Thursday, March 8, 2007

Road to Selection Sunday

The first two days of the major-conference tournaments have brought about several changes in the projected bracket and the status of bubble teams. Some are playing themselves in, while others are losing games they can't lose and are playing themselves out. Moreover, teams that are locks have their seeds fluctuating by the hour. Who's in? Who's out? Which teams are seeing their seeds rise, and which ones are dropping? All that and more in a mid-week update of the "Road to the Selection Sunday". Note: Complete "Bracket Breakdown" will be coming Friday.

Teams who locked up a bid:

Texas Tech: Red Raiders have a good resume, and avoiding a bad loss to Colorado was imperative. Kansas State is up next—both teams would like a win.
Michigan State: The Spartans avoided a bad loss to Northwestern, and now get a third shot at Wisconsin. A win there would vault MSU’s seed upwards.
Xavier: The Musketeers just keep picking up wins. With UMass getting knocked out, XU should have a clear path to the automatic bid, though.

Bubble teams trying to play their way into the NCAA Tournament:

Syracuse: The Orange don’t have the most impressive resume in the world, but they have 11 Big East wins. 7th in the Big East pecking order, though. Probably will get a bid.
Florida State: The Seminoles made a late comeback for the second game in a row, to knock off Clemson. A win over UNC on Friday would cement a bid.
Michigan: The Wolverines get another chance to pick up a marquee win against Ohio State. Avoided a bad loss to Minnesota to stay in the mix.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini are fighting with several other Big Ten teams for a bid. They survived a game they couldn’t lose in their win over Penn State.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks destroyed South Carolina to keep their late run for a bid alive. They still need to reach the SEC title game, though.
Georgia: The Bulldogs defeated Auburn handily, and stayed in the running for a 5th bid out of the SEC. Must-win on Friday against Florida.

Bubble teams playing themselves out of the NCAA Tournament:
Georgia Tech: All they needed to do was avoid a loss to Wake Forest. Instead, they fell in a classic double-OT game. I think they still get in, though.
Stanford: Could have locked up a bid with a win over USC. However, they blew a double-digit lead and fell in OT. Will be sweating until Selection Sunday.
Air Force: The Falcons are doing everything they can to stay out of the Dance. They have lost four in a row, including today against Wyoming.
Clemson: The Tigers are pretty much done after their one-point loss to Florida State. Very surprising considering the Tigers started off 17-0.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen basically needed a run to the title game to have a chance. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it past the quarterfinals.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are an interesting case. It seems they pass the “eye test” but their resume is nowhere near at-large quality.
DePaul: The Blue Demons basically have no shot at a bid after their first-round loss to Villanova. Inconsistency all season long plagued DePaul.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide are done in terms of an at-large bid after their loss to Kentucky. Very disappointing season for a team in the preseason top ten.

San Diego State: Loss to Colorado State in quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament essentially seals their fate. Aztecs likely headed to the NIT.

Seeds Rising:
The Cardinals are making a late push at a protected seed. It’s still going to take some work, but their double-OT win over West Virginia keeps them alive.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are slowly rising and could be higher than most people think. Win today over Syracuse was their sixth in a row.
Oregon: The Ducks blew out Arizona in the Pac-10 quarterfinals, their fourth win in a row. They are playing well again after their midseason slump.
BYU: The Cougars are making a move upwards after their victory over TCU today. It was their eleventh win in their last twelve games.
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels are making a good case for a protected seed. They have terrific computer numbers, and absolutely destroyed Utah today.

Seeds Falling:

Duke: The Blue Devils fell to North Carolina State today, their third loss in a row. They finished the ACC with an overall 8-9 record. Resume still solid, though.
Maryland: The Terrapins had a chance to really make a case for a protected seed. However, their loss to Miami (Fl.) today drops them back to the 5-6 range.
Arizona: The Wildcats looked like they were back in good shape with three wins in a row. But they were blown out by Oregon today, dropping them back.
Tennessee: The Vols were one of the hotter teams in the country, and were in the mix for a top-four seed. However, they fell in overtime to LSU today.

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