Archive for the ‘Conference News’ Category

Quick Takes: Florida, Big 12 States headline wild Saturday

February 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015What a Saturday in college hoops – and it’s February!

Four of the top eight teams on Saturday morning’s Seed List lost, two at home and two in blowout fashion on the road.  Another two lost in slots 9-12, and another two in slots 13-16.  Simple math equates to eight of the top 16 teams on the Seed List losing Saturday.  The flip side, of course, is that eight other teams (the winners) posted signature or marquee victories on their resumes.  My initial takeaways are that Florida and three Big 12 “States” benefitted most from a wild Saturday.

Florida’s win over Kentucky added an important piece to the Gators’ otherwise solid profile: a victory over a sure-fire NCAA team.  Prior to Saturday, Florida had nice wins against Arkansas, Seton Hall, and Miami-FL, among others.  But are you confident all of those teams will reach the final Field of 68?  See bullet-point below about the Razorbacks loss at Missouri.  On a related note … with South Carolina’s win over Georgia, the SEC title chase is up for grabs. Read more…

Bracket Bits: Missouri Valley could produce a bid thief

March 4, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1Missouri Valley regular-season champion Wichita State and runner-up Northern Iowa cleared the rest of the MVC by five full games in the standings. Both the Shockers and Panthers will be Dancing when the NCAA tournament pairings are announced on March 15.  For that reason, bubble teams will be paying attention to Arch Madness, which begins Thursday in St. Louis.

If either of the favorites loses, it’ll open the door for a potential bid thief – a Valley team that could claim the league’s automatic bid and thus remove one of the “bubble” spots available to someone else.  Which teams might create such havoc?  The most likely candidates are Illinois State, Evansville, or Indiana State.

Illinois State owns a victory over Old Dominion and swept Evansville in the regular season; the teams meet again Thursday in the 4/5 quarterfinal matchup.  ISU lost its pair of meetings with both WSU and UNI, but every game was close with the exception of its away game at Northern Iowa. Read more…

Inside the Bracket: Bid thief in the Valley?

March 6, 2014 Leave a comment

dave1It’s a question that makes bubble teams tremble.

As the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament opens in St. Louis, unbeaten Wichita State is a heavy favorite to win both the MVC tourney title and capture a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  Here’s what else we believe: the Shockers are the only Valley team in position to earn an at-large berth.   Which means if someone other than WSU wins the title game on Sunday, one less at-large bid will be available on Selection Sunday.

The most obvious challenger is Indiana State.  Before losing ground in league play, the Sycamores put together wins over Notre Dame and Belmont.  Belmont has been solid. Notre Dame has struggled.  But at the time, the Irish were an NCAA-caliber squad.   Just below the Sycamores sits Northern Iowa.  The Panthers beat VCU in December.  There’s also No. 4-seed Missouri State, which managed victories over Tulsa and Texas AM in non-conference play.

Last year, No. 1 seed Creighton pushed through to claim the league’s automatic bid.  The two years prior?  Creighton (No. 2 seed) and Indiana State (No. 3 seed) garnered the invitation.  By this time you know that Creighton has moved to the Big East, so there’s one less nemesis in Wichita State’s path.  But this is March and nothing is guaranteed.  Friday, the Shockers take on the winner of Thursday’s game between Drake and Evansville.

Bubble teams everywhere hope there’s nothing shocking under the Arch.

Inside the Bracket: At-large Picture – Part I

December 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Let’s go Inside the Bracket for a look at which non-majors have put themselves in a position to be in the at-large discussion next March.  There is, of course, a lot of basketball yet to be played, so things may look a bit different when we launch Bubble Banter in February.  We’ll call this Stocking Stuffer Part I.  Part II will feature a look at major conference teams that could be on or near the bubble come March.  Note: For this discussion, Atlantic 10, Mountain West, and Conference USA teams will be featured in Part II.

At-Large Picture – Part I: Teams to watch …

Murray State  –  The Racers have beaten Southern Mississippi at the Great Alaska Shootout, Dayton at home, and Memphis on the road.  Those were the three biggest challenges on Murray’s non-conference slate.  The victory at Memphis figures to hold the most weight, although the Tigers have not looked much like a Top 20 team this season.  Road Bumps: The Ohio Valley Conference isn’t very strong and will certainly be an anchor to Murray’s RPI and overall strength-of-schedule.  The Racers have also played three non-Division I opponents – two of those scheduled at home.  If Murray can finish its non-conference slate unbeaten, the Racers should be able to absorb a loss or two in the OVC.  Any more than that, plus a loss in the OVC tournament, would make it interesting.  How Southern Miss, Dayton, and Memphis finish the season will also be a factor.

Creighton – The Bluejays’ victory at San Diego State could pay big dividends in March.  Beating Northwestern (Dec. 22) will be important, too.  That would leave Creighton 2-1 against its best non-conference opponents (CU lost at St. Joseph’s).  Given the Bluejays status as Missouri Valley favorite, the outlook for an at-large bid is favorable if the scenario above unfolds.  Road Bumps: Playing on the road in the Valley is never easy, but it will be important for Creighton to avoid “bad losses” along the way.  It will also help if CU separates itself with or above Northern Iowa and Wichita State at the top of the standings.

Northern Iowa – While the Panthers are off to a strong start – including a 4-1 record away from home, they lack a marquee victory.  UNI’s win at Old Dominion was solid but the Panthers followed it up with a double-digit loss at St. Mary’s – another potential bubble team.  The game with Ohio (Dec. 20) figures to be huge for both schools.  Road Bumps: Northern Iowa will need to keep pace – and beat – both Creighton and Wichita State during the Missouri Valley season.  Much like Creighton, UNI will need to avoid “bad losses” to those at the bottom of the league standings. Read more…

Inside the Bracket: Big East bids and No. 1 seeds

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Welcome to Bracketville

In our January 10 Bracket Projection you’ll find ten (10) Big East teams.  That would be a record for any conference – even one as deep as the Big East.  Marquette is also a legitimate at-large contender.  So the question is … will we see 10 or 11 Big East teams in the actual bracket on Selection Sunday? 

Given the additional three at-large spots and the current landscape in the SEC, Pac-10, and even Atlantic 10, the idea is reasonable.  Still, the odds are against a double-digit Big East number.  Foremost, there’s the brutal Big East schedule – which means a lot of teams will compile losses.  Second, there’s bound to be a couple of BCS teams – say Maryland –  who could move into the bracket – much like the Terrapins did last season. The examples below further illustrate how dynamics can change. 

Example A: Cincinnati.  The Bearcats play Providence, Rutgers and South Florida only once in their Big East rotation (two are at home).  While that will help the potential for notable wins, it also means UC will have a more challenging time finishing .500 or better in league play.  Given the Bearcats’ poor non-conference schedule (ranked No. 322 at, there’s a chance – much like Virginia Tech last season – that Cincinnati could be left home if bids get squeezed through conference tournament upsets, etc.

Example B: Power outage. Two years ago, Georgetown opened Big East play with a win at UConn and then beat Syracuse to post an early 3-2 mark in league play.  The Hoyas then lost five straight and seven of eight on their way to a 7-11 Big East finish (16-14 overall).  We’re not suggesting that this Georgetown team (1-3 in Big East play through Jan. 10)  is headed down the same path.  Rather, we’re suggesting that post-season potential can change a lot between mid-January and mid-February. Read more…