Yesterday, I put Gonzaga behind Duke in the battle for the final 1 seed. I analyzed it again last night and I still see it that way. I’ll go into more detail about my reasoning in a post later today. For now, let’s get to everyone’s favorite topic this time of year:
The most impactful game yesterday was North Carolina State versus Clemson. I moved NC State into the field and Clemson out – their 1-10 Quadrant 1 record is an eyesore that won’t help their cause – but both could still get in, as we’ll get to below.
There are a lot of important games including bubble teams today. I’ve bolded those who are on the bubble in the following list.
The games are: Indiana vs. Ohio State (12:30 PM EST), North Carolina State vs. Virginia (12:30), Florida vs. Arkansas (1:00), Creighton vs. Xavier (2:30), TCU vs. Kansas State (2:30), Alabama vs. Ole Miss (7:00), Minnesota vs. Penn State (7:00), St. John’s vs. Marquette (7:00), Texas vs. Kansas (9:00), Utah State vs. New Mexico (9:00), Arizona State vs. UCLA (9:00), and Georgetown vs. Seton Hall (9:30).
Remember, as I wrote about on Friday, there is no such thing as an NCAA Tournament elimination game in the conference tournaments. This is true unless you’re on the absolute fringes of the bubble and even then, you could still get in if enough teams ahead of you lose and the metrics shift in your favor.
Let’s look at that idea more closely. Let’s say all of the teams I named in the Bubble Watch games today lose (other than Indiana or Ohio State, since they’re playing each other). Now, let’s say that there is a fundamental shift in how the Selection Committee evaluates teams, and they put Belmont, Furman, UNC-Greensboro, and Lipscomb in the field. Even with that, 5 of the teams in key games today would still make the field, given that 9 are in it right now. Or, someone on the fringes (like a Providence) would get in.
And that is why there is no such thing as an NCAA Tournament elimination game during Champ Week. So now, let’s get to this morning’s projection.
Clinched bids yesterday: Colgate
In since yesterday: North Carolina State, Colgate
Out since yesterday: Clemson, Bucknell
I’ve bolded auto-qualifiers, and noted moves up or down in parentheses following the team’s name.
1s: Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke
2s: Gonzaga, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan
3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Houston, Purdue
4s: Kansas, Florida State, Wisconsin, Kansas State
5s: Virginia Tech, Marquette, Maryland, Mississippi State
6s: Villanova, Auburn, Nevada (+1), Buffalo
7s: Wofford, Cincinnati (-1), Louisville, Iowa State
8s: UCF, Ole Miss, Iowa, Oklahoma
9s: VCU, Baylor, Syracuse, Seton Hall (+1)
10s: Washington (-1), Minnesota, Utah State, St. John’s
11s: TCU, Indiana, Ohio State, Arizona State, Creighton
12s: Temple, North Carolina State (new), St. Mary’s, Murray State, Liberty
13s: New Mexico State, UC-Irvine, Vermont, Northeastern
14s: Old Dominion, Yale, Georgia State, Northern Kentucky
15s: Montana, Colgate (new), Gardner-Webb, Bradley
16s: Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Iona, Fairleigh-Dickinson, North Dakota State (new), Norfolk State
Last Four Byes: St. John’s, TCU, Indiana, Ohio State
Last Four In: Arizona State, Creighton, Temple, North Carolina State
First Four Out: Florida, Texas (+1), Alabama, UNC-Greensboro (+1)
Next Five Out: Clemson, Belmont (-1), Furman, Georgetown, Lipscomb
Still Alive but Hanging by a Thread: Memphis, Oregon, Xavier, Providence, Fresno State, Arkansas, Dayton, Davidson
Gone Fishin’: Toledo (no Quad 1 wins and they won’t have a chance to get one until the MAC final)
Now, let’s look at how the tiers are shaping up today. They are fairly similar to yesterday. I expect some shifts the next couple of days, as the major conference tournaments get into full swing.
Tier 1 (Shot at a 1 Seed): This is the current 1 and 2 lines, ranging from Virginia down to Michigan.
Tier 2 (Lock for a Protected Seed): This is the current overall 9 to 13 seeds, ranging from LSU down to Kansas. These teams could rise to the 2 line and will not land lower than the 4 line.
Tier 3 (Still Have a Shot at a Protected Seed): This is the current 14 to 21 overall seeds, ranging from Florida State to Villanova. The higher end of this group could rise to the 3 line, with the worst landing as a 6-seed.
Tier 4 (Middle of the At-Large Pack): This is the current overall 22 to 28 seeds, ranging from Auburn to Iowa State. These teams could rise as high as 5 and fall as far as 8.
Tier 5 (Last Group Safely In): This is overall seeds 29 to 37, ranging from UCF to Washington. The better end of this group could rise to the 7-line, and I don’t see any falling lower than the 10-line as of now.
Tier 6 (Would be in Today, But Not a Lock): This is overall seeds 38 to 43, which is Minnesota to Ohio State. These teams could be anywhere from the 9-line to out of the field, which reflects the volatility of the bubble at this point.
Tier 7 (Absolute Toss-ups): This is today’s Last Four In and First Four Out, which ranges from Arizona State to UNC-Greensboro. Some of these teams could rise as high as the 10-line, and others will most likely be banished to the NIT.
Tier 8 (The Situation is Dire): This is the Next Five Out. Georgetown has serious work to do, and the other four need considerable help at this point. What separates UNC-Greensboro from their mid-major competitors in this tier? UNCG has zero losses outside of Quadrant 1.
So, that’s how I see it today. Enjoy the games, and look for my detailed breakdown of the top two seed lines later today. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!