Monday, February 28, 2011

Bracketology 101's Field of 68 - Feb. 28

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).

Bracket Breakdown
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

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

Conference Breakdown
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

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

The Seeds
The 1s
Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, BYU

The 2s
Duke, Notre Dame, Purdue, Texas

The 3s
Louisville, Wisconsin, Syracuse, San Diego State

The 4s
St. John's, Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina

The 5s
Georgetown, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Villanova

The 6s
Xavier, Texas A&M, Arizona, West Virginia

The 7s
Missouri, Temple, UCLA, UNLV

The 8s
Cincinnati, George Mason, Old Dominion, Kansas State

The 9s
Utah State, Marquette, Florida State, Illinois

The 10s
Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan State, Washington

The 11s
Richmond, St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech

The 12s
Butler, Michigan vs. Colorado (FF), Baylor vs. Alabama (FF), Southern Miss

The 13s
Missouri State, Princeton, Belmont, Oakland

The 14s
Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Bucknell, Fairfield

The 15s
Vermont, Kent State, Long Beach State, Long Island

The 16s
Florida Atlantic, Northern Colorado, Murray State vs. Bethune Cookman (FF), Texas Southern vs. McNeese State (FF)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
















Questions? Comments? E-mail us at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com or send us a tweet at twitter.com/Bracketology101.

Friday, February 25, 2011

B101's Questions For The Weekend

Here's what we're wondering heading into this weekend's games:

Saturday's Games
Who would have ever thought the best game of the year, based on RPI, would be between San Diego State and BYU? When was the last regular season game between two top 4 RPI teams?

If the winner of SDSU-BYU wins out, what's the percent chance they get a 1 seed?

Can Virginia Tech jump into the bracket (for good?) with a win over Duke in Blacksburg?

Can Texas avoid a second straight weekend loss to a Big XII bubble team? (Is Colorado still a bubble team...?)

Will Georgetown (vs. Syracuse) or Villanova (vs. St. John's) go 0-2 at home this week?

Can Arizona complete a season sweep of UCLA? Can Florida do the same to Kentucky?

Will Kansas State cement its spot in the bracket with a home win over Missouri?

Is Baylor done? Is there any chance the Bears upset Texas A&M in Waco to stay in the hunt for an at-large?

Did VCU and BC see their at-large bubbles burst this week? Can they bounce back with wins over James Madison and Virginia?

Does Minnesota still deserve a bid even if they beat Michigan at home? How will the Wolverines play in the wake of Wednesday's brutal buzzer-beating loss to Wisconsin?

Was Wednesday night's beatdown at Maryland a blip on the radar for Florida State, or is it a sign of things to come? Can the 'Noles take care of Miami at home?

Did Alabama really need a last second tip-in to beat Auburn? Can they shake off that awful performance and win at Mississippi?

Is Gonzaga in the bracket for good after their enormous win at St. Mary's? Can they do what the Gaels could not do and win at San Diego?

Will a trip to the WCC final be enough for St. Mary's to get in?

Should the loser of Wichita State at Missouri State start printing NIT tickets?

Is winning a share of the Horizon regular season title enough to get Butler an at-large?

Could Conference USA be more of a mess? If Memphis hands UTEP its third loss of the week, will it be hard to deny the Tigers an at-large?

Can UAB and Southern Miss stay alive in the race for the C-USA regular season title with road wins over Houston and UCF?

Can Vanderbilt and Temple win on the road and avoid 0-2 weeks?

Will Nebraska keep its slim at-large hopes alive with a road win at Iowa State?

Will a win at Air Force be enough to keep Colorado State in the bracket on Monday?

Can Utah State avoid a season sweep at the hands of Idaho?

Sunday's Games
Does Pitt need to win at Louisville to stay on the 1 line?

If Michigan State beats Purdue, is there any chance they don't get an at-large?

If UConn loses at Cincinnati, will the Bearcats have a better seed than the Huskies on Monday?

Can Maryland win at North Carolina? Will one Top 50 win be enough for them to climb into the bracket?

Can West Virginia avoid an upset at Rutgers (and the big seed drop that would follow)?

Marquette picked up a ticket-punching win at UConn this week; they couldn't possibly give their ticket back by losing at home to Providence, right?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Thursday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Thursday's Games
After a night of upsets (Kentucky, BC), buzzer beaters (Wisconsin), bubbles burst (Nebraska, UTEP, VCU), and dance cards punched (Cincinnati), Thursday night is setting up to be much less exciting.

Easily the biggest bubble battle of the night is out West, with Gonzaga visiting St. Mary's. The Gaels looked like a sure thing just two weeks ago, but since then they have dropped games to lowly San Diego and to fellow mid-major power Utah State. Their OOC win over St. John's keeps looking better and better, but other than that, there isn't too much else on their resume. A win tonight would give them the WCC regular season title, which should be enough for a bid. Gonzaga's at-large hopes have been helped by St. Mary's recent struggles, and a win for them tonight will likely lead to a share of the conference title. That very well could be their only hope for an at-large, since they will end up with double-digit losses and an RPI in the mid-70s.

Back East, the biggest games are in the Big East with West Virginia playing at Pittsburgh and Marquette playing at UConn. The Huskies will be without Jim Calhoun on the sidelines as they face a Golden Eagles team looking to solidify their spot in the bracket. Marquette has three Top 25 wins, which is more than any other bubble team can claim, but those wins all have come at home. A win at UConn would pretty much stamp their ticket and would make 11 Big East bids almost a certainty. West Virginia, meanwhile, will be looking to upset another Top 10 team after their huge home win over Notre Dame this past weekend, while Pitt will be looking to bounce back from their loss to the Red Storm. The Mountaineers need a strong finish to end up in the top eight of the Big East standings and avoid having to play on the first day of the Big East tourney.

Elsewhere in Mid-Majorville, Old Dominion visits James Madison and Milwaukee takes on Cleveland State. The Monarchs likely just need to win their final two regular season games to be an absolute lock heading into the CAA tourney. Cleveland State likely destroyed their chances for an at large in losing their BracketBuster game to ODU over the weekend, and if they want to stay in the discussion, they must win their last two and win the Horizon regular season conference title. That title is also important because it would give them home court advantage throughout the conference tourney.

Also keep an eye on: Georgia at Florida, Penn State at Northwestern, Northeastern at George Mason, Arizona State at UCLA, Arizona at USC

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Wednesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

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Wednesday's Games
It's going to be a busy night in Bubbleville, as two teams on our Last Four In list and four teams on our First Eight Out list are in action.

The biggest bubble battle of the night takes place in Lincoln, where bracket newcomer Nebraska hosts Kansas State. The game is essentially a must-win for the Huskers, who will need to finish 9-7 in conference and win at least one Big XII tournament game to be position for an at-large. It's hard to see them getting to 9-7 if they don't win tonight, considering they have two tricky road games (at Iowa State and at Colorado) and a home game against Missouri left. Kansas State can probably get a bid with an 8-8 finish and one Big XII tourney win, and if they come away victorious tonight, that mark is very attainable.

The other game tonight involving a Last Four In team is Colorado State at BYU. The Rams missed out on a huge opportunity on Saturday by losing at home to UNLV, and as a result, they need to go at least 2-2 down the stretch to have any chance of an at-large. We certainly don't expect them to beat the Jimmers on the road, but we do expect them to win at Air Force on Saturday. A good showing tonight (even in a loss) would give them some much-needed momentum heading into the weekend.

Of the four games involving teams just off the bubble, the most intriguing is Wisconsin at Michigan. The Wolverine faithful have hijacked our poll questions the last couple of weeks in support of their team, but all of those mouse clicks won't mean anything if Michigan doesn't take care of business in its two remaining home games. A 3-0 finish would get Michigan on the right side of the bubble heading into the Big Ten tournament; a 2-1 mark means they'll have to win two Big Ten tourney games to be in the mix.

In other Last Eight Out action, Baylor plays at Missouri, Boston College hosts Miami, and VCU plays at Drexel. The Bears' final four games are brutal, which makes their loss over the weekend to Texas Tech all the more crushing. They'll need two wins down the stretch to stay alive for an at-large. BC has now lost five of its last seven and needs a win over the Hurricanes tonight to stay in the bracket on Monday, and VCU needs to keep winning games period to keep the Colonial's dream of three bids alive. The Rams wrap up their regular season this week with tonight's tricky road game against the Dragons and a home game against James Madison on Saturday. If they finish 2-0 and make the Colonial final, they will be one of the toughest calls to make on Selection Sunday.

The three other must-watch games of the night are Temple at Duke, Cincinnati at Georgetown, and Florida State at Maryland. The Blue Devils moved up to the 1 line in our bracket this week, and they'll remain there on Monday provided they don't slip up at home against the Owls tonight or at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Cincinnati and Florida State, meanwhile, are in pretty similar positions with to weeks to go in the regular season. The Bearcats will get an at-large if they can win two of their final four games (at Georgetown, UConn, at Marquette, Georgetown). If they go 1-3, they'll have to win two Big East tournament games to feel completely safe. The 'Noles need two wins in their final four games to be a lock, and will need two ACC tournament wins to feel totally safe if they finish 1-3.

Also keep an eye on: Notre Dame at Providence, Purdue at Indiana, Oklahoma at Texas A&M, North Carolina at North Carolina State, DePaul at St. John's, Kentucky at Arkansas, Auburn at Alabama, UNLV at New Mexico, UTEP at East Carolina, Creighton at Wichita State, Missouri State at Southern Illinois

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Tuesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Tuesday's Games
The focus is on the Big Ten tonight, where there are two big bubble battles on tap. The most important bubble game of the night is the match-up between Michigan State and Minnesota. The Gophers' late season slide (they have lost five of six) needs to come to an end this week or else they won't find themselves in the bracket next week. They have a huge week ahead with the Michigan schools coming in, and they need to win three of their last four just to finish 9-9 in conference. If they can't get to 9-9 in conference, a deep Big Ten run would likely be required to lock down a bid. A win for the Spartans would do wonders for their tourney hopes as it would give them the season sweep over the Gophers and make them a virtual lock for at least a 9-9 conference finish.

The other Big Ten bubble team in action is Illinois, which travels to Ohio State. Obviously a road win over the Buckeyes isn't a requirement for the Illini to make the tournament, and at least a 9-9 conference finish looks like a certainty for them with home games against Iowa and Indiana remaining. A win here could turn the focus back towards how high of a seed the Illini could end up with instead of what they need to do to secure their bid.

The two other games of note tonight are Tennessee at Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech at Wake Forest. The Volunteers gave themselves little wiggle room by losing to Georgia over the weekend, and they now have to pick up at least two wins in their last four games to feel good about their tourney hopes heading into the SEC tournament. The Hokies had an even worse loss over the weekend in losing at Virginia, which knocked them out of our latest bracket. They are once again setting the table to be one of the most debated bubble teams come Selection Sunday, and their game at Wake Forest should just be a tune-up for their make-or-break game against Duke this weekend.

Also keep and eye on: Iowa State at Texas, Louisville at Rutgers, LaSalle at Xavier, Houston at Memphis, UNC-Asheville at Coastal Carolina

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." Today's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi and SI.com's Andy Glockner. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent brackets, which were released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 21 Bracket
What do you have against Richmond? The Spiders are 10-3 in the A-10, they have an OOC win over Purdue, and they're not in? Worse yet, they're behind UAB on your First First Out list?

Speaking of UAB, how are the Blazers so close to being in? Conference USA deserves three bids more than the Colonial does? More than the A-10? Based on what?

How does Cleveland State move up to a 12 seed after getting blown out at Old Dominion?

Isn't Kansas State a little high as a 9? How is Washington still a 7? Virginia Tech is a 10 and is two seed lines above BC?

Andy Glockner (Sports Illustrated) - Feb. 21 Bracket
No Alabama? Memphis and Butler both have better chances at an at-large if the season ended today?

We're not opposed to the Colonial getting three bids, but VCU's an 11? They're not a 12 or Last Four In?

How is UConn two seed lines better than Louisville? The Cardinals beat the Huskies twice and are a game better in conference.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bracketology 101's Field of 68 - Feb. 21

When we put together the bracket each week, we fully expect there to be a debate about the last four teams in. This week, the debate started with the first four teams in, and it continued all the way down to the bubble.

Losses by Pittsburgh, Kansas, Ohio State, and Texas caused a shake-up on the 1 line for the first time in over a month. Texas' loss at Nebraska knocked the Longhorns down to the top of the 2 line and allowed Duke to move up. Also in the top quarter of the bracket, Purdue moved from a 4 to a 2 after beating Wisconsin and Ohio State, Georgetown fell to a 3 after losing at UConn, and UConn fell to a 4 after losing at Louisville.

Three at-large bids changed hands this week as Virginia Tech, Baylor, and Memphis dropped out and Kansas State, Nebraska, and Gonzaga jumped in. The Wildcats got the nod thanks to their upset of Kansas in Manhattan, and Nebraska earned their spot after upsetting Texas in Lincoln. Neither team is a lock at this point to get to 9-7 in conference, which is troubling, but we think there's still a decent chance that both can get in. Nebraska needs to beat Kansas State at home on Wednesday and finish 9-7 finish in conference to stay in the hunt, while Kansas State needs at least an 8-8 finish and at least one win in the Big XII tourney.

The final spot in the bracket went to Gonzaga, which won both of its games this week (over Santa Clara and San Francisco) and got some help when St. Mary's lost at San Diego. If the Zags can win at St. Mary's on Thursday (and we think they can given the week the Gaels just had), they will likely share the WCC regular season title with St. Mary's. That title, plus a decent OOC resume and a trip to the WCC final, will probably be enough for Gonzaga to get an at-large if they need it.

Another notable development this week was the difficulty we had finding teams for the First Eight Out list. Usually, we have a dozen (or more) teams to pick from, but this week, we were stretching to find candidates. Even the teams on the First Four Out list have tough roads ahead in order to get into the bracket. Virginia Tech has to face Duke at home this weekend, Memphis needs to win its final four regular season games and plays at UTEP on Saturday, VCU is still stuck behind George Mason and Old Dominion in the Colonial pecking order (probably the only way the Colonial is going to get three bids is if VCU wins the conference tourney), and Michigan has three tough games left (vs. Wisconsin, at Minnesota, vs. Michigan State). Boston College, Colorado State, Nebraska and Gonzaga may not have great resumes, but they're in better shape than the teams chasing them.

Other notable upgrades seed-wise this week were St. John's, who moved up from a 7 to a 5 after their wins over Marquette and Pitt; Cincinnati, who moved up from a 10 to an 8 after their win over Louisville); and George Mason, who climbed six spots on the S-curve to the top of the 8 line. Notable downgrades were St. Mary's, who dropped from a 7 to a 10 after their 0-2 week; and Minnesota, who fell from an 8 to a 10 after losing at Penn State.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In
Boston College, Colorado State, Nebraska, Gonzaga

First Four Out
Virginia Tech, Memphis, VCU, Michigan

Next Four Out
Baylor, Clemson, Cleveland State, Missouri State

"First Four" Games
Boston College vs. Colorado State, Nebraska vs. Gonzaga, Murray State vs. Morgan State, Texas Southern vs. McNeese State

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

Conference Breakdown
Big East (11), Big XII (6), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), ACC (4), MWC (4), A-10 (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), WCC (2)

America East - Vermont

ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College

Atlantic Sun - Belmont

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Richmond

Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, St. John's, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette

Big Sky - Montana

Big South - Coastal Carolina

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

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

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - George Mason, Old Dominion

Conference USA - UTEP

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Harvard

MAAC - Fairfield

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Morgan State

MVC - Wichita State

MWC - San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State

Northeast - Long Island

Ohio Valley - Murray State

Pac-10 - Arizona, UCLA, Washington

Patriot - Bucknell

SEC - Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, 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

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

The Seeds
The 1s
Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Kansas, Duke

The 2s
San Diego State, Texas, Notre Dame, Purdue

The 3s
BYU, Georgetown, Florida, Wisconsin

The 4s
Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Vanderbilt

The 5s
Syracuse, North Carolina, Kentucky, St. John's

The 6s
Arizona, Texas A&M, Missouri, West Virginia

The 7s
Temple, Xavier, UNLV, UCLA

The 8s
George Mason, Florida State, Cincinnati, Old Dominion

The 9s
Utah State, Illinois, Tennessee, Washington

The 10s
Georgia, St. Mary's, Minnesota, Michigan State

The 11s
Richmond, Marquette, Alabama, Kansas State

The 12s
Butler, Boston College vs. Colorado State (FF), UTEP, Harvard

The 13s
Nebraska vs. Gonzaga (FF), Wichita State, Belmont, Charleston

The 14s
Coastal Carolina, Oakland, Fairfield, Vermont

The 15s
Kent State, Bucknell, Long Beach State, Long Island

The 16s
Montana, Florida Atlantic, Murray State vs. Morgan State (FF), Texas Southern vs. McNeese State (FF)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
















Questions? Comments? E-mail us at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com or send us a tweet at twitter.com/Bracketology101.

Friday, February 18, 2011

B101's Questions For The Weekend

Here's what we're wondering heading into this weekend's games:

Friday's Games
Can UConn avenge last month's home loss to Louisville? Do the Huskies deserve to be on the 2 line next week if they do?

Whose at-large hopes will be crushed by the result of VCU at Wichita State?

Can Princeton pass a tricky road test at Yale and stay unbeaten in the Ivy?

Saturday's Games
Could the Jayhawks lose two in a row? Colorado beat Kansas State and Kansas State beat Kansas, so does that mean Colorado can beat Kansas?

It's hard to take a power conference team seriously when their last tourney appearance was 1998, but won't we have to if Nebraska can knock off Texas?

If Kansas State and Baylor can win home games against Big XII bottom feeders, and Colorado and Nebraska somehow pulled off Ws, can you imagine the Big XII bubble mess on Monday?

Will SDSU get caught overlooking Air Force in anticipation of its showdown with BYU next weekend?

St. John's has already beaten three of the top four Big East teams at home. Will they take down Pitt and make it 4-for-4?

West Virginia hasn't beaten a Big East team in the top half of the bracket since early January. Will they break that streak at home against Notre Dame?

Can Washington climb back into the hunt for the Pac-10 title and beat Arizona in Tucson?

Considering that BC hasn't won a conference road game in 2011, do they really have any chance to win in Chapel Hill?

If Virginia Tech can win at Virginia, then they have to finally be ahead of BC on the ACC bubble, correct?

A few days ago it was a given that Utah State needed the win more than St. Mary's in their BracketBuster showdown, but after the Gaels' loss to San Diego this week, who needs this game more?

Florida State couldn't have asked for an easier opponent in their first post-Singleton game. He's not so important that the Seminoles could possibly lose to Wake Forest, is he?

Given the way Georgia has fared against superior opponents in the past month, we have no expectations for them to win at Tennessee. The question is, will they be in the bracket on Monday with another loss?

Can Michigan win at Iowa and keep their slim at-large hopes alive?

We know that Colorado State cannot match the OOC resume of UNLV, but if they beat the Rebels again and have a three-game lead in the loss column on the Rebels, how are they not ahead of them on the MWC bubble?

Cincinnati got the marquee Big East win its resume so desperately needed this week, but can they avoid giving it all back and losing at Providence?

Gonzaga's at-large resume improved this week without them doing much of anything. Can the Zags avoid a season sweep at the hands of San Francisco and keep their at-large dreams alive?

Does Michigan State have the biggest must-win game of any bubble team this weekend with Illinois coming in?

Are we wrong in thinking the most likely scenario for Conference USA is Memphis getting an at-large and someone else (UTEP? UAB? Southern Miss?) winning the conference tourney?

Why does the ESPN Gameday schedule come out in the beginning of the season? Shouldn't they hold off until a week or two before so we aren't stuck watching them in Lansing at such a mediocre game?

Sunday's Games
Can Purdue knock off Wisconsin and Ohio State in the same week?

We were reminded again on Thursday that Penn State is pretty tough to beat at home. Any chance they win at the Kohl Center?

Will Old Dominion continue to state its case for an at-large with a BracketBuster win over Cleveland State?

Will Clemson see its at-large chances end for good with a loss at Miami?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Thursday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Thursday's Games
There are few things better for a bubble team's resume than a late-season road win - regardless of who the opponent is - and that's the challenge facing several bubble dwellers tonight.

In power conference bubble action, Washington State plays at Arizona, Clemson plays at N.C. State, Minnesota plays at Penn State, and Alabama plays at LSU. Minnesota is the safest of those bubble because of their impressive OOC wins over North Carolina and West Virginia, but the Gophers have seen their seed slip in recent weeks because of what they've done - or haven't done - in Big Ten play. They only have one quality conference win (vs. Purdue) and they've lost four of their last five overall. They're going to need to finish 9-9 in conference to get a bid, and if they lose to the Nittany Lions tonight, they'll have to win three of their last four to get there.

Washington State is trying to climb back in the bracket after a home loss to Stanford knocked them out last week. The Cougars, who are just 2-4 in conference road games, play three straight on the road beginning with Arizona tonight. They need to win four of their last five games to stay alive in the at-large mix heading into the Pac-10 tourney. Clemson, meanwhile, begins a tricky week with a trip to Raleigh to take on the Wolfpack (the Tigers play at Miami on Saturday). If they want to be taken seriously as an at-large contender, a 2-0 week is a must.

The final important bubble battle of the night is in the A-10, where Richmond visits Temple. The Spiders are a half game out of first in conference, have won seven of eight, and have a nice OOC win over Purdue on their resume, yet they remain on the bubble because they still have not beaten a quality A-10 opponent. That's not entirely their fault - the schedule broke so that they only face Xavier and Temple once - but they didn't do themselves any favors by losing at home to the Musketeers back on Jan. 19. If the Spiders lose tonight, they can't afford any more losses until the A-10 tourney.

Also keep an eye on: UCLA at Stanford, Washington at Arizona State, Santa Clara at Gonzaga

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Wednesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Wednesday's Games
Last night was highlighted by teams at the bottom of the bracket trying to avoid bad losses or trying to pick up that marquee win that their resume was in desperate need of. Tonight is highlighted by some big match-ups at the top of the bracket, particularly Georgetown at UConn and Wisconsin at Purdue.

The match-up between Georgetown and UConn may be one of two teams heading in opposite directions. Georgetown is arguably playing the best ball in the nation, having won 8 in a row, while UConn suddenly cannot win a tough game and has lost three of five. The Huskies' schedule down the stretch is brutal, and a home loss to the Hoyas could make it hard for them to finish above .500 in league play. This is Georgetown's toughest game left, and if they get a win, they would be looking at the potential for a 1 seed heading into the Big East tourney.

The game between Wisconsin and Purdue is a battle for second place in the Big Ten and a battle for a better spot in the Big Ten pecking order. The Badgers are probably still on a high after their weekend win over Ohio State, and a win here on the road will give them a good chance for a 2 seed next week. Purdue looks great on paper (a 20-5 record and an 11 RPI) but they still have zero Top 25 wins. They will get two chances for Top 25 wins on their home court this week as Ohio State visits this weekend. The Boilermakers must win at least one of these two games to prove that they belong in the top quarter of the bracket.

Elsewhere on the Big Ten bubble, Michigan plays at Illinois. It's hard to say which team needs this one more. The Illini have a tough final stetch and may need to pick up this win to ensure at least a .500 finish in league play. Michigan has a been on a roll lately, winning five of their last six, and a 2-0 week (they play at Iowa this weekend) would likely push them into next week's bracket.

The biggest bubble games of the night are in Conference USA, with UAB playing at Memphis and UTEP visiting Southern Miss. C-USA is currently the 8th-rated conference in the country, and a first place finish in the regular season may just be enough to earn a team an at-large bid this year. All four of the teams in action tonight have a chance to finish at the top of the standings and tonight's games will go a long way in determining who ends up on top in the end. A win for Memphis would be huge since it would give them a season sweep over Southern Miss and UAB and their RPI would likely climb into the top 30. UTEP really doesn't have much of an at-large resume, but this trip to Hattiesburg is their toughest road game remaining. If the Miners can pull out a win, they will be in great shape to win the league outright, potentially by multiple games.

A few other bubble games of interest tonight are Louisville at Cincinnati and Vanderbilt at Georgia. Both Georgia and Cincinnati sit on similar spots on the bubble: each of them has beaten the teams they should beat, but they struggle to pick up wins over tournament teams. If the Bearcats go 0-2 this week (some would argue if they just lose this game) the Big East will be down to 10 bids on Monday. If Marquette slips up against Seton Hall over the weekend, that number might be down to nine.

Also keep an eye on: Oklahoma State at Texas, New Mexico at San Diego State, South Carolina at Tennessee, Duke at Virginia, South Florida at Pittsburgh, Iowa State at Texas A&M, Xavier at St. Joseph's, St. Mary's at San Diego, Colorado State at TCU, Montana-Western at Utah State, Duquesne at UMass, Nebraska at Oklahoma

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Tuesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Tuesday's Games
A night after Kansas State emphatically stated its case for an at-large bid, several other bubble teams will try to do the same. In the Big Ten, Michigan State kicks off a make-or-break week with a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The Spartans snuck back into our Field of 68 this week because we think, despite their well-documented struggles, that they still can finish 9-9 in conference. We don't expect this game to be one of those wins, but it's important that they play well with a ginormous home game against Illinois looming this weekend. A 1-1 week will keep Sparty in the bracket next Monday.

In the ACC, Maryland plays at Virginia Tech in what is an absolute must-win for the Terps. Maryland lost to Virginia Tech at home back on Jan. 20, and if they have any chance to get back in the at-large picture, they'll have to avoid a season sweep. The game is also huge for Virginia Tech, which must finish 10-6 in conference to stay on the right side of the bubble heading into the ACC tournament. The Hokies still have home games left against Duke and BC as well as a road game at Clemson to close out the season, so they'll have chances to pad their resume. A win here, though, would take a little pressure off going forward.

There are also some key bubble battles tonight in the Big East (St. John's at Marquette), the Colonial (George Mason at VCU, Georgia State at Old Dominion) and the Missouri Valley (Wichita State at Evansville, Drake at Missouri State). St. John's has the overall record of a bubble team, but their five Top 25 wins (five!) has them up to a 7 seed this week. They should easily get to 9-9 (probably 10-8) in conference, which will get them a bid. Marquette, meanwhile, needs this game to avoid picking up its 11th loss and to avoid falling under .500 in conference. The Golden Eagles have an easy schedule left (four of their six are at home and one of their road games is at Seton Hall), so this isn't necessarily a must-win, but it could give them some much-needed breathing room.

George Mason comes into the night on an 11-game win streak that has vaulted them all the way up to a 9 seed in our latest bracket. The Patriots are currently in the field as the Colonial automatic, but they have a great chance at an at-large if they win at VCU tonight. A win would give them a two game lead with just two games to play in conference. It's hard to see a resume with a Colonial regular season title and a sub-30 RPI on it not warranting a bid this year with the bubble as soft as it is.

In the MVC, current auto bid Wichita State faces a tricky road test at Evansville, which has wins over Missouri State and Northern Iowa in its last two home games. If the Shockers, or Missouri State, have designs on earning an at-large bid out of what looks like a one-bid league, they can't afford a slip-up tonight. Both teams have BracketBuster games on tap this weekend, with Wichita hosting VCU and Missouri State playing at Valparaiso.

Also keep an eye on: Villanova at Seton Hall, Mississippi State at Kentucky, Wake Forest at North Carolina, Texas Tech at Missouri, Wayland Baptist University at Baylor (seriously?), Air Force at UNLV, Butler at Green Bay

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." Today's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi and SI.com's Andy Glockner. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent brackets, which were released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 14 Bracket
What's with all the love for the Pac-10? Arizona's a 5? Washington's a 7?

Speaking of Washington, how are they two seed lines better than UCLA? Shouldn't that be the other way around, considering that UCLA is ahead in conference and has two OOC wins (BYU, St. John's) that are better than anything Washington has OOC?

How is there a two seed line difference between Temple (a 6) and Xavier (an 8)?

Andy Glockner (Sports Illustrated) - Feb. 14 Bracket
What year did you graduate from Colorado? Does your brother play on the team or something?

Seriously, how are the Buffaloes still in? With 10 losses, a 5-6 conference record, two wins in their past eight games, a 92 RPI, and one decent OOC win? They'd get a bid if the season ended today?

Isn't West Virginia a little high as a 4? Isn't Baylor a little high as a 10?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bracketology 101's Field of 68 - Feb. 14

The bubble carousel continued to spin round and round this week, and when it stopped, four at-large bids ended up changing hands. Kansas State, VCU, Washington State, and Duquesne dropped out of the bracket, and Old Dominion, Memphis, Alabama, and Michigan State jumped in.

Old Dominion was the easiest of the four teams to put in after their convincing win at VCU over the weekend. The Monarchs are back in the field this week on the 9 line, alongside the Colonial automatic bid, George Mason. Memphis was in the field last week as the automatic bid out of Conference USA, but this week, UTEP gets the nod as the auto and Memphis is in as an at-large. We think the Tigers have a great chance to finish 12-4 in conference to go along with a top 40 RPI and a win at Gonzaga. That resume, in the eighth rated conference in the country, should be enough for them to sneak in. UTEP, meanwhile, has a home game left with Memphis, which if they win, should put them in the driver's seat to win the C-USA regular season title. (That alone might get them an at-large if they need it down the road.)The Miners also have the luxury of playing the C-USA conference tourney on their home floor, which makes them even more attractive as the auto bid.

The last two teams in - and the two bubble teams most likely to spark debate this week - are Michigan State and Alabama. The Spartans' woes are well-documented and their resume of late is certainly not pretty, but looking ahead, we still think they can finish 9-9 in conference. The key to getting to 9-9 is beating Illinois at home this weekend. If they lose that game, they might be out of the bracket for good. Unlike Michigan State, Alabama's record looks very nice on paper. What doesn't look nice is their 87 RPI and their four bad losses to go along with just two quality wins. Fortunately for the Tide, their at-large chances are more about quantity than quality at this point, and we think that they'll be able to get to 12-4 (maybe 13-3) in conference, which will be enough for a bid. Anything less than 12 wins, and they'll have to win the SEC tourney to go dancing.

We strongly considered Michigan and Gonzaga for the final two at-large spots, but we couldn't look past the Wolverines' difficult remaining schedule or the Zags' looming road game with St. Mary's. Michigan probably still has a better chance at finishing 8-10 then it does at finishing 9-9, and 8-10 won't be enough with their mediocre OOC resume. If Gonzaga can't exact some revenge and beat the Gaels 10 days from now, their only hope at a bid will be winning the WCC tourney.

There wasn't a ton of movement seed-wise this week, but there were a few notable changes. Pittsburgh replaces Ohio State as the new No. 1 overall seed, just edging Kansas because of their four Top 25 and eight Top 50 wins (Kansas has 1 Top 25 win and seven Top 50 wins; Texas has two Top 25s and seven Top 50s). After two more impressive wins last week, Georgetown moved up from a 3 to a 2 seed, and Florida and Wisconsin moved up from 4s to 3s. The biggest upgrades of the week were Vanderbilt (from a 6 to a 4), St. John's (from a 9 to a 7), and George Mason (from an 11 to a 9). The only team to fall more than one seed line was Syracuse (from a 3 to a 5).

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In

Michigan State, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Alabama

First Four Out
Michigan, Gonzaga, Clemson, Missouri State

Next Four Out
VCU, Colorado, Washington State, Kansas State

"First Four" Games
Michigan State vs. Baylor, Virginia Tech vs. Alabama, Murray State vs. Hampton, Texas Southern vs. Stephen F. Austin

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

Conference Breakdown
Big East (11), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), ACC (5), Big XII (5), MWC (4), A-10 (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), Conference USA (2)

America East - Vermont

ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech

Atlantic Sun - Belmont

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Richmond

Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. John's, Marquette, Cincinnati

Big Sky - Montana

Big South - Coastal Carolina

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

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

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - George Mason, Old Dominion

Conference USA - UTEP, Memphis

Horizon - Butler

Ivy - Princeton

MAAC - Fairfield

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Hampton

MVC - Wichita State

MWC - San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State

Northeast - Long Island

Ohio Valley - Murray State

Pac-10 - Arizona, UCLA, Washington

Patriot - Bucknell

SEC - Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama

Southern - Charleston

Southland - Stephen F. Austin

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Florida Atlantic

SWAC - Texas Southern

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's

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

The Seeds
The 1s

Pittsburgh, Kansas, Ohio State, Texas

The 2s
Duke, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Georgetown

The 3s
BYU, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Florida

The 4s
Louisville, Purdue, Villanova, Vanderbilt

The 5s
Syracuse, North Carolina, Texas A&M, Kentucky

The 6s
Missouri, Temple, Arizona, Xavier

The 7s
West Virginia, St. John's, St. Mary's, Tennessee

The 8s
UNLV, UCLA, Illinois, Minnesota

The 9s
Florida State, Washington, George Mason, Old Dominion

The 10s
Utah State, Richmond, Marquette, Cincinnati

The 11s
Memphis, Georgia, Boston College, Michigan State vs. Baylor (FF)

The 12s
Wichita State, Colorado State, Butler, Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (FF)

The 13s
UTEP, Princeton, Belmont, Coastal Carolina

The 14s
Charleston, Kent State, Oakland, Vermont

The 15s
Fairfield, Bucknell, Montana, Florida Atlantic

The 16s
Long Beach State, Long Island, Murray State vs. Hampton (FF), Texas Southern vs. Stephen F. Austin (FF)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
















Questions? Comments?E-mail Bracketology 101 at bracketologyblog@yahoo.com or send us a tweet at twitter.com/Bracketology101.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

B101's Questions For The Weekend

Here's what we're wondering heading into this weekend's games:

Saturday's Games
Ohio State is undefeated and Wisconsin is undefeated at home. What's gonna give?

Has anyone picked Ohio State to win this game?

Baylor made their first bracket appearance in weeks on Monday. Would a win at Texas keep them there for good?

If 'Nova can't trip up Pitt at home, is there really any chance that the Panthers don't win the Big East regular season title?

Is there any chance that SDSU or BYU loses a game before their much-anticipated rematch in San Diego? Is it OK that we are hoping that they don't?

Which Big East beast - Syracuse or Louisville - will avoid an 0-2 week and win their high noon battle?

Can Utah State afford to lose another game conference game and still manage to get an at-large bid?

If Florida keeps up their current run, how high can they climb? A 2 seed?

Who will be a higher seed after their match-up today, Vanderbilt or Kentucky?

Will Clemson beat Carolina and get the big win that their resume so desperately needs? If they do, will it be enough to vault them into the bracket?

Is Maryland's game at Boston College the biggest bubble battle of the day? Who needs to win this game more?

Will we be a week ahead of everyone in having Old Dominion out and VCU in this past week? Or will the Monarchs win and leave us a week behind?

If Michigan can hold court against Indiana, could the Wolverines actually make it into the bracket on Monday?

Alabama missed out on a huge opportunity against Vandy this week, but will a win over Mississippi and a soft remaining schedule get the Tide in next week's bracket anyway?

Does Georgia still deserve a bid if they lose at South Carolina?

Will Memphis' at-large hopes be destroyed with a loss to Southern Miss?

We don't really have any questions for Wazzu in regards to their match-up against Cal, except: who's going to replace the Cougars in Monday's bracket?

Will Oklahoma State finally win its first conference road game at Nebraska?

Who will win and be in the bracket on Monday: New Mexico or Colorado State?

Can Kansas State hold onto their spot in the bracket and win at Colorado?

Can Wichita State exact some revenge on Northern Iowa? More importantly, can anyone come up with a likely scenario in which the MVC gets two bids?

Sunday's Games
Illinois picked up a huge road win on Thursday over Minnesota. How far will their seed soar with a win over Purdue at home?

How far will the Gophers' seed fall if they slip up at Iowa and lose their fifth straight?

If Marquette manages to win at Georgetown and if Cincinnati completes a season sweep of St. John's, is there anyway the Big East does not get at least 10 bids?

Is Duquense's home game against Xavier the biggest make-or-break game for any one team this weekend? Can the Dukes win and prove once and for all that they are a legitimate at-large candidate?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Thursday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Thursday's Games
It's a big night in Bubbleville, as a half dozen teams play games that could have long-term impact on their at-large hopes.

The most important game of the night is UConn at St. John's. The Red Storm have a top 25 RPI and more big wins than any other bubble team, but they also have nine losses and a difficult schedule left. This game isn't necessarily a must-win, but a loss would leave St. John's at 6-5 in conference and with a little less margin for error going forward. They play at Cincinnati on Sunday and then at Marquette and at home against Pittsburgh next week.

In the SEC, Alabama plays at Vanderbilt, and in the Big Ten, Illinois plays at Minnesota and Penn State plays at Michigan State. The Tide have been the most debated team in our comments section over the past week because of their 7-1 SEC record, their terrible RPI, and their ratio of bad losses to good wins. They aren't at-large worthy yet, even with the bubble as soft as it is, but a road win against the Commodores would get them some serious consideration next week. Bama's schedule is pretty soft the rest of the way, and a 12-4 finish (even in the awful SEC West) would probably be enough to get the Tide a bid.

The Penn State-Michigan State game is a must-win for both teams. Despite some nice wins, neither of these teams look like NCAA tournament teams right now and neither would be in the bracket if the season ended today. The loser is going to have to go on a huge run to get back on the right side of the bubble. The Illinois-Minnesota game features two teams that just need to stop the bleeding. Illinois has lost five of seven and is down to an 8 seed this week, while Minnesota has lost three straight and has slid down to a 7. The Illini might be in more trouble with a loss here; they have three tough road games left and a date with Purdue in Champaign on Saturday. A 9-9 finish, with their decent OOC resume, might be enough for a bid, but they'd need a win in the Big Ten tournament to feel safe. Having Maryland and Gonzaga (two of their OOC victories) win some games down the stretch wouldn't hurt, either.

Finally, in the Pac-10, UCLA hosts Oregon, Washington hosts Cal, and Washington State hosts Stanford. The Cougars barely hung on to a bid in our latest bracket after getting drubbed at Oregon State, and they'll have to sweep Stanford and Cal at home over the weekend to stay in on Monday.

Also keep an eye on: Florida State at Georgia Tech, St. Mary's at Santa Clara, Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount, Wright State at Butler

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Wednesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Wednesday's Games
The year's first installment of Duke-North Carolina is the main event tonight, but the undercard is shaping up to be pretty solid as well. Thirteen ranked teams are in action, with seven of those teams facing unranked opponents on the road, and the other six facing each other in three huge conference games.

The biggest of those games, and the most likely to cause Dick Vitale to spontaneously combust, will take place at Cameron Indoor. The freshly-ranked Tar Heels come in as the hottest team in the ACC over the last few weeks, winning their last three games by a combined 68 points. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, bounced back from their nightmarish performance against St. John's with blowout victories over Maryland and N.C. State last week. The winner of this game will have temporary control over first place in conference and will have temporary bragging rights until the teams meet again in the regular season finale on March 5. If Duke wins, they will add a sixth Top 50 win to their resume and inch a little closer towards returning to the 1 line. If Carolina wins, and then beats Clemson on the road this weekend, they could be as high as a 3 seed next week.

In the other two marquee games of the night, Notre Dame hosts Louisville and Syracuse hosts Georgetown. These four teams are pretty tightly packed between the 2 and 4 lines, and they could very well swap spots on those lines depending on what happens tonight. If Notre Dame or Georgetown win, they would tie Texas for the most RPI Top 50 wins in the country with eight.

There are also some huge bubble battles tonight in the Big XII, as Colorado hosts Texas A&M and Baylor hosts Nebraska, and in the Colonial, as VCU plays at Delaware and Old Dominion plays at William & Mary. We have Colorado behind Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State on the Big XII bubble list because of their 1-5 record in their last six games, but they have a chance to leap to the front of that line with a 2-0 week. They play a struggling Aggies team tonight and then host Kansas State on Saturday. Baylor, meanwhile, made it back in the bracket this week, (despite an underwhelming resume) because of the easy schedule they have left. One of the presumed wins on that schedule is this game against the Huskers. If the Bears lose, they'll be back on the outside looking in. VCU just edged ODU for the Colonial's second bid this week, and if both take care of business tonight on the road, their showdown at ODU on Saturday will determine who gets that at-large bid on Monday.

The last intriguing game of the night is Florida at South Carolina. The Gators are coming off a huge two-win week that vaulted them ahead of Kentucky in the SEC pecking order and up to the top of the 4 line in our latest bracket. Their victories over Vandy and Kentucky last week gave them a very respectable six Top 50 wins on the year. On the flip side, they also have three losses outside the Top 100, one of which was a home loss to the Gamecocks back on Jan. 15. If they can exact some revenge tonight, they'll open up a 2.5 game lead over Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia in the SEC East standings with six games to play.

Also keep an eye on: Texas at Oklahoma, BYU at Air Force, Villanova at Rutgers, Wisconsin at Iowa, UNLV at TCU, Utah State at Idaho, Marquette at South Florida, Fordham at Temple, Richmond at George Washington, Memphis at UCF, Bradley at Missouri State, Wyoming at New Mexico, Northwestern at Michigan

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

B101's Bracket Banter - Tuesday

Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.

Tuesday's Games
A lot of SEC questions are going to be answered this week, and we'll get some of those answers tonight as Kentucky hosts Tennessee and Georgia hosts Xavier. Kentucky is looking to regroup after off an 0-2 week that dropped them down to the 5 line in our latest bracket, while Tennessee (with Bruce Pearl back on the bench) is looking to bounce back from a bad home loss to Alabama over the weekend. Both teams need this game if they want to keep within striking distance of Florida in the SEC East standings, and Kentucky needs it to avoid falling under .500 in conference. Kentucky plays at Vanderbilt this weekend and Tennessee plays at Florida, so the loser of this game could be in for a tumble seed-wise next week.

The most intruiging game of the night, though, might be Xavier at Georgia. The Bulldogs hung on to their bid this week by beating Arkansas and Auburn, but their remaining schedule is no picnic. They still have four tough road games left as well as a home game against Vanderbilt next week. Getting a win here over a quality OOC opponent would be huge for a resume that has just two Top 50 wins on it. The game is equally big for Xavier, who could also use a quality OOC win to pair with their 8-1 record in the A-10. The Musketeers play at Duquesne this weekend, so it would be nice to get a win here to ensure at worst a 1-1 week.

Elsewhere, Boston College plays at Clemson in what is a key game for the Eagles. BC has a nice OOC win over A&M on its resume, but they haven't done much in ACC play besides win at Maryland (which isn't all that great of a win right now). The Eagles got blown out by North Carolina and eeked by Virginia Tech at home last week, and they'll have to play a lot better than that down the stretch if they want to finish with a winning record in conference.

Two mid-majors who slipped into this week's bracket are also in action tonight. Wichita State, this week's lone MVC representative, hosts Southern Illinois, and George Mason, our new automatic bid out of the Colonial, plays at UNC-Wilmington.

Also keep an eye on: Indiana at Purdue, Utah at San Diego State, Cincinnati at DePaul, Penn at Princeton

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." Today's questions are reserved for ESPN's Joe Lunardi and SI.com's Andy Glockner. Keep in mind that these questions are about each expert's most recent brackets, which were released before Monday's games.

Joe Lunardi (ESPN) - Feb. 7 Bracket
Missouri State would get an at-large if the season ended today? With two bad losses and one Top 50 win? How?

Who has Purdue beaten to deserve a 3 seed? They have a better resume than Syracuse?

Isn't Arizona a little high as a 5? Isn't Marquette a little high as an 8?

Andy Glockner (Sports Illustrated) - Feb. 7 Bracket
We know the Big XII bubble is complicated, but how in the world did you put Colorado in this week? Is it their one win (one!) in their last six games? How are they in over Kansas State, whose RPI is 56 points better?

The Colonial would really get three bids if the season ended today? Old Dominion is not only in, but they deserve a 10 seed? George Mason deserves a 9?

How is Butler, at 7-5 in conference, still one of your First Four Out?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Bracketology 101's Field of 68 - Feb. 7

Last week we saw very little turnover in the bracket, so it is not too surprising to see five teams replaced this week. We ended up dropping Penn State, Michigan State, Missouri State, Old Dominion, and Gonzaga from the bracket in favor of Colorado State, Wichita State, Kansas State, Baylor, and George Mason.

It was obviously a bad week for the Big Ten, as they saw both Michigan State and Penn State drop a pair of games. The Spartans are in absolute free-fall mode, having lost five of six and losing both games this week by 20+ points. Penn State made its first appearance in the bracket last week, but it appears to have been short-lived. Their bracket inclusion was based on the expectation that they could finish above .500 in conference , but it's very hard to envision that after their home loss to Michigan.

For weeks now, we have had two bids coming out of the Colonial and just one out of the Missouri Valley. The only thing that has changed week-to-week has been the teams that are in from each conference, which was again the case this week. Wichita State managed to slide back in out of the MVC, while George Mason replaced Old Dominion because of their head-to-head victory over the weekend. BracketBuster games will likely have a big say in which of these mid-major conferences gets two bids, with VCU playing at Wichita State and George Mason playing at Northern Iowa. If the MVC win both of these games and also does well elsewhere, they could very well be the conference with two bids in the end.

As we get closer and closer to March, we are sorting through the bubble even more in depth to try and find that team that has a good chance to go on a run and steal a bid in their conference tournament A team that got a lot of discussion this week was UTEP, based on the fact that the Conference USA tournament is in El Paso and the Miners sit atop the C-USA standings and have only lost one home game all year. If the Miners continue to stay atop the conference standings in the coming weeks, we will likely add them to our bracket as the C-USA auto bid. Right now, we think Memphis is the league's best team, so we kept them in as the automatic.

This week's biggest seed decliner was Texas A&M, who went from a 3 to a 6 because of their 20- point home loss to Texas and their home loss to Baylor. The other decliners this week were Kentucky and Washington, both of which slipped two seed lines after 0-2 weeks. The biggest seed increase was given to UCLA, who jumped from an 11 to an 8 because of their big OOC win over St. John's and because they now have sole possession of second place in the Pac-10. Other climbers were Syracuse, Arizona, and Richmond, who saw their seeds jump up two lines each.

Bracket Breakdown
Last Four In

Colorado State, Washington State, Baylor, Duquesne

First Four Out
Michigan State, Old Dominion, Gonzaga, Missouri State

Next Four Out
Alabama, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, UTEP

"First Four" Games
Colorado State vs. Washington State, Baylor vs. Duquesne, Long Island vs. Hampton, Jackson State vs. McNeese State

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

Conference Breakdown
Big East (11), Big XII (6), ACC (5), Big Ten (5), SEC (5), A-10 (4), MWC (4), Pac-10 (4), Colonial (2)

America East - Vermont

ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech

Atlantic Sun - Belmont

A-10 - Temple, Xavier, Richmond, Duquesne

Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Georgetown, Villanova, Syracuse, Louisville, West Virginia, St. John's, Cincinnati, Marquette

Big Sky - Montana

Big South - Coastal Carolina

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

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

Big West - Long Beach State

Colonial - George Mason, VCU

Conference USA - Memphis

Horizon - Cleveland State

Ivy - Princeton

MAAC - Fairfield

MAC - Kent State

MEAC - Hampton

MVC - Wichita State

MWC - San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State

Northeast - Long Island

Ohio Valley - Murray State

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

Patriot - Bucknell

SEC - Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia

Southern - Charleston

Southland - McNeese State

Summit - Oakland

Sun Belt - Florida Atlantic

SWAC - Jackson State

WAC - Utah State

WCC - St. Mary's

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

The Seeds
The 1s

Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Texas

The 2s
Duke, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Connecticut

The 3s
BYU, Georgetown, Villanova, Syracuse

The 4s
Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Purdue

The 5s
Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, West Virginia

The 6s
Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Temple, Tennessee

The 7s
Arizona, Minnesota, UNLV, Xavier

The 8s
St. Mary's, Illinois, UCLA, Florida State

The 9s
St. John's, Washington, Utah State, Cincinnati

The 10s
Georgia, Boston College, Marquette, Richmond

The 11s
Wichita State, George Mason, Kansas State, Memphis

The 12s
VCU, Virginia Tech, Colorado State vs. Washington State (FF), Baylor vs. Duquesne (FF)

The 13s
Cleveland State, Belmont, Princeton, Coastal Carolina

The 14s
Charleston, Kent State, Oakland, Vermont

The 15s
Fairfield, Florida Atlantic, Bucknell, Montana

The 16s
Long Beach State, Murray State, Long Island vs. Hampton (FF), Jackson State vs. McNeese State (FF)

The Bracket
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
















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Friday, February 04, 2011

B101's Questions For The Weekend

Here's what we're wondering heading into this weekend's games:

Friday's Games
Who's the best team in the Ivy? The winner of Harvard at Princeton will give us an early leader in the clubhouse.

Saturday's Games
Nebraska knocked off A&M at home last weekend...can the Huskers do the same to Kansas this weekend?

Can Texas take care of Texas Tech at home to lock down a spot on the 1 line?

Is Florida the best team in the SEC? If the Gators beat Kentucky in Gainesville on Saturday, they might be seeded that way on Monday.

Who deserves the best seed from the Pac-10? After Washington's slip-up against Oregon State, it might be Arizona (if the Wildcats can take care of Cal).

Could Washington State have played any worse against Oregon? Are the Cougars worthy of a bid even if they win at Oregon State?

Can the Flying Jimmers complete a season sweep of UNLV?

Can Pitt take care of Cincinnati at home? Isn't it about time the Bearcats picked up a second quality win in conference?

Will Villanova complete a nice 2-0 week with a home win over West Virginia?

Can Missouri and A&M bounce back from losses earlier in the week and beat Baylor and Colorado, respectively, at home?

Will a win at Iowa State be enough to get Kansas State back in the bracket?

Has Syracuse righted the ship? If so, they should no problem at South Florida.

Can Vandy avoid falling to 3-5 in conference and beat South Carolina?

Will Illinois survive a tricky road game at Northwestern?

Does VCU still deserve the Colonial automatic? If George Mason beats ODU at home, the Rams might get bumped.

Can Duquesne improve to 9-0 in the A-10 (9-0!) with a road win over the Bonnies?

Can Xavier and Temple stay within striking distance of the Dukes by beating Saint Louis and Rhode Island at home?

How bad is Conference USA right now? Is Memphis still the team to beat?

Speaking of the Tigers, can they burst Gonzaga's bubble with a win in Spokane?

Does Butler have any chance of winning at Cleveland State after the way they played at Youngstown State?

Seriously, Youngstown State?

Who deserves the Missouri Valley automatic right now? Missouri State (after their head-scratching loss at Evansville)? Northern Iowa (who's won eight in a row)? Or Wichita State (who is a game up in conference but already has home losses to the other two?)

Does the Valley deserve two bids on Monday?

Who needs the win more - St. John's or UCLA? Who gets it?

Can BC save its spot in the bracket and beat Virginia Tech at home?

Can Tennessee avoid losing a trap game at home against Alabama? The Vols play at Kentucky and at Florida next week.

Sunday's Games
Can Minnesota knock off Ohio State? The Gophers will have play a tiny bit better than they did against Indiana on Wednesday.

Doesn't Michigan State just seem destined for the NIT at this point? Do the Spartans still deserve a bid on Monday (with 10 losses) if they don't upset Wisconsin at the Kohl Center?

Is Penn State a one-week wonder? Can the Nittany Lions beat Michigan at home to stay in the bracket?

How will Larry Drew's departure affect North Carolina? Can the Tar Heels beat Florida State at home and keep pace with Duke in conference?