Duke and Ohio State remain 1-2 in our latest Power 24. Kansas moves up to No. 3. The Jayhawks put together an impressive second-half against Memphis in New York, and now await the arrival of Josh Selby on Saturday.
This is where it gets a bit more tricky. Fresh off a virtual road win against Pittsburgh, Tennessee vaults into the No. 4 spot, followed closely by Connecticut. Both the Vols and Huskies have impressed – and surprised. Tennessee because of all the off-court issues surrounding head coach Bruce Pearl. Connecticut because few of us anticipated Kemba Walker would carry his team to a Maui championship and beyond.
View our December 13 edition of Power 24.
Any number of teams could claim spots this week. The only changes: Temple returns following its win over Georgetown, and Washington leaves after falling a point short at Texas A-M. It’s not a bad loss, but the Huskies (Washington variety) have missed on most of their “good win” chances – beating only Virginia in Maui.
Louisville sits at No. 25 – one spot out of the rankings. Good win last weekend over UNLV, but like all of the Cardinals’ wins to date, it was at home. Louisville hasn’t yet left its new KFC Yum! Center surroundings. That changes on a Dec. 23 trip to Western Kentucky. By comparison, UNLV (No. 17 this week) has played just four home games; winning five away from Vegas, including two true road games and three at the 76 Classic. At this point, UNLV’s overall body of work is more impressive.
Rebounds always welcome. Next Power 24 update and bracket update will be Monday, December 20.
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…
With tip-off for the 2010-11 college basketball season upon us, we seem to know two things: Duke and Michigan State are strong favorites to make return trips to the Final Four. After that, there’s a lot of debate. Which is great, of course, because none of us knows how the season will unfold.
Here’s our SEASON-OPENING Bracket Projection.
The No. 1 seed line features … Duke, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State. The Buckeyes move up to replace Purdue after the Boilermakers lost star Robbie Hummel to another season-ending knee injury. The Boilers still have a lot of talent and experience in West Lafayette, and open as a projected No. 3 seed in the Southwest Region. A solid No. 2 line features Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, and Syracuse. Both KU and UK are still awaiting elibility status on star recruits (Selby, Kanter). My guess is both play this season; how much we dont’ know.
What about the First Four? The opening games in Dayton will match the last four at-large teams and the four lowest-rated teams on the S-curve. In our projection those matchups are … New Mexico vs. Dayton | USC vs. Maryland | Maine vs. Winthrop | Jackson State vs. SF Austin. The winners advance into the traditional 64-team bracket to play Thursday or Friday. Our Last 5 in: Northwestern, Maryland, New Mexico, USC, and Dayton. Our First 5 out: UNLV, UCLA, Connecticut, St. John’s, Mississippi.
We have a great opening month ahead with lots of bracket-building matchups in early-season tournaments. Our next bracket update will be Monday, December 6.
Rebounds are always welcome. Leave a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for visiting Bracketville and for joining us on another road to Selection Sunday.
Welcome back, college hoops. Time for a little pre-season fun, Midnight Madness style.
After a rather interesting off-season – my Top 5 story lines here – let’s take an updated look the new 68-team bracket. Quick note of caution … selecting and seeding teams for a bracket projection in March is easier than estimating what might happen over the next five months. So consider this effort what it is: a mix of what we know, what we expect, and a lot of guesswork.
UPDATE (11/6/2010): The Midnight Madness edition is now longer available. It has been replaced with our Season-Opening edition – a few minor tweaks/updates included. Below is the rest of the column regarding the Midnight Madness edition.
If there is common ground, it’s that defending champ Duke should open the season as the No. 1 team. No exception here as the Blue Devils remain the overall top seed. From there, we start tweaking. Joining Duke on the top line are: Purdue, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. The Panthers made the biggest leap, but coach Jamie Dixon is bullish on his team and we’ll buy it. The uncertainty surrounding star recruits at Kentucky (Enes Kanter) and Kansas (Josh Selby) are also considerations. Both the Wildcats and Jayhawks lead a group of solid No. 2 seeds along with Ohio State and Kansas State. Syracuse, Villanova, Florida and Memphis fall into the three-line. Talk about powerhouse names.
First Four: The new format begins with four games in Dayton. Projected matchups … New Mexico vs. Dayton | Louisville vs. USC | Lehigh vs. Vermont | Jackson State vs. S.F. Austin. In this scenario, New Mexico, Dayton, Louisville and USC are the last four at-large teams in the field. Lehigh, Vermont, Jackson State and S.F. Austin are projected as the lowest four ranked teams on the S-curve.
Last 5 IN: Northwestern, New Mexico, USC, Louisville, Dayton. First 5 OUT: Maryland, Connecticut, Northern Iowa, St. Louis, Notre Dame.
We all know there will be a surprise or two along the way – especially in conference tournaments. One could easily argue that Illinois and Virginia Tech missed last year’s tournament because New Mexico State (WAC) and Houston (C-USA) won their league tournaments. It happens almost every year and teams on the bubble this March will face the same fate – even with the expanded field. Someone will always be the first team out.
For those new to Bracketville, links for the Schedule (upcoming key games), Bubble Banter, and Conference Tourneys will be updated as warranted. Team Capsules highlights key wins and losses for schools under consideration. If you want to know how we did last season, check out 2010 Projection Results.
Take a look. Send a rebound. Differences of opinion are part of the fun. Follow college hoops on www.nbcsports.com; I’m excited about our second year of partnership. Follow along on Twitter and e-mail us a email@example.com. More to come. The regular season is just around the corner.
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.
The biggest question for Purdue is … now what? An unfortunate knee injury to star Robbie Hummel means the Boilermakers must be re-evaluated over the course of three regular-season games and the Big 10 tournament. Purdue could still be a No. 1 seed, but the Boilers will have to demonstrate they can play – and win – big games without Hummel in the lineup. Just how Purdue will be viewed remains to be seen. Thanks to a solid team effort, the Boilers outlasted Minnesota and earned a better-than-you-think road win against the Gophers. For now, Purdue retains its No. 1 seed projection in our latest bracket update.
Hard to believe, but our next update will be in March (Monday, March 1). The official countdown has begun. Our only new addition is really a swap. Following a loss at Temple, Dayton falls to our first team out, replaced by Rhode Island as our last team in. The A-10 bubble is pretty flexible (with Charlotte), but the picture should clear over the next two weeks and at the A-10 tournament.
As for the No. 1 seeds … Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky join Purdue on the top line. Our No. 2 seeds also remain the same from Monday. Georgetown vaults over Pitt to the No. 3 line as the Hoyas win at Louisville and the Panthers fall flat at Notre Dame. With so many Big East teams near the top, someone will be the odd team out – and have to be no better than a No. 4. Again, that should be more evident soon.
As several bubble teams continue to lose, teams like Florida, Illinois, Marquette, and Oklahoma State are looking more Dance-worthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum and teams can improve their position simply because contenders fall away. At the same time, I look for several upsets in conference tournaments that could throw current automatic bid teams into the at-large pool or onto the bubble. More on that as we prepare for conference tournaments next week. Rebounds are always welcome. Enjoy the hoops!