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Welcome to Bracket 101

02.08.10 at 12:34 pm ET
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Groundhog Day/Columbia Pictures

"Groundhog Day" (Columbia Pictures)

There was some disappointment when Punxsutawney Phil/Polamalu saw his shadow roughly a week ago. The furry rodent sentenced the superstitious to six more weeks of winter. However, the news wasn’t all that bad to some, because Groundhog Day also means that it’s only six weeks until Selection Sunday.

As the calendar turns to February, the NFL gives way to spring training and a robust college basketball scene. Sure there are NHL and NBA games, but the sports world starts to gravitate toward the excitement that college basketball thrives on and that Gus Johnson personifies. The NCAA and TV networks have crafted Saturdays to emulate what Sundays are to the NFL: wall-to-wall action to indulge the sports-starved fan that attempts to gradually come down off their fix of football.

With roughly five weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, Bracket 101 will examine the week that was in college basketball and give you a list of 16 teams that are poised to dance their way into the sweetest of company. A lot of sites focus on who will get in, but this blog spot will tell you who the actual contenders are in addition to a weekly roundup of the college hoops scene.

Rapid Rewind

AP Photo

(AP)

One of the major story lines over the past few weeks has been Texas. Since reaching the top spot in the polls, the Longhorns have simply fallen apart as if they were the 2007 Mets. Rick Barnes’ club has lost 4-of-6 with a matchup against No. 1 Kansas to tip off this week. Villanova and Michigan State will join Texas as top-10 teams that will undoubtedly fall a few spots due to recent losses.

Stock Up: West Virginia

West Virginia has won six in a row since its only home loss of the season vs. Syracuse Orange back on Jan. 16. Last week, the blue and gold handled Pittsburgh in the backyard brawl, but some fans took the rivalry too literally, as West Virginia fans showered the court with objects at different points of the second half. Bob Huggins had to get on the mic and address the crowd. Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion was hit with what appeared to be a coin under his right eye and had a visible bruise under the eye after the game. Unfortunately, some Mountaineers fans did not respect their guests and represent their school with class. Huggins’ team is one of the hottest in the land right now after it disposed of St. John’s Saturday after being down by as many as 16.

Stock Down: Texas

Lady Gaga/AP

Lady Gaga (AP)

Why are the Longhorns sliding? Two things stick out like Lady Gaga at … well, wherever she is. 1) Bad free throw shooting. Barnes’ club made just 10-of-27 in their most recent loss to the Oklahoma Sooners – a game that they lost by 9 points.  Texas is shooting 61 percent from the charity stripe, which is good for dead last in the Big 12 and near the bottom nationally. 2) Barnes isn’t helping, either, as the former Providence coach continues to meddle with his rotation. There seems to be no consistency in the Texas lineup, especially with big man Dexter Pittman, who many thought had the potential to control the paint for the Longhorns with double-doubles every night.

Heat Check: Dominique Jones

46-28-37-29 — Those are the last four point totals for South Florida guard Dominique Jones before Sunday. Jones has shouldered the load for the Bulls, and his team has not lost since Jan. 20. During that span, the Bulls have beaten Georgetown and Pitt, two ranked teams, and have their sights set on a tournament bid after pulling themselves to 5-5 in the brutal Big East. The table is set for Jones and the Bulls as they only play one more ranked opponent, Villanova on the road, the rest of the way. If Jones continues to fill up the tin like a Big East Player of the Year candidate, the Bulls have a shot to be dancing come Selection Sunday.

The Dean’s 16

These 16 teams are the ones that have proved they have the talent to win two games in the NCAA tournament. Check out a complete look at the national polls by clicking here.

The contenders
KansasKansas (22-1)

KentuckyKentucky (22-1)

SyracuseSyracuse (23-1)

MichiganStateMichigan State (19-5)


The Rest of the Elite Eight

VillanovaVillanova (20-2)

PurduePurdue (19-3)

westviginiaWest Virginia (19-3)

GeorgetownGeorgetown (17-5)


We’re good, but not bound for Indy

KansasStateKansas State (19-4)

DukeDuke (19-4)

WisconsinWisconsin (18-5)

OhioStateOhio State (18-6)


Sweet for now

TexasTexas (19-4)

GonzagaGonzaga (19-4)

ButlerButler (20-4)

NewMexicoNew Mexico (21-3)


Eagles Watch

AP Photo/Steven Senne

BC lost a tough one to Duke Saturday. (AP)

Unfortunately for local fans, hometown Boston College (12-11) is not equipped to take advantage of a down year for the ACC.  Coach Al Skinner doesn’t have that diamond in the rough this season that has historically carried program. Troy Bell, Craig Smith, Jared Dudley and even Tyrese Rice are not walking through that door. This BC team simply does not have that go-to guy. On Saturday, the Eagles made a nice run to put a scare into Duke at Conte Forum, but a desperation 3-pointer from Joe Trapani that would have tied the game at the buzzer clanked off the front iron. It doesn’t look like the Eagles will be a part of the field of 64 this season unless they make a run through the ACC tournament. We did say the ACC is down this year, BC just played Duke down to the last possession and Doug Flutie did hit Gerard Phelan in the end zone. So anything is possible — just not likely.


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

Monday
9:00 PM ET (1) Kansas at (10) Texas (ESPN)
7:00 PM ET (2) Villanova at (6) West Virginia (ESPN)

Tuesday
9:00 PM ET (7) Purdue at (5) Michigan State (ESPN)
7:00 PM ET (14) Tennessee at (20) Vanderbilt (ESPN)

Wednesday
9:00 PM ET (9) Duke at North Carolina (ESPN)
7:00 PM ET Connecticut at (4) Syracuse (ESPN)

Thursday
11:00 PM ET Saint Mary’s at (13) Gonzaga (ESPN2)

Friday
9:00 PM ET (6) West Virginia at (21) Pittsburgh (ESPN)

Saturday
9:00 PM ET (14) Tennessee at (3) Kentucky (ESPN)
1:00 PM ET Maryland at (9) Duke (CBS)

Sunday
1:00 PM ET (18) Ohio State at Illinois (CBS)

Back-Door Cuts (recommended reading for hoopsters)
Student-section conduct conducive to epic blow-up by Gary Parrish
The Ten will live in OSU hearts forever by Doug Gottlieb
Bouldin, Fredette top best non-BCS conference players by Seth Davis

Poll

If Kentucky & Kansas met before the Tournament, who would win?

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