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Bracket Update: Sooners lead race to Selection Sunday

February 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015With the Super Bowl in our rear-view mirror, eyes turn toward Selection Sunday – apologies to the diehard baseball fans who toss in the start of Spring Training ahead of March Madness.  Anyway, we’re a month away from the annual NCAA Tournament Selection Show and few bracket positions have been secured.  If you’re just joining the college hoops landscape, it’s been that type of season.  Welcome, by the way.

Bracketology   |   Seed List

Oklahoma continues to lead the Field of 68, but the No. 1 seed line is far from certain.  At this point a year ago, we pretty much knew that Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke would be No. 1 seeds.  This year, we can’t lock anyone into place. Positioning along the top three lines is very much in flux, even if we have a good idea about the contenders.  The bubble is no different.  Strap on your seatbelt; it could be a bumpy ride to the finish.

As a reminder, Louisville self-imposed a post-season ban last Friday, which eliminates the Cardinals from bracket consideration.  SMU did the same before the season.  Thus, two at-large teams will be Dancing on Selection Sunday courtesy of the Cards and Mustangs.  Today, those two teams are Clemson and Saint Joseph’s.  In the Tigers’ case, a solid group of ACC wins (mostly at home) is lifting up non-conference schedule ranked No. 341.  Ultimately, that could cost Clemson a month from now – we’ve seen it before.  When a team goes 7-5 against one of the worst non-conference schedules in the nation, it takes an exceptional conference season to overcome the disparity.

Enjoy your week of college hoops.

Categories: Current Updates

Seed List: Louisville pulls plug on NCAA bid

February 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015A 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.

Seed List Update

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…

Categories: Current Updates

Bracket: Sooners hold onto No. 1 overall seed

February 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015The 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.

Bracketology   |   Seed List

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.

Categories: Current Updates

Bracket Bits: Could Duke miss the NCAA tournament?

January 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015It’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.

Categories: Current Updates

Latest Bracket: Surging Hawkeyes join top line

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015A 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.

Bracketology   |   Seed List

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.

Bracket Bits: Early look at mid-major bubble

January 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015February 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…

Categories: Current Updates

Oklahoma leads latest Field of 68

January 18, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015This 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.

Bracketology   |   Seed List 

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…

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