In Search of 65, Week 5

MIDWEST SOUTH EAST WEST
1 Kansas Syracuse Kentucky Duke
2 Pittsburgh Ohio State West Virginia Purdue
3 New Mexico Kansas State Baylor Villanova
4 Wisconsin Maryland Michigan State Temple
5 Vanderbilt Texas A&M Georgetown Tennessee
6 Gonzaga Butler Xavier BYU
7 Richmond Wake Forest Northern Iowa Texas
8 Louisville UNLV Oklahoma State Missouri
9 Florida State Florida Clemson Marquette
10 Virginia Tech UTEP Utah State Saint Mary’s
11 California Notre Dame Georgia Tech Mississippi
12 San Diego State Old Dominion Siena Arizona State
13 Memphis Murray State Kent State Cornell
14 Weber State Wofford Sam Houston State Oakland
15 Vermont Lehigh Morgan State UC-Santa Barbara
16 Troy v. Winthrop
Jackson State East Tennessee State Quinnipiac

Newbies: Troy, Winthrop, East Tennessee State, Quinnipiac, UC-Santa Barbara, Wofford, Memphis, San Diego State, Arizona State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech

Goners: Western Kentucky, Coastal Carolina, Belmont, Robert Morris, Pacific, Charleston, UAB, Connecticut, Mississippi State, Rhode Island, Illinois, Northeastern

Last Five In: Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Mississippi, Arizona State, Memphis

Last Five Out: Illinois, Seton Hall, Washington, South Florida, Saint Louis

  • Obviously a lot of movement from last week to this week (12 new teams!) because of two reasons: 1. The low-major conference tournaments haven’t all played as expected (italicized teams, by the way, have punched their ticket officially); 2. A lot of bubble teams blew it last week. UAB lost to Memphis and UTEP when a split would have kept them in. UConn lost four in a row to close its season. Mississippi State lost to Auburn and so was replaced by their in-state rival Rebels (same spot on the bracket even). Rhode Island lost to St. Bonaventure and UMass. Illinois didn’t get a much-needed win over Wisconsin. And Northeastern (my buffer team) didn’t steal a bid as expected.
  • There’s still a ton of flux on the bubble. This week, the top nine lines (36 teams) are locks to me, with Marquette and Florida the iffiest of those 36 (still hard for me to envision a scenario where neither gets in). After that, pretty much no at-large is safe. Teams like UTEP, Utah State, and Cal can’t slip up early in their conference tourneys (if at all) while Virginia Tech and Notre Dame pretty much HAVE to beat Wake Forest/Miami and Seton Hall/Providence, respectively, to stay in the bracket. San Diego State can cement itself with a trip to the Mountain West Championship (meaning a win over New Mexico to get there) while Memphis-UAB and Arizona State-Washington are potential play-in semifinal games in the C-USA and Pac-10, respectively. Ole Miss also can’t afford a loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. So as you can see, there’s still about 8-10 at-larges in play whereas most years, that number is down to 2-3 by Championship Week.
  • Most years you don’t want bid-stealers from mid-majors because they complicate the picture; this year, they’d only help clear it up. But we haven’t had any yet.
  • Duke is the frontrunner for the final No. 1 seed; Purdue can steal it with a Big Ten Tourney title and a Blue Devils’ loss in the ACC Tourney. West Virginia, Pitt, and Villanova have outside shots with a title in the Big East.
  • I’m as stunned as you are that Baylor belongs on the 3-line.
  • My Elite Eight from this bracket: Kansas over Pitt, Syracuse over Ohio State, Michigan State over Xavier, Duke over Villanova
  • Upsets: San Diego State over Vanderbilt, Siena over Georgetown, Texas over Purdue, Butler over K-State, and Xavier over Baylor
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