Sunday, March 5, 2006

Road to Selection Sunday

With another weekend in the books, it's time for another edition of "Road to Selection Sunday". As stated last week, it is basically a recap of the past couple of days in college basketball, usually the Saturday and Sunday that were 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, a lot of teams made their case for an NCAA bid, while others found ways to keep themselves sweating until Selection Sunday. Conference tournaments in the mid-major conferences are in full stride, and 6 teams have received bids to the NCAA Tournament. Just when you thought that a certain team was a "lock" for the Big Dance, they go out and drop a game they shouldn't have. In other words, the bubble is as big as ever and many at-large candidates are positioning themselves for seeding. 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:
Seton Hall- A 9-7 Big East record combined with their road win over Pittsburgh gives them the 7th bid from the Big East.
Northern Iowa- Got the win they needed with their victory over Missouri State. 7 wins vs. Top 50 clinch bid.

Teams that are close to "IN" status:
Indiana- Road win over Michigan caps four-game winning streak to end the season. Got 5th seed in Big Ten Tournament.
UNC-Wilmington- Reached final of conference tourney. Even with RPI dropping, they have CAA title under their belt.

Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
UAB- Followed up huge win over Memphis with easy home victory against Marshall. Close to a bid.
Hofstra- Beat George Mason for the second time in two weeks to reach CAA title game. RPI soon to be in the 20s.
Texas A&M- Dominant road victory over Texas Tech brought season-closing winning streak to seven games. Looking solid as 4th Big 12 team.
Bradley- Reached MVC title game after beating Wichita State and Creighton. Have beaten all five other MVC contenders.
Cincinnati- Close to getting a bid after defeating West Virginia at home. Win in Big East Tournament would clinch it.
California- Have lost 3 of 5, but finished season with win over USC at home. Could use at least one win at Pac-10 Tournament.
Florida State- Pulled out close road victory over Miami (Fl.) to follow up win over Duke. Need at least one win in ACC Tournament.
Colorado- Just escaped with a home win over Iowa State. Stock is dropping quickly, but they can right the ship with a nice run in Big 12 Tournament.
Air Force- Won sixth in a row with 4-point victory at Colorado State. Need a title game appearance in MWC Tourney to boost profile.
BYU- Still flying under the radar. Have won 10 of 11 after defeating New Mexico to tie Air Force at 12-4 in the MWC.
Utah State- Kept their hopes alive with three-point home win over 6-24 San Jose State. Need at least a title game appearance in WAC Tournament.
Maryland- Blew a huge lead at Virginia, but managed to pull out one-point win. 8-8 in ACC, but need at least two wins in ACC Tournament.

Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Syracuse- Losing at home to Villanova is acceptable, but 39-point loss to DePaul before that isn't. Not a good way to finish the season.
Missouri State- Win over Northern Iowa in MVC Tournament would have clinched bid. Instead, lack of quality non-conference wins could hurt them.
Creighton- Loss to Bradley in MVC Tournament gives Bluejays worst RPI of 5 at-large candidates from the MVC.

Teams that now have NO shot at an at-large bid:
UTEP- Loss on the road to UCF kills any chances they had. Miners aren't the same team without John Tofi.
Vanderbilt- Blew big lead at home to Tennessee. Needed to win in order to keep hopes alive for a bid.
Houston- If they could have knocked off Memphis on the road, they might have had a chance to get a bid. But they didn't, so they won't.
Charlotte- Boneheaded play in the final seconds of game at GW cost them a huge road win and a shot at a bid.

Teams whose seed is rising:
North Carolina- Might be best team in the ACC after knocking off Duke on the road. Could be in line for a #2 seed.
Illinois- Went to East Lansing and defeated Michigan State. Second-best profile in the Big Ten could equal a #2 seed.
Ohio State- Moving closer to #1 seed after winning outright Big Ten title. If Memphis falls, they are next in line.
UCLA- Won outright Pac-10 title and have won 9 of 11. Could be a #3 or #4 seed if they put forth a good showing in Pac-10 Tournament.
Washington- Have won 8 in a row after starting Pac-10 season 5-5. Huskies could be looking at a Top-5 seed.
Arkansas- Won fifth in a row with victory at Georgia. Seed going up--looking like an 8 seed, at least.
Florida- Road win over Kentucky reverses slide they had been on. Now obviously 3rd-best profile in SEC.
Southern Illinois- Looked impressive in winning MVC Tournament, knocking off Bradley and Northern Iowa.

Teams whose seed is falling:
Michigan- Could be on the bubble after losing at home to Indiana. Now have lost 6 of 8 and have no impressive non-league wins.
Pittsburgh- Loss at home to Seton Hall means they have lose 3 of 4. No chance at a #2 seed anymore.
North Carolina State- Now definitely the 4th-best profile in ACC after loss at Wake Forest. If not for 19-4 start, Wolfpack could have been on the bubble.
Michigan State- Loss at home to Illinois drops them to 8-8 in the Big Ten, good enough for 7th in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin- Have now lost 6 of last 7 road games after defeat at the hands of Iowa. Does not bode well for NCAA Tournament.
Alabama- All they had to do was avoid bad losses. 13-point loss at Mississippi State is definition of a "bad loss".
Oklahoma- Snapped four game winning streak in one-point contests with loss by 24 at Texas. Throw a 2-3 zone at them and Sooners look awful.
George Mason- Lost to Hofstra for second time in two weeks. If not for excellent RPI, Patriots would be on the bubble.
Georgetown- Lost to South Florida to give USF their first Big East win of the year. Have lost last three road games.

Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Connecticut- Now the obvious overall #1 seed after lackadaisical win over Louisvile. 13 wins vs. RPI Top 50. Need to play with more focus all the time, though.
2. Villanova- Solid road victory over Syracuse gives them overall #2 after Duke's losing streak. Lock for a #1 seed. Could see the rubber match with UConn in Big East title game.
3. Duke- Two-game losing streak knocks them from overall #1 (and #2, for that matter). Still should get #1 seed as they have #1 RPI and #1 SOS.
4. Memphis- Still the last #1--for now. Ohio State is gaining on them, but #2 NC RPI and SOS give them the edge for now. Can't fall in C-USA Tournament.

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