As always, a few bracket notes:
– Shocker: The Missouri Valley and Mountain West are now 1-bid leagues. The strength of the Big 6 “BCS” conferences has never been stronger. Both of the aforementioned conferences are stuck in a period of spread out mediocrity and lack the two or three standout teams to make the field. I simply cannot put Illinois State anywhere near the bracket with three conference losses and a total lack of quality wins. The Mountain West I expect to be a 2-bid league on Selection Sunday. BYU was one of three teams left for the last spot that went to Boston College and Utah was the highest RPI team to be left out of the bracket. San Diego State is also lurking.
– If I asked you to name the team with the most wins against the RPI top 100, you’d probably guess Duke. Or Connecticut. Or Pittsburgh. Maybe North Carolina. Nope, the team with the most top-100 wins is Oklahoma at 12-1, including a 7-0 record against the top 50. The Sooners are surely deserving of their #1 ranking, along with two Big East teams- Connecticut (my projected winner) and Pittsburgh (#2 in RPI). Duke is the #1 overall seed and #1 in RPI, with North Carolina and Wake Forest barely missing the cut.
– Michigan State may have been stunned by Northwestern at home this week, but they still have the computer numbers and the projected Big 10 championship, meaning the Spartans hang on to the last #2 seed. Surging Louisville at 6-0 earns the other, along with UNC and Wake.
– Following their huge win over UCLA at home, the Washington Huskies are now the projected Pac-10 winners. They’re slightly over-seeded at 4 because of that honor. Congrats, you get Tennessee in the first round!
– Wouldn’t guess that Siena has the #20 RPI, #29 SOS and 7 wins against the RPI #51-100, would you? It’s true, folks. Speaking of mid-majors, I’m not sure why anyone can have Davidson higher than a 10 seed. The 37 RPI is decent, but a 115 SOS and 1-3 vs. the RPI top 100 (West Virginia) doesn’t jump out for me. And last year is completely irrelevant.
– The last team out, USC, and the last team in, Boston College, have nearly identical resumes. Fortunately for the Eagles, they have two more wins vs. the RPI top 100 and are boosted by the completely inexplicable win in Chapel Hill. They’ll be riding that win all the way to Selection Sunday.
– UCLA drops all the way to a 6 seed? Considering they haven’t beaten a team in the field of 65, yes. I may have even been generous.
– The most significant Saturday game may have been Xavier toppling LSU in Baton Rouge. An LSU win would have given them a win against the RPI top 25. Instead, they were barely considered at all. Xavier jumps up to a 3 seed with the win. The #4 RPI and #6 SOS doesn’t hurt, either. Runner up: Oklahoma State winning at Nebraska in overtime. They’d likely be out with a loss in that one.
– Notre Dame somehow managed a 68 RPI and 83 SOS in the Big East, meaning their 12-6 (3-4) record looks poor. They need to beat Marquette on Monday night to stay in the field.
– Virginia Tech may have had the best week of any team in the nation, taking down #1 Wake Forest on the road, then beating Miami on the road in overtime Sunday night. That effort is enough to propel them to a #8 seed after they were completely left out of the bracket last week.
Last Four In: Boston College, Tennessee, South Carolina, Dayton
Last Four Out: BYU, Southern Cal, Mississippi State, Texas A&M
Next Four Out: Penn State, Utah, Providence, Stanford
Automatic bids: Binghamton, Xavier, Duke, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Weber State, VMI, Michigan State, Long Beach State, VCU, Memphis, Butler, Cornell, Siena, Buffalo, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, UNLV, Robert Morris, Austin Peay, Washington, Navy, Kentucky, Davidson, Texas A&M-Corpus Christ, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State.
Multiple bids per conference: Big East (9), ACC (8), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6), Pac-10 (4), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (2), West Coast (2).
Key Bubble Games from January 26 to February 1:
- Notre Dame at Marquette, 1/26– With weak computer numbers, Notre Dame moves to the bubble with a second straight loss at home and a 3-5 Big East record. Believe it.
- Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 1/26– The Cowboys escaped Nebraska in Lincoln and hope to carry that momentum in what would be a huge rivalry win over the Sooners.
- Boston College at Maryland, 1/27– BC has won two in a row in the ACC to get them back into contention for a bid. A loss to a flailing Maryland team would certainly hurt.
- Purdue at Wisconsin, 1/27– Wisconsin is now 3-4 in the Big 10 and floating towards the bubble. Purdue at the Kohl Center is bordering on a must win.
- Northeastern at VCU, 1/27- The two teams that lead the Colonial square off in Richmond. The winner puts themselves into position for the #1 seed in the CAA Tournament.
- Texas at Baylor, 1/27– Another team that would love a major quality win is Baylor, and they have that opportunity at home against Texas.
- BYU at Utah, 1/27– The Mountain West is a mystery this season. The loser of this game really puts themselves in a tough position in the conference standings.
- Syracuse at Providence, 1/28– A win for the Friars and they improve to 6-2 in the Big East, meaning we might have to start talking about 10 Big East bids.
- LSU at Tennessee, 1/28– Knowing LSU and their road woes, I fully expect Tennessee to take care of business. Then again, it is Tennessee.
- Illinois State at Northern Iowa, 1/28– Missouri Valley foes have some work to do to catch conference-leading Northern Iowa. This would be a good start.
- Texas Tech at Texas A&M, 1/28– A&M got through the grueling part of their Big 12 schedule at 1-4. Now comes the part that mirrors their non-conference slate: much easier.
- Missouri at Kansas State, 1/28– The Tigers are starting to look very strong for a bid. A loss in Manhattan to a below average Kansas State team would complicate things.
- TCU at San Diego State, 1/28– Another game in the Mountain West dealing with teams near the top.
- Clemson at Virginia Tech, 1/29– Seth Greenberg has his squad playing better and better basketball as the season wears on. They toppled #1 Wake and look to take down another ACC power at home.
- Alabama at Arkansas, 1/29– Two teams that desperately need this game.
- Stanford at USC, 1/29– Important bubble game out West. Can Stanford win on the road?
- Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, 1/31– Biggest bubble game on this week’s slate.
- South Carolina at Kentucky, 1/31– An opportunity for the Gamecocks to really make a statement in the SEC and show they’re deserving of a seed.
- New Mexico at Utah, 1/31– See: BYU and Utah.
- Baylor at Missouri, 1/31– Very important week for both Baylor and Missouri in the early bubble chase.
Wisconsin at Northwestern, 1/31- These are not your father’s (or older brother’s) Northwestern Wildcats. Wisconsin would be wise to get up for this fairly difficult road game.
- Virginia Tech at Boston College, 1/31– Second most important bubble game of the week.
- Florida at Tennessee, 1/31– For some reason, ESPN chose to pick their Gameday sites for the entire season before the year began, unlike what they do for football. So the crew is in Knoxville for a matchup pegged to decide the SEC title that’s turned into a fierce bubble contest.
- California at USC, 1/31– Important week for the Trojans.
- Penn State at Michigan State, 2/1– Penn State on the bubble? Yes, sir.
- St. Joseph’s at Dayton, 2/1– The Hawks are having a very nice Atlantic 10 campaign thus far. A win at Dayton would go a long way towards 1) getting them back in the bubble picture and 2) setting them up for the best position to topple Xavier in March.