If we learned anything after Saturday’s sneak peak into the 2017 Selection Committee’s thinking – at least in mid-February – it’s this: Quality RPI wins still matter and the Atlantic Coast Conference is the top game in town. The road to Selection Sunday is far from over, but as of Noon this past Saturday, ACC teams gobbled up five of the 16 seed lines released (31 percent). The Big 12 and Pac-12 each took three (19 percent each). The Big East and SEC two each (12.5 percent). The Big Ten? A discussion point, but not worthy, and that was before Wisconsin lost at home Sunday night to Northwestern; a huge win for the Wildcats, by the way, who are poised to make their first-ever appearance in March Madness. Cincinnati and SMU (American) were also on the outside looking in at the top four lines.
Now, take a breath. If college basketball has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Although the very top of the bracket is certainly taking shape, nothing is set in stone. Based upon the Committee’s seeding, three ACC teams (North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State) are still in play for a No. 1 seed. One could say the same for an eventual Pac-12 champion, especially if say Oregon or Arizona wins the regular season and P12 tourney titles. As for Gonzaga? With their trip to Saint Mary’s in the rearview mirror, it’s looking more and more likely the Bulldogs will wrap-up a perfect season. If they do, a No. 1 seed awaits. If they were to stumble, we’ll see. The Committee is not as enamored with their perfect record as compared to the number of power wins by say a team like Kansas or Baylor.
There’s nothing new to report along the bubble. It’s as messy as ever. Stay tuned.
If not before, the Indiana Hoosiers are officially in bubble trouble after Thursday’s home loss to Purdue. It’s not the individual defeat, it’s the collective profile IU has compiled since beating North Carolina at home on November 30. Since that point, the Hoosiers have beaten one team – Michigan State – that held an at-large spot in Thursday’s bracket. And the Spartans were among the last four teams with a bye. Whether you appreciate the RPI or not, Indiana’s RPI is hovering around 80 this morning. They are 5-7 in the Big Ten and 1-5 in road games (2-7 away from home overall). There’s time to re-right the ship, so to speak, but the Hoosiers finish with four of six games on the road.
The aforementioned Spartans have a better RPI, but a similarly mediocre profile heading into the home stretch. What they lack are IU’s marquee early wins; MSU beat Wichita State. Within the league, Michigan State owns a sweep of Minnesota and home wins over Northwestern and Michigan. If there’s an edge, it’s that MSU closes with four of seven at home. Could this be a year in which both Michigan State and Indiana miss the NCAA tournament? The answer is an uncertain, but possible, yes. Read more…
As we ushered in 2017, Syracuse could easily have been asking, what happened? A preseason Top 25 team, the Orange were mired in a streak that produced loses to Connecticut, St. John’s, and Boston College. Early January wasn’t much better, as the Orange’s early league road schedule took a toll. Fast forward to February. It’s amazing what a five-game winning streak in the ACC can do for a team’s resume, especially when the field around them remains quite average. Syracuse’s last-second heroics at Clemson have the Orange at 8-4 in the league and, at least for the moment, a few slots above the cutline. We’ll see how the final month plays out.
No changes on the No. 1 seed line today. Kansas and Baylor bounced back with road wins . Come Saturday, we’ll all get a sneak peak at how the actual Selection Committee views the Top 16 teams (on their Seed List), noted as the top four seeds in each region. Every Committee is a little different, so it will be interesting to see how they view things. Some of us would prefer to see their look at the bubble, too. Then again, deciphering and explaining those concepts would require a show that’s too long for network television. Come Monday, the middle and lower half of the bracket could look quite different – again.
It’s a busy week on the Bubble. For Rhode Island, it’s a double-dip of fun. The Rams, a member of Monday’s First Four OUT, travels to Massachusetts tonight (Tuesday) and hosts Dayton on Friday. If URI can handle UMass, it sets up an important resume building opportunity against the Flyers. The Rams lost a close one at Dayton in early January. Heading into the week, Rhode Island was 3-7 vs. Top 100 teams, with one NCAA-level (at-large) win: Cincinnati (in November). It won’t be easy, but a 2-0 week would certainly help the Rams’ positioning.
More of this week’s biggest Bubble games (Bubble teams in Bold): Read more…
With the Super Bowl behind us, Selection Sunday awaits, along with the Madness of March. Between now and then, college basketball is sure to provide us enough plot twists to hold our attention. Exhibit A is this past Saturday … when eight of the top 16 teams on the Seed List added a loss to their resume. Meanwhile, teams along the cutline meander like a river without direction, and the bubble club numbers 30-plus members. In other words, fasten your seat belt and enjoy what should be a wild four-week ride.
If you’re returning for the first time post-football, reigning NCAA champion Villanova remains entrenched as the overall No. 1 seed. Regarding the rest of today’s No. 1 seeds, Selection Committee member value a team’s full profile over a single result (or two). Although in a different order from last Thursday, Gonzaga, Kansas, and Baylor continue to lead the West, Midwest, and South regions. That said, the margins for the Jayhawks and Bears are waning.
It would take hours of conversation and pages of words to wrangle through the bubble and the process in making the final decisions for at-large spots this morning. From eight seeds on down, every resume has holes to fill and issues to solve ahead of Championship Week.
What 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…
If you’re looking for a quality non-power conference team that could earn an at-large bid on Selection Sunday, Middle Tennessee State should be near the top of your list. If the name sounds familiar, think back to last year’s NCAA tournament. The then 15th-seeded Blue Raiders knocked off No. 2 seed Michigan State in St. Louis before losing to eventual Final Four participant Syracuse in the Round of 32. As we look ahead, Giddy Potts and MTSU are 19-3 with Top 100 RPI wins over UNC-Wilmington, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Belmont. The Blue Raiders are 8-1 on the road and have some pretty solid metric numbers:
Middle Tennessee State … RPI: 37 | BPI: 52 | SOR: 31 | KP: 47
Unfortunately, Conference USA hasn’t provided MTSU with much support; the Blue Raiders are the only team in the RPI’s Top 100, and six of the schools are 300-plus. That’s a recipe for picking up a really bad loss. The good news, MTSU has avoided that issue. If that continues, the Blue Raiders should receive strong consideration were they to lose in the C-USA tournament final.
Here are a few other mid-major hopefuls as we head into February: Read more…