Weekly Bracketology: 03.02.09 Edition

Posted by zhayes9 on March 2nd, 2009

Two weeks until Selection Sunday and the bracket is really starting to take form…

- Maybe we say this every year but the bubble field seems especially weak this time around. Those coaches calling for expansion of the tournament are out of their minds. Maryland is a 10 seed, Providence is an 11 seed and Saint Mary’s has a very decent chance to sneak in should they get to the WCC tournament final. With only a handful of locks from non-BCS conferences, it doesn’t appear too many conference tournament upsets will narrow the bubble field, either.

- Bubble analysis: Texas A&M has really emerged out of nowhere to put together a decent resume. The quality wins are lacking (they get Missouri this week) but a 35 RPI, 41 SOS and 3 wins against the RPI #26-50 was enough to edge both Florida and Kentucky for one of the final nods. Michigan will have a difficult time making the field, but their 3 wins against the RPI top 25 will definitely help come Selection Sunday. Maryland at 18-10 (7-7) grabbed the last #10 seed playing in the #1 conference and with 8 wins against the RPI top 100, including victories vs. North Carolina and Michigan State. Penn State and Providence snuck in with their conference records, respectively.

- The #1 seeds are not set in stone. Louisville is emerging as a possible alternative should either North Carolina or Oklahoma continue to slip up. Kansas and Oklahoma have nearly identical resumes when you factor in head-to-head. Memphis just continues to win and there’s a small chance they sneak into the top line if they win out. North Carolina isn’t a lock at all, either. There’s still plenty to be determined.

- Two teams that clinched at least a share of their conferences Saturday, Washington and LSU, jumped a full seed from the last bracket. Washington climbed to a #3 seed with their 13-4 Pac-10 record, 12 RPI and 17 SOS. The one factor holding them back is zero wins against the RPI top 25 with UCLA at 26 representing the second highest Pac-10 team. LSU continues to build an impressive record. It’s going to be awfully hard to deny LSU a top-four seed if they finish with one loss in the SEC, as weak as it may be.

- The best part of the college basketball season is ahead with the conference tournaments and March Madness. It’s phenomenal that college hoops provides nearly everyone with one last chance to make a run for the ultimate goal in March, even if you’ve completely bombed during the season. Some of these low-major spots in the field will start to be written in Sharpie (well, bolded) in the coming brackets as teams punch their ticket. It’s an exciting time.

bracketology-030209

Next bracket: Thursday, March 5.

Last Four In: Texas A&M, Penn State, Miami (FL), Providence
Last Four Out: Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, Cincinnati
Next Four Out: Saint Mary’s, Virginia Tech, San Diego State, Kansas State
Also considered: Rhode Island, Notre Dame, Georgetown, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, Auburn, Washington State.

Bids per conference: Big East (8), ACC (8), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6), Pac-10 (5), SEC (3), Mountain West (3), Atlantic 10 (2).

Automatic bids: Binghamton, Xavier, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Kansas, Connecticut, Weber State, Radford, Michigan State, Cal State Northridge, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Bowling Green, Morgan State, Creighton, Utah, Robert Morris, UT-Martin, Washington, American, LSU, Davidson, Stephen F. Austin, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State.

Key Bubble Games (March 2-8):

  • Villanova at Notre Dame, 3/2- If the Irish want to stay alive for a bid, they must take care of Villanova and add an RPI top 25 win to their resume. A win also keeps them alive for 9-9 in the conference.
  • Cincinnati at South Florida, 3/3- Lose in Tampa and Cincinnati might have a difficult time building up an argument at 9-9 in the Big East with their wins. You can be sure Mick Cronin will whine about it, though.
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 3/3- Two teams in the middle of the Big 12 battling for a bid with Oklahoma State sporting a huge advantage in the computer department. The game is also in Stillwater.
  • Georgetown at St. John’s, 3/3- The win over Villanova kept their slim hopes alive. They must take care of a St. John’s team that has given the opposition some trouble this season.
  • Ohio State at Iowa, 3/3- Two other Big 10 bubble teams, Wisconsin and Michigan, have lost in Iowa City. So don’t think it can’t happen to you, Buckeye fans. This would be a crippling defeat.
  • Wake Forest at Maryland, 3/3- With Maryland taking care of NC State, they really have a chance to solidify their bid with wins against Wake and Virginia.
  • Utah at New Mexico, 3/3- This may be surprising, but New Mexico is somehow still in the running for the Mountain West regular season title. Beating Utah would not only help in that regard but also give the Lobos a much needed quality win.
  • North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 3/4 and Virginia Tech at Florida State, 3/8- The Hokies would love a 2-2 split during their Marquette-esque difficult end to the ACC slate. They must beat either North Carolina at home or Florida State on the road to accomplish that. Maybe they should have called Jon Scheyer’s travel.
  • Boston College at NC State, 3/4- BC looks pretty strong for a bid, yet that can all fly out the window with two losses in their final two games against the bottom of the ACC.
  • Florida at Mississippi State, 3/4- The Gators have fallen out of our projected field for the first time. Rather than taking care of business at home against Tennessee, they’ll have to do so in Starkville.
  • Wisconsin at Minnesota, 3/4- With Indiana at home to end the campaign, the Badgers win over Michigan means they don’t necessarily have to win this game. But it wouldn’t hurt the cause.
  • Texas A&M at Colorado, 3/4- Lose this game to an improving Colorado team (not saying much) and Texas A&M can kiss their tournament hopes goodbye.
  • Tennessee at South Carolina, 3/5- Both teams are in similar situations in terms of how safe their spots in the field are in the first week of March. The winner of this feels good, the loser nervous again.
  • Providence at Villanova, 3/5- If the Friars can steal this game, they’ll punch their ticket.
  • Illinois at Penn State, 3/5- Penn State has a great opportunity to get to 11-7 in the Big Ten and provide the committee a difficult conference record to ignore.
  • California at Arizona, 3/5- Arizona is back to .500 in the Pac-10. With their breadth of quality wins, they should be in the field if they take care of business at home.
  • Michigan at Minnesota, 3/7- Two more Big Ten bubble teams that need wins before Selection Sunday. Michigan has the Duke/UCLA wins while Minnesota has the Louisville win to tout out-of-conference.
  • NC State at Miami, 3/7- Avoiding the upset bug here would be beneficial for Miami’s hopes, especially considering they can finish 8-8 in the ACC and make the field.
  • Kentucky at Florida, 3/7- Do I even need to explain how potentially HUGE this game is? No, I don’t.
  • Missouri at Texas A&M- 3/7- A chance for Texas A&M to add a very nice RPI top 25 win to their resume late in the season.
  • Penn State at Iowa, 3/7- Once again: fear the Hawkeye trap.
  • Maryland at Virginia, 3/7- Virginia is playing improved basketball as the season progresses. If Maryland loses to Wake Forest, this turns into a must win.
  • LSU at Auburn, 3/7- Could the Auburn Tigers really get to 10-6 in the SEC? Win at Alabama and knock off LSU at home and they’ve done just that.
  • Washington State at Washington, 3/7- Think about this: If the Cougars can pull off the miracle in Seattle, they will have defeated UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington in consecutive games. Throw in two Pac-10 tournament wins, and they may have an interesting case.
  • UNLV at San Diego State, 3/7- Depending on how New Mexico fares this week, both teams may really need to win this game come late Saturday night. The committee will not be keen on taking  five Mountain West teams.

Conference Tournament Finals This Week

  • Atlantic Sun- Saturday, March 7
  • Big South- Saturday, March 7
  • Missouri Valley- Sunday, March 8
  • Ohio Valley- Saturday, March 7
  • West Coast- Sunday, March 8
zhayes9 (301 Posts)


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8 Responses to “Weekly Bracketology: 03.02.09 Edition”

  1. Matt says:

    Zach,

    You mention Louisville as a possible #1 seed? How does the committee take into account the unbalanced schedule in the Big East? Louisville may very well win the Big East without having to go on the road against 4 of the other top 5 teams in the current standings (#1 UConn, #3 Pitt, #4 Marquette, #6 Providence). That would be like North Carolina not having to go to Duke, Wake Forest, and Clemson, or Michigan State not having to travel to Purdue, Illinois, or Ohio State.

  2. Tommy says:

    Gawd would I love that 7-10 matchup for UMD. The Terps could get revenge from the second round game two years ago by beating the vastly overrated Bulldogs.

    FEAR THE TURTLE

  3. Zach says:

    Matt- That’s a scheduling quirk I wasn’t aware of, and since I’m not a committee member (waiting for the invite), I can’t tell you for sure if they look that deep when deciding the #1 seeds. If it comes down to, say, Pitt and Louisville for the final #1 seed and Louisville edged them in the regular season standings-wise (as it looks like they will), the easier schedule could be a factor in preventing them from passing Pitt. It should be, IMO. Pitt has played at UConn, Louisville and Providence. This will probably end up resolving itself in the BET.

  4. Zach says:

    Lunardi should be fired for his performance today.

  5. scott says:

    no villanova in the final four this week?

  6. SSReporters says:

    I’d shudder at the thought of a Big Ten team boring me to tears and making it to the Final Four.

    I really don’t see anything that tells me Michigan State will make it that deep. I’d put my money on Louisville making a good run though.

  7. Zach says:

    People really love to hate on hard-nosed, defensive-minded Big Ten basketball. I love it. And it’s not like Michigan State is Illinois or Wisconsin, either. They have tons of talent and would be a great Final Four team.

  8. Zach says:

    I love it meaning I love watching the Big Ten. One of my favorite conferences.

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