Monday, January 28, 2008

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Jan. 28

The Breakdown
Another barrage of upsets, coupled with the overall inconsistency of almost every major conference bubble team, made this week’s Field of 65 particularly difficult to put together. As was the case last week, the changes started at the top, where Tennessee was replaced on the one line by North Carolina, and on the two line, where Texas jumped up to replace Washington State. The other big movers on the positive side this week were Drake (up to a season-high four seed), Arizona (up from a nine to a six seed), Purdue (up to a nine seed after its upset of Wisconsin), and UConn, which moves back into the field as an eight seed after their huge road win at Indiana on Saturday.

In the lower part of the bracket, six teams that had been on the 9-12 lines dropped out, including some teams, like Oregon and Virginia, that had been in our field for a while. The slumping Ducks lost two games last week and were replaced by resurgent USC, which swept the Oregon schools. Virginia, meanwhile, fell to Florida State on the road and Georgia Tech at home to drop to 1-4 in conference and leave the ACC with just four bids this week. That’s two bids fewer than the suddenly-relevant SEC, which saw members Mississippi State and Arkansas re-enter the field. We understand that it is tough to defend the SEC getting two more bids than the ACC, but at this point, none of the ACC bubble teams (North Carolina State, Boston College, Maryland, Florida State, etc.) have distinguished themselves, and none can seem to put together even a two-game winning streak. Their up-and-down play made it possible for another big conference bubble team, like Arkansas, to get into the field this week by not doing much (the Razorbacks won their only game last week at LSU). The other bubble dropouts this week were Providence (which lost twice), and Cleveland State, which couldn’t find a way to get a victory in either of its winnable road games. In the process, the Vikings gave back the two game lead they had built over Butler in the Horizon and are therefore no longer bid-worthy.

And finally, in the A-10, St. Joseph’s completed a season sweep of UMass to replace the Minutemen as the league’s fourth bid. We still like UMass as a potential at-large down the road because of their good OOC resume, but the fact that they are now two games behind the Hawks in conference makes it impossible to keep them in. The only other potential head-scratcher this week is the fact that Illinois State is still in the field off a loss at Bradley, but remember, we are keeping the Redbirds in the field as a placeholder out of the MVC. The MVC is the 8th rated conference in RPI so we like their chances to get 2 bids. Illinois State doesn't have a tourney resume at this point but they do have a solid RPI and have some opportunities to pick up some big wins (Drake, and their Bracket Buster game). That, combined with a second place finish and a deep run in the conference tourney, should get them a bid (assuming Drake wins the conference tourney).

Out This Bracket
Oregon, Massachusetts, Providence, San Diego State, Virginia, Cleveland State, Bucknell

In This Bracket
Connecticut, USC, Mississippi State, UNLV, Arkansas, St. Joseph’s, Lafayette

Last Four In
Arkansas, Villanova, Illinois State, St. Joseph’s

Last Four Out
Massachusetts, Oregon, Seton Hall, North Carolina State

Next Four Out
Houston, Boston College, Syracuse, Providence


Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (6), SEC (6), Big Ten (5), ACC (4), A-10 (4), MVC (2), WCC (2)

America East - UMBC

ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami-FL

Atlantic Sun - Jacksonville

A-10 - Xavier, Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s

Big East - Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame, Connecticut, West Virginia, Louisville, Villanova

Big Sky - Northern Arizona

Big South - Winthrop

Big Ten - Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State

Big 12 - Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma

Big West - Cal State Northridge

Colonial - VCU

C-USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Hampton

MVC - Drake, Illinois State


Northeast - Wagner

Ohio Valley - Austin Peay

Pac-10 - UCLA, Washington State, Stanford, Arizona, USC, Arizona State

Patriot - Lafayette

SEC - Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Florida, Mississippi State, Arkansas

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - Oral Roberts

Sun Belt - South Alabama

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's, Gonzaga


The Seeds
The 1s
Memphis, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina

The 2s
UCLA, Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas

The 3s
Washington State, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Xavier

The 4s
Stanford, Indiana, St. Mary’s, Drake

The 5s
Butler, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Marquette

The 6s
Dayton, Mississippi, Kansas State, Arizona

The 7s
Oklahoma, Baylor, Gonzaga, Notre Dame

The 8s
Clemson, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Texas A&M

The 9s
Florida, West Virginia, USC, Purdue

The 10s
Louisville, Arizona State, Ohio State, Miami-FL

The 11s
Mississippi State, UNLV, Arkansas, Villanova

The 12s
Illinois State, St. Joseph’s, Kent State, South Alabama

The 13s
VCU, Davidson, Utah State, Cal State Northridge

The 14s
Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin, Siena, Winthrop

The 15s
Cornell, Northern Arizona, Lafayette, Hampton

The 16s
Wagner, UMBC, Jacksonville, Austin Peay (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at


Anonymous said...

This happens every single year. The ACC dominates out of conference play, including an 8-3 victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge....and then conference season begins and teams 3-12 can beat each other on any given night, and they are severely punished for it. Not to mention the fact they are forced to play 2 top 5 teams at least twice. Let's face it, if there was an ACC/SEC challenge, the ACC would definitely win, no doubt, yet somehow the teams in the SEC are rewarded for not having as much parity.

Also, how is MD not in the last 8 out? Yes, they struggled a bit in decemeber, but they have won 6 of 8, won at UNC and very easily could have beat Duke if not for Demarcus's Nelson playing the best game of his career.

I know conferences don't get bids, teams do......but come on, ask yourself this, how in god's name does the ACC have the same amount of bids as the Atlantic 10.....that is such a joke it's not even funny

OSU...overated said...

I'd really like to know how Ohio St. is not even a last four in. What have they done to deserve a bid????......Their strongest win to date is a home win over Florida, who hasn't beaten anybody either, and this was after Florida got spanked on their home floor to FSU. Other than that win, they beat all cupcakes, including the bottom of the Big Ten which is an absolute joke, yet teams get rewarded for beating Penn St, and Illinois and Northwestern. They were dominated by every good team they played with the exception of Tennessee, but they still lost so it's hard to hold onto that. If teams 5-10 in the ACC played Ohio St on a neutral court, the ACC would win 5 out of 6, so explain exactly what they've done to make the tourney please.

Bracketology 101 said...

Ohio State certainly doesn't have an eye pop-popping resume, but they're not at Last Four Out level quite yet. What's keeping the Buckeyes off the L4O list is their nice RPI (21), their wins over Florida and Syracuse, and most importantly, the fact that none of their six losses are bad losses (all of their losses are to tournament teams and all were on the road or at neutral sites). They'll certainly need to win a big game or two the rest of the way to stay in the field, but for now, they can say that they've beaten all the teams that they should beat - a claim that the teams ranked below them in the bracket can't make.

Bracketology 101 said...

It's true that the ACC would likely bet the SEC in a head-to-head challenge, but if this week's bracket proves anything, it's that there are two kinds of parity when it comes to big conferences. Right now, the ACC is suffering from the bad kind of parity. The league has great teams at the top, but no one in the next tier of teams (besides Clemson) has distinguished itself as a real tournament-caliber team. The N.C. States, Boston Colleges and Florida States of the world keep beating each other up, and in the end, that hurts the amount of bids a league gets. It simply makes it too difficult for the committee to say that one team is better than another, and as a result, they will look to other conferences (like we did with the SEC this week) to fill in the holes.

As for Maryland, you're absolutely right in saying that they have played much better of late, but they are still just off the Last 8 Out list. What's keeping the Terps a little behind some of the other ACC bubble teams is their RPI (82), the fact that they already have eight losses and still have six road games left to play, and the fact that the UNC win is their only win to this point over a tournament team. Head-to-head losses to fellow bubble teams BC (at home) and Virginia Tech don't help either, nor do those pesky home losses earlier in the year to American and Ohio.

Only time will tell if the Terps can continue their recent solid play, but if they do, they could very well end up emerging from the middle of the pack in the ACC to grab a bid. Maryland fans need to remember, though, that the first two months of the season can't be ignored just because the team is playing well now. The reality is that those two months left the Terps in a pretty big hole to try to crawl out of. There's daylight, but they haven't crawled out of it just yet.

Anonymous said...

I understand Texas being ahead of Washington State and Georgetown at the moment because of their very strong OOC resume (although the Wisconsin loss at home has to subtract something).

I just don't see them being able to stay in the top two lines as conference season rolls on. Texas already has one bad loss, and unless they can beat KU, I think both G'town and Wash St. will pass them with much stronger conference resumes.

Your thoughts?

Paymon said...

Maryland fans should know that they need not burn their furniture. They shouldn't have any after losing to AU ... at Comcast.

On the RPI as an argument against Maryland, how about Arizona State (#90 according to KenPom)? They are losers of three in a row and James Harden isn't 100% healthy. I see the Pac-10 taking 6 teams in March, but right now, it's really tough to commit to a sixth team with Oregon playing so poorly.

Anonymous said...

3-12 seem indistinguishable at this point in the ACC, though things are starting to sort themselves out into thirds. Likely the end of this week we'll know the probably 3-6, 7-10 and bottom of the barrel in the ACC.

That being said, with this 'bad parity,' what requirements are put on ACC teams to make the tournament this year? A team like Virginia Tech could easily finish with 9 or 10 in conference wins with the majority of their remaining games coming at home, but still have less than 20 overall wins, and no huge wins. But I can't see how a top 4 or 5 finisher in this crazy ACC gets left out.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing after watching Georgia Tech beat Virginia yesterday. RPI has them at #54 and they are 3-3 in the ACC with 2 road wins already, a near win vs UNC and only one bad conference loss at home to FSU.

They could easily go 9-7 in the ACC since they only get Duke, UNC and Maryland once, but they were 7-6 in their tough non-con schedule, still play at UConn next week, and only 2 of those wins were remotely decent (Notre Dame and Charlotte on a neutral court) and they lost at home to UNCG, at Georgia and neutral site to Winthrop. The other 3 losses are to Indiana, Vandy and Kansas and they actually nearly won the IU and KU games.

I don't see how they make the tourney unless they win at least 10 ACC games, although 9 wins would probably get any other ACC team in. If GT maintains and goes 8-8 or 9-7, that's a "deserved" ACC spot that will go to a mid-range SEC type team.

Bracketology 101 said...

Arizona State is still hanging on to its spot in the bracket thanks to its wins over Xavier and Arizona, but it might not be long before the Sun Devils find themselves on the outside looking in (and it won't be because of their RPI). ASU has three stright extremely tough road games (at UCLA, at USC, at Arizona) coming up over the next 10 days, and without Harden at full strength, losing all three of those games is a very distinct possibility.

Anonymous said...

You were one of the only sites that had New Mexico State in the big dance! Where is the love this year? NMSU is finally at full strength and playing a ridiculous out of conference schedule. Don't know if you noticed their 30 point romp over Utah State this past weekend.

By the way, the WAC Championship is in Las Cruces again.

Bracketology 101 said...

We're definitely keeping our eyes on New Mexico State (who made us look very smart last year for sticking with them), but we aren't ready to put them in the bracket just yet. Utah State still has a one-game lead in conference, and New Mexico State plays two losable road games this week (at Hawaii and at San Jose State). We'll see how that goes before we think of a possible change.

Gabe said...

I understand why UMASS had to come out of this one - that was a tough week - but, looking ahead, their conference schedule was so frontloaded that they are 3-3 in conference and play 8 out of their last ten games against the bottom half of the A10. They would have to completely collapse to not finish at least 10-6. Given their high RPI, quality wins, and good road record, and, more importantly, that the rest of teh good teams in the A10 actually have to play each other and not just UMASS and no one, I don't really see how they don't get in (again, barring a complete collapse - yes, I am knocking on wood right now).

Bracketology 101 said...

UMass does have a favorable schedule down the stretch and if they can pick up a win @ St. Louis this weekend they will likely find themselves back in the bracket come Monday. Going into this week we had them as the #5 out of the A-10 which is not a good place to be. They will have opportunity to improve on that since they will get to play URI twice. St. Joe's who we have just ahead of UMass has a difficult schedule remaining and will likely have a tough time staying ahead of the Minutemen.