Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who's In, Who's Out?


After a week and a half of conference tournaments and four days of major conference tourneys, the field of 65 is beginning to take shape. According to our calculations, the breakdown is as follows:

Locks (There is no way these teams don't make the NCAA Tournament):
  • ACC (5): Duke, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest
  • Big East (8): Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Louisville
  • Big Ten (4): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State
  • Big 12 (7): Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma State
  • Pac-10 (1): California
  • SEC (3): Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
  • Atlantic-10 (3): Temple, Xavier, Richmond
  • Mountain West (3): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV
  • West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Automatic bids from one-bid leagues: 22

That adds up to 58 teams, leaving 7 spots still open.

The teams fighting for those 7 spots, realistically, are:
  • Virginia Tech
  • Georgia Tech
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Seton Hall
  • Washington
  • Florida
  • Mississippi State
  • Mississippi
  • Rhode Island
  • William & Mary
  • Memphis
  • San Diego State
  • Arizona State
  • UAB
Out of this group, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are in the best shape, while Mississippi, William & Mary and Seton Hall have a tenuous, at best, spot on the list. Arizona State, Memphis and UAB are already likely out.

Essentially, if you count San Diego State, Washington and Florida (as well as Va. Tech and Ga. Tech) as likely to receive at-large bids, there are three teams – Mississippi State, Rhode Island, Minnesota – fighting for one at-large bid.

Moreover, these teams have plenty to root for in the next couple of days. It starts in the Mountain West and Pac-10, where San Diego State and Washington are in the finals and have a chance to win the automatic bid, guaranteeing themselves an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Furthermore, Conference-USA pits sleeper Houston against NCAA lock UTEP. If the Cougars knock off the favorites, that will take an available at-large bid from the pool. In the WAC, bubble teams will be rooting heavily for Utah State. If the Aggies lose to New Mexico State in the title game, they will also likely garner an at-large bid. The ACC also has some teams feeling uneasy. Double-digit seeds Miami (Fl.) and North Carolina State are in the semifinals, while bubble team Georgia Tech is also in the semis. In the Atlantic-10 (Rhode Island), Big Ten (Illinois, Minnesota) and SEC (Mississippi State), there are bubble teams still alive in their respective semifinals. It should make for a jam-packed couple of days.

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