Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21, 2014

Holy Creighton!  I had the pleasure of watching most of this game, including Ethan Wragge's 7 for 7 start from beyond the arc.  Creighton's no slouch, as they led a projected #1 seed 47-19 at one point in the first half before their 3-point shooting "cooled" to a modest 60.0%.  The Blue Jays made as many 3-pointers (21) as 2-point FG (12) and Free Throws (9) combined!

The Buckeyes couldn't stop their bleeding as they lost a fourth straight game, to 8-8 Nebraska.  Thad better turn his squad around quick.  Upcoming losses to Illinois and Penn State in their next two games would leave them at 2-6 in Conference (15-6 overall), and squarely on the tournament bubble.  And to think, they were a 1-seed in my initial projections...

In other notable games, Kansas kept their hot streak alive by beating struggling Baylor, and Virginia knocked off a North Carolina team that is on pace to miss just their second Big Dance in a decade.  The Tar Heels are currently 12 spots below my At-Large cutoff, but can take advantage of a soft remaining schedule as 9 of their last 13 games are against teams outside the top 50 RPI.

1 seeds: Arizona, Syracuse, Wichita State, Massachusetts
UMass is getting no love - their average seed on BracketMatrix is 3.59. For goodness sake, they're a one-loss team with the #11 SOS...what more do they need to do?  The A10 is very underrated this year, they'll have four solid contenders in the field.

2 seeds: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Villanova
It's a tight race for top team in the Big Ten.  I give the edge to Sparty due to Bucky's recent losses, but Wisconsin is projected to finish the season with the #6 SOS compared to Michigan State's #33.  Watch for their lone matchup, in Madison on February 9th.  If they finish just one loss apart I think the edge goes to the Badgers. 

3 seeds: Florida, San Diego State, Creighton, Pittsburgh
Creighton has proved that they can hang regardless of which conference they're in.  The MVC to Big East move hasn't fazed them in the least.  Ironically, they may have a better chance of being champs this year in a tougher conference with the Shockers out of their way.

4 seeds: Iowa State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Saint Louis
Iowa State is following in the Buckeyes' footsteps, losers of three in a row after starting 14-0.  Unfortunately, they don't have the luxury of Ohio State's soft schedule, the Cyclones' next four games are against tournament bound teams.

5 seeds: Iowa, Ohio State, George Washington, Gonzaga
Gonzaga could quite easily win out, but thanks to a soft WCC schedule, that may only move them up one seed line.  George Washington is in a similar situation, except they have a February 15th matchup with 1-seed UMass which could really boost their seeding come selection Sunday.

6 seeds: Oklahoma, Louisville, Colorado, Kentucky
Kentucky is my #1 most overrated team in the field.  Their BP average seed is a 4.45, but they have no signature wins, and only two opportunities against Florida to earn one.  They may maintain this seeding due to a relatively soft schedule, but I'd be shocked if they earn the 3-seed that some are predicting.

7 seeds: Duke, Harvard, Xavier, UCLA
This would be Duke's lowest seed since 1996, and only the 3rd time since then that they've been lower than a #2 seed.  Think about that...in 16 of the last 18 NCAA tournaments, Duke has been either a #1 or #2 seed...wow.

8 seeds: Kansas State, Oregon, Michigan, Connecticut
Michigan has been on quite a run, starting conference play 5-0 and quietly moving up the rankings.  Kansas State has also propelled themselves up the ladder, with impressive wins over OK and OK State, and plenty of upcoming opportunities for more signature wins.  I expect K-State to reach as high as a 5-seed by March.

9 seeds: California, Southern Miss, Virginia, Texas
Virginia has a crazy soft schedule to finish off the season, with only two top-50 games remaining, including a home game against the Orange on March 1st .  That game will no doubt have big seeding implications.

10 seeds: Green Bay, Missouri, VCU, SMU
The Horizon league provided the greatest Cinderella in recent history when Butler advanced to the Finals in back-to-back seasons in 2010-2011.  Can the Green Bay Phoenix be next?  Their best remaining opponent is #121 Cleveland State, and they could very easily finish the season 25-3 on a 22-game winning streak.  An SOS outside the top-100 may not garner a top-4 seed, but a 5- or 6- is feasible.

11 seeds: New Mexico, Memphis, Minnesota, Florida State
The Gophers and Seminoles both have remaining schedules that should help them climb the ladder.  Minnesota has five remainings matchups against ranked teams which are nicely dispersed amongst several winnable conference games.  Florida state has a bit easier schedule with three ranked opponents spread over their last 13 games.

12 seeds: Baylor, Providence, Indiana State, Saint Mary's, Dayton, Stanford
Ah, the bubble.  Of the last four in, I think Dayton has the best outlook, based on two quality wins under their belt, and three more opportunities against St. Louis, GW, and UMass.  St. Mary's may have a tougher time staying in the field, with no quality wins thus far, and only one more opportunity in their final regular season game against Gonzaga.

13 seeds: North Dakota St, UC Santa Barbara, Toledo, Stephen F. Austin
14 seeds: Manhattan, Mercer, Boston University, New Mexico State
15 seeds: Delaware, Belmont, Georgia State, Northern Carolina Central
16 seeds: Stony Brook, Saint Francis (NY), Elon, Radford, Weber State, Southern

First Four Out: Arizona State, Boise State, Illinois, BYU

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