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Tag:Kentucky
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:23 am
 

Harvard clinches bid in the library

Only in the Ivy League can a team can a team clinch a bid while sitting in the library studying for exams, but that's exactly what happened for Harvard tonight as Princeton knocked off Penn, securing the league title for the Crimson.  To celebrate, fans stormed the library in order to study together with the team.  (That may or may not be true).

Other bid winners tonight include South Dakota State, making its first appearance ever, Detroit in an upset over Valparaiso, and Western Kentucky, which fired its coach back in January and was the seventh seed in the Sun Belt.  The Hilltoppers are the first under-.500 team in the field and will almost certainly play in Dayton -- perhaps for the right to play Kentucky.

In bubble news, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Dayton and Saint Joseph's all took care of business against league bottom-feeders and avoided the bad losses that might have ended their hopes for good.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:07 am
 

Carolina back on top

Today's bracket is up and shows North Carolina on the top line, replacing Duke after the Heels whipped the Blue Devils at Cameron. 

That's not final by any means.  Michigan State and Ohio State could jump in.  They play Sunday, plus possibly again next Sunday.  Duke could take it back with an ACC tournament win.  Missouri could get in there with a win over Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.  There's still a long way to go.

Washington's loss to UCLA knocked the Huskies out of sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, and out of the bracket.  They were replaced by Miami.

My twitter feed blows up after every game -- sometimes during games -- with "we should in now" after someone wins or "they should be out" after some bubble team loses.  Fans tend to overreact to one game, but the committee does not.  It's just one of the 30ish games on your schedule.

So, yeah, Seton Hall got embarrassed today at DePaul, and yeah, that may eventually help cost them a spot in the field, but not quite yet.

South Florida lost, but they aren't out...yet.  Northwestern won, but they aren't a lock and probably never will be. 

Cincinnati
isn't a lock either.  The Bearcats have some historically bad negatives on their resume, but they may eventually become a lock.  They are this year's Alabama, which last year went 12-4 in the SEC, but was so poor out of conference that they were left out anyway.  The Bearcats' non-conference performance isn't quite as bad as Bama's, and the Big East is much better than the SEC West was last year, so they are in better shape than Alabama was last year.

But this team is an example that you can't just look at you conference record/performance.  A team's entire season counts.  Cincinnati had to post 12 conference wins to have a chance to overcome the non-conference part of its season.  Same thing for USF, which only went 6-6 and took three bad losses in non-conference play.

Even more extreme is Tennessee.  Cuonzo Martin's sqaud went 7-7 in non-conference play with four bad losses, but came back to finish 10-6 in the SEC and will be the second seed in the conference tournament if Kentucky beats Florida today.  The addition of Jarnell Stokes has helped, to be sure, but the committee can't ignore what happened before he joined the team.  Either their credentials will be good enough to get in or not.  Right now, they're not, and they might have to win the conference tournament before they are.

BYU became the first bubble team to lose in its conference tournament.  Gonzaga handled the Cougars easily last night in the WCC semifinals.  All they can do now is sit back and hope what they have done is enough.

Wichita State is the first team top seed to lose in its conference tournament.  The Shockers lost to Illinois State in the MVC semifinals.  If the Redbirds beat Creighton today, some potential at-large team will be headed to the NIT.

We also had a near-bid stealer with Murray State.  The Racers needed a last-second layup to beat Tennessee State and win the Ohio Valley Conference title.  Sighs of relief we heard everywhere.

Finally, we have to say goodbye to Butler, the two-time national runner-up.  I was at the ARC at Valparaiso last night when the top-seeded Crusaders ended the Bulldogs season 65-46, and the career of senior Ronald Nored, who was a key contributor on those two Final Four teams.




Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:45 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 3:05 pm
 

Michigan State, UConn, Xavier drop

Michigan State fell from the top line of today's bracket after last night's loss to IndianaKansas has replaced Sparty at the No. 1 seed in the West.

That was good news for Missouri.  The Tigers are now the No. 2 seed in St. Louis.  Kentucky fans may not be happy about the possibility of having to play Mizzou in St. Louis, but the committee does not care.  They want teams close to home if they can.

Connecticut's last season swoon continued with a come-from-ahead loss at Providence.  If you listen to the studio guy on TV at halftime, you would be lead to believe that the Huskies 5-11 record since New Year's was important.  It's not.  The committee has de-emphasized how a team finishes the season as a criteria, and no longer tracks such information on their team data sheets.  Teams are judged on their entire seasons, and no particular weight is given to any one portion.

That is also good news for Xavier, which blew a lead and lost at Saint Louis last night.  The Muskies really havent' been the same team since the fight with Cincinnati.  They haven't fallen out of the bracket yet, but they keep sliding toward the bottom.

UCF took a beating at Memphis last night and dropped out of the bracket.  The Knights were replaced by Texas for now.  The Longhorns play tonight against Oklahoma.

In the Big Sky, Montana beat preseason favorite Weber State to win the regular season title.  That means the Grizzlies will host the conference tournament.

The bubble watch was also updated this morning, and look for another update later on tonight.

Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Bracket steady at the top

Today's bracket and bubble watch are posted.  The top three seeds are still the same, although some shuffling among regions has occurred.

One of the biggest myths of bracketing is that the committee "snakes" the field, but that isn't true.  No effort is made to match the overall No. 1 with the worst of the two seeds, or the 16 seeds or the 8s or any seed.  Geography plays a big role in where teams get placed.  There is some effort at balance among the top four seeds in each region, and in the bracket overall, but that's it.

Geography plays a much bigger role in bracketing than most people realize.  That's because the feedback the NCAA gets from schools and coaches is that they would rather be in a tougher region close to home than travel far for an easier draw.

So, no Kansas is not the lowest No. 2 seed just because it is paired with overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Texas and Arizona are out of the bracket, replaced by UCF and Miami.  Miami actually picked up a big win over the weekend against Florida State.  The other teams didn't lose, but got shuffled after re-evaulation.

Iowa State was the biggest mover up the bracket after filling a big hole in its resume with a win at Kansas State.  It was only the Cyclones fourth top 100 win, but their first away from home.

Wisconsin moved up a couple spots as well after winning at Ohio StateNotre Dame had its nine-game winning streak broken at St. John's, then lost again to Georgetown last night.

Conference tournaments are underway, which has those teams near the bottom of the bracket sweating out potential bid-stealers.  If Murray State were to go down in the OVC tournament, somebody's bubble would burst as Murray is clearly at-large quality.

The same would happen if a team other than Creighton or Wichita State wins the Missouri Valley.

It's a little dicier after that.  Harvard might be an at-large if it somehow loses the Ivy League.  The Ivy does not have a tournament, so the Crimson would have to lose in the regular season.  They are currently tied with Penn in the loss column.  If the two teams finish tied, the Ivy would have a one-game, neutral court playoff.

Teams like Long Beach, Oral Roberts, Drexel and Iona have slim at-large hopes should they lose their conference tournaments as well.

I will update the bracket and bubble watch pages daily from now on, as events dictate.

Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:47 am
 

Baylor bombs and other bracket notes

I think we can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that Baylor is the third banana in the Big 12.  The Bears got blown out at Missouri, dropping them to 0-4 against the Tigers and Kansas.  Only one of those four losses was competitive.

For Baylor, a profile that looked worthy of a top seed a week ago now looks closer to a 3-seed than a one.

The Bears figure to get at least one more shot at the top two in the conference tournament.

I had been reluctant to put Ohio State on the top line of the bracket because they have been the No. 1 seed version of a home court hero.  The Buckeyes had been nothing short of invincible in Columbus, but struggled to beat decent teams on the road.  Finally, last weekend, they got the road monkey off their backs with a win at Wisconsin, but suddenly this week, they looked mortal at home.  Purdue put a real scare in them Wednesday night, and then Michigan State took their lunch money on Saturday.  Ohio State's stay on the top line may be short.

The Spartans pulled into a tie for first in the Big Ten with the win.  The league may end up with a four-loss champion and without a No. 1 seed, but is still likely to put the most teams in the bracket in March.  Well, among conferences with fewer than 16 teams.

It looks like Florida may have let Kentucky beat them twice.  The Gators seemed a bit hungover from their trip to Lexington in a home loss to Tennessee.  They have now been swept by the Vols and play four of their next five on the road.

The first of those is against what's left of Alabama.  Three more of the Tide have been suspended indefintiely, including leading scorer JaMychal Green.  Bama is without four of its starters and its tournament hopes are in serious doubt.

It was a rough weekend for some of the better non-majors too.

Creighton got blown up at home by Wichita State and has now lost three in a row.

Iona lost a battle for first place at Loyola in the Metro Atlantic on Friday, but the Greyhounds gave it back by losing at home to Fairfield on Sunday.

In the Horizon, Cleveland State lost at home to Valparaiso on Thursday, putting the Crusaders a half-game up in the league standings.  On Saturday, Valpo lost to Youngstown State for the first time in 16 games, but Butler won at CSU, so the Crusaders are still up for now.
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: 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.


 
 
 
 
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