It is time for some more Monday Morning Bracketology. Here is my projected bracket through games of February 9, plus some notes on this week’s field. Please note that I am predicting what the committee will do as of today:
(1) Syracuse vs (16) Southern/VMI
(8) George Washington vs (9) California
(5) Kentucky vs (12) Toledo
(4) Saint Louis vs (13) Stephen F. Austin
(6) Connecticut vs (11) Providence
(3) Michigan vs (14) Iona
(7) North Carolina vs (10) Gonzaga
(2) Villanova vs (15) North Carolina Central
(1) Wichita State vs (16) Weber State/Robert Morris
(8) Oklahoma State vs (9) Minnesota
(5) Virginia vs (12) Georgetown/Louisiana Tech
(4) Iowa State vs (13) Harvard
(6) Louisville vs (11) Stanford
(3) Michigan State vs (14) New Mexico State
(7) Memphis vs (10) Baylor
(2) Duke vs (15) Mercer
(1) Arizona vs (16) Davidson
(8) Kansas State vs (9) New Mexico
(5) Texas vs (12) Missouri/Xavier
(4) Wisconsin vs (13) Georgia State
(6) UCLA vs (11) Southern Miss
(3) Creighton vs (14) UC-Santa Barbara
(7) SMU vs (10) Arizona State
(2) San Diego State vs (15) Boston University
(1) Florida vs (16) Vermont
(8) Oklahoma vs (9) VCU
(5) Ohio State vs (12) Green Bay
(4) Cincinnati vs (13) North Dakota State
(6) Massachusetts vs (11) Tennessee
(3) Iowa vs (14) Delaware
(7) Pittsburgh vs (10) Colorado
(2) Kansas vs (15) Belmont
National Semifinals: East vs Midwest, West vs South
Last four in: Xavier, Georgetown, Missouri, Louisiana Tech
Last four out: Florida State, Indiana, LSU, Oregon
Other teams considered: Dayton, Richmond, St. Joseph’s, Clemson, North Carolina State, Nebraska, UTEP, Utah, Arkansas, Ole Miss, BYU
A few notes about this week’s bracket:
The Big 12 leads the way again with seven bids. The Big Ten and Pac 12 have six each, American, Big East and ACC have five, Atlantic Ten and SEC have four, and the Mountain West and Conference USA have two each.
None of the matchups were put together intentionally, but the results of my bracket are always fun to look at. UConn and Providence meet in an old Big East showdown. A Larry Brown vs Steve Fischer round of 32 matchup features two classic veteran coaches. And the South Region games in Spokane are just insane. Not only do we have a Cincinnati vs Ohio State possibility in the Round of 32, but the two teams needs to get past a pair of killer mid-majors to get there in Green Bay and North Dakota State.
The biggest move at the top of the bracket came from Duke who is now my last #2 seed. Notably, the Big Ten does not have a team on the top two lines, but then places three teams on the 3 line and has the top 4 seed as well as a 5 seed. The Big Ten is running into a problem with all the top teams knocking each other off, and until someone emerges as the best team in the conference, I find it tough to crown any of the teams as a #1 seed contender.
I dropped Oklahoma State way down in this bracket and I am starting to wonder if the team that entered the season as a potential 1 seed contender may be moving closer to the Bubble than anyone ever thought they would be. Okie State not only continues to lose games, but is losing its temper now as Marcus Smart will miss the next three games for his altercation with a fan. While all indications are that the idiot in the didn’t get a tenth of what he deserved, Smart should have kept his cool and reported the bonehead. Without Smart for trips to Texas and Baylor as well as a home game against Oklahoma, winning is going to be tough. And, in my opinion at least, the committee should not look the other way at losses that occur while a player is suspended in the same way they should when a team is down a player due to injury. The suspension is due to actions by the player — something well within his and the team’s control. Injuries are due to random chance and bad luck. While extra credit may be given to a team that suffered the randomness of an injury, none should be given to a team that suffers from poor decisions by its players.
Going back to this week’s field, the bottom of the bracket saw almost everyone losing. As a result, Georgetown has amazingly slipped into the bracket along with Louisiana Tech. The Hoyas have been playing much better the past couple of weeks and are one of the few bubble teams whose stock is rising. La Tech has been finding ways to keep winning even with Appleby out through the beginning of March. Given the weakness of their remaining schedule though, they really cannot afford another loss until the C-USA title game.
Green Bay and Harvard both lost this week, resulting in their locations on my S-Curve falling below the four At-Large First Four teams. While Harvard should still be able to win the Ivy League regular season and secure the automatic bid, Green Bay does run the risk of a conference tournament upset. There is no margin for error left at all for the Phoenix, and even winning out may not be enough at this point.
Finally, a few new teams enter the field at the bottom of the bracket as Vermont is now the pick in the America East, VMI is the pick in the Big South, and Boston U has replaced American in the Patriot League after the Eagles lost two straight games to teams they should have handled easily.