In Search of 65, Week 3

We’ve moved our weekly prognostication of the final NCAA Tournament bracket to its permanent slot on Tuesdays…finally.

1 Kansas Kentucky Syracuse Purdue
2 West Virginia Villanova Kansas State Duke
3 Ohio State Michigan State New Mexico Pittsburgh
4 Vanderbilt Wisconsin Temple Georgetown
5 Butler Gonzaga BYU Texas
6 Tennessee Baylor Maryland Texas A&M
7 Missouri Wake Forest Xavier UNLV
8 Georgia Tech Richmond Northern Iowa Florida
9 Louisville Marquette Florida State Virginia Tech
10 California Saint Mary’s Connecticut Illinois
11 Clemson Utah State UAB Rhode Island
12 UTEP Siena Oklahoma State Old Dominion
13 Murray State Charleston Northeastern Cornell
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

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