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A look at what’s been updated / quick links:
SEED LIST | February 1, 2016
BRACKET PROJECTION | February 1, 2016
A month from now, a yet unknown at-large team will be looking in the direction of Louisville, Kentucky and quietly acknowledging the Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball team for self-imposing a post-season ban in light of the allegations surrounding the program. On Friday afternoon, the school announced that the Cardinals would miss the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament in 2016. How this plays out beyond April remains to be seen, but the Cardinals absence will open up a spot on the Selection Committee’s final Seed List.
If you’re counting, that’s two, by the way. Southern Methodist (SMU) announced before the season that it would also miss this year’s NCAA tournament due to a self-imposed ban. If this keeps up, the Committee may not have many choices on Selection Sunday. The bubble pool is already shrinking and finding 68 suitable teams may not be that easy.
As of this morning, I’ve dropped the Seed List to 92 teams. A few others remain on the radar, but those teams are far enough out of contention that deciphering between them isn’t worth the time. We’ll see if any of those squads can make a run in the next two weeks that bring them back to life. Read more…
The Oklahoma Sooners are nothing if not exciting. After a triple-overtime gem with Kansas in early January, OU provided us a thrilling come-from-behind victory Saturday evening at LSU. In terms of today’s bracket update, the latter result keeps the Sooners atop the Field of 68 as the No. 1 overall seed. Joining Oklahoma on the top line: North Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa.
At the other end of the bracket, LSU is the first team out. There’s no shame in losing to Oklahoma, even at home. The challenge for LSU is overcoming a 7-6 non-conference effort that featured zero wins against Top 100 RPI opponents. That’s why Saturday’s loss stings even more. It would have been non-conference victory over one of the nation’s best teams. The good news: February provides the Tigers and several other bubble teams the chance to make a final impression on the Selection Committee.
In general, we open February with a foggy bubble. Winning away from home is a theme for several teams trying to climb the seed list or stay on the right side of the bubble. We also have traditional NCAA regulars with work to do. As surprising as it sounds, teams like Gonzaga and Duke are not locks for March Madness. You can read more about Duke’s potential issues in the post below.
Enjoy your week of college hoops. After the Super Bowl, all eyes turn toward March.
It’s been a long time since the Duke Blue Devils missed an NCAA tournament (circa 1995). While it may not be time to panic in Durham, it is time to be a little concerned about how the Blue Devils will finish the season given the absence of center Amile Jefferson.
Since Jefferson last played on December 5 (a win over Buffalo), Duke is 7-5. During that stretch, the team’s best wins are Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and NC State – none of which are projected (at least right now) to make The Dance. If Jefferson doesn’t return to action before Selection Sunday, and/or his status for March is uncertain, the Committee will have to evaluate the Blue Devils without him. And that could prove problematic if they falter through a tough upcoming stretch in the ACC.
After a trip to Georgia Tech (which won’t be easy) and NC State at home, look at the Devils’ ensuing four-game gauntlet: Virginia, Louisville, at North Carolina, at Louisville. Duke could easily emerge from that stretch at 6-8 in the ACC, and that’s assuming they beat either Virginia or Louisville at home. If my math is accurate, that would make them 9-9 without Jefferson in the lineup. At that point, their final four games and ACC tournament would make or break the Devils’ chances.
If Jefferson returns or is projected to return, the Selection Committee will have the tough task of looking at Duke through two sets of glasses, one with Jefferson and one without. If he can return, and play well, then Duke will be afforded consideration for its record without him. If he can’t return, the Blue Devils’ status in March becomes a much bigger question.
A bit quietly, at least on the national scene, the Iowa Hawkeyes are putting together a resume worthy of No. 1 seed consideration. Their last loss was a one-point decision at Iowa State. Since then, the Hawkeyes have beaten both Michigan State and Purdue twice, and also taken down a pretty good Michigan squad. As such, Iowa joins the top seed line in today’s bracket update – alongside Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Kansas.
Elsewhere, teams like Butler, Gonzaga, and UCLA are struggling to hold onto bracket spots, each is among the final teams with a bye – meaning they are just above the First Four grouping. Clemson is in that group too, trying to overcome a non-conference scheduled ranked above 300. It’s a tall order, for sure.
Although the pool of at-large candidates is starting to dwindle a bit, the movement among teams remains very much a work in progress. Even at this late January date, there isn’t much room between seed lines and teams just in the field and those just out. Enjoy your week of college hoops.
February is right around the corner, which means “bubble” talk isn’t far behind. How are some potential mid-major candidates stacking up? Let’s take an early look.
Monmouth forged an early profile that vaulted the Hawks – and their bench celebrations – into the national spotlight. In the first two months of the season, they posted wins over UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, and Georgetown. With a Top 25 non-conference schedule, the Hawks put themselves in prime position to be an at-large candidate should something happen in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament. The question now becomes, who do three stumbles against sub-200 RPI teams (Canisius, Army, Manhattan – all on the road) effect how the Selection Committee views the Hawks? That will be an interesting question, if necessary, on Selection Sunday. At this point, I think the Committee would still approve of Monmouth’s non-conference efforts and their 15 games away from home (road + neutral). Think about this for a moment, of the Hawks 19 games (as of this writing), only four have been at home. The challenge, of course, is that Monmouth has only one remaining game against a Top 100 opponent (barely). It would certainly behoove the Hawks to win the MAAC regular-season title by multiple games. How many more “bad” losses can they absorb? It probably depends on what the bubble looks like on Selection Sunday. Read more…
This should not come as a surprise: Oklahoma is the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket. After dispatching Oklahoma State and West Virginia last week, the Sooners own the top spot in the RPI, their only blemish a triple-overtime classic at Kansas.
The rest of the top line is as follows: Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova. Elsewhere, the carousel continues. Between Saturday morning and Sunday night, all but two teams (Maryland and Texas AM) ranked between No. 9 and No. 16 on the Seed List suffered defeats. We should probably be used to that by now, and it’s likely to continue.
Clemson is this week’s biggest mover. While there are certainly question marks on the Tigers’ resume (including a rather horrid non-conference SOS number), the Selection Committee would not ignore a team with a 5-1 mark in the ACC that includes five straight victories over Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville, Duke, and Miami. Four of those five games were at home and Clemson now embarks on a journey that includes four of five games on the road. We’ll see how the Tigers handle prosperity. Read more…
Heading into another busy weekend on the college hardwood, Oklahoma slides into the No. 1 Seed List position thanks to Kansas’ loss at West Virginia and Iowa’s thumping of Michigan State in East Lansing. The Sooners host those same Mountaineers today in Norman. North Carolina and Villanova move into slots three and four. I wouldn’t expect the carousel on the top line – or elsewhere – to end anytime soon.
Iowa continue to ascend after a 4-0 start in the Big Ten that includes two victories over Michigan State and one on the road at Purdue. It’s been an impressive run for the Hawkeyes who sit at No. 6 this morning. The middle and lower end of the bracket spots on the Seed List are very much a work in progress. Not sure you like the order today? Check back on Monday when the next Seed List accompanies an updated bracket projection. Read more…