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 firstname.lastname@example.org. More to come. The regular season is just around the corner.
These next two weeks will help set the stage for March Madness. In early February we reach the mid-point of conference play. Why is that important? Because conference standings are a big deal for NCAA selection. Over the next two weeks we’ll find out which teams put themselves in position for at-large consideration. We’ll have an idea about who appears “locked in” and who may appear on the “bubble.” That in mind, here are some Bracket Bits and a look at some meaningful weekend clashes …
Conference RPI rankings (from collegerpi.com) are as follows: 1. Big East | 2. Big 12 | 3. ACC | 4. SEC | 5. Big 10 | 6. Atlantic 10 | 7. Mountain West | 8. Pac-10 | 9. Missouri Valley | 10. Colonial. While teams earn bids, not conferences, the rankings still help give some indication of how bids could be handed out in two months. Our January 11 bracket projection had at least three teams from conferences ranked 1 to 7; while the others had two or one – along with a team or two also considered.
Resume building … No team helped it’s NCAA resume more this past week than Pittsburgh. Winning three straight conference road games was quite an accomplishment. It also set the Panthers up for top-tier finish in the Big East. If Pitt simply wins its remaining home games, the Panthers would finish 12-6 in league play; nicely positioned for a potential protected seed. That’s quite a climb for a squad that three weeks ago looked like a bubble team. Then there’s Ohio State – which welcomed back Evan Turner. How much better are the Buckeyes with a fully healthy Turner? Ask Purdue. Illinois opened Big 10 play by beating Northwestern, Iowa, Indiana, and Penn State (4-0). The next four (@Michigan State, Purdue, @Northwestern, @Penn State) will tell us much more about the Illini’s NCAA chances. Read more…
Welcome to 2009 here at Bracketville. What a great time for college basketball. Conference play is underway and we’re heading into the stretch that makes or breaks seasons for many teams. It also means weekly updates and additional insights here at Bracketville. We’re excited to announce the first of our weekly brackets now in Bracketology.
We’ve also added regional links with team information and our BV insight. Let us know what you think. Our No. 1 seeds to start 2009 are North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke, and Connecticut. They are being chased by Oklahoma, Texas, Georgetown and Michigan State. The current bracket is updated through games on Sunday, January 4. Additional thoughts to come as the week progresses – Bracketguy.