Football season is officially over, and there are now less than five weeks until Selection Sunday.
With the exception of the last couple spots, this week’s at-large field was relatively easy to select. That isn’t to say that all the teams are particularly impressive, and I don’t think for a minute that there won’t be plenty of changes in the field between now and the end of the season.
Below are my latest projections through Monday’s games. As usual, underneath 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 (23-1)||1 Kentucky (23-1)|
|16 Miss. Vall. St. (12-11)/TX-Arlington (17-5)||16 UNC-Asheville (18-7)/Stony Brook (16-7)|
|8 Wichita State (20-4)||8 Illinois (16-7)|
|9 Memphis (16-7)||9 Harvard (20-2)|
|PORTLAND – March 15 & 17||PORTLAND – March 15 & 17|
|5 San Diego State (20-3)||5 Florida State (16-6)|
|12 BYU (20-6)||12 Xavier (15-8)|
|4 Michigan (17-7)||4 Saint Mary’s (22-2)|
|13 Iona (19-5)||13 Middle Tennessee State (21-4)|
|GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18||COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18|
|6 Mississippi State (18-5)||6 Vanderbilt (16-7)|
|11 California (18-6)||11 Minnesota (17-7)|
|3 Duke (19-4)||3 Georgetown (18-4)|
|14 VCU (20-5)||14 Akron (16-7)|
|COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18||ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17|
|7 West Virginia (16-8)||7 Temple (17-5)|
|10 Saint Louis (18-5)||10 Notre Dame (15-8)|
|2 Michigan State (18-5)||2 Baylor (21-2)|
|15 Nevada (19-4)||15 Belmont (18-7)|
|MIDWEST (ST. LOUIS)||WEST (PHOENIX)|
|PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17||OMAHA – March 16 & 18|
|1 Ohio State (20-3)||1 Missouri (22-2)|
|16 Norfolk State (17-8)||16 Long Island (17-7)|
|8 Connecticut (15-8)||8 Virginia (18-4)|
|9 Iowa State (17-6)||9 Alabama (15-7)|
|NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18||NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18|
|5 Murray State (23-0)||5 Wisconsin (18-6)|
|12 Miami, FL (14-7)/Seton Hall (15-8)||12 Cincinnati(16-7)/Colorado St. (15-7)|
|4 Florida (19-4)||4 Creighton (21-3)|
|13 Long Beach State (17-6)||13 Oral Roberts (21-5)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|6 Louisville (19-5)||6 Indiana (18-6)|
|11 Purdue (15-8)||11 Washington (16-7)|
|3 UNLV (21-4)||3 Marquette (20-5)|
|14 Cleveland State (20-4)||14 Davidson (18-5)|
|OMAHA – March 16 & 18||GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18|
|7 Southern Mississippi (20-3)||7 Gonzaga (18-4)|
|10 New Mexico (19-4)||10 Kansas State (16-6)|
|2 Kansas (18-5)||2 North Carolina (20-3)|
|15 Bucknell (18-6)||15 Weber State (18-4)|
Last Four In:
The Bearcats were in this position a week ago, and they took care of business at home against DePaul. They have worked their way into the RPI Top 100, and they still have road wins at Connecticut, Georgetown, and Pittsburgh, which looks much better now than it did a few weeks ago. A home victory against Notre Dame is looking better as well, but the margin for error is slim with road games against St. John’s and Marquette this week.
After working their way into the field last week, the Rams lost by 19 at UNLV but bounced back to beat Air Force at home. Right now, the computer numbers are almost too good to leave them out, but they have just one Top 50 win and are just 3-7 against the Top 100. Their only game this week is a road trip to TCU, who took them to double overtime at home.
I gave the Canes the nod over North Carolina State based on the fact that Miami picked up a signature win against Duke on Sunday, which is something the Wolfpack simply doesn’t have. None of Miami’s losses are terrible, and four of them came without Reggie Johnson and DeQuan Jones. This week they host Virginia Tech and head to Florida State for a chance at another marquee win.
The Pirates have now lost six straight, and the only things keeping them in right now are the fact that they have three Top 50 wins, a relatively solid RPI, and a high strength of schedule. Even so, they can’t afford to lose at Rutgers this week, and even a home loss against Pitt might land Seton Hall on the other side of the bubble.
First Four Out:
I still can’t bring myself to put three Pac-12 teams in the field, but a road sweep of Cal and Stanford definitely helps Arizona’s case. As it stands, they are 4-7 against the Top 100, so they may need to win out to earn a spot in the field. The Wildcats host league newcomers Colorado and Utah this week, as they look to move to 9-4 in the conference.
The Hogs looked great in a home win over Vanderbilt early last week, but their road woes were on display once again in a loss at LSU. Arkansas still has no victories away from Fayetteville, but they have a solid chance this week when they travel to Georgia. Even though the Bulldogs are struggling, that would at least prove the Razorbacks can win away from home, which coupled with their three Top 50 wins, give them a compelling profile.
North Carolina State
Thanks to Miami’s win over Duke, the Hurricanes moved into the RPI Top 50, which in turn gave N.C. State a Top 50 win thanks to their victory over the Canes in late January. Still, their only other win against a team I have in the field came against UNC-Asheville in the season opener. They head to Georgia Tech this week before a crucial stretch that features games against Duke, Florida State, and North Carolina.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, I don’t see the Big Ten getting nine teams, but Northwestern’s road win at Illinois was their third against the Top 50. They also boast a high strength of schedule, and they don’t have any truly bad losses. The issue is that they’ve been crushed by many of the better teams they have played and lost a couple winnable home games. The Wildcats host Iowa on Thursday before traveling to Purdue this weekend.
Here is how the bids broke out by conference:
Big East (9): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten (8): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Virginia
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri
SEC (5): Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Atlantic 10 (3): Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
Pac-12 (2): California, Washington
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