Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:05 am
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Upsetting day

Sunday was a day of upsets that altered the bracket, but not to the point that any bids were stolen.

That almost happened though.  Creighton needed overtime to dispatch Illinois State in the Missouri Valley final.  ISU would have stolen a bid from someone with a win.

Top seeded Iona and Middle Tennessee State lost in their conference tournaments, but their at-large prospects are not very good.  Both teams too bad losses relatively early in their tournaments, and it's hard to see either one getting in now.

In fact, the second seed in the Sun Belt lost also, so Denver shows up as the league rep in today's bracket.

Further up the bracket, Ohio State won at Michigan State to create a three-way tie for the Big Ten title with Michigan.  It's the first Big Ten regular season title for the Wolverines since 1986.  The Fab Five and the 1989 National Champs didn't win the league.

The game wasn't the only loss for the Spartans.  Star freshman Brandon Dawson was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  It remains to be seen how much of an impact that will have on MSU.

Both the Buckeyes and Spartans are two-seeds in the bracket today, but still in the hunt for a one.

The Pac-12 disaster keeps chugging along.  Cal, Washington and Arizona all took bad losses on the road this weekend.  Washington is back in the bracket as the conference leader today after relinquishing that on Saturday.  Cal remains an at-large for now, but in a first four game.  Texas fell out of the bracket to make room for the Huskies.

Four more bids will be clinched tonight, including the Colonial, which has the top two seeds, Drexel and VCU, facing off.  Many are championing the idea that both teams should be in win or lose, but those people are living in the past.  The committee doesn't care that VCU was in the Final Four last year or that George Mason was in 2006.  The league is way down this year.  Drexel did next to nothing out of conference.  VCU has a win at home over the lesser version of South Florida.  That's pretty much it.  If these teams played in the Pac-12, the same media people be fuming over them even being considered.  Actually, that's pretty much happening anyway -- the people who think both these teams should be in are repulsed by the idea that a Pac-12 team could be an at-large.  The reality is that neither league has a good at-large candidate.  That doesn't mean a team or two won't get in -- there is a 68-team bracket to fill -- but nobody in either league will be able to complain about being left out.

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 24, 2012 9:47 am
 

A new top seed and a feeble bubble

The new bracket and bubble watch are posted.  There is a new no.1 seed.  Michigan State takes over a spot on the top line, bumping Missouri, which lost for the second time this season to Kansas State.

Expect to see some jumbling of the top eight teams in the bracket as the three conference pairs in that group play each other.  Each pair has a regular season game left, as well as a possible conference tournament game.

Cincinnati finally joins the bracket despite its putrid non-conference schedule.  Their non-conference schedule ranking of 320 would be the second-worst ever to get an at-large bid.  The record is 323, which is held by the 2006 George Washington team, which finished its season 26-2.  The worst ranking for a team that was close to the bottom of the at-large pool was Air Force in 2004, which ranked 315th.

It's only the quality of its wins that has the Bearcats in at all, but before Cinci fans get too comfortable, teams with 5 top 50 RPI wins get left out routinely, so the Bearcats are not comfortably in the field at all.

As it stands right now, Cincinnati would also tie the record for the lowest RPI ever for an at-large team.  New Mexico was also 74th back in 1999.

The committee very rarely rewards teams that only have three top 100 RPI wins.  In the 18 years that I've been tracking the data, it's only happened five times, and not at all since 2003.  Iowa State has a spot in this field though, despite just three top 100 wins, and all at home.  VCU is in the same boat and also pushing for a spot. 
Colorado State is barely in the bracket, despite a top 30 RPI.  I doubt the Rams will set the record for the highest rated team left out (21, Missouri State in 2006), but they have a chance to be in the team picture.  The next highest ranked team left out was 30th.

Teams without at least one top 50 RPI win don't get picked very often.  Clemson was chosen last year despite and 0-5 record against that group, but the Tigers were the first team picked since 2006 without a top 50 win.  This bracket has two such teams (Saint Louis and Washington).

Looks like the NIT is going to be missing more than a few teams this year.
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 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 10, 2012 11:48 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 11:50 am
 

Feb. 10 bracket

Today's bracket is up, and for the first time in a couple weeks, there is a change at the top.  Baylor is gone after another blowout loss to KansasOhio State has moved up to take the Bears' place.

Duke's win over North Carolina has the Blue Devils making a push for the top line as well, but home losses to Florida State and Miami are still too much to overcome.

Murray State suffered its first loss of the season last night at home to Tennessee State.  That dropped them down to a five-seed in today's bracket.  Every Racers' loss, with the possible exception of one to St. Mary's, will have an increasing, negative effect on their seed.  It might only take three or four bad losses, including one in the Ohio Valley tournament, of course, to knock them out of the field altogether.

I think the best comparison to a past team right now is the 1998 Princeton team that went 25-1.  The fifth-seeded Tigers' only loss that year was to No. 1 North Carolina, so obviously, that is a much better loss than Murray's.  However Princeton beat only one top 50 RPI team that season, and nobody that made the tournament.

There is also a comparisons being made to the 2006 George Washington team that finished 26-2 and was an 8-seed, but their seed suffered because of an injury to star Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

The teams that were either a three or four seed in Tuesday's bracket went 1-5 since then.  Michigan State was the only winner, while Georgetown, Florida, Murray State, Creighton and St. Mary's all lost.

Florida State took a dive after losing at Boston College, dropping down to a 9-seed.  The Seminoles had been playing much better lately, but a third bad loss really hurts their tournament profile.
Cal replaces Washington again at the leader of the Pac 12, which still shows only one bid at the moment.  The Huskies got drilled at Oregon last night.

And finally, a reminder of how I make those conference leader decisions for the bracket.  The conference leader is designated as the team with the fewest conference losses.  Ties are broken by RPI.  As a Northwest Indiana guy, I'm as excited as anyone that Valparaiso beat Cleveland State last night to take a half-game lead on the Vikings in the Horizon League.  However, CSU still has a better RPI, so the Vikes are still listed as the leader and in the bracket.  I do it this way because it's the most likely way to get each league's best team into the projection.  Once conference tournament seeding is decided, I go with the top seed remaining.


Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:18 pm
 

Feb. 1 bracket

It's February, the home stretch of the season, and today's bracket features a lot of teams going in the wrong direction.

West Virginia lost three times since the last bracket was posted, and fell six spots this week.  The Mountaineers lost at St. John's and at home to suddenly resurgent Pittsburgh, sandwiched around that controversial loss at Syracuse.

Seton Hall is also fading fast.  The Hall got off to a great start this season, but now has lost five in a row.  To make matters worse, the opponents that mark their best wins - UConn, West Virginia and Dayton - are also struggling.

The Huskies have lost three i row and five of their last seven.  The addition of Ryan Boatright should help, once he works his way into form.

It's not all bad news for the Big East, along with Pitt, Notre Dame is coming on and has crawled onto the bracket in the PIGs.  The Irish have very little margin for error though.  Despite a nice collection of wins (Syracuse at home, and at Louisville, UConn and Seton Hall), they are only 7-8 vs the top 200 teams in the RPI, and that's a very negative indicator for tournament selection.

Northwestern is stll hanging on by a thread after a loss to Purdue at home this week (a much needed win for the Boilers, by the way).  The best thing working for the Cats is that Purdue is the lowest rated team to beat them this year, and they have a couple good wins, although one of them -- Seton Hall -- looks worse every day.

Honestly, the fact that Notre Dame and Northwestern, along with Colorado State and Oklahoma, which round out the First Four, are in a bracket is reason enough to go back to the 64-team field.

Florida made the biggest move up this week by filling in a couple of holes in their tournament profile.  Their sweep of the Mississippi schools, including a win at Ole Miss, gave them two more top 50 RPI wins (three total now) and their first win of any consequence away from home.

Dropping off the bracket this week were BYU, Texas, Marshall, UCF and NC State.  Coming on were Notre Dame, Colorado State, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Saint Louis.  All ten belong in the NIT.

Dayton almost fell off too after losing twice this week, including a real head-scratcher at home to RPI No. 263 Rhode Island.

Michigan State lost more than a game to Illinois last night.  The Spartans' heart and soul, Draymond Green, limped off the floor late with an apparent knee injury.  If that is serious and causes him to miss significant time, that will be a big blow to Michigan State's chances of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

The highest rated team in the RPI not in my bracket is No. 47 Arkansas.  The Hogs are the ultimate Home Court Hero, with a 16-1 home record.  The Hogs are 16-0 in Fayetteville, and lost to Houston in Little Rock, which the NCAA considers a home game.  They are the only team in college basketball with at least a .500 record that has yet to win off its home floor.

The next bracket will be posted on Tuesday as we move to a twice-a-week schedule.
 
 
 
 
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