Our first in-season bracket projection is due out Monday evening (Dec. 6). With it will come a lot of debate (and some complaints). Time to fire away with some notes and observations from a great first month of college hoops.
The first note is to remind ourselves that a lot of meaningful basketball remains. Things don’t necessarily end like they start. Flashback: Georgetown opened the ’08-’09 season 11-1, including a win at Connecticut – an eventual No. 1 seed. From there, the Hoyas stumbled through the Big East – finishing 7-11 in conference play and 16-14 overall – missing the NCAAs. With that, here we go …
- San Diego State and UNLV lead a quadrant of teams (BYU and New Mexico) from the Mountain West that could impact our final bracket in March. SDSU opened with three true road games and two neutral-court affairs – including a win at Gonzaga. It’s the type of schedule that should pay big dividends. UNLV has already beaten Wisconsin (home) and Virginia Tech (neutral court). BYU has victories over WAC-favorite Utah State and St. Mary’s. If there’s a bubble team, it’s likely New Mexico. The Lobos beat Arizona State, but lost a lopsided tilt at Cal.
- If Connecticut continues to get production from Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, and others, the Huskies are in line for a very good season. Kemba Walker is a front-runner for Player-of-the-Year, and UConn already has three wins over NCAA-level teams: Wichita State, Michigan State, and Kentucky (Maui Invitational).
- Who thought Notre Dame would win the Old Spice Classic in Orlando? While beating Georgia, California, and Wisconsin isn’t quite like UConn’s feat in Maui, the Irish have certainly improved expectations – at least outside South Bend.
- Georgetown is also off to a great start. The Hoyas 111-102 OT win over Missouri ranks as the season’s best game to date. The season-opening road win at Old Dominion is looking better all the time.
- Pittsburgh is solid again – beating Maryland and Texas in New York. A No. 1-seed hopeful, the Panthers’ real questions won’t begin until March. Can they reach a Final Four?
- Overall, the Big East is 17-6 vs. fellow BCS teams.
- The Big Ten – fresh off its second straight ACC-Big Ten title – is 14-10 vs. BCS teams and 9-5 vs. the ACC overall. In our preseason Power 24, we suggested that Ohio State would challenge Michigan State for league supremacy. No team has two bigger true road wins (Florida, Florida State) than the Buckeyes. That said, MSU was 4-2 at this juncture last season and the Spartans ended up in the Final Four. Don’t quit on Tom Izzo’s bunch just because they lost to UConn and at Duke. Read more…
Final Bracket update – with records – was done at 5:25 at the Minnesota/Ohio State game ended. Just now getting to this post. Hope you had great season following along.
We left the bracket the same as our projection this morning. I’ll have a recap later tonight or Monday. Now … on to the real fun … the NCAA Tournament. Can’t wait for the games on Thursday. Thanks for coming along!
It’s going to be a disappointing day for a few bubble teams on this Selection Sunday. UTEP and Utah State both lost their conference tournament finals. San Diego State made it official by winning the Mountain West. Minnesota thumped Purdue in the Big 10. Mississippi State is still alive in the SEC – awaiting a game with Kentucky today.
MARCH 14 Bracket Projection | Posted 8:00 a.m. (ET). Final Bracket will be posted about 5:00 p.m. today.
Here’s the list of most nervous candidates … Illinois, Virginia Tech, Florida, UTEP, Utah State, and Rhode Island … add in Minnesota and Mississippi State if they lose in the conference tournament finals. It really comes down to eight teams for four spots (two if Minnesota and Missisippi State win). Then, it’s a matter of what each Committee Member values most during the on-going voting process. If they reward regular-season championships then UTEP and Utah State should be okay. If more members prefer “quality” wins, then Illinois gets a boost. If they choose to penalize a team for a poor non-conference effort, then Virginia Tech will suffer the same fate as Penn State last year – perhaps Miss State, too.
Further review today … but as of now, the Last 5 In … Wake Forest, Utah State, UTEP, Minnesota, and Florida. I’ll be updating Bubble Banter after lunch today. We’re almost there.
Two days to go. As of Saturday morning, there are four bracket spots left. There’s some competition, too. Illinois and Minnesota bothed pulled off upsets Friday in the Big 10. Rhode Island got a must win vs. St. Louis. San Diego State beat New Mexico for a second time. Three of those four are among our last give in, along with Washington and Florida. Below is our latest bracket update and Bubble Banter …
There are two wildcards in the ACC: NC State and Miami-FL. Will either survive another day? Utah State appears safe at this point; what if the Aggies lose in the WAC finale? Can both Illinois and Minnesota win another game? Who is safer? All these questions remain. We should be much more certain by early Sunday or later tonight.
Our No. 1 seeds remain: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and West Virginia. Only the Mountaineers’ spot is potentially open. Enjoy a great day of hoops. More updates throughout the day.
NOTE: Bracket updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 10 … for games played through Tuesday, March 9. Nothing changed with teams in the field. Next full update will be Saturday, March 13 (change to include Friday’s games).
Welcome to Championship Week. We’re less than a week away from putting aside bracket projections and talking about the actual bracket. As the NCAA Selection Committee arrives in Indianapolis mid-week, they’ll have a lot of work ahead. Depending on what each Committee member values most (quality wins, road wins, strength of schedule, etc), the final teams selected could vary greatly among the men and women tasked with putting together the Field of 65. As for our latest bracket update, the Pac-10 makes a resurgence as Washington and Arizona State are among the Last 5 in …
March 10 Bracket Projection | Updated from Monday.
A lot can still change this week. Butler could lose in the Horizon league final. Old Dominion could also fall. What if UTEP loses to someone other than Memphis or UAB? Could Conference USA earn 3 spots? As Championship Week hits full stride, buckle up your safety belt. It figures to be a wild ride. Next bracket update is Wednesday, March 10
West Virginia takes over as our final No. 1 seed. Ohio State or Purdue could end up on the top line as well. So could Duke. Someone could make a good argument for any of the above. Villanova isn’t out of it yet, either. Kansas State probably is. This will be worked out during conference tournament play. For today: Last 5 IN … Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Washington, Arizona State, Memphis. First 5 OUT … Illinois, Seton Hall, South Florida, UAB, and Mississippi.
We have to fill 65 spots. So as you look at the bottom half of the bracket and think … really? They’re still in the Field? The short answer is, yes. There are 34 at-large spots available. We can’t just leave one empty. Maybe that’s why all these bubble teams keep losing games – except for Notre Dame, of course, which has decided to play its way into the tournament. History often repeats … more teams play their way out than in … just the way it seems to work. That said, here’s the latest bracket ….
Villanova rejoins the No. 1 seeds for now. Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky have locked up the other three. Highly unlikely that will change. The only question is how the actual Selection Committee decides to assign the regions. If Kansas stays No. 1 overall, it’s hard to see them anywhere but St. Louis. Depending on who wins the fourth spot, Syracuse could be moved South or West. It’s possible that if Villanova/West Virginia earns a 1-seed they’ll be kept in the East … Kentucky will go South … with Syracuse sent West.
About this bracket … BYU takes an unfortunate drop to the 6-line because of Big East conflicts and the Cougars’ Friday-Sunday restriction. There simply wasn’t a spot on the 5-line once Maryland moved up. With New Mexico entrenched in the West, BYU has to be in the East Region. This shouldn’t be an issue next week as the bracket moves into its final position. Just one of those things. Our last 5 IN … Virginia Tech, Illinois, Dayton, Rhode Island and San Diego State. First 5 OUT … Connecticut, UAB, Seton Hall, South Florida, Memphis.
Couple of thoughts about the week ahead … Northern Iowa could easily lose in the Missouri Valley tournament; the favorite rarely seems to win. The bubble could squeeze further if teams like Utah State, Old Dominion, Siena and California lose their conference tournaments. If Cal wins the outright Pac-10 title, will the Committee leave out the regular-season champion of a BCS conference? Those questions lie ahead. Welcome to Championship Week. Enjoy the hoops and send a rebound!
March Madness has begun. Just look at this past weekend in college hoops – and that was late February. With just under two weeks until Selection Sunday, Duke replaces Purdue as our final No. 1 seed. No change in the other top positions: Kansas remains No. 1 overall followed by Syracuse and Kentucky. The gap between KU and ‘Cuse is closing, however, and Kansas State is nipping at Duke’s heels. What else is new? For starters … nine (9) Big East teams currently project in the Field – meaning it’s possible two conference foes would meet before a Regional Final. In this bracket, Louisville is an 8-seed and Notre Dame a 12-seed in the Midwest.
The lower end of the bracket continues to be filled with teams resembling Swiss cheese. Take a look at our Last Five IN … Illinois, St. Mary’s, UAB, Notre Dame, Dayton. Anyone feel truly confident that all five will stay? That said, their prospects are slightly better than our First Five OUT … Charlotte, Rhode Island, Mississippi State, San Diego State, and Minnesota. Dayton makes it in primarily on its strength of schedule. The Flyers challenged themselves with non-conference games against … Villanova, Kansas State, New Mexico and Georgia Tech – beating the Yellow Jackets, losing at UNM by two, and playing both Wildcats to single digits.
What other teams still have work to do? Consider these … Virginia Tech, Florida State, Connecticut, and Georgia Tech. You can also throw in Clemson and Florida. No gliding to the finish. Outside looking in … of San Diego State’s 18 (D-1) wins, 15 have come to teams outside the RPI Top 100. Mississippi State has beaten just one projected (at-large) NCAA team. Both Charlotte and Rhode Island chose bad times to lose games they should have won.
Our next bracket update will be Thursday, March 4. As conference tournaments get underway this week, check out the Conference Tourney’s page. I’ll have some updates as they progress. Also … a new Bubble Banter will be posted Wednesday night. Expect lots of changes. Rebounds are always welcome. Should be quite a ride these next two weeks.