One month from today we’ll forget about projecting the NCAA Tournament bracket and begin filling out our actual brackets in preparation for the greatest three weeks in sports. What will the bracket look like? There’s still a lot to be decided. We’re also likely to see a few surprises in conference tournaments. February 15 Bracket Projection.
No changes on the No. 1 seed line. It’s odd, however, that both Syracuse losses have been at home. Kansas remains the overall No. 1 seed – followed by Kentucky, Villanova and Syracuse. That gives us a little shake-up in location. Kentucky moves to the South and Villanova to the East. Since UK has to travel (a similar distance) either way, this makes sense. I would imagine KU and UK will stay 1-2 next month. That means a regional trip to St. Louis for the Jayhawks. The Wildcats would thus be placed in either Syracuse or Houston. That may depend on who else earns a No. 1 seed. As far as other top-line contenders … Purdue, Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State could all be in play, with West Virginia on the fringe. Georgetown’s loss at Rutgers basically eliminates the Hoyas from winning a Big East regular-season title. Purdue and Duke have the strongest profiles if they win outright conference championships.
We still have a lot of wiggle room from Seeds 4-9. Then there’s a mess at the bottom of the bracket. As usual, more teams will continue to play their way out. Case in point … nearly every bubble team (except Louisville and Cincinnati) lost games they should have won – and the Cardinals actually did too – losing by 19 at St. John’s before winning at Syracuse. Go figure. The SEC West is not represented in the Feb. 15 bracket. Ole Miss continues to flounder and now projects out – losing both games to rival Mississippi State along the way.
Our Last 5 In (at large) – Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, UAB, Florida, Cincinnati. First 5 Out (at-large) – Mississippi, Mississippi State, St. Mary’s, San Deigo State, William & Mary. Check it out. Rebounds are always welcome. I’ll be working on Bubble Banter throughout the week in preparation for Thursday’s complete update. Could also be the week we start an extra bracket on Friday.
Elsewhere, no team has had a better four-day stretch than Illinois. After spending most of the season on the outside looking in, the Illini posted a home win over Michigan State last Saturday, then won at the Kohl Center in Wisconsin on Tuesday – a place the Badgers have lost only 11 times in 10 years. Even though Kalin Lucas didn’t play for MSU, these are two huge wins for the Illini who are 9-3 in the Big 10 and tied for first place with MSU. A win Sunday over Ohio State (at home) will move Illinois into our Should Be In category.
The Big East continues to have a pile of contenders in the middle of the standings. We should know a lot more about whose moving “in” and who’s moving “out” during the next two weeks. In most seasons, more teams play their way out than play their way in. Have a different thought? Rebounds are always welcome. You can follow daily updates and news with our Twitter updates: BracketguyDave.
Valentine’s Day is a week away. Who’s getting some NCAA Tournament love? Take a look at Bracketville’s February 8 Bracket Projection.
What else is in our box of chocolates? For starters, there’s a bunch of questions in the Big East: Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, South Florida, and Cincinnati. Marquette has the most quality wins/best overall profile – easy enough. Why do the Cardinals project in? Part of it’s a 6-4 Big East record and part of it’s because the Cards seem most capable (and proven under Rick Pitino) to make a run. Much like Marquette, the Cards’ record reflects close losses to very good teams. There’s also the strength of schedule (SOS) component. Louisville’s overall SOS ranks No. 5. Their non-conference SOS is 23. Now, consider the non-conference SOS of the others: South Florida (206), Notre Dame (230), Cincinnati (66). The Bearcats have lost three of four and have two tough road games up next (1-6 in road games so far). Hard to project them in; they are among our first five out.
Last Five In: Illinois, Oklahoma State, St. Mary’s, UTEP, and Louisville. First Five Out: Notre Dame, VCU, South Florida, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech. In the case of Virginia Tech, the Hokies are lumbering around with a non-conference SOS ranked No. 340. VT has only 1 Top 50 RPI win and half of their victores are against the bottom half of the RPI. A 5-3 ACC mark looks good, but we’re waiting to see how the Hokies navigate the next week or so. No. 1 seeds remain the same, although Kentucky moves back ahead of Villanova on the S-Curve and is back in the East Region.
The Atlantic 10 and Mountain West are taking advantage of some extra bids. The A-10 could realistically put six teams in the Dance. It’s also hard to imagine BYU, New Mexico, or UNLV (Mountain West) missing the NCAAs. Who else is on the bubble? Take a look at Bubble Banter. It launched this past Saturday. Our next update will be Thursday evening (late). More frequent updates will be made as we move toward Selection Sunday. With the Super Bowl behind us … March Madness takes center stage. As always, we credit CollegeRPI.com for the RPI and SOS data.
These next two weeks will help set the stage for March Madness. In early February we reach the mid-point of conference play. Why is that important? Because conference standings are a big deal for NCAA selection. Over the next two weeks we’ll find out which teams put themselves in position for at-large consideration. We’ll have an idea about who appears “locked in” and who may appear on the “bubble.” That in mind, here are some Bracket Bits and a look at some meaningful weekend clashes …
Conference RPI rankings (from collegerpi.com) are as follows: 1. Big East | 2. Big 12 | 3. ACC | 4. SEC | 5. Big 10 | 6. Atlantic 10 | 7. Mountain West | 8. Pac-10 | 9. Missouri Valley | 10. Colonial. While teams earn bids, not conferences, the rankings still help give some indication of how bids could be handed out in two months. Our January 11 bracket projection had at least three teams from conferences ranked 1 to 7; while the others had two or one – along with a team or two also considered.
Resume building … No team helped it’s NCAA resume more this past week than Pittsburgh. Winning three straight conference road games was quite an accomplishment. It also set the Panthers up for top-tier finish in the Big East. If Pitt simply wins its remaining home games, the Panthers would finish 12-6 in league play; nicely positioned for a potential protected seed. That’s quite a climb for a squad that three weeks ago looked like a bubble team. Then there’s Ohio State – which welcomed back Evan Turner. How much better are the Buckeyes with a fully healthy Turner? Ask Purdue. Illinois opened Big 10 play by beating Northwestern, Iowa, Indiana, and Penn State (4-0). The next four (@Michigan State, Purdue, @Northwestern, @Penn State) will tell us much more about the Illini’s NCAA chances. Read more…
One the night college football decides its champion based on polls and computers, we make some quick hoop updates and celebrate that the NCAA basketball championship is settled by a tournament. On that note …
Colonial turnovers … losses by William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) created a turnover on the Colonial’s hope of a multi-bid March. By dropping a game at Drexel, VCU finds itself at 1-3 in CAA play. Despite wins over Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Richmond, the Rams now face an uphill battle to reclaim a spot in the CAA title chase. The Tribe – which lost in OT at home to NC-Wilmington – can stay in the hunt for an at-large bid by avoiding further bad losses and putting together a strong CAA performance. Elsewhere …
In the Missouri Valley … Northern Iowa continues its push toward the NCAAs – dominating a road game at Southern Illinois, one of the toughest venues in the MVC. Wichita State improved it’s position by winning at Missouri State. Shockers’ concern? Their best non-conference win is at home vs. Texas Tech. Illinois State will be hampered by another poor non-conference strength of schedule (currently No. 229). Read more…
A countdown to March Madness: welcome to college hoops once the calendar turns. Fans and fanatics begin the trek toward Selection Sunday. Is my team “in” or “out’? What’s my team’s seed? The first Monday in January is when bracket projecting gets more than a passing glance.
As you take a look at our January 4 Bracket Projection, keep three things in mind … 1) Teams are selected and seeded based on both current performance and anticipated potential at the time the bracket is done. The bracket is not based on if the season ended today. For example, Oregon doesn’t receive an automatic bid from the Pac-10 after two games. Washington is still our projected winner …2) Performance will outweigh potential as the season progresses. … 3) The bracket is very fluid at this point so don’t get too caught up in seeding. Many resumes look identical; it’s why we use potential to help configure our projections.
Some additional thoughts … USC was being projected as an NCAA team until Sunday’s announcement that the Trojans had self-imposed a post-season ban for the 2010 NCAAs. Kansas is the overall No. 1 seed – a spot the Jayhawks have held since our preseason projection in November. The No. 1 seeds on January 4 … Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, and Syracuse. As for the last five in … St. Mary’s, BYU, Xavier, Virginia Commonwealth (VCU), and Mississippi State. The first five out … Missouri, Miami-FL, Louisville, Wichita State, Northwestern.
The countdown has begun. Welcome to everyone who linked from NBC Sports. What an exciting opportunity. There’s sure to be plenty of debate and discussion. As always, please send a rebound.
Greet the Washington Huskies – again. Fresh off a win over Texas A&M, the Huskies sneak back into the Power 24 at Bracketville. The Aggies just miss, falling one spot off the pace during the Holiday week. Nothing new at the top … Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina round out our first five. Next update is Monday, January 4 – that’s also the day we begin weekly bracket projections. See our full Power 24. Have a different thought? Send a rebound.