Saturday, January 31, 2009

B101's 12 Games To Watch This Weekend

A look at the 12 most notable games on this weekend's loaded schedule:

Saturday's Games
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
The Irish need more than luck right now, they need a little divine intervention. They've lost four in a row, fallen from a 4 seed down to very, very generous 7 seed in our latest bracket, and most shockingly, they can't even win at home anymore. The Irish dropped their second straight at the Joyce Center on Monday, losing to a Marquette team that had yet to prove itself against any big-time Big East foe. Now, if ND wants to stay in the bracket and not get passed over in favor of surging Providence, they might have to pull off a huge upset and knock off Pitt on the road. The Panthers are coming off a tough loss themselves this week, a double-digit defeat at Villanova that will cost them their 1 seed come Monday. If Pitt is going to bounce back here with a win, DeJuan Blair will have to spend more time out on the floor than he did against 'Nova, where he battled foul trouble throughout. If ND is going to keep its bracket dreams alive, theyll need to have an efficient, productive Kyle McAlarney, something they've been without the past two games.

Georgetown at Marquette
Lost in the struggles of Notre Dame has been the steady decline of Georgetown over the past two weeks. The Hoyas (how are they still ranked??) have lost four in a row overall, and three straight conference games to the likes of West Virginia (at home), at previously-winless Seton Hall, and most recently, at Cincinnati, a team that had yet to win a game against a quality conference opponent. At 3-5, Georgetown is buried in the bottom half of the Big East standings and they face the very realistic prospect of falling further as they visit Marquette today. The Golden Eagles finally showed that their unbeaten conference mark was for real this week by winning on the road against the Irish, and now they have their sights set on a 2 seed (which they might get as early as Monday if Louisville somehow loses at home to West Virginia.) The Hoyas aren't worried about their seed as much as they are worried about stopping the bleeding. If they can't stop it today, they might see a 9 or a 10 next to their name in our next Field of 65.

Providence at Connecticut
The Huskies are two days away from being the new No. 1 team in the country, but first they have to get past Providence at Gampel. It sounds easy enough, but not only are the Friars coming off a huge home win over Syracuse on Wednesday, they've owned UConn over the past few years - no matter where the games have been played. Providence, incredibly, has won its last four games at UConn, and won five of the last seven games overall in this series. Since 2002-2003, the Huskies have only lost 11 games at home, and four have come to a Friars team that in that span has finished no higher than ninth in the final Big East standings. Those stats should be all the motivation the Huskies need, but if they still can't win, Providence will be in the bracket on Monday and another Big East team (sorry, Notre Dame) will be out.

Wisconsin at Northwestern
Wisconsin couldn't stop it's slide at home against Purdue this week, and by Monday - no matter what they do here - they will have officially slid their way right out of the Field of 65. Looking at the bigger picture, the Badgers' struggles (combined with Michigan's recent slump) has the Big Ten looking more and more like a six, and not a seven, bid league. Seven bids from an 11-team conference was always a little bit of a stretch, but through last week, all of those seven teams had earned a spot in the bracket. Now, the conference only has five "locks", with a sixth bid up for grabs between Wisconsin, Michigan, or Penn State. Badger fans are probably in panic mode thinking of that scenario, but if Wisconsin can win this game, their schedule isn't all that hard down the stretch (it's probably the easiest of the Big Ten bubble teams) and there's a decent chance they get to nine wins in conference. Having wins already under their belt against Michigan and Penn State also helps, but those won't mean anything if the Badgers don't turn things around in a hurry. Like, today.

Michigan at Purdue
Michigan's free-fall hasn't been as bad as Wisconsin's, but it's been pretty close. The Wolverines have now dropped 4 of 5 after losing by 18 at Ohio State on Wednesday, and their only win during that stretch is an unimpressive home victory over Northwestern. Michigan's Achilles heel all season has been playing away from Ann Arbor - they are 1-4 on the road this season, and in each of their last three road games they haven't even cracked 60 points. The Wolverines were particularly terrible against the Buckeyes, committing a season-high 21 turnovers (10 by Manny Harris) and shooting 5-of-25 from the field in the first half. They'll have to be a whole lot better than that to upset a Purdue team that is finally starting to play how people thought they would play all season. The Boilermakers have won five in a row, and enter the weekend tied for second in the Big Ten. They'll be a four seed next week with a win here, while Michigan needs a win and losses by Wisconsin and Penn State to stay in next week's field. If they do stay in, they'll almost certainly be Last Four.

Virginia Tech at Boston College
We can't say that Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson this week was an upset, but you had to like their chances at home after coming off their huge previous week. Now the Hokies, who have an impressive 7-4 road/neutral record, travel to Chestnut Hill to take on a BC team fighting to stay alive on the bubble. Even with a loss, the Hokies would probably still be safe for Sunday's bracket since they have a fairly easy ACC schedule the rest of the way (5 of 9 at home and no UNC or Wake). It's almost a must win for the Eagles if they want to reach a winning record in the ACC. They already lost in Blacksburg and a loss here would leave them way behind the Hokies in the ACC pecking order.

Baylor at Missouri
This Big XII matchup between two of the second-tier conference teams is the only time the two will meet. The Bears have had a rough go of it lately, dropping 4 of 7, and we have a hard time figuring out why so many bracketologists still think they are worthy of a 6 or 7 seed. They need a win here to avoid falling below .500 in conference play and also to stay off a double-digit seed line in the next bracket. It won't be easy for them because Missouri is undefeated at home so far this season. The Tigers have had an easy Big XII schedule so far and probably have the easiest conference schedule possible (Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma St, and Texas A&M once). This is the type of game that the Tigers need to win to show the country they are a tournament team, especially after getting blown out at Kansas State this week.

Florida at Tennessee
With two home games on its schedule, Tennessee looked poised to make a move up the bracket this week. Instead, the Vols trailed big for most of the game against LSU before eventually losing 79-73, and now they might have to beat the Gators today just to stay in the Field of 65 come Monday. Florida beat Georgia at home on Wednesday to run their SEC record to 5-1, and if they win this game, they might be on the same seed line as current SEC front-runner Kentucky in our next bracket, or ahead of Kentucky if the Wildcats lose at home to South Carolina. Tennessee probably wishes this game was being played in Gainesville; the Vols have lost four of their last five home games, a dubious streak that they better stop soon if they plan on making the NCAA tourney.

Arkansas at LSU
The SEC West-leading Tigers made us look pretty good on Wednesday by winning at Tennessee, and now they get a chance to solidify their seed with a home game against Arkansas. The Razorbacks finally won a conference game this week by beating the Mark Gottfried-less Crimson Tide on Thursday. That snapped their four-game skid, and for the moment, kept them on the Last Eight Out list. Even with their terrible start, Arkansas is far from out of the running in the SEC, and a win here would have them knocking pretty loudly on the door for a bid. An argument could even be made that Arkansas should be in next week over LSU if they win this game, given their soft remaining schedule and much better OOC resume. First things first, though, the Razorbacks need to win this one, which, given their 1-3 road record, isn't the safest of bets.

Washington at Arizona State
Is UCLA the best team in the Pac-10 after all? As recently as last week, the answer to that question was 'no,' but that was before Washington gave up to 106 points to Arizona and Arizona State inexplicably lost at home to Washington State. These two upset victims now face each other in the desert with a lot on the line in terms of seeding and conference standing. Washington is in the midst of a four-game road trip, and can't afford to start that trip 0-2 with tough games at Cal and at Stanford coming up. An Arizona State loss would drop the Sun Devils into a tie for fourth in the Pac-10, and make them a likely 7 seed in Monday's bracket (they came into the week as the top 4 seed). Washington has won its last five games at Arizona State, and had won 11 in a row before the Sun Devils beat them last February.

California at USC
This is a matchup between two teams moving in opposite directions in the past few weeks. The Bears had been all the way up to a 3 seed a few weeks ago after their triple OT win at Washington. Since then, they have dropped 3 of 4, and they were never really even in the game at UCLA on Thursday. Now, with a loss, they risk falling behind USC in the Pac-10 standings and down towards double-digit seed territory. The Trojans snuck into the bracket two weeks ago with their wins over ASU and Arizona. They won a big game on Thursday night when Stanford missed a shot at the buzzer and they can now solidify themselves in the bracket with another win here.

Sunday's Games
Penn State at Michigan State
If Pennsylvania sports fans aren't interested in six hours of pre-game coverage Sunday, they can spend two of their afternoon hours rooting on the Nittany Lions as they try to pull off a huge upset in East Lansing. We've already discussed at length how Penn State has put itself in position for a bid, but before they can sneak past Michigan or Wisconsin and into our Field of 65, they still need to beat a good team on the road. Beating the 2nd-seeded Spartans in their own backyard is as big a road win as you can get in the Big Ten, and a victory here by Penn State would launch them into the field as a 10 or 11 seed next week. That's the good news (potentially). The bad news is that this game is just the start of a killer seven-game stretch for the Nittany Lions that will ultimately determine their postseason fate. There are plenty of opportunities in those seven games to get that elusive road win (at Michigan, at Purdue, at Illinois, at Ohio State), but there are plenty of potential losses staring them in the face as well. Is Penn State for real? We're about to find out real soon.

Super Bowl XLIII
Craig's Pick - Cardinals 24, Steelers 20
Chris' Pick - Cardinals 20, Steelers 17

Also receiving votes: Stanford at UCLA, North Carolina at North Carolina State, Miami (FL) at Maryland, West Virginia at Louisville, Cincinnati at Villanova, Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, South Carolina at Kentucky, New Mexico at Utah, St. Joseph's at Dayton, St. Mary's at Portland

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bracketology 101 On The Air

On Thursday, we appeared on "Sportsline" with Mark Haley on ESPN Radio 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to discuss a host of bracketology-related topics. Among the topics discussed were: our "projection-prediction" seeding method, our current No. 1 seeds, the fate of several teams on the bubble, our list of overrated and underrated teams, and a breakdown of several conferences, specifically the Big Ten, the Big East, and the Horizon.

To listen to the full 17-minute interview, or to download the interview to listen to it later, click on the title of this post.

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." This week's questions are for's Joe Lunardi, Andy Glockner of, and Mark Huguenin of

Keep in mind that these questions are about each bracketologist's latest bracket, the date of which is listed below.

Joe Lunardi ( - Jan. 26 Bracket

So after our weeks of requesting, you finally bring BYU back down to where they should be in your field (from a 7 to 12 after going 1-1 last week). But then you go out and throw TCU in your field?? Shouldn't UNLV get the automatic bid since they were tied for first with TCU and had the higher RPI? Or do you have some clause that says since TCU beat UNLV they get the auto bid? Could you please clear this up?

Furthermore, how are five MWC teams either in your bracket or in the Last Eight Out? San Diego State is worthy of the Next Four Out line, but Penn State isn't?

How is UCLA a 7 and Washington an 8 when the Huskies just beat the Bruins and are a game up on them in conference?

What is up with your SEC seeding? Kentucky has done enough to warrant a 4 seed? And we know Tennessee has some wins, but with their recent struggles on their home court, they are still a 7? And how is Florida, given those other seeds, on the nine line?

Andy Glockner ( - Jan. 26 Bracket

We agree that Illinois deserves a 4, but why the hatred for the rest of the Big Ten? Minnesota an 8? Purdue a 10? Ohio State an 11? Michigan a 13? The Wolverines don't have a better resume than everyone on your 12 line (Utah, Villanova, VCU, and Wisconsin)?

If the season ended today, how would three MWC teams get bids?

How is Tennessee a 7 and Kentucky an 8 when Kentucky beat the Vols on their home floor and are ahead in conference?

Baylor a 7 seed?

Mike Huguenin ( - Jan. 28 Bracket

We appreciate seeing more and more new bracketologists go with the B101-inspired projection method (even though the trademarked "projection-prediction" method that we employ is still the most reliable). Using that method, how do you figure it's possible for 2 ACC and 2 Big East teams to get #1 seeds after they all beat up on each other?

LSU will win the SEC West and get a bid? Where have we heard that before? Our write-up on Monday?

Do you do a straight "projection" bracket because it's harder for people to argue with you? Or are you trying to be ballsy and take a stand on teams (and if that's the case, why do you seem to doubt those stands in your commentary)?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Six Pack For Thursday

A look at the six most notable games on Thursday's schedule:

Clemson at Virginia Tech
No team had a better week last week than the Hokies did - they went from off the bubble radar altogether to a nine seed in our Field of 65 after their ginormous road wins against Wake Forest and Miami. Those victories jumped them up to 4-1 in conference, and a game ahead of Clemson, who they welcome to Blacksburg tonight. The Tigers bounced back from their beatdown in Chapel Hill last Wednesday by winning at home against Georgia Tech over the weekend. If they lose to the Hokies here, and Virginia Tech wins at BC (which won't be easy) on Saturday, there's a good chance these two teams will be just a seed line apart in next week's bracket. Clemson has won the last three games in this series, but five of the last six games between the two have been decided by two points or fewer.

Illinois at Minnesota
Almost halfway through the Big Ten season, it's still anybody's guess who the league's second-best team is. That honor (for now) goes to the Illini, who are coming off two big wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin last week. Illinois moved past Purdue onto the four line with those victories, which is one seed line better than the Golden Gophers, who host the Illini tonight. Minnesota halted its two-game Big Ten skid by winning at Indiana on Sunday, and with road games at Ohio State and Michigan State looming next week, they really need to win this game to avoid a potentially steep fall in the bracket. To get a victory, the Gophers will have to find a way to crack an Illinois defense that has allowed an average of just 50 points per game in its last four wins.

Nevada at Utah State
Given how dominant Utah State has been in conference so far, there probably aren't a whole lot of people paying attention to this game - especially considering it's in Logan, where the Aggies never lose. But if the second-place Wolfpack could ever pull off an upset here, it begins to open up the possibility of the WAC being a two-bid league in our Field of 65. Nevada isn't going to get an at-large, but if these two teams end up splitting their two games this season, if Utah State loses just 1-2 conference games, and if Nevada beats Utah State in the WAC tourney final (remember: this year's tourney is in Reno) it's going to be impossible for the committee to leave the Aggies out. A Nevada win tonight would establish (a.) the fact that Utah State is beatable and (b.) that Nevada has the talent to beat them. If some more bubble teams lose this week, there's an outside chance we go with the scenario above and put Nevada in as a placeholder in next week's bracket.

California at UCLA
Two weeks ago, the Bears and Bruins were seeded on the three and four lines, respectively. Since then, they've lost a combined four games and have seen Arizona State and Washington move past them in the Pac-10 standings as well as in our Field of 65. Cal got derailed by Oregon State last week and UCLA fell at Washington to set up a head-to-head battle for the third Pac-10 bid. The game kicks off a huge four-game homestand for the disappointing Bruins, who welcome Stanford this weekend, and then host USC and Notre Dame next week. Cal's loss to the Beavers was especially damaging because of their not-so-easy upcoming schedule. After this game, the Bears play at USC on Saturday and then return home next week to face a red-hot Huskies team that hasn't lost since Cal beat them in Seattle on Jan. 10.

Stanford at USC
Ever since Arizona fell off the map, these two teams have been battling for the fifth Pac-10 bid. USC has held that spot for a couple of weeks now, and stayed in the field this week over Stanford by splitting two road games against the Washington schools. The Trojans' loss at Washington on Thursday opened the door for Stanford to overtake them and make the field, but the Cardinal went out and laid an egg at home against (Obama-inspired?) Oregon State to stay on the outside looking in. This game amounts to a play-in game for a spot in next week's bracket, and the slight edge has to go to USC. The Trojans have played well in their conference home games, beating Arizona and Arizona State and losing a close game to UCLA, while Stanford is 0-2 in conference road games, getting swept at the Washington schools three weeks back.

St. Mary's at Gonzaga
This is the first of three likely matchups between these two WCC powers. Come Selection Sunday, these two may be the hardest teams to seed. Both teams have started conference play with five straight wins, but have seen their RPIs drop 30 points (into the 50s) because the WCC is so weak. Neither team's RPI is likely to rise dramatically, so it will be interesting to see what the committee does with them. St. Mary's comes in with a national best 15-game win streak, but you have to like Gonzaga's chances in this one since they haven't lost to the Gaels at home since 1995.

Also receiving votes: Michigan State at Iowa, Washington at Arizona, Washington State at Arizona State, Alabama at Arkansas, Saint Louis at Dayton

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Five Pack For Wednesday

A look at the five most notable games on Wednesday's schedule:

Duke at Wake Forest
This game isn't the 1 vs. 2 match-up it looked like it might be early last week, but it still has huge implications in terms of future bracket seeding. If the Demon Deacons win this game, the ACC might have two 1 seeds again next week, knocking Pitt off the 1 line. If Duke wins, Carolina could very well creep up to the top 2 seed and be just one upset away from reclaiming the 1 seed that everyone assumed they would hold all season. There's obviously a lot of basketball to be played, but the head-to-head results between the Big Three in the ACC (sorry, Clemson) is going to go a long way in determining who ends up where on Selection Sunday. Considering they're at home, the game is especially huge long-term for Wake, which still has to make a trip to Durham on Feb. 22. If the Demon Deacons are going to hold serve tonight, they'll have to find a way to stop the red-hot Gerald Henderson. If it's possible for a Duke player to be underrated, Henderson has been just that this season - and especially of late. He's averaged 20 points per game over his last five, a streak that has not-so-accidentally coincided with Duke's ascension to the No. 1 ranking and the top overall seed in our Field of 65.

North Carolina at Florida State
Florida State made it all the way up to a seven seed in last week's bracket, but their loss at Miami (FL) Wednesday knocked them back down to the bottom of the eight line. The 'Noles recovered with a win at Virginia on Saturday to stay just ahead of the Hurricanes in what has turned into a season-long battle for the fifth ACC bid. They can lock up that fifth spot for the forseeable future if they can win this game against the streaking Tar Heels. After its infamous 0-2 ACC start, Carolina has won its last three conference games by an average of 21 points, and is coming off a 24-point beatdown of Clemson at home last Wednesday. FSU has a knack for beating ranked teams in Tallahassee, and their seed would jump up at least two lines if they could pull off an upset here. Given their tough remaining road schedule, this could be the 'Noles best shot at a marquee conference win from here on out.

Michigan at Ohio State
The game comes at a critical time for both teams. The Buckeyes are coming off a two-loss week that sent them plummetting from a 4 seed all the way down to an 8, and the Wolverines are looking for answers after a 15-point loss at Penn State last week dropped them from a 7 to a 10. It's the start of a huge week for Michigan, which has another tough road game (at Purdue) looming on Saturday. The Wolverines face the prospect of falling 4-6 in conference - and maybe falling out of the bracket altogether - if they can't manage a split this week. Ohio State, meanwhile, begins a key stretch of four out of five home games, all of which are against the teams they are chasing in the Big Ten standings. A good run through those five games could have the Buckeyes approaching their seed line of a week ago; a bad run and they might be down where Michigan is right now - dangerously close to the bubble.

Pittsburgh at Villanova
One of the great mysteries of this college basketball season is how Villanova, with its ridiculously unimpressive resume, is still ranked. The Wildcats "best" win is against Temple, and they have lost to both quality Big East opponents they have played so far (Louisville and UConn). They're down to a season-low 11 seed in our latest bracket, and they'll need a 1-1 week to guarantee a spot in next week's field. Their toughest test of the week - and their biggest chance to leap up a few seed lines - comes tonight at top-seeded Pitt pays a visit. The Panthers responded to their loss to Louisville by picking up two huge wins last week - at home against Syracuse and on the road against West Virginia. A Villanova loss here is good news for Notre Dame fans, who don't want the Irish flirting with the last Big East bid, and even better news for Providence fans. If Pitt wins and the Friars beat Syracuse tonight, Providence would be two games up on 'Nova in the Big East standings and would likely replace the Wildcats in Monday's bracket.

LSU at Tennessee
Despite a pretty ugly resume, LSU still found a way to sneak into the bracket this week. Having a bunch of other bubble teams lose last week helped, but the Tigers ultimately made the field because of their extremely soft remaining schedule and because they are the frontrunners right now to win the SEC West. LSU has been dominant in its last three conference games (winning by an average of 24 points per game), and it's hard to see them not getting to 11 or 12 conference wins. One of the more difficult games they have left is this one, on the road against the Vols. Tennessee missed out on a golden opportunity to improve its seed last week by playing awful offensively in a home loss to Memphis. With only one big win (Marquette) to speak of, the Memphis loss made this week even bigger for Tennessee. They host LSU tonight and then host Florida on Saturday night. A two-loss week will have them Last Four In at best come Monday.

Also receiving votes: Connecticut at DePaul, Syracuse at Providence, Georgetown at Cincinnati, Georgia at Florida, Vanderbilt at South Carolina, Kansas at Nebraska, Texas Tech at Texas A&M, Missouri at Kansas State, TCU at San Diego State, Illinois State at Northern Iowa

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Three Pack For Tuesday

A look at the three most notable games on Tuesday's schedule:

Texas at Baylor
Baylor begins a huge week by welcoming the third-seeded Longhorns to Waco tonight. The Bears have been hovering around the 8/9 line for a while now and could really use a marquee win to pad a resume that's good but not great (their only good OOC win was Arizona State and their best conference win is at home against Oklahoma State). Baylor won at Kansas State and lost at Oklahoma last week to move 3-2 in the crowded Big XII, a half game behind Texas, who they haven't beaten since the '97-'98 season. If the Bears want to snap that streak, they are going to have to shoot better than they did against the Sooners on Saturday (34.6 percent) and stop Texas' post players better than they stopped the brothers Griffin (Blake and Taylor combined for 38 points and 24 rebounds). The Longhorns, meanwhile, could use a big win themselves. They've lost the past two road games they've played against quality opponents, and another loss here would drop them into fifth place in the Big XII standings.

Purdue at Wisconsin
In a move that's sure to draw some ire from our friends at the Nittany Nation Facebook group, we left seven-loss Wisconsin - losers of four straight - in our bracket this week and left Penn State - and it's 5-3 Big Ten record - on the outside looking in. One of the major reasons we made that decision was because of the remaining schedules for both teams. Penn State's schedule is extremely tough down the stretch, while Wisconsin's schedule sets up nicely for them to get to nine wins in conference. Before the Badgers look that far ahead, though, they'll need to take care of business against Purdue at home tonight and at Northwestern on Saturday. The Boilermakers enter this game on a four-game conference winning streak, which includes Saturday's impressive road win at Minnesota. That win moved Purdue up to a five seed in this week's bracket, and a victory here would keep them on pace with Illinois for the Big Ten's second bid, which right now looks worthy of a four seed.

Boston College at Maryland
Three weeks ago, both these teams were looking solid. Maryland was ready to start conference play on a seven game win streak and had OOC wins over Michigan State and Michigan. Then they went out and lost at home to Morgan State, blew a huge lead at Miami, and on Saturday they got humiliated at Duke. BC had been winners of 10 in a row, which included a ginormous upset at UNC. They followed that up with 4 losses in a row with a home loss to Harvard thrown in. Now they face off in a game that will decide who deserves the title of 8th best team out of the ACC (which will mean NIT come March). If the winner of this one can pick up another win over the weekend (BC vs. Va Tech and Maryland vs. Miami) then they will have a good chance to make next week's bracket.

Also receiving votes: BYU at Utah, Kentucky at Mississippi, Miami (FL) at North Carolina State, Northeastern at VCU

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Jan. 26

All of the upsets this past week led to big changes in the bracket. Numerous teams moved up or down at least two seed lines and not one team on the 6-9 lines from last week is still there. The biggest upward mover was Washington after their wins over USC and UCLA. These wins, along with sole possession of first place in the Pac-10, shot them from a 10 to a 6. The hottest team of the week was undoubtedly Virginia Tech after picking up wins at Wake Forest and Miami. This sent them from off the radar to a 9 seed. The biggest downward movers were Ohio State and Georgetown. The Buckeyes dropped two Big 10 games to fall below .500 in league play which dropped them from a 4 to a 8. The Hoyas also lost two games, including one to lowly Seton Hall, and fell from a 3 to a 6.

In choosing the final teams to make the field we started projecting ahead a bit more. The MWC still looks like a 2 bid league, so we kept BYU in the field since we think they are the second best team in the conference. Penn State had a nice two-win week, but we still had to leave them out of the field. They have picked up some nice wins in conference but they will need at least 10 Big Ten wins to have any chance at a bid since they have no OOC resume to speak of. With the schedule they have left, we just can't see them getting to 10-8 in conference, nevermind 11-7. Some may be surprised that we went with Wisconsin over the Nittany Lions. The Badgers have dropped four straight, but we think they will get this back on track and shouldn't have too much trouble getting to nine wins in conference, which would be enough for a bid given their solid RPI. We went with LSU as our last team in because we feel they have the best chance to win the SEC West which should mean an at-large bid. They have been dominant in their last 3 SEC games and there are plenty of easy W's for them to pick up the rest of the way. It will be tough for the committee to leave out an SEC team that wins 11 or 12 conference games.


Bracket Breakdown
In This Week
Virginia Tech, LSU, Northern Iowa, VCU, Buffalo, Binghamton, Morgan State

Out This Week
Texas A&M, Arkansas, Illinois State, George Mason, Miami (OH), Albany, Hampton

Last Four In
Wisconsin, BYU, USC, LSU

Last Four Out
Penn State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Boston College

Next Four Out
South Carolina, Arkansas, Stanford, Illinois State


Conference Breakdown
Big East (9), ACC (7), Big Ten (7), Big XII (5), Pac-10 (5), SEC (4), A-10 (2), MWC (2), WCC (2)

America East - Binghamton

ACC - Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech

Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State

A-10 - Xavier, Dayton

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

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - VMI

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

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

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa


Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Austin Peay

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

Patriot - American

SEC - Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, LSU

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - North Dakota State

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary's


The Seeds
The 1s
Duke, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh

The 2s
Wake Forest, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State

The 3s
Marquette, Xavier, Clemson, Texas

The 4s
Arizona State, Butler, Illinois, Syracuse

The 5s
Purdue, Gonzaga, Memphis, Minnesota

The 6s
Washington, Kentucky, Georgetown, California

The 7s
UCLA, West Virginia, Kansas, Notre Dame

The 8s
Florida, Ohio State, St. Mary's, Florida State

The 9s
Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Missouri, Baylor

The 10s
Michigan, Davidson, Tennessee, Utah State

The 11s
Dayton, Villanova, UNLV, Wisconsin

The 12s
BYU, Siena, USC, LSU

The 13s
VCU, Northern Iowa, Buffalo, Western Kentucky

The 14s
VMI, Stephen F. Austin, Weber State, North Dakota State

The 15s
Long Beach State, Cornell, Binghamton, East Tennessee State

The 16s
Austin Peay, American, 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

A Two Pack For Monday

A look at the two most notable games on Monday's schedule...

Marquette at Notre Dame
When Big East play started, not too many people thought that when this game rolled around, it would pit the 10th-place Irish against the first-place Golden Eagles. But after three straight conference losses by ND - including Saturday's home win streak-snapper against UConn - and six straight conference wins by Marquette, that's the match-up we get tonight in South Bend. ND is down to a season-low 7 seed in our latest bracket, and Marquette checks in at a season-high 3 seed. Momentum certainly favors Marquette, but a closer look at their schedule shows just how untested they still are in conference play. Their best Big East wins have been at home (West Virginia and Villanova) and they have yet to play a tough road game. Saturday night not withstanding, the Joyce Center has been more than a tough place to play - it's been virtually impossible. This game has all the makings of an "upset" - ND needs a win badly, Marquette is facing its biggest test of the season, and Luke Harangody should have a field day against the undersized Golden Eagles front line. Marquette has the shooters to keep this close for a while, but we'll take ND to bounce back and creep closer to where they were in our Field of 65.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
The Cowboys might as well get their mail delivered to our Last Four Out list; they've found themselves there three weeks running. Oklahoma State has plenty of chances to crack the bracket of late, and would have been in the field for sure this week had they not lost at home to Missouri. They recovered nicely with a win at Nebraska on Saturday to stay Last Four, and now they get ready for a two-game week that could - with two wins - vault them up to a single-digit seed. First up is a showdown with the Sooners, who continues to plow through the Big XII and remain the only non-Big East or ACC team that looks like a serious contender for a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday. Oklahoma destroyed Nebraska and Baylor at home last week to move to 5-0 in conference, and if they don't lose here, they'll likely stay unbeaten in the Big XII until at least Feb. 11 (at Baylor) or maybe as long as Feb. 21 (at Texas). If the Cowboys pull the upset tonight, their seed for next week will be determined by how they fare on the road this weekend against fellow Big XII bubble boy Texas A&M.

Also receiving votes: Iona at Siena

Saturday, January 24, 2009

B101's 12 Games To Watch This Weekend

It's already been a crazy week...will the weekend be any different?

Saturday's Games
Connecticut at Notre Dame
After taking two straight poundings on the road, the Irish now limp back to South Bend only to see the Big East's best team (seed-wise at least) waiting for them. The Huskies, who might be the No. 1 overall seed in next week's field here with a victory, have won six straight conference games and are coming off a hard-fought win over Villanova on Wednesday night. The biggest storyline to come out of that game for UConn was the continued solid play of A.J. Price, who has now scored 52 points over his last two games and looks to have officially returned to pre-knee surgery form. He'll have to have another big game - and get some help from usually small-in-big-game big man Hasheem Thabeet if the Huskies are going to knock off ND at home, a place where the Irish have won a nation's-best 45 straight games. If they want to run that streak to 46, Luke Harangody will have to find more ways to score than he did against Syracuse, where he shot 9-of-28 from the field in a 19-point Orange win. An ND loss would drop them at least to the six line, and maybe the seven line, in next week's bracket.

Memphis at Tennessee
The Vols picked a good time to start playing a little defense. They held Vanderbilt to 63 points in a road win Tuesday night, 12 points fewer than they've allowed on average this season. Now they'll have to find a way to stop Tyreke Evans and the streaking Tigers, who avoided the look-ahead bug and destroyed Rice on Wednesday to run their current win streak to nine. Memphis has only been challenged once in that stretch (beating Tulsa at the buzzer) and if they are going to step up in class and win in Knoxville, they'll have to play better than they have against big conference opponents this season. If the Vols win here, these teams might flop seeds - Tennessee up to a 7, and Memphis down to a 9 - on Monday.

UCLA at Washington
Not too many people had this game determining the Pac-10 leader at the start of the season - or even a few weeks ago for that matter. But Washington's three-game conference winning streak, which includes a victory over USC on Thursday, has the Huskies sitting pretty at 5-1 and tied atop the Pac-10 standings with the overall disappointing but still 5-1 Bruins. UCLA checked in at a season-low six seed in this week's bracket because of their lack (still) of a big win. This would be the Bruins' biggest victory of the season by far, and give their upcoming schedule (they play four straight home games over the next two weeks) it could serve as a nice springboard. A win would also work wonders for Washington's resume and give them a little more cushion in the standings as they prep for a four game roadie starting next Thursday.

Wisconsin at Illinois
The Illini celebrated their new Top 25 ranking by pounding Ohio State at home on Tuesday. That win moved Illinois into a tie for second in the impossible-to-figure Big Ten, but Illini coach Bruce Weber said after the win that his team shouldn't be considered a conference contender until it wins a big road game. They won't get a shot at that until next week (they play at Minnesota), but they do have a chance to add to their impressive home resume here against the strugling Badgers. Wisconsin has lost three in a row, including a real head-scratcher Wednesday at Iowa, and if they don't turn things around soon, Penn State might pass them in the battle for the final Big Ten spot.

Utah at UNLV & San Diego State at BYU
The MWC has gone from a clear two-bid league, with BYU and UNLV as its likely representatives, to an absolute mess over the last two weeks. In a convenient scheduling quirk, all four of the MWC contenders (sorry TCU), face off today with the winners of these two games likely to find themselves in the field on Monday. UNLV, fresh off its impressive come-from-behind win at BYU on Wednesday hosts Lunardi's boys - Utah - in Vegas. The Rebels have the best OOC resume of these four by far, but a loss here would drop them to 3-3 in conference and might temporarily cost them a bid. BYU hosts San Diego State, and needs a win to stop its two-game skid. It will be interesting to see what other bracketologists - some of whom have the Cougars as a single-digit seed still - do with BYU if they lose. They have no at-large resume at all and SDSU would clearly be in over them with a win.

Xavier at LSU
This intriguing non-conference match-up comes at a perfect time for both teams. The Musketeers have been on the brink of a three seed for a while now, and with Clemson, Syracuse, and Georgetown all losing already this week, a win here will finally get them up to the three line. LSU, on the other hand, could care less about its seed - the Tigers just want to be in next week's field. They certainly looked like a tourney team in dismantling fellow SEC bubble boy Mississippi State Wednesday night, but overall, they don't have a real quality win to speak of. That could very well change this afternoon.

Texas A&M at Texas
At 1-3 in the Big XII, the Aggies are playing for ther bracket lives against the Longhorns. A&M looked awful against Kansas on Monday night, losing by 20 - just two days removed from almost knocking off Oklahoma. Their non-conference resume is looking worse and worse lately too, thanks to the recent struggles of Arizona and Alabama, and a loss here would knock them even further behind fellow Big XII bubble boys Missouri (who's very safe at this point) and Oklahoma State. Texas, meanwhile, could use a quality conference win themselves after getting smacked around against Oklahoma and with a trip to Baylor looming on Tuesday.

Sunday's Games
Louisville at Syracuse
The 'Ville is looking to maintain their perfect Big East record and establish themselves as the team to beat in the conference. If they can pull of the road victory they would have to be viewed as the Big East favorite with the schedule they have left. The Cardinals will have 4 of their 9 Big East road games behind them and they only get UConn once and that game is down at Louisville. The Orange need the win to stay relevant in the hunt for a Big East title. Their schedule doesn't get any easier from here with 3 of the next 4 on the road and 5 of 6 against current Big East tourney teams.

Florida at Vanderbilt
Just when we thought the Gators were the top SEC school and upgraded them to a 6 seed they got shocked at South Carolina this week on a buzzer-beating layup. They look to get back on track against a Vanderbilt team who has disappointed so far this year. The Commodores were a preseason tournament team but the are currently far from the bubble and a loss here would pretty much eliminate them from the SEC East race. The Gators need a win to avoid falling down to a double digit seed.

Michigan State at Ohio State
We considered the Spartans for a 1 seed last week, but then they went out and got shocked at home against Northwestern. Now they travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes who look to stay above .500 in conference and split the season series with the Spartans. If the Buckeyes can pick up a win they have a great chance to climb back into the thick of the Big Ten race with 3 of their next 4 coming at home against a few teams ahead of them in the standings. The loser will likely fall a few seed lines in tomorrow night's bracket.

Pittsburgh at West Virginia
West Virginia proved themselves this week with a blowout road win against Georgetown. A win against Pitt would skyrocket them up the bracket to a top 5 seed. The Panthers recovered nicely this week from their loss at Louisville by taking care of Syracuse at home. A win for them here would probably get them back on the 1 line to replace Wake Forest.

Virginia Tech at Miami
The Hokies pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season at Wake Forest this week and now look for another big road win at Miami. Suddenly the Hokies are one of the hottest teams in the ACC having won 8 of 9. Another win will give them a 4-1 ACC mark and would ensure their first appearance in the bracket since the preseason. Miami also picked up a nice win this week over FSU and continue to be a team who wins the games that they should win. A win for them Sunday would clearly make them the fifth best team in the league.

Also receiving votes: Maryland at Duke, Florida State at Virginia, Baylor at Oklahoma, Texas Tech at Missouri, Kansas at Iowa State, Oklahoma State at Nebraska, Northwestern at Michigan, Auburn at Arkansas, Kentucky at Alabama, Houston at Arizona, USC at Washington State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Butler, George Mason at VCU, Minnesota at Indiana, Northern Iowa at Missouri State

Thursday, January 22, 2009

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." This week's questions are for's Joe Lunardi and Andy Glockner of

Keep in mind that these questions are about each bracketologist's latest bracket, the date of which is listed below.

Joe Lunardi ( - Jan. 19 Bracket

How in the world does Illinois State still deserve an at-large? They're in, but Arkansas isn't even First Four Out?

We hate to beat a dead horse, but how in the world do you still have no mention of UNLV (and it's quality OOC) and instead have San Diego State on the First Four out list? The Rebels have the fourth best resume out of the MWC?

Speaking of the MWC, how is BYU still a 7 seed?

How mamy games does BC have to lose in a row before they fall off of your Next Four Out list?

Who did Memphis beat to deserve a 4 seed? After you finish looking at Memphis' mediocre profile, take a look at Villanova's and tell us who they beat to deserve an 8 seed...

Andy Glockner ( - Jan. 19 Bracket

How is Syracuse ahead of Louisville and Georgetown?

What's with the hatred for the top of the Big XII? Oklahoma not a 1, Texas a 6?

And what's with the love for the Big XII bubble? Oklahoma State a 7 seed? Really?? The Cowboys have a better resume than Notre Dame, Kansas, and Purdue??

Memphis a 4 and BYU a 7? Are you channeling your inner Lunardi?

How is Stanford (at 2-3 in the Pac-10) worthy of a bid if the season ended today, but not UNLV?

How can Tennessee be a 7 and Kentucky a 11? Didn't Kentucky just win big at Tennessee?

A Three Pack For Thursday

A look at the three most notable games on Thursday's schedule:

West Virginia at Georgetown
The Mountaineers have been milking their blowout win over Ohio State for a while now, but the rest of their resume is starting to look very pedestrian compared to their Big East conterparts. A two-loss week here - which is very likely given this game and a home game against Pitt on Sunday - would knock WVU to 2-4 in conference and probably land them on the Last Four Out list on Monday. If the Mountaineers want to avoid that, they'll have to play their traditional stingy defense and take a page out of the Duke playbook and take the ball at Greg Monroe early. The Hoyas were a totally different team without Monroe on the floor against the Blue Devils this past weekend, and only kept the game close because of a superb effort from Dajuan Summers. If Georgetown prevails in this one, they have a nice path to a 9-2 conference mark, with the only potential pitfall coming at Marquette on Jan. 31.

USC at Washington
These two Pac-10 bubble boys battle it out tonight to kick off what is a huge weekend for the bracket futures of both teams. The Trojans snuck into the field as our last at-large bid this week, on the heels of its sweep of Arizona State and Arizona. We would have been a little more confident putting them in the field had it not been for the prospect of this game and the fact that USC is 1-3 on the road this season. A closer look at those losses, though, gives Trojan fans hope for a victory here. USC is a much better team than they were when they lost at Seton Hall in November, and their other road defeats were at Oklahoma (by a point) and at Oregon State (which seems awful, but ignores the fact that leading scorer Dwight Lewis had his worst night of the season). The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off a sweep of the Oregon schools and have a chance this week to cement their place in the bracket for a long, long time. Wins over USC and UCLA (on Saturday) would move them to 6-1 in conference and in the 6-7 range in next week's field.

St. Mary's at San Diego
St. Mary's continues to play second fiddle to Gonzaga in terms of national notoriety, but the Gaels do have a couple things their WCC rivals don't - a national ranking and a 14-game winning streak. The streak, albeit against some inferior competition, has St. Mary's at a nine seed in our latest bracket. Whether the Gaels stay that high or not will be determined over the course of the next week. They face fellow WCC unbeaten San Diego, a team that has a win at Mississippi State on its resume, tonight and then travel to Gonzaga next Thursday. Wins in those two games could launch St. Mary's up to the six line next week, and given the Gaels' soft schedule and solid play on the road (they're 6-0 so far), it's not inconceivable that they would still be there on Selection Sunday.

Also receiving votes: Purdue at Minnesota, UCLA at Washington State, Dayton at George Washington

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Six Pack For Wednesday

A look at the six most notable games on Wednesday's schedule:

Clemson at North Carolina
Most stats can be twisted to say anything you want them to say. This one...not so much: The Tigers, fresh off their battle-of-the-unbeatens loss at home to Wake Forest, are 0-53 all-time at North Carolina. That streak alone seems to guarantee a Tar Heels win, but a closer look shows that Carolina won't need to rely on history to get a victory. The Heels trounced Virginia and Miami (FL) last week and seem to have returned to pre-Wake and BC-loss form. Wayne Ellington notched his first 20-point game of the season against the Hurricanes and Ty Lawson chipped in with his second straight game of at least eight assists. UNC even played well on the defensive end in both games last week, something they weren't able to do against Wake and BC. Clemson has the shooters to make this one interesting - especially if UNC gets into one of its defensive lapses - but in the end, expect the Heels to hand Clemson its second straight loss.

Villanova at Connecticut
The Huskies were the biggest beneficiaries of Pitt's loss to Louisville over the weekend, as they got bumped up to the one line for the first time since their home loss to Georgetown. If UConn wants to stay there, they'll need to beat a 'Nova team that has given it fits over the last three years - the Wildcats have won three of the last four meetings between the two. This Villanova team, though, might not give the Huskies as many problems as its predecessors. The Wildcats have yet to beat a quality Big East opponent, and aside from dominating a handful of mediocre to poor A-10 teams, they haven't won much out of conference either. Losing at the XL Center won't hurt 'Nova too much seed-wise, but if they can't win at South Florida this weekend, they might be on the wrong side of the bubble come Monday.

Florida State at Miami (FL)
Our friends at the Florida State Rivals board have to be pretty pumped about the way their 'Noles have played of late - and especially how they played against Maryland on Saturday. FSU has made it a habit over the last few years of losing key home games, but against the Terps, they found a way to pull through in OT. Their next challenge is to do something else they haven't done well in recent years - and that's win conference road games. This game, against an inconsistent but dangerous Miami team, certainly won't be easy, and FSU's struggles on the road this season (N.C. State aside) are a little troublesome. Many of those struggles came early on in the season, though, when the young 'Noles were still learning to play together. They've grown up a lot since, and given their improved defense and height advantage vs. the undersized 'Canes, we really like their chances to knock off their in-state rival.

Missouri at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has been the last team out of our bracket each of the past two weeks. If they had any kind of OOC resume, they definitely would have made it into the bracket this week, ahead of Missouri, since they host the 12th-seeded Tigers tonight. This is essentially a win-and-in game for the Cowboys and a win-to-stay-in game for Missouri, which needs to play a lot better than it did in its first conference road game (at Nebraska). Oklahoma State's defense ranks among the worst in the conference (they allow over 72 points per game), so the Tigers should have chances. Anything close to a repeat performance of their Colorado win last week - where six players scored in double figures and Missouri shot 63 percent from the field - will keep the Cowboys on the outside looking in again.

Arizona State at Arizona
Arizona's four game homestand couldn't have come at a better time. They look at get back on track after dropping 4 of 6 on the road. The Sun Devils are coming off a comeback OT win at UCLA and are trying to establish themselves as the team to beat in the wide open Pac-10. The Sun Devils broke their 12 game losing streak against the Wildcats last season when they swept the season series. The season sweep and finishing one game ahead in conference play still wasn't enough to earn them a bid over UofA to the Big Dance. This is surely fresh in the minds of ASU players and fans who would enjoy nothing more then helping to end the Wildcats' long run of tourney bids with two more losses this season.

The preseason MWC favorites face off in a matchup that may go a long way to determine the regular season conference title, which will likely mean an at-large bid come Selection Sunday. BYU has a solid RPI and most bracketologists put them anywhere from a 7-10 seed, but we just don't see them being worthy of that kind of seed. Their best wins are against the WAC frontrunners (Utah State and Boise State) and they just got blown out down at the Pit. The Rebels have struggled mightily in early conference play, dropping games at TCU and lowly Colorado State after putting together a solid OOC resume. It's tough to imagine the Rebels getting back on track tonight since they've only won once in Provo in the past decade. With a home matchup with Utah looming this weekend it's not unthinkable for the Rebels dropping to 2-4 in conference play and out of the bracket in exchange for one of the many MWC contenders.

Also receiving votes: Florida at South Carolina, Mississippi State at LSU, Auburn at Kentucky, Nebraska at Oklahoma, Baylor at Kansas State, Northwestern at Michigan State, Wisconsin at Iowa, Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, Louisville at Rutgers, George Mason at Northeastern, Bryant (3-15) at N.J.I.T (0-18....does the streak end tonight??)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

B101's Bracket Bag - Jan. 20

Some of the best questions we get each week aren't from people posting in the comments section, but from those who send us questions via e-mail. In a semi-weekly feature to B101, we will answer some of these questions posed by our readers.


Why don't you have Mississippi State or Northern Iowa in your field?

B101: Other bracketologists have Northern Iowa in their field as the automatic bid from the MVC since they are currently in first place in the conference. We do not take the same approach when we put our brackets together. We think that Illinois State is the best team in the MVC and has the best chance to win the conference tournament in March. We project more in our brackets and don't just take the easy way out and assume that the first place team in conference in January will be the best team in March. Northern Iowa is playing good ball with recent road wins against Creighton, Drake, and Evansville, and they'll get their chance to prove us wrong against Illinois State next week.

We did consider Mississippi State for our bracket this week (they are on the Next Four Out list). The Bulldogs are off to a good start in SEC play, but all of their five losses are to mediocre/bad teams (Washington State, Texas Tech, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and San Diego). They also have no more chances to pick up quality OOC wins, so they will probably need 11-12 SEC wins to get a bid (which won't be easy).

A Four Pack For (A Historic) Tuesday

We remind you, basketball fans: "Ask not what your bubble team has done to you...ask what you can do for your bubble team..."

Ohio State at Illinois
Shouldn't Illinois - on the strength of Obama karma alone - be able win this game? It's a nice thought, but it might not be that easy, as the Illini face an Ohio State team that is coming off a huge road win at Michigan on Saturday. That win (and a solid OOC resume) bumped the Buckeyes all the way up to a four seed in our latest Field of 65, behind only Michigan State in the loaded Big Ten. The Illini also beat the Wolverines last week (albeit at home) to move up to six seed. With Wisconsin visting this weekend and then a trip to Minnesota ahead next week, Illinois has a huge opportunity to make the "second best Big Ten team" claim itself.

Michigan at Penn State
Two-loss weeks can send a team tumbling down the crowded Big Ten standings - and down a few seed lines in our Field of 65 - in a hurry. Michigan found that out the hard way last week, and now they'll have to win a difficult road game if they want to see their mini-skid come to an end. Penn State doesn't have a real eye-popping resume, but the Nittany Lions have been a tough team to beat at home - they knocked off Purdue two weeks ago and gave Michigan State all it could handle this past Wednesday. On paper, the Wolverines are deeper and more talented, but Penn State has a big-in-big-game guard in Talor Battle, and they're more desperate for a big win. A two-win week will have the Nittany Lions knocking pretty loudly on the Field of 65 door.

Virginia at Maryland
Maryland first landed on the bubble following their infamous Morgan State loss, and that bubble finally burst this week after the Terps blew a 17-point second half lead in a loss to Miami (FL) and then fell at FSU in OT in the only meeting between the two teams this season. It's those bubble vs. bubble match-ups that Maryland needed to win to stay afloat in the loaded ACC, and now at 1-2, getting to 8-8 or 9-7 in conference got that much harder. Despite two solid OOC wins, Maryland is probably going to have to find a way to knock off a couple of the ACC's Big Four to eventually get a bid. They'll also need to avoid any slip-ups in games like this one - at home against the easily-beatable Cavaliers.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt
It's hard to believe, but at this point in the season, Tennessee is the third best team in the SEC and is getting zero votes in the latest coaches' poll (yikes). The Vols, who opened up the year with great OOC wins over Georgetown and Marquette, have plummeted in the rankings and in our bracket ever since. They check in at a season-low nine seed in this week's Field of 65, after getting single-handedly destroyed by Jodie Meeks on Monday and then eeking out a win over South Carolina at home on Saturday. Their biggest culprit in those two games - and over the last month for that matter - has been an atrocious defense that currently ranks last in the SEC, allowing opponents over 76 points per game. The Vols better win this one and not look ahead to Saturday's game with Memphis; if they do and lose to the disappointing Commodores, they'll fall into a 2.5 game hole in the SEC East.

Also receiving votes: North Carolina State at Duke

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field Of 65 - Jan. 19

In this week's bracket, we had more drastic changes in terms of certain teams' seeds than we did in terms of which teams made the field. We removed Maryland and Arizona after their two-loss weeks and replaced them with Missouri and USC. Maryland's heartbreaking losses down in Florida could really come back to haunt them in March. The Terps have good enough OOC wins for a bid, but with the schedule they have left it's tough to imagine them getting there. Arizona's road struggles continued, but they certainly have a great opportunity to get back into the bracket over the next few weeks since six out of their next eight are at home. Missouri finally snuck into a bracket after being stuck on the Last Four Out line all season. The Tigers have some solid OOC wins over USC and Cal and should benefit from their relatively easy conference schedule (they play Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas A&M once). We think that USC might finally be rounding into form and could start living up to some of their preseason predictions.

We had numerous teams move up and down multiple seed lines since last week. Louisville, Ohio State, Florida, and Florida State all shot up, while UCLA, Arkansas, and UNLV fell far. Louisville and Ohio State went up three lines, while Florida and Florida State skyrocketed up four lines. The reasons are obvious for Lousville (wins against ND and Pitt) and Ohio State (a win at Michigan), but are a bit more subtle when it comes to Florida and Florida State. Florida still lacks a marquee victory, but they continue to be consistent (10 wins in a row) and have to be considered the top SEC team at this point. Florida State, meanwhile, pulled out two solid ACC victories this week and simply has a better resume then the teams below them at this point. We had to drop UCLA two lines after their home collapse against Arizona State. The Bruins have not lived up to their preseason expectations so far, and need to beat a solid tournament team before we can believe they have any Final Four potential. UNLV and Arkansas have both had some very impressive OOC wins but have fallen on their faces in early conference play, and their seeds are a reflection of that.


Bracket Breakdown
In This Week
Missouri, USC, Albany, Austin Peay

Out This Week
Maryland, Arizona, Binghamton, Morehead State

Last Four In
Arkansas, BYU, Missouri, USC

Last Four Out
Oklahoma State, Stanford, Maryland, Arizona

Next Four Out
LSU, Mississippi State, Penn State, Utah


Conference Breakdown
Big East (9), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), SEC (4), A-10 (2), MWC (2), WCC (2)

America East - Albany

ACC - Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Miami (FL)

Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State

A-10 - Xavier, Dayton

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

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - VMI

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

Big XII - Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - George Mason

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Miami (OH)

MEAC - Hampton

MVC - Illinois State


Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Austin Peay

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

Patriot - American

SEC - Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - North Dakota State

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary's


The Seeds
The 1s
Wake Forest, Duke, Oklahoma, Connecticut

The 2s
Pittsburgh, Michigan State, North Carolina, Louisville

The 3s
Clemson, Georgetown, Syracuse, Texas

The 4s
Xavier, Marquette, Ohio State, Arizona State

The 5s
Butler, California, Notre Dame, Minnesota

The 6s
UCLA, Gonzaga, Illinois, Florida

The 7s
Purdue, Memphis, Michigan, Florida State

The 8s
Wisconsin, Baylor, Miami (FL), Kentucky

The 9s
Kansas, Tennessee, St. Mary's, West Virginia

The 10s
Davidson, Texas A&M, Villanova, Washington

The 11s
Utah State, Dayton, Arkansas, UNLV

The 12s
BYU, Missouri, USC, Illinois State

The 13s
George Mason, Siena, Western Kentucky, Miami (OH)

The 14s
VMI, Stephen F. Austin, Long Beach State, Weber State

The 15s
North Dakota State, Albany, Cornell, East Tennessee State

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

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at

A Two Pack For Monday

When you get sick of watching Countdown to Inauguration coverage, flip to:

Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Lost in all of the hoolpa of their undefeated start was the fact that Pitt had only played one ranked team (Georgetown) before Saturday's game against Louisville. The Cardinals' win not only knocked the Panthers off the top of the polls, but it also knocked them off the one line in our latest Field of 65 in favor of another Big East team - UConn - that has a better overall resume. Fortunately for Pitt, they have a chance at some quick redemption tonight as they host a Syracuse team that didn't look so great in its last Big East road game, losing by 14 at Georgetown on Wednesday. The Panthers would be well served to get a win here, considering their next three games (at West Virginia, at Villanova, Notre Dame) are pretty rough. The Orange, meanwhile, need to carry over some of the shooting touch - and some of the interior defense - they showed against the Irish over the weekend. They made Luke Harangody look pretty awful (he finished 9-of-28 from the field), and on the offensive end, six Syracuse players scored in double figures.

Texas A&M at Kansas
This game is big for both teams, considering they've kind of set up shop around the 9-10 lines of our bracket for the last couple weeks. It's especially huge, though, for A&M, considering a loss would drop them to 1-3 in conference with a game at Texas looming on Saturday. An 0-2 week knocks them out of the Field of 65 for a while. Kansas, meanwhile, didn't do anything flashy last week, but they've now won five of six. Their next four Big XII games are very winnable (this game, then at Iowa State, at Nebraska, and home against Colorado); if they can win them all, they'll likely be the third-best Big XII team in terms of seeding and they'll finally work their way out of the 8-9 game.

Also receiving votes: Women's action: No. 1 UConn at No. 2 North Carolina

Friday, January 16, 2009

B101's 12 Games To Watch This Weekend

A look at the 12 most notable games on this weekend's loaded schedule...(Could all four one seeds lose in one day?):

Saturday's Games
Pittsburgh at Louisville
You know a league is deep when the undefeated, top-ranked team in the country is barely favored heading into a road game against a five seed that has been ridiculously inconsistent this season. That's the case as Louisville welcomes Pitt today in the biggest Big East game of the weekend. After a bumpy few weeks, the Cardinals have won four straight - a stretch that includes victories over Kentucky, Villanova (at 'Nova) and Monday's impressive OT win over Notre Dame - and they have a great shot to make five against the Panthers. Pitt has performed well on the road this season (just ask Georgetown), but they haven't played a team nearly as talented offensively as Louisville yet. Plus, with Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels inside, the Cardinals won't be as overmatched as most teams are against the Hoyas' front line. If Louisville gets the win here, it would jump them up to a 3 seed next week and knock Pitt down, but not off, of the one line.

Wake Forest at Clemson
How good is the top of the ACC? If unbeaten Clemson wins this game and hands Wake its first loss of the year, they might become the fourth ACC team to be a one seed in our Field of 65. (We say "might" because the Tigers' less-than-stellar OOC resume could keep them on the two line even with a victory.) Even with the home court edge, though, it's tough to like Clemson in this game. The Tigers are 2-12 in their last 14 games against ranked opponents, and 1-34 over the last 12 years against teams ranked in the top five (yikes). Plus, they're facing a team whose best player, Jeff Teague, couldn't be any hotter right now - he's averaging 31 points per game over his last three. No matter where the location, these teams always seem to play tight games, and we think this one will be tight for a while, too. In the end, though, we think Clemson will be the team waving good-bye to its spotless record.

Georgetown at Duke
After Duke's beatdown of Georgia Tech on Wednesday, Mike Krzyzewski said that, in his mind, the ACC "is the best conference in the country" and said that the league shouldn't be punished bid-wise down the road just because it only has 12 teams. We'll see if his team can back up those fighting words today in a bragging rights game against one of the Big East's youngest but most dangerous teams. If there's any Big East team that won't be intimidated by Cameron Indoor, it's the battled-tested Hoyas, who have already faced six ranked opponents this season, have a win at Connecticut, and who enter today's game with the nation's No. 1 SOS. The Hoyas, fresh off a convincing win over Syracuse themselves on Wednesday, would be at worst a two seed on Monday with a win.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Thanks to their win over Baylor on Wednesday, the Aggies probably secured a spot in the 8-9 game in our next bracket, and they can move up a couple of more seed lines with a win here against the Sooners. Oklahoma is probably feeling pretty good about itself after finally getting the monkey off of their backs against Texas on Monday night, and they have to like their chances in this one given their edge inside and at the point guard spot. The big bracket question here is what to do with Oklahoma if they lose. Do they stay on the one line, or get bumped in favor of UConn or Michigan State (or someone else)?

Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan's loss at Illinois on Wednesday wasn't all that shocking, but the final score (66-51) certainly was a little alarming, considering the Wolverines beat the Illini by double-digits just 10 days earlier. That game will knock them off the five line come Monday, and they'll fall a line or two more if they cant beat the Buckeyes at home today. Ohio State has lost both of its Big Ten road games so far this season and hasn't played well at all against big-time opponents since their impressive stretch in early to mid-December. A 2-3 start in the Big Ten could quickly turn into 2-5 given the Buckeyes' upcoming schedule.

Maryland at Florida State
The Terrapins finish up their Florida road trip and try to rebound from Wednesday's second half collapse at Miami. They were unable to pick up their first road win of the season as they blew a 17-point second half lead against the Hurricanes. That puts even more pressure on Maryland to win in Tallahasee, especially since this is their only regular season meeting against the Seminoles, a team they are fighting with - right now at least - for the final ACC bid. This game gets the B101 stamp as bubble matchup of the weekend.

Notre Dame at Syracuse
The Orange didn't fare too well against their first quality Big East opponent of the season, losing by 14 at Georgetown on Wednesday night. Their biggest culprit in that game was their defense, which allowed 12 threes on 21 attempts. That's not good news considering the sharp-shooting Irish come to town today. These teams were right next to each other on the three line in last week's Field of 65, and the winner of this game will stay there. The loser will get bumped down to a four or maybe be the top five.

Oklahoma State at Baylor
The Bears couldn't caplitalize on a chance at quality road win on Wednesday, losing by double-digits at A&M. If they lose this game - to a Cowboys team that is currently our last team out - they will fall dangerously close to the bubble. Baylor hasn't had a marquee win since late November (vs. ASU) and they've lost two of three; Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has won eight of nine and could make the Big XII a six-bid league with a victory.

Arkansas at Florida
The Razorbacks may the best team in the the Big XII, but unfortunately, they're also the worst team in the SEC. A bad road loss at Mississippi on Wednesday dropped Arkansas to 0-2 in conference, and made today's game in Gainesville that much more important. A loss would send their seed plummeting, maybe into the double-digits. Even at 2-0 in the SEC, the Gators could really use a win here, too. They have only one win over a tourney team on their resume (Washington) and they have two road games coming up next week - at South Carolina and at Vandy.

Arizona State at UCLA
A well-defended James Harden, who was held without a field goal and finished with a career-low four points, and the rest of the Sun Devils blew a seven point halftime lead to USC Thursday night and lost by 12. Now they're very much in danger of going oh-for-the weekend as they visit the Bruins - fresh off their dismantling of Arizona - at Pauley Pavilion tonight. A loss would knock ASU down a seed line (maybe two) and a UCLA win could jump the Bruins up to the three line alongside their fellow Pac-10 frontrunner, Cal.

Arizona at USC
The Wildcats certainly didn't play like a team worthy of an at-large on Thursday night, and if they lose this game, they'll be out of the bracket discussion for a while. If they win, which won't be easy against a USC team that has played well over its last two, it could be the mometum boost they need as they head into a pretty soft part of their schedule. After tonight, Arizona has four very winnable home games in a row, and then an easy trip to the Oregon schools after that.

Boise State at Utah State
Is it crazy to think the WAC could end up a two-bid league? Imagine this scenario: Utah State, which already has a win over Utah and a close loss to BYU on its resume, and according to all of those weird efficiency numbers is one of the best teams in the country, goes through its conference season with 2-3 losses, but loses in the finals of the WAC tourney (most likely to Boise State or Nevada). The Aggies would deserve a bid, and they'd almost certainly get one. Consider yourselves warned, Bubbleville...

Also receiving votes: Cal at Stanford, Washington at Oregon State, Illinois at Michigan State, Minnesota at Northwestern (Sunday), Jodie Meeks at Georgia (Sunday), South Carolina at Tennessee, Miami (FL) at North Carolina, Boston College at Virginia Tech, Marquette at Providence, Seton Hall at Connecticut (Sunday), BYU at New Mexico, Missouri State at Illinois State (Sunday)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

B101's Questions For The Competition

Questions For The Competition is a weekly column that addresses our issues with the brackets of other bracketology "experts." This week's questions - the first we've posed to the competition this season - are reserved for's Joe Lunardi. As the season goes on, and more major sports websites (CBS,, etc.) consistently post weekly brackets, we will ask questions to them as well.

Keep in mind that these questions are about Lunardi's latest bracket, which was released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi ( - Jan. 12 Bracket
If the season ended today, would the committee really give two Big East and two ACC teams the one seeds? No other conference would be represented?

We understand why San Diego State is in the field (as the MWC automatic, because they are in first place), but the rest of your MWC seeding is a mess. How is BYU a 6 seed and UNLV is out when UNLV has much better wins (at Louisville, Arizona) than BYU (Utah State, Boise State)? And what's the love affair with six-loss Utah?

How is Louisville a 3 seed and Minnesota an 8 seed when the Minnesota beat Louisville on a neutral court and has about the same RPI? Does it have anything to do with the fact that you had Louisville so high in your now-meaningless preseason bracket?

How in the world does Illinois State, with zero Top 100 RPI wins, deserve an at-large?

Isn't Memphis (with no OOC resume) a little high at a 5? Isn't Michigan (with a great OOC resume) a little low at a 9?

Florida State isn't even in your First Four Out? How are they not in over Missouri, whose only big win is a team (Cal), that FSU beat too?

A Three Pack For Thursday

A look at the three biggest games on Thursday's schedule:

Arizona at UCLA
One of the more interesting developments bracket-wise last week was the Pac-10 picking up two additional bids. Arizona was the beneficiary of one of those bids, and they got it thanks to a sweep of the Oregon schools, and more importantly, thanks to losses by teams on the ACC and SEC bubble (BC and LSU). The inconsistent Wildcats (and fellow Pac-10 bubble boy Washington) will likely be battling for a bid with those other bubble teams all season. If Arizona wants to get off the bubble, they may want to win a road game (they’re 0-4 on the year) – and they get a couple of great opportunities to do that this week. First up is UCLA, a team that has won nine in a row but has been leap-frogged in our bracket by a Cal team that right now has a more impressive overall profile. If Arizona is going to pull the upset, they’ll need the resurgent Chase Budinger to continue his recent stretch of good games, and they’ll need Nic Wise and Co. to slow down UCLA’s lightning fast backcourt.

Minnesota at Wisconsin
Who’s the second best team in the Big Ten? Minnesota? Michigan? Wisconsin? If the first couple of weeks of conference play have shown us anything, it’s that Michigan State is the cream of the Big Ten crop and that the rest of the tourney-worthy teams are almost identical in terms of quality and resume. Some teams have better OOC resumes than others (Ohio State, Minnesota), but those teams have also already lost to their other Big Ten counterparts. If one or more teams are going to separate themselves from the pack, they are going to have to win a big conference road game. The Gophers get their chance at one here, as they visit a Wisconsin team that has dominated its two Big Ten home games. The Badgers are probably very happy to be home after playing poorly at Purdue over the weekend. Minnesota, meanwhile, hasn’t played a tough team away from home yet, and given Wisconsin’s homecourt edge and slow-down style of play, it’s hard to see the Gophers breaking through here.

Washington at Oregon
Washington slipped into our latest Field of 65 after a week in which they beat Stanford and lost to Cal in triple overtime. Are the Huskies good enough to stay in the bracket for an extended period of time? That question will be answered over the next couple of weeks. They can’t slip up over the next three days as they visit the Oregon schools before returning home to take on USC and UCLA. After that, their schedule gets ridiculous – they play four straight road games against Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, and Stanford. Their fate in those games will go a long way in determining their bracket future as well as the future of the Pac-10, which currently owns five bids. If Washington fans are looking for a little encouragement, they don’t have to look any further than the recent play of Jon Brockman, who had 35 points and 36 rebounds combined against the Cardinal and Bears.

Also receiving votes: Connecticut at St. John's, North Carolina at Virginia, Arizona State at USC, Purdue at Northwestern, Xavier at Rhode Island, Middle Tennessee State at Western Kentucky

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Six Pack For Wednesday

A look at the six most notable games on Wednesday's schedule:

Syracuse at Georgetown
It's about time Syracuse had to play a decent Big East team. While all the other ranked teams in the league have been beating each other up, the Orange have polished off the likes of Seton Hall, South Florida, DePaul, and Rutgers. Those four wins have Syracuse on the three line in our latest bracket, but they might be hard pressed to stay there much longer. They face Georgetown at the Verizon Center tonight, host Notre Dame Saturday, play at Pitt next Monday, and then host Louisville next Sunday. They'd probably sign for a split in the those four games right now, especially considering the defenses they're going to face against the Hoyas and Panthers. Against Georgetown, their biggest worry should be Greg Monroe, who is coming off a huge game against Providence last time out. A few threes from Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf would help neutralize Monroe a bit, but in the end, the Hoyas' D and depth on the perimeter should be enough to pull out a narrow win.

Wake Forest at Boston College
The Eagles have officially hit the skids since their upset of North Carolina, and now we get to see how the Demon Deacons respond after an emotional victory over those same Tar Heels. That win shot Wake up to the one line in our latest bracket, and showed the country just how good Jeff Teague really is. On a court full of stars, Teague was the best player on the floor by far on Sunday night, scoring 34 points and adding six rebounds and four assists. It was Teague's second straight 30-point outing, and Wake will need him to continue his stellar play this week, as they hit the road for two tough games - this one and then at Clemson on Saturday. An upset wouldn't be shocking here - the Demon Deacons could experience a letdown and BC is desperate for another win - but considering how well Wake played at BYU (a lot tougher place to play than Conte Forum), it's tough to see them falling from the ranks of the unbeaten tonight.

Michigan State at Penn State
Penn State crept its way onto the Next Four Out list this week thanks to a win over Purdue on Tuesday. After a road loss to Minnesota over the weekend, and the Nittany Lions return home to the Bryce Jordan Center tonight (where they’ve won seven straight Big Ten games) to face the red-hot Spartans. Michigan State has won each of its first three Big Ten games pretty handily, but given the venue, this could be their toughest conference test yet. Penn State point guard Talor Battle has been on fire over his last two games, averaging 20 points and nine assists; if he puts up those numbers again, the Nittany Lions should be able to hang around well into the second half. They probably won’t win in the end, but if they do (and don’t trip up at Indiana on Saturday), they'll make their bracket debut and knock one of the other seven Big Ten teams out.

Baylor at Texas A&M
The Aggies didn't fare too well in their Big XII opener at Oklahoma State on Saturday, shooting 38 percent from the field and losing by 11. That loss didn't knock them out of the bracket, but two losses this week - even against two tough teams - would. First up for A&M is Baylor, the "easy" game of the week, before the Sooners come calling this weekend. The Bears don't have a quality win to speak of since beating Arizona State in late November and they need a win here just as bad as the Aggies do considering their upcoming schedule. If they're going to pull the win on the road, Curtis Jerrells will have shoot a lot better than he has in Baylor's other games against quality opponents.

Maryland at Miami (FL)
The Hurricanes picked up a nice under-the-radar win at Boston College last weekend to move up to the eight line in our latest bracket. If they want to stay there, they'll need to defend their home floor against a Maryland team that recovered well from its head-scratcher against Morgan State by beating Georgia Tech at home in their ACC opener. The Terps haven't played a true road game yet this season (they've played four neutral site games), and it'll be interesting to see how they fare on the road this week against Miami and FSU - the two ACC bubble teams they are most closely competing against. Two losses and they'll be clinging to a bid.

Michigan at Illinois
The middle of the Big Ten is a muddled mess right now, with six teams spread out along the 5-8 lines. The Wolverines are near the top of that mess thanks to to their solid OOC resume and a home win against these Illini two weekends back. Manny Harris led five Michigan players in double figures with 16 points in that game, and he and his teammates will need some more of that balanced scoring attack if they are going to knock off an Illini team that has since won eight of nine. After this game, Illinois continues a brutal stretch of games (at Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, at Minnesota) that will show where they really belong on the Big Ten ladder.

Also receiving votes: Duke at Georgia Tech, South Florida at Pittsburgh, Arkansas at Mississippi, Florida at Auburn, South Carolina at LSU, UNLV at Colorado State, San Diego State at Wyoming, Drake at Illinois State, "Friday Night Lights" Season 3 (and series??) finale on DirecTV