Bracketology 2011: The Wait Is Nearly Over, As Selection Sunday Has Arrived

Selection Sunday, perhaps the most anticipated day on the college basketball calendar, has finally arrived. In a few hours, we'll finally know who the 68 teams invited to compete for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship are during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show at 6 p.m. ET (CBS). On this day, I have a pair of projections: one now, and a final guess that will happen during the final quartet of conference championship games.

Today's projection is a bit different than yesterday's version, particularly at the bottom of the at-large pool. After the bracket, I have a breakdown of the Last Four In and First Six Out, and why I think they will or won't be selected this evening. Of course, the committee may have different ideas, especially with so little separating the 10 teams in play for the final four spots.

National Semifinal Matchups

(1) East vs. (4) West
(2) Southwest vs. (3) Southeast

First Four

Automatic Bid Teams
March 15: ALABAMA STATE (SWAC) (NEW) vs. UNC ASHEVILLE (Big South) to Washington on March 17th
March 16: ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (Sun Belt) vs. TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (Southland) to Cleveland on March 18th

At-Large Teams (Last Four In)
March 15: St. Mary's vs.USC to Tampa on March 17th
March 16: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech to Chicago on March 18th

Next Four In (automatically in the Round of 64): Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, Colorado

Previous seeds are in parentheses. Teams that have earned an auto bid are in ALL CAPS.

Newark (March 25 and 27)
San Antonio (March 25 and 27)
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
1. Ohio State (Big Ten)
1. KANSAS (Big 12)
16. UC SANTA BARBARA (Big West) (NEW) 
8. Florida State
9. Missouri (8) 
8. WASHINGTON (Pac-10) (11)
9. Marquette  
Denver (Thu/Sat)
Chicago (Fri/Sun)
5. Arizona
12. MEMPHIS (C-USA) (NEW) (natural 11) 
5. St. John's (7, natural 6)
12. Georgia/Virginia Tech
4. Kentucky
13. OAKLAND (Summit)
4. Purdue
13. BELMONT (Atlantic Sun)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun) Washington (Thu/Sat)
6. Cincinnati (7)
11. Penn State (NEW)
6. Xavier (5)
11. Illinois (natural 12) (9)
3. Texas
14. LONG ISLAND (Northeast) (15) 
3. CONNECTICUT (Big East) (4)
14. WOFFORD (Southern) (15) 
Chicago (Fri/Sun) Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
7. UNLV (6) 
10. BUTLER (Horizon) (9) 
7. Kansas State (6, natural 7)
10. Villanova
2. Notre Dame
2. North Carolina (ACC)
(Anaheim: March 24 and 26)
(New Orleans: March 24 and 26)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
Washington (Thu/Sat)
1. Duke
16. Boston University (America East)
1. Pittsburgh
8. George Mason
9. UTAH STATE (WAC) (10)   
8. Tennessee (9) 
9. GONZAGA (West Coast) (8) 
Tampa (Thu/Sat)
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
5. Vanderbilt (6)
12. St. Mary's/USC
5. Georgetown (6)
12. Colorado (11)
4. Louisville (3)
4. Wisconsin
13. INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley)
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
Denver (Thu/Sat)
6. Texas A&M (5)
11. Richmond (12) 
6. West Virginia
11. Michigan State (10)
3. Syracuse
14. BUCKNELL (Patriot)
3. BYU
14. MOREHEAD STATE (Ohio Valley)
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
Tampa (Thu/Sat)
7. OLD DOMINION (Colonial)
10. Michigan (9)
7. Temple (5)
10. UCLA
2. SAN DIEGO STATE  (Mountain West)
2. Florida (SEC)
15. ST. PETER'S (Metro Atlantic) 

Conference Breakdown

Big East: 11
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 6
SEC: 5
ACC, Pac-10: 4
A-10, MWC, Pac-10: 3
21 one-bid conferences

Last Four In

Virginia Tech Hokies (21-11, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 61
SOS: 90
Non-Conf. SOS: 82
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-6
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-11
Road/Neutral Record: 10-8
Quality Wins: Duke, Penn State, Florida State (N), Florida State
Troublesome Losses: at Clemson, Boston College, at Boston College, Virginia, at Virginia
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at Georgia Tech
Considering all of the injury issues the Hokies have had this season, it's miraculous they're even in the bid picture. While the team owns wins over Duke and Florida State in the conference, it lost all three games it played against their ACC bubble brethren. Seth Greenberg went out of his way to schedule a tougher non-conference slate, but his team only won two games with any real value (Penn State and Oklahoma State in Anaheim). Getting swept by Virginia hurts more than the bad RPI loss to Georgia Tech because the Hokies took care of the Yellow Jackets in their next two meetings.

St. Mary's Gaels (23-8, 11-3 WCC)
RPI: 44
SOS: 99
Non-Conf. SOS: 137
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 3-6
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-7
Road/Neutral Record: 10-6
Quality Wins: St. John's, at Gonzaga
Troublesome Losses: Gonzaga (N), at Gonzaga, at Portland
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at San Diego
The Gaels' two biggest strengths are their ability to defeat bad teams, as they went 15-1 against the bottom half of Division I, and their record away from home. A lack of quality wins overall and relatively weak finish (the Gaels went 7-5 in their last 12 games) are minuses. Strong computer numbers and a more competitive WCC should help Randy Bennett's team get in, however.

USC Trojans (19-14, 10-8 Pac-10)
RPI: 67
SOS: 39
Non-Conf. SOS: 163
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 5-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-11
Road/Neutral Record: 7-10
Quality Wins: Texas, Arizona, at Tennessee, at Washington, UCLA
Troublesome Losses: at Nebaska, Rider, Oregon, at Oregon
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley
The Trojans missed a huge opportunity when they lost their Pac-10 semifinal to Arizona on Friday night, but this team, despite some bad losses, has a decent chance at a bid, thanks to numerous quality wins. Sure, the Trojans have several bad losses, but keep in mind that three of them came when Jio Fontan was not yet eligible to play for the Men of Troy. But on the other hand, they dropped three of their four games to the Oregon schools with him in the lineup. Still, with victories over Texas and Arizona at home and at Tennessee and Washington, the Trojans have shown they can play with anyone.

Georgia Bulldogs (22-11, 9-7 SEC East)
RPI: 45
SOS: 40
Non-Conf. SOS: 56
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-9
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-11
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 12-11
Road/Neutral Record: 9-7
Quality Wins: Kentucky, UAB, at Tennessee, Colorado
Troublesome Losses: Alabama (N), at Alabama
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:None
The Bulldogs are in the discussion really because of what they've done, especially after that debacle against Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, but because of what they haven't done. On the plus side, Georgia has some decent wins, including ones over bubble teams Colorado and UAB, and a road/neutral record that's over .500. They also have a record against the top 200 that's barely above average; however, all of those losses came against teams ranked in the RPI Top 100, as Georgia was perfect against the bottom half of D1.

First Six Out

Clemson Tigers (21-11, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 50
SOS: 71
Non-Conf. SOS: 146
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 0-6
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 9-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-11
Road/Neutral Record: 6-9
Quality Wins: Florida State, Boston College (N), Boston College, Virginia Tech
Troublesome Losses: at Maryland, at N.C. State, at South Carolina, at Virginia
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:None
Clemson has a shot simply because they have been playing very competitively of late and boast a 3-0 record against their ACC bubble competitors. Outside of the conference, the Tigers have very little on their profile, as their best wins came against College of Charleston and Long Beach State, both of whom are destined for the NIT. A 6-9 mark away from Littlejohn Coliseum also doesn't help mattersa. Still, this team passes the eye test based on their two games in Greensboro, so they have a decent shot at selection.

Boston College Eagles (20-12, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 57
SOS: 38
Non-Conf. SOS: 281
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-7
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-10
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-12
Road/Neutral Record: 8-8
Quality Wins: Texas A&M (N), at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech
Troublesome Losses: Harvard, Clemson (N), at Clemson, Miami, at Miami, at Rhode Island
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:Yale
The Eagles' biggest problem is that they couldn't play as consistently in the ACC as they did in the non-conference season. Since Boston College lost to Harvard, Yale, and Rhode Island in that time, that speaks volumes for the issues they had when they were winning more regularly. In the league, they swept Virginia Tech and did little else, getting swept by Clemson and Miami, a team that's not even close to the field.

Harvard Crimson (21-6, 12-3 Ivy)
RPI: 32
SOS: 154
Non-Conf. SOS: 119
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 10-6
Road/Neutral Record: 9-6
Quality Wins: Princeton, at Boston College, Colorado
Troublesome Losses: at Princeton, Princeton (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Yale
Despite a good position in the RPI, two losses in Yale's Lee Amphitheater may cost the Crimson a place in the field of 68. The first was a February 26th loss to the Bulldogs, and the second was yesterday's Ivy tiebreaker loss to Princeton. Wins over Boston College and Colorado, two other bubble residents, should provide a boost, but I'm just not sure the committee will give an at-large bid to an Ivy member, even if the Crimson's profile compares favorably (and is even better than) some of their other competitors'.

Alabama Crimson Tide (22-11, 12-4 SEC West)
RPI: 78
SOS: 127
Non-Conf. SOS: 253
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 4-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-7
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 10-11
Road/Neutral Record: 5-11
Quality Wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, Georgia (N), Georgia
Troublesome Losses: St. Peter's (N), Seton Hall (N), at Arkansas
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Providence, Iowa (N)
Even with a sweep of Georgia, the Crimson Tide appear to be out because of too many flaws on their profile, which makes it far inferior to that of the Bulldogs'. The two biggest strikes against Alabama are its weak strength of schedule (both overall and outside of the SEC) and a poor record away from Tuscaloosa. The fact Alabama's record against the top 200 teams in the country is under .500 is bad enough, but two losses against teams rated in the bottom half of Division I make that mark so much worse. Losing to the two best teams in the conference, Florida and Kentucky, in blowout fashion the span of 12 days is also not helpful in a year where the committee will be looking for reasons to leave teams out.

VCU Rams (23-11, 12-6 CAA)
RPI: 51
SOS: 86
Non-Conf. SOS: 268
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 12-10
Road/Neutral Record: 13-8
Quality Wins: at Old Dominion, George Mason (N), UCLA (N)
Troublesome Losses: at UAB, James Madison
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at South Florida, at Northeastern, at Georgia State
A trio of bad losses, a 2-3 mark against the CAA's likely two bid teams (with three of the losses coming in Richmond), and a loss at fellow bubble team UAB look likely to keep the CAA Tournament runner-up (and fourth-place regular season finisher) Rams out of the field.

UAB Blazers (22-8, 12-4 C-USA)
RPI: 31
SOS: 79
Non-Conf. SOS: 316
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 0-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 10-7
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-8
Road/Neutral Record: 9-6
Quality Wins: VCU
Troublesome Losses: East Carolina (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at Arizona State
The Blazers have just one quality win on their profile, a December 21st home win over VCU. Even though they won the Conference USA regular season crown, UAB was swept by Memphis (granted both games were very close). They also lost their first game in the league tournament, falling to an East Carolina team they had defeated by 18 just five days before. There simply isn't enough on the Blazers' resume for them to receive a bid, but then again, I said virtually the same thing about UTEP last season.

Today's Action

Of today's four conference championship games, just two will impact the bubble. The biggest is the Atlantic 10 final (CBS, 1 p.m. ET) where the ninth-seeded Dayton will look to earn their way into the field over Richmond. The Spiders are likely in win or lose. The Last Four In will be paying special attention to this one.

Penn State can also remove any mystery from selection by upsetting Ohio State, the most likely candidate for the No. 1 overall seed, in the Big Ten final (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET).

The other two contests will be key for seeding as potential top seed Duke takes on likely No. 2 or 3 North Carolina for the ACC crown (ESPN or ACC Network, 1 p.m. ET), while Florida could lock up a spot on the two line with a win over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament final (ABC, 1 p.m. ET).

I'll have one final update sometime before the Selection Show. The specific time will depend on what happens in the Big Ten game in Indianapolis.

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