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.
As the calendar turns to March, Kentucky has entrenched itself as the No. 1 overall seed. Unless the Wildcats lose multiple times between now and Selection Sunday – which is highly unlikely – they will stand atop the bracket when the official Field of 68 is unveiled on March 15. UK’s proverbial “march” will begin in Louisville and head through Cleveland in the Midwest Region.
As for the remaining No. 1 seeds, Virginia has a firm grasp on the East. After that, there’s still a bit of a race. If Gonzaga loses, Villanova is next in line to ascend to the top line. We also can’t exclude Wisconsin, Arizona, or even Kansas – although the Jayhawks will need help from the others in front of them. While winning both Big 12 regular season and tournament titles (if it happens) would be mighty impressive, the Jayhawks’ loss total might be too great to push KU ahead of the other three if those teams continue to win.
The bubble/cutline remains a hodge-podge of rotating resumes. The week ahead – leading into conference tournaments – figures to be huge. And it might be Friday or Saturday of Championship Week before the final Field comes into focus.
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.
This year’s Big Ten is not last year’s Big Ten. Wisconsin is just as good, but quality throughout the league isn’t the same – even with solid contributions by newcomer Maryland. All of which would suggest that fewer Big Ten teams would be participating in this year’s NCAA tournament. Not necessarily so.
Given the current status of bubble teams – those hanging around the proverbial 68-team cutline – as many as eight Big Ten teams have realistic hopes of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. Case in point: there are eight teams in today’s updated bracket projection – further buoyed by Purdue’s victory last night at Indiana. The Boilermakers had some issues in December, but they’ve been a different basketball team the past three weeks. We’ll see if they can finish the task at hand. We’ll also find out soon if Illinois and Iowa can stay the course. Will all eight teams make it? Probably not. But the door is open. Read more…
We’re now a month from Selection Sunday, and Madness continues around the bubble. Weekend results did little to change this scenario, so the same rules apply: If your team is seeded 8th or lower they have work to do. In fact, we have a few teams on the 8/9 seed line that should probably be 11/12 seeds. That’s where we stand. Championship Week will be must-see TV.
Unbeaten Kentucky (25-0) continues to lead the Field of 68. At this point, it would take multiple glitches for UK to lose its reign on the Midwest Region. Elsewhere at the top of the bracket, Virginia, Gonzaga, and Duke continue to hold No. 1 seeds. If Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Arizona also keep winning, there will be some interesting discussions among Selection Committee members regarding the top two seed lines. Keep this in mind: Although the Committee will “balance” regions for the Top 4 seed lines, geographic preference remains a priority – as long as other bracketing principles can be met. Thus, we’re likely to see Arizona in the West and Wisconsin in the Midwest regardless of their spot on the 2-line, assuming both stay in that group.
We’ll see how much the bottom of the bracket changes by Friday. Until then, enjoy another whacky few days of college hoops.
Welcome to the Revolving Door – otherwise known as this year’s NCAA tournament bubble. Teams come and go, enter and leave. It reminds one of Black Friday shoppers, moving in and out of stores at a brisk pace. They’re in search of a victory with the right shape and size. Finding those gifts can be elusive, and in the bustle of the moment, they stumble. Between Monday and today, a variety of teams passed through the bracket. A few others had the opportunity and missed the gate. If it gives you a better idea, most teams seeded on the 8-line or lower are a part of the bubble; to varying degrees. Buckle up, another weekend awaits.
What we do have is stability at the top of the bracket. Kentucky may have used up another of its lives this week, but the Cats survived at Florida. In search of a perfect season, it’s a good thing UK has nine. Virginia, Gonzaga, and Duke remain entrenched as top seeds – with Kansas, Wisconsin, Villanova, and Arizona next in line.
There will be 68 teams announced on Selection Sunday. That much we know. Which 68? We have a pretty good idea about 15 to 20 at this point. After that? There’s a lot of uncertainty. It’s shaping up to be a wild Championship Week – one in which the Selection Committee may use (or need) results to separate teams with similar profiles.
For the past couple of weeks, Duke and Kansas have been battling for the final No. 1 seed position. With Kansas losing at Oklahoma State this past weekend, Duke and KU flip-flop on the Seed List and the Blue Devils now sit atop the South Region. Not that it’s a huge difference, Kansas is the No. 2 seed in the same region. The other No. 1 seeds remain the same: Kentucky, Virginia, and Gonzaga. It’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee ultimately handles Gonzaga. If the Bulldogs win out and enter Selection Sunday with only one loss, it’s tough to imagine a scenario in which they are not a No. 1 seed in the West. But on paper, one could clearly make a case that both Duke and Kansas have superior resumes.
Elsewhere, the Big Ten benefits from its bunching of teams. Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan State are all among the last six teams in today’s bracket – giving the B10 eight representatives. It’s doubtful that will hold up over the next month; five to six bids is much more likely.
A final thought … given the current landscape, Championship Week may become more like Tiebreaker Week for the Selection Committee. Conference tournament results could well determine the final few teams in and out of this year’s NCAA tournament.
Enjoy another week of hoops. Next bracket update is Friday.