. Prediction: LSU 83, Arkansas 71

Miami (Fl.) at Maryland (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Two struggling teams that need to get back on track. Miami is 3-4 in the ACC and has lost three of its last four games, while Maryland has dropped five of seven and is just 2-4 in conference play. Who will right the ship?
Prediction: Maryland 79, Miami (Fl.) 74

Wisconsin at Northwestern (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Two Big Ten teams in need of a win and momentum. Wisconsin needs to turn things around, having lost five in a row since starting 3-0. Northwestern escaped Indiana at home to avoid starting 2-6 in conference play. Prediction: Wisconsin 66, Northwestern 62

Cincinnati at No. 21 Villanova (Sunday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Both Big East teams picked up big wins on Wednesday, with Cincinnati knocking off Georgetown and Villanova beating Pittsburgh. Cincy could use another win, while ‘Nova needs to avoid a home loss. Prediction: Villanova 73, Cincinnati 63

Saint Joseph’s at Dayton (Sunday, 12:00 PM, Regional TV): The best teams in the Atlantic-10 besides Xavier, the winner will stay on the Musketeers’ heels. St. Joe’s is 5-0 in the A-10 and has won seven in a row. Dayton escaped Saint Louis Thursday, winning its fourth game in a row. Prediction: Dayton 72, Saint Joseph’s 66

Other Games to Watch

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Sam Houston State (Saturday, 3:00 PM, Regional TV):
The two leaders in the West Division of the Southland Conference do battle. Corpus Christi is 5-0 in the league, starting off impressively. SHS has won four in a row in the league, all by single-digits. Prediction: Sam Houston State 69, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 61

New Mexico at Utah (Saturday, 3:30 PM, Regional TV):
Two of the four teams tied for first place in the Mountain West. New Mexico has won four of its last five games, including a 19-point drubbing of BYU. Utah has won seven of nine, the last being an overtime victory over BYU.
Prediction: Utah 72, New Mexico 62

Bradley at Illinois State (Saturday, 4:05 PM, Regional TV): Northern Iowa has a big edge in the Missouri Valley, but these two teams are next-in-line. Bradley ended Illinois State’s undefeated season earlier this month, and is 7-3. ISU lost to N. Iowa on Wednesday, dropping to 6-4 in the MVC. Prediction: Illinois State 70, Bradley 59

San Diego at No. 20 Gonzaga (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN2): This would have been a much better game in the preseason, before San Diego lost Brandon Johnson for the season. Instead, Gonzaga is a hot team, having won seven in a row, while USD has been blown out in back-to-back games. Prediction: Gonzaga 84, San Diego 67

Yale at Cornell (Saturday, 7:00 PM): The last two undefeated teams in the Ivy League (although only two league games have been played). Cornell is the favorite to win the league; the Big Red have won seven games in a row. Yale has won five in a row heading into this showdown. Prediction: Cornell 68, Yale 54

No. 22 Saint Mary’s at Portland (Saturday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV):
Battle for second place in the West Coast Conference. Saint Mary’s fell to Gonzaga on Thursday after star Patty Mills injured himself in the first half and didn’t return in the second. Portland is coming off a blowout win over San Diego. Prediction: Saint Mary’s 75, Portland 66

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday, January 29 Predictions

Prediction Record: 165-73 (ATS: 115-112-9)

Clemson at Virginia Tech (-1): Prediction: Virginia Tech 82, Clemson 74
Washington at Arizona (+1): Prediction: Washington 77, Arizona 74
Illinois at Minnesota (+1): Prediction: Minnesota 72, Illiois 68
Nevada at Utah State (-8.5): Prediction: Utah State 74, Nevada 62
San Diego at Portland (-2.5): Prediction: Portland 59, San Diego 56
Stanford at USC (-6): Prediction: USC 67, Stanford 58
California at UCLA (-9.5): Prediction: UCLA 69, California 61
Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga (-9): Prediction: Gonzaga 81, Saint Mary's 75

Week Nine Blogpoll and Radio Appearance

Just like last season, March Madness All Season has been participating in a weekly top-25 ranking with 21 other bloggers. I began posting the overall top-25 rankings a couple of weeks ago, and will continue to post my rankings and the consensus rankings on a weekly basis for the rest of the season. The final rankings come out on Wednesdays, but the rankings are based on games through Monday night. It is run by Gabby from the March to Madness blog, who does a great job recruiting and organizing bloggers to take part in the poll.

Anyway, here is this week's top-25 blogpoll ranking. It includes the rankings for each of the individual bloggers as well as the consensus top-25.

Week Nine Blogpoll

Feedback is appreciated, and if you are a blogger who would like to participate in the blogpoll, shoot me an e-mail at and I will get you in contact with Gabby. Enjoy.

ESPN Radio Appearance

Also, I appeared on the Chip Howard Show on ESPN Radio 1150 AM, KZNE "The Sports Zone," this past Tuesday at 6:15. If you didn't get a chance to tune in at the time, here's the recording of my interview.

Chip Howard Interview with Jeff Borzello

Summers Injured for Struggling Georgetown

Georgetown has lost four in a row, including last night's 65-57 defeat at the hands of Cincinnati. Now, the Hoyas might have lost their leading scorer, too.

Junior forward DaJuan Summers played just 13 minutes in the loss last night after injuring his ankle. On the Big East coaches' conference call today, head coach John Thompson III gave more information on the injury, saying that Summers was at the doctor and he would have a more thorough update later in the day. "He’s got plantar fasciitis, but he’s up there right now," Thompson III said. "Being honest right now, it doesn’t look good for him going on Saturday."

Georgetown faces Marquette on the road Saturday. The Golden Eagles are undefeated in Big East play and are one of the hottest teams in the country. Without Summers, the Hoyas will have to go with Omar Wattad, Jason Clark and Nikita Mescheriakov for more significant minutes than usual. Summers would have been the perfect match-up for Marquette's Lazar Hayward, an undersized but productive inside-outside power forward.

The Hoyas started off Big East play with a win at Connecticut, but have since lost six of their last eight games. If Summers is out for an extended period of time, Georgetown could have some trouble getting into the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas still have to go to Marquette, Syracuse and Villanova, and also host Marquette and Louisville. Despite their excellent computer numbers, the fact that Georgetown is just 12-7 overall and 3-5 in Big East play spells trouble.

On the season, the 6-8 Summers is averaging 14.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday, January 28 Predictions

Prediction Record: 155-71 (ATS: 107-108-9)

Michigan at Ohio State (-4): Prediction: Ohio State 69, Michigan 60
Saint Joseph’s at Richmond (-2): Prediction: Saint Joseph's 76, Richmond 72
Syracuse at Providence (-1.5): Prediction: Providence 81, Syracuse 78
Duke at Wake Forest (+2): Prediction: Wake Forest 83, Duke 78
Pittsburgh at Villanova (+3.5): Prediction: Pittsburgh 71, Villanova 66
Kansas at Nebraska (+4): Prediction: Kansas 73, Nebraska 70
Georgetown at Cincinnati (+6): Prediction: Georgetown 70, Cincinnati 67
LSU at Tennessee (-8): Prediction: Tennessee 82, LSU 73
Illinois State at Northern Iowa (-2.5): Prediction: Northern Iowa 68, Illinois State 62
UAB at Tulsa (-3): Prediction: Tulsa 77, UAB 71
North Carolina at Florida State (+11): Prediction: North Carolina 91, Florida State 84
TCU at San Diego State (-12): Prediction: San Diego State 75, TCU 65

Mid-Major Madness

Who's this year's Davidson?

First of all, to address the above question: the answer is most likely going to be a simple, “no one.” Ever since George Mason reached the Final Four three seasons ago and the Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight last year, everyone assumes that there will be one or two non-BCS teams making deep runs to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, though, those were rare occurrences that we might not see for a few years. Despite that, the main topic on everyone’s mind heading into the NCAA Tournament is the mid-major darkhorses that can pull upsets and advance past the first weekend.

With almost a month of conference play finished, the picture is starting to become clearer in several conferences. However, for the one-bid conferences, their March Madness starts a few weeks before Selection Sunday, when the conference tournaments begin. In other words, the team in first place right now doesn’t really matter. It will only matter in early March. What sleepers are out there looking to create chaos in your bracket? I’ll guarantee that it comes from one of the teams listed below. And you can hold me to that.

Multiple-Bid Conferences

Atlantic-10: The A-10 is very likely to get more than one big to the NCAA Tournament this season. Xavier is a lock. The Musketeers are one of the best teams in the country, and could put themselves in line for a top three or four seed come Selection Sunday. They have a top-five RPI, a terrific non-conference resume and an 8-2 record against the top-100 of the RPI. They just need to continue to win in order to get a top-four seed. Dayton is the next in line for the conference. The Flyers have an excellent 18-2 record, but outside of their win over Marquette, the profile lacks substance. A loss to Massachusetts doesn’t help matters. Their SOS is in the 200s and they have played just five games against the top-100 of the RPI. After that, Temple and Saint Joseph’s are the only ones who harbor even remote at-large hopes. The Owls have decent computer numbers and wins over Tennessee and Penn State, but they have seven losses, include two sub-100 losses. St. Joe’s is right on the heels of Xavier in the A-10 race, but it is 0-3 against the top-50 and the best non-conference win is over Cornell.

NCAA Tournament Teams: Xavier, Dayton

West Coast: The WCC is essentially guaranteed multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament barring a complete collapse by Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s in conference play. Both teams are in the top 25 and look to be second-weekend threats in March. Gonzaga struggled in December, losing four of five games. However, the Bulldogs have won six straight since then, all by double-figures. They have average computer numbers, but two wins over Tennessee, both away from home, look good. Saint Mary’s hasn’t even played a team that will likely be in the NCAA Tournament, but the Gaels are 18-1 and can only improve on their awful strength of schedule. A win over Gonzaga is a necessity for the most part.

Champion: Gonzaga
NCAA Tournament Teams: Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Potential Multi-Bid Leagues

Conference-USA: Unless Memphis loses in the conference tournament, C-USA is only likely to get one bid. However, unlike the leagues in the next category, there are actually teams that could develop profiles for an at-large bid. The Tigers are getting better and better and will be in line for a top-four seed should things continue to progress in this way. They have very good computer numbers and a 7-3 record against the top-100 – although the 1-3 vs. the top-25 is not attractive. The road win at Tennessee over the weekend was crucial. Outside of Memphis, UAB is the best bet for an at-large bid, but the Blazers’ 0-4 record vs. the top-50 and 2-7 record vs. the top-100 are not going to cut it. Beating Memphis and losing only one or two other games might be the only way to get a bid. Tulsa has marginal computer numbers and a 3-5 top-100 record, but the Golden Hurricane are not going to get a bid unless they basically run the table.

Champion: Memphis
NCAA Tournament Teams: Memphis

Missouri Valley: Unlike in past years, the MVC does not have a litany of teams with similar resumes and potential at-large hopes. This season, Northern Iowa leads the conference at 8-1, and then six teams are within two games of each other after the Panthers. The only true at-large hopeful out of that group is Illinois State. The Redbirds started the season 14-0 before dropping two straight and going 3-3 since then. Outside of an RPI of 58, they have awful computer numbers and no marquee wins. Their best non-league win over Wright State. They need to have a very gaudy record if they want an at-large bid. Creighton has an outside shot, but the Blue Jays have a few bad losses and not enough quality wins. They are 5-4 against the top-100, though. What about Northern Iowa? Well, the Panthers were just 6-5 in non-conference play and will need to finish MVC play with no more than three losses if they even want consideration.

Champion: Northern Iowa
NCAA Tournament Teams: Northern Iowa

Mountain West: What an absolute mess this conference has turned out to be. Heading into the season, UNLV and BYU were thought to be the two best teams in the conference. However, before Utah beat BYU Tuesday night in overtime, six teams had two conference losses. Out of that group, UNLV, Utah and BYU are the main at-large hopefuls. San Diego State has to do a ton of work in order to get consideration. UNLV has a top-50 RPI, two top-25 wins and a 7-3 record vs. the top-100. The Runnin’ Rebels win over Louisville is looking better and better. Losses to TCU and Colorado State aren’t helping matters, though, and neither is the No. 187-ranked SOS. Utah boosted its profile with the home win Tuesday night over BYU in overtime, which might push the Utes’ RPI even higher. They have six wins against the top-100, including victories over Gonzaga and LSU, and their computer numbers are outstanding. 1-4 against the top-50 leads the negatives, while a couple of bad losses don’t help, either. BYU could have used a road win at Utah, but blowing a second-half lead put the Cougars back in tenuous territory. The loss dropped them to .500 in the conference, and pushed them to 0-3 vs. the top-25 in the RPI. They have come up just short against each of those top-25 teams that they have played, though. However, quality wins need to start accumulating for BYU.

Champion: UNLV
NCAA Tournament Teams: UNLV, Utah

One-Bid Conferences Unless Favorite Loses

Horizon: Cleveland State fell off after its win at Syracuse and Wright State started too slow, leaving Butler as the only likely representative from the Horizon. The Bulldogs have a great resume and could be in line for a top-four seed if they keep winning. They have a top-10 RPI, the No. 4 non-conference RPI, an 8-1 record against the top-100 and a victory at Xavier. Not to mention, their record of 17-1 is pretty impressive. The computer numbers will drop as the season progresses, but Butler is a lock.

MAAC: This league is not definitely going to get two bids if Siena loses in the conference tournament, but with the way the Saints are playing, it won’t matter, either. They are 10-0 in league play, including double-digit wins over the second and third-place teams. However, their non-conference campaign didn’t bring any marquee wins, as the Saints missed chances against Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Kansas. The best victories are over Saint Joseph’s, Buffalo and Cornell. However, they are 7-0 against teams ranked from 51-100, and have a top-20 RPI. They will be squarely on the bubble should they lose in the MAAC Tournament.

Southern: It’s Davidson or bust for the Southern Conference. The Wildcats are 9-0 in the league and haven’t had a single-digit league game since late December. They are clearly the class of the league, but Charleston is only two games back and only lost by four in the first meeting. Should Davidson lose, it will be an interesting case. The RPI is good, but the SOS is in the triple-digits, and they are only 1-3 against the top-100. The one win is over West Virginia, though, which is very impressive. Can Davidson be this year’s Davidson?

WAC: Like the MAAC, it is not a certainty that the WAC will get two bids if Utah State loses in the conference tournament. However, the Aggies have won 14 in a row and are sitting at 7-0 in the conference. Their 18-1 record is very impressive on paper. On the other hand, though, their SOS is in the mid-200s and their non-conference SOS is even worse. They are 3-1 against the top-100, but playing only four of 20 games against the top-100 stands out. The win over Utah looks better than it did when it originally happened. They will make for a very intriguing case.

One-Bid Conferences

America East: Vermont: The Catamounts have won five straight games in conference play, and they are led by the best inside-outside combo in the league in guard Mike Trimboli and forward Marquis Blakely.

Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville: There are only three teams with a shot in this league, and the Dolphins have the most balance and have won eight in a row. They lost to four of five BCS teams by single-digits.

Big Sky: Portland State: The Vikings beat Gonzaga and nearly knocked off Washington. They have plenty of options offensively and could be a first-round upset threat. The 14-point home loss to Weber State is slightly worrisome.

Big South: Liberty: The third-place Flames’ last two losses were both in double-overtime and their previous four losses were by five or fewer points. Seth Curry is a scoring machine and Anthony Smith is tough inside.

Big West: Cal State Northridge: If the Matadors get leading scorer Deon Tresvant back from suspension, they will be even more dangerous. They have five players averaging in double-figures, and are solid defensively.

Colonial: VCU: Despite the Rams’ home loss to Northeastern Tuesday night, VCU is still the favorite. They have Anthony Grant, Eric Maynor and the experience in March to win the always-competitive CAA crown.

Ivy: Cornell: One of just two teams above .500 in the league, the Big Red are 8-1 since guard Louis Dale returned at full strength. Combine him with Ryan Wittman, and you might have the two best players in the league.

MAC: Buffalo: The typically wide-open league no different this year. Miami (Ohio) has great computer numbers, but Buffalo has proven they can win on the road. Plus, Rodney Pierce is one of the best in the conference.

Morgan State: No team is above .500 against D-1 opponents, but the Bears are the best of the bunch. They have beaten DePaul and Maryland on the road, and Reggie Holmes is one of the better guards in the MEAC.

Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s: It will come down to Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s. Both are playing well right now, but MSM has the scoring versatility and experience to get the edge. Jeremy Goode can carry this team.

Ohio Valley: Tennessee-Martin: The Skyhawks have won 12 of their past 13 games, and have the best player in the league in Lester Hudson. He can get this team to the Big Dance with the way he lights up a scoreboard.

Patriot: American: The Eagles had won six in a row before falling at first-place Holy Cross, but will end up on top come March. Garrison Carr can really shoot, and Derrick Mercer is an excellent point guard. AU has experience, too.

Southland: Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks defeated North Dakota State and Drake earlier this year, and have the best frontcourt duo in the conference in gunner Josh Alexander and center Matt Kingsley.

Summit: North Dakota State: The Bison have won six in a row, and are tied with Oral Roberts atop the league standings. Ben Woodside and Brett Winkelman form a highly-productive inside-outside tandem.

Sun Belt: Western Kentucky: No two bids for the Sun Belt this season, but WKU will make a return trip to the Dance. The Hilltoppers have defeated Louisville, Georgia and Southern Illinois and have a plethora of scorers.

SWAC: Jackson State: Certainly the worst conference in America, but it will have a tight title race. In the end, JSU, with Grant Maxey and Jeremy Caldwell on the inside, and Darrion Griffin on the outside, will take it.

Sweet Sixteen Non-BCS Rankings
1. Xavier
2. Memphis
3. Butler
4. Gonzaga
5. Saint Mary’s
6. Davidson
8. Siena
9. Utah
10. BYU
11. Dayton
12. Utah State
13. VCU
14. Northern Iowa
15. Illinois State
16. UAB

Other Teams to Watch: Saint Joseph’s, Tulsa, San Diego State, Buffalo, Portland State, Northeastern, George Mason, College of Charleston, Creighton, Cornell, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, American, Temple

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Radio Appearance

If you're near a computer or in the College Station, Texas area tonight, Jeff Borzello, the founder, editor and lone writer of March Madness All Season will be appearing on the Chip Howard Show on KZNE ESPN Radio 1150 AM, "The Sports Zone," at 6:15 PM EST this evening. The feed will be streamed live from We will be discussing some of the top teams and conferences in the country, as well as some Bracketology. Be sure to tune in!

Tuesday, January 27 Predictions

Prediction Record: 154-66 (ATS: 106-103-9)

Buffalo at Western Michigan (+1): Prediction: Western Michigan 71, Buffalo 67
Boston College at Maryland (-5.5): Prediction: Maryland 76, Boston College 70
Northeastern at VCU (-6.5): Prediction: VCU 69, Northeastern 62
Texas at Baylor (-1): Prediction: Baylor 77, Texas 73
Purdue at Wisconsin (-1): Prediction: Wisconsin 61, Purdue 57
BYU at Utah (-4): Prediction: Utah 68, BYU 63

What Happened to Arkansas?

Rewind back to the night of January 6. Arkansas had just defeated then-No. 7 Texas, 67-61, a win that came just one week after the Razorbacks knocked off then-No. 4 Oklahoma, 96-88. The win over the Longhorns improved Arkansas' record to 12-1 and put the Razorbacks in the short list of contenders for the SEC title. Michael Washington was becoming a household name on the interior, while point guard Courtney Fortson was being mentioned amongst the top freshmen in the country. Rotnei Clarke was getting talked about as the best three-point shooter around.

Fast forward to the present time. Arkansas is now coming off its fourth consecutive loss since that big win over Texas, a 22-point drubbing at the hands of Auburn -- on the Razorbacks' homecourt. It was their worst home loss ever in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas is 0-4 and sitting in last place in the SEC West. The NCAA Tournament hopes that the Razorbacks harbored just three weeks ago are now all but gone, unless they can turn their season around quickly. That doesn't seem likely, though, based on what has gone on during the losing streak.
All four losses were by double-digits, by an average of more than 15 points per game. Fortson is averaging 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game during the streak, but more disturbingly, he is committing 5.4 turnovers per contest. Washington has had games of seven points and eight points. Clarke has been shut out twice, and 3-for-17 from beyond the arc. According to, Arkansas had an offensive efficiency of below 92 just once all season prior to the losing streak (the loss to Missouri State); however, its offensive efficiency in each of the past four games has been below 92. The Razorbacks' defensive efficiency has been over 103 in each game and they are struggling to force turnovers. Additionally, Arkansas has dug itself into an early hole in each game, and essentially given up after allowing an early lead.
What is the reason for the sudden decrease in performance? It can't be as simple as the start of SEC play and the increase in competiton -- the SEC is way down this year and Arkansas already had those aforementioned wins over Oklahoma and Texas. Their lack of able bodies could be an answer. Head coach John Pelphrey could only suit up 10 players -- including a former golfer and a walk-on -- over the weekend against Auburn because of a variety of issues. Also, Arkansas is a very young team, with no seniors in its rotation and three freshmen in the starting lineup. Still, those are not excuses to get run out of the building four games in a row by SEC teams who are not even the cream of the crop in the conference, outside of Florida. Simply put, the effort has not been there.
It doesn't get much easier for Arkansas, either. Three of its next five games are on the road, with the home contests against Alabama on Thursday, and Tennessee next week. After that stretch, Kentucky and LSU come to town. The Razorbacks are not completely out of the NCAA Tournament hunt just yet, but they probably need to go at least 5-2 in those seven games. That would put them at 17-7 (5-6 in the SEC) heading into their last five games -- a stretch that includes contests against Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi and Alabama. Right now, though, Arkansas just has to get a conference win and jumpstart a turnaround.
The Razorbacks do have the talent, as evidenced by its big wins just a few short weeks ago. However, they need to begin showing more heart and determination, because their season has quickly spiraled into a disaster that might be too powerful to turnaround immediately.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Week Ahead

With February right around the corner, the stretch drive is officially here in college basketball. Some conferences are at the mid-point in league play, meaning it’s time for teams to start making moves with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. This week is filled with important conference clashes that could make the difference between whether a team is “in” or “on the bubble” come March, as well as important contests that will have a huge impact at the top of the league standings. That “Last Ten Games” category on teams’ NCAA Tournament profiles? It’s just about to start.


Marquette at Notre Dame (7:00 PM, ESPN): Battle in the Big East as Marquette tries to stay unbeaten in conference play, while Notre Dame looks to bounce back from its loss to Connecticut.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (9:00 PM, ESPN): One of the best rivalries in college basketball, it will be "Bedlam" as the perimeter-oriented Cowboys try to slow down Blake Griffin and co.


Buffalo at Western Michigan (7:00 PM): The two division leaders in the Mid-American square off to try to get some separation in what is always a competitive title race.

Boston College at Maryland (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Although both teams have had some bright spots this season, they each have plenty of work to do to garner an NCAA bid.

Northeastern at VCU (9:00 PM, ESPNU): Both teams are tied at 8-1 atop the CAA and are looking to get ahead as we head down the stretch. VCU has won seven in a row.

Texas at Baylor (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A very interesting battle in the Big 12. Texas has struggled somewhat at the point this year; Baylor is loaded in the backcourt.

Purdue at Wisconsin (9:00 PM, ESPN): Outside of Michigan State, the Big Ten is fairly wide-open. Purdue has started to pick it up, but Wisconsin has lost four in a row.

BYU at Utah (10:00 PM, Regional TV): The Mountain West has several teams capable of winning the title, but these two also harbor at-large hopes and need a win here.


Michigan at Ohio State (6:30 PM, Big Ten Network): Two Big Ten teams in need of a victory to boost their at-large resumes. The winner will have a big bubble win come March.

Saint Joseph’s at Richmond (7:00 PM): The Atlantic-10 might not get a third bid this year outside of Xavier and Dayton, but the winner here stays right behind XU in the league.

Syracuse at Providence (7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Providence has been the surprise of the Big East season thus far, while Syracuse has lost three of its last four.

Duke at Wake Forest (7:00 PM, ESPN): Two of the top teams in the country square off as Wake Forest tries to get back on the right track after losing its first game of the year. Duke will try to stay No. 1.

Pittsburgh at Villanova (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Pittsburgh showed no ill effects after its lost to Louisville by winning at West Virginia. Villanova could really use a marquee win for its resume.

Kansas at Nebraska (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Kansas is quietly getting better and better, and is undefeated in Big 12 play. Nebraska is always tough at home, and needs a big win.

Georgetown at Cincinnati (7:30 PM): Georgetown is struggling lately, having lost three in a row and five of its last seven. Cincinnati has won three of four and will try to keep it up.

LSU at Tennessee (8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The SEC is way down this year, and Tennessee has fallen off its perch atop the conference. LSU needs a resume win.

Illinois State at Northern Iowa (8:05 PM, Regional TV): Northern Iowa has a two-game lead over the rest of the MVC, and Illinois State needs a road win if it wants a chance at a title.

UAB at Tulsa (8:05 PM): Possibly the two most talented teams outside of Memphis in Conference-USA. The winner will stay on the Tigers' heels in the league standings.

North Carolina at Florida State (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Florida State always seems to get up for big games, while UNC is starting to hit its stride again after earlier struggles.

TCU at San Diego State (10:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Two of the six teams caught in the logjam that is the Mountain West standings. SDSU has lost two of three; TCU two of four.


Clemson at Virginia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN): Clemson has lost two of three since its 16-0 start, while Virginia Tech is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won nine of its last 10.

Washington at Arizona (8:30 PM, Regional TV): Washington might be the best team in the Pac-10 right now and is atop the league standings. Arizona needs a win to keep its hopes alive.

Illinois at Minnesota (9:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Illinois has quietly solidified itself as arguably the second-best team in the Big Ten, while Minnesota has lost two of its last three games.

Nevada at Utah State (9:05 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The two best teams in the WAC square off. Utah State is a real sleeper this year, while Nevada has won five in a row.

San Diego at Portland (10:00 PM): Outside of Saint Mary's and Gonzaga, these are the two best in the West Coast Conference. The winner will keep pace in the league standings.

Stanford at USC (10:30 PM, Regional TV): The Pac-10 will be a muddled mess for most of the year, with these two in the mix. Stanford has slowed down since its hot start, while USC has won three of four.

California at UCLA (10:30 PM, FSN): Another interesting Pac-10 battle. Cal looked like the best in the league before dropping two in a row, while UCLA has to re-assert itself as the cream of the crop.

Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga (11:00 PM, ESPN2): One of the best developing rivalries on the west coast. Both teams are in the top-25 and will look for a decent seed come Selection Sunday.


East Tennessee State at Jacksonville (7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The two best teams in the Atlantic Sun battle for first place. Jacksonville has won eight in a row since a 3-8 start.

Power Sweet Sixteen Rankings

Yet another jam-packed week of conference clashes featured plenty of top-notch college basketball, which made a huge impact on potential seedings. Five teams that were ranked in last week’s edition lost, as did two of the teams who would have been next in line. Of course, it will all lead to a major shake-up in this week's rankings, but who will move where? Who will drop out and who will get their first taste of the Rankings? I will post the rankings every Sunday night/Monday morning until I begin to release complete brackets in February.

- Standard bracketing rules apply (no two teams from the same conference in the same half-bracket, etc.)
- Numbers in parenthesis next to the team indicate what 1-16 ranking they are

Indianapolis Region:

1. Pittsburgh (3)
2. North Carolina (6)
3. Memphis (12)
4. Arizona State (13)

Boston Region:
1. Connecticut (2)
2. Michigan State (7)
3. Clemson (11)
4. Butler (15)

Arizona Region:
1. Oklahoma (4)
2. Wake Forest (5)
3. Marquette (10)
4. Texas (14)

Memphis Region:
1. Duke (1)
2. Louisville (8)
3. Xavier (9)
4. Illinois (16)

17th Team: Kentucky

Others Considered: West Virginia, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Georgetown, California

Sunday, January 25, 2009

CHN Player of the Week, Jan. 25

Player of the Week: Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech

The last full week of January always means two things: the NFL gets pushed to the back-burner for the first time in over five months and, more importantly, college basketball is about to enter its stretch run. The pretenders and contenders are starting to separate themselves, and conference play is really heating up. This week was arguably the most significant of the season thus far, as the favorites in several conferences are starting to assert themselves, and the No. 1 team in the country lost yet again. With all the excitement and outstanding games, there was an abundance of standout individuals.

Across the college basketball landscape, there were great individual performances that deserve to be honored. Of course, Blake Griffin of Oklahoma furthered his case for Player of the Week with 47 points and 35 rebounds in two games, while Stephen Curry of Davidson tried to keep case by averaging 31.5 points and six assists in his two games. Duke’s Gerald Henderson helped lead the Blue Devils to the top spot in the rankings by averaging 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, four assists and 3.5 steals per game in two games. Jeff Adrien of Connecticut played a major role in the Huskies’ stopping Notre Dame’s 45-game home-court winning streak, not to mention beating Villanova, by averaging 12 points and 16.5 rebounds. West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler averaged 24 points and seven rebounds as the Mountaineers won at Georgetown but lost to Pittsburgh. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, who dropped 42 points and 14 rebounds in a losing effort against Kansas. Don’t forget Oregon State’s Roland Schaftenaar, who averaged 20 points per game in the Beavers’ historic week. However, the best week belonged to Malcolm Delaney of Virginia Tech.

The Hokies started off the season slow, going 5-4 in their first nine games, including losses to Seton Hall and Georgia. The four losses were by a total of eight points. Since then, though, Virginia Tech has rattled off nine wins in its last ten games, capped off by a phenomenal two-game stretch this week, led by Delaney. The Hokies went into Winston-Salem and knocked off top-ranked Wake Forest, then followed that up with a road win at Miami (Fl). Delaney was the catalyst, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Wake, and dropping 29 in the overtime win against the Hurricanes. The 6-3 sophomore guard averaged 25 points, six rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals overall for the week. He also helped rid the Hokies of their late-game woes, by knocking down 16 free-throws in the two games. On the season, he is averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.


- Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
- Roland Schaftenaar, Oregon State
- Isaiah Thomas, Washington (41 points in wins over USC and UCLA)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekend Preview

With February soon upon us, it’s almost time for the stretch run in college basketball. We all know what that means – bubble talk, conference title races, key intra-conference match-ups, and NCAA Tournament discussion. It also means important games every night between either top teams in the conference, or between two teams trying to keep pace in the at-large hunt. There is no shortage of games like that this weekend, but there are also several intriguing non-conference contests to keep an eye on. With no football to get in the way of quality college basketball, just sit back all weekend and bask in the hoops.

Top Games

Maryland at Duke (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: Duke 81, Maryland 72

Memphis at Tennessee (Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS):
Prediction: Tennessee 85, Memphis 78

Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPNU):
Prediction: Oklahoma 76, Baylor 70

Wisconsin at Illinois (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN): Prediction: Illinois 67, Wisconsin 60

UCLA at Washington (Saturday, 4:00 PM, FSN):
Prediction: Washington 73, UCLA 69

Connecticut at Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: Notre Dame 86, Connecticut 83

Xavier at LSU (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN2): Prediction: LSU 79, Xavier 75

Texas A&M at Texas (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPNU):
Prediction: Texas 73, Texas A&M 64

Louisville at Syracuse (Sunday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Syracuse 78, Louisville 74

Michigan State at Ohio State (Sunday, 3:45 PM, CBS): Prediction: Michigan State 69, Ohio State 64

Pittsburgh at West Virginia (Sunday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Pittsburgh 72, West Virginia 69

Virginia Tech at Miami (Fl.) (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN):
Prediction: Miami (Fl.) 74, Virginia Tech 66

Key Conference Clashes

Niagara at Siena (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Siena 88, Niagara 77

Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Butler (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Butler 65, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 53

Utah at UNLV (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Versus): Prediction: UNLV 74, Utah 66

George Mason at VCU (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN2):
Prediction: VCU 76, George Mason 69

San Diego State at BYU (Saturday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV):
Prediction: BYU 67, San Diego State 57

Five Others to Watch

Kentucky at Alabama (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Kentucky 70, Alabama 68

Oklahoma State at Nebraska (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Nebraska 83, Oklahoma State 75

Houston at Arizona (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Regional TV): Prediction: Arizona 73, Houston 64

USC at Washington State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Regional TV):
Prediction: USC 61, Washington State 58

Florida at Vanderbilt (Sunday, 1:30 PM, CBS): Prediction: Florida 72, Vanderbilt 68

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday, January 22 Predictions

Prediction Record: 134-58 (ATS: 93-89-8)

West Virginia at Georgetown (-5): Prediction: Georgetown 73, West Virginia 65
Purdue at Minnesota (-1): Prediction: Minnesota 67, Purdue 62
Wisconsin-Green Bay at Butler (-8.5): Prediction: Butler 63, Wisconsin-Green Bay 53
Saint Mary's at San Diego (+3.5): Prediction: Saint Mary's 76, San Diego 72
UCLA at Washington State (+5): Prediction: UCLA 60, Washington State 53
USC at Washington (-5.5): Prediction: Washington 74, USC 69

Jan. 22 Full-Court Press

Troubled Caracter Ends Up at UTEP

According to the relentless Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog, former Louisville forward Derrick Caracter has transferred to Texas-El Paso. "Derrick really enjoyed his visit to the school and liked what their staff had to say," Anthony Ray, an adviser to Caracter, told Zagoria. The 6-9 Caracter is very talented but always had off-court problems. He was suspended for a total of 17 games during his two seasons with the Cardinals, and had multiple conflicts with head coach Rick Pitino.

Steele Leaves Alabama -- Not Because of Injuries

Oft-injured point guard Ronald Steele has decided to leave the Alabama basketball team, ending his college basketball career. "This is a very difficult time for Ron as his injuries have been very unfortunate and difficult for him," head coach Mark Gottfried said. "I'll always be indebted to his contributions to our program and the University of Alabama and wish him the very best in his future endeavors." However, Steele and his father insist that injuries, most recently his battle with plantar fascitis, were not the reason for his departure. "It is definitely not the reason I am leaving the team," he said. "After many hours of praying and consulting with my family, teammates and close friends, I have decided it is in my best interests to move on." He did not provide further details.

UConn's Majok Partially Cleared

Connecticut freshman Ater Majok has been partially cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse, meaning that he won't be able to play until after the first semester next season. He can, however, practice with the team until then. "It's good but it's bad," Majok said. "It's bad because I don't get to play [immediately] but it's good ... that I get to fit in first. The season is almost over." The 6-10 Sudanese forward from Australia will enroll today and begin taking classes. "Given the fact of what has happened to him in a refugee camp ... and his family still being separated throughout the world ... he's just a wonderful kid and that he's at UConn, enrolled [today] it's really special," head coach Jim Calhoun said. "We think he's going to be a really good player but the human interest story is him as a person."

Other News and Notes

Famed Bracketologist Joe Lunardi says that Wednesday was the most pivotal night of the college basketball season thus far. (ESPN)

Mid-major expert Kyle Whelliston has been fired from his job at, probably for his mention of cutbacks at the Worldwide Leader. (Mid-Majority)

More coming later...

Also, I will have a full recap of the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Mass. that I attended over the weekend, as well as a new article on mid-majors and my normal Weekend Preview, in the coming days

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ACC-Big East Challenge

An interesting question was posed the other day on the message board, which made it to the "Question of the Day" feature on the CHN front page: "Can a team from outside the ACC or Big East win the national championship?" At first glance, you might think the question is slightly absurd; how can you narrow a national champion of 344 teams and 31 conferences to a single-digit number of teams from two conferences? Look at it again, though.

10 of the top 12 teams in the AP poll reside in either the Big East or ACC, while six of the top seven teams in Ken Pomeroy's rankings are from those two conferences. Think about it in terms of Elite Eight contenders: the ACC has North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and Clemson, while the Big East has Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Georgetown, Syracuse, Marquette and even Notre Dame. Narrow it down to title contenders, and I can count UNC, Duke, Wake, UConn, Pitt, Louisville and maybe Georgetown if they develop some depth.

Outside of those two conferences, how many elite teams are there? Two? I'll give you Oklahoma and Michigan State -- and that's it. The SEC has no one, the Big Ten and Big 12 have a host of good but not great teams and the Pac-10 is wide-open this year. As for non-BCS teams, Memphis is down, Gonzaga has been relatively inconsistent, and Xavier and Butler don't have the talent to win a title.

Furthermore, look at Oklahoma and Michigan State. The Sooners aren't great defensively, and barely beat Nebraska at home today. Their guards need to become more consistent if they want to make a deep run. Michigan State was on a roll and seemed to be picking up steam -- until its loss at home to Northwestern tonight. Northwestern? At home? Sure, MSU has plenty of talent and depth, but their defense is average and they have put forth some very mediocre efforts this year. Sorry, I don't know if the Spartans or Sooners have what it takes to win the title come March and April.

Take out those two, and I'm not really sure anyone outside the Big East or ACC is capable of cutting down the nets in Detroit. It will likely be North Carolina, Connecticut or maybe Pittsburgh -- and the second tier would have to include Duke, Louisville and Wake Forest. Yup, all Big East and ACC teams. Expect that to be a common theme as we get deeper into the NCAA Tournamet in March.

Week Eight Blogpoll

Just like last season, March Madness All Season has been participating in a weekly top-25 ranking with 21 other bloggers. I began posting the overall top-25 rankings a couple of weeks ago, and will continue to post my rankings and the consensus rankings on a weekly basis for the rest of the season. The final rankings come out on Wednesdays, but the rankings are based on games through Monday night. It is run by Gabby from the March to Madness blog, who does a great job recruiting and organizing bloggers to take part in the poll.

Anyway, here is this week's top-25 blogpoll ranking. It includes the rankings for each of the individual bloggers as well as the consensus top-25.

Week Eight Blogpoll

Feedback is appreciated, and if you are a blogger who would like to participate in the blogpoll, shoot me an e-mail at and I will get you in contact with Gabby. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday, January 20 Predictions

Prediction Record: 131-58 (ATS: 90-89-8)

Ohio State at Illinois (-7.5): Prediction: Illinois 72, Ohio State 64
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (+1): Prediction: Tennessee 78, Vanderbilt 75
Michigan at Penn State (-2): Prediction: Penn State 67, Michigan 63

CHN GameNight Preview, Jan. 20

GameNight Preview: North Carolina State at No. 2 Duke

The ACC is on top of the college basketball world right now, with the top two teams in the country residing in the conference, as Wake Forest is No. 1 and Duke is No. 2. Throw in one-loss Clemson and everyone’s favorite, North Carolina, and the ACC can make a run at the Big East. Duke will try to keep its spot in the polls tonight as the Blue Devils (16-1, 3-0) in the ACC take on North Carolina State (10-5, 1-2) in a Tobacco Road battle. Duke is coming off of a nice win over Georgetown at home, adding to a great resume that includes victories over Purdue, Xavier, Davidson, Michigan and Florida State. The lone loss came at the hands of Michigan. North Carolina State had lost three in a row before defeating Georgia Tech over the weekend. The Wolfpack have been competitive against the top teams they have played, but they have not been able to get over the hump for a victory.

Duke is a deep and versatile team that can throw a variety of looks and options at opponents. It is led by Kyle Singler, one of the best players in the country. Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer are great on the wings, while Nolan Smith has added a new dimension at the point. Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas are serviceable down low. Greg Paulus has adapted very well to his new role as the back-up point guard to Smith. North Carolina State is paced by the frontcourt duo of Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, two players who have regained their form of two seasons ago after falling off last year. Courtney Fells is solid on the wing, while Trevor Ferguson can do a little of everything. Farnold Degand handles the point. Dennis Horner and Tracy Smith are versatile forwards, and Julius Mays and Javier Gonzalez are backups in the backcourt.

On paper, this looks like a mismatch. Duke is playing some of the best basketball in the country, while North Carolina State is struggling for the most part. However, the Wolfpack have played well against their top opponents this season and do have the frontcourt talent to give the Blue Devils a run. Duke just has way too much on the perimeter for NC State to realistically stay in the game, though. The individual match-up of Singler vs. Costner should be interesting. Both players are inside-outside forwards who can create match-up problems.

Duke MARGIN: 14-16

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Week Ahead

After a wild week which saw two of the three remaining unbeatens lose on Saturday to fellow ranked teams, it’s time for another jam-packed week of college basketball. The questions that surrounded many teams after non-conference play are beginning to be answered as teams around the country attempt to separate themselves from the pack in their respective conferences. This week will answer a few more of those questions.


Syracuse at Pittsburgh (7:00 PM, ESPN): Pittsburgh tries to bounce back from its first loss of the season, while Syracuse is coming off of a dominant win over Notre Dame.

Cincinnati at Providence (8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): If the Big East is going to get 10 bids to the NCAA Tournament, one of these teams is going to need to step up.

Texas A&M at Kansas (9:00 PM, ESPN): The Big 12 seems to have a host of potential at-large contenders this season, and these two are in the middle of the pack.


Ohio State at Illinois (7:00 PM, ESPN): With Purdue struggling somewhat, there is space for the No. 2 spot in the conference behind Michigan State. Which team will it be?

Tennessee at Vanderbilt (9:00 PM, ESPN): Tennessee needs to gather some momentum in conference play, but it is never easy to win against Vandy, an in-state rival.

Michigan at Penn State (9:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Penn State is still hanging around as a threat in the Big Ten, while Michigan is coming off a home loss to Ohio State.


Virginia Tech at Wake Forest (7:00 PM, ESPN2): Virginia Tech is starting to play much better basketball lately, but Wake Forest is annihilating opponents right now.

Villanova at Connecticut (7:00 PM, ESPN): Villanova still lacks a marquee win to on its resume, which could come back to haunt them on Selection Sunday. This would do the trick.

Florida at South Carolina (7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Florida is looking like arguably the best team in the SEC, while South Carolina nearly beat Tennessee.

Duquesne at Saint Joseph’s (7:00 PM): A battle for second in the Atlantic-10 behind Xavier. Duquesne fell at home to Dayton over the weekend, while St. Joe's has won four in a row.

George Mason at Northeastern (7:00 PM, Regional TV): First place in the CAA is on the line as the 7-0 Patriots go against Northeastern, which lost its first league game Saturday.

Florida State at Miami (Fl.) (7:30 PM): An intrastate and intraconference battle. Outside of the top four in the ACC, it's wide-open. One of these teams will look to move up.

Mississippi State at LSU (8:00 PM): SEC West supremacy will be up for grabs. Mississippi State has yet to prove it can win on the road, while LSU destroyed Ole Miss Saturday.

Bradley at Northern Iowa (8:05 PM, Regional TV): Two surprise favorites in the Missouri Valley face off. UNI has won six in a row, while Bradley has lost two of three.

Clemson at North Carolina (9:00 PM, ESPN): Expect plenty of points in this ACC battle. Clemson never wins at UNC, and the Tigers are coming off their first loss.

Missouri at Oklahoma State (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Another game that will likely feature lots of running, gunning and scoring. Sounds good to me.

Nebraska at Oklahoma (9:00 PM, ESPNU): Nebraska has been surprisingly solid this year. However, the Cornhuskers don't have anyone to stop Blake Griffin.

Arizona State at Arizona (9:30 PM, Regional TV): In-state rivalry in the Pac-10. Arizona State defeated UCLA on the road Saturday, while UA fell just short at USC.

UNLV at BYU (10:00 PM, CBS College Sports): The two preseason favorites in the Mountain West need to pick up wins and get momentum heading down the stretch.


West Virginia at Georgetown (7:00 PM, ESPN): Yet another Big East showdown between two likely NCAA Tournament teams. Both teams could use a win here.

Purdue at Minnesota (7:00 PM, ESPN2): The Big Ten does not have a clear-cut No. 2 team behind Michigan State, and these two teams might be the best bets for that spot.

Wisconsin-Green Bay at Butler (7:00 PM): First-place in the Horizon is on the line. Butler is making another case for a protected seed, while Wisc.-GB is a surprising 6-1.

Saint Mary’s at San Diego (9:00 PM, ESPN2): Saint Mary's is quietly 17-1 and looking like a second-weekend NCAA Tournament threat. USD has turned its season around.

UCLA at Washington State (9:00 PM, FSN): UCLA can't afford to lose its second straight game, while Washington State has won three in a row, including two road games.

USC at Washington (11:00 PM, FSN): The Pac-10 seems wide-open this year, as every team has at least one loss. One of these teams will sneak in and get an NCAA bid.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Power Sweet Sixteen Rankings

With two of the remaining three unbeatens losing over the weekend to teams already in the top-four seed lines, the Power Sweet Sixteen rankings obviously saw a major shakeup. Furthermore, six teams total in the rankings fell this past week. How much will those marquee games and upset losses affect the rankings? I will post the rankings every Sunday until I begin to release complete brackets in February.

- Standard bracketing rules apply (no two teams from the same conference in the same half-bracket, etc.)

- Numbers in parenthesis next to the team indicate what 1-16 ranking they are

Indianapolis Region:
1. Wake Forest (3)
2. Michigan State (6)
3. Georgetown (11)
4. Marquette (13)

Boston Region:
1. Connecticut (2)
2. North Carolina (7)
3. Xavier (10)
4. Arizona State (15)

Arizona Region:
1. Pittsburgh (4)
2. Clemson (8)
3. Syracuse (12)
4. Memphis (14)

Memphis Region:
1. Duke (1)
2. Oklahoma (5)
3. Louisville (9)
4. Butler (16)

17th Team: California

Others Considered:
Texas, UCLA

Breaking News: DeAndre Kane Not Committed to Seton Hall

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The question of whether DeAndre Kane actually committed to Seton Hall or not seems to have been answered — and the ongoing saga of his recruitment looks like it will continue.

"Nah," Kane scoffed when asked if his commitment to the Pirates was strong. "I'm going to wait until April."

After Kane's Patterson School (N.C) fell to Winchendon School (Mass.), 81-70, in the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., he told the NBE Basketball Report about the schools he’s considering.

"Marshall, Pitt, Seton Hall, Marquette," Kane said, adding that he’s visited both Seton Hall and Pittsburgh.

Kane, a 6-3 guard who transferred to Patterson from Schenley (Pa.) prior to the season, said he’s looking for minutes right away.

"Playing time," he responded when asked what will factor into his decision. "I want to go somewhere where I can come in and play."

He will need to play better than he did Saturday if he is going to contribute immediately in the Big East, however. Kane made just 4 of 15 shots from the field, including hitting just one of his eight three-point attempts. He finished with 10 points, two rebounds and four assists for the top-ranked Bulldogs.

Despite the upgrade in competition and the increase in exposure that comes with playing for Patterson, Kane was undecided on whether he liked it better. "Schenley was way easier," he said. “The players weren’t strong enough. So there’s definitely better competition.

"But there’s nothing like playing in front of your home crowd."

Could that be a sign that he could be leaning towards Pitt? Or will his need for playing time send him to Marquette? Or will he end up at Seton Hall after all?

With DeAndre Kane, it’s always a mystery.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Preview

Although the top handful of teams this year have separated themselves from the pack and a few league leaders look like favorites in their respective leagues, parity around the rest of the country is in abundance. One night, a team looks outstanding and a lock for the NCAA Tournament (more often than not, the game was at home), and the next it looks like a borderline NIT team (more than likely, this game was on the road). As a result, it makes nearly every game between potential contenders in conference play a key game. This weekend features several of those types of games, as well as other contests between teams in need of wins — it’s never too early to start thinking about the bubble. In other words, this weekend is huge in college basketball — and I guess it’s kind of big in the NFL too. So, basically, you never have to leave your couch.

Note: I’m driving up to Massachusetts today for the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield – definitely one of the best high school events of the year. Therefore, the Weekend Preview is a little light on actual analysis this week, unless I get time to update it in the next day or so.

Top Games

No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 8 Syracuse (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Prediction: Syracuse 84, Notre Dame 76

No. 13 Georgetown at No. 3 Duke (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS): Prediction: Duke 75, Georgetown 67

Oklahoma State at No. 21 Baylor (Saturday, 1:45 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Baylor 87, Oklahoma State 78

No. 6 Oklahoma at Texas A&M (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: Oklahoma 65, Texas A&M 63

No. 2 Wake Forest at No. 10 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC): Prediction: Clemson 83, Wake Forest 78

No. 16 Arizona State at No. 9 UCLA (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS):
Prediction: UCLA 69, Arizona State 63

Illinois at No. 7 Michigan State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: Michigan State 71, Illinois 61

No. 1 Pittsburgh at No. 20 Louisville (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: Louisville 73, Pittsburgh 67

Ohio State at No. 25 Michigan (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Big Ten Network):
Prediction: Michigan 72, Ohio State 64

Miami (Fl.) at No. 5 North Carolina (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN):
Prediction: North Carolina 88, Miami (Fl.) 75

Other Games to Watch

Maryland at Florida State (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Prediction: Florida State 77, Maryland 70

Iowa State at Missouri (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Missouri 86, Iowa State 64

Arkansas at Florida (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Florida 76, Arkansas 71

Alabama at Auburn (Saturday, 2:00 PM):
Prediction: Alabama 67, Auburn 65

LSU at Mississippi (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: LSU 69, Mississippi 66

Boston College at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPNU):
Prediction: Virginia Tech 71, Boston College 65

South Carolina at No. 24 Tennessee (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Prediction: Tennessee 87, South Carolina 77

Kansas State at Nebraska (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Nebraska 72, Kansas State 58

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Mississippi State 66, Vanderbilt 59

No. 22 California at Stanford (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV):
Prediction: California 75, Stanford 71

Arizona at USC (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV):
Prediction: USC 70, Arizona 62

No. 14 Marquette at Providence (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN2):
Prediction: Marquette 79, Providence 71

Key Conference Clashes

Northern Iowa at Drake (Saturday, 12:05 PM, ESPN2): Prediction: Drake 67, Northern Iowa 60

Siena at Fairfield (Saturday, 3:30 PM):
Prediction: Siena 82, Fairfield 77

Dayton at Duquesne (Saturday, 7:00 PM):
Prediction: Duquesne 84, Dayton 78

Middle Tennessee State at Arkansas-Little Rock (Saturday, 8:00 PM):
Prediction: Arkansas-Little Rock 80, Middle Tennessee State 73

UAB at Memphis (Saturday, 8:00 PM, CBS College Sports):
Prediction: Memphis 73, UAB 63

Boise State at Utah State (Saturday, 9:05 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Prediction: Utah State 69, Boise State 57

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last of the Unbeatens

With exactly two months remaining until Selection Sunday, the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pretenders and the NCAA Tournament picture is getting somewhat smaller than it was just a few short weeks ago. However, one of the main questions left to be answered is the always fun, "Which team will be the last to lose?"

There are three candidates remaining: Pittsburgh (16-0), Wake Forest (15-0) and Clemson (16-0). Pittsburgh has four games under its belt in conference play, while Wake and Clemson have played two ACC games each. Let's take a look at each undefeated squad's resume up to this point, as well as their respective remaining schedules.

Pittsburgh: The top-ranked Panthers have just two wins by single-digits, back-to-back road victories over Florida State and Rutgers. Outside of those two games, Pitt has simply dominated teams. Its best win is over Georgetown on the road, a game in which the Panthers took apart the Hoyas in the second half en route to a 16-point victory. Victories over Siena, Miami (Ohio), Texas Tech and Washington State are decent, at best.

The next big test for the Panthers is Saturday at Louisville. The Cardinals are playing very solid basketball lately and have the talent and personnel to pose problems for Pittsburgh. After that, the Panthers go home to face a high-scoring Syracuse team, and then head on the road to face West Virginia and Villanova. I don't think Pitt is getting out of this stretch unscathed -- and I actually don't think they will get out of this weekend unscathed.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are the talk of the town this week after defeated North Carolina in impressive fashion at home on Sunday. Obviously, their win over the Tar Heels is their best victory so far, but don't forget their victory on the road at BYU. The Cougars never lose at home, so Wake's seven-point comeback victory in Utah was huge. The Deacons also defeated a very good Baylor team on a neutral site back in November. Wake has also knocked off Boston College and UTEP on the road.

Of course, Wake Forest's undefeated showdown with Clemson on Saturday is the game that is currently circled on every hoops fan's calendar. The Demon Deacons have more talent than the Tigers, but Clemson is tough to beat at home. If they pass that test, the Deacons go home for games against Virginia Tech and Duke. A road game at Georgia Tech wraps up January. If Wake gets past Clemson this weekend, it might get to February with zero losses.

Clemson: Not surprisingly, the Tigers are undefeated in January. This year seems different, though, as I wouldn't expect Clemson to have its annual February collapse in conference play. The Tigers have a host of impressive wins away from home, including a victory over Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge; a dominating win at Miami (Fl.); and a comeback win at South Carolina. Wins over Alabama and North Carolina State are solid, as are victories over TCU and Temple.

Like Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, Clemson's next big test comes this Saturday. The Tigers will host fellow unbeaten Wake Forest in a game that will narrow the undefeated crowd. Clemson will need to contain Jeff Teague, and make sure to slow down the slew of Wake Forest big men. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their next game after this weekend comes at North Carolina on Wednesday. Clemson is very unlikely to get past these two games, but if they do, games against Georgia Tech and at Virginia Tech are winnable.

Who's the most talented team of this group? Wake Forest. Who's the team most likely to go the furthest in the NCAA Tournament? Probably Pittsburgh. However, with the way the schedule breaks, I think Clemson is going to be the final unbeaten remaining after this weekend. Pittsburgh has a tough road game against a hot Louisville team, while Wake Forest has to play Clemson on the Tigers' homecourt. As a result, expect to see Clemson sitting by itself as the lone unbeaten come Saturday night.