- Pomeroy's rankings take on less weight this week, so you'll see a few slight shifts because of that.
- I was surprised to see others bumping Michigan State to a 1-seed over Kansas despite Kansas winning both games last week, but when I hammered out the numbers, I had done the same thing. Right now, State, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina are quite close together, though obviously Saturday's Mizzou-Kansas game will sort out quite a bit.
- Major conference teams near the bubble are taking tumbles left and right. Suddenly we're left with a situation where a ton of mid-majors could sneak into the field.
Here are the teams who either made their way into the field in the last week or found themselves to the door.
South Florida (16-10) - They still have some work to do, but the Bulls have now won four games in a row and are, somehow, 10-4 in Big East play. They took out both Villanova and Pitt last week, but this week will tell the tale: they face Syracuse on the road and Cincinnati at home. Look good against 'Cuse and beat Cincy, and you're in business. USF was pretty awful in November and December, with losses to Old Dominion, Penn State and Auburn, but ... 10-4 in the Big East is 10-4 in the Big East.
Florida State (19-7) - Phasing out Pomeroy ratings a bit helped the 'Noles, who are tied for the ACC lead at 10-2 and have won 10 of 11 overall. Offense is still an issue, and losses to Harvard, Princeton, Clemson and Boston College are holding them back, but you can't ignore that an ACC title would give them a bit of a seeding bump.
Iona (22-6) - Tim Cluess' Gaels are rolling. They do have some bad losses on the resume -- Manhattan, Siena, Loyola (MD), Hofstra; but their BracketBusters win over Nevada was nice, and their offense ranks 17th in Pomeroy's Adj. Efficiency. They are the favorites to win the MAAC Tournament, but depending on how things shake down, they could be getting close to an at-large bid overall.
Florida (21-6) - It was a good week for the Gators. They went on the road and won twice, first at Alabama (61-52), then in grand fashion at Arkansas (98-68).
Oregon (19-8) - They, too, have some work to do, but at 10-5 in the Pac-12 and 19-8 overall, they have worked their way to the bubble. They have wins over Arizona and Washington and swept Stanford, and perhaps most importantly, they don't have any truly awful losses. Losing to Oregon State (No. 89 in Pomeroy's ratings) and Colorado (No. 79) wasn't good, but they are 15-0 versus teams ranked 90th or worse. So there's that.
San Diego State (18-6) - Pomeroy's ratings haven't liked the Aztecs for a while now (in only two games all season have they ranked in the Top 50), and the predictive nature of Pomeroy's ratings bore fruit this week; SDSU has now lost three in a row, and while losses to UNLV (by two on the road) and New Mexico (by 10 at home) aren't tremendously damning ... Saturday's loss at Air Force is.
Virginia (20-6) - Phasing out Pomeroy hurt the Hoos the same way it helped Florida State. Virginia has lost three of five (at Florida State by three, at North Carolina by 18, and at Clemson by 12), and they need a big week to maintain a solid seed -- they visit Virginia Tech on Tuesday, then host North Carolina on Saturday.
St. Mary's (21-5) - SMC has picked a bad time to go cold. They have now lost three of four, and while two were excusable (at Gonzaga, at Murray State), the 15-point home loss to Loyola Marymount hurts. They finish WCC play at Portland and at San Francisco. I would recommend winning both, ahem.
Illinois (16-11) - I think we throw around terms like "they quit on their coach" a little too frequently; most of the time, a team doesn't truly quit. But ... let's just say that when you lose by 23 at Nebraska, I'm willing to listen. Illinois has now lost eight of nine, and while most were by tight margins (five of the first seven losses in that stretch were by five points or less), the wheels came off in Lincoln on Saturday. If they want to save both their tourney prospects and Bruce Weber's job, they might need to win at Ohio State on Tuesday. Good luck with that.
Minnesota (17-10) - The Gophers' slide pales a bit in comparison to Illinois', but it's still not good. They've lost five of seven, and they lost by 11 points at Northwestern on Saturday, which basically resulted in a flip -- now Northwestern is in the field and the Gophers, 5-9 in Big Ten play, are not.
Last Few In
Long Beach (17-7)
Mississippi State (19-8)
Names in italics would be among the last in without their conference's automatic bid.
First Few Out
N.C. State (18-9)
Central Florida (17-7)
St. Joseph's (18-10)
South Florida (16-10)
9 - Big East
7 - Big Ten
6 - Big 12
5 - ACC, SEC
3 - Atlantic 10, Mountain West, West Coast
2 - Colonial, Conference USA, Missouri Valley, Pac-12
FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)
Arizona (19-9) vs Drexel (23-5)
Northwestern (16-10) vs Mississippi State (19-8)
UNC-Asheville (16-9) vs Savannah State (15-10)
Vermont (19-10) vs Mississippi Valley State (15-11)
EAST REGIONAL (in Boston)
1 Syracuse (27-1) vs 16 Bucknell (19-8)
8 Virginia (20-6) vs 9 BYU (21-6)
5 Indiana (20-7) vs 12 Cincinnati (19-8)
4 UNLV (20-6) vs Texas (17-10)
6 Vanderbilt (19-8) vs 11 Middle Tennessee (23-4)
3 Baylor vs 14 Nevada (20-5)
7 Memphis (19-8) vs 10 Connecticut (16-10)
2 Ohio State (22-5) vs 15 Belmont (20-7)
WEST REGIONAL (in Phoenix)
1 Michigan State (21-5) vs 16 UNC-Asheville / Savannath State
8 Harvard (22-3) vs 9 Kansas State (18-8)
5 Florida (21-6) vs 12 Long Beach (17-7)
4 Wichita State (23-4) vs 13 Arizona / Drexel
6 Saint Louis (21-5) vs 11 Seton Hall (18-9)
3 Georgetown (19-5) vs 14 Akron (18-8)
7 Murray State (23-1) vs 10 Iowa State (19-8)
2 Duke (23-4) vs 15 Montana (18-6)
SOUTH REGIONAL (in Atlanta)
1 Kentucky (26-1) vs 16 UT-Arlington (19-6)
8 Southern Miss (20-5) vs 9 California (22-6)
5 New Mexico (21-4) vs 12 Xavier (17-9)
4 Louisville (21-6) vs 13 Northwestern / Mississippi State
6 Florida State (19-7) vs 11 Iona (22-6)
3 Marquette (22-5) vs 14 Oral Roberts (25-5)
7 Gonzaga (21-5) vs 10 Purdue (17-10)
2 Kansas (22-5) vs 15 Wagner (23-4)
MIDWEST REGIONAL (in St. Louis)
1 Missouri (25-2) vs 16 Vermont / Mississippi Valley State
8 Notre Dame (19-8) vs 9 San Diego State (18-6)
5 Michigan (19-7) vs 12 Miami (16-9)
4 Temple (21-5) vs 13 VCU (23-6)
6 Creighton (23-5) vs 11 Alabama (17-9)
3 Wisconsin (20-7) vs 14 Davidson (19-7)
7 St. Mary's (21-5) vs 10 West Virginia (17-10)
2 North Carolina (23-4) vs 15 Cleveland State (19-8)
My At-First-Glance Final Four
Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina
Second glance: Ohio State, Georgetown, Kansas, Missouri
Missouri's inevitable path to destiny™ (ahem)
Vermont, San Diego State, Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky (or Kansas), Syracuse.