Following the best weekend of the season so far in college hoops, there are a number of changes in this week’s projections. Despite the fact that we continue to get more data on these teams, handing out the last few at-large bids is still a crapshoot. You could make a case for or against virtually every squad once you get down to the last few teams in the field.
As I mentioned the last couple weeks, these projections are still relatively fluid at this point of the season, but below the bracket I will give my last four in and last four out, as well as the rationale I used to make those decisions.
|EAST (BOSTON)||SOUTH (ATLANTA)|
|PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|1 Syracuse (20-1)||1 Kentucky (19-1)|
|16 Long Island (14-6)||16 Miss. Valley St. (7-11)/Stony Brook (11-7)|
|8 Florida State (13-6)||8 Virginia (15-3)|
|9 Alabama (13-6)||9 Harvard (16-2)|
|COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18||PORTLAND – March 15 & 17|
|5 Saint Mary’s (19-2)||5 Murray State (20-0)|
|12 Arkansas (14-5)/Iowa State (14-5)||12 New Mexico (15-4)|
|4 Indiana (16-4)||4 Marquette (16-4)|
|13 Oral Roberts (18-4)||13 Long Beach State (14-6)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|6 Wisconsin (16-5)||6 Florida (15-4)|
|11 Cincinnati (15-5)||11 Saint Louis (15-4)|
|3 UNLV (18-3)||3 Michigan State (16-4)|
|14 Akron (12-7)||14 Nevada (16-3)|
|OMAHA – March 16 & 18||GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18|
|7 Mississippi State (16-4)||7 Seton Hall (15-4)|
|10 Xavier (13-6)||10 Purdue (14-6)|
|2 Missouri (18-1)||2 Duke (16-3)|
|15 Weber State (15-3)||15 Cleveland State (17-4)|
|MIDWEST (ST. LOUIS)||WEST (PHOENIX)|
|PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17||OMAHA – March 16 & 18|
|1 Ohio State (17-3)||1 Kansas (16-3)|
|16 UNC-Ash. (14-7)/TX-Arl. (13-5)||16 Norfolk State (15-5)|
|8 Wichita State (17-3)||8 Vanderbilt (14-5)|
|9 Louisville (15-5)||9 Southern Mississippi (17-3)|
|PORTLAND – March 15 & 17||COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18|
|5 Kansas State (14-4)||5 Michigan (15-5)|
|12 Marshall (13-6)||12 N.C. State (15-5)/Oregon (15-5)|
|4 San Diego State (17-2)||4 West Virginia (15-5)|
|13 Iona (15-4)||13 Middle Tennessee State (19-2)|
|NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18||NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18|
|6 Gonzaga (16-3)||6 Connecticut (14-5)|
|11 Minnesota (15-5)||11 California (16-5)|
|3 Georgetown (16-3)||3 Creighton (18-2)|
|14 Belmont (13-7)||14 Davidson (14-4)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18|
|7 Dayton (14-5)||7 Illinois (15-5)|
|10 Memphis (13-6)||10 Temple (13-5)|
|2 Baylor (17-2)||2 North Carolina (16-3)|
|15 VCU (15-5)||15 Bucknell (15-6)|
Last Four In:
North Carolina State
The Wolfpack picked up arguably their second-best win of the year at Miami on Sunday, and they now have five wins against the RPI Top 100 (although none against the Top 50). The home loss to Georgia Tech is pretty ugly, but other than that, their losses aren’t terrible. This week will be huge for their tournament hopes as they travel to North Carolina and host Virginia.
I had the Ducks in my last set of projections, and unlike most of their Pac-12 brethren, they actually won twice last week. Their best wins are against Stanford in Eugene and at Arizona, and they have no losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100. Believe me when I tell you that isn’t as rare as it may seem.
The Cyclones also fall into the “no sub-100 losses” category and took care of business in two winnable games last week. They start a critical four-game stretch on Tuesday when they travel to Texas, followed by home games against Kansas and Kansas State and a road trip to Oklahoma. A 2-2 record in those games is a must.
At this point virtually everyone has bad losses, and the Hogs are no exception thanks to a loss against Houston. However, they have been playing their best basketball lately and have wins over Mississippi State, LSU, and Michigan this month. That said, they have no wins away from home this season, which will have to change if they expect to remain in the field.
First Four Out:
After making their way into the field last week, the Wildcats lost to Wisconsin and Minnesota by a combined 43 points. At this point they don’t have any sub-100 losses, but they have also been drubbed on multiple occasions by the better teams on their schedule. Defense is a huge concern for Northwestern and may well be their undoing.
I gave the Knights a long look but can’t see four C-USA teams getting in. As it stands, eight of their 15 wins have come against teams outside of the Top 200, and the loss to Louisiana-Lafayette is pretty ugly. They do have wins over UConn and Memphis though, so if they can knock off teams like Marshall or Southern Miss in league play, they might be able to play their way into the field.
There just isn’t enough on BYU’s profile to allow them drop home games to WCC teams not named Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s. Admittedly, Loyola Marymount is getting healthy and playing better, but the Cougars have very little margin for error. They have no Top 50 wins and have now lost two games to sub-100 teams, while eight of their 17 wins are against sub-200 squads.
The Cardinal lost by double-digits to both Washington schools last week and are now 3-3 against the Top 100 and just 6-5 against the Top 150. Like UCF and BYU, they have nearly half of their wins against sub-200 teams. Sunday’s game at Cal gives them a chance to work their way back into the field.
Here is how the bids broke out by conference:
Big East (8): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten (8): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
SEC (6): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri
Atlantic 10 (4): Dayton, Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
Conference USA (3): Marshall, Memphis, Southern Mississippi
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
Pac-12 (2): California, Oregon
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
America East: Stony Brook
Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big Sky: Weber State
Big South: UNC-Asheville
Big West: Long Beach State
Horizon: Cleveland State
MEAC: Norfolk State
Northeast: Long Island
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit: Oral Roberts
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee State
SWAC: Mississippi Valley State