Our Power 24 rankings welcome two returning Big 12 teams this week … Texas A&M and Baylor. The Bears edge Richmond for the final spot. Cay they keep it? It was a very close call.
No surprise that Kansas remains at No. 1. The Jayhawks are followed by Kentucky, Villanova and Syracuse. You can look for those same four teams as No. 1 seeds when the February 15 bracket is released later on Monday (today). Purdue and Duke are next in line. Our remaining Top 10 is … Kansas State, West Virginia, Georgetown and Ohio State. There’s a huge showdown with the Boilermakers visiting Ohio State on Tuesday. See upcoming important games under Schedule.
Bubble Banter will be updated as the week progresses, with a full update available Thursday evening.
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.
Just over a month from Selection Sunday. Time to renew Bubble Banter. Our initial 2010 effort is now available. As usual, there are a lot of team’s listed at this point. We’re likely to both add and substract teams over the next three weeks. Should be exciting.
I haven’t decided which day of the week will work best for updates; that will be passed along soon. Thursday would be ideal heading into the weekend. It might need to be Saturday mornings. Content updates may be posted as needed, with RPI and SOS updated weekly for now. Bubble Banter will update daily as we enter March. Anyway, thanks for following along – rebounds are always welcome.
Of all the BracketBuster games released this week, only three may impact NCAA selection/seeding next month. William & Mary’s trip to Iona isn’t among those three. Iona is a worthy opponent, but beating the Gaels (RPI No. 83 as of Feb. 3) wouldn’t be the type of victory likely push the Tribe toward the Field of 65. In fact, losing could actually hurt their chances. Not an ideal situation. Which matchups could matter? Here they are …
Old Dominion @ Northern Iowa – The Monarchs have non-conference wins at Georgetown and versus Charlotte (home). They’ve also swept William & Mary. ODU’s only mistep of note was against fellow CAA contender George Mason (RPI No. 103). With Northern Iowa in strong NCAA position, a road victory would be another significant scalp for ODU. As for UNI, beating the Monarchs (RPI No. 45) would give the Panthers another potential Top 50 win on their resume. An important matchup for both teams, but probably most critical for Old Dominion.
Wichita State @ Utah State – While Utah State (RPI No. 55) is a fringe at-large candidate at this point, the Aggies are one of only two teams to beat BYU. Beating Wichita State – the Missouri Valley’s second best team – would certainly help a suspect profile. The Shockers’ profile has holes, too – especially when you consider WSU’s weak non-conference schedule (No. 319). In terms of Top 100 wins, Wichita State is 4-1 while USU is 4-4. Given the value of road wins, the game might be more critical to Wichita State – in part because the Shockers aren’t likely to catch Northern Iowa in the Valley standings.
Siena @ Butler – Perhaps the top BracketBusters matchup. Both played strong non-conference schedules, and while neither excelled, the Bulldogs fared better – beating Xavier and Ohio State (sans Evan Turner) at home and winning at Northwestern. Siena, meanwhile, missed chances at Temple, at Northern Iowa, at Georgia Tech, and versus St. John’s. While the Saints are rolling through the MAAC (much like Butler is through the Horizon), this matchup is most critical to Siena. Butler will likely be Dancing regardless – Siena could really use a top 50 RPI win on its resume.
Thoughts? Different opinion? Rebounds are always welcome. Credit the RPI and SOS data to CollegeRPI.com.
Six weeks until Selection Sunday and two NCAA Tournament regulars find themselves in trouble – and outside the Feb. 1 bracket projection here at Bracketville. Those regulars would be Connecticut and North Carolina. Carolina cut down the nets and UConn lost in the Final Four to Michigan State in 2009. Why are they out? Let’s take a look …
Connecticut: Entering the game at Louisville on Monday (UConn lost 82-69), the Huskies were 3-5 in the Big East and were 0-4 in road games. Given that UConn had 6 of its final 10 Big East games on the road – and a brutal stretch overall – it would difficult for the Huskies to finish .500 in league play. Playing the No. 1-ranked schedule has its merits, but winning games is still required. Other than the home win over Texas, Connecticut entered Monday just 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams. The advantage of playing a tough schedule? Good wins are easy to find. But the Huskies will have to find a way to win on the road.
North Carolina: Early victories over Michigan State and Ohio State (two months ago) could only carry the Tar Heels so long. If anything, UNC has regressed, losing at home Sunday to Virginia – falling to 2-4 in the ACC. The Heels have also struggled on the road (1-3) and their next two are away from the Dean Dome. Without a road turnaround, UNC could be 13-10 and 2-6 in the ACC by next week. There’s no way such numbers (and an upper 70’s RPI) would be NCAA-worthy. UNC has enough talent to make a run, but there’s no indication that’s going to happen. Until such time, UNC is looking at the NIT.
As for the rest of the bracket … the Atlantic 10 gains another spot – with six teams projecting “in” at this point. Dayton is among the last selected. We also welcome new automatic bids: Utah State (WAC) and Arkansas State (Sun Belt). UTEP also joins the field. The Miners are fresh off a road win at UAB and clearly in contention for the C-USA title. While that may not be enough to keep them alive next month, UTEP is in position to make a run. That gives them a nod this week. A home-and-away with Tulsa may be the determining factor on whether the Miners or Golden Hurricane make it in March. Quick notes on Marquette: the Golden Eagles have quality wins over Georgetown, Xavier and Connecticut. They also lost to Villanova twice by a total of four points. Add in a favorable schedule over the next six games and the Eagles project into the Field.
We’ll be passing the half-way point of conference play soon. League standings are becoming more critical. More thoughts ahead – as the BracketBuster matchups are announced. Teams moving toward the Bracket … South Florida, Seton Hall, Tulsa, South Carolina, Virginia, Arizona; Teams moving away … Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Arizona State. Other opinions always welcome. Send a Rebound.