Here’s my hastily thrown together tournament analysis for this week. I’ve changed the notation from last week – one ? means you’re on the bubble but in, and two ?’s means you’re on the bubble but out.
ACC (7 teams in) – Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina St., North Carolina, Maryland, Florida St. No changes here.
SEC (7) – Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi St., Alabama, LSU. Tennessee drops out with the losses to LSU and Georgia Tech. I’d give MSU a 1 seed (along with Duke, Stanford and St. Joe’s).
Big East (7) – Connecticut, Providence, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Boston College, Rutgers (?), Villanova(??). The Big East has a huge logjam in the middle of the conference.
Conference USA (5) – Louisville, Cincinnati, UAB, Charlotte, Memphis. Oh Marquette, we hardly knew ye. A home loss to TCU was enough to drop them out of consideration. They could get back in the discussion, but with the loss to TCU plus the earlier debacle in a near-home game against Southern Miss, I don’t think they have the guns to finish strong.
Big 10 (5) – Wisconsin, Michigan St., Illinois, Purdue(?), Michigan (?), Indiana (??). Michigan State is hitting its stride and has risen to the top of the Big 10. Illinois graduates from the bubble with 2 road wins, while slumping Purdue has put itself in a bad position. If Purdue improves when Kenneth Lowe returns, they will have a good case to get in even with a poor RPI.
Big 12 (5) – Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St., Texas, Oklahoma (?). After the 16-point loss to Nebraska, my love affair with Missouri is over. Maybe we can still be friends. They have locked up ‘Disappointment of the Year’ honors though. Oklahoma gets put on the bubble, but unless they lose one of their 3 remaining games against Texas A&M and Baylor, they are safe.
Atlantic 10 (3) – St Joseph’s, Dayton, Richmond (?). Richmond missed an opportunity to distinguish themselves with the OT loss at Dayton. Still, a 6-1 finish, then 1-1 in the A-10 tourney (with a semi-final loss to St. Joe’s) almost certainly will be enough to get them in.
Mountain West (2) – Air Force, Utah (?), BYU(??). No changes in the thinking here. If AFA and Utah finish 1-2, then they both get in. BYU barely enters the discussion this week. But if they keep an RPI in the 40s, the committee will like their #27 non-conference ranking.
Pac 10 (2) – Stanford, Arizona, Oregon (??). Oregon’s only game last week was a home win against lowly Oregon St., so there’s no reason to change my opinion of them. Stanford got by Arizona, their biggest hurdle left towards an unbeaten regular season. Don’t overlook the March 4th game at Washington State however.
WAC (1) – Hawaii (?), UTEP(??), Nevada (??). UTEP enters the discussion this week on a 5 game winning streak and as the highest RPI team in the WAC. Nevada drops with the loss at SMU. Hawaii avoided embarrassment with a 1-point home victory against San Jose St., the last-place team in the WAC.
44 bids are available from these 10 conferences, and I listed 50 teams. So that leaves 6 teams on the outside looking in.
Others: Gonzaga (a lock from the WCC), Southern Illinois (MVC), Utah St. (Big West), Western Michigan (MAC). SIU got the must win at Creighton and now are in a good position and can probably afford a slip or two. The marquee bracket buster game is Hawaii at SIU. Unfortunately, ESPN is hiding this game with a midnight EST tip-off (did they think the game was at Hawaii?) I list Western Michigan this week – they may be able to get away with one more regular season loss and still get in as an at-large.
So here’s this week’s Doubting Dozen. The top six teams would be in, the bottom six are out. Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, and Utah State are assumed to get the automatic bid from their conference. But if they don’t the bubble divider gets moved up one team. The same applies if a team not listed from the 50 teams above gets one of their conference’s automatic bids. That means that while Michigan is listed as in, they would only get in under the ideal and unrealistic scenario that nothing stupid happens in conference tournaments.
1 Richmond 2 Oklahoma (Utah St.) 3 Purdue 4 Hawaii 5 Rutgers 6 Michigan ---bubble divider--- 7 UTEP 8 Indiana 9 Oregon 10 Villanova 11 BYU (Western Michigan) 12 Nevada