All posts by Scott Rabalais

Scott Rabalais is a sports columnist and sports writer for The Advocate. A Baton Rouge native, he began working at the paper in 1991 and has covered LSU athletics since 1992.

So you’re telling me LSU has a chance? CBS’s Craig Carton is

The up and down LSU men’s basketball team is one of the most polarizing in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Will they be one and done? Could the Tigers make a deep run?

Craig Carton thinks the latter and he put it in writing – or at least on a dry erase board.

Carton, who co-hosts the “Boomer and Carton” show on the CBS Sports Network with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, made his picks on their show Tuesday and had LSU beating Kentucky … to win it all.

OK, it seemed a bit off the cuff, but the Tigers have a few believers out there in the national media that they will at least win a game and advance to the round of 32.

LSU (22-10) is the No. 9 seed in the East regional and takes on No. 8 N.C. State (20-13) at 8:20 p.m. CDT Thursday in a second-round game in Pittsburgh on TBS.

 

LSU women’s RPI now at No. 56; latest bracketology

With one week to go before selection Monday for the NCAA women’s tournament, the LSU Lady Tigers’ RPI has inched up again.

LSU rose one notch to No. 56 in Monday’s official RPI rankings. The Lady Tigers (17-13) were No. 58 after beating Texas A&M 71-65 in Friday’s SEC tournament quarterfinals and No. 57 even after losing 74-54 in Saturday’s semifinals to South Carolina.

LSU’s modest climb is likely attributed to the fact that it played four games this season against South Carolina and Tennessee, which met in Sunday’s SEC tournament final (South Carolina won 62-46).

Tennessee is now No. 2 in RPI and South Carolina is No. 3, so strength of schedule of your opponents plays a factor.

In Monday’s projections, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme continues to show LSU holding on the No. 10 seed line. He has the Lady Tigers meeting No. 7 Rutgers in an Oklahoma City Regional first-round game in Waco, Texas.

The NCAA women’s tournament field will be announced at 6 p.m. March 16 on ESPN.

Despite big loss, LSU women’s RPI climbs again

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A lopsided 74-54 loss to South Carolina on Saturday may have eliminated the LSU Lady Tigers from the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament, but the game actually enhanced LSU’s RPI.

The Lady Tigers (17-13) moved up one spot from No. 58 to No. 57 in the official NCAA RPI released Sunday. LSU moved up 12 spots Saturday after Friday’s 71-65 quarterfinal win over Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme bumped LSU up a seed line to No. 10. He has the Lady Tigers in the Greensboro Regional, playing No. 7 Rutgers in Tallahassee, Florida.

LSU lost at home to Rutgers 64-57 on Nov. 22, so it’s questionable whether the NCAA selection committee would break one of its principles and set up a rematch in the first round.

The matchup is not likely to happen regardless. But finding itself more securely in Creme’s “bracketology” even after a loss is significant for the Lady Tigers, who didn’t look like an NCAA tournament team back when they played Rutgers.

One last note: Creme added Tulane to the bracket as one of his “Last Four In.” He has also has the Green Wave in the Greensboro Regional as the No . 12 seed, taking on No. 5 George Washington in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The NCAA field of 64 will be announced at 6 p.m. March 16 on ESPN.

LSU Lady Tigers’ RPI takes huge leap with SEC tourney win over A&M

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – LSU’s second-straight win over Texas A&M, a 71-65 victory coming in Friday’s quarterfinals of the SEC Women’s Tournament, was a huge boost to the Lady Tigers’ RPI and would seem to signal they are a strong bet to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

LSU (17-12) rose 12 spots from No. 70 to No. 58 in Saturday’s official NCAA RPI. ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme on Saturday morning had the Lady Tigers holding at a No. 11 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional and not in the “Last Four In” group that includes fellow SEC member Arkansas.

The win over A&M, following LSU’s 80-63 romp over the Aggies in Baton Rouge on Sunday, is the Lady Tigers’ fourth against a current top 50 RPI team.

In addition to the wins over A&M, LSU has a win at No. 28 Mississippi State and at home against No. 9 Kentucky.

LSU takes on SEC Tournament top seed South Carolina at 4 p.m. on ESPNU in the tourney semifinals. South Carolina is No. 4 in the RPI, so a loss to the Lady Gamecocks (who twice beat the Lady Tigers by 24 points this season) would not likely be much of a knock on LSU’s NCAA hopes.

The NCAA women’s tournament field will be announced Monday, March 16 on ESPN. The tournament begins March 20.

Win over Aggies gives LSU women RPI bump, keeps them in NCAA picture

LSU’s 80-63 romp over then No. 12-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday gave the Lady Tigers an RPI bump and probably kept them in ESPN’s NCAA Tournament projections going into this week’s SEC Tournament.

LSU (16-12, 10-6 SEC) moved up eight spots to No. 71 in Monday’s official NCAA RPI. Meanwhile, ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme has LSU hanging in the NCAA Tournament field as a No. 11 seed in the Greensboro Regional, taking on No. 6 Ohio State in a first-round game in Durham, North Carolina.

Despite having lost their previous two games at Arkansas and Ole Miss, Creme actually pushed the Lady Tigers off the “Last Four In” list.

He has the SEC getting seven teams in the NCAA Tournament:

  • South Carolina (27-2, 15-1): No. 1 seed, Oklahoma City Regional
  • Tennessee (24-5, 15-1): No. 2 seed, Spokane Regional
  • Mississippi State (26-5, 11-5): No. 4 seed, Albany Regional
  • Kentucky (21-8, 10-6): No. 4 seed, Greensboro Regional
  • Texas A&M (22-8, 10-6): No. 6 seed, Albany Regional
  • LSU (16-12, 10-6): No. 11 seed, Greensboro Regional
  • Arkansas (16-12, 6-10): No. 12 seed, Spokane Regional

Creme’s latest projection finds Tulane (20-9, 11-7) on the “Last Four Out” list. Tulane’s RPI is No. 50.

LSU will be the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Tigers get a double bye all the way to Friday’s quarterfinals, where they will play No. 5-seeded Texas A&M or No. 12 Florida (13-16, 5-11) or No. 13 Auburn (12-17, 3-13) at about 2:30 p.m. The winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Florida and Auburn will play A&M in Thursday’s second round.

Despite losing their last two regular-season games, the Aggies’ RPI dropped only from No. 24 Sunday to No. 28 Monday,

LSU has three wins over current Top 50 RPI teams: No. 9 Kentucky, No. 26 Mississippi State and No. 28 Texas A&M.

Nikki Caldwell drops the glasses, but not for the reason you think

Nikki Caldwell’s bio on LSUSports.net mentions her fashion sense. The LSU women’s basketball coach’s collaboration on her on-court outfits with fellow former Tennessee player Shyra Ely-Gash is well documented.

Caldwell in recent years incorporated a thin pair of eye glasses into her look, but the last couple of games they’ve been absent (no jokes about LSU’s inability to shoot straight in Sunday’s 63-41 loss at Arkansas).

Turns out Caldwell isn’t trying to make a new fashion statement: she’s simply out of eye glasses for the time being.

“I’ve lost all my glasses,” Caldwell explained Tuesday. “My last pair got chewed up by my 12-week-old boxer. I’ve got more ordered, they just haven’t come in yet.”

Caldwell’s puppy by the way was named Tupac by her husband, Justin Fargas, after his favorite rap star.

Caldwell said the glasses will be back, with an added twist.

“I’m getting some purple ones,” she said.

SEC TOURNAMENT UPDATE: Caldwell’s Lady Tigers travel to Ole Miss on Thursday to take on the Rebels in a key 6 p.m. matchup on SEC Network+.

LSU is 15-11 and 9-5 in SEC play, while Ole Miss 16-11 and 6-8 after a 67-59 upset Monday of No. 13 Kentucky.

The loss by UK (19-8, 8-6) keeps the Wildcats a game back of LSU in sixth place. Kentucky is also down a tiebreaker to the Lady Tigers, who beat UK 84-79 on Jan. 18.

One more win by LSU at Ole Miss or at home Sunday against Texas A&M or one more loss by UK at Arkansas on Thursday or at home Sunday against No. 2-ranked South Carolina will mean LSU will be no worse than the No. 5 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament.

The Lady Tigers could be as high as the No. 3 seed if they win out while Mississippi State loses at South Carolina or to Ole Miss, with winning out meaning LSU would win the tiebreakers over State and A&M.

If LSU is the No. 3 or 4 seed in the SEC Tournament, the Lady Tigers will get a double bye into the quarterfinals and start playing Friday. If LSU is the No. 5 seed it will play in the second round on Thursday.

LSU women’s RPI drops to No. 67 after loss; SEC tourney possibilities

If there was any evidence needed as to how much the LSU Lady Tigers need a win Thursday at Ole Miss after Sunday’s 63-41 blowout loss at Arkansas, the numbers proved it Monday.

LSU’s RPI dropped from No. 63 to No. 67 according to the list released by the NCAA on Monday. The Lady Tigers slipped to 15-11 overall and 9-5 in SEC play, putting LSU’s brightening NCAA tournament hopes back into greater jeopardy.

During ESPNU’s telecast of Sunday’s LSU-Arkansas game, announcers said ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme has the Lady Tigers among his last four teams in the NCAA women’s tournament field of 64.

Creme on Monday updated his bracket with LSU remaining as a No. 11 seed. He now has the Lady Tigers playing at No. 6-seeded Princeton, which is the last undefeated team in women’s basketball at 25-0.

The loss at Arkansas dropped LSU to fifth in the SEC standings, a game behind Mississippi State and Texas A&M (both 10-4) and a half-game ahead of sixth-place Kentucky (8-5).

The Lady Tigers hold tiebreakers over State and Kentucky and have a loss to A&M with a game remaining against the Aggies at home Sunday in the regular season finale.

Ole Miss (15-11, 5-8) hosts Kentucky on Monday before hosting LSU Thursday (6 p.m., SEC Network+). The Rebels lost seven straight SEC games before a 51-46 win last Thursday at last-place Auburn. That losing streak included a 70-41 loss at LSU on Jan. 29.

Here are the possibilities for LSU at this point:

  • If LSU wins out to finish 11-5: The Lady Tigers would at least be the No. 4 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in North Little Rock, Arkansas. LSU would be the No. 3 seed with two wins and a loss by Mississippi State, which plays Thursday at No. 2-ranked South Carolina.
  • If LSU splits its last two games to finish 10-6: It’s complicated, but the Lady Tigers could be anywhere from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed depending what State, A&M and Kentucky do. Most likely, LSU would be the No. 5 seed.
  • If LSU loses its last two games to finish 9-7: The Lady Tigers would be the No. 5 seed if Kentucky loses two of its last three at Ole Miss, at Arkansas and at home against South Carolina. LSU would be the No. 6 seed if Kentucky wins two of three. The Lady Tigers can’t finish worse than the No. 6 seed because the next best teams (Arkansas and Georgia) already have eight losses.

March 1 LSU-A&M women’s game time set

The LSU Lady Tigers’ March 1 regular season finale against Texas A&M will tip off at 1 p.m., the Southeastern Conference office announced Friday.

The game will be televised by ESPNU.

The LSU-Texas A&M game and Kentucky-South Carolina game on March 1 were part of a flex scheduling package by the SEC and ESPN which was announced at the beginning of the season.

The Lady Tigers, coming off an 86-62 loss Thursday at No. 1 South Carolina, return to action at 7 p.m. next Thursday against No. 24 Georgia in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. That game will only be shown online on SEC Network Plus.

LSU No. 10 seed in NCAA mock tournament selection

INDIANAPOLIS – If the season ended today, the LSU men’s basketball team would be in the NCAA tournament as a No. 10 seed. That’s the view, anyway, of the mock selection committee, a group of 20 media members who met here Thursday and Friday to go through the process of selecting the 68-team field.

In bracket decisions made Friday, LSU would be the No. 10 seed in the East Regional, taking on No. 7 Ohio State in a second-round game (first full round) in Pittsburgh. The East Regional teams wind up in Syracuse, N.Y.

LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC) went through several voting rounds before being selected Friday morning. The Tigers got in despite their RPI dropping from 51 to 57 from Thursday to Friday.

Meanwhile Louisiana Tech, which got in the field as the projected Conference USA tournament champion, was picked as the No. 13 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Bulldogs were paired with No. 4 Iowa State in a second-round matchup in Louisville, Kentucky.

Twenty members of the media, including this writer, participated in the mock exercise at NCAA headquarters.

The real NCAA bracket will be revealed on Sunday, March 15. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who was not present at the mock selection meeting, is in his fourth year of a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee.

For more details on the mock selection process, check back at www.TheAdvocate.com and in Saturday and Sunday’s editions of The Advocate.

LSU men under consideration during NCAA mock tournament selection exercise

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA held its annual mock basketball tournament selection event Thursday, inviting 20 media members from around the country to participate in an exercise to simulate what the Men’s Division I Basketball Committee goes through to pick the field of 68 teams.

LSU (17-7 overall, 6-5 SEC) was one of the teams committee members voted on to place under consideration for an at-large berth during the exercise.

However, the Tigers were not voted into the field when about three-fourths of the field was selected at the end of Thursday’s meeting.

According to Final Four media coordinator David Worlock, about 10 at-large berths remain to be filled along with the remaining automatic qualifier berths.

For the purposes of the exercise a number of automatic qualifying berths were arbitrarily filled. Among those was placing Louisiana Tech in the field as the automatic qualifier as winner of the Conference USA tournament.

LSU entered Thursday ranked No. 51 in the official NCAA RPI. The Tigers’ RPI and their record has placed LSU squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Mock committee members (which include this reporter) are instructed to select at-large teams based on their current record, not to project how they may or may not do the rest of the season.

The mock selection committee seeded the top four seed lines in the tournament, though those seedings are subject to change.

Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Wisconsin were selected as the No. 1 regional seeds.

The mock selection exercise concludes Friday, culminating with the release of a 68-team bracket. The actual NCAA tournament bracket will be revealed Sunday, March 15.

Visit www.TheAdvocate.com and follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter at @RabalaisAdv for updates.