Monday, January 31, 2011

The Week Ahead

February begins tomorrow. We all know what that means: just over a month until Selection Sunday – arguably the best day of the year. Moreover, after the week we just had, nothing is written in stone – or pen, or even pencil. Only five of the top 16 teams in Busting the Bracket’s rankings didn’t lose last week, and the back end of the field is getting more and more crowded by the day. Who will show some separation this week? Anyone?


No. 23 Louisville at No. 21 Georgetown: With so many Big East teams losing lately, these two are on the rise – and both are in the mix for a top-four seed.

No. 8 Texas at No. 11 Texas A&M: Texas is looking like a legitimate Final Four contender at this point, while A&M is looking to bounce back.


No. 12 Purdue at No. 15 Wisconsin: After Ohio State, the Big Ten is wide-open, but both of these teams are within striking distance – but for how long?

No. 22 Vanderbilt at No. 23 Florida: Both teams are in major need of a bounce-back win after Vandy lost to Arkansas and Florida fell to Mississippi State.

Penn State at Illinois: The first time these two teams matched up, Penn State won, starting the Illini’s recent struggles. PSU beat Wisconsin on Saturday.

North Carolina at Boston College: North Carolina has won eight of its last nine, while Boston College has lost three of its last four after early momentum.


No. 10 Syracuse at No. 5 Connecticut: Jim Boeheim has never lost five consecutive games, but the Orange have lost four in a row heading into Storrs.

Marquette at No. 7 Villanova: Marquette picked up a huge momentum-changing win over Syracuse this weekend, while ‘Nova has lost two in a row.

Southern Miss at UAB: With Memphis’ loss to Marshall, there is now a logjam at the top of the standings. Southern Miss is 5-3, while UAB sits at 5-2.

Nebraska at Kansas State: Big-time match-up in the Big 12, in terms of staying in the hunt. Nebraska beat A&M over the weekend, while Kansas St. was crushed.

No. 3 Duke at Maryland: How will Duke respond to one of its worst losses in the last decade? Maryland is tough to beat at home – can the Terps pull the upset?

No. 4 San Diego State at Colorado State: San Diego State is still the favorite to win the MWC, while Colorado State could jump onto the at-large radar with a win.

No. 13 Missouri at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State was an at-large contender prior to Big 12 play, but the Cowboys are fading. Missouri needs a bounce-back win.


Wofford at Charleston: A huge clash of styles. Charleston likes to get out and put up points, while Wofford would prefer a half-court, low-scoring battle.

Valparaiso at Cleveland State: These two are at the top of the Horizon standings, and the winner will put even more distance between itself and Butler.

Liberty at Coastal Carolina: The loss of Mike Holmes hasn’t really affected Coastal so far, but now the Chanticleers face second-place Liberty, led by Evan Gordon.

Murray State at Tennessee State: The Ohio Valley is shaping up like potentially the tightest race in the country, with five teams in the mix. Murray State is still the favorite.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Power Sweet 16 Rankings

Wow. What a week. Only five of the teams that were in these rankings last week didn’t lose at least one game this past week. Moreover, five of the teams didn’t even win a game this week. Needless to say, there will be a major shake-up in the Power Sweet 16 Rankings this week – but how far will teams fall? With so many teams losing, will the losing teams even drop that much? Check it out below. Note: This will be the final Power Sweet 16 Rankings of the season – next week I will start complete Bracket Breakdowns.

- 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 it is

New Orleans Region (Southeast):

  • 1. Ohio State (1)
  • 2. BYU (8)
  • 3. Duke (9)
  • 4. Louisville (14)

Anaheim Region (West):

  • 1. Texas (4)
  • 2. Notre Dame (5)
  • 3. Purdue (10)
  • 4. Villanova (13)

Newark Region (East):

  • 1. Pittsburgh (2)
  • 2. San Diego State (7)
  • 3. Georgetown (12)
  • 4. Texas A&M (15)

San Antonio Region (Southwest):

  • 1. Kansas (3)
  • 2. Connecticut (6)
  • 3. Kentucky (11)
  • 4. Wisconsin (16)

17th Team: Syracuse

Others Considered: Missouri, West Virginia

Friday, January 28, 2011

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, there’s no football this week, so there is nothing to 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

No. 23 Louisville at No. 5 Connecticut (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Both teams have had impressive finishes in the past couple of weeks, the latest being Louisville’s Peyton Siva’s swooping lay-up to beat West Virginia. UConn is in No. 1 seed territory, especially if it racks up another quality win within the conference. Prediction: Connecticut 66, Louisville 60

No. 21 Georgetown at No. 8 Villanova (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Villanova didn’t look like a Big East contender in its loss to Providence this week, while Georgetown might have put its problems in the rear-view mirror. The Hoyas destroyed St. John’s at the Verizon Center this week. Prediction: Villanova 73, Georgetown 68

No. 16 Minnesota at No. 12 Purdue (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS): Minnesota has had personnel problems galore lately, with the latest being Al Nolen’s potential season-ending injury. Purdue has to bounce back from its Ohio State loss, which highlighted its lack of a third scoring option. Prediction: Purdue 58, Minnesota 50

No. 9 Syracuse at Marquette (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPNU): Both teams are badly in need of a win here, as Syracuse has lost three in a row and Marquette is firmly on the bubble after its home loss to Connecticut earlier this week. Jimmy Butler vs. Kris Joseph will be interesting. Prediction: Marquette 77, Syracuse 72

Georgia at No. 14 Kentucky (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN): A rematch of Georgia’s upset win earlier this season, which lifted the Bulldogs into the nation’s vision. Since then, both teams have had their ups and downs – but Georgia could use a road win to add to its at-large resume. Prediction: Kentucky 71, Georgia 61

Kansas State at No. 6 Kansas (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN): This game looked a lot more attractive before the season started. Kansas State has been a huge disappointment, while Kansas has just one loss. Can KSU get back on the right track with an impressive win in a hostile environment? Jacob Pullen faces Josh Selby. Prediction: Kansas 69, Kansas State 60

No. 11 Missouri at No. 7 Texas (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPNU): Arguably the best game of the week. Missouri is constantly involved in must-watch games, while Texas was this week’s Final Four flavor of the week. The Longhorns beat Kansas and Oklahoma State on the road to solidify its standing. Prediction: Texas 80, Missouri 75

No. 3 Duke at St. John’s (Sunday, 1:00 PM, CBS): St. John’s looked like a definite NCAA Tournament team, but the Red Storm have struggled mightily lately. A win here would go a long way towards determining their NCAA fate. Duke has suffered some upsets at Madison Square Garden during this rivalry. Prediction: Duke 67, St. John’s 64

West Virginia at Cincinnati (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Bob Huggins heads back to his old stomping grounds, with the Mountaineers reeling from various personnel losses and a late loss to Louisville. Cincinnati has a gaudy record without much substance. Prediction: West Virginia 62, Cincinnati 60

Non-BCS Battles

Xavier at Richmond (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2): The Atlantic-10 is crowded at the top this season, with Richmond just one game back of Xavier (and Duquesne). This game will feature a tremendous battle at the point guard spot, with Tu Holloway against Kevin Anderson. Prediction: Richmond 63, Xavier 55

No. 9 BYU at New Mexico (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Versus): How will The Jimmer follow up his 43-point performance against San Diego State? Will he reach 50? However, don’t overlook the Lobos at The Pit. They have the length and big men to cause problems for the Cougars. Prediction: BYU 79, New Mexico 74

UAB at UCF (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): UCF was one of the best stories in the country a few weeks; since then, though, the Knights are just 1-5 in conference play and sit in last place. UAB has had some close losses this season, but the Blazers need to keep winning for at-large hopes. Prediction: UCF 70, UAB 64

Dayton at Duquesne (Sunday, 2:00 PM): Dayton suffered a tough loss at home to Richmond earlier this week, and now the Flyers need to win on the road. Duquesne is tied with Xavier for the league lead, and the Dukes have a more favorable schedule the rest of the way. Bill Clark vs. Chris Wright will be fun. Prediction: Duquesne 73, Dayton 66

Conference Clashes

Butler at Valparaiso (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Butler was the heavy favorite to win the Horizon prior to the season, but Valpo is currently atop the standings, with the Bulldogs back in third. Butler has struggled defensively this year, but this might be a must-win for them. Prediction; Butler 65, Valparaiso 62

Saint Mary’s at Portland (Saturday, 7:00 PM): Saint Mary’s is the clear favorite in the West Coast Conference, especially after going into Spokane and defeating Gonzaga last night. Portland has a surprisingly good RPI, which means a road win here would add to the Gaels’ at-large resume. Prediction: Saint Mary’s 74, Portland 68

Austin Peay at Morehead State (Saturday, 7:15 PM): Austin Peay won the first battle between these two earlier this season, getting a leg up in a crowded OVC race. Kenneth Faried notched 23 and 23 last night, so the Governors will need to corral him and then get points from TyShwan Edmonson. Prediction: Morehead State 67, Austin Peay 59

Northern Iowa at Missouri State (Sunday, 8:05 PM, ESPNU): Missouri State still leads the Missouri Valley at 9-1, but Northern Iowa is starting to sneak up in the standings. The Bears will have an at-large shot if they roll through the league, but UNI is hot and has experience galore. Prediction: Missouri State 57, Northern Iowa 50

Other Games to Watch

No. 22 Florida State at Clemson (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Florida State is looking to separate itself as the second-best team in the ACC, and a road win here would help its case. Clemson is still searching for an identity, but the Tigers are tough at home. Prediction: Florida State 69, Clemson 66

Colorado at Baylor (Saturday, 1:45 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A must-win game for both teams in the Big 12. Colorado was hot until it lost three straight heading into the weekend, while Baylor has been an enormous disappointment after reaching the Elite Eight last season. Prediction: Baylor 83, Colorado 75

North Carolina State at North Carolina (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN): There will be tons of freshmen talent in this game. UNC has Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock, while NC State counters with C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow. This one will be decided by the veterans, though. Prediction: North Carolina 81, North Carolina State 71

No. 13 Texas A&M at Nebraska (Saturday, 2:00 PM): Don’t expect a ton of points in this one. Texas A&M has been one of the more surprising teams this season, looking like a potential Big 12 and Sweet 16 contender. Nebraska was off to a hot start, but it has cooled off somewhat in conference play. Prediction: Texas A&M 60, Nebraska 54

No. 17 Wisconsin at Penn State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Penn State has developed into more than just a cakewalk for the conference contenders; Taylor Battle and the Nittany Lions are tough outs. Wisconsin is a difficult match-up for most teams – expect a defensive battle in this one. Prediction: Wisconsin 62, Penn State 58

Tennessee at Mississippi (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): This will be another interesting test to see if the SEC East can continue to assert its dominance. The Volunteers have played fairly well without Bruce Pearl, but Chris Warren and the Rebels are in need of a win. Prediction: Mississippi 76, Tennessee 73

No. 1 Ohio State at Northwestern (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN): Ohio State remains the final undefeated team in the country after San Diego State’s loss to BYU. The Buckeyes obliterated Purdue on Tuesday, but will face a desperate Northwestern team that is seeing its NCAA hopes fade away. Who will handle Jared Sullinger? Prediction: Ohio State 74, Northwestern 64

Miami (Fl.) at Virginia Tech (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN): Miami (Fl.) suffered yet another close loss this week, falling on a couple of Harrison Barnes jumpers in the final minute. Virginia Tech has slowly fought its way back into the at-large hunt, but it lost to Georgia Tech earlier this week. Prediction: Virginia Tech 67, Miami (Fl.) 60

No. 18 Washington at Washington State (Sunday, 10:00 PM, FSN): Two of the best players in the country will face-off in Washington’s Isaiah Thomas and Washington State’s Klay Thompson. Unfortunately, Thomas has far more weapons at his disposal – who else will step up for the Cougars? Prediction: Washington 86, Washington State 80

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mid-Major Madness

Who's this year's Butler?

First of all, to address the above question: the answer is most likely going to be a simple, “no one.” With Butler coming within a few inches of a national championship last year and George Mason reaching the Final Four in 2006, 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 every year. 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: This is shaping up to be a crowded race at the top of the standings. Duquesne and Xavier are 6-0, with Richmond right behind them at 5-1. The best bet for an at-large bid might be Temple, though. The Owls are 4-2 in the league, but own wins over Georgetown, Georgia and Maryland and zero losses outside the top 100. They need to stay within striking distance of first-place, though. Xavier has the best RPI in the conference, at 27, and has already defeated Temple. Outside of that win, though, the Musketeers don’t have a win against a team that’s a lock for the Big Dance. Duquesne is undefeated in the league, but the Dukes have poor power numbers and only a win over Temple on its resume. They need to roll through the A-10. Richmond is picking up momentum, adding a win at Dayton to a resume that includes wins over Purdue and VCU. The Spiders have some questionable losses, though. Dayton is on the way down, losing at home to Richmond in a must-win contest. If the Flyers lose at Duquesne this weekend, they might be done. Wins over George Mason, New Mexico and Mississippi are countered by losses to East Tennessee State and Massachusetts. Rhode Island is in the mix, but the Rams will need to pick up some impressive wins in A-10 play.

  • Champion: Duquesne
  • NCAA Tournament Teams: Temple, Xavier

Mountain West: It’s almost unfair to include the MWC in this article, as it is probably better than at least two BCS conferences this season. It’s also a lock for multiple bids – likely multiple teams in the top-four seed lines. San Diego State was in the mix for a No. 1 seed before its loss last night at BYU. The Aztecs have seven top-100 wins, including victories over Saint Mary’s, Wichita State, UNLV and Gonzaga. They also have impressive power numbers, with an RPI of 4 and an SOS of 35. BYU has the No. 1 RPI in the country, and its win over San Diego State last night gives some oomph to the profile. The Cougars now have six top-50 wins and are 10-1 away from home. These two are locks for the NCAA Tournament. After that, it gets interesting. UNLV was looking great, but the Runnin’ Rebels have lost five of their last 12 games, including three at home. They have wins over Wisconsin, Kansas State and Virginia Tech, but a loss to UC Santa Barbara is an eyesore. New Mexico has low RPI numbers and only a win over Colorado on its resume; that 2-4 MWC record isn’t getting it done. Colorado State has been making a run at the bubble, and is now in the top-50 of the RPI. The Rams have a nice win at UNLV, but losses to Hampton and Sam Houston State more than cancel that out. They need to pick up some quality wins the rest of the way.

  • Champion: San Diego State
  • NCAA Tournament Teams: San Diego State, BYU, UNLV

Potential Multi-Bid Leagues

Colonial: The CAA is going to have a fantastic race down the stretch for the regular-season title. Right now, VCU and Hofstra are tied at the top with 8-1 records, while George Mason and Old Dominion are in striking distance. The best at-large profile belongs to Old Dominion. The Monarchs have the No. 31 RPI, as well as wins over Xavier, Richmond, Dayton and George Mason. They are 7-4 against the top-100, but do have a loss to Delaware on the resume. However, finishing fourth in the CAA wouldn’t look good. VCU doesn’t have the power numbers that Old Dominion has, but the Rams defeated the Monarchs on the road and sit tied for first. They also defeated UCLA in New York back in November. Like ODU, the Rams have a bad loss – at Georgia State – and a defeat to South Florida doesn’t look good, either. They need to have a gaudy record in CAA play. George Mason has the league’s best RPI, at No. 30, but its best non-conference wins are over Duquesne and Harvard. A loss to Wofford also brings the resume down. The Patriots will need to beat ODU and VCU in league play. Hofstra might be tied for the league lead, but the Pride only have a win over George Mason and several bad losses.

  • Champion: VCU
  • NCAA Tournament Teams: VCU, Old Dominion

Missouri Valley: Normally, the Missouri Valley has at least one team that seems like a lock for the NCAA Tournament. This season, there are two borderline at-large candidates, and neither is likely to go through the rough MVC slate without a few bumps. Missouri State is 9-1 in the league, with the only loss coming on a last-second shot at Indiana State. The Bears have a solid RPI, but their best win is over Wichita State and they don’t own a remotely impressive non-conference victory. They also have a loss at Tulsa. They might have to finish with only one or two losses the rest of the way. Wichita State’s late loss to Connecticut in Maui is still coming back to haunt them, as the Shockers have zero top-100 wins, going 0-4 in those games. They have a shot at Missouri State in the season finale, but that might not be enough if they lose more than two games down the stretch.

  • Champion: Missouri State
  • NCAA Tournament Teams: Wichita State

West Coast: The tides have turned in the WCC this season. No longer is Gonzaga the hunted – the Bulldogs are currently in third-place after back-to-back road losses to Santa Clara and San Francisco. Despite that, Gonzaga will still be in the mix for an at-large bid, as will Saint Mary’s. The Gaels sit atop the standings at 5-0, although they are coming off a blowout loss to Vanderbilt. They have a top-40 RPI, but the SOS is quite low. SMC’s best win is over Saint John’s, back in mid-November. They don’t have any bad losses, but a loss to anyone but Gonzaga or Portland in the WCC would be a sub-100 defeat. Gonzaga, as we mentioned earlier, is still in the hunt despite a couple of bad losses. The Bulldogs own a collection of solid wins, with victories over Xavier, Marquette, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Their power numbers are surprisingly low, though, but a home game against Memphis next week gives them another shot at a decent win.

  • Champion: Saint Mary’s
  • NCAA Tournament Teams: Saint Mary’s

One-Bid Conferences Unless Favorite Loses

Conference-USA: After UCF’s hot start, many assumed Conference-USA would be heading for a multiple-bid season. Not so fast. The Knights have completely fallen off in conference play, starting 1-5, including losses to Rice, Houston and East Carolina. Wins over Florida and Miami (Fl.) aren’t going to matter with such a bad league record. The only true hope for an at-large bid in C-USA this season is – surprise, surprise – Memphis. The Tigers don’t have much in the way of quality wins, but they have the No. 37 RPI and are 5-3 against the top-100. A loss to SMU is a problem right now, but if the Tigers roll through the league with only one more loss, that might be enough – provided they beat Gonzaga next week. UAB has a decent RPI, but they have no top-50 wins and its best non-conference win was over VCU. Southern Miss has padded its record with sub-100 victories – the committee will see through that.

Horizon: Although Butler is not in first-place right now, the Bulldogs are the Horizon’s only shot at an at-large bid this season. They have wins over Florida State and Washington State, and have also defeated Cleveland State and Valparaiso within the conference. However, their resume is also littered with a quartet of sub-100 losses. They will need to win the regular-season title if they want a shot at an at-large. Cleveland State has the league’s best RPI, but the Vikings don’t own any impressive wins and have a mostly empty resume.

Ivy: This is a long shot, but don’t overlook Harvard if it goes undefeated in Ivy League play. The Crimson have wins over Boston College and Colorado, and their RPI is currently in the 50s. Although they don’t have any bad losses, nearly any defeat in the league will weigh down the resume and the RPI is bound to drop with so many sub-150s on the schedule.

WAC: Utah State is going to run away with the WAC title, but that doesn’t mean the Aggies are a lock for the Big Dance. They have a solid RPI, 38, but they don’t have any top-100 wins. The best win right now is over Long Beach State – not overly impressive. Moreover, they don’t face a team the rest of the way with an RPI better than 154, aside from whomever they face in the Bracket Busters. They might need to go undefeated in conference play.

One-Bid Conferences

America East: Maine. The Black Bears have the league’s best offense and also lead the conference in field-goal percentage defense. Moreover, Troy Barnies and co. have already defeated second-place Vermont on the road.

Atlantic Sun: Belmont. The Bruins suffered their first loss in the A-Sun this week against Lipscomb, but they are still the heavy favorite. Ian Clark leads a very deep and balanced group that can cause problems in March.

Big Sky: Montana. Northern Colorado is undefeated and atop the standings, but Montana is a great inside-outside duo in Will Cherry and Brian Qvale. Moreover, the Grizzlies have experience after last season’s NCAA run.

Big South: Coastal Carolina. This is an interesting race. Coastal Carolina is undefeated, but leading rebounder Mike Holmes was just booted off the team. With that said, the Chanticleers still have Desmond Holloway and Chad Gray.

Big West: Long Beach State. I was heavy on the UC-Santa Barbara bandwagon, but after watching LBSU beat UCSB on the road in December, it’s tough to bet against LBSU’s explosive and balanced offense. This is a tough out.

MAC: Kent State. An absolutely wide-open conference – any team can come out of this league with the bid. I’m going with the Golden Flashes. Forwarrd Justin Greene is a difficult match-up, and the roster is filled with experience.

MAAC: Fairfield. The Stags were my mid-major darling before the season started, and after early struggles, they’re back in my good graces. They play lockdown defense, and Derek Needham is one of the best point guards you’ve never heard of.

MEAC: Morgan State. Hampton plays tremendous defense, but Morgan State’s frontcourt duo of big man Kevin Thompson and match-up nightmare Dewayne Jackson is going to be too much. The Bears are battle-tested in March.

Northeast: Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are struggling right now, but once they get 20-10 threat Justin Rutty back from injury, he and James Johnson will form the best one-two punch in the league. They do need to shore up their defense, though.

Ohio Valley: Murray State. Yes, the Racers have struggled this season, but aggressive half-court defense and experience at the other end will get them a bid. They are also extremely balanced offensively – no one has scored 20 points in a game.

Patriot: Bucknell. At 6-0, the Bison are the heavy favorite for the rest of the season. They take care of the ball and shoot well from deep offensively, and they force difficult shots at the other end. Mike Muscala is a very solid inside player.

Southern: Charleston. I originally had Wofford, but I can’t see myself going against Andrew Goudelock. He is capable of putting the team on his back and carrying them to the Dance. Moreover, Jeremy Simmons is a solid inside option.

Southland: Stephen F. Austin. This might be the most wide-open league in the country – every team but one is within 1.5 games of first place. The Lumberjacks, though, play tremendous half-court defense and have a balanced offense.

Summit: Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies received national pub earlier this season when they nearly beat Michigan State and then defeated Tennessee. Keith Benson is one of the best big men in the country, and Reggie Hamilton can score from the perimeter.

Sun Belt: North Texas. It should be a fun conference race and tournament, but the Mean Green get the edge here. They are very efficient offensively and have high-major athleticism. Tristan Thompson and Josh White are solid guards and George Odufuwa is a double-double guy.

SWAC: Texas Southern. The worst league in the country by a wide margin, but it does have three teams tied for first. Texas Southern has so many ways to hurt you offensively, with Kevin Galloway one of the most productive players around.

Sweet Sixteen Non-BCS Rankings

  • 1. San Diego State
  • 2. BYU
  • 3. Temple
  • 4. UNLV
  • 5. Saint Mary’s
  • 6. Richmond
  • 7. Utah State
  • 8. Butler
  • 9. Memphis
  • 10. VCU
  • 11. Gonzaga
  • 12. Xavier
  • 13. Old Dominion
  • 14. Wichita State
  • 15. Missouri State
  • 16. Colorado State

Other Teams to Watch: George Mason, Harvard, Belmont, Long Beach State, Fairfield, Murray State, Charleston, Oakland, Cleveland State, Coastal Carolina

Mayo talks top five, Providence visit

Todd Mayo couldn’t have picked a better time to visit Providence, as the Friars defeated No. 7 Villanova by 15 points on Wednesday.

Not surprisingly, Mayo was impressed by his time in Rhode Island.

“The visit went great,” Mayo said. “I like Providence, they definitely get up and down and play, they play hard, never quit and what really surprised me was they made some guards that will possibly be in the NBA this year or next year quit.

“And Providence never let up and it’s the second team they have knocked off this year that was highly ranked in the country.”

While he was on his visit, Mayo also picked up an offer from Keno Davis’ staff.

“It felt good just to know my hard work paid off to get an offer from another D-1 team,” he said.

Mayo, a 6-3 guard from Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), is one of the best shooting guards left on the market.

The Tennessee native has a top five: Baylor, Kansas, Marquette, West Virginia and Providence.

He plans on making his decision during Notre Dame Prep’s last tournament in March, the National Prep Showcase.

Mayo is in the process of planning visits.

“I’m not sure when I will be taking them but I am setting them up today as we speak,” he said.

Stay tuned to Busting the Bracket for Mayo’s visit schedule.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Jersey guard chooses SEC school

Jaren Sina’s legend has been growing with a big-time scoring effort seemingly every game.

In 2013, Sina will look to continue that trend in Tuscaloosa – the New Jersey guard committed to Alabama Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-1 guard from Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) chose the Crimson Tide over Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John’s, Florida, La Salle and others.

“In Orlando, Alabama was at our games,” said Mergin Sina, Jaren’s father and coach. “I mean, we were a team that no one really knew, but Alabama was there. Then they were at another, and another. Then when he went down there for Elite Camp, he fell in love with the school.”

Sina joins Shannon Hale in Anthony Grant’s 2013 class.

“It’s the right fit. For us, it was just, ‘this is the place,’” his father said. “He’s going to be able to build a legacy there.”

Wednesday, Jan. 25 Predictions

Prediction Record: 147-62 (ATS: 91-99-5)

  • Florida at Georgia (-2.5): Prediction: Georgia 72, Florida 67
  • Richmond at Dayton (-2.5): Prediction: Dayton 65, Richmond 59
  • North Carolina State at Clemson (-7.5): Prediction: Clemson 78, North Carolina 66
  • Kansas at Colorado (+7.5): Prediction: Kansas 86, Colorado 79
  • Connecticut at Marquette (-4.5): Prediction: Marquette 70, Connecticut 64
  • Purdue at Ohio State (-7.5): Prediction: Ohio State 68, Purdue 63

Dingba gets noticed at Salisbury

When Samuel Dingba arrived in October from Cameroon, all he had were the clothes he was wearing and a gym bag with one extra t-shirt and pair of pants.

He didn’t look like much at the time.

Now, after only a few months at The Salisbury School (Conn.), Dingba has become one of the most intriguing 2013 prospects in New England.

“It’s night and day,” Salisbury head coach Jeff Ruskin said. “He’s a cult hero here already.”

Dingba came to the United States through the Basketball Without Borders program, and was recommended to Salisbury by various college coaches. Dingba was supposed to come with a friend, but his friend couldn’t get his visa cleared.

Ruskin said he made sure everyone knew that the decision to play at Salisbury was about more than basketball.

“We are not a basketball factory, and I told them that,” he said. “We made it clear to Sam that he had to be serious as a student.”

At Salisbury, Ruskin said everyone has pitched in to help Dingba get acclimated to life in the United States. Various alums helped with necessities and clothing, while other students’ parents – as well as Ruskin and his family – have taken him in for holidays.

In fact, on Dingba’s birthday, the students in his dorm bought him a pair of Nikes, because he didn’t have any sneakers.

Despite the location difference, Dingba is still able to talk to his family every weekend.

“It’s tough for him, he’s still a young kid,” Ruskin said. “And he may not go home for three or four years. And his family knows that.”

Getting used to life in the States is difficult enough – throw in the fact that Dingba was immediately playing in the always-tough New England prep scene, and it’s been quite a change for him.

However, he has handled it well and is developing into an interesting prospect.

“Sam is a warrior,” Ruskin said. “He’s raw offensively right now, because he’s only been playing basketball for three or four years. He has a nice turnaround jumper, he can run the floor.”

Defensively, his athleticism and leaping ability have helped him make an immediate impact.

Against Wilbraham & Monson, Dingba and freshman Chris McCullough helped keep former DePaul commit Braeden Anderson and Connecticut freshman Enosch Wolf in check.

“He’s a 6-5, 6-6 physical specimen,” Ruskin said. “He’s a mid-major kid right now because, at 6-5 or 6-6, to play high-major, you need high-level perimeter skills – and he doesn’t have that yet.

“He’s a power forward, but he can shoot. He keeps the ball up on his shot, and his hands are usually straight up. He shoots with just his wrists. Right now, he’s an athlete. He can take off from the free-throw line and dunk.”

Not surprisingly, with Dingba’s physical gifts and early signs of promise, schools are beginning to make Salisbury a regular stop on recruiting trips.

“Colleges are starting to show interest,” Ruskin said. “We’ve had Patriot League schools, ACC schools come. We’ve started getting emails, mail, preliminary recruiting stuff. A lot of people are waiting to see . . . some of the schools around here that have heard of him, Fairfield, Marist, some of the local Atlantic-10 schools.”

Dingba played tennis back in Cameroon, and has expressed interest in playing it during the spring. Even more interestingly, he is intrigued by the possibility of playing football in the fall – that’s still up in the air, though.

Another aspect still undecided is what Dingba will do during the spring and summer travel-team and camp circuits.

“I might keep him for summer school, might get him to a few camps,” Ruskin said. “We’re not sure yet.”

Right now, Ruskin is just looking to keep Dingba focused on his academics and blossoming basketball career.

“I don’t want him to get with the wrong group,” he said. “It’s tough to keep everything in perspective, but he wants to go to the NBA.”

If Dingba keeps developing at such a rapid rate, that goal might not seem so far off after all.