If my team wins the conference tournament, they’ll definitely move up a few seed lines, right? If your team is on the bubble, one good win in the conference tournament or getting to a certain round gets them in, doesn’t it?
I absolutely love this time of year, as teams fight it out to make the NCAA tournament field and establish their position in it. But, the kind of overreactions you see above are too common. It makes for good talking points on the major networks, but it’s all sensationalized. Don’t get me wrong, teams do help or hurt their causes by how they play at this time of the season. But, there are two really important considerations that people tend to overlook when they reduce the team’s chances to one or two games at the end of the season.
One, it’s about the entire season. The semifinal of whatever conference tournament doesn’t count any more than the first game played in November. And two, seeding is all relative. It also matters what comparable teams do.
Of course, the one game that does matter more is the final of the conference tournament because for 18 to 20 teams in the field this year (all who are on the 13 line or below, and probably Belmont and Lipscomb), winning that game will be the difference between making the tournament and watching it at home. But besides that, the conference tournaments are just fun to watch and don’t guarantee anything on Selection Sunday.
With those thoughts in mind, I made a couple of key changes today. First, Kentucky is back on the 1 line over Tennessee. It’s really close, but Kentucky has 11 Quad 1 wins to Tennessee’s 8. Both have beaten a few top teams, so the difference is that Kentucky has better road wins. They’ve won at Mississippi State and Louisville, while Tennessee’s best road win is at Ole Miss.
At the cut line, Indiana and Alabama have jumped into the field, while North Carolina State and Arizona State have fallen out. NC State doesn’t have a good win on the road and has the #352 non-conference strength of schedule – these factors never bode well on Selection Sunday. Arizona State just has too many bad losses, and early-season wins over Kansas and Mississippi State aren’t enough to offset those losses right now. Indiana has six Quadrant 1 wins, including at Michigan State, and I have to include 68 teams, so Alabama jumped back in because they have a slightly better resume than the teams among the First Four Out.
With that said, here’s the latest update. Moves up or down since my update on Wednesday, March 6 are in parentheses after the team’s name.
In since Wednesday 3/6: Indiana, Alabama
Out since Wednesday 3/6: North Carolina State, Arizona State
1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky (+1)
2s: North Carolina, Tennessee (-1), Michigan, Michigan State
3s: LSU, Houston, Texas Tech, Purdue
4s: Marquette, Kansas, Florida State, Kansas State
5s: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Maryland
6s: Villanova, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Buffalo
7s: Nevada, Louisville, Auburn, Iowa
8s: Oklahoma, St. John’s, Wofford, Syracuse (+1)
9s: Baylor (-1), Washington (+1), UCF (+2), Ole Miss (+1)
10s: Minnesota, VCU (-1), Ohio State (-1), Florida (-1)
11s: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana (new)
12s: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama (new)
13s: New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Vermont, Old Dominion
14s: Hofstra, Yale, South Dakota State, Texas State
15s: Northern Kentucky, Radford, Montana, Drake
16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona
Last Four Byes: Utah State, Seton Hall, Texas, Indiana
Last Four In: Clemson, Temple, TCU, Alabama
First Four Out: Creighton (+1), North Carolina State, Arizona State, UNC-Greensboro
Next Four Out: Furman, Georgetown (-1), Dayton, Memphis (+1)
Still Alive (in no particular order): St. Mary’s, Butler, Murray State, Toledo, Oregon, East Tennessee State (these teams could, in theory, get in with a great performance down the stretch and some collapses by the teams above them).
Hanging on by a Thread: Providence, San Francisco, Davidson, Xavier, Colorado, Oregon State, South Florida, Arizona (really, these teams have almost no shot short of winning out and everyone above them losing out but, I thought I’d list them for fun).
Enjoy the games, and look for my next update tomorrow (Saturday, March 9). Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!