Sunday, March 12, 2017

Final Bracket

This was my eighth year doing brackets and seventh year in the Bracket Matrix and each year is as fun as the last. Thanks as always for joining me on this journey and I hope you enjoy the tournament and may your favorite team have a favorable draw.

Here now is my final bracket.





Last Four Byes: Oklahoma State,Xavier, Vanderbilt, Providence 
Last Four In: Wake Forest, Marquette, USC, Kansas State
First Three Out: Illinois State, Syracuse, Texas-Arlington

Selection Sunday Is Here

We finally made it to another Selection Sunday. Just hours separate us from finally seeing the field of 68. As we enter the final six games before the selection show, here's your next-to-last bracket of the season.


Last Four Byes: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Providence, Wake Forest
Last Four In: Marquette, USC, Kansas State, Rhode Island
Next Three Out: Illinois State, Syracuse, Texas-Arlington

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

And here is today's championship schedule.

Ivy League Championship

No. 1 Princeton vs. No. 3 Yale, 12:00, ESPN

Atlantic 10 Championship

No. 2 VCU vs. No. 4 Rhode Island, 12:30, CBS

SEC Championship

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 1:00, ESPN

Sun Belt Championship

No. 4 Texas State vs, No. 6 Troy, 2:00, ESPN2

Big Ten Championship

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Michigan, 3:00, CBS

AAC Championship

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 2 Cincinnati, 3:15, ESPN

Selection Show starts at 6:00 on CBS so expect my final bracket around 5:30. Enjoy the games today.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Championship Week Saturday

It's the busiest day of Championship Week as 14 conferences crown their champions today and 13 automatic bids are handed out since Texas Southern has claimed the SWAC auto-bid by virtue of Alcorn State being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. A rundown of all the championship games follows the bracket.




Last Four Byes: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, USC
Last Four In: Providence, Marquette, Kansas State, Rhode Island
First Six Out: Illinois State, Illinois, California, Indiana, Iowa, Syracuse

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

America East Championship

No. 3 Albany at No. 1 Vermont, 11:00 a.m., ESPN2

ACC Championship

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Duke, 9:00, ESPN

Big 12 Championship

No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa State, 6:00, ESPN

Big East Championship

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 6 Creighton, 5:30, FOX

Big Sky Championship

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 3 Weber State, 8:30, ESPNU

Big West Championship

No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 2 UC Davis, 11:30, ESPN2

Conference USA Championship

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 6 Marshall, 8:30, CBSSN

Pac-12 Championship

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 Arizona, 11:00, ESPN

MAC Championship

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 6 Kent State, 7:30, ESPN2

Mountain West Championship

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 2 Colorado State, 6:00, CBS

MEAC Championship

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 2 Norfolk State, 1:00, ESPN2

Southland Championship

No. 1 New Orleans vs. No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 9:30, ESPN2

SWAC Championship

No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 2 Alcorn State, 6:30, ESPNU

WAC Championship

No. 1 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 2 New Mexico State, 11:00, ESPNU

AAC Semifinals

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 4 UCF, 3:00, ESPN2
No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 6 Connecticut, 5:00, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 Semifinals

No. 4 Rhode Island vs. No. 9 Davidson, 1:00, CBSSN
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 3 Richmond, 3:30, CBSSN

Big Ten Semifinals

No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 8 Michigan, 1:00, CBS
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Northwestern, 3:30, CBS

Ivy League Semifinals

No. 1 Princeton vs. No. 4 Penn, 1:30, ESPNU
No. 2 Harvard vs. No. 3 Yale, 4:00, ESPNU

Sun Belt Semifinals

No. 1 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 4 Texas State, 12:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Georgia State vs. No. 6 Troy, 3:00, ESPN3

SEC Semifinals

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Alabama, 1:00, ESPN
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt, 3:25, ESPN


Friday, March 10, 2017

Championship Week Friday

It was a great day for Big 12 bubble teams, while at the same time a not-so-great day for Big Ten bubble teams. We'll discuss that and more after a look at the updated bracket, which has plenty of changes.


Last Four Byes: Xavier, Wake Forest, USC, Providence
Last Four In: Marquette, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Rhode Island
First Four Out: Illinois State, Illinois, California, Indiana
Next Six Out: Iowa, Syracuse, Georgia, TCU, Ole Miss, Houston

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 7
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
American - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

On the Big 12 side, Kansas State scored a huge win over Baylor to advance to the Big 12 semifinals where they'll meet West Virginia. The Wildcats were already sitting just above the cut line and beating a top-ten RPI team for the second time, this time in the conference tournament, with this at-large pool, might just be enough to push them into the field, even if they have to start in Dayton. This gives K-State four top-50 wins and six top-100 wins. The negative is the weak non-conference schedule, ranked 227th, though it would gain some luster if Colorado State wins the Mountain West tournament,

TCU kept their at-large hopes alive by upsetting top-seed Kansas, who was without a suspended Josh Jackson. This was the Frogs' third top-50 win but only their fourth top-100 win. To put their entire resume in perspective, they have just one more top-100 win than they do sub-100 losses, four versus three, as they've lost at Texas Tech and Oklahoma and home against Auburn. TCU likely needs to win the Big 12 tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. TCU takes on Iowa State tonight in the semifinals.

As for the Big Ten, Illinois and Iowa did themselves no favors, losing badly to Michigan and Indiana, respectively. The Hawkeyes were on the outside to being with, but the Illini may have played themselves out. After beating Northwestern, the lasting memory Illinois gave is losing at Rutgers and losing by 20 to a Michigan team that didn't arrive in D.C. until three hours before tip-off and had to wear their practice jerseys for the game. The Illini look NIT-bound.

Indiana, on the other hand, has played their way back onto the bubble, though their mid-season stretch is still holding them back, despite the wins over Kansas and North Carolina. Don't forget that those wins sandwiched a bad loss against IPFW. Nebraska falling outside the RPI top-100 doesn't help matters either. The Hoosiers may be in the same position as TCU, probably needing the automatic bid to get in. They meet Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

Also scoring a big win and securing their spot in the field is Xavier, after they knocked off second-seeded Butler in the Big East quarterfinals. The Musketeers ended their skid at just the right time, setting up a semifinal meeting with Creighton. They're likely going to be a double-digit seed, but this should them avoid playing in Dayton next week.

Moving into the field, replacing Illinois, is Rhode Island, who was a preseason top-25 team. The Rams are still hanging their hat on their win over Cincinnati and also beat VCU at the end of the season. The sport a top-50 RPI and gained three top-100 wins thanks to George Washington and Davidson moving in. They'll play St. Bonaventure today in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals.

We're getting closer to filling out the field. Championship matchups will be determined tonight, while other conferences enter their quarterfinal round. Here's your rundown for today.

AAC Quarterfinals

No. 1 SMU vs. No. 9 East Carolina, 12:00, ESPN2
No. 4 UCF vs. No. 5 Memphis, 2:30, ESPN2
No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Tulsa, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 6 Connecticut, 9:30, ESPNU

ACC Semifinals

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Duke, 7:00, ESPN
No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, 9:30, ESPN

Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

No. 1 Dayton vs. No. 9 Davidson, 12:00, NBCSN
No. 4 Rhode Island vs. No. 5 St. Bonaventure, 2:30, NBCSN
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 7 George Mason, 6:00, NBCSN
No. 3 Richmond vs. No. 6 George Washington, 8:30, NBCSN

Big 12 Semifinals

No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 8 TCU, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Kansas State, 9:30, ESPN2

Big East Semifinals

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 5 Seton Hall, 6:30, FS1
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 7 Xavier, 9:00, FS1

Big Sky Semifinals

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 4 Idaho, 8:35
No. 2 Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 Weber State, 11:05

Big Ten Quarterfinals

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan, 12:00, ESPN
No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Michigan State, 2:25, ESPN
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Indiana, 6:30, BTN
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 6 Northwestern, 8:55, BTN

Big West Semifinals

No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 Long Beach State, 9:30, ESPN3
No. 2 UC Davis vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton, 12:00

Conference USA Semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 4 UTEP, 12:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 6 Marshall, 3:00, CBSSN

MAC Semifinals

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 4 Ball State, 5:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 6 Kent State, 8:00 CBSSN

MEAC Semifinals

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 11 Howard, 8:00, ESPN3

Mountain West Semifinals

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 4 Fresno State, 10:00, CBSSN
No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 6 San Diego State, 12:00

Pac-12 Semifinals

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 5 California, 9:00, Pac-12 Network
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 3 UCLA, 11:30, Pac-12 Network

SEC Quarterfinals

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Georgia, 1:00, SECN
No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Alabama, 3:25, SECN
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt. 7:00, SECN
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 6 Ole Miss, 9:25, SECN

Southland Semifinals

No. 1 New Orleans vs. No. 5 Sam Houston State, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. No. 3 Stephen F. Austin, 8:30, ESPN3

Sun Belt Quarterfinals

No. 1 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 8 Coastal Carolina, 12:30
No. 4 Texas State vs. No. 12 Louisiana-Monroe, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Georgia State vs. No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Georgia Southern vs. No. 6 Troy, 8:30, ESPN3

SWAC Semifinals

No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 5 Grambling, 3:30
No. 2 Alcorn State vs. No. 3 Southern University, 9:30

WAC Semifinals

No. 1 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 4 Utah Valley, 9:00
No. 2 New Mexico State vs. No. 3 UMKC, 11:30, ESPN3

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Championship Week Thursday

There was plenty of bubble action in the middle of Championship Week. Some teams saw their hopes dashed, others have to sit and wait as they are truly on the fence. We'll dig into that after that bracket.



Last Four Byes: USC, Providence, Michigan State, Marquette
Last Four In: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Illinois
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: California, Georgia, TCU, Indiana

Conference Breakdown:

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

A trio of ACC bubble teams took the floor on Wednesday for the second round matchups. All three of them suffered defeats. The opening game saw Syracuse fall to Miami, then Clemson fell short against Duke and Wake Forest lost a shootout to Virginia Tech.

Of these teams, the Demon Deacons are in the best position and are probably still in the tournament despite the loss. They still sit with a top-40 RPI, plus the three top-50 wins.

Clemson's hopes are dashed. While they boast four top-50 RPI wins, they dug themselves too big of a hole going 6-12 in ACC play and couldn't show enough in Brooklyn to warrant discussion.

The team on the fence here is Syracuse. The Orange have six top-50 wins, which is fantastic. However, they have 14 total losses, including an ugly loss to Boston College. And they would easily be the lowest-rated RPI team to grab an at-large bid. Their RPI rank is currently 84th. No team ranked worse than 67th since the RPI formula change in 2005 has been selected by the committee to participate in the NCAA Tournament. But we've also seen the committee slowly phase the RPI out. St. Bonaventure was left out last season despite a top-30 RPI.

After a slow start and actually trailing by one at the half, Xavier rolled in the second half to avoid a disastrous loss to DePaul. The Musketeers should be in the field now but are still in line to play in Dayton. They can move up if they upset Butler. USC also helped themselves by holding serve against Washington. They get a shot at UCLA in the quarterfinals.

One team that doesn't have to worry is Bucknell, as the Bison pulled the double-dip, winning the Patriot League tournament along with the regular season title. The Bison look solidly on the 13-line.

No more bids will be handed out until the busiest Saturday of the season when 14 tickets will be punched. But that doesn't mean there's no action. Teams are still jockeying for position and more bubble teams are in action.

AAC First Round

No. 8 Temple vs. No. 9 East Carolina, 3:30
No. 7 Tulsa vs. No. 10 Tulane, 6:00
No. 6 Connecticut vs. No. 11 South Florida, 8:00

ACC Quarterfinals

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Miami, 12:00
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Duke, 2:00
No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech, 7:00
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 6 Virginia, 9:00

Atlantic 10 Second Round

No. 8 La Salle vs. No. 9 Davidson, 12:00
No. 5 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 12 Massachusetts, 2:30
No. 7 George Mason vs. No. 10 Fordham, 6:00
No. 6 George Washington vs. No. 11 Saint Louis, 8:30

Big 12 Quarterfinals

No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State, 12:30
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 TCU, 2:30
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 10 Texas, 7:00
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 6 Kansas State, 9:00

Big East Quarterfinals

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 St, John's, 12:00
No. 4 Marquette vs. No. 5 Seton Hall, 2:30
No. 2 Butler vs. No. 7 Xavier, 7:00
No. 3 Providence vs. No. 6 Creighton, 9:30

Big Ten Second Round

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Illinois, 12:00
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Penn State, 2:25
No. 7 Iowa vs, No. 10 Indiana, 6:30
No. 6 Northwestern vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 8:55

Big Sky Quarterfinals

No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 8 Portland State, 3:05
No. 4 Idaho vs. No. 5 Montana, 5:35
No. 2 Eastern Washington vs. No. 7 Sacramento State, 8:35
No. 3 Weber State vs. No. 11 Southern Utah, 11:05

Big West Quarterfinals

No. 2 UC Davis vs. No. 7 Cal Poly, 3:00
No. 3 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 6 Cal State Northridge, 5:30
No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 8 UC Riverside, 9:00
No. 4 Long Beach State vs. No. 5 Hawaii, 11:30

Conference USA Quarterfinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 9 Texas-San Antonio, 12:30
No. 4 UTEP vs. No. 5 Rice, 3:00
No. 2 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 7 UAB, 6:30
No. 3 Old Dominion vs. No. 6 Marshall, 9:00

MAC Quarterfinals

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 12:00
No. 4 Ball State vs. No. 5 Western Michigan, 2:30
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 7 Toledo, 6:30
No. 3 Buffalo vs. No. 6 Kent State, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals

No. 3 Morgan State vs. No. 11 Howard, 6:00
No. 4 Hampton vs. No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 8:00

Mountain West Quarterfinals

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 8 Utah State, 3:00
No. 4 Fresno State vs. No. 5 New Mexico, 5:30
No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 10 Air Force, 9:00
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 6 San Diego State, 11:30

Pac-12 Quarterfinals

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Arizona State, 3:00
No. 4 Utah vs. No. 5 California, 5:30
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 7 Colorado, 9:00
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 USC, 11:30

SEC Second Round

No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 Tennessee, 1:00
No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 12 Mississippi State, 3:25
No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Texas A&M, 7:00
No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 14 Missouri, 9:25

Southland Quarterfinals

No. 4 Houston Baptist vs. No. 5 Sam Houston State, 6:00
No. 3 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 6 Lamar, 8:30

WAC Quarterfinals

No. 4 Utah Valley vs. No. 5 Seattle, 5:00
No. 2 New Mexico State vs. No. 7 Chicago State, 7:30
No. 3 UMKC vs. No. 6 Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 10:00

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Championship Week Wednesday

Apologies for no update yesterday, but we're back today with 11 total teams now i the field, including Northern Kentucky, who made the dance in their first year of eligibility.

The current list of automatic qualifiers:

Atlantic Sun - Florida Gulf Coast
Big South - Winthrop
Colonial - UNC Wilmington
Horizon - Northern Kentucky
MAAC - Iona
Missouri Valley - Wichita State
Northeast - Mount St. Mary's
Ohio Valley - Jacksonville State
Southern - East Tennessee State
Summit - South Dakota State
West Coast - Gonzaga

After scrubbing the field some more, here's your updated bracket with five days to go.



Last Four Byes: USC, Providence, Michigan State, Marquette
Last Four In: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Kansas State, Illinois
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Clemson, California, Georgia, TCU

Conference Breakdown:

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

Procedural Bumps: Xavier / Vanderbilt up from 11 to 10, Wake Forest from 10 to 11

One more automatic bid is up for grabs tonight in the Patriot League, along with plenty of other tournament action as more Power Six conference tournaments get underway. Here's your full list of games today.

Patriot League Championship

No. 3 Lehigh at No. 1 Bucknell, 7:30, CBSSN

ACC Second Round (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Miami, 12:00, ESPN
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Clemson, 2:00, ESPN
No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Wake Forest, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 6 Virginia vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh, 9:00, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 First Round (in Pittsburgh, PA)

No. 12 Massachusetts vs. No. 13 Saint Joseph's, 6:00
No. 11 Saint Louis vs. No. 14 Duquesne, 8:30

Big 12 First Round (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 7 Texas Tech vs. No. 10 Texas, 9:00, ESPNU

Big East First Round (in New York, NY)

No. 8 St. John's vs. No. 9 Georgetown, 7:00, FS1
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 DePaul, 9:30, FS1

Big Ten First Round (in Washington, D.C)

No. 12 Nebraska vs. No. 13 Penn State, 4:30, ESPN2
No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 7:00, Big Ten Network

Conference USA First Round (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 8 Western Kentucky vs. No. 9 Texas-San Antonio, 12:30
No. 5 Rice vs. No. 12 Southern Miss, 3:00
No. 7 UAB vs. No. 10 Charlotte, 6:30
No. 6 Marshall vs. No. 11 Florida Atlantic, 9:00

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 1 North Carolina Central vs. No. 9 Bethune-Cookman, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 7 South Carolina State, 8:00, ESPN3

Mountain West First Round (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 San Jose State, 2:00
No. 7 Wyoming vs. No. 10 Air Force, 4:30
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 UNLV, 7:00

Pac-12 First Round (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 8 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Stanford, 3:00,  Pac-12 Network
No. 5 California vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 5:30, Pac-12 Network
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 10 Washington State, 9:00, Pac-12 Network
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Washington, 11:30, Pac-12 Network

SEC First Round (in Nashville, TN)

No. 12 Mississippi State vs. No. 13 LSU, 7:00, SECN
No. 11 Auburn vs. No. 14 Missouri, 9:25, SECN

Southland First Round (in Katy, TX)

No. 5 Sam Houston State vs. No. 8 Central Arkansas, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Lamar vs. No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana, 8:30, ESPN3

Sun Belt First Round (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 8 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 9 South Alabama, 12:30, ESPN3
No. 5 Arkansas State vs. No. 12 Louisiana-Monroe, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 10 Arkansas-Little Rock, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Troy vs. No. 11 Appalachian State, 8:30, ESPN3


Monday, March 6, 2017

Championship Week Monday

As we enter Championship Week and the final week before Selection Sunday, four teams have officially punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Wichita State (Missouri Valley), Winthrop (Big South) and Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) can sit back and relax, knowing their name will be called come Sunday. Particularly Wichita State, who would've had to sweat again had they lost, though they might have looked the part for an at-large anyway. In any event, they do not have to worry, as they have the automatic bid. It's the team they defeated to win the Valley that will have to sweat out the week. More on that after the bracket.


Last Four Byes: USC, Michigan State, Xavier, Wake Forest
Last Four In: Marquette, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Kansas State
First Four Out: Iowa, Rhode Island, Illinois State, Syracuse
Next Four Out: California, Georgia, Ole Miss, TCU

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Pac-12 - 4
American - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23

Both Wichita State and Illinois State had at-large cases, so it made for a dramatic final. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, they lost by 20 and now leave their fate in the committee's hands. ISU owns just one top-50 win, January 14 against Wichita State, Their only other top-100 win was back on December 3 against New Mexico. They do sit 34th on the RPI table. However, they also lost at Tulsa and at Murray State, the latter being ranked 232nd in RPI.

They're basically in the position Wichita was in last season, but you could argue the Shockers last year had a better profile than Illinois State does this year. Last year's Shockers also only had one top-50 win, but that was against a Utah team that was ranked No. 25 at the time and would eventually earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their best argument may just be their record, which sits at 26-6 (actually 27-6, but their team sheet will say 26-6, as the committee does not recognize non-Division I games, as one of their wins came against D-II Ferris State), and their high RPI.

One team Illinois State will likely be up against for the final few spots is Vanderbilt. The Commodores have 14 losses. While a group of teams have gotten at-large bids with 14 losses, mostly the group of five in 2011, no 15-loss team has ever been selected by the committee. That could change this season after Vandy pulled the season sweep of Florida to not only add another big top-50 win but stay at 14 losses. A loss would have made things very difficult by already sitting at 15 losses and likely getting No. 16 in the SEC Tournament.

In fact, the possibility is there for Vanderbilt to go 3-0 against Florida if they get past Texas A&M in the SEC's second round, as the win also moved them out of the 8/9 game, avoiding Kentucky. If the Dores can indeed beat Florida for the third time, even if they lose in the semifinals, likely against Arkansas, they may, in fact, receive an at-large bid despite losing 15 games.

Another bubble team from the state of Illinois went ahead and made a mess of things for themselves. Things were going well for them. They swept Northwestern, they just beat Michigan State and they were headed to Rutgers to get to 9-9 in Big Ten play and help their cause. And they go and lose. That puts the Illini at 8-10 in the conference, but they still own three top-50 wins, including a neutral-court win over VCU. But to feel a bit safer, they may need to win a game or two in the Big Ten tournament,

A few more automatic bids are up for grabs today. Here's your full list of games for today.

Colonial Championship

No. 1 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 2 College of Charleston, 7:00

MAAC Championship

No. 3 Iona vs. No. 4 Siena, 9:00

Southern Championship

No. 1 UNC Greensboro vs. No. 3 East Tennessee State, 7:00

America East Semifinals

No. 4 New Hampshire at No. 1 Vermont, 7:00
No. 3 Albany at No. 2 Stony Brook, 7:30

Horizon Semifinals

No. 4 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 9 Youngstown State, 7:00
No. 6 Illinois-Chicago vs. No. 10 Milwaukee, 9:30

MAC First Round

No. 11 Central Michigan at No. 6 Kent State, 7:00
No. 9 Northern Illinois at No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 7:00
No. 12 Miami (OH) at No. 5 Western Michigan, 7:30
No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 7 Toledo, 8:00

MEAC First Round

No. 5 Maryland-Eastern Shore vs. No. 12 North Carolina A&T, 5:00
No. 6 Coppin State vs. No. 11 Howard, 7:00

Summit Semifinals

No. 1 South Dakota vs. No. 4 South Dakota State, 7:00
No. 3 Omaha vs. No. 7 IUPUI, 9:30

West Coast Semifinals

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Santa Clara, 9:00
No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. No. 3 BYU, 11:30