[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Every year March seemingly gets more and more magical. Buzzer-beaters to keep your season alive (and in some cases, your career), performances that make your jaw drop, marquee match-ups from lunchtime to bedtime, and, of course, the always fun cutting-of-the-nets (and it seems to be cool to do this after losses now, too). I love it. You can take all of the other eleven months of the year and just give me March and I’d be happier than a, well, I’d just be really happy.
It’s March 10th, the regular season is now over and the conference tournaments are getting underway. While the majority of college students spend this next week getting plastered in various locations across the south, I’ll be sitting on my rump in lovely Pennsylvania taking in all that March has to offer. There is one week until the 68-team field is set as we get ready for what is almost sure to be one of the most memorable, maniacal, magical, and, of course, maddening March’s we’ve ever seen.
So strap in your seat belts, folks, as I’m about to drop you some knowledge on pretty much everything that’s about to happen over the course of this next week. Bubble watches, bracket math, and of course my coveted, iron-clad conference tournament/NCAA field predictions. Here we go..
Welcome to the Tourney: Yesterday, the real madness got started as three teams punched their tickets to the big dance. A hearty congratulations to you Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Harvard (Ivy), and Belmont (Ohio Valley). FGC was the first team to make the field yesterday afternoon when they took down Mercer 88-75 behind sophomore guard Brett Comer’s 21 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals. You probably don’t remember this (or even know this), but earlier this year the Eagles toppled Miami (Fl.) by 12 so don’t be surprised if this team proves to be a tough out in the tourney. Harvard’s in for the second straight year after smacking around the Big Red (perhaps my favorite college team nickname) 65-56. Kudos to Tommy Amaker for the job he continues to do there. And while I extend a shake of the hand to Belmont for beating Murray State in a thriller of a game, I’m saddened that one of college basketball’s finest players, Isaiah Canaan, saw his career end like that. After putting up 22 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds, Canaan turned the ball over on his final possession that led to Belmont’s game winner. Canaan’s been one of the best players in the nation for the last two years now and you hate to see guys like that end their careers in such disappointment. It seems like just yesterday he was making plays like this.
And today, two more tickets were punched, as Creighton took down Wichita State in a fantastic game for the MVC crown, and Liberty took down the 1-seed Charleston Southern to win the Big South tourney title. Liberty is the first cinderella story of March, as the Flames are 15-20 on the season, and started the year off 0-8. Congrats to today’s inclusions!
Bubble Watch/Conference Tournament Projection: Now to the meat of this post. One of the most thrilling parts of March can be making the tournament when you were sitting on the proverbial bubble (although, as UK guy, that really doesn’t happen to me much). But still, I can empathize. Everyone always wants to know who is in and who is out. Well how about I take this question a step further and tell you who will be in, and who will be out. Let’s start with the bubble-loving SEC (because, unlike some of the other conferences, I go to a school in this one):
Locks: Florida, Missouri.
Obviously, Florida’s been a lock for quite some time now and is heading for a top-3 seed in the dance. Billy D’s club may have taken some L’s down the stretch on the road, but the SEC tournament is a neutral site (although the BBN might have something to say about that), where the Gators will cruise to the tournament victory. Missouri, while up-and-down for much of this season, will have no worrying on Selection Sunday other than their seeding. After taking care of both Texas A&M and Ole Miss, the Tigers will bow out to Kentucky and it’s fanatical infantry.
Bubble Dwellers: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee.
In a finish that brings no other phrase into your head other than “That’s March,” the Tide escaped with a win yesterday over Georgia on Trevor Releford’s half-court heave that kept the Tide fighting another day. The win puts them at 20-11 on the year with “good wins” over Villanova, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and bad losses against Dayton, Tulane, Mercer, Auburn, and LSU. The bad losses and lack of good wins, coupled with very mediocre computer numbers (60 RPI, 89 SOS), gives the Tide a very bubblicious (perhaps too bubblicious) resume. After their quarterfinal exit to Tennessee in the SEC tournament, the Tide are going to find themselves in the NIT, I’m afraid.
Now to the Razorbacks of Arkansas, and my-oh-my do they have a weird (yet classic) profile with Mike Anderson. At home, the Razorbacks are one of the toughest outs in the country where they are 18-1 with wins over Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Away from Bud Walton Arena? The Hogs are a lowly, and inexplicable 1-11 with losses to the likes of Texas A&M, South Carolina, and LSU. The good wins at home are nice, but pairing the awful road performances with poor computer numbers will almost surely leave the Hogs out of the field. Plus, a first round loss to Vanderbilt (who they lost to earlier this season by 18 in Nashville) awaits.
And to the team you’ve all been waiting for. The Kentucky Wildcats. Make no mistake, yesterdays win over Florida was huge. But it is not the end all, be all for the Wildcats tournament chances. The 4-3 record without Nerlens Noel is still a major concern, as is their 4-7 road record. But, I must say, I do like the ‘Cats chances. The win over the Gators gives the Cats another strong win to go along with victories over Maryland, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Missouri. After dismissing both Vanderbilt and Missouri in the conference tournament, the Cats will ultimately fall in the championship to Florida, but will find itself in the field of 68 (even if it’s in Dayton).
Ole Miss, Ole Miss, what to do with you. You have a pristine record when compared to the other bubble teams (23-8). But other than that, your resume is filled with a ton of bleh. Your best wins are a pair of victories over Tennessee, and a home win over Missouri. You’ve suffered losses to Indiana State, Texas A&M, South Carolina, and, wait, what? They lost to Mississippi State? Are you kidding me? If this team gets in the field of 68 I’m not sure what I’ll do (no, seriously, I mean what could I do? Just be really angry?). After they lose to Missouri in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament their final nail will be in the coffin (and perhaps Andy Kennedy’s too).
Hey! We finally got a team that actually looks like they want to be in the tournament and play their best basketball in March. The Tennessee Volunteers. Other than the two losses to Georgia (which is weird), I can’t really find a major blemish with their resume. They boast wins over UMass, Wichita State, Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri, and have decent computer numbers (54 RPI, 35 SOS). They say the committee loves a team who is playing well at the moment, right? Well, UT has won eight of their last nine, and will add two more wins over South Carolina and Alabama (in what will be a heck of a bubble battle) before getting bounced by Florida. This will be an NCAA team.
And now to the land where Kansas dominates… The Big 12:
Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma.
There aren’t many certainties in March, but if there is one, it’s this. Kansas is going to win the Big 12 regular season title. With Kansas State’s loss yesterday to Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks were granted a share of the title before they got run out of the gym by Baylor. Is Kansas a one seed in the tournament? Maybe. But they are going to win the Big 12 tournament next week in KCMO. While Oklahoma State and Kansas State aren’t world beaters by any means, they are potential second weekend squads. When the two meet again next week in the Big 12 semi-finals, look for a fantastic game because they’ve split a pair of close games this season. But I’m taking the nearby, more experienced Wildcats. And now to the most interesting case in the Big 12, the Oklahoma Sooners. Do they deserve to be locks when you watch them play? Probably not. But when you look at both their profile and their competition, there just isn’t a way this team is missing the tournament. A 34 RPI and a 19 SOS are very favorable when compared to other bubble squads, as do there strong wins vs. Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor (twice), and Iowa State. Their seed will drop after they fall to Iowa State next week in the Big 12 quarterfinals, though.
Bubble Dwellers: Iowa State, Baylor.
The Cyclones aren’t definitely in yet as a loss to Oklahoma in the quarterfinals would make their Selection Sunday very interesting. ISU has decent computer numbers when compared to most of the bubble teams (RPI: 47, SOS: 63), and the Cyclones don’t have a ton of bad losses (although losing to Texas Tech can raise an eyebrow or two). They have some decent wins but nothing that will make your jaw drop in the form of Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor (twice). Once they beat Oklahoma I’ll feel much more comfortable about their chances (and consider them for “lock” status), but for now, they on the bubble, they sweatin’. Woo.
Is Baylor on the bubble? Yeah. Do they have some work to do? Double-yeah. Based on talent, the Bears shouldn’t be near the position that they find themselves in, but alas, after the Bears dominated Kansas yesterday, that’s exactly where they find themselves. Baylor is 18-13 (not that good), with an RPI of 61 (thoroughly mediocre) and an SOS of 22 (Hey! That’s pretty good..). Wins over Kentucky, Kansas, and Oklahoma State are nice, but some questionable out of conference falters against the College of Charleston and Northwestern still loom. The fact of the matter is this, I feel this team needs to knock out Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament to give themselves a chance. I don’t think it’s going to happen and the NIT will await them.
What’s good, Pac-12?
Locks: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, California.
Call me a guy who is very liberal with the word “lock” and I’d probably agree with you. But the truth is that none of these teams are going to miss the NCAA tournament. Arizona is more than likely going to be a top-4 seed in the NCAA tournament with its plethora of strong non-conference wins. Even though a semi-final, and third, loss to UCLA is bound to happen in the Pac-12 tournament, this is a team that I think can do some damage in the big dance. Speaking of UCLA, how about them winning the Pac-12 regular season title out of nowhere. Other than the recent game against Washington State where they looked truly awful, this has been a second weekend squad for quite some time now. A conference tournament final loss to Cal is going to sting, but make them better for the real thing. Now to the three teams where you may question my use of the word “lock.” The Colorado Buffaloes may have lost to Oregon State yesterday, but another matchup with the Beavers awaits in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. Let’s be honest, though, the 35 RPI and 16 SOS are good enough alone to get them in, let alone the wins over Oregon (twice), Arizona (should have been twice), Cal, and Colorado State. A loss to Arizona in the conference quarterfinals will make some doubt, but they shouldn’t. They in there. Oregon may be limping to the finish, but this is another team that I just can’t envision not making the NCAA tournament. They are 23-8 (good), and have wins over UNLV, Arizona, and UCLA (also good). The computer numbers are iffy (52 RPI, 129 SOS), but even with a loss to Washington in the quarterfinals (which isn’t going to happen), this team will be in the field. Remember, they have to take 68 teams. And finally, we have Cal. Cal, like so few teams out there, are playing their best basketball right now. The Golden Bears won seven of their last eight to close the season, including victories over Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, and Colorado. In other words, the other four “locks.” They boast an RPI of 50 and an SOS of 32, but more importantly, they are going to get the automatic bid after downing UCLA in the conference tournament final.
Bubble Dwellers: Arizona State
The Sun Devils once looked like a promised at-large candidate, but after losing their last four games there chances are slim at best. Their best out of conference win was a neutral site game over Arkansas (does that even count?), and in conference they’ve beaten Colorado (twice), UCLA, and Cal. Meh. Shoddy computer numbers (90 RPI, 124 SOS), and the struggling finish are taking this team straight to the NIT. A first round conference tournament loss to Stanford will put the final nail in the coffin, too.
In its last go round as my favorite conference tournament, let’s check into the Big East to see how it’s going.
Locks: Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Cincinnati.
The Big East is generally one of the best leagues from top to bottom and this year is no different. In fact, it’s probably the second deepest league behind the Big Ten. Unfortunately, the league will never be what it is now again. With many teams coming and going, this will be the last conference tournament of the “real” Big East that we’ll ever see. Georgetown, Louisville and Marquette all finished 14-4 to share the Big East crown, and, in turn, are the top 3 seeds in the Big East tourney in that order. In my opinion if either Georgetown or Louisville win the event, a #1 seed will be awarded to them. The Hoyas, who have struggled in the postseason the last couple years, will see their Big East tournament end to the hands of Pittsburgh in the semifinals. Meanwhile, riding their postseason success of late, the Cards will cruise through the Big East tournament and secure a #1 seed in the field (I think I just died a little bit inside typing that sentence). The Golden Eagles will knock out my tournament sleeper, Rutgers, in the quarterfinals before bowing out to Louisville in the semi-finals. The offensively-challenged Syracuse Orange have looked more like a team that wants to play in Madison Square Garden later this month draw the winner of Seton Hall and South Florida (I just can’t decide who’s going to win this, I haven’t been able to sleep because of it). After dispatching the winner of that instant classic, the Orange are going to get whacked by the defensively sound Pittsburgh Panthers. Speaking of Pittsburgh, the Panthers are perhaps the most underrated team in the nation as they sit at #20 in the AP poll with only one real puzzling loss (at Rutgers), and a slew of strong wins (Syracuse, Georgetown, Nova twice, UConn, and Cincinnati). My boy Ken Pom agrees with me, as his numbers have the Panthers rated #6 in the nation. A trip to the finals in the Big East tournament before falling the Louisville is what I see. Notre Dame’s started to fall recently losing three of their last six and Mike Brey, as good as his teams can do in the regular season, tends to struggle in the postseason. There in the tournament for sure, and will probably get a pretty decent seed, but they are going to get upset in New York early to the hands of my sleeper squad Rutgers! Finally, we are left with the Cincinnati Bearcats. What looked like a promising season in the beginning, it’s starting to turn sour for Mick Cronin’s club. UC has lost six of their last nine, and are matched up with the barely-bubble-dwelling Providence in their first game in the conference tournament, who they lost to early this season. The Bearcats are going to get in due to their near spotless non-conference mark, but they’ve really done some damage to their seed and will continue to do so when they drop their first game to the dangerous Friars.
Bubble Dwellers: Villanova, Providence.
Let’s be honest, unless Nova gets rocked by St. John’s and the committee does a hack job, the Wildcats are going to get in the field. But, the possibility of both of those things happening are legitimate, so you can’t be too sure. Villanova, though, should get in to the field. With wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, and Georgetown (four of the top five teams in the Big East), there’s no bubble team with better wins. And what more can you ask really of a bubble team? This is clearly a different team when you watch them from the one that was rocked early in the season by both Alabama and Columbia. The computer numbers are good, too, with an RPI of 51 and an SOS of 18. I suppose it’s possible they don’t make it, because I do think they are going to lose to St. John’s in the first round of the Big East tourney, they should still be in.
Alright Eamonn Brennan, I’m giving Providence a shot as a bubble dweller because you did too. The Friars have some bad losses, I mean some really bad losses. DePaul? Penn State? Boston College? … BROWN? Alright, Eamonn, I’m really starting to question your judgment now. I suppose the Friars are playing well lately (have won six of eight), and boast some good wins (Nova twice, Cincinnati, Notre Dame), but to make the field of 68 they are going to really have to have a good showing in MSG. After defeating Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East tournament, the Friars are going to give Georgetown all they want before ultimately bowing out. NIT bound you are, Providence.
Just to give you an update on how I’m doing, my fingers are getting tired. This post is officially over 3,000 words and has officially become the longest thing I’ve ever typed. And I’m not done yet. Ugh. Also, you’re probably wondering (actually, probably not, but I’m going to explain myself anyway) why I’m going in such random conference order. That’s because some conferences finished their regular seasons yesterday and some are today. I don’t feel like waiting for the ACC bubble battle between UVA and Maryland to conclude before I start my Atlantic 10 talk. Speaking of the A-10, show me what you got.
Locks: Butler, VCU, St. Louis.
St. Louis won the Atlantic-10 conference and I’m very happy they did. No, I’m not a St. Louis fan, but I am a Rick Majerus fan. It’s great to see everything they’ve done without him this season. Besides on OT loss at Xavier last week, the Blue Jays have been fantastic down the stretch. They’ve won 12 of 13 with big wins over Butler (twice), VCU, and La Salle. SLU is my easy pick to win the A-10 tournament with the way they’ve played and perhaps a second weekend sleeper pick in the big one. VCU reminds me of a less erratic, better version of Arkansas. The Rams, with their #HAVOC style of defense, are much better at home than on the road but have seen some postseason and neutral court success under Shaka Smart. After downing both Xavier and Temple, VCU will fall in the A-10 finals to St. Louis in a must see game. Now we are left with Butler. The Bulldogs are safely in the field thanks to wins over Indiana, UNC, Marquette and Gonzaga, but have seen their seed drop lately in part to some recent losses. The Bulldogs are capable of making a run in both tournaments, but at least in the first one, their run will end to the red hot St. Louis Blue Jays.
Bubble Dwellers: Temple, La Salle.
Good bye Xavier and UMass, you best win the A-10 tournament (something that’s not going to happen) if you want in. Temple, though, is playing like a team that does want in the party. They’ve won seven straight with big wins over VCU and fellow-bubbler La Salle. Losses to Canisius, St. Bonaventure, and Duquesne still hurt, but the computer numbers are still strong enough to warrant strong consideration (43 RPI, 77 SOS). After beating UMass in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tourney before dropping to VCU in the semi-finals, Temple will find themselves in the field on Selection Sunday.
La Salle is another team with an interesting NCAA tournament profile. On one hand, they have a very good record (21-8), a strong RPI (38), and some pretty good wins (Nova, @VCU, and Butler). On the other hand, they have a very poor SOS (87), a loss to Central Connecticut State, and no good out of conference wins save a home overtime win against Villanova when Nova was much worse. Another win versus Butler will get them in the field. A loss (which is my prediction)? And they still may get in. But barely (as in, they are the team that will get in last according to my projections).
Now to the most underrated (and perhaps third best) conference in the country: the Mountain West.
Locks: New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV, and San Diego State.
New Mexico is sitting pretty on pretty much every end of the spectrum. High AP rank, good wins both in and out of conference, and, now, a regular season Mountain West Conference title. Their record against the other “locks” in the conference is 4-2, and don’t be surprised if the Lobos receive a higher seed than you think (thanks in large part to, um, the #2 RPI and #4 SOS). The Lobos will dispatch Wyoming and Boise State in the tourney before getting bounced in the final to the home team UNLV. Transitioning to UNLV, before yesterdays inexplicable loss to Fresno State, the Rebels were on a roll. They had won five straight against strong competition and were seemingly hitting their peak. Was yesterday a fluke? Or is UNLV just not quite there yet? Or maybe Fresno just has their number as it was the second time Fresno beat UNLV. Anyways, I think UNLV will use the home crowd to roll through Air Force, Colorado State and New Mexico en route to a MWC title. The 2-seed for the even is the Colorado State Rams. And before I go deeper into this, poor Tubby Smith. CSU center Colton Iverson is the latest example of a stud leaving him at Minnesota to go on to another, much more random school to find success. Iverson is averaging 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds (both team highs) to lead the dangerous Rams. They have lost three of their last six, though, and after they beat Fresno State in the first round, I foresee a loss to the red hot Rebels. And last but not least (well, I guess of the Mountain West locks they are the least, but whatever), San Diego State. Fresh off a loss to bubble-bound Boise, a rematch awaits in the quarterfinals of the MWC tournament. As Boise is playing for their bubble lives I think the Broncos buck the Aztecs back to San Diego. Sorry, I had to do it.
Bubble Dwellers: Boise State.
After yesterdays win over San Diego State, the Broncos chances look much better. Boise has a good record (19-9 vs. D1 opponents), a good RPI (37), good wins over Creighton, San Diego State, Colorado State and UNLV, and no truly awful losses (although you could probably make a good argument that a 21-point loss to Utah is awful). So what’s holding them back? A non-conference strength of schedule of 217 is the main thing, I suppose. Overall their strength of schedule is 70 thanks to the Mountain West but we’ve seen the committee penalize teams with sterling records who didn’t go out and play anyone before so I could see them doing the same again. Once they down San Diego State for a second time in Las Vegas this week, though, the Broncos will be dancing.
Hey! Michigan State finally beat Northwestern so I can write all the Big Ten. Sweet!
Locks: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota.
I’m not going to sugar coat anything, all of these teams are getting in the tournament and we’ve known this for a long time. The only two teams that there has been any wavering on are Illinois and Minnesota, but don’t kid yourself, they are getting in. Illinois has beaten Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana, and Minnesota, while the latter has beaten Memphis, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. They are in, no questions asked. Now for the tournament. Indiana gets the winner of Illinois/Minnesota (which will be Minnesota), but will get upset by Wisconsin who can use their defensive prowess to give the Hoosiers fits in the semi-finals. Michigan, after upending the daunting Penn State Nittany Lions, will fall to Wisconsin in a rematch of their epic game earlier this season. Seriously, people, Wisconsin’s defense is dope. Offensive oriented teams like Michigan and Indiana are both going to struggle against them especially in a neutral setting where it’s easier to slow it down than speed it up. The other side of the bracket will see Ohio State roll Purdue, and Michigan State take down Iowa, setting up another fantastic showdown in the Big Ten semifinals. In what will be a fantastic game, Ohio State’s going to use their late season momentum to take down Izzo’s Spartans, before cutting the nets down in Chicago after beating the Badgers in the finals.
Bubble Dwellers: Iowa.
Iowa’s kind of snuck up here lately on some people, and have put themselves in a bubblicious position. They have some decent wins over Iowa State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois, and there worst losses are to the hands of Virginia Tech and Nebraska. So in other words, they don’t really have any really bad losses. The computer numbers, though, leave a lot to be desired. The 72 RPI and 119 SOS (and even worse 305 NCSOS) almost scream NIT. But with the bubble as soft as Charmin, you got to at least give them a look. They almost definitely have to win two games to get in, and perhaps three. Unfortunately, they are only going to get one before losing to Michigan State again.
Following in the footsteps of the Big Ten is the ACC, who has finally finished out their regular season as well.
Locks: Miami (FL), Duke, North Carolina, NC State.
Even after a rather interesting finish to their regular season, Miami won the ACC outright for the first time ever. The Canes may have limped there, but they got it done. So are they the favorite to win the ACC tournament? No. Not even close. The answer to that questions lies in Durham, North Carolina, as the Duke Blue Devils are playing their best basketball of the season and probably the best basketball in the nation (again, dying inside). Duke murdered UNC last night as Andrew Wiggins looked on (I guess I can thanks the Dukies for that), and, like pretty much every year, are going to win the ACC tournament after they beat Maryland, UNC, and Miami. Miami looks to be half the team that murdered Duke earlier this year, but are going to right the ship enough to get by Georgia Tech, and NC State before dropping to the Devils. Speaking of NC State, they’re a lock, but they don’t like to make things look easy. I like talent in neutral site, postseason games, and they certainly have talent. They’ll get by both Virginia Tech and Virginia before falling to Miami in the semi-finals. As for UNC, what was that last night? Letting Duke beat you like a drum on your senior night? That’s embarrassing. And we all thought you had improved. Ah well, you’re still getting in the tournament, but have fun with Duke in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament for a third time.
Bubble Dwellers: Virginia, Maryland.
As I was typing this earlier, I was watching these two bubble teams go at it and what a game it was. UVA escaped the Terps at home in what may have been an elimination game. UVA won, and their weird profile lives on. And when I say weird profile, I mean a weird profile. Virginia has some of the best wins of a bubble team, as they’ve defeated Wisconsin (in Kohl), Tennessee, UNC, NC State, Maryland (twice), and Duke (w/o Ryan Kelly). In contrast, UVA also boasts some of the worst losses by a bubble team as they’ve been beaten by George Mason, Delaware, Old Dominion (who went 5-25!), Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Florida State. That’s eight bad losses. Eight. There computer numbers are very poor as well with a 71 RPI and a 133 SOS (and 299 NCSOS). UVA’s most likely got to beat NC State to give themselves a chance, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Maryland, who was on the losing end of tonight’s bubble battle, may have just seen their bubble burst. They’ve only beaten two teams of note (NC State and Duke), and have been beaten by some highly questionable ones (Florida State twice, Georgia Tech, and Boston College). Their computers numbers, too, are in a free fall with a 78 RPI and a 123 SOS. Maryland’s probably got to beat both Duke and UNC in the conference tournament to make it, and that might not even be enough. Maybe next year, Maryland.
And now here’s every other team that most people don’t care about:
Locks: Gonzaga, Wichita State, Memphis, St. Mary’s.
Gonzaga and St. Mary’s tip-off tomorrow for the WCC championship and since all St. Mary’s really had to do was get to the finals without an early loss they are going dancing. Gonzaga’s going to rock them tomorrow, though. Wichita State saw their pre-NCAA tournament season end today to Creighton (in what was a happy game for many bubblers because the MVC was a prime bid-stealing league), but the Shockers are in, no doubt about it. Same goes for Memphis. I don’t care that their best wins came against Southern Miss twice, and Tennessee. There’s something to be said about going 25-4 and undefeated in your league (with no bad losses out of conference). The Tigers are in.
Bubble Dwellers: Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Akron.
Middle Tennessee is currently playing for their auto-bid life against Florida International in the Sun Belt semi-finals and probably cannot withstand a loss to them. I know I just made a big deal about Memphis glorious record, but Middle Tennessee’s is an unfair comparison (the Sun Belt isn’t as good as the C-USA). Mid Tenn does have a bad loss, to Arkansas State, and only one even decent win (Ole Miss). I can’t see MT making the tournament without a Sun Belt title, although I suppose stranger things have happened.
Southern Miss is another interesting case. They have a good record (23-8), no bad losses (eh, Marshall is bad I suppose), and a surprisingly solid RPI (39). But that’s about it. I’m a big believer in needing good wins to get in and they just don’t have any. Seriously, I think there best is against Denver (!!!). In my opinion, either they win the C-USA, or they go to the NIT.
Louisiana Tech may have officially seen their bubble burst yesterday when they lost to Denver, making back-to-back losses. The only thing keeping LA Tech in the hunt was an unblemished conference mark and a win over Southern Miss. Now that their conference record is tainted, it’s either WAC title or NIT.
The final bubble team there is heading into conference tournaments is Akron. The Zips, though, may be done. Not only did Akron lose Friday to Kent State, but their starting point guard Alex Abreu was suspended on marijuana charges, thus virtually ending any hopes Akron had of making the field as an at-large. The computer numbers are iffy (53 RPI, 143 SOS), and they now don’t have a full roster. Look for my preseason MAC sleeper Ohio to win the conference title, sending Akron to the NIT.
So to recap: There are 31 automatic bids, and 37 at-larges.
My 37 at-larges are as follows (and remember, unlike most bubble watches, this isn’t as of now, this is my prediction as to what is going to happen): Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Georgetown, Marquette, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Villanova, Butler, VCU, Temple, La Salle, New Mexico, Colorado State, San Diego State, Boise State, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State, UNC, NC State, Miami (FL), Wichita State, and St. Mary’s.
Now knowing this season, Penn State and Mississippi State will probably win their conference tournaments and all hell will break loose. But maybe, just maybe my predictions will be right.
Oh my god.
If you read all this, god bless your soul.
[powered by WordPress.]
32 queries. 0.434 seconds