Before we get started with today’s Bracketology Gurus report, we ask you which TV game this weekend became the most exciting one of all. We hear some of you voting for the Virginia Tech-Virginia game Sunday, the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s game and Kansas-Texas Tech game Saturday, and a smattering of votes for games in leagues that some of you like over others, maybe the ACC or Big Ten.
If you found us for the first time today, you must know that we have esoteric tastes on the PiRate ship. Our founder contacted this writer around 5PM Sunday to tell us that we had just missed the best game of the weekend, and probably 99.9% of the college basketball fandom didn’t even know the game he watched was televised.
The Captain told us that we should have watched the Vermont-Maryland-Baltimore County game yesterday. He tuned in to see if how this Catamount team compared to former coach Tom Brennan’s last team in the Green Mountain State. That team upset Syracuse in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Captain was very impressed with both teams yesterday and became an instant admirer of UMBC’s little sparkplug, K.J. Maura. The 5 foot 8 inch and 140 pound Maura was overlooked by all major college teams and had to go the junior college route to make it to the low-major Terriers. Yesterday, Maura was all over the gym, leading UMBC to an almost incredible comeback after trailing by 18 points in the second half. The Terriers cut the Vermont lead down to two points with less than 30 seconds to go, and after a steal of an inbound pass, they had plenty of time to set up a final shot, but panic set in leading to an off-balance shot, when Maura was one pass away ready to force the action. Still, UMBC had a chance to send the game into overtime with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. A deflected inbound pass found Maura with the ball at halfcourt with the final second on the clock quickly ticking down to goose eggs. Maura threw up a 46 1/2 foot prayer that was almost answered TWICE! The ball kicked off the front of the rim and then bounced straight up about 13 feet up from the floor. In what seemed like 5 seconds to the fans, gravity finally sent the ball toward Earth as the red light illuminated the board like a diner billboard advertising the daily special. It looked like the pumpkin might drop in the basket, but it fell behind the backboard, giving the win to the Catamounts.
When we tell you avid basketball fans to give the low major and mid major conferences a chance, we really mean it. Some of the most exciting games are in these mass media ignored leagues. The Mother Ship will hype these leagues during Championship Week, but you should watch some of these league’s games now when the teams are fighting for spots in the standings, where as opposed to the big conferences, many of the lower leagues value the standings by awarding home games to the superior seeds.
Oh, and the Vermont-UMBC game had the great John Feinstein as the color commentator. His Schtick reminds our founder of Vin Scully doing a basketball game–great stories with great commentary.
BRACKETOLOGY For 2/13/17
27 days from today, we will know the magic 68 teams that can still win the national championship. 27 days out, our Bracketology Gurus have come to a consensus on 53 of the expected 68 that will receive invitations to the Dance. 15 teams could not receive 100% of the Guru vote. We will call all the teams that received votes but did not receive a unanimous consensus as our Bubble for the week. The 15-highest vote-receiving Bubble teams are in the Field of 68 for now, while the rest of the Bubble teams are basically NIT teams for now.
Once again, the Gurus come within one vote of agreeing that 22 conferences will send just one representative to the NCAA Tournament, with the lone dissenter believing that the Missouri Valley Champion runner-up will be a #1 seed in the NIT. We will go with 22 one-bid leagues and include two Valley teams in the Dance.
America East: Vermont 13-0/23-5
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast 9-2/20-7
Big Sky: Weber St. 10-2/15-8
Big South: UNC-Asheville 12-2/20-7
Big West: UC-Davis 8-2/16-9
Colonial: UNC-Wilmington 11-3/22-5
Conference USA: Middle Tennessee 12-1/22-4
Horizon: Valparaiso 11-2/21-5
Ivy: Princeton 8-0/15-6
Metro Atlantic: Monmouth 13-2/21-5
Mid-American: Akron 11-1/21-4
Mideastern Athletic: UNC-Central 9-1/18-6
Mountain West: Boise St. 9-3/16-7
Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s 12-2/14-13
Ohio Valley: Belmont 12-1/18-5
Patriot: Bucknell 11-2/19-7
Southern: Furman 11-2/18-8
Southland: New Orleans 10-3/15-9
Southwestern Athletic: Texas Southern 10-1/14-10
Summit: North Dakota St. 9-3/17-8
Sun Belt: Arkansas St. 9-3/18-7
Western Athletic: Cal State Bakersfield 8-1/17-7
Math can be a funny thing sometimes if you are a math geek. While 15 teams made this week’s PiRate Bracketology Gurus Bubble List, a few of them actually finished with a better seed than a few of the teams that were consensus picks. The reason for this is that a couple of the teams that did not receive consensus selection were seeded considerably higher than some of the consensus teams in a three or four of the dozen Guru’s lists. We expect that in the next few weeks, this will work itself out, and there will be a consensus Bubble in early March.
In order, here is this week’s Bubble. The top 15 in this Bubble make the Dance this week, while number 16 starts the group of first teams out.
- Virginia Commonwealth 10-2/20-5
- Miami (Fla.) 6-6/16-8
- Michigan St. 7-5/15-10
- Michigan 6-6/16-9
- TCU 6-6/17-8
- California 9-4/18-7
- Syracuse 8-5/16-10
- Minnesota 6-6/18-7
- MVC #2 (Illinois St. for now 13-1/21-5)
- Kansas St. 5-7/16-9
- Oklahoma St. 5-7/16-9
- Georgia Tech 6-6/15-10
- Seton Hall 5-7/15-9
- Marquette 6-7/15-10
- Arkansas 7-5/18-7
- Wake Forest 6-7/15-10
- USC 8-5/21-5
- Indiana 5-8/15-11
- Tennessee 6-6/14-11
- Rhode Island 8-4/16-8
- Auburn 5-7/16-9
- Pittsburgh 3-9/14-11
- Clemson 3-9/13-11
- Providence 5-8/15-11
- Utah 8-5/17-8
- Richmond 9-3/15-9
- Texas Tech 4-8/16-9
- Alabama 7-5/14-10
- Houston 9-4/18-7
- Ole Miss 6-6/15-10
As you can see, the Bubble has a lot of teams that really should not even be part of the conversation, but this is one of those seasons where 25 teams are really good and the next 55 teams are rather mediocre. The law of averages would have us believe that one of these mediocre teams will enter the Field of 68 with 12 or more losses and then advance to the Elite 8 and maybe even steal a spot in the Final Four. Kansas 27-11 (1988), Villanova 25-10 (1985), and North Carolina State 26-10 (1983) from the past even won the whole thing with a lot more losses than the top teams that fell by the wayside those three seasons.
Here is the seed list for all 68 teams
Teams in CAPS represent selected Conference Champion of One Bid League
1–Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor
2–North Carolina, Florida St., Louisville, Oregon
3–Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky
4–Duke, West Virginia, Butler, UCLA
5–Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Purdue
6–SMU, Creighton, Maryland, South Carolina
7–Dayton, Xavier, Northwestern, St. Mary’s
8–Iowa St., VCU, Miami (Fla.), Michigan St.
9–Virginia Tech, TCU, Michigan, California
10–Syracuse, Minnesota, Wichita St., Kansas St.
11–Oklahoma St., Illinois St., MIDDLE TENNESSEE, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall
12–UNC-WILMINGTON, AKRON, VALPARAISO, Marquette, Arkansas
13–VERMONT, MONMOUTH, BOISE ST., BELMONT
14–FLORIDA-GULF COAST, PRINCETON, BUCKNELL, ARKANSAS ST.
15–UNC-ASHEVILLE, FURMAN, NORTH DAKOTA ST., CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD
16-NEW ORLEANS, TEXAS SOUTHERN, WEBER ST., CAL-DAVIS, UNC-CENTRAL, MOUNT ST. MARY’S
First Four in Dayton
16-Weber St. vs. Mount St. Mary’s
16-Cal-Davis vs. UNC-Central
12-Marquette vs. Arkansas
11-Georgia Tech vs. Seton Hall
Last Four Byes
First Four Out
Next Four Out