Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekend Update: Goodbye, February; Hello, March

One of the best months of the sports year begins tomorrow. We are set to leave behind February and enter the madness that is March.

We stand today just 16 days away from Selection Sunday and the battle for the final few spots in the field is as fierce as ever. Unfortunately, the bubble got a lot muddier throughout the week. Teams like Georgetown, Richmond, Nebraska, and St. John's all lost, meaning a lot of shuffling happened at the bottom of the bracket.

On the other hand, Xavier and Minnesota were among the teams scoring key victories to help their tournament chances. Xavier won at St. John's and the Gophers defeated Iowa.

Oregon also defeated UCLA Thursday night—despite two UCLA players being suspended—to score their second top-50 victory of the season. And with very strong computer numbers (RPI 32, NC SOS 59 with a 12-0 record), that's currently enough to put the Ducks back in the field. They still have some work to do in the Pac-12 tournament, but this is certainly a start.

The biggest winner of the week? We head down to Fayetteville for that answer. Arkansas won at Kentucky to score a season-sweep of John Calipari's team. The Razorbacks now have four top-50 victories, including two away from home—the aforementioned Kentucky win and a win over Minnesota out in Maui.

As for the rest of the field...

Last Four Byes: California, BYU, Xavier, Oklahoma State
Last Four In: Minnesota, Oregon, Arkansas, Georgetown
First Four Out: Providence, Tennessee, Missouri, Dayton
Next Four Out: St. John's, Richmond, Nebraska, Marquette

Conference rundown:

7: Big 12, Pac-12
6: Big Ten
5: American, Atlantic 10, ACC
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

This weekend is shaping up to be a wild one. Huge bubble implications, plus Wichita State goes for undefeated regular season tomorrow against Missouri State.

And don't forget, the first conference tournament games begin Monday with the Patriot League.

Enjoy the weekend and I will see you all Monday to start setting up the conference tournaments.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mid-Week Update, Poppin' Bubbles

Tuesday night provided a lot of bubble action and saw some teams improve their standing while other lost their grip on tournament bids.

First, the bracket:

Last Four Byes: Baylor, Richmond, BYU, Xavier
Last Four In: Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Georgetown, Providence
First Four Out: Dayton, Missouri, Tennessee, St. John's

Procedural move: Pittsburgh up from 10 to 9, St. Joseph's down from 9 to 10.

Minnesota defeated Iowa at home, giving them four top-50 wins. Despite the 7-9 conference record, the Gophers remain in the field. A lost would've been crushing, as it would have sent the team to 6-10 in conference play.

Xavier climbed back into the field by defeating St. John's on the road, which in turn, knocked the Johnnies out of today's update. That completes the season-sweep of the Red Storm for Xavier, who still gets Creighton and Villanova at home in their final three games. Steve Lavin's team does not have a quality opponent remaining, so they must win some games in the Big East tournament, which lucky for them, is on their home court.

Dayton got crushed by St. Joseph's, dropping them from the field, as well. Moving into their place was Oklahoma State. Even with the 6-9 Big 12 record, they still have good wins are clearly a much better team with Marcus Smart then without him. Their last three games are very key. Dayton has work to do in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Missouri is making it very difficult for the committee to send a third SEC team after they were swept by Georgia. The Bulldogs are 10-5 in conference, but haven't beaten the top dogs. That's thanks to the unbalance of the SEC schedule. The Tigers are now on the outside looking in, really hanging their hat on their home win against UCLA back in December. At this point, it may not be enough, thanks to their play of late.

That's your update for Wednesday. I will see you guys Friday to set up for the next-to-last weekend of the regular season.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bill Wild Bracketology: The Post-Boeheim Explosion Edition

Another wild weekend of college hoops was overshadowed by Jim Boeheim's infamous explosion after C.J. Fair was called for a charge late in their game against Duke on Saturday. A close call, to say the least, but boy, was the reaction epic.

For those who missed the play, or want to see it again, here you go. 

Now on to the bracket.

Conference rundown:

7: Atlantic 10
6: Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12
5: ACC, American
4: Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid leagues

Last Four Byes: Colorado, Baylor, Minnesota, Missouri
Last Four In: Georgetown, BYU, Dayton, St. John's
First Four Out: Oklahoma State, Xavier, Providence, Tennessee
Next Four Out: West Virginia, Nebraska, Oregon, LSU

Even without the Boeheim deal, Syracuse has slipped in the last two games, but their overall resume keeps them on the top line. But Kansas and Villanova are breathing down its neck.

Florida is now the top overall seed, but can easily be overtaken by Arizona. And Wichita State cannot be counted out if they happen to run the table.

Georgetown's win over Xavier kept them in the field, despite the low RPI. The wins over VCU, Kansas State and Michigan State still look nice, but are losing a tad bit of luster. Xavier is now hanging their hat on a neutral-court win over Cincinnati, so they need to do some damage in the Big East tournament. An extremely huge game looms Tuesday night at St. John's (7:00 PM, Fox Sports 1).

Dayton climbs back into the field, giving the Atlantic 10 seven bids as of today. I don't think anyone expected the A-10 to potentially lead all leagues in tournament bids, but it very well can happen. Dayton can move closer to a bid by winning at St. Joseph's tomorrow.

Marcus Smart returned for Oklahoma State, who now sits just outside the bubble. They are 5-9 in conference play, but if they can score wins against two of Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State, they're in. Lose two of them, and they're playing with fire. Would the committee take a 7-11 conference team? With the wins they have, it would make for a very interesting debate.

With just 20 days until Selection Sunday, and some conference tournaments beginning next week (Patriot League tournament begins one week from today), it's crunch time. Teams must make their move now, or be relegated to the NIT.

Just a few more bracket updates before we start actually putting teams into the field. I'll see you guys Wednesday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bill Wild Bracketology: Final Week of February

We are just 23 days away from Selection Sunday. We are also gearing up for the final week of February and inching closer to Championship Week, where almost anything can happen. Let's check out where we stand.

First, the bracket.

Conference rundown:

6: Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12
5: ACC, American, Big East
3: SEC
2: Mountain West, West Coast
22 one-bid conferences

Thursday saw two key results for the bracket. North Carolina defeated Duke at Chapel Hill and have moved up into line five, very close to a protected seed. That makes six wins in the top 50 for the Heels, as they have also defeated Michigan State (in East Lansing), Louisville, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Richmond. Those wins easily outweigh the losses to Wake Forest, Miami (FL) and UAB.

The other key result from Thursday was BYU defeating Gonzaga. The Cougars now have a home win over Gonzaga, a neutral-court win over Texas and a win at Stanford. Despite the four losses outside the top-100, BYU's computer numbers are outstanding. They have a top-40 RPI and their out-of-conference schedule ranks sixth. That win, coupled with other results and the play of other bubble teams, puts the Cougars as the last team in the field today. More on the bubble in a bit.

Wednesday saw Syracuse's magic in close games run out for the time being, as they were defeated at home by Boston College. That's 6-19, RPI No. 172 Boston College. That loss dropped the Orange to No. 3 on the seed list, but based on the quartet of teams on the top line, it does not affect the region the Orange play in. They still head the East region.

Florida squeaked by Auburn, but their play of late compared to that of Arizona (particularly since the Brandon Ashley injury) has put the Gators as the new overall No. 1 seed with Arizona at No. 2. Again, it doesn't mean too much, region-wise, since these teams aren't competing for the same region. Wichita State remains the fourth No. 1 seed.

On the other side of the bracket, Minnesota, St. Joseph's, Missouri and Richmond are the last four byes avoiding Dayton, while Georgetown, Baylor, St. John's and BYU are the last four in and would open in Dayton. Tennessee, Providence, Dayton and West Virginia are the first four out, followed by Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, Harvard and LSU. Note: Harvard is tied with Yale at 7-1 in the Ivy League, but Yale owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.

As for games to watch this weekend, tonight features two Atlantic 10 teams very close in the bracket. VCU, currently an eight-seed, visits Massachusetts, currently a seven-seed. Also, the aforementioned Harvard visits Penn, while Yale is at Cornell.

Tomorrow sees the rematch of the overtime thriller a few weeks ago at the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse visits Cameron Indoor to take on Duke. Other key games include the first meeting of the season between San Diego State and New Mexico; St. John's has a great opportunity at Villanova, LSU visits Kentucky; Minnesota at Ohio State; Baylor at West Virginia; Dayton at Duquesne; Fordham at St. Joseph's; Kansas State at Oklahoma; UTEP at Southern Miss; Harvard at Princeton; Tennessee at Texas A&M; and Marcus Smart's return to Oklahoma State against Texas Tech.

And for Sunday: Michigan State visits Michigan, SMU tries to score a quality win away from home against Connecticut, Yale is at Columbia, and Providence is at Butler, Arizona State visits Utah, California hosts USC and Oregon welcomes Washington State.

Enjoy the weekend and I will see you on Monday. Remember, check out the Bracket Matrix to see how I compare with the others.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bill Wild Bracketology: Post-Valentine's Day Edition

Hopefully everyone enjoyed their Valentine's Day weekend, whether you are single or not.

Today marks just 27 days until Selection Sunday.

There was plenty of movement throughout the bracket, including near the top, where Wisconsin climbed to No. 7 on the seed list after their win at Michigan on Sunday. And despite the loss to Nebraska, Michigan State remains on the two-line, but sit at No. 8.

Down at the bubble, Missouri won a key game at Tennessee. Both teams join Providence and Richmond among the last four teams in the field today. On the other side, St. John's scored a huge win against Georgetown and now have only Baylor, Dayton and Richmond to pass to get into the field. West Virginia is also among the first four out.

Speaking of Baylor, they take on Oklahoma State tonight in Waco, in what amounts to an elimination game. Both teams are 4-8 in conference play, so tonight's loser can do no better than 9-9 to finish Big 12 play. Even if tonight's loser runs the table and gets to 9-9, it may not be enough. Marcus Smart is still out for the Cowboys, so Baylor has a huge chance at home.

Also watch Florida State tonight against North Carolina. The Seminoles have really faltered of late, sitting just 15-10 with an RPI rating of 61. They do have neutral-court wins over Massachusetts and VCU, but they are just 4-9 against the RPI top-100 and have lost to Clemson, Maryland and Miami this month and sit just 6-7 in ACC play. Tonight is a must-win for Florida State.

So after another thrilling weekend in basketball, which including No. 1 Syracuse nearly losing at home to NC State (a win that would have put the Wolfpack in today's field), let's see how the bracket shapes up.

And as always, check out the Bracket Matrix (I am under the name "Wild), to compare me to the likes of ESPN's Joe Lunardi, CBS' Jerry Palm, and many, many others. See you guys next time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bill Wild Bracketology: Entering the Final Four Weeks

Today is Valentine's Day. Today also marks just 30 days until Selection Sunday. The field is starting to take shape. There are precious few spots up for grabs in the field.

As we enter the weekend, our last four in are Tennessee, BYU, Florida State and St. Joseph's.

First Four Out are West Virginia, Providence, Baylor and Missouri.

The main change at the top of bracket since our last update is Wichita State now on the top line, replacing Kansas, atop the Midwest. Syracuse (East), Arizona (West) and Florida (South) are still the top three on the seed list. Along with Kansas, Villanova and Michigan State also are in contention for a No. 1 seed.

Here now is the bracket.

Procedural moves: Tennessee/BYU up to 11, Toledo down to 12.

And as always, check out the Bracket Matrix. See you all next week.