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Bracket 101: A local look

03.08.10 at 2:02 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
It’€™s championship week, and that means some of the best and most exciting college basketball of the year. Almost every night this week, a conference champion will be crowned and sent into the field of 65 (TV listings found below). Championship week is brilliant. It is must-see TV for college hoops fanatics such as Ashley Judd (yes, I worked in Judd just so I could show a picture of her) but also draws in the casual alumni and others to build excitement for Selection Sunday. As championship week tips off, lets take a look around the local college hoops scene to handicap the chances of local teams representing New England come tournament time.

America East Conference

There will be at least one New England team in the NCAA tournament this year. Corey Lowe scored 24 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:33 remaining, and fourth-seeded Boston University knocked off top-seeded Stony Brook, 70-63, in the semifinals of the America East tournament Sunday night in Hartford. With its first win over Stony Brook in three tries this season, BU (19-12) advances to play at Vermont (24-9) Saturday at noon for a berth in the NCAA tournament. It marks the Terriers’ first appearance in the title game since 2003. They last made the NCAA tournament in 2002. Vermont last made the tournament in 2005. UVM was seeded 13th in 2005 and defeated fourth-seeded Big East champion Syracuse, 60-57, in overtime in the opening round, its first-ever win in the big dance. College hoops fans may remember UVM guard T.J. Sorrentine hitting back-to-back 3′s in overtime of that game, including a bomb to seal it at the 1:12 mark in OT.

Atlantic-10 Conference
Rhode Island (21-8) and UMass (11-19) represent the local hopes in the A-10 tournament, but URI really is the one with a fighting chance to make the NCAAs. URI, which had been projected by at least one prognosticator to claim an at-large bid, has played its way out of that scenario by dropping five out of its last seven. Ironically, the at-large death blow was a heartbreaking loss Saturday to UMass, 69-67. URI or UMass will have to win the A-10 tournament to be a part of the field of 64.

Atlantic Coast Conference
The one and only time Boston College (15-15) reached the ACC tournament final was in 2006. Boston College will be the eighth seed for this year’€™s ACC tournament, playing No. 9 Virginia Thursday at noon. The lowest seed to ever win the tournament is the sixth seed, which was last done by Maryland in 2004. Sorry, Eagles, history is against you. However, NC State did make the ACC final in 2007 as the 10th seed. If BC loses its first ACC tournament game, it will finish the year below .500 for the second time in three years.

Big East Conference
Typically, UConn (17-14) is the safest bet to represent New England in the NCAA tournament each year. Well, this year both UConn and Providence (12-18) do not have a chance at a at-large bid. UConn has only missed the NCAA tournament four times since 1990. The last time Providence made the tournament was 2004. With that said, UConn does have the talent to make a run in the Big East tournament. UConn is the 12th seed and Providence is the 15th seed. Syracuse was a 9 seed in 2006 when it beat Pittsburgh to become the lowest seed ever to win the Big East tournament. Big East fans may remember that that was the tournament in which Gerry McNamara went bananas (No. 8 performance in video).

Northeast Conference
Quinnipiac (23-8), which finished in a first-place tie with Robert Morris atop the NEC standings, will play in the conference tournament final on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. The Bobcats joined the league in 1998 and have never won the conference tournament. Robert Morris, which will be Quinnipiac’s opponent on Wednesday, won the tourney last season and holds the record for the most conference tournament championships with six.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Freshman guard Derek Needham pumped in 17 points, including the go-ahead basket, as Fairfield defeated Niagara 69-63 in the MAAC tournament semifinals Sunday night. Conference Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Johnson had 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Stags (22-9), who will play at top-seeded Siena in Monday’s final. Siena has won two straight MAAC championships.

Stock Up: Baylor
After dismantling then-No. 25 Texas on Saturday, Baylor (24-6) has lost just twice since January. Baylor finished tied for third in the Big 12 this season. The Bears were led by LaceDarius Dunn (second in the conference in scoring), Tweety Carter (led the conference in assists) and Ekpe Udoh (first in the conference in blocks, second in rebounds). With names such as LaceDarius, Tweety and Ekpe, the Bears certainly are in the running for the all-conference name team. Baylor lost to No. 1 Kansas and No. 9 Kansas State by a combined margin of just eight points. Depending on the matchups, Baylor could be a great sleeper pick in this year’€™s NCAA tournament.

Stock Down: Illinois
Back on Feb. 15, Illinois (18-13) was listed in the Stock Up section of Bracket 101. At that point, Illinois had won five in row before a loss to Ohio State. After a 15-point loss to Wisconsin at home on Sunday, the Fighting Illini now have dropped 5-of-6, including a heartbreaking loss to fellow conference bubble team Minnesota. Even worse, each of the five recent losses has been by double digits. Illinois will be the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament and certainly will need to win multiple games to secure a at-large bid.

Heat Check: Ricky Harris
In nine of his last 11 games, Ricky Harris has scored 23 points or more. The UMass senior guard torched Rhode Island over the weekend for 28 points in the New England border battle. It was Harris’€™ layup with 3.5 seconds to go that gave the Minutemen the win and all but closed the doors on Rhode Island’€™s hope of securing an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. Harris, whose team faces Charlotte on Tuesday, passed Lou Roe on Saturday for third place on UMass’€™ all-time scoring list with 1,917 points. Harris’€™ season high is 32 points, also against Rhode Island, back on Feb. 6.

The Dean’€™s 16
Right now, these 16 teams are the ones that have proven that they have the talent to win two games in the NCAA tournament. Check out a complete look at the national polls by clicking here.

The contenders
Kansas (29-2)

Kentucky (29-2)

Duke (26-5)

Syracuse (28-3)


The rest of the Elite Eight

Villanova (24-6)

Kansas State (24-6)

Ohio State (24-7)

West Virginia (24-6)


Sweet for sure

Purdue (26-4)

Michigan State (24-7)

New Mexico (28-3)

Tennessee (23-7)


Sweet for now

Georgetown (20-9)

Wisconsin (23-7)

Gonzaga (26-5)

Butler (27-4)

Eagles Watch
Boston College (15-15) dropped its regular-season finale against NC State to finish the regular season at .500. As mentioned earlier, the Eagles will need to win at least one game in the ACC tournament to avoid their second losing season in three years. Rakim Sanders and Tyler Roche each scored 11 for the Eagles against NC State, and BC actually led by four after a three-point play from Reggie Jackson with 7:11 left in the game. The Eagles were just 3-for-16 beyond the arc on Sunday. Boston College will take on Virginia, a team the Eagles beat easily last Wednesday, in the first round of the ACC tournament on Thursday at noon. If the Eagles win, they will face No. 1 seed Duke on Friday at noon.

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

Monday
7:00 PM: Colonial Championship (ESPN)
7:00 PM MAAC Championship (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM WCC Championship (ESPN)
9:00 PM Southern Championship (ESPN 2)

Tuesday
12:00 PM DePaul vs. South Florida (ESPN 2)
2:00 PM St. John’s vs. Connecticut (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM Sun Belt Championship (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM Providence vs. Seton Hall (ESPN U)
9:00 PM Horizon League Championship (ESPN)
9:00PM Summit League Championship (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM Rutgers vs. Cincinnati (ESPN U)

Wednesday
12:00 PM TBA @ Georgetown  (ESPN)
2:00 PM TBA @ Marquette  (ESPN)
7:00 PM TBA @ Notre Dame  (ESPN)
7:00 PM Northeast Championship (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM TBA @ Louisville  (ESPN)
9:00 PM Big Sky Championship ESPN 2)

Thursday
12:00 PM TBA @ Syracuse  (ESPN)
2:00 PM TBA @ Villanova  (ESPN)
2:30PM Big Ten Tournament  (ESPN 2)
5:00PM Big Ten Tournament  (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM TBA @ Pittsburgh  (ESPN)
7:00PM ACC Tournament  (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM Big 12 Tournament  (ESPN 2)
9:00 PM TBA @ West Virginia (ESPN)

Friday
12:00 PM ACC Tournament  (ESPN 2)
12:00 PM Big Ten Tournament  (ESPN)
2:30 PM Big Ten Tournament  (ESPN)
2:00 PM ACC Tournament  (ESPN 2)
5:00 PM Patriot League Championship (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM ACC Tournament  (ESPN 2)
7:00 PM Big East Semifinals  (ESPN)
9:00 PM Big East Semifinals  (ESPN
9:00 PM ACC Tournament  (ESPN 2)

Saturday
11:35 AM Conference USA Championship (CBS)
12:00PM America East Championship (ESPN 2)
12:00 PM SEC Tournament Semifinals  (ABC)
2:15 PM SEC Tournament Semifinals  (ABC)
1:30 PM ACC Tournament Semifinals  (ESPN)
1:40 PM Big Ten Tournament Semifinals  (CBS)
3:30 PM ACC Tournament Semifinals  (ESPN)
4:00 PM Big Ten Tournament Semifinals  (CBS)
10:00 PM WAC Championship (ESPN 2)
6:00 PM Big 12 Tournament Final  (ESPN)
9:00 PM Big East Final (ESPN)
10:00 PM Mountain West Championship (Versus)

Sunday
12:00 PM SEC Tournament Final  (ABC)
1:00 PM ACC Tournament Final  (ESPN)
3:30 PM Big Ten Tournament Final  (CBS)

Back Door Cuts (recommended reading for Hoopsters)
The NCAA has joined the on-demand video world with vault.ncaa.com. This new site features all of the Sweet 16-and-upward matchups from the past 10 tournaments. Visitors can sort by teams and years, and can view highlights of the best shots, blocks, dunks and finishes as well.

Did you know ‘€¦
Duke finished four points away from administering the most lopsided beating in the history of college basketball’s fiercest rivalry between Duke and UNC. The Blue Devils fell just shy of the 35-point drubbing they handed the Tar Heels in 1964. UNC’s No. 10 seed in the ACC tournament is its worst; the last time the Tar Heels’ record was this bad, the league had nine teams.

Bracket 101 Archives
February 8th: Welcome to Bracket 101
February 15th: Oh, how the mighty have fallen
February 22nd: A-10-tion, please
March 1st: Home sweet dome

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