Weekly Bracketology – 02.09.09Posted by zhayes9 on February 8th, 2009
A few notes:
- As you’ll notice, I included a comment about each and every team in the bracket. I’ll be doing this in each of my final four brackets (2/16, 2/23, 3/2 and 3/7) as we head towards Selection Sunday.
- Expect a Bubble Watch post from me on Thursday updating the current bubble picture, a feature that will run very similar to ESPN’s weekly bubble watch.
- As always, any questions/comments/complaints about this week’s bracket, feel free to comment.
Automatic Bids: Boston University, Xavier, North Carolina, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Weber State, VMI, Michigan State, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Memphis, Butler, Princeton, Siena, Buffalo, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, San Diego State, Robert Morris, Morehead State, UCLA, Holy Cross, LSU, Davidson, Sam Houston State, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State
Last Four In: Arizona, Miami, Nebraska, Michigan
Last Four Out: Wisconsin, BYU, UNLV, Kansas State
Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Providence, Penn State
Also Considered: Georgetown, Texas A&M, Baylor, Creighton, Maryland, Saint Mary’s, Northwestern, Tulsa
- Connecticut- The #1 overall seed and #1 team in the polls, Connecticut boasts 6 wins against the top 50 and still has two contests against Pittsburgh remaining on the schedule.
- Oklahoma– The Sooners have the most wins vs. the top 100 (15) of any team, but only 1 of those victories has come vs. the top 25. They’re the #2 overall seed.
- North Carolina– The projected ACC champion has continued to win while Duke and Wake Forest slipped up multiple times. The showdown with Duke on Wednesday is for a #1 seed.
- Pittsburgh– Despite two conference losses, Pitt garners the final #1 seed due to their #2 RPI, 4 wins vs. the top 25 and a much stronger non-conference resume than Louisville.
- Duke– Despite the throttling by Clemson, Duke still owns the top overall RPI and have 7 wins against the RPI top 50. They can reclaim the ACC automatic bid this week.
- Louisville– A sexy 9-1 Big East record and 4 wins vs. the RPI top 25 keep Louisville a comfortable 2. They should watch out for pesky Notre Dame this week.
- Michigan State– The projected Big Ten champion has stayed the same all season- Michigan State. A 7 RPI, 6 SOS and comfortable lead over Ohio State and Illinois means they should stay there.
- Marquette– The final #2 seed goes to the fourth Big East team in the field already- Marquette. They slipped in Tampa but still 9-1 and 20 wins overall is enough to grab the honor.
- Memphis– Can’t stress how big that win at Gonzaga is for seeding. Memphis could run the table the rest of the way, but still may not be able to move up from a #3 seed.
- Wake Forest– A 5-3 record in the ACC with letdowns to Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech is disappointing. Luckily they’ve topped North Carolina and Duke.
- Kansas– A 8-0 record in the Big 12 vaults Kansas to their highest point yet in the bracket. They also have a 15 RPI and 6 wins vs. the top 50. Bill Self has done a commendable job.
- UCLA– The Bruins are really coming on strong recently to put a stronghold on the Pac-10 automatic bid. The Arizona road trip is one UCLA should not take lightly.
- Clemson– The collapse at home to Florida State dropped Clemson from a potential #2 seed down to a #4. Their 8 RPI and 6-2 record vs. the RPI top 50 are good signs heading to Selection Sunday.
- Xavier– The Musketeers drop down one seed with their loss at Duquesne on Saturday, ending a perfect Atlantic 10 bid. The 6 RPI and 19 SOS keep them in very good shape.
- Villanova– The surging Wildcats embarrassed Syracuse on Saturday and set up a huge game vs. Marquette on Tuesday. They’re looking formidable with a 7-3 Big East record and excellent computer numbers.
- Missouri– Yes, the Tigers claim the final 4 seed. They now have 20 wins overall and are 7-2 in the Big 12, avoiding a letdown game in Ames on Saturday. They have 4 wins vs. the RPI top 50.
- Illinois– The Illini have hit some recent offensive rough patches on the road, but picked up a vital win at home vs. Purdue Sunday. A 17 RPI and 6 wins vs. the Top 50 is enough for a 5 seed.
- Ohio State– The Buckeyes did exactly what they needed to do this week- sweep Purdue and Minnesota at home. Could they be the second best team in the Big Ten?
- Florida State– The biggest win of the weekend occurred when Florida State pulled off a miraculous comeback at Clemson. Just think if they had beaten Pitt and North Carolina.
- Washington– The Huskies continue to have an impressive season, holding a 8-3 conference record with a 24 RPI and 17 SOS.
- Purdue– Rough week for the Boilermakers as they try to get back to 100%. The schedule gets a tad easier and they’re still in contention for second place in the Big 10.
- LSU– The Tigers are slightly overseeded in this bracket at 6 because I have them as the projected SEC champion- the fifth different SEC champ we’ve had so far in Bracketology.
- Butler– Like Xavier, Butler drops one seed due to their loss at the hands of Green Bay on Monday. A 21-2 record and 10 RPI is still very solid.
- California– Cal has rebounded nicely from their hiccup in Pac-10 play and are setting themselves up nicely for a top-6/7 seed in the tournament. 3 wins over the RPI top 25 helps dearly.
- Florida– The Gators are dragged down a bit by their #105 SOS and only 2 wins vs. the RPI top 50. A 6-2 SEC record isn’t as strong as in the past (just ask Mississippi State).
- Gonzaga– What happened on Saturday? This team simply lacks defense and toughness. They’ll likely go undefeated in the WCC, but shouldn’t be rewarded much higher than a 7 seed because of their average non-conference performance.
- Minnesota– A 25 RPI looks good, but a 6-5 Big Ten record isn’t causing folks in Minneapolis to do cartwheels considering their non-conference work. They need to pick up some quality road victories.
- Syracuse- The Orange are slumping at now 6-5 in the conference, but they have great wins over Florida, Memphis and Kansas with a 23 RPI and 25 SOS. Don’t panic, Syracuse fans.
- Utah– The Utes are not even the projected Mountain West winner and yet they have a higher seed than projected winner San Diego State. Why? An 11 RPI, 11 SOS and 7 wins over the RPI top 100.
- Texas– What happened to Texas? Three straight losses to Kansas State, Missouri and Nebraska drop the Longhorns from a #2 seed to a #8 seed over the course of 3 weeks.
- Arizona State– The Sun Devils have the perfect 8-seed resume: 18-5 (7-4), 41 RPI, 3 wins vs. the RPI top 50.
- Utah State– The Aggies continue to win and lead the nation in FG%. It’ll be interesting to see where the committee seeds them should they run the table with their #203 SOS.
- Tennessee– The Volunteers are being saved by their #20 RPI and #1 SOS.
- San Diego State– The Mountain West auto bid is in jeopardy with their game in Salt Lake this week.
- Boston College– BC needs to split these two games at home vs. Duke and Clemson to avoid bubble city.
- West Virginia– Only 5-5 in the Big East, but a 14 RPI and 10 SOS aids the Mountaineers.
- Virginia Tech– The Hokies huge comeback vs. NC State helped them avoid bubble city and a bad loss.
- Southern Cal– USC is quietly 6-4 in the Pac-10 and hold a 40 RPI and 20 SOS.
- Davidson– The Southern Conference streak finally ended at home to Charleston.
- South Carolina– The Gamecocks RPI is slowly climbing, now at 42.
- Dayton– A regrettable loss to Charlotte on Sunday brings Dayton back to the bubble, even with their gaudy and somewhat misleading record.
- Cincinnati– The Bearcats won at Georgetown to improve to 6-5 in the Big East. If you have a winning record in that conference, you should be in.
- Kentucky– The Wildcats need to start winning, and quickly. Their computer numbers are porous and only boast 4 wins vs. the RPI top 100.
- Siena– My predicted flawless year in the MAAC came to an end Saturday, but they still sit pretty.
- Nebraska– Kansas State and Nebraska have eerily identical resumes at this point, meaning I had to go to the head-to-head matchup and give the small edge to the Huskers.
- Michigan– The Wolverines are under .500 in the Big 10, but no bubble team can match the 2 wins over the RPI top 25 (Duke, UCLA) and 7 wins vs. the RPI top 100 (other than Wisconsin).
- Miami– The second last team in the field with a 4-6 ACC record but a 39 RPI and 12 SOS.
- Arizona– The last team in the field is resurrected Arizona with a 6-5 Pac-10 record and quality wins over Gonzaga, San Diego State, Kansas and Washington.
- Western Kentucky- The Hilltoppers hold a ½ game lead over Arkansas-Little Rock, whom they defeated earlier in the season, for first place in the Sun Belt.
- Buffalo– Normally the MAC winner would be in contention for a higher seed, but the conference is experiencing a down year.
- Northeastern– I was all ready to give Northeastern a 12 seed until their bad loss at William and Mary.
- Northern Iowa– Same with the Panthers had they taken care of Creighton at home.
- North Dakota State– The Bison hold a comfortable lead in the Summit and should win the tournament.
- Sam Houston State– The Bearkats are tied with Texas A&M-CC in the standings, but won the head-to-head matchup earlier in the year.
- Robert Morris– Morris holds a 2.5 game lead in the Northeast with an impressive 11-1 conference record.
- Weber State– Weber State leads Portland State and Montana by 1.5 games in the Big Sky.
- VMI– The Keydets are tied with Radford in the standings but won the head-to-head.
- Long Beach State– Long Beach has hit a slide of late and only holds a ½ game lead in the Big West.
- Boston University– The Terriers hold a 1 game lead over Vermont and Binghamton in America East.
- East Tennessee State– A one game lead over Belmont and Jacksonville for the Buccaneers.
- Holy Cross– The Crusaders are tied with American in the Patriot but won the head-to-head meeting.
- Morehead State– The Eagles hold a ½ game lead over UT-Martin and a 1 game lead over Austin Peay.
- Morgan State– The MEAC leader holds a 1 game advantage over Bethune-Cookman.
- Alabama State– The Hornets of Alabama State have a 1 game lead over Jackson State and would participate in the Play-In Game.
- Princeton– The Tigers toppled powerhouse Cornell in the Ivy and earn the bid. They would participate in the Play-In Game, as well.
Last Four Out
- Wisconsin– They have a golden opportunity to get to 8-6 in the Big Ten and earn a seed in the upcoming brackets. They barely missed out on the field behind Miami and Arizona.
- BYU– The second to last team left out of the field is BYU. They have just 5 wins against the RPI top 100 while fellow bubble squads boast 6 or 7. A 5-3 record in conference is also unspectacular.
- UNLV– What happened to the Rebels? A 5-4 record and 56 RPI just isn’t going to make the tournament this season, even with the victory at Louisville.
- Kansas State– The Wildcats missed out on the field due to their head-to-head loss to Nebraska. The rest of the numbers were stunningly even.
Key Bubble Games (February 9-15)
- Michigan State at Michigan, 2/10– Cannot stress how important this game is to Michigan enough. They sit squarely on the bubble and beating the conference leader would surely vault the Wolverines into the field barring a later slipup.
- Oklahoma State at Texas, 2/10– As we’ve seen recently, this reeling Texas team is vulnerable and could lose at home. Oklahoma State has nice computer numbers, but lacks the necessary Big 12 record and quality wins. Here’s a chance to knock Texas to (gasp) the bubble.
- Florida at Kentucky, 2/10– They lost to South Carolina at Rupp. They lost to Mississippi State at Rupp. A falter at the hands of Florida would knock Kentucky out of the field.
- Clemson and Duke at Boston College, 2/10 and 2/15– The Eagles have a favorable ACC record, but have fattened up beating teams near the bottom of the conference. These two games are in the middle of a brutal stretch and just one win would help BC out dearly if they wish to stay in the field.
- Xavier at Dayton, 2/11– An opportunity for Dayton to rebound from their devastating loss to Charlotte and take down the conference leader.
- Boston University at Vermont, 2/11– A battle for the top spot in the America East with Vermont trailing BU by one game in the standings, but holding an impressive comeback win in Boston earlier this year.
- Tulsa at Memphis, 2/11– This is a stretch to think Tulsa can win this game, but they made an appearance on my spreadsheet this week and could be lurking for a bid if they can win in Memphis.
- Oklahoma at Baylor, 2/11– What an opportunity for Baylor. They’re slipping terribly to 3-6 in the Big 12, but are blessed with Oklahoma coming to Waco. That’s right, it’s a good thing. They need quality wins and this could be the one that vaults the Bears back to contention.
- San Diego State at Utah, 2/11– Seems like every week there’s a battle for the top spot in the Mountain West. This week’s edition takes place in Salt Lake where the Utes look to avenge a previous loss to the Aztecs.
- Louisville at Notre Dame, 2/12– This is essentially the season for Notre Dame. They’re not even close to a bid at this point, but a win over Louisville is the first of many steps towards reclaiming one. If they lose, they essentially need to win the Big East Tournament.
- Illinois at Northwestern, 2/12– The loss at Iowa stings for Northwestern’s chance to make their first tournament, but a win at home against NCAA-bound Illinois would help seal the wound and give the Wildcats some momentum.
- USC at Arizona, 2/12– The most important bubble game of the week takes place out west late Thursday night. Arizona has somehow crawled back into contention while Southern Cal has been making residence in bubble city for quite awhile now.
- Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, 2/12– The Gaels have completely fallen apart after their team leader and point guard Patrick Mills broke his wrist. They lack any real quality non-conference wins and have recently slipped up at the hands of Portland and Santa Clara. They need to win this like Notre Dame needs to beat Louisville.
- Pittsburgh and Villanova at West Virginia, 2/9 and 2/13– What will Bob Huggins squad do this week? Pick up two outstanding wins at home against top-5 seed teams and cement WVU into lock status? Or falter in both games and make an appearance in bubble city? Probably a split.
- Northeastern at George Mason, 2/14– Northeastern essentially wraps up the Colonial regular season title, barring an unexpected collapse, if they can beat Mason in DC. Recently all three top CAA teams have gone down on the road to average or below average teams, making it a one-bid league.
- Georgetown at Syracuse, 2/14– The Orange make their weekly appearance at Noon ET on ESPN. Let’s see if they show up this time. With the game in the Carrier Dome, I fully expect they will. Georgetown has to be super desperate, though, and JTIII could have them playing for their lives.
- UCLA at Arizona, 2/14– Big week for Arizona. Those two games at home will make or break their season.
- Minnesota at Penn State, 2/14– The Gophers trending towards the bubble? Not quite, but Penn State is right there and it’s vital they protect their home court against a poor road team.
- Nebraska at Missouri, 2/14– The Cornhuskers in the NCAA Tournament? Weird, right? It could happen, and a win against red-hot Missouri in Columbia would help greatly. This would be a huge upset.
- Kansas at Kansas State, 2/14– Where did the Kansas State Wildcats come from? Coach Frank Martin has done a commendable job this season. We all know this is KSU’s Super Bowl every season and this year it holds equal importance to previous campaigns. Remember, Kansas still hasn’t lost in the Big 12.
- Virginia Tech at Maryland, 2/14– It’s going to take a miracle for Maryland to make the NCAA, but Virginia Tech still has serious hopes. They should be fearful of this road contest.
- Creighton at Southern Illinois, 2/14– The Bluejays of Creighton are hoping to make the Missouri Valley a 2-bid league, or maybe knock off Northern Iowa in the conference tournament. As average as Southern Illinois is this season, Carbondale is never an easy place to win.
- Mississippi State at Auburn, 2/14– With Tennessee losing to Auburn, the Bulldogs shouldn’t expect to cruise here.
- Texas A&M at Baylor, 2/14– Two Big 12 schools that have poor conference records and desperately need a win.
- BYU at TCU, 2/14– Normally a football school (well, they still are) the TCU basketball team is making some noise this season. While they won’t make the NCAA, they can surely knock off BYU and send the Cougars to the wrong side of the bubble.
- Michigan at Northwestern, 2/15– Bubble city!
- Illinois State at Drake, 2/15– Illinois State’s disgraceful non-conference schedule is hurting their hopes in climbing back into bubble contention. A loss to Drake would be elimination city barring an MVC tournament run.
- North Carolina at Miami (FL), 2/15– That’s the beauty of the ACC (or the Big East). Miami went on that brutal stretch where they were left completely out of one of my brackets, but right away have a chance to keep their season alive with Wake, Duke, Carolina and Florida State. They’ve impressed thus far in that stretch.