Our journey started in November and culminates today. What a ride. The No. 1 seeds atop our final bracket … Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Duke. They are followed closely by Notre Dame, San Diego State, Texas, and Connecticut.
Final 2011 Bracket Projection | Sunday, March 13 | 5:00 p.m.
To say the bottom of the bracket has been interesting is putting it mildly. By Selection Sunday, we had about 8 teams for 5 spots. Arguments could be made for any. It will be interesting to see how the Selection Committee handles teams like USC and Alabama, along with Colorado, Clemson, Virginia Tech, VCU, and UAB.
Thanks for your interest. I appreciate all the conversation. We’ll keep it going tonight and throughout the tournament with picks, etc. Follow on Twitter @BracketguyDave. Rebounds always welcome.
Four days until Selection Sunday. The next 48 hours are like Saturday at the Masters: Moving Days. The Big Ten, ACC, and SEC join the post-season tournament party with a host of teams trying to make a final impression on Selection Committee members gathered in Indianapolis. We also have the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and Pac-10 moving into quarterfinal action. Every bubble team gets its day on the court.
March 9 Bubble Banter | updated at 11:30 p.m. ET
Away from the bubble, it’s all about seeding. A couple of spots on the s-curve might make the difference between playing closer to home or being sent cross-country. We also have at least one No. 1 seed up for grabs. In the west, all eyes will be on BYU – what statement will the Cougars make at the Mountain West tournament?
With Marquette’s win over West Virginia Wednesday night, it looks all but certain that 11 Big East teams will earn bids to the NCAA tournament. A couple will limp in – Villanova and Georgetown – but we’ll have a first (besides the First Four) during the 2011 Madness. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Villanova, Georgetown, and Marquette in 8-9 games (unless the Eagles keep winning or we get confirmation that Chris Wright is returning for the Hoyas).
Any upsets this year? Last year, we went down to the wire with Mississippi State in the SEC tournament. What if Utah State loses in the WAC? What about UAB if they fall in the Conference USA final? It looks like we still have 10 spots available. For the latest, follow along on Twitter @BracketguyDave. March Madness. Gotta love it.
The mammoth 16-team Big East Tournament begins at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. First-round outcomes could be important for at least two teams – perhaps more. Here’s a quick look …
Marquette opens with Providence. The Golden Eagles are still on bubble. While a loss doesn’t eliminate them, it would create an opening for Marquette to be passed on the S-Curve. The closer a team is to the actual cutline (at-large team No. 37), the greater the chance of being bumped. Could be the result of a conference tournament upset or another team’s resume surpassing the Golden Eagles’ profile. One stat of concern is Marquette’s 11-13 mark vs the RPI Top 200 (according to CollegeRPI.com). A losing record against the Top 200 has sometimes been problematic for at-large selection. Every year is different, but a loss Tuesday would drop MU to 11-14 against that margin.
Villanova has lost four straight heading into its Big East tourney opener with South Florida. The Wildcats are going to the NCAA tournament but their final seeding remains very much in doubt. A loss Tuesday could drop Villanova into an 8-9 game – which makes advancing past the first weekend much more difficult. It will probably take a least two wins to move the Wildcats above a 7 seed.
Elsewhere … Butler plays at Milwaukee for the Horizon League title. Milwaukee defeated Butler in two close games during the regular season so a third loss might be difficult for the Bulldogs to overcome. Princeton can clinch the Ivy League title with a win at Pennsylvania. A loss sets up one-game playoff with Harvard on Saturday. In the Sun Belt, Arkansas-Little Rock and North Texas tangle for an NCAA bid – the winner a 15-16 seed. Oakland and Oral Roberts square off for the Summit League championship.
Selection Sunday is quickly approaching. While the bottom of the bracket remains highly volatile, the No. 1 seed contenders are taking shape. We have four front-runners with eight total teams remain in the hunt. Keep in mind that a team’s entire body of work is examined by the Selection Committee. So one good week in early March isn’t justification for a No. 1 seed. Here’s a look at the contenders …
Ohio State – The Buckeyes are a lock. OSU could potentially lose its spot in the East Region, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which the Buckeyes fall off the top line. OSU’s only two losses are at Wisconsin and at Purdue – both are in line for top-three seeds. The Buckeyes are 15-2 vs. the RPI Top 100 and beat Florida and Florida State on the road.
Pittsburgh – The Panthers lead the Big East and have been very consistent throughout the season. Pitt also has a non-conference victory over Texas on its resume and six Top 25 RPI wins. While not yet a lock, the Panthers control their path to a top seed in the East or Southeast. They may not have to win the Big East Tournament title, but they do need to avoid back-to-back losses to end the season. Their worst loss is Tennessee (neutral court).
Kansas – Kansas sits at No. 1 in the RPI (for what that’s worth) and has 17 wins vs. Top 100 teams – best in the nation. The Jayhawks also own the inside track to a Big 12 regular-season title. Why is Kansas not a lock? Only because there is the potential to be bumped should they lose a couple of games this next week and other teams below them excel. Kansas’ losses are to Texas at home and Kansas State on the road.
Duke – The Blue Devils close their regular season at North Carolina. A victory would give them the outright ACC title. A loss would leave Duke tied with Carolina pending the ACC Tournament. While Duke’s overall body of work is better to this point, if the Blue Devils were to lose twice to UNC in the next week, their odds to stay on the top line would certainly diminish. Duke is 14-3 vs. the Top 100. It’s best non-conference wins are Kansas State and Temple. Read more…
Update: Bubble Banter has been updated through Thursday, March 3. It’s somewhat hard to believe, but there about 11 spots still open in the bracket as we move into Championship Week. Fortunately, we have pared down the bubble some. We now have 11 spots open with 28 teams in contention.
March 4 Bubble Banter – New Update | 6:15 a.m. March 4
Will we add a few teams before or during Championship Week? I would expect it – especially given the nature of college hoops this season. As weak as the bubble is, it’s not a great challenge to work your way into consideration.
Outside Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin, the Big Ten remains highly unsettled. Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State are trying to hold on or play their way in. In the Big 12, Baylor and Colorado could go either way. And in the Pac-10, Washington and Washington State remain question marks. The ACC is equally uncertain with Boston College and Clemson right on the cutline. Florida State and Virginia Tech are in front of them, but need to avoid a letdown this next week. In the SEC, the bubble teams are Georgia and Alabama.
Have an opinion? Send a rebound. Bring some data. Enjoy the hoops and the conversation. March Madness is almost here.
We often talk about teams playing their way in or out of the NCAA Tournament during the final month of the regular season. With a very large – and weak – bubble in front of the us, comparing various teams becomes even more tedious. Basketball minds can differ on what’s most important to a team’s resume; that’s why there is an extensive voting process used by the actual NCAA Selection Committee.
Ultimately, the Committee has to answer one of two questions … 1) Why should we invite Team A? … 2) Why should we leave Team A out?
Plenty of teams on the current bubble have a least one reason to potentially leave them out: non-conference strength of schedule. In a given season, teams have no control over who they play within their conference. But teams do have a choice when building their non-conference schedule. We acknowledge certain mid-major difficulties with regard to home-and-home games, but we’ve seen programs such as Gonzaga and Butler work through these issues. As the Selection Committee pours over data in Indianapolis, here is a look at some potential bubble teams whose non-conference SOS might give the Committee a reason to leave them out – we credit CollegeRPI with the SOS data …
- Non-conference SOS | 150-200 … Maryland (153), UAB (159), Washington State (162), Utah State (170), Missouri State (191), Richmond (192)
- Non-conference SOS | 200-250 … Marquette (210), New Mexico (221), Florida State (228), Clemson (236), Southern Mississippi (243)
- Non-conference SOS | 250-plus … Baylor (251), Alabama (263), Cincinnati (280), Colorado (307)
Certainly, a team’s overall performance, including conference record, quality wins, and road success can override taking a month or two off in November and December. Then again, we’ve seen how that choice ended for Virginia Tech last year. Something to keep in mind between now and Championship Week. If teams give the Committee a reason to leave them out, it might just happen.
Within our latest bracket projection – January 24 Bracketology – seeding remains very fluid in the middle and lower part of the bracket. It’s not uncommon at this point in the season – as a lot of teams have remarkably similar profiles. That’s why quality wins are an important resource used to identify and separate teams most worthy of at-large selection. Many other tools such as road wins, strength of schedule, and “bad” losses are valuable as well. For right now, let’s look at quality wins. We credit CollegeRPI.com for the RPI information.
Within the context of our current bracket, the following at-large teams have yet to win a game versus a Top 50 RPI opponent:
- Washington State (0-4)
- Arizona (0-3)
- Wichita State (0-3)
- Kansas State (0-6)
That’s one reason why all four are 10 seeds or lower. All of these teams have played Top 50 competition and have the scheduling resources to create opportunities. To be in the bracket a month from now, they likely need to win one or more of these games and/or move (stay) at the top of their conference standings. Even as weak as the Pac-10 is this season (again), it’s hard to image a BCS conference failing to place at least two teams in the Field of 68. For now, that helps Arizona. Read more…