Morning Madness: Monday, Feb. 13
Here's what you need to know for Monday, Feb. 13.
Just to give you an idea of how difficult the NCAA's men's basketball committee has it -- not to mention how fleeting its work can be -- on Saturday head bracket brain Mark Hollis unveiled the committee's top 16 seeds and, almost before he finished, crumpled up the whole mess. On national TV, too.
When you're talking March Madness seeding in February, it's probably wise to remember these two words: For Now.
Gonzaga is No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and undoubtedly will stay there after a convincing win on the road Saturday night against Saint Mary's. Despite their unblemished record and their lofty status in the polls, though, the Bulldogs managed no better than the No. 4 overall tournament seed in the committee's view. The No. 1 seed went to Villanova, who had a convincing win of its own against Xavier on Saturday.
If that wasn't tricky enough, by the time the weekend was over, the committee's No. 2 overall seed (Kansas) had barely squeaked out a win against unranked Texas Tech, No. 6 Florida State had lost to unranked Notre Dame, 10-seed Virginia fell to unranked Virginia Tech, 13-seed Butler lost to unranked Providence and No. 16 seed Duke barely escaped against unranked Clemson.
The best part is all this is only For Now. The committee doesn't have to complete its real work until Selection Sunday, March 12.
But it's For Good then.
For a breakdown on Saturday's seeding and what it means, check out our analysis here.
Here's what to watch today
• A new AP poll comes out this afternoon. No. 1 Gonzaga figures to stay No. 1. After that ... well, Nostradamus we're not. Check back after noon for the latest on the Top 25.
• The press-happy Mountaineers of West Virginia, No. 13 in last week's AP poll, get a shot at Big 12 front-running Kansas tonight at Allen Fieldhouse (9 ET, ESPN). The No. 3 (For Now) Jayhawks are tough to beat at home, but last time at Allen (Feb. 4), unranked Iowa State dumped them, snapping Kansas' 54-game hone winning streak. The Jayhawks haven't lost two in a row at home since 1988-89 and haven't lost two at Allen in an entire season since 2006-07. WVU, FWIW, is outscoing opponents by more than 20 points a game.
Yes, those Wildcats
Northwestern has never made it to the NCAA tournament. Northwestern, unranked but unbowed, beat No. 7 Wisconsin on Sunday night, 66-59. In Madison, Wisc., too, handing the Big Ten-leading Badgers just their fourth loss of the season, their first at home. The Wildcats snapped UW's 19-game home winning streak.
Northwestern has toppled two Top 25 teams this season. The Wildcats are 19-6. That means, barring a collapse of Shaq-ian proportions, Northwestern has a good shot of going to the big dance.. Finally. And, even better, deservingly.
No one in the country was scarier than Cincinnati ... before Sunday, that is. The No. 11 Bearcats (well, For Now), riding high atop the American Athletic Conference standings, rolled into SMU and were trampled by the 25th-ranked (but on the way up) Mustangs 60-51. UC had won 15 straight games and was 5-0 on the road, but SMU closed the first half on an 8-0 run to get even, then used a 15-0 stretch in the second half to take control. The Mustangs held the Bearcats without a basket in the last 4:12, climbing into a virtual tie for the conference lead.
Want more on the game? Check out a recap, a box score and the full play-by-play in our GameCenter, here.
In case you missed it
• No. 10 UCLA burst out for 46 points (!) in the second half Sunday to salt away an easy win over struggling Oregon State. Freshman Lonzo Ball led with 22 points. The Bruins made almost 52 percent of their shots.
• It took two overtimes, but unranked Virginia Tech toppled its in-state big-brother, No. 12 Virginia, 80-78 on Sunday. Seth Allen's jumper with three seconds left in the second OT was the difference. The senior guard led the Hokies with 20 points.
Social moment of the day
My apologies to @PKarnowski and the rest of the Gonzaga program for doubting them and picking Saint Mary’s tonight. This team is damn good.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 12, 2017
Bracket tip of the day: Tops in poll, tops in tourney?
When filling out your bracket -- Selection Sunday, remember, is March 12 -- you might feel compelled to go with the No. 1 in the AP Top 25 as your pick for champ. Right now, with a different team at No. 1 in the poll (Gonzaga) and in the hearts of the selection committee (Villanova), it might be a tad confusing. But, generally, going with a No. 1 in the poll seems relatively safe, right?
Well, let's put it this way: No. The team that has ended the season on top of the AP Poll has won the title only once sine 2001. Only once. Another reason to fill out your bracket with pencil. And bring an eraser.
More on end-of-season Nos. 1 and their success in the tourney -- plus who that No. 1 team was that won it all -- here.
Undefeated and it feels so good
Gonzaga held back conference nemesis Saint Mary's on Saturday and now has a great shot -- or at least a really, really, really good one -- of finishing the regular season undefeated. A clean trip through the West Coast Conference tournament could put the Bulldogs among just a few teams to ever enter the NCAA tourney undefeated.
Some undefeateds have won it all. Many haven't. NCAA.com's Jack Freifelder has a rundown of all those who stepped into the tournament perfect and how they fared.
Mark your calendar
Selection Sunday: March 12
Final Four: April 1-3