ONE SEED CONTENDERS

See the two posts below this one for a look at the Tournament Picture and the Friday bracket. But let’s talk one seeds.

The one seed competition is almost over. I am confident three of the one seeds are pretty much taken at this point: Villanova, Kansas, and North Carolina (even though I wouldn’t go as far as saying UNC is a lock).

That leaves just one spot on the top line between these teams:

OREGON – The Ducks are lacking victories over top competition (only Arizona and UCLA at home could be considered great wins). They do, however, have a lot of good wins (16 top 100 wins currently), a Dillon Brooks injury excuse, and just four losses. Odds are they will end up on the top line if they beat Cal and the Arizona/UCLA winner.

GONZAGA – The Bulldogs are knocking on the door for a one seed, and most bracketologists have them there. Unlike them, I do not. While the wins over Florida, Arizona, and Iowa State are great, it’s unlikely the committee gives the same deference to their wins over Saint Mary’s. And losing at home to BYU is a bad loss, regardless of what the RPI says. I can see a path to the one line, but I don’t expect the Zags to be there. It’s more likely that another power conference tournament champion bumps them from the one line.

ARIZONA – IF Arizona beats Oregon tonight, the Wildcats would enter the NCAAs with two wins over UCLA and one over Oregon. But Arizona would still only have six top 50 wins and an earlier ugly blowout at Oregon. They would have one other major obstacle; the committee would have to choose Arizona over one-loss Gonzaga, who beat them on a neutral court.

KENTUCKY – It doesn’t seem that many are talking about Kentucky for the one line, so I will. Coach Cal’s team has a strong nine top 50 wins and a chance to add three good wins to the resume. Because the SEC final is Sunday, the committee may not have time to consider the result of that one. That could potentially help or hurt them. The home loss to UCLA could be problematic if both teams are in position to get the last one seed. On the other hand, if UNC loses to Duke and the Cats win the SEC Tournament, Kentucky’s win over UNC in December could push UNC to the one out West. Kentucky could then get their favored South regional placement.

My prediction: Kentucky will get the one if they win the SEC final.  If they lose, Oregon will get it if they win the PAC-12.  If both lose, Gonzaga gets the one seed by virtue of their win over Arizona.

 

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ONE SEED CONTENDERS

Tournament Picture

See the post below this for Friday’s new bracket. But the tournament picture is getting quite clear.  Precious few spots remain up for grabs, and today’s results will have a huge impact on who makes it (Vandy’s win over Florida and Northwestern’s win over Maryland have already taken two spots from contention).

There are 32 automatic bids to the tournament, and nine conferences that already have at least two locks. So 31 of the 36 at-large bids are already spoken for by:

A-10 (1) – Dayton

AAC (2) – Cincinnati, SMU

ACC (8) – Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech

Big XII (5) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

Big East (7) – Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Xavier

Big Ten (7) – Northwestern, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

SEC (5) – Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt

Pac-12 (3) – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona

WCC (2) – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s

There are also three teams that should be in the tournament, but aren’t locks. If they all make it, the bubble would be down to just two spots left. The following teams can likely lose out and make the field, but it’s not guaranteed:

VCU – Dayton and MTSU are the only wins toner excited about, and those aren’t very exciting.  So while VCU is almost sure to go dancing, I can’t lock them yet after beating George Mason.  They should be fine, though.

Wake Forest – Danny Manning is no stranger to success in March, and his Demon Deacons should be dancing after avoiding a bad loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament. With wins over Louisville and Miami at home, and Virginia Tech on the road, expect Danny Manning’s team to dance even after they fell to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. No matter what happens elsewhere, this resume is not strong enough to support a lock. But I expect Manning’s team to dance.

USC – The Trojans have a very blah profile.  That is to say, they’ll probably make it after posting wins over UCLA and SMU.  But I hope their fans are looking forward to vacationing in Dayton.

The next tier are those truly on the cut line (only two of these teams will likely make it as an at-large):

Kansas State – The Baylor win moved them to my last spot in.  I’m not sure they will be able to hold that position after the West Virginia loss.  They are a cut line team, for sure.  There will be lots of discussion about this team in the committee room.

Illinois – The Illini would’ve been dancing with a win over Michigan.  Instead, the Wolverines beat them down without even putting on real uniforms.  Illinois is barely holding onto a spot in my bracket.  This is a team nobody is talking about as being a bubble contender (seriously, on Bracket Matrix right now only Shelby Mast and Warren Nolan have them in besides me). But not only are they a bubble contender, I think they’re likely in.

Syracuse – The Orange have six top 50 wins, a winning ACC record, and most of the country is calling for them to be in.  I am not one of them, however.  I said earlier this week I thought the Miami game would be do-or-die for them, and they lost.  I stand by it.  I expect the Orange to just miss.

Middle Tennessee – The Blue Raiders beat UTEP in the CUSA semis.  That win might be enough to get them in.  At this point, I think MTSU will need the auto bid.

Illinois State – I don’t see it happening for the RedBirds.  Too many bubble teams have made progress this week while ISU has had to sit at home and watch.  They’ll be right in the thick of the discussions, but the lack of quality wins will likely get them in the end.

Rhode Island – The Rams must make the A-10 title game to have a shot at making the field.  Because the A-10 title game is on Sunday, the committee will know whether they decided to include Rhode Island before that title game even tips.  Rhode Island’s at-large hopes were severely hampered by the loss Dayton took to Davidson, which gives the Rams one less chance to get a top 50 win.

The last tier is teams needing a shocking committee decision to include them:

Nevada – It’s possible because of all the top 100 wins, but it’s quite unlikely after getting swept by Fresno State.

Georgia – Do I expect Georgia to get in?  Not at all.  But I can’t completely discount the notion.  Georgia did beat Vanderbilt, and they have eight top 100 wins with one the nation’s best overall and non-conference strength of schedules.  So, don’t expect to see Georgia in the tournament. But if you’re looking for a drop the jaw selection, it could be Georgia.

Cal – They shouldn’t get in, but maybe the committee likes the PAC?

 

Tournament Picture

Friday Bracket

Yesterday produced a lot of changes in the bracket, as the seeds and teams become a little bit clearer.

-Georgia is my first team out, followed by Rhode Island. Indiana, TCU, Cal, and Illinois State are lurking.

-The shocking result today is Oklahoma State dropping all the way to a First Four game in Dayton after losing to Iowa State. That 0-6 start to Big XII play isn’t completely wiped away, and costs them here.

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 MT ST MARY’S / NEW ORLEANS

8 MICHIGAN STATE
9 MIAMI

5 VIRGINIA
12 NEVADA

4 ARIZONA
13 WINTHROP

6 MARYLAND
11 VANDERBILT

3 DUKE
14 IONA

7 WISCONSIN
10 VCU

2 BAYLOR
15 NORTH DAKOTA

WEST

1 OREGON
16 UC IRVINE / NC CENTRAL

8 SAINT MARY’S
9 PROVIDENCE

5 MINNESOTA
12 UNC-WILMINGTON

4 WEST VIRGINIA
13 VERMONT

6 SOUTH CAROLINA
11 KANSAS STATE / USC

3 LOUISVILLE
14 ETSU

7 ARKANSAS
10 WAKE FOREST

2 GONZAGA
15 CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD

MIDWEST

1 KANSAS
16 JACKSONVILLE STATE

8 VIRGINIA TECH
9 MARQUETTE

5 CINCINNATI
12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

4 BUTLER
13 BUCKNELL

6 IOWA STATE
11 WICHITA STATE

3 FLORIDA
14 FGCU

7 DAYTON
10 NORTHWESTERN

2 FLORIDA STATE
15 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 TEXAS SOUTHERN

8 MICHIGAN
9 SETON HALL

5 NOTRE DAME
12 UT-ARLINGTON

4 PURDUE
13 PRINCETON

6 CREIGHTON
11 OKLAHOMA STATE / ILLINOIS

3 UCLA
14 AKRON

7 SMU
10 XAVIER

2 KENTUCKY
15 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

Friday Bracket

Thursday Bracket

UPDATES:

-TCU beat a Josh Jackson-less Kansas in the Big XII quarters.  Kansas has already locked the Midwest one seed, so this only affects their chances at the overall one.  TCU, though,  has a chance of making the tournament if they can beat Iowa State and advance to the Big XII final.

-Michigan walloped Illinois. Michigan has likely secured a single-digit seed, while Illinois is smack dab on the bubble cut line.

-Duke beat Louisville to advance to an ACC semi against UNC.  Duke has secured at least a three seed, while UNC is in great shape for a one.

-Georgia and Middle Tennessee won to stay right in the thick of the bubble race, while Seton Hall is now a lock after beating Marquette.

-Oregon remains in contention for a one after beating Arizona State.

We have three days until Selection Sunday, which means we actually have four days of basketball before the brackets are released. Some thoughts on yesterday’s action and today’s games:

-USC held on to beat Washington.  The Trojans get rival UCLA in the quarters. A win would lock USC into the field, while a loss would leave them at the mercy of the committee. Even with a loss, they’ll have a good chance to get selected.

-Xavier stopped the skid with another win over DePaul.  Another win today would seal a bid.  Like USC, a loss probably isn’t fatal, but there is no way you can lock this team in.

-Syracuse missed a three that could’ve sent their game with Miami into overtime. The Orange fall out of my bracket, and I don’t expect them to return. Their replacement? Iowa.

-Wake couldn’t lock a bid up, falling to Virginia Tech. That said, it’s tough to imagine Wake Forest missing out on the tournament entirely. They’re in enough danger to be nervous until Selection Sunday, but in good enough shape to expect their name to be called.

-One reason for that is Ohio State lost to Rutgers in DC! That’s the craziest upset D.C. has seen in a long time… or not. Either way, the Buckeyes won’t be playing in the NCAAs. Their bubble has popped.

-Clemson can no longer make the NCAAs after losing to Duke. Whatever bubble they had (which wasn’t much) has popped. At least they have the football natty to fall back on.

-See the post two below this one for an in-depth look at the bubble.

MIDWEST

1 KANSAS
16 MT ST MARY’S / NEW ORLEANS

8 ARKANSAS
9 PROVIDENCE

5 MINNESOTA
12 UNC-WILMINGTON

4 VIRGINIA
13 BUCKNELL

6 IOWA STATE
11 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

3 UCLA
14 FGCU

7 DAYTON
10 MARQUETTE

2 LOUISVILLE
15 NORTH DAKOTA

WEST

1 OREGON
16 UC IRVINE / NC CENTRAL

8 VIRGINIA TECH
9 MICHIGAN STATE

5 NOTRE DAME
12 TEXAS-ARLINGTON

4 WEST VIRGINIA
13 WINTHROP

6 SMU
11 XAVIER

3 FLORIDA
14 IONA

7 SOUTH CAROLINA
10 WAKE FOREST

2 GONZAGA
15 SOUTH DAKOTA ST

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 JACKSONVILLE STATE

8 OKLAHOMA ST
9 SAINT MARY’S

5 CINCINNATI
12 ILLINOIS / USC

4 DUKE
13 PRINCETON

6 MARYLAND
11 WICHITA STATE

3 ARIZONA
14 AKRON

7 WISCONSIN
10 VCU

2 KENTUCKY
15 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 TEXAS SOUTHERN

8 MICHIGAN
9 SETON HALL

5 PURDUE
12 NEVADA

4 BUTLER
13 VERMONT

6 CREIGHTON
11 VANDERBILT / IOWA

3 FLORIDA STATE
14 ETSU

7 MIAMI
10 NORTHWESTERN

2 BAYLOR
15 CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD

Thursday Bracket

Wednesday’s Bracket

-Syracuse missed a three that could’ve sent their game with Miami into overtime. The Orange fall out of my bracket, and I don’t expect them to return.  Their replacement? Iowa.

-Wake couldn’t lock a bid up,  falling to Virginia Tech.  That said, it’s tough to imagine Wake Forest missing out on the tournament entirely.  They’re in enough danger to be nervous until Selection Sunday, but in good enough shape to expect their name to be called.

-One reason for that is Ohio State lost to Rutgers in DC! That’s the craziest upset D.C. has seen in a long time… or not.  Either way, the Buckeyes won’t be playing in the NCAAs. Their bubble has popped.

-Clemson can no longer make the NCAAs after losing to Duke. Whatever bubble they had (which wasn’t much) has popped. At least they have the football natty to fall back on.

-See the post below this one for an in-depth look at the bubble.

MIDWEST

1 KANSAS
16 MT ST MARY’S / NEW ORLEANS

8 ARKANSAS
9 PROVIDENCE

5 MINNESOTA
12 UNC-WILMINGTON

4 VIRGINIA
13 BUCKNELL

6 IOWA STATE
11 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

3 UCLA
14 FGCU

7 DAYTON
10 SETON HALL

2 LOUISVILLE
15 NORTH DAKOTA

WEST

1 OREGON
16 UC IRVINE / NC CENTRAL

8 VIRGINIA TECH
9 MICHIGAN STATE

5 NOTRE DAME
12 TEXAS-ARLINGTON

4 WEST VIRGINIA
13 WINTHROP

6 SMU
11 XAVIER

3 FLORIDA
14 IONA

7 SOUTH CAROLINA
10 WAKE FOREST

2 GONZAGA
15 SOUTH DAKOTA ST

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 JACKSONVILLE STATE

8 OKLAHOMA ST
9 MICHIGAN

5 CINCINNATI
12 ILLINOIS / USC

4 DUKE
13 PRINCETON

6 MARYLAND
11 WICHITA STATE

3 ARIZONA
14 AKRON

7 WISCONSIN
10 VCU

2 KENTUCKY
15 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 TEXAS SOUTHERN

8 ST MARY’S
9 MARQUETTE

5 PURDUE
12 NEVADA

4 BUTLER
13 VERMONT

6 CREIGHTON
11 VANDERBILT / IOWA

3 FLORIDA STATE
14 ETSU

7 MIAMI
10 NORTHWESTERN

2 BAYLOR
15 CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD

Wednesday’s Bracket

Wednesday Night Bubble Update

Ohio State and Clemson have fallen off the page.

Based on other results, Marquette and Providence are now locks.  Sometimes it’s nice to just watch other teams below you blow their chances, while you advance to the tournament.

There are 32 automatic bids to the tournament, and nine conferences that already have at least two locks. So 27 of the 36 at-large bids are already spoken for by:

A-10 (1) – Dayton

AAC (2) – Cincinnati, SMU

ACC (8) – Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech

Big XII (5) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

Big East (5) – Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence

Big Ten (6) – Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan

SEC (4) – Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas

Pac-12 (3) – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona

WCC (2) – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s

There are then five teams that should be in the tournament, but aren’t locks. If they all make it, the bubble would be down to just four spots left. The following teams can likely lose out and make the field, but it’s not guaranteed:

Xavier – The Musketeers certainly don’t look like one of the country’s 36-best at-large teams. But the resume is still pretty strong, and they stopped their skid with two straight wins over DePaul. A win in the quarters over Butler would certainly do it, but it’s probably not necessary.

Seton Hall – The Pirates picked up the most surprising bubble win last weekend, winning at Butler. Winning over Marquette in the quarters will lock them, but this team should be dancing regardless.

VCU – Of all the teams on the “should be in” list, this is the one with the most to worry about. It’s not that the Rams haven’t put together a tournament worthy season; they have. But if power conference teams roll in their conference tournaments and VCU exits the A-10 tournament early, then VCU can simply get passed by multiple schools.

Northwestern – The Wildcats should make it, but they still aren’t a lock.  A victory today against Rutgers might not be enough to move to lock status.  Regardless, their tournament status is in good shape, as long as they don’t lose to Rutgers.

Wake Forest – Danny Manning is no stranger to success in March, and his Demon Deacons should be dancing after avoiding a bad loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament.  With wins over Louisville and Miami at home, and Virginia Tech on the road, expect Danny Manning’s team to dance even after they fell to Virginia Tech on Wednesday.  No matter what happens elsewhere, this resume is not strong enough to support a lock. But I expect Manning’s team to dance.

So, we get to the next teams, who are in good shape:

Vanderbilt – The Dores are in better shape than most believe. Simply beating Texas A&M in the SEC tournament 7-10 game will probably be enough. Winning on Friday over Florida would lock them. Even a loss to A&M on Thursday would put Vandy right near the cut line, and more likely in than out.

USC – The Trojans still aren’t in that comfortable of a position, but they are in good shape to make it.  UCLA is next, and a win locks.  No pressure.

The next tier are those truly on the cut line. All who have yet to play probably need at least one conference tournament win:

Illinois, Syracuse, Middle Tennessee, Illinois State, Iowa

The next tier is those who are well on the outside looking in. Strong upset wins are needed in the conference tournament:

Kansas State, Rhode Island, Indiana, Cal, Georgia

The last tier is a non-power conference champion needing a shocking committee decision to include them:

Nevada

Wednesday Night Bubble Update

Tuesday Bracket

-Iona wins a thriller over Siena to earn an auto bid. ETSU comes back against UNCG. UNC-Wilmington locks up a bid over Charleston, and Milwaukee continues their Cinderella run to the Horizon League final.

-Today is when the ACC tips. Clemson makes their last stand against NC State and Wake Forest tries to avoid a bad loss to Boston College.  Wake is a 13-point favorite, and a loss would be quite damaging.  But my gut is Wake will still make the field, even if they lose.

MIDWEST

1 KANSAS
16 MT ST MARY’S / NEW ORLEANS

8 ARKANSAS
9 PROVIDENCE

5 MINNESOTA
12 UNC-WILMINGTON

4 VIRGINIA
13 BUCKNELL

6 IOWA STATE
11 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

3 UCLA
14 FGCU

7 SAINT MARY’S
10 SETON HALL

2 LOUISVILLE
15 NORTH DAKOTA

WEST

1 OREGON
16 UC IRVINE / NC CENTRAL

8 MICHIGAN STATE
9 VIRGINIA TECH

5 NOTRE DAME
12 TEXAS-ARLINGTON

4 WEST VIRGINIA
13 WINTHROP

6 SMU
11 XAVIER

3 FLORIDA
14 CAL-STATE BAKERSFIELD

7 SOUTH CAROLINA
10 WAKE FOREST

2 GONZAGA
15 SOUTH DAKOTA ST

EAST

1 VILLANOVA
16 JACKSONVILLE STATE

8 OKLAHOMA ST
9 MICHIGAN

5 CINCINNATI
12 ILLINOIS / SYRACUSE

4 DUKE
13 PRINCETON

6 MARYLAND
11 WICHITA STATE

3 ARIZONA
14 AKRON

7 WISCONSIN
10 VCU

2 KENTUCKY
15 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

SOUTH

1 UNC
16 TEXAS SOUTHERN

8 DAYTON
9 MARQUETTE

5 PURDUE
12 NEVADA

4 BUTLER
13 VERMONT

6 CREIGHTON
11 VANDERBILT / USC

3 FLORIDA STATE
14 ETSU

7 MIAMI
10 NORTHWESTERN

2 BAYLOR
15 IONA

Tuesday Bracket