The season has just started, but the bracket is already being impacted by games that have taken place.
Duke and Kansas – These two challenged themselves by signing up for the Champions Classic. Though Duke looked better than Kansas, both teams got a guaranteed quality win (over Michigan State and Kentucky, respectively). Kansas may be the bigger benefactor, though, as this gives them inside position for the one seed in Omaha (especially since Michigan State took a loss).
Texas A&M – The Aggies surprised the country not necessarily by beating West Virginia, but by doing so convincingly. WVU likely won’t be in the running for a one or two seed this year, but this should still be a Tier 1 resume win, as it occurred on a neutral court against a likely RPI top 50 opponent.
Maryland – The Terps scored an important home win over Butler. Of note, the committee changed the team sheets to make wins at home “Tier 1” wins only if that opponent is in the RPI top 30, rather than the traditional top 50. This will be a boost to Maryland’s resume regardless, but it may even be a Tier 1 win.
Minnesota – Providence should have a strong year and the Gophers beat them on a neutral court. I expect this will hold up as a Tier 1 win and will be a big boon to their chances of landing a protected seed.
Creighton – The Bluejays appear more likely than not to make the NCAAs after winning at Northwestern. Starting this year, all road wins over top 75 teams are considered Tier 1 wins. Expect this one to be in that category.
West Virginia – Losing to Texas A&M is a big deal because WVU does not have a good non-conference schedule. Virginia and Kentucky are the only two potential quality wins OOC. Sometimes the first game of the season is more important to a team’s seed than most realize. This is one of those cases, as this likely will cost WVU a seed line.
Wake Forest – With home losses to Georgia Southern and Liberty, Wake’s NCAA chances are already on life support. The Deacs will have to be shockingly good from here on out to go dancing.
Pitt – Kevin Stallings is looking like a disaster of a hire. Pitt has lost to Navy and Montana. Like Wake Forest, they seemed destined for a double-digit ACC standings finish (and probably dead last).
The American Athletic Conference – Wichita State moved to a much better league, but their new conference mates aren’t doing them any SOS favors. USF, Tulsa, and ECU all have horrible losses, and Memphis was no match for Alabama.
Michigan State – The Big Ten is looking very strong early, so there will be plenty of opportunities to grab the Midwest’s #1 seed. However, Kansas already has a big win over Kentucky and an advantage in the loss column and the Phil Knight Invitational may only provide one chance for a top 50 neutral court win, as there is no guarantee Oregon and/or UConn will be top 50. I still believe the Spartans will get a one seed, but winning their Phil Knight Invitational bracket would do wonders for their resume.