If you’re a team that plays in a power conference you can survive an average (or even below average) non-conference slate and still earn an at-large bid. Last year’s Purdue team is a good example. The Boilermakers dropped non-conference decisions to Kansas State, North Florida, Vanderbilt, and Gardner-Webb. What Purdue was able to do, however, was win 8 of 9 Big Ten games during a mid-season stretch and finish 12-6 in league play en-route to a 9-seed in the Midwest Region.
If you’re a team from outside the power conferences, non-conference results become much more critical. Opportunities for resume-changing wins are more limited. With that thought in mind, here are five opening weekend games with March in mind … Read more…
My picks for the 2015 NCAA tournament are posted below. Of course, I went 1-3 while selecting First Four games in Dayton (the Flyers were my only winning pick, and they needed a late-game rally to beat Boise State). In other words, take these picks and run the other direction.
Having watched a lot of college hoops this season, six teams stand out as the most elite: Kentucky, Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Virginia. Working through the bracket, my champion was going to come from this group. And I, like most others, settled on Kentucky; not because the Wildcats can’t be beat, rather because they have proven to be the best team.
Here we go – with some early upsets mixed in, including a pick with my head (Texas) and not my heart (Butler) … Read more…
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…
Illinois – The Illini take on Michigan in the 8/9 game at the B10 tourney in Chicago. It’s a must win. We’ll see if the home crowd can push the Illini into a matchup with top-seed Wisconsin on Friday.
Indiana – A loss to Northwestern would really put the squeeze on IU’s NCAA hopes. The Hoosiers have lost three straight and four of five games, and haven’t beaten an NCAA team since a home victory over Maryland in late January.
Oklahoma State – The Cowboys have lost five of six games to create a bit of uncertainty. A host of good wins is countered by a growing number of losses. The good news: losing to Oklahoma would be a “good” loss. But would it be one “good” loss to many? A victory should seal an NCAA invitation.
Texas – The Longhorns took care of business against Texas Tech on Wednesday. Next up is Iowa State. Losing to the Cyclones a third time could create further issues for a team who’s major stumbling block is too many “good” losses (and not enough wins). 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.