What did we learn from the NCAA Tournament selection committee's release of its current top four in each region on Saturday? I projected Gonzaga, Villanova, Kansas and Baylor would be the four No. 1s, and they were. I'm a tad surprised that the unbeaten Zags weren't the top overall seed as that went to the defending national champion Wildcats. The No. 1 overall seed gets to pick which region it wants to play in, and that would obviously be the East for Villanova. From there, the remaining No. 1 seeds were assigned geographically by region, and the remaining 12 teams were allocated according to seeding. North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville and Oregon were the No. 2s. The East Region is absolutely stacked with Nova, Louisville, Kentucky and UCLA. The Midwest also is crazy good with Kansas, Florida State, Arizona and Duke. There were no Big Ten teams among the top-four seeds. Nor should there have been.
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Saint Joseph's at VCU ( -14 )
Atlantic 10 game at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network - it's the first tipoff of the night around the country. I don't think any team has been hit harder by injuries this year than Saint Joseph's, and the injury bug has bitten again as sophomore guard LaMarr Kimble is done for the season with a broken foot suffered in Saturday's 87-76 home loss to UMass, the Hawks' fourth straight defeat . Kimble was averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in 37 minutes a game. On Dec. 30, junior guard Shavar Newkirk, who was averaging 20.3 points a game, tore the ACL in his left knee. Sophomore Pierfrancesco Oliva was declared out over the summer because of knee surgery. Freshman forward Lorenzo Edwards had shoulder surgery in January. Junior forward James Demery missed 10 games with a stress fracture in his left foot. Newkirk and Kimble were the only two point guards on the roster.
VCU didn't need any last-second miracles to win its sixth straight game Saturday as it did in winning the previous two. The Rams beat Davidson 74-60. The Wildcats scored 26 points in the 12:08 of the game. They scored 34 in the last 27:52. JeQuan Lewis scored 27 points and VCU pulled away from a tie with a 19-8 run in the second half. Justin Tillman added 13 points and 16 rebounds for VCU, which remains tied atop the A-10 with Dayton. This is the 11th straight season that VCU has reached 20 wins. It's the only scheduled meeting between the Rams and Hawks. They met in last year's A-10 title game, and Saint Joe's won 87-74. But both of the Hawks' best players from that team have moved on.
Key trends: Saint Joe's is 4-0 against the spread in its past four road games. VCU is 15-5 ATS in its past 20 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The Hawks are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
I'm leaning: VCU.
Buffalo at Central Michigan (pick'em)
Mid-American Conference game at 7 p.m. ET. If you get a chance to stream this game on ESPN3, I recommend you check it out just for Central Michigan's Marcus Keene. The junior transfer from Youngstown State is just 5-foot-9, which is probably being generous, and leads the nation in scoring at 29.9 ppg. He had a 50-point game on Jan. 21 vs. Miami of Ohio and has four other games with at least 40 points. Keene is fun to watch, so I hope the Chippewas make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. The only way that happens is if they win the MAC Tournament because no school from that league is getting an at-large bid. CMU is tied for MAC West lead despite being just 6-6 in conference play. Akron is the team to beat in the MAC at 21-4 overall and 11-1 in the conference.
Buffalo enters on a four-game winning streak following an 88-74 victory at Bowling Green on Saturday. A 24-4 second-half run blew that one open after Buffalo had trailed by three at halftime despite shooting 72.7 percent before intermission. CJ Massinburg and Dontay Caruthers each finished with 18 points and were a combined 13-for-17 shooting. The Bulls shot 63.5 percent from the floor overall, their highest total hitting 63.3 percent on Feb. 19, 2014, in a win over Akron. Buffalo's winning streak started with a 101-91 home win over Central Michigan on Jan. 31. Blake Hamilton scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Bulls shot 50.7 percent. Keene had 24 for CMU, which is one of the nation's top offensive teams but also one of the worst defensively.
Key trends: The Bulls are 12-3-1 AST in their past 16 conference games. The Chips are 4-0 AST in their past four at home. The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
I'm leaning: CMU.
Tennessee at No. 15 Kentucky (-12)
SEC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. UK got a bit of a scare on Sunday when freshmen De'Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo were passengers in a car accident as they were returning to campus, but neither was hurt. Both those guys will be first-round picks in this year's NBA draft if they declare as expected. Kentucky won its second straight game Saturday, 67-58, at Alabama and is tied for the SEC lead with South Carolina and Florida. The Cats hit at least one 3-pointer for the 1,000th straight game, an NCAA first. The streak began Nov. 28, 1988, in an 89-71 win vs. California. Alabama's 20 first-half points were the fewest in any half by a UK opponent this year.
Tennessee is on the NCAA Tournament bubble at 14-11 overall and 6-6 in the conference. ESPN's Bracketology has the Vols as among the "last four in" and as a 12th seed playing in the First Four. Not sure I agree with that, but UT would probably get a bid if they complete the season sweep of Kentucky. Tennessee knocked off the then-No. 4 Wildcats 82-80 on Jan. 24. Robert Hubbs III had 25 points in UT's first victory over a top-five team since an 83-76 triumph over No. 3 Pittsburgh on Dec. 11, 2010. The Tennessee reserves outscored their UK counterparts a whopping 37-4. Malik Monk led the Cats with 25 points. Jan. 24 was also the night No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Kansas lost.
Key trends: The Vols are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 on the road. The Cats are 0-5 ATS in their past five on Tuesday. UT is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
I'm leaning: Tennessee.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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