KU honestly would have been better off with a 6 or 7 seed in another region.
Kansas has to have the worst draw of any top team in the field. NMSU? Tough 15 seed. Wichita State? Underseeded and motivated.
New Mexico State is ranked 88th in KenPom, ahead of 12 seeds Wyoming and Wofford and just seven spots behind K-State.
Good luck to my #Jayhawk family - @LarryBrownSMU @UNC_Basketball @CoachBillSelf @CoachTurgeon @CoachJerodHaase
“It is a hard first game,” Self said. “Certainly we’ve got to be ready come Friday, because this team, we’ve shown that when we’re good, we’re good, but when we’re not very good, we can really labor in a lot of ways.”
If KU wins, it will advance to face the winner between No. 7 seed Wichita State and No. 10 seed Indiana. WSU finished 14th in Pomeroy’s rankings and was 12th in last week’s Associated Press poll.
A potential Sweet 16 matchup looms with Notre Dame, while overall No. 1 seed Kentucky is the top school in the Midwest.
“If this team gets a chance to play in an Elite Eight game, then it’s been a helluva year. Let’s just call it like it is,” Self said of KU. “Regardless of who you play, it’d be a great opportunity for a one-shot deal to go to the Final Four.”
…“I think we can be as close to whole as we’ve been in the last month probably,” Self said, “if we’re able to get some rest this week.”
From a big-picture perspective, Self believed a No. 2 seed was a great accomplishment for this year’s team, especially with all the adversity it had gone through with a tough schedule, some early blowout losses and a handful of injuries. He joked that after KU’s 72-40 loss to Kentucky on Nov. 18, he wasn’t sure if his team could win 15 games.
The Jayhawks ended up winning the Big 12 Conference title outright while earning a top-two seed for the ninth time in the past 10 years under Self.
“We’ve had a real good season,” Self said, “but in order to say, ‘Hey, it was a great season,’ you’ve got to do well (now).”
That kind of experience has the Aggies feeling ready to roll for Friday’s 11:15 a.m. tipoff against No. 2 seed Kansas (26-8) at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center.
“While I was hoping we’d get a 13 or 14 seed, it really doesn’t matter,” Menzies said shortly after seeing his team’s draw. “Because when you’re a 13-14-15, you’re playing the big boys.”
…Now, in just five days, Menzies and his veteran team will take on the highest-seeded team they’ve faced in the tournament.
“Kansas is one of the storied college programs in the country,” Menzies said. “And we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Remi Barry scored 21 points and Tshilidzi Nephawe added 18 and 10 rebounds as New Mexico State defeated Seattle 80-61 Saturday night to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Aggies (23-10) shot 52 percent in winning the tournament championship for the fourth consecutive season.
Nephawe, a 6-foot-10 senior from South Africa, was named the tournament MVP.
…The Aggies’ big men controlled the boards in the opening half and limited Seattle’s offense to one shot on each possession, two big reasons they led 33-22 at intermission.
The Redhawks had just one offensive rebound and no second-chance points in the first half, and New Mexico State’s hot shooting allowed it to pull in front by 13 at the midway point.
Defensively, the Aggies pressured Seattle with a zone that forced eight turnovers. Umipig, who led the WAC in 3-point baskets and was his team’s leading scorer, had only one long-distance basket for three points.
…New Mexico State: The Aggies took a 12-game winning streak into the final, the third longest current streak in Division I.
For the sixth consecutive year and eighth time in the last nine seasons, Kansas University’s basketball team enters the NCAA Tournament as a 1 or 2 seed.
“If you had told me we were a 2 seed before the season ... we played our walk-ons the last three minutes against Kentucky, and usually we don’t do that, especially when we’re down 35,” KU coach Bill Self said Sunday after learning his Jayhawks would take on No. 15 seed New Mexico (23-10) State in a second-round game at 11:15 a.m. Friday in CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
“After that game, I was thinking, ‘Can we even get to 10 (wins)? Can we get to 15?’ Obviously, being a 2 seed means the guys have gotten a lot better and tried real hard. (I’m) really proud of them,” Self added.
…The Jayhawks will return to practicing today after taking a day off Sunday.
“Kansas City was maybe a little more taxing on us than what you guys (media) know, because we are beat up. I mean, we are beat up,” Self said of an injury report that includes Perry Ellis (sprained knee), Landen Lucas (hip, knee, back), Frank Mason III (assorted bumps, bruises, fatigue). “We’ll do a recovery lift (weights) tomorrow, then primarily shooting. We’ll go light, 30-40 minutes, then really get into it Tuesday and Wednesday before we leave.
“The most important thing is try to get our bodies back fresh. Landen is really nicked up. Perry actually did very, very well, even though he’s not close to where he needs to be, so this next four days are real important for him to get that bounce back and that fire back in his jump and explosion. Frank’s played a lot minutes. He’s tired. Wayne (Selden Jr.) played a lot of minutes in the tournament. I think a day-and-a-half of rest will probably be good for us.”
It's hard to believe the selection committee pays no attention to storylines when it creates NCAA tournament matchups, and this year's draw is a perfect reason why. Between regional rivalries, mentor-pupil face-offs and rematches of previous classic games, there will be numerous made-for-TV contests during the opening weekend.
Wichita State fans will probably deal with being underseeded as a No. 7 seed because of the possibility the Shockers will finally get their long-awaited dream game against No. 2 seed Kansas if they both win round-of-64 games.
THREE THINGS I IMMEDIATELY NOTICED ABOUT THE BRACKET
1. We might get Kansas-Wichita State in the Round of 32
I've never been one who believes the selection committee manipulates the bracket to create certain matchups, if only because once I started actually putting together mock brackets years ago I realized quickly that you'll always have possible fascinating matchups based on little more than the sheer number of teams involved. So is a likely Kansas-Wichita State matchup in the Round of 32 a result of bracket manipulation? No, I don't think so. But, man, that's the please-make-it-happen matchup of the opening weekend given how the Kansas-Wichita State scheduling situation has literally made headlines over the past few years, and Bill Self and Gregg Marshall have even gone back and forth publicly about it. (Simply put, Wichita State wants to play Kansas; KU has no interest for obvious reasons.) So with all due respect to Indiana and New Mexico State, it would be cool if you guys just got out of the way and let us have Kansas vs. Wichita State in Omaha.
1. Kansas and Wichita State are on a collision course in the Round of 32: It feels like a higher power has put together this potential matchup. The Shockers have tried and tried to set up a potential home and home series with the Jayhawks over the past few seasons, but have been unsuccessful since Kansas has absolutely nothing to gain from it. Bill Self's team may not have a choice in the Round of 32. If Wichita State gets by Indiana in the Round of 64 and Kansas takes care of business against New Mexico State, these two programs will face off in a game that could only be made in the NCAA tournament. It's tough not to love March Madness, right?!
The last time WSU and KU met in the regular season, though – back on Jan. 6, 1993 – Kansas won 103-54 in Allen Fieldhouse. As far as I know, there are no T-shirts commemorating that game.
We need another game worthy of T-shirts, Indiana. We love T-shirts and will wear them for decades.
Kansas has a Wichita kid, Perry Ellis. Wichita State has a Wichita kid, Evan Wessel, and another, Conner Frankamp, who used to play at Kansas. He’s sitting out now after transferring, waiting for his chance that will come in December.
KU and WSU have vibrant, interesting coaches in Bill Self and Gregg Marshall. I want to hear what they have to say about playing one another, but they’re not tipping their hands until the game is set.
Marshall ducked the question Sunday, saying he was focused on Indiana. Of course he is, but I’d give a penny for his thoughts on the possibility of finally playing Kansas.
Self told the media a KU-WSU showdown would appease me (he’s right), then turned his attention to New Mexico State.
…Kansas-Wichita State is prime-time stuff. KU is a college basketball giant, but the Shockers are growing like a beanstalk. If these two teams played, it would be difficult to pick a winner.
The Shockers have a better resume than Indiana. They’re a better team than Indiana. They probably don’t need any help beating the Hoosiers and setting up a Sunday game for the ages, a game so many of us are dying to see.
But just in case, Indiana, do us a favor and continue to bring your “C” game. Now wouldn’t be the time to play lights out.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
Wichita State will beat Kansas, proving it’s the king of the Sunflower State. The selection committee claims that the final arrangement of the bracket disregards rematches, rivalries and TV-friendly matchups. Maybe, but the selection committee has positioned Wichita State and Kansas to face one another in what would be a must-see round of 32 matchup. The Shockers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to arrange a perennial series with the Jayhawks. But they’ll get the game they’ve desired for years in Omaha, Nebraska. And the Shockers will beat the Jayhawks to advance to the Sweet 16 and snatch all in-state bragging rights.
The Big 12 will not have any teams in the Elite Eight. The Big 12 sent 70 percent of its league to the NCAA tournament after earning seven bids. That’s remarkable. But the league’s tourney teams are all stuck in challenging slots. Kansas probably will have to get through Wichita State to advance to the Sweet 16. Iowa State is hot, but will the Cyclones outplay Gonzaga to reach the Elite Eight? Oklahoma might face a dangerous Providence team in the round of 32. Maryland and Kentucky stand between West Virginia and the late stages of the NCAA tourney. The Big 12 is the best league in America, pound for pound. It was certainly the most entertaining and competitive league this season. And the conference’s collective finish in the Big Dance won’t diminish that. But the NCAA tournament is all about matchups. And the Big 12’s best are all involved in difficult scenarios
While you’re at it, MECA, go ahead and bolt down the roof of the CenturyLink Center. Just in case.
The NCAA Basketball Committee did it again. Actually, the fine gentlemen who put this bracket together outdid themselves. Man, they love them some Omaha. They’re like a second Chamber of Commerce.
Start with Kansas. Of course. This is three times for KU in Omaha since 2008, but hold off on the charm part. The Jayhawks’ good friends from Wichita State are also invited to our burg.
We also got another Dana Altman Reunion Tour. Altman, the former Creighton coach at Oregon, plays CenturyLink almost as often as Taylor Swift. He was back for the first time in 2011, when Creighton hosted Oregon in the CBI tournament. CU won 84-76, but Oregon won the series back in Eugene.
The NCAA’s are a little bigger deal than the CBI. Just a little.
Now, back to the main course.
Kansas hasn’t played Wichita State since 1993 and makes no bones about it. They will not play Wichita State.
Why? Because big brother doesn’t have to.
The Jayhawks might have to next Sunday.
Assuming No. 2 seed KU beats No. 15 New Mexico State on Friday, the Jayhawks and Shockers will re-enact the famous 1981 Battle of New Orleans. In that round of 16 game — the only time KU and WSU have met in the NCAA’s — Antoine Carr, Cliff Livingston and Xavier McDaniel took down KU 66-65 in a game the Jayhawks hoops historians still talk about.
A generation later, we might have a Battle of Omaha to enter into the history books. Unless, of course, Tom Crean and Indiana have other plans.
The Hoosiers sneaked into the field and drew a tough assignment. Likewise, the Shockers better not overlook IU. The Hoosiers are used to brass knuckles in the Big Ten, and they’ve been playing for the NCAA tourney, and Crean has been coaching for his job, every night for the last month.
The Hoosiers might get here and let their hair down. Well, maybe. Hoosier basketball players wear flat-tops and high-tops, right?
No offense, Indiana, but we need this matchup. We might have to call up Nebraska coach Tim Miles and have him come down and heckle his good chum, Crean.
A Kansas-Wichita State game would be Armageddon. Can you imagine the pregame handshake between Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and KU’s Bill Self?
We might need the National Guard for that, too.
What’s black and blue and electric all over? The stands inside CenturyLink next Sunday. It might be black and blue outside and in the trenches of the Old Market saloons, too. Cue the National Guard.
It’s been two years, but the Shox and their fans know their way around the Big O. Marshall and his troops were just here March 2, 2013, for Doug McDermott’s first Senior Day. The Jays won, but Marshall has a handful of veterans who have played in the Century Link building. And they’re used to folks rooting against them.
But how many Creighton fans will actually be there next Sunday? That’s a great question. CU fans hold the majority of the tickets for this event. They aren’t fans of Wichita but they are fans of money.
I asked a Creighton fan via twitter Sunday night if he would sell his tickets to Wichita State fans. His reply: “At double prices, yes.”
Why do I get the feeling Wichita State fans are about to fund a new fleet of Lexus cars and golf trips to Scottsdale?
Whatever the crowd makeup is, this will feel like a home game for KU. Self loves the short trip to Omaha and the downtown set-up here, where he says KU fans enjoy the Old Market and close walk to the games.
And Omaha has been very, very good to KU. The Jayhawks were here in 2008 and 2012 and went to the Final Four both years (winning in 2008 and finishing runner-up in 2012).
Omaha World Shatel
“(Last year) wasn’t something you would expect as a one-seed in St. Louis, which is closer to Lexington, Kentucky than it is Wichita,’’ Marshall said. “So there were a lot of problems with it. Those guys (on the committee) do what they can, but their best wasn’t very good that day.
“So this particular year, we’re the No. 12-ranked team in the country with a seven-seed. But that’s just the way it is, and we’re glad to be part of it. We’re not a one-seed this year. I don’t really have any ground to stand on. If I don’t like it, it doesn’t really matter. They don’t call me and ask me my opinion.’’
The NCAA bid is the fourth straight for the Shockers, who stood 18th nationally in the Ratings Percentage Index, a measure the committee relies on significantly during the selection, and seeding, process.
Against top 25 teams in the RPI, the Shockers were 1-2. They were 2-2 against the top 50, with wins against Tulsa and Northern Iowa, and losses against Utah and Northern Iowa.
Although Wichita State went 17-1 in the Missouri Valley to claim a one-game edge over Northern Iowa for the title, the Panthers were seeded fifth after winning the MVC Tournament. WSU lost in the semifinals of that event against Illinois State.
…The Shocks were riding a nine-game winning streak before their loss in the MVC tourney. They feature two juniors who are finalists for national position awards, shooting guard Ron Baker and point guard Fred VanVleet.
“We’re obviously talented enough to beat just about anyone,’’ Marshall added, “but we can also lose to a lot of people if we don’t play well. So we have to make shots, we have to execute, we have to rebound and defend. Hopefully get a call here and there. Have the stars align a little bit. We’ll see what happens.’’
I've been writing for a long time that KU's NCAA Tournament prospects are hugely matchup dependent, and, well, they got a really tough draw. New Mexico State has won 18 of its last 19, is big, physical, balanced, and experienced. They are the ninth-best offensive rebounding team in the country, something that's been a hard thing for KU to deal with. The Jayhawks are, by a fair margin, the smallest favorite among the tournament's 2 seeds.
* If the Jayhawks get by the Aggies, they have a brutal potential matchup against Wichita State that would probably have some local media losing their damn minds. Wichita is way underseeded. Their conference tournament loss was just their fourth of the season, and they didn't play a particularly impressive schedule, but: they avenged the loss to Northern Iowa (a really good team), and lost to Utah (another very good team) on the road in overtime. George Washington is the other loss.
* I choose to believe that when the bracket was announced, Gregg Marshall just started stalking around the room, chest-bumping his assistant coaches, slapping the wall and pounding his chest.
…This has the feel of saying that Scarlett Johansson is too short or something, but I don't think this Kentucky team is as good as the one from 2012, and I'm not sure an all-time team goes to overtime against Ole Miss and two overtimes against Texas A&M. It's not their fault that the rest of the SEC stinks at basketball, but it's also true that the best team Kentucky has played in 2015 is Arkansas. If we look at the KenPom numbers, Kansas has played TWELVE games against teams better than Arkansas since the New Year.
…As long as we're making predictions that are sure to fall flat, at first glance I've got KU losing to Wichita State and the Shockers losing to Kentucky.
* Other upset picks you should either ignore or bet the opposite: Buffalo over West Virginia, Wofford over Arkansas, Harvard in the Sweet 16 (inspiring a million “finally those kids from Harvard catch a break” jokes), Louisville over Villanova, and Michigan State over Virginia.
KC Star Mellinger
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
3/15/15, 5:45 PM
I like the committee's stance of "UCLA was once good".
3/15/15, 5:54 PM
The comedy of errors for the committee is sending Larry Brown & SMU up against UCLA. #SelectionSunday
3/15/15, 5:42 PM
Great job #Big12MBB SEVEN teams in NCAA. Now, deep runs needed to validate "best league" claim all season.Can't wait to see how it turns out
3/15/15, 6:32 PM
To me, even more impressive than getting 70% of the league in, is having 4 of the top 12 seeds overall: one 2-seed & three 3's. #Big12Strong
3/15/15, 6:08 PM
Four Big 12 teams were in the top 11 on the committee's full seeding list
3/15/15, 6:07 PM
In the Midwest, (not counting the play in game) only 4 teams are ranked outside the top 50 in RPI. (Purd. 52, Ind. 56, NE 85, NMSU 107)
KenPom NCAA tournament log5
All times p.m. and Eastern.
6:40, truTV: No. 16 Manhattan vs. No. 16 Hampton (Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, Lewis Johnson)
Approx. 9:10, truTV: No. 11 BYU vs. No. 11 Ole Miss (Anderson/Smith/Johnson)
6:40, truTV: No. 16 North Florida vs. No. 16 Robert Morris (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb, Evan Washburn)
Approx. 9:10, truTV: No. 11 Boise State. vs. No. 11 Dayton (Eagle/Gottlieb/Washburn)
Round of 64
Thursday Afternoon Window
12:15, CBS: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Northeastern (Anderson/Smith/Johnson)
12:40, truTV: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 14 UAB (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)
1:40, TBS: No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 Georgia State (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl)
2:10, TNT: No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 Texas Southern (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Rachel Nichols)
Approx. 2:45, CBS: No. 6 Butler vs. No. 11 Texas (Anderson/Smith/Johnson)
Approx. 3:10, truTV: No. 6 SMU vs. No. 11 UCLA (Lundquist/Spanarkel/LaForce)
Approx. 4:10, TBS: No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11s BYU/Ole Miss (Catalon/Lappas/Erdahl)
Approx. 4:40, TNT: VCU vs. Ohio State (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Nichols)
Thursday Evening Window
6:50, TBS, No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 Lafayette (Anderson/Smith/Johnson)
7:10, CBS: No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 9 Purdue (Lundquist/Spanarkel/LaForce)
7:20, TNT: No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 13 Harvard (Catalon/Lappas/Erdahl)
7:27, truTV: No. 5 Utah vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Nichols)
Approx. 9:20, TBS: No. 8 N.C. State vs. No. 9 LSU (Anderson/Smith/Johnson)
Approx. 9:40, CBS: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 16s Hampton/Manhattan (Lundquist/Spanarkel/LaForce)
Approx. 9:50, TNT: No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 12 Wofford (Catalon/Lappas/Erdahl)
Approx. 9:57, truTV: No. 4 Georgetown vs. No. 13 Eastern Washington (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Nichols)
Friday Afternoon Window
12:15, CBS: No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 New Mexico State (Marv Albert, Chris Webber, Len Elmore, Craig Sager)
12:40, truTV: No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Georgia (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)
1:40, TBS: No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 12 Wyoming (Spero Dedes, Mike Gminski, Jaime Maggio)
2:10, TNT: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Buffalo (Eagle/Gottlieb/Washburn)
Approx. 2:45, CBS: No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 10 Indiana (Albert/Webber/Elmore/Sager)
Approx. 3:10, truTV: No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 15 Belmont (Nantz/Raftery/Hill/Wolfson)
Approx. 4:10, TBS: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 UC Irvine (Dedes/Gminski/Maggio)
Approx. 4:40, TNT: No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 13 Valparaiso (Eagle/Gottlieb/Washburn)
Friday Evening Window
6:50, TBS: No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (Albert/Webber/Elmore/Sager)
7:10, CBS: No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 UNF/Robert Morris (Nantz/Raftery/Hill/Wolfson)
7:20, TNT: No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 10 Davidson (Dedes/Gminski/Maggio)
7:27, truTV: No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Albany (Eagle/Gottlieb/Washburn)
Approx. 9:20, TBS: No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina (Albert/Webber/Elmore/Sager)
Approx. 9:40, CBS: No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 9 St. John's (Nantz/Raftery/Hill/Wolfson)
Approx. 9:50, TNT: No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 15 North Dakota St. (Dedes/Gminski/Maggio)
Approx. 9:57, truTV: No. 6 Providence vs. No. 11s Boise State/Dayton (Eagle/Gottlieb/Washburn)
The No. 2 seeds have 16 combined losses. That’s fewer than any year since 2004. The average from 2005-14: 23 losses. This is a very good crop of twos. I expect one of them to make the Final Four.
…According to the committee, the Big 12 had four teams (Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma) better than the Big Ten’s No. 2. I doubt that, especially considering the Terps lost just once in the nonconference. They beat Iowa State in Kansas City and knocked off Oklahoma State in Stillwater. If I’m Mark Turgeon, I’m ticked off.
Omaha World Chatelain
The teams have met 14 times, with Kansas winning 12, including the last five from 1989-93 by a total of 160 points.
And depending on your perspective, for all their recent resurgence the Shockers either are a no-win matchup for KU to schedule or an afterthought in Lawrence.
“Best team in the state,” Andrew Wiggins declared last year after Kansas mashed K-State at Allen Fieldhouse — ignoring the undefeated Shockers even with his older brother, Nick, playing there.
This made for some playful banter at the time.
“Hey, good for them. They should feel that way,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said in his office a short time later. “But I think Nick … might have another opinion. And he is the older brother.”
Playfulness notwithstanding, the flip insinuation is what lurks over this: that of KU being the older brother and Wichita State being the lagging kid.
…But maybe nothing would epitomize the dynamic like the idea of Wichita State star Ron Baker playing against KU. That’s where he wanted to play as he grew up in Scott City (pop: 4,936).
By the end of his junior year of high school, though, Baker was perhaps 6 feet, 160 pounds, and his best basketball scholarship options were Fort Hays State, South Dakota State, Arkansas-Little Rock and Coffeyville Community College.
By the following spring, Baker had grown to 6-3,190, and his play for a state championship team opened eyes.
Kansas was out of scholarships but invited him to Lawrence.
Baker thought he’d scrimmage on the visit and perhaps have a chance to walk on. It was baseball season by then, though, and he felt his basketball game was rusty.
He ultimately declined the trip, his father, Neil, said, because the idea of scrimmaging at KU “kind of gave him cold feet. He didn’t want to embarrass himself.”
KC Star Gregorian
Drop at least one No. 1 or a No. 2 in the round of 32
In the last five Tournaments, 11 of the 40 No. 1 or No. 2 seeds lost before the Sweet 16. Only once in the last five years have all the No. 1 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. As for the No. 2 seeds, their matchups with 7-10 seeds are against are talented but streaky teams, capable of knocking off a top seed on a quick turnaround. The 7-10 seeds in particular are interesting: Wichita State, Indiana, Michigan State, Davidson, VCU and Ohio State. All of these teams have the goods to knock off a No. 2 on a good day.
Our picks for vulnerable top-two seeds: Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia
The Elite 8 matchup is…?: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Kentucky is obvious here, but I think this is the season that Notre Dame actually puts together a run in the NCAA tournament. That’s how much I like this team. They’re lethal from beyond the arc, Jerian Grant is as good as anyone at creating open looks for those shooters and Demetrius Jackson has been playing great of late. The Irish are coming off of an impressive win in the ACC tournament.
Final Four sleeper: No. 11 Texas
Matchups to root for
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 7 Wichita State: The two best programs in the state, yet they don’t play during the regular season. If you know a Shocker fan, as them how they feel about this. Now imagine if they play with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Yeah, I know, right?
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Kentucky: The Fighting Irish don’t really do any of the things that a team needs to do to beat Kentucky, but they’re just so lights-out from beyond the arc that I can see them pulling off an upset by hitting 17 threes.
The early games in Omaha will have a fair amount of draft intrigue. The Indiana/Wichita State matchup will feature three guards in our top-100, as Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker take on Yogi Farrell in what should be one of the second day's more entertaining matchups. Wichita always comes tremendously prepared in the postseason and it will be interesting to see how they look to pick apart Indiana's zone/man switching defense.
Kansas will be an obvious attraction as well with their litany of young players. Kelly Oubre has rallied from a slow start over the last few months, but his he scored just 3 points in 17 minutes in Kansas's disappointing loss to Iowa State in the conference tournament finals. A couple of strong performances in the NCAA Tournament would be a nice cap to what to what has been an otherwise inconsistent year for the star freshman.
The NCAA is hoping a new travel policy takes the air out of tournament complaints.
One year after dealing with late-night problems, angry coaches and surprised families, most teams in this year's men's tourney will be required to stay overnight after their games.
Previously, most losing teams flew home the same night, which sometimes led to red-eye flights. Under the new guidelines, any team with a flight and a starting time after 3 p.m. locally must stay in town. Any team within a 350-mile radius of the host city that traveled by bus will have the option to drive home immediately after a loss.
"I think what happened last year certainly was one of the factors for the change, but there are a number of factors," Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances, told The Associated Press recently. "When you talk about families coming to watch games and to have time with their sons or grandsons at dinner, that seems like an odd situation as well. So to give the teams some certainty that they can spend some time with their family members after the games, that's also a plus."
There were some glaring problems last year.
New Mexico State and San Diego State were told the loser would fly home following a second-round game in Spokane, Washington. Their game started late because the previous one went into overtime, and it ended later, too, because the Aggies and Aztecs also went into overtime.
Then, after both teams fulfilled their postgame media obligations, New Mexico State's players, pep band and cheerleaders returned to the team hotel to pack. The contingent arrived at the airport at 1 a.m., departed at 2:15 a.m. and arrived in El Paso, Texas around 7 a.m. There, only one of two buses showed up at the airport.
Players, coaches and some boosters were driven to Las Cruces, New Mexico, on that bus while the rest waited for the vehicle to return following a 2 1/2-hour round trip. The NCAA issued an apology for the bus mix-up and believes that has been fixed.
But simply flying home that night drew criticism from San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, whose team had a similar experience in 2013 in Philadelphia. That day, the Aztecs waited so long on the tarmac that the teams from the next game took off first. In all, the Aztecs spent more than 10 hours on the plane.
"To have happen what happened to them (the Aggies) and really, to have happen to us when we played in Philly when we lost, I mean, it was after 1 (a.m.) when we got out of Philadelphia, to me, you can do better by the student-athletes," Fisher said this week. "Now, I can understand they've got things to do and a lot of people to move around, but there are ways to do it in a fashion where they're not treating them the way they've been treated, we've been treated."
…The Final Four teams at both Division I tourneys will be eligible to receive $3,000 per player to help two family members cover travel expenses. The teams that advance to the title games will get an additional $1,000 per player. The pilot program could be expanded as soon as next season, and Lewis says there is support to do that.
The American Gaming Association estimates that 40 million Americans will fill out more than 70 million brackets and wager approximately $9 billion on the NCAA tournament, according to research released Thursday.
The $9 billion is more than double what the AGA estimated was bet on the Super Bowl ($3.9 billion) in the United States. The total number of brackets expected to be filled out will be greater than the number of ballots cast (nearly 66 million) for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
The AGA projects that 40 million Americans will fill out at least one bracket, with the majority filling out two. The average bet per bracket is $29, with $2 billion projected to be wagered in pools across the nation.
The poll, conducted by GfK Custom Research North America, consisted of 1,000 completed interviews of an approximately equal number of male and female adults.
The odds of picking a perfect bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball March Madness championship tournament are a staggering less than one in 9.2 quintillion (that’s 9,223,372,036,854,775,808), according to Jeff Bergen, mathematics professor at DePaul University.
“It would be easier to win the Mega Millions lottery two times in a row buying one ticket both times than it would be to get a perfect bracket,” Bergen determined. “Getting a perfect bracket is also the mathematical equivalent of picking the winning party of each presidential election through 2264.”
CBS: Odds and lines
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament History: A Searchable Database of March Madness
April 1, United Center, Chicago
ESPN NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP
April 2-4, Christ the King, Queens, N.Y. & Madison Square Garden
NIKE HOOP SUMMIT
April 11, Moda Center, Portland
KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL
April 11, Freedom Hall, Lexington, KY
JORDAN BRAND CLASSIC
Friday April 17, Barclays Center 7p.m,
Regional Games (4:00 pm) All times Eastern
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