The Thursday of Championship Week is always exciting, as all of the big conferences get their tournaments started. This one was no different. The biggest shocker of the day was that three No. 1 seeds went down. The upsets started when Pitt got beat up by West Virginia, and that was followed by Oklahoma getting knocked off by Oklahoma State in a last-second thriller. To top it all off was the 6OT epic battle/game of the year between UConn and Syracuse. The Huskies had plenty of opportunities in just about every OT period to put the game away, but they were unable to do so. It eventually became a game of attrition and by the sixth overtime, too many UConn big men had fouled out and they just went cold from the field. Syracuse continues to have the Huskies' number in the Big East tourney the past few years.
By the end of the night, Pitt was the only team that played that was able to hold onto their 1 seed. Oklahoma dropped down to the third 2 seed and really has no chance to climb back up. UConn, on the other hand, may be able to get back on the 1 line should Louisville lose to Villanova or Michigan State go down before the Big Ten final. Duke is also in the running for a one seed if they can make a run to the final of the ACC tourney, and even Wake Forest could get itself in the mix if it won the ACC tourney. Despite what some commentators may believe, we still think that Memphis has no shot at a 1 seed.
Now onto the all important bubble talk. The bigget winners of the day were the Big Ten bubble bunch, San Diego State, and Oklahoma State. The biggest losers were Providence, Arizona, and New Mexico. Here's another conference-by-conference breakdown:
In the A-10...
Rhode Island completely knocked themselves out of at-large consideration with their loss to Duquesne. Meanwhile, Dayton is now a lock for the tourney and Temple is back in the mix. The Owls' slim tourney were revived with URI going down, but they are still on life support. If the Owls can take out Xavier on Friday they would be back in the mix for an at-large, but they would still need a lot of help and only a close loss to Dayton in the final would give them any hope. They have some nice OOC wins and a solid RPI, but simply have too many bad losses.
In the ACC...
Maryland and Virginia Tech moved on to keep their tourney hopes alive, while BC locked up their bid. Now both the Terps and the Hokies have a chance to pick up another marquee win and play their way into the field. We wouldn't go so far as saying that both would be a lock with a win on Friday, but they would be in good shape and would likely find themselves in the tourney.
In the Big XII...
One of the big winners of the day was Oklahoma State. Their win over Oklahoma erases any doubt concerning their tourney chances and also moved them up to a 8 seed. Kansas State is officially done after they went down in a close battle with Texas. Kansas became the first conference one seed to go down out of the major conferences and opened up the possibility of Baylor running the table to steal a bid.
In the Big East...
The best games of the day were played at Madison Square Garden. Early in the day, Villanova dropped Marquette on a last second lay-up, and more importantly for those on the the bubble, Providence get blown out by Louisville. The Friars will remain in the mix until Selection Sunday because of their above-.500 conference record and wins over Syracuse and Pitt, but we can't see anyway that they climb back into the field. Their OOC resume contains no wins over any tourney teams (the loss to St. Mary's really hurts right now) and they continue to get blown out by Big East tourney teams away from their home court.
In the Big Ten...
We never like the admit we were wrong, but it looks like we have no choice in this one. We finally were forced to cave and put eight Big Ten teams in the field. Minnesota, Michigan, and Penn State all won easily to move onto the Big Ten quarters and all eight teams left in the Big Ten field look like they will be dancing. If we had to pick one team that would miss out on the dance at this point we would have to say Penn State. Their RPI is 25-30 points lower than the rest of the bubble teams and if they were to get blown out by Purdue it would not be unthinkable for the Nittany Lions to be left out.
In the Pac-10...
Arizona suffered yet another loss, making it five out of six losses to end the year. This team has a ton of talent, but they really just can't seem to make that translate into wins on the court. They will now have a long wait till Sunday and their streak of 24 straight tourney appearances is in serious trouble. They have plenty of good wins on their resume, but none of them were a true road game. The one point loss that the Wildcats suffered at Texas A&M back in December must really hurt UofA fans. They let a big lead slip away late in that one and if they could of just hung on they would be in ahead of the Aggies now. They are currently our last team out so they will remain in the mix throughout the weekend and will be the focus of plenty of debate. Will their five Top 50 wins be enough to earn them a bid, or will their poor finish keep them out? USC was able to keep their slim tourney hopes alive by knocking off Cal. They will need a win over UCLA on Friday to really recieve any serious consideration.
In the MWC...
Bubble teams throughout the land couldn't be happier with the way things went in the MWC today. We have been saying all season that the conference has no chance for four bids and it looks like we'll at least get that one correct. SDSU won yet again at UNLV to keep their tourney hopes alive, and in the process, destroy UNLV's chances. In the night cap, New Mexico was stunned by Wyoming. The Lobos can start preparing for the NIT since their at-large hopes are over. They may have finished in a three-way tie for first and have won 8 of their last 10, but they also have a 65 RPI, a disgusting OOC resume, and have no good road wins. Their loss also takes some luster off of Creighton's resume. The Aztecs, on the other hand, may have been the biggest winners of the day. Not only did they pick up another road win against UNLV, which helped pump their RPI up seven spots, but they are also the clear cut third choice out of the MWC. A win over BYU in the semis would be a good idea, though. They have only one win over a team in our current bracket, which is also their only top 50 win. If they can't get by BYU then their resume will not stack up very favorably when compared with fellow bubble teams that they lost to - Arizona and St. Mary's.
In the SEC...
There were really no surprises in Tampa yesterday. Florida beat Arkansas to set up an elimination game with Auburn. A win for Florida may be enough to get them a bid, and if they can get to the finals they would be a lock. Auburn, on the other hand, will need to beat Florida and Tiger fans should actually hope Tennessee avoids another upset against Alabama. Auburn needs all the good wins it can get and they will need to beat Florida and Tennessee to really like their at-large chances heading into the SEC championship. South Carolina faces a must-win against a Mississippi State team that they recently lost to. The Gamecocks also will need a run to the final to lock down a bid. Bubble teams throughout the land will have a close eye on the SEC, since right now the third and fourth best teams are looking like teams on either the Last Four In or Last Four Out lines come Sunday.
We will post one more bracket on Friday night before going into lockdown to produce our final bracket, which will be released Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the rest of Championship Week...
In This Bracket
Minnesota, St. Mary's, San Diego State
Out This Bracket
Arizona, Providence, New Mexico
Last Four In
South Carolina, Creighton, St. Mary's, San Diego State
Last Four Out
Arizona, Florida, Providence, Maryland
Next Four Out
Auburn, Virginia Tech, Temple, USC
Big Ten (8), Big East (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (4), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (2), Horizon (2), MVC (2), WCC (2)
America East - Binghamton
ACC - North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Florida State, Clemson, Boston College
Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State
A-10 - Xavier, Dayton
Big East - Pittsburgh, Louisville, Connecticut, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette
Big Sky - Portland State
Big South - Radford
Big Ten - Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State
Big XII - Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
Big West - Cal State Northridge
Colonial - VCU
Conference USA - Memphis
Horizon - Cleveland State, Butler
Ivy - Cornell
MAAC - Siena
MAC - Buffalo
MEAC - Morgan State
MVC - Northern Iowa, Creighton
MWC - Utah, BYU, San Diego State
Northeast - Robert Morris
Ohio Valley - Morehead State
Pac-10 - Washington, UCLA, Arizona State, California
Patriot - American
SEC - LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina
Southern - Chattanooga
Southland - Stephen F. Austin
Summit - North Dakota State
Sun Belt - Western Kentucky
SWAC - Alabama State
WAC - Utah State
WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary's
North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Michigan State
Connecticut, Duke, Oklahoma, Memphis
Wake Forest, Villanova, Washington, Missouri
Florida State, Xavier, Syracuse, Kansas
UCLA, Gonzaga, Illinois, Arizona State
Purdue, Texas, West Virginia, Marquette
Utah, California, Clemson, LSU
Oklahoma State, Tennessee, BYU, Ohio State
Butler, Dayton, Boston College, Michigan
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas A&M, Penn State
Siena, South Carolina, Creighton, Utah State
St. Mary's, San Diego State, Cleveland State, Western Kentucky
Northern Iowa, VCU, Buffalo, Binghamton
North Dakota State, American, Portland State, Stephen F. Austin
Cornell, East Tennessee State, Robert Morris, Morgan State
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
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