We’ve moved our weekly prognostication of the final NCAA Tournament bracket to its permanent slot on Tuesdays…finally.
|2||West Virginia||Villanova||Kansas State||Duke|
|3||Ohio State||Michigan State||New Mexico||Pittsburgh|
|8||Georgia Tech||Richmond||Northern Iowa||Florida|
|9||Louisville||Marquette||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
|11||Clemson||Utah State||UAB||Rhode Island|
|12||UTEP||Siena||Oklahoma State||Old Dominion|
|14||Kent State||Oakland||Sam Houston State||Coastal Carolina|
|15||Pacific||Belmont||Weber State||Morgan State|
|16||Arkansas State v. Jackson State||Lehigh||Vermont||Robert Morris|
Newbies: Connecticut, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Rhode Island
Goners: Mississippi, Charlotte, Dayton, South Florida
Last Five In: Clemson, UAB, Oklahoma State, Rhode Island, Old Dominion
Last Five Out: Dayton, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, San Diego State, Washington
- Much of the shakeup this week has less to do with what happened on the court than with my improved research. I found records against top 50 RPI teams et al on The Hoops Report, which helped me go a little more in-depth with seeding and who should make the cut.
- Purdue takes over for Villanova as the final No. 1 seed. The Boilermakers have a little breathing room; with the schedules Nova, Duke, and Kansas State have upcoming, Purdue can afford to lose one more game in either the regular season (@ Minnesota, v. Michigan State) or in the Big Ten Tournament. Drop two, however, and Duke–with a regular-season and ACC Tournament title–could sneak in and grab a 1 for the first time since 2006. Villanova will have its opportunities to win at Syracuse and at the Garden while K-State would need to win out.
- The Fall of the Week belongs to Mississippi, who lost at home to both Vanderbilt and Florida. Those two Ls drop the Rebels to 5-7 in the SEC West, where lately you’ve needed 10 wins to earn an at-large berth.
- Dayton’s close behind Mississippi, as the Flyers’ loss at Duquesne makes reaching 10 wins difficult for them in the A-10. Although Dayton still has a nice out-of-conference resume, I don’t know if it can earn an at-large when teams like Charlotte and Saint Louis finish with better conference records than it. Flyers are looking at a seventh-place finish; that’s too low.
- The door keeps getting bigger for middle-of-the-pack teams in the ACC, Big East, and Big XII. Clemson joins fellow bubblers Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Florida State in this bracket, even though I see the Tigers finishing 8-8 in conference. Same goes for Oklahoma State, who grabs one of the last at-larges. UConn gets in after its victory over West Virginia last night. The Huskies, however, can’t really afford a loss at either Notre Dame or South Florida down the stretch.
- The top 29 teams in this bracket (seeds 1-7 and Florida) are, in my mind, pretty much locks at this point.
- I would not want to be in this South Region. Group of Death.
- Whoever had money on a Kansas State-New Mexico Sweet 16 matchup earlier in the year…
- Thing to watch: BYU can only be put in the East or West regions (because the Cougars can’t play on Sundays). The West Region is in Salt Lake City. Possible home-court edge if BYU makes it to the Sweet 16.
- My Elite Eight from this bracket: Kansas over Ohio State, Michigan State over Kentucky, Syracuse over New Mexico, Georgetown over Duke
- Big Upsets: Georgetown over Purdue, Connecticut over Kansas State, Missouri over West Virginia, Utah State over Baylor