Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 28, 2017

Conference tournaments are now underway, and we have 32 of them this year with the Ivy's leagues inaugural 4-team bracket.  We'll get our first auto-bid on Saturday the 4th when the Ohio Valley conference crowns its champ.  Eleven more teams will earn their ticket between Sunday 3/5 and Wednesday 3/8, then the real fun begins with selection weekend.

Last night's games featured three 1-seed contenders in action.  Kansas took care of business to keep their spot on the top line, and Baylor knocked off West Virginia to inch closer to regaining a #1 seed.  The Tar Heels faltered against Virginia, who seems to have temporarily righted their ship.  I have UNC and Baylor neck and neck for the final #1 seed at this point.  Baylor has a tougher schedule, and slightly better SOL, however UNC retains the edge with one more victory, no losses outside the RPI top-100 and a slightly better SOW.  If Gonzaga fails to win the WCC tourney, both Baylor and UNC may end up with a #1 seed.

On the topic of Gonzaga's resume, they have a couple of very impressive early season neutral court wins over Florida and Arizona to go along with their gaudy 29-1 record, but that's really where the highlights end.  Their only other top-50 wins are against Iowa State and twice over Saint Mary's.  The only other team to earn a #1 seed with fewer than 6 wins was the undefeated 2014 Shockers.  Although, Gonzaga also earned a top-line bid in 2013 with a 30-2 record, #6 RPI, #75 SOS, and 6 top-50 wins.  That would more closely resemble their resume this year if they go on to win the WCC.  My prediction is that if they fail to win the WCC tourney, they'll be a #2 seed.

In Big Ten action tonight are four teams in tournament contention.  Indiana must beat Purdue to keep their at-large hopes alive, and to preserve Minnesota's chance at the regular season title. Ohio State is also facing at-large elimination, although in a more winnable game at Penn State.  Finally, Maryland looks to end its 3-game losing streak at Rutgers.

This bracket is created as if today were Selection Sunday, not a forward looking projection.

1's: Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2's: Baylor, Louisville, Kentucky, Oregon
3's: Butler, Florida State, Florida, Arizona
4's: Duke, UCLA, Minnesota, Purdue
5's: Notre Dame, Creighton, Cincinnati, Virginia
6's: Saint Mary's, Maryland, Wisconsin, West Virginia
7's: Virginia Tech, South Carolina, SMU, Miami (FL)
8's: Dayton, Arkansas, Iowa State, VCU
9's: Michigan, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Xavier
10's: USC, Northwestern, Marquette, Seton Hall
11's: Providence, Illinois, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Rhode Island, Wichita State
12's: Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington, Nevada, UTA
13's: New Mexico State, Monmouth, Vermont, Belmont
14's: Princeton, East Tennessee State, Valparaiso, Akron
15's: UNC Asheville, Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell, South Dakota
16's: Eastern Washington, North Carolina Central, Texas Southern, New Orleans, Mount Saint Mary's, UC Irvine

FFO: Syracuse, Indiana, California, TCU
NFO: Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Ole Miss

Others still in contention for At-Large bid:
(<14 losses, Top-150 SOS, 3+ Top-100 wins)
9. Iowa
10. Georgia
11. Texas Tech
12. Alabama
13. Texas A&M
14. Houston
15. Boise State
16. Charleston
17. Colorado State
18. BYU
19. Auburn
20. Colorado
21. Fresno State
22. Memphis
23. UCF
24. New Mexico
25. San Diego State
26. La Salle
27. William & Mary

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