Last night, four more automatic bids to the NCAA tournament were clinched. In the Northeast Conference, Mount Saint Mary’s defeated Saint Francis-Pennsylvania. Over in the Horizon League, Northern Kentucky beat Milwaukee. Realistically, this is a good thing for college basketball, because Milwaukee is now 11-24 and it is absolutely unfathomable that a team that bad could even stay within 30 points of whatever 1 seed it would face in the first round. I love the Madness of March – within reason!
In the later time slot, Gonzaga dominated Saint Mary’s, holding them to only 18 points in the first half on their way to an easy 76-58 win. As I wrote about yesterday, it’s hard for me to see the Zags being left off the 1 line now. I’ll go into more detail about this in my next post, comparing resumes of the teams close to the 1 line. Finally, in a game that matched the excitement of Monday night’s overtime thriller between Siena and Iona, the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State knocked off Nebraska-Omaha, 79-77, for the Summit League title.
In bubble action, two major results took place. First, Wake Forest beat Boston College in the opening round of the ACC tournament. While beating an awful BC squad does nothing to assure Wake Forest of an at-large bid, the opposite would have been disastrous – a loss could have dropped the Demon Deacons from the field and left them dependent on teams ahead of them losing.
Speaking of disastrous, we also saw Georgia Tech lose to Pittsburgh in the ACC’s opening round. I already thought Georgia Tech was out of at-large consideration anyway, but this cements it. At 17-15, an RPI approaching 100, an atrocious road record of 2-10, and a litany of bad losses, there is no chance at all of the Yellow Jackets making the field.
Today’s games will bring us a lot more bubble action, as the major conference tournaments get into full swing. Here are a couple of notable matchups. In the Pac-12, California faces a must-win against a pitiful Oregon State. A win certainly won’t put the Bears in the field, but a loss will end any hope of getting into it. Over in the ACC, Syracuse could help their cause with a win against Miami. At this point, the Orange have some very unfavorable metrics and a lot of bad losses, so this could go either way.
Finally, one more auto-bid is for the taking, as Bucknell squares off with Lehigh in the Patriot League’s championship game. So with all that said, let’s get into the projection! Moves up or down since yesterday are in parentheses after the team’s name (with little action yesterday, there weren’t a lot of moves). Projected automatic qualifiers are in bold, and teams who have clinched a bid are bold and underlined.
1s: Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina, Gonzaga
2s: Baylor, Oregon, Louisville, Kentucky
3s: UCLA, Florida State, Arizona, Butler
4s: Florida, Duke, Purdue, Virginia
5s: West Virginia, Cincinnati, SMU, Notre Dame
6s: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Saint Mary’s
7s: Maryland, Creighton, South Carolina, Oklahoma State
8s: Wichita State, Miami, Dayton, Michigan
9s: Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Arkansas
10s: Providence, Marquette, VCU, Michigan State
11s: Wake Forest, Xavier, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, Southern California
12s: Syracuse, Kansas State, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, Texas-Arlington
13s: Vermont, Princeton, East Tennessee State, Bucknell
14s: Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast, Akron, Cal-Bakersfield
15s: Northern Kentucky, Iona, North Dakota, Texas Southern (+1)
16s: Cal-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, Jacksonville State, South Dakota State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central
Last Four In: Vanderbilt, Southern California, Syracuse, Kansas State
No new automatic qualifiers in the NIT today, as none of the teams who lost conference tournament finals last night were regular season conference champions.
1s (First Four Out): Rhode Island, Illinois State, Iowa, Illinois
2s (Next Four Out): Ole Miss, California, Utah, Houston
3s: Indiana, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson (+1)
4s: Texas Tech, Alabama, Charleston, Georgia Tech (-1)
5s: Monmouth, BYU, Tennessee, TCU
6s: Richmond, Boise State, Colorado State, Valparaiso
7s: Fresno State, New Mexico, Central Florida, Texas A & M
8s: Belmont, Oakland, South Dakota, UNC-Greensboro
Thanks for reading, and look for another projection tomorrow. Check out the Bracket Matrix for over 100 more in the meantime!