RTC Bracketology: March 9 EditionPosted by Daniel Evans on March 9th, 2014
Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries.
Here are quick thoughts and notes following Saturday’s games:
Lock them up: Florida is now guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament. The Gators pummeled Kentucky and then watched two other No. 1 seed contenders, Kansas and Arizona, lose. If the field was selected today, Florida would be the No. 1 overall seed and the only way that will change is if the Gators lose in the SEC Tournament. But, one thing is not going to change: The Gators will be on the top line. Wichita State is also locked into a No. 1 seed after reaching the Missouri Valley championship game.
Teams in the running for a No. 1 seed: Kansas lost to West Virginia by six and Arizona lost at Oregon, creating chaos on the top line. I already had Wisconsin on the No. 1 line before Kansas’ loss and I expect other bracketology experts to move the Badgers up now, barring a loss at needy Nebraska Sunday night. Villanova and Syracuse are also in play for a top seed after Virginia’s defeat at Maryland today.
Green Bay very much alive: I always feel awful for at least one mid-major team that dominates its conference all season and then gets swept away in the conference tournament, losing to a team its already proven it’s better than. Well, this year’s team has already identified itself: Green Bay. The Phoenix lost to Milwaukee Saturday night and now will sweat out Selection Sunday. For those who think Green Bay’s chances of getting a bid are slim to none, think again. Remember the first year of the 68-team field when UAB was picked out of Conference USA despite losing in the first round of the CUSA Tournament to East Carolina? Or last season, when a Middle Tennessee team without a single top 100 win, made the field? The Pheonix have a top 100 win, and actually, they have four. They also have a TOP 10 RPI win over Virginia, a team the rest of the ACC has only defeated twice. I’m not saying Green Bay is getting a bid – not at this point, with so much still to be determined — but they will be one of the last teams in or out next Sunday. The committee has shown over and over again since the field expanded that it will use an average of two of last few spots for mid-majors. This is a weaker year for mid-majors than any other year since the field went to 68 teams, but that doesn’t mean the committee will act differently.
Belmont too: Belmont upset North Carolina November 17 and may use that win to slide into the NCAA Tournament, but right now it’s looking unlikely. The Bruins lost to Eastern Kentucky in the OVC championship game on Saturday night, but they do have four top 100 wins and will be one of the final teams on the at-large board. Do the Bruins have a better resume than Green Bay? That’ll be an interesting debate leading up to Selection Sunday, because the committee will throw one a bone but both aren’t likely to get in.
The SEC is looking like a three-bid league: I know it’s been discussed a lot over the last few months, but the NCAA Tournament picture for the SEC changes every day. Florida and Kentucky are obviously getting in, and after a huge win over Missouri Saturday, it looks like Tennessee is in the driver’s seat for the third spot over Arkansas. The Razorbacks seemed destined for a bid, with only a blowout loss to SEC bottom dweller Alabama able to stop it from happening. So, of course, that’s exactly what happened.
Sliding: The following teams are sliding after losses Saturday: Texas (at Texas Tech), Connecticut (at Louisville), Arkansas (OUT after loss at Alabama), Arizona State (lost at Oregon State), Colorado (lost at California), Iowa (vs. Illinois), UCLA (blown out at Washington State).
Rising: The following teams are rising after wins Saturday: Memphis (vs. SMU), Louisville (vs. UConn), Baylor (at Kansas State), Pittsburgh (at Clemson – probably saved the Panthers), Tennessee (27-point win vs. Missouri)
Note: Southern is ineligible for the SWAC Tournament but was in my last field of 68. Four teams from the SWAC are ineligible but all four are allowed to compete in the SWAC Tournament. This is going to create a lot of confusion, but I’ll clear it up by saying this: Whoever gets into the field from the SWAC is likely to be in the First Four.
NCAA Tournament Automatic Qualifiers (2): Harvard (Ivy), Eastern Kentucky (OVC)
At-Large Locks (34): Arizona, Florida, Wichita State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Kansas, Duke, Villanova, Virginia, Creighton, Michigan, San Diego State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Louisville, North Carolina, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, UCLA, Texas, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kansas State, Vcu, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Ohio State, George Washington, Memphis Arizona State, New Mexico, Oregon, Baylor
Estimated At-Large Spots Left: 10
A Quick Look at the Field:
NO. 1 SEEDS
- FLORIDA (SOUTH)
- WICHITA STATE (MIDWEST)
- ARIZONA (WEST)
- WISCONSIN (EAST)
LAST FOUR IN
FIRST FOUR OUT
- Green Bay
NEXT FOUR OUT
- St. John’s
- Florida State