Rock-M-tology: March 13


Consider this your early-Saturday live thread.

What's Changed Since Yesterday?

Let's see...

  • Lehigh officially clinched a bid, knocking off chief rival Lafayette to cheers of "Same as football" from the Mountain Hawk student section.  Meanwhile, projected champions for the Big West (UCSB), CUSA (UTEP), MAC (Akron), MEAC (Morgan State), SWAC (UA-Pine Bluff) and WAC (Utah State) all won, meaning nothing's really changed with most of the mid-major projections.
  • Rhode Island came up with a key win over St. Louis, keeping their name in the hat for the final tourney bid or two.  Beat Temple today, and they have a VERY good case.
  • Illinois at least momentarily clinched a bid by beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, while Minnesota kept hope alive.  The Gophers will need to win at least one more, but they're doing what they can.
  • Mississippi State also kept hope alive by knocking off Florida.  They'll face Vandy today.
  • Georgetown made a very serious claim to a higher seed by crushing Marquette.
  • K-State all but clinched a 2-seed by taking out an excellent Baylor team.
  • San Diego State punched their tourney ticket by taking down New Mexico (and taking UNM out of 2-seed discussion).
  • California had probably already locked up an at-large bid, but they definitely did so by advancing to the Pac-10 finals; meanwhile, Washington at least momentarily did the same.  Barring a series of conference tourney upsets, U-Dub is in.

Today's Schedule

10:30am

Conference USA Finals: UTEP vs Houston (CBS)
What's at Stake: If Houston wins, an at-large bid disappears.

11:00am

America East Finals: Vermont vs Boston U. (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

12:00pm

SEC Semifinals: Kentucky vs Tennessee (ABC)
What's at Stake: Tennessee might still be able to get a 3-seed if they keep winning.

12:30pm / 12:40pm

ACC Semifinals: Duke vs Miami-FL (ESPN)
What's at Stake: Miami is a TWELVE-seed, which is pretty cool.

Big Ten Semifinals: Ohio State vs Illinois (CBS)
What's at Stake: Illinois could make their NCAA bid upset-proof with another big win.

1:00pm

MEAC Finals: Morgan State vs S.C. State (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

2:00pm

SEC Semifinals: Vanderbilt vs Mississippi State (ABC)
What's at Stake: Mississippi State could all but clinch a bid with a win.

2:30pm

ACC Semifinals: Georgia Tech vs N.C. State (ESPN)
What's at Stake: If NC State and Miami both win, the finals would be 11 vs 12.

Atlantic 10 Semifinals: Xavier vs Richmond
What's at Stake: not much.  Both are comfortably in.

3:00pm

Big Ten Semifinals: Purdue vs Minnesota (CBS)
What's at Stake: Minnesota could be at least temporarily in with a win.

Southland Finals: Sam Houston State vs Stephen F. Austin (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

5:00pm

Big 12 Finals: Kansas vs Kansas State (ESPN)
What's at Stake: not much, as KU's obviously a 1, and KSU is almost certainly a 2 no matter what.

Pac-10 Finals: California vs Washington (CBS)
What's at Stake? Washington could ease all anxiety by locking down an automatic bid.

MAC Finals: Akron vs Ohio (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: Winners dance!!!

6:00pm

Mountain West Finals: UNLV vs San Diego State
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

7:00pm

Big West Finals: UCSB vs Long Beach State (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

7:30pm

SWAC Finals: UA-Pine Bluff vs Texas Southern (ESPNU)
What's at Stake: Winner dances!!!

8:00pm

Big East Finals: West Virginia vs Georgetown (ESPN)
What's at Stake: a WVU win could give them a shot at a 1-seed.

8:30pm

Great West Finals: South Dakota vs Houston Baptist
What's at Stake: Nothing whatsoever (no automatic bid).

9:00pm

WAC Finals: Utah State vs New Mexico State (ESPN2)
What's at Stake: NMSU wins, and an at-large bid disappears.

Last Eight In

San Diego State
Virginia Tech
Notre Dame
Florida
Wake Forest
Washington
Illinois
Seton Hall

In all, I think 63 tickets have been punched, maybe 64.  Wake Forest is awfully close to the edge now, but I think they're still safe, and they don't have another game to play to prove me wrong.  Florida does not impress me at all, but I think they've accomplished more than the teams below them.  Washington has looked outstanding in the Pac-10 tournament, and with only a game against Cal (who's also definitely in) remaining, they're probably safe.  Illinois probably shouldn't lay a giant egg against Ohio State today, but the win over Wisconsin, their second of the season (along with wins over Clemson and Vanderbilt) probably put their resume far enough ahead to account for their sometimes shoddy play.

So that leaves the final spot.  At this exact moment, Joe Lunardi has Rhode Island in the field, and I was prepared to put the Rams in mine as well ... but they have just done nothing this year that Seton Hall hasn't done.  The Hall's best wins were at home against Pitt, Notre Dame and Louisville.  URI's: at Dayton, neutral court vs Oklahoma State ... and that's about it.  SH's worst losses: USF and UConn.  URI's: St. Bonaventure and UMass.  Ouch.  The Pirates haven't been tremendously impressive this year, but they really don't have any bad losses, and that gives them the edge over URI ... at least until the Rams maybe beat Temple today.

That leaves three other teams who, at the moment, still have a chance at the bid: Minnesota, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.  Minny has done a nice job of last-second resume-building, but they really need to beat Purdue today to have a serious chance, I think.  They're catching up, but they haven't done it yet.  Meanwhile, Ole Miss might have blown their shot at a bid by losing by 11 to Tennessee yesterday.  I had them rated higher than most already, and they probably needed that win to keep them in the field.  The wildcard here is Mississippi State, who put together a nice win over Florida yesterday and will get a shot at Vanderbilt today.  Beat the 'Dores, and they'll have as good a claim to Spot #65 as anybody.  Of course, if both they and Minnesota make their tourney finals, then it's a complete tossup -- both teams could win and secure an automatic bid anyway, putting Washington, Illinois and maybe Florida right back on the cut-off line ... unless they (UW and UI at least) keep winning too.  Interesting setup for the final two days of Championship Week(s).

First Eight Out

Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Rhode Island
Minnesota
Memphis
UAB
Dayton
Arizona State

By Conference

9 - Big East
7 - ACC, Big 12
5 - Big Ten
4 - Mountain West, SEC
3 - Atlantic 10
2 - Pac-10, WCC

The Bracket

Midwest Region (in St. Louis)

1 Kansas vs 16 Lehigh
8 Florida State vs 9 Louisville
in Oklahoma City

5 Vanderbilt vs 12 Siena
4 New Mexico vs 13 Seton Hall
in San Jose

6 Richmond vs 11 Virginia Tech
3 Villanova vs 14 Montana
in Providence

7 Texas vs 10 California
2 Purdue vs 15 Morgan State
in Milwaukee

West Region (in Salt Lake City)

1 Duke vs 16 Robert Morris
8 Gonzaga vs 9 UTEP
in Jacksonville

5 Texas A&M vs 12 Notre Dame
4 Tennessee vs 13 Murray State
in Spokane

6 Maryland vs 11 Illinois
3 Baylor vs 14 Sam Houston
in New Orleans

7 UNLV vs 10 Utah State
2 West Virginia vs 15 Vermont
in Jacksonville

South Region (in Houston)

1 Syracuse vs 16 Winthrop / UA-Pine Bluff
8 Northern Iowa vs 9 St. Mary's
in Buffalo

5 Wisconsin vs 12 Washington
4 Temple vs 13 Cornell
in San Jose

6 Butler vs 11 San Diego State
3 Pittsburgh vs 14 Akron
in Providence

7 Oklahoma State vs 10 Georgia Tech
2 Ohio State vs 15 UC-Santa Barbara
in Milwaukee

East Region (in Syracuse)

1 Kentucky vs 16 East Tennessee State
8 Missouri vs 9 Marquette
in New Orleans

5 Xavier vs 12 Wake Forest
4 Michigan State vs 13 Wofford
in Spokane

6 BYU vs 11 Florida
3 Georgetown vs 14 Oakland
in Buffalo

7 Clemson vs 10 Old Dominion
2 Kansas State vs North Texas
in Oklahoma City

Yeah, I do not envy the committee right now -- it will be damn near impossible to avoid rematches (either of regular season battles or last year's NCAA tournament) in the 7-10 and 8-9 games.  I did the best I could, but I still ended up with Mizzou-Marquette.  Too many Big 12, Big East and ACC teams clustered together there, and too much connectivity among the teams.

My At-First-Glance Final Four

Kansas, West Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas State

Second glance: Villanova, Baylor, Ohio State, Georgetown

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny (ahem)

Marquette, Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas State, Syracuse, Kansas

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