What a Saturday in college hoops – and it’s February!
Four of the top eight teams on Saturday morning’s Seed List lost, two at home and two in blowout fashion on the road. Another two lost in slots 9-12, and another two in slots 13-16. Simple math equates to eight of the top 16 teams on the Seed List losing Saturday. The flip side, of course, is that eight other teams (the winners) posted signature or marquee victories on their resumes. My initial takeaways are that Florida and three Big 12 “States” benefitted most from a wild Saturday.
Florida’s win over Kentucky added an important piece to the Gators’ otherwise solid profile: a victory over a sure-fire NCAA team. Prior to Saturday, Florida had nice wins against Arkansas, Seton Hall, and Miami-FL, among others. But are you confident all of those teams will reach the final Field of 68? See bullet-point below about the Razorbacks loss at Missouri. On a related note … with South Carolina’s win over Georgia, the SEC title chase is up for grabs. Read more…
This year’s NCAA tournament bubble became that much more intriguing Monday night. If you love drama, it’s shaping up to be an intense week. In that past two days, we’ve seen Wichita State, Monmouth, and Valparaiso join the at-large pool as conference champions with legitimate at-large hopes. That’s three additional resumes for the Selection Committee to review, dissect, and compare at their bunker in downtown Indianapolis. How it all shakes out by Sunday afternoon is unknown. What we do know is that it’s going to be a long wait for Monmouth, one of this year’s most talked-about teams.
We touched on Wichita State yesterday; the Shockers are hoping a dominant run through the Missouri Valley, combined with a strong non-conference SOS and a win over Utah will hold up. Valparaiso has a win at Oregon State, but probably needs a little more help.
Given the results of the past two days, there should be an even greater sense of urgency for those along the cutline. If Wichita State and Monmouth both end up earning bids, there are two less slots available.
Syracuse and Xavier are among the biggest Seed List movers as December arrives. Ahead of an exciting Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Orange sit at No. 10 (a three-seed) and Xavier at No. 13 (top four seed).
It’s certainly been a wild couple of weeks in college hoops. We’ve already written about the Monmouth Hawks, one of several mid-majors to put notable non-conference wins on their resumes. The challenge will be maintaining momentum in the weeks and months ahead. Fast starts do not always equate to strong finishes.
It’s early, so the Seed List will continue to ebb and flow. We’ve seen unexpected slow starts from teams like Indiana, California, and LSU. Not to mention Wichita State, which has been devastated by injuries and a heap of early losses.
With such a small sample size, it’s too soon to draw lasting conclusions. But November has certainly left several power-conference teams with work to do in December. We’ll see how it plays out. As a quick reminder, SMU is not listed on the Seed List because the Mustangs are not eligible for post-season play. Enjoy another week of hoops!
Missouri Valley regular-season champion Wichita State and runner-up Northern Iowa cleared the rest of the MVC by five full games in the standings. Both the Shockers and Panthers will be Dancing when the NCAA tournament pairings are announced on March 15. For that reason, bubble teams will be paying attention to Arch Madness, which begins Thursday in St. Louis.
If either of the favorites loses, it’ll open the door for a potential bid thief – a Valley team that could claim the league’s automatic bid and thus remove one of the “bubble” spots available to someone else. Which teams might create such havoc? The most likely candidates are Illinois State, Evansville, or Indiana State.
Illinois State owns a victory over Old Dominion and swept Evansville in the regular season; the teams meet again Thursday in the 4/5 quarterfinal matchup. ISU lost its pair of meetings with both WSU and UNI, but every game was close with the exception of its away game at Northern Iowa. Read more…
NCAA Tournament bids are not earned or lost in November. But with the regular season upon us, members of the Selection Committee will be watching. So here are a few potential “bracket” games to track this weekend; results that could be interesting down the road …
Friday, November 14
- Minnesota vs. Louisville – The Cardinals should be a lock; not the case for Minnesota. It’s also a family affair.
- New Mexico State at Wichita State – Both favored to win conference titles.
- Georgia at Georgia Tech – Is this the year Georgia earns an at-large bid out of the SEC?
- Washington State at UTEP – The Miners could be in the mix for at-large consideration.
- Houston at Murray State – The Racers are an early pick to win the OVC and this could be an “up” game.
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…
With its victory over Kentucky – and Arizona’s loss at Oregon – the Florida Gators are in the driver’s seat for the overall No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Regardless, the Gators will be the top seed in the South Region with opening round games in nearby Orlando. The remaining No. 1 seeds as we begin Championship Week: Arizona (West), Wichita State (Midwest) and Villanova (East).
At this point, the first three No. 1 seeds appear to be locked-in. Which leaves us one spot for three or four teams. At least that’s how it appears today. The contenders include Villanova (as noted above), Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Virginia is still in the hunt, but its journey became much tougher after Sunday’s loss at Maryland. Achieving a No. 1 seed with eight losses would be something new, but few teams in history have played Kansas’ schedule. If Michigan wins the Big Ten tournament, the Wolverines would have a legitimate argument. They possess a higher number of NCAA-level wins than Villanova – due to the strength of the Big Ten as compared to the Big East. Wisconsin’s non-conference performance – with victories over Florida and Virginia – would help the Badgers’ case if they find the winner’s circle in Indianapolis next Sunday.
We’ll be updating the bracket every day this week as automatic qualifiers arrive and conference tournaments continue. Teams that have clinched automatic berths are listed in ALL CAPS – with the exception of teams like BYU and UCLA.
The bubble remains a work in progress. Nebraska grabbed a spot after beating Wisconsin on Sunday. Xavier, Tennessee, and BYU join the Huskers at the First Four in Dayton. It’s a big week for those teams and several others who are just above the last four at-larges. We’ll have to see how it plays out.