- I am still weighting Pomeroy data pretty heavily; as I mentioned last week, that lends both an evaluative aspect and a predictive aspect to the proceedings. As mentioned, I will phase him out to a degree as we approach Selection Sunday.
- Ohio State's loss means three of the four 1-seeds are virtually automatic right now -- Kentucky, Syracuse and Missouri. Honestly, Kentucky and Syracuse would probably still be easy 1's with another loss. Missouri is treading quite a bit closer to the edge.
- Kansas gets the fourth No. 1 seed over Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State and North Carolina right now. That's a pretty easy call for me right now. Yes, Kansas has lost five times, but two of the losses were to fellow No. 1's away from home, and their loss to Duke is countered by their win over (an admittedly Jared Sullinger-less) Ohio State.
- Speaking of Kansas ... you were looking for a KU-KSU preview for tonight, right? Good! (And since I'm getting this up so late, consider this your KU-KSU live thread, I guess.)
Cincinnati (17-8) - SBN bracketologist Chris Dobbertean had Cincy a 10-seed this morning, but right now they're not even at the top of my "out" list. They're one of those weird teams with a couple of nice wins (Notre Dame, @UConn) blanketing the fact that the rest of their resume is pretty terrible. They rank 92nd in RPI, and they have home losses to St. John's, Marshall and Presbyterian. Oh and they've lost four of six. The good news, however, is that they finish the regular season with five consecutive Top 100 (according to Pomeroy) teams (Seton Hall, Louisville, @USF, Marquette, @Villanova). Perform well down the stretch, and you're in; play poorly, and you might not even be on the bubble anymore.
San Diego State (18-4) - They have four losses, and they are ranked in the RPI Top 25. Good things. Not as good: they are 56th in Pomeroy's ratings, and their win over Long Beach State probably qualifies among their top five wins. They barely escaped a dreadful USC team, they barely beat Boise State at home last week, they beat lowly Chicago State by just eight points ... their resume shows us all of the ways that a points-and-possessions system like Pomeroy tells us infinitely more than "who did they play, and what is their win percentage?" (a la RPI). Jerry Palm had them a 3-seed on Friday, and I kind of had to talk myself into giving them a 6 instead of a 7.
Colorado State (14-8) - They're 15-8, 4-4 in the Mountain West, their second-best win was over Colorado, they've lost four of six ... but Palm still had them in the field on Friday thanks to their strange No. 30 RPI ranking, and both Dobbertean and Joe Lunardi have them on the bubble. They're nowhere close to mine.
Mississippi State (19-6) - They rank 43rd in RPI and 71st in Pomeroy. They have beaten four teams ranked 200th or worse (according to Pomeroy) by 15 points or less (a red flag), and aside from a surprising win at Vanderbilt, they have been dreadful on the road, with losses to Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas and a near-loss against Detroit. Palm had them a 6 before Saturday, and Dobbertean and Lunardi had them an 8. I've got them at 12. Call that a bit predictive -- if the tourney started today, there's probably no way a 19-6 team in a major conference gets a 12, but I don't see them maintaining their pretty record.
BYU (19-6) - This is another case where point margins matter. BYU's five best wins were probably against Gonzaga (good), Virginia Tech (less so), Buffalo, Oregon, and ... um ... Nevada? They haven't hardly played anybody, and it has provided a pretty large hole in their resume. But their losses are mostly good -- four came against Wisconsin, Baylor (by three) and St. Mary's twice. They have an odd home loss to Loyola Marymount muddying the waters a bit, but their huge scoring margins over most of the bad teams on their schedule (they are 10-0 versus teams ranked 200th or worse, with an average victory of 26.7 points) are a good sign. I say they finish strong enough to receive better than the 11-seed they are currently getting from Dobbertean and Lunardi.
New Mexico (19-4) - The Lobos rank 33rd in RPI and 12th in Pomeroy's rankings and have won 18 of 20, but they are currently gravitating between a 10-seed (Palm) and an 8 (Dobbertean, Lunardi), mostly (I'm assuming) because of November losses to New Mexico State and Santa Clara. But they can prove a lot this week -- they travel to San Diego State on Wednesday, then host UNLV on Saturday. This week could either bump them into discussion for a 6-seed or drop them near the bubble.
Saint Louis (19-5) - I mean, of course I'm going to stick up for a team that ranks 10th in Pomeroy's ratings (and, for that matter, 23rd in RPI). They are an odd blank-slate team that has really neither played nor beaten anybody (best wins: Xavier, La Salle, and Villanova?), but they have drilled the teams they are supposed to drill (aside from Loyola Marymount, which somehow has wins over two of my "underrated" teams), and if they win out (as they should), they will finish the season on a nine-game win streak. They are looking at a 9- or 10-seed right now, but I expect a little higher when all is said and done.
Wisconsin (19-6) - I almost went with Wichita State here, but going with all mid-majors in the "underrated" section is both predictable and boring. Instead, I'll make the case for the Badgers, who are getting 4's from Dobbertean and Lunardi and a six from Palm but should be in serious consideration for a 3. Never mind that Pomeroy has them fifth -- five of their six losses were to high-quality opponents (UNC, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State), and five were by seven points or less. They lost in overtime to Michigan State (currently a 2-seed), and they lost by three points at North Carolina. They actually have wins to boast about, too (UNLV, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, six road wins and a pair of neutral court wins), but their RPI is dinged by the fact that the cupcakes they beat were among the weakest in the country (Kennesaw State, Colgate, Mississippi Valley State), and I struggle to hold that against them.
We'll talk more about these teams in coming weeks, but I simply have no idea where to place them on the bracket right now.
Florida State (17-7)
Murray State (21-1)
Last Few In
West Virginia (16-10)
Seton Hall (17-8)
Long Beach (17-6)
N.C. State (18-7)
Names in italics would be among the last in without their conference's automatic bid.
First Few Out
Oral Roberts (23-5)
Central Florida (16-7)
Colorado State (14-8)
8 - Big East, Big Ten
6 - ACC, Big 12
5 - SEC
4 - Mountain West
3 - West Coast
2 - Atlantic 10, Conference USA, MVC, Pac-12
FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)
Long Island (19-7) vs Norfolk State (17-7)
Vermont (17-10) vs Mississippi Valley State (13-11)
Minnesota (17-8) vs Wyoming (16-6)
N.C. State (18-7) vs Arizona (18-8)
SOUTH REGIONAL (in Atlanta)
1 Kentucky (25-1) vs 16 UNC-Asheville (16-7)
8 Florida State (17-7) vs 9 Iowa State (18-7)
5 Gonzaga (20-4) vs 12 Long Beach (17-6)
4 Louisville (20-5) vs 13 Minnesota / Wyoming
6 New Mexico (19-4) vs 11 Miami (15-8)
3 Baylor (20-4) vs Oral Roberts (23-5)
7 Saint Louis (19-5) vs 10 Murray State (21-1)
2 Ohio State (21-4) vs 15 Cleveland State (19-6)
WEST REGIONAL (in Phoenix)
1 Kansas (20-5) vs 16 Long Island / Norfolk State
8 Vanderbilt (17-8) vs 9 Notre Dame (17-8)
5 Temple (19-5) vs 12 Seton Hall (17-8)
4 Indiana (19-6) vs 13 Akron (17-7)
6 Michigan (18-7) vs 11 Middle Tennesseee (22-4)
3 Marquette (21-5) vs 14 Drexel (21-5)
7 Southern Miss (19-4) vs 10 Kansas State (17-7)
2 Duke (21-4) vs 15 UT-Arlington (18-5)
EAST REGIONAL (in Boston)
1 Syracuse (25-1) vs 16 Weber State (18-4)
8 Harvard (20-3) vs 9 Alabama (16-8)
5 St. Mary's (21-3) vs 12 Texas (16-9)
4 Wichita State vs 13 N.C. State / Arizona
6 San Diego State (18-4) vs 11 West Virginia (16-10)
3 Wisconsin (19-6) vs 14 Belmont (18-7)
7 Memphis (18-7) vs 10 Purdue (16-9)
2 North Carolina vs 15 Bucknell (19-6)
MIDWEST REGIONAL (in St. Louis)
1 Missouri (23-2) vs 16 Vermont / MVSU
8 BYU (19-6) vs 9 California (20-6)
5 Creighton (21-5) vs 12 Mississippi State (19-6)
4 Georgetown (18-5) vs 13 Iona (20-6)
6 Virginia (19-5) vs 11 Illinois (16-9)
3 UNLV (20-4) vs 14 Davidson (18-6)
7 Florida (19-6) vs 10 Connecticut (15-9)
2 Michigan State (19-5) vs 15 Nevada (19-4)
My At-First-Glance Final Four
Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Missouri
Second glance: Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Georgetown
Missouri's inevitable path to destiny™ (ahem)
Vermont, BYU, Georgetown, UNLV, North Carolina, Kentucky. MUCH MUCH friendlier than last week's.