Healthy and playing some sugar-sweet basketball, the Miami Hurricanes are the latest team to grab a No. 1 seed in our bracket. Miami sits atop the East Region. Despite a last-second loss at Illinois, Indiana remains the No. 1 overall seed thanks to an impressive road win at Ohio State on Sunday. Michigan and Duke are the other top seeds. Based on recent history, however, the race for the top line is far from over. Arizona, Florida, Gonzaga, and Michigan State are in the mix, too. And it’s not too late for Syracuse to move back up. Then there’s Kansas, which put together an impressive bounce-back against rival Kansas State on Monday.
Bracket rules what they are, there are a few quirks in this edition – such as potential third-round rematches between Illinois and Gonzaga and Kentucky and Duke. While the Selection Committee tries to avoid such rematches in the first two/three rounds, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. In these cases, other conflicts created the rematch scenarios. In fact, Illinois is one a few teams that moved a seed line to avoid bracket conflicts. A true nine seed (s-curve No. 36), the Illini couldn’t be placed in the top half of any region because of other Big Ten opponents. Such moves are not uncommon.
As for the bottom of the bracket – or the bubble – Baylor, Temple, La Salle, Saint Mary’s, and St. John’s are the last five teams in today. One could make a case for a handful of others. Virginia is a particularly challenging case and is the first team out. The Cavaliers are 6-0 vs. Top 100 RPI teams – including a win at Wisconsin. But they also have several troubling losses – none more than Old Dominion at home. UVA also has a very weak non-conference strength of schedule. It’s hard to be confident in the Cavaliers’ profile given the above scenario.
We have a long way to go. Other teams knocking on the door? Villanova, Arizona State, Massachusetts, Boise State, and Stanford. And that might change by midweek. It’s been one of those seasons. Enjoy another great week of hoops.
With just over a month until Selection Sunday, it’s time to take a look at the current NCAA bubble. It’s a bit crazy – especially with teams like Kentucky and North Carolina missing from “lock” status. We also have teams like Virginia - whose resume features quality wins, head-scratching losses, and a weak strength of schedule. How will the Selection Committee view the Cavaliers? Those are just three of many challenges within the current landscape of college hoops.
For what it’s worth, the Atlantic 10, Pac-12, SEC, and Mountain West have a variety of bubble teams. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.
Bubble Banter will ebb and flow over the next month. Teams will be added and teams will fall away. Others will move off the bubble and confirm their place in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. While we could stretch the bubble even further, we’ve limited teams to those with realistic at-large hopes at this point in time. Ask Villanova how quickly things can change, however. Beating Louisville and Syracuse in back-to-back games can do that.
It’s going to be a fun ride. Here’s to some great hoops and a stronger-than-usual bubble down the stretch.