College Hoops Report
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
IT'S THE QUESTION EVERYONE'S ASKING: HOW MANY POWER CONFERENCE CLUBS WILL BE GETTING INTO THIS YEAR'S NCAA TOURNAMENT?
Tune in to a College Basketball pre-game, in-game or post-game event these day and just about all the broadcasters are touching on the very same topic: How many teams from each conference/league will make it to this year's NCAA Tournament that tips off for real on Tuesday, March 14th?
Now keep in mind that there are 32 automatic bids - many of which are the non-power conferences - and then another 36 at-large bids that comprise the men's 68-team field and better be sure the jostling for real these days here in the latter stages of February.
Alright, here's how we see the so-called Power Conferences when it comes to next month's NCAA Tournament:
ACC (8) - North Carolina, Duke, Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, Virginia, Syracuse and Virginia Tech
BIG EAST (5) - Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Xavier and either Marquette/Providence.
BIG 10 (7) - Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan
BIG 12 (6) - Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and TCU.
PAC-12 (6) - Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, California, USC and Utah.
SEC (7) - Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.
Okay, so we figure there will be 39 power conference teams participating in the NCAA Tournament - that includes the six conference tourney champions - and thus there are 29 remaining slots for the non-power conference clubs and note 26 of those "vacancies" will be filled by those particular mini-tourney champs and the Ivy League champ ... so, according to our current calculations, that leaves only three possible at-large berths that can get filled by non-power conference clubs.
Hmm, that's not gonna sit well with the "small guys" but unless we're off by one or two power conference at-large selections, that's how it's gonna be and so the likes of Houston (18-8, 9-5) from the American Athletic Conference, Rhode Island (17-9, 9-5) from the Atlantic-10, Illinois State (23-5, 15-1) from the Missouri Valley Conference and/or Nevada (21-6, 10-4)/Boise State (17-8, 10-4) from the Mountain West Conference all figure to be crying their eyes out following the aforementioned Selection Sunday Show.
We know ... not real fair!
Again, we recommend to the folks on the NCAA Tournament committee: Give the "benefit of the doubt" to the likes of Houston or Illinois State or Boise State instead of a .500-type league team such as TCU. Just do it!
Here's some of what we'll be watching on this Monday/Tuesday night from the College Basketball world.
On Monday, it's ...
MIAMI (18-8, 8-6) at VIRGINIA (18-8, 8-6) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Virginia Wahoos are doing a major moonwalk these days ... problem is Tony Bennett's ACC team is headed in the wrong direction.
Last Saturday's strikingly non-competitive 65-41 loss at 6.5-point favorite North Carolina marked Virginia's third loss in a row during a seven-day period (also beaten by Virginia Tech in double-OT and also by Duke) and what's really gotten Bennett to pull his hair out is the fact the Cavaliers shot just 2-of-20 from beyond the three-point arc against a Carolina crew that doesn't always play great perimeter defense. Forecast here? If Virginia can't score at least 35-to-40 points in the paint against a long/lean Miami team, then you'll be looking at a fourth straight "L" for the gang from Charlottesville.
On Tuesday, it's ...
NORTHWESTERN (20-7, 9-5) at ILLINOIS (15-12, 5-9) - 8 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
The N'western Wildcats - as we all know by now - are the only team from one of those so-called power conferences that's never made it to an NCAA Tournament and must admit that the 'Cats are getting a tad nervous en route to their first berth. Chris Collins' crew has lost three of its last five games and nearly came apart at the seams in last Saturday's hang-on-for-dear-life 69-65 non-cover win against 11.5-point pup Rutgers. Now, Northwestern - seeking revenge for a 68-61 loss against the archrival Illini back on February 7th - looks to bring the "D" here after allowing Illinois to shoot 42 percent from beyond the three-point arc but whether or not the Wildcats get back to winning ways also depends on the three-headed monster that is Scottie Lindsey, Bryant McIntosh and Vice Law (averaging a combined 42 ppg) can get heated up against an Illinois side that ranks 11th in the league in scoring defense.