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Tag:Illinois
Posted on: March 9, 2012 3:16 am
Edited on: March 9, 2012 10:26 am
 

Bubble buster Thursday

A lot of bubble teams did themselves no favors today, and that has caused another shakeup at the bottom of the bracket.

Washington, Northwestern, Oregon and Mississippi State were among those that not only lost, but lost badly.  The Wildcats lost to Minnesota, but the other three all lost to triple-digit RPI teams.  Despite Northwestern's loss, I still have them in the bracket. 

South Florida also lost, in overtime, to Notre Dame.  The Bulls are also still in the bracket -- for now.

Washington is not though.  The Huskies are the regular season champion of the moribund Pac-12, but their lack of quality wins, both inside and outside the league, will make it hard for the committee to select them.  If they miss, they will be the first major-conference champion ever to do so in the 64+ team era.  They would also be the first outright champion of a top ten league to miss since Miami-Ohio did so in 2005.

Cincinnati is climbing up the bracket quickly with a win over Georgetown in the Big East tournament.  I have them in an 8-9 game today.

Ole Miss won its game, setting up an elimination clash with Tennessee in the SEC.

Iowa put the final nail in Illinois' coffin at the Big Ten tournament, not that the Illini held out realistic at-large hopes anyway.

Texas and Colorado St filled holes in their tournament resumes by winning away from home.  The Rams beat TCU for their best away win of the year, and Texas beat Iowa State to help get a good grip on their spot in the field.

Games to watch tomorrow for bubble teams include Xavier-Dayton, Tennessee-Ole Miss, and the Pac 12 semis.





Posted on: February 21, 2012 4:36 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:10 pm
 

Feb. 21 bracket: Big Ten loses some ground

Today's bracket is posted.  The top two lines remain the same.  A lot of shuffling happened below that.

The biggest news, I guess, is that I finally have a bracket with less than nine Big Ten teams in it.  Minnesota's most recent loss has the Gophers on the outside looking in.  Illinois is just a train wreck.  Nobody has looked less like an NCAA tournament team than the Illini in the last few weeks.

They were replaced by Iowa State and Washington.  Both teams are lacking in quality wins.  They each have only three RPI top 100 wins.  It's been nine years since the last time the committee took such a team, but of course, the season isn't over yet.  They have never taken a team with just three top 100 wins and none in the top 50, but that's Washington at the moment.  The field is bigger now.  They have to take somebody.

The team making the biggest move up the bracket lately has been New Mexico. The Lobos had a great week last week, beating San Diego State on the road and UNLV at home.  They now lead the Mountain West by two games.

Notre Dame continues its climb up the bracket as well.  The Irish extened their winning streak to eight games with an overtime win at Villanova.

It was a rough weekend in Conference USA as both Southern Miss and Memphis suffered their worst losses of the season.  The Golden Eagles fell at Houston, while the Tigers blew a big lead at home to UTEP.

Mississippi State is also falling apart at the wrong time.  The Bulldogs lost three in a row, including games to non-tournament teams Georgia and Auburn.  Those are their worst losses of the season.

The bracket buster took place last weekend, and as usual, no brackets were actually busted.  Murray State picked up an impressive win over St. Mary's, which will give the Racers a bit of a cushion should it need an at-large bid.  Long Beach State could have done the same, but couldn't hold on at Creighton.


Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:16 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:20 pm
 

Feb.14 bracket

Ohio State didn't last very long as a No. 1 seed.  The loss to Michigan State has knocked them back to the two line in today's bracket, replaced by Duke.  The biggest difference is that Duke has shown it can win away from home (Columbus excluded).  Its top four wins are all away from Cameron.

That said, I'm not optimistic for Duke long term unless they get their defense fixed.

Kansas is also pushing for the top line, but at the moment, the loss to Davidson separates them.

North Carolina and Michigan State could still get there as well.  It's a very competitive top of the bracket still for this late in the season.

Baylor is not likely to find itself as a one-seed again this season.  I have the Bears down to a three this week after they got smoked at Missouri over the weekend.

The SEC is a muddle.  Florida has now been swept by Tennessee and has only one of its eight top 100 RPI wins away from home.  The Gators are 2-5 in road games and have four of their next five on the road.

The first of those games is at Alabama.  Alabama's roster issues could give the committee fits.  With four starters suspended, the Tide lost at LSU over the weekend.  Two of those starters will return for the Florida game tonight, but leading scorer JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are still out.

The committee does consider missing players when doing selections and (moreso) seeding.  A team has to have the credentials to get picked regardless of your roster situation during the season.  They won't take a 17-15 team that was missing its leading scorer for 10 games, even if they lost all 10.  The committee cannot assume a result would have been different if the roster was at full strength.  A team might get seeded a little higher in that situation if it is at full strength going into the tournament.

The opposite is also true.  A team losing a key player for the season might get seeded lower if it doesn't play as well without him, but still merits selection.  There are numerous examples of this in the past.   The most recent would be when Purdue was docked a little after Robbie Hummel's (first) knee injury in 2010.

The bottom of the Big Ten is still muddled as well.  Purdue picked up a key win over Northwestern over the weekend, completing the regular season sweep of the Cats.  Illinois continues to fade, now having lost six of seven after dropping a game at Michigan.  The Illini host Purdue tomorrow in what has to be considered a must win.  Illinois goes to Nebraska and Ohio St after that.

It would make sense that at some point, one of those Big Ten teams will fall off the bracket.  Maybe two.  Right now, nobody is really stepping up to take their spots.

The Pac 12 looks for all the world like a one-bid league this year.  That may or may not happen, but it's hard to build an at-large case when nobody can pick up a top 50 RPI win without beating league-leader Cal.  The league has five RPI top 100 teams, and none of them has a non-conference win over a team in the top 50 of the RPI, or over an at-large quality team in the bracket. 

Today's fun fact: All nine Big Ten teams in the bracket rate higher in the RPI than every Pac 12 team except Cal.


Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Feb. 7 bracket

Today's bracket is up with very little change at the top.  The top two lines are the same, and only 3-seed Georgetown moved more than one-line up to join the top 16.  The Hoyas were a five-seed last week.  Florida also moved up one spot to a four-seed.  The Gators have a big opportunity to make a splash tonight at overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Ohio State continues to push for a spot on the top line.  The Buckeyes have some good wins, over a little better quality teams than Baylor, but has losses to Illinois and Indiana and just picked up their first win of any significance outside of Columbus last weekend when they beat Wisconsin.  Almost all of Baylor's best wins have come away from home, and the Bears worst loss came at Kansas.  That's Ohio State's best loss.  So, Baylor still holds on for now.

Marquette dropped a couple spots after getting blown out at Notre Dame.  The Irish continue their climb in the bracket.  They moved up to an 11-seed after being slotted in a First Four game last week.

I can't get Seton Hall out of the bracket yet, despite the Pirates' best effort to fall out.  Their six-game losing streak is troublesome, but they do not have a loss to a triple-digit RPI team yet (Villanova is close though).  The Hall needs to right the ship against Rutgers tomorrow.

Northwestern is also still in the bracket after a bounce-back week that included a win over Nebraska and also at Illinois.  That pick got a lot of criticism last week because at the time, the Cats were 2-6 in the league.  Keep in mind though that conference record and conference standings are not relevant to the selection process.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not just the conference part, and it doesn't get any special weight.  Conference record is just a number.  And with the unbalanced schedules most leagues play (ridiculously so in the Big East), standings aren't very useful.

I've been talking most of the last month or so about how if a team in the Big Ten is going to drop out of tournament contention, it would likely come from the group of Northwestern, Purdue or Minnesota, but keep an eye on the Fading Illini.  Illinois has lost four of its last five, including two at home, but get a load of their next five games: at Indiana, at Michigan, home vs Purdue, at Nebraska, which has beaten IU at home already, and at Ohio State.  ouchie.  The Illini have picked a bad time to slump.

Oklahoma's stay in the bracket was short lived after home losses to Iowa State and MissouriOle Miss is also gone.  Those two were replaced in the at-large pool by Miami, which won at Duke, and BYU, who crawls back in after beating Gonzaga.

Washington has taken over Cal's spot as the Pac 12 leader, and Drexel is in from the Colonial, in place of George Mason.

We're used to seeing the CAA produce at-large quality champions, and occasionally, multiple bids, but this is a down year for the league.  Only VCU and Drexel are in the RPI top 100, and just barely (86 and 85 respectively).  It's arguably the league's worse season since 1999-2000.  I have the Dragons as a 15-seed today.

The Pac 12 has only one time in the RPI top 50 -- for now.  Cal fell to 48th after losing at home to Arizona this week.  The league has struggled the last two years, but still ranked 7th.  This year, it's down to 10th, and is a miserable 1-31 vs the RPI top 50 (Stanford over Colorado State on Nov. 15).  It's hard to build a case for an at-large bid for anyone based on that performance.  The top three teams in the league are all on the road for two games this weekend, so we could have another mess come next week.


Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:18 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:53 am
 

Weekend winners and losers

Here is a look at the teams that helped and hurt themselves significantly this weekend. 

Winners:

Missouri -- The big win over Kansas will be a big help in the battle to be a No. 1 seed.  Of course, those two will play again.  Maybe twice more.

Ohio State and Indiana -- Both teams picked up their first significant road wins of the season.  The Buckeyes won at Wisconsin and IU beat Purdue at Mackey.

Notre Dame -- The Irish continued their resurgance with a 76-59 pounding of Marquette, which had won seven straight.  Notre Dame's winning streak is up to four, and all four are quality wins.

Memphis -- After struggling against better non-conference foes, the Tigers picked up a big comeback win over Xavier.  That is arguably their best non-conference win.  However, the Tigers also won at Miami, a win that looks a lot better today...

Miami -- The Hurricanes won at Duke for their fourth straight win, and easily their best of the season.  It puts Miami squarely in the tournament chase.

Northwestern -- Just when you thought they were dead after losing at home to Purdue last weekend, they went to Champaign and beat Illinois yesterday.

Losers:

Seton Hall -- The freefall continues.  A 23-point loss at Connecticut is the Pirates sixth straight defeat.

Dayton -- Speaking of freefalling, it's an annual ritual for the Flyers.  Their loss to Saint Louis over the weekend was their fourth in a row.

Purdue -- Losing at home to Indiana is never good for the Boilers, but their inabilitly to defend the home floor against tournament quality opposition may send them to the NIT.

Arkansas -- Lost at LSU and still looking for its first win outside Fayetteville.

Xavier -- The Muskies lost an opportunity at Memphis and have now lost three of five with a difficult stretch of the schedule coming up soon.

Oklahoma -- The Sooners have been on thin ice at best, but a home loss to Iowa State means the climb back to tournament contention may be too big a task.

Nevada -- The Wolf Pack still leads the WAC, but a home loss to Idaho may mean they have to beat Iona in the bracket buster to resuscitate any at-large chances they may have had.



Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
 

Jan. 25 Bracket

Today's bracket is posted.  Kentucky is the new overall top seed, followed by Missouri, which is the only newcomer to the top line, replacing Duke.

Syracuse and Baylor remain No. 1 seeds despite losses last week.  Kansas is pushing hard, and beat Baylor recently, but the Jayhawks have done most of their damage at home, and still have that extra loss - to Davidson.

Ohio State has also rejoined the fight, but is another team that has struggled away from home.  All three of the Buckeyes' losses have come on the road, to their three best opponents away from home.  They are mighty in Columbus, and the tournament is played there, but Ohio St will be shipped out.

The Big Ten still sports nine teams, but Purdue is hanging on for dear life.  The Boilers have struggled recently, losing at home to Wisconsin and just on Tueday, to Michigan.  They are the only Big Ten team still looking for a win over a ranked opponent.  If the field were more accomplished, Purdue would definitely be on the outside looking in.

Illinois also took a beating this week in the bracket.  The Illini fell from second to seventh after losing at Penn State and at home to Wisconsin.  They are a true six-seed that was moved to seven to help with bracketing considerations, but that is still a sizeable drop.  Also hurting them is that the loss to Purdue looks worse than it did last week.

Cincinnati, despite a 1-2 week, is getting closer to the bracket despite a non-conference schedule rankng 329th out of 344.  That's going to be an albatross around the Bearcats' neck all season long.  The committee, even in an expanded field, still takes a very dim view of that and will eliminate teams for no other reason.

Cinci is also a strange team in that it is better on the road than at home.  The Bearcats are 6-2 in games away from home, but only 9-4 on their home floor, including losses to St. John's and Presbyterian.  That 92 RPI ranking is due to their weak non-conference schedule and their difficulty defending the home floor.

Cincinnati has nothing on Loyola Marymount though.  The Lions are 7-2 on the road, but only 3-6 at home.

And from the Teams Get Bids, Not Conferences departement: Conference USA has four teams in the bracket, but all are 10-seeds or lower.

New to the bracket this week: Ole Miss, Iowa State, Texas and UCF.
Leaving us, for now: Stanford, Northern Iowa, Denver and Colorado State, which is the highest rated RPI team left out.



Posted on: January 18, 2012 6:26 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 11:56 am
 

Jan. 18 Bracket

Readers are great.  Many have pointed out that Davidson won at the Sprint Center, not at the Phog.  Also, that Michigan St lost to UNC by 35 in 2008 to UNC before losing to the Heels again in the title game that season (by a more respectible 17 points).

One of last week's four number one seeds went down this week, but remains on the top line in my latest bracket.  Baylor picked up its first loss of the season at Kansas, but still has a strong enough profile to merit a one-seed.  It's not like there's a lot of shame in losing at Phog Allen.  If you had to win there to be a No. 1, we wouldn't have any.  Well, except Davidson.

Indiana, Michigan State and North Carolina all had difficult weeks.  Both the Hoosiers and Spartans lost twice.  Minnesota took down IU in Bloomington, something Kentucky and Ohio State failed to do, which bolstered the Gophers precarious spot in the bracket.  The Buckeyes got their revenge on Indiana on Sunday.  Sparty lost to Northwestern and Michigan.

That shuffling leaves Illinois on top of the league standings for now.  The Big Ten continues to dominate the RPI and the bracket, with a whopping nine teams in the field this week.  Even placing eight teams in the final bracket in March would be remarkable.  However, as the teams at the top beat each other up, you have to wonder if any team will create enough separation to stay in contention for a top seed at the end.

Last week, I got a lot of grief for having Duke ahead of North Carolina on the bracket, although that was before the 33-point pounding the Heels took at Florida State.  I have not been able to find a team even make the championship game, let alone win it, that suffered that big a loss in the regular season.

That win by the Seminoles not only put them into this week's bracket, but also strengthened the cases for the tournament quality teams that beat them earlier.

New Mexico is out of the bracket this week, despite not losing.  Sometimes, what you do impacts your position.  Sometimes, what your previous opponents do impacts the quality of your profile, even if you had a good week otherwise.  And sometimes, other teams near you in the pecking order just had better weeks that you did.

BYU fell into the First Four, which if it actually happens in March, will put the committee in a bit of a predicament.  Typically, they like to put the PIG winners into Friday-Sunday sites, but BYU cannot play on Sunday.  In this bracket, that means a quick turnaround and a long-distance flight from Dayton to Portland if the Cougars win.  Of course, the same applies to BYU's opponent, Stanford, even though the Cardinal have no qualms with playing on Sunday.


Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:17 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 9:40 pm
 

Jan. 11 Bracket

A lot can change in one month, and my latest bracket shows that. Pittsburgh was in the Top 25 a month ago, now the Panthers aren’t even in the field. Louisville and Xavier were 2-seeds in December, and now are opponents in an 8-9 game. Seton Hall went from the First Four to just missing a 4-seed, and Dayton was out a month ago, but now the Flyers lead the A-10.

This bracket shows a whopping nine Big Ten teams.  It's the top-rated league in the RPI by a huge margin.  It's been eight years since a league dominated the RPI like this.  Of course, teams get bids, not conferences, but that is still an indication that the Big Ten will likely be well represented in the field.  That said, nine teams would be ridiculous come March.  Minnesota in particular is in trouble.  It doesn't seem likely the Gophers will be able to withstand the grind without Trevor Mbakwe, who is lost for the season with a knee injury.  Looking long term, other teams that need to be concerned are Purdue, Northwestern, which is still looking for its first ever tournament appearance, and suddenly, Wisconsin, which has lost its Kohl Center mojo.

Ohio State started out among the top three teams in the country, but an inability to win on the road against better teams (best away from home win: Iowa) has the Buckeyes now as a 3-seed.  They blew another game last night at Illinois, after kicking away a late lead at Illinois.  It's hard to imagine they won't come around and eventually win the league, but they need to figure out their road woes to make that happen.

Why is Florida in the top 25?  Who is voting for them?  I realize this isn't Poll Attacks (that's Gary Parrish's gig, bless his heart), but this team hasn't done a thing to anyone of substance, and especially outside of Florida.  The Gators aren't in danger of missing the tournament yet or anything like that, but they're a lot closer to 35 than 25.

If they need someonie else to vote for, how about Seton Hall?  The Hall has lost only to Syracuse (the overall No. 1) and Northwestern, while collecting wins over UConn, West Virginia and Dayton.

It's pretty easy to figure out what to do with two of the three remaining unbeaten teams.  Syracuse and Baylor top the field, and will stay there as long as they keep winning.

But what about Murray State?  The Racers have a few decent wins, but nothing that says they should compete for a very high seed.  Now in Ohio Valley conference play, they are essentially done making their case, except for taking on a bad loss or two.  Hard to see them much higher than a 3-seed, even in March, unless one of the teams they've already beaten starts to move up the charts.

With two more months to play, you can expect a lot more wild changes. Buckle up!
 
 
 
 
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