For Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day between Vermont and New Hampshire – CLICK HERE.
For David Griggs’ News, Notes and Highlighted Games – CLICK HERE.
For Jon Teitel’s weekly bracket projection as he tries to guess the Selection Committee – CLICK HERE. Also check out Jon as a guest on the Bracketology.fm podcast. CLICK HERE.
As we begin the holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., we are now at the halfway point of the college basketball season. Every conference has also begun conference play, so the schedules are not consisting solely of PBS pledge-drive buy games anymore.
With Baylor finally getting their first loss of the year, Villanova resumes the post of overall #1 seed. It was a close choice between Nova and Baylor, but I do like the Wildcats’ 9-1 record away from home (as opposed to Baylor’s 5-1). Kansas only has 3 wins against teams I would consider to be in the field this week (Duke, TCU and UNC-Asheville).
For all the grief we give Notre Dame about their out-of-conference schedule, they have more than made up for it in the ACC. They were the first team to win at Virginia Tech, and when you add that to a profile that includes wins at Miami, at Pitt and at home against Clemson and Louisville, they are also rapidly climbing the ladder and competing for a #1 seed themselves. They WOULD be a #1 had they been able to beat either Purdue or Villanova.
Duke did have a rough road this week, but their road becomes a little more manageable in the upcoming weeks. 5 of their next 7 games are at home, and they will have a week to think about the Miami game at Cameron.
Marquette was actually my last team in my field, but they play the top First Four team (Illinois) because of potential bracket conflicts.
I also want to highlight a few under-the-radar teams that make their debut into my field this week. Illinois State is now 6-0 in the Missouri Valley and have won the first leg against Wichita State to earn their way into the field. The Horizon League was tougher to choose. I still think Valpo has the best overall profile, even though they lost at home to Oakland and Green Bay actually having the lead in the standings. The Phoenix have not yet played Valpo or Oakland, and the Golden Grizzlies are outside my field for the time being after losing at home to a Centenary candidate in the Detroit Titans.
I’ve mentioned them a few times in UTR podcasts, and I would like to welcome the UNC-Greensboro Spartans to the field as the co-leader of the SoCon. They already beat Chattanooga earlier this season, and with a win at East Tennessee State last week, they are now 2-0 against the Mocs and Bucs. The Summit was also harder to choose – both Fort Wayne and North Dakota State lost, so I’ll stick with the Mastodons for now. They are on thin ice, however.
Georgia Southern is another team we haven’t really discussed much on UTR, but they are perfect in the Sun Belt Conference so far and are 2 games up on expected contenders Arkansas State and UT-Arlington. The Eagles have 6 losses out-of-conference, but 5 of them were against teams like NC State, Akron, Minnesota, Florida Gulf Coast and Winthrop. Only the loss at Mercer would really be an eyesore.
As for other teams considered, they are: California, Houston, Nebraska, Memphis, Utah, Texas Tech, UCF, NC State, Penn State, Kansas State, La Salle, Richmond and Georgia Tech.
(games played through Sunday, January 15)
COMMENTS FROM DAVID
-I don’t get the Arkansas love. They have 14 wins, and outside of home buy wins and conference games that really aren’t that hard to win, they have two wins of note, and that’s at Tennessee and at home against Houston. That’s really really their entire profile other than avoiding bad losses.
-Gonzaga is interesting. They’re the only unbeaten team, and I think they’ve got a great chance of winning out. If that happens I think the real committee will give them a #1 seed, but I don’t think they’ll deserve it. They’ll have a great profile, but they won’t have a true road win against a protected seed, which is kind of my personal starting point when assessing whether or not a team is worthy of a #1 seed. John has them on the #2 line. Right now, I think that’s where I belong, and I personally don’t foresee myself ever thinking they belong any higher than that. I think they’ll end up higher than that, but I won’t agree with it.
-I’m warming up to TCU as a potential tournament team, but still don’t believe they’re so far inside the bubble that they’re on the #9 line.
-I like Notre Dame as a protected seed, but not as high as the #2 line. They do have a good profile with their only losses being to Purdue and Villanova, but they also don’t have a win of any kind against a protected seed. Having said that, their win at Virginia Tech was VERY impressive this weekend. Impressive enough for me to think they should be on the #3 or #4 line, but not as high as the #2 line. (Louisville is a protected seed, Puppet. – JS)
– I would echo most of David’s criticisms and just have a few to add. My first one has to do with the Pac-12. Oregon as a 5 and Arizona as a 6 are crimes. These teams should probably both be protected seeds, if not both on the 5 line at worst. (It was close, but Florida was my last #4 and Oregon my first #5. – JS)
– I also think having Greensboro in as the SoCon rep is pointless if you are going to argue that you are taking the best profile in the conference (as John did by choosing Valpo over Oakland in the Horizon). I agree with taking the top profile, but it is either East Tennessee State or Chattanooga. I also would question the choice of Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt — again, the best overall profile still belongs to Texas-Arlington despite two league losses so far.
– I like Illinois State. I do not like them, based on a home win over Wichita State only, better than UNC-Wilmington and Middle Tennessee. John clearly is smoking Redbird Brand crack cocaine.
– Wichita State barely belongs under consideration. They do not belong in this field. GET THEM OUT. (Not my job. Tell that to Cal, Houston and Tim Miles instead. – JS)