Monday, February 25, 2008

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Feb. 25

The Breakdown
This past week turned out to be one of the wildest and most unpredictable weeks of the season. The BracketBuster games over the weekend proved to be huge for the at-large hopes of several teams and pretty damaging for the at-large hopes of others. When the dust cleared, a bunch of changes were made throughout the bracket, including the replacement of two teams on the one line and the addition of three at-large teams that weren’t even in our Last Eight Out last week.

The changes at the top of the bracket came as a result of losses by Duke and Kansas. The Blue Devils and Jayhawks were replaced by new Big XII leader Texas and new ACC leader North Carolina. Xavier, meanwhile, by virtue of its two wins and a Connecticut loss, made it up to a two seed in our bracket for the first time this season.

The biggest surprises of the week, however, came at the bottom of the bracket. Thanks to huge home wins over West Virginia and UConn, Villanova jumped into the field as an 11 seed, giving the Big East eight bids. The Wildcats still have a tough schedule left (they are home to Marquette and at Louisville this week), but we are confident that they can win three of their last four and, with a good showing at the Big East tournament, secure their spot. Joining ‘Nova in the field is another team left for dead not too long ago: Kentucky. With wins over Georgia and Arkansas, the Wildcats erased all the bad memories of their recent 40-point loss at Vanderbilt and improved to 9-3 in the SEC. With their remaining schedule (vs. Mississippi, at Tennessee, at South Carolina, vs. Florida), 12 conference wins is a real possibility for Kentucky and 11 wins looks pretty secure. Depending on how things go, though, the Florida game could turn out to be an elimination game for both teams. For the SEC to keep its six bids, everything has to break right, and by the looks of things, the Gators are going to need that game more than the Wildcats do.

Joining ‘Nova and Kentucky in the bracket this week is UMass, which did something revolutionary in the A-10 this week – it won all of its games. The most important of those victories came at free-falling Rhode Island, which had by far the worst week of any bubble team in the country. The Rams lost three home games in a span of seven days, including a defeat to St. Joseph’s on Sunday that knocked URI onto the Next Four Out list and kept the Hawks in the field as an 11 seed. UMass and St. Joe’s are still by no means safe at this point (St. Joe’s is safer thanks to their sweep of the Minutemen and a game and a half lead in conference), but for one more week at least, the A-10 is a three-bid league. With Dayton also of the picture now for good, three bids is almost certianly the max the league can expect come Selection Sunday.

The other big storylines to come out of this week concerned (appropriately enough on BracketBuster weekend) a handful of mid-major teams. With all due respect to Drake, Kent State scored the most important victory of any mid-major last week, handing St. Mary’s its first home loss of the year and all but assuring themselves an at-large bid if they just make the MAC championship game. By beating the Gaels, the Golden Flashes zipped all the way up to an eight seed in this week’s bracket (up from an 11). The other big mid-major winner this week was South Alabama, who completed a season sweep of Western Kentucky by knocking off the Hilltoppers on their home floor on Thursday. With all of the mediocre-at-best major conference teams on the 10-12 lines, South Alabama is really in the driver’s seat for an at-large – provided they make the finals of the Sun Belt conference tourney (which, remember, is on their home floor.)

Our final mid-major headline comes out of the MVC, which saw its top six teams win their BracketBuster games. With no major conference at-large teams worthy enough of our final spot in the bracket this week (sorry Syracuse, Ohio State, and Maryland), we decided to take a second team out of the Valley. After some debate, we went with Southern Illinois over Illinois State, and we did so for a couple of reasons. The Salukis are on their best streak of the year (they’ve won seven of their last nine) and in their current four game run, they have racked up wins over Drake and, most recently, over Nevada in their BracketBuster game. Those results, plus their history in the MVC tournament (they’ve won it two out of the last three years), led us to award the Salukis the league’s automatic bid. As long as Southern Illinois splits its last two games (at Bradley and home against Illinois State in what is a ginormous game), they should be able to at least get third place in the league, and they could tie for second or finish second outright if they win out and the Cardinals lose to Creighton at home this week (got all that?). Either way, the Salukis avoid playing Drake until the MVC final, and we feel they would have enough momentum at that point to pull the upset - and make the Valley a two-bid league.

Out This Bracket
Rhode Island, Maryland, Dayton, Ohio State

In This Bracket

Villanova, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Southern Illinois

Last Four In
Wake Forest, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Florida

Last Four Out
Ohio State, Syracuse, Maryland, New Mexico

Next Four Out
Rhode Island, Houston, UAB, California


Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (6), SEC (6), ACC (5), Big Ten (4), A-10 (3), MVC (2), MWC (2), WCC (2)

America East - UMBC

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

Atlantic Sun - Belmont

A-10 - Xavier, St. Joseph's, Massachusetts

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

Big Sky - Portland State

Big South - Winthrop

Big Ten - Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State

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

Big West - CS-Fullerton

Colonial - VCU

C-USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Southern Illinois, Drake


Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Austin Peay

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

Patriot - American

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

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - Oral Roberts

Sun Belt - South Alabama

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - New Mexico State

WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary's


The Seeds
The 1s
Tennessee, Memphis, Texas, North Carolina

The 2s
UCLA, Kansas, Duke, Xavier

The 3s
Stanford, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Louisville

The 4s
Indiana, Connecticut, Purdue, Notre Dame

The 5s
Michigan State, Drake, Vanderbilt, Marquette

The 6s
Washington State, Butler, Clemson, Gonzaga

The 7s
St. Mary’s, Kansas State, Arizona, Oklahoma

The 8s
USC, Pittsburgh, Miami-FL, Kent State

The 9s
BYU, Baylor, Mississippi State, Arkansas

The 10s
West Virginia, Texas A&M, UNLV, South Alabama

The 11s
Villanova, St. Joseph’s, Kentucky, Florida

The 12s
Arizona State, Wake Forest, Massachusetts, Southern Illinois

The 13s
Davidson, VCU, Stephen F. Austin, Oral Roberts

The 14s
New Mexico State, CS-Fullerton, Cornell, Siena

The 15s
Winthrop, Portland State, Belmont, American

The 16s
UMBC, Robert Morris, Morgan State, Austin Peay (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at


Paymon said...

Thanks for coming around on Kentucky. Never have I seen a team play so ugly en route to a 9-3 conference clip. Perhaps, I should strike the word "ugly" and insert "grit and desire".

Do you think Texas will take out the Beasleys tonight?

Anonymous said...

As a Terps fan this is very dissapointing, yet its hard to complain about your deciscion to leave them out. They still have a good conference record, it's just they don't have a good beginning to fall back on, so I understand that their conference record must be above .500 to have a chance.

That being said, what exactly do you think they need to accomplish to feel safe on selection sunday? In my opinion, I believe they have to win 2 out of their last 3, and then depending on their seed, win one in the ACC tournament. Your thoughts are appreciated

Bracketology 101 said...

The Terps home loss against Va Tech this week was devastating. The game at Wake this week is probably a must win game. That will give them a season sweep over Wake and give them the nod in a head to head comparison. If they lose that game then it's hard to come up with a scenario in which they finish a game better than Wake in conference play (given both teams remaining schedules). So what you are left with is a Wake Forest team who has a better record overall, likely a better RPI, and a decent win out of conference (BYU).

To feel safe the Terps need to win out (which would mean an ACC tourney bye) and then win their quaterfinal matchup in the ACC tourney. To have a decent chance they need to win their last 2 road games (Wake and UVa) and then either win 1 or 2 games in the ACC tourney (2 games if they do not finish in the top 4 in conference play).

Anonymous said...

Question about Nebraska... being that they have some decent wins over some teams that are almost certainly tournament bound (Arizona St, Texas A&M, Kansas St etc..) and also two overtime losses to top 100 RPI teams... if they win 3 of their last 4 regular season games can they sneak a bid with 1 or 2 wins in the Big 12 tourney. That would put them at 21-11 (8-8 in conf.)with two of their losses coming to Kansas who might get a #1 seed?

Any chance if the above happens as I think they are set for a run.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with your decision on SIU over ISU with the automatic bid, but do you think if ISU can win out against Creighton and at SIU this week, and then go to the championship in the tourny recieve an at-large bid??

Bracketology 101 said...

If Nebraska wants to get back in the bubble discussion heading into the Big XII tourney, they need to not only win three out of their last four, but one of those four wins is going to have to be at Texas. Winning the other three games (vs. Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, vs. Colorado) would not do enough for their awful RPI (102) or unimpressive resume (they are 2-6 on the road and have as many top 50 wins as they do outside-the-top 100 losses) to make them at-large worthy. If they lost to Texas, but won the rest of their games (the most likely scenario), they would probably need to make it to the Big XII final (and upset Texas or Kansas along the way) to get serious consideration come Selection Sunday.

Bracketology 101 said...

If Illinois State beats Creighton and Southern Illinois and then makes it to the MVC final, they have a very, very good chance to get a bid. The committee could easily justify their inclusion by saying that the second place team in the eighth-ranked conference deserves a bid. They done that numerous times in recent years.

(A side note: we considered that exact ISU scenario for a while Sunday night, but in the end we just couldn't see them winning at Southern Illinois. That's part of the reason why we went with the Salukis instead.)

redsox08 said...

Where do you see Michigan State going in the ncaa tourny? i'm seeing them going to the elite 8, but i dont know, whats your opinion?

Bracketology 101 said...

Tom Izzo's squad should be able to get to a Sweet 16, but their run will probably end there. If they stay at a five seed like they are now, they would be overmatched against a one seed in the regional semis.

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys- How damaging was Nova's home loss to Marquette tonight? Would you still put them in the field?

Marc said...

Mississippi State still has 4 games left and from watching them all my life I have no confidence they will finish strong. If they split those last 4 are they going to have to do something in the SEC tourney to solidify a spot?

Anonymous said...

All due respect, I believe your assessment of the Terps was a little harsh. If they win out and finish 10-6 in the ACC that includes a road win over UNC, a sweep of Wake Forest, and gets them to 20 wins on the season after a horrible start, I would have to imagine they are completely safe no matter what happens in the ACC tournament.

That being said, I don't see that happening. But, you said you don't see a scenario where MD finishes a game ahead of Wake in the conference if they beat us....did you look at Wake's schedule??.....they still have to go at GT and VT, both very losable games......that would put them at 8-8 at best. I also get the impression you think Clemson will win at have to remember Clemson is a terrible team down the stretch...they got worked at FSU in their last game, so MD I believe will get to 9-7 in the conference, Gary always finds a way to finish strong. If they do, then I believe they will have to win a game in the ACC tournament to feel safe.

Anonymous said...

The middle of the ACC is a mess this year.

Honestly, as an FSU fan, I needed a break from the bubble. It's a nice change.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Clemson alum/fan so obviously after last year I'm not going to relax until I see their name up on the board on selection sunday. They have 4 regular season games remaining (Mia,@MD,@GT,VT) and the ACC Tourny. What do you think would be the minimum they need to do to get an at-large bid?

Bracketology 101 said...

If Mississippi State wins its two remaining home games (vs. Auburn and LSU), but loses its two road games (at Florida and at Vandy), they might need a couple of wins in the SEC tournament to feel totally safe. They have no OOC resume to speak of, and they only have two wins over teams that are courrently in our field (and one of those is a home win over Kentucky). If the Bulldogs win just one of those road games and handle their business at home, they'll lock up a bid.

Anonymous said...

im guessing a win for vandy tonight against tennessee would bump them up a seed or 2, but how bad would a loss affect them?

Bracketology 101 said...

A couple of quick hits…

There are a ton of bubble teams that would trade places with Clemson in a heartbeat right now. The Tigers just need two more wins and they’re an absolute lock.

If Vandy beats Tennessee tonight, they’ll jump up to the four line. If they lose, their seed won’t move anywhere, but a two loss week (the Commodores play at Arkansas on Saturday) would likely drop them to the seven or eight line.

Villanova really needed to beat Marquette at home to stay in the field next week. Unless they win at Louisville on Saturday they’ll be out, and the only way they’ll get back in is if they win their final two games (to finish 9-9) and then win two games in the Big East tourney.

Anonymous said...

HUGE win for the Terps last night. All the "experts" really hit the panic button on this team after having a tough week, which happens in the ACC, even Duke. But you all that "predict" the finish are kind of a scam because you always change your "predictions" based on current activity. Posting a bracket as of current status is fine, but you change your bracket COMPLETELY after 1 week, so how are you predicting if you keep changing??.......

Also, your "predictions" on what the Terps need to do to get in is way off.....if you finish 9-7 in the ACC and are top 5 in the conference you're in the tournament...bottom line, say all you want about nobody stepping up, but come realistic, there's no way the committee will only take 4 teams when the 5th had a winning record along with quality road wins...

Anonymous said...

for the post above me:
As much as you think they look at conferences and how many teams are in from those conferences, they don't. The only reason conferences matter is for tournament champions, otherwise all teams are treated as independents. There is no number of teams the committee is looking to get in from each conference. They are looking for the 31 conference champions, and the 34 other best teams (regardless of conference affiliation).

Anonymous said...

F.Y.I- Creighton won arch madness last year; SIU didn't win it the past two seasons.

Bracketology 101 said...

Sorry for the typo...we meant two out of the last three years.