The title says it all. As we move into March, the games get closer and even more intense, making them that much more fun to watch. At the same time, some teams fighting for their seasons just put on truly bad performances.
Let’s start with Nebraska, who is dead and gone unless they can somehow pull off a shocking win at Michigan State on Tuesday night. That would keep them alive for the time being. Having seen the game at Michigan last night in person and looking at the Huskers’ results the past few weeks, it is really hard to believe they were ranked in January! The team is in absolute disarray. They didn’t even look like they wanted to be there and they were dominated by a Michigan team who was clearly playing with an edge after their rivalry loss to Michigan State last Sunday.
You can also say so long to San Francisco – a lack of any Quadrant 1 wins, and losses to San Diego and Santa Clara in the past week have done them in.
Out west, the Pac-12 is in legitimate danger of only sending one team to the Dance, which would be the first time in a quarter-century that a major conference has hit such a low. Arizona State suffered a loss at Oregon last night that is questionable at best, adding to an array of other bad losses. Would their wins against Kansas, Mississippi State, Utah State, and Washington save them? I don’t know; for one thing, I’m not even convinced that Washington is a lock to make the field after their loss at California last night. That is their only bad loss, but it’s not like they have a ton of good wins to offset it. The Huskies haven’t beaten anyone who is likely to make the field as an at-large, and they have only one Quad 1 win.
In general, you hear it all the time and it’s playing out this week: as the grind of the conference season takes its toll, the weaker teams often start to pull upsets. It wasn’t just Washington losing to Cal. St. John’s lost at home to a Xavier team that is suddenly making some noise after appearing dead in the water early in February, but is still a long shot to make the field. Earlier in the week, we saw Penn State blow out Maryland. Louisville losing to Boston College wasn’t a good look either, especially given how much Louisville was already fading before that game. Louisville, St. John’s, and especially Maryland are all safely in, but these losses absolutely hurt seeding.
With that said, here’s the latest update. Moves up or down since Wednesday are in parentheses.
In since Wednesday 2/27: Northern Kentucky, Quinnipiac
Out since Wednesday 2/27: Wright State, Canisius
1s: Virginia, Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga
2s: North Carolina, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan
3s: Houston, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue
4s: Texas Tech, LSU, Florida State, Wisconsin
5s: Mississippi State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech (+1)
6s: Maryland (-1), Nevada, Villanova (+1), Cincinnati (+1)
7s: Iowa (-1), Buffalo, Baylor, Louisville (-1)
8s: Auburn (+1), Syracuse (+1), Oklahoma (+1), Ole Miss
9s: Ohio State, Saint John’s (-1), Texas (-1), Florida (+1)
10s: Wofford (+1), Washington (-2), VCU (+1), Seton Hall
11s: Minnesota, North Carolina State (-1), Arizona State (-1), TCU
12s: UCF, Clemson, Alabama, Temple, Belmont, Lipscomb
13s: Old Dominion, New Mexico State, Yale (+1), UC Irvine (+1)
14s: Vermont (-1), Hofstra (-1), South Dakota State, Texas State
15s: Radford, Montana, Northern Kentucky (new), Drake
16s: Texas Southern, Sam Houston State, Bucknell, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Quinnipiac (new)
Last Four Byes: Minnesota, North Carolina State (-1), Arizona State (-1), TCU (here, it’s worth mentioning that everyone from Texas on down is squarely on the bubble, should they fail to win their conference tournaments).
Last Four In: UCF, Clemson, Alabama, Temple
First Four Out: Utah State, UNC-Greensboro, Georgetown (+1), Dayton
Next Four Out: Furman (-1), Butler, Saint Mary’s, Creighton (+1)
Others in Consideration (in no particular order): Providence, Xavier, Indiana, Toledo, Murray State, East Tennessee State, Memphis, Oregon, Arizona
Enjoy the games, and look for my next update by Monday, March 4 at the latest. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!