Weekly Bracketology: 03.09.09Posted by zhayes9 on March 8th, 2009
Update (03.09): Zach realized that Butler and VCU were missing, so after we fished him out of the lake, he sent us a revised version. Apologies to all Bulldog and Ram fans.
Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist. He’ll regularly be out-scooping, out-thinking and out-shining Lunardi over the next three months.
Next Four In: New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, UNLV
Last Four In: , Providence, Penn State, Arizona
Last Four Out: , , Maryland, Saint Mary’s
Next Four Out: Florida, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Auburn
Also Considered: Davidson, George Mason, Rhode Island, Temple, Nebraska, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Tulsa, USC, Kansas St.
Bids per conference: Big Ten (8), Big East (8), ACC (6), Big 12 (6), Pac-10 (5), Mountain West (4), SEC (3), Atlantic 10 (2), Missouri Valley (2).
Automatic bids: Binghamton, Xavier, North Carolina, East Tennessee State, Kansas, Louisville, Weber State, Radford, Michigan State, Cal State Northridge, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Bowling Green, Morgan State, Utah, Northern Iowa, Robert Morris, Morehead State, Washington, American, LSU, College of Charleston, Stephen F. Austin, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State.
Next bracket: Saturday morning, March 14.
Final bracket: Sunday afternoon, March 15.
State of the Bubble Teams
Michigan– The Wolverines helped themselves greatly by taking down rival Minnesota on the road. With their quality wins out-of-conference and strength of schedule, Michigan just needs to beat Iowa to feel safe. Take down Illinois in the second round and they’re a lock.
Minnesota– The Gophers could have locked up a bid by beating Michigan at home. At 9-9 in the Big 10, they should probably beat a desperate Northwestern team to feel safe. Despite the undefeated non-conference slate, a loss to the Wildcats would drop them to 9-10 and it would be a nervous Selection Sunday for Tubby Smith.
Arizona- The Wildcats finished their Pac-10 season at 9-9. Their excellent wins over Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State and Washington are keeping them in the bracket. An enormous second round tournament meeting with Arizona State looms. Win and they’re in. A loss would put them squarely on the bubble.
New Mexico– The Lobos miraculously finished tied for the Mountain West title at 12-4 and grabbed the #3 seed in the conference tournament. A loss to Wyoming and they’re likely out. Beat Wyoming and Utah and they’re definitely in at 14-4 in a tough conference. Beat Wyoming and lose to Utah and they’ll likely be one of the last six teams in/out.
Penn State– The Nittany Lions could have cemented their bid by taking care of business at Iowa on Saturday. Instead, a double-OT loss puts them back on the bubble at 10-8 with a weak RPI. Their wins over Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois twice should carry them into the field if they just beat Indiana. A win over Purdue in Indy would lock it up.
Creighton– The Bluejays fate depends on how the other bubble teams on this list fare in the last week. If the majority slip up, they could sneak in with a decent RPI and a late season hot streak. They did nothing out-of-conference, though, and the Missouri Valley is down. I have them as the last team in the field tonight and that could change by the last bracket.
San Diego State– The Aztecs sit at 11-5 in the Mountain West with their big win over UNLV on Saturday. But they’re 1-5 vs. the RPI top 50, numbers that pale in comparison to their conference foes. That number is also weak compared to other bubble teams. They have a rematch in the second round of the Mountain West tournament against UNLV in Vegas. If they lose, they’re probably not going to make it.
Florida– The Gators salvaged their chances by taking down Kentucky on Saturday. At only 9-7 in the weak SEC with 1 win vs. the RPI top 50 and an 85 SOS, they need to reach the SEC tournament finals. That means beating Arkansas, Auburn and likely Tennessee to give them another quality win. It can be done.
South Carolina– The Gamecocks beat Georgia to reach 10-6 in the SEC. Any other year, that would be enough. They’re still in the Last Four In because their best non-conference win is Baylor (who finished 5-11 in the Big 12) and, like many of their SEC foes, have just 1 win vs. the RPI top 50. With a 51 RPI and 90 SOS, they cannot afford to lose to Mississippi State in the second round of the tournament. Then comes a huge game with either LSU or Kentucky. They still have work to do.
Maryland– The Terrapins probably get in at 8-8 in the #1 RPI conference with their quality wins. Instead, they lost to Virginia and have fallen in their last three games, giving the committee a sour taste heading into the ACC tournament. They must beat NC State to stay in consideration. They might even have to beat Wake Forest in the second round. Lose and it depends on the other bubble teams.
Providence– The Friars are one of the last teams in once again. Their RPI is seriously lacking at 71 and their 10-8 Big East record is mostly feeding on the bottom teams besides the huge Pittsburgh win. Lose to Cincinnati in the second round and it’s not happening. Win and they have a shot at top seed Louisville. They’re going to be a very close call on Selection Sunday.
Saint Mary’s– I’m assuming the Gaels took care of Portland tonight in the WCC semifinals. I still think they have to beat Gonzaga Monday night in the finals to punch their ticket. The committee may take into account Mills’ injury, but they’ll also look at four losses in a weak conference and a disgraceful non-conference SOS.
Miami (FL)– Miami would have been NIT-bound for sure if they lost to NC State, but the Canes escaped and kept their chances alive. The loser of the first round VT-Miami game in Tampa is finished. If Miami can somehow upset North Carolina, they’re in. If not, they’ll probably fall short.
Auburn– The Tigers took down LSU at home on Saturday to keep their chances alive. Like many SEC teams, they did nothing out-of-conference (best win at Virginia) and the SEC just didn’t boost their numbers like it normally would. They need to beat Florida in the second round of the tournament to have a chance. That would set up a matchup with Tennessee in which they could punch their ticket at 12-6.
Virginia Tech– It’s going to take a miracle. They need to beat both Miami and North Carolina. The Hokies appear NIT-bound.
Southern Cal– The Trojans also have a very difficult road. They must beat both California and USC and make the Pac-10 final to have a chance at a bid. Their wins are very unimpressive.
Kansas State– The Wildcats finished at 9-7 in the Big 12, but they have a 77 RPI and 101 SOS. Beating Texas in the second round probably still isn’t quite enough. Kansas awaits.
Kentucky– They’ve slumped down the stretch badly and need to win the SEC tournament to make the field and extend their consecutive NCAA tournament streak. They’ll have to beat Mississippi, LSU then either South Carolina or Mississippi State just to make the final and we can talk about Big Blue again.