The bracket projections ended Sunday night. Now it’s time for actual NCAA tournament game projections. In this case, missing only two (games) would be, well, unbelievable. And no, I don’t expect that to happen. For better or worse, here are some thoughts and picks for the 2012 NCAA tournament – including a rematch between Kentucky and Duke in the Regional Final.
Favorite: Kentucky. The Wildcats enter March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.
Dark Horse: Connecticut. Back in November, the Huskies were a projected Top 10 team. They haven’t played at that level very often, but the talent is certainly in place.
Best chances for an upset: Xavier over Notre Dame. South Dakota State over Baylor. Notre Dame shot the ball well during its mid-season run, but that hasn’t been the case down the stretch. Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are more than capable of taking out the Irish. South Dakota State went to Washington – the Pac-10 regular season champ – and dismantled the Huskies. While Baylor should win, the Bears aren’t always the best at closing out games. Read more…
Regardless of how the final selections come together tonight, the Selection Committee has completed a monumental task. There has rarely been a field this diverse and a bubble this large. We could see a variety of outcomes, and none of them will necessarily be wrong or right – or for that matter surprising. That’s the truth about this year’s bubble.
What we know – or anticipate – is that Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed. Syracuse will be second. After that, there remains some questions. We have Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Michigan State on the top line. That could switch pending the outcome of the Michigan State/Ohio State game in the actual selection room.
FINAL 2012 BRACKET PROJECTION – Bracketology
Take your pick out of the at-large teams. There were roughly 14 teams about 6 spots. You could make cases for or against any number of them. None of the profiles were particularly good. Ultimately, a win or here or there will be the difference. There were also plenty of injuries for which to account, on many teams.
Enjoy the Selection Show. March Madness is here.
After losing to Louisville on Wednesday, Seton Hall joins Drexel, Iona, Oral Roberts, and Middle Tennessee State as nervous at-large hopefuls. West Virginia is in that group, too, but is a little more secure heading into action on Thursday and Friday. Connecticut helped its case by beating the Mountaineers. With 10 Top 100 RPI wins, it’s looking more and more likely that the Huskies will be able to defend their NCAA title. South Florida kept its at-large hopes alive by beating Villanova. USF matches up with Notre Dame tonight (Thursday).
March 8 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
Not a lot has changed since Monday’s bracket. Seton Hall remains in the field as a First Four participant in Dayton. They are matched against Xavier. St. Joseph’s and Drexel are the other First Four at-large teams. With this grouping, regular-season rematches were unavoidable. The First Four could look much different come Saturday morning. The next two days will be critical for teams like Northwestern, Texas, South Florida, Dayton, St. Joseph’s, Miami-Fla, NC State, and Oregon.
Enjoy two full days of great March hoops!
With a little help from Ohio State Sunday afternoon in East Lansing, North Carolina grabs the final No. 1 seed in our latest bracket projection. We’re one week from Selection Sunday. Kentucky continues to own the No. 1 overall seed and stays in the South. Syracuse (East) and Kansas (Midwest) hold the other two positions. Ohio State, Michigan State, and Duke are still alive in the No. 1 seed chase. Missouri would need a little more help. Those four are your two-seeds heading into conference tournament play, and it’s somewhat unlikely to change unless Marquette were to win the Big East championship.
March 5 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
What can be said about the bubble that hasn’t already been noted? Teams being considered for the final at-large spots all have significant flaws. Hopefully, conference tournament play will help sort a few of those issues out. When teams are broken down, there is a fair amout of subjectivity involved. What is most important to each voting member of the Selection Committee? That’s a question only those folks in the room know for sure.
One addition to our Last 5 IN is Tennessee. Yes, the Volunteers are just 17-13, but they did claim the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament. It’s also worth noting that Tennessee is 10-5 with freshman Jarnell Stokes, who joined the team in early January. He is averaging 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in those 15 contests and Tennessee is a different team with him in the lineup. Losses to Oakland, Charleston, and Austin Peay occurred before he arrived. It will be interesting to see how the Committee handles that information. Given Tennessee’s two wins over Florida, and victories over Vanderbilt, Connecticut, and Mississippi, UT slides into the First Four. They likely need a couple of wins in New Orleans to hold their spot – depending on what happens around them.
One note: As automatic bids are now being awarded, teams listed in CAPS will signify teams that have actually clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, rather than the projected champion. Exceptions are made for teams that normally uses abbreviations (UNLV, BYU, etc). The highest seed remaining in a conference tournament is used as the projected champion if the bid has not been determined.
Our current NCAA tournament bubble isn’t necessarily any weaker, but it certainly isn’t shrinking. Games this weekend should help clear up a few spots – although it hasn’t happened yet. Right now, there are 25 teams listed as projected locks, with another seven teams in strong position to claim a bid (Should Be In). When you add in the 31 automatic qualifers (minus projected locks), that leaves us with about 16 spots. Some of the bubble teams are in stronger position than others.
March 3 Bubble Banter update.
A few quick thoughts about the weekend …
- Connecticut and Mississippi State are the two BCS teams currently in our bracket that most need victories this weekend. Connecticut hosts Pittsburgh and Mississippi State hosts Arkansas.
- Cincinnati should punch its ticket by winning at Villanova. A loss would make the Bearcats’ Big East tournament opener more important.
- Northwestern needs to win its game at Iowa, but that won’t be easy. The Hawkeyes have been a tough out at home.
- Washington can wrap up a Pac-12 title by winning at UCLA. That won’t guarantee the Huskies a spot, but it would certainly help.
- Virginia travels to Maryland with a two-game losing streak. A loss would drop the Cavaliers to 8-8 in the ACC and make UVA’s opening round ACC tournament game much more intense.
Enjoy a weekend of college hoops. Several teams will punch NCAA dance tickets.
Fresh off road wins at Ohio State and Purdue, the Michigan State Spartans have not only grabbed first place in the Big Ten but also a No. 1 seed in this week’s bracket projection. MSU is 7-3 vs. teams currently ranked in the Top 25 of the RPI, which is two more such victories than Duke or Kansas. The Spartans also own the nation’s second best overall strength of schedule, and haven’t lost in the month of February. Kansas falls in at No. 5 on the s-curve, follwed by Duke, Ohio State, and North Carolina. Kentucky, Syracuse, and Missouri are the other No. 1 seeds today.
The middle and bottom portions of the bracket remain very unsettled. Other than New Mexico, it was an interesting week in the Mountain West, as both UNLV and San Diego State lost multiple games. The Lobos are now alone in first place. As for the bubble, it’s as weak as ever. If teams like Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State, Oral Roberts, and Iona don’t win automatic bids, it will interesting to see how many (if any) of those schools might grab an at-large. Championship Week is shaping up as a week that could shake-up the bracket .
Bubble Banter will be updated later in the week, and it will provide a better glimpse into where we stand. Most teams currently on the 8-seed line or below have potential issues with their at-large resumes. Some cases are stronger than others, but there’s a reason they are located in those spots on the s-curve. We could still see a lot of fluctuation.
Here are a few final thoughts from the Mock Selection exercise last week in Indianapolis. A team’s entire body of work is evaluated. Games in November count the same as February or March … Head-to-head results are considered, but only as one part of a team’s profile. Just because Team A beat Team B doesn’t necessarily mean Team A has a better overall profile … One good win or one bad loss doesn’t define a team’s season … During our evaluations, a team’s league record was rarely discussed … Strength of schedule (particularly out of conference) was a significant consideration for teams whose overall body of work was somewhat questionnable … Teams did receive consideration for players who missed part of the season (not brawl/fight related) … Sometimes the “eye test” is important, which is why Selection Committee members watch so many games … Discussions can be very insightful. While voting is private, open debate about particular teams is beneficial duing the evaluation process.
Enjoy a great week of hoops. We’re just three weeks away from Selection Sunday.
When the Super Bowl ends on Sunday night, the sports world will turn its attention toward March Madness. We’ll begin to think more seriously about No. 1 seeds, brackets, and oh yea, those teams on the bubble. Must be time to debut Bubble Banter.
As it’s still more than a month from Selection Sunday, the bubble picture remains quite fluid. If we could see into the future, the March 3rd edition of Bubble Banter will likely look much different than today’s version. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, several teams currently on solid ground will slip in the next four weeks. There will also be teams which work their way into the at-large discussion.
First, a couple of housekeeping notes. To keep the bubble reasonable, we’ve been generous with teams listed as Should Be In. We’ve also been realistic about which teams we’ve listed on the bubble. So if your team is missing, it’s not personal. There just isn’t enough resume material to be a realistic at-large candidate at this point in time. Take for example, Drexel, VCU, Old Dominion, and George Mason of the Colonial. The highest RPI of that group belongs to Drexel (No. 79). Here are the other numbers – VCU (91), George Mason (107), Old Dominion (125). All four teams are 10-2 in CAA play. Great league records, but none of the profiles includes a Top 50 RPI win. Drexel has three sub-100 RPI losses, and the Dragons’ best win is VCU. Could any of these teams pull an upset? Sure, but right now the CAA champion is closer to a 14 seed than an at-large bid.
Among BCS teams, defending champion Connecticut is a surprise guest on the bubble list. The Huskies have lost four straight and 6 of 8 games – including losses to Rutgers and Tennessee. While UConn would likely be in the Field of 68 today, their outlook is somewhat suspect. Without a quick turnaround, the Huskies four-game slide could easily become seven. That would most certainly put UConn in a very dangerous position.
Debate is always fun, and we’re about to move into high gear. Enjoy a great weekend of hoops. March is just around the corner.