It was an interesting week--teams on the wrong side of the bubble won big games, and teams that were barely in lost. Lots of shakeup, so let's see how things look now!
As always, I'll compare my bracket to two main sources: Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm. And Lunardi posted his early today, so it's up to date!
There are fewer egregious entries this week, though Palm still has Maryland as a 10-seed when they're not even in my first 8 out.
Michigan - I don't get it. I mean, I understand that nice wins do you big favors, and Michigan has a couple (Duke, UCLA). But that doesn't give them a free pass to go 17-12 with an 8-9 conference record and #50 RPI and expect to get in. If you're going 17-12, you better at least be in the RPI Top 40, right? Palm has them in by the skin of their teeth, but...no.
Maryland - Don't know what to do with the Angry Turtles. Their record screams "mediocre." 18-10 (mediocre), #52 RPI (mediocre), 7-7 ACC record (mediocre), 6-6 in last 12 (mediocre). A couple great wins (UNC, Michigan State) paired with an awful loss (Morgan State) and a series of blowout losses (Duke by 41, Clemson by 29, Gonzaga by 22, Georgetown by 27). The way I rank teams has them out by a decent amount, but conventional wisdom is starting to congeal around them being an 'in' team. Ugh. Give me Davidson or Creighton or Siena instead of major conference teams like this. I realize that puts me at odds against the entire Gameday crew sans Bobby Knight, but still.
Kentucky - Lunardi has them a 10-seed. I have them in by the skin of their teeth. They're 19-10 with a #66 RPI and only an 8-6 record in a weak SEC. They REALLY need to finish strong.
Virginia Tech - They're 17-11 with a #59 RPI and 7-7 ACC record. Why exactly are they considered safely in by everybody? I know they've lost a ton of close games, but...they still lost them, right?
California - Cal's certainly safely in the tourney, but their 21-8 record, #39 RPI, 3 losses to teams outside the RPI's Top 100, and 6-6 record in their last 12 games, I'm thinking they're closer to a 9 or 10 than the 7-seed they're currently getting.
Arizona - They're teetering. 18-11, #47 RPI, 8-8 Pac 10 record. I do think they're in, but they're closer to the bubble than the 10-seeds they get from Palm.
Boston College - Another team that, at 8-6 in the ACC, is probably in. But their #48 RPI doesn't impress me, and I'm sorry, but...while they beat Duke and UNC, they lost to SLU and Harvard. That should automatically get you a double-digit seed.
Washington - They're running away with the Pac 10, they have a #12 RPI and 22 wins overall. Good resume. But their best win is at home against UCLA (on pace for a 6-9 seed), and they bounce straight to a THREE seed from Lunardi? Really? Three?
One interesting dynamic right now is how differently Palm and Lunardi consider some teams.
Creighton - They're 25-6, they've got a #39 RPI, they've won 11 of 12...why aren't they a lock at this point? Palm has them in as a 12-seed, Lunardi now 11, and while I don't expect much more than that, Dana Altman's Jays should be in regardless of the MVC tourney. They're on a serious roll.
Oklahoma State - Suddenly OSU is starting to look mighty safe. They're 19-9 with a #31 RPI, 8-6 Big 12 record, 7-5 record over their last 12, and no bad losses. That should set them up for a 7-9 seed, but they're still right on the borderline with Palm.
Florida State - Just as proof that I'm not anti-ACC (entirely). They're 22-7, #16 RPI, 9-5 in the ACC...and they're not being considered for a 3- or 4-seed?
Texas A&M - I don't know when they popped into the RPI Top 40, but there they are at #35. If they finish strong, can the committee keep a Big 12 team out with 22 or so wins and a Top 40 RPI? The only issue will be if they end up with an 8-8 conference record (and hopefully they do, as they still have to play Mizzou). Palm has them at a 9-seed, but Lunardi has them well out. Lots of disagreement here.
Siena - Their road loss to Niagara supposedly knocked them out of the "safe" spot and straight to "out if they don't win their tourney." I guess that's possible, but they're still in on my board. Niagara is 24-7 and has a Top 60 RPI of their own. That's not even remotely a bad loss.
Utah State - They're making it a bit harder for me to make their case--they've lost three games since Valentine's Day. But at the same time, they're still 25-4, they're still #30 in the RPI, they're still 13-2 in the WAC. They're still safe on my board, though I realize I'm in the minority.
UAB - I don't have them in anymore--they really needed that marquee win over Memphis. But regardless, they still have a case. They're 20-9, 10-4 in the CUSA, #41 RPI. They should at least be in the "First 8 Out" list.
St. Mary's - Randy Bennett's Gaels are on the comeback trail! After losing 4 of 5 since losing Patty Mills to injury and going from "8 seed" to "not even on the bubble," SMC has won five in a row, including games over the WCC's former #2 team, Portland, and Utah State. They're not in yet, but they're getting close again. The key for them might be the promise getting Mills back for the postseason. They were a tourney team with him.
Who's just right?
The top six teams are still very well-formed--UConn, UNC, Pitt and OU as 1 seeds (yes, OU is still a 1 seed) and Michigan State and Memphis as 2 seeds. After that, it gets muddy, though it's pretty clear Duke will also be a 2.
Last 8 In
First 8 Out
San Diego State
Big East - 7
Big Ten - 7
ACC - 7
Big 12 - 6
Pac 10 - 5
SEC - 5
Mountain West - 3
Atlantic 10 - 2
I really hope there are some surprise mid-major conference tourney winners because I really don't like hardly any of the teams at the bottom of the "in" list, and I don't like three major conferences getting 7 teams in. But that's where we stand right now.
East Regional (Boston)
1 UConn vs 16 Radford
8 California vs 9 Ohio State
5 Xavier vs 12 Texas A&M
4 Florida State vs 13 Western Kentucky
6 Butler vs 11 Arizona
3 Kansas vs 14 Binghamton
in Kansas City
7 Utah vs 10 Minnesota
2 Duke vs 15 Cornell
West Regional (Glendale, AZ)
1 Oklahoma vs 16 Jacksonville
8 West Virginia vs 9 Utah State
in Kansas City
5 Arizona State vs 12 Penn State
4 Wake Forest vs 13 American
6 Gonzaga vs 11 Florida
3 Clemson vs 14 Weber State
7 Syracuse vs 10 Siena
2 Michigan State vs 15 UT-Martin
South Regional (Memphis)
1 North Carolina vs 16 Morgan State
8 Dayton vs 9 Oklahoma State
5 Purdue vs 12 Kentucky
4 Marquette vs 13 VCU
6 UCLA vs 11 South Carolina
3 Missouri vs 14 Buffalo
7 BYU vs 10 Wisconsin
2 Louisville vs 15 Robert Morris
Midwest Regional (Indianapolis)
1 Pittsburgh vs 16 Play-in Winner (CS-Northridge vs Alabama State)
8 Tennessee vs 9 UNLV
5 Washington vs 12 Davidson
4 Illinois vs 13 Maryland
6 LSU vs 11 Creighton
3 Villanova vs 14 North Dakota State
7 Texas vs 10 Boston College
2 Memphis vs 15 Stephen F. Austin
- Lots of fun "high mid-major vs middling major" matchups ('Cuse/Siena, Butler/Arizona, Gonzaga/Florida, Utah State/WVU) here. I'd be rooting for the mid-major in every single one of those games, just to shut Digger and Jay Bilas up for one second.
- Kansas really is starting to look like a contender, especially in this bracket, where Duke would likely be their only main challenge until the Elite Eight.
- Not a pleasant draw for Mizzou, but not bad. Another shot at getting back at UCLA...that's always nice.
- Mizzou stayed a 3-seed simply because none of the 4's really took a step forward this week. The main thing caused by their demolition at the hands of Kansas is that KU is now in KC, while Mizzou gets sent to Idaho.
My At-First-Glance Final Four
UConn, Michigan State, Louisville, Memphis
Second glance: Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Memphis
Missouri's inevitable path to destiny™ (ahem)
Buffalo, UCLA, Louisville, North Carolina, Memphis, UConn (ouch)