Even though we’re halfway through conference play in most leagues, and less than six weeks away from Selection Sunday, there are a number of teams that my fellow bracketologists are having a tough time sorting out.
Before I unveil this week’s projections, I wanted to take a closer look at some teams with a particularly wide range of potential seeds on the Bracket Matrix, which tracks projections from around the interwebs.
- Seed Range: 5-10 based on February 2 projections
- What To Like: Recent home wins over Indiana and Maryland give OSU a pair of victories against the RPI Top 50. The Buckeyes are 6-5 versus the Top 100 and have no bad losses. They also have D’Angelo Russell.
- What Not To Like: OSU played a weak non-conference schedule, with their best win coming against High Point. The Buckeyes are also just 2-4 away from home.
- Seed Range: 6-10 based on February 2 projections
- What To Like: Through Sunday’s games, the Hoosiers were one of just six teams with at least three Top 25 RPI wins. Virginia joined that group on Monday night, but IU’s victories over SMU, Butler, and Maryland give the Hoosiers a strong foundation. The Hoosiers are 4-4 against the Top 50 and have seven Top 100 wins.
- What Not To Like: Six of IU’s 10 non-conference wins came against sub-250 RPI teams, and they played no true road games before Big Ten play. The Hoosiers are 3-5 away from home, including double-digit losses in three of their last four road games.
- Seed Range: 7-11 based on February 2 projections
- What To Like: The Cardinal picked up what seemed like a huge non-league road win at Texas in February, and they have a .500 record away from home. Stanford has also looked like the Pac-12’s third best team behind Arizona and Utah, and they have a relatively favorable upcoming schedule with five of the next seven at home.
- What Not To Like: That win over Texas doesn’t look quite as good now as it did at the time, and in fact, it’s the Cardinal’s only win over an at-large team in my current projections. Stanford also has losses at DePaul and Washington State
- Seed Range: 7-11 based on February 2 projections
- What To Like: The Rams are 8-2 away from home and picked up some decent non-conference wins over Georgia State, UTEP, and Colorado. They also knocked off San Diego State and are 5-2 against the RPI Top 100.
- What Not To Like: CSU’s overall schedule strength is ugly, as 10 of their 18 Divison One wins have come against sub-200 teams. The victory over SDSU is their only win over an at-large team in my field, and none of their three losses have come against teams I have in the field (or even close to the cut line).
Now onto the projections …
At this stage of the season, I tend not to simply default to the current conference standings for the single-bid leagues, as those are obviously very dependent on how the schedule has played out thus far. As a result, the selections for those leagues also factor in my current projection of who will actually win the league.
Below are my projections through the games from February 2. I’ve also listed my last four in and first five out along with my reasoning for those selections.
|MIDWEST (CLEVELAND)||EAST (SYRACUSE)|
|Louisville – March 19/21||Charlotte – March 20/22|
|1) Kentucky (21-0)||1) Virginia (20-1)|
|16) Colgate (10-13)/St. Francis NY (14-9)||16) Albany (14-7)/FL Gulf Coast (16-7)|
|8) Cincinnati (15-6)
||8) Stanford (15-6)|
|9) Texas (14-7)||9) Michigan St. (15-7)|
|Seattle – March 20/22||Jacksonville – March 19/21|
|5) Wichita St. (19-3)
||5) Oklahoma (14-7)|
|12) Iona (16-6)||12) NC State (14-9)/Texas A&M (15-5)
|4) West Virginia (18-3)||4) VCU (17-4)|
|13) Eastern Washington (16-5)||13) Louisiana Tech (17-5)|
|Columbus – March 20/22||Louisville – March 19/21|
|6) Georgetown (15-6)||6) Arkansas (16-5)|
|11) Mississippi (14-7)/Tulsa (16-5)||11) Miami, FL (14-7)|
|3) Notre Dame (20-3)||3) Iowa St. (16-5)|
|14) Murray St. (19-4)||14) Harvard (13-5)|
|Omaha – March 20/22||Pittsburgh – March 19/21|
|7) San Diego St. (17-5)||7) Ohio St. (17-5)|
|10) Xavier (14-8)||10) Colorado St. (19-3)|
|2) Wisconsin (19-2)||2) Villanova (19-2)|
|15) High Point (17-5)
||15) Georgia St. (15-7)|
|SOUTH (HOUSTON)||WEST (LOS ANGELES)|
|Omaha – March 20/22||Seattle – March 20/22|
|1) Kansas (19-3)||1) Gonzaga (22-1)|
|16) Texas Southern (11-11)||16) New Mexico St. (13-10)|
|8) Dayton (17-4)||8) Seton Hall (15-6)|
|9) Georgia (14-6)||9) LSU (16-5)|
|Portland – March 19/21||Jacksonville – March 19/21|
|5) Utah (17-4)||5) Baylor (16-5)|
|12) Green Bay (18-5)||12) Wofford (18-5)|
|4) Butler (16-6)||4) North Carolina (17-6)|
|13) Stephen F. Austin (18-3)||13) Buffalo (14-6)|
|Pittsburgh – March 19/21||Columbus – March 20/22|
|6) Northern Iowa (20-2)||6) Providence (16-6)|
|11) St. John’s (14-7)
||11) Old Dominion (17-4)|
|3) Maryland (18-4)||3) Louisville (18-3)|
|14) Long Beach St. (12-11)||14) William & Mary (14-7)|
|Charlotte – March 20/22||Portland – March 19/21|
|7) SMU (18-4)||7) Indiana (16-6)|
|10) Iowa (13-8)||10) Oklahoma St. (14-7)|
|2) Duke (18-3)||2) Arizona (20-2)|
|15) North Carolina Central (17-6)||15) South Dakota St. (17-7)|
Last Four In
The Rebels have four Top 100 wins, including victories away from home over Cincinnati and Arkansas. They are 7-3 in road/neutral games, but losses to Charleston Southern and TCU aren’t doing them any favors.
The Golden Hurricane needed overtime to take care of a poor South Florida squad, but their winning streak now sits at 11 games. Even so, Tulsa is just 2-3 against the Top 100 and did very little in the non-conference, leaving them with little margin for error. Saturday’s date with SMU is huge for Tulsa’s tournament profile.
North Carolina State
Trevor Lacey’s buzzer-beater knocked off Georgia Tech and helped the Wolfpack stay in the field, thanks in part to the struggles of other bubble teams.
NC State is just 2-6 against the Top 50, but they do boast a home win over Duke. They also have no sub-100 losses along with a handful of solid non-conference wins over the likes of Tennessee, Boise St., and Louisiana Tech.
The fact that the Aggies are in the field tells you all you need to know about the bubble. Sure, they have no bad losses and a Top 35 RPI, but they have just two Top 100 wins.
For now, their grip on an at-large bid is tenuous at best, but they have a number of opportunities in the coming weeks to enhance their tournament credentials.
First Five Out
Outside of a neutral court win over Wichita State, there isn’t much meat on GW’s profile. The Colonials are just 3-6 against the Top 100, and that includes losses to Penn State and La Salle.
A poor strength of schedule is going to be an issue as well with eight of their 16 wins coming against sub-200 squads. Upcoming home dates against Dayton, VCU, and Davidson will tell us a lot about this team.
The Wildcats are a really entertaining team, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, but that isn’t enough to get them in the field.
They do have three Top 60 wins, but they are just 6-5 against the Top 200. Davidson has a few very winnable games coming up, but they can ill afford another slip up like we saw against Saint Joe’s over the weekend.
The Vols have Top 25 wins over Butler and Arkansas, but they are just 3-6 against the Top 100. Outside of an early loss to Marquette, there really isn’t a bad loss on their profile.
The schedule features a number of tough road games down the stretch along with home games against LSU and Kentucky, so the opportunities are there in an SEC littered with bubble teams.
Despite not beating a Top 100 team in the entire month of January, the Orange are still in the mix thanks to a weak bubble, although there is still much work to do. Non-conference wins over Iowa, Louisiana Tech, and Long Beach State help, but they need to start beating some of the top tier teams in the ACC.
Starting in mid-February the schedule is brutal, so Syracuse will either play their way in or fall completely off the bubble.
The Owls are among the toughest teams to evaluate. They have a huge win over Kansas, but that’s their lone win against the Top 80. The roster has changed as well, with key transfers becoming eligible mid-season, which gives pause when looking at early season results.
There are profile-enhancing opportunities ahead (mostly on the road), so if the Owls do earn an at-large, they will have truly earned it.
Here is how the bids broke down by conference:
ACC (7): Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Virginia
Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia
Big East (7): Butler, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova, Xavier
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
SEC (6): Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Texas A&M
American (3): Cincinnati, SMU, Tulsa
Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Stanford, Utah
Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, VCU
Conference USA (2): Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion
Missouri Valley (2): Northern Iowa, Wichita State
Mountain West (2): Colorado State, San Diego State
America East: Albany
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast
Big Sky: Eastern Washington
Big South: High Point
Big West: Long Beach State
Colonial: William & Mary
Horizon: Green Bay
MEAC: North Carolina Central
Northeast: St. Francis (NY)
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Southland: Stephen F. Austin
Summit: South Dakota State
Sun Belt: Georgia State
SWAC: Texas Southern
WAC: New Mexico State
West Coast: Gonzaga
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