Analysis | NCAA tournament bracketology: A deserving JMU team leaves no doubt

Analysis | NCAA tournament bracketology: A deserving JMU team leaves no doubt

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

Tuesday’s games to watch

Big 12 first round: Cincinnati vs. West Virginia (3 p.m.)

Cincinnati (18-13) just clobbered West Virginia, 92-56, on Saturday, and getting another shot at the last-place Mountaineers (9-22) is all about keeping the Bearcats’ slim NCAA tournament chances alive.

Bracket impact: Nothing immediate. Cincinnati hasn’t won back-to-back games since a 12-2 start, and it needs a lot more than that to make a compelling case to the committee. Still, winning games keeps some hope alive for another day.

Coastal final: College of Charleston vs. Stony Brook (7, CBS Sports Network)

Charleston (26-7), the top seed and defending champions, needed a late 13-1 run to rally past Towson 61-56 in Monday’s semifinals in Washington. The Cougars will face seventh-seeded Stony Brook (20-14), which will be playing its fourth game in four days. The Seawolves have picked off second-seeded Drexel and third-seeded Hofstra the past two nights.

Bracket impact: It’s a one-bid league, but Charleston projects as a No. 14 seed with a chance to move up a line with a sufficient number of upsets. Stony Brook would probably land as a No. 15 or No. 16 seed.

Horizon final: Oakland vs. Wisconsin Milwaukee (7, ESPN)

Oakland, the top seed in a league in which the top six teams were separated in the standings by three games, survived Cleveland State on Monday to advance to the title game in Indianapolis. The Golden Grizzlies (22-11) will face sixth-seeded Wisconsin Milwaukee (20-14), which has won six in a row but lost both regular season games to Oakland.

Bracket impact: Oakland should be able to land on at least the No. 14 line if it wins. The Panthers are more likely to wind up on the No. 16 line if they can earn their first tournament trip in a decade.

Northeast final: Wagner at Merrimack (7, ESPN2)

Sixth-seeded Wagner (15-15) has toppled No. 3 seed Sacred Heart and top-seeded Central Connecticut on the way to the title game against second-seeded Merrimack (21-11). Wagner hasn’t been to the tournament since 2003. The Warriors are eligible to play in the Division I tournament for the first time this season — and are leaving the NEC at the end of the year.

Bracket impact: Perennial one-bid territory. The NEC champion hasn’t avoided the play-in game since 2012, and with Merrimack entering Monday at No. 200 in the NET and Wagner at No. 303, that streak isn’t likely to end this season.

West Coast final: Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga (9, ESPN)

As is often the case, it’s Round 3 for the top-seeded Gaels (25-7) and the second-seeded Bulldogs (25-6), who dispatched Santa Clara and San Francisco, respectively, on Monday night to reach the WCC final in Las Vegas. The teams split the regular season series, with each winning on the others’ court. The two are a combined 30-1 against everyone else since the start of January.

Bracket impact: With both teams handling business Monday, this game won’t draw much attention from the edge of the field. Both Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s are safely inside the field, and with all possible bid snatchers out of the picture, the most this will do is help improve the winner’s seeding, perhaps by a line.

Summit League final: South Dakota State vs. Denver (9:30, CBS Sports Network)

Winners of seven in a row, top-seeded South Dakota State (21-12) has won its first two games and is well positioned to win its seventh Summit League tournament in the past 13 seasons. Seventh-seeded Denver (17-16) hasn’t beaten three consecutive Division I opponents all season, but it is on the cusp of doing so after dispatching Missouri Kansas City and Nebraska Omaha. Look out for Pioneers star Tommy Bruner, a high-usage guard who has 10 games of at least 30 points, including two 40-point outings.

Bracket impact: It’s a one-bid league no matter what. South Dakota State projects as No. 15 seed, with a chance to do better if there are ample conference tournament upsets. Denver could safely start planning its itinerary for Dayton if it completes a run in Sioux Falls, S.D., to its first tournament berth.

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