We find ourselves on the opening day of Championship Week, and the bracket is as fluid as I can remember it being at this point in terms of seeding. We’ve also had some upsets in the smaller conference tournaments, which has shaken things up a bit. Let’s take a look at this week:
TOP SEED SHUFFLE: I feel for Michigan State a bit. They work all season to get themselves in 1-seed contention, then they lose the outright conference title at home AND lose their third-best scorer for the rest of the season. As we’ve seen in the past (Cincinnati in 2000, as an example), the committee doesn’t look kindly at impactful injuries to top seeds. I don’t see them dropping much below the 2 line, unless they bomb out of the B1G tourney to Iowa or Illinois. But this is definitely a difficult situation for the Spartans. Meanwhile, North Carolina grabs the fourth 1 seed…but is it safe? Not really. Ohio State could reach up and claim it with a good week in Indianapolis.
ADIOS, ARIZONA: I finally work up the courage to put the Wildcats in the field, and they respond the same day by losing to a putrid Arizona State team. Thanks, guys. Really. That should take the Wildcats out of the mix, but who knows? I like California’s chances at an at-large, and I think Washington is a near-lock due to winning the regular season championship in the Pac 12. They SHOULDN’T be a near-lock, but this is what the committee has done in the past. Oregon is playing on the margins and is still very much alive for a bid.
YES, THEY ARE WEAK…BUT…: We’ve heard lots of teams referred to as being “in trouble” in the past few days, and when you look at the resumes of teams like Southern Miss, Virginia, St. Mary’s, Seton Hall, Northwestern, etc…yes, it’s obvious that these teams are pretty weak compared to bubble teams of the past. But be realistic — there are worse teams BELOW those squads. Texas, Xavier, St. Joseph’s…these are all teams that are currently in the field, and it’d be hard to justify putting any of them above the teams that started this paragraph.