Up to Date Last 4 In / First 4 Out

Last Four In – Florida, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Syracuse

First Four Out – Wichita State, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, VCU

 

Vanderbilt takes a bad loss to Tennessee and moves to the last four in. Anything but losing to Tennessee would’ve put them in good shape, but this is a very bad loss for a team that entered the game with just two top 50 wins and three bad losses. It will be close and the committee will really spend some time with them.

Bracket Rabble Tonight

Join USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast and I for a new, live episode of Bracket Rabble at 8 ET tonight.  As always, you can leave your questions in the episode’s comments section or tweet @bracketWAG on Twitter.  If you can’t listen live, you can listen to the episode later.

Tonight we will be discussing Monmouth, Wichita State, Valparaiso, and other teams right on the bubble, as well as giving our picks for the winners of the “bigger” conference tournaments.

Monmouth and Valparaiso

As a fan of college basketball, I want to see powerful mid-majors make the tournament.  As a bracketologist, I just don’t see Monmouth and Valpo getting in.

Granted, some of their bubble competitors could lose bad games in their conference tournaments and change the tournament outlooks for Monmouth and Valpo, but here’s why I don’t think it will happen for either team:

Monmouth – They have two top 50 wins (USC and Notre Dame). A month ago, those were two great wins.  Now, those are wins over two projected eight seeds and those wins at UCLA and Georgetown aren’t looking so hot.  And let’s not forget, losing to Iona in the MAAC final wasn’t a big upset. Iona actually won the season series, 2-1. Monmouth will be really hurt by three really bad losses (Army, Canisius, and Manhattan). Monmouth is a good team, but even the eye test isn’t doing it for me.  I expect them to be one of the first four teams to miss the tournament.

Valpo – The Crusaders are in even worse shape than Monmouth.  Whereas Monmouth has two noteworthy wins, Valpo has just one (at Oregon State). In addition, they have four losses to RPI 101+ teams. Valpo is a very good team, but they will likely fall short of a bid.

Tournament Locks

These 45 teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

A-10 (1) – Dayton

ACC (6) – North Carolina, Miami, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame

Big XII (7) – Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa St, Baylor, Texas Tech

Big East (3) – Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall

Big Ten (6) – Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue

Pac-12 (7) – Oregon, Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State, USC

SEC (2) – Kentucky, Texas A&M

Others (13) – UNC-Asheville, Yale, Northern Iowa, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Chattanooga, Fairleigh Dickinson, Green Bay, South Dakota State, Gonzaga, Holy Cross

 

 

 

Bubble Picture

So, here is the COMPREHENSIVE list of all POSSIBLE bubble teams. There’s not a single team who can get an at-large that isn’t listed here. That also means most of these teams have to have mutliple results go their way to make the field. But I’m including EVERYONE.

SHOULD BE IN (75% or more tourney chance)

Butler – Despite the loss to Providence, they should be dancing. But it isn’t a 100 percent thing, so I won’t lock them.

Pitt – Beating Syracuse for the third time should do it, but only two top 50 wins keeps the Panthers from locking a bid. Beating UNC would have locked them in.

TRUE BUBBLE (25-74% chance)

Vanderbilt – The Commodores are in serious trouble.  All they needed was a win over Tennessee to make the field.  Instead, they are squarely on the bubble.  This could go either way.

South Carolina – With only one win against the RPI top 40, a horrid non-SEC schedule, and three bad losses, South Carolina needs the SEC final to clinch a bid.  A trip to the semifinals would likely get it done, but won’t be a sure bet. Never underestimate the committee’s desire to punish bad non-conference schedules.

St Bonaventure – Losing in the A-10 quarters would likely prevent a bid, but if they can beat VCU in the semis, then they are almost assured of a bid.

St Joe’s –  The Hawks find themselves right in the thick of things.  They’ll likely get George Washington in the quarterfinals. Win and they are likely in.  Lose and they likely are out.

Little Rock – Make the conference tournament finals and it might happen. Lose before that and I can’t see it.

St Mary’s – They lost to Gonzaga and they will be right on the cut line.  That’s what happens when you play eighteen home games out of the WCC.  Schedule tougher, St. Mary’s. You’ve known this for years.

Wichita State – Losing before the MVC final really hurts.  The resume simply doesn’t stack up.  Their fate will be determined by how other bubble teams perform this week.

Tulsa – This one is more up in the air than others.  Beating Memphis might work, but making the final should work.  Their inability to get a top 50 win on their side of the bracket makes this an interesting case.

VCU –  Because they likely won’t get a top 100 team in the quarters, it will take a trip to the finals to feel fairly secure.

Cincinnati – They’ll make it if they beat UConn in their quarterfinal matchup.  If they lose, they’ll be right on the edge.  I think they’ll likely make it in that case, but it will be VERY close.

UConn – They’re one of my last four in.  I think they’re looking at a do-or-die game against Cincinnati.

Syracuse – They would’ve been in with a win over Pitt, but they lost by one. They will be right on the edge of the bubble. This one could go either way.

Temple – Tough to tell how this will work.  If they lose their quarterfinal game, they are out.  If they win that, they have a chance but are likely out without a win over UConn or Cincinnati. Win that, and they’ll be in.

Florida –  Beat Texas A&M and they will likely be dancing. Lose and it probably won’t work out.

Alabama –  Beating Kentucky will probably put them into the First Four.  Losing should end all realistic hope.

Michigan – Beat Northwestern and Indiana and they’re likely in the tournament. Lose either and they’re likely out. Sounds easy enough?

Monmouth – Those wins over Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, and Georgetown are looking worse, but the ambitious scheduling and non-conference performance help. Losing to Iona leaves them cheering against bubble teams. But despite many talking heads saying they will be in the tournament, I simply don’t see it. They are really leaning hard on wins over Notre Dame and USC, which are good but not great wins. And they have three horrible losses on the resume that aren’t going away (Canisius, Army and Manhattan). It’s possible, but unlikely.

LONGSHOTS (under 25% chance but realistic)

Georgia Tech – The Jackets were on a roll until UVA cooled them off. They have three top 50 wins and a strong SOS. They are likely out, but they could be this year’s UCLA, shocking the world with a bid.

Valparaiso – The Crusaders couldn’t take a loss to Green Bay in the semis and expect to have a strong chance. They will certainly merit a lot of consideration, but a road win at Oregon State is the only really strong selling point.  That’s just not quite enough.

George Washington – Beating UVA is a huge boon, but losing at home to VCU was a killer. They need a big A-10 tournament. If they pick up wins against St Joe’s and Dayton on the way to the final, they’ll likely make it.  Less than that probably won’t work.

Ohio State – Three top 100 wins out of the Big Ten? Ouch. Weak scheduling. Beating Michigan State in the quarters might do it, but it will probably take a finals trip.

LSU – They haven’t looked good recently, but Ben Simmons and company have wins over Kentucky, Texas A&M and at Vandy.  A trip to the finals MIGHT get it done, but it will probably take the tournament title.

Houston – Being the two seed might actually be a bad thing.  Their only chance for a decent win before the final is Tulsa.  It will likely take a tournament title, though beating Tulsa at least would give them a shout.

Georgia – Making the SEC final might do it, but anything less certainly won’t.

San Diego State – Making the Mountain West final likely won’t work but… maybe?  They do have a fourteen-point win over Cal on a neutral court.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies are really regretting dropping their first game of the season to Alabama State.  Beating Miami will get them consideration, but won’t likely be close to enough. Adding a win over UVA would put them right on the edge of the bubble.  A trip to the final may or may not do it.  But it would be close. My gut says they get in if they make the final, despite a terrible non-conference SOS and performance.

3/7 Bracket Projection

Midwest

1 Kansas – 16 Dunk City (FGCU) / Austin Peay (Des Moines)

8 Wisconsin – 9 Butler (Des Moines)

5 Purdue – 12 Northern Iowa (Denver)

4 Texas A&M – 13 Akron (Denver)

6 Iowa – 11 Monmouth (Providence)

3 Miami – 14 Stony Brook (Providence)

7 Colorado – 10 Pitt (St Louis)

2 Xavier – 15 Weber St (St Louis)

West

1 Oklahoma – 16 Hampton (Oklahoma City)

8 USC – 9 St Bonaventure (Oklahoma City)

5 Texas – 12 San Diego St (Oklahoma City)

4 Duke – 13 Yale (Oklahoma City)

6 Texas Tech – 11 St Mary’s (Des Moines)

3 Indiana – 14 Hawaii (Des Moines)

7 Seton Hall – 10 Cincinnati (Spokane)

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St (Spokane)

East

1 Virginia – 16 TX Southern / Lehigh (Raleigh)

8 Providence – 9 Syracuse (Raleigh)

5 Maryland – 12 Valpo (Spokane)

4 Cal – 13 South Dakota St (Spokane)

6 Arizona – 11 UConn / Temple (Brooklyn)

3 West Virginia – 14 Hofstra (Brooklyn)

7 Oregon St – 10 St Joe’s (St Louis)

2 Michigan St – 15 NC-Asheville (St Louis)

South

1 Villanova – 16 Wagner (Brooklyn)

8 Notre Dame – 9 Vanderbilt (Brooklyn)

5 Iowa St – 12 Little Rock (Providence)

4 Kentucky – 13 Chattanooga (Providence)

6 Baylor – 11 Tulsa / Florida (Denver)

3 Utah – 14 UAB (Denver)

7 Dayton – 10 S Carolina (Raleigh)

2 North Carolina – 15 SF Austin (Raleigh)

FIRST FOUR OUT – Georgia Tech, Florida State, Michigan, VCU

 

The Big XII and the Big East

As USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast and I discussed on Bracket Rabble today (you can replay the episode), the leagues with true round robin schedules usually don’t deviate much seed and selection-wise from the league standings. That’s because an 18-game round robin is about the best comparison you can have between two teams. With that in mind, let’s look at the Big XII and Big East:

BIG XII 

Kansas 15-3

West Virginia 13-5

Oklahoma 12-6

Texas 11-7

Baylor 10-8

Iowa State 10-8

Texas Tech 9-9

Kansas finished two games ahead of the pack and played very well against a very tough non-conference schedule. They will not only be an NCAA number one seed, but they are guaranteed to be a higher overall seed than any Big XII brethren regardless of whether Oklahoma or West Virginia wins the league tournament while Kansas loses in the quarterfinals.

I actually have Oklahoma ahead of West Virginia now because of Oklahoma’s great non-conference performance (including wins over Villanova and Wisconsin) and because of Oklahoma’s sweep of West Virginia. Texas is the fourth team in the pecking order because of their fourth place standing and a plethora of quality wins. Behind them are Iowa State and Baylor. While Baylor swept the series, Iowa State had quality non-league wins (Iowa, Colorado) that Baylor simply didn’t have, so Iowa State is the fifth current selection from the league, while Baylor is sixth. Seventh is seventh-place Texas Tech. All other Big XII teams will have to win the league tourney title to get an NCAA bid.

The Big East

Villanova  16-2

Xavier 14-4

Seton Hall 12-6

Providence 10-8

Butler 10-8

Villanova finished two games ahead of the nearest competitor, so it would be a real surprise if they aren’t the highest overall seed from this league. If second-place Xavier wins the Big East tournament and Villanova falls in the quarterfinals, then there is a chance it happens because of Villanova’s struggles against one seed-level competition (see the Oklahoma and Virginia games). But expect Villanova to be the first selection and Xavier the second selection, regardless of conference tournament performances.

Behind them, expect Seton Hall to be the third pick behind their strong 12-6 league record. After that, there are two tied teams (Providence and Butler). Whoever wins the quarterfinal game between the two should be the higher tournament seed.

3/6 Bracket Projection

Saturday was absolutely crazy.  Do any bubble teams want in the tournament? Some longshots, like Georgia Tech and Florida State, are all of a sudden right in the thick of the bubble race.  And I thought Wichita State would be out if they lost to Northern Iowa, but the struggles of other bubble teams mean WSU is right in the thick of the race, too.

Midwest

1 Kansas – 16 Austin Peay / Fla Gulf Coast

8 Providence – 9 St Bonaventure

5 Texas – 12 Northern Iowa

4 Duke – 13 Akron

6 Iowa – 11 Monmouth

3 Utah – 14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado – 10 Pitt

2 Xavier – 15 Weber St

West

1 Oklahoma – 16 Wagner

8 USC – 9 Butler

5 Cal – 12 Valpo

4 Texas A&M – 13 Yale

6 Texas Tech – 11 St Mary’s

3 Maryland – 14 Hawaii

7 Wisconsin – 10 Tulsa

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St

East

1 UVA – 16 TX Southern / Lehigh

8 Seton Hall – 9 Syracuse

5 Iowa St – 12 San Diego St

4 Indiana – 13 Chattanooga

6 Arizona – 11 UConn / Temple

3 West VA – 14 Hofstra

7 Oregon St – 10 St Joe’s

2 UNC – 15 Winthrop

South

1 Villanova – 16 Hampton

8 Notre Dame – 9 Vanderbilt

5 Purdue – 12 Little Rock

4 Kentucky – 13 S Dakota St

6 Baylor – 11 Cincinnati / Florida

3 Miami – 14 UAB

7 Dayton – 10 S Carolina

2 Michigan St – 15 SF Austin

LAST FOUR OUT – Georgia Tech, Florida State, Michigan, Wichita State

Bid Sealing Games

Today, the following teams can clinch bids:

Dayton – VCU

Oregon State – at UCLA

Vanderbilt – at Texas A&M

USC – Oregon

UT-Martin – vs. Austin Peay

Austin Peay – vs. UT-Martin

 

The Wichita State Issue

So, I’m not usually a fan of blind resumes because the committee doesn’t look at blind resumes. They look at resumes where every team’s name is there. So they know exactly who they are dealing with. But let’s take a second to look at Wichita State’s resume:

1-5 vs. RPI top 89

4-2 vs. RPI 90-105

19-0 vs. RPI 106+ and D2

For a second, let’s pretend that resume belongs to UC Santa Barbara.  Do you think the committee gives them much at-large consideration? No? Me, neither.

WSU’s at-large hopes are resting on a forgiving committee, and history shows us the committee usually isn’t very forgiving to mid-majors. I don’t think it’s right, but a very good WSU received a seven seed last year for a lack of quality wins.

Even if you think WSU lost some games they otherwise wouldn’t have early in the year because of Fred Van Vleet’s injury, they still only have one impressive win.  And they still lost two games in MVC play when Van Vleet was healthy.

If WSU had lost to Loyola today, they would’ve missed the tournament, in my opinion.  I know most bracketologists think WSU is safe, but I don’t.  If they don’t win the Missouri Valley, they better beat Northern Iowa in the semis and lose to Evansville in the final.  Any other result will likely doom them.  And even that might not be enough.