Monday, February 16, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Feb. 16

We didn't make a lot of changes to the bracket this week in terms of new teams in, but some of the changes we did make - especially at the bottom of the bracket - were made after much debate. The first change came in the Big East, where Providence replaced Cincinnati on the 11 line. The move may seem a bit harsh considering the Bearcats didn't really do anything wrong last week, but looking big picture, Cincinnati made the bracket in the first place because of their season sweep over Georgetown. Those wins don't look that great now, and when we combined that with the fact that the Friars have beaten the Bearcats twice, Providence got the nod.

The bigger, and much more difficult decision, came when we tried to figure out the last team in. USC's two-loss week opened up a spot, and there were no big conference teams that had done enough to fill it. We gave Penn State a long look, but the Nittany Lions play at Ohio State and at Illinois this week, and we don't like their chances to win either one of those games. We didn't want to put in an ninth Big East team (which eliminated Cincinnati and Notre Dame) because we think too much has to break right for the conference, even as stacked as it is, to get nine bids. The same could be said for the ACC and its potential eight bids. We can't see the ACC getting eight in the end, which meant no bid for Miami (why are so many people still so obsessed with the Hurricanes??) or Maryland. The Terps have a ton of chances to pick up a quality win coming up, but they have yet to show they can hang with the big boys in the ACC. We didn't want to go with a fourth MWC team either (three from the MWC is even a stretch at this point), so we settled instead for one of our famous bid stealers.

We have been looking for a bid stealer to take the place of one of these mediocre big conference bubble teams for a while now, and we think we finally found one in Temple. The A-10 tournament is going to be wide open, and Xavier and Dayton have proved over the last two weeks that they aren't unbeatable. The Musketeers and Flyers are also solidly in the field as at-larges, which means Temple winning the A-10 tourney wouldn't bump one of them out. The Owls were also intriguing this week because of the road wins they picked up at St. Joseph's and Duquesne. Those wins got them to 7-3 in conference and if they were to win out (they only have one tough game left at Dayton), the Owls would have an outside chance at an at-large. Even if they lose that Dayton game and aren't at-large worthy, we think they have a good chance to win the A-10 tourney and steal a bid. They were by far our best bid-stealer option, although we did consider a second team out of the Horizon (but the conference tourney will be on Butler's home floor) and a second team out of the WAC after Utah State's loss, but we still think the Aggies are the league's best team and thus we decided against putting in Boise State or Nevada.

The only other important changes to this week's bracket were that Memphis moved up to the 2 line thanks to losses by Duke and Clemson, Missouri moved up to a season-high 3 seed, Arizona State moved up to a 5 after completing its season sweep of UCLA, Arizona moved up to a 9 after sweeping USC and UCLA, Florida slid down to a 10 after a two-loss week, and several small conferences switched their representatives.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Week
Providence, Temple, Creighton, VCU, Binghamton, Jacksonville, Cal State Northridge

Out This Week
Cincinnati, USC, Northern Iowa, Northeastern, Boston University, East Tennessee State, Long Beach State

Last Four In
Virginia Tech, Providence, Kansas State, San Diego State

Last Four Out
Penn State, BYU, Cincinnati, Maryland

Next Four Out
Miami (FL), Michigan, USC, Notre Dame


Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), ACC (7), Big Ten (6), Big XII (5), Pac-10 (5), SEC (5), A-10 (3), MWC (3)

America East - Binghamton

ACC - North Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech

Atlantic Sun - Jacksonville

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Dayton

Big East - Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Marquette, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Providence

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - VMI

Big Ten - Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Big XII - Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State

Big West - Cal State Northridge

Colonial - VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Creighton

MWC - Utah, UNLV, San Diego State

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

Pac-10 - UCLA, Arizona State, California, Washington, Arizona

Patriot - American

SEC - LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - North Dakota State

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - Gonzaga


The Seeds
The 1s
Connecticut, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pittsburgh

The 2s
Michigan State, Louisville, Wake Forest, Memphis

The 3s
Clemson, Duke, Marquette, Missouri

The 4s
Villanova, Kansas, Illinois, Xavier

The 5s
Arizona State, Purdue, California, Gonzaga

The 6s
Washington, Ohio State, UCLA, Butler

The 7s
Florida State, Dayton, Syracuse, Texas

The 8s
West Virginia, LSU, Minnesota, Boston College

The 9s
Utah, Arizona, Tennessee, Utah State

The 10s
Davidson, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Florida

The 11s
UNLV, South Carolina, Providence, Kansas State

The 12s
Virginia Tech, San Diego State, Temple, Siena

The 13s
Creighton, Buffalo, VCU, Western Kentucky

The 14s
Stephen F. Austin, Weber State, Binghamton, VMI

The 15s
North Dakota State, American, Cornell, Jacksonville

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Robert Morris, Morgan State (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is this the weakest set of teams in several years once you get lower than the 3-4 seeds?

Anonymous said...

Nope... Actually its an SI columnist too... Surprising that you both think so...

Does FSU really deserve to fall 9 spots (2 lines) after losing to wake? Sure, it was a poor showing, but they lost alabi early in the second half, and that really led to the downfall, and the loss was to a team that had just been embarassed on their home floor, FSU really never had a chance...

Anonymous said...

Kansas State hosts Nebraska, and there's a small chance the Huskers could sneak in and grab this spot. Do they need to go 4-2 (19-10) plus a tourney win to do it?

Bryan said...

Actually, I'm still surprised that FSU is rated as high as it is. I'm waiting for the big collapse that seems to happen every year at the end of their schedule. If they lose to Miami on Wednesday, they are in big trouble.

Brian said...

Why are you deleting comments?

Snapple said...

I know the SEC is weak, but is an 8, a 9, two 10s, and an 11 really the best they can do? LSU and South Carolina, even including their OOC schedule, have pretty gaudy records. I thought they'd both be higher seeds by now. I guess you're projecting Tennessee to win more games than LSU and South Carolina down the stretch. I'd at least take South Car before Davidson, who has a similar record and no good wins in a much worse conference.

Anonymous said...

Can you please justify how you put Temple in, and how you put them in not even as one of the last four in. They have ( losses including losses to Buffalo, Miami OH, Long Beach State and Rhode Island. Is Tenn. at home really a defining win?

judolphin said...

Well, FSU dropped from #25 to #33 in the polls for losing to the #7 team on the road. FSU *never* gets respect from the pollsters. Having FSU at a reasonable level is really the main reason I have this site bookmarked.

Anonymous said...

Temple deserves to be considered even at their current record. When you look at their schedule this season, they will have played 19 of their total regular season games away from home. To have a chance of claiming 20 regular season victories with that home/away disparity is a clear vindication for a team willing to go out and play the competition. Kenpom's SOS rating has Temple at #13 in the country. So for all the Big Major schools whining about how you are are not getting enough attention, it is b/c you guys play a weak non-conf schedule and usually play all your games are played at home during NCS. And the A10 is a lot deeper this year than in the past.

Anonymous said...

Juan "Pepe" Fernandez has Temple looking much better and it would not surprise me if they were able to win the A10 again.

Bracketology 101 said...

Some quick hits...

Just some clarification on Temple's appearance in the bracket. We are not saying that the Owls are worthy of an at-large right now; we are picking them to win the A-10 tourney and get the league's automatic bid. If Temple were to win out, they would certainly be in the discussion for an at-large bid, but they would still have a tough time getting a bid. They do have some solid OOC wins, but they also have a handful of very questionable losses and they'd be the third team out of a good but not great A-10. After a slow start, the Owls have played much better of late, especially on the road, and they have finally started to show some of the promise that made them a preseason pick by some to compete for an A-10 title. With Xavier and Dayton showing lately that they aren't immune to an A-10 loss, we think the Owls could make a serious run in the wide-open A-10 tourney...

Since Temple is an automatic bid, they wouldn't be one of our "last four in." The "last four in" are the last four at-large teams in, and do not include automatics...

We agree that FSU's loss at Wake was not a "bad" loss, but we lowered their seed a bit anyway. Their remaining schedule is pretty tough, and given their past history of fading late, we seeded them based on how we think they will do down the stretch. If you're an FSU fan (is anyone who reads B101 not an FSU fan?), you would probably sign for a 3-3 record in FSU's remaining six games right now...

We know the SEC seeding seems low, but that's where those belong right now. LSU is the highest seed again this week at an 8, but they have no OOC resume at all and they only have one notable conference win (at Tennessee). Florida has one good OOC win (Washington), but they've lost 3 of 4 and haven't beaten a tourney-worthy SEC team yet. Tennessee also only has one good OOC win (Marquette) and they lost to both LSU and Kentucky at home, and Kentucky isn't too far removed from losing three bad SEC games in a row. The final SEC bid, South Carolina, has wins over Kentucky and Florida, but those are they only two wins they have, in or out of conference, against a team currently in our field. The bottom line with the SEC is that none of the teams have strong enough resumes, especially out of conference to warrant a top 6 seed. In conference, they have all beaten each other up, which has collectively hurt all of their seedings. By Selection Sunday, we can see one SEC team getting a 7 or maybe a 6 seed at best. That will require a 4-5 game winning streak down the stretch, which is something no SEC team really seems capable of doing...

Bracketology 101 said...

Nebraska snuck onto our bubble last week after their win over Texas. Their blowout loss to Missouri caused them to fall off the last 8 out list. They do have some good conference wins over Missouri, Kansas State, and Texas but have no OOC resume. They have a tough schedule left and will need to do something they haven't done all a tough road game. A 4-2 finish would get them to 9-7 in conference and two confernce tourney wins would be necessary. If they could manage to get to 10-6, which would mean winning 2 out of 3 road games (Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor), then they would be in good shape.

Anonymous said...

I think that by "fading down the stretch" your referring to FSU's obviously-not-so-notorious history of scheduling nobodies on their OOC schedule and starting 13-1, 14-0, 12-2, before going 7-9, 8-8 or something of the like in the ACC... This is obviously a different team than many of the others, and 3-3 over the next 3 is not something that you would snap up with no regrets, since the schedule is not even ALL THAT DIFFICULT... Duke in cameron is probably a big fat L, but the sweep of clemson in the civic center is far from being impossible, and the team was close til the end with miami at there place, no reason they couldnt beat them in tallahassee, and then FSU has 2 games with Va-tech, which they should AT LEAST split, leaving the game at BC, which FSU should win against such a maddeningly inconsistent team... This would make them 10-6 in the acc, likely the 4 seed in the tourney or better, getting a bye, and with a win or 2 in the tourney, there is no reason they couldnt get a 4, or even a 3, if they could sweep va tech, or win at duke

Anonymous said...

How does memphis warrant such a high seed? A mid major with 3 losses is an 8 seed, not a 2, especially with that freshman point guard... I mean seriously, Their best win is over Cincinatti? How can a team thats features 2 good wins (gonzaga) possibly be one of the 8 most deserving?

Bracketology 101 said...

Your assessment of Memphis' resume is way off. The Tigers have three quality OOC wins, including road wins at Tennessee and at Gonzaga. They have an RPI of 7, their SOS, despite playing in an awful conference, is a respectable 35, and they have a road/neutral record of 9-2. If you assume that Memphis wins out, they will be no worse than a 3 seed come Selection Sunday, and if the Dukes, Clemsons, Wake Forests, and Louisvilles of the world continue to lose games, the Tigers can very easily sneak their way onto the 2 line. You can't compare Memphis to other two or three-loss "mid-majors" like Dayton or Utah State, or to a lesser extent, Butler. The Tigers are a 2/3 seed, regardless of their conference, because they have the computer numbers and OOC resume to back it up.

Anonymous said...

I think your overusing the word "quality win" Remember, Gonzaga is in the same place as memphis, with a couple of decent OOC wins and a weak conferece scheduel, except gonzaga has games like the L at home against portland state, and the game at utah on their schedule, the zags are actually quite mediocre this year, and would certainly be lauded as so, if they were any school other than gonzaga... COnsider this... Over their last 17 games, gonzaga is 12-5, with their only "good" win being over fellow mid-major st marys and tennessee, who is in the midst of dropping 7 out of their last 14 games in an extremely mediocre conference, Tenessee's lone "quality" win came against marquette, 3 months ago, its time to call a spade a spade, and say that tenessee is just not a very good team this year, sure, their computer ratings are nice, but when you cant win consistently, your not a great team...
This all brings me back to memphis... They are extremely overrated this year, due to their "tough" OOC schedule, which now looks bullet ridden... They lost their 3 biggest games, at Xavier, Gtown and Syracuse, and only managed wins over tennessee, who is likewise overrated, and gonzaga, who is in the same boat... Consider this...
On december 29th, Memphis was unranked, relegated to the Also recieving votes category. Since then, Memphis has reeled off 16 straight wins, 13 over teams with little or no hope of beating them, not because memphis is so good, but because they are so bad... The other 3 were cincinatti (actually a quality win, to a degree), tenessee, and gonzaga... they have since gone, on the strength of those dominant performances over drexel, lamar, marshall, houston and the like, all the way up to the #5 team... This is not the old days, when uab was a fringe top 25 team, and memphis was taking on all comers in the OOC and whooping butt and taking names, this is 2009, where the entire conference is a joke, and most of their "big" wins are over teams now scrambling to find a seat on the bubble, and having such things as "well, if they dont win their conference tourney, is their really enoguh there to warrant a bid" written about them... Memphis is a 6 or 7 at most, and even that is pushing it

Bracketology 101 said...

We really don't think much of Memphis either and hate to give them a 2 seed, but if they are able to win out then the committee will give them no worse than a 3 seed.

Boris said...

Well, we've heard Anons' complaints about Memphis in previous years and all they've done is prove themselves in the tournament. Keep in mind, they didn't just beat the Zags on the road--they dominated them.

By objective measures--computer rankings--the Tigers are on the two line. There is no way the committee seeds them below a three if they win out.

Anonymous said...

"Keep in mind, they didn't just beat the Zags on the road--they dominated them."

Its still gonzaga, and i already pointed out why gonzaga is nto a good win

Boris said...

"Its still gonzaga, and i already pointed out why gonzaga is nto a good win"

Connecticut beat Gonzaga by 5 on a neutral court. Memphis beat the Zags by 18 in Spokane.

Anonymous said...

This isnt geometry, triangulation is not allowed... or at least isnt viable

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I know the SEC is weak, but is an 8, a 9, two 10s, and an 11 really the best they can do? LSU and South Carolina, even including their OOC schedule, have pretty gaudy records. I thought they'd both be higher seeds by cheap android phones I guess you're projecting Tennessee to win more games than LSU and South Carolina down the stretch. I'd at least take South Car before Davidson, who has a similar record and no good wins in a much worse conference.

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