Three Days until Selection Sunday.  And now we weigh in on the gray areas of filling out the field.  Are the 36 at large teams the best available?  The ones with the most talent?  The ones with the highest upside or those that played the most challenging schedule?  Do we want a more representative field (meaning multiple bids for mid-major conferences) or do we hand bids out to teams that went 8-10 in a top-flight league?  The bottom of the bracket never looked so murky…

First to the in-crowd:

Virginia– ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi has the Cavaliers as a #1 in the South facing Texas Southern, while CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm has them a #2 in the South playing Weber State.  Either way, Tony Bennett’s team is ticketed to Raleigh.  Really?  No, Raleigh.

Maryland– Conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodwork.  ESPN has the Terps as a #5 in the West facing Yale in Providence, which is so much closer to New Haven than College Park.  CBS has them a #4 in the East, playing Northern Iowa in Denver.  Cedar Falls is only a 12 hour drive from Denver!

VCU–  ESPN has them 9th in the East facing Wichita State in Brooklyn, while CBS has them 10th in the South facing Seton Hall.  Despite not playing, the Rams are actually moving up the ladder thanks to losses by other bubble teams.

On the Outside Looking In-

George Washington (22-9, 11-7 Atlantic 10) is back in the bracket!  Albeit as a First Four Team in the CBS model.  Two wins minimum are necessary…with a third more than preferable for the Colonials.

Virginia Tech (19-13, 10-8 ACC).  Despite not even being within five miles of the bracket one month ago, the hottest team in the ACC (now six straight wins) has a chance to reach 20 wins.  Coach Buzz Williams said “the teams that improve the most after Valentine’s Day are the same ones that are playing during Spring Break”…and in lieu of roses and chocolates, an NIT bid appears to be a distinct possibility.

On the Outside, Still Looking.

Georgetown (15-17, 7-11 Big East) ended a six game losing streak by blasting DePaul 70-53 in the Big East Tournament’s first round.  The Hoyas also got senior Bradley Hayes (team was 14-11 during the regular season with the big man in the lineup) back on the court…and even though he scored just 10 points his presence was more than noticed by coach John Thompson III: “I said earlier it’s kind of like he’s Linus’ blanket; they feel safer when he’s out there. Glad to have him back. Very, very glad to have him back.”

 

Over and Out–

George Mason (11-21, 5-13 Atlantic 10).  The first season of the Dave Paulsen regime ends with an 83-78 loss to Saint Louis…center Shevon Thompson closing out his Patriots career by tallying 10 points and 15 rebounds in defeat.  With five seniors on this roster and six players just completing their freshman years, expect a roster next fall that more reflects Paulsen’s style.

Bids Claimed Wednesday–

Patriot League– Holy Cross tops Lehigh 79-76 behind 26 points from Malachi Alexander…punching its ticket to the NCAA Tournament despite finishing ninth in the conference during the regular season.  The Crusaders won four road games over the last nine days to earn their way into the field.  That is how you play your way to…Dayton.  Yes, you get to go to the First Four.

 

Today’s games:

Noon– Big East Quarterfinals- Georgetown plays #3 Villanova (27-4, 15-3).  The Wildcats won both regular season meetings, a tight five point affair in DC and a 13-point game in Philly where the Hoyas were down 20-points for much of the afternoon.   Third time is the charm?  They have Bradley Hayes back in the lineup and DVauntes Smith-Rivera came alive in the second half against DePaul (scoring 15 of his 20 points against the Blue Demons after intermission).

Noon– Atlantic 10 Second Round- Richmond meets Fordham.  The Spiders beat the Rams twice during the regular season, including a 71-67 victory February 13th where ShanDre’ Jones scored 17 points.  Since that day-Richmond has lost five of six…and they enter this weekend looking for a win and respect.  Cinderella?  We’re the Moe Greenes of Mid-Majors!  We were knocking off Indiana and Syracuse when you were dating cheerleaders!

2:30pm– Atlantic 10 Second Round- George Washington faces Saint Louis (11-20, 5-13).  The Colonials worst loss of the season came in January to the Billikens…as coach Mike Lonergan’s team took a 62-55 lead with 3:47 left in the second half before allowing the final ten points of the night.  GW can’t turn the ball over 18 times again if they want to play tomorrow.

7pm– ACC Quarterfinals- Virginia plays Georgia Tech (19-13, 8-10).  The Yellowjackets rallied from 18 points down to beat Clemson in overtime.  UVa lost the regular season meeting on the road in a game where coach Brian Gregory’s team shot 8-15 from three-point range and outrebounded the Cavaliers 41-29.  Tech has also won six of seven entering this evening’s matchup.

9pm- ACC Quarterfinals- Virginia Tech meets Miami (24-6, 13-5).  Five days ago the Hokies spoiled the Hurricanes bid to claim a share of the regular season title, hitting 9 of 17 three pointers while turning the Canes over 15 times in a 77-62 victory.  Coach Jim Larranaga’s team practiced on the campus of nearby George Mason 10 years this week–ten years after he took that school to the Final Four.  One feels a little Brion’s Grille Mojo.

 

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