Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The Horizon League played out the way it was expected to coming into the season. UW-Milwaukee was the favorite, and won the league on the last day of the season by one game over Butler. The Panthers lost 4 of their last 7 to let the Bulldogs back in the race. Five teams finished at 8-8 in the league, tied for third.
Favorite: Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the defending champion and has played like it most of the season. Joah Tucker is one of the top players in the league, while Boo Davis is an excellent complement to him. Adrian Tigert missed the final two games of the season due to injury. When healthy, he is a load to handle down low. Chris Hill is a solid point guard. The Panthers are the highest-scoring team in the league and they like to get up and down, pressuring the ball and scoring in transition.
Contenders: Butler lost on the final day of the season, costing themselves a shot at a share of the league title. The Bulldogs have one of the best players in the conference in Brandon Polk. They also have an excellent three-guard backcourt in A.J. Graves, Bruce Horan, and Avery Sheets. All three are solid long-range shooters. Loyola (Chicago) is probably the best of the .500 teams. Blake Schlib is one of the best all-around players in the Horizon League, and is versatile at 6-7. Majak Kou and J.R Blount are solid scorers in the backcourt, while Leon Young is a decent low-post player.
Sleeper: Wright State owns wins over Butler and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but have lost four of six. However, the Raiders have one of the top all-around players in the conference in Dashaun Wood, a guard capable of carrying them for a few wins. In addition, they have a very good forward duo in Drew Burleson and Jordan Pleiman. The aforementioned three form one of the best trios in the conference.
Prediction: Even though they slumped down the stretch, Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the best team in the conference and should win the tournament. If Tigert is healthy, they have the inside-outside balance needed to win the automatic bid. Joah Tucker and Boo Davis are going to carry the Panthers to their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, Butler is going to give them a run in the title game.
After running neck and neck with Samford and Tennessee Tech, Murray State pulled away with the Ohio Valley Conference title down the strech, winning the league by a full three games over Samford. Seeds two through seven were only separated by three games, leaving only one team, Tennessee-Martin, in the conference tournament with a conference record below. 500. In other words, the OVC Tournament should be an exciting tournament.
Favorite: Murray State came into the season as the co-favorites, along with Eastern Kentucky. However, after beating EKU by 29 in early December, it was clear who the class of the OVC was. The Racers are a balanced and deep team that uses 10 guys per game. Shawn Witherspoon is a very good inside player, while sixth man Trey Pearson is one of the better guards in the conference. Six other players average at least five points per game, led by Darnell Hopkins and Justin Orr. Murray State is also the best defensive team in the conference, holding teams below 60 points per game.
Contenders: Samford, after looking like a candidate to win the conference, lost four of their last six to finish in second. They have an excellent frontcourt duo in J. Robert Merritt and center Travis Peterson. Guard Randall Gulina is a good scorer on the perimeter. Moreover, the Bulldogs are the best shooting team in the league, both from inside the arc and outside the arc. Tennessee Tech is another team that is very deep and balanced. They split with both Murray State and Samford. The three-headed guard attack of Anthony Fisher, Belton Rivers, and Milone Clark form one of the best perimeter trios in the conference. Inside, Derek Stribling and Amadi McKenzie are solid performers.
Sleeper: With several teams bunched together in the 4-7 seed range, there is a group of teams that could potentially make a run. However, the team that has the best chance is Tennessee State. They have won 3 in a row, and 5 of their last 6. Kareem Grant is one of the best forwards in the conference, and fellow frontcourt mate Clarence Matthews is the best rebounder in the OVC. In the backcourt, Wayne Arnold is a very good perimeter scorer, while Reiley Ervin is an excellent distributor.
Prediction: I hate going with the favorite, but there is no choice here. Murray State is the best team in the conference. They have several players that can beat you on a given night, and their depth and balance are usually too much for teams to handle. The inside-outside duo of Trey Pearson and Shawn Witherspoon will lead the Racers to an OVC title and the automatic berth. There are plenty of teams from the bottom of the bracket that will give Murray State a run in the title game, though.
The Big South Conference race came down the final day, when preseason favorite Winthrop went on the road and defeated Birmingham Southern to finish 13-3. BSU finished 12-4. Coastal Carolina also finished 12-4. No other team finished more than two games above .500 overall.
Favorite: Winthrop was expected to run away with the league from the start. However, they were swept by Coastal Carolina and also lost on the road to Liberty. They are still the odds-on favorite to win the conference tournament, though. James Shuler and Torrell Martin form an excellent wing combination, while Craig Bradshaw might be the best big man in the league. The Eagles also play excellent defense.
Contenders: Coastal Carolina swept Winthrop in the regular season, and has also won 10 in a row. Buzz Peterson might have the best player in the conference in guard Jack Leasure. Pele Paelay is one of the best all-around players in the Big South, and Moses Sonko is a solid forward. Birmingham Southern had won 9 in a row but have lost 3 of their last 6 since then. Four players average in double-figures, led by guard James Collins. The Panthers might have the best frontcourt in the league in post players Sredrick Powe and Thomas Viglianco, as well as forward Dwayne Paul.
Sleeper: Radford finished 4th in the league, and has already beaten Coastal Carolina and Birmingham Southern this season. More importantly, they have the best duo in the conference in guard Whit Holcomb-Faye and forward Chris Oliver. Holcomb-Faye is the league's leading scorer and Oliver leads the Big South in rebounding.
Prediction: Winthrop came into the season as the favorite, and I think that the Eagles will end the season as the champions. Their defense is the best in the league, plus they have a variety of options on the offensive end. They have great inside-outside balance and the necessary experience to pull out tight games. Coastal Carolina could be the team to knock them from their perch, though.
America East: Albany
Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big 12: Kansas
Big East: Syracuse
Big Sky: Montana
Big South: Winthrop
Big Ten: Iowa
Big West: Pacific
MAC: Kent State
Mid-Continent: Oral Roberts
Missouri Valley: Southern Illinois
Mountain West: San Diego State
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Southland: Northwestern State
Sun Belt: South Alabama
West Coast: Gonzaga
Monday, February 27, 2006
Fairleigh Dickinson at Monmouth (Monday)- Winner gets the Northeast Conference title. FDU has made it interesting by losing two in a row.
Cincinnati at Seton Hall (Tuesday)- Two bubble teams looking for a win. A win for the Bearcats could wrap up a bid, while the Pirates are in a must-win situation.
Kentucky at Tennessee (Wednesday)- Tennessee is fighting for the SEC title, while Kentucky is fighting for an NCAA bid. A road vs. the Vols would make them a lock.
Duke at Florida State (Wednesday)- Rematch of one-point OT win at Cameron last month. FSU is on the bubble, and this win would definitely help them out.
Texas at Texas A&M (Wednesday)- Texas A&M rising towards a bid, but lack a win to hang their hat on. A victory over the Longhorns would do the trick.
Colorado at Kansas (Wednesday)- Kansas is still fighting for a share of the Big 12 title, while Colorado could really use a win in order to boost their at-large case.
Miami (Fl.) at Maryland (Wednesday)- Both teams on the bubble and in need of a win. The loser is done, while the winner still has a lot of work to do.
Virginia at North Carolina (Wednesday)- Virginia is atrocious on the road, but a win here would do wonders for their at-large profile. UNC shooting for a Top-3 seed.
Memphis at UAB (Thursday)- UAB, like so many teams, could use a big-time win against a top team to strengthen their at-large hopes. They might have the best chance to pull the upset, though.
UCLA at California (Thursday)- This game could end up deciding the Pac-10 title. If Cal wins, they complete a sweep of the Bruins, and could lock up a bid in the process.
Wisconsin at Michigan State (Thursday)- Neither team playing exceptionally well lately, and their seeds are slipping in the NCAA Tournament. Both would love a win.
Seton Hall at Pittsburgh (Friday)- Pittsburgh in the mix for a bye in the Big East Tournament, while Seton Hall could boost their at-large hopes with a huge road win.
Pittsburgh at West Virginia- Prediction: West Virginia 72, Pittsburgh 68
Monmouth at Fairleigh Dickinson- Prediction: Fairleigh Dickinson 84, Monmouth 75
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma- Prediction: Oklahoma 70, Oklahoma State 58
This Week's Bracket
Breakdown by Conference
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, North Carolina State
Big East (8): Villanova, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, Cincinnati, Syracuse
Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana
Big Twelve (3): Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas
Pac-10 (4): UCLA, Washington, Arizona, California
SEC (6): Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky
Missouri Valley (5): Wichita State, Missouri State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois
Conference-USA (2): Memphis, UAB
Colonial (3): George Mason, UNC-Wilmington, Hofstra
Mountain West (2): San Diego State, Air Force
One-Bid Conferences (21): America East (Albany); Atlantic Sun (Lipscomb); Atlantic-10 (George Washington); Big Sky (Northern Arizona); Big South (Winthrop); Big West (Pacific); Horizon (Wisconsin-Milwaukee); Ivy (Penn); MAAC (Manhattan); MAC (Kent State); MEAC (Delaware State); Mid-Continent (IUPUI); Northeast (Fairleigh Dickinson); Ohio Valley (Murray State); Patriot (Bucknell); Southern (Georgia Southern); Southland (Northwestern State); Sun Belt (Western Kentucky); SWAC (Southern); West Coast (Gonzaga); WAC (Nevada)
Last Four In: UAB, Indiana, Hofstra, Southern Illinois
Last Four Out: Colorado, Utah State, Bradley, Seton Hall
Next Four Out: UTEP, BYU, Texas A&M, Florida State
Sunday, February 26, 2006
This weekend, there was a lot of moving and shaking in the NCAA Tournament picture. Bubble teams pulled off big wins, both on the road and at home, to move closer to a bid. Meanwhile, several teams that were safely in the Tournament a few weeks ago are sliding rapidly and some are already back on the bubble. Moreover, many mid-major regular season champions were decided this weekend, while races in the major conferences heated up. 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:
Nevada- Avoided a sweep with a win at Utah State; have won 9 straight and have an RPI of 21.
Teams that are close to "IN" status:
Missouri State- Moving up the ranks of the MVC; one win and they are in.
Arkansas- Huge road win at Tennessee; no bad losses down the stretch and they are in.
Alabama- Another big home win vs. Florida; if they avoid bad losses, they are a lock.
Arizona- Great RPI and SOS, plus they have won 4 of 5. Should get a bid out of the Pac-10.
Teams on the bubble that helped themselves:
Hofstra- Beat George Mason on Thursday and then took care of business vs. Drexel. Still an SOS of only 157.
UNC-Wilmington- Got the #1 seed in the Colonial; looking better and better for a bid.
Indiana- Huge win over Michigan State at home on Sunday puts them back in the mix for an at-large.
Colorado- If they could win on the road, they would be a lock. However, home win over Missouri kept them in the hunt.
Texas A&M- Have now won 5 in a row; big game at home vs. Texas coming up on Wednesday.
Kentucky- Only one win against SEC opponents above .500 in conference; tough stretch upcoming with UF, Tenn.
Bradley- Making a move to be the 5th team out of the MVC; have won 5 in a row.
Southern Illinois- Huge win at home vs. Northern Iowa could put them back in the field. Two wins would get them a bid.
UTEP- Lost to Memphis earlier in the week, but looked solid in a win over Houston. Still a lot of work to do.
UAB- If they win against Memphis on Thursday, they are in. Right now, their profile is less than stellar, even though they've won 16 of 18.
Air Force- Beat UNLV at home, now have won 5 in a row. Still in the hunt for a share of the conference title.
BYU- Sort of a sleeper bubble team. Have won 8 of 9, and have a solid RPI.
Teams on the bubble that hurt themselves:
Florida State- Loss at Virginia Tech puts them back at .500 in the ACC. Need to win vs. Duke at home.
Virginia- After 14-point win over BC, they lost by 26 to Clemson. Way to build off the big win, Cavaliers.
Maryland- Got blown out at UNC; are now 6-8 in the ACC. Need to win out in the regular season.
Seton Hall- Falling quickly. Loss at DePaul gives them three defeats in a row. Two big games coming up.
Nebraska- Loss to Texas A&M puts them behind the Aggies in the at-large race. Slim chance of getting a bid.
Houston- Nearly done after loss at UTEP. Unless they win at Memphis on Saturday, Cougars are done.
Utah State- Could've sent a message with a sweep of Nevada. Instead, they got blown out and have a lot of work to do.
California- Probably still going to get a bid due to their Pac-10 record. However, loss to Washington drops them out of first.
Teams trying to work themselves into the at-large conversation:
Saint Louis- Second place in the Atlantic-10 after win at Charlotte. Likely not going to get a bid, however.
Old Dominion- Have won 6 of 7, and have a decent RPI. Colonial isn't getting four bids, though.
Vanderbilt- One-point W at South Carolina keeps their slim hopes alive. Need to win out.
Teams that now have NO shot at an at-large bid:
Minnesota- Now 6-9 in the Big Ten after loss to Wisconsin. Too little, too late for the Gophers' resume.
Stanford- Win over Washington State doesn't do much after blowout loss to Washington. Pac-10 record still solid, though.
Notre Dame- At-large talk can stop with the Irish. Disappointing performance vs. Marquette drops them to 4-10 in the Big East.
Temple- As expected, didn't beat Duke. Unfortunately, they have no shot at an at-large bid now. Only 8-6 in A-10.
South Carolina- One-point loss to Vanderbilt at home was nail in the coffin. We were talking about them a week ago?
Charlotte- Pretty much out of the running after home loss to Saint Louis. A-10 looking like a one bid league.
Teams whose seed is rising:
North Carolina- Definitely the 2nd-best team in the ACC. Could get a Top-3 seed if they continue winning.
Boston College- Win at NC State gives them victories in 11 of last 13 games. Eagles pushing for a Top-5 seed.
Washington- Making a run at the Pac-10 title after win over Cal. Six straight wins for Huskies.
Georgetown- Dominant home win over Syracuse and solid profile give them a seed in the 6 range.
Oklahoma- Three straight one-point wins doesn't look pretty, but they now have an RPI of 12 and a nice profile.
Marquette- After being on the bubble two weeks ago, Golden Eagles making a run at a Top-6 seed with road win at ND.
Illinois- Still in the running for a Big Ten title. Convincing home win over Iowa boosts profile. Top-2 seed if they win Big Ten.
LSU- One of the hottest teams in the country, Tigers could win the SEC and get a Top-3 seed. Have won 12 of 14.
Teams whose seed is falling:
North Carolina State- Have lost 3 of 5, and are looking like only the 4th-best team in the ACC.
Iowa- Still can't win on the road. Teams like that don't get Top-3 seeds. Dropping in the Big Ten race.
Michigan State- Spartans are only 7-7 in the Big Ten and remain inconsistent. Seed is dropping--quickly.
Florida- Have now lost 4 of 6 after losing on the road to 'Bama. Only a 5 or 6 seed right now. Profile not overly impressive.
Northern Iowa- Would be on the bubble in most years. Have lost 4 of 5 and finished 6th in the MVC.
Tennessee- RPI and SOS numbers still outstanding, but home loss to Arkansas hurts their SEC title chances.
Number one seeds as of this week:
1. Duke- Nothing changes here. Could Redick be tiring out? Only shooting 26% from the field and 16% from three past two games.
2. Connecticut- After impressive win over Nova, Huskies get overall #2. They have 12 wins over Top 50 teams; no one else has more than 8.
3. Villanova- Loss to Huskies drops them a spot. Still a near-lock for a #1 seed provided they don't collapse down the stretch.
4. Memphis- Two less-than-impressive home wins over UTEP and Tulsa doesn't change the fact that they are far-and-away the last #1 seed as of now.
"Allow Me to Introduce Myself", "A Bubble Team's Worst Nightmare": The former discusses ten players capable of becoming unsung heroes or "x-factors" down the stretch going into the NCAA Tournament. These players fly under the radar on championship-caliber clubs but could make an impact in March. The latter looks at the top conferences and breaks down potential sleepers in the respective conference tournaments. It also looks at the Atlantic-10 and the West Coast Conference to see if anyone can knock off George Washington and Gonzaga, respectively.
"Game of the Week: Florida vs. Tennessee": Breaks down and analyzes the Florida-Tennessee matchup from this past week. Includes complete team reports and a prediction on the game. Also discusses several of the key games in the latter part of the week in college basketball.
"Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament? Really?", "Kansas at Texas Preview": The first article discusses Texas A&M's chances of making the NCAA Tournament, and breaks down what the Aggies have to do in order to improve their hopes of getting a bid. The other article is a complete preview of this weekend's Kansas-Texas battle. Includes analysis on both teams as well as the key matchups, as well as a prediction.
"Memphis Might be Lonely in March", "C-USA Game of the Week: Houston at UTEP": The former discusses each of the four teams in Conference-USA and their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. The article also includes a preview of the C-USA Game of the Week, and several notes and observations from around the conference. The latter article is a complete preview of the Houston-UTEP game from this past weekend. It also includes a plethora of observations from around Conference-USA. Additionally, there is a follow-up to the "Memphis Might be Lonely..." article in my "C-USA Bracket Breakdown".
In other news, the March Madness All Season website recently had its 100,000th hit. Thank you to everyone for visiting the site and please continue to read all the new material that will be coming out. Also, don't be afraid to tell anyone interested in college basketball to check out the site; new, faithful readers are always welcome. Thank you again!
Friday, February 24, 2006
Michigan at Ohio State (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS)- Battle in the Big Ten. Buckeyes are currently tied for first, while Michigan is 1.5 games out of the top spot. The Wolverines could use a road win to boost their resume and Ohio State needs to continue picking up victories to ensure themselves a #2 seed in the Big Dance. Prediction: Ohio State 73, Michigan 64
Boston College at North Carolina State (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS)- Two of the four locks from the ACC go at it. Seeding in both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament will be on the line, as the Wolfpack are aiming for the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament, while BC needs to improve its seeding for the Big Dance. Prediction: North Carolina State 68, Boston College 61
Iowa at Illinois (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN)- Another big-time Big Ten matchup. Hawkeyes have not proven they can win on the road, while Illinois is struggling, having lost 3 of their last 5 games. Fighting Illini are one game back of Iowa for first place in the Big Ten. Both teams look like Top-4 seeds in the Big Dance. Prediction: Illinois 71, Iowa 62
Kansas at Texas (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN)- The Big 12 regular season champion will be decided in this game. Kansas is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 10 in a row. On the other hand, Texas is struggling, losing to Oklahoma State last week and barely escaping against Kansas State. Could be a preview of the conference tournament championship, as well. Prediction: Texas 73, Kansas 68
Villanova at Connecticut (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS)- Rematch of last week's classic battle between two of the top three teams in the country. Both are pretty much guaranteed #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, while UConn is one game back of 'Nova in the Big East standings. Villanova's guards vs. UConn's big men. By far, the game of the week. Prediction: Connecticut 70, Villanova 66
Fighting for Bids
Syracuse at Georgetown (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Syracuse would clinch an NCAA berth with a win here, while Georgetown wants to try and get a Top-5 or 6 seed in the Tournament. Prediction: Georgetown 69, Syracuse 64
Arkansas at Tennessee (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Arkansas is coming off of two big-time home wins, but would guarantee themselves a bid with a win against the Vols. Tennessee trying to win the SEC regular season title. Prediction: Tennessee 75, Arkansas 65
Northern Iowa at Southern Illinois (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2)- Two teams struggling mightily in the Missouri Valley. Northern Iowa's seed is slipping, but they should be safe in the tourney, while SIU needs a win to get back on the bubble. Prediction: Northern Iowa 68, Southern Illinois 65
Duke at Temple (Saturday, 2:30 PM, ESPN)- Temple's at-large chances are pretty much finished unless they win here. J.J. Redick looking to break ACC scoring record against the Owls. Prediction: Duke 70, Temple 60
Kentucky at LSU (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS)- Kentucky, like so many other teams this weekend, could clinch a berth with a win on the road. LSU, having clinched the SEC West, is aiming for an SEC title. Prediction: LSU 76, Kentucky 65
Nebraska at Texas A&M (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Essentially an elimination game in the Big 12. Both teams are on the weaker side of the bubble due to weak RPIs, but the winner would move to 8-6 in the conference. Prediction: Texas A&M 72, Nebraska 66
Marquette at Notre Dame (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPNU)- Marquette needs to show they can win on the road, while Notre Dame needs to win out and then get a couple victories in the Big East Tournament to get at-large consideration. Prediction: Notre Dame 73, Marquette 67
Creighton at Missouri State (Saturday, 8:35 PM, Regional TV)- Creighton is pretty much a lock for the NCAA Tournament, while Missouri State needs a win here and another victory in the MVC Tourney to wrap up a bid. Prediction: Missouri State 71, Creighton 67
Houston at UTEP (Saturday, 9:00 PM, CSTV)- Yet another elimination game, this time in Conference-USA. Both teams have weak resumes and could really use a win here. The loser will have no shot at an at-large berth. Prediction: UTEP 68, Houston 60
Nevada at Utah State (Saturday, 9:05 PM, Regional TV)- Utah State won the first meeting between the two, and would really boost their profile if they could pull off a sweep of the Wolfpack. Nevada definitely a lock for the Big Dance. Prediction: Nevada 70, Utah State 68
Michigan State at Indiana (Sunday, 12:00 PM, CBS)- Indiana is falling rapidly in the race for an at-large berth. A win here would get them back on the right track, while Michigan State doesn't want to drop to .500 in the Big Ten. Prediction: Michigan State 75, Indiana 68
Minnesota at Wisconsin (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Minnesota is making a late charge at the bubble, and need to win here to get serious consideration. Wisconsin is one game out of first in the Big Ten. Prediction: Wisconsin 65, Minnesota 57
Florida at Alabama (Sunday, 4:00 PM, CBS)- Alabama made a statement by blowing out Tennessee last weekend at home, and could really use another quality home win. Florida needs to get back on the right track after back-to-back losses. Prediction: Alabama 79, Florida 75
Maryland at North Carolina (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN)- North Carolina is obviously the ACC's second-best team and are aiming for the #2 seed in the conference tournament. Maryland needs a win to stay in the hunt for a bid. Prediction: North Carolina 76, Maryland 64
California at Washington (Sunday, 8:00 PM, FSN)- Both teams should be in the NCAA Tournament, although Cal's profile is fairly weak. A win here would clinch a bid. Washington is on a hot streak, and could be a tough team in the Tournament. Prediction: Washington 77, California 70
Race for a Championship
Charleston at Davidson (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2)- Both teams tied for second in the South Division of the Southern Conference heading into the finale. Winner would tie for the league title if Georgia Southern loses at Furman. Prediction: Davidson 79, Charleston 71
Miami (Ohio) at Kent State (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- Kent State has a one-game lead on the Redhawks in the MAC with three games left. Miami is on a 7-game winning streak. Golden Flashes won the first meeting between the two. Prediction: Kent State 61, Miami (Ohio) 56
Winthrop at Birmingham Southern (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- Final day of the Big South season. Both teams are 12-3 and are tied for first. Winner gets the regular season title, while the loser might not even get the #2 seed in the conference tournament. It's exactly how the season should end. Prediction: Birmingham Southern 73, Winthrop 71
Iona at Manhattan (Sunday, 6:15 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- It doesn't get better than this. Both teams are tied atop the MAAC at 13-4 heading into the final game of the season. Manhattan won the first meeting between the two. Winner gets the regular season title. Prediction: Manhattan 80, Iona 77
Must-Wins for Bubble Teams
Missouri at Colorado (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Regional TV)- Colorado is coming off of two road losses and need to get back on the right track. Missouri is a mess, plain and simple. Prediction: Colorado 79, Missouri 61
Virginia at Clemson (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- Virginia has been horrendous on the road this season, but a victory here would guarantee them a .500 finish in the ACC. Clemson is tough at home. Prediction: Clemson 73, Virginia 65
Seton Hall at DePaul (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Seton Hall has lost two in a row after seeming like a lock last week. Need a road win against the Blue Demons. DePaul trying to make the Big East Tournament. Prediction: Seton Hall 65, DePaul 61
Arizona State at Arizona (Saturday, 4:00 PM, FSN)- Arizona is looking more and more like a lock for the Tournament. ASU upset Cal on the Golden Bears' homecourt last weekend. Could they pull off another road win? Prediction: Arizona 71, Arizona State 58
UNLV at Air Force (Saturday, 6:00 PM)- Air Force can't afford any slip-ups the rest of the way if they want an at-large bid to the Tournament. UNLV is one game back of AFA and two games out of first. Prediction: Air Force 63, UNLV 55
Florida State at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU)- Florida State is trying to be the 5th team out of the ACC, but they need a road win here if they want a bid. Virginia Tech is talented but it doesn't translate to wins. Prediction: Florida State 76, Virginia Tech 69
Saint Louis at Charlotte (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV)- Charlotte needs to win out to get an at-large bid, and it starts here. Saint Louis could make a late surge for the Atlantic-10's #2 spot with a win over the 49ers. Prediction: Charlotte 69, Saint Louis 63
BYU at TCU (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- BYU needs all the help they can get if they want an at-large bid. However, if they don't win out, it won't matter what everyone else does. TCU has been awful this season. Prediction: BYU 82, TCU 68
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Here is the breakdown:
Locks from the Big Six conferences (and the Missouri Valley): 27
Locks from the mid-major conferences: 24
51 Locks Overall
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Boston College
Big East (6): Villanova, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Marquette, Georgetown
Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan
Big 12 (3): Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma
Pac-10 (2): UCLA, Washington
SEC (3): Tennessee, LSU, Florida
MVC (3): Wichita State, Creighton, Northern Iowa
One-Bid Conferences (24): America East, Atlantic-10, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, Mid-Continent, MEAC, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, WAC
Here are the teams that still have a chance to get an at-large bid and what they need to do in order to get a bid:
Maryland (15-10 (6-7), RPI: 49, SOS: 15, vs. Top 50: 1-6, Last 10: 4-6): The Terrapins are falling quickly. They have lost six of eight, and have not looked the same since Chris McCray was suspended due to academics. Moreover, their profile is lacking. They have three games left, including two on the road against North Carolina and Virginia. If they go 2-1 and then win a game in the ACC Tournament, they should be in.
Virginia (14-10 (7-6), RPI: 60, SOS: 42, vs. Top 50: 2-6, Last 10: 6-4): The Cavaliers are a surprise bubble team. At 7-6 in the ACC, they have the advantage of being above .500 in the conference. They own wins over UNC and BC, but have a few bad losses. They have three games left--two on the road vs. Clemson and North Carolina, and the season finale at home against Maryland. Similarly to Maryland, they need to go 2-1 and then probably grab a game in the ACC Tournament.
Florida State (17-7 (7-6), RPI: 58, SOS: 97, vs. Top 50: 1-5, Last 10: 6-4): This is the classic case of a team looking better on the court than their profile would suggest. The Seminoles have been competitive in nearly every game this season. However, they don't have the strongest resume out there. They have won 4 of 5 and have a chance down the stretch to lock up a bid. They have road trips to Virginia Tech and Miami (Fl.) and a home rematch vs. Duke. If they take down the Devils, they will be in. If they don't, they better win a road game and an ACC Tournament game.
Miami (Fl.) (15-12 (7-7), RPI: 66, SOS: 27, vs. Top 50: 2-9, Last 10: 4-6): After looking solid a few weeks ago at 6-3, the Hurricanes have lost 4 of 5 and are nearly off the bubble. They don't have a very impressive profile, with their best non-conference win over Birmingham Southern. Two games remain, both against bubble teams. They go on the road to face Maryland, host Florida State. If they win both, they will put themselves in good position heading into the ACC Tournament.
Seton Hall (16-9 (7-6), RPI: 51, SOS: 34, vs. Top 50: 3-4, Last 10: 7-3): The Pirates, after looking like a lock two weeks, have lost 3 of 4 and are fading fast. They need to right the ship. The Hall has wins over West Virginia and North Carolina State, but also losses to St. John's and Richmond. They have three games left--two on the road against DePaul and Pittsburgh, and a home date with Cincinnati. It would benefit them greatly to go 2-1 in that last stretch, although that could be difficult. They are also going to have to grab a win in the Big East Tournament.
Cincinnati (17-10 (7-7), RPI: 25, SOS: 3, vs. Top 50: 3-7, Last 10: 5-5): Why couldn't Cincinnati have just closed out their game against Villanova tonight? Had they won that game, they would have been a lock for the Tournament. Now, they still have to win one of their final two games--either at Seton Hall or home against West Virginia. They have not been the same team since Armein Kirkland went down with an injury in early January, but the Bearcats are back on the right track. I think they will get in.
Syracuse (19-8 (7-6), RPI: 29, SOS: 11, vs. Top 50: 2-7, Last 10: 4-6): Syracuse is in a similar position to Cincinnati--they are more in the Tournament then out at this point. With their win over West Virginia on Monday, the Orange put themselves in a good position with three games left. They have road games at Georgetown and DePaul, as well as a home finale vs. Villanova. One win down the stretch and one win in the Big East Tournament would do the trick.
Indiana (14-10 (6-7), RPI: 46, SOS: 18, vs. Top 50: 4-7, Last 10: 3-7): If not for their excellent start, the Hoosiers would not even be near the bubble right now. They have lost 7 of their last 9, and their power numbers are dropping rapidly. Indiana's finish to the season is also not the friendliest of schedules. They start with a home game against Michigan State, and then face back-to-back road games at Purdue and at Michigan. Two wins are absolutely necessary, as is a win in the Big Ten Tournament. If they get to 8-8 in the Big Ten, they could get in.
Minnesota (14-10 (5-8), RPI: 62, SOS: 20, vs. Top 50: 3-7, Last 10: 5-5): Minnesota is a longshot at this point, but they have the potential to be this year's West Virginia. They have won 4 of 5, including victories over Michigan State and Iowa. The Golden Gophers probably have to win out to get serious consideration for an at-large bid, and that seems like a daunting task. They have two road games at Wisconsin and Northwestern, and a home date with Illinois. 3-0 would be difficult for Duke; it's nearly impossible for Minnesota.
Colorado (17-7 (7-6), RPI: 50, SOS: 99, vs. Top 50: 2-2, Last 10: 6-4): The Buffaloes were solidly in the field last week before getting manhandled on the road in back-to-back games against Kansas State and Nebraska. Unless they learn how to win on the road, they will be left out of the Tournament. However, luckily for them, two of their final three games are at home--vs. Missouri and vs. Iowa State. They also have an away game at Kansas. Winning just the home games would probably be sufficient, but a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament wouldn't hurt their case.
Nebraska (17-9 (7-6), RPI: 97, SOS: 89, vs. Top 50: 3-5, Last 10: 5-5): A team that does not have the necessary power numbers to gain consideration, but own wins over Marquette and Oklahoma, as well as an above-.500 Big 12 record. To finish the season, they have to go on the road against Texas A&M and Missouri, and then play a home game against Kansas State. The Cornhuskers should definitely win at least two of those games, with the potential to go 3-0. If they go 2-1, they will need at least one win in the Big 12 Tournament, and that still might not be enough.
Texas A&M (17-7 (7-6), RPI: 68, SOS: 109, vs. Top 50: 1-4, Last 10: 6-4): Another team that has recently jumped onto the bubble. Four straight wins will do that for you. However, they have a difficult schedule coming down the stretch. They have home games against Nebraska and Texas, and a road date at Texas Tech. At least two wins are necessary out of that group, and that could be tough. The Aggies would be in much better position if their best non-conference win wasn't Northwestern State.
California (17-7 (11-4), RPI: 59, SOS: 100, vs. Top 50: 3-2, Last 10: 8-2): The Golden Bears are moving away from the bubble and are closer to being a lock. That is based purely on the fact that they are tied for first in the Pac-10 with UCLA and have won 7 of their last 8. Their non-conference resume isn't overly impressive, but their Pac-10 performance is enough by itself. Cal has a tough final three games. They start with Washington on the road, and then come home for contests with UCLA and USC. If they beat UCLA and USC, they essentially lock up a regular season Pac-10 title, no matter what happens against Washington. When is the last time the Pac-10 champion didn't make the NCAA Tournament?
Arizona (16-10 (9-6), RPI: 18, SOS: 4, vs. Top 50: 3-5, Last 10: 6-4): Like Cal, Arizona is moving towards lock status. Unlike Cal, however, it is because of their RPI and SOS. No Top-20 RPI team is going to be left out of the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, the Wildcats finish with three straight home games: against Arizona State, Washington State, and Washington. Winning two of those would probably clinch a bid.
Stanford (13-11 (9-6), RPI: 86, SOS: 59, vs. Top 50: 1-5, Last 10: 6-4): Stanford is pretty much done right now. They have lost 4 of 5 and are now 5th in the Pac-10. They own wins over Cal and Washington, but that won't be nearly enough. The Cardinal finish their season with a road game against Washington State and home meetings with USC and UCLA. They would need to run the table and then win two games in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Kentucky (18-9 (8-5), RPI: 37, SOS: 26, vs. Top 50: 1-7, Last 10: 7-3): Kentucky has made a move towards the NCAA Tournament with three straight wins. However, the three wins were over teams with a combined 14-25 record in the SEC. The more important three-game stretch starts this weekend. The Wildcats travel to LSU on Saturday. Next week, they have to play Tennessee on the road and then come home for their season finale against Florida. Two wins are necessary for Kentucky if they want to feel safe heading into the SEC Tournament. If they get one win, they are going to need at least one victory in the tournament.
Alabama (15-10 (8-5), RPI: 40, SOS: 6, vs. Top 50: 3-4, Last 10: 6-4): The Crimson Tide had a chance to lock up a bid against Arkansas but blew an 18-point lead and lost by two. Now, they have to win at least two of their final three games. 'Bama is definitely capable of doing that, considering they play Florida and Auburn at home, and then Mississippi State on the road. They could have a bid wrapped up before the SEC Tournament even starts.
Arkansas (18-8 (7-6), RPI: 54, SOS: 73, vs. Top 50: 4-6, Last 10: 6-4): The Razorbacks have turned around their NCAA Tournament chances with back-to-back wins over Florida and Alabama. Their RPI is improving, and they now have a nice batch of quality wins to show the Committee. They head to Tennessee this weekend, but finish with a home game vs. Mississippi State and a road trip to Georgia. Two wins would guarantee a bid. If they get one, Arkansas needs a W in the SEC Tournament.
Missouri State (19-7 (11-6), RPI: 23, SOS: 50, vs. Top 50: 3-6, Last 10: 7-3): This might be the closest team to "lock" status on this list. They have won 4 in row and 7 of their last 8, including road victories over UW-Milwaukee and Northern Iowa. Missouri State does not have any bad losses this season and has excellent power numbers. They finish the season against Creighton at home. A win there, and they are in. If they lose, a win in the MVC Tournament would wrap it up.
Bradley (17-9 (10-7), RPI: 41, SOS: 57, vs. Top 50: 6-5, Last 10: 8-2): The Braves have made a run in the past couple of weeks to become a possible at-large team. They have replaced Southern Illinois as the 5th team out of the Missouri Valley. They have won 4 in a row and 8 of their last 10, including wins over SIU, Northern Iowa, and Missouri State. They finish the season this weekend against Drake. A win there and a win in the MVC Tournament should get them a bid. However, I don't know if the MVC is getting 5 bids this season. If they do, Bradley gets an invite.
Southern Illinois (18-9 (11-6), RPI: 47, SOS: 68, vs. Top 50: 5-4, Last 10: 5-5): The Salukis can basically kiss their at-large chances goodbye after their recent streak of games. They have lose 3 in a row and 5 of 7--not exactly the type of record you want to send the Committee. However, if they beat Northern Iowa at home this weekend, they will finish second in the MVC. That will help them if they can get a win or two in the MVC Tournament.
Charlotte (17-9 (10-3), RPI: 98, SOS: 131, vs. Top 50: 1-2, Last 10: 7-3): Charlotte is the second-best team in a team that could potentially deserve more than one bid. They have won 6 of their last 7; however, their resume lacks a quality win. They haven't defeated an NCAA Tournament team all season. To finish the season, they have home dates with Saint Louis and Duquense and then a road meeting with George Washington. If they win out, Charlotte has a legit case to make for the Tournament. If they don't beat GW, I don't think they have the quality wins necessary to get in.
UNC-Wilmington (21-7 (14-3), RPI: 34, SOS: 93, vs. Top 50: 2-4, Last 10: 9-1): The Seahawks have the inside track to a potential second bid out of the underrated Colonial. They have won 12 of their last 14, and are now tied with George Mason atop the conference standings. UNCW doesn't have many quality wins outside of conference, but what they have done in the league could be enough. Their season finale is at home against Georgia State. If they win that game, they will get the #1 seed in the conference tournament. One or two wins there could clinch a bid.
Hofstra (21-5 (13-4), RPI: 38, SOS: 162, vs. Top 50: 2-1, Last 10: 9-1): After tonight's win over George Mason, the Pride's profile continues to look better and better. They now own wins over both GMU and UNCW and are likely going to finish one game back of both. Hofstra's awful Strength of Schedule is going to hinder their hopes for an at-large bid, though. Their season finale comes this weekend at home vs. Drexel. If they finish 14-4 in the league and 22-5 overall, two wins would probably get it done in the conference tournament. However, is the Colonial good enough to get three bids?
UAB (18-5 (9-2), RPI: 53, SOS: 165, vs. Top 50: 0-2, Last 10: 8-2): The Blazers have an interesting profile. They own several decent non-conference wins (Old Dominion, Nebraska, etc.) and have won 15 of 17, but have not done anything truly impressive in Conference-USA. They have constantly beat up on inferior competition, and then lose when a quality team appears on their schedule. Right now, I would put them in, but they have work to do. They finish at SMU, home vs. Memphis and home vs. Marshall. If they can pull the upset over Memphis, they would be a lock. If they don't get that win, I think they need to make a run to the conference tournament title game.
UTEP (15-7 (9-2), RPI: 76, SOS: 130, vs. Top 50: 0-3, Last 10: 8-2): After Wednesday's loss to Memphis, the Miners lack a very solid profile. Yes, they are 9-2 in Conference-USA have won 10 of 12, but their best win (besides UAB) is New Mexico State. I don't know about you, but that doesn't really jump out at me. They finish with home games against Houston and Tulsa, and then a road finale with Central Florida. They have to win out and then make at least a run to the conference championship game.
Houston (17-6 (8-3), RPI: 56, SOS: 128, vs. Top 50: 2-0, Last 10: 9-1): Houston could have the best chance to get an at-large bid out of Conference-USA. They own two quality non-conference wins over Arizona and LSU, but also have losses to Rice and Central Florida. They have won 8 in a row and 14 of 17. The Cougars finish with road games against UTEP and Memphis, as well as a home date with Rice. Houston has to win at least one of the two road games and then, like UAB and UTEP, make a run to the conference title game.
Air Force (20-5 (10-4), RPI: 45, SOS: 166, vs. Top 50: 0-1, Last 10: 7-3): Air Force has a very interesting profile. They have 20 wins, a decent RPI, and have a couple of decent victories along the way. However, their SOS is atrocious, they have not defeated an NCAA Tournament team all season, and 16 of their 20 wins came against teams ranked 100 or below in the RPI. They finish at home against UNLV and on the road against Colorado State. Both are must-wins. Additionally, it wouldn't hurt if the Academy could make a run to the MWC title game.
BYU (16-7 (9-4), RPI: 52, SOS: 101, vs. Top 50: 1-2, Last 10: 8-2): BYU has made a late run at the bubble after winning 7 of their last, and moved to only a half-game back of Air Force in the Mountain West. They have three games left-- a road game at TCU, and then home meetings with Colorado State and New Mexico. They have to go 3-0 to finish the season, and then they need to make a run to the MWC title game. Even then, they only have an outside shot at getting an at-large bid.
Utah State (18-6 (9-4), RPI: 44, SOS: 121, vs. Top 50: 1-0, Last 10: 7-3): Utah State has snuck up on some people and moved themselves into a legit at-large contender. They have a solid profile with a good RPI and a 6-1 record against the Top 100. They do have 3 losses in the sub-100 range and a pretty bad SOS, but they have won 10 of 12 and would be in right now. They finish with three straight home games, against Nevada, Fresno State, and San Jose State. If they beat Nevada this weekend and complete the sweep of the Wolfpack, they are in very good shape. A 3-0 finish, combined with a win or two in the WAC Tournament, and the Aggies are in.
Notre Dame (13-11 (4-9), RPI: 85, SOS: 35, vs. Top 50: 2-9, Last 10: 4-6): The Fighting Irish deserve some sort of recognition on the Bubble Watch. They may not look like they have the requisite resume currently, but ND has three potential wins left on their schedule, and they are not the type of team that anyone wants to play in the Big East Tournament. Could they be this year's West Virginia? They finish the season at home against Marquette, on the road at Providence, and then at home against DePaul. If the Irish finish 3-0 to get to 7-9 in the Big East, and then pick up two wins in the Big East Tournament, it could be tough turning them down.
George Mason at Hofstra- Prediction: George Mason 73, Hofstra 69
South Carolina at Georgia- Prediction: South Carolina 68, Georgia 64
UNC-Wilmington at Virginia Commonwealth- Prediction: Virginia Commonwealth 71, UNC-Wilmington 65
Villanova at Cincinnati- Prediction: Villanova 70, Cincinnati 67
Stanford at Washington- Prediction: Washington 78, Stanford 69
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Projections made prior to games played on Wednesday, February 22nd.
Italics identify projected conference tournament winner
1. Duke: 32-1 (16-0)
2. North Carolina State: 26-6 (13-3)
3. Boston College: 23-8 (10-6)
4. North Carolina: 20-9 (10-6)
5. Florida State: 20-9 (9-7)
6. Virginia: 16-12 (8-8)
7. Maryland: 17-13 (7-9)
8. Miami (Fl.): 16-15 (7-9)
9. Clemson: 16-13 (6-10)
10. Virginia Tech: 14-16 (4-12)
11. Georgia Tech: 12-17 (4-12)
12. Wake Forest: 14-17 (2-14)
1. Connecticut: 30-2 (14-2)
2. Villanova: 25-5 (13-3)
3. West Virginia: 20-10 (11-5)
4. Pittsburgh: 23-6 (11-5)
5. Georgetown: 21-8 (11-5)
6. Marquette: 20-10 (10-6)
7. Syracuse: 21-10 (9-7)
8. Cincinnati: 19-10 (9-7)
9. Seton Hall: 17-12 (8-8)
10. Notre Dame: 17-12 (7-9)
11. St. John's: 13-15 (6-10)
12. Rutgers: 15-14 (6-10)
13. Louisville: 17-12 (5-11)
14. Providence: 12-15 (5-11)
15. DePaul: 10-17 (3-13)
16. South Florida: 6-23 (0-16)
1. Michigan State: 23-8 (11-5)
2. Iowa: 23-9 (11-5)
3. Ohio State: 25-5 (11-5)
4. Illinois: 26-7 (10-6)
5. Wisconsin: 20-10 (10-6)
6. Michigan: 20-9 (9-7)
7. Indiana: 16-13 (7-9)
8. Minnesota: 16-13 (6-10)
9. Penn State: 14-14 (6-10)
10. Northwestern: 11-17 (4-12)
11. Purdue: 9-19 (3-13)
1. Texas: 28-5 (14-2)
2. Kansas: 24-7 (13-3)
3. Oklahoma: 21-8 (11-5)
4. Colorado: 20-9 (9-7)
5. Nebraska: 20-11 (9-7)
6. Texas A&M: 19-10 (8-8)
7. Texas Tech: 17-15 (8-8)
8. Iowa State: 17-13 (7-9)
9. Oklahoma State: 16-15 (6-10)
10. Kansas State: 14-14 (5-11)
11. Missouri: 11-17 (4-12)
12. Baylor: 2-15 (2-14)
1. California: 20-9 (13-5)
2. UCLA: 26-7 (13-5)
3. Washington: 24-7 (12-6)
4. Arizona: 21-11 (12-6)
5. Stanford: 15-13 (11-7)
6. USC: 17-12 (9-9)
7. Oregon: 12-19 (6-12)
8. Arizona State: 11-17 (5-13)
9. Oregon State: 13-18 (5-13)
10. Washington State: 11-17 (4-14)
1. Tennessee: 24-6 (13-3)
2. Florida: 26-6 (11-5)
3. Kentucky: 19-13 (8-8)
4. South Carolina: 17-13 (8-8)
5. Vanderbilt: 16-13 (6-10)
6. Georgia: 15-15 (5-11)
1. LSU: 24-7 (14-2)
2. Alabama: 19-11 (11-5)
3. Arkansas: 21-10 (9-7)
4. Ole Miss: 15-15 (5-11)
5. Mississippi State: 14-16 (4-12)
6. Auburn: 10-18 (2-14)
Missouri Valley Conference
1. Wichita State: 23-8 (14-4)
2. Northern Iowa: 24-7 (13-5)
3. Creighton: 19-9 (12-6)
4. Missouri State: 23-7 (12-6)
5. Southern Illinois: 18-11 (11-7)
6. Bradley: 18-11 (10-8)
7. Drake: 11-19 (5-13)
8. Indiana State: 13-15 (5-13)
9. Illinois State: 8-19 (4-14)
10. Evansville: 8-20 (4-14)
1. Memphis: 31-2 (14-0)
2. UTEP: 19-8 (12-2)
3. UAB: 22-7 (11-3)
4. Houston: 19-9 (9-5)
Colonial Athletic Association
1. George Mason: 26-5 (16-2)
2. UNC-Wilmington: 22-9 (14-4)
3. Hofstra: 23-7 (13-5)
4. Old Dominion: 22-9 (13-5)
5. Northeastern: 17-11 (12-6)
6. Virginia Commonwealth: 20-9 (12-6)
1. San Diego State: 22-8 (13-3)
2. Air Force: 24-6 (12-4) 3. BYU: 20-8 (12-4)
1. Nevada: 26-5 (13-3) 2. Louisiana Tech: 20-11 (12-4) 3. Utah State: 22-8 (11-5)
Gonzaga: 28-3 (14-0)
Bucknell: 25-4 (14-0)
1. George Washington: 29-1 (16-0)
2. Charlotte: 21-11 (12-4)
3. La Salle: 20-9 (11-5)
4. Saint Louis: 16-13 (10-6)
5. Temple: 19-12 (10-6)
6. Xavier: 20-9 (10-6)
Lehigh at Bucknell- Prediction: Bucknell 67, Lehigh 59
Akron at Miami (Ohio)- Prediction: Miami (Ohio) 73, Akron 69
Tennessee at Florida- Prediction: Florida 78, Tennessee 73
Colorado at Nebraska- Prediction: Nebraska 70, Colorado 65
LSU at Vanderbilt- Prediction: LSU 75, Vanderbilt 66
Ohio State at Michigan State- Prediction: Michigan State 79, Ohio State 72
Bradley at Northern Iowa- Prediction: Northern Iowa 71, Bradley 65
North Carolina at North Carolina State- Prediction: North Carolina State 69, North Carolina 64
Maryland at Florida State- Prediction: Florida State 74, Maryland 63
UTEP at Memphis- Prediction: Memphis 82, UTEP 68
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Notre Dame at Connecticut- Prediction: Connecticut 76, Notre Dame 64
Boston College at Virginia- Prediction: Boston College 67, Virginia 63
Illinois at Michigan- Prediction: Michigan 72, Illinois 69
Alabama at Arkansas- Prediction: Arkansas 74, Alabama 70
Davidson at Georgia Southern- Prediction: Georgia Southern 73, Davidson 68
Monday, February 20, 2006
Fairleigh Dickinson at Monmouth (Monday)- FDU could clinch the Northeast Conference chamionship with a win here, while Monmouth is three games back with three games left. A win here would keep them in it.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Monday)- Texas Tech is trying to move towards the bubble with a late run. A win here would put them at 7-6 in the Big 12. Oklahoma has not been overly impressive at all this season, but are in position for a bid.
Boston College at Virginia (Tuesday)- Virginia is falling off the bubble, although a win here would rescue their hopes from dying completely. BC looks like a lock even without many quality wins.
Illinois at Michigan (Tuesday)- Illinois is in the thick of the Big Ten title race, while Michigan needs to win to fall out of "lock" status. They have lost four of five and are struggling.
Davidson at Georgia Southern (Tuesday)- The winner takes the Southern Conference lead and puts themsleves in a position to win the championship. Both are 9-4 in the league.
Alabama at Arkansas (Tuesday)- Two bubble teams from the SEC battle. Alabama looks pretty solid right now, although a win would clinch a bid. Arkansas needs another quality win after beating Florida over the weekend.
Lehigh at Bucknell (Wednesday)- All the talk out of the Patriot League has been about Bucknell, but Lehigh is only one game back right now. They lost by five when these two teams met last time.
Akron at Miami (Ohio) (Wednesday)- Akron is tied for first with Kent State in the MAC, while Miami (Ohio) is only one game back. The Redbirds have won seven in a row, while the Zips are 3-2 in their last five.
Tennessee at Florida (Wednesday)- Possibly the best game of the week. Florida is two games back of Tennessee in the SEC title race. The Volunteers ruined the Gators' undefeated season the first time they met.
Colorado at Nebraska (Wednesday)- Colorado needs to win a road game somewhere along the line if they want a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska still has VERY faint hopes at an at-large berth. A loss here, and they would be eliminated.
LSU at Vanderbilt (Wednesday)- Vanderbilt still has hopes at a bid to the Tournament, while LSU is tied for the overall SEC lead. A win here would be huge for Vandy's profile. LSU is pushing for a Top-4 seed in the Big Dance.
Ohio State at Michigan State (Wednesday)- Another great game this week. Both teams still hope to win the Big Ten regular season title. Seeding for both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments is on the line. OSU could use another quality road win, but MSU is very difficult to beat at the Breslin Center.
Bradley at Northern Iowa (Wednesday)- Bradley still has hopes to be another at-large bid out of the Missouri Valley Conference. Northern Iowa is one game back of the league lead. Both teams could use a win.
North Carolina at North Carolina State (Wednesday)- Intrastate rivalry. Both teams are pushing for Top-4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, while NC State is 1.5 games ahead of UNC for second place in the conference.
Maryland at Florida State (Wednesday)- Two teams on the bubble in the ACC. Maryland is falling quickly, while Florida State is starting to get some attention around the country. They need a win here, while the Terrapins need to get back on the right track.
UTEP at Memphis (Wednesday)- Conference-USA is looking more and more like a one-bid league. A win here by UTEP, though, would put them in good shape for a bid. Memphis is in position for a #1 seed in March.
George Mason at Hofstra (Thursday)- Excellent battle in the Colonial. Hofstra is still on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and need a win here to boost their power numbers. GMU is looking to wrap up the league title.
South Carolina at Georgia (Thursday)- Both teams really have no chance for an at-large bid, but South Carolina still has some shot. They need another road win, while Georgia is trying to improve their SEC Tourney seeding.
UNC-Wilmington at Virginia Commonwealth (Thursday)- UNCW is still only one game back of George Mason in the Colonial, while VCU is still pushing for a Top-4 seed in the conference tournament. UNCW needs a road win to boost their at-large chances.
Villanova at Cincinnati (Thursday)- Cincinnati is striving to be another at-large out of the Big East, while Villanova is hoping to keep their one-game lead over UConn in the Big East intact. In other words, a must-win for both teams.
Stanford at Washington (Thursday)- A Pac-10 battle. Washington looks to be solidly in the Tournament, but could clinch it with a W. Stanford needs a win to keep their fading at-large hopes alive. Both teams are also only one game out of first place.