Sunday, February 19, 2006

Road to Selection Sunday

Welcome to the first installment of our new feature, "Road to Selection Sunday". Basically, it is a recap of the past couple of days in college basketball, usually the weekend that was just completed. It will go over the teams on the bubble that helped or hurt themselves, teams in the NCAA Tournament whose seed is rising and falling, and much more.

This weekend, several highly-ranked teams went on the road and were upset by teams in need of a win. In other cases, some teams on the right side of the bubble lost games they should have won and are no longer as comfortably in the Big Dance as before. In addition, the Bracket Buster weekend separated the mid-major contenders and pretenders. Let's take a look at all the teams that were affected by this weekend's results.

Teams that locked up bids to the NCAA Tournament:
Marquette- Back-to-back wins over Georgetown and Pitt solidify their spot in the Big Dance.
George Mason- No matter what happens in the Colonial tournament, GMU is in after a road win over Wichita State.

Teams that are close to "IN" status:
Alabama- Home win over Tennessee gives them the signature win they needed. Have won four of five.
Missouri State- Have now won 6 of 7 after a road win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Nevada- After struggling early, 7 straight wins capped by a blowout victory over Akron should get them a bid.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Syracuse- Win over Louisville keeps them in the NCAA Tournament for now; tough stretch coming up.
Arkansas- Huge win at home vs. Florida is the signature win they needed; big improvement in RPI.

Kentucky- Got a big road win over South Carolina. Needed that win with very tough finish to the season.
Maryland- Close overtime win vs. Georgia Tech kept them on the bubble. 3 of last 4 on the road.
Bradley- After MVC's failures in the Bracket Buster, tough to get more than 4 bids. Nonetheless, they are on a 3-game win streak.
Air Force- Improved their RPI to the positive side of 50 with back-to-back road wins.
Vanderbilt- Stuck to their fading NCAA hopes with road win over Georgia. Need to finish 3-1 in the reg. season.
Florida State- Blew out fellow bubble team Virginia. Weak RPI, but product on the court is impressive.
UAB- Dominant road win keeps them in the NCAA Tournament for now. Memphis coming up.
Cincinnati- Back-to-back wins get them back on the right side of the bubble. Need to win 1 of their final 3.
Hofstra- Faint NCAA hopes still alive after win over Siena. Home date with George Mason on Thursday.
Arizona- Very impressive in road win over Stanford. Strong RPI and SOS could mean Arizona is already a lock.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Southern Illinois- Squarely on the bubble after disappointing home loss to Lousiana Tech. Looking like the odd team out in the MVC.
Colorado- Were looking solid for a bid after W over Oklahoma, but back on the bubble after loss to Kansas State.
California- Had them as a lock last week, but home loss to Pac-10 cellar dweller Arizona State ruins that.
Seton Hall- Home loss to Notre Dame puts them in the same pool as Syracuse and Cincinnati.
Virginia- Looked awful in loss to Florida State, leaving them with lots of work to do if they want a bid.
South Carolina- Had a chance to get into the Big Dance against Kentucky, but got blown out in the second half. Falling off the bubble.
Stanford- Loss to Arizona may be the nail in their at-large coffin. Strong Pac-10 record can't save them now.
Indiana- Yet another loss, this time to Illinois. Five straight losses for a team that was solidly in three weeks ago.

Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Louisiana Tech- Second in the WAC, road win over Southern Illinois keeps hopes alive. Need to win out.
Texas Tech- Terrible RPI and overall record, but 6-6 in the Big 12 helps out. Very, very slim chance.
Texas A&M- Three straight wins moves them to .500 in the Big 12. Need to finish nearly perfect.
Charlotte- Can the second place team in the Atlantic-10 snatch a bid? A win in the last game of the season at GW would do wonders.
Utah State- Good RPI and conference record, but no quality non-conf. wins. Home vs. Nevada on Saturday.
Minnesota- Have won four of last six, including wins over Iowa and Michigan State. Very slim chance.
USC- Combine win over UCLA with victory over UNC and .500 Pac-10 record gives them an outside shot.

Teams that now have NO shot at an at-large bid:
Nebraska- Home loss to Texas Tech eliminates them. Had optimism after road W over ISU, but that is gone.
Temple- Road loss to Saint Louis put them at 7-6 in the conference. No A-10 team is getting in at 7-6.
Iowa State- They threw away a W over Oklahoma after losing at home to Nebraska. 4-8 in the Big 12.
Louisville- Time to think about making the Big East Tournament. Loss to 'Cuse was the final straw.
Miami (Fl.)- Four straight losses in the ACC knocks them out of any sort of consideration for the NCAA.

Teams whose seed is rising:
Marquette- Aforementioned victories over Georgetown and Pitt move them into the 7-8 range.
Kansas- Are now tied for the Big 12 lead. Hottest team in the country. Haven't had a close game in weeks.
Washington- Road wins over Oregon and Oregon State move them to within one game of first place in the Pac-10.
North Carolina- Pushing for a Top-4 seed after winning 6 of 7, including hard-fought road win over Wake Forest.

Teams whose seed is falling:
West Virginia- Developing some inconsistencies lately. Have lost 3 of 4 and have a tough road coming up.
Wichita State- Home loss to George Mason and overall performance from the MVC drops their seed a few notches.
Iowa- Still have not shown they can win away from home. Still leading the Big Ten by a half-game, though.
Michigan- Falling quickly after losing 4 of 5. Could be on the bubble by next week. Need a quality win.
Georgetown- Have lost three in a row. Even though they were all against quality teams, Hoyas need to get back on track.
UCLA- Have lost two in a row, both on the road. Luckily for them, OSU and Oregon come to visit this week.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Duke- Obviously the #1 overall seed after UConn's loss. Probably no way that the Blue Devils are not going to get a top seed.
2. Villanova- Win over UConn, in addition to excellent RPI and SOS, solidifies Wildcats as a definite #1 seed.
3. Connecticut- Most Top 50 wins in the country. Unless they lose two more games, Huskies are good for a top seed.
4. Memphis- With Texas losing, there is no team close to Tigers right now in terms of profile. Can't lose any C-USA games, though.

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