And now, we have our first great debate over whether or not a mid-major deserves an at-large bid. Enter Illinois State, who got absolutely blasted by 41 points at Wichita State last night. Before that, I had Illinois State as a 10 seed, now I have them as a 12, just making the field via the Last Four In. Their resume benefits from a home win over Wichita State and dominating a decent Missouri Valley Conference up until last night (they are now 11-1 in conference play). They also have an RPI of 33. The merits of the RPI have been picked apart endlessly, but it is still one of the metrics the Selection Committee leans on heavily.
Elsewhere, the Louisville Cardinals are making a strong push to be a 1 seed. I still have Kansas and Baylor holding on the 1 line for now, but it is extremely close between Baylor and Louisville at the moment. Let’s look at a quick comparison:
- Baylor beat Louisville on a neutral court earlier in the season. They also have wins over Oregon, a current 2 seed, and Xavier, a current 6 seed. They round out those impressive showings with 7 more wins against teams currently in the field.
- Louisville has home wins against Kentucky, Purdue, and Duke – currently 3, 4, and 5 seeds. They have 2 more wins against teams in the field. What is really pushing them right now is the style points. Louisville crushed Pittsburgh by 55 points a couple of weeks ago, and has followed that up with 2 more wins by 25 and then 23 points.
The bottom line is that with a win over Virginia tomorrow night, it would be very hard for me to keep Louisville off the 1 line. And looking ahead, the ACC is such a strong conference that it’s almost impossible to see the ACC not getting a team on the 1 line.
Elsewhere in the ACC, Syracuse made a major move, rising all the way from what would be an 8 seed in the NIT up to the Third Four Out (or a 3 seed in the NIT). The Orange have gone from losing to a bad UConn and a worse Saint John’s in non-conference play to beating Florida State and Virginia over the last few days. They also have wins over Miami and Wake Forest (both in the field right now) and sit at 7-4 in the ACC. We all remember what happened last year, when a Syracuse team that no one thought had any business in the tournament was selected… and advanced to the Final Four. Don’t be surprised to see the Orange in the field again come Selection Sunday.
Here at home, the Michigan Wolverines disappointed in a big way, losing by 4 to a mediocre Ohio State team. I now have the Wolverines as my first team out. The rest of the month doesn’t look too bright either, starting with a home game against Michigan State on Tuesday. But this team is so inconsistent, that the only thing we can expect is the unexpected
With all that said, it’s time to give you the projection and head off to watch the Super Bowl! As usual, moves up or down are in parentheses following the team’s name.
In since last update: Seton Hall, Kansas State, Oklahoma State
Out since last update: Clemson, Michigan, Tennessee
1s: Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, Baylor
2s: Louisville, Florida State, North Carolina (+1), Oregon (+1)
3s: Kentucky (-1), Virginia, Arizona (-1), Creighton
4s: Purdue, UCLA, Florida (+1), West Virginia
5s: Wisconsin, Butler (-1), Duke (+1), Cincinnati
6s: Saint Mary’s, South Carolina, Xavier (+1), Maryland (-1)
7s: SMU, Notre Dame (-1), Southern Cal, Northwestern
8s: Minnesota, VCU, Dayton, Michigan State
9s: Marquette, Iowa State (+1), Oklahoma State (new), Virginia Tech
10s: Wichita State (+1), Kansas State (new), Indiana (-1), Rhode Island
11s: Miami, TCU, Middle Tennessee, Wake Forest (+1), Seton Hall
12s: Illinois State (-2), Arkansas (-2), UNC-Wilmington, Boise State, Valparaiso
13s: Vermont, Akron, Monmouth, New Mexico State (+1)
14s: Belmont (-1), Florida Gulf Coast, Princeton, East Tennessee State
15s: Georgia State, Winthrop, Bucknell, Texas Southern (+1)
16s: North Dakota State (-1), Weber State, Sam Houston State, North Carolina Central, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine
Last Four In: Wake Forest, Seton Hall, Illinois State, Arkansas
First Four Out: Michigan, Tennessee, Clemson, Texas Tech (+2)
Next Four Out: Providence, California, Georgetown, Georgia Tech
Third Four Out: Syracuse (+5), Ole Miss, Nevada, Georgia (-1)
Fourth Four Out: Charleston, Temple (+1), Ohio State (+2), Illinois
Thanks for reading, and look for my next update on Wednesday. As always, check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!