You can already see changes in the middle of the bracket based on Thursday's results. For example, both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin Badgers fell on the seed list following Big Ten Tournament losses to teams with losing records, while the Iowa State Cyclones and Texas Longhorns dropped a single line following Big 12 Tournament defeats. On the flip side, the Arizona Wildcats, Baylor Bears and Seton Hall Pirates rose a bit after their Thursday wins.
With the ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Pac-12 Tournaments at the semifinal stage, and no real surprises taking the floor at those events, you can expect to see some movement in a Top 16 that remained static after yesterday's play. The Duke Blue Devils, the only team out of the protected seed group to lose on Thursday, could drop down with the right combination of results.
Bubble teams will not only want to keep an eye on what happens in the SEC, Big Ten, American and Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals, where bubble teams will be in action, but also the Mountain West Tournament semifinals. That's because the top-seeded San Diego State Aztecs struggled to get by the Utah State Aggies in the quarters. With a loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack, the Aztecs would join the crowd looking for a bid.
After today's full bracket and rundown, I'll take a look at the profiles of today's last four in, a group changed by one of last night's West Coast results, and first four out.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Des Moines (Thu/Sat)||Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Kansas (Big 12)||1||Villanova (Big East)|
|16||FLORIDA GULF COAST/HOLY CROSS||16||AUSTIN PEAY/Texas Southern|
|Denver (Thu/Sat)||Spokane (Fri/Sun)|
|12||NORTHERN IOWA (MVC)||12||Little Rock (Sun Belt)|
|13||Akron (MAC)||13||YALE (Ivy)|
|Des Moines (Thu/Sat)||Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)|
|11||San Diego State (MW)||11||Monmouth/Wichita State|
|3||Indiana (Big Ten)||3||West Virginia|
|14||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)||*14||Middle Tennessee (C-USA)|
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||Raleigh (Thu/Sut)|
|77||Colorado||7||Dayton (A 10)|
|2||Xavier||2||North Carolina (ACC)|
|15||GREEN BAY (Horizon)||15||UNC ASHEVILLE (Big South)|
|(4) WEST |
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||Raleigh (Thu/Sat)|
|16||FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (NEC)||16||Hampton (MEAC)|
|↑8||GONZAGA (WCC)||8||South Carolina|
|Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)||Providence (Thu/Sat)|
|12||CHATTANOOGA (SoCon)||12||UNC WILMINGTON (CAA)|
|4||Texas A&M (SEC)||4||Maryland|
|13||South Dakota State (Summit)||13||IONA (MAAC)|
|Providence (Thu/Sat)||Denver (Thu/Sat)|
|↓6||Iowa State||↑6||Seton Hall|
|11||Oregon State/Saint Mary's||↓11||Pittsburgh|
|14||Stony Brook (Am East)||14||Hawai'i (Big West)|
|Spokane (Fri/Sun)||Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)|
|15||Weber State (Big Sky)||15||New Mexico State (WAC)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Des Moines||Tuesday: To Providence|
|16||FLORIDA GULF COAST (A-Sun)||↓11||Oregon State|
|16||HOLY CROSS (Patriot)||*11||Saint Mary's|
|Wednesday: To Brooklyn||Wednesday: To Brooklyn
|16||AUSTIN PEAY (OVC)||11||Monmouth|
|16||Texas Southern (SWAC)||11||Wichita State|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|Big 12: 7||Connecticut (37)||Middle Tenn. (C-USA)||UAB (C-USA)|
|Pac-12: 7||St. Bonaventure (38)||Saint Mary's||Vanderbilt|
|ACC: 6||VCU (39)|
|Big Ten: 6||Pittsburgh (41)|
|Big East: 5||LAST FOUR IN|
|Atlantic 10: 4||Wichita State (42)|
|American: 3||Monmouth (43)|
|SEC: 3||Saint Mary's (44)|
|MAAC: 2||Oregon State (45)|
|MVC: 2||FIRST FOUR OUT|
|One-Bid Conferences: 21||Syracuse|
|NEXT FOUR OUT|
Also considered (in order): Florida State, Ohio State, Washington, Princeton, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Creighton, Georgia Tech, BYU, Alabama, LSU, UAB
Note: All records referenced refer to games against Division I opposition only and all RPI data was accessed on RPIForecast.com this morning.
Last Four IN
Avoiding Dayton: Connecticut, St. Bonaventure, VCU, Pittsburgh
23-8; 16-2 MVC; RPI: 45; SOS: 104; Non-conf. SOS: 11; KenPom: 11
The Northern Iowa Panthers' win in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament final vindicated the Shockers a bit, giving the team that handed them a pair of late-season losses some national respect. But Wichita State's case will largely rest on how the Selection Committee evaluates its struggles in November and December when Fred VanVleet missed the Advocare Invitational with a hamstring injury and Anton Grady injured his head in the team's second game in Orlando. Considering that the Shockers' first two losses in Florida were by three points (to USC) and four (to Alabama, after Grady was carted off), perhaps VanVleet's presence would have made a difference in each. Plus, Wichita State defeated Utah by 17 with its full roster. On the flip side, they lost at Seton Hall and, worse, at fellow bubble team Tulsa with that same level of personnel.
Things could go either way for Gregg Marshall's team. However, another factor working in the Shockers' favor is the best "bad" loss of this group—to 117th-ranked Illinois State on the road.
27-7; 17-3 MAAC; RPI: 55; SOS: 166; Non-conf. SOS: 98; KenPom: 67
The Hawks are a more polarizing case than Wichita State at this point, and that's not just because of their bench's antics. At 3-4 against the Top 100 with a pair of Top 50 wins (over Notre Dame and USC in the same Advocare Invitational the Shockers participated in), Monmouth has some of the best wins of this group. However, they also have the three worst losses, all to teams from outside the RPI Top 200. Those defeats all came on the road, which sullies the Hawks' 13-4 mark in true road games a bit. Picking up 17 wins in 23 games away from West Long Branch is still mighty impressive, however.
Unfortunately, the weakness of this season's MAAC, which helped contribute to the 19 total games Monmouth played against teams ranked worse than 200th in the RPI, might ultimately cost the conference's regular season champs a bid. If the Selection Committee continues to emphasize a quality non-conference schedule, the Hawks should be in. But if they look at computer numbers more, King Rice's team should expect some NIT home games.
26-5; 15-3 WCC; RPI: 37; SOS: 146; Non-conf. SOS: 165; KenPom: 33
No team better illustrates the divergence between computer numbers and hard results than the Gaels. With a Top 40 RPI ranking, 26 wins against Division I opposition and a share of the West Coast Conference regular season crown, Saint Mary's would normally be a lock. However, Randy Bennett's team played just one non-conference game away from Moraga, a four-point loss at California. In fact, that game was the Gaels' only one against a team in the Top 50 until Gonzaga moved into that class by topping Saint Mary's in the WCC final on Tuesday. Now, the Gaels are 2-2 against the cream of the crop and 6-3 against the Top 100.
A sweep at the hands of Pepperdine (whom Saint Mary's defeated in the conference semifinals) hurts, as do the 18 games played against teams ranked worse than 200th. That schedule should doom the Gaels to the NIT, but I still have to think the computer numbers might outweigh it.
18-12; 9-9 WCC; RPI: 33; SOS: 8; Non-conf. SOS: 51; KenPom: 59
With a 10-10 record against the Top 100, five Top 50 wins, and their two bad losses coming to teams just outside the Top 100, the Beavers look safe on the surface. However, Oregon State has two big problems. First, the Beavers were just 7-9 away from Corvallis, with their best wins coming over Tulsa, in Portland and at Stanford. A win over California last night would have helped on that front, but Wayne Tinkle's squad lost by eight in Las Vegas. Making matters worse, the coach's son, Tres Tinkle, a key performer in the Beavers' frontcourt, has missed the last four games with a foot injury. Oregon State has gone 2-2 in that span, with the losses coming to likely NCAA teams. If the younger Tinkle is not going to be ready to go next week, that's another mark against the Beavers.
First Four OUT
20-10; 12-6 American; RPI: 47; SOS: 52; Non-conf. SOS: 100; KenPom: 44
Had the Golden Hurricane not lost to the Memphis Tigers team they'll play in today's American Athletic quarterfinals back on Feb. 28, they might be in the group above. But they didn't, so now Tulsa has to defeat the Tigers today to stay in the race. The Golden Hurricane's 8-8 mark against the Top 100 features a win over each American contender (Cincinnati, UConn, Temple and Houston at home, SMU on the road) and a 10-point home victory over fellow bubbler Wichita State. Home losses to the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans and Oral Roberts Golden Eagles aren't helpful, neither is the defeat Frank Haith's team took to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Paradise Jam final.
Playing in the bottom half of the American Athletic Conference Tournament bracket isn't helpful, as Tulsa won't face an at-large threat until the final, if they get there. If they don't make it to Sunday, they're done.
19-13; 9-9 ACC; RPI: 72; SOS: 41; Non-conf. SOS: 118; KenPom: 41
The Orange's profile features pleasant highs (a win at Duke and another over Texas A&M in the Battle 4 Atlantis final) and rocky lows (a home loss to Clemson and defeats at Georgetown and, most unforgivably, St. John's). Syracuse's three worst losses came during Jim Boeheim's nine-game suspension, when they went 4-5 under assistant Mike Hopkins. The Orange won eight of the Hall of Famer's first 10 games back, and looked to be a lock. Then they won just once in their last six. Three losses to ACC bubble rival Pitt is another serious minus.
Syracuse's rough finish should limit any credit they receive for Boeheim's nine-game absence, which should, in turn, drop them to the NIT.
24-6; 16-2 Horizon; RPI: 52; SOS: 164; Non-conf. SOS: 53; KenPom: 36
Valpo entered this season as an overwhelming favorite in the Horizon League, which hampered Bryce Drew's ability to build his Crusaders a truly at-large worthy schedule. Therefore, Valparaiso enters this final weekend with a 1-1 mark against the Top 50 (a win at Oregon State and a six-point loss at Oregon two nights earlier) and a 3-1 record over teams sitting between 51st and 100th. The Crusaders wins in that group came over a conference tourney champ (Iona) and a pair of conference regular season champs (IPFW and Belmont, which split a home-and-home with Valpo).
Like Monmouth, Valparaiso did well away from home, going 12-4 in true road games. However, their lone neutral-court game, the Horizon semifinal loss to Green Bay, is the loss that has them in this very spot.
This profile resembles Iona's 2012 effort that got the Gaels into the First Four after they had trouble getting games. Perhaps history will repeat itself four years later.
19-13; 9-9 SEC; RPI: 51; SOS: 19; Non-conf. SOS: 4; KenPom: 42
On his way to Oklahoma City, Billy Donovan left his eventual successor, Mike White, a formidable non-conference schedule that would test the Gators, and get them into the NCAAs with enough wins. But if you look at the Gators' 2-8 record against the RPI Top 50 (7-12 against the Top 100), it's clear that Florida missed many opportunities.
While Florida blew West Virginia out in Gainesville in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and knocked off fellow bubble team Saint Joe's in Connecticut in November, the rest of Florida's results are a collection of moments to regret. The worst are arguably a two-point home loss to Florida State, a game UF gave away at the very end, and a six-point setback at Michigan State. Add in several close losses in the SEC, including a three-point defeat to the very Texas A&M team the Gators face today, you have a recipe for an NIT bid.
But if Florida tops the Aggies this afternoon, there will be new hope.
Next Four OUT: George Washington, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Hofstra
Once again, I'll have updates on the bubble and the race for top seeds as events warrant.