Between Thursday and Friday, three eleven seeds won. We also had the usual 12 over 5-seed. And yet, the first two days of the 2017 NCAA tournament feel rather chalky. Maybe that’s because the twelve seed, Middle Tennessee State, was actually favored to win its matchup with Minnesota. Also, were we surprised to see Xavier beat Maryland? Or Rhode Island trip up a less-than-healthy Creighton? If there was a surprise, it’s USC. The Trojans rallied from double-digit deficits twice, beating Providence in the First Four, and then SMU on Friday.
While the results might leave us a little hungry, the Round of 32 looks might tasty. My Quick Takes on the weekend’s top five matchups …
Gonzaga vs. Northwestern – We could rename this game: Ultimate Underdog vs. New Kids on the Block. While Gonzaga is respected for its consistent excellence, the Bulldogs have never reached a Final Four and remain many people’s pick as first No. 1 seed to lose. Thus, the pressure is squarely on the Zags, who struggled to score against South Dakota State (shooting 39 percent overall and 27 percent from 3). The good news: Gonzaga no longer relies on its offense to carry the day. Flipping the page, Northwestern might be the feel good story of the year. They survived a late rally by Vanderbilt to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game in their first-ever appearance. And who doesn’t enjoy those sidelines shots of Doug Collins and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, right? Read more…
In the spirit of March, congratulations to the Monmouth Hawks, the first NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team to clinch a regular-season conference title (MAAC). By do so, the Hawks guarantee themselves a post-season berth. They narrowly missed the NCAA tournament last year as an at-large team. Motivation will be high at the MAAC tournament with another Dance card at stake.
Quick Takes from Thursday:
- Michigan grabbed a critical home win against Wisconsin. The Wolverines close with 4 of 5 on the road, where they’ve managed a 1-6 record.
- Wisconsin likely needs to find wins over Maryland and Purdue down the stretch (including B10 tourney) to secure a Top 5 seed. Otherwise, the Badgers’ top-end profile could relegate them to a slightly lesser seed on Selection Sunday.
- Smooth night out West as Gonzaga, Oregon, and Arizona all roll to wins.
For different reasons, St. Bonaventure and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) join the Field of 68 in today’s Seed List update. In the case of VCU, the Rams own the Atlantic 10 lead and thus have a reserved spot as an automatic qualifier (AQ). As for the Bonnies, their win at Saint Joseph’s moved them ahead of Tulsa. Alabama falls out following its home loss to Arkansas. It’s worth noting that Tulsa was actually bumped by VCU regaining the AQ, as it took one at-large spot away. It’s a good illustration of how the process works during Championship Week.
Joining St. Bonaventure in the First Four: Butler, Cincinnati, and Michigan. The four just above them (final byes) are Vanderbilt, USC, Oregon State, Connecticut. The margin (if any) between these eight is very small. It remains true: teams from the 7-line on down still have work to do to reach a safety zone.
The SEC tournament figures to be huge for Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida, and LSU. It’s unlikely that more than two from that group will make the final bracket. On a similar note, the Atlantic 10 tourney could prove decisive for St. Bonaventure, VCU, George Washington, and even Saint Joseph’s. Without a “bad” loss on their resume, the Hawks are in overall better shape, but if they were to lose to Duquesne and also their first A10 tourney game, it could get a little more interesting. We’ll see.
After another busy weekend of college hoops, here’s a quick peek at the upcoming week’s (Monday – Thursday) notable “resume” games …
Oklahoma vs. Villanova – Pearl Harbor, Honolulu | Both teams are in line for a high seed come March. The winner will have an extra notch on its seed line belt.
West Virginia vs. Virginia – Jimmy V Classic, New York | This is the type of non-conference victory that pays dividends. As for Virginia, the Cavaliers would love to ease an early loss at Geo Washington by stamping a marquee win on its pre-ACC resume.
Maryland vs. Connecticut – Jimmy V Classic, New York | After dropping close games to Syracuse and Gonzaga at the Battle 4 Atlantis, a win here would put some beef on the Huskies’ non-league slate. Read more…
No change at the top of today’s Seed List update – through games on December 12. Kentucky, Duke, Arizona and Wisconsin would still be No. 1 seeds. The middle and lower bracket spots remain more fluid; nothing unexpected really. Below the headlines, Northern Iowa and Colorado State continue to climb. And both are looking like strong NCAA-bid contenders as we head into the holiday season.
Looking forward, the weekend provides a great slate of games. Below are some of the matchups that could impact the framework of our first in-season bracket update – coming next week … Read more…
We’re less than 12 hours from the release of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship bracket. And the final No. 1 seed may not be decided. By reaching the Big Ten title game, Michigan is probably the frontrunner having already won the regular-season title. Should Michigan fall to rival Michigan State, Virginia will be knocking on the door if the Cavaliers beat Duke and win both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. Lest we forget about Villanova. The Wildcats could still emerge as the East Region leader if both the Wolverines and Cavaliers lose.
In other words, the Selection Committee in Indianapolis will spend its Sunday building multiple brackets depending on what happens this afternoon. Florida will be the top overall seed. Arizona and Wichita State should also be locked in place.
Providence erased any doubt about its spot in the Field of 68 by winning the Big East tournament Saturday night. The three potential bid thieves from Saturday (NC State, Georgia, St. Bonaventure) all lost. So the rest of the field remains in tact.
Enjoy your Selection Sunday. A final bracket will be posted prior to the Selection Show today after a final seed analysis and Sunday’s results.
It’s the Saturday before Selection Sunday and teams hovering at the cutline will be watching to see what happens in the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast (ACC), and Southeastern (SEC) conference tournaments. The reasons: St. Bonaventure, North Carolina State, and Georgia. Should any of the three win two more games, a potential at-large berth disappears.
In other words, a team currently headed to Dayton for the First Four, could be headed to the NIT, instead.
As additional resumes complete, the Selection Committee in Indianapolis will also be dissecting and comparing resumes from teams such as Green Bay, Southern Mississippi, and perhaps Toledo or Louisiana Tech – if either of those loses in their conference tournament final. We have one day to go, but all is not settled. Read more…