Monday, March 16, 2009

Bracketology 101's Bracket Picks

To view or download Chris', Craig's, and Matt's complete tournament bracket, click on the title of this post.

The brackets are printable and are saved in .pdf format.

Good luck in your office pools...

*Note: If the top link is not working for you, try this one.

More Bracket Stats (We're Still No. 1...)

The Bracket Matrix has posted his final results matrix for all 61 brackets he monitors. He ranked the top brackets by category (number of exact seeds, etc.) and listed overall results based on the Paymon scoring system, which gives brackets three points for each correct team, two points for each exact seed, and one point for each team within one seed line.

This year we finished fifth in the overall standings and we tied for first in the number of exact seeds picked (35). We are the only bracketology site to finish in the top five in the overall standings each of the past four years, and over the last four years, we continue to be - by a pretty significant margin - the most consistently accurate bracketology site out there. This year, we finished well above the average bracket score of 303.4.

Top overall brackets for 2009 (Paymon scoring):
Bracketography: 325
Yahoo! Rivals : 318
Baseline Stats: 317
Bracketville: 316
Bracketology 101: 315
Jerry Palm (CollegeRPI.com): 315
Joe Lunardi's score: 307

Ranking The Bracketologists (*UPDATED to include 2009 stats*)
1. Bracketology 101
2. March Madness All Season
3. The Bracket Project
4. Bracketography
5. The Bracket Board
10. Joe Lunardi (ESPN.com)

For the complete rundown of how everyone fared this year, click here.

For an updated Ranking The Bracketologists list - which ranks bracketologists on how they fared over the past four years, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bracketology 101's Final Bracket Stats

Here are our final numbers for this year's bracket:

Teams correct: 64/65
Exact seeds: 35/65
Seeds within one of seed line: 53/65
*Paymon score: 315

For a complete breakdown of how every bracketologist did in predicting the field, click here.

All in all, we were slightly disappointed with our final stats, but pretty pleased with how we did this year compared to other bracketologists. It turned out to be a tough year for everyone seed-wise, but we think that our 315 Paymon score will put us among the top couple of scores yet again, and keep us atop The Bracket Project standings as the most accurate bracket over the last four years. We had hoped to match our 40-60 performance from last year, but some interesting seeding by the committee and some regrettable last-day changes prevented us from doing that.

Like everyone, we were pretty surprised that Arizona got in, considering their awful road record and the fact that they lost four of their last five games. Once USC won the Pac-10 tournament, we all but eliminated Arizona from serious at-large consideration. We thought a mid-major team like St. Mary's (or SDSU or Creighton) was worthy of that final spot, but yet again, the committee showed no love to the little guy. We are even more surprised that the big conference team they chose in the end was Arizona (over Penn State). The Wildcats were rewarded for what they did out of conference, and that gave them the edge over the OOC-challenged Nittany Lions. There were a handful of seeds given out that we found a little confusing, too. Boston College (and their 60 RPI) getting a 7 seed was the most shocking, and a Jerome Dyson-less UConn getting the last 1 seed over Michigan State or Memphis was a little bit of a surprise, too. Siena (a 9), Utah State (an 11), Marquette (a 6), Butler (a 9), Ohio State (an 8) and Wisconsin (a 12) all got questionable seeds as well, we thought.

Looking back over the season, we are proud of a couple of the predictions we made along the way. We thought all along that the Big Ten would get seven bids, and after a lot of debate, (especially on this site) that's exactly what they got. We also thought the MWC would max out at three bids (not 4 or 5 like some people had), and in the end only two teams from the conference made it. Finally, we were correct in predicting that Maryland would find its way back in the bracket and that the A-10 would eventually produce a bid-stealer. We had Temple in as our original A-10 bid stealer three week ago, and the Owls ended up making the field alongside Xavier and Dayton.

In the next couple of days, we will post our Final Four picks and our complete brackets. We will also set up the annual Bracketology 101 Tournament Challenge group on ESPN.com. The winner of this year's Tournament Challenge will get a $50 gift card of their choice.

In the meantime, feel free to post any bracket-questions in the comments section of this post. We'll check in periodically to answer as many of them as we can. Thanks to the tens of thousands of people who visited the site over the last week, and to the hundreds who posted comments and questions.

Enjoy filling out your brackets...

Live Selection Show Feedback

Here are our running thoughts as the bracket gets announced:

Wow! 3 Big East #1s. UConn always gets favorable seeding.

Big Ten not getting much love, Ohio State a 8.

Arizona in, WOW! That looks like the last team in.

Maryland looking good with BC getting a 7.

B101 can forget about getting 60 seeds within 1 this year.

Looks like the little guy is gonna get screwed. No SDSU, St Mary's or Creighton.

It's over for the bubble teams...9-12 lines will be Michigan, Western Kentucky, Temple, and LSU.

Bracketology 101's Final Field of 65

Bracket Breakdown
Here is Bracketology 101's Final Field of 65:

A couple of notes:
St. Mary's is our last at-large team in the field despite the fact that they are on the 11 line. We had to put Maryland down on the 12 line for numbers purposes.

Penn State was knocked out today by Mississippi State.

Last Four In
Minnesota, Dayton, Maryland, St. Mary's

Last Four Out
Penn State, San Diego State, Creighton, Arizona

Next Four Out
Auburn, Providence, South Carolina, Florida

---------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s
North Carolina, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Michigan State

The 2s
Connecticut, Duke, Memphis, Oklahoma

The 3s
Missouri, Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas

The 4s
Syracuse, Florida State, Washington, Gonzaga

The 5s
Illinois, Purdue, Xavier, Arizona State

The 6s
UCLA, Utah, West Virginia, Ohio State

The 7s
Tennessee, Texas, Clemson, Butler

The 8s
LSU, Marquette, California, Oklahoma State

The 9s
BYU, Utah State, Michigan, Texas A&M

The 10s
Boston College, Wisconsin, Minnesota, USC

The 11s
Siena, Dayton, Temple, St. Mary's

The 12s
Maryland, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, Northern Iowa

The 13s
Cleveland State, VCU, Binghamton, American

The 14s
Stephen F. Austin, North Dakota State, Portland State, Akron

The 15s
Cornell, Morgan State, Robert Morris, East Tennessee State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Radford, Morehead State, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)













Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Selection Sunday Bracket Talk

We are putting the final touches on our Final Field of 65, which will be released around 4 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, readers can use this post to ask questions, discuss the bubble, or make their own predictions about who's in, who's out, and who's seeded where. We will check in periodically to answer questions.

Enjoy the last few hours before the Slection Show...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 14

On Friday we saw the amount of available bids shrink dramatically and we saw at least one bid stealer develop with both Dayton and Xavier falling in the A-10 semis. Virgina Tech, Florida, and South Carolina all lost games that will cost them tourney bids, while Maryland and SDSU may have punched their tickets with big wins. Here is how we see the field going into the weekend...

If we had to put a number on it we think that there are 4 bids still in question. All of the teams on the last 4 in line are still vulnerable, while everyone above them (the 10 line and better) are relatively safe.

SDSU held on against BYU to reach the MWC final. In the past two days, they have seen their RPI climb to all the way to 31. If the Aztecs lose to Utah in the MWC final they will have to sweat it out on Sunday. They still only have two Top 50 wins plus losses to St. Mary's and Arizona on their resume. It wouldn't be unthinkable for the Aztecs to be left out if they don't win the auto bid, especially if there are anymore bid stealers.

Maryland got into the bracket on the strength of their win over Wake Forest. The win sent their RPI up 10 points to 50 and gives them the chance to lock up a bid against Duke. So long as the Terps put up a good effort against the Blue Devils, it's tough to envision the committee not giving them a bid as the 7th best team out of the ACC.

Penn State hung onto a bid in our current field despite their blowout loss to Purdue. The Nittany Lions are clearly the #8 team from the Big Ten, which we have said for weeks is not a good place to be. They have six Top 50 wins on their resume, which is more than anybody else in consideration and finished above .500 in Big Ten play. They even have road wins over Michigan State and Illinois. The problem is that all of their Top 50 wins (Top 100 for that matter) came in conference and they blew a chance to lock up a bid at Iowa last week. They laid an egg on Friday against a red-hot shooting Purdue team and will now have to hope things hold throughout the weekend and no more bid stealers pop up.

Our last team in is St. Mary's, barely. Scheduling another game against Eastern Washington looks like it may pay off. It didn't hurt their RPI and the 20-point win on Friday night gives the committee another look at them, as opposed to their season ending on Monday with a blowout loss to Gonzaga. All week we liked Creighton ahead of the Gaels, but that changed with the results of Friday night. Dayton losing completes an absolute disaster week for Creighton. Not only has the bubble gotten squeezed, but all of the Bluejays' good OOC wins have lost. New Mexico lost to Wyoming, George Mason got blown out by VCU to drop out of the RPI Top 50, and now Dayton lost - giving Creighton ZERO Top 25 wins. St. Mary's, on the other hand, has benefited from SDSU playing so well, and they've seen Utah State (another team they beat) also climb into the Top 25 of the RPI. The Gaels also got some of their wins away from home (neutral vs SDSU and Providence). The biggest issue in all of this is the fact that the Gaels are 18-2 when Patty Mills has played the whole game. We think their bad road losses without Mills will get overlooked and, so long as no more bid stealers pop up, they will get a bid.

Here's what the bubble team fans needs to hope for in Saturday's action: Memphis over Tulsa, LSU over Mississippi State, Tennessee over Auburn, Duke over Maryland in a blowout, ASU over USC, Temple over Duquense, Utah over SDSU, Utah State over Nevada, and most importantly - Missouri over Baylor. The potential of 4-5 more bid stealers still exists, so nobody on the last 4 in line is safe.

Our next and final bracket will be published on Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the weekend and good luck to your bubble team.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Bracket

Maryland, Temple

Out This Bracket
South Carolina, Creighton

Last Four In
San Diego State, Maryland, Penn State, St. Mary's

Last Four Out
Creighton, Arizona, USC, Auburn

Next Four Out
Providence, South Carolina, Florida, New Mexico

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big Ten (8), ACC (7), Big East (7), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (4), A-10 (3), MWC (3), Horizon (2), SEC (2), WCC (2)

America East - Binghamton

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

Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Dayton

Big East - Louisville, Pittsburgh, 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

MWC - Utah, BYU, San Diego State

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

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

Patriot - American

SEC - LSU, Tennessee

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

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s
North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Michigan State

The 2s
Connecticut, Duke, Oklahoma, Memphis

The 3s
Missouri, Wake Forest, Villanova, Syracuse

The 4s
Florida State, Kansas, Washington, Illinois

The 5s
Arizona State, Gonzaga, Xavier, UCLA

The 6s
Purdue, West Virginia, Texas, Utah

The 7s
LSU, California, Clemson, Tennessee

The 8s
Marquette, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Butler

The 9s
BYU, Boston College, Michigan, Texas A&M

The 10s
Siena, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dayton

The 11s
San Diego State, Utah State, Maryland, Penn State

The 12s
Temple, St. Mary's, Cleveland State, Western Kentucky

The 13s
Northern Iowa, VCU,
Buffalo, Binghamton

The 14s
North Dakota State, American, Portland State,
Stephen F. Austin

The 15s
Cornell, East Tennessee State, Robert Morris,
Morgan State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)














Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 13

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...

Bracket Breakdown
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

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
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

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s
North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Michigan State

The 2s
Connecticut, Duke, Oklahoma, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Washington, Missouri

The 4s
Florida State, Xavier, Syracuse, Kansas

The 5s
UCLA, Gonzaga, Illinois, Arizona State

The 6s
Purdue, Texas, West Virginia, Marquette

The 7s
Utah, California, Clemson, LSU

The 8s
Oklahoma State, Tennessee, BYU, Ohio State

The 9s
Butler, Dayton, Boston College, Michigan

The 10s
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas A&M, Penn State

The 11s
Siena, South Carolina, Creighton, Utah State

The 12s
St. Mary's, San Diego State, Cleveland State, Western Kentucky

The 13s
Northern Iowa, VCU, Buffalo, Binghamton

The 14s
North Dakota State, American, Portland State, Stephen F. Austin

The 15s
Cornell, East Tennessee State, Robert Morris, Morgan State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)













Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 12

Last night was about as quiet as a Championship Week night can be. All but one big conference team that should have won did win, and in the two small conference championship games, favorites Robert Morris (in the NEC) and Portland State (in the Big Sky) punched their tickets to the dance. The lone favorite to lose was Texas A&M, thanks to a ridiculous 35-point second half performance from Texas Tech's Mike Singletary. The Aggies are still safe in terms of an at-large berth, but their seed took a bit of a hit in today's bracket. They fell from the top 9 seed to the third 10 seed.

The real fun (and the chaos) starts tonight. There are 53 games on today's schedule, and a large majority of them involve teams on or close to the bubble.

Here's a quick breakdown of tonight's biggest games, a look at what each of the bubble teams playing tonight has to do to eventually secure an at-large, and what the biggest storylines are with less than 96 hours remaining until the Selection Show:

In the A-10...
The most important sub-plot heading into the A-10 tournament is whether Rhode Island can get to the final and get an at-large. The second-seeded Rams, who have won 10 of their last 12, begin that journey today against Duquesne. If they win, they face Dayton in the semis. Another win over the Flyers, who they beat at home at the buzzer two weeks ago, might be enough to get URI dancing.

In the ACC...
Miami and Virginia Tech face off today in an at-large elimination game. The loser's at-large chances are over; the winner will still need to beat Carolina in the quarters to get a bid. Maryland is also in action against N.C. State in the 7-10 game. If the Terps can beat the Wolfpack, and then upset Wake Forest in the quarters, they'll be back in the bracket.

In the Big XII...
There's already been one upset victim in the Big XII tourney...will there be more today? Oklahoma State fans are hoping their team can pull a Texas Tech against second-seeded Oklahoma tonight. The Cowboys, who have now won seven of eight, probably punched their ticket by beating Iowa State last night, but they better not get blown out by the Sooners tonight if they want to feel safe on Selection Sunday. The wild card, if Oklahoma State does get blown out, is Kansas State. The Wildcats face Texas in their first game today, and if they upset the Longhorns and then beat top-seeded Kansas in the semis, they'd be in great shape for a bid.

In the Big East...
It's looking more and more like Providence is going to have to beat Louisville tonight (or at the very least play a very, very competitive game) to get a bid. Having to play DePaul, and not Cincinnati, in their first game, really hurt the Friars, who were in need of one more notable win. Providence isn't 100% done with a loss tonight, but they'll certainly need some things to break right over the next few days. In other quarterfinal action today, Marquette takes on Villanova, UConn plays Syracuse, and West Virginia plays Pitt.

In the Big Ten...
The tournament with the most critical set of first round games is the Big Ten. We have held firm in our belief that the Big Ten is going to be a seven-bid league when all is said and done, and whether that happens or not will depend a lot on what happens today. In the first Big Ten game of the day, Minnesota takes on Northwestern in a game that we have commented an approximately 8,427 times in the last four days. We still think the Wildcats, despite a season-ending loss at Ohio State, are a dangerous team in this tourney, and we like their chances to upset the Gophers. If we are wrong, and Minnesota wins, Creighton or Providence would see their bubble burst and the Gophers would be back in the field. The other two ginormous first round games today involve Michigan and Penn State. Michigan takes on Iowa, and if the Wolverines win, they're a lock for an at-large. If they lose (which is very possible), they wouldn't be done, but they would be in for a very long, painful weekend. Penn State, meanwhile, faces Indiana under circumstances that are very similar to Michigan's. With a win, the Nittany Lions should be in for good. A loss opens up a huge can of worms, especially if Michigan loses as well. We would give the slight edge to Penn State as the seventh Big Ten team if that scenario happens, but we aren't sure the committee would agree. It would depend on whether they value Michigan's solid OOC wins or Penn State's extremely strong arsenal of Big Ten wins. Did Penn State do enough in conference to make up for a non-existent OOC resume? Nittany Nation is hoping they don't have to find out the answer to that question.

In the Pac-10...
The biggest question heading into the Pac-10 tournament is whether Arizona will get an at-large. The Wildcats face Arizona State, who swept them during the regular season, in their first round game. One win gets Arizona in, while a loss will have them on the Last Four In or Last Four Out list (depending on what happens elsewhere) on Selection Sunday.

In the MWC...
The MWC has a chance to be anywhere from a two- to a four-bid league depending on what happens over the next couple of days. Utah and BYU are safe, and right now, we like New Mexico as the third and final MWC bid. The Lobos open up with Wyoming today, and if they win, they face the Utes in the semis. If New Mexico wins that game, they're in. If they don't, the third MWC bid (if there is one) would be the winner of today's UNLV/San Diego State game. The Rebels and Aztecs just played last week, and SDSU completed a season sweep by winning at home. If the Aztecs win this game and get past BYU and into the final, they'll get a bid. If they can't beat the Cougars, their at-large hopes depend on how New Mexico does and what happens elsewhere. Keep in mind that this tourney is in Vegas, where the Rebels lost just once (to SDSU) all season.

In the SEC...
Of all the major conference tournaments, the most wide-open is no doubt the SEC. Whether the league ends up with three or four bids will be determined by how South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, and Kentucky fare. The Wildcats, who need to get to the final to get back in the at-large discussion, open with Mississippi today, while Florida opens with Arkansas. If the Gators win, they play Auburn in the quarters in an at-large elimination game. The winner of that game, if they can beat Tennessee and get to the final, will get a bid. If that team loses to the Vols, they'll have to hope that South Carolina loses its first game (to Georgia or Mississippi State) and that no other craziness happens in the rest of the conference tournies.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Bracket

None

Out This Bracket
None

Last Four In
South Carolina, Providence, Creighton, New Mexico

Last Four Out
Minnesota, St. Mary's, Florida, San Diego State

Next Four Out
Maryland, Auburn, Rhode Island, Miami (FL)

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (2), Horizon (2), MVC (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, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, Marquette, West Virginia, Providence

Big Sky - Portland State

Big South - Radford

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

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

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, New Mexico

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

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

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

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s

Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Connecticut, Oklahoma

The 2s
Louisville, Michigan State, Duke, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas, Washington

The 4s
Florida State, Missouri, Xavier, UCLA

The 5s
Gonzaga,
Syracuse, Illinois, Clemson

The 6s
Marquette, Arizona State, Purdue, California

The 7s
Utah, Texas, LSU, Tennessee

The 8s
BYU, West Virginia, Ohio State, Butler

The 9s
Dayton, Boston College, Wisconsin, Michigan

The 10s
Oklahoma State, Penn State, Texas A&M, Arizona

The 11s
South Carolina, Providence, Creighton, Siena

The 12s
Utah State, New Mexico, Cleveland State, Western Kentucky

The 13s
Northern Iowa, VCU,
Buffalo, Binghamton

The 14s
North Dakota State,
American, Portland State, Stephen F. Austin

The 15s
Cornell, East Tennessee State,
Robert Morris, Morgan State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
*Congratulations to Matt and his wife, who welcomed a new baby boy to their family on Tuesday*














Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 11

It took less than 48 hours for Championship Week to produce its first bid-stealer. Cleveland State, which lost two heart-breaking games to Butler during the regular season, got its revenge in the best way possible on Tuesday night, beating the Bulldogs 57-54 in a rowdy Hinkle Fieldhouse to win the Horizon's automatic bid. The third-seeded Vikings, who now have two Top 50 wins on their resume, are a 12 seed in today's bracket. They bumped St. Mary's from a 13 seed to the Last Four Out list and, more importantly, made it just a little bit harder for the rest of the teams on the bubble to get an at-large. Butler, meanwhile, fell from a 6 seed to the bottom of the 8 line as a result of their loss.

In the other two championship games Tuesday night, the top seeds prevailed. North Dakota State, in its first year of eligibility, won the Summit's automatic bid by beating Oakland, and Western Kentucky held off South Alabama to win the Sun Belt tourney for the second straight year. The only other small conference result of note was Weber's State's loss in the Big Sky semis to sixth-seeded and (under-.500) Montana State. The Wildcats, who lost just one conference game all season, were replaced in the bracket by Portland State, who beat Idaho State in the other semifinal. Portland State and Montana State face off for the Big Sky automatic tonight in Ogden, Utah. The Northeast Conference champion will also be decided tonight, as top-seeded Robert Morris, who hasn't been to the tournament since 1992, takes on defending champion Mount St. Mary's.

Today also marks the start of the Big XII, Pac-10, A-10, MWC, C-USA, Big West, MEAC, and SWAC tournaments. Several bubble teams are in action, including Oklahoma State (vs. Iowa State) and Texas A&M (vs. Texas Tech) in the Big XII tourney, and Providence (vs. "red-hot" DePaul) in the Big East tourney.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Bracket

Cleveland State, Portland State

Out This Bracket
St. Mary's, Weber State

Last Four In
South Carolina, Providence, Creighton, New Mexico

Last Four Out
Minnesota, St. Mary's, Florida, San Diego State

Next Four Out
Maryland, Auburn, Rhode Island, Miami (FL)

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (2), Horizon (2), MVC (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, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, Marquette, West Virginia, Providence

Big Sky - Portland State

Big South - Radford

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

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

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, New Mexico

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

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

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

----------------------------------------------------------------

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

The 2s
Louisville, Michigan State, Duke, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas, Washington

The 4s
Florida State, Missouri, Xavier, UCLA

The 5s
Gonzaga,
Syracuse, Illinois, Clemson

The 6s
Marquette, Arizona State, Purdue, California

The 7s
Utah, Texas, LSU, Tennessee

The 8s
BYU, West Virginia, Ohio State, Butler

The 9s
Texas A&M, Dayton, Boston College, Wisconsin

The 10s
Michigan, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Arizona

The 11s
South Carolina, Providence, Creighton, Siena

The 12s
Utah State, New Mexico, Cleveland State, Western Kentucky

The 13s
Northern Iowa,
VCU, Buffalo, Binghamton

The 14s
North Dakota State, American, Portland State, Stephen F. Austin

The 15s
Cornell, East Tennessee State,
Robert Morris, Morgan State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
*Congratulations to Matt and his wife, who welcomed a new baby boy to their family on Tuesday*













Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 10

Just over a week ago, we were the first major bracketology site to put St. Mary's back in the field - as the automatic bid out of the WCC. We did so because of the news of Patty Mills' anticipated return, and because of the Gaels' chances - we thought - to beat Gonzaga in the WCC final with a healthy Mills in the lineup. Our projection looked good for a while - Mills came back in time for the WCC semis and St. Mary's beat Portland to earn a spot in the final. And then last night happened. The Gaels got absolutely beat down by Gonzaga in Vegas, and Mills, who didn't play all that well against Portland either, went 2-for-16 from the floor and was a total non-factor.

So, St. Mary's is out now, right?

Not yet.

We are sticking with the Gaels for at least one more day. We still like their OOC wins against fellow bubble teams Providence and San Diego State and their Bracketbuster win over Utah State. We also think there's a slight chance the committee takes a flier on them based on how they played early in the year before Mills got hurt and, potentially, based on how Mills looks against Eastern Washington on Friday. We bumped the Gaels down to a 13 seed in today's bracket, which means they are very, very thin ice. If there are any other mid-major bid stealers (Cleveland State tonight?) or if there are any other upsets in the big conference tournies, St. Mary's will be the first team to go. For the next few hours, though, they're (barely) safe.

In other action last night, Siena won the MAAC tournament by beating Niagara, VCU crushed George Mason to win the Colonial title, and Chattanooga (Chattanooga?!) upset Charleston to win the Southern title and a spot in the Play-In Game against Alabama State.

There will be three more automatic bids awarded tonight - Butler hosts Cleveland State in the Horizon final (see below for a full preview of the game), top-seeded Western Kentucky faces sixth-seeded South Alabama in the Sun Belt final, and top-seeded North Dakota State faces third-seeded Oakland in the Summit final.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Bracket

Chattanooga

Out This Bracket
Charleston

Last Four In
Providence, Creighton, New Mexico, St. Mary's

Last Four Out
Minnesota, Florida, San Diego State, Maryland

Next Four Out
Auburn, Rhode Island, Miami (FL), UNLV

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (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, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, Marquette, West Virginia, Providence

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - Radford

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

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

Big West - Cal State Northridge

Colonial - VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa, Creighton

MWC - Utah, BYU, New Mexico

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

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

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

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Seeds
The 1s

Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Connecticut, Oklahoma

The 2s
Louisville, Michigan State, Duke, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas, Washington

The 4s
Florida State, Missouri, Xavier, UCLA

The 5s
Gonzaga, Syracuse, Illinois, Clemson

The 6s
Marquette, Butler, Arizona State, Purdue

The 7s
California, Utah, Texas, LSU

The 8s
BYU, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio State

The 9s
Texas A&M, Dayton, Boston College, Wisconsin

The 10s
Michigan, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Arizona

The 11s
South Carolina, Providence, Creighton, Siena

The 12s
New Mexico, Utah State, Northern Iowa, Western Kentucky

The 13s
St. Mary's, VCU, Buffalo, Binghamton

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

The 15s
Cornell, East Tennessee State, Robert Morris, Morgan State

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morehead State, Radford, Chattanooga (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket coming soon...)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

A One Pack For Championship Tuesday

A look at the biggest game on Tuesday night's schedule:

Cleveland State at Butler
As the bubble holds its breath, Butler and Cleveland State square off tonight in the Horizon final. The Bulldogs, regardless of the result, are a lock for an at-large, which means Cleveland State has the opportunity to be the first true bid-stealer of the week. The Vikings, if you remember, made some early-season headlines when Cedric Jackson hit a half-court shot to beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. They've won 11 of their last 13 coming into this game and advanced to the final after upsetting second-seeded Wisconsin-Green Bay in the semis. Butler swept the season series between these two teams, but both games went right down to the wire. The Bulldogs won at Cleveland State on a three-pointer at the buzzer back on Dec. 4, and then let a 10-point second half lead slip away before hanging on to beat the Vikings on a late lay-up in the rematch on Feb. 28. That game, like this one, took place in Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Bulldogs have lost just once this season and just twice in the last two years. That home court advantage should be enough to help Butler win its second straight Horizon tourney title. If it's not, the Vikings will be dancing and St. Mary's will be on the outside looking in on Wednesday. If Butler wins, they should be right around a 6 seed on Selection Sunday; a loss would drop them into the 8-9 range.

Also receiving votes: Oakland vs. North Dakota State (Summit championship), South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky (Sun Belt championship)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 9

The final weekend of the regular season and the results of some of the early conference tournaments led to a ton of changes to our bracket in a span of just 72 hours. The most notable changes big conference-wise involved Maryland and Minnesota. The Terps, who were in great shape to secure an at-large heading into this week, inexplicably lost their season finale at Virginia on Saturday to finish 7-9 in conference. They'll need to beat N.C. State in their first round ACC tournament game and then upset Wake Forest in the quarters to get back in the mix for a bid. The Gophers, meanwhile, lost at home to Michigan and were essentially replaced by the Wolverines in the bracket. We are holding firm in our season-long belief that the Big Ten will not get eight bids, and since Michigan is deserving of a bid now after finishing 9-9 in conference, one Big Ten team had to go. We don't like Minnesota's chances against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, while we are very confident Michigan will get past Iowa in their first round game and secure a bid.

The biggest decision we had to make when putting together this bracket was what to do with Creighton. The Bluejays fell to Illinois State in the MVC semis, and in the process, became the latest in a long line of mid-major bubble teams that is going to have to wait around and pray that the selection committee rewards the "little guy." We, for one, think that this "little guy" deserves to be rewarded. For starters, the Bluejays have wins over Dayton and New Mexico on their resume (which Illinois State didn't have last year as a Valley at-large candidate), they have a top-40 RPI, and they finished tied for first place in conference. They were also on an 11-game winning streak heading into the Valley tournament, a streak that included a Bracketbuster win over George Mason. We know that things are going to have to break right in the MWC, ACC, and SEC tournaments for all of these arguments to matter come Selection Sunday, but if there's not too much craziness in those tournaments, we think Creighton should get a shot. We also know that we've been burned by our support of mid-major at-larges in the past (the Redbirds last year, Drexel in 2007, Hofstra in 2006), and we know that every season is different, but Creighton's overall resume is better than all of those teams, and as of right now, they deserve an at-large.

This weekend's results in the MWC also caused a shake-up in the bracket. UNLV's loss to SDSU dropped the Rebels to 9-7 in conference, and knocked them out of the bracket in favor of New Mexico. UNLV and SDSU face off again this Thursday in the MWC quaterfinals in what is an elimination game. New Mexico, meanwhile, gets Wyoming in their first game, and we like them to win that game and then get past Utah (who they just beat a week ago) to reach the final. An appearance in the final is all the Lobos need to get a bid. The UNLV/SDSU winner gets BYU in the semis, and if the Rebels or Aztecs were to upset the Cougars get to the final and beat New Mexico, there is a chance the Mountain West could be a 4-bid league. That would obviously be ideal. The most likely scenario, though, is that the league ends up with three teams in the tourney (Utah, BYU, and either NM, SDSU, or UNLV).

The final, and maybe the most surprising, change to the bracket came as a reult of Davidson's loss to Charleston in the Southern semis. Unlike Creighton, who has a legit at-large resume as a mid-major, Davidson's tournament hopes are now all but over. The Wildcats have just one win over the Top 100 (West Virginia), they got crushed in their Bracketbuster game by Butler (with Stephen Curry in the lineup), and they couldn't even get to the championship game of the 20th-ranked conference in the country. They are going to need a miracle to make it at this point, and if they do, it's going to entirely based on the star power of Curry and their tourney success from last year, which is a factor the committee says it doesn't consider.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Bracket
Michigan, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, Charleston, Morehead State, East Tennessee State

Out This Bracket
Minnesota, UNLV, Maryland, Davidson, UT-Martin, Jacksonville

Last Four In
Providence, South Carolina, Creighton, New Mexico

Last Four Out
Minnesota, Florida, San Diego State, Maryland

Next Four Out
Auburn, Rhode Island, Miami (FL), Davidson/UNLV

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), Big Ten (7), ACC (6), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (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, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, Marquette, West Virginia, Providence

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - Radford

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

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

Big West - Cal State Northridge

Colonial - VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa, Creighton

MWC - Utah, BYU, New Mexico

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Morehead State

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

Patriot - American

SEC - LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - North Dakota State

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's, Gonzaga

----------------------------------------------------------------

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

The 2s
Louisville, Michigan State, Duke, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas, Washington

The 4s
Florida State, Missouri, Xavier, UCLA

The 5s
Syracuse, Illinois, Clemson, Gonzaga

The 6s
Marquette, Butler, Arizona State, Purdue

The 7s
California, Utah, Texas, LSU

The 8s
BYU, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio State

The 9s
Texas A&M, Dayton, Boston College, Wisconsin

The 10s
Michigan, Oklahoma State, Penn State, St. Mary's

The 11s
Arizona, Providence, South Carolina, Creighton

The 12s
New Mexico, Utah State, Siena, Northern Iowa

The 13s
Western Kentucky, VCU, Buffalo, Charleston

The 14s
Binghamton, Weber State, North Dakota State, American

The 15s
Stephen F. Austin, Cornell, East Tennessee State, Robert Morris

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

The Bracket
(Bracket coming soon...)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com

A Three Pack For Championship Monday

A look at the three biggest conference tournament finals on Monday's schedule:

George Mason vs. VCU
The previous two Colonial conference tourney champs will face off in what should be a competitive final. These two only played once during the regular season, with the Rams winning on their home floor. For the most part, bubble team fans really don't have a rooting interest in this one since neither team has any at-large possibility. However, Creighton and Rhode Island fans actually do have a team to cheer for. URI's best win (RPI-wise) came against VCU in a home game way back in November, while Creighton picked up a BracketBuster home win against George Mason a few weeks ago. Creighton needs all the help it can get this week and every win over a tourney team will put them that much closer to a bid (that's why Bluejay fans should probably actually cheer for Dayton and New Mexico as well). Rhode Island will still need to do plenty of damage in the A-10 tourney, but a trip to the conference final would put them in contention for an at-large.

Niagara at Siena
All season these two were the cream of the MAAC crop, and they will settle things in the final. They split during the regular season, each winning at home, but Niagara won by 15 just 10 days ago. This one is back on Siena's home court, so you have to like their chances to return to the NCAA tourney. Despite their 24 RPI, the Saints really have no at-large profile. They have no wins over teams currently in the top 50 RPI and lost two regular season games in the 13th rated conference in the country. A loss for them here would leave them in about the same boat as Davidson, and surely behind Creighton.

Gonzaga vs. St. Mary's
This one is easily the biggest game of the night, and could end up being one of the biggest bubble games of the week. Patty Mills made his triumphant return last night against Portland, and helped the Gaels advance to the final. The star guard was a little rusty (he was 3-of-12 from the floor), but he still managed to lead St. Mary's to a 10-point win. Now the real test comes against Gonzaga, who went unbeaten in conference. We've been anticipating this matchup for a week now, and with Mills back, we think the Gaels will have enough firepower to take down Gonzaga for the first time away from Moraga since 1997. The Gaels do have some at-large potential should they fall again to the Bulldogs. They have neutral court wins over Providence and SDSU, and a BracketBuster win over Utah State that came without Mills. It would really come down to how much of a break the committee gives them for their play when Mills was out. They suffered blowout road losses to Portland and Santa Clara during that time. If they do lose, they will have another chance to show the committee that they are a tourney team in a late week matchup with Eastern Washington.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Running Weekend Commentary

Friday and Saturday's Games
*Cornell was the first team to lock up an automatic bid, for the second year in a row, with its win over Penn on Friday night.

*As we head in to the final weekend of the regular season, here are the differences between our bracket and the brackets of other bracketologists:

Joe Lunardi (ESPN.com)
He has: Michigan, New Mexico, Northern Iowa
We have: Arizona, Providence, St. Mary's

Jerry Palm (CollegeRPI.com)
He has: Michigan, Rhode Island, Northern Iowa
We have: Providence, St. Mary's, South Carolina

*R.I.P. Cincinnati...and the Big East getting 9 bids.

*Michigan picked a pretty good time to win a road game. The Wolverines will be in Monday's field, but they'll still need to win a Big Ten tourney game to be safe. Minnesota's fate for Monday will be determined by how the rest of the bubble fares today and tomorrow. Even if they hang on as the eighth Big Ten team, they'll need one (and maybe two) Big Ten wins to like their chances on Selection Sunday. Keep in mind that Minnesota did sweep Wisconsin this season.

*Rakim Sanders just saved BC's season. The Eagles probably would have been out on Monday had Sanders' fadeaway jumper not fallen.

*Albany holds on to upset Vermont. Tony Kornheiser's Binghamton Bearcats have an easier NCAA tourney path now.

*POP! goes Kentucky. The Wildcats are going to have to get to the SEC final, and maybe win it, to get a bid. Their first round game will be against Alabama, followed by LSU and (barring an upset) South Carolina.

*How does Rhode Island reward us for showing them a little Last Four Out love? They lose at home to UMass. The Rams may have to win the A-10 tourney now to get a bid.

*South Carolina avoided the upset bug, and will stay in the field Monday as a result.

*Ginormous win for Texas A&M. They're solidly in right now.

*Interesting move by St. Mary's to add a game against Eastern Washington to the schedule for later this week after the WCC tourney.

*What an absolute mess the Big Ten is. Penn State was unable to lock down its bid at Iowa. Here is what we are left with: Wisconsin swept Penn State and Michigan, Michigan swept Minnesota, Minnesota swept Wisconsin, Ohio State swept Michigan, and Penn State swept Illinois and won at Michigan State. If Northwestern can win at Ohio State today then things will get even messier. It is going to take the conference tourney to sort this all out.

*Maryland blew it at Virginia and opened up a huge door for Virginia Tech if they can win at FSU. All of our ACC posters must really love the fact that the Big Ten is looking more and more like an 8 bid league (we still won't say it is an 8 bid league yet), while the ACC is looking like a 6 bid league.

*New Mexico picked up a huge road win at Wyoming. A trip the the MWC final would put them in good position for an at-large. There are also now some plausible scenarios where the MWC gets 4 bids.

*Creighton down big early...Creighton down big at the half...and Creighton losses big in the end. The Bluejays will be talked about all week and they are definitely in the mix for an at-large bid. They have wins over fellow bubble boys Dayton and New Mexico, and they have an RPI that will likely be in the low 40s. The big problem we think the committee may have with them is that they were only able to share the regular season title with Northern Iowa and that they were unable to reach the conference final. It will be a long week for them (like it was for Illinois State last year) and they will need to have things go their way throughout the week to make it in the end.

*Big win for Auburn today. They are officially on our bubble now having won 8 of 9 and finishing with 10 wins in the SEC. If Florida gets by Arkansas they will face off with the Tigers in the quarters in what will be an elimination game with the winner being right in the mix.

*Radford, East Tennessee State, and Morehead State (wow, what a game) - welcome to the Big Dance.

*We'll be back later tonight...keeping an eye on Stanford at Arizona, Wright State at Butler, and UNLV at SDSU.

*...And we're back. Butler was able to squeeze past Wright State and into the Horizon final, where they will face potential bid-stealer Cleveland State on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs will be in the field win-or-lose come Wednesday. Arizona also held serve at home against Stanford to finish 9-9 in the Pac-10. That should be good enough for a bid, but the Wildcats might want to beat ASU in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament to feel really good about their chances.

*UNLV has the best OOC resume of any MWC team, but they finished with seven conference losses and are on the outside looking in right now after losing at SDSU. It was the second win of the season for the Aztecs over the Rebels, who ended up with the 5 seed in the MWC tourney as a result. SDSU earned the 4 seed, which means that these two will play again on Thursday in an elimination game. The loser of that game will have no at-large hopes, while the winner will need to beat BYU in the semis to like its at-large chances on Selection Sunday. Both of these teams will enter the conference tourney behind New Mexico in the MWC pecking order. The Lobos split with every good MWC team during the regular season, but they finished a game ahead of SDSU in conference and three games ahead of UNLV. They've also won eight of nine overall. The Lobos' first round match-up against Wyoming (again) in the MWC tourney is very winnable. If they beat the Cowboys, and then upset Utah to get to the final, they'll be in great shape for an at-large.

Sunday's Games
*Who would have thought a week or so ago that all three ACC bubble teams (Maryland, Virginia Tech, and Miami) would finish 7-9? The "luckiest" of these three teams is Maryland, who ended up getting the 7 seed in the ACC tourney. They'll face N.C. State in the opening round. Miami and VT will square off in the 8/9 game. The loser of that is obviously done, while the winner is going to need to upset Carolina to get an at-large. The Terps will also need two wins to get serious at-large consideration.

*Congrats to Northern Iowa for winning the Valley (and for making our lives a little harder over the next week). Creighton is going to be one of the most-discussed and most debated bubble teams all week long. We'll give our updated take on their at-large chances when we release our Monday bracket.

*Ohio State survived Northwestern's upset bid and pulled out a five-point win in Columbus. The loss ends Northwestern's at-large hopes, but we wouldn't be surprised if the still-hot Wildcats make a little noise in the Big Ten tourney.

*Wow...down goes Davidson - to Charleston in the Southern semis. Unlike Creighton, who has a legit at-large resume as a mid-major, Davidson's tournament hopes are all but over. The Wildcats have just one win over the Top 100 (West Virginia), they get crushed in their Bracketbuster game by Butler (with Stephen Curry in the lineup), and they couldn't even get to the championship game of the 20th-ranked conference in the country. Davidson may be clinging to a spot in the Next Four Out list in our bracket tomorrow, but they will need a miracle (or a lot of Steph Curry love from the committee) at this point to get a bid.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - March 6

The dust has finally cleared on what was a wild four days of games, and here is how we see the bubble - and the bracket - at this point. Two teams dropped out of our field from Monday: Notre Dame (after their bubble bursting home loss to Villanova) and Florida (after their road loss to Mississippi State). They were replaced by Oklahoma State and Providence. The Cowboys were the only team on our Last Eight Out list to win a game over the last four days, and they earned a spot on the 10 line as a result. Providence lost its regular season finale at Villanova on Thursday night, but we still think that the Friars deserve a bid and that they'll be safe as long as they win one game in the Big East tournament.

The only other significant changes to the bracket were Memphis moving back up to the 2 line and Kansas falling to the 3 line, Purdue falling from a 4 to a 6 after their home loss to Northwestern, Penn State moving up to the 9 line after its thrilling win over Illinois, and South Carolina and Arizona falling down to the 12 line after home losses to Tennessee and Cal, respectively.

*Note: We will be back on Monday with our next Field of 65. In the meantime, we will provide running commentary on the weekend's games in the comments section. We will update our bracket daily starting Monday.

Bracket Breakdown
In This Week

Oklahoma State, Providence

Out This Week
Notre Dame, Florida

Last Four In
Maryland, Providence, Arizona, South Carolina

Last Four Out
Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, New Mexico

Next Four Out
Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Northwestern, San Diego State

---------------------------------------------------------------

Conference Breakdown
Big East (8), ACC (7), Big Ten (7), Big XII (6), Pac-10 (5), MWC (3), SEC (3), A-10 (2), WCC (2)

America East - Binghamton

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

Atlantic Sun - Jacksonville

A-10 - Xavier, Dayton

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

Big Sky - Weber State

Big South - Radford

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

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

Big West - Cal State Northridge

Colonial - VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Creighton

MWC - Utah, BYU, UNLV

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - UT-Martin

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

Patriot - American

SEC - LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina

Southern - Davidson

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - North Dakota State

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Alabama State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's, Gonzaga

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The Seeds
The 1s

Connecticut, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma

The 2s
Louisville, Duke, Michigan State, Memphis

The 3s
Wake Forest, Villanova, Kansas, Missouri

The 4s
Washington, Xavier, Florida State, Marquette

The 5s
Clemson, UCLA, Illinois, Gonzaga

The 6s
Purdue, Butler, California, Syracuse

The 7s
Texas, LSU, Tennessee, Arizona State

The 8s
West Virginia, Utah, BYU, Ohio State

The 9s
Minnesota, Dayton, Texas A&M, Penn State

The 10s
Boston College, Wisconsin, Creighton, Oklahoma State

The 11s
UNLV, Maryland, St. Mary's, Providence

The 12s
Arizona, South Carolina, Davidson, Utah State

The 13s
Siena, Western Kentucky, VCU, Buffalo

The 14s
Binghamton, Weber State, North Dakota State, American

The 15s
Stephen F. Austin, Cornell, UT-Martin, Robert Morris

The 16s
Cal State Northridge, Morgan State, Jacksonville, Radford (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In-Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)













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