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Back on Friday, Nov. 9, the 2012-13 college basketball season began. Today, one of the most thrilling and unpredictable campaigns in recent memory reaches the beginning of the end as the Selection Committee will name the 68 teams that will play for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.
As I wrote earlier today, the Committee has its work cut out for it in handing out the four No. 1 seeds, including the top spot overall. Duke's defeat at the hands of Maryland on Friday night put a late blemish on its impeccable profile and, more crucially, deprived the Blue Devils of a chance at an ACC championship. Big Ten regular season champ Indiana lost to Wisconsin -- for the 12th-consecutive meeting -- in the first of that conference's semifinals in Chicago. Conversely, Kansas closed its profile out with a resounding win over archrival Kansas State in the Big 12 final, while Louisville came back from a 15-point deficit to crush Syracuse in the Big East final. Those were two convincing closing arguments
With that in mind, Louisville, Indiana, Kansas and Gonzaga are my four No. 1s for the final two projections. Sure Miami will try to stake its own claim by completing an ACC regular season/tournament double in Greensboro, but no team under consideration has two bad late losses like the Hurricanes. Mountain West regular season and tournament champ New Mexico also has a case, but I'm not sure the Selection Committee will give the Mountain West enough respect for the Lobos to be tabbed. Duke's lack of a title, despite the No. 1 RPI and strength of schedule, will cost them, which is not an unprecedented move.
Ten other teams joined Kansas, Louisville and New Mexico in clinching bids on Saturday -- Akron (MAC), Albany (America East), Memphis (Conference USA), Montana (Big Sky), New Mexico State (WAC), North Carolina A&T (MEAC), Northwestern State (Southland), Oregon (Pac-12), Pacific (Big West) and Southern U. (SWAC).
As for the bubble, Mississippi, which could not afford a late bad loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC semifinals, knocked off the Commodores. The Rebels did what they needed to do, but they might just want to clinch the auto bid by beating Florida in this afternoon's SEC final to be safe.
Conversely, Alabama really needed to beat Florida and Southern Mississippi's most realistic hope was to win the C-USA auto bid, a dream Memphis ended. The same went for Maryland, defeated by North Carolina in the ACC semifinals, and UMass, which fell to VCU in the Atlantic 10. For more on the bubble situation, take a look at last night's Last Four In/First Four Out post.
After my penultimate bracket and rundown of the season, I'll take a quick look at the four remaining games of Championship Week 2013.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Lexington (Thu/Sat)||Dayton (Fri/Sun)|
|1||LOUISVILLE (Big East)||1||Indiana|
|16||JAMES MADISON or LIBERTY||16||LONG ISLAND U. or N.C. A&T|
|↓ 8||UCLA||↑ 8||N.C. State|
|9||Iowa State||↓ 9||Missouri|
|San Jose (Thu/Sat)||San Jose (Thu/Sat)|
|55 5||UNLV||↓ 5||Syracuse|
|↓ 12||AKRON (MAC)||↓ 12||Boise State|
|↑ 4||Wisconsin||4||Kansas State|
|13||SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit)||13||VALPARAISO (Horizon)|
|Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)||Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 6||MEMPHIS (C-USA)||6||Butler|
|11||La Salle or Tennessee||↓ 11||Oklahoma|
|14||MONTANA (Big Sky)||14||HARVARD (Ivy)|
|Lexington (Thu/Sat)||Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)|
|↓ 7||Pittsburgh||7||Colorado State|
|2||Miami (ACC)||↓ 2||Duke|
|15||IONA (MAAC)||*15||ALBANY (AmEast)|
|(4) WEST |
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
|Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)||Kansas City (Fri/Sun)|
|1||GONZAGA (WCC)||↑ 1||KANSAS (Big 12)|
|16||SOUTHERN (SWAC)||16||WESTERN KENTUCKY (Sun Belt)|
|↓ 8||Notre Dame||8||San Diego State|
|9||BELMONT (OVC)||↑ 9||Illinois|
|Austin (Fri/Sun)||Kansas City (Fri/Sun)|
|5||Oklahoma State||↓ 5||Saint Louis (A10)|
|12||Minnesota||12||Mississippi or St. Mary's|
|13||NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC)||13||BUCKNELL (Patriot)|
|Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)||Austin (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 6||VCU||6||CREIGHTON (MVC)|
|↓ 11||California||↑ 11||Villanova|
|14||DAVIDSON (Southern)||*14||NORTHWESTERN STATE (Southland)|
|Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)||Dayton (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 7||North Carolina||↑ 7||OREGON (Pac-12)|
|↓ 10||Wichita State||↓ 10||Temple|
|↑ 2||NEW MEXICO (MWC)||2||Ohio State (Big Ten)|
|15||PACIFIC (Big West)||↓ 15||FLORIDA GULF COAST (A-Sun)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Lexington||Tuesday: To Auburn Hills|
|16||JAMES MADISON (CAA)||11||La Salle|
|16||LIBERTY (Big South)||11||Tennessee|
|Wednesday: To Dayton||Wednesday: To Austin
|16||LONG ISLAND U. (NEC)||*12||Mississippi|
|*16||NORTH CAROLINA A&T (MEAC)||12||St. Mary's|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|Big East: 8||Villanova||Albany||Middle Tennessee|
|Big Ten: 7||Boise State||Mississippi||Morgan State|
|A-10: 5||Oklahoma||North Carolina A&T||Stephen F. Austin|
|Big 12: 5||California||Northwestern State||Vermont|
||LAST FOUR IN|
|ACC: 4||St. Mary's|
|WCC: 2||FIRST FOUR OUT||Notre Dame||7 down to 8|
|1-Bid Conferences: 21||Middle Tennessee||North Carolina||8 up to 7|
|Virginia||Boise State||11 down to 12|
|Kentucky||La Salle, Tennessee||12 up to 11|
|Southern Mississippi||Minnesota||11 down to 12|
|NEXT FOUR OUT||California||12 up to 11|
Also considered (in order): Iowa, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin
North Carolina vs. Miami, 1 p.m. ET (ACC Network or ESPN and ESPN3D, Check Your Local Listings)
The Tar Heels burst Maryland's bubble on Saturday and now will try to send the Hurricanes down the seed list.
VCU vs. Saint Louis, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
You might very well want to watch this one, as both of these teams will make noise over the next few weekends. The Billikens have a shot at a four seed with a win.
Mississippi vs. Florida, 1 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Rebels will attempt to make it easy on the Selection Committee, while the Gators are trying to crack the No. 2 line, an unlikely possibility given how the weak SEC limited the Gators' Top-50 win chances.
Big Ten Final
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Buckeyes will be looking to wrap up a No. 2 seed, while the Badgers could sneak up to the a three line with a win. However, with the lateness of that particular game, who knows where these two teams end up.
The Selection Show
6 p.m. ET (CBS)
About 45 or so minutes after action wraps up in Chicago, the moment of reckoning arrives.
I'll have my final bracket at around 5 p.m. Eastern. Expect several changes as I'll wipe the seed list clean one final time.