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Bracket 101: A-10-tion, please

02.22.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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Bracket 101 examines the week that was in college basketball and gives you a list of 16 teams that are poised to dance their way into the Round of 16 in the 2010 NCAA tournament.

Rapid Rewind

The Atlantic 10 has been somewhat of a forgotten conference over the past several years. However, 2010 has brought some national attention, and respect, back to the A-10.

Like the Big Ten, the A-10 actually has more then 10 members. In 2005, Charlotte and Saint Louis joined the A-10 to make it the 14-team conference that it is today.  Over the past decade, Xavier and Temple probably have been the most dominant and recognizable teams in the conference. With that said, Temple hasn’€™t won a tournament game since 2001 and only three A-10 teams have won a game in the big dance since 2004 (Xavier, Dayton and George Washington). Xavier clearly has been the class of the conference, advancing to the Elite Eight twice in the last six tournaments. To that end, UMass has the conference’€™s only trip to the Final Four since 1977, but many will tell you that run never counted.

There may not be a team in the A-10 this season that can make a run to Indianapolis, but the conference has a legitimate shot at placing as many as five teams come Selection Sunday on March 14.  The A-10 has two teams ranked (Temple and Richmond), but boasts five teams in the top 50 RPI, which considers strength of schedule, quality wins and other factors. All in all, the conference seemingly has seven teams fighting for bids (Richmond, Temple, Xavier, Saint Louis, Charlotte, Dayton and Rhode Island). Saint Louis and Charlotte are not projected to make the tournament, but ESPN’€™s Joe Lunardi has Charlotte as being one of the first four out and Saint Louis has won five straight to position itself just one game back of first place in the conference.

As the end of the regular season nears, the seven A-10 contenders will be scrutinized heavily. Richmond, which cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time in 24 years this past week, has won eight in a row and looks to be a lock, but it remains to be seen just how many tournament bids the A-10 will secure for sure. However, one thing is for certain: The A-10 tournament (March 12-14 in Atlantic City) will be extremely competitive and should have great entertainment value.

Stock Up: Virginia Tech
Despite some of the experts saying Virginia Tech has been aided by a soft schedule this season, the Hokies have impressed as of late. Before VaTech lost a competitive game to No. 6 Duke on Sunday evening, it had won 8-of-9, including key wins over Wake Forest and Clemson ‘€” two likely tournament teams. The Hokies’ win over Wake Forest this past week was fueled by Malcolm Delaney, who took over in the second half and finished with 31 points. Delaney’€™s 21.2 points per game is good for tops in the ACC. With the win over Wake, the Hokies remained unbeaten in their 14 home games this season and got a win that should help silence some of the pundits ‘€” despite one of the nation’s weakest nonconference schedules.

Stock Down: Rhode Island
The Rhody Rams recently finished a three-game stretch were they could have made an emphatic statement that they unequivocally belonged in the NCAA tournament.  The Rams faced the cream of the A-10 in Richmond, Temple and Saint Louis recently and did not come away with one win.  As stated earlier, the jockeying for tournament bids from the A-10 will be extremely heated as the regular season comes to a close. The Rams didn’€™t do themselves any favors in that recent stretch.  The most heartbreaking surely was the loss to No. 25 Richmond. The Spiders used a late 9-1 run to beat URI, which had led 65-60 with just three minutes remaining. The Rams need to take care of business in their last three regular-season games, highlighted by a bubble buster against Charlotte, and make some noise in the A-10 tournament if they intend to dance in March.

Heat Check: John Holland
‘€œCoach tells us to do whatever it takes for us to be the best team we can be and for us to win. I just try to play my role whatever it may be in a particular game and try to help us win. In the end, that’€™s the main thing,’€ said Boston University star John Holland. Well, on Saturday Holland’€™s role was to flat out fill it up. The 6-5 junior from the Bronx dropped 43 on Delaware in BU’€™s 78-65 win. Holland finished 14-for-20 from the field, 9-for-11 from the charity stripe and 6-for-10 from downtown for the Terriers (16-12). The swingman leads the America East in scoring this season and has scored 20 plus in three of his last four. BU has one regular-season game remaining against Maine on Saturday and it will be interesting to see what Holland does for an encore.

The Dean’€™s 16
Right now, these 16 teams are the ones that have proved that they have the talent to win two games in the NCAA tournament.

The contenders
Kansas (26-1)

Kentucky (26-1)

Purdue (23-3)

Syracuse (25-2) ‘€” moved up


The rest of the Elite Eight

Villanova (22-4) ‘€” moved down

Duke (23-4)

Kansas State (22-4) ‘€” moved up

Ohio State (21-7) ‘€” moved up


Sweet for sure

Michigan State (21-7) ‘€” moved down

Georgetown (18-7) ‘€” moved down

West Virginia (21-5)

Wisconsin (20-7)


Sweet for now

Pitt (21-6) ‘€” moved in this week (Texas dropped out)

Gonzaga (22-5)

Butler (25-4)

New Mexico (25-3)

Eagles Watch

Last week in this space, we told you that Boston College was in serious danger of its second losing season in the last three years. We also highlighted Reggie Jackson as an emerging star who should give Eagles fans hope for the immediate future. Well, both observations were topical in the last week. The Eagles were handled by Florida State last Sunday, but Jackson, making his first start of the season at point guard, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half of Saturday’€™s game to propel the Eagles to a 71-67 win over slumping North Carolina. The Tar Heels opened the second half of Saturday’€™s game on a quick run, but Jackson and the Eagles responded. Jackson keyed the 10-0 BC spurt with a 3-pointer and a monster dunk. Said UNC forward John Henson: “[Jackson] killed us all day. That kind of summed up the whole day, what he did.” Fellow dotcomer Ethan Landy noted in his Three-Pointer that in addition to his scoring, Jackson also provided solid ball-handling at the point guard spot. The sophomore standout finished with just one turnover against the Tar Heels. At the start of this week, the Eagles find themselves right at .500 (13-13) with four regular-season games and the ACC tournament to go. This observer believes that BC will have to win at least one game in the conference tournament to avoid another losing season.

Couch Potato Fixings (Nationally televised games to watch this week)

Monday
7:00 PM (8) West Virginia at Connecticut (ESPN)
9:00 PM Oklahoma at (1) Kansas (ESPN)

Tuesday
7:00 PM (5) Syracuse at Providence (ESPN U)
7:00 PM Illinois at Michigan (ESPN)
7:00 PM (10) Georgetown at Louisville (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM (18) Tennessee at Florida (ESPN)

Wednesday
7:00 PM (21) Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM Virginia Tech at Boston College (ESPN U)
7:00 PM Florida State at North Carolina (ESPN)
9:00 PM Oklahoma State at (17) Texas (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM (23) Texas A&M at (22) Baylor (ESPN U)
11:00 PM Idaho at New Mexico State (ESPN 2)

Thursday
7:00 PM Tulsa at (6) Duke (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM Georgia at (19) Vanderbilt (ESPN U)
7:00 PM Iowa at Northwestern (ESPN)
9:00 PM South Carolina at (2) Kentucky (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM Arizona at California (ESPN)
10:30 PM Loyola Marymount at San Diego (ESPN U)
11:00 PM Santa Clara at (9) Gonzaga (ESPN 2)

Friday
9:00 PM (13) Butler at Valparaiso (ESPN U)
7:00 PM Siena at Rider (ESPN U)

Saturday
12:00 PM (2) Kentucky at (18) Tennessee or Notre Dame at (10) Georgetown (CBS)
12:00 PM Michigan at (12) Ohio State (ESPN)
2:00 PM (17) Texas at (23) Texas A&M (ESPN)
2:00 PM North Carolina at (25) Wake Forest (CBS)
2:00 PM Mississippi at Alabama (ESPN 2)
4:00 PM (1) Kansas at Oklahoma State (CBS)
4:00 PM DePaul at Rutgers (ESPN U)
6:00 PM Mississippi State at South Carolina (ESPN)
8:00 PM Missouri at (7) Kansas State (ESPN U)
9:00 PM (3) Villanova at (5) Syracuse (ESPN)
10:00 PM Fresno State at San Jose State (ESPN U)

Sunday
1:00 PM Richmond at Xavier (ESPN 2)
2:00 PM Louisville at Connecticut (CBS)

Back Door Cuts (recommended reading for Hoopsters)
All-Access: Referee Tim Higgins By Dana O’€™Neil
Decade’s best teams and programs
Addressing an onslaught of ACC questions and more of your mail By Seth Davis

Did you know ‘€¦
“There have been two times in the last 11 years that the ACC put just three teams into the NCAA tournament. That was in 1999 and 2000. Since Boston College was added to the league before the 2005-06 season (bringing the total to 12 teams), the ACC has twice sent just four teams to the tournament, in ’06 and ’08.” ‘€” Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated columnist

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