Yesterday, I wrote about the Madness in the Horizon League tournament. With Green Bay’s loss to Illinois-Chicago, the conference has now lost its top three teams in the opening round. Elsewhere, for the second straight year, Monmouth won the MAAC regular season but lost in the conference tournament. In what would be a minor upset, I’m picking the 4th-seeded Siena to defeat 3rd-seeded Iona tonight and capture the auto bid from the MAAC, given that the MAAC tournament is being held on Siena’s home floor this year.
For today’s bubble watch, I’m going to focus on one team: Illinois State. The Redbirds sit at an impressive 27-6 overall, and finished 16-2 in the Missouri Valley for the regular season. They rank 42nd in KenPom and have an RPI of 32. Here’s the problem: Illinois State’s strength of schedule is 138th, and they only have two wins against teams in the Top 100 of the RPI. These are at home against Wichita State and New Mexico.
As stated by Jerry Palm at halftime of the MVC title game yesterday, no team has gotten an at-large bid with that few Top 100 wins. The blowout loss to Wichita State yesterday (20 points) won’t help matters. Illinois State is a good team and if it were up to me, they would be in the field. But, if the Committee were seeding the field today, I believe they would leave Illinois State out and as a result, I have them in my First Four Out today.
Along with Wichita State, Florida Gulf Coast and Winthrop punched their tickets to the Big Dance yesterday. Tonight, three more bids are on the line, as UNC-Wilmington squares off with Charleston for the Colonial Athletic championship, East Tennessee State takes on UNC-Greensboro for the Southern championship, and Iona faces Siena for the MAAC championship.
So, let’s get to the projection. As always, moves up or down since yesterday are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold. Teams who have clinched an auto bid are bold and underlined.
In since yesterday: Rhode Island, Siena
Out since yesterday: Illinois State, Monmouth
1s: Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina, Gonzaga
2s: Baylor, Oregon, Louisville, UCLA
3s: Kentucky, Arizona, Florida State, Butler
4s: Duke, Florida, Purdue, Virginia
5s: West Virginia, Cincinnati, SMU, Notre Dame (+1)
6s: Minnesota (-1), Saint Mary’s, Wisconsin (+1), Iowa State
7s: Maryland (-1), Creighton, South Carolina, Wichita State (+1)
8s: Oklahoma State (-1), Miami, Dayton, Michigan (+1)
9s: Northwestern (-1), Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Providence
10s: Arkansas, Marquette, VCU, Michigan State
11s: Wake Forest, Xavier, Southern California, Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt (+1)
12s: Syracuse, Rhode Island (new), Nevada, UNC-Wilmington, Texas-Arlington
13s: Princeton, Vermont, Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast (+1)
14s: Bucknell, Akron, UNC-Greensboro, Cal-Bakersfield (+1)
15s: Northern Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas Southern (+1)
16s: Cal-Irvine, Jacksonville State, Siena, Mount Saint Mary’s, New Orleans, North Carolina Central
Last Four In: Southern California, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Rhode Island
Yesterday, I erred and left Oakland out. The Grizzlies will be in the NIT because they won the Horizon League’s regular season title. Here’s today’s projection. Belmont and Monmouth have joined the field, while Auburn and San Francisco have fallen out of it.
1s (First Four Out): Kansas State, Illinois State, Utah, Iowa (+1)
2s (Next Four Out): California (-1), Ole Miss, Illinois, Houston (+1)
3s: Indiana (-1), Georgia, Ohio State, Georgia Tech
4s: BYU, Charleston, Texas Tech, Alabama
5s: Monmouth, Tennessee, Clemson, TCU
6s: Richmond (-1), Valparaiso (+1), Boise State, Colorado State
7s: Fresno State (-1), New Mexico, Central Florida, Texas A & M (+1)
8s: Colorado (-1), East Tennessee State, Belmont, Oakland
Look for another projection tomorrow, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!