March Madness Bracketology: 2/22
Okay, it’s the same deal as last week – the new projected bracket followed by winners and losers from each of the major conferences. Sorry mid majors, I’m a huge proponent of giving some bids to you, but there simply aren’t that many strong resumes to contend for a spot this year.
Remember, this is a projected bracket of how it will look on Selection Sunday, not what it would be if the NCAA Tournament was today.
Pittsburgh survived a really ugly one at home against Wake Forest earlier in the week, but they looked significantly better at Syracuse and got the much needed road win for their resume. Given how many bubble teams screwed up this past week, the Panthers are certainly on the correct side of the bubble. The remaining schedule is Louisville, Duke, at Virginia Tech and at Georgia Tech. The two homes games are obviously quality wins, but those two on the road are no picnic. Pittsburgh must win at least two, if not three to feel comfortable heading into the ACC Tournament.
Loser: Florida State
This is exactly how you earn a bid to the NIT. After a blowout loss to Syracuse and falling just short to Miami at home, Florida State suffered a bad loss at home to Georgia Tech and now at Virginia Tech by 10. The Seminoles are now 6-9 in ACC play. Their only three regular-season games left are at Duke, Notre Dame and Syracuse. The good news is that they are all likely NCAA Tournament teams and two of them are at home. But the fact that they are 6-9 in conference play, have a nonconference SOS of 235 and RPI has crept up to 71 is not good at all. It’ll be very difficult for FSU to make the Tournament now.
Not that Baylor was in any real danger of heading to the bubble, but Baylor had lost three of its last four with an unfriendly road ahead. Well, never mind that. The Bears put 100 on Iowa State in OT and then went into Austin and dismantled a hot Texas team by double digits. It may not be the Big 12 regular-season title they desire, but with a remaining schedule of Kansas, at TCU, at Oklahoma and West Virginia, if the Bears won three of those four, they could get to a top-four seed.
Loser: West Virginia
This pretty much eliminates West Virginia’s realistic hopes of winning the Big 12. With losses at Texas and against Oklahoma at home, that’s six conference losses for the Mountaineers. A top-four seed is still likely though.
Xavier has to win out to have a shot at the Big East regular season title. It wasn’t an easy week with a home contest against Providence and then traveling to Georgetown. However, mission accomplished with the Musketeers taking care of both squads. This sets up a big showdown on Wednesday with Xavier hosting Villanova.
Loser: All the bubble teams
There really isn’t a specific loser. Providence lost its only contest to Xavier, which is hardly a bad loss. Seton Hall won at Georgetown, which is looking less impressive by the week and were extremely lucky to walk away with a win at St. John’s. Butler knocked off Creighton, but lost at Villanova, which is expected. Creighton lost at Butler, which isn’t a big surprise. All four of these teams are on the bubble. If the season ended today, Providence and Seton Hall would most likely be in. Butler is very close. Creighton most likely not. But again, the margin for error is slim and these next two weeks along with the Big East Tournament are obviously huge.
Winner: Michigan State
Yeah, I could go with Indiana, but Sparty is obliterating anyone in their sight and crushed what was a very hot Wisconsin squad. No one would put Michigan State as a No. 1 seed right now, but I don’t see anyone beating them the rest of the regular season and they will be the favorite in the Big Ten Tournament regardless of seeding. I think they will play their way into a No. 1 seed.
Yes, Iowa’s loss to Penn State was bad, and the Hawkeyes gave away their margin for error. However, just 24 hours later, Maryland took the gift and flushed it down the toilet by losing to a Minnesota team that hadn’t won a Big Ten game yet. The Terps were without Diamond Stone from his head shove punishment against Wisconsin and the Gophers, as weird as it is to say, are better than their record indicates. Still, this is an atrocious loss and another example of how average Maryland has been away from home and a possible regression of how fortunate they’ve been in close-game luck. Plus, turtles in a barn don’t seem to work. Yes, they did hold off Michigan at home on Sunday, but they still have to play at Purdue and at Indiana. Maryland’s Big Ten title hopes are slim.
The metrics kept showing how strong of a team Utah was. We were just waiting for a little more consistency on the road. This is how you do it – survive at UCLA and decimate USC by 11 on the road. With their last three games all at home against Arizona State, Arizona and Colorado, Utah is definitely still in play for a top-four seed.
Colorado is one of many bubble teams in the Pac-12. In contrast to Utah, they were swept by the LA schools. They do have the Arizona schools at home on deck, but they close at Utah. The good news for Colorado is that their RPI is 36, have three wins against the RPI Top 50 and their game with Arizona is at home. The bad news is their best win away from home is Stanford, they are 3-7 against the RPI Top 50 and their nonconference SOS is only 133rd. Colorado is probably on the right side of things, but if they go 1-2 in these last three games and don’t do well in the Pac-12 Tournament, it’ll be a very scary Selection Sunday.
In a bizarre and wacky finish, A&M got back on track with a much-needed win against Kentucky and took care of business earlier in the week versus Ole Miss. The Aggies remaining schedule is Mississippi State, at Missouri, at Auburn and Vanderbilt. It’s likely A&M wins those last four and if Kentucky slips up one more time, A&M will take the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament and have a shot at a top-four seed.
A home loss to Alabama and a road loss to Tennessee? Forget it. The NCAA Tournament does not need Ben Simmons. The national media needs Ben Simmonsso they have easier stories to talk about. But you know what? The NIT could use Ben Simmons. The Ben Simmons fans and NBA draft scouts will float to ESPN when LSU takes the court, but the NCAA Tournament ratings won’t take even a slight hit.
Winner: St Bonaventure
Yeah, the Bonnie’s lost at La Salle, which is a really bad loss. However, St. Bonaventure went into Dayton and got a much needed victory at one of the toughest places to win in the country. St. Bonaventure now has road wins against Dayton and at St. Joseph’s, which is huge for their resume and now have an RPI of 34th. If they can take care of a very manageable closing schedule (Duquesne, UMass, St. Joseph’s, at Saint Louis), that’ll get them to 14-4 in Atlantic 10 play. That should give them a legit shot at the NCAA Tournament.
In what looked like the clear favorite in the Atlantic 10, Dayton dropped both contests this week at St. Joseph’s and at home against St. Bonaventure. Dayton is still easily in the Tournament, but their odds on a top-four seed just took a huge hit.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz