NOTES ON THE BRACKET
-Let me reiterate that these projections are not a prediction of March but rather a report card for what has already happened during the season. That may be why some of the selections and seedings may appear to be somewhat unusual. In other words, if today was Selection Sunday this is what I think the bracket would look like.
AUTOMATIC BIDS are given to all 31 conference champions. The projected champions are the teams who are either currently in first place or tied for it in the loss column. The teams receiving automatic bids are Duke, Texas, Memphis, Florida, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, UCLA, Bucknell, George Washington, Old Dominion, Southern Illinois, Air Force, Western Kentucky, Winthrop, Akron, Manhattan, Louisiana Tech, Montana, Northwestern State, Murray State, Penn, Valparaiso, Albany, Georgia Southern, Wright State, Robert Morris, Delaware State, Southern, UC Irvine, Florida Atlantic.
Rutgers, DePaul, Georgia, Clemson, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Washington State, Missouri State, George Mason, Georgetown, Colorado State, Iona
-Once again Kansas is not in the bracket or even among those being considered. The reason for that is because they are currently not in the top 105, which means that they would not be included on the Nitty Gritty Report that is submitted to the selection committee. They fell to rival Kansas State for the first time in 31 games, but other than that the Jayhawks are playing very well right now. Chances are theyll be there in the end and will probably be in position to not only get to the tournament, but also get a pretty good seed. However, as of now they probably wouldnt be in the picture.
-The Big Ten has six teams that are seeded #4 or better. That would set an NCAA record for most teams from one conference making the pod system, but chances are they wont end up with that many teams seeded that high. All of those teams will likely make the tournament, but they cant ALL keep winning at the same rate theyre winning at right now. It gets back to the simple fact that every time a game is played someone is going to lose so it is inevitable that some of the teams profiles will drop as they beat each other out.
-Louisville and Oklahoma are still without any really high quality wins, but continue to be ranked highly in the polls. Louisville played Pittsburgh really tough, but had trouble finishing underneath and couldnt pull out what would have been a huge win for them. Oklahoma beat Texas A&M on the road in a defensive battle and although that is a good road conference win it still didnt come against a team who appears to be a strong tournament contender.
-Wisconsin Milwaukee underwent a surprising and potentially very damaging loss over the weekend when they fell to Wisconsin Green Bay. It was their first conference loss, but what hurts is that UWGBs RPI is only in the 160s, which means it is a bad loss on Milwaukees resume and hurts their at large hopes. They still have a good enough RPI (18) to get them in on that alone, but that RPI will likely decline as the year goes on even if they continue to win due to the level of competition in the Horizon League.
The loss also means that Wright State is now in first place in the Horizon League. In fact they are the only team who has yet to lose in league play, which is why they are projected in with an automatic bid right now.
-Nevada is another team who has a much better overall profile and appears to be a much better team than everyone else in their conference, but who is a game back in the loss column. Their one conference loss came to Hawaii a few weeks ago, which makes Louisiana Tech the only team who is unbeaten in league play.
-Hawaii continues to struggle on the road. They are 8-6 on the year with all eight wins coming at home. Despite having big wins over Nevada and Michigan State the rest of their profile is nowhere close to what it needs to be in order for them to get any consideration.
-Nevada was the last team to make this particular field. Others who were close were Georgia and Clemson, but Nevada beat Georgia head to head at Georgia which is why I opted to put them in. The committee looks at head to head competition when two teams have similar profiles.
-Rutgers and DePaul were two other teams who were close, but left out. All and all both teams are in pretty good shape because theyll see more than their fair share of competition and get plenty of chances to get big wins in the Big East and play their way inside the bubble.
-Wake Forest has a pretty good team, but they are just 0-3 in conference play. They have a good win against Wisconsin, but that isnt enough to offset the rest of their current profile. Id be surprised if they didnt put it together and play their way back into getting a good seed though.
-Texas got a huge win over the weekend when they beat Villanova. It is their second win against a team who could very easily end up getting a #1 or #2 seed (the other being against Memphis). They only have two losses and one of those was against Duke, so they really have as good a profile as anyone at the moment.
-There are four Missouri Valley teams projected in. No one in the conference has really gotten the attention of the voters, but it is definitely a multi-bid conference that could potentially get four teams in because of how a lot of those teams rank in the RPI. Northern Iowa has the best overall profile, but they are two games behind Southern Illinois in the conference standings. Creighton is also playing well despite having to deal with so many injuries and could still end up being an at large candidate.
-Arizona had a rough weekend. In a matter of 48 hours they picked up two conference losses to teams outside the RPI top 100 when they lost close games to Oregon State and Oregon. They fall to 3-3 in the conference. Everyone in the Pac Ten has played at least five conference games and nine of the ten teams are only separated by one game. There is currently. Five teams are tied for first in the loss column. UCLA has the best record at 4-2, but Washington, Cal, Stanford and Oregon are all right behind them at 3-2. It should make for yet another slew of exciting league games this week.
-Washington State also lost two conference games this week. In both games they fell way behind and mounted comebacks, but failed to get over the top either time. They lost by just two points to UCLA and in another close game to USC two days later. A win in either game, especially against UCLA, would have really helped out their profile. Theyll get other chances at quality wins and are by no means out of the conference race, but when youre on an NCAA Tournament drought as long as the one Wazzu is on youll want to take advantage of every possible opportunity.
-Cincinnati has had a pretty rough week as well. They lost Armein Kirkland for the season due to a knee injury and they have lost both games since then. Overall they have a great RPI and SOS and a few really good wins, but all of that was sustained before the injury so they are now burdened with having to reprove themselves if they want the committee to give them a good seed or even take them at all. It isnt going to be easy either because they only have the use of eight scholarship players.