College Basketball Nation: Davidson Wildcats

Editor's note: Over the next five weeks, we will reveal the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 24: Davidson's Bob McKillop. On Wednesday, we release No. 23.

Bob McKillop has coached basketball in exactly two places in his life. The first was Long Island. In 1973, McKillop was hired to coach and teach history at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, N.Y. He served one year as an assistant at Davidson, in 1978-79, and then back to Long Island he went, where, at Long Island Lutheran, he won five New York state titles in 10 years.

In 1989, he was hired at Davidson. In 2013-14, his 25th season at the school, the Wildcats renamed the Belk Arena court in his honor.

Our ESPN Forecast coaches rankings are about present performance. They are not designed to rank coaches based on historic performance, or legacy, or any of the truly long-term things you couldn't revise in a year's time without getting a somewhat different set of results. Which is why the No. 24 spot -- ahead of a score of high-profile coaches with impressive résumés of their own -- is an especially telling testament to the level of respect McKillop still commands in his profession.

To continue reading this story, click here.

BPI Talk: Duke is not a top-25 team

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
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The Duke Blue Devils came into the season as a preseason Final Four contender, but after losses to Kansas and Arizona and a one-point win over Vermont, the Blue Devils are ranked No. 31 in BPI.

Duke's BPI game score in its six-point loss against Arizona (ranked No. 4 in BPI) was higher than two of its wins (vs East Carolina, vs Vermont). Other than its wins over No. 40 Michigan and No. 63 Alabama, Duke doesn't have any other wins over teams ranked in the top 180.

Duke has the best adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, but its adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 101st.

Is Wisconsin the best team in college basketball?

The Wisconsin Badgers rank No. 1 in BPI after starting 12-0 with five wins over top-50 BPI teams -- St. John's, Florida, Saint Louis, West Virginia and Virginia. Their five wins against top-50 teams are the most by any team. Kansas and Davidson are the only other teams that have even faced five top-50 teams.

Wisconsin has the 11th-most difficult schedule according to BPI. Seven of their 12 wins are against top-100 opponents and none of them are against teams outside the top 175.

The Badgers have been successful playing a slow pace (17th-fewest possessions per game). Two of their three worst BPI game scores this season have come in the two games in which they played at the fastest pace (at Green Bay, vs North Dakota).

Michigan State barely cracks the top 25

The Michigan State Spartans, previously ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, come in at No. 24 in BPI. The Spartans only have one loss, but it was by far their worst BPI game score and it came against their second-best opponent (No. 23 North Carolina).

Why else is Michigan State's BPI lacking? The Spartans have five wins against teams ranked outside the BPI top 100. Three of those wins are by 15 points or fewer, including two by single digits, and one of the five wins is against No. 338 McNeese State. Also, they haven't played a single true road game yet.

Welcome to the top 10, Saint Mary's

The undefeated Saint Mary's Gaels are ranked No. 8 in BPI, and it's not due to any wins over top-notch opponents. The Gaels haven't faced a single top-50 team yet, but five of their eight wins came against top-100 opponents and six of their eight wins are by double digits.

Saint Mary's has performed well against top-100 teams, posting a BPI game score higher than 95 in four of those five wins.

Why isn't Pittsburgh ranked yet?

The Pittsburgh Panthers are ranked No. 9 in BPI but aren't in the top 25 in the AP Poll. The Panthers are 10-0 with each of those 10 wins coming by at least nine points and nine of the wins coming by at least 17 points.

Pitt doesn't have any top-50 wins, but the Panthers do have two wins against teams just outside the top 50 (No. 51 Penn State, No. 55 Stanford). Their three best BPI game scores came against their three best opponents -- Penn State, Stanford and Texas Tech (No. 110).

Pitt is one of seven teams ranked in the top 20 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, along with Louisville, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas and North Carolina.

BPI Rankings

You Gotta See This: SoCon

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
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Davidson BasketballAP Photo/Rainier EhrhardtDe'Mon Brooks, who averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 2012-13, returns this season for Davidson.
It's college basketball preview season, and you know what that means: tons of preseason info to get you primed for 2013-14. But what do you really need to know? Each day for the next month, we'll highlight the most important, interesting or just plain amusing thing each conference has to offer this season — from great teams to thrilling players to wild fans and anything in between. Up next: One more mid-major case study in the SoCon.

Earlier this morning, we talked about Belmont. More specifically, we talked about the rather wide gulf between what Belmont has accomplished on the court and its recognition among casual fans. The difference, of course, is success in the NCAA tournament.

Such is the curse of the mid-major in a 345-team Division I landscape. You can fight with everything you have all season long, wage a grueling conference campaign, and emerge victorious. Blood and tears are typically involved. A 35-game college hoops season is hard. And after all of that, many worthy mid-majors' best and only hope is that a) they don't go cold at the wrong time in the conference tournament and b) they can spring an upset in the first round. It doesn't matter how convincing your regular-season was. Everything comes down to a few plays on an early March weekend, for better and for worse.

If Belmont understands this lesson, so too does Davidson. Indeed, few mid-majors in the country could provide a more accurate case study in the difference a few plays in March can make.

It was just 2008, after all, that Davidson was led to the brink of the Final Four by a shockingly entertaining unknown named Stephen Curry. The 2012-13 season was the Wildcats' best since Curry was on campus, and was billed as such; it was a team molded around star center Jake Cohen and the efficient contributions of the guards around him. Davidson was good enough to make a deep tournament run. Instead? Marquette 59, Davidson 58 happened. Just like that.

And then there are the stakes. It will be difficult for Davidson to match last season's effort. Cohen is gone, as are guards Nik Cochran (a 49 percent 3-point shooter) and JP Kuhlman (the team's leader in assist rate). Bob McKillop still has a few arrows in his quiver; forward De'Mon Brooks and swingman Chris Czerapowicz top the list. But now, after years of baking a Jake Cohen-flavored pie at just the right temperature -- years scraping to get back to that blissful Curry level -- Davidson must go right back to the drawing board with a new wave of personnel and a host of conference foes nipping at their heels.

In case you were wondering: No, being a mid-major coach is not the easiest job in the world. I'm glad we got that settled.

Bracket reveal: Charleston Classic

July, 17, 2013
7/17/13
10:00
AM ET
Editor's Note: Over two days, we're releasing the brackets/matchups for 11 of the top early-season events. A thread of previews and info for all 11 tourneys can be found here.

Tournament bracket for the Charleston Classic

When and where: Nov. 21-22 and 24, Charleston, S.C.

Initial thoughts: New Mexico is clearly the favorite. No tournament title is a given, but the Lobos really have no excuse if they don't win this event. Every other team, save UMass, is rebuilding in some form. The Minutemen have a legitimate chance to pull off a title, but it still would be deemed a surprise.

[+] EnlargeCraig Neal
Steve Conner/Icon SMICraig Neal's Lobos are the clear-cut favorite to win the Charleston Classic.
The Lobos have a new coach, but not an unfamiliar face. Craig Neal was as much of a fixture around the program as Alford the past six years. Neal deserves a lot of the credit that has been heaped on Alford for their success in the Mountain West. The Lobos lost Tony Snell, but the core of the squad returns, led by Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood on the wings and Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow inside.

This is an important year for the Minutemen under Derek Kellogg. Massachusetts no longer has to deal with Xavier, Butler or Temple in the A-10 (although the Owls are in this event on the other side of the bracket). The league should be led by VCU and possibly Saint Louis this season, but the Minutemen have every right to believe they could challenge for the conference title -- something they've longed to do for years now. Pulling off an upset over the Lobos, or at the very least leaving Charleston 2-1, would get this team moving in the right direction.

Getting a read on Nebraska, UAB, Georgia, Davidson, Temple or Clemson in November would be tough to do, considering they all face a host of questions.

Matchup I can't wait to see: The first-round matchups are a bit lean, but I'll go with Temple-Clemson. The Owls are never really down under Fran Dunphy. They may be retooling more than rebuilding, and a summer trip to France will provide a head start to the season. Anthony Lee gives Temple a reliable player inside. He should be able to produce a double-double on occasion.

Clemson faces an important transition year. The Tigers now have to deal with three more teams in the ACC at a time when they also must try to move up in the conference. Clemson lost Devon Booker and Milton Jennings, but this should be a breakout season for K.J. McDaniels. The Tigers could use a quality win or two in Charleston, where they'll be somewhat of a home team and will look to get some much-needed momentum going into the ACC.

Potential matchup I want to see: UMass versus New Mexico in the semifinals. The Minutemen have a potential A-10 player of the year candidate in Chaz Williams, who has the ability to break the Lobos down off the dribble. He'll push Greenwood or Kendall Williams, depending on who has to guard him. Of course, UMass has to ensure it takes care of Nebraska to lock in the date with the Lobos. And New Mexico cannot -- repeat, cannot -- have a Harvard-like meltdown and lose to UAB in the first game.

Five players to watch

Kendall Williams, New Mexico: Williams won last season's Mountain West Conference player of the year award, beating San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin and NBA No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett. Williams can shine on a stat sheet, scoring 46 points in a win over Colorado State. He doesn't have Snell to play off this coming season, but can create and take his own shot at a high percentage.

Chaz Williams, UMass: The Minutemen were the benefactors of the Hofstra instability when Williams transferred to Amherst. He has been one of the top guards in the A-10 and has a chance this season to be one of the best guards nationally. Williams had 7.3 assists a game and kept his turnovers low at 3.5 last season. If he can manage a game consistently, the Minutemen should challenge for the A-10 title and an NCAA bid.

De'Mon Brooks, Davidson: Bob McKillop has always done an exceptional job of ensuring his star player has the right amount of touches and is in a position to succeed. Brooks should be the featured player this season. The Wildcats have one lame-duck year in the Southern before moving to the A-10. To count the Wildcats out of the SoCon title despite losing some quality players such as Jake Cohen would be a major mistake.

Ray Gallegos, Nebraska: The Cornhuskers will continue to take on the personality of Tim Miles. What does that mean? Well, expect this squad to play loose but with purpose. Gallegos has his work cut out for him in a matchup against Chaz Williams in the first round. But you can expect Miles to put Gallegos at ease. Get by the Minutemen and the Huskers would have the win they need to build off of heading toward the Big Ten.

Charles Mann, Georgia: The Bulldogs lost their go-to scorer in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was a lock for the lottery and went early in the NBA draft. Mann had his moments last season for Mark Fox, scoring in double figures in two of the final four games. With KCP gone, Mann must be the man at times for UGA to avoid being scoring-challenged. This tournament should be a good barometer on what to expect.

Title-game prediction: New Mexico over Temple.

The pressure is on New Mexico to deliver a title. The Lobos should be able to pull it off, even though the opponent is wide open. But I'll go with Temple because it's difficult to ever dismiss the Owls.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: New Mexico over Temple
Jeff Goodman: New Mexico over Clemson
Jason King: New Mexico over Temple
Myron Medcalf: New Mexico over Davidson
Dana O'Neil: Georgia over New Mexico
1. Syracuse will have quite an entrance into the ACC next season. The Orange will have an epic home schedule at the Carrier Dome with ACC headline games against Duke and North Carolina, an inaugural ACC-Big Ten Challenge game against Indiana in a rematch of their 2013 Sweet 16 game and a renewed series against former Big East rival Villanova. The Orange also will play a road game at their home-away-from home -- Madison Square Garden -- against St. John's. That's four home games against teams that are locks for the NCAA tournament, and two of those games are against benchmark programs in the ACC and top five programs in the country. Four of those five teams should be in the NCAAs with St. John's the one question mark, but a program that should be in the mix. Oh, and the Orange are in the Maui Invitational, too, which includes two teams that should be headline squads in their respective leagues -- Gonzaga (WCC) and Baylor (likely picked third in the Big 12). "It's a difficult schedule,'' said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "It's fairly comparable to playing Louisville, Georgetown and those types of teams.'' Boeheim has been outspoken lately about his enthusiasm for going into the ACC next season and the new challenges. He certainly sounded like he's embracing it after learning that the Hoosiers are also coming to the Carrier Dome, a game that is a direct result of playing in the ACC. "It's certainly a high-level (schedule). Obviously it's in our first year in the league, and it's great for our fans. We get both Duke and Carolina. That's a big thing. It will make the adjustment easier going into the ACC. We're excited about it. It's a great schedule.''

2. Davidson didn't strategically plan to be in the A-10. But the Wildcats best move was not making a move a year ago when they turned down an offer to go to the CAA. The decision to stay put created an opportunity that could change the Davidson athletic department for the foreseeable future. Davidson president Carol Quillen said Wednesday during the news conference announcing the Wildcats admission into the A-10 in 2014-15 that they had surveyed the national scene and were anticipating something happening due to the volatility. But no one anticipated or dreamed of the chance to go to the A-10, said Davidson AD Jim Murphy. "Choosing to wait was the right one,'' he said. Murphy said access to at-large bids made the move from the Southern to the A-10 an easy option. The school isn't worried about additional travel for non-revenue sports since Murphy said there are enough schools in the region where they could get there in a cost-effective manner and then travel to a championship site. Murphy said rearranging schedules made moving by August too disruptive. But the Southern Conference, unlike the CAA, is allowing Davidson to participate in all championship events, which is why they are not forcing the move this year. Reaction to adding Davidson was overwhelmingly positive. George Mason coach Paul Hewitt called it a great move. UMass coach Derek Kellogg said it gives the A-10 another perennial NCAA team and will only add to the great tradition. VCU coach Shaka Smart said it made a deep league even stronger. And Richmond coach Chris Mooney added, "Their record speaks for itself. Great name recognition. Adds another strong team in the South.''

3. The ACC had to cut loose three teams -- Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest -- from the ACC-Big Ten Challenge with the imbalance of teams (Big Ten has 12 and the ACC has 15). In 2014-15, the ACC will have 15 teams and the Big Ten 14, so one ACC team will not be in the event. But the ACC knew it was going to trim the three teams with the lowest power ratings. So, how will those schools replace a potential quality nonconference opponent? Clemson coach Brad Brownell said he's still working on the schedule. Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said the Demon Deacons will get three strong opponents in the Battle 4 Atlantis, play at Xavier and host Richmond, Tulane and St. Bonaventure. Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said the Hokies will get West Virginia at home, play VCU at the Richmond Coliseum and are in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn with Michigan State, Oklahoma and Seton Hall.
video
 
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Vander Blue had made that exact shot, just from the other side, two weeks ago.

He was on a grand stage and the stakes were high -- at Madison Square Garden, with a chance to lock up a share of the Big East regular-season title for Marquette.

But for Blue to get a chance to mimic the shot that beat St. John’s on March 9 -- a shot with 1 second remaining Thursday that would knock off Davidson 59-58 in the opening game of the NCAA tournament for both teams -- he needed two unpredictable events.

Davidson had to throw the ball out of bounds on a poorly executed inbounds attempt, and the third-seeded Golden Eagles needed a timeout to settle down.

Davidson obliged with the turnover.

The officials then gave Marquette the chance to talk over the final play and calm any late-game angst. Not through anything of the Golden Eagles' doing, however: Marquette didn't have any timeouts remaining, but the refs had to go to the monitor to ensure there were 6.7 seconds remaining and not 5.5, which is what the scoreboard read.

Maybe, in a future NCAA tournament or regular-season game, the sport will see fit to force the players to stay on the court and not huddle with their staff when a timeout isn’t available. But that’s not the case now.

[+] EnlargeMarquette's Vander Blue
Mark Zerof/USA TODAY SportsMarquette's Vander Blue gets past Davidson's Jake Cohen for the winning shot.
“Unfair advantage,” said Davidson coach Bob McKillop. “We certainly knew they didn’t have a timeout and that’s why we didn’t call a timeout there when they made that 3 [to bring Marquette within a point 58-57], because they didn’t have one.”

Marquette coach Buzz Williams said the stoppage of play was an unexpected advantage for one reason -- his players needed to chill.

“It definitely helped,” said Williams, adding that he almost never finds himself without a timeout in late-game situations.

“Our guys knew what we were going to run, but it probably helped us to calm down somewhat,” said Williams. “They had been changing man to zone, zone to man. We were going to run the same play, but I would say emotionally it probably helped more than strategically.”

Davidson’s Jake Cohen said he got switched on the play, and then Blue sliced past to the hoop and finished. The layup essentially ended a terrific performance by Cohen, whose versatility in scoring (20 points) and assists (one, but it was on a key cut to the basket for a deuce) were on display.

McKillop said the No. 14-seeded Wildcats were trying to get Blue to catch the ball away from the basket. He went right to it and got the hoop.

Davidson (26-8) went from being the story to being forgotten in a matter of seconds.

“You can tell by our faces we’re not happy about it,” said Cohen. “It’s devastating.”

Blue, meanwhile, was euphoric.

“We got their 5-man to stand up a bit, and it was a footrace to the basket,” said Blue. “I’m just grateful that Coach has unbelievable trust in me to take the last shot, and all my teammates wanted me to shoot the ball.”

The bucket to beat St. John’s was the appetizer for an entree that Blue will remember forever.

“It prepared me a little bit,” said Blue. “But all I was thinking was if I get to the rim, I’ve got to finish, because if I don’t make that, we probably lose.”

Up next for the Golden Eagles (24-8) on Saturday at Rupp Arena is sixth-seeded Butler, which beat them in the Maui Invitational in November on a Rotnei Clarke running 3-pointer.

Those memories are still fresh for Marquette.

“For me, it’s the last shot when Rotnei Clarke hit it,” said Blue. “I would say everybody would say that.”

Notes and nuggets on the 2013 bracket

March, 17, 2013
3/17/13
8:41
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The NCAA field of 68 is out and there are plenty of storylines. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting nuggets from this bracket:

Streaks

The teams with the five longest current appearance streaks in the NCAA tournament all made the field: Kansas (24), Duke (18), Michigan State (16), Gonzaga (15) and Wisconsin (15).

Kansas' streak of 24 straight appearances ranks third all time. Duke's 18-appearance streak (all under Mike Krzyzewski) ranks tied for fourth. Coach K’s streak is currently the longest for an active head coach.

Noteworthy seeds

Indiana is a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1993, where it lost during the Elite Eight. The only other time the Hoosiers were a No. 1 seed was in 1987.

Gonzaga has the lowest-ranked strength of schedule (97th) for any No. 1 seed in the past 20 years. The last in that range was Stanford in 2004 (96th).

Miami is a No. 2 seed, matching its highest seed in school history (1999, lost in Round of 32). The Hurricanes are the first ACC team to win the regular season and conference tournament titles and NOT get a No. 1 seed.

Marquette is a No. 3 seed, matching its best seed in school history (1979, 2003, 2012).

Florida is a No. 3 seed. In 2006, when the Gators won the national championship, they were also a No. 3 seed.

North Carolina is a No. 8 seed, matching the Tar Heels' worst seed ever. In 2000 they were an No. 8 seed and went to the Final Four, where they lost in the semifinals to Florida.

There have been 19 No. 1 seeds to win a national championship, the most recent being Kentucky last season.

The No. 2 through No. 8 seeds have combined for 15 national titles.

No. 2 and No. 3 seeds have won an almost identical number of championships, as noted in the chart on the right. The highest seed with no national titles is the No. 5 seed.

Snubs and omissions

Three notes on teams that didn't make it, from the Elias Sports Bureau.

Maryland is the third ACC school since 1985 with two wins against top-five ranked schools to get snubbed from the NCAA tournament: Georgia Tech was left out in 1993-94 and Florida State in 1996-97.

Virginia is the second ACC school in the last 40 years to win at least 10 conference games and not make the NCAA tournament (Virginia Tech, 10-6 in 2009-10).

Kentucky is the first school since Louisville in 1986-87 to be ranked in the top three in the preseason AP Poll and not make the tournament.

The last time that Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama all missed the tournament? 1974.

The state of Utah doesn't have a team in the field for the first time since 1994.

It was a good day for ...

The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 conferences each got five teams into the tournament. For the Mountain West, that was its best showing ever. The Atlantic 10 matched its best showing. The other years it got five teams in were 1997 and 1998.

Coaching storylines

Some intriguing coaching storylines with the No. 1-seeded teams.

Rick Pitino and Louisville could face Duke in the Elite Eight. Pitino hasn't faced the Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament since Christian Laettner's famous shot in the 1992 Elite Eight.

Indiana's Tom Crean could face his former Marquette team in the Elite Eight. He hasn't faced them since taking the job with the Hoosiers in 2008.

Kansas could face Roy Williams in the Round of 32. Kansas is 2-0 against its old coach, with both wins coming in the tournament.

Seven of the eight games in the Round of 64 in the South will feature a coach who has made at least one Final Four. Five will feature a coach who has won a national title.

The Butler-Bucknell matchup is one of coaches with Division III pedigrees. Butler coach Brad Stevens is a graduate of DePauw University (which won the women's national title on Saturday). Dave Paulsen is a graduate and former head coach at Williams College (which plays in the Division III men's quarterfinals this weekend).

Miscellaneous

Here are the states with all of their Division I teams in the NCAA tournament: Kansas (3), New Mexico (2), Minnesota (1).

Three states got five teams into the tournament: California (Cal, Pacific, Saint Mary's, San Diego State and UCLA), North Carolina (Duke, Davidson, North Carolina, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State), and Pennsylvania (Bucknell, La Salle, Pittsburgh, Temple, Villanova).

If you look at air miles between airports for each tournament site, the teams that would have the longest “Roads to the Final Four” are Boise State (5,533 miles from Boise to Dayton to Kansas City to Los Angeles to Atlanta) and Syracuse (5,396 miles from Syracuse to San Jose to Washington, D.C. to Atlanta). The shortest road would belong to Louisville (641 miles from Louisville to Lexington to Indianapolis to Atlanta).

The most common nicknames among tournament teams are Wildcats (Kansas State, Arizona, Davidson and Villanova) and Tigers (Missouri, Memphis and Pacific).

Video: Davidson 74, Charleston 55

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
10:40
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De'Mon Brooks scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Davidson to a 74-55 win over Charleston and to the Southern Conference title.

The 11th and final BracketBusters event began Friday night and continues over the weekend all around the country. Here's my take (along with some predictions) on what I think are the seven best matchups:

SATURDAY

Iona at Indiana State, 11 a.m. ET, ESPNU: Remember when Indiana State was the sexy bubble team? That's no longer the case. ISU has lost three in a row and four of its last six. The Sycamores are in a can't-lose situation in this matchup with Iona. They have wins over Miami, Ole Miss and Wichita State, which helps. But they also have losses to the four teams in the bottom of the conference (Bradley, Drake, Missouri State and Southern Illinois). Figure that one out. Iona boasts one of the nation's most potent offenses (19th in adjusted offensive efficiency) but has lost five of six. Few teams have caught as many bad breaks as Iona. Three of those losses were sealed after regulation (one in overtime, two in double-overtime). The other two defeats were by three points or fewer. Iona is one or two stops away from being the MAAC's best team.
Prediction: Iona 76, Indiana State 74

Montana at Davidson, 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU: Montana had won 14 consecutive games prior to a 24-point loss at Weber State on Valentine’s Day. Turnovers (14) were an issue in that game, and they’ve been a problem for the program all year (turnovers on 19.1 percent of their possessions, 117th in the nation per KenPom). In the Southern Conference, Davidson has held opponents to 58.5 PPG. The Wildcats took some blows in the nonconference slate, but they’ve won 11 in a row, and Jake Cohen (14.6 PPG) and De'Mon Brooks (13.1 PPG) comprise one of the most talented duos in the mid-major ranks. Both squads will be equipped to seal a tight game at the charity stripe. Montana (76.3 percent) and Davidson (81.3 percent, first in the nation) are top-10 nationally from the free throw line.
Prediction: Davidson 73, Montana 69

Detroit at Wichita State, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Titans have soared toward the top of the Horizon League with an offense that's averaging 79 PPG, sixth in the nation. They're 20th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency rankings, as Ray McCallum Jr. (18.7 PPG) leads a unit that possesses high-major athleticism at every position. But they'll have to decipher a Shockers squad that's found its groove again after a rocky three-game losing stretch that threatened its position in the Missouri Valley Conference. Gregg Marshall's team is back on top of the league with a feisty defense that's allowed only 59.7 PPG in MVC play (second in the conference). Six-foot-8 forward Cleanthony Early is a matchup dilemma due to his versatility (6-for-12 from the 3-point line in his last two games) and fellow 6-8 forward Carl Hall uses his brawn inside to make an impact. This is a matchup between a fluid offense and a stingy defense. Something has to give.
Prediction: Detroit 73, Wichita State 71

Creighton at Saint Mary’s, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN: Doug McDermott (22.5 PPG) is still one of the best players in the country, but the buzz surrounding the preseason All-American is not as high as it was even a month ago due to the Bluejays' recent struggles. They're still 47th in the RPI and they have top-100 RPI wins over Wisconsin, Arizona State, Indiana State and Cal. They're in a much safer spot than a Saint Mary's team that's banking on RPI alone (51) after failing to earn any meaningful nonconference wins. The Gaels will face BYU before this matchup against the Bluejays, but a win over the Cougars wouldn't carry the same weight as a victory over Creighton. McDermott and Saint Mary's guard Matthew Dellavedova are two of the most exciting players in the country, and this game means plenty to both squads. You don't want to miss it.
Prediction: Creighton 75, Saint Mary’s 70

South Dakota State at Murray State, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2: South Dakota State struggled in its first three Summit League games. The team lost two of those matchups after a brutal nonconference travel stretch that seemed to tire the Jackrabbits. But they’ve won 10 of their last 12 games. Still, much like Murray State, their only ticket to the Big Dance is through the conference tournament. Can the Jackrabbits get there, however, through Nate Wolters (22.8 PPG) and the powerful offense he pilots (32nd in adjusted offensive efficiency)? Or will their defense cost them down the stretch (213th in adjusted defensive efficiency)? Murray State has been up and down all season. The Racers beat Belmont, one of the best mid-majors in the country. But they’ve lost two of their last three games. Isaiah Canaan (20.6 PPG) is a very talented player but he needs help (the Racers are shooting 31.4 percent on 3s, 11th in the conference). It’s tough to predict this matchup because both squads have been so unpredictable. But South Dakota State has overcome better teams on the road (namely New Mexico).
Prediction: SDSU 80, Murray State 74

Ohio at Belmont, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2: For a time this season, Belmont was certainly one of the best mid-major teams in the country. But a 2-2 record during a four-game road stretch has humbled the Bruins. They're the OVC's top scoring offense and defense, but they're committing turnovers on 19.9 percent of their possessions, 157th in the country per Ken Pomeroy. They'll face a team that can keep up with them on offense (Ohio averages a MAC-best 74.4 PPG). Belmont is likely still a bubble team with that high RPI (30), but the Bruins certainly haven't played like an NCAA tourney team in recent weeks. Both teams probably need conference tournament titles to guarantee slots. Yet they're also aware of the value of late-season momentum as they prepare for those league tourneys. A victory in this game would help achieve that. This contest also features a must-see guard matchup: Belmont's Ian Clark (18.9 PPG) versus Ohio's D.J. Cooper (13.6 PPG, 7.7 APG, 2.1 SPG). That alone is worth staying up late for.
Prediction: Ohio 79, Belmont 69

FRIDAY

Akron possesses the nation's top winning streak at 17 in a row. That run has placed the Zips on the soft NCAA tournament bubble. Zeke Marshall, who is fifth in the nation with 3.48 blocks per game, leads a group that's ranked 50th in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. North Dakota State was rising in the Summit League before Taylor Braun, their leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, suffered a foot injury last month. The Bison have lost four of their last eight games and are third in the league. The good news is that Braun will probably return soon. The bad news is that he'll probably miss the trip to Akron.
Prediction: Akron 76, NDSU 65

BracketBusters matchups, TV schedule

February, 4, 2013
2/04/13
7:25
PM ET
The matchups for the final BracketBusters event aired on ESPNU tonight. See below for the television schedule and click here for Andy Katz's analysis and a wide range of insight from the head coaches involved.

Friday, Feb. 22

North Dakota State at Akron, ESPN2, 7 ET

Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, ESPNU, 9 ET

Saturday, Feb. 23

Iona at Indiana State, ESPNU, 11 a.m. ET

Eastern Kentucky at Valparaiso, ESPNU, 1 ET

Canisius at Vermont, ESPN3, 1 ET

Pacific at Western Michigan, ESPN3, 2 ET

Montana at Davidson, ESPNU, 3 ET

Northwestern State at Niagara, ESPN3, 3 ET

Detroit at Wichita State, ESPN/2, 4 ET

Creighton at Saint Mary's, ESPN/2, 6 ET

South Dakota State at Murray State, ESPN2, 8 ET

Denver at Northern Iowa, ESPN3, 8 ET

Ohio at Belmont, ESPN2, 10 ET

The matchups for the BracketBusters games not on television can be found here.

Top brother duos in college hoops history

January, 23, 2013
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On Wednesday at Miami (7 ET on ESPN), Seth Curry needs 12 points for the Curry brothers to pass Larry and Eddie Bird for the second-most by a pair of brothers in Division I history.

Barring injury, the Curry brothers should pass the Hansbroughs in February for the most ever.


Below is one man’s opinion on the top 10 pairs of brothers to play college basketball. Just missing the list? Tyler and Cody Zeller.

10. Dominique and Gerald Wilkins
Both Wilkins brothers were more successful NBA players, but that shouldn’t diminish what they accomplished in the college ranks. Dominique is arguably the best player in Georgia history, and its only player to win SEC Player of the Year. Younger brother Gerald helped guide Chattanooga to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, and his 21.0 points per game as a senior is the highest in school history.

9. Tom and Dick Van Arsdale
The most accomplished twins to ever play basketball, it wasn’t just looks that made the two difficult to distinguish. Tom averaged 17.4 points and 10.0 rebounds in his three seasons at Indiana, while Dick averaged 17.2 points and 10.0 rebounds.

8. Chuck and Wesley Person
Only three players in Auburn history have scored 2,000 points. Two of them were brothers. Chuck is the school’s all-time leader with 2,311 points, while Wesley is third at 2,066. While both were elite at Auburn, it’s worth noting that neither won SEC Player of the Year.

7. Mark and Brent Price
At a school famous for producing guards, no one had a better career at Georgia Tech than Mark Price. He was the first freshman to lead the ACC in scoring, and was the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer in all four seasons. Brent Price split his college career between South Carolina and Oklahoma. He was an All-Big Eight selection as senior, once scoring 56 points in a game.

6. George and Ed Mikan
Named of ESPN’s 25 greatest college basketball players in 2008, George Mikan helped revolutionize the game with his height. A two-time national player of the year, he led DePaul to the NIT title in 1945, averaging 40.0 PPG in that tournament. A year younger, Ed was also a member of that championship team. He also went on to become a member of DePaul’s Hall of Fame and play in the NBA.

5. Ed and Charles O’Bannon
The O’Bannon brothers combined to bring UCLA a national title in 1995. Ed won the Wooden Award that year, as well as the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Charles was an All-Pac-10 selection in each of the two years after Ed left, making it five consecutive years than an O’Bannon was so honored.

4. Larry and Eddie Bird
No two brothers have scored more points at the same school. Larry Bird requires no introduction. Over three seasons at Indiana State, he averaged 30.3 PPG and 13.3 RPG. In 2008, ESPN’s panel of experts named him the ninth-greatest college player of all-time. But did you know he had a brother? Eddie Bird came to Indiana State a decade later and averaged double figures in all four seasons with the Sycamores. He’s still sixth on their all-time scoring list.

3. Stephen and Seth Curry
Barring injury, the Curry brothers will be the highest-scoring duo of brothers in Division I history. Older brother Stephen led Davidson to the Elite Eight as a sophomore and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer despite playing for only three years. In fact, only five players have scored more total points in a three-year college career. Seth’s career at Duke isn’t nearly as prolific, but the senior captain could help lead the Blue Devils to a national title.

2. Bernard and Albert King
The best player in Tennessee history, Bernard King won SEC Player of the Year in all three seasons in Knoxville. He averaged more than 25 PPG in all three seasons. Overshadowed by his older brother, Albert was certainly no slouch. He averaged in double figures in all four seasons at Maryland and is the fourth-leading scorer in school history. Albert garnered ACC Player of the Year honors as a junior.

1. Tyler and Ben Hansbrough
No pair of brothers has scored more combined points than the 4,485 from the Hansbroughs. Tyler Hansbrough finished his North Carolina career as the ACC’s all-time leading scorer (2,872 points) and eighth all-time with 1,219 rebounds. One of only five players with 2,800 points and 1,200 rebounds, it’s no stretch to call him one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. But younger brother Ben was no slouch. In 2011, he averaged 18.4 PPG at Notre Dame and was named Big East Player of the Year.

Honorable Mention
George and Derrick Gervin, Horace and Harvey Grant, Blake and Taylor Griffin, Brook and Robin Lopez, Jay and Sam Vincent, Gus and Ray Williams, Cody and Tyler Zeller.

Video: Duke 67, Davidson 50

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
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Top-ranked Duke scored a 67-50 victory over Davidson and improved to 13-0, getting 18 points from Ryan Kelly.

3-point shot: Scoping out BracketBusters

November, 15, 2012
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1. Participants for 2013's BracketBusters and the home/road breakdown were released Wednesday, and already it's easy to pick out what should be the best matchups for the Feb. 22-23 event. The home-road split works out for a Creighton-at-Murray State matchup. If the two teams continue to perform well during the next two months (before actual pairings are announced Jan. 28), that will be a natural game. Davidson and Valparaiso are the other marquee home teams and the Wildcats and Crusaders probably should get either a team from the Missouri Valley (Illinois State), the Mid-American Conference (Ohio or Kent State) or Horizon (Detroit). The other two teams to keep an eye on over the next two months to see if they are worthy of a high-profile game are road teams Albany (won at Washington) and UC Irvine (lost in overtime at UCLA).

2. The surprise of the Tip-Off Marathon might have been Wichita State upsetting Virginia Commonwealth. Sure, Xavier playing as hard as it did and dominating Butler was a shocker. The Bulldogs being so offensively challenged and without a game-changing guard was disappointing. Gonzaga's shutdown of West Virginia was the most significant development. But the Shockers' two-point victory in Richmond should send shock waves in the Valley that Wichita State will be a player in the race behind Creighton. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said Tuesday that he is playing with eight newcomers and that they "competed their ass off. (VCU) had not lost in November since 2002. In the last two-plus seasons we have the best winning percentage on the road in the country now at 21-3.'' If Marshall's stats are correct, they indicate how much he has his team ready for foreign courts. And if the first week is any indication, the Shockers will have shelf life through the winter.

3. Let's just give Mississippi State a pass for the season. This simply won't be fair. New coach Rick Ray is down to six scholarship players for next week's Maui Invitational. The latest setbacks are an injury to Jalen Steele (fractured right wrist) and a suspension of Colin Borchert; Andre Applewhite and Jacoby Davis are already out. Ray said Wednesday that he'll have two walk-ons to use against North Carolina on Monday in Hawaii. The Bulldogs split the first two games -- a loss at Troy and a win over Florida Atlantic. But to expect much out of this Bulldogs team is simply not right. Ray deserves a freebie this season as he establishes his program.

ESPN.com's Southern Conference preview

November, 1, 2012
11/01/12
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Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Southern Conference, read Robbi Pickeral's profile of young UNCG coach Wes Miller and Myron Medcalf's breakdown of Davidson's nonconference schedule. And here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:



Here are Blue Ribbon's in-depth previews of all 12 SoCon teams: Insider

Appalachian State
Chattanooga
The Citadel Insider Free College of Charleston
Davidson
Elon
Furman
Georgia Southern
Samford
UNC Greensboro
Western Carolina
Wofford

3-point shot: Terps waiting on Wells

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
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1. Xavier transfer Dez Wells has been quite a hit for his new Maryland teammates. Wells is currently practicing with the Terps, but is awaiting a waiver to play immediately for Maryland after being dismissed at Xavier for a violation of the student code of conduct. Wells is NCAA eligible, but under normal rules would have to sit out the season because of transferring. Maryland has sent the waiver to the NCAA, which sent it to Xavier. Xavier officials told ESPN.com last month that the Musketeers wouldn’t fight Wells playing immediately. Wednesday at ACC media day, Maryland’s Nick Faust -- on the possibility of Wells being eligible -- said, “it makes us very stacked at guard. He’s a great talented guy that could really help us if he can play right away."

2. I’m not surprised Davidson is staying put in the Southern Conference instead of going to the Colonial Athletic Association, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. Davidson coach Bob McKillop told me earlier in the summer how important it was for the Wildcats to be in a conference where travel was not as much of an issue. McKillop knows where he fits and is highly successful. Davidson clearly understands this as well. The Wildcats can win or compete for the Southern title every year. That might have been the case in the CAA, too. But there was no need for change, especially since Davidson wasn’t bumping up to a multiple bid league like the A-10. Next to make a move or stay is the College of Charleston.

3. I still don’t get why Cincinnati wasn’t getting the necessary respect in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll released Wednesday. The Bearcats weren’t in the Top 25, falling three spots out. Meanwhile, no A-10 teams were in the preseason poll, though, Saint Louis, VCU, Butler and Saint Joseph’s received votes. That’s probably indicative of the season the A-10 will have in 2013. The A-10 will be as strong as it has been from 25 to 35. The league may not have an elite team but could have five to six teams vying for bids in early March.

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