If you don’t watch some of these mid-major or smaller conference tournaments that wrap up before the major conference tournaments start, you’re missing out. In the last 2 days, I’ve seen:
- Northern Iowa beat Evansville on a last-second shot that went off the back of the rim and in to take the Missouri Valley Conference,
- Florida Gulf Coast (Dunk City!) beat Stetson in overtime to take the Atlantic Sun,
- UNC-Wilmington beat Hofstra in overtime to take the Colonial Athletic,
- Iona beat Monmouth by 3 to take the Mid-Atlantic, and
- Green Bay beat Valparaiso in overtime to advance to the Horizon League title game
And this is one of the reasons I love college basketball. The excitement shown by the players and coaches from these teams when they win their conference tournaments. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the Big Dance and pull off an upset or two. The Madness has already started, and I’m loving every minute of it.
And speaking of Iona beating Monmouth, this will be one of the most interesting points of Selection Sunday. Will Monmouth get an at-large bid? I have them as my first team out at the moment. They have quality wins over Notre Dame and USC in the non-conference part of the season, plus a win at Iona. But they are weighed down by 3 losses to teams that are 200 or above (i.e., really bad) in the RPI. I prefer to see mid-major teams who won their conference in the regular season and who have good non-conference wins over major conference teams who were in the middle of the pack. But the Selection Committee typically doesn’t take this approach, and I have to take that into account in my projection.
With all that said, here’s the latest projection. As always, moves up or down are in parentheses, projected automatic qualifiers are in bold, and teams that have clinched auto bids are bold and underlined.
In since 3/5 update: Weber State, UNC-Asheville, UC-Irvine, Northern Iowa, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Oakland, Cincinnati
Out since 3/5 update: Montana, High Point, Hawaii, Michigan, Hofstra, Monmouth, Valparaiso, Syracuse
1s: Kansas, Villanova, Virginia, Michigan State
2s: Oklahoma, Xavier, Oregon, North Carolina (+1)
3s: Utah, West Virginia, Purdue, Miami (-1)
4s: Indiana (+1), Texas A & M, Kentucky (+1), Arizona (+1)
5s: Iowa State (-1), Duke (-1), California, Maryland (-1)
6s: Iowa, Texas, Dayton (+1), Baylor
7s: Notre Dame (+1), Texas Tech (+1), Seton Hall, Wisconsin (-1)
8s: Providence, Colorado (-1), Wichita State (-1), Saint Bonaventure (+1)
9s: Oregon State (+1), Butler (+2), Temple (+1), Saint Joe’s (-1)
10s: Southern California (-1), Vanderbilt (-1), Cincinnati (new), Virginia Commonwealth (-1)
11s: South Carolina, Connecticut, Tulsa, Pittsburgh (-1), San Diego State (+1), Saint Mary’s
12s: Chattanooga (+1), Yale (+1), UNC-Wilmington (new), Akron
13s: Northern Iowa (new), UC-Irvine (new), Arkansas-Little Rock, Stephen F. Austin (+1)
14s: Iona (new), South Dakota State, Stony Brook, Alabama-Birmingham (+1)
15s: UNC-Asheville (new), Oakland (new), New Mexico State, Weber State (new)
16s: Lehigh, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay, Wagner, Texas Southern, Hampton
Last Four In: South Carolina, Connecticut, Tulsa, Pittsburgh
First Four Out: Monmouth, Syracuse, Florida, Gonzaga
Next Four Out: Florida State, Michigan, Houston, George Washington
Third Four Out: Valparaiso, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Ohio State
Look for another update Wednesday and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime.