The biggest question for Purdue is … now what? An unfortunate knee injury to star Robbie Hummel means the Boilermakers must be re-evaluated over the course of three regular-season games and the Big 10 tournament. Purdue could still be a No. 1 seed, but the Boilers will have to demonstrate they can play – and win – big games without Hummel in the lineup. Just how Purdue will be viewed remains to be seen. Thanks to a solid team effort, the Boilers outlasted Minnesota and earned a better-than-you-think road win against the Gophers. For now, Purdue retains its No. 1 seed projection in our latest bracket update.
Hard to believe, but our next update will be in March (Monday, March 1). The official countdown has begun. Our only new addition is really a swap. Following a loss at Temple, Dayton falls to our first team out, replaced by Rhode Island as our last team in. The A-10 bubble is pretty flexible (with Charlotte), but the picture should clear over the next two weeks and at the A-10 tournament.
As for the No. 1 seeds … Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky join Purdue on the top line. Our No. 2 seeds also remain the same from Monday. Georgetown vaults over Pitt to the No. 3 line as the Hoyas win at Louisville and the Panthers fall flat at Notre Dame. With so many Big East teams near the top, someone will be the odd team out – and have to be no better than a No. 4. Again, that should be more evident soon.
As several bubble teams continue to lose, teams like Florida, Illinois, Marquette, and Oklahoma State are looking more Dance-worthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum and teams can improve their position simply because contenders fall away. At the same time, I look for several upsets in conference tournaments that could throw current automatic bid teams into the at-large pool or onto the bubble. More on that as we prepare for conference tournaments next week. Rebounds are always welcome. Enjoy the hoops!
The one problem with updating Bubble Banter is that it’s always a few hours away from being outdated. That said, the latest edition is now available for review – for games played through Tuesday, February 23.
Both the Big East and Atlantic 10 continue to offer the most questions. We clearly have two well defined groups in each league. You have the Big East heavyweights and then a large group (7) of teams whose future remains uncertain. Certainly, Connecticut helped itself the most with recent wins over Villanova and West Virginia, but the Huskies can’t let up. In the A-10, Temple, Xavier and Richmond are in great shape. Then you have an interesting group comprised of Charlotte, Dayton, Rhode Island and St. Louis. Should be an interesting A-10 tournament. The ACC has five (5) teams on the bubble, but at this point there isn’t the quite the same sence of urgency.
Overall, we are projecting 20 locks and another 8 teams that should be in. There are 36 teams currently on the bubble. Depending on this week’s results, we could see some drastic changes in how those numbers look by next Wednesday. Several teams are close to moving up (and off) the bubble, while others are close to falling off. Take a look. Rebounds are always welcome.
That’s the question for Connecticut this week as they host West Virginia and Louisville. One could make an argument for any number of bubble teams; the actual selection process in Indianapolis is completed by a series of votes and can be very subjective. Why did UConn make it in? There’s a number that jumps out: 8 wins vs. Top 100 RPI teams. That’s two more than any of the 11 other bubble finalists for today. Still, at 6-8 in the Big East, work remains for the Huskies. Call this our leap of faith for the week.
Our next update will be Thursday, February 25 (evening). Bubble Banter will be updated for release Wednesday – for games played through Tuesday. Those dates work best for our partnership with NBC Sports. We’ll continue two-a-week updates through early March and then go more often just before and during Championship Week.
No change in No. 1 seeds from Friday. If anything, the Top 4 are establishing more control: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, and Purdue stay on the Top Line. Syracuse and Purdue will face the biggest challenges to winning outright league titles. Duke is still in the No. 1 seed discussion, but the Blue Devils haven’t been that good in true road games and it would probably take both the regular season and ACC Tournament titles to move up.
Last 5 IN: Dayton, Charlotte, Connecticut, St. Mary’s, UAB. First 5 OUT: Rhode Island, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, St. Louis.
Looking ahead … the bubble is likely to slide around quite a bit over the next two weeks. I would also anticipate some wild outcomes in conference tournaments. How will the bubble look if teams like Utah State, Siena or UTEP lose? What if a team like Ole Miss rallies and wins the SEC Tournament? Who knows what to expect in the Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa) – the favorite rarely wins. Should be a wild – and fun – ride until Selection Sunday. Rebounds are always welcome. Thanks for following along.
Our latest Power 24 update has a surprise. Gonzaga just misses, coming in at No. 25. How is that, with a 21-5 record and No.23 non-conference strength of schedule? In synopsis, two of the ‘Zags best wins are against league foe St. Mary’s. Their other quality wins – Wisconsin and Cincinnati (Maui) and Illinois (Jan. 2) all came a while ago. The Bulldogs were crushed by Duke and lost at home to Wake Forest. Then there are the two hiccups to San Francisco and Loyola-Marymount in the past three weeks. Gonzaga is a solid team, but now lands as the highest No. 7 seed on our S-curve.
No big changes at the top … Kansas remains No. 1 – followed by Syracuse, Kentucky and Purdue. Welcome to the Richmond Spiders, who come it at No. 24 – one spot ahead of Gonzaga. Rebounds are always welcome. New bracket projection out later today.
Our first Friday bracket, or two-a-weeks, finds Purdue as the newest projected No. 1 seed. Couple of reasons for that. First, Villanova lost to Connecticut at home; second, the Boilermakers won a significant road game at Ohio State. Not only that, but Purdue’s route to a Big 10 title is now in their own hands. By winning at Michigan State, the Boilers can sweep the Spartans when the two play in West Lafayette on February 27. Hard to imagine Purdue losing that game at home. The remaining schedule should also be manageable.
In other news, St. Mary’s re-enters that bracket as the final at-large team (No. 13 seed) thanks mostly to several other bubble teams losing – and the Gaels’ profile now just a tad bit stronger. Although we still project forward to complete the bracket, many of the ho-hum Big East teams have yet to distinguish themselves. That could change – particularly if Connecticut or Seton Hall makes a push. As for losing, Rhode Island has dropped three straight and Charlotte fell at home to Duquesne this week. Both still project “in” at this point, but their margin for error is getting rather thin. Charlotte’s overall profile is slighlty better.
Last Five In: Charlotte, UAB, Rhode Island, Florida, St. Mary’s. Last Five Out: San Diego State, William & Mary, South Florida, Seton Hall, Cincinnati.
Next Bracket Update will be Monday, February 22 (evening). Next week, the full Bubble Banter update will be Wednesday evening with a bracket update on Thursday night. This works better for our partnership with NBC Sports, and also gives us a weekend preview. Thanks for your interest. Enjoy the hoops – and the BracketBuster games this weekend. Follow me on Twitter if you like at BracketguyDave.
Teams often play their way out of NCAA Contention. It’s just not always this early in February. After a less-than-stellar week for many bubble teams, we start Week 2 of Bubble Banter with 38 teams on the Bubble. Of course, that can – and will – change.
Let’s look at changes from last week … Teams that moved up to Locks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Temple, Butler, Gonzaga … Teams moving to Should Be In: Richmond … Teams moving onto the Bubble: Cornell (down), Seton Hall (up), St. Louis (up) … Teams leaving the Bubble: Minnesota, Northwestern, Virginia, VCU, South Carolina, Tulsa. The Bracket Math looks like this …
- Locks: 18
- Should Be In: 11
- There are 31 automatic bids. We have to subtract 11 knowing that some of the locks will be automatic bids. That means if you add the 20 remaining automatic bids (likely one-bid leagues) and the 18 locks, we have 38 of 65 bids taken. If you add in the 11 teams that Should Be In, we’re now at 49. Subtract 49 from 65 and you have 16 spots available. We currently have 38 teams on the Bubble. So less than half will ultimately make the Field of 65.
Is this the year the Big East breaks the 8-team barrier? Perhaps, but there is a developing separation in the Big East standings; not a good thing for team’s below the breakline. If the Big East number reaches or surpasses eight (8) it will be because two or three teams currently below the breakline put winning streaks together.
It’s looking more and more like five (5) max from the Big 10. Minnesota lost at Northwestern who subsequently lost to Penn State at home. Again, there is a clear breakline between the top and bottom tier. The SEC is much less defined. Whether or not teams like Ole Miss and Mississippi State can slide up remains a question. It doesn’t help that Arkansas leads the SEC West. Florida continues to live on the edge, too. In the Mountain West, once solid UNLV has slipped. Yet, the real question remains San Diego State. Plenty of possibilities from the Colonial, too. Old Dominion has the best profile, William & Mary has a stronger non-conference effort, and Northeastern co-leads the conference. How about the Atlantic 10? Rhode Island, Charlotte and Dayton are losing league ground the upstart St. Louis.
Count on some interesting moments in conference tournaments … and in this weekend’s BracketBuster games. Remember, teams earn bids, not conferences. What matters is having one of the best 34 at-large resumes come March 14.
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.