SONG SELECTION: Foster The People, “Coming of Age” or for more retro fans–Elton John, “I’m Still Standing”
“They never discuss any school in regards to conference affiliation…It really is a magical thing when ten people come to an ultimate consensus…Having the conference tournaments is like the defense wrapping up a legal case, stating their final arguments.”
Former NCAA Executive Vice President of Men’s Basketball Greg Shaheen, in remarks to Dari Nowkah on ESPN Radio Sunday morning
First item of business on this Selection Sunday 2015, the final handful of games to determine the 31 automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament:
Atlantic 10, 1 p.m. Eastern on CBS–Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
VCU vs. Dayton
VCU needs this game to sneak their way in. Otherwise, the Rams might miss out (and if that does happen, hopefully they won’t come near any woman looking like Heidi Klum on Project Runway telling the players her famous line used on the wildly popular reality show for ladies).
SEC, 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN–Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN
Arkansas vs. Kentucky
Kentucky’s Pursuit of Perfection stands at 33 games, which BTW is a new SEC record for most consecutive victories over the longest period of time. And what NCAA Executive Vice President for Men’s Basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports on Saturday afternoon, the worst kept secret was revealed as Kentucky will be named the overall Number 1 seed when the Selection Show airs at 6 p.m. Eastern time.
Sun Belt Conference, 1 p.m. Eastern ESPN2–Lakefront Arena, New Orleans
2 seed Georgia Southern vs. 1 seed Georgia State.
One team will truly be Whistling Dixie, but in all seriousness-these are the top two seeds who had to survive very close calls in their semifinal games on Saturday just to get this point. Call this game a Pick ‘Em because if it is as thrilling as the 2014 final with the Rajun’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette, this will be one track meet definitely worth DVR’ing.
One more reason to watch this game is the triumphant return of Louisville transfer Kevin Ware, who plays for Georgia State. Ware, you might recall suffered that very gruesome leg injury during the 2013 Regional Final in Indianapolis when Louisville took a big speed bump en route to winning the school’s third national title and first since Pervis Ellison led the Cards in 1986–the final season without the three-point shot.
Atlantic 10, 3:15 p.m. on ESPN
THE GAME TO WATCH XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut
6 seed and defending National Champions Connecticut vs. 1 seed SMU
UConn looks again to be a bid thief like they were when Kemba Walker nearly single handedly won five games in five days at the old Big East Tournament in New York just to get into the Big Dance back in 2010. Many bubble teams are already sweating, thanks in large part to Wyoming claiming the Mountain West automatic bid in upsetting San Diego State in Las Vegas early Saturday night. My final bubble analysis can be seen below for easy reference.
Big Ten, 3:30 p.m. on CBS Final time Big Ten Conference will be held for a few years at the United Center in Chicago, Ilinois
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers look to lock down the final number 1 seed. If Sparty comes up huge like they did last year in Indianapolis, that final slot will more than likely go to Arizona.
The other reason to check this contest is that this is only the fourth telecast featuring the new lead CBS Sports announcing trio of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, and Turner Sports’ Grant Hill. So far, so good in my view–as they will get to do the usual four games next Friday and a pair of bigger contests next Sunday during the Round of 32.
Bubble Analysis, Penultimate Edition
This much we know, according to many media members and online bracketologists from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com:
Following Kentucky on the 1 seed line will be Villanova, followed by Duke. With a win in Chicago today, Wisconsin could slide past Arizona and claim the final Number 1 seed.
“This time of year, everyone in America loves Cinderella…It is the very fabric of our country, it is the American dream.”
Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl on ESPN Radio Sunday morning, who happens to be also the brother-in-law to Liz Claman of the Fox Business Network
Welcome One, Welcome All to the…
FINAL SUPERSIZED EDITION OF UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
These schools do not comprise the final list of bubble teams, but at least consider this list as a simple blueprint on what to expect–especially once the AAC game is final around 5:20 or so Eastern time from Hartford.
The list IMHO includes:
24-7 overall, 14-4 in Atlantic 10 play. RPI of 35, Strength of Schedule 108
Final Analysis: Davidson did not have any quality wins away from home and they finished 2-4 in the RPI Top 100. It will be the Committee’s final call to see if they get in. In my mind, it’s a 50/50 toss-up.
25-8 overall, 14-4 in Mountain West play. RPI of 41, Strength of Schedule 117
Final Analysis: Outside of three bad losses, they have 3 of their 4 wins in the RPI Top 50. Two of those wins came against San Diego State. They should be an at-large team.
22-10 overall, 11-7 in SEC play. RPI of 56, Strength of Schedule 85
Final Analysis: The Tigers had a strange year, but they are 3-2 against the RPI Top 50 including road wins at Arkansas and West Virginia. Not sure if they are in.
25-9 overall, 13-5 in WCC play. RPI of 36, Strength of Schedule 72
Final Analysis: That loss to Gonzaga last Monday night really hurt, but they did beat the ‘Zags at the Kennel in late February. They did beat St. Mary’s and Stanford, but both wins came at home. No quality wins on the road, especially during the non-conference slate before Christmas. They have about a 30% chance of making the field as it stands.
22-10 overall, 14-4 in AAC play. RPI of 45, Strength of Schedule 90
Final Analysis: The Golden Hurricane are an interesting case. They finished 2-2 in the RPI Top 50, but went 3-2 against the RPI’s teams ranked 51 to 100. More than likely, they are out.
20-12 overall, 11-7 in SEC play. RPI of 55, Strength of Schedule 49
Final Analysis: Going 3-5 against the RPI’s Top 50 and losing four of their last 5 contests will be their ultimate undoing. Enough said.
20-13 overall, 9-9 in Big Ten play. RPI of 60, Strength of Schedule 23
Many of their key wins came against teams ranked 51 and lower in the RPI. But they also suffered many quality losses and that will keep them NIT bound. Couple that with Purdue losing to Wisconsin on Saturday, that might send the Boilers NIT bound as well.
20-13 overall, 11-7 in Pac-12 play. RPI of 48, Strength of Schedule 29
Final Analysis: The Bruins swept Stanford, nothing else big to report outside of going a paltry 1-7 against the RPI Top 25.
21-12 overall, 10-8 in ACC play. RPI of 65, Strength of Schedule 70
Final Analysis: They replace SMU as the true Helter-Skelter team of 2015. Just like UCLA, the Hurricanes went 1-7 against the RPI Top 25, but they did get one win against a team in the RPI 26 to 50 range. But how far will their wins in Pittsburgh without Angel Rodriguez and the shocking win at Duke carry them? Only the Committee knows, but in my mind, they have a 45% chance of making it.
Teams That Might (And I Capitalize That Word) MIGHT Knock Kentucky From A Date With History
On March 7, I recall Seth Davis of CBS Sports appearing on a panel with Wally Szczerbiak, Doug Gottlieb, and periodic host Dana Jacobsen. On their cable show called Inside College Basketball, they identified a handful of teams that could possibly stand toe-to-toe with the Kentucky juggernaut (even though they are the fifth youngest team in the nation):
In no uncertain order, the group identified Arizona, Wisconsin, Duke, Gonzaga, Virginia, and Iowa State as possible teams that if they put together a solid effort by hitting three point shots, creating mismatches, and frustrating the Harrison twins could end Kentucky’s path to perfection at 40 and 0–easier said than done most media members and blog reporters will tell you.
But also Dan Gavitt in mentioned in a question asked by Greg Gumbel on Saturday afternoon that the Selection Committee is having a very hard time deciphering “so many similar resumes”, and finding that “seeding teams 3 through 10 to be extremely difficult.”
That’s it. See you all later tonight for the full bracket analysis that you have come to expect as your College Basketball Blog Reporter Extraordinaire.