Sweet Sixteen Picks – Friday

My goal was to get at least 5 of the 8 Sweet 16 games right.  While, the disappointing Thursday performance didn’t help, I still have a shot – if I can go 4-0 today.  Here goes…

Indianapolis, IN – Friday, 7:15 – Tennessee vs Michigan (-3)

Tennessee has looked fantastic this tournament in winning 3 games rather handily.  But, they beat an Iowa team that was taking on water, a UMass team that was grossly overseeded, and a Mercer team that was just happy to be still playing two days after shocking the Dukies.  The Wolverines have looked just as impressive and have played the toughest team either had to face in Texas.  That being said, it is hard not to be tantalized by the incredible talent on this Tennessee roster.  Jarnell Stokes has been – by far – the best player in this tournament so far, and Jordan McRae is a star as well.  Plus, with the emergence of Josh Richardson and the steady presence of Jeronne Maymon (they seem to have cornered the market on “J” names) give this team some depth beyond their two studs.  Talentwise, I like Tennessee A LOT more than I like Michigan, and if they switched coaches, I think this Tennessee team might be a 10-point favorite.  But, coaching is so important this time of year and Beilein is just such a better coach.  So, with 5 days to prepare, I have to go against my original leaning and give the points, but I’m not all that confident about it.
The Pick:  Michigan -3 (*)

New York, NY – Friday, 7:27 – Connecticut vs Iowa State (-2)

The other early game is another one that is tough to get a read on, but for different reasons.  Iowa State was a legit title contender (in my eyes) before the Georges Niang injury, but now they probably don’t have the depth or balance to win the whole thing (which is very unfortunate).  That being said, they played a good UNC team on Sunday with Niang and took care of business.  Dustin Hogue filled in admirably, and Melvin Ejim and Deandre Kane were stellar – as usual.  So, how much does it hurt them?  The difference may be in the fact that UNC only had a day to prepare for a Niang-less Cyclone team, while UConn now has 5 days.  In this really interesting battle between two heady coaches who are really good friends and both institute a lot of pro sets, there is one thing that is probably the reason this line is skewed – Madison Square Garden is going to be rocking with Huskie fans.  In a vaccuum, there is no way UConn should only be getting 2 points against ISU even with Niang, but the line is saying something, and I think that something is that MSG is a big advantage for a team that has won 7 Big East tournament titles and one NIT in that very building.  I’m shaky on this one, too, but gimme Shabazz and the Huskies in the Big Apple.
The Pick:  Connecticut +2 (*)

Indianapolis, IN – Friday, 9:45 – Kentucky vs Louisville (-4.5)

I have trouble remember a better pair of games tipping off around the same time in my entire life.  This is the most that can possibly be at stake with two games at the same time (later rounds are all played with staggered start times), and these two games are phenomenal!  This one in Indy might be the most anticipated college hoops game of the year so far, as two BITTER BITTER BITTER rivals face off with their seasons on the line.  Add in two coaches that despise one another and two fanbases at each other’s throats, and you’ve got yourselves ridiculous drama.  Plus, it’s the defending national champion against the preseason #1, who just knocked off a 35-0 team to get here.  Buckle your seatbelts, it’s gonna get GOOD.  Or not…  I think it might not be close.  I have watched UK a lot this year, and they just aren’t nearly as good as they were against Wichita, and I have very little confidence that they will play that well – even against their arch-rivals – tonight.  This is my favorite pick of the round.
The Pick:  Louisville -4.5 (****)

New York, NY – Friday, 9:57 – Michigan State vs Virginia (+2)

And, finally, the 8th game of the round and it is another game that is so tough to read.  Michigan State is playing up to their potential – that is, one of the odds-on favorites to cut down the nets in Dallas next week.  But, UVA is playing incredibly well and cannot be overlooked.  The Cavs play relentless defense that can rattle anyone.  The Spartans need a solid game from point guard, Keith Appling, who has been struggling lately (and may be battling numerous injuries).  On paper, MSU has more talent and experience, but the question remains how healthy they are.  It is tough to know, but one thing that we should all remember is that Tom Izzo teams are built for March, and while injuries can derail even the best of plans, I am not ready to say it ends here.  Gimme Sparty here and I’ll lay the 2.
The Pick:  Michigan State -2 (**)

Sweet Sixteen Picks – Thursday

I can’t remember a better first weekend of the tournament (though, I expect I say something to that effect every year, but this one seemed different), and now I can’t explain how great this Sweet 16 is looking.  There isn’t one total mismatch and all 16 of these teams are playing very well and none should be just “happy to be there.”  And, yet, there is not a clear favorite or underdog.  Obviously, Dayton and Stanford are surprises to be here, but they play each other and both are playing really well.  There is only one team that is more than a 5-point underdog and that San Diego State, who spent most of the year in the Top 10 in the country and even cracked the Top 5.  At least a dozen (maybe even 13 or 14) of these teams are legit Final Four contenders where we wouldn’t look back and think it absurd that they made it.  And, about half of them are legit title contenders.  This is going to be spectacular.  So, let’s make some picks, shall we?  The stars rate my confidence – going by a 5-star scale where 5 stars is a mortal lock.

Memphis, TN – Thursday, 7:15 – Dayton vs Stanford (-3)

These are the two “Cinderella” teams of the bunch and they happen to play each other in the region that holds the #1 team in America possibly waiting for them in the Elite Eight.  But, these two teams (particularly Stanford) are not your typical “happy-to-be-here” underdogs that we see in most years (Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, Ohio in 2012, Richmond in 2011, Cornell in 2010…well you get the idea).  Dayton is a legitimately solid team that earned an at-large bid from a 6-bid league, while Stanford has top-level talent, even though they muddled through various parts of the season.  I might be the only one, but I really like this Stanford team and think they have the talent to play with the best teams in the country.  Chasson Randle is a special point guard, and Dwight Powell is a borderline star.  Plus, when they added Josh Huestis to the starting lineup, they got INCREDIBLY big.  Their starting lineup is 6’2″, 6’6″, 6’7″, 6’10”, and 6’11”.  That’s NBA size that I think will overpower Dayton here.  A game like this usually begs me to take the points, but I am going to lay the 3 here.
The Pick:  Stanford -3 (**)

Anaheim, CA – Thursday, 7:47 – Baylor vs Wisconsin (-3.5)

Did any team in the tournament look any better than Baylor last weekend?  They pounded a good Nebraska team before absolutely annihilating Doug McDermott and Creighton in the second round.  And, this after a blisteringly hot February that led into a run to the Big XII title game.  I am not sure anyone wants to play this Baylor team right now, but you know Wisconsin won’t be scared.  Bo Ryan’s teams are always prepared (though, they seem to underachieve a bit in the tournament) and this team, in particular, does something that Bo’s teams of the past didn’t do – score.  They do give it up defensively more than usual, but the Badgers can spread you out with all 5 guys showing long-range potential, even their 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky.  This should be a fantastic game, but I am not sure that Wisconsin can keep up with the athletes that Baylor has – if the Baylor of the past month shows up…which is still a question mark.  But, with Baylor playing so well, I feel you have to take the 3.5 here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win outright.
The Pick:  Baylor +3.5 (***)

Memphis, TN – Thursday, 9:45 – UCLA vs Florida (-5)

As good as the Baylor-Wisconsin game should be, this is probably the game of the night.  A game of contrasting styles to the max, as UCLA loves to get up and down the floor, as the 15th fastest team in the country on offense without sacrificing any efficiency, as they rank 12th in the country with 1.17 points per possession.  This team is so gifted offensively with matchup nightmares all over the court, most notably their 6’8″ point-forward Kyle Anderson, who is averaging a ridiculous stat line of 15 points, 8.5 boards, and 6.5 assists per game.  Those are outlandish numbers in a 40-minute game with a :35 second shot clock.  And, what makes this game so great is that this incredibly fast and efficient UCLA offense is going up against maybe the best defensive team in the country (they are actually ranked #2 behind Arizona in adjusted dEff).  When UCLA has the ball, this is going to be unbelievably intriguing.  However, the other side is where the mismatch occurs and probably where the game will be decided.  Florida – known for their suffocating defense – is actually a very efficient offensive team – which will be going up against UCLA defense that has taken its lumps publicly this year.  The fast-paced tempo of the Bruins offense actually belies the relative effectiveness of their defense, so I think they are very underrated on that end of the court, but it is still hard to make the case that they are any better than “decent” on the defensive end.  Because of this, I think Florida makes just enough plays to win the game, but, personally, I think the right side of this is to take the points.
The Pick:  UCLA +5 (**)

Anaheim, CA – Thursday, 10:17 – San Diego State vs Arizona (-7.5)

If you like defense, take a nap this afternoon so you can stay up and watch this one.  These two teams really get after it on the defensive end.  They don’t just hold teams down because they are slow and plodding and conservative.  These two teams have long, athletic defenders all over the court and they seem to absolutely love to play straight-up man-to-man, in-your-face defense.  And, the numbers reflect this, as both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency (Arizona is #1, SDSU is #7).  The problem for the Aztecs is that they really only have two scorers that they can rely on – Xavier Thames and Winston Shephard – and if you could pick any two guys in the country to take and matchup against those two, you might pick Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, who both happen to play for Arizona.  So, the two big questions for this game are (1) can SDSU find offense from their gritty, hard-nosed role players like Josh Davis and J.J. O’Brien (or off the bench from guys like Dwayne Pollee), and (2) will the defensive efforts of Johnson and Gordon still allow them to contribute on the other end or will the offensive load fall on UA’s secondary scorers like Kaleb Tarczewski and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson?  Whatever ends up happening, this is another fascinating game and, as maybe the ultimate sign of how great this tournament continues to be, is the largest spread of the round…at only -7.5.  At the end of the day, I do think Arizona will win the game, but I don’t think I can possibly give 7.5 when the game is likely to be in the 60’s.
The Pick:  San Diego State +7.5 (***)

2014 CTC Day Fourteen: Chris Wins the Final Day, but the Spotlight Falls on Stritts Who Ends a Dominating Rookie Campaign with an Overall Victory

While Chris takes the Day Fourteen honors, as the only one to hit Michigan State, Virginia, and Florida, Stritts takes home the overall title with a record-breaking performance of more than 3,200 points.  Stri finishes a distant 2nd with Teddy a personal-best 3rd place, and GrossJr taking 4th (and 2nd in the Money Division).  Chris’s big day cracks him a Top 5 finish in his rookie campaign.

GrossSr was the biggest upward mover on the final day, gaining 4 spots to a 6th-place finish.  Teddy gained 3 spots to 3rd.  Chris picked up 2 spots to reach the top 5, while Lynch picked up 2 and cracked the top 20.

There were only 3 people in the entire field that had a champion alive in all five of Sunday’s games.  One was Becks, who did okay, hitting Michigan State and Florida for a 160-point day.  The other two were Bry and Lohse, who both went 0-FOR-5!  The huge 0’fer cost Bry a shot at the overall title and cost Lohse a chance to get out of the basement.  (Man, I wish I had placed a 5-team parlay against my picks today.)  Bry took the biggest drop on the day, slipping 5 spots to 8th.  Mac, who only hit Florida on the day, lost 3 spots to 7th, as his title hopes went up in smoke over the final two days.  Caleb, Dave, and Colton all lost 2 spots on the day.  Colton went from 2nd to 23rd in a matter of about 54 hours.

There were 5 more titles handed out on the day – I’ll recap the individual conferences sometime soon (when I get the energy).  All in all, it was another great and successful CTC.  Thanks to everyone for participating and congrats to Stritts – our overall champ!


  1. Chris – 220
  2. Teddy – 210
  3. Becks – 160
  4. Gersh – 160
  5. GrossJr – 160
  6. GrossSr – 160
  7. Lynch – 160
  8. PapaCim – 160
  9. Stritts – 160
  10. WaTers – 160
  11. Stri – 120
  12. Doogan – 110
  13. RDoc – 110
  14. Alexi – 60
  15. Caleb – 60
  16. J – 60
  17. Lazarow – 60
  18. Mac – 60
  19. Primm – 60
  20. Scoot – 60
  21. Stumpf – 60
  22. Bry – 0
  23. Colton – 0
  24. Dave – 0
  25. Lohse – 0


  1. *Stritts – 3289
  2. Stri – 3168
  3. Teddy – 3138.5
  4. *GrossJr – 3112
  5. *Chris – 3102
  6. *GrossSr – 3012.5
  7. Mac – 3015.5
  8. *Bry – 2963.5
  9. Alexi – 2940.5
  10. *J – 2926
  11. *Doogan – 2883
  12. *Gersh – 2872
  13. *Becks – 2850.5
  14. PapaCim – 2850
  15. Caleb – 2757
  16. *Stumpf – 2679.5
  17. Scoot – 2664.5
  18. Dave – 2661
  19. *RDoc – 2654
  20. Lynch – 2627.5
  21. *Primm – 2596.5
  22. WaTers – 2587
  23. Colton – 2492.5
  24. Lazarow – 2327
  25. Lohse – 2284.5

2014 CTC: The Big Ten (3/16)

It was a strange(-ly awesome) year in the BiG this year.  First of all, I have to point out to all the people that are tired of this being the best league in the country and are trying to boost up the Big XII – that’s cute and all, but it’s just no true and it’s not really that close.  I am not a Big Ten lover.  I didn’t go to Penn State or root for Maize and Blue or even worship at the altar of Izzo.  I actually never really like the Big Ten growing up because the style of play was rough and slow and the teams weren’t good enough to make that style incredibly watchable.  But, in recent years, this conference has proven time and time again that it is THE premier conference in college basketball.  Look at this year as a perfect example of why it’s the best.  Michigan State is ravaged by injuries.  Ohio State has an incredibly down year.  Michigan loses its best player for the season.  Wisconsin loses three in a row at one point.  Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois are all down and in serious rebuilds.  And, what conference is STILL the best?  The Big Ten.  I know that this league hasn’t won since 2000 (which is shocking to me), but there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that this has – by any objective measure – by clearly the best conference in the country for at least 3-4 years now.  And, 2014 has been no different.  This tournament should insanely interesting with the champion having certainly earned it.

The majority of the field went with either Wisconsin or Michigan State as their Big Ten champ, so if they meet in the semifinals, it will be huge.  5 of the top 6 seeds were pegged as champions with only #4 Nebraska getting no support.  Only 3 people took top-seeded Michigan.  Not a lot of sleepers, though a lot of people like Iowa and Ohio State to go further than their seeds say they should.  Gersh and Stri split the 2012 title and since our 2013 champ didn’t enter this year, they are the de facto defending champs.  Bry won the Big Ten in the first two years and remains the only one with multiple titles in this conference.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Michigan vs #3 Michigan State
Much like the ACC final, the Big Ten finale pits the regular season champ versus the consensus preseason pick to win the league.  The Wolverines came out of nowhere to win the Big Ten by 3 full games over Wisconsin and MSU.  But, I think it’s safe to say that things might be slightly – or totally – different if the Spartans had stayed healthy all year.  And, they looked pretty spry in their impressive win over Wisconsin in the semis.  Michigan has looked really shaky this week, barely surviving Illinois in the quarters and then squeaking by Ohio State in the semis. Do they have one more bullet in the holster for their dear old rivals?

Bry, Lohse, and RDoc are the only 3 with Michigan here.  10 people (Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have Sparty.  GrossSr and PapaCim have locked up the 2014 Big Ten title regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points each)

#1 Michigan vs #5 Ohio State
Not sure if these two teams ever play in any other sport, but it’s always nice to see the state universities of these two neighbor states engage in a friendly sporting endeavor.  Both teams are somewhat lucky to even be in this game, as Michigan needed a last-second bucket to beat Illinois in the quarters, and Ohio State barely survived a pair of games – first, a 2-point win over Purdue in the opening round, then erasing an 18-point second half deficit against Nebraska in the quarters.

8 people (Alexi, Beks, Dave, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have Ohio State in this one, with Alexi and Dave picking the Buckeyes to win it all.  Lazarow has already lost this game with Nebraska.  The other 16 all have Michigan, though only Bry, Lohse, and RDoc have the Wolverines winning this tourney.

#2 Wisconsin vs #3 Michigan State
Wisconsin looked really, really good against Minnesota in the quarters.  Michigan State took care of business against Northwestern.  Now, we have a Final Four caliber game in the Big Ten semifinals.  These two only played once in the regular season – at the Kohl Center in Madison – and it was a hard-fought 2-point win for the Badgers.  But, MSU was missing both Brandon Dawson and Keith Appling.  This should be really, really good.

11 people (Alexi, Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have the Spartans.  Doogan and Lohse have already lost this game.  The other 12 all have Wisconsin, including 9 (Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf) with the Badgers winning the tournament.  10 people actually have MSU winning this whole thing (everyone who has them winning here except Alexi).  Needless to say, this game is a BIG DEAL for the CTC.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Michigan vs #9 Illinois
Possibly the most underrated coaching job of 2013-14 is the one done – AGAIN – by John Beilein in Ann Arbor.  Can we finally put him in the discussion with the best coaches in the country?  He just flat-out wins everywhere he goes.  Last year, he took a young team to the championship game, and this year, he loses his backcourt to the NBA and his best player to a back injury, and still wins the best conference in America by THREE FULL GAMES.  We should also be talking about Nick Stauskas as a potential Big Ten POY and the Wolverines as a possible 1-seed.  That is amazing after losing Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch McGary.  Walkon Spike Albrecht (who, despite his ridiculous heroics in the title game, was a walkon for a reason) is even playing major minutes for this team.  And, let me repeat – they won the best conference in the country by three whole games.  They open their Big Ten tournament against an Illinois team that is very dangerous and handled Indiana on Thursday.

All 25 entries have Michigan winning this one, but only Bry, Lohse, and RDoc have the Wolverines taking the Big Ten title on Sunday.

Michigan 64 – Illinois 63

#4 Nebraska vs #5 Ohio State
This is the one.  The one the Cornhuskers need to complete their case for inclusion in the field.  Nebraska has made incredible strides this year – after opening their shiny new building – and want to finish the season off right, with their first trip to the Dance in quite some time.  Terran Petteway has emerged as a go-to guy for the ‘Huskers on the offensive end, but the main improvements they have made this year have come on the defensive side of the ball.  They are a fantastic defensive team who finishes possessions by limiting offensive rebounds.  Their quarterfinal opponent, Ohio State, is seriously deficient offensively, so this could be a real struggle for the Buckeyes, who lost in Lincoln in late-January – the game that was the start of the turnaround for Nebraska.  The teams also played on Jan 4, when Ohio State was in the Top 5 in the country (man, that seems like a long time ago), and the Buckeyes annihilated the ‘Huskers 84-53 in Columbus.

Only 5 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Doogan, Lazarow) took Nebraska here.  The other 20 all have OSU, including Alexi and Dave, who have them winning this tournament.  6 others (Becks, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) all have the Buckeyes reaching the finals.

Ohio State 71 – Nebraska 67

#2 Wisconsin vs #7 Minnesota
The Gophers avoided a probable bubble-bursting loss Thursday night with a comeback win over Penn State.  Now, they have a chance to get off the bubble – in the right direction – on Friday if they can take down potential #1-seed in the Dance, Wisconsin.  Can we quick talk – as I like to any chance I get – about just how great Bo Ryan is.  Bo has been at Wisconsin for 12 years now.  He has been in the top 4 of the Big Ten (the best conference in basketball for much of that time) 12 times.  That’s right, Bo Ryan’s Badgers have never been lower than 4th place in the Big Ten regular season.  That would be impressive at any school, let alone at Wisconsin.  And, there are many who think (myself included) that this year’s version might be Bo’s best team ever.  Aside from a strange dip in late January, where they lost 5 of 6, the Badgers are 24-1, including wins over Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia (in the ugliest game ever played), Iowa (2x), Michigan State, and Michigan.  He’s got at least 4 guys (usually all 5) that are dead-eye shooters on the court at all times, and he’s got a 7-footer that dropped 43 (including 6-6 from 3-point range) against North Dakota earlier this year.  This Wisconsin team is so tough and will be a really tough out in any tournament they participate in.

Teddy is all alone on Minnesota here, hoping for a free 70 points on the field.  The other 24 all have the Badgers, including 9 people (Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf) that have the Badgers taking this title.  Bry and Dave are the only two that have them going to the finals and losing.

Wisconsin 83 – Minnesota 57

#3 Michigan State vs #11 Northwestern
And, the final entry to the Big Ten tournament this year is that team from East Lansing.  That team of the walking wounded.  Another fascinating stat about the greatness of a coach can be told here – no player that has played four years for Tom Izzo has ever left Michigan State without a trip to the Final Four.  But, that amazing statistic is actually on the line this year.  And, wouldn’t it be ironic if the class that breaks it is consists of Adrien Payne and Keith Appling?  Those two are fantastic and, yet, they are in danger of being the first two Spartans to play 4 years with a trip to the Final Four.  But, there are reasons why these stats exist, and, when healthy, this team is one of the best bets to make the Final Four and keep it going.  The big question that remains is:  are they healthy?  They are all back on the court, but are they healthy?  That remains to be seen.  The first team to test them was supposed to be a good, deep Iowa team that would run, run, and run.  That would have been a real test for a team that hasn’t played much together this year.  But, instead they get a NW team that likes to go slow, slow, and slower.  The Wildcats knocked off Iowa in the nightcap of Thursday’s festivities and now get a crack at Izzo and company.

7 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc, Scoot) have already lost this game with Iowa.  The other 18 have the Spartans, including 10 (Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) with them as their champs.  Alexi is the only one that has them in the finals without picking them to win it.

Michigan State 67 – Northwestern 51

OPENING ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Indiana vs #9 Illinois
The tipoff of the 2014 Big Ten tournament is between two teams that are too talented to be in the position of mere spoiler of “bid thief.”  But, that is the case for both UI and IU.  John Groce better get it together in Champaign, as Bruce Weber continues to shine in Manhattan, KS.  They Illini only have one senior of significance, and they were spectacular down the stretch, as they finished with a crazy 5-game stretch (@Min, Neb, @MichSt, Mich, @Iowa) in which they went an astonishing 4-1.  I’m not sure I would pick any team in the country to go 4-1 over that stretch, especially not a team that won ONE game (against Penn State) between Jan 5 and Feb 18.  But, tournaments like this are about who you can beat and Illinois has proven all year that they can beat anyone.  As for the Hoosiers, I am not sure why Tom Crean (who I think is a terrific coach) is getting a total pass on this season.  They have no chance at an at-large bid, despite one of the best freshmen in the country (Noah Vonleigh), a solid, if not spectacular, PG (Yogi Ferrell), and an experienced role player who can do a lot of things on both ends (Will Sheehey).  Is it because there just isn’t much other talent?  Well, doesn’t that fall on Crean as well?  I know that they lost an All-Star roster of players to the NBA, but at a place like Indiana who was put back on the map the past couple of years, I didn’t expect any down years any more, but that’s what we had.  I guess there is still time to make it up, but they have to win a really tough tournament.  The winner of this game will get #1 Michigan on Friday.

Only 6 people (Bry, Caleb, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, PapaCim) went with Illinois here.  No one has either of these teams beating Michigan in the quarters.

Illinois 64 – Indiana 54

#5 Ohio State vs #12 Purdue
What happened to OSU this year?  They should be great, and they looked great early on.  But, they just don’t have any offense and, ya know, scoring is important.  I asked Doogan the other day if Ohio State would be a Top 10 team in the country if Desean Thomas stayed in school instead of leaving a year early to play in Spain.  He said yes, and I agree.  That is exactly what they are missing – and he is one of the best at it – scoring.  As for Purdue, it doesn’t get much tougher for a 5-seed than to draw a 12-seed as good as the Boilers. The winner of this game will take on a Nebraska team that really needs a win to get off the bubble.

Bry is the only one that went for the big upset here with Purdue.  A Purdue win would also bust a ton of brackets.  Alexi and Dave have the Buckeyes winning this tournament.  Becks, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, and WaTers have them going to the finals.  11 more (Colton, GrossJr, GrossSr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stumpf) have them reaching the semis, so this is huge here for most of the field to keep OSU alive.  Aside from Bry, only Caleb, Chris, Doogan, and Lazarow have OSU not making the semis.

Ohio State 63 – Purdue 61

#7 Minnesota vs #10 Penn State
Richard Pitino has done a great job in Minneapolis, but the team is inconsistent and unsteady.  Sometimes they look great, sometimes they look very flat – and that might be inexperienced coaching.  But, they are in decent shape to make the tournament, but they have to beat Penn State on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions have one of the best backcourt duos in the great Tim Frazier and the nearly-great D.J. Newbill.  This is a dangerous game for the Gophers, and they better bring the good team to this one.  The winner here gets #2 Wisconsin.

9 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, GrossJr, Lynch, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, WaTers) took the Nittany Lions here with an upset that might kill Minnesota’s tournament hopes.  No one has either of these teams beating Wisconsin in the quarters.

Minnesota 63 – Penn State 56

#6 Iowa vs #11 Northwestern
God, I love this Iowa team.  But, they have really struggled to stop anyone lately.  And, if you don’t play defense, you just don’t win Big Ten games.  But, they do have a TON of talent and are probably the deepest team in the league (depth has hidden importance this year because of the new quicker whistles).  This game should be a fascinating game of completely contrasting styles.  Iowa LOVES to run and will on any occasion.  Northwestern will go slow, slow, and slower.  The ‘Cats are tough and should not be overlooked.  Iowa is in no danger of missing the Dance, but they are playing with the fire of a bad seeding and a loss here might put them in the dreaded 8/9 game.

Gersh, GrossJr, Lynch, and PapaCim went with a really nice NW upset pick here, though none of them have the ‘Cats beating Mich State.  Doogan puts his Big Ten champ at risk here in the nightcap.  Lohse has the Hawkeyes in the finals.  Bry, Dave, Lazarow, RDoc, and Scoot all have them beating Michigan State, so they need them to stay alive here.

Northwestern 67 – Iowa 62


Championship Picks

  • #1 Michigan (3) – Bry, Lohse, RDoc
  • #2 Wisconsin (9) – Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf
  • #3 Michigan State (10) – Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers
  • #4 Nebraska (0)
  • #5 Ohio State (2) – Alexi, Dave
  • #6 Iowa (1) – Doogan

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 Purdue (Bry)
  • QF – #6 Iowa (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc, Scoot)
  • SF – #5 Ohio State (Alexi, Becks, Dave, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Waters
  • 2011 –  Primm
  • 2012 – Gersh, Stri
  • 2013 – Cheryl

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The SEC (3/16)

How bad is the SEC?  Ya know, other than having the undisputed best team in the country.  Here’s your answer – pretty f’ing bad.  Want a better answer?  Georgia-in-3rd-place bad.  That’s really bad.  Florida is, obviously, incredible.  Kentucky is uber-talented and uber-young (guess I could write that every year) and what else is there?  Tennessee?  A lot of talent, very few results.  LSU?  Maybe even more talent, but ever fewer results.  Arkansas?  World-beaters at home, barely mediocre on the road.  Missouri?  8th place.  Ole Miss?  No depth and not all that talented anyway.  Alabama?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  What a terrible season of basketball for Conference Football.

Not surprising that the #1 team in the country gets the lion’s share of the championship picks in the CTC, as Florida grabs 20.  #2 Kentucky has 4 people believing in them, while #4 Tennessee has 1.  South Carolina is a sleeper pick to pull off 3 upsets, while LSU is the sleeper pick to reach the finals.  Primm holds the SEC title currently and will try and repeat this year.  Alexi is the only one to hold more than one SEC title.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Florida vs #2 Kentucky
No surprise here as we get the only two SEC teams that have really done anything (actually, it’s kind of 1.5 because UK hasn’t been all that great all year).  The #1 team in the country struggled with Tennessee, but survived, while UK cruised for the second straight day, beating up on overmatched Georgia.  Florida has been better all year, but you can make the case that UK has been better this week, though that might have to do with competition more than anything else.  We all know, though, that this Kentucky team is as talented as anyone, so if they put it together, watch out.

Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse are the only 4 with the ‘Cats here.  Dave is the only one who has already lost this game.  The other 20 all have the Gators.  Mac will win the SEC with a Florida win, while GrossSr will take it in Kentucky wins.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points each)

#1 Florida vs #4 Tennessee
These two incredible defenses were on display in the quarterfinals as neither team allowed their opponents to even hit 50.  Florida scores a lot better than Tennessee, though, and should have a considerable advantage in the backcourt in this one.  The Gators are going for 25 in a row here to start the SEC semifinal double-header.

Dave is the only one with Tennessee here, as he has the Vols winning this title.  Lohse has already lost this game.  The other 23 all have the Gators, including 20 title picks.

#2 Kentucky vs #3 Georgia
The Wildcats struggled early with LSU, but pretty much dominated the final 30 minutes in looking about as good as they have all year.  The rest of the nation should take notice if the ‘Cats have found “it.”  UGa did exactly what they have done all season on Friday – win a close game against a mediocre team.  Ole Miss is nothing special, but there is something to be said for winning all these close ones.

Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, and Primm all have Georgia here, though none have them winning the title.  Becks and J have already lost this game.  The other 19 all have UK here, with Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse taking Cal’s Kids to win the tourney.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Florida vs #8 Missouri
And, we finally welcome the #1 team in all of college basketball to the CTC party, as the Florida Gators take the floor Friday against a Missouri team that needed two overtimes to beat Texas A&M on Thursday.  The Tigers will need all the energy they can muster – and probably more – to handle the country’s best team.  Billy Donovan is at it again.  He has his guys playing at a ridiculously high level and has done so rather quietly yet again.  It is amazing how well Donovan develops players.  Casey Prather is one of, if not the, most improved players in the nation.  Scottie Wilbekin – the SEC Player of the Year – never looked like he would ever hold that honor.  They have men inside in Patric Young and Will Yeguete.  They have secondary scorers like Dorrian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier.  They have excitement off the bench in Kasey Hill.  And, yet, if you ask even good college basketball fans to name the best players in the country, how many would they name until they named a Gator?  If they even named one at all.  But, this team is ROCK SOLID defensively and incredibly efficient offensively.  They rebound the ball and protect it.  In fact, it is pretty amazing to think of how close this team is to being undefeated right now.  They had multiple injuries, including Scottie Wilbekin, in a 6-point loss AT Wisconsin, and were missing a couple key players, including Kasey Hill, in a 1-point loss AT Connecticut.  If not for that, the Gators would actually be considered to have a a legitimate shot to finish the year undefeated…unlike the senseless dismissal of Wichita’s chances.

Everyone has the Gators winning this game.  The people rooting against them today would be Dave and Lohse, mostly, as they are the only two that don’t have them in the finals.  It wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Bry, Colton, or GrossSr either, as they are the other 3 that have someone other than Florida winning this tournament.

Florida 72 – Missouri 49

#4 Tennessee vs #13 South Carolina
The Tennessee Vols are WAY too talented to be in this position – a bubble position.  Swept by Texas A&M and losses at Vandy and Mizzou have this immensely talented and experienced team sweating out the selection process this year.  And, any team with Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae shouldn’t be sweating out much of anything.  The Vols are, however, probably on the inside of the bubble, so it might be good that they will get a South Carolina team in the quarters instead of an Arkansas team because a trip to the SEC semis should be enough for the Vols to get in.  The dangerous part is if they lose to USC (who has already hammered Auburn and beat Arkansas this week), then they may be on the outside looking in.

The miracle Gamecocks run has taken him this far, so why quit not?  GrossSr is trying to complete an incredible prediction of South Carolina to the semis here.  Quite a few people had Arkansas here, so there are some nice points to be had for the 14 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Chris, Colton, Dave, Doogan, J, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, Teddy, WaTers) who have the Vols here.  Dave is the only one risking a finalist, and he is actually risking a champion here with UT.

Tennessee 59 – South Carolina 44

#2 Kentucky vs #7 LSU
The one team that Kentucky probably didn’t want to see in early in the SEC tournament is the exact team that they will face in their quarterfinal opener to this tourney.  LSU did beat Kentucky in Baton Rouge and should have beaten them in Lexington, but lost by a point in overtime.  Now, they get the rubber match on the “neutral” court in Catlanta.  The Tigers got here by whipping Alabama in the second round on Thursday.  Kentucky is here because, well, they’re nowhere near as good as Florida and the rest of the league is really bad, so they kind of backed into the 2-seed.  But, it certainly isn’t for lack of talent that they aren’t living up to the preseason #1 ranking.  With the exception of the man-child Julius Randle, the “best recruiting class ever” has been rather ordinary, to be honest.  The Harrison twins (ranked as the #1 point guard and #1 shooting guard in the country) have proven that they are both just “guards.”  They have, for their entire lives, been so much better than everyone that they played against – and had each other on the same team – that they just kind of “played” point guard and shooting guard.  But, as it turns out, neither one really has any clue how to run an offense, and neither one is really all that good of a shooter.  So, neither is a point guard and neither is a shooting guard.  They are both tweener guards who drive and dominate the ball.  That is not exactly what a team that has one of the most dominating inside forces in the game (Randle) and an actual “shooting guard” (James Young) on the floor most of the time.  This team is so talented, but so misfit, and it will be interesting to see if Coach Cal can pull something together in time.  But, the time starts now – against the wrong opponent.

J and Primm both have a really nice 70-point upset pick here with LSU.  J even has the Tigers going to the finals.  Lynch and RDoc have already lost this game with ‘Bama.  The other 21 all have UK here with most people picking them to go to the finals, though only Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse have the ‘Cats cutting down the nets in Catlanta on Sunday.

Kentucky 85 – LSU 67

#3 Georgia vs #6 Ole Miss
And, depending on start times, the final team to play a game in the CTC is likely to be Georgia – didn’t see that one coming.  The real shock of the SEC season (and the best piece of evidence of its incredible drop in quality) is that the Georgia Bulldogs finished 3rd in the SEC this year.  Now, I love Mark Fox and think he’s a great coach, but there is just no talent here.  This is a team that went to the 8-team Charleston Classic and finished 8th – behind such worldbeaters as UAB (8th-place in C-USA), Temple (9-22 this year), and Davidson (low-major team that is rebuilding).  But, with the power of unbalanced scheduling, a team that didn’t beat a single SEC team higher than 7th-place, can finish 3rd.  The good news for Coach Fox is that this will not be the best year for this team, as the entire team except center Donte Williams is back next year (unless Kenny Gaines makes the stupid decision to enter the draft).  The Bulldogs will try to make another amazing run like the one they did a couple years ago that required them to play two games on the same day starting with Marshall Henderson’s Rebels, who dismissed cross-state rival Mississippi State with a big second half on Thursday.

11 people (Becks, Chris, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, RDoc, Stumpf, Teddy) have a really nice upset pick here with Ole Miss.  Becks and RDoc have a real shot at correctly placing Ole Miss in the finals.  The other 14 all have UGA, including Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, and Primm, who have the Dawgs getting to the finals.

Georgia 75 – Ole Miss 73

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Missouri vs #9 Texas A&M
I know Mizzou looks like a tournament team and might actually have the resume of a tournament team.  And, I also understand the concept of unbalanced conference schedules, but I hope we don’t hide behind that last point to give teams a pass for failing in conference play.  I just can’t wrap my head around the 8th-place team in a conference as weak as the SEC is this year going to the tournament.  At least, not yet.  If they beat Florida on Friday, I would have to change my tune, but is there any evidence whatsoever that says they can do that?  I haven’t seen any.  In fact, I’m not sure they’re a clear-cut pick to beat a feisty Texas A&M team on Thursday.  The Aggies aren’t that talented at the top of their roster, but they do play a lot of guys a lot of minutes and they play hard-nosed, aggressive defense, which kind of makes them perfect for tournaments like this where you play every day.  But, that advantage doesn’t set it until, at least, the second game – and not if that second game is against a team off of a bye.  Either way, their style is scary in a one-and-done, so Mizzou better watch out because they could easily lose this game and then they would really be on the outside of that bubble conversation.  The winner here takes a shot at the #1 team in all the land…the Florida Gators.

Only 3 people (Caleb, RDoc, and Stumpf) took the Aggies in a mild upset here.  The other 22 all took Mizzou, though no one has Florida losing to either of these teams on Friday.

Missouri 91 – Texas A&M 83 (2 OT)

#5 Arkansas vs #13 South Carolina
The Razorbacks should be a tournament team (and they are squarely on the bubble).  The Home Razorbacks look like a top-6 seed.  The Road Razorbacks would be lucky to get a 6-seed in the NIT.  We are about to find out about the Neutral Razorbacks.  As is common for Mike Anderson in the Nolan Richardson way, he plays a ton of guys and runs them hard on defense.  It takes away from their offense, but does force a ton of TOs.  South Carolina is VERY prone to turning the ball over (which they did 19 times in a regular season loss to the Razorbacks), so this isn’t the best matchup for Frank Martin’s squad.  But, after a blowout of Auburn (which got Tony Barbee fired), they are kind of playing with house money.  The winner here takes on #4 Tennessee in the quarters.

GrossSr, Mac, and PapaCim have a huge upset pick here.  GrossSr actually has USC in the semifinals.  Dave, Primm, and WaTers have already lost this game with Auburn.  The other 19 all have Arkansas, including many that have them going to the semis, and Lohse, who has them in the finals.

South Carolina 71 – Arkansas 69

#7 LSU vs #10 Alabama
LSU has so much talent that it almost hurts to see them lose.  They are absolutely loaded, but just can’t seem to do anything consistently.  They should have beaten Kentucky twice this year (they did get one), and yet they were swept by Georgia.  However, a quick look at their schedule shows the only bad losses were Texas A&M and Rhode Island, but their best win other than Kentucky is either a home win over Arkansas (who stinks on the road) or a neutral win over St. Joe’s.  That is not enough.  They need at least one more marquee win.  And, to even have a shot at that, they need to first beat Alabama here in the second round.  Okay, I think I have officially stopped defending Anthony Grant.  I loved him at VCU and thought ‘Bama made a fantastic hire.  And, then when I saw he was recruiting well, I thought – this might be a perennial power.  But, they just don’t win games.  And, if I’m off, then I’m sure the Alabama administration is off of Grant, so this is probably it for a good coach.  I just hope he lands in a nice mid-major and is able to build back some credibility.  This is a talent-laden game of underachievers.  And, the winner takes on the ultimate in that category, #2 Kentucky.

Surprisingly, more people had Alabama (13) than LSU (12 – Alexi, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Lazarow, Lohse, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf).  Lynch and RDoc have Alabama beating Kentucky.  J and Primm have LSU beating UK.  J is the only one that risks a finalist here, as he has LSU going that far.

LSU 68 – Alabama 56

#6 Ole Miss vs #14 Mississippi State
If I had told you last year that Marshall Henderson would be a full-fledged member of Ole Miss all season long and that the national landscape would be completely ignoring him.  Would you believe me?  I wouldn’t even believe me.  How does the biggest story in college basketball come back for another year, PLAY BETTER, and get forgotten?  Well, I guess the simple answer is that he’s been moderately well-behaved…and that Ole Miss isn’t very good.  But, it’s not Marshall’s fault, he’s been excellent – even coming off the bench a lot.  But, the talent around him just isn’t there this year.  They can still rise up and beat people and a run to the finals and a close loss to Florida might give the Committee something to think about, but I still don’t think it’ll be enough to get Marshall back to the Big Stage for one last act.  Then again, the Marshall I know doesn’t need much of a stage to make a helluva an act.  The Rebs take on their in-state rivals in this one, who are fresh off an impressive dismissal of Vanderbilt late Wednesday night.  The winner will get #3 Georgia in the quarters.

No one has MSU here, but 9 people (Bry, Caleb, Doogan, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri, Stritts) have all already lost this game with Vandy, so they are Bulldog fans tonight (though, I’ll be honest, I can’t root against Marshall Henderson…).  The other 16 all have the Rebels, including Becks and RDoc, who have them in the finals.  9 others (Chris, Colton, Dave, Gersh, Grossjr, J, Lohse, Stumpf, Teddy) have them beating UGA on Friday.

Ole Miss 78 – Mississippi State 66

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 5 points each)

#12 Auburn vs #13 South Carolina
I don’t care what people say, I love Frank Martin, and I would send my kid to play for him any day of the week.  The modern-day Bobby Knight (ya know, without any of the success or the extent of the controversies) gets the most out of his players.  Unfortunately, at South Carolina, he hasn’t really had any good players.  Well, they will open the SEC tournament against an Auburn team that actually showed some signs of progress this year…small signs, but signs nonetheless.  The winner of this game will take on #5 Arkansas in the second round on Thursday.

The slight favorite Auburn is only a choice of 10 CTC entries (Alexi, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, Lohse, Primm, RDoc, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers), though 4 of them (Dave, Mac, Primm, WaTers) have the Tigers winning again over Arkansas.  GrossSr and PapaCim both have South Carolina beating Arkansas in the second round.  GrossSr has the Gamecocks winning again over Tennessee in the quarters.

South Carolina 74 – Auburn 56
Frank Martin’s Gamecocks came to play (as they always do) here in the SEC tournament opener, as they crushed Auburn to move on to a second round date with Arkansas.

15 people got this slight upset pick, including PapaCim, who keeps alive a quarterfinalist, and GrossSr, who keeps alive a semifinalist.  Dave, Mac, Primm, and WaTers all lose a quarterfinalist here.

#11 Vanderbilt vs #14 Mississippi State
I have always said that my short list of the most underrated coaches in America would start with Kevin Stallings.  I mean let’s really think about what kind of talent he really gets to go to Vanderbilt with its academic burdens and lack of a counter-acting basketball history to the extent of Stanford and Duke, it can’t be easy to maintain a strong program there, but he does it.  Think about the great players from Vandy.  There aren’t many, and the ones that do come to mind (John Jenkins, Jeffrey Taylor, Demarre Carroll, and even going all the way back to Billy McCaffrey) are all seniors, which means that Stallings and his staff at least had a small hand in developing these guys.  And, yet this team is – more often than not – nationally relevant.  It has been a bit of a down year, but they are building and still pretty decent.  The other coach that I would always reference as habitually underrated was Rick Stansbury and since he left after the 2012 season, the Bulldogs of Miss State have been doormats.  They are again this year.  If matchups matter, then this might be a bad one for State, who lost the only regular season matchup against Vandy 72-31 at home.  Yep, 72-31 at home.  The winner here gets Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss on Thursday.

Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy have the decent upset pick of MSU here with no one having them go any further.  8 people (Bry, Caleb, Doogan, GrossSr, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri, Stritts) have Vandy beating Ole Miss in the second round.

Mississippi State 82 – Vanderbilt 68
A terrible way for the Commodores season to end, as they lose to last-place Mississippi State it the first round of the SEC tournament.  Mississippi State will move on to face Ole Miss on Thursday.

Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy pick up a nice upset here.  8 people lost quarterfinalist in this one.


Championship Picks

  • #1 Florida (20)
  • #2 Kentucky (4) – Bry, Colton, GrossSr, Lohse
  • #3 Georgia (0)
  • #4 Tennessee (1) – Dave

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #14 Mississippi State (Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, Teddy)
  • R2 – #13 South Carolina (GrossSr, Mac, PapaCim)
  • QF – #13 South Carolina (GrossSr)
  • SF – #7 LSU (J)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Waters
  • 2009 – Alexi
  • 2010 – Alexi
  • 2011 – Rikey (perfect)
  • 2012 – Mac
  • 2013 – Primm

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The ACC (3/16)

And, here we go.  The newly-expanded ACC kicks off its tournament in Greensboro on Wednesday.  Becoming almost the poster-child for conference expansion, the ACC is 15 teams strong next year and will replace departing Maryland with incoming Louisville next year (which is a massive upgrade that even these Terrapin sycophants around me would have to admit).  There were some down years across the league this year, but when Rick Pitino gets here, and some of the other solid programs rebound, this should be a pretty brutal league.  That being said, all this talk of “best conference ever” and “head and shoulders above all other conferences” needs to stop.  The ACC was again a total disappointment this year, finishing behind – by all accounts – the Big Ten and Big XII this year as far as conference power rankings, and by many accounts, they were behind the Pac-12, Big East, and/or even the American.  The bottom of the league wasn’t atrocious, but they certainly weren’t “good,” and the bottom stretches up pretty high in this 15-team league.  To have 9 teams worse considerably worse than Clemson is not exactly “best conference ever” material.  Still, this tournament should be incredibly intriguing as we have the surprise regular season champ, UVA, up top, then the budding new rivalry between Syracuse and Duke lined up for a potential semifinal, and then the red-hot UNC set to possibly face the hollow resume of Pitt in the quarters.  As much as I hate the ACC and all its pomp and elitism, it can put on a good show this time of year.

The CTC championship picks show no simply majority here in the ACC (which is a great sign for an interesting tournament).  #3 Duke is the most popular pick here with 11 followed by #2 Syracuse with 7.  So, if those two are to meet in the semifinals, it could go a long way to determining the 2014 CTC champion.  Only 3 people went with top-seeded UVa.  #4 UNC and #5 Pitt each saw two people taking them to win here in Greensboro.  A bunch of upset picks, including strong support for BC winning a pair of games, and even a couple people taking Maryland to go to the semis in their last ACC hurrah.  Caleb and Teddy shared the 2013 ACC title, so they will try and repeat this year.  No one has ever won this conference more than once.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Virginia vs #3 Duke
The regular season champs versus the preseason favorite and the perennial champs.  UVa only played Duke once – in Cameron – and gave them all they could handle, though the Devils prevailed.  The Cavs have been more impressive in this tournament, however, as they handled FSU and played really well against Pitt.  Duke was pushed to the brink by Clemson (and probably should have lost) and then took care of N.C. State.  This should be excellent.

Chris, GrossSr, and Stri are the only 3 with the top-seeded Cavs.  11 people (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) have the Blue Devils.  J and Stritts have already clinched the ACC crown, no matter what happens on Sunday.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points)

#1 Virginia vs #5 Pittsburgh
UVa, the top seed, made short work of a tough Florida State team in the quarters, showing how they won this conference in the regular season.  Pitt led UNC big most of the way and then dealt with a furious comeback to beat cool off the Heels.  Now, the two face off for a spot in the ACC championship.

Dave, Stumpf, Teddy, and WaTers have Pitt winning this game, including Stumpf and Teddy, who have them cutting down the nets on Sunday.  9 people (Becks, Chris, Doogan, GrossSr, J, Mac, PapaCim, Stri, Stritts) have UVa winning here, including Chris, GrossSr, and Stri, who have the Cavs taking this title.

#3 Duke vs #7 N.C. State
Well, we are deprived of a Round Three between Duke and Syracuse, but with the way the ‘Cuse is playing, it probably wouldn’t have lived up to the billing.  Duke, themselves, is very fortunate to be here at all, as they probably should have lost to Clemson in the quarterfinals nightcap.  The whole bubble world is rooting for Duke to continue their dominance in this rivalry.

No one has N.C. State winning this game.  10 people (Alexi, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stumpf, WaTers) have already lost this game.  The other 15 all have the Dukies, including 11 (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) with the Devils winning it all.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Virginia vs #9 Florida State
The Cavs won their first ACC regular season since Ralph Sampson was at UVa.  And, they won it convincingly.  Granted, the unbalanced schedule aided them immensely (they only played each of the TOP SEVEN ACC teams once – they had all their doubles against the bottom of the league), but there is no denying a team that this team is an elite team in the nation with a legit shot at a #1-seed in the next tournament.  They are incredibly balanced and incredibly well-coached.  It is debatable whether or not they have the “star power” to make a deep run into March, and while most people would probably say that they don’t have a superstar on the caliber of a Jabari Parker or Tyler Ennis, I tend to disagree.  We are not talking about NBA potential here, we are talking about an ability to take over a college basketball game, and I think that Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon are both able to dominate.  They both have great size and immense skill sets.  They play smart on both ends of the floor and never try to do too much.  Harris, especially, is cold-blooded when the game is on the line.  I really like this Cavs team and want to see them make a deep run.  Their ACC tournament begins with a quarterfinal matchup against a huge and talented team that is desperate.  FSU’s last-second win over Maryland on Thursday kept them in the bubble talk.  A win here would cement their at-large candidacy, but they still have a shot if they lose…it all depends.

Alexi and Dave have already lost this game with Maryland.  The other 23 all have UVa, including Chris, GrossSr, and Stri, who have the Cavs cutting down the Greensboro nets on Sunday (which would probably cement their 1-seed after ‘Nova’s loss on Thursday).

Virginia 64 – Florida State 51

#4 North Carolina vs #5 Pittsburgh
What an incredibly strange season on Chapel Hill.  In fact, I’m not sure I can ever remember a season so bizarre.  First of all, when the beat Duke in Chapel Hill on Feb 20, they became the first team in college basketball history to beat all four of the preseason Top 4 teams in the country – after having already beaten Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky.  So, wow, what a season, right?  Well, not exactly.  This same team – in this same season – lost at home to Belmont, lost at UAB (in between the L’ville and MSU wins), and needed overtime to beat Davidson at home.  What?!?!?  Also, this bunch – right before reeling off 12 straight conference wins – became the first UNC team ever to go 0-3 and then the first to go 1-4 in ACC play.  But, the important part is that they righted the ship in time for March, and they found a legit go-to guy on this team, Marcus Page.  Now, the Heels are in the mix for this tournament and open with a quarterfinal matchup against a tough Pitt team that dismantled Wake Forest on Thursday.  This could be the marquee win that Pitt needs.

6 people (Becks, Dave, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) have Pitt here, including 2 champions (Stumpf and Teddy) and 2 finalists (Dave and WaTers).  The other 19 all have UNC here, including Lazarow and Lynch, who have them winning the whole thing.  10 others (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Colton, Gersh, GrossJr, Lohse, Primm, RDoc, Scoot) all have the Heels reaching the finals.  This is a pretty huge CTC game.

Pittsburgh 80 – North Carolina 75

#2 Syracuse vs #7 N.C. State
And, enter the Orange.  The team that was #1 for so many weeks.  The team that gave us two fantastic games in a budding rivalry against Duke.  The team that showed up that freshmen point guards can succeed in major conference basketball.  The team that always steadfastly defends the old school 2-3 non-trapping zone defense and shows us exactly how it is supposed to be played and how it doesn’t necessarily lead to a million made 3’s when played correctly (and by long athletes, of course).  The team whose point guard is a national sensation, but whose small forward is CLEARLY their best player.  And……the team that had completely taken on water since starting the season 25-0.  Losses to BC, Duke, UVa, and Ga Tech in its final 6 games is not the Syracuse we knew just three weeks ago.  One of the most interesting storylines in any conference tournament will be to see if this team has gotten it figured out again.  If so, they are on the short list of national title contenders.  If not, they might be lucky to make it to the second weekend.  They open their first ever ACC tournament against an N.C. State team that survived Miami in the second round on Thursday.

J, Stritts, and Teddy all went for the big upset of N.C. State here (which would net them a cool 70 points).  The other 22 all played it safe and went Syracuse for 20.  7 people (Alexi, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Primm, Scoot, WaTers) believe in the Orange enough to have them winning it all.  Chris, Lazarow, and Stumpf have them going to the finals, but losing.

N.C. State 66 – Syracuse 63

#3 Duke vs #6 Clemson
This Blue Devil team looks just like a lot of the Blue Devil teams of recent years.  Sensational in some aspects, but possibly not sensational enough to overcome some big and glaring deficiencies.  They are, as usual, absolutely loaded on the wing.  Jabari Parker is the real deal as a scorer, and Rodney Hood has lived up to all the Coach K hype coming into the season.  Throw in Andre Dawkins (who, quietly, is in the top 5 on Duke’s all-time list of 3-pointers made) and Rasheed Sulaimon (who would be playing 35 minutes a night for basically any other team in the country) and this team comes at you in waves on the wing.  But, they are very deficient in other areas – particularly on the defensive side.  Quin Cook is a decent distributor of the ball and will make the open shot, but he’s far from dynamic and a borderline liability on defense.  And, the bigs are – as has been the case for a while in Cameron – almost non-existent.  And, don’t get me started on Jabari Parker’s defense.  While it’s not quite enough to negate all the special things he does on offense, it seriously dampens their effects.  I think this team is flawed, but in this day and age of college hoops, so is everybody else, so they are legit national title contenders.  But, they wouldn’t be my first choice.  They open the ACC with a Clemson team that is rough and tough and could give the Dukies trouble…again.  The Tigers won 72-59 over the Devils back in early January.

All 25 people have the Dukies here in Greensboro with most taking them to get to the finals, and 11 (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) taking them to win it all.

Duke 63 – Clemson 62

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Maryland vs #9 Florida State
These Maryland people around me still think the Terps are on the bubble and maybe they are, but these people can’t be trusted.  Haha, just kidding, everyone here from the beautifully Southern state of Maryland.  Anyway, the Terps got a huge win over UVa to close out the regular season and, honestly, even I would have to consider them a potential bubble team if they can beat the Cavs again on Friday.  But, to get there, they will have to get past a Florida State team that came out of the gates this year like gangbusters, but tailed off down the stretch.  The Seminoles are very good and can beat anyone in the country, but they haven’t showed it of late and are in serious trouble of not making the tournament.  I think it’s safe to say that this is a loser-goes-home game to open a nice day of ACC hoops in Greensboro.  The winner here gets a shot at ACC champs, Virginia.

9 people (Bry, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts) have the slight upset here with FSU.  The other 16 have UMD, including Alexi and Dave, who both have them beating the Cavs on Friday.

Florida State 67 – Maryland 65

#5 Pittsburgh vs #12 Wake Forest
The Pitt Panthers are one of the more interesting at-large cases I can remember.  They finished 5th in a major conference, were ranked in the Top 15 nationally at certain points in the season, are beloved by the tempo-free guys, and yet don’t have a single marquee win to speak of.  And, I think that if they lose to Wake here on Thursday, they are not going to make the tournament.  Yet, if they win the ACC tournament, they could make a case for a seeding as high as 3.  A win here probably doesn’t guarantee them a spot (though a win on Friday over UNC probably would), but it would go a long way.  The winner here does get the Tar Heels in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

No one has Wake here, but Bry, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, and Lynch are all rooting for the Deacons because they had Notre Dame here, so they’re hoping to zero out this game.  Two people who are certainly not rooting for Wake are Stumpf and Teddy, who have the Panthers winning the whole thing.  Dave and WaTers have them in the finals.  Becks and PapaCim have them in the semis.

Pittsburgh 84 – Wake Forest 55

#7 N.C. State vs #10 Miami (FL)
The Wolfpack, after not performing to expectations with an absolutely LOADED roster in 2012-13, have kind of overperformed with a very UNloaded roster in 2013-14.  Then again it’s hard to call any roster unloaded when they have the ACC Player of the Year.  T.J. Warren is an absolute beast and can (and has) single-handedly win ACC games.  Miami, who barely survived Va Tech on Wednesday comes in with a style that can really bother N.C. State, as evidenced by the 85-70 Miami win two weeks ago in Raleigh.  This is a dangerous spot for State.  The winner here gets #2 Syracuse in the quarters.

An amazing 11 people (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, Lynch, Primm, Stumpf, WaTers) have the Hurricanes here, though none have them beating the ‘Cuse.  J, Stritts, and Teddy have the most at stake here, as they have N.C. State upsetting the Orange on Friday.

N.C. State 67 – Miami (FL) 58

#6 Clemson vs #11 Georgia Tech
Brad Brownell has done a really good job at Clemson, but people don’t know it.  I am not sure why everyone thinks this Clemson job is so keen and that they should be making the tournament every year – it never was before, so why is Brownell held to this standard?  He is doing a lot with not that much (which may be his fault in recruiting, but it’s not like South Carolina is a hotbed of talent and it’s not like Clemson is this big destination for ballplayers, either).  I love his style of play, and I think his Tigers teams win more games that I would otherwise expect them to every year.  They are on the bubble again (though, they probably have to at least beat Duke in the quarters for even a little consideration).  They open with a Ga Tech team that barely escaped an overtime game with BC on Wednesday with the winner earning a shot at Duke on their de facto home floor.

8 people (Becks, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, RDoc) went with a really great upset pick here with Ga Tech.  Lohse, Stri, and WaTers all went with an even better one with BC, but they didn’t make it to the game to give them a shot.  The other 14 people all have Clemson here.  No one has Duke losing to any of these teams in the quarters.

Clemson 69 – Georgia Tech 65 (OT)

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 5 points each)

#12 Wake Forest vs #13 Notre Dame
The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest were terrific at home this year, which is nice to see as maybe this historically solid program is coming back to relevance.  They did have a back-loaded schedule that caused them to lose 9 of their final 11 games, though those two wins were against Duke and Clemson.  Notre Dame is one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year, as they were in the preseason Top 15 in the country and they finished 13th in their conference.  They still have a lot of talent, though, especially in that deadly backcourt.  Would it surprise anyone if they made a little run?  The winner of this game will get #5 Pittsburgh in the second round in what will be a very interesting game with the Panthers squarely on the bubble.

Only 6 people (Colton, Doogan, GrossJr, Stri, Stritts, WaTers) took the slight favorite, Wake Forest, with none of them taking the Deacons to beat Pitt.  Not only did 19 people take ND here, but 5 of them (Bry, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch) have the Irish beating Pitt in the second round.

Wake Forest 81 – Notre Dame 69
Wake Forest ends an incredibly disappointing season in South Bend with a convincing 12-point win over ND.  The Deacons win their first ACC tournament game in the “Modern Era” of the CTC.  Now, Wake will take their chances against a Pitt team that could really use another bubbly win.

Only 6 people got this one right, and 5 people lost a quarterfinalist here.

#10 Miami (FL) vs #15 Virginia Tech
Good move, Va Tech in firing Seth Greenberg.  The great coach with a hard-to-like personality (who has turned into an incredibly likeable TV personality, ironically) was the best coach that that school has ever had and will ever have.  And, they let him go and now they are a laughingstock.  They open (and probably close) their ACC tournament with an underrated Miami team.  Jim Larranaga’s retirement to Coral Gables actually had him doing some work last year in the shocking ACC title and 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.  But, that entire team is gone and yet Larranaga has his boys still a little relevant, despite playing a hideously slow pace.  The winner here gets a second round date with ACC Player of the Year, T.J. Warren, and #7 N.C. State.

Bry, PapaCim, RDoc, and Stri all went with the big Va Tech upset here, though no one has them beating N.C. State.  Miami has a huge base of CTC support, as not only do 21 people have them winning here, but 11 people (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, Lynch, Primm, Stumpf, WaTers) actually have them beating State in the second round.  None of the 12 have them then beating the ‘Cuse, though.

Miami (FL) 57 – Virginia Tech 53
A back and forth game ended up with the Hurricanes pulling it out late.  Va Tech acquitted themselves somewhat well after a terrible regular season, but couldn’t pull it out.  Miami now will take on T.J. Warren and the Wolfpack.

4 people missed a big upset, while 11 people keep alive a shot at a nice upset on Thursday.

#11 Georgia Tech vs #14 Boston College
If Notre Dame might not be the biggest disappointment in the country because they might not even be the biggest disappointment in their own league.  Boston College was supposed to be very good this year, and they have been very bad.  They started poorly, finished poorly and were really poor in between.  The Eagles are 7-23 against D-I opponents.  Of those 7 wins, they have 2 against lowly Va Tech, one 3-point home win over Florida-Atlantic, and an OT home win over Sacred Heart.  Oh, and then there’s that team called Syracuse that they beat (what?!?).  As for Ga Tech, they were okay – nothing special, but not terrible. The winner here will take on 6th-seeded Clemson in the second round.

By far the most important of the three ACC games for the CTC on Wednesday is the nightcap.  10 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lohse, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have the upset pick of BC.  Lohse, Stri, and WaTers all have the Eagles winning again on Thursday over Clemson.  Of the 15 people that have Ga Tech here, 8 of them (Becks, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, RDoc) have the Yellow Jackets winning again on Thursday.  So, either 3 or 8 people are going to lose twice with this game.  No one on either side has one of these teams beating Duke in the quarters.

Georgia Tech 73 – Boston College 70 (OT)
After blowing a 13-point lead late in the second half, the Yellow Jackets recovered and won this game in overtime on the backs of a couple huge plays by former Tennessee Volunteer, Trae Golden.  Ga Tech now moves on to face #6 Clemson in the nightcap of the ACC second round quadruple-header on Thursday.  BC’s nightmare season is now over.

Also over are Lohse, Stri, and WaTers hope for a surprise quarterfinalist.  This was an important win for the 8 people that have the Jackets beating Clemson in the second round.


Championship Picks

  • #1 Virginia (3) – Chris, GrossSr, Stri
  • #2 Syracuse (7) – Alexi, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Primm, Scoot, WaTers
  • #3 Duke (11)
  • #4 North Carolina (2) – Lazarow, Lynch
  • #5 Pittsburgh (2) – Stumpf, Teddy

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #15 Virginia Tech (Bry, PapaCim, RDoc, Stri)
  • R2 – #14 Boston College (Lohse, Stri, WaTers)
  • QF – #8 Maryland (Alexi, Dave)
  • SF – #5 Pittsburgh (Dave, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Doogan
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Alexi
  • 2012 – Primm
  • 2013 – Caleb, Teddy

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Atlantic 10 (3/16)

What a job this year around the league in the A-10.  If I had told you at the end of last season that Temple, Xavier, and Butler would all leave the league, and that LaSalle and Richmond would have disappointing seasons, how many bids do you think the A-10 would be in line to get?  Two?  Three, at most?  Try six.  That is what the A-10 is staring at right now.  A potential 6 bids if everything falls right.  They are ensured of getting 4, and it would be very unlikely that they don’t get 5.  That’s fantastic for this league – a league where my heart still resides, even if my team doesn’t anymore.

Most of the championship support is among the top two seeds, as only UMass (4) was picked by anyone as an A-10 champ.  George Mason is a big sleeper for a couple of people.  Bry, Doogan, and Stumpf all tied for the 2013 A-10 CTC championship.  Bry and WaTers both have a pair of A-10 titles on their mantles and are looking for a shiny new one.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 54 points)

#2 VCU vs #4 Saint Joseph’s
God, I can’t wait for more facetime for the intolerable Phil Martelli.  Either way, though, he has the Hawks playing really well and will have them playing in next week’s tournament no matter what happens here.  How about Kanesevich going for 26 & 17 against the Bonnies?  Wow!  But, you know who else is playing well?  The Havoc.  VCU beat GW (in a game that was a lot closer than the final score) and has its defense running on all cylinders at just the right time.  This team is going to be a tough out in any tournament they play in.

No one has the Hawks here, but 10 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) have VCU.  Stri has clinched the 2014 A-10 CTC title – his first A-10 trophy.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 36 points each)

#4 Saint Joseph’s vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
Is this 2012 all over again?  St. Bonaventure had an amazing run to the 2012 A-10 tournament title.  But, at least then they were the 4-seed.  They had no shot at an at-large, but this one would be much less expected.  Jordan Gathers hit a game-winning three to knock out #1-seed Saint Louis in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.  A little more than two hours later, Langston Galloway hit a game-winner for St. Joe’s to get past Dayton.  Now, they face off in Saturday’s semifinal for the right to play a title game on Selection Sunday.  This has really opened up for St. Joe’s, who will probably play themselves off the bubble and into the tournament with a trip to the finals.

Dave, GrossSr, Stri, and WaTers are the only 4 with any shot at points here, as they all have St. Joe’s.  None of them have the Hawks winning the title.  Obviously, no one has the Bonnies in this one.

#2 VCU vs #3 George Washington
With the top-seeded Bilikens out of the tournament, the winner of the second semifinal will be wearing the home whites in the championship game on Sunday.  VCU dominated Richmond in the quarters, while GW took care of UMass without any real trouble.  This should be a really good game between two teams that split a pair in the regular season.

Gersh and RDoc are the only two with GW winning this one.  7 people (Caleb, Dave, J, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, Scoot) have already lost this one.  The other 16 all have VCU, including 10 (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) who have the Rams winning the whole thing.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 18 points each)

#1 Saint Louis vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
For most of the season, the story of the St. Louis Bilikens may have been the most underreported, underrated story in all of college hooops.  As recently as Feb 26, the Bilikens had lost two games all year – a 6-point loss to Wisconsin and a 5-point loss to Wichita State.  Other than that, they were a perfect 25-0 including 12-0 in a conference that might get 6 teams to the tournament.  But, that all changed on Feb 27, when the lowly Duquesne Dukes came into SLU and beat the Bilikens on their home floor, ending 19-game winning streak in the process.  SLU then lost at VCU two days later and Dayton at home four days after that.  They were stumbling through a 3-game losing at the worst possible time.  They righted the ship with a very nice win at UMass to end the regular season, but this team that looked so steady – with so many seniors – is, all of a sudden, showing question marks.  They are still a special team, but are they still to be trusted?  They open with a St. Bonaventure team that ended LaSalle’s season on Thursday.

Everyone except GrossSr and Lohse (who had LaSalle here) have SLU winning this game.  No one has the Bonnies.  Most of the field has SLU in the finals, with 11 people (Caleb, Chris, Colton, Gersh, Grossjr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts) taking the Bilikens to win this tournament.

Saint Bonaventure 71 – Saint Louis 68

#4 Saint Joseph’s vs #5 Dayton
This is possibly the most interesting game in the Barclay’s Center today, as two bubblicious teams battle it out in the conference quarters.  Dayton took care of business against Fordham on Thursday and has to feel pretty good about its chances of being in the field, though a win here would go a long way.  Saint Joe’s is squarely on the bubble and, after finishing the season with back-to-back losses at GW and home to LaSalle, might need this game a little more than the Flyers.  The Hawks are led by an incredibly inconsistent guard in Langston Galloway, who can be sensational at times and disappear at others.  Look at Galloway’s last 6 games as a perfect example.  After only scoring 6 against Rhode Island, he dropped 33 on Fordham, then 7 against Dayton before 27 against the Bonnies then 10 against GW before finishing with 27 against LaSalle.  He’s a special player, but he needs to always be there for the Hawks to make a run in these one-and-done tournaments.  The strength of this St. Joe’s team, though, is its interior defense.  They rank are the 8th best team in the nation at blocking shots and that is with their tallest player at just 6’8″.  They face a Dayton team without a ton of height, so it’s a decent matchup for the Hawks, who swept the Flyers in the regular season, including 79-53 beatdown on Hawk Hill two weeks ago.

This game is a huge CTC game.  Primm has lost this game already with Mason, but the other 24 people are exactly split 12 and 12 on either side of this one.  And, even more intriguing is that 4 people on each side have their winner winning again in the semis.  Dave, GrossSr, Stri, and WaTers all have St. Joe’s in the finals.  J, Lohse, Lynch, and Stumpf all have Dayton in the finals.  Becks, Caleb, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Scoot, and Teddy are the other 8 with Dayton here.  This could be big.

Saint Joseph’s 70 – Dayton 67

#2 VCU vs #7 Richmond
Shaka Smart’s Rams have no bad losses (worst loss at UNI is a tough place to play) and quite a few solid wins.  They have a very deep, veteran-laden team that plays that “havoc” style that lives up to its name.  So, why are they so ignored nationwide?  That’s a hard one to answer, but they are.  They are currently staring at a potential 8-seed, and I will say right now, that I would NOT want to be the 1-seed in that region.  This team can beat anyone in the country and I think they are poised to make a serious run in this tournament and the next.  Their first test here is a tough one.  Richmond, who might have an outside shot to play their way back on the bubble, is assuredly NIT-bound with a loss here.  They stayed alive by handling Duquesne on Thursday, but this is a whole other animal here.

All 25 people have VCU here, including 10 (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers), who have them winning it all.  A slew of other people have them in the finals, so this would bust a ton of brackets were Richmond to pull the upset here.

VCU 71 – Richmond 53

#3 George Washington vs #6 Massachusetts
UMass trailed for most of their opening round game against Rhode Island, but pulled it out setting up an excellent nightcap to a great day in Brooklyn.  The resurgence in Washington is a welcome sight for true fans of the A-10 that loves to see charter members (like both of these schools) back in the limelight.  GW, at 24-7, has no bad losses this year and boasts wins over VCU and Creighton.  Led by two senior transfers – Isaiah Armwood (Villanova) and Maurice Creek (Indiana) – and an unconventional point guard from Argentina (Patricio Garino), this GW team is going to be really tough in any tournament.  It will be interesting to see Garino try to check Chaz Williams, a matchup that might decide the outcome in this one.

Only 7 people (Chris, Gersh, GrossSr, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy) went with GW, despite the higher seed and the bye.  Gersh and RDoc have the Colonials in the finals, so this is big for them to get back into contention.  The other 18 all have UMass here, including Dave, J, Lynch, and Mac, who went out on a limb and took this 6-seed to win 4 games in 4 days and take the A-10 title.  Caleb, Lazarow, and Scoot all have the Minutemen reaching the finals.

George Washington 85 – Massachusetts 77

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 9 points each)

#8 LaSalle vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
What an incredibly disappointing year up on North North Broad.  After a surprising Sweet Sixteen trip a year ago, the Explorers returned just about everyone and just couldn’t get anything going this year in the noncon or conference play.  They are still dangerous, but I guess Ramon Galloway was more important than we thought.  They still have the underrated Duren and the overrated Garland in the backcourt and a decent frontcourt of Wright and Zak, but there really isn’t any depth on this team, and it has hurt them.  By the way, I saw a stat the other day – coming into this season, there had only been 3 players in Big Five history to score 1,500 points, dish out 500 assists, and get 200 steals.  Tyreek Duren became the 4th this year.  What a great career.  The Explorers will try and keep their season going at noon against a very experienced Bonnies team that doesn’t beat themselves.  They aren’t incredibly talented, but they could give a team like LaSalle fits (like they did in Olean on Jan 22).  The winner of this game will move on to face #1 Saint Louis on Friday.  The rest of the A-10 would probably rather see the Bonnies win here and just be done with a LaSalle team that is still awfully dangerous in a one-and-done scenario.

8 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Caleb, Dave, Doogan, J, Teddy) have the Bonnies in a minor upset here, though none of them have them beating SLU.  GrossSr, Lohse, and WaTers all have enough faith in LaSalle to have them going to the semis.

Saint Bonaventure 82 – LaSalle 72

#5 Dayton vs #13 Fordham
The Fordham Rams upset George Mason on Wednesday night to join the A-10 second round party on Thursday.  They are welcomed by a Dayton Flyer team that probably only needs to avoid a bad loss like this one to get in the Dance.  Interestingly, if they are to win today, but lose tomorrow, they are definitely on the bubble, which means that they could easily end up in the First Four, which happens to be played – on their home court.  That would be interesting, for sure, particularly since Dayton has a notoriously good homecourt advantage.  I’m not saying it’s unfair – the other team shouldn’t be in that position.  Anyway, the winner of this one takes on #4 St. Joe’s and their insanely overrated and so subtley arrogant head coach in the quarters.

No one has Fordham here, but GrossSr, Primm, and RDoc all had Mason, so they have already lost this one.  The other 22 have Dayton, including 4 (J, Lohse, Lynch, Stumpf) that have the Flyers going all the way to the finals.  8 others (Becks, Caleb, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Scoot, Teddy) have them beating St. Joe’s in the quarters.

Dayton 87 – Fordham 74

#7 Richmond vs #10 Duquesne
The Spiders were in really good at-large shape for most of the season, especially after a Feb 22 win over LaSalle put them at 8-4 in a conference that looks to get anywhere from 5-7 bids.  Then the bottom fell out.  Four straight losses starting with bottom-feeders George Mason and Rhode Island essentially popped Richmond’s bubble.  Now, they need a big-time run in this tournament to even get back in the discussion.  That would have to start with Duquesne on Thursday.  The Dukes – a surprising 10th-seed – finished up very impressively, beating Saint Louis on the road, then nearly beating UMass, before finishing up the regular season with an 81-69 win at George Mason to clinch a bye.  Two teams going in opposite directions, but the one falling was much higher to begin with, so this should be interesting.  The winner takes on 2nd-seeded VCU on Friday.

Bry, Doogan, Grossjr, Scoot, and Stri have the Dukes in an upset here.  The other 20 all have Richmond.  No one has either of these teams beating VCU on Friday.

Richmond 76 – Duquesne 64

#6 Massachusetts vs #11 Rhode Island
UMass was the talk of the town for much of the A-10 season, but hit a skid in the middle which included losses to George Mason and Saint Bonaventure.  They should be locks for the Dance, though, but it might be a good idea to win here so that they don’t give the Committee too much to think about.  They did sweep URI in the regular season, but both games were close, hard-fought wins, including a 3-point win on Feb 26.  The Rams enter the tournament having won 3 of their last 4 to earn the bye.  They will have to slow down one of the most exciting players in the country, though in Chaz Williams.  The UMass team very vaguely reminds me of the 2000 76ers, with Williams playing a poor man’s Iverson (though he dishes more than AI did) and the rest of the team playing hard-nosed defense and hitting the glass very hard.  The winner here takes on #3 GW in the quarters on Friday.

Stri is all alone with a URI upset pick here, so he could pick up a free and clear 54 points on the field with a Rams win here.  And, maybe even more significantly, many, many brackets would be busted.  Dave, J, Lynch, and Mac all have UMass winning this tournament.  Caleb, Lazarow, and Scoot have them going to the finals.  And, everyone esxcept Chris, Gersh, GrossSr, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf, and Teddy have them beating GW in the quarters.

Massachusetts 65 – Rhode Island 61

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 4.5 points)

#12 George Mason vs #13 Fordham
What a tough luck season as their first in the A-10 for Mason.  They lost 3 overtime games in conference (including 2 against league champion, Saint Louis).  They also were within 2 possessions of St. Joe’s, UMass, and GW.  I would not want to face this team in this tournament.  And, no one might have to because Mason also had a habit of losing to bad teams, like Forham, who beat them 76-70 on Jan 22.  The winner will join the regular 12-team tournament on Thursday with a game against #5 Dayton.

5 people (Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Mac, Stri) went with Fordham here in a mild upset.  GrossSr, Primm, and RDoc all have Mason beating Dayton in the second round.  Primm has them winning again over St. Joe’s in the quarters.

Fordham 70 – George Mason 67
Typical for the 2013-14 George Mason Patriots.  They played good teams tough, but lost, and played bad teams tough, and lost.  Well, Fordham is a bad team, so Mason played them tough and lost.  24 offensive rebounds enabled the Rams to overcome poor shooting and move on to the second round against #5 Dayton.

Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Mac, and Stri hit this mild upset.  GrossSr and RDoc lose a quarterfinalist.  Primm loses a semifinalist.


Championship Picks

  • #1 Saint Louis (11) – Caleb, Chris, Colton, Gersh, Grossjr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts
  • #2 VCU (10) – Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers
  • #3 George Washington (0)
  • #4 Saint Joseph’s (0)
  • #5 Dayton (0)
  • #6 Massachusetts (4) – Dave, J, Lynch, Mac

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #13 Fordham (Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Stri)
  • R2 – #12 George Mason (GrossSr, Primm, RDoc)
  • QF – #12 George Mason (Primm)
  • SF – #6 Massachusetts (Caleb, Dave, J, Lazarow, Mac, Scoot)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Waters
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Doogan
  • 2011 – Waters
  • 2012 – Teddy
  • 2013 – Bry, Doogan, Stumpf

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Sun Belt (3/16)

Welcome to the brand-new Sun Belt.  Gone is North Texas.  Gone is Middle Tennessee.  Gone are FIU and FAU.  In comes UT-Arlington and Georgia State, along with more next year.  And, the Sun Belt has remade itself, while keeping up its tradition of one of the best low-major conferences around (could possibly be considered mid-major).  This year, the old stalwarts are still here and both very good – Western Kentucky and LA-Lafayette – but it was one of the newcomers that stole the show, as Georgia State, with a high-major backcourt that consists of the coach’s son, who could have played anywhere, and the starting point guard for the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats.  This is going to be an interesting tournament with some solid teams chasing the newbie.

19 of the 25 CTC’ers took Ga State to win this title.  The other six were split 3-3 between WKU and LA-Lafayette.  Both bottom seeds, Troy and ULM got some support as sleepers.  Lazarow is the defending Sun Belt champ, and no one has ever won this league twice, so that could happen for Lazarow, Teddy, J, Stri, or Alexi.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 30 points)

#1 Georgia State vs #3 LA-Lafayette
The Big Ten.  The ACC.  The SEC.  The Atlantic Ten……….The Sun Belt?!?!?  What in the world is the Sun Belt doing still playing on Selection Sunday?  Who do they think they are???  Anyway, Ga State – who ran away with the regular season title (and didn’t enter the tournament until Saturday) hammered Ark State in the semis.  LA-Lafayette, on the other hand, had a battle with UT-Arlington in the quarters on Friday and then a total war with their arch-rivals, Western Kentucky on Saturday, which ended in a 1-point Ragin’ Cajun victory.  Now, they face off for one of the five remaining auto-bids.  And, unless you count Saint Joe’s as a bubble team, there are no bids at stake on this day except this one.  The other 8 teams are all playing for seeding when it comes to the tournament.

Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy are the only 3 with ULL here.  Dave, GrossSr, and Scoot have already lost this one.  The other 19 all have Ga State.  Alexi and Lohse will split the 2014 Sun Belt crown with a Ga State win.  Doogan will win it if LA-Lafayette takes the title.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 20 points each)

#1 Georgia State vs #4 Arkansas State
It wasn’t easy for the two quarterfinal winners on Friday, but we got ourselves the top 4 Belt teams here in the semis.  (For the record, I’m not sure the Sun Belt has their tournament go all the way to Sunday – wouldn’t you (a) want to give the winner a chance to enjoy Selection Sunday and (b) wouldn’t you be afraid of one of your teams ending up in the First Four with a short preparation period?)  Top-seeded Ga State got a bye to the semfinals, so they didn’t have to play Friday.  The same cannot be said for Ark State, as they had to play a 60-minute game against their arch-rivals.  The Red Wolves (and Andy Van Slyke’s kid) survived the 4 overtimes, but it should be interesting to see what they have left today.  And, they will need a lot because Ga State is loaded.  Ryan Harrow (who started for Kentucky last year) is their point guard – and he’s not even the best player on their team.  The coach’s son, SO R.J. Hunter would be playing in some big-time program if his dad wasn’t a coach.  And, along with Hunter and Harrow, the Panthers have two sensational senior in Devonta White and Manny Atkins.  The only issue for this team is depth (their starters play more minutes than all but 12 teams in the country), but this starting five is probably better than AT LEAST half of the teams in the SEC (probably 2/3).

RDoc and Scoot are the only two that have Ark State here.  Everyone else has GSU, including 19 championship believers.

#2 Western Kentucky vs #3 LA-Lafayette
The 4-OT game didn’t only affect Ark State.  It delayed the tip of the second game well over an hour, seriously limiting the recovery time for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who won a hard-fought game over UT-Arlington.  And, now they have to face their blood rivals, who are working on a week’s rest.  The Hilltoppers, who have been struck by the injury bug this year did keep winning with hard-nosed defense, including a sweep on ULL.  This should be an excellent game.  If the Cajuns can recover from the late game last night, they could give the ‘Toppers everything they can handle.

This is a big game for the CTC, as all 25 people have a horse in this race, and it is as split as possible.  13 have ULL, while 12 went WKU (Bry, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri).  Dave, GrossSr, and Scoot have the ‘Toppers winning this tournament.  Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy have the Cajuns cutting down the nets.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 10 points each)

#4 Arkansas State vs #5 AR-Little Rock
The Red Wolves of Ark State have had another quietly nice season in The Belt, as former LSU coach, John Brady, continues to build his program in Jonesboro.  Led by the son of former Phillies centerfielder, Andy Van Slyke, Ark State are very experienced.  They will not be an easy out here.  Their first test is against their biggest rivals – UALR – who knocked off Troy in the opening round on Thursday.  The winner here will battle top-seeded Georgia State in the semis on Saturday.

7 people (Becks, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Teddy) have UALR in a mild upset pick here.  Colton has already lost with Troy.  The other 17 all have Ark State, including RDoc and Scoot, who have the Red Wolves going to the finals.

Arkansas State 116 – AR-Little Rock 114 (4 OT)

#3 LA-Lafayette vs #6 UT-Arlington
It was another excellent season for a very under-sized Ragin’ Cajuns team, as they battled all year near the top of the conference, but couldn’t get into double-bye position, finishing behind arch-rivals WKU and newcomers Ga State.  But, the Hilltoppers await ULL in the semis for a bloodwar.  That is, if UT-Arlington can’t upset the Cajuns first.  The Mavs slipped past LA-Monroe on Thursday.

No one has UT-Arlington here, but Dave and Scoot both have LA-Monroe, so they’ve already lost.  The other 23 all have Lafayette, including Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy, who have them winning it all.  A whole host of others have the Cajuns reaching the finals before losing.

LA-Lafayette 91 – UT-Arlington 85

OPENING ROUND (March 13th – 5 points each)

#5 AR-Little Rock vs #8 Troy
This game pits two teams that probably didn’t expect to be in this opening round.  UALR was battling near the top of the league all year, so they definitely expected to at least get one of the single-byes that are awarded to the 3rd- and 4th-place teams.  But, they slipped to 5th and now have to play here on Thursday.  Troy, on the other hand, was mired near the basement of the league all year and was just hoping to get into 8th place, so as not to be eliminated before the tournament starts (Texas State and preseason pick for 2nd place, South Alabama are the ones that didn’t qualify).  But, they won just enough games to get in and now the slate is clean and they are 4 wins from Dancing.  The winner here takes on 4th-seeded Arkansas State inthe quarters.

7 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, RDoc, Stri) have the Troy Trojans in a decent upset here.  Colton has them going to the semis.  7 people (Becks, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Teddy) have UALR winning a pair of games in this tournament.

AR-Little Rock 74 – Troy 61

#6 UT-Arlington vs #7 LA-Monroe
The other newcomer, UTA, also had a decent inaugural season here in The Belt.  They played much better in the second half of the year than the first.  The Mavericks lean heavily on their stud senior, Brandon Edwards, who is trying to extend a terrific career.  UTA opens with a team that is used to being the doormat of this league, ULM.  And, the Warhawks did it with one of their most important players (Amos Olatayo) injured for much of the year.  Monroe, LA, is better well-known for being the home of Duck Dynasty, but this basketball team is capturing the attention of the locals.  #3 LA-Lafayette awaits the winner of this one in a quarterfinal matchup on Friday.

The majority of the picks are for the underdog here, as only 11 people (Alexi, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Lynch, RDoc, Teddy) have UTA.  None of them have the Mavericks beating ULL in the quarters.  Dave and Scoot both have ULM winning here and then taking out their big rivals, ULL, in the quarters.

UT-Arlington 68 – LA-Monroe 65


Championship Picks

  • #1 Georgia State (19)
  • #2 Western Kentucky (3) – Dave, GrossSr, Scoot
  • #3 LA-Lafayette (3) – Doogan, RDoc, Teddy

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #8 Troy (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, RDoc, Stri)
  • QF – #8 Troy (Colton)
  • SF – #4 Arkansas State (RDoc, Scoot)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Alexi
  • 2009 – Ina
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – J
  • 2012 – Teddy
  • 2013 – Lazarow

2014 Scores

2014 CTC Day Thirteen: Stritts Dominates at Just the Right Time, Taking the Overall Lead with an Inside Track at a Championship

What a day at just the right time for the top rookie, Stritts, who wins the all-important Day Thirteen and, more importantly, takes the overall lead and has a clear path to victory.  Big days by Stri and Bry make it a 3-person race for the overall championship.

Bry made the biggest gains on the leaderboard on Saturday, picking up 7 spots to #3.  Teddy has had a meteoric rise in the past couple of days and picks up 6 more spots to #6 overall.  GrossSr has also gained a ton of ground lately and himself picks up 6 more spots.  Becks also gained 6 spots to 14th.  Stritts and Stri both gained 2 spots to #1 and #2.

The biggest falls on the day were J – who looked in serious contention before the rough day dropped him from 2nd to 9th – and Dave – who was looking like joining the fray before a disappointing Saturday sent him from 9th to 16th. Gersh, PapaCim, and RDoc all lost 4 spots on the leaderboard on the penultimate day.  The bottom has falled out for Colton, as he loses 3 more spots and the one-time top contender has fallen all the way to 21st.  And, perhaps the biggest fall belongs to Mac, who was threatening to run away with the competition before a brutal Saturday (of near-miss after near-miss) dropped him 3 places to 4th and mathematically eliminated any chance of him winning his second overall title.

I did some unofficial scenarios and – I THINK – that the title will belong to one of the top three (Stritts, Stri, or Bry).  If Michigan State wins, Stritts take the title, no matter what else happens.  If Michigan beats Michigan State, then Stri only needs a UVA win over Duke to take the overall crown.  If Michigan and Duke both win, then Bry still needs Kentucky to beat Florida or Stritts will take it.  As for the Money Division, there are still quite a few scenarios that (again, I think) keep in play GrossJr and GrossSr for a shot at the #2 spot.  GrossJr definitely needs a Michigan State win and losses by either VCU or Kentucky to overtake Bry.  GrossSr’s best chance is a Kentucky/LA-Lafayette combination, with some other help.  Also, Bry has a realistic chance to extend his incredibly frustrating streak of second-place overall finishes to four straight years.

There were a TON of conference titles handed out on Saturday, which will all be recapped in the final wrap-ups.  Enjoy the final day, and…

Merry Selection Sunday!


  1. Stitts – 677.5
  2. GrossSr – 646.5
  3. Stri – 619.5
  4. Teddy – 597.5
  5. Bry – 579
  6. GrossJr – 561.5
  7. Becks – 533.5
  8. Alexi – 518.5
  9. Doogan – 478.5
  10. Chris – 462.5
  11. WaTers – 447
  12. Scoot – 424
  13. Mac – 415
  14. Stumpf – 407.5
  15. Primm – 403.5
  16. J – 399
  17. Lynch – 362
  18. Caleb – 360
  19. Gersh – 350
  20. PapaCim – 346
  21. Lohse – 334.5
  22. RDoc – 326.5
  23. Colton – 308
  24. Dave – 304.5
  25. Lazarow – 215.5


  1. Stritts – 3129
  2. Stri – 3048
  3. Bry – 2963.5
  4. Mac – 2955.5
  5. GrossJr – 2952
  6. Teddy – 2928.5
  7. Chris – 2882
  8. Alexi – 2880.5
  9. J – 2866
  10. GrossSr – 2861.5
  11. Doogan – 2773
  12. Gersh – 2712
  13. Caleb – 2697
  14. Becks – 2690.5
  15. PapaCim – 2690
  16. Dave – 2661
  17. Stumpf – 2619.5
  18. Scoot – 2604.5
  19. RDoc – 2544
  20. Primm – 2536.5
  21. Colton – 2492.5
  22. Lynch – 2467.5
  23. WaTers – 2427
  24. Lohse – 2284.5
  25. Lazarow – 2267

2014 CTC: The Mountain West (3/15)

The Mountain West feels to me like one of those bands that you liked a whole lot when no one had ever heard of them and then a new album goes mainstream, and everyone loves them and you want to scream “I knew they were awesome before anyone had ever heard of them,” but nobody would even care more than a shrug of the shoulders if you did.  I have loved this conference for a very long time and reveled in its rise to prominence, but now I think it be a little too hyped, particularly since BYU left a couple years ago (can anyone tell me why they thought the WCC was an upgrade?).  But, there is still some AWESOME basketball in this conference even if this year was a major down year for the MW.  They still have two teams that I could argue are elite, Final Four contenders and then a whole lot of don’t-sleep-on-me teams – all the way down to Fresno State and even Air Force.

Top-seeded San Diego State got the majority (17) of the championship picks here.  New Mexico got 6 of the other 8, with Boise State picking up the remaining 2.  No one has anyone lower than Boise doing much of anything.  GrossSr is trying to defend his 2013 MWC title this year.  J is the only one that has more than one MWC championship.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 15th – 48 points)

#1 San Diego State vs #2 New Mexico
I’m not gonna lie, of all the great games on tap for today, this might be the one I am most looking forward to.  These two teams have become fierce rivals, particularly this year, when they are both head and shoulders above the rest of the league.  Both teams had tougher tests in the semis than they expected, but both survived to give us the rubber match that we were looking for.  SDSU took care of tournament host, UNLV, while New Mexico had to deal with a Boise team that really wanted to extend their season.  Can’t wait for this one.

This is as big as it gets here in the CTC.  Becks and Lohse are the only two with nothing at stake here.  7 people (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) have New Mexico here.  The other 16 all have the Aztecs.  A New Mexico title will give J the MWC title outright and a perfect MWC.  If SDSU wins, we will have a 4-way tie between Alexi, Gersh, RDoc, and Stri – who would all be perfect.

SEMIFINALS (March 14th – 32 points each)

#1 San Diego State vs #4 UNLV
San Diego State held Utah State to 39 points in a 73-39 blowout (interestingly, Arizona beat Utah at about the same time on Thursday, 71-39), flexing their muscles for the rest of the league to see.  Meanwhile, UNLV – at home against an really undermanned Wyoming team – barely won, but won just the same, setting what could be an interesting semifinal if the Rebels come to play, since they are tough to beat in this building.

Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, and Teddy went for the UNLV upset pick, while the other 21 all have SDSU.  16 people took the Aztecs to win this tournament.

San Diego State 59 – UNLV 51

#2 New Mexico vs #6 Boise State
With Boise’s “upset” of Nevada, we got the 4 best MWC teams to the semifinals, setting up what could be a great night in Vegas.  New Mexico handled a hot Fresno team to get here and are one step away from the much-anticipated rubber match with San Diego St.  But, Boise is not done yet – they want a return trip to the Dance and the only way they will get it is to win two more games.

This is a big swing game in the CTC, actually.  23 people still have a shot at points here, as only Colton and Dave had Nevada here and have already lost.  8 people (Becks, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers) have Boise here, with Becks, Lohse, and Lynch going for Boise to take down what would be a lucrative championship for them.  The other 15 all have the Lobos, including 7 (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) who have UNM winning this tournament.

New Mexico 70 – Boise State 67

QUARTERFINALS (March 13th – 16 points each)

#1 San Diego State vs #8 Utah State
I am not surprised that the Mountain West had a team in the top 10 in the country for most of the year, and I’m not surprised that they have a team that has a real outside shot at a #1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.  I actually thought that New Mexico would be a top 10 team.  Wait…what?  It wasn’t New Mexico?  It was San Diego State?  Wow!  Another fantastic coaching job by the great Steve Fisher, as he just flat-out develops players.  Xavier Thames is his newest creation – the all-everything point guard who wasn’t all-anything before Fisher got his hooks into him.  Now, the Aztecs are legitimately relevant nationally and ready for the Dance.  They open the MWC tournament with a Utah State team that pulled a Houdini-like escape in their opening round game with Colorado State.

All 25 people have SDSU winning this one, with 16 of them picking the Aztecs to cut down the nets.

San Diego State 73 – Utah State 39

#4 UNLV vs #5 Wyoming
This UNLV team is not your typical UNLV team in that, well, they weren’t all that good.  Part of that was because of an injury to Roscoe Jones (who is now healthy) and a suspension to Bryce DeJean-Jones (who has been reinstated), but even at full strength, they were lackluster.  They caught a break with their quarterfinal matchup though (ya know, other than playing the whole tournament on their campus – like usual) in that Wyoming’s best player, Larry Nance Jr., is out with a broken leg.  Without Nance, the Cowboys offense is inept and they lose probably the best rim-protector in the M-West on defense.  But, anything can happen in March.

Only 5 (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Lynch, PapaCim) went with Wyoming here – none taking them any further.  Of the 20 with UNLV, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, and Teddy all have them going to the finals.  This is probably the first CTC ever where no one took UNLV to win this tournament.

UNLV 71 – Wyoming 67

#2 New Mexico vs #7 Fresno State
I still think the Lobos have top 10 talent.  And, that was before I knew that Cameron Bairstow would turn into an absolute stud overnight.  The most improved player in the country, Bairstow went from a nice role player to possibly usurping his teammate, Kendall Williams, for MWC Player of the Year.  And, they are very well-coached by Noodles Neal, who has a wealth of NBA experience along with a pretty nice Harley.  Neal’s kid, Cullen, is a rising star, as well.  This is a fun team to watch and is probably smarting from the loss to Harvard in the tournament last year.  They open the MWC with a Fresno team that has been playing well, but who barely survived Air Force in the opening round.

All 25 entries have UNM winning here.  7 of them (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) have the Lobos winning it all.

New Mexico 93 – Fresno State 77

#3 Nevada vs #6 Boise State
These seedings should be switched.  Boise is the 3rd-best team in the conference and Nevada is the 7th.  But, the wins and losses didn’t show that, so Boise had to play an opening round game to get to this matchup.  Well, they sort of had to play it.  San Jose State didn’t really show up, as the Broncos led 46-14 at the half and cruised to a 31-point win.  Now, they get a shot at a Nevada team that seems to be doing it with smoke and mirrors.

Despite the better seed and the first-round bye, only 6 people (Chris, Colton, Dave, Mac, Primm, Teddy) have Nevada here.  Colton and Dave have the Wolfpack reaching the finals.  The other 19 all have Boise here with 5 having them losing in the finals (GrossSr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers) and 3 having them win it all (Becks, Lohse, Lynch).

Boise State 75 – Nevada 62

OPENING ROUND (March 12th – 8 points each)

#8 Utah State vs #9 Colorado State
Larry Eustachy’s squad took a real step backwards in Fort Collins this year, but that was to be expected with the massive graduation losses the Rams had.  They will have just about everybody back next year, so they may return to some sort of quality form, though just because they’re coming back doesn’t necessarily make them any better on the court.  The Rams will take on a Utah State team that expected to make a bigger splash in their first year in a borderline power conference.  They didn’t – even at home, where they have historically been unbeatable…they believe – and now they have to figure out if they can recruit the athletes to compete at this level.  I am not saying they can’t, but the M-West and the WAC are totally different ballgames on a night-in and night-out basis.  The winner here will take on #1 San Diego State in the quarters.

11 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Doogan, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy) have CSU in the minor upset here.  No one has either of these teams beating San Diego State in the quarters.

Utah State 73 – Colorado State 69
MADNESS!!!  With 1:35 left in the game, Colorado State led 66-57.  You see the final…WOW!  Spencer Butterfield hit the big three to complete one of the craziest comebacks you’ll see during these two weeks.  What a devastating way for the Rams season to end.  Utah State will play with house money on Thursday against #1 San Diego State.

11 people missed out on the upset pick here in dramatic fashion.

#7 Fresno State vs #10 Air Force
Fresno State enters the MWC tournament playing as well as anyone outside the two elite teams.  They have a nice combination of experience and youth and have won 8 of their last 10.  They are one of the best teams in the nation at protecting the ball, as they only turn the ball over on an incredible 14.3% of possessions (which ranks 8th in the nation).  They take on an Air Force team that they beat twice this year and that ranks 305th in the nation in turnovers committed.  However, AFA has been pretty solid and pretty tough to beat this year.  Both teams have real sleeper potential, but unfortunately they are lined up with #2 New Mexico in the quarters, who probably won’t fall victim to falling asleep.

7 people (Bry, Caleb, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stritts) have AFA here.  No one has either of these teams beating New Mexico in the quarters.

Fresno State 61 – Air Force 59
While it wasn’t as mad as the first game, this was another devastating collapse in the waning minutes.  With 2:28 left, Air Force held a 57-51 lead, but was outscored 10-2 to finish the game, including two clutch free throws by Alex Davis to keep alive the sleeper potential of Fresno, who is playing really well.  Despite the 10th-place finish in a down MWC, Air Force actually had a decent season marred with close losses – and that’s exactly how it ends.

7 people miss the upset pick here.  Bry, Caleb, and Lazarow must already be sick of the Mountain West tournament, as those three all fell victim to BOTH of these crazy comebacks to spoil upset picks.

#6 Boise State vs #11 San Jose State
Boise State was supposed to have a really, really special year.  They didn’t.  They had everyone back off of a tournament team and just floundered all season long.  They played okay in the noncon, but didn’t pick up any quality wins.  Then, into conference play, they stumbled over and over, finishing in the middle of a down MWC.  That said, they still had a shot to pull out a decent season until the final 4 games when they suffered a 20-point loss at Fresno, a double-OT home loss to Nevada, and an OT loss to Air Force.  The collapse was complete.  And, what doesn’t make any sense is that they have two of the best guards in mid-major land – Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks.  Fortunately, for them, while they didn’t get a bye, they do get the next best thing – a game against a putrid SJSU team.  The winner of this one (almost assuredly Boise) will take on #3 Nevada – another winnable game.  There is really a clear path for the Broncos to make the semis here and then take their chances with the big boys.

No one has San Jose State beating Boise in this game, but this is still quite the important game for CTC.  Becks and Lohse have Boise winning the whole thing.  GrossSr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Scoot, and WaTers have them going to the finals, but losing.  A whole slew of other entries have them beating Nevada before losing in the semis.

Boise State 83 – San Jose State 52
It turns out Boise did get a first round bye after all.  There isn’t much to say about a game that was 46-14 at halftime.  That’s an embarrassing introduction to the MWC tournament for SJSU.  Boise moves on to the quarters to face Nevada.

Everyone got this right, including quite a few with a lot at stake, particularly Becks and Lohse, who have BSU winning this tournament.


Championship Picks

  • #1 San Diego State (16)
  • #2 New Mexico (7) – Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy
  • #3 Nevada (0)
  • #4 UNLV (0)
  • #5 Wyoming (0)
  • #6 Boise State (2) – Becks, Lohse

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #10 Air Force (Bry, Caleb, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stritts)
  • QF – #6 Boise State (many)
  • SF – #6 Boise State (Becks, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – J
  • 2009 – Lynch
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Bry, J (perfect)
  • 2012 – RDoc (perfect)
  • 2013 – GrossSr, LohseJr

2014 Scores