Time to unveil the Madness. One thing we know for sure: Kentucky will lead the 68-team field on its Road to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
This year’s bubble has been, well, quite interesting. And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve had an intense race for No. 1 seeds. Let’s hope the tournament is as exciting as the season. It generally lives up to expectations, even with a high ceiling.
Down to the wire, nothing was finalized until late this afternoon, with Wisconsin battling for a No. 1 seed in Chicago and Connecticut trying to steal one last bid. Ultimately, the Huskies came up a bit short and will not defend their NCAA title.
As for history, Kentucky begins its final quest for a perfect season. The Wildcats will certainly be the favorite as action begins Tuesday in Dayton. Enjoy the Madness!
As the dust settles from Thursday’s bubble carnage, we’re left with two quick takeaways … 1) the final few teams “IN” remained in place, although in a slightly different order; … and 2) at-large opportunities improved for teams like Tulsa and UCLA, along with a couple of teams from the Atlantic 10.
Today is a potentially important day for the top of the bracket, too. Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona all take the court in search of a No. 1 seed position on Sunday. Kentucky is locked in as the No. 1 overall seed, regardless; but spots 2-4 are still undecided. We have six teams for three spots.
Friday’s Bubble Tracker …
Temple – the Owls take on Memphis; a game they probably need to win. Read more…
When the First Four is revealed on Sunday, one of those teams might want to send a thank-you card to Northern Iowa. Trailing Illinois State at halftime in the Missouri Valley Conference finale, UNI rallied to beat the Redbirds and grab the Valley’s automatic bid. That saved at least one at-large position in the Field of 68.
Today, that team would be Texas; the Longhorns are paired with BYU in a First Four contest; with Indiana and Temple also slotted for a trip to Dayton.
The No. 1 seed line remains in tact: Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, and Villanova. Wisconsin and Arizona are next in line; the Badgers looked quite impressive Sunday in Columbus. It appears we have five teams for three spots. That noted, it’s hard to see both Duke and Virginia losing spots on the top line. We’ll see how the ACC tournament goes.
The middle of the bracket remains fluid in terms of final seed position; we could see teams move 1-3 lines over the next several days. And Championship Week will, as it turns out, be a decisive week for several bubble teams. We’re almost home.
With just over a week until Selection Sunday, the No. 1 seed line remains unsettled. Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed; that much is clear. We’re also confident that some combination of these teams will comprise the other three spots on the top line: Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Wisconsin, Arizona, or Gonzaga. That’s six teams for three spots.
Virginia also looks pretty locked-in as a one-seed; it would take a loss Saturday at Louisville, and an earlier-than-expected exit from the ACC tournament, to create the potential for a slip. Which leaves us, more realistically, with five teams for two spots. In today’s bracket, Duke and Villanova hold spots three and four on the Seed List, with Wisconsin and Arizona next in line. Gonzaga will be discussed, but the Bulldogs likely need every team ahead of them to lose in order to move back up. Read more…
It’s been a topic of discussion for several weeks. What would happen if Gonzaga lost? Would they fall? Who would take their place as a No. 1 seed? Following the ‘Zags home loss to BYU – which also vaulted the Cougars into a First Four game in today’s bracket – we have an answer: Villanova, at least for now.
The Wildcats – there are two of them (Kentucky) on the top line – slide into the West Region; following UK, Virginia, and Duke. We say for now, because Wisconsin and Arizona also continue to push for that final spot. And it’s conceivable we could see a shift among spots 2-6 on the Seed List between now and Selection Sunday. We know that either Virginia or Duke will lose at least one more game – both play in the ACC tournament. If Wisconsin, Villanova, and Arizona all win out it’ll be interesting to see how the Committee dissects that group of profiles.
With just under two weeks until Selection Sunday, we have several unclaimed spots in the bracket. Perhaps more than ever, conference tournament games could prove decisive . It’ll be even more interesting should we have an upset winner or two. The Atlantic 10 race is a good example – as of this posting, there are three teams tied atop the standings. There are another three teams – VCU, Richmond, and Massachusetts – all within a game or two of the top. It’s perfectly conceivable that anyone of those teams could grab the automatic bid.
It’s March. The Madness is almost here.
The bubble continues to ebb and flow with a collection of pedestrian resumes maneuvering toward Championship Week. So instead of discussing a revolving door, let’s address perhaps the most-debated question regarding current bracket projections: Should Gonzaga be a No. 1 seed?
Let’s start here: the Selection Committee would prefer to have a “West-based” team atop the West Region. Gonzaga – and Arizona, obviously – both fit that description and both teams have resumes that would put them in the discussion. Which brings us to the finer points of the ‘Zags resume. The numbers are pretty strong … Gonzaga is 8-1 against both RPI/BPI top 100 teams. Here’s how the Bulldogs rank on various power ratings: RPI (8), BPI (4) and KenPom (5). Gonzaga has non-conference wins over these current NCAA-projected teams: SMU, St. John’s, and Georgia. The ‘Zags only loss was by three points at Arizona.
Those on the other side of the equation will argue that Gonzaga has played only two Top 100 teams (BYU and Saint Mary’s) since beginning West Coast Conference play, and that the league hasn’t challenged them enough to be a No. 1 seed. They will argue that Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule wasn’t as strong as past years. Both of those arguments are – at least to a certain point on the latter – true. Of course, schedules are often made in advance, and Memphis and UCLA (as examples) haven’t been as good as expected.
Whichever side of the argument you fall on, it’s a healthy debate that will continue in Indianapolis prior to Selection Sunday. But if Gonzaga wins out, and finishes with just one loss, odds would place the Bulldogs as favorites to be a No. 1 seed in the West. We’ll see how it plays out. If Gonzaga loses, the door will certainly be open for the four teams currently residing on the two-line: Villanova, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Arizona.
Let’s talk about something positive, like the eight teams positioned along the top two seed lines. For all the middling around the cutline, this group continues to shine: Kentucky, Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona. While we can’t “lock” anyone into a position yet, these eight are rapidly pushing toward a slot on the top two lines of the eventual bracket in March. So, here’s today’s question:
How are the teams placed in bracket regions?
As a guideline, geography takes precedence based on the Seed List order. Currently, Kentucky is No. 1 on the list, so the Wildcats would be given first preference. Regional sites are located in Cleveland (Midwest), Syracuse (East), Houston (South), Los Angeles (West). Cleveland is closest to Lexington (KY) so Kentucky slots into the Midwest. The rest of the current No. 1 seeds then fall into place: Virginia (Syracuse – East), Gonzaga (Los Angeles – West), and Duke (Houston – South).
Here’s where the debate begins. Seed List order matters on the second line, but so does geography. Selection Committee members can balance regions (based on the first four seed lines) using spots 9-12 and 13-16. Monday – before Kansas lost at West Virginia – the Jayhawks were No. 5 on the Seed List. That would put them opposite the No. 4 team (Duke) in the South Region. In this case, the so-called s-curve worked perfectly, as that would be KU’s preferred location. Next up was Villanova. If the true s-curve model were followed, Villanova would go West, opposite Gonzaga. But the Committee also knows that Arizona (No. 8 on the list) will be placed on the two-line. Thus, it offers them the opportunity to keep Villanova in its home region (East); a win for both teams and their fans. Wisconsin would naturally choose the Midwest, so the Badgers move opposite Kentucky. If this set-up holds, placing the top two lines into the bracket will actually be an easy exercise. Read more…