Monday, January 18, 2010

Bracketology 101's Field of 65 - Jan. 18

For the second straight week, there were a lot of changes to our Field of 65, including the departure of one big name that isn't exactly used to seeing its name on the wrong side of the bubble.

That unfortunate distinction belongs to UConn, who lost at home to Pittsburgh and at Michigan this week to fall from the 9 line all the way to the Last Four Out list. For the past few weeks, we have been the Huskies' harshest critics and we have often voiced our complaints about the 4 and 5 seeds they were receiving from other bracketologists. It was clear to us that those seeds were being handed out because of UConn's reputation and not because of their on-court performance, but there is no way to support them as an at-large candidate any longer (right, Lunardi? Palm? Glockner?). The Huskies still have no quality Big East wins, they only have one halfway-decent OOC win (William & Mary...yikes), and (oh, by the way) they have a date with top-ranked Texas looming on Saturday. If they could ever knock off the Longhorns, this whole discussion would be moot. But based on how the Huskies played in Ann Arbor, it's almost impossible to envision a second-ever court rush at Gampel happening this weekend.

UConn's exit from the bracket, coupled with Notre Dame's removal (can we call a mulligan on the Irish?) means that the Big East, despite its No. 1 conference RPI, has just six teams in this week's field. That's just two more than the A-10, which now has four bids with the addition of Xavier to the bracket. The Musketeers knocked off Charlotte and Dayton at home to leap-frog Rhode Island as the league's fourth representative. For the second straight week, the Rams are the last team left out of our bracket. One reason why is the emergence of Xavier, but perhaps a more important reason is our long-standing belief that the A-10 will get a max of four bids come Selection Sunday. Everything would have to break perfect over the next month and a half (and especially during Championship Week) for all five tourney-caliber A-10 teams to make it, so we plan on sticking with four A-10 bids for the foreseeable future.

The other three additions to our field were a little more difficult to pick. One of them ended up being Arizona State, who jumped into the bracket thanks to a road sweep of the Oregon schools. The Sun Devils have now won four in a row in conference, and in doing so have helped bring a little bit of credibility back to the beleaguered Pac-10. The Pac-10 is back to a two-bid league this week, led by Washington on the 9 line. Illinois also found its way back into the bracket this week, despite losing at Michigan State on Saturday. We like the fact that at 4-1, the Illini are alone in second place in the Big Ten and that they have two quality OOC wins (Clemson and Vanderbilt) that are looking better by the day. We also think they have a great chance to pad their resume on Tuesday at home against Purdue.

Meanwhile, in the ACC, Virginia's home wins over Georgia Tech and Miami vaulted them into the bracket this week and knocked the slumping Hurricanes out. The upstart Cavaliers have now won seven straight and are the lone unbeaten in the ACC standings, and looking ahead, we think that's it's very conceivable that they can finish 10-6 in conference with the schedule they have left. They'll probably need those 10 wins to make up for a not-so-great OOC resume, but right now we like their chances to pull that off.

The most unexpected entrant in this week's field, though, has to be Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane haven't even been one of our Last Eight Out over the last few weeks, but nevertheless, they are in this week as the automatic bid out of C-USA. Why the automatic? First, we didn't like any of the at-large options we had left. Second, and more importantly, the C-USA conference tournament is being held this year on Tulsa's home floor, and as they showed again this week, the Golden Hurricane are a pretty dominant team at home. They blew out UCF by 20 at the Reynolds Center on Saturday and that win marked the ninth time in 10 home games that Tulsa has won by double digits. That streak includes a 21-point win over Oklahoma State back on Dec. 2. Looking ahead, we really like UAB's chances to win the C-USA regular season title and to get an at-large, but we think the conference tourney is going to be wide open. Four or five teams could win it, but it's hard not to like Tulsa based on what they've done in at home so far this season.

In terms of seeding, a couple of teams made big climbs this week. No team made a bigger leap than Ohio State, who moved from an 11 to a 5 after knocking off Purdue and Wisconsin. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, jumped from a 5 to a 2 thanks to wins over UConn and Louisville, and Vanderbilt moved from a 9 to a 6 after wins at Alabama and at South Carolina. The biggest drops belonged to North Carolina, who fell from a 4 to an 8 after an 0-2 week, and Minnesota, who fell from an 8 to the Last Four In list after losing at Michigan State and at Indiana.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In
Minnesota, Arizona State, Wichita State, Virginia

Last Four Out
Rhode Island, Connecticut, Miami (FL), Northwestern

Next Four Out
Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, St. Mary's, St. John's


Conference Breakdown
ACC (7), Big XII (6), Big East (6), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), A-10 (4), MWC (3), Pac-10 (2), C-USA (2), MVC (2)

America East - Vermont

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

Atlantic Sun - Mercer

A-10 - Temple, Richmond, Dayton, Xavier

Big East - Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, West Virginia, Cincinnati

Big Sky - Northern Colorado

Big South - Coastal Carolina

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

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

Big West - Pacific

Colonial - William & Mary

Conference USA - Tulsa, UAB

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Cornell

MAAC - Siena

MAC - Buffalo

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Northern Iowa, Wichita State

MWC - BYU, New Mexico, UNLV

Northeast - Robert Morris

Ohio Valley - Murray State

Pac-10 - Washington, Arizona State

Patriot - Lafayette

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

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Sam Houston State

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky

SWAC - Jackson State

WAC - Louisiana Tech

WCC - Gonzaga


The Seeds
The 1s

Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse

The 2s
Villanova, Duke, Michigan State, Pittsburgh

The 3s
Purdue, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kansas State

The 4s
Georgetown, West Virginia, Gonzaga, Temple

The 5s
Clemson, Butler, Ohio State, Wake Forest

The 6s
BYU, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Vanderbilt

The 7s
Georgia Tech, UAB, Northern Iowa, Mississippi

The 8s
North Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida, William & Mary

The 9s
Washington, Baylor, UNLV, Richmond

The 10s
Missouri, Florida State, Dayton, Xavier

The 11s
Cincinnati, Illinois, Arizona State, Wichita State

The 12s
Minnesota, Cornell, Louisiana Tech, Virginia

The 13s
Tulsa, Siena, Western Kentucky, Charleston

The 14s
Oakland, Buffalo, Northern Colorado, Coastal Carolina

The 15s
Murray State, Pacific, Sam Houston State, Vermont

The 16s
Morgan State, Mercer, Lafayette, Robert Morris (Play-In Game), Jackson State (Play-In Game)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)

Questions? Comments? E-mail Bracketology 101 at


tribefan said...

Hypothetically, if the season ended today and William and Mary was not CAA champions, would they be in as an at-large? What do you forecast for them from here on out?

Howard Salwasser said...

In regards to UConn, I too left them out of my projected brackets.

No one will say this, but I believe North Carolina is getting closer to the bubble too.

keenan said...

Well, if you think you should get a mulligan for rewarding Notre Dame's weak OOC schedule, then you guys should give other bracketologists a mulligan as well.
Taking UConn out of the bracket was a no brainer. Losing at Michigan was a very bad loss when you consider that Northwestern and Boston College had both won at Michigan this year. Neither of those teams are in your bracket now either.

How is Minnesota still in the bracket? They lost to Miami who is not in your bracket. The Gophers did bear Ohio State at home but have a weak OOC resume and have lost to most of the good teams they have played. Ohio State and Butler are their best wins. Northwestern actually has just as good of argument as Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Pikachu, one advantage UNC has is wins over Michigan State and Ohio State. UConn has lost to the best teams they have played.

Bracketology 101 said...

William and Mary is at large worthy at this time. If they can manage to at least share the CAA title with no more than 3 losses they will make the tourney barring a very early exit in the conference tourney. Their BracketBuster game will likely be against Butler or Northern Iowa on the road. If they can manage to win that game then they could be looking at a very good seed in the tourney as well.

Minnesota has struggled over their past few games and the loss to Indiana is ugly. But we are also considering their potential over the rest of the season. 4 out of their 6 conference games have been on the road and we think they shouldn't have too much trouble getting to 10-8 or 11-7 with what they have left which will be enough for a bid.

We'll concede the Northwestern's resume is just as good as Minnesota's at this point, but we can't envision the Wildcats doing better than .500 in league play.

Anonymous said...

How do you guys view St. Marys? Do you have a shot at an large without beating Gonzaga? Or do they need to win at Spokane or the WCC tourney?

Bracketology 101 said...

St. Mary's only chance to pick up a quality win is against Gonzaga since they don't have a BracketBuster game this year. They will now need to beat Gonzaga in Spokane and we don't see it happening. If they can't then there is no at-large chance for them (just look at last season).

Jeff said...

"The 4s

Appreciate the love. Go Owls!

Jason said...

who do you all like tonight? will k state hand the horns their first loss?

give me the brandy said...

disagree with Virginia over Northwestern.

Virginia's lost to Penn St (at home), Stanford, South Florida, and Auburn, all bottom feeders in their conferences. Their only road win is at NC St, a team that NW also beat on the road. Ga Tech, UAB and Miami are decent wins, but none as good as Northwestern's win against Purdue. Northwestern also has not one bad loss. I just don't think that UVA's 3-0 conference records make up for their horrible non conference.

Bracketology 101 said...

We like Kansas State to pull the upset tonight. Texas has struggled in each of its last two road games, and they had to work hard to hold off a short-handed Texas A&M squad at home on Saturday. The Longhorns are due to lose soon, and the Wildcats are by far the toughest road test they are going to face all season.

We concede the fact that Virginia has some pretty ugly losses, but they are playing like a different team right now than they were early in the year. They've beaten three tourney-caliber teams in the past three weeks and they have a pretty favorable ACC schedule going forward. Northwestern is already buried in the Big Ten standings at 2-3 and there's a good chance they'll lose three of their next four. They play at Ohio State tomorrow, home against Illinois on Saturday, and then at Minnesota and at Michigan State next week. It wouldn't shock us at all if they came out of that stretch 3-6 in conference.

Anonymous said...

One thing I think should be taken into consideration regarding Virginia is this: if they finish 9-7, which as you suggest could put them on the wrong side of the bubble, they would have a favorable match-up against a 9-12 seed in the ACC tourney, and if they won a 10th game there could that not push them back into contention?

Bracketology 101 said...

If Virginia finishes 9-7 in conference, they will almost certainly have to win two games in the ACC tournament to get a bid. That first round game will do nothing for their resume.

Anonymous said...

Does the Mountain West have a shot at getting a 4th team? Could San Diego State earn an at large?

Bracketology 101 said...

The MWC will not get 4 bids this year. SDSU will need to finish at least tied for the regular season title to have any chance at an at-large with their OOC resume.

Anonymous said...

I watch a lot of ACC games, and think the teams are going to tear each other up in conference play. Who do you see as the regular season conference champ? And, is it likely to see the conference beat each other up enough that the conference ends up only getting 4 or 5 slots?

Anonymous said...

hey, what has St Johns done to get in the next four out? They just lost by 15 to Providence at home. Other then beat Cincinnati, what have they done to deserve any consideration?

give me the brandy said...

well, UVA almost made it a non-issue tonight, but don't think that they will get to 10-6 in the ACC. Northwestern will likely sit at 3-6 in 4 games, but after these 4 they should be favored in all but 1 or 2 games of their remaining games. 10-8 seems most likely to me in the end.

Bracketology 101 said...

Duke is the clear favorite to win the ACC regular season title, followed by Clemson and Georgia Tech.

Did you forget that St. John's beat Temple and Siena out of conference? That's why they deserve some consideration.

Anonymous said...

you consider Siena a quality win?

Bracketology 101 said...

Ask Ohio State and Vanderbilt, who Siena beat the last two years in the NCAA tourney, if the Saints are a quality win. They're unbeaten in the MAAC again this season and will be a very, very tough out in the first round again.

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about this years Siena team. Not the last 2 years Siena teams. Heck if you thought the tournament performance of a team 2 years ago mattered to this year's resume, should UCLA be a #1 seed? Anything Siena did last year means nothing towards this years bracket. St. Johns is not a tournament team. You failed to mention their loss at home to Providence.

Bracketology 101 said...

This may sound random, but our knowledge of Siena - this year and in past years - is pretty extensive. We have attended Saints games in person each of the past four years and we think that they are just as dangerous this year as they were the last two years. Point guard Ronald Moore (one of the best point guards you've never heard of) leads the nation in assists per game and swingman Edwin Ubiles is a Big East-caliber player. If the Saints continue to dominate the MAAC and get an 11 or 12 seed in March (which is very possible), we think they have a great chance to pull a first-round NCAA tourney upset again.

As for St. John's, we agree that they are not a tournament team right now. All we said is that they deserve to be in the at-large discussion because of the wins they have out of conference.

Anonymous said...

How can you not have ODU as at least one of the last 4 out? They have not lost at home, have an outstanding RPI, a great win at Georgetown (never trailed), and have only one loss in conference against a solid George Mason team. I'm listening.

Bracketology 101 said...

We did consider ODU and if we would have listed a next team left out it would be them. But right now we cannot give them very serious consideration for an at-large. The win over Georgetown is good but it is their only top 50 win and after that there isn't much there. All of their losses (besides George Mason) are to tourney teams, but all 4 of those teams could end up being on the bubble come March which will hurt ODU in head to head comparisons. Plus the CAA is only 12th in conference RPI so things will have to break right for the conference to get two bids and right now we like William and Mary for the auto bid. ODU does get 2 games with William and Mary and a BracketBuster game to prove themselves so the opportunity is there to build a quality at-large resume.

Anonymous said...

What did Rhode Island do to get dropped out the field? Their only 2 losses have been by a combined 5 points. And 3 of those points were against Temple (#4 seed) in OT. A game the Rams should have won if not for poor free throw shooting and FG % in the 30's. Show Rhody some love. They should be in above Richmond right now.

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