What’s that, you say? March Madness? The first half of the First Four got under way in Dayton last night and the nightcap gave us plenty of reasons to get excited about what’s to come over the next three weeks. #11 Ole Miss, which defeated #11 BYU in a thrilling back-and-forth contest, along with Hampton, which outlasted Manhattan, will advance to the Round of 64 on Thursday. Their prizes will be #11 Xavier and #1 Kentucky, respectively. There’s more to come tonight — with two more eliminations in store — as #16 Robert Morris will take on #16 North Florida, and #11 Boise State will play a road game at #11 Dayton. Enjoy!
And here we are with Volume XV of the Circle of March, two weeks and a day after we started this whole shebang with 333 hopefuls. We’re now down to a tidy 68, and over the course of the next 21 days we’ll narrow that group down to the last one standing. The remaining group of bubble teams and a couple auto-qualifier candidates fell off yesterday afternoon, but from here on out, it’s win or go home. Welcome to March Madness.
It’s time to play RTC 2015 Bracket Nonsense, and we’re pleased to announce that we’re going to have some neat prizes in the game this year.
Last year we gave away some Louisville gear related to the 1986 Final Four that the Cardinals won in Dallas. The year before that we traveled to Atlanta with some memorabilia celebrating the 1977 and 2007 Final Fours that took place in the Peach State. Before that, we went on the Road to New Orleans with a Pistol Pete Maravich jersey as our grand prize. Even before then, we went to Houston with a Clyde the Glide Cougars jersey. You get the point. We love our nostalgia and celebration of the game through retro gear. This year, we’re on the same track. Here’s what you need to know:
We’ll have three different prize levels this year — one for each weekend — and we think that you’ll like them.
There you have it. Some great prizes are on the line this year, and you can win something in each of the next three weeks. Don’t forget to sign up before Noon ET on Thursday! Happy March Madness!
Printable JPG version of the NCAA Tournament bracket below (a printable PDF is located here):
Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent at the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn this weekend. He filed this report after Saturday’s semifinal action.
No Bid Thieves Among Us
With four opponents and three NCAA-bound teams left in the field, the chances for an NIT-bound team to play on Saturday were a given. Which team that would be, however, was not decided until Rhode Island crushed George Washington in the evening quarterfinal session on Friday night. Rhody’s burgeoning bid steal attempt ended at the hands of Dayton on Saturday in a game that was not decided until there were 20 seconds left. Davidson, unsteady in its A-10 Tournament debut in the quarterfinals, was saved by a Jake Gibbs drive and bucket in a one-point win on Friday before falling to Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals on Saturday. That means Dayton and VCU will meet today (1:00 PM ET) to determine which team will take the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid. Of the three widely-recognized NCAA-bound teams, Dayton and VCU seem to be securely on the #8/#9 seed lines. Only Davidson appears in slight danger, located on the #10 or #11 lines depending on whose bracket you consider.
Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley made the obligatory argument for an NCAA bid after his team’s loss. The Rams have the 10th-best defensive efficiency in Division I basketball, no losing streak longer than two games, a 20+ win season, etc. All are legitimate points, but he failed to mention Rhody’s RPI (#60), a strength of schedule ranking of #161, an 0-6 record versus top 50 teams and a 3-2 record versus teams ranked between #100 and #200. In the end, Hurley tacitly acknowledged that his Rams were a bit short: “If that’s [the NIT] where we end up landing we will be thrilled with that.” Expect the Rams along with conference-mates Richmond and George Washington to have at least one home game when the NIT field is announced on Sunday night. All three NIT-bound teams are projected as squarely on the #4 seed line or higher, making them very secure in that field. Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg removed his team from consideration for a CIT/CBI bid, leaving St. Bonaventure, the remaining unclaimed team with a winning conference and overall record, waiting for a phone call Sunday night.
Championship Saturday is in the books, as 15 more teams punched their tickets to the Big Dance and many of the rest were left wondering what’s in store of them on Selection Sunday. That’s today, remember! Because we were so deep into conference tournaments on Saturday, eliminations were more sparse. Only 12 teams dropped off the Circle of March, leaving 83 hopefuls heading into the last set of championship games later today. The important thing to remember is that at this time tomorrow we’ll be left with a nice, tidy 68. Enjoy one of the neatest days of the entire year!
What a Friday of college basketball. Bookended by Davidson’s buzzer-beater in the Atlantic 10 to Oregon’s in the Pac-12, it was a wild and wooly day across 18 conference tournaments that resulted in another 27 removals from the Circle of March. With approximately 36 hours until the NCAA Tournament’s field of 68 is announced, we still have 96 eligible teams still bubbling along. Admittedly, there are a few names on the CoM that probably don’t stand much of a chance at an at-large bid, but the Selection Committee has surprised us all before so we’re erring on the side of caution for the next couple of days. Enjoy Championship Saturday — 15 more teams will join the 12 who are already automatically qualified in a college hoops extravaganza of action.
Thursday was a huge day for the Circle of March, as 47 more teams were shaved from its facade. Over the next three days we’ll cut another 56 from the remaining group of 124, but the bloodbath of the last two days is now behind us. There were no champions crowned yesterday nor will there be any today — for that, we await Saturday’s nonstop festival of 14 title bouts.
The bloodbath has begun. We entered yesterday with 203 teams still eligible for the 2015 National Championship; we ended the night with 170. A single-day total of 33 teams fell off the Circle of March and we’re all better people for it. Today could be even worse with over 60 games involving a whole bunch of bad and mediocre teams playing in 18 different tournaments. We have to get to 68 over the next 80 hours somehow. On the automatic qualifier front, there was only one champion crowned last night — congratulations to the Patriot League’s Lafayette — but today and tomorrow are all about eliminations. Here’s today’s CoM.
Last night was the relative calm before the storm. We crowned four more league champions but only seven names fell off of the Circle of March. Today, on the other hand, there will be only one champion (Patriot League) but we will remove as many as 33 more names from the CoM in a bloodbath of win-or-go-home basketball. Those four automatic qualifiers — Gonzaga (WCC); North Dakota State (Summit); Robert Morris (NEC); Valparaiso (Horizon) — mean that over a third (11) of the auto-bids to the NCAA Tournament have already been logged. After tonight we won’t get another one until Super Saturday, when a whopping 14 champs will be crowned, followed by five more on Sunday. There are now 203 eligible teams remaining on the Circle of March.
Three more leagues crowned their champions last night, as Manhattan (MAAC), Northeastern (CAA) and Wofford (Big South) punched their respective tickets to the Big Dance. The Circle of March dropped 12 more teams from its ranks last night, leaving us with 210 eligibles still alive and a whole slew to come over the next six days. There will be three more championships completed this evening, as the NEC, Summit League and WCC finish off their tournaments before most of the big boys really get going on Wednesday.
With seven days left until the Field of 68 is announced, the Circle of March continues to shed contenders. Three more automatic qualifiers were anointed on Sunday — Coastal Carolina, North Florida and Northern Iowa are going Dancing — but 15 other schools will have to wait until next year. The next couple of days will be light in terms of eliminations, but we’ll be going from today’s 222 eligible teams to a third of that in really short order. Tonight the CAA, MAAC and SoCon will decide their champions. Enjoy the ride!