With enough time and enough coffee, ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon offers college hoops fanatics a splendid 24-hour escape. If you’re unwilling (or unable) to power through a full day, you can always set the DVR. Either way, Selection Committee members will be tracking results. Here are a few of the games that could have bracket implications …
West Virginia at Gonzaga – Other than a game with Michigan on December 15, this is West Virginia’s best chance to post a top-flight non-conference victory. The Zags always play a good non-conference schedule.
Davidson at New Mexico - Davidson is heavy favorite to win the Southern Conference, and many think the Wildcats could advance a game or two in March. A win at The Pit would certainly look good on the Wildcats’ resume if they need it on Selection Sunday. New Mexico has road trips to Cincinnati and Saint Louis in late December, so beating Davidson would be a good way to kick-off the season.
Temple at Kent State – The host Flashes opened their season with a victory over Colonial favorite Drexel. Adding a win over Temple might be even bigger. KSU will challenge Ohio for the Mid-American title, but an at-large berth has been rare for MAC teams in recent years. The Owls still play Duke, Syracuse, and Kansas outside the Atlantic 10. While there is less urgency, this would be a quality road win. Read more…
The Road to Atlanta begins November 9. Time to unveil our preseason Power 24. The headliners: Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas. Those would be our projected No. 1 seeds as slots 1-4 on the s-curve. A quick note: this year’s Power 24 will reflect the s-curve used for seeding teams into a bracket. Hopefully, that provides a slightly different view of the NCAA Tournament landscape.
Now, to the Power 24 itself. It’s a starting point. That’s it. We don’t know how the season will play out. We’ll have surprises. We’ll have disappointments.
Here are a few quick thoughts:
- The Big Ten opens the 2012-13 campaign loaded with quality teams. Beyond IU, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan could all be Top 4 seeds in March. All four begin the season in the Top 12 of our s-curve.
- The Atlantic 10 is a deep, talented league. If one or two teams separate, they will most certainly climb the rankings. But if those teams clump, you could easily see up to five teams make the Field of 68 and all be seeded between lines 7-10. VCU is our pick to win it. The Rams open at No. 25 on the s-curve. That would put them as the highest seven-seed.
- The Pac-12 will be improved – especially at the top. Arizona and UCLA should make a splash on the national scene.
- UNLV and San Diego State should wage a great battle for the Mountain West title. Both are Top 20 capable teams.
- How will NC State handle high expectations? Duke and North Carolina won’t just hand an ACC title to the Wolfpack. In some ways, many are overlooking the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.
- Syracuse shouldn’t be far beyond Louisville in the Big East. And don’t forget about Cincinnati or Notre Dame.
Preseason opinions vary greatly beyond the top two or three teams. Which makes the season tip-off even more exciting. It’s time for another journey toward Selection Sunday.
Selection Sunday is quickly approaching. While the bottom of the bracket remains highly volatile, the No. 1 seed contenders are taking shape. We have four front-runners with eight total teams remain in the hunt. Keep in mind that a team’s entire body of work is examined by the Selection Committee. So one good week in early March isn’t justification for a No. 1 seed. Here’s a look at the contenders …
Ohio State - The Buckeyes are a lock. OSU could potentially lose its spot in the East Region, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which the Buckeyes fall off the top line. OSU’s only two losses are at Wisconsin and at Purdue – both are in line for top-three seeds. The Buckeyes are 15-2 vs. the RPI Top 100 and beat Florida and Florida State on the road.
Pittsburgh - The Panthers lead the Big East and have been very consistent throughout the season. Pitt also has a non-conference victory over Texas on its resume and six Top 25 RPI wins. While not yet a lock, the Panthers control their path to a top seed in the East or Southeast. They may not have to win the Big East Tournament title, but they do need to avoid back-to-back losses to end the season. Their worst loss is Tennessee (neutral court).
Kansas - Kansas sits at No. 1 in the RPI (for what that’s worth) and has 17 wins vs. Top 100 teams – best in the nation. The Jayhawks also own the inside track to a Big 12 regular-season title. Why is Kansas not a lock? Only because there is the potential to be bumped should they lose a couple of games this next week and other teams below them excel. Kansas’ losses are to Texas at home and Kansas State on the road.
Duke – The Blue Devils close their regular season at North Carolina. A victory would give them the outright ACC title. A loss would leave Duke tied with Carolina pending the ACC Tournament. While Duke’s overall body of work is better to this point, if the Blue Devils were to lose twice to UNC in the next week, their odds to stay on the top line would certainly diminish. Duke is 14-3 vs. the Top 100. It’s best non-conference wins are Kansas State and Temple. Read more…
Fresh off an impressive victory at San Diego State – with help from Texas and Duke – BYU claims the fourth spot on our latest S-Curve and a No. 1 seed in the West Region. Welcome to March. Our other No. 1 seeds remain the same – Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Kansas. We have a strong set of 2-seeds: Texas, Duke, Notre Dame, Purdue. If you’re looking for San Diego State, the Aztecs are the highest ranked 3-seed. No shame in losing to BYU (twice this season). Instead, SDSU was passed by Purdue. Few teams are playing better than the Boilermakers.
We’re still sorting through the bottom of the bracket. The bubble has shrunk a bit. We’re now at roughly 28 teams battling for 12 spots. Every team seeded 10 and lower in this update has work to do. A lot of the teams are interchangeable. It’s very likely that conference tournaments will help determine the last few in and the last few out.
Send a rebound if you like. We’re in for an exciting two weeks until Selection Sunday.
Now that the National Football League has crowned its champion, we look forward to March Madness. Selection Sunday is just over a month away. With that in mind, two quick observations about our bracket update. First, the No. 1 seeds remain solid – Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Texas. Second, the bottom half of the bracket is a mess. Bubble Banter opened with an incredible 41 teams on bubble. Not much has changed. See a team seeded eight or lower in the bracket? An NCAA future is far from certain. Thankfully, we have another month for teams to play their way in or out.
Notable changes this week are the inclusion of three teams from the Colonial – George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU. Plus, the departure of Michigan State and Penn State from the Big 10. Then, there’s Alabama. If we set up the bracket as … if the season ended today … the Crimson Tide would be designated with the SEC automatic bid. Although we don’t use that formula directly, we’ve include Alabama as one of the last teams in the field. Alabama is 7-1 in a BCS conference, and despite early struggles, they have won 10 of 12 games, including wins over Kentucky and at Tennessee. Certainly, ‘Bama still has work to do, but so do a large number of other teams with underwhelming profiles. Whether the Crimson Tide stay very long remains to be seen. You’ll find more in our Bubble Banter update on Tuesday.