Last year, the PiRate Ratings began compiling a list of the 32 most accurate bracketology gurus and making a weekly composite ranking. Unfortunately, at some point in the season, a couple of the bracketologists stopped updating their ratings daily or stopped altogether. This year, we are going to go with the number that satisfactorily update their ratings after Monday or Tuesday night’s games have been played.
We begin 29 bracketology experts today. They have decided on the 68 teams currently in line to get into the NCAA Tournament based on their resumes as of last night’s games. So, Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State and Duke’s home loss to Syracuse are included, as is the removal of Texas-Arlington from the potential at-large list after their upset loss.
We will break it down by conference and then show you our seeds. We do not show a bracket, because it is ridiculous to try to select where each team will be placed to avoid early rematches or games between teams in the same conference. We strictly list teams by the composite scores, so the top #5 seed in the list is the highest-rated #5 seed and so on.
For the one-bid leagues, we are going with the current leader in the standings. If there are ties, then we break the tie by going with the team with the higher PiRate Rating.
Until we get closer to conference tournament play, we are only going to include the top 8 teams on The Bubble that are out of the tournament as of today, so that means we will show you 76 total teams. There are upwards of 100 extra teams that could possibly play themselves into contention, so until that list is whittled down to about 12-15 teams, we are sticking with just 76.
America East: Stony Brook (5-0/14-4) The Seawolves are riding a 10-game winning streak but with no impressive wins. An overtime loss at Vanderbilt and a 14-point win over Princeton will keep Stony Brook out of a 15 or 16 seed should they qualify
Atlantic Sun: North Florida (4-0/15-6) Five of the Osprey’s six losses were to teams that are contending for an NCAA Tournament bid. UNF will have to hold off a challenge from Florida Gulf Coast, and the two rivals face off on consecutive Saturdays (J.30 and F.6).
Big Sky: Montana (6-0/11-6) The Grizzlies hold a half-game lead over Weber State, and we expect the Wildcats to beat Montana in their lone meeting on February 25 in Ogden.
Big South: UNC-Asheville (6-1/13-6) The Bulldogs have one impressive win at Georgetown, but a weak conference slate may doom them to a 15 or 16 seed. Any other team winning this bid will almost assuredly risk having to play in the First Four.
Big West: Hawaii (4-0/15-2) The Warriors are oh so close to contending for an at-large berth at this point, with their two losses coming to Texas Tech in Lubbock and against Oklahoma on the Island, games in which Hawaii led in the second half. The Warriors face stiff competition from UC-Irvine, also undefeated in conference play. The two teams square off twice in eight days in Mid-February.
Colonial: Northeastern (4-2/12-7) There are six teams tied for first at 4-2 in this league, and the only reason we selected the Huskies over the other five is that they have a win at Miami of Florida. Any of eight teams could win the league’s automatic bid. If you have access to CAA games, tune in, because they are all exciting contests between equally talented teams.
Conference USA: UAB (5-0/15-3) The Blazers are hot having won 12 in a row, but none of the dozen are quality wins. UAB could easily top 25 wins, but a 13-seed is the best they can achieve.
Horizon: Valparaiso (6-0/16-3) We are going to have to closely monitor this league. Valpo could run the table and then if upset in the conference tournament, they could sneak into the field as an at-large team. For now, the Crusaders look unstoppable in the league, so we are going to keep this a definite one-bid league.
Ivy: Princeton (1-0/10-4) Princeton will face a tough challenge from Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, and there could easily be a multiple-team tie forcing a playoff. In the Ivy, there is a playoff even if one team swept the other. And because the Ivy plays Friday night/Saturday night games, it is difficult for one team to run the table having to play three conference road games on Saturday nights after playing a road game on Friday night.
Mid-American: Northern Illinois (3-1/14-3) The Huskies are one of five or six teams capable of winning the automatic bid from the MAC. This league appears to be on a slight uptick, but still there are no major quality wins outside of league play, and thus it remains a one-bid league.
Metro Atlantic: Monmouth (6-1/14-4) Former North Carolina star King Rice has the Hawks in line to move up above a #12 seed should they continue to win. Monmouth has knocked off UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, and Georgetown, plus they own a road win over top MAAC contender Iona. Theatrics aside from the wacky bench-warmers, the Hawks will be the darling mid-major if they arrive to the Dance with 25 wins.
Mid-Eastern Athletic: Hampton (6-0/10-7) The PiRates casually cheer for the Pirates for obvious reasons, and Hampton is not only leading the MEAC, they are the only team with a winning record overall and the only MEAC team capable of avoiding a First Four game.
Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s (5-1/8-11) The Mountaineers started 0-6 against a monstrous schedule for a low-major conference team and then was just 3-10 when conference play began. MSM has a one game lead over three competitors, all of which could pass the Mounties in the regular season. It looks like a definite 16-seed here.
Ohio Valley: Belmont (5-0/13-6) The Bruins are the perpetual pick out of this league, but they face stiff competition from crosstown rival Tennessee State, also 5-0 in league play. We chose Belmont on the basis of wins over Marquette and Valpo, but former Wichita State assistant Dana Ford will receive national coach of the year support if he can take TSU from 5-26 in 2015 to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
Patriot: Navy (5-1/14-5) The Midshipmen will be a headache for any one-seed opponent that faces them in the Round of 64 game. They are the 1980’s and 90’s version of Princeton, holding onto the ball for 25-29 seconds on most possessions and playing tough team defense. Bucknell and Colgate are talented enough to win this bid.
Southern: Chattanooga (5-1/16-3) This is a team capable of sneaking into the Sweet 16. The Mocs have won at Georgia and Dayton as well as over Illinois in a “neutral” game at Springfield, IL. One of their three losses was at Iowa State in a game where the Cyclones could not miss from three. If they keep winning, UC could move up to a 12-seed.
Southland: Stephen F. Austin (4-0/12-5) The Lumberjacks are not as talented as they have been the previous two seasons, but they are still the best in the Southland. Houston Baptist and Texas A&M-Corpus Christie are also unbeaten in conference play.
Southwest Athletic: Texas Southern (5-0/6-11) The 1-11 out-of-conference record is a bit deceiving, because the Tigers played by far the most difficult slate of any SWAC teams, playing 10 road games and one neutral site game with just one home game. Southern and Jackson State are 4-2 (as is Alcorn State who is not eligible).
Summit: Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne (4-1/15-5) The Mastodons have no bad losses but no big wins. In IPFW’s favor is the fact that all league contenders must still come to Ft. Wayne, while The Mastodons only have one tough road game left in league play.
Sun Belt: Arkansas-Little Rock (5-1/15-2) UALR was looking like a contender for a 10 or 11-seed before losing to Arkansas State. The Trojans have road wins against San Diego State, Tulsa, and DePaul with one loss at Texas Tech. UT-Arlington has the potential to get into an at-large conversation having a resume that includes road wins over Ohio State, Memphis, and UTEP with an overtime loss at Texas.
Western Athletic: Cal State-Bakersfield (3-0/13-5) The Roadrunners may be the second best WAC team, but Grand Canyon is not yet eligible, as they are in their final transition year. CSUB will be a contender for a First Four game and a definite 16-seed as of now.
Possible One-Bid Leagues
These conferences currently have strong contenders for a second team to earn a bid or two definite bids as of now, but they are shaky enough to move back to just one team.
American Athletic: Memphis (3-1/12-5) SMU is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament and could become the first team to go undefeated in the regular season and not make the Dance since North Carolina State in 1973. Memphis is currently the top eligible team, but at least one more team could make it from the AAC. Connecticut and Cincinnati figure to be the leading contenders, but two or three others are still in the mix.
Missouri Valley: Wichita State (6-0/12-5) As of today, the Shockers are the only MVC team we have in the Dance, but if another team wins the automatic bid, we expect WSU to get an at-large bid. Evansville and Southern Illinois also hold somewhat better than slim chances to emerge as at-large candidates.
Mountain West: San Diego State (5-0/12-6) The Aztecs took control of the conference race with an impressive win at Boise State. With four top 25 opponents, with a win over Oregon, on their schedule so far, Boise State can get into the at-large picture if the Broncos do not earn the automatic bid.
West Coast: St. Mary’s (6-1/15-2) and Gonzaga (6-1/14-4) As of now, both WCC dynasty teams appear to be in good shape; one will earn the automatic bid, and one will earn the at-large bid.
Multiple Bid Leagues
Atlantic Coast: 8 Bids
North Carolina (5-0/16-2)
Notre Dame (3-2/12-5)
Miami (FL) (2-2/13-3)
Contending for final 2 Bids
Virginia Tech (4-1/12-6)
Florida St. (2-3/12-5)
Atlantic 10: 4 Bids
Virginia Commonwealth (5-0/13-5)
St. Joseph’s (4-1/14-3)
Contending for 1 Bid
St. Bonaventure (4-1/12-4)
George Washington (3-2/14-4)
Big 12: 7 Bids
West Virginia (4-1/15-2)
Iowa St. (3-3/14-4)
Texas Tech (2-4/12-5)
Texas Tech is subject to be removed if they continue to lose two out of three conference games.
Big East: 5 Bids
Contending for 3 Bids
Seton Hall (3-2/13-4)
Big Ten: 6 Bids
Michigan St. (3-3/16-3)
Ohio State (4-2/12-7), Northwestern (3-3/14-4), and Nebraska (3-3/11-8) are in contention but not in the field at this time.
Pac-12: 8 Bids
Contending for 4 Bids
Oregon St. (2-3/11-5)
Southeastern: 4 Bids
Texas A&M (5-0/15-2)
South Carolina (3-1/16-1)
Contending for 1 Bid
Here is how the 29 Bracketology experts bracketed the field
|9||St. Mary’s (CA)|
|12||San Diego St.|
|14||Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne|
|15||Stephen F. Austin|
|16||Mount St. Mary’s|
Last Four In
First Four Out
Next Four Out