Saturday, March 4, 2017

Final Regular Season Weekend Bracket

We've once again reached the final regular season weekend of the college basketball season. Conference tournaments are underway in the smaller conferences, with a few championship games set. The big boys wrap up their regular seasons this weekend and begin tournament play next weekend. The bracket is really starting to take shape, with plenty of movement and new teams joining the party and playing their way onto the bubble.

We'll detail some of the action after we take a look at the full bracket.

Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Michigan State, Xavier, Providence
Last Four In: Marquette, Wake Forest, Illinois, Kansas State
First Four Out: Vanderbilt, Iowa, Rhode Island, TCU
Next Five Out: Ohio State, California, Georgia, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Conference Breakdown

ACC - 9
Big Ten - 8
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 6
Pac-12 - 4
SEC - 4
AAC - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 22

One new team to the field is Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons grabbed a late-season signature win when they knocked off Louisville on Wednesday. That gives them two top-50 wins and they own a top-40 RPI. A win over Pittsburgh puts them at 9-9 in ACC play, which might be enough to push them into the field. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports wrote this great article about RPI and at-large bids.

One neat takeaway from this is that Cincinnati in 2006 is the only Big Six conference team to have a top-40 RPI since the formula change in 2005 and not receive an at-large bid. There's usually a surprise entrant into the field every year. Wake Forest could be that team this year.

RPI may not be the be-all, end-all, but history says a low RPI ranking will keep a team out. That's why teams like Syracuse and Georgia Tech are currently out. The Orange are 80th on the RPI table and the Yellow Jackets are 92nd. Since 2005, no team rated in the 70s or below has received an at-large bid. The two meet in what essentially amounts to an elimination game Saturday.

Poor conference records also tend to keep teams out. I wrote last week about how TCU really needed to beat either West Virginia or Kansas State. They lost both and now sit at 6-11 in the conference. That, plus an RPI in the 60s, is likely going to send the Frogs to the NIT.

This also helped make room for one of the great, late comeback stories in Illinois. The Illini have a top-60 RPI and five top-50 wins. They hold a neutral-court win over a VCU team that's top-25 in the RPI, as well as a sweep of Northwestern and, wins over Michigan and Michigan State. They are among the last four in.

A big weekend of hoops awaits us with just eight days until Selection Sunday. Here are the key games, starting with conference tournament action including the first official tournament bid being sent out.


Ohio Valley Championship

No. 2 Tennessee-Martin vs. No. 4 Jacksonville State, 8:00, ESPN2

Colonial Quarterfinals

No. 1 UNC-Wilmington vs. No. 9 Delaware, 12:00
No. 4 William & Mary vs. No. 5 Elon, 2:30
No. 2 College of Charleston vs. No. 7 James Madison, 6:00
No. 3 Towson vs. No. 6 Northeastern, 8:30

Horizon Quarterfinals

No. 1 Oakland vs. No. 9 Youngstown State, 5:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Valparaiso vs. No. 10 Milwaukee, 8:00, ESPN3

MAAC Quarterfinals

No. 3 Iona vs. No. 6 Rider, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Siena vs. No. 5 Fairfield, 9:30, ESPNU

Missouri Valley Semifinals

No. 1 Illinois State vs. No. 4 Southern Illinois, 3:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Wichita State vs. No. 6 Missouri State, 6:00, CBSSN

Northeast Semifinals

No. 3 Wagner vs. No. 4 St. Francis (PA), 12:00
No. 1 Mount St. Mary's vs. No. 7 Robert Morris, 2:00

Southern Conference Quarterfinals

No. 1 UNC-Greensboro vs. No. 9 The Citadel, 12:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Chattanooga vs. No. 5 Wofford, 2:30, ESPN3
No. 2 Furman vs. No. 7 Samford, 6:00, ESPN3
No. 3 East Tennessee State vs. No. 6 Mercer, 8:30, ESPN3

Summit Quarterfinals

No. 1 South Dakota vs. No. 8 Western Illinois, 7:00, ESPN3
No. 2 North Dakota State vs. No. 7 IUPUI, 9:30, ESPN3

West Coast Quarterfinals

No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Loyola-Marymount, 4:00
No. 4 Santa Clara vs. No. 5 San Francisco, 6:00
No. 1 Gonzaga vs, No, 9 Pacific, 10:00, ESPN2
No. 2 Saint Mary's vs. No. 10 Portland, 12:00 a.m.

Other games

Pittsburgh at Virginia, 12:00, ACC Network
Kentucky at Texas A&M, 12:00, CBS
Villanova at Georgetown, 12:00
Illinois at Rutgers, 12:00, ESPNU
Providence at St. John's, 12:00
Indiana at Ohio State, 12:00, ESPN
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 1:00, ESPNews
Notre Dame at Louisville, 2:00, CBS
California at Colorado, 2:00, Pac-12 Network
Florida at Vanderbilt, 2:00, ESPN
Georgia at Arkansas, 2:00, ESPN2
George Mason at VCU, 2:00
Michigan State at Maryland, 2:00, Big Ten Network
Xavier at DePaul, 2:00
Creighton at Marquette, 2:30
Seton Hall at Butler, 2:30
TCU at Oklahoma, 3:00, ESPNews
Georgia Tech at Syracuse, 4:00, ACCN
Miami at Florida State, 4:00, ACCN
Arizona at Arizona State, 4:00, CBS
Memphis at SMU, 4:00, ESPN2
Baylor at Texas, 4:00, ESPN
Boston College at Clemson, 4:00, ACCN
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, 4:30, ACCN
Oregon at Oregon State, 6:00, ESPN2
Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee, 6:00, ESPN3
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 6:00, ESPN
Davidson at Rhode Island, 6:00
UC Davis at UC Irvine, 6:00
Washington at USC, 6:30, Pac-12 Network
Dayton at George Washington, 8:00, CBSSN
Colorado State at Nevada, 8:00, ESPN3
Duke at North Carolina, 8:00, ESPN
Texas-Arlington at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8:15, ESPN3
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 8:30, SECN
Washington State at UCLA, 10:15, ESPN

Sunday's Games

Atlantic Sun Championship

No. 1 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 North Florida, 3:00

Big South Championship

No. 1 Winthrop vs. No. 7 Campbell, 1:00

Missouri Valley Championship, 2:00, CBS

Tournament action in Colonial, Southern, MAAC, Horizon, Summit and Patriot

Other games

Cincinnati at Connecticut, 12:00
Penn State at Iowa, 1:00
Purdue at Northwestern, 4:30
Minnesota at Wisconsin, 6:00
Michigan at Nebraska, 8:00

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