Weekly Bracketology: 01.31.11Posted by zhayes9 on January 31st, 2011
Zach Hayes is RTC’s official bracketologist.
Last Four In: UAB, Washington State, Richmond, Penn State.
Last Four Out: Maryland, Gonzaga, Butler, Colorado State.
- With the upheaval at the top of the rankings, there was as much competition for the #1 seeds this week as in any of the previous brackets. After Ohio State as the standout overall #1 seed, Pittsburgh, Kansas and Texas slid into the final three spots. Connecticut likely would have earned the spot occupied by Texas if they had closed out Louisville at home on Saturday. Although the Huskies edged the Longhorns in Austin, the overall portfolio leans ever so slightly towards Texas. As always, this is a fluid situation and could change tonight should Texas fall in College Station.
- BYU also would have been in prime contention to snag a #1 seed if they hadn’t slipped up at the Pit against New Mexico on Saturday. The Cougars boasted the top RPI in the land prior to the loss (Kansas re-claimed that esteemed spot). BYU now joins fellow Mountain West member San Diego State on the #2 seed line along with Connecticut and Duke, who drops to the final #2 seed and #8 overall.
- This past weekend was a major step forward for the Big East in their quest for obliterating the record for NCAA teams in one conference with Marquette edging Syracuse and St. John’s trouncing of Duke. All 11 contenders remained in the field this week and the lowest was Cincinnati as a #10 seed. The Bearcats look like the most vulnerable team in the conference to miss on an NCAA bid with both Marquette (Notre Dame, Syracuse, a plethora of close losses to NCAA teams) and St. John’s (Duke, Notre Dame, Georgetown, at West Virginia) having compiled some exemplary wins. Cincinnati still plays Louisville, Connecticut and Georgetown on their home floor.
- Bid stealer alert! Alabama at 5-1 in the SEC automatically gains that conference’s automatic bid with both Florida and Kentucky having suffered two defeats in conference play. This bumps Maryland just barely out of the bracket.
- Where have you gone Cinderella? The most famous of the last decade’s tournament darlings — Gonzaga and Butler -- both find themselves out of the field this week. The Zags have lost three of four in WCC play including road defeats at San Francisco and Santa Clara, while Butler has now fallen four times in Horizon play after running the table a season ago. Downing St. Mary’s in Moraga or Memphis in February would go a long way for Gonzaga and their ugly #90 RPI. Butler may have to win the Horizon League tournament which could be played in Valparaiso or Cleveland.
- I’d like to formally welcome Penn State to the field! Home wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Illinois carried the Nittany Lions into the bracket for the first time. Close losses at Ohio State and at Purdue also won’t be ignored by the committee. While objectivity always comes first in Bracketology, I’d personally love to see Talor Battle in an NCAA Tournament game.
- America East (1)-Maine
- Atlantic 10 (3)- Xavier, Temple, Richmond
- ACC (5)- Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech
- Atlantic Sun (1)- Belmont
- Big 12 (4)- Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri
- Big East (11)- Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Louisville, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. John’s, Marquette, Cincinnati
- Big Sky (1)- Montana
- Big South (1)- Coastal Carolina
- Big Ten (7)- Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State
- Big West (1)- Long Beach State
- CAA (2)- VCU, Old Dominion
- Conference USA (2)- Memphis, UAB
- Horizon (1)- Cleveland State
- Ivy (1)- Harvard
- MAAC (1)- Fairfield
- MAC (1)- Kent State
- MEAC (1)- Bethune-Cookman
- Missouri Valley (1)- Missouri State
- Mountain West (3)- BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
- Northeast (1)- Long Island
- Ohio Valley (1)- Austin Peay
- Pac-10 (4)- Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State
- Patriot (1)- Bucknell
- SEC (6)- Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
- Southern (1)- Charleston
- Southland (1)- McNeese State
- Summit (1)- Oakland
- Sun Belt (1)- Florida Atlantic
- SWAC (1)- Texas Southern
- WCC (1)- Saint Mary’s
- WAC (1)- Utah State
Automatic bids: Maine, Xavier, Duke, Belmont, Texas, Pittsburgh, Montana, Coastal Carolina, Ohio State, Long Beach State, VCU, Memphis, Cleveland State, Harvard, Fairfield, Kent State, Bethune-Cookman, Missouri State, BYU, Long Island, Austin Peay, Washington, Bucknell, Alabama, Charleston, McNeese State, Oakland, Florida Atlantic, Texas Southern, Saint Mary’s, Utah State.
Key bubble games this week (1/31-2/4)
February 1- Baylor at Oklahoma- The Bears saved their tournament chances with a double-digit comeback at home against free-falling Colorado. Losing at Oklahoma would revert Baylor’s NCAA hopes back to a long shot.
February 1- Penn State at Illinois- The Nittany Lions have put together formidable efforts in Big Ten play against superior competition, but can they finally break through with a marquee road win?
February 1- North Carolina at Boston College- The Eagles are slowly drifting towards the bubble. A win over the suddenly resurgent Tar Heels at Conte Forum would give them a nice boost.
February 2- Virginia Tech at NC State- As a #11 seed this week, the Hokies can’t afford a road letdown against the struggling Wolfpack or Seth Greenberg’s right back on the fringe of the tournament field.
February 2- Duke at Maryland- What a golden opportunity for the Terrapins, who badly need to break through with a victory against an RPI top-25 foe.
February 2- Missouri at Oklahoma State- The Cowboys are dipping badly and need quality wins quickly. Here’s another chance to defend their home floor against quality conference competition.
February 2- San Diego State at Colorado State- As one of the last four teams out, a win over the #2 seed Aztecs would do wonders, bumping the Rams into next week’s field as the Mountain West’s fourth team.
February 2- Georgia at Arkansas- Close losses and Trey Thompkins’ November injury are only valid excuses for so long. Georgia needs to win games in the SEC and get back over the .500 mark.
February 3- Washington State at Oregon- The Cougars barely qualified for the field this week on the heels of their home win over Washington. Losing at Oregon would eliminate any good feelings from Sunday night.
Next bracket: Monday, February 7.