- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2008



 For a team that has no top-50 RPI victories since November, the Tigers look good when their chronic free throw woes are ignored. Oliver Purnell’s team is doing almost exactly what it should be doing, playing the toughest teams on its schedule well and beating inferior opponents in the ACC ” other than Tuesday night at Florida State. The school’s first NCAA berth since 1998 looks all but certain.



 This was not a tough call at all. With critics dialing in and demanding action be taken against the Indiana coach, whom the NCAA has busted twice for improper phone calls, a hire that was somewhat surprising a little more than two years ago could be sent packing in Bloomington. Hoosiers traditionalists are irate and for good reason; Indiana has won clean for decades.



 This was probably not what the Highlanders had in mind when they moved up to Division I before last season. Last year wasn’t fun at 5-24, but the New Jersey Institute of Technology is 0-28 as it limps into its season finale at Utah Valley State on Saturday. The Highlanders have lost by single figures only three times all season, and the finale is a rematch of a 81-69 loss in Newark, N.J. on Feb. 2.



SOUTH ALABAMA (21-5, 13-2 Sun Belt) at WESTERN KENTUCKY (21-5, 13-1)

8 p.m., Diddle Arena, Bowling Green, Ky.

Skinny: Shed a tear that this one won’t be seen easily outside of Kentucky, where Darrin Horn has the Hilltoppers poised for a run at their first NCAA berth since 2003. Senior swingman Courtney Lee averages 21 points for the Hilltoppers, who can all but lock up the Sun Belt regular season with a victory. The Jaguars, meanwhile, won the teams’ earlier meeting but have two road losses in the league that will damage their at-large credentials.


No. 16 DRAKE (23-3) at No. 8 BUTLER (25-2)

5 p.m., Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, ESPN2

Skinny: Butler, led by guards A.J. Graves and Mike Green, can make a push toward a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament with a victory over the Missouri Valley regular-season champions. Drake had its 21-game winning streak snapped last week and could use a signature victory to bolster its chances for a favorable seed.

No. 2 TENNESSEE (24-2) at No. 1 MEMPHIS (26-0)

9 p.m., FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn., ESPN

Skinny: The last great nonconference game of the regular season doubles as the last decent chance for the Tigers to suffer a loss before the NCAA tournament (regardless of UAB’s return game early next month). Bruce Pearl’s Volunteers have blasted the SEC and could solidify their grasp on a No. 1 seed with an upset of John Calipari’s crew. One suggestion: Do the same as UAB and take big man Joey Dorsey out of the game.


No. 18 LOUISVILLE (21-6, 11-3 Big East) at PITTSBURGH (19-6, 7-5)

Noon, Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, MASN

Skinny: The good news for the Panthers is that point guard Levance Fields is back from an injury. The bad news is they still have a little bit more work to do to polish their NCAA resume. Pittsburgh will be in the field barring a collapse, but a late charge could net the Panthers a favorable seed. Taking out Louisville would be a step toward re-establishing solid position with the committee.


No. 7 TEXAS (22-4, 9-2 Big 12) at No. 24 KANSAS STATE (18-7, 8-3)

9 p.m., Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan., ESPN

Skinny: Last year it was the Longhorns who rode a freshman wunderkind to a top-shelf Big 12 finish, and this season it is the Wildcats. The Michael Beasley Express has K-State poised to make its first NCAA appearance since 1996, and winning this one would give the Wildcats a potentially crucial tiebreaker in the conference standings. For his part, Beasley would gain an even stronger grasp on the national player of the year award with a monster performance.


BRIGHAM YOUNG (20-5, 9-1 Mountain West) at NEW MEXICO (20-6, 7-4)

10 p.m., The Pit, Albuquerque, N.M.

Skinny: Another nonmajor game with limited television availability, this nevertheless is a significant test for both teams. The Cougars have won eight in a row and have a well-earned reputation for being nearly unbeatable in Provo, but this is a nasty Mountain West road test. The Lobos have an impressive record but have earned nine victories against teams with RPIs over 200. A quality win could help them get in the discussion for an at-large berth.

Patrick Stevens


The bottom of this bracket is not any good. Get beyond the No. 9 line and a legitimate case can be made to exclude any of the remaining at-large teams. It would be easy to find people to quibble with Arizona State (low RPI), Baylor (recent losing streak) and Ohio State (so-so performance in a so-so league), let alone the Daytons, Floridas, Miamis and Syracuses. It also means there are openings for a fast riser like Wake Forest to crack the field before long.


1. Tennessee*

2. Texas

3. Xavier*

4. Indiana

5. Notre Dame

6. Clemson

7. Marquette

8. Arizona

9. Maryland

10. Arizona State

11. UNLV

12. South Alabama

13. VCU*

14. UMBC*

15. American*

16. Morgan State*


1. Memphis*

2. Stanford

3. Georgetown*

4. Butler*

5. Michigan State

6. Saint Mary’s*

7. Texas A&M;

8. Oklahoma

9. Mississippi State

10. Ohio State

11. Miami

12. Syracuse

13. Oral Roberts*

14. Cal State Northridge*

15. Belmont*

16. Alabama State*/ Lamar*


1. Kansas*

2. North Carolina

3. Wisconsin

4. Louisville

5. Washington State

6. Drake*

7. Pittsburgh

8. Gonzaga

9. Arkansas

10. Baylor

11. Florida

12. Davidson*

13. Western Kentucky*

14. Boise State*

15. Austin Peay*

16. Portland State*


1. Duke*

2. UCLA*

3. Purdue*

4. Connecticut

5. Kansas State

6. Vanderbilt

7. Brigham Young*

8. Southern California

9. Rhode Island

10. West Virginia

11. Dayton

12. Kent State*

13. Siena*

14. Cornell*

15. Winthrop*

16. Wagner*

* Automatic qualifier

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