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2016 Tourney: Ranking a power-heavy Elite 8

March 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Dave2015Given what we’ve seen this season, we shouldn’t be overly surprised to find a six and ten seed in the Elite 8.  We also shouldn’t be surprised to find six power-heavy teams.  At various points during the 2016 campaign, Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Villanova all grabbed spots along the No. 1 seed line.  Oregon was among the Top 8 for the better part of February and ended at No. 5 on our list.  They were the final No. 1 seed on the NCAA Board, which fits the theme.

If you believe in destiny (or maybe redemption), then you embrace Notre Dame and Syracuse.  The Irish needed a miraculous tip-in to beat Stephen F. Austin and a pair of late steals/turnovers to upend Wisconsin.  Syracuse was undoubtedly helped by an incredible performance from Middle Tennessee that ousted Michigan State in the opening round.  The Orange deserve all the credit for reaching the Regional Final; they beat the teams they faced.  We can say that and still acknowledge that reaching the Elite 8 required beating a seven seed, 15 seed, and 11 seed.  Good fortune is important in March.

So … heading into the Regional Finals, how would you rank the remaining eight teams?  Based on what I’ve seen the past two weeks, here’s my list: Read more…

Bracket Bits: The gift of Saturday hoops

December 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Dave2015Given the Christmas season, it’s appropriate that Saturday is wrapped with an extravaganza of college hoops.  You can start with the Crossroads Classic and meander through a variety of resume-worthy matchups.

Visit the Schedule page for a complete list of games worth tracking.

Here’s a quick peek at a few of the more important resume games on tap …

Utah vs. Duke – After a drubbing at the hands of Wichita State (with Fred VanVleet in the lineup), the Utes are searching for a signature win and this is their last chance before Pac-12 play begins.

Wichita State at Seton Hall – The Shockers certainly look like a different team with VanVleet on the court.  But with four early losses on the docket, every quality win counts.  As for Seton Hall, beating a healthy(ier) WSU team would add another notch to the  Pirates’ profile that already features wins over Ole Miss and Georgia. Read more…

Bracket Bits: 5 opening weekend games with March in mind

November 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Dave2015All games matter, but not all results are equal.

If you’re a team that plays in a power conference you can survive an average (or even below average) non-conference slate and still earn an at-large bid.  Last year’s Purdue team is a good example. The Boilermakers dropped non-conference decisions to Kansas State, North Florida, Vanderbilt, and Gardner-Webb.  What Purdue was able to do, however, was win 8 of 9 Big Ten games during a mid-season stretch and finish 12-6 in league play en-route to a 9-seed in the Midwest Region.

If you’re a team from outside the power conferences, non-conference results become much more critical.  Opportunities for resume-changing wins are more limited. With that thought in mind, here are five opening weekend games with March in mind … Read more…

Bracket Bits: Valparaiso, S.F. Austin among mid-majors to watch

November 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Dave2015If you’re already looking for a couple of mid-majors to keep an eye on next March, consider Valparaiso and Stephen F. Austin.  If those names sound familiar, they should.  Both the Crusaders and Lumberjacks have been in this position before, and both are heavy favorites to again win their respective leagues. Each team might also be better this go-around.  Considering Valpo nearly upset Maryland a year ago, that’s noteworthy.

Valparaiso – Head coach Bryce Drew welcomes back a host of talent, including Horizon League Player-of-the-Year candidate Alec Peters.  In all, the Crusaders return nine players who logged significant minutes.  Valparaiso is balanced, experienced, and confident.  Those traits generally bode well for teams in search of March Magic.  Nothing is certain once the ball is tipped, but expect the Crusaders to push for a 30-win season.  Valpo has non-conference games against MAAC favorite Iona, improving A-10 power Rhode Island, and Pac-12 teams Oregon and Oregon State.  If the Crusaders can win at least two of those they have a chance to bump their seed line and possibly contend for an at-large berth. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates, Team News

Bracket Bits: Thursday’s Bubble Tracker

March 12, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1It’s crunch time for bubble teams.  The Selection Committee has convened in Indianapolis.  Today … the final race begins; we’ll see how wild it becomes.  A quick peek inside Thursday’s Bubble action …

March 12 – Bracket  |  March 12 – Seed List

Illinois – The Illini take on Michigan in the 8/9 game at the B10 tourney in Chicago.  It’s a must win. We’ll see if the home crowd can push the Illini into a matchup with top-seed Wisconsin on Friday.

Indiana – A loss to Northwestern would really put the squeeze on IU’s NCAA hopes.  The Hoosiers have lost three straight and four of five games, and haven’t beaten an NCAA team since a home victory over Maryland in late January.

Oklahoma State – The Cowboys have lost five of six games to create a bit of uncertainty.  A host of good wins is countered by a growing number of losses.  The good news: losing to Oklahoma would be a “good” loss.  But would it be one “good” loss to many?  A victory should seal an NCAA invitation.

Texas – The Longhorns took care of business against Texas Tech on Wednesday.  Next up is Iowa State.  Losing to the Cyclones a third time could create further issues for a team who’s major stumbling block is too many “good” losses (and not enough wins). Read more…

Bracket Bits: Potential mid-major bubble teams

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1Given this year’s rather unimpressive Bubble, there’s been ample opportunities for so-called “mid-majors” to cash in.  But as the calendar turns to March, Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) is the only one to really take advantage: the Panthers will be Dancing.  Old Dominion was in a similar position in mid-January until some unsightly Conference USA losses clouded their horizon.  The Monarchs can still make it, but not without a strong finish, and maybe a little help.

Bubble Banter

Which brings us to the next question: Are there any other potential mid-major teams who could make a late push toward at-large consideration?  Here are the leading candidates (records are D1 only) …

Wofford (21-6) | (Southern) – The Terriers might be the leading candidate thanks to a Top 20 non-conference schedule that includes a victory at NC State.  Wofford’s other Top 100 wins include Iona and Sam Houston State.  The biggest hang-up, and it sticks out like a 300-pound gorilla, is a loss at The Citadel, which stands at No. 310 on the RPI rankings as of this posting.  It would also be a bit unusual for a six-loss team in Wofford’s situation to gain momentum on the At-Large Board.  Assuming the Terriers would lose only to Chattanooga in the SoCon tourney finale, there’s an outside chance, but it’s just that. Read more…

Bracketology: Kentucky reigns as March arrives

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

dave1As the calendar turns to March, Kentucky has entrenched itself as the No. 1 overall seed.  Unless the Wildcats lose multiple times between now and Selection Sunday – which is highly unlikely – they will stand atop the bracket when the official Field of 68 is unveiled on March 15.   UK’s proverbial “march” will begin in Louisville and head through Cleveland in the Midwest Region.

Current Bracket Projection

Current Seed List

As for the remaining No. 1 seeds, Virginia has a firm grasp on the East.  After that, there’s still a bit of a race.  If Gonzaga loses, Villanova is next in line to ascend to the top line.  We also can’t exclude Wisconsin, Arizona, or even Kansas – although the Jayhawks will need help from the others in front of them.  While winning both Big 12 regular season and tournament titles (if it happens) would be mighty impressive, the Jayhawks’ loss total might be too great to push KU ahead of the other three if those teams continue to win.

The bubble/cutline remains a hodge-podge of rotating resumes.  The week ahead – leading into conference tournaments – figures to be huge.  And it might be Friday or Saturday of Championship Week before the final Field comes into focus.