Welcome to the first installment of March Madness All Season’s new feature, “NCAA Tournament Stock Watch”. Essentially, it is a compilation of teams that are rising and falling with an eye on the NCAA Tournament. It will discuss teams whose potential seed is rising or falling, as well as clubs that are making moves either in or out of the at-large picture or could make noise in the coming weeks.
Once we get closer to March, this will be replaced with “Road to Selection Sunday”, which will be released every Sunday night from mid-February until March 16.
Stanford: The Cardinal have thrown themselves right back in the thick of the Pac-10 race by knocking off Arizona and Arizona State last week. They might be third in the conference pecking order right now.
Drake: The Bulldogs are now by themselves atop the Missouri Valley after defeating previously unbeaten Illinois State over the weekend. Drake sits at 7-0 and are pushing towards a top-six seed.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen are really making a case for an at-large bid, with an impressive win at Dayton, followed by a solid victory over a hot Charlotte team. Top-20 RPI and 6-2 against the top-100.
Tennessee: The Volunteers are one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 11 in a row. They are comfortably in as a No. 1 seed right now, but three of their next four are on the road. Will they be able to stay there?
Mississippi State: Finally, the SEC West is getting some separation. After a big win at Alabama over the weekend, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in the SEC and have now won eight in a row. Tough stretch coming up.
Providence: One of the Big East’s forgotten, the Friars are coming off of an impressive 12-point win on the road over Connecticut last week. Two of their next three are on the road, so they need to keep it up.
Florida: The young Gators are coming together and looking like a tough team at just the right time. They still have terrible power numbers, but are just a two-point loss at Mississippi from being 4-0 in the SEC.
Cincinnati/DePaul: Talk about surprises. Both teams were just 5-7 in non-conference play, but are 4-2 in Big East competition. Cincy has beaten Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova and Pittsburgh, while DePaul has wins over ‘Nova and Providence.
Villanova: Speaking of Villanova, the Wildcats are playing much better lately. They overcame a huge deficit to defeat DePaul last week and then went into Syracuse and knocked off the Orange.
Purdue: The Boilermakers, despite their poor RPI numbers, are making a push towards a bid. They are now 4-1 in the Big Ten, with the lone loss a three-point defeat on the road at Michigan State. Keep an eye on them.
Kansas State: This is what people have been waiting all season for when it comes to the Wildcats. They have seven of their last eight, including back-to-back wins at Oklahoma and against Texas A&M.
Georgia: Another team with a awful power numbers but a very solid start to the conference season. The Bulldogs knocked off Alabama and Arkansas in back-to-back games, and have won five of seven.
Iowa State: Although the Cyclones, like some of the other teams on this list, remain a longshot to make the field, they are playing much better lately. They are 2-1 in the Big 12, and have won nine of their last 11.
Baylor: The Bears might be the most underrated two-loss team in the country. They are undefeated in the Big 12, and have won 10 of their last 11. The only losses all year were to Washington State and Arkansas.
USC: Did the Trojans’ win over UCLA on Saturday mark the start of a turnaround? It might have, considering they are now 2-3 in the Pac-10 after starting with three straight losses. Back-to-back road games will tell us more.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were blown out in the second half against Stanford, but had won 10 games in a row prior to the loss. Next Saturday at home against Washington State could give them national recognition.
Cleveland State: Welcome to this year’s Wright State. The Vikings look like the frontrunner to win the auto-bid from the Horizon after beating Butler and Valparaiso to improve to 7-0 in the conference.
Syracuse: After the Orange’s hot 2-0 start in Big East play, they have come back down to Earth with losses in four of their last five games. With an 0-6 record against the RPI top-50, they have a lot of work to do.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers missed a golden opportunity to make some moves in the at-large picture by losing to Indiana and Michigan State in back-to-back games at home. They have no wins against the top-100.
Miami (Fl.): Are the Hurricanes this season’s version of Clemson? After starting 11-0, they have lost three of five and are now just 1-2 in the ACC. Two straight home games against UNC and Clemson loom large.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were looking like a sleeper top-10 team – and then they went on the road. A&M went 0-2 last week, losing to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 36 points. Three of next four at home.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes need to start winning close games. They have lost three straight games by seven points or less, including ones at Tennessee and Michigan State, which could have given OSU the marquee win they need.
Clemson: The Tigers might not have the collapse of the past couple years, but losses in three of their last five – including two home games – are not helping to get that image out of the players’ minds.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers entered Big 12 play as a potential at-large team with wins over Oregon and Arizona State, but they are 0-3 since league play began. Three of next four are on the road, which won’t help.
Oregon: The Ducks looked like they were beginning to right the ship after winning three in a row, but back-to-back losses drop them back to 3-3 in the Pac-10. However, they now have three straight home contests.
Missouri: The Tigers missed out on a chance to jump back into the postseason picture by losing at home to Kansas on Saturday. They now have four losses in their last seven games, despite beating Texas by 13 in that span.
California: Looks like Pac-10 play is starting to claim victims already. The Golden Bears have lost four of their last five, including three home games. It doesn’t get any easier, as two of next three and five of next eight are on the road.
Alabama: Despite having one of the best big men in the country and talent at several positions, the Crimson Tide have disappeared once again without Ronald Steele. They are 0-4 in the SEC, and just 11-8 overall.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were expected to compete for the SEC West title, but they’ve put themselves at a disadvantage already. They are just 2-2 in the conference after dropping back-to-back games, including a home one to South Carolina.
Dayton: One of the early-season surprises could potentially collapse in the second half. The Flyers barely beat Saint Louis, then lost to Massachusetts at home. Chris Wright and Charles Little are both out for a month.
Rhode Island: Another Atlantic-10 team heading in the wrong direction. The Rams have lost two of three, and nearly lost a third to Duquesne. Three of their next four are at home before starting a three-game road trip.
Penn State: Whatever postseason hopes the Nittany Lions harbored after starting 2-0 in the Big Ten are now all but over. They have lost three in a row, but they also lost star Geary Claxton for the season with an ACL injury.
Florida State: The Seminoles looked like they could be a potential at-large team in the ACC picture, but they have faltered of late. FSU has lost three in a row by double-figures to drop to 1-3 in conference play.
Sam Houston State: The Bearkats received a decent amount of recognition in the non-conference because of their great defense and 12-1 start. However, they started just 2-2 in Southland, with both losses by three points each.
The bottom of the Big East is not nearly as good as it has been recently so teams like DePaul and Cincinnati are getting easy wins. I doubt you will see either competing for an at-large bid by the end of the year. One Big East team definitely on the rise though is Louisville.ReplyDelete
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