LockBox & Notes: February 28th

Add: None
Remove: Nebraska, Alabama, Wichita State, Dayton

Last 4 IN: Gonzaga, Colorado, Baylor, Michigan
First 4 OUT: Boston College, Penn State, Butler, Colorado State
On the Fringe: Washington State, Clemson, Southern Miss, Minnesota, VCU

Notes: Colorado State, VCU, Southern Miss and Minnesota all dropped out with losses since the last LockBox. Boston College was edged out by Michigan, Baylor and Colorado due to lack of quality wins. Colorado propelled themselves into the field of 68 after a huge comeback against Texas on Saturday. The Buffalo have 5 Top 50 wins.

Nebraska’s loss to Texas Tech, Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss, Wichita State’s loss to Missouri State and Dayton’s loss to Xavier have dropped these teams out of the LockBox altogether.

Only one bubble team is in action tonight (Gonzaga vs CS Bakersfield), so a Bubble Games of the Week highlighting the important games to follow this week will be posted sometime tomorrow afternoon.

LockBox & Notes: February 25th

Add: Dayton
Remove: None.
Last 4 IN: Gonzaga, Colorado State, Richmond, Southern Miss
First 4 OUT: Virginia Tech, Penn State, Butler, UAB
On the Fringe: Michigan, Washington State, Colorado, Clemson, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Dayton, Nebraska, Alabama, Wichita State

Notes: Virginia Tech’s resume is hurt due to a technicality. They have three wins just outside the Top 50, leaving them with a goose-egg for Top 50 wins. Southern Miss slides in as a result … Penn State blows away relative teams in terms of Top 50 wins and RPI, but their inability to win on the road, and an unimpressive OOC slate leaves them OUT. Four Top 50 wins is pretty hard to deny, but no Top 75 wins, a bad loss (Maine) in the OOC and only two road wins (Northwestern, Indiana) on the season will do that … Colorado State and Richmond earn bids due to their ability to win away from home.

I’m pretty confident that Colorado State, Southern Miss, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Butler are the only interchangeable teams. Can’t see overwhelming cases for any other teams. Minnesota and VCU? Maybe.

Next update: February 28th (AM)

Bubble Games of the Week, Part 1: February 21st – 27th

Same format as last week, even though I completely forgot to put up Part 2. Forgive me!

Bubble teams in bold.

Tuesday:
Michigan State @ Minnesota – 9PM BTN – Before this season started, I doubt both teams expected to be hovering around the bubble. Minnesota is collapsing and needs to stop the bleeding, just like Michigan State did two weeks ago.

Nebraska looks to build off their impressive home win over Texas.


Wednesday:
#12 Wisconsin @ Michigan – 630 BTN – Wisconsin is not a good team on the road (3-5 overall).
Miami @ Boston College – 7PM – Much like Minnesota, Boston College has been losing a lot of ground in the bubble race. Need a solid home win here.
Colorado State @ #7 BYU – 8PM MTN – Colorado State is right around the bubble but needs to play their way in. A perfect chance here.
Florida State @ Maryland – 9PM ESPN3 – Not many chances left for Maryland to notch some wins. They are on their last legs.
Kansas State @ Nebraska – 9PM ESPNU – Nebraska gained entry to the bubble picture via a huge win over Texas. Will they build off it?
Baylor @ #21 Missouri – 9PM ESPN2 – The Bears are looking to bounce back after their head-scratching loss to Texas Tech last week.
UNLV @ New Mexico – 9PM – New Mexico lost to Colorado State and Utah last week. Must win.

Thursday:
Marquette @ #15 UConn – 7PM ESPN2 – Marquette has been steadily on the bubble for some time. That can change with a win against sanction pending UConn.
Georgia @ #13 Florida – 7PM ESPN – Georgia is around a 9 or 10 seed but can really improve their stock with a win over Florida on the road.
Penn State @ Northwestern – 9PM ESPN2 – Seemingly a must win if Penn State wants to finish at .500 or better in conference.
Gonzaga @ Saint Mary’s – 11PM ESPN2 – Surprisingly only our second bubble v. bubble match-up of Part 1. Huge game for both. Saint Mary’s won the first match-up at Gonzaga but has a sketchier resume, especially after losing to Utah State and San Diego in consecutive games.

Look for Part 2 to be posted on Friday night or Saturday morning.

LockBox & Notes: February 21st

Add: Penn State, Butler, Nebraska
Remove: UTEP, New Mexico, Maryland, Ole Miss

Last 4 IN: VCU, Memphis, Butler, Colorado St
First 4 OUT: Richmond, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State
Other Schools Considered: Michigan, Penn State, Washington State, Clemson, Southern Miss, Nebraska, Alabama, Wichita State

Notes:
UTEP has been removed after losses to UCF and Southern Miss. New Mexico has dropped off the board after a last second loss to Utah (third loss in a row). Maryland dropped out even after going 1-1. The Ole Miss Rebels have dropped from my consideration after losing, yet again, to Mississippi State.
Penn State was is now being considered after a home win against Minnesota. Nebraska earned consideration after defeating #3 Texas. Butler had been written off before winning six straight, and many bubble teams losing. They are now purely on the bubble.

Bubble Games of the Week, Part 1: February 14th – 20th

I’ll now be breaking the weeks in half. The first half is all games through Friday night, the second half includes Saturday and Sunday. Here is the first half:

Monday:
#1 Kansas @ Kansas State – 9PM ESPN – Kansas State safe-ish for now (10/11 seed) since the field is watered down. Win against Kansas would basically seal a bid.


Tuesday:
George Mason @ VCU – 7PM ESPNU – George Mason has been atop the CAA for a month and probably makes the field of 68 as an at-large. VCU still has work to do.
Maryland @ Virginia Tech – 8PM ESPN3 – Virginia Tech has been on the right side of the bubble line for quite some time, but their resume is by no means solid.
Michigan State @ #3 Ohio State – 9PM ESPN – Sparty stopped the bleeding with an impressive win over Penn State.
St. John’s @ Marquette – 9PM ESPNU – St. John’s has taken care of business to solidify a bid, Marquette is looking to do the same.


Wednesday:
Oklahoma State @ #2 Texas – 9PM ESPN2 – Oklahoma State is struggling to stay afloat.
New Mexico @ #6 San Diego State – 1030PM – New Mexico just lost a must have bubble game against fellow Mountain West bubble team Colorado State. They need to steal one down the stretch against San Diego State / UNLV / BYU.
#16 Louisville @ Cincinnati – 7PM ESPN – The Bearcats’ failure to beat St. John’s despite SJU’s 9 minute FG drought to end the game was a killer. Their at-large chances are getting slimmer by the day.
UAB @ Memphis – 7PM – Big C-USA bubble game. UAB looks to be just OUT, while Memphis is just IN. Outcome also affects C-USA stadings.
UTEP @ Southern Miss – 8PM – Another important game in C-USA. Must have for both, the loser is probably done.
Michigan @ Illinois 830PM BTN – Michigan has just recently emerged on the bubble scene. A big win in Assembly Hall will surely help their case for a bid.

Thursday:
Washington State @ #13 Arizona – 830 FSN – Washington State makes a run at being the 4th team from the Pac-10 in the field of 68.
Richmond @ #25 Temple – 7PM CBSCS – Big game in the Atlantic-10. Very important for Richmond, not many chances for quality wins in the Atlantic-10 this season.
Clemson @ NCState – 7PM ESPN2 – Must win for Clemson. Done if they lose.

Friday:
VCU @ Wichita State – 7PM ESPN2 – What a week for VCU. Second of two chances at a big win.

LockBox: February 14th

Add: Alabama
Remove: Duquesne, Miami

Last 4 IN: Michigan St, Colorado State, Cincinnati, Baylor
First 4 OUT: Oklahoma State, Washington State, Ole Miss, Wichita State,
Other teams considered: Butler, Michigan, VCU, Gonzaga, Maryland, New Mexico, Southern Miss, Clemson

Notes:
Duquesne was removed because they don’t have an at-large profile and are no longer the leader of the Atlantic-10. Miami lost after dropping yet another ACC game. Alabama was added after beating bubble team Ole Miss. Their resume is still a bit of a stretch, but they are HOT.

Colorado State and Baylor are IN for the first time this season.

“Don’t Give Up… Don’t Ever Give Up” – A Tribute to Jim Valvano

The following is a 2-3 minute speech I wrote and gave for a public speaking class in college during this season’s Jimmy V week.

The thought of death frequently raises feelings of fear and sadness in many people, but not this man. Many people terminally ill shrink into obscurity and seek pity from others, but not this man. Not many people are brave – heroic in the face of death, except this man. His name? Jim Valvano.

This week of college basketball has been dedicated to the memory of Jim Valvano, all televised games honor his contributions on and off the court. He was a profound motivator and a superb collegiate basketball coach. While the head coach at North Carolina State, he won ACC coach of the year twice, won two ACC conference titles and in 1983, won the NCAA Championship in memorable fashion. Shortly after retiring from coaching, Jim was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1992, the disease spread throughout his body quickly – his days were numbered.

Jim was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the inaugural ESPY sports awards in 1993. His acceptance speech was one for the ages. Instead of focusing on himself in his time of need, Mr. Valvano focused on cancer victims that would come after him. He established the JimmyV Foundation, a fundraising organization for cancer research with the motto “Don’t Give Up… Don’t Ever Give Up”. He realized his life would not be saved, but used what time he had left to save the lives of others. Throughout his speech, Jimmy harped on the importance of appreciating life, to work towards goals, and to persevere towards completing these goals and dreams. At the age of seventeen, a young Valvano inscribed on an index card that he wanted to play high school basketball, college basketball, become an assistant coach, a head coach, win a game in Madison Square Garden, and win the NCAA Championship. By age thirty-six, he accomplished all of his goals.

Jimmy declared an unrealistic goal of fighting through his cancer to be able to give out the Arthur Ashe award at the following year’s ESPYs. His boldness, confidence, and bravado lit up Radio City Music Hall and its audience of celebrities. A stranger watching his speech that had no idea who Jim Valvano was, would never have guessed he had terminal cancer. His speech sounded like that of a pre-game speech in a locker room, except there were no players, the world was his audience, his team to motivate.

Jimmy died of his disease less than two months after his appearance at the ESPYs. A man that had to be helped to the podium, a man that had a body filled with tumors, gave a fiery speech for the betterment of his peers. A speech that motivated many, uplifted many, made many laugh and made many cry. Jimmy was able to find the utmost hope in the grimmest of situations. In the famous words of James Thomas Anthony Valvano, “Don’t Give Up… Don’t Ever Give Up”.