While the Noon tip on Thursday will always feel like the true beginning of March Madness, we’ve seen some really good First Four games in recent years. If nothing else, after a full day without any college hoops, it’s time to rekindle the fire. It’s going to be a great three weeks. The NCAA tournament rarely disappoints.
I’ll share my full bracket picks on Wednesday, with this caveat: they are for entertainment purposes only. I’m no better at picking actual tournament games than anyone else.
Selection Sunday is here. Tonight, the Selection Committee will reveal its 2017 NCAA tournament bracket. While there will be a healthy debate about whether Duke’s late-season run should vault them onto the No. 1 seed line, what we do know – or at least believe – is that reigning champ Villanova will be the No. 1 overall seed.
For now, North Carolina remains the top seed in the South Region. It may change this afternoon. Either way, your top line figures to end up with Villanova (East), Kansas (Midwest), North Carolina/Duke (South), Gonzaga (West).
With league favorites winning most of their conference tournaments, potential bid thieves have largely been eliminated. The biggest bubble debate figures to be centered around Syracuse. Will the Orange’s high quality wins outweigh its losses, record-high RPI, and poor record away from the Carrier Dome? That’s something we won’t know for sure until tonight.
As the final seconds ticked away in Brooklyn on Friday night, Duke celebrated a victory over rival North Carolina. With it, the Blue Devils may also have secured the No. 2 seed in the East Region behind Villanova. They certainly look dangerous. Arizona tripped UCLA in the Pac-12, setting up a rematch with Oregon. The winner will likely be the No. 2 seed out West.
Vanderbilt continues its climb and could become the first at-large team with 15 losses, assuming they fall short in the SEC tourney. Elsewhere on the bubble, teams like Kansas State, Wake Forest, USC, and Illinois State must sit and watch; their resumes complete. Pay special attention to the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Rhode Island is close to grabbing a spot, and two potential bid thieves lurk opposite the sets of Rams (URI, VCU). Today, it’ll be time to re-scrub the seed list again as more resumes fill up.
If you’re a golf fan, you’ll understand the reference to Moving Day. Moving Day in a Major tournament is Saturday. It’s the day when golfers position themselves for the final round on Sunday. Today is a Moving Day in college hoops.
Bubble teams Kansas State, Illinois, Iowa, California, and Vanderbilt- among others – take the court with a lot on the line. The same can be said, potentially, for Xavier, and even USC, although both helped themselves by avoiding a bad loss on Wednesday. Elsewhere, middle of the bracket teams like Michigan and Northwestern look to solidify their positions. Read more…
It’s an especially big day for Bubble teams: Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Clemson take the floor at the ACC tourney in Brooklyn. It’s also the day when California and USC open Pac-12 tournament play, and Xavier gets a renewed matchup with DePaul in the opening round of the Big East.
Then there’s Illinois State. The Redbirds must sit and watch as action around them continues. Tomorrow, Illinois and Iowa try to make a final push at the Big Ten tourney. Friday, Rhode Island opens A-10 play. It’s a worthy reminder than none of these games occur in a vacuum. Each result has to be measured in context. Read more…
Three Atlantic Coast Conference bubble teams Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Clemson take to the court today in Brooklyn. For Georgia Tech and Clemson, their ACC journeys probably need to last until at least Friday. Wake begins with Boston College, an outcome that doesn’t necessarily help, but could certainly hurt. Tomorrow, Syracuse takes its turn, with a first-round match-up against Miami.
Here a Quick Peek at each …
Wake Forest (RPI: 32 | SOS: 12 | SOR: 33) – The Demon Deacons helped themselves immensely by beating Louisville (home) and Virginia Tech (road) to close the season. They have nine (9) Top 100 wins and nothing resembling a bad loss. If there’s a dent on the resume it’s this: the Deacons are still 3-8 against the best teams on their schedule. Simply avoiding a loss to Boston College might be enough. Beating Virginia Tech again would make life a bit easier on Sunday. Read more…
It’s a big day in the Valley. The Missouri Valley, that is. Illinois State and Wichita State square off for the MVC championship under the Arch in St. Louis. The winner punches its dance ticket. The loser figures to have an anxiously long wait until Selection Sunday. As of this morning, Wichita State retains its at-large spot in the bracket. Illinois State is in as the auto bid due to its No. 1 seed in the league tourney.
The questions are easy. The answers not so much. Both Wichita State and Illinois State have put together outstanding seasons. Unfortunately, the rest of the MVC was along for the ride; no other team cracked the Top 100 of the RPI. Which leaves this year’s Selection Committee with an intriguing debate. How to weigh consistency on the court over a full season versus the opportunities to collect notable wins in a more accomplished conference? We’ll have to see how it plays out.