With less than a week to go until the conference tournaments kick off and a new understanding of how the NCAA Men’s Tournament Selection Committee thinks after Saturday’s Top 16 was released, it’s officially time in a world in brackets. So what’s new after a big weekend that saw turmoil, tight finishes and plenty of gains? Sports Illustrated It updates its forecast field of 68 as we get closer to that particular Sunday.
on the bubble
The four with the last pen:
The last four in:
San Diego State
The first four out:
Virginia Commonwealth University
the following four:
Welcome back to the field, San Diego State. The Aztecs are coming off a massive week, defeating a pair of teams in the Top 75 of the NET in Utah and Fresno State by a total of 36 points. In the process, SDSU jumped from #50 to #32 in the network and from #43 to #23 in KenPom. That, combined with a lossless resume outside of Quad 1, gives Mountain West a fourth NCAA tournament bid right now.
One riser that didn’t quite work out was VCU, our third team off the field in Tuesday’s update. The Rams had two big wins on the road in conference play at Davidson and Dayton, and scored 6-6 total in the Q1+Q2 games. It should also be noted that the VCU started 4-4 while starting point guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr. missed out. Out of action due to an Achilles tendon injury, which is 14-3 since his return. Could the committee think of playing the Rams high once healthy and giving them a nod over other bubble teams? The margin of error isn’t great, but this team is worth keeping an eye on.
* Indicates that the team is expected to win the automatic bid for its conference
1 Gonzaga * vs. 16th place New Orleans * / Alcorn State *
No. 8 Murray State vs No. 9 Boise State*
No. 5 Ocon vs No. 12 Rutgers/Memphis
No. 4 Texas vs No. 13 Chattanooga *
No. 6 Arkansas vs No. 11 Indiana
No. 3 Vilanova vs. Wagner No. 14 *
No. 7. Xavier vs. No. 10 Michigan
No. 2 Duke * vs No. 15 Longwood *
Arkansas was among the biggest winners of the weekend with a big home win over Tennessee. The Razorbacks have two wins at the Elite level, against Auburn and the Vols, and the only black mark on their resume is a pair of Quad 3 losses (one, for Vanderbilt, can slip into Q2). There is definitely a way for Eric Muselman to reach the top four seed in the boogie if the pigs can finish their potency.
Where does Michigan stand after a few turbulent days? I don’t expect the committee to give Wolverines any benefit to doubt the losses they’ve incurred with Juwan Howard’s comment. With four of the team’s five games remaining in the regular season in Quarter 1, this group will have to survive Gantz if they want a place on the field. Going 3–2 in their last five games gets the Wolverines – and anything short of that will make them sweat heading into the Big Ten.
No. 1 Arizona * vs No. 16 UNC-Wilmington * / Norfolk State *
No. 8 Colorado vs No. 9 TCU
No. 5 Ohio vs No. 12 San Diego/SMU*
No. 4 Providence * vs No. 13 South Dakota *
No. 6 St. Mary’s opposite No. 11 Creighton
No. 3 Texas Tech vs No. 14 Texas State *
No. 7 Marquette vs No. 10 Loyola Chicago
No. 2 Bordeaux * vs No. 15 Montana State *
Arizona was ranked No. 3 in the Top 16 team revealed on Saturday, but climbed up to second on our roster after Auburn lost to Florida later that day. Given that the commission already has Arizona in the southern region and Auburn headed for the Midwest, the practical implications of this shift are relatively insignificant. Arizona will still play in San Antonio at the Sweet 16/Elite Eight and stay on the other side of the arc from Gonzaga.
The story line closest to the bubble comes from the Missouri Valley, where Loyola Chicago saw its margin of error getting thinner and thinner as convention play continued. Saturday’s loss at home to Drake gives Loyola four losses in a conference, including its first loss in the third quarter of the season. The Bubble Ramblers should root for the MVC Championship next weekend, though any further losses for Loyola will send them dangerously close to the bubble cutting streak if they don’t get the automatic league bid.
No. 1 Auburn * vs No. 16 Cleveland State *
No. 8 Iowa vs No. 9 Wyoming
No. 5 Alabama vs No. 12 North Texas
No. 4 Wisconsin vs No. 13 Toledo *
No. 6 Michigan State vs No. 11 Notre Dame
No. 3 Tennessee vs No. 14 Princeton *
No. 7 LSU vs No. 10 Davidson
No. 2 Baylor vs No. 15 Long Beach State *
Committee chair Tom Burnett made it clear that Baylor is right in the mix for the No. 1 seed, even though the Bears just missed a drop in favor of Kansas in the top 16 proclamation. This makes Saturday’s showdown with the Jayhawks incredibly important, especially considering that The Bears were blown up by Kansas earlier this month in Lawrence. It’s hard to believe Baylor could make it to the first line without winning a rematch in Waco.
Can North Texans push for an all-out bid should they stumble into the South American Championship? Saturday’s road win at UAB gives Mean Green a fighting chance. They only have one win in the first quarter, but a 5-2 in the second quarter games and only one loss in the third. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on entering UNT without winning the C-USA autobid, but as with Loyola, bubble teams should root for as little chaos as possible.
No. 1 KS * vs. Colgate No. 16 *
No. 8 Seton Hall vs No. 9 Wake Forest
No. 5 Houston * vs Iona No. 12 *
No. 4 UCLA vs No. 13 Vermont*
No. 6 USC vs No. 11 San Francisco
No. 3 Illinois vs No. 14 New Mexico *
No. 7 Iowa vs No. 10 Miami
No. 2 Kentucky * vs No. 15 Jacksonville State *
The team with a schedule left that makes room to move up the top seed list is Team Illinois, which has three more first-quarter games out of four before more potential Big Ten opportunities. If Illini can add multiple Q1 wins over the stretch, they can make a real push to the No. 2 seed…especially if the teams above them falter.
One of the top bubble-related victories came this weekend at Winston-Salem, where he ousted Notre Dame’s Wake Forest to help cement the Demon Deacons’ place in the NCAA Championship. Two wins in three games to close out the regular season would probably suffice, and a three-for-three win could see Wake wear his primary colors in his first game. This would be a major turnaround for Steve Forbes’ team, who have won just six games in each of 2020–21.
Full bow drop, as of February 22:
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