Sunday, March 16, 2008

Road to Selection Sunday

Happy Selection Sunday, folks. The most important date of the college basketball season is upon us. With about five hours left until the NCAA Tournament is revealed, the Field of 65 is almost filled. If Georgia and Illinois win their respective conference tournaments today, bubble teams across the nation will become even more nervous than they already are. The last two or three days of the major conference tournaments have made the teams going to the Big Dance up in the air, especially the last six spots or so.

Here's my breakdown of the tournament as of 12:40 PM:

ACC (4): North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Miami (Fl.)
Big East (7): Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame, West Virginia
Big Ten (4): Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana
Big 12 (4): Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
Pac-10 (4): UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, USC
SEC (4): Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas
Atlantic-10 (2): Xavier, Temple
Colonial (1): George Mason
Conference-USA (1): Memphis
Missouri Valley (1): Drake
Mountain West (2): BYU, UNLV
Sun Belt (1): Western Kentucky
West Coast (3): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Diego

Automatic bids from one-bid leagues: 18

That adds up to 56 teams, leaving 9 spots still open.

The teams likely to receive bids are:
Kansas State
Saint Joseph’s

Therefore, the teams in the mix for those final six bids are:
Virginia Tech: The Hokies played a great game against North Carolina last night, but the fact that they have almost no quality wins and didn't do much of anything in the non-conference makes it tough to include them.
Villanova: The Wildcats have four wins against the top-50, but also four losses vs. sub-100 teams. Have won six of their last nine games after a stretch in which they lost six of seven. Will the Big East get eight?
Ohio State: The Buckeyes put themselves in the mix for an at-large bid with back-to-back wins over Purdue and Michigan State, but their 2-10 record vs. the top-50 is still a huge negative. 10-8 in the Big Ten.
Kentucky: The Wildcats should be bale to get a bid with their 12-4 SEC record, but they had an awful non-conference campaign and could have used a win in the SEC Tournament. Lost to Georgia in the quarterfinals.

Arizona: The Wildcats are going to be a very interesting case for the committee. They have the No. 2 SOS and 10 wins vs. the top-100, but they were below .500 in Pac-10 play and are 4-8 in their last 12 games.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have horrendous power numbers (No. 83 RPI, No. 296 NC SOS), but they have a nice collection of good wins. If not for a bad call against USC in the Pac-10 Tourney, they might be in.
Oregon: The Ducks needed to beat Washington State to really feel comfortable about their Selection Sunday chances, but they won three in a row to finish the season and have some nice wins on the resume.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen might have blown their chances with their poor second half against Charlotte; are fourth in the A-10 pecking order, but the conference isn't likely to get four bids. Strong finish, though.
Dayton: Yet another interesting case for the committee to consider. The Flyers have a very solid profile, with great power numbers and some solid wins -- but a lot of their positives came when Chris Wright was healthy.
VCU: The Rams won the Colonial by three games, but they lost in the semifinals of the conference tourney. Zero top-50 wins and four sub-100 losses, but they played very well down the stretch and have three top-100 wins.
Illinois State: If the Missouri Valley gets two bids, the Redbirds will be that second team. They have a great RPI (33) and got to the conference tourney final. 5-5 vs. top-50 but four sub-100 losses and nothing in the non-league.
South Alabama: The Jaguars seemed like a lock last week, but their loss in the Sun Belt Tournament puts them in question. They have two wins over Western Kentucky and one over Mississippi State, but three bad losses.

Who gets in? Check out my complete projected bracket at 5:00 PM to find out.

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