Sunday, March 13, 2016

Final Bracket

Well, it's been another fun ride this season following the bracket and without a doubt, this was a very difficult, but fun year. I can understand the committee this was their toughest at-large pool. So many options to wade through. That said, here's my final bracket. I don't expect to go 68/68 because of how many teams are in play and how it can go any which way. But it's all in good fun and I thank you all for following along again this season. Enjoy the tournament!

Last Four Byes: Connecticut, Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Pittsburgh
Last Four In: Syracuse, Temple, Saint Mary's, Monmouth
First Four Out: San Diego State, Wichita State, Vanderbilt, Valparaiso
Next Four Out: South Carolina, Florida, Tulsa, Georgia

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big East - 5
Atlantic 10 - 4
American Athletic - 3
MAAC - 2
SEC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 22

Selection Sunday: San Diego State, Temple Further Complicate Bubble

Championship Sunday provided a bit of everything. Drama, buzzer-beaters, you name it.

As mentioned yesterday. 14 teams officially punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, some of them in grand style, like Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield, hitting last-second shots to send them to the tournament.

Kansas, North Carolina and Oregon completed the double-dip in their respective conferences, and as a result, all now sit on the top line. And with a win today, Michigan State should also join them, though you can make a case Sparty has claimed a top seed already with how well they've played of late and their performance out of conference.

But oh that bubble continues to get more and more complicated just hours before the brackets are revealed. Temple loses to Connecticut and San Diego State, for the second year in a row, lost in the Mountain West final to a team in Fresno State that wasn't going to dance without the automatic bid.

So now we take a look at their respective profiles. Temple is now 62nd in RPI with a non-conference rank of 75. However, they were just 7-6 out of conference and their best win came against Fairleigh Dickinson. The positives are that they swept Cincinnati and Connecticut, both of whom seem to be headed to the dance, and beat SMU at home. I have the Owls just in right now.

The Aztecs, however, weren't so lucky. They sit as the first team out after going back and forth a bit on some teams.

The Aztecs are No. 40 in RPI and have the No. 2 non-conference schedule. But a 5-6 mark doesn't look good, and unfortunately for Steve Fisher's team, the Mountain West, as a whole, was surprisingly down this season. They do own a top-50 win over California on a neutral court, but only two other top-100 wins over Fresno State and Long Beach State.

I decided to move Monmouth back into the field after briefly taking them out. I still feel Monmouth should be rewarded for all those road wins and they nearly have two top-50 wins again (USC sits No. 51). I also moved Syracuse back in. Why? After going back on it and thinking about it, Syracuse does still own very good wins with Jim Boeheim on the sideline. The Orange, overall, went 5-6 against the top 50 and 8-10 against the top 100. In games where they had Boeheim, they were 5-5 and 8-8, respectively. And all five of those top 50 are against teams currently projected in the field. If the committee gives the Orange a bit of a pass on the Boeheim suspension, they have a case to be selected. We'll find out today.

Here now is your next-to-last update before my final bracket later today.

Last Four Byes: Connecticut, Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Pittsburgh
Last Four In: Syracuse, Temple, Saint Mary's, Monmouth
First Four Out: San Diego State, Wichita State, Vanderbilt, Valparaiso
Next Four Out: South Carolina, Florida, Tulsa, Georgia

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big East - 5
Atlantic 10 - 4
American Athletic - 3
MAAC - 2
SEC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 22

Five championship games, including a potential bid thief on the loose, so Monmouth isn't out of the woods yet. They'll be rooting hard for Connecticut. Enjoy your Sunday and I'll talk to you later today for my final bracket.

Atlantic 10 Championship (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 2 VCU vs. No. 4 Saint Joseph's, 1:00, CBS

SEC Championship Game (in Nashville, TN)

No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 2 Kentucky, 1:00, ESPN

Sun Belt Championship (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 1 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. No. 2 Louisiana-Monroe, 1:00, ESPN2

American Athletic Championship (in Orlando, FL)

No. 5 Connecticut vs. No. 6 Memphis,, 3:15, ESPN

Big Ten Championship (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Purdue, 3:30, CBS

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Championship Week Saturday: Connecticut, Michigan Score Big, SEC Bubble Teams Stumble

It was a wild day for bubble teams across the country. Some scored huge victories, others flopped big time and likely lost any hope of earning a bid.

It started in Indianapolis when Kameron Chatman drilled a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to lift Michigan over Indiana and into the Big Ten semifinals against Purdue. That was Michigan's fourth top-50 win, third against the top 25. Two of those four wins came on neutral courts, the other being against Texas. The downside is that those four wins are also the only four top-100 wins for Michigan. But the value of this win, having no bad and with results from bubble teams elsewhere, might be enough to vault Michigan in. They sit among the last four byes.

It took four overtimes, but Connecticut prevailed over Cincinnati in the American quarters, moving the Huskies into the RPI top 50 and scoring their fourth top-50 win and seventh against the top 100. Just like Michigan, UConn has no bad losses and also won at Texas. And just like Michigan, Connecticut is currently among the last four byes.

On the flipside, it was not a good day for some bubble teams, particularly in the SEC. Florida and Alabama both lost, likely ending their hopes. The free-fall for both teams will end with them landing in the NIT.

Then we get to South Carolina. The Gamecocks lost for a third time to Georgia (who is quietly moving toward the bubble, themselves). If you take a look at South Carolina's profile now, after the Georgia loss, it is not good. The Gamecocks are left with just one top-50 win (at Texas A&M). They lost Tulsa as a top-50 win after Tulsa got blasted by Memphis (ending the hopes for Tulsa, by the way). And their non-conference schedule rank is atrocious, currently ranked 270th and the committee usually always frowns upon that. And they dipped below 60 on the RPI table, which could also be troubling.

St. Bonaventure also lost a tough one against Davidson. The Bonnies do still have a high RPI (30), won at Dayton and swept Saint Joseph's. Right now, they sit among the last four in.

Friday was also a good day if you're a fan of a mid-major team, namely Saint Mary's, Monmouth and Wichita State. Indeed, Friday's results helped moved the Shockers back into the field as other teams start to play their way out after leaving a bad taste in their last showing. The Gaels are among the last four byes while the Hawks and Shockers join St. Bonaventure and VCU among the last four in. And even Valparaiso is still alive. A strong non-conference and a win at Oregon State gives the Crusaders a pulse. Probably won't be enough, but they're at least in the discussion.

Of course, bubble teams still aren't out of the woods yet. That's because we're guaranteed to have a potential bid thief playing on Sunday in the AAC championship. Memphis blasted Tulsa right out of the tournament and Tulane upset No. 2 seed Houston to set up their semifinal date. That means one of those two teams will play on Sunday for the automatic bid and to steal a bid from a potential bubble team. As if things weren't wild enough.

At the top of the bracket, Kansas' win over Baylor to move into the Big 12 championship has pretty much wrapped up the overall No. 1 seed for the Jayhawks, even if they lost to West Virginia. Kansas now has a whopping eight wins against the RPI top 25, 14 against the top 50 and 19 against the top 100.

Villanova probably will get a top seed as well. That leaves two spots and probably four, maybe just three, teams in play. Xavier's loss to Seton Hall ended their hopes for a No. 1 seed and Buddy Hield's game-winner didn't count, giving Oklahoma seven losses. That probably drops Oklahoma to a No. 2 seed. Virginia, Michigan State and North Carolina are all in the running and even Oregon still has a chance, though their loss against UNLV might hold them back.

Virginia now has eight top-25 wins and nine against the top-50. Those wins include Villanova, West Virginia and California out of conference. Michigan State is 6-4 against the top 50, but hold that win over Kansas back in the Champions' Classic in November that could be a deciding factor. And then you have North Carolina who won the ACC regular season title and just throttled Notre Dame in the semifinal. But the Heels still have a losing record against the top 50 at 4-5. But if they defeat Virginia and get to 5-5, they would have the double-dip of the regular season and tournament titles in the ACC, which could vault them to the top line, possibly joining Virginia.

Right now, we're going with Kansas, Villanova, Virginia and Michigan State on the top line with North Carolina and Oregon behind. Oklahoma and Utah round out the twos.

Let's check out the bracket and then check out all the games today.

Last Four Byes: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Saint Mary's
Last Four In: St. Bonaventure, Monmouth, VCU, Wichita State
First Four Out: Vanderbilt, Florida, South Carolina, Valparaiso
Next Four Out: Tulsa, Syracuse, Georgia, Alabama

Conference Rundown

Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
ACC - 6
Big East - 5
Atlantic 10 - 4
American Athletic - 3
MAAC - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
SEC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 21

Buckle up, because today is a very busy day. 14 tournament bids are at stake today while the remaining five conferences will set up their championship games. Enjoy the games and we'll see you tomorrow for the next-to-last post here, setting up Selection Sunday with my final bracket coming later in the day Sunday.

America East Championship

No. 3 Vermont at No. 1 Stony Brook, 11:00, ESPN2

MEAC Championship (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 1 Hampton vs. No. 3 South Carolina State, 1:00, ESPN2

Conference USA Championship (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 2 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 5 Old Dominion, 2:30, FS1

Big East Championship (in New York, NY)

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Seton Hall, 5:30, FOX

Big 12 Championship (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 West Virginia, 6:00, ESPN

Mountain West Championship (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 2 Fresno State, 6:00, CBS

SWAC Championship (in Houston, TX)

No. 3 Jackson State vs. No. 4 Southern, 6:30, ESPN2

MAC Championship (in Cleveland, OH)

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 3 Buffalo, 7:30, ESPN2

Big Sky Championship (in Reno, NV)

No. 1 Weber State vs. No. 2 Montana, 8:45, ESPNU

ACC Championship (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Virginia, 9:00, ESPN

Southland Championship (in Katy, TX)

No. 1 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 2 Texas A&M-CC, 9:30, ESPN2

Pac-12 Championship (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 Utah, 10:00, FS1

WAC Championship (in Las Vegas, NV)

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

Big West Championship (in Anaheim, CA)

No. 1 Hawaii vs. No. 3 Long Beach State, 11:30, ESPN2

Atlantic 10 Semifinals (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 1 Dayton vs. No. 4 Saint Joseph's, CBS Sports
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 6 Davidson, 4:00, CBS Sports

American Athletic Semifinals (in Orlando, FL)

No. 1 Temple vs. No. 5 Connecticut, 3:00, ESPN2
No. 6 Memphis vs. No. 10 Tulane, 5:00, ESPN2

Big Ten Semifinals (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 8 Michigan, 1:00, CBS
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Maryland, 3:30, CBS

SEC Semifinals (in Nashville, TN)

No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 4 LSU, 1:00, ESPN
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Georgia, 3:25, ESPN

Sun Belt Semifinals (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 1 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. No. 4 Louisiana-Lafayette, 2:00
No. 2 Louisiana-Monroe vs. No. 3 Texas-Arlington, 4:30

Friday, March 11, 2016

Championship Week Friday, Vanderbilt Starts to Sweat

Just when it looked like Vanderbilt was riding momentum and heading toward an NCAA appearance, they go ahead and suffer a bad loss at the worst possible time. The Dores lost to Tennessee in Thursday's SEC second round, marking their third sub-100 RPI loss, after also losing at Arkansas and Mississippi State. Vandy also sits at just 2-7 against the top 50, though they can get back up to four wins if Florida climbs into the top 50. Problem there is that the Gators are also fighting for a bid themselves and there are only so many bids to hand out.

Vanderbilt sits this morning among the last four in, but can easily be passed this weekend. Their case is helped by having home wins over the top two seeds in the SEC, Texas A&M and Kentucky. along with the sweep of the Gators, which could come into play when the committee fills out the last few spots.

The aforementioned Florida and Alabama both won on Thursday to keep their bubble hopes alive going into today's quarterfinals against Texas A&M and Kentucky, respectively. Also staying alive Thursday was Michigan, who survived a scare from Northwestern in overtime. The Wolverines have to defeat Indiana or their hopes are likely dashed.

Also of note in the Big Ten, Wisconsin lost to Nebraska, giving them five sub-100 losses along with the season-opening loss to Western Illinois. I think the Badgers end up in an 8/9 game in the first round, despite the losses, because of all the good wins they have and the roll they went on in the second half of the season.

Let's take a look at the bracket, which certainly underwent some changes overnight.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina, Saint Mary's
Last Four In: Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, Tulsa
First Four Out: VCU, Wichita State, Florida, Michigan
Next Four Out: Syracuse, Alabama, Valparaiso, George Washington

A lot of bubble action today, especially in the Atlantic 10, American Athletic and SEC.

The AAC quarterfinal between Cincinnati and Connecticut is quite intriguing. The Huskies have already lost twice to the Bearcats and a third loss, sitting right on the cut line, could spell trouble for Connecticut. We also have the top three seeds, Temple, Houston and Tulsa, in action, all on the bubble, though Houston may need the auto-bid to get in. A second loss to Memphis for Tulsa could end their tournament hopes.

In the A-10, it's Bubble City. VCU, St. Bonaventure and George Washington all looking for wins, particularly GW, who meets Saint Joseph's. They've got good wins, including home wins against Virginia and Seton Hall. But they're trying to overcome a low RPI for a mid-major, plus three bad losses, including at DePaul and at Saint Louis.

And we talked earlier about the SEC, namely Florida and Alabama. Florida could move into the field if the defeat A&M, while Alabama probably needs to boost their RPI a bit, so it may take a run to the SEC final for the Tide.

Here's your schedule for today, including a ton of semifinal games, leading up to the big day tomorrow with 14 championship games.

Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 1 Dayton vs. No. 9 Richmond, 12:00, NBC Sports
No. 4 Saint Joseph's vs. No. 5 George Washington, 2:30, NBC Sports
No. 2 VCU vs. No. 10 Massachusetts, 6:30, NBC Sports
No. 3 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 6 Davidson, 9:00, NBC Sports

ACC Semifinals (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Notre Dame, 7:00, ESPN
No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 3 Miami (FL), 9:00, ESPN

American Athletic Quarterfinals (in Orlando, FL)

No. 1 Temple vs. No. 9 South Florida, 12:00, ESPN2
No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 5 Connecicut, 2:00, ESPN2
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 10 Tulane, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 3 Tulsa vs. No. 6 Memphis, 9:00, ESPNU

Big 12 Semifinals (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Baylor, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 3 Oklahoma, 9:00, ESPN2

Big East Semifinals (in New York, NY)

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 4 Providence, 6:30, FS1
No. 2 Xavier vs. No. 3 Seton Hall, 9:00, FS1

Big Sky Semifinals (in Reno, NV)

No. 1 Weber State vs. No. 5 North Dakota, 8:35
No. 2 Montana vs. No. 3 Idaho, 11:05

Big Ten Quarterfinals (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Michigan, 12:00, ESPN
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 12 Illinois, 2:25, ESPN
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Ohio State, 6:30, BTN
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 11 Nebraska, 8:55, BTN

Big West Semifinals (in Anaheim, CA)

No. 1 Hawaii vs. No. 4 UCSB, 9:30, ESPN3
No. 2 UC Irvine vs. No. 3 Long Beach State, 12:00, ESPNU

Conference USA Semifinals (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 5 Old Dominion vs. No. 8 Western Kentucky, 4:00, CBS Sports
No. 2 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 3 Marshall, 6:30, CBS Sports

MAC Semifinals (in Cleveland, OH)

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 12 Bowling Green, 6:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 3 Buffalo, 9:00, ESPN3

MEAC Semifinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 1 Hampton vs. No. 5 Savannah State, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 3 South Carolina State, 8:30, ESPN3

Mountain West Semifinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 5 Nevada, 9:00
No. 2 Fresno State vs. No. 6 Colorado State, 11:30

Pac-12 Semifinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 4 Arizona, 9:00, Pac-12
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 3 California, 11:30, FS1

SEC Quarterfinals (in Nashville, TN)

No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 8 Florida, 1:00, SEC Network
No. 4 LSU vs. No. 12 Tennessee, 3:25, SEC Network
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 10 Alabama, 7:00, SEC Network
No. 3 South Carolina vs. No. 6 Georgia, 9:25, SEC Network

Southland Semifinals (in Katy, TX)

No. 1 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 Houston Baptist, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 2 Texas A&M-CC vs. No. 3 Sam Houston State, 8:30, ESPN3

SWAC Semifinals (in Houston, TX)

No. 3 Jackson State vs. No. 7 Mississippi Valley State, 3:30
No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 4 Southern, 9:30

Sun Belt Quarterfinals (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 4 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 8 South Alabama, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 7 Texas State, 8:30, ESPN3

WAC Semifinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 UMKC, 9:00
No. 2 Cal State Bakersfield vs. No. 3 Seattle, 11:30

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ivy League Announces 4-Team Conference Tournaments Beginning 2017

The last conference to award their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to their regular season champion is no more.

Today, the Ivy League announced that starting next season, they will hold four-team tournaments at the Palestra in Philadelphia for men's and women's basketball. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will compete in the tournament and the winner will claim the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The tournament will be held over two days. The semifinals will take place on the Saturday before Selection Sunday, with the championship held the next day, on Selection Sunday. (I know, just what bracketologists want, another championship game the day final brackets are due).

The conference schedule will remain at 14 games (double-round robin), but each team will now play one less regular season game outside of conference play.

Despite the conference tournament, the Ivy will still recognize the regular season champions as the Ivy League champion.

In a statement, Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said "The structure of our basketball tournaments is consistent with our model of college athletics and the format allows us to preserve the significance of the regular season." Except it kind of doesn't. Just ask all the other small school leagues how much the regular season means. So far, 12 teams have qualified for the NCAA Tournament as conference tournament winners. Only one of those 12 (Chattanooga) won the regular season title. Heck, Austin Peay won the Ohio Valley tournament as the No. 8 seed and Holy Cross just won the Patriot League tournament as the No. 9 seed.

Nonetheless, the Ivy will move ahead with these conference tournaments for at least the next three seasons, though only the 2017 tournament site is known right now.

Championship Week Thursday, Holy Cross Completes Amazing Run, Syracuse In Trouble

And we thought Austin Peay's run in the Ohio Valley was crazy.

In one of the craziest runs we've seen in a conference tournament, Holy Cross, who entered the Patriot League tournament at 10-19 overall (5-13 in conference) and the No. 9 seed in the field, won four straight road games, which included wins over the top two seeds, Bucknell and Lehigh.

Obviously, the Crusaders will be shipped to Dayton for the First Four, possibly against Fairleigh Dickinson. Those two teams have a combined 19 sub-200 RPI losses. But as we've seen in the past, those First Four games featuring the bottom four automatic qualifiers can turn into some of the more exciting games of the tournament. A potential FDU-Holy Cross matchup certainly can do that, as these teams are playing with house money.

With 19 losses, Holy Cross is dancing. With 13 losses, Syracuse might not.

The Orange lost to Pittsburgh for a third time on Wednesday in the second round of the ACC Tournament. Syracuse is now just inside the top 70 in the RPI, which is usually trouble for a team. And while the committee has said they will take Jim Boeheim's suspension into account, it's hard to see the Orange getting too much benefit of the doubt here because they've stumbled down the stretch with Boeheim on the sidelines. Granted, their three worst losses (at Georgetown, at St. John's, vs. Clemson) all came without Boeheim.

But as is stands, the Orange are now 4-9 against the top 50. Even if you remove the games Syracuse didn't have Boeheim, they're still 4-7 (removing the losses at Miami and Pittsburgh).

Right now, Syracuse is among the first four out and obviously don't have any more chances to improve their profile. And going one-and-done in D.C. certainly doesn't leave a good taste for the committee. As a result, Tulsa moved back into the field.

Also of note, Texas Tech was upset by TCU in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament. Tubby Smith's team is still very much in the tournament, but they're now likely to wear their road uniforms in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Let's see how the bracket now shapes up heading into Thursday's action.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Carolina, St. Bonaventure
Last Four In: Saint Mary's, Connecticut, Monmouth, Tulsa
First Four Out: VCU, Wichita State, Florida, Syracuse
Next Four Out: Michigan, Alabama, Valparaiso, Georgia Tech

Conference Rundown

Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 7
ACC - 6
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 5
American Athletic - 4
SEC - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
MAAC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 22

No more bids will be handed out until Saturday, when 14 will be at stake. But there's no shortage of action today, including the last of the conferences getting their tournaments underway in the AAC, Big West, Sun Belt and WAC.

Atlantic 10 Second Round (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 8 Fordham vs. No. 9 Richmond, 12:00, NBC Sports
No. 5 George Washington vs. No. 13 Saint Louis, 2:30, NBC Sports
No. 7 Rhode Island vs. No. 10 Massachusetts, 6:30, NBC Sports
No. 6 Davidson vs. No. 14 La Salle, 9:00, NBC Sports

ACC Quarterfinals (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh, 12:00, ESPN
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Duke, 2:00, ESPN
No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech, 7:00, ESPN
No. 3 Miami (FL) vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech, 9:00, ESPN

American Athletic First Round (in Orlando, FL)

No. 8 East Carolina vs. No. 9 South Florida, 3:30, ESPNU
No. 7 Central Florida vs. No. 10 Tulane, 6:00, ESPNews

Big 12 Quarterfinals (in Kansas City, MO)

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Baylor, 12:30, ESPN2
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Kansas State, 2:30, ESPN2
No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 10 TCU, 7:00, ESPNU
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Iowa State, 9:00, ESPNU

Big East Quarterfinals (in New York, NY)

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 Georgetown, 12:00, FS1
No. 4 Providence vs. No. 5 Butler, 2:30, FS1
No. 2 Xavier vs. No. 7 Marquette, 7:00, FS1
No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Creighton, FS1

Big Sky Quarterfinals (in Reno, NV)

No. 1 Weber State vs. No. 8 Portland State, 3:05
No. 4 Idaho State vs. No. 5 North Dakota, 5:35
No. 2 Montana vs. No. 10 Sacramento State. 8:35
No. 3 Idaho vs. No. 6 Eastern Washington, 11:05

Big Ten Second Round (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Northwestern, 12:00, BTN
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Illinois, 2:25, BTN
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Penn State, 6:30, ESPN2
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Nebraska, 8:55, ESPN2

Big West Quarterfinals (in Anaheim, CA)

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

Conference USA Quarterfinals (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 1 UAB vs. No. 8 Western Kentucky, 1:00
No. 4 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 5 Old Dominion, 3:30
No. 2 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 7 Charlotte, 7:00
No. 3 Marshall vs. No. 6 UTEP, 9:30

MAC Quarterfinals (in Cleveland, OH)

No. 1 Akron vs. No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 12:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Central Michigan vs. No. 12 Bowling Green, 2:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Ohio vs. No. 7 Northern Illinois, 6:30, ESPN3
No. 3 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Miami (OH), 9:00, ESPN3

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 3 South Carolina State vs. No. 11 Coppin State, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Bethune-Cookman vs. No. 5 Savannah State, 8:30, ESPN3

Mountain West Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Utah State, 3:00, CBS Sports
No. 4 New Mexico vs. No. 5 Nevada, 5:30, CBS Sports
No. 2 Fresno State vs. No. 7 UNLV, 9:00, CBS Sports
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 6 Colorado State, 11:30, CBS Sports

Pac-12 Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Washington, 3:00, Pac-12
No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 5 Colorado, 5:30, Pac-12
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 7 USC, 9:00, Pac-12
No. 3 California vs. No. 6 Oregon State, 11:30, FS1

SEC Second Round (in Nashville, TN)

No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas, 1:00, SEC Network
No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Tennessee, 3:25, SEC Network
No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama, 7:00, SEC Network
No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Mississippi State, 9:25, SEC Network

Southland Quarterfinals (in Katy, TX)

No. 4 Houston Baptist vs. No. 5 Southeastern Louisiana, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Sam Houston State vs. No. 7 Nicholls State, 8:30, ESPN3

SWAC Quarterfinals (in Houston, TX)

No. 3 Jackson State vs. No. 6 Prairie View A&M, 3:30
No. 4 Southern vs. No. 5 Alabama State, 9:30

Sun Belt First Round (in New Orleans, LA)

No. 5 Georgia Southern vs. No. 8 South Alabama, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 Georgia State vs. No. 7 Texas State, 8:30, ESPN3

WAC Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

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

A lot of action to take in. Enjoy the games and enjoy your Thursday. We'll meet back here tomorrow as things really start to take shape with just a few days left before Selection Sunday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Championship Week Wednesday, Gonzaga Potentially Steals a Bid

It felt pretty weird talking about Gonzaga on the bubble. We're so used to the Bulldogs playing very well every season and being assured of a tournament berth. But heading into the West Coast Conference tournament, Mark Few's team was in a position where they almost had to win the automatic bid to reach their 18th consecutive tournament. Sure enough, the Zags were up to the task, avenging the two losses to Saint Mary's during the regular season to defeat the Gaels and punch their ticket to the dance. No more bubble talk for Gonzaga. They're in.

All eyes will now turn to Saint Mary's, as they join an at-large pool which includes Monmouth, Wichita State and Valparaiso, among mid-majors. However, despite the loss, the Gael's profile actually improved a bit. Gonzaga's win moved their RPI rank from 60 to 47, which now gives Saint Mary's two top-50 wins. The Gaels also hold a top-40 RPI and six top-100 wins, which are more than Monmouth and Wichita State. I think the Gaels have played well enough to merit an at-large. The two wins over Gonzaga are a big help as well. As of now, they are slotted for Dayton in the First Four as the fourth-to-last team in the field. Tulsa moved out of the field thanks to Gonzaga and Syracuse now sits as the last team in heading into a big bubble game against Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament. This has almost become a must-win situation for the Orange, especially with teams like Tulsa and VCU still able to play.

Three other tickets were punched Tuesday. Green Bay is dancing for the first time since 1996 after defeating Wright State to win the Horizon League tournament, South Dakota State exacted revenge on North Dakota State in the Summit League final for their 3rd NCAA trip in five seasons and first since 2013 and Fairleigh Dickinson won at Wagner to book their first trip to the dance since 2005 and a likely spot in Dayton for the First Four, possibly against Austin Peay.

Let's see how the bracket now looks with the four new entrants to the field.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Carolina, St. Bonaventure
Last Four In: Saint Mary's, Connecticut, Monmouth, Syracuse
First Four Out: Tulsa, VCU, Wichita State, Florida
Next Four Out: Michigan, Alabama, Valparaiso, Stanford

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 5
SEC - 4
American Athletic - 3
Atlantic 10 - 3
MAAC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 22

Tonight, just one bid is up for grabs, the last one before 14 are at stake on Saturday. Plus, more conference kick off their tournaments, including all of the Power 5 conferences (ACC enters their second round). Here's your schedule for today. And as always, enjoy the action.

And be sure to check out the Bracket Matrix to see how I view the teams compared to dozens of bracketologists, including the famous ones like Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm, Brad Evans and many, many more.

Patriot League Championship

No. 9 Holy Cross at No. 2 Lehigh, 7:30, CBS Sports Network

ACC Second Round (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 8 Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Syracuse, 12:00, ESPN
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 North Carolina State, 2:00, ESPN
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Florida State, 9:00, ESPN2

Conference USA Second Round (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 8 Western Kentucky vs. No. 9 North Texas, 1:00
No. 5 Old Dominion vs. No. 12 Florida Atlantic, 3:30
No. 7 Charlotte vs. No. 10 Rice, 7:00
No. 6 UTEP vs. No. 11 Florida International, 9:30

Mountain West First Round (in Las Vegas, NV)

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

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

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

SWAC Quarterfinals (in Houston, TX)

No. 2 Alcorn State vs. No. 7 Mississippi Valley State, 3:30
No. 1 Texas Southern vs. No. 8 Alabama A&M, 9:30

Big Ten First Round (in Indianapolis, IN)

No. 12 Illinois vs. No. 13 Minnesota, 4:30, ESPN2
No. 11 Nebraska vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 7:00, BTN

Southland First Round (in Katy, TX)

No. 5 Southeastern Louisiana vs. No. 8 New Orleans, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 6 McNeese State vs. No. 7 Nicholls State, 8:30, ESPN3

MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 1 Hampton vs. No. 9 Morgan State, 6:00
No. 2 Norfolk State vs. No. 7 North Carolina Central, 8:30

Atlantic 10 First Round (in Brooklyn, NY)

No. 12 George Mason vs. No. 13 Saint Louis, 6:30
No. 11 Duquesne vs. No. 14 La Salle, 9:00

Big 12 First Round (in Kansas City, MO)

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

Big East First Round (in New York, NY)

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

SEC First Round (in Nashville, TN)

No. 12 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Auburn, 8:00, SEC Network

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Championship Week Tuesday, Making a Case for Monmouth

Championship Week started off with a bang. It was a very busy Monday, to say the least. Upsets galore. Let's start right off by taking a look at the bracket, which changed quite a bit at the bottom, then get into some of Monday's action.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Carolina, St. Bonaventure
Last Four In: Connecticut, Monmouth, Syracuse, Tulsa
First Four Out: VCU, Wichita State, Gonzaga, Florida
Next Four Out: Michigan, Alabama, Valparaiso, Stanford

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 5
American Athletic - 4
SEC - 7
Atlantic 10 - 3
MAAC - 2
One-bid Leagues - 23

It was not the best day to be a No. 1 seed in a conference tournament, as a whopping four of them lost on Monday, two of which in championship games. Monmouth fell to Iona in the MAAC Championship, while Hofstra lost in overtime to UNC Wilmington. The other top seeds losing were Valparaiso against Green Bay in the Horizon semifinals and IPFW to North Dakota State in the Summit semifinals.

It wasn't all bad for the top seeds, however, as Chattanooga became the first top seed to win their conference tournament, as they claimed the automatic bid in the Southern Conference, defeating East Tennessee State. Also, Stony Brook handled Hartford to return to the America East championship game, where once again, they will play at home for an opportunity to dance for the first time in school history. They'll host Vermont on Saturday. And West Coast top seed Saint Mary's handle Pepperdine, the team that swept the Gaels in the regular season.

I think it's safe to say that Hofstra and IPFW are headed for the NIT. Valparaiso will be up for discussion, but ultimately, I think they fall short, particularly because of some of the teams in the at-large discussion.

Monmouth will be the big question here, among these teams. They are such an interesting case for the committee. They have quality wins, over USC and Notre Dame, both tournament teams, both on neutral courts. They also won at UCLA and at Georgetown, two traditionally good teams. Sure, both of them stumbled, but still quality wins for a team like Monmouth. The bad, of course, is the trio of sub-200 losses to Army, Canisius and Manhattan, all on the road.

But we know the committee has rewarded teams in the past for playing a lot of road games. Look at Iona in 2012. The Gaels played a hefty amount of road games that season, playing the entire month of December away from home. They won the MAAC regular season title by two games, but lost to Fairfield in the conference semifinals. However, the committee still handed Iona an at-large spot, the last spot in the field.

That brings us back to Monmouth. The Hawks lead the NCAA with 17 wins away from, and they went 5-2 in true road games during the non-conference schedule, including the aforementioned wins over UCLA and Georgetown.

The at-large pool will have some intriguing teams battling for spots, including Monmouth, Wichita State, Valparaiso and at least one of Saint Mary's or Gonzaga. I think Monmouth is still in. Bad losses aside, I think the committee should be encouraged by all the road games the Hawks played and the good wins they picked up. The Notre Dame and USC wins are better than some of the other bubble teams. Plus, quite frankly, some of the teams we have outside the field don't look that good and don't look like they should be in the field, which helps Monmouth.

There are still five days until Selection Sunday and plenty of time for bid thieves to strike. But as of now, I think the Hawks get in and are slotted for the First Four. They stand as the third-to-last team in, ahead of Syracuse and Tulsa. VCU is now out of the field, with Wichita State, Gonzaga and Florida the next teams out.

Four more bids will be handed out tonight, plus plenty more tournament action, including the first Power 5 tournament getting underway in the ACC. Here's the schedule for tonight.

Northeast Championship

No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson at No. 1 Wagner, 7:00, ESPN2

Horizon League Championship (in Detroit)

No. 3 Wright State vs. No. 4 Green Bay, 7:00, ESPN

West Coast Championship (in Las Vegas, NV)

No. 1 Saint Mary's vs. No. 2 Gonzaga, 9:00, ESPN

Summit League Championship

No. 2 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 North Dakota State 9:00, ESPN2

ACC First Round (in Washington, D.C.)

No. 12 North Carolina State vs. No. 13 Wake Forest, 12:00, ESPN2
No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 14 Boston College, 2:00, ESPN2

Big Sky First Round (in Reno, NV)

No. 8 Portland State vs. No. 9 Northern Colorado, 3:05
No. 5 North Dakota vs. No. 12 Southern Utah, 5:35
No. 7 Montana State vs. No. 10 Sacramento State, 8:35
No. 6 Eastern Washington vs. No. 11 Northern Arizona, 11:05

SWAC First Round (in Houston, TX)

No. 7 Mississippi Valley State vs. No. 10 Grambling, 3:30
No. 8 Alabama A&M vs. No. 9 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 9:30

MEAC First Round (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 8 Maryland-Eastern Shore vs. No. 9 Morgan State, 4:00
No. 7 North Carolina Central vs. No. 10 Howard, 6:00

Conference USA First Round (in Birmingham, AL)

No. 12 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 13 Texas-San Antonio, 5:00

Monday, March 7, 2016

Championship Week Begins, Wichita State Begins to Sweat

What a wild final regular season weekend it was, with bubble teams losing and creating more of a mess than we had at the start of the Saturday. We also saw five tournament tickets officially punched, including a potential bid thief.

Let's take a look at the bracket, first, then we'll get into some of the stuff from the weekend.

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, South Carolina, St. Bonaventure
Last Four In: Connecticut, Syracuse, Tulsa, VCU
First Four Out: Wichita State, Gonzaga, Florida, Michigan
Next Four Out: Alabama, Stanford, Florida State, Georgia Tech

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big Ten - 6
Big East - 5
American Athletic - 4
Atlantic 10 - 4
SEC - 4
One-bid Leagues - 24

Wichita State sat at the top of the Missouri Valley pretty much the entire season. But they struggled in their quarterfinal game against Loyola-Chicago before being bounced in the semifinals by eventually tournament champion Northern Iowa in overtime. The Panthers will make their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance as Missouri Valley champion, while the Shockers have a long wait until Selection Sunday to see if they will join the Panthers in the Big Dance.

It's a very tough call right now, especially with so many power-conference bubble teams still with chances. The Shockers went just 1-3 against the RPI top 50, that lone win coming at home against Utah. They are also just 4-7 against the top 100, with two of those wins coming against an Evansville team that won't be in the tournament and is 94th in RPI. However, the road win at Northern Iowa looks a bit better with the Panthers claiming the Valley's aut-bid.

You could argue that not having Fred VanVleet cost them against USC, Alabama and Iowa. VanVleet played, but was hampered by injuries in the loss at Tulsa. However, their worst losses, including at Illinois State and the two losses to UNI, came with VanVleet in the lineup. Their non-conference schedule ranks 11th in the country, but they were just 6-5 against it. Again, you could argue the VanVleet issue, but the numbers are what they are.

Wichita will be hotly debated all week, no question. But as it stands now, I have them as the first team out of the field. The 4-7 mark against the top 100 could be a dagger. I think if the committee does select Wichita, they'll be sent to Dayton for the First Four.

Joining Northern Iowa as official entrants to the dance so far are Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Yale (Ivy), UNC Asheville (Big South) and Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun).

Austin Peay's run in the Ohio Valley tournament was nothing short of magical. They entered as the No. 8 seed, the lowest in the field. They had to win four games in four days, including over top-seeded Belmont, who had a bye directly to the semifinals. A great run for the Governors. However, their record stands at 16-17 in the eyes of the committee (non-Division 1 games do not count on a team's tournament profile). So that pretty much ensures that AP will be in the Dayton for the First Four, possibly as the No. 68 team on the seed list.

Florida Gulf Coast helped the Atlantic Sun avoid a bit of embarrassment and confusion. They went up against tournament-ineligible Stetson for the championship. But if Stetson had won, North Florida would have gotten the automatic bid without even playing in the championship. Dunk City, however, blocked a late shot in overtime to ensure that wouldn't happen, and the Eagles are in the field for the only the second time in school history and first since their magical run to the Sweet 16 in 2013.

And congratulations to the Yale Bulldogs, champions of the Ivy League and dancing for the first time since 1962.

Even in non-tournament games, we had some crazy stuff happen. Missed free throws at the end of regulation doomed VCU in their overtime loss at Dayton on Saturday. Despite the loss, the Rams still sit as the last team in the field. However, a win would have made their position a lot more stable. Still, a share of the A-10 title and six top-100 wins has them just inside for now.

North Carolina won at Duke, while Miami got blasted at Virginia Tech, giving the Heels the outright ACC championship and keeps them alive for a No. 1 seed, though they may have to win the ACC Tournament to get it.

Cincinnati really helped themselves by knocking off SMU at home Sunday and moving into the top 40 of the RPI. Their win over VCU certainly helps their case to snag an at-large bid and if they can defeat Connecticut for a third time in the AAC Tournament, the Bearcats are likely dancing.

Indeed, Cincinnati and Connecticut will meet in the AAC quarterfinals. Both are bubble teams, so the winner is likely in, though I don't think the loser is necessarily out. They may have to play in Dayton, however. Same goes for the ACC quarterfinal between Syracuse and Pittsburgh. I'm also intrigued by the Butler-Providence Big East quarterfinal. The loser probably is wearing their road uniforms in the first round.

With Championship Week underway, the Tournament picture will change very quickly in these final six days before Selection Sunday. Three more bids are up for grabs tonight, as well as a host of other tournament action. Here's what's going down tonight.

Colonial Championship (in Baltimore, MD)

No. 1 Hofstra vs. No. 2 UNC Wilmington, 7:00, NBC Sports

These teams tied for the Colonial regular season title at 14-4. The Pride are going for their first tournament berth since 2001, while the Seahawks have not danced since 2006.

MAAC Championship (in Albany, NY)

No. 1 Monmouth vs. No. 2 Iona, 7:00, ESPN

The rubber match between these two, as both won on the opponent's home court during the season. Iona could potentially steal a bid from a bubble team if they win. Monmouth has not been in the dance since 2006 while Iona's last trip was 2013.

Southern Championship (in Asheville, NC)

No. 1 Chattanooga vs. No. 2 East Tennessee State, 9:00, ESPN2

A pair of first-year head coaches in Matt McCall and Steve Forbes lead their teams to this championship game. The Mocs' last tournament was 2009, while ETSU last played in the NCAAs in 2010.

MEAC First Round (in Norfolk, VA)

No. 5 Savannah State vs. No. 12 Delaware State, 5:30
No. 6 North Carolina A&T vs. No. 11 Coppin State, 8:00

MAC First Round

No. 12 Bowling Green at No. 5 Kent State, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 11 Miami (OH) at No. 6 Ball State, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 9 Toledo at No. 8 Eastern Michigan, 7:30, ESPN3
No. 10 Western Michigan at No. 7 Northern Illinois, 8:00, ESPN3

America East Semifinals

No. 7 Hartford at No. 1 Stony Brook, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 4 New Hampshire at No. 3 Vermont, 7:30, ESPN3

Horizon League Semifinals (in Detroit, MI)

No. 1 Valparaiso vs. No. 4 Green Bay, 7:00
No. 2 Oakland vs. No. 3 Wright State, 9:30

Summit League Semifinals (in Sioux Falls, SD)

No. 1 IPFW vs. No. 5 North Dakota State, 7:00
No. 2 South Dakota State vs. No. 6 Denver, 9:30

West Coast Semifinals (in Las Vegas, NV)

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

A lot of action tonight and it will only pick up as the week progresses. So get ready, enjoy the action tonight and we'll see you tomorrow.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Final Regular Season Bracket

We've made it to the final weekend of the regular season, as teams make last-ditch efforts to boost their tournament hopes. A lot of big games this weekend, including North Carolina at Duke, as well as the first tournament bids being handed out this weekend, the first one today in the Ohio Valley when No. 2 Tennessee-Martin battle the Cinderella story in the OVC, eighth-seeded Austin Peay, who upset top-seeded Belmont in Friday's semifinal, sending the Bruins to the NIT.

Two other top seeds were knocked off this week. Atlantic Sun No. 1 North Florida got blasted by Florida Gulf Coast in the semifinals, while Bucknell lost in double-overtime against No. 9 Holy Cross in the Patriot League quarterfinals. The Bison will play in the NIT. However, the Ospreys still have NCAA Tournament hopes. The reason is because Florida Gulf Coast is playing tournament-ineligible Stetson in Sunday's championship game, and per the A-Sun's decision, if Stetson wins the A-Sun tournament, then the regular season champion (North Florida), will claim the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. So UNF will be rooting hard for Stetson to knock off Dunk City. By the way, FGCU beat Stetson by 29 at home on January 9.

I decided to put Florida Gulf Coast in the field, since they are still playing and the higher seed in the final. Should Stetson win, I will revert back to North Florida. Also, we now have Lehigh (Patriot) and Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley) in the field, both playing in Dayton in the First Four.

This weekend also features plenty more conference tournament action, including championships in the Missouri Valley and Big South on Sunday.

One other note from the field: Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle suffered a foot injury Tuesday and the Beavers struggled with USC Wednesday. Tinkle has already been ruled out for Saturday's finale at UCLA. If Tinkle's injury lingers and OSU doesn't play that well, their tournament hopes are in serious question. For now, the Beavers are just out, but if they show they can perform well without Tinkle, they'll move back in. Today's last four in are Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Tulsa and Cincinnati.

Here's a look at the final bracket of the regular season before things kick into high gear for Championship Week.

Last Four Byes: Vanderbilt, Connecticut, Syracuse, Butler
Last Four In: Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Tulsa, Cincinnati
First Four Out: Oregon State, Gonzaga, Alabama, Florida
Next Four Out: Stanford, George Washington, Ohio State, Houston

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 6
Big East - 5
American Athletic - 4
Atlantic 10 - 4
SEC - 4
One-bid Leagues - 24

Enjoy what should be a great final weekend and we'll be back Monday to recap the weekend and setup for Championship Week. Take care, everyone.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day Bracket, Conference Tournaments Begin Tuesday

Happy February 29th, everyone, and happy birthday to those who actually get to celebrate their birthday on the actual date today, instead of either February 28th or March 1.

Speaking of which, March 1 is tomorrow, which means March Madness is almost here. Just 13 days until the official bracket is released. To start getting you ready, conference tournament action begins tomorrow in the Atlantic Sun and the Patriot League.

Depending on how things outside of here shake out, this will be my last week of two updates. Next week, per tradition (again, depending on other events), I will post every day as tournament action rolls along, updating the bracket as more champions are crowned and automatic bids are filled. In fact, the first tournament bid will be handed out on Saturday in the Ohio Valley.

So with that in mind, let's recap some of the action from the weekend. The big change at the top is Virginia moving back onto the top line after their win over North Carolina, while Xavier suffered a bit of a letdown after their big win over Villanova, though Seton Hall is by no means a bad team. The win all but clinched a tournament bid for the Pirates, who will dance for the first time in 10 years. They've been close in recent years, but this year, they will finally break through. Great season for the Hall.

Despite the loss at Texas, I actually moved Oklahoma up to No. 2, though it was more Villanova being dropped to No. 3. The Sooners still have seven top-25 RPI wins, second to only Kansas' nine. And that head-to-head win over the Wildcats will still loom large for OU.

I also want to mention the great turnaround by last season's runners-up, Wisconsin. This was a team who, after their January 12 loss at Northwestern, was sitting at 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten. Since then, they've only lost once, by 12 at Michigan State. Their recent roll includes home wins over Michigan and Indiana, plus road wins at Maryland and Iowa. What a story in Madison. The Badgers currently sit as a No. 7 seed and could be dangerous in March. Remember, Michigan State made the Final Four last season as a No. 7.

VCU reclaimed the Atlantic 10 auto-bid thanks to their hard-fought win at George Washington Saturday, coupled with Dayton's continued free-fall on Saturday, losing at home to Rhode Island. The Rams are tied with Saint Joseph's at 13-3 in the standings, but own a head-to-head victory. A big game awaits on Saturday when VCU visits Dayton. The Rams could help their at-large hopes with a victory, even if they don't win the A-10 Tournament.

This, by itself, caused some shakeup on the bubble. As it stands, VCU took Tulsa's spot in the field, who lost at Memphis Sunday. Not a good loss for the Hurricane, who also own a home loss to Oral Roberts (RPI No. 150). Also working against Tulsa (and Cincinnati, the second team out), is the hot streak of Vanderbilt, who knocked off Kentucky on Saturday, giving the Commodores four top-50 wins and a top-50 RPI. Vandy not only is in the field, but they are above the First Four cut line as a No. 10 seed.

Syracuse, Alabama, Florida and Gonzaga sit as the last teams in the field. Florida has been free-falling of late, but their wins over West Virginia and Saint Joseph's, plus a top-five non-conference schedule, may just be enough to sneak them in. They can really help themselves with a win Tuesday against Kentucky. And with Connecticut falling out of the top 50, Gonzaga doesn't boast a single top-50 RPI win and just three top-100 wins (Connecticut and Washington on neutral courts, BYU at home). However, the Zags have a top-50 non-conference schedule and no bad losses, which most bubble teams cannot claim.

No bad losses is also why Stanford has quietly played their way back onto the bubble. But they still have some work to do, as they sit just 14-12 overall. The Cardinals sit in the "Next Four Out" group.

Let's take a look at the bracket.

Last Four Byes: Providence, Connecticut, Oregon State, Vanderbilt
Last Four In: Syracuse, Alabama, Florida, Gonzaga
First Four Out: Tulsa, Cincinnati, Butler, St. Bonaventure
Next Four Out: George Washington, Stanford, Ohio State, Washington

Conference Rundown:

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
SEC - 6
Big East - 4
Atlantic 10 - 3
AAC - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 23

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Xavier Moves To Top Line, VCU Loses Lead and Spot

As we enter the final weekend of February, we have a new team sitting on the top line. After their impressive win over Villanova, Xavier now holds the last No. 1 seed in our projections, knocking Virginia to a two-seed. The Wildcats remain at No. 2 on the list, still headlining the East Region. Kansas (Midwest, No. 1 overall) and Oklahoma (South) also remain on the top line.

VCU suffered a very bad loss against George Mason, currently ranked 176th on the RPI table, per That gives the Rams two losses outside the top 170, as they also hold a loss to 174th-ranked Massachusetts. They now sit in a three-way tie with Dayton and Saint Joseph's. Since the Rams and Flyers have not met yet (they meet next Saturday), RPI decides the current auto-bid, and that goes to Dayton (Flyers 17th, Hawks 25th, Rams 63rd). This moved VCU out of the field, down to the "next four out" group.

The Rams' loss ended up as Cincinnati's gain, as the Bearcats are in as the last team in today, joining Oregon State, Alabama and Tulsa in the last four in. First four out are Butler, Vanderbilt, George Washington and St. Bonaventure.

The Rams and GW meet today in D.C. in a huge bubble battle. The loser will have to make a deep run in the A-10 Tournament to get in.

Let's take a look at the bracket.

Procedural bumps: Alabama / Tulsa up from 11 to 10, Monmouth down from 10 to 11

Last Four Byes: Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Florida
Last Four In: Oregon State, Alabama, Tulsa, Cincinnati
First Four Out: Butler, Vanderbilt, George Washington, St. Bonaventure
Next Four Out: VCU, UCLA, Washington, Georgia Tech

Conference Rundown:

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
SEC - 5
AAC - 4
Big East - 4
Atlantic 10 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 23

Enjoy the games this weekend. We'll be back after the weekend to see how the bracket looks as we get set for the start of conference tournaments on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

VCU, Saint Mary's Take Conference Leads, Shrink Bubble

Not as many spots available in today's projection, thanks to VCU and Saint Mary's, two teams that would be squarely on the bubble without their conference's auto-bid, taking the lead in their respective leagues, the Atlantic 10 and West Coast. The Rams were helped by Dayton's loss to St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's loss at Davidson. The Gaels handled their own business by completing the surprising season-sweep of Gonzaga. The Gaels and Zags are tied at 13-3, but the aforementioned sweep gives SMC the auto-bid and puts two West Coast teams in the field, though Gonzaga is now on the bubble as the last team with a bye. They've only got one top-50 win (Connecticut) and just a second top-100 win (Washington), both on neutral courts.

Today's last four in are Syracuse, Alabama, Butler and Oregon State. Just missing the cut were Cincinnati, Tulsa, George Washington and St. Bonaventure. Obviously this can change quite a bit. If teams like VCU, Saint Mary's, or even Wichita State or San Diego State stumble, the teams in the first four out can move right into the field. This is just another example of how bubble teams can claim their spots in the field and shrink the bubble.

Kansas remains the top team, followed by Villanova, Oklahoma and Virginia. The Cavs still have a strong record and good profile. But I found this interesting nugget from Patrick Stevens on Twitter. Virginia's loss at Miami clinched a losing road record for the Cavs. And it's been a long time since a team has done that and still earned a No. 1 seed. We'll keep the Cavs here for the time being, especially since they have a meeting with North Carolina upcoming. The race for the fourth number one seed will likely come down to Selection Sunday.

Let's take a look now at the bracket. And yes, you'll notice I paired Texas against VCU, aka Shaka Smart against his former team. And no, this was not on purpose. It just so happened they were paired together.

Last Four Byes: Michigan, Wisconsin, Seton Hall, Gonzaga
Last Four In: Syracuse, Alabama, Butler, Oregon State
First Four Out: Cincinnati, Tulsa, George Washington, St. Bonaventure
Next Four Out: UCLA, Vanderbilt, Washington, Georgia Tech

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big East - 5
SEC - 5
Atlantic 10 - 3
American Athletic - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid Leagues - 23

Enjoy the games this week and we'll see you this weekend for our next update.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Top Line Shakeup, American Athletic Adds Two

Wednesday was another wild day in college basketball, as Iowa, Oklahoma and North Carolina all went down to Penn State, Texas Tech and Duke, respectively. Obviously, the biggest upset here was the Nittany Lions over the Hawkeyes. Nonetheless, the top three seed lines saw some movement from this.

The Sooners do stay on the top line, but now lead the West Region as the fourth overall seed, behind Kansas, Villanova and Virginia. Six top-50 wins and a top-50 RPI still look strong. But 22-3 Xavier is right on their heels for the last No. 1 seed. Iowa fell to a two-seed, just ahead of Michigan State, whom the Hawkeyes swept. North Carolina fell to the three-line, while Miami (FL) now sits on line two. With a higher RPI, the Hurricanes currently hold the ACC's auto-bid.

As for the Red Raiders and Blue Devils, they both make good moves up the bracket with their wins. Tubby's Smith's crew now sits as a nine-seed, while Coach K is now in protected-seed range.

Another team that picked up a big win this week was Saint Joseph's, knocking off Dayton at home. That give's the Hawks their signature win and moved them inside the RPI Top 25, as well as a share of the Atlantic 10 lead with the Flyers and VCU. The Hawks are done with Dayton and VCU until the A-10 Tournament, while the Flyers and Rams meet at UD Arena on March 5 in the season-finale.

Washington continues to tumble and Florida State lost to Georgia Tech, dropping them from today's projection. In the Huskies' case, their RPI ranks 75th. That could spell bad news for UW.

In their place are a pair of American Athletic teams, Tulsa and Cincinnati, even with the Bearcats having just lost to the Golden Hurricane in overtime. Also moving into the field as an at-large is Butler, thanks to LSU losing the SEC's auto-bid and not earning an at-large in this projection. Those three join Seton Hall in today's last four in group. Just missing the cut are George Washington, VCU, LSU and Florida State. GW and VCU meet next Saturday in D.C. The loser will have their work cut out for them in Brooklyn for the A-10 Tournament.

Here's the updated bracket.

Last Four Byes: Oregon State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Butler, Tulsa, Cincinnati
First Four Out: George Washington, VCU, LSU, Florida State
Next Four Out: Washington, St. Bonaventure, Saint Mary's, Ohio State

Conference Rundown

ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
Big Ten - 7
Pac-12 - 7
Big East - 5
SEC - 5
AAC - 4
Atlantic 10 - 2
One-bid Leagues - 24

Notable Games this Weekend


Richmond at VCU
Yale at Princeton
Oakland at Valparaiso
Iona at Monmouth

The Rams look to avoid a home stumble at the hands of the Spiders a week before the big bubble showdown with George Washington. The other three games pit the top two teams in the Ivy, Horizon and MAAC standings, as the Bulldogs, Crusaders and Hawks can take control of their respective conferences with a win, particularly Yale.

A win puts Yale at 9-0 in Ivy play and drop Princeton to 6-2, which would put the Bulldogs two ahead in the loss column with five to play. Remember, the Ivy League does not hold a conference tournament. The regular season champion earns the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.


Florida at South Carolina

Two teams hovering around the middle of the bracket. The winner could eventually wear their home whites in the first round of the tournament.

Duke at Louisville

Duke goes for a road trip sweep of UNC and Louisville this week as they continue their climb back up the bracket.

Xavier at Georgetown

The Musketeers look for revenge from their January 19 home loss to the Hoyas, who may need to win at MSG to reach the Big Dance.

UNC Asheville at Winthrop

These two are tied atop the Big South standings. The winner will be in the next projection.

St. Bonaventure at Dayton

Dayton tries to bounce back from the Saint Joe's loss, while the Bonnies really need this one to help their bubble case.

Miami (FL) at North Carolina

The ACC lead, and a spot on line two in the next bracket, are on the line in this battle in Chapel Hill.

Wagner at Central Connecticut

Northeast leader Wagner visits the team sitting dead last on the RPI table.

Baylor at Texas

A solid Big 12 battle here. The Longhorns won in Waco on February 1.

Pittsburgh at Syracuse

A pair of ACC bubble teams meet in the Carrier Dome. The Panthers may need this one more, as they are right above the cut line for avoiding the First Four in Dayton.

Saint Joseph's at Davidson

The Hawks look to avoid a letdown against the Wildcats after their big win over Dayton.

Mississippi State at Alabama

The Tide are rolling. They don't want to slip up against an SEC bottom-feeder.

Butler at Villanova

Butler is back in the field. A win over Villanova will definitely keep them there.

Florida State at Virginia Tech

The Seminoles need to right the ship, and fast. A loss to the Hokies would be devastating to their tournament hopes.

Oklahoma at West Virginia

Two top Big 12 teams go at it in Morgantown. The Mountaineers could potentially knock the Sooners off the top line.

Connecticut at Cincinnati

A season-sweep of the Huskies would do wonders for the Bearcats' tournament chances, after winning at UConn on January 28.

Stephen F. Austin at Nicholls State

The Lumberjacks look to stay unbeaten in Southland play.

UNC Greensboro at Chattanooga

The Mocs go for the season-sweep of the Spartans and keep their two-game lead intact.

Texas Southern at Mississippi Valley State

After going 1-11 in non-conference play, Texas Southern can get over .500 if they can defeat the Delta Devils.

LSU at Tennessee

LSU cannot afford a loss against Tennessee, as that would be five against teams out the RPI Top 100, which is a recipe for disaster for a bubble team.

Kansas at Kansas State

The top team in the bracket visits the Octagon of Doom. The Wildcats knocked off Oklahoma at home. Can they do the same to the Jayhawks?

Tennessee Tech at Belmont

First-place in the Ohio Valley is at stake. Tech beat Belmont at home on January 30.

Kentucky at Texas A&M

Kentucky looks to keep their roll going while the Aggies try to climb back up the bracket after their free-falling February.

South Carolina Upstate at North Florida

The Ospreys share the A-Sun lead at the moment with Jacksonville entering this rematch of last season's A-Sun Tournament final.

Omaha at IPFW

New Summit leader IPFW looks to hold off one of the teams chasing them in the standings in Omaha.

Yale at Penn

If they get past Princeton, Yale can begin closing in on the Ivy title with a win over Penn.

TCU at Iowa State

Iowa State looks to avoid a bad loss at the hands of the Horned Frogs.

Notre Dame at Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets just picked off Florida State. Now they get a shot at the Fighting Irish.

Stanford at Washington

Two Pac-12 teams on the outside looking in. The loser will leave with 12 losses and cannot afford many more if they want an at-large.

Purdue at Indiana

Indiana currently is tied with Iowa atop the Big Ten, thanks to Penn State. A win keeps them there. Purdue is looking to track down the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State

Tubby Smith has his team rolling, off the heels of the Oklahoma win. They don't want to suffer a letdown in Stillwater.

Saint Mary's at Gonzaga

The Gaels' at-large hopes could go up in smoke if they can't knock off the Zags.

Oregon State at Oregon

A win in Eugene, completing a season-sweep of the Ducks, would really help move the Beavers closer to safety.

Colorado at UCLA

UCLA has a pulse, but they also have 12 losses. If they can't defeat the Buffs, the Bruins are probably thinking NIT. Then again, the Committee could shock everyone and put them in, anyway.

Hawaii at UC Irvine

The Warriors can earn a season-sweep of the Anteaters and build a two-game lead in the Big West with a win.


Boston University at Bucknell

Bucknell's story is the same as Hawaii's. They would have a two-game lead on Boston U, with the head-to-head sweep, if they win.

Seton Hall at St. John's

A loss to the bottom-dwelling Red Storm would be no bueno for the Hall.

La Salle at George Washington

The Colonials cannot get caught looking ahead to their meeting with VCU. A loss to the Explorers would be crushing.

Michigan at Maryland

After stumbling at Ohio State, the Wolverines can bounce back at Maryland. But you know the Terps are angry after losing to a bad Minnesota team.

Tulsa at UCF

As long as the Hurricane avoid a bad loss to UCF, they should be okay for the next projection.

Stony Brook at Maine

Stony Brook lost to Albany on Wednesday, their first loss since December 12. They look to recover against Maine, whom they defeated by 27 on January 25.

Monmouth at Saint Peter's

The Hawks look to keep rolling and dancing their way to the MAAC title against Saint Peter's.

Detroit at Valparaiso

Coming off the Oakland game, Valpo hosts the Titans as they look to stay atop the Horizon.

San Diego State at San Jose State

The Aztecs have a comfortable lead in the Mountain West. But a loss to San Jose State would really hurt their seeding.

Wichita State at Indiana State

Just like San Diego State, the Shockers have a decent lead in the Valley, but would be a bubble team without the auto-bid.

Utah at USC

The Trojans suffered a tough loss to Arizona State. A win over the Utes would turn them back in the right direction.

Temple at Houston

Temple looks to hold on to their spot as the AAC's auto-bid, while the Cougars are still in the hunt for the regular-season title, especially after their 27-point win at Temple on January 2.

Illinois at Wisconsin

The Badgers would move back closer to Dayton and the First Four if they're upset by the Illini.

California at Washington State

California finally picked up a good win away from home on Thursday at Washington. They go for two Pac-12 road wins in a row against Washington State.

Remember, you can see how I stack up against other bracketologists at the Bracket Matrix. Enjoy the games and I'll see you next week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Final Four Weeks: Kansas New No. 1, Tech Moves In

A bit of a shakeup happened over the weekend in our bracket projections, which includes a new team sitting as the top overall seed. Coming off the heels of their sweep of Oklahoma, the Kansas Jayhawks are now the top team in today's bracket, headlining the Midwest Region, followed by Oklahoma (South), Villanova (East) and Iowa (West). The Hawkeyes leading the Big Ten is a boost, as well as their sweeps of Michigan State and Purdue. North Carolina, Virginia, Xavier and Oregon sit on the two line. The Ducks have the most top 25 (six), top 50 (eight) and top 100 (14) wins in the nation.

A couple new additions to the bracket from Friday. Thanks to their head-to-head win over Kentucky, LSU currently owns the AQ from the SEC (I used head-to-head results, followed by RPI). This actually shrunk the bubble. The Tigers would not have gotten an at-large as of today. Also entering the field, fresh off their wins over Iowa State and at Baylor, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. The win at Baylor was the key road win the Red Raiders were desperately lacking. They now have four top-50 wins, an RPI rating of 32 and a top-50 non-conference schedule. Let's see if they can hang on to their spot.

Joining Tech among the last four in are Seton Hall, Washington and Florida State. Just missing the cut were Cincinnati, VCU, Butler and Tulsa.

Here now is your updated bracket.

Last four byes: Alabama, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Oregon State
Last four in: Texas Tech, Seton Hall, Washington, Florida State
First four out: Cincinnati, VCU, Butler, Tulsa
Next four out: St. Bonaventure, George Washington, Saint Mary's, UCLA

Conference Rundown:

ACC - 8
Pac-12 - 8
Big Ten - 7
Big 12 - 7
SEC - 6
Big East - 4
AAC - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
One-bid Leagues - 24

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Brackets For All You Sweethearts Out There

It was another crazy week of college action that saw two top teams go down on the road. Xavier lost by double-digits at Creighton, while Iowa fell to Indiana at Assembly Hall.

Iowa does remain on the top line for now, sitting fourth on the seed list, while Xavier fell to number five, putting them on the two line. Moving up the board is Virginia. They've got four wins against the RPI Top 25, including wins over Villanova and West Virginia. Another four wins against the top 50 gives them eight total, as well as four more against the top 100, for a total of 12. The Cavaliers visit Duke Saturday in what should be a fun game. And in two weeks, they host North Carolina in a game that could decide the regular-season ACC championship.

Moving into the field as at-larges are Alabama, Wisconsin and Cincinnati. LSU lost the SEC's AQ bid for the moment, dropping them from the field, while George Washington and St. Mary's also fell out. GW lost at home to Saint Joseph's, while St. Mary's was swept by Pepperdine, losing at home on Thursday, which killed their RPI, dropping them to 72 at the moment. Brutal loss.

The committee loves teams with strong non-conference schedules and that's where the Tide and Badgers come into play. Alabama's non-conference schedule ranks 16th and includes neutral-court wins over Notre Dame and Wichita State, both in the top half of the field. They've also defeated South Carolina and Texas A&M at home.

For Wisconsin, they have been playing better of late, as they try to recover from the early-season blunders of losing at home to Western Illinois and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It certainly helps that their two best non-conference wins (Syracuse and Temple) have been looking better and better as the days go by. Home wins over Michigan State and Indiana help, too, especially with the Hoosiers having just defeated Iowa. Add the fact that their non-conference schedule currently ranks 34th, and Wisconsin is in the field, for now. A tough upcoming stretch will determine if Wisconsin will stay in the field. The visit Maryland on Saturday and Michigan State on Thursday. Win one of those games, and the Badgers will have a compelling case heading toward Selection Sunday.

The last team in the field right now is Cincinnati. It was very close, but a head-to-head win over Tulsa helped tip the scales in the Bearcats' favor. Good wins for Cincy also include at Connecticut and VCU and a win over George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic. Butler was also in the mix, but just have the win over Notre Dame to hang their hat on right now. A big opportunity awaits on Saturday for the Bulldogs when they host Xavier.

However, Tulsa gets a chance for revenge, and possibly to take Cincinnati's spot in the field, on Thursday when the teams meet at Tulsa. The Bearcats also still have to host UConn next Saturday and SMU in the season finale on March 6.

With that, let's take a look at the full bracket, followed by conference rundown.

Procedural Moves:
VCU/Alabama from 11 to 10, Gonzaga from 10 to 11
Wisconsin/Cincinnati from 12 to 11, Florida State from 11 to 12

Last Four Byes: Michigan, Washington, Florida State, Seton Hall
Last Four In: VCU, Wisconsin, Alabama, Cincinnati
First Four Out: Butler, Tulsa, George Washington, St. Mary's
Next Four Out: St. Bonaventure, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, LSU

Conference Rundown:

ACC - 8
Pac-12 - 8
Big Ten - 7
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 5
Big East - 4
AAC - 3
Atlantic 10 - 3
One-bid Leagues - 24

Monday, February 8, 2016

Post-Super Bowl Bracketology

The confetti has fallen in San Francisco and Peyton Manning has likely played his final NFL game. If he did, what a perfect way to him to go out, as Super Bowl champion, as the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, to win Super Bowl 50.

Now that the NFL season is over, it's full steam ahead towards the NCAA Tournament. We are just five weeks away from Selection Sunday and we're coming off a crazy weekend that saw the top two teams in the AP and Coaches Poll both lose. Oklahoma (AP No. 1) lost at Kansas State, while North Carolina (No. 1 in the Coaches Poll) lost at Notre Dame.

Despite the loss, I still have the Sooners as the overall top seed in the bracket. No. 2 RPI and their win over Villanova (who is now No. 2 in the bracket) still hold strong for Oklahoma. Rounding out the top line are 21-2 Xavier and Big Ten leader Iowa.

North Carolina sits at No. 7 on the seed list, behind Virginia and Kansas, with Maryland rounding out the twos.

In regards to the bubble, Clemson lost at Virginia Tech while Vanderbilt lost at Ole Miss, dropping them from the bracket. The bubble actually shrunk for this bracket as LSU currently holds the auto-bid from the SEC. Also new to the field as an at-large is Oregon State, fresh off a win over Colorado.

The win over Oklahoma was not enough to move Kansas State into the field. That's their only win against the top 50 (versus nine losses), and the Wildcats are 3-7 in Big 12 play. K-State does have two games against TCU and a game against Texas Tech left on the schedule. But even if they win those games, that only brings them to six Big 12 wins. They likely have to take at least two out of their three-game stretch against Kansas, Texas and Iowa State. The good news is the Jayhawks and Longhorns have to visit the Octagon of Doom.

Here is your updated bracket.

Last Four Byes: Connecticut, VCU, Michigan, George Washington
Last Four In: Seton Hall, Oregon State, Saint Mary's, Saint Joseph's
First Four Out: Wisconsin, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati
Next Four Out: Butler, St. Bonaventure, Clemson, Kansas State
Also Considered: UCLA, Georgetown, Stanford, Georgia, Tulsa, Ohio State, Boise State, BYU

Conference Rundown

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Post-Louisville News Bracket Update

With the news that Louisville has self-imposed a postseason ban for this season, I have updated my bracket projections accordingly.

With the Cardinals dropping out, Clemson moves back in as the last team in the field, meaning the ACC neither loses nor gains a team in the projections. They stay at nine teams.

The last four in are now Seton Hall, George Washington, St. Mary's and Clemson. The first four out are now Vanderbilt, LSU, Wisconsin and Butler.

Here is the updated bracket.

Last Four Byes: Syracuse, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Saint Joseph's
Last Four In: Seton Hall, George Washington, St. Mary's, Clemson
First Four Out: Vanderbilt, LSU, Wisconsin, Butler
Next Four Out: Georgetown, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State

Conference Rundown

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

Super Bowl Weekend Bracketology

It's the first weekend of February and, for all you big sports fans, it's the weekend of historic Super Bowl 50. (Shameless plug, check out my podcast, Gridiron Graduates with Ian Wharton, to see who we think will hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.)

As for today, we're talking brackets. One change from Tuesday's bracket is that Temple is in the field as the "leader" of the American Athletic Conference (SMU is ineligible). The Owls are tied with Cincinnati at 6-3, but Temple has a head-to-head sweep of the Bearcats. This gives the ACC three teams in today's bracket, along with Connecticut.

Temple knocks Clemson out of the field, who do not play another team currently in the field until they host Virginia on March 1. Also just missing the cut line today are Vanderbilt, LSU and Wisconsin. The Badgers have some big chances coming up. After Wednesday's game against Nebraska, three of the following five games are against current tournament teams Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan.

Vanderbilt scored a much-needed win at home Thursday against Texas A&M. They also still have second meetings with Florida, Kentucky and the Aggies remaining on the schedule.

Today's last four in are Saint Joseph's, Seton Hall, George Washington and St. Mary's. I know I dropped the Gaels quite a bit coming off their loss at BYU. But it also meant taking another look at their resume, now that Gonzaga is the current AQ from the West Coast. St. Mary's has zero wins against the RPI top 200 away from home. They're also overcoming a loss at Pepperdine. They're similar to South Carolina in that they have a gaudy record, but not much meat on the resume.

Let's now check out today's bracket.

Last Four Byes: California, Syracuse, Cincinnati, South Carolina
Last Four In: Saint Joseph's, Seton Hall, George Washington, St. Mary's
First Four Out: Clemson, Vanderbilt, LSU, Wisconsin
Next Four Out: Butler, Georgetown, UCLA, Stanford

Conference Rundown

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

First 2016 Bracket Update (Finally)

Sorry for being so late to the party, but I finally got around to building my first bracket of 2016. Better late than never, I guess.

It has been quite an interesting season so far and only sets up what should be an exciting final five and a half weeks of the season before Selection Sunday on March 13.

After going back and forth for a bit, I landed on Oklahoma, Xavier, Kansas and Iowa as the top seeds for my first bracket, with North Carolina, Villanova, Virginia and Texas A&M as the twos. It may seem against the grain, especially having Xavier number two overall, but I like the profile of the Musketeers. Obviously a long way to go and this is very fluid. Villanova can easily get to the top line, especially if they complete the season-sweep of Xavier on February 24.

As far as the first bubble here, the lteams currently slotted for Dayton are George Washington, Gonzaga, Seton Hall and Clemson. The Tigers have certainly built a nice stable of wins during conference play, something they really needed since they only have one other win against the RPI Top 200 (just barely, No. 198 Texas Southern).

So here it is, at long last, the first bracket of 2016. And as always, check out the Bracket Matrix. Always great work over there keeping track of all the brackets.

Last Four Byes: South Carolina, California, Syracuse, Saint Joseph's
Last Four In: George Washington, Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Clemson
First Four Out: Butler, UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown
Next Four Out: LSU, Wisconsin, Oregon State, Vanderbilt

Conference Rundown:

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