Just when it looked like the bubble couldn't get any weaker, Upset Saturday struck again.
In a span of 12 hours, Virginia Tech knocked off top-ranked Duke, Colorado had a second half for the ages and stunned Texas, Kansas State and Baylor beat ranked opponents at home, Alabama lost at Mississippi, Minnesota lost - again - this time at home to Michigan, Memphis got obliterated at UTEP, Colorado State lost at Air Force (Air Force?!), and Nebraska lost at Iowa State (Iowa State??!!) By the end of the night, our 10-12 lines were in shambles, and we were left to sift through some of the worst at-large resumes we can remember to try to fill a 68-team field.
Ultimately, we decided on the following changes: Minnesota, Boston College, Colorado State, and Nebraska dropped out, and Virginia Tech, Michigan, Colorado, and Baylor jumped in. Nebraska was the easiest team to take out because the Huskers are now eighth in the Big XII pecking order. Colorado State was an easy removal as well because we don't give them much of a chance to win at San Diego State this week. Minnesota has the best wins of the four teams we took out, but they are in complete free-fall mode right now. The Gophers need to win their last two games just to get to 8-10 in conference, and even then, they'll probably have to get to the Big Ten final to get an at-large. BC was done in by their brutal home loss to Miami and the fact that they have to play at Virginia Tech on Tuesday. If they lose that game, which we think they will, they'll finish at best 8-8 in conference, which won't be enough.
Replacing those four teams in the bracket was a struggle. We wanted to include a bid-stealer for at least one of the open spots, but incredibly - in a year with three more at-large spots available and an awful bubble - there are just no bid-stealers out there right now. We don't like Missouri State's chances to get an at-large if they lose in the MVC final, and Conference USA is such a mess right now that the regular season champ probably won't be worthy of an at-large (if needed) down the road, either. The only bid-stealer possibility that we gave serious consideration to was the Horizon getting two bids (Milwaukee as the automatic and Butler an at-large). In the end, though, we stuck with the resurgent Bulldogs as our pick to win the Horizon tourney, and left the league with just one bid.
With no bid-stealers available, we had to pick from a group of teams with a lot of warts and a lot of work left to do. Virginia Tech was the easiest inclusion because of their win over the Blue Devils and their upcoming home game against BC. Michigan made the cut, despite their loss at home to Wisconsin on Wednesday, because we think they have a decent chance to beat Michigan State at home this weekend and then win their first Big Ten tourney game. Colorado made the cut because, after their upset of the Longhorns, the Buffs have five Top 50 wins overall and four Top 50 wins in conference. Their season sweep of Kansas State is huge, and their final two games (at Iowa State, vs. Nebraska) are very winnable. A 9-7 finish, even with an OOC SOS of 323, should put Colorado on the right side of the bubble heading into the Big XII tournament.
Our fourth at-large hole was filled by Baylor, who completed a season sweep of A&M on Saturday night to get back to .500 in conference. The Bears' final two games are both tough - at Oklahoma State and at home against Texas - but we think they have an outside chance to win both, especially with the Gameday crew coming to town over the weekend. If they split those two games, they'll have to make a deep run in the Big XII tournament to get back in the mix for a bid. Finally, in a decision that will surely cause some spirited debate in the comment section this week, we kept Alabama in the bracket as our last team in. We really can't defend the Tide's overall profile (two Top 50 wins, an 89 RPI), but we still think that if they finish 12-4, especially on this bubble, that the committee will give them a bid. Until 12-4 is mathematically impossible, we're sticking with them.
Elsewhere in the bracket, there was a change on the 1 line as BYU replaces Duke. The Cougars are likely going to have to win the MWC tourney to get a 1 seed, but given the way they played in front of a raucous SDSU crowd on Saturday, we think they can do that. In other changes to the top quarter of the bracket, SDSU fell from a 2 to a 3, Florida fell from a 3 to a 4, Louisville climbed from a 4 to a 3, and St. John's and North Carolina both went from 5s to 4s. The biggest upgrades of the week were BYU (who moved from a 3 to a 1), Syracuse (from a 5 to a 3), Kansas State (from an 11 to an 8), and Marquette (from am 11 to a 9). The biggest downgrade was Georgetown (from a 3 to a 5).
Last Four In
Michigan, Colorado, Baylor, Alabama
First Four Out
Boston College, Penn State, UAB, Colorado State
Next Four Out
Clemson, Memphis, USC, Minnesota
"First Four" Games
Michigan vs. Colorado, Baylor vs. Alabama, Murray State vs. Bethune-Cookman, Texas Southern vs. McNeese State
Big East (11), Big XII (7), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), ACC (4), A-10 (3), MWC (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), WCC (2)
America East - Vermont
ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech
Atlantic Sun - Belmont
A-10 - Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John's, Connecticut, Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette
Big Sky - Northern Colorado
Big South - Coastal Carolina
Big Ten - Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan
Big XII - Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado, Baylor
Big West - Long Beach State
Colonial - George Mason, Old Dominion
Conference USA - Southern Miss
Horizon - Butler
Ivy - Princeton
MAAC - Fairfield
MAC - Kent State
MEAC - Bethune Cookman
MVC - Missouri State
MWC - BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast - Long Island
Ohio Valley - Murray State
Pac-10 - Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Patriot - Bucknell
SEC - Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
Southern - Charleston
Southland - McNeese State
Summit - Oakland
Sun Belt - Florida Atlantic
SWAC - Texas Southern
WAC - Utah State
WCC - St. Mary's, Gonzaga
Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, BYU
Duke, Notre Dame, Purdue, Texas
Louisville, Wisconsin, Syracuse, San Diego State
St. John's, Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina
Georgetown, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Villanova
Xavier, Texas A&M, Arizona, West Virginia
Missouri, Temple, UCLA, UNLV
Cincinnati, George Mason, Old Dominion, Kansas State
Utah State, Marquette, Florida State, Illinois
Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan State, Washington
Richmond, St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech
Butler, Michigan vs. Colorado (FF), Baylor vs. Alabama (FF), Southern Miss
Missouri State, Princeton, Belmont, Oakland
Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Bucknell, Fairfield
Vermont, Kent State, Long Beach State, Long Island
Florida Atlantic, Northern Colorado, Murray State vs. Bethune Cookman (FF), Texas Southern vs. McNeese State (FF)
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
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