Seven of the 32 automatic bids have been handed out, and we’re now less than six days from Selection Sunday.
The bubble is still fluid, although it feels like there are fewer teams in contention than in years past. With that in mind, I’ll be back with multiple updates over the course of the week to keep you up-to-date as conference tournament action heats up.
Below are my projections through the games from March 9. 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 (31-0)||1) Virginia (28-2)|
|16) Lafayette(19-12)/St. Fran.-NY(23-10)||16) Coastal Car.(24-9)/N. Florida(23-11)|
|8) Xavier (19-12)
||8) Cincinnati (22-9)|
|9) Colorado St. (26-5)||9) Ohio St. (22-9)|
|Jacksonville – March 19/21||Seattle – March 20/22|
|5) North Carolina (21-10)
||5) Butler (22-9)|
|12) Wofford (28-6)||12) Louisiana Tech (24-7)
|4) Baylor (23-8)||4) West Virginia (23-8)|
|13) Georgia St. (22-9)||13) Valparaiso (27-5)|
|Louisville – March 19/21||Pittsburgh – March 19/21|
|6) Providence (21-10)||6) Wichita St. (28-4)|
|11) Mississippi (20-11)||11) Georgia (20-10)|
|3) Notre Dame (26-5)||3) Maryland (26-5)|
|14) North Carolina Central (24-6)||14) Eastern Washington (23-8)|
|Columbus – March 20/22||Omaha – March 20/22|
|7) VCU (22-9)||7) St. John’s (21-10)|
|10) Oregon (23-8)||10) Davidson (23-6)|
|2) Wisconsin (28-3)||2) Kansas (24-7)|
|15) Northeastern (23-11)
||15) Albany (23-8)|
|SOUTH (HOUSTON)||WEST (LOS ANGELES)|
|Charlotte – March 20/22||Pittsburgh – March 19/21|
|1) Duke (28-3)||1) Villanova (29-2)|
|16) Texas Southern (19-12)||16) Manhattan (19-13)|
|8) Michigan St. (21-10)||8) Dayton (23-7)|
|9) Oklahoma St. (18-12)||9) North Carolina St. (19-12)|
|Portland – March 19/21||Jacksonville – March 19/21|
|5) Georgetown (20-9)||5) Arkansas (24-7)|
|12) Stephen F. Austin (27-4)||12) BYU (25-8)/Texas (19-12)|
|4) Northern Iowa (30-3)||4) Louisville (24-7)|
|13) Harvard (21-7)||13) Buffalo (21-9)|
|Omaha – March 20/22||Columbus – March 20/22|
|6) Utah (23-7)||6) SMU (24-6)|
|11) Indiana (19-12)/Temple (22-9)
||11) Purdue (20-11)|
|3) Iowa St. (22-8)||3) Oklahoma (21-9)|
|14) UC Davis (24-5)||14) South Dakota St. (23-9)|
|Seattle – March 20/22||Portland – March 19/21|
|7) San Diego St. (24-7)||7) Iowa (21-10)|
|10) LSU (22-9)||10) Boise St. (24-7)|
|2) Gonzaga (31-2)||2) Arizona (28-3)|
|15) Belmont (22-10)||15) New Mexico St. (21-10)|
Last Four In
The Hoosiers have three Top-25 wins, which gives them a leg up on most bubble teams. However, they have lost four of their last five and are a mere 4-8 in their last 12 games. The committee has said that the last 10 or 12 games don’t get additional weight when figuring out who makes it and who doesn’t, but this team certainly isn’t passing the infamous “eye test” at this point either. IU finished Big Ten play at 9-9 but was just 2-8 against teams with winning records in league play.
Indiana will have a chance to avenge its lone sub-100 loss when they take on Northwestern on Thursday. A loss there would likely be the final nail in the coffin, while a win would set up an important matchup with Maryland.
I talked last week about how tough it was to evaluate the Owls. Transfers Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman both missed the first 10 games of the season, so the current incarnation of the Temple team has really been together for 21 of their 31 games.
In those games, they have a pair of Top-25 wins over Kansas and Cincinnati, and all five losses have come against Top-50 squads. They are 16-5 overall during that stretch, although 11 of the wins came against teams outside of the Top 200.
As a result, Temple is just 8-9 against the Top 200, which has them in a precarious position heading into their AAC opener against Memphis. If they can take care of business there, they’d get another crack at SMU and another Top-25 win in the Semifinals.
The Cougars avoided what would have been a disastrous loss to Santa Clara in the WCC Quarterfinals and are now poised to take on Gonzaga for the tournament title. If they can beat the Zags for the second time in two weeks, they can kiss the bubble goodbye, but a loss would leave the Cougars sweating things out on Sunday evening.
The win at Gonzaga remains BYU’s only Top-50 victory, and their next three best RPI wins came at home against Stanford, Saint Mary’s, and Massachusetts, none of which will really move the needle on their at-large case.
Give credit to the Longhorns, who took care of business last week in home games against Baylor and Kansas State. Still, Texas is just 3-11 against the Top 50, as a trio of wins over Baylor, West Virginia, and Iowa represents the only Top 75 wins for Rick Barnes’ club.
While Texas doesn’t have a truly bad loss, they’ve also had plenty of chances to pick up wins against tournament caliber competition with limited success. Wednesday’s opening round matchup with Texas Tech is a can’t-lose affair, while a win would set up a date with Iowa State in the Quarters.
First Five Out
The Aggies dropped three of their last four games, including losses last week at Florida and home against Alabama. They own a sweep of LSU, but that’s just about the only thing on A&M’s resume. The Aggies have no sub-100 losses, but at some point they just haven’t beaten enough tournament-level teams.
A&M will face either Auburn or Mississippi State on Thursday, and if they win, they’ll get a third crack at LSU.
The Illini would have earned a spot in the projected field with a win at Purdue on Saturday, but they let an early lead slip away. Still, they have three Top-30 wins plus a home win over the Boilers, and one of their three sub-80 losses came against Michigan when the Wolverines were at full strength.
Illinois lost four of its last six games to close the season, and they’ll face Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. A win there would set up a date with Wisconsin, who beat Illinois by nearly 20 points less than a month ago.
The Bruins took care of business against USC last week, but that didn’t really do much for their profile. UCLA has home wins over Utah and Oregon as well as a sweep of Stanford, but they are just 4-9 against the Top 100. They also have three sub-100 losses and are just 3-10 away from home.
UCLA will face the winner of Arizona State and USC in the Pac-12 Quarterfinals, and if they can win there, the Bruins would get another shot at Arizona (most likely) in the Semis.
The Canes picked up a pair of road wins last week against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech to finish 10-8 in the ACC. Miami has wins at Duke and home against NC State and Illinois as well as a 7-7 record against the Top 100. However, four sub-100 losses, including blowout home defeats to Eastern Kentucky and Georgia Tech might be too much to overcome.
Miami certainly can’t afford to lose to either Wake or Virginia Tech in their first ACC Tournament game, and it’s hard to see them getting in without at least knocking out Notre Dame in the Quarterfinals.
After dropping games to Cincinnati and SMU in the season’s final week, the Golden Hurricane are in serious trouble. They have just two wins against the Top 75 (a sweep of Temple), and they did virtually nothing in the non-conference.
Tulsa will face either Tulane or Houston in their first AAC Tournament game, and they cannot afford a loss there. A win would likely mean a matchup against Cincinnati, which would give Frank Haith’s squad the chance at another Top 50 victory.
Other teams considered: Old Dominion, Richmond, Stanford, Murray St.
Here is how the bids broke down by conference:
Big Ten (7): Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (7): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia
ACC (6): Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Virginia
Big East (6): Butler, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova, Xavier
SEC (5): Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi
American (3): Cincinnati, SMU, Temple
Atlantic 10 (3): Davidson, Dayton, VCU
Mountain West (3): Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State
Pac-12 (3): Arizona, Oregon, Utah
Missouri Valley (2): Northern Iowa*, Wichita State
West Coast (2): BYU, Gonzaga
America East: Albany
Atlantic Sun: North Florida*
Big Sky: Eastern Washington
Big South: Coastal Carolina*
Big West: UC Davis
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech
MEAC: North Carolina Central
Northeast: St. Francis (NY)
Ohio Valley: Belmont*
Southland: Stephen F. Austin
Summit: South Dakota State
Sun Belt: Georgia State
SWAC: Texas Southern
WAC: New Mexico State
* – Earned automatic bid
Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.