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February 29, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite–February 29, 2016

The finish line is in sight.  Championship Week I is here.  Conference tournament action tips off Tuesday night and by Friday night, 10 Conference Tournaments will be underway.

Let’s take a look at our weekly Bracketology composite first.  At this point in the season, we have shrunk “The Bubble” down to just the last 12 teams in and the first four teams out.  Once teams start pulling off upsets in conference tournament action, there will be fewer spots here as we must pop a Bubble for each automatic bid awarded to a team not currently under consideration.

This does not apply to the low and mid-major conferences other than maybe the Missouri Valley Conference and maybe the West Coast Conference.  If a team pulls off a monumental upset in, say, the Big Sky Conference Tournament, such as Idaho State upsetting Weber State, there will still be just one Big Sky team in the Dance.  However, if Mississippi State were to win the SEC Tournament, the Bulldogs would pop a bubble for some other major conference team, like Butler.

The 32 Bracket Einstein’s see it this way this week:

Seed Team Auto. Bid
1 Virginia ACC
1 Kansas Big 12
1 Villanova Big East
1 Xavier at-large
2 Michigan St. Big Ten
2 Oklahoma at-large
2 North Carolina at-large
2 Miami (Fla.) at-large
3 Oregon Pac-12
3 West Virginia at-large
3 Utah at-large
3 Maryland at-large
4 Duke at-large
4 Kentucky SEC
4 Iowa at-large
4 Indiana at-large
5 Iowa St. at-large
5 Texas at-large
5 Purdue at-large
5 Texas A&M at-large
6 California at-large
6 Baylor at-large
6 Wisconsin at-large
6 Arizona at-large
7 Seton Hall at-large
7 St. Joseph’s Atlantic 10
7 Notre Dame at-large
7 Dayton at-large
8 Texas Tech at-large
8 Colorado at-large
8 Pittsburgh at-large
8 Wichita St. MVC
9 South Carolina at-large
9 Providence at-large
9 Vanderbilt at-large
9 Cincinnati American
10 Oregon St. at-large
10 Syracuse at-large
10 Connecticut at-large
10 St. Mary’s WCC
11 USC at-large
11 VCU at-large
11 Valparaiso Horizon
11 UALR SunBelt
12 Michigan at-large
12 Florida at-large
12 Temple at-large
12 Butler at-large
12 San Diego St. MWC
12 Monmouth MAAC
13 Akron MAC
13 Hofstra Colonial
13 Yale Ivy
13 Chattanooga Southern
14 Stony Brook AmEast
14 Hawaii Big West
14 UAB CUSA
14 South Dakota St. Summit
15 Stephen F. Austin SLC
15 Belmont OVC
15 New Mexico St. WAC
15 Weber St. Big Sky
16 Winthrop Big South
16 North Florida A-Sun
16 Hampton MEAC
16 Wagner Northeast
16 Bucknell Patriot
16 Texas Southern SWAC
Last 4 Byes
VCU
USC
Connecticut
Syracuse
 
Last 4 In
Butler
Temple
Florida
Michigan
 
1st 4 Out
Alabama
Tulsa
St. Bonaventure
George Wash.

 

Conference Tournaments Beginning This Week

American East Conference Tournament
Site: Campus Sites @ Higher Seeds
Quarterfinal Round
Wednesday, March 2
#8 UMBC (7-24) @ #1 Stony Brook (23-6)
#7 Hartford (9-22) @ #2 Albany (24-7)
#6 Maine (8-21) @ #3 Vermont (19-12)
#5 Binghamton (8-21) @ #4 New Hampshire (18-11)
Semifinal Round
Monday, March 7
Lowest Remaining Seed @ Highest Remaining Seed
2nd Lowest Remaining Seed @ 2nd Highest Remaining Seed
Championship
Saturday, March 12
11:00 AM EST on ESPN2

Albany has won four straight games and 9 of 10, but Vermont has won 5 games in a row, including a 14-point shocker at Stony Brook.

Albany went 14-0 at home and is guaranteed at least 2 home games if they keep winning.  Stony Brook went 12-1 at home.

Vermont has the best shooting team in the league, while Stony Brook has the best defense.

 

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
Site: Campus Sites @ Higher Seeds
Quarterfinal Round
Tuesday, March 1
G1: #8 USC-Upstate (10-21) @ #1 North Florida (21-10)
G2: #5 Kennesaw St. (11-19) @ #4 Florida Gulf Coast (17-13)
G3: #7 Stetson (10-21) @ #2 NJIT (17-13)
G4: #6 Lipscomb (11-20) @ #3 Jacksonville (16-15)
Semifinal Round
Thursday, March 3
G1 winner vs. G2 winner at higher seed
G3 winner vs. G4 winner at higher seed
Championship
Sunday, March 6
12:30 PM on ESPN2

North Florida won its final three games to earn the top seed.  The Ospreys own a 13-1 home record and have the best offense and shooting in the league by a large margin.

Jacksonville lost its last two games of the regular season when the Dolphins had a chance to earn the top seed.

Florida Gulf Coast and NJIT have the top defenses in the league, with FGCU being best against opponent shooting accuracy, and NJIT being the best at forcing turnovers.

Note: Stetson is ineligible for the postseason, but the Hatters will play in the conference tournament.  Should they win, then regular season champion North Florida will receive the automatic bid.

 

Big South Conference Tournament
Site: Buies Creek, NC (Campbell)
 
1st Round
Thursday, March 3
G1: #8 Longwood (9-22) vs. #9 Charleston Southern (9-20)
G2: #7 Radford (16-14) vs. #10 Presbyterian (10-19)
G3: #6 Gardner-Webb (15-15) vs. #11 Campbell (12-17)
Quarterfinal Round
Friday, March 4
G4: #1 High Poiint (20-9) vs. G1 Winner
G5: #4 UNC-Asheville (19-11) vs. #5 Liberty (13-18)
G6: #2 Winthrop (21-8) vs. G2 Winner
G7: #3 Coastal Carolina (18-10) vs. G3 Winner
Semifinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner
G6 Winner vs. G7 Winner
Championship
Sunday, March 6
2:30 PM on ESPN2

High Point ended the season on a 6-game winning streak, while Winthrop went 8-2 in their last 10 games.  Former league leader UNC-Asheville faltered down the stretch, finishing 2-3 to drop to fourth place.

High Point won games down the stretch by not committing turnovers, shooting intelligent shots, and forcing turnovers on their opposition.

Coastal Carolina was the clear-cut leader in total defense during the season, while Radford is the league’s top rebounding team with nobody challenging in this department.

 

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Site: Baltimore
 
1st Round
Friday, March 4
G1: #8 Elon (16-15) vs. #9 Drexel (5-24)
G2: #7 Charleston (16-13) vs. #10 Delaware (7-22)
Quarterfinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G3: #1 Hofstra (22-8) vs. G1 Winner
G4: #4 James Madison (21-10) vs. #5 William & Mary (19-10)
G5: #2 UNC-Wilmington (22-7) vs. G2 Winner
G6: #3 Towson (20-11) vs. #6 Northeastern (17-14)
Semifinal Round
Sunday, March 6
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner
Championship
Monday, March 7
7:00 PM on NBC Sports Network

Hofstra could have been renamed Hotstra down the stretch, as they won their last six games to take the top seed in the conference tournament.  They have an incredible inside-outside tandem in guard Juan’ya Green (17.7 ppg, 7.2 apg) and forward Rokas Gustys (12.7 rebounds/game).

UNC-Wilmington won games by committing fewer turnovers than average and forcing a lot more turnovers than average and then capitalizing with fast break points.

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Site: Albany (Siena)
 
1st Round
Thursday, March 3
G1: #8 Rider (12-19) vs. #9 Quinnipiac (9-20)
G2: #7 Canisius (13-18) vs. #10 Niagara (7-24)
G3: #6 Manhattan (12-17) vs. #11 Marist (7-22)
Quarterfinal Round
Friday, March 4
G4: #1 Monmouth (25-6) vs. G1 Winner
G5: #4 Saint Peter’s (14-15) vs. #5 Fairfield (18-12)
Saturday, March 5
G6: #2 Iona (19-10) vs. G2 Winner
G7: #3 Siena (20-11) vs. G3 Winner
Semifinal Round
Sunday, March 6
G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner
G6 Winner vs. G7 Winner
Championship Round
Monday, March 7
7:00 PM on ESPN

Monmouth is in that gray area, where if the Hawks lose in the Championship Round, they will have a legitimate case to make for an at-large bid thanks to a difficult non-conference schedule that included some impressive wins.  Monmouth hit a little blip earlier in the month, but they righted the ship with three closing victories.

Iona is the hot team entering tournament play.  The Gaels won their last five games, including one over Monmouth.

Siena is the host team, and the Saints went 12-2 at home this year.  However, the two losses came to Monmouth and Iona.

The top three seeds have some stars that you will want to watch and thus follow this tournament.  Monmouth has guard Justin Robinson, who scores better than 20 points per game and is like a Willie Mays of basketball.  He can drill the three, take it to the hoop, dish for lots of assists, pick your pockets clean, and then ice the game at the foul line.

Iona’s A.J. English tops Robinson in scoring at 22.3 per game and assists at 6.1 per game and is the league’s best NBA prospect.  Siena’s power forward Brett Bisping is dominant inside, where he averages 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

 

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Site: St. Louis
 
1st Round
Thursday, March 3
G1: #8 Loyola (Chi.) (14-16) vs. #9 Bradley (5-26)
G2: #7 MIssouri St. (12-18) vs. #10 Drake (7-23)
Quarterfinal Round
Friday, March 4
G3: #1 Wichita St. (23-7) vs. G1 Winner
G4: #4 Northern Iowa (19-12) vs. #5 Southern Illinois (22-9)
G5: #2 Evansville (23-8) vs. G2 Winner
G6: #3 Illinois St. (18-13) vs. #6 Indiana St. (14-16)
Semifinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner
Championship Game
Sunday, March 6
2:00 PM on CBS

Arch Madness promises to be exciting this year.  Don’t automatically give this tournament to Wichita State, although the Shockers are definitely the favorites.  They will face a very difficult semifinal match if Northern Iowa advances past the quarterfinal round against Southern Illinois.

In Wichita’s favor, they ended the season by winning their last five games and 18 of 20 after they were 100% healthy.  After being upset at home by UNI, the Shockers won their last five by an average of 26.4 points per game.  In Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, they have the best backcourt in all of mid-Major basketball and almost the equal of Kentucky’s fine duo.

Why is UNI a threat to this resume?  To start, they beat North Carolina and Iowa State earlier this year.  To continue, they finished the season winning nine of their final ten, including stopping Wichita’s multi-year home winning streak.  To conclude, the Panthers play patiently, don’t make many mistakes, do not foul much, and in late games, they are tough in the clutch, shooting close to 80% at the foul line.

Keep an eye on Evansville, as the Purple Aces shoot the ball better than any MVC team and are second to Wichita in field goal defense.  The Aces have their own dynamic duo in D.J. Balentine (20.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Egidijus Mockevicius (16.6 ppg, 14.0 reb, 2.8 blk).

Northeast Conference
Site: Campus Sites @ Higher Seeds
 
Quarterfinal Round
Wednesday, March 2
G1: #8 Robert Morris (10-21) @ #1 Wagner (20-9)
G2: #5 Mount St. Mary’s (13-18) @ #4 St. Francis (Bklyn) (15-16)
G3: #7 St. Francis (Pa.) (13-16) @ #2 Fairleigh Dickinson (15-14)
G4: #6 Long Island (15-14) @ #3 Sacred Heart (12-17)
Semifinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner @ Higher Seed
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner @ Higher Seed
Championship
Tuesday, March 8
7:00 PM on ESPN or ESPN2

This league probably will send its champion to Dayton for a First Four game as a 16-seed waiting to take on a Virginia, Kansas, or Villanova if they win in Dayton.

Wagner finished 8-2 to run away with the regular season championship, as multiple teams could not hold onto close leads in key games.  In league play, the Seahawks forced opponents into bad shots and then controlled the boards to limit them to one shot on most possessions.

St. Francis of Brooklyn is the other hot team entering the tournament, coming in with a four-game streak.  The Terriers are the second best defensive team in the league, but they lack offensive stars.

Sacred Heart has the dominant offensive player in the league.  Cane Broome leads the loop with a 23-point average.

 

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Site: Nashville
 
1st Round
Wednesday, March 2
G1: #5 Tennessee Tech (19-10) vs. #8 Austin Peay (14-17)
G2: #6 Murray St. (16-13) vs. #7 Eastern Illinois (13-16)
Quarterfinal Round
Thursday, March 3
G3: #4 Tennessee St. (20-9) vs. G1 Winner
G4: #3 Morehead St. (18-11) G2 Winner
Semifinal Round
Friday, March 4
G5: #1 Belmont (20-10) vs. G3 Winner
G6: #2 UT-Martin (18-13) vs. G4 Winner
Championship
Saturday, March 5
6:00 PM on ESPN2

The top two seeds get byes to the semifinals, and that could be just what Belmont needs the most.  The Bruins limped home to a 4-4 finish to just barely escape with the regular season title, but they look more like the third or fourth best team in the tournament today.

Look out for Morehead State.  We began isolating on the Eagles a few weeks ago, when Coach Sean Woods had this team looking somewhat like the Kentucky teams he played on when he was in college.  Morehead State won their final six games, and more impressively half of those wins came against Belmont, Tennessee State, and on the road at Tennessee Tech, where the Golden Eagles lost just that one time.

In tournament play, a team that can consistently shut an opponent down for four or five minute stretches and enjoy scoring runs, is going to advance, and the Eagles get to start as the #3 seed.  Their road to the championship avoids both Tennessee State and Belmont until the finals, and they get a weaker #2 seed in UT-Martin, who won the West Division with a weaker conference record than the Eagles, who played in the much tougher East Division.

Tennessee State is the other hot team entering conference tournament play.  The Tigers pasted Belmont yesterday and will have to beat the Bruins again in the semifinals to get to the Championship Game.

Tennessee Tech is a monster at home and mouse on the road.  The Golden Eagles will have to win 4 times in 4 days to get to the Dance, and we do not see it possible.

 

Southern Conference
Site: Asheville, NC
 
1st Round
Friday, March 4
G1: #8 or 9 Samford (13-18) vs. #9 or 8 VMI (9-19) *
G2: #7 Mercer (18-13) vs. #10 Citadel (10-21)
Quarterfinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G3: #1 Chattanooga (25-5) * vs. G1 Winner
G4: #4 Wofford (15-16) vs. #5 Western Carolina (15-16)
G5: #2 East Tennessee (21-10) VS. G2 Winner
G6: #3 Furman (17-14) vs. #6 UNC-Greensboro (14-17)
Semifinal Round
Sunday, March 6
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner
Championship
Monday, March 7
9:00 PM on ESPN2

This tournament should be quite interesting.  Chattanooga dominated the league until the final weeks when the Mocs began to show signs of fatigue, which could be expected after losing their star guard Casey Jones earlier in the season.  Still, Chattanooga is the slight favorite to take three games and represent the SoCon in the NCAA Tournament.  The Mocs shoot competently, defend capably, and force a lot of turnovers on the enemy.

East Tennessee is hot as conference tournament action commences.  The Bucs won their final five games.  Guards Ge’Lawn Guyn and T.J. Cromer paced the team, combining for 33.2 points per game.

UNC-Greensboro is the dark horse team that is hard to figure out.  The Spartans lost four of five games including a terrible double-digit defeat to a weak VMI team.  Then, UNCG won their last five games including a blowout of Chattanooga in Choo-Choo town.  In those final 5 contests, the Spartans shot over 50% from the field and 40% from behind the arc, while holding opponents to less than 35% from the field and 27% from behind the arc.

Note: Chattanooga plays VMI tonight in a game that will not affect the pairings in the conference tournament.  The Mocs will be #1, and VMI will finish either 8th or 9th, meaning the Keydets will play Samford no matter what.  The only difference is which color jersey they wear in that game.

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Site: Las Vegas
 
1st Round
Friday, March 4
G1: #8 Loyola Marymount (13-16) vs. #9 San Diego (9-20)
Quarterfinal Round
Saturday, March 5
G2: #3 BYU (22-9) vs. #6 Santa Clara (11-19)
G3: #4 Pepperdine (17-12) vs. #5 San Francisco (15-14)
G4: #1 Saint Mary’s (24-4) vs. G1 Winner
G5: #2 Gonzaga (23-7) vs. #7 Portland (12-19)
Semifinal Round
Monday, March 7
G3 Winner vs. G4 Winner
G2 Winner vs. G5 Winner
Championship
Tuesday, March 8
9:00 PM on ESPN

It’s not a gamble to say that Las Vegas is the place to be for the next fortnight if you are a college basketball junkie.  Four leagues will play their tournament in the desert oasis.  The WCC promises to be interesting this year, because it looks like only the tournament champion will be wearing dancing shoes.

Saint Mary’s deserves an at-large bid if they make it to the finals and lose, but it is not a guarantee, especially if some of the power conferences have upset victors.  The Gaels did not play a tough enough non-conference slate to merit a lot of at-large consideration.

Gonzaga played a difficult enough non-conference schedule, but the Bulldogs couldn’t beat anybody, as Washington was their best win, but the Huskies keep losing down the stretch to make that win more and more meaningless.

BYU cannot be discounted in this tournament.  The Cougars are a decent shooting team, decent defensive team, decent rebounding team, and decent at forcing turnovers and not committing a lot of them.  They just aren’t outstanding at anything, but it only takes one or two players to play his best ball of the season, and the Cougars could shock the two league powers.  With Chase Fischer, Nick Emery, and Kyle Collinsworth on the floor, BYU could light it up for three days and steal the bid.

 

February 22, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 22, 2016

This time next Monday, multiple conference brackets will be set in low and mid-major conferences. In a typical year, maybe three or four of these conferences would feature interesting matchups, as one or two teams were clearly superior to the rest in these leagues. This year, the entire college basketball world is all about parity. Among the Power Conferences, there are upwards of 20 teams capable of winning the National Championship. The same parity exists in the lower and mid-major conferences, where possibly a dozen of these leagues should have exciting conference tournaments.

Here is this week’s breakdown of the conferences you may not closely follow and why you should tune in to their conference tournaments.

America East
Stony Brook has an RPI of 55, so the Seawolves will not get an at-large bid if they lose in the conference tournament. They will drop too low. SBU outscores its opposition by almost 15 points per game and outrebounds them by more than 8 per game. Star power forward Jameel Varney averages 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.6% from the field.

Albany and New Hampshire are talented enough to kock off Stony Brook. The key in this tournament is seeding, because the higher seeds host the lower seeds. Albany has a one-game lead over UNH and would host a possible semifinal game between the two teams.

The top three teams in this league are also the top three rebounding teams, and they rank 1-2-3 in the standings as they rank in rebounding margin.

Atlantic Sun
Here is a tournament that will be totally up for grabs. All games will be played on the higher-seeded teams’ home courts, but this league does not have many incredible home court advantages. Five teams have basically played to a standoff in the last six weeks, and any of the five could win the conference tournament.

North Florida, NJIT, Florida Gulf Coast, and Jacksonville could finish in a four-way tie for first with Lipscomb one game behind. UNF could clinch the regular season title, while the other four could finish in a four-way tie for second.

This tournament will feature some exceptional talent for a low-major conference. Dallas Moore of North Florida scores almost 20 points per game, while Kori Babineaux of Jacksonville and Damon Lynn of NJIT score more than 18 points a night. UNF has a pair of wings that can fill it up from deep. Trent Mackey (46.3%) and Beau Beech (42.5%) force defenses to extend outside the paint.

Big Sky
This looks like a four-team scramble developing in Reno. Weber State and Montana play in Ogden Saturday, and the winner will most likely earn the top seed in the tournament. Eastern Washington hosts Weber State the following Saturday to conclude the regular season. Montana has a tough road game against Idaho State Thursday night.
The most intriguing team to us is Eastern Washington. The Eagles can go on big runs with hot streaks that put teams away. Their defense is suspect, but in a three-day stretch, if the shooters are “on”, they can win three games. EWU has an inside-outside combination that does a lot of the damage to the other team. Austin McBroom is a little jitterbug. The 5-9 guard scores at a 22-point clip and thinks he is in range the moment he crosses halfcourt. When he is hot, it forces defenses to stop double-teaming inside toughie Venjy Jois, who shoots close in and connects on almost 70% of his shots.

Weber State has a mobile center that can take over in a three-day tournament. Joel Bolomboy averages a double-double for the second consecutive season, scoring 17.6 points and getting 13 rebounds per game. Montana has its strong inside player in Martin Breunig (19.2/8.8 65.4% FG).

Idaho State is the odd-team of this group. While the other three were picked as the top three contender before the season started, tha Bengals were selected to finish in the bottom two of the league. Instead, ISU has won eight of their last ten games with a multi-talented guard leading the way. Ethan Telfair runs the offense and leads the team with a 19 points per game average. In late games, he’s the man Coach Bill Evans looks to make the big play, and when protecting a lead, he is deadly at the foul line, hitting better than 85%.

Big South
This conference has been interesting all season long, and the top five teams have done little to separate themselves from each other. With the tournament taking place at 8th place Campbell, none of the key contenders will have a home court advantage, making this tournament one to watch for sure. By the way, Campbell is just a .500 team at home.

The hot team with 10 wins in their last 11 games, Winthrop is an exciting bunch to watch. The Eagles made it to the Big South Tournament Championship Game last year, and they are a better team in 2016 than they were last year. Coach Pat Kelsey comes from Chris Mack’s staff at Xavier, and Kelsey’s team plays the same style of attack basketball. Winthrop averages 83 points per game and leads the league in shooting percentage at 48.2.

High Point is just one game back of Winthrop, and the Panthers host the Eagles Thursday night. HP has the top player in the league in forward John Brown, who averages 19.6 points per game and connects on nearly 60% of his shots. The Panthers earned a share of last year’s regular season title, and they could repeat that in 2016.

UNC-Asheville and Coastal Carolia are defensive-oriented teams, and they say defense wins championships. UNCA is just one game behind Winthrop, tied with High Point for second, and the Bulldogs host CCU Saturday. If UNCA wins, the regular season could end with a three-way tie at the top. As for Coastal Carolina, they lead the loop in defense, giving up just 67 points per game and holding teams to 39% shooting.

Big West
What was a two-team race became a one-team runaway as Hawaii swept UC-Irvine to open up a two-game lead over UCI and Long Beach State. The Rainbow Warriors’ 22-3 is real, and they have not done so just by winning on the island. UH is undefeated on the mainland in conference play and 6-1 overall away from home. They outscore their opposition by more than 12 points per game and have impressive rebounding and turnover margins. First-year coach Eran Ganot faced a lot of turmoil when he took the job and players left the program. Ganot tutored the guards at Saint Mary’s for several seasons, but it has been the development of forward Stefan Jankovic that has propelled UH to the top of the Big West Standings. The 6-11 tower leads the Warriors with a 16-point average.

Long Beach State is the only Big West team to defeat Hawaii this year, and the 49ers did it in Honolulu. UH must still come to Long Beach to close out the regular season, so Dan Monson’s squad still has a shot at the number one seed. First, they will have to win at UC-Irvine, where they play Wednesday night.

Colonial
This is another league where five different teams have the talent to earn the lone tourney bid. Only UNC-Wilmington and Hofstra can win the regular season title, but James Madison, William & Mary, and Towson are strong enough to win the conference tournament in Baltimore. Thursday night, the top two meet in Wilmington. The Pride lost at home to UNCW earlier this year, and a series sweep by the Seahawks would clinch the regular season title.

UNCW coach Kevin Keatts will definitely receive the opportunity to move up in the coaching food chain after this season. He took over a program that had endured eight consecutive losing seasons and guided UNCW to a first place tie in year one. Then, after preseason predictions placed them in the bottom half of the standings, in season number two, Keatts has the Seahawks poised to win the league outright and maybe become a darkhorse candidate to pull off a second round upset in the Big Dance, should they win the conference tournament. Keatts learned the trade as an assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino, and UNCW plays the same aggressive style of ball. The Seahawks average more than 80 points per game with a scoring margin of 8.6 per game. They pilfer 8 steals per game and have an overall turnover margin of 4.2, placing them among the national leaders. Chris Flemmings, a former walk-on transfer from Division 2 Barton, has proven he can score at the D1 level, leading the team with 16.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while connecting on 52% of his shots. Point guard Jordan Talley knows how to get the ball into the open player’s hands and not turn the ball over with a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Hofstra is a balanced team with all five starrers averaging double figure scoring. Depth is the big problem for the Pride as all five starters also top 30 minutes per game, which is not conducive for winning three games in three days in Baltimore, especially when Coach Joe Mihalic can only go seven-deep. Hofstra has an incredible inside-outside combination. Beefy power forward Rokas Gustys forces double and even triple teams inside. He is successful on better than 65% of his shots, and he averages a double-double (13.6/12.3). Guard Juan’ya Green is more than a long-range bomber. Green can penetrate and score or dish. He leads the team with a 17.9 average as well as passing for 7.3 assists per game. For a 6-2 guard, he can grab a good share of rebounds thanks to exceptional hustle for loose balls.

Conference USA
UAB went a long way toward securing the top-seed in this tournament, when the Blazers ventured to Middle Tennessee yesterday and blew the Blue Raiders off their home floor to complete the season sweep. UAB is a veteran unit that has NCAA Tournament experience (winning experience to boot). The team has no individual star, and they go 10-deep without losing effectiveness. Chris Cokley knows how to maximize his minutes played. The 6-8 sophomore plays just 22 minutes per night, but he scores 14 points and gets 7 rebounds in that time played, while shooting at a 58.6% clip. 5-10 point guard Nick Norton is an excellent floor leader with a 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio as well as excellent defensive hustle. Big guard Robert Brown is a 40% three-point shooter. Coach Jerod Haase has consistently improved this team year over year, and he may receive numerous opportunities to advance to a higher profile job.

Marshall has caught on to the infamous D’Antoni System. Dan D’Antoni, younger brother of Mike and former NBA assistant to his brother, has implemented the up-tempo system in Huntington, and the Thundering Herd are stampeding opponents this year. MU averages 85 points per game and makes every game exciting, if only because their defense surrenders points almost as quickly as they can score them.

The downfall to the Thundering Herd might be two-fold. MU has compiled their won-loss record by winning at home. Away from home, they thunder putters out. Additionally, the depth is quite thin, so asking a running team with little depth to win three games in three days is probably too much to ask. They do have possibly the best player in the league, and he is hard to stop in the paint in their fast-paced game. Former Miami Hurricane James Kelly averages 20.6 points per game and almost 10 rebounds per game. He is an intimidating shot-blocker, and he knows how to interrupt enemy passes and send the ball the other way to a fast-breaking teammate.

Keep an eye on Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are currently in fourth place, but they have the talent and skills to win the conference tournament. LT has a pair of wing players that can light it up and carry the team on their shoulders. Alex Hamilton and Erik McCree team up for 35 points and 13 rebounds per night.

Horizon
Can a win at Oregon State, a split with Belmont, and a close loss at Oregon in which they led with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game be enough to sneak Valparaiso into the Tournament as an at-large team should the Crusaders fail to win the automatic bid? Valpo stands at #60 in the current RPI, which is probably too low to be considered for an at-large bid. Coming off a 28-6 season and first place Horizon finish, Valpo was expected to take the 2016 Horizon crown, and the Crusaders might be the heaviest favorite of any team other than Stephen F. Austin, to win their conference tournament. The Crusaders finish the regular season with a rough road trip to Milwaukee and Green Bay, but they have already clinched the regular season title.

The conference tournament should still be exicting, because other than Valpo, the rest of the league consists of up-tempo teams. Three of the top offenses in the nation belong to Oakland (87.1), Green Bay (85.9), and Detroit (83.7). Meanwhile Valpo gives us just 59.8 points per game.

Oakland leads Wright State by a half-game, but they swept WSU and will most likely get the number two seed. The Grizzlies have two big ingredients that help teams win conference tournaments. They have the best depth in the league, as they can bring in three double figure scorers off the bench. They also are by far the best foul shooting team, and in close games, Oakland has a big advantage. It also helps to have the league’s top player in Kay Felder. Felder averages 24.4 points per game, but he is not a ball hog, as he also dishes for 9.2 assists per game. He can bury the long jumper and drive the lane for the crip, and when he is fouled (which is quite often), he makes better than 85% of his charity tosses. He can carry the team on his shoulders, as he did in a three-game stretch where he scored 109 points in wins over Toledo and Washington and an almost upset of then number one Michigan State, a game where Oakland led by double digits in the second half.

Wright State actually pinned the two losses on Valpo, so it the Raiders won’t fear Valpo should they meet in the conference championship.

Ivy
Yale still leads the loop, but only by a half-game over Princeton and one game over Columbia. After losing at home to the Bulldogs, Princeton won at Yale last week and must be considered the slight favorite at this point, but the Tigers still have a game with Columbia. There is still a chance that the three contenders could all finish 12-2, but it is looking more likely that Yale and Princeton will finish tied one game ahead of Columbia.

Each Ivy contender has its weapons. Yale’s big asset is its dominant rebounding game, where the Bulldogs enjoy a margin of close to 11 boards per game. However, they have a negative turnover margin and could be vulnerable against pressure defenses.

Don’t confuse this Princeton team for the Pete Carril teams that won games 55-45. This Tiger squad is more like the Butch Van Breda Kolff teams of the 1960’s, as Princeton scores close to 80 points per game with an up-tempo offense. The Tigers are not the rebounding behemoth like Yale, but they hold their own on the boards with a +3.8 margin. They also hold onto the ball and have a positive turnover margin as well. It also helps to have the best sixth man in the league in Devin Cannady, who comes off the bench to score 11.7 points per game with deadly outside shooting ability and an almost automatic two points at the foul line with an accuracy near 90%. With an RPI that has now reached #40, should Princeton win out to finish 13-1 and then find themselves matched up against Yale in a playoff which they lose, the Tigers could possibly sneak in as an at-large team, something that has never been afforded to an Ivy League team.

Columbia is a team that lives and dies by the three-pointer. Of course, the Lions have four guys that can fill it up from downtown. Alex Rosenberg, Grant Mullins, and Maodo Lo team up to connect on 43.5% from behind the arc.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth was taught a little lesson last week when they lost at home to Iona. The Hawks were a little disresectful when they snapped Iona’s long home winning streak a month ago, in a game marred by a post-game tussle. Iona’s players stewed for weeks and then unleashed their Gael furor to the tune of a 17-point win, holding Monmouth scoreless for more than seven minutes in a first half in which they built a lead in excess of 20 points.

Now, Monmouth is no longer a sure bet to have an at-large bid sewn up before the MAAC Tournament. With an RPI of 47, a loss in the conference tournament would leave the Hawks with an RPI in the 50’s. Monmouth has definite strengths but just as definite weaknesses, which will keep us from labelling them the team to beat in the MAAC Tournament. While the Hawks top 80 points per game and hold opponents under 40% shooting, they also have a negative turnover margin.

Siena joins Iona as a team capable of winning the conference tournament, and the Saints benefit from having the tournament take place in their home town of Albany. Siena hosts Iona tonight, and the Saints won at Iona earlier this year. The winner stays in contention for the regular season title.

There is one for sure reason to watch the MAAC Tournament. Iona’s A.J. English, son of the former NBA player of the same name, averages 21.7 points per game and saves his best for the big games. Against Monmouth this year, he scored 45 and 34 points.

Mid-American
After the bottom eight teams play at the higher-seeds in the opening round, once down to eight teams, the league will head to Cleveland to conduct the quarterfinal, seminfinal, and final rounds. The potential is there so that all eight teams that make it to Cleveland will have serious chances to compete for the one bid, so if this happens, the MAC will have the most exciting conference tournament of all. It will be as competitive as the Elite 8 of the Big Dance.

For this to happen, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Central Michigan need to win their opening round games (if these are the 5th-8th-seeded teams. They would join Akron, Ohio, Ball State, and Kent State and thuse make for the most parity of any conference.

Akron currently leads the Bobcats, Cardinals, and Golden Flashes by just one game, and the Zips finish with Ohio and Kent State at home, giving Coach Keith Dambrot an excellent chance to sew up the number one seed. Because this year’s tournament is in Quicken Loans Arena, Akron will be the de facto home team. However, the Zips rely too much on three-point shooting, as more than 65% of their scoring margin comes from three-pointers made. In tournament action, chances are not great that a team can remain hot for three consecutve days. On the positive side, the Zip bench is deep with talent, thanks to numerous injuries last year forcing Dambrot to give extensive experience to bench players.

Ohio was not expected to compete for the upper division, let alone the MAC title this year. Second year coach Saul Phillips is a Bo Ryan disciple, and his Bobcats play a lot like Wisconsin, rarely beating themselves. Picked to finish near the bottom of the league, Ohio has been a big surprise with the emergence of freshman guard Jaaron Simmons (14 points and 8 assists per game) to take some heat off inside force Antonio Campbell (17.5/9.9). Ohio doesn’t force the action on either end of the floor, and that has been their downfall in losses this year, where opponents capitalized on a couple extra Bobcat turnovers while never feeling threatened that Ohio would force any turnovers in return.

Ball State is an even bigger surprise this year than Ohio. The Cardinals were the consensus choice to finish last in the West Division, yet they are in first place today. After 5-25 and 7-23 seasons, Coach James Whitford has guided BSU to a 9-5 league mark and 18-9 record overall to date. The Cardinals are peaking at the right time, and they have a win over Valpo earlier this year, so they must be considered a real contender. The Cardinals rely on a two-headed monster in the post. Franko House and Bo Calhoun team up to score 23 points and haul in 14 rebounds per game.

Mideastern Athletic
This has become a three-team race for the regular season championship and top seed in the tournament. Because Norfolk State is one of the three contenders, and they will host the MEAC Tournament, the Spartans are the current favorite to take the league’s automatic bid.

Norfolk currently is a game under .500 overall, but the Spartans could easily run the table from here. If they do so, they will enter the Dance at 13-3 in the league and 20-14 overall. It would probably put them in Dayton for an opening round game.

Hampton has been the hunted all season after emerging from the MEAC pack last year to win the tournament and then take an opening round game in Dayton, before falling to top seed Kentucky. The Pirates can do all but one thing well–shoot the ball, which is like having the best defensive shortstop in baseball, who only hits .180. Still, Hampton is the second choice in the odds to win the tournament, especially if they find a 5th gear to shift into like they did last year.

South Carolina State has won 10 of their last 12 games including beating Hampton on the road. The Bulldogs are led by freshman Eric Eaves who paces the team with 16.7 points per game.

Missouri Valley
For now, we are keeping the Valley at one bid, because we believe Wichita State will win Arch Madness yet again, and no other team qualifies for at-large consideration this week.

After losing at home for the first time in ages, Wichita State recovered to win three games last week, all by more than 30 points. The Shockers needed the shock, and now they look like a team ready to make a run in the NCAA Tournament if they can get a favorable draw void of a lot of inside dominant teams. WSU is one of a few teams that do everything well. They shoot the ball with confidence, lower the opponents’ shooting percentage, and they control both the boards and force turnovers. It leads to a 14-point scoring margin. Few teams can rely on two senior staters in the backcourt, and very few have two the talent of Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. The two stars team up for 26.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and both can take their defender to the hoop like forwards. If Shaquille Morris can step up his game just a little, this is a team capable of making a run to another Final Four, but if Morris and Anton Grady bring their B-games to the Dance, the Shockers could go home quickly.

Lining up behind Wichita State are Evansville, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, and Northern Iowa. SIU and Evansville both have good records away from home and must be considered the top contenders to pull off an upset in St. Louis. We are high on Evansville, as the Purple Aces have all the tools needed to make a 3-day run to the Championship Game against Wichita. This team got some additional tournament experience winning the CIT last year, and they returned all their key players from that squad. Center Egidijus Mockevicius (16.6/13.8) dominated the glass in both games against Wichita State, and if he can get a little help, Evansville can win Arch Madness. Guard D. J. Balentine leads the team in scoring at almost 21 points per game, and he adds 4.4 assists per game.

Mountain West
San Diego State appears to be headed to the automatic bid, so for now, we leave the MWC with just one bid. The Aztecs win ugly games with a lot of scoring lapses, but they frequently keep the other team off the scoreboard for long stretches. They lead the nation in allowing just 36.8% of enemy shots to be made. SDSU only connects on 41.6% of their own shots, but they are tough on the offensive glass and frequently go 1 for 3 in a possession, scoring the same two points that a terrific shooting team scores in that same possession.

The Aztecs pose extremely tough matchup problems for their league foes. Coach Steve Fisher goes with a starting five that goes 6-10, 6-10, 6-8, 6-7, and 6-4 with a former starter coming off the bench at 6-6. Former Louisville coach Denny Crum won a lot of games with a lineup of five forwards, and this Aztec squad will be a major headache for any opposing NCAA Tournament coach.

Fresno State is the team most likely to dethrone the Aztecs. In their two games against SDSU, FSU was up to the task, splitting two close games. The Bulldogs have a tandem of forwards that can bang along with SDSU. Former Missouri Tiger Torren Jones and Karachi Edo team for 20 points and 15 rebounds a night to supplement offensive star guard Marvelle Harris, who tops 20 points a game by himself. Harris can rebound like a forward, make plays like a point guard, and steal balls like a bandit. His outside shooting range is iffy, but it there are times where this has threatened to come around. He connected on 7 of 8 treys in a recent game against Wyoming, and if he can hit 40% from deep, FSU will be tough to beat, even by SDSU.

Northeast
In a 10-team league with only three teams below .500 in conference play, there must be great parity in the top seven. The NEC promises to be one of the more interesting conference tournaments, but since they don’t play it in one place, it will miss some of that excitement. On the plus side, home team fans will get to see games, as the higher seeds host all tournament games.

Wagner, Mount St. Mary’s, and Sacred Heart are in contention for the top seed. Wagner leads the other two by a game. The Seahawks were not expected to contend for .500 in league play, after falling from 20 to 10 wins between 2014 and 2015. Wagner has depth and balance, but they don’t have a go-to star that can put the load on his shoulder. Romone Saunders recently returned from a hand injury, and he is threatening to become that key player Coach Bashir Mason can rely on to make the big basket when needed. Saunders has averaged 16 points per game in his last three games showing an increased accuracy from behind the arc.

Mount St. Mary’s can play pressure defense and force a lot of turnovers, but when they cannot force the action, they are very vulnerable to an inside power team. The Mountaineers are one of the weakest rebounding teams in all of Division 1 basketball with a margin of -9 per game! Additionally, their top three scorers shoot just 39.8% from the field.

Sacred Heart is the hot team in the league. The Pioneers started 2-13 and then won nine of 12 games. SH has the top offensive weapon in the league in guard Cane Broome, who paces the NEC with a 22.8 scoring average. On the negative side, SH must outshoot opponents by a considerable margin, because they have negative rebounding and turnover margins.

Whoever wins the automatic bid will most likely hear their name called to proceed to Dayton for the opening round with a date against Kansas, Xavier, or North Carolina if they win.

Ohio Valley
Because the top two teams receive double byes to the semifinals of the conference tournament, and because the current top two teams would also be the two hometown teams in the conference tournament, we should concentrate this write-up on Belmont and Tennessee State. However, since only the top eight qualify for the tournament, and because four other teams are good enough to make a run in Nashville, we cannot count out Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, UT-Martin, and Murray State.

This is not your typical Belmont team of recent years. The Bruins still score points in rapid and efficient style, as their 82.3 point average and 49% field goal accuracy reveals. However, Belmont suffers with negative rebounding and turnover margins. With Evan Bradds hittong on better than 70% of his shots and averaging 18 points and 10 board per night, and with outstanding guard Craig Bradshaw adding 17 points per game, Belmont is still the team to beat in the OVC.

Tennessee State may be the biggest pleasant surprise in all of Division 1 this season. After finishing just 5-26 last year, second year coach Dana Ford has guided the Tigers to within one game of Belmont, and TSU hosts the Bruins Sunday afternoon. If TSU can get by a tough UT-Martin team in Martin on Wednesday night, then they will host Belmont with the number one seed on the line. The Tigers have made the big step up with three transfers providing the major improvement. Keron Deshields starred at Montana; Tahjere McCall starred at Niagara; and Wayne Martin starred at St. Francis (Bklyn) before winding up in Nashville.

Tennessee Tech is 13-0 at home but just 5-9 away from home, so the Golden Eagles may find it hard to advance in the conference tournament if they fail to get one of the top two seeds. Morehead State is the dark horse team to make it to the finals. The Eagles have a squad of hustling workhorses not afraid to accumulate multiple floor burns. Former Kentucky Wildcat star Sean Woods has Morehead playing with a lot of heart, and they go 11-deep with no real star.

Patriot
The Patriot League is another conference that plays all its tournament games on the home floors of the higher seeds, but the potential top-seed is mediocre at home with just an 8-6 record. Bucknell could be the top seed, but the Bison could be forced to face Colgate in a semifinal game, a team that swept Bucknell this year, winning both games by double digits.

Lehigh is the hot team, riding a seven-game winning streak. In that seven-win streak the Explorers have outscored their opposition by more than 1 1 points per game. Lehigh is balanced with all five starters scoring more than 10 points per game. 2015 Player of the Year Tim Kempton has a chance to earn the award a second time. He paces the Explorers with 17.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Surrounding Kempton are a host of good three-point shooters, as Lehigh connects on 39.2% of their threes.

Boston U leads Navy and Colgate by a game with Army two games back. Two of the four will be first round hosts in the tournament.

Southern
Chattanooga has come back to the pack with a couple of recent losses, and now the SoCon Tournament looks to be more competitive than first thought possible. It’s not just the fact that the Mocs have lost two of their last four games; it is who beat them. UC lost at Western Carolina in a mild upset, but they were clobbered at home by UNC-Greensboro.

It’s now a wide-open field, and there should be multiple exicting games in Asheville. UNCG has now won three consecutive games including beating Wofford as well as Chattanooga, and the Spartans have reached .500 in the league. They could easily win their final two to finish 10-8 and earn a five-seed, where they would face either Furman or Wofford with the winner of that game playing the Mocs in the semfinals, assuming Chattanooga doesn’t get shocked in the quarterfinals.

Southland
Where would an upset of Stephen F. Austin in the SLC Tournament rank among sports upsets? About somewhere between the USA beating the USSR in the 1980 Winter Olympics and Man o’War losing his one race to a horse named “upset.” The Lumberjacks have dominated this league like UCLA used to dominate the Pac-8 during the Alcindor and Walton years. Under third year coach Brad Underwood, SFA is merely 54-1 in SLC play!

SFA got into tournament form by winning games by 38 and 35 points last week. The Lumberjacks own a 14.7 point scoring margin, a 2.3 rebound margin, and a 5.8 turnover margin (with 8.8 steals per game). They shoot 48.3% from the field. Swingman Thomas Walkup leads the Lumberjacks with 17.2 point average to go with 6.6 rebounds per game. He connects on 60% of his shots and doles out 4.3 assists per game.

The one team left on SFA’s regular season schedule that can possibly pin a loss on the Lumberjacks is Sam Houston. The Bearkats have a big game Saturday against Texas A&M-CC, and if they win that game and can pull off the big uspet, they could sneak up and cop the number two seed in the SLC Tournament.

Southwestern Athletic
Alcorn State is the hot team in the league, but the Braves are ineligible for postseason play, so we will not include them in the preview here. That leaves Texas Southern with a 2 1/2 game lead over Southern U and Jackson State.

Texas Southern has a problem holding onto the ball, suffering nights with too many turnovers to be a consistent winner. Of course, a lot of those bad nights came before conference play began. The Tigers have won by large margins in SWAC play, including a 31-point toasting of Mississippi Valley over the weekend. Coach Mike Davis has won big at Indiana and UAB, and the Tigers are no pushover against bigger conference opponents. TSU beat Michigan State last year.

Southern may give the SWAC their best chance at avoiding a first round game in Dayton. The Jaguars have competed against decent non-conference opponents this year, which includes wins at Mississippi State and Wyoming.

Jackson State may have the best tournament-ready roster with three stars combining to carry the load. Paris Collins, Raeford Worsham, and Chace Franklin team up to score 40 points and retrieve 19 rebounds per game.

Summit
After leading the loop for most of the year, South Dakota State has surrendered the league lead to IPFW. The Mastodons now lead the Jackrabbits by a game, but IPFW finished with two road games, while SDSU gets two at home.

IPFW has a couple of star guards in Max Landis and Mo Evans. Like Wichita State, the Mastodons have a big advantage over any Summit League opponent where experience is vital in tournament play. Landis and Evans combine to score 36 points per game, and both can throw it in from 20 feet out, as Landis connects on 48% and Evans on 43% from behind the arc.

South Dakota State has three big-time players in George Marshall (16.2), Deondre Paks (15.4), and Mike Daum (14.4). The Jackrabbits are tough on the boards and hungry after losing the Summit League Tournament to North Dakota State the last two years. Speaking of NDSU, the Bison are in contention for a third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. NDSU owns wins over IPFW and South Dakota State. Throw in a much improved Omaha team, and this lines up to be another exciting conference tournament.

Sun Belt
Chris Beard served under the General, Robert Knight for seven seasons, and he has proven that the Knight coaching tree is still alive and well, as he has his UALR Trojans in first place in year one in Little Rock. This is a team that lost 12 times in SBC play last year and was expected to finish in the middle of the pack this year. Instead, the Trojans lead the league by three games with four games to play.

This is not a UALR team that feasted on a bunch of no-names to begin the year 24-3. Outside of Sun Belt play, the Trojans beat San Diego State and Tulsa on the road. They Trojans hold opponents to just 37.7% from the field, and they give up just 58.4 points per game. They go nine-deep with no players scoring as much as 13 points per game and seven averaging between 5.5 and 12.8. This team reminds us of the Army teams coached by Coach Knight in the 1960’s. If they win the conference tournament, some favorite in the second round will be in for a tough fight.

The two Louisiana schools, UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette pose the top threat to UALR, but beating the Trojans would be a major upset, almost as much as if Wichita State were to lose in the MVC.

Western Athletic
Marvin Menzies has built a mini-dynasty at New Mexico State, as the Aggies have made trips to the Big Dance the last four years, and they should make it five for five this year. They have already clinched the top seed in the conference tournament by sweeping second place Cal State Bakersfield. With Grand Canyon ineligible to compete in the postseason due to their transition to Division 1, it leaves little in NMSU’s way in their march to a “five-peat.”

The Aggies are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, and they need this strength because they win despite laying a lot of bricks against the glass. NMSU does not even make 40% of their shots, yet they have an 8-point scoring margin, as they tend to look like they are playing volleyball on the offensive glass. Pascal Siakim is one of the few that can light up the scoreboard, as he averages 20.7 points to go with 11.8 rebounds per game with a 55.4% accuracy rate. He is an intimidator on defense, averaging 2.5 blocks per game and altering other shots.

West Coast
We still believe the WCC will eventually send two teams to the Big Dance, but as of today, we cannot make that statement with any muscle behind it. Saint Mary’s got the season sweep over Gonzaga Saturday night, and if the Gaels win the conference tournament, it will likely make this a one-bid league.

How did SMC come back to the top of the league after losing all five starters from a second place finish last year? Coach Randy Bennett should receive serious consideration for National Coach of the Year honors after replacing 80% of the scoring from last year. Once again, the pipeline to Australia has helped the Gaels, but a transfer from Boston College has made SMC the 22-4 team they are today. Joe Rohan is a scorer and a play-maker that makes the team go. He teams with Emmett Naar to give SMC two incredible guards. Both average 6 assists per game, while teaming to score 24 points per game. Naar forces defenses to concentrate on him with tight coverage, because when he is open, he is a 50%+ three-point shooter. Four other players average better than nine points per game.

Gonzaga was supposed to contend for a Final Four this year after making it to the Elite Eight in 2015, but the Bulldogs have come up short. Gonzaga has one of the best frontcourts in the nation with Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis in the post. The duo teams up to score more than 38 points per game and haul in 18 rebounds per game, but the loss of Przemek Karnowski due to a back injury in November, has forced Coach Mark Few to go with a three-guard lineup that isn’t quite up to competing against Saint Mary’s fine backcourt.

BYU has been hiding in the bushes this year, and the Cougars could be ready to pounce in ambush in the WCC Tournament. As always, this team knows how to run up the score, as BYU averages 84 points per game. Coach Dave Rose uses the same style as his mentor Guy Lewis, so BYU will run the floor and play power basketball. The Cougars have four capable scorers, something most teams cannot match. Chase Fischer leads at 18 points per game, followed by Nick Emery at 16, Kyl Collinsworth at 15, and Kyle Davis at 13. BYU is still in the thick of the WCC race, trailing Saint Mary’s by just a game after splitting the season series against the Gaels. The Cougars must still face Gonzaga, but they get the Zags in Provo.

The Power Conferences

There was some movement over the weekend with the Bubble teams, as Syracuse, Connecticut, Alabama, and LSU all lost, while Tulsa and St. Bonaventure won big games. Our bracketology experts must be pulling their hair out trying to move teams in and out so frequently.

American Athletic
In: —-
Bubble: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple, Tulsa
Out: —-

Atlantic Coast
In: North Carolina, Miami, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame
Bubble: Syracuse, Pittsburgh
Out: Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech

Atlantic 10
In: Dayton, St. Joseph’s
Bubble: VCU, St. Bonaventure, George Washington
Out:

Big 12
In: Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa St., Texas
Bubble: Texas Tech
Out: Kansas St.

Big East
In: Villanova, Xavier, Providence
Bubble: Seton Hall, Butler
Out: Creighton

Big Ten
In: Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan St., Purdue
Bubble: Wisconsin, Michigan
Out: Ohio St.

Pac-12
In: Oregon, Utah, Arizona, USC, California
Bubble: Colorado, Oregon St., Washington
Out: Stanford, UCLA

Southeastern
In: Kentucky, Texas A&M
Bubble: South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Vanderbilt, LSU
Out: Ole Miss

The Bracketologists’ Picks

Seed Team
1 Kansas
1 Villanova
1 Virginia
1 Oklahoma
2 Xavier
2 North Carolina
2 Oregon
2 Michigan St.
3 Miami (Fla.)
3 Iowa
3 Maryland
3 Duke
4 West Virginia
4 Kentucky
4 Utah
4 Iowa St.
5 Arizona
5 Baylor
5 Texas A&M
5 Purdue
6 Indiana
6 Dayton
6 Texas
6 California
7 Notre Dame
7 USC
7 South Carolina
7 Texas Tech
8 St. Joseph’s
8 Providence
8 Pittsburgh
8 Connecticut
9 Florida
9 Wisconsin
9 Seton Hall
9 Wichita St.
10 Syracuse
10 Colorado
10 VCU
10 San Diego St.
11 Michigan
11 Cincinnati
11 Valparaiso
11 Oregon St.
11 Temple
12 Monmouth
12 UALR
12 Saint Mary’s
12 Alabama
12 Tulsa
13 Akron
13 Stony Brook
13 Chattanooga
13 Hawaii
14 Princeton
14 UNC-Wilmington
14 IPFW
14 UAB
15 Belmont
15 Stephen F. Austin
15 New Mexico St.
15 Winthrop
16 Weber State
16 N.J.I.T.
16 Hampton
16 Wagner
16 Lehigh
16 Texas Southern
   
  Last 4 Byes
  Colorado
  VCU
  Michigan
  Cincinnati
   
  Last 4 In
  Oregon St.
  Temple
  Alabama
  Tulsa
   
   
# Last Out
69 Butler
70 St. Bonaventure
71 Gonzaga
72 G. Washington
73 Vanderbilt
74 UCLA
75 Creighton
76 Washington
77 Georgia Tech
78 Florida St.
79 Clemson
80 Stanford
81 LSU

February 15, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 15, 2016

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:13 pm

The first of the conference tournament play gets underway two weeks from tomorrow (March 1). Needless to say all remaining games among contenders for at-large bids and for seeding in one-bid leagues have become vital. One wrong loss or one big win might alter the course of a half-dozen or more games.

The “Bubble” remains very slippery as of today, and it also remains rather weak. When you have teams two games below .500 in their league and just a tad above .500 overall still in contention for a possible at-large bid, you know it is either a weak year or a year with extremely competitive races.

We see a lot of parity this year, but we also believe it is a rather weak basketball season. Of course, when 20 players are in the NBA who could still be in college, it tends to weaken the college game.
Consider that Kentucky could still have Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin, Julius Randle, James Young, and Karl Anthony-Towns on its roster.

The number of one-bid leagues remained roughly the same this week. A couple of teams expected to receive at-large bids from mid and low-major conferences remained the same, but the names have changed a little. Saint Mary’s went from an almost assured at-large team to a team that must win the West Coast Conference Tournament, following a Thursday night home loss to Pepperdine.

With road games against Gonzaga and San Francisco the next two Saturdays, the Gaels will either get back on the bubble with impressive wins or falter and guarantee a must-win in the WCC Tournament.

Wichita State has now lost two of three games, including their first at home after 43 consecutive wins at the Roundhouse. The Shockers are still on the good side of the Bubble, but a couple more losses and an early Arch Madness exit in St. Louis could make for a precipitous hold onto an at-large invitation. A weather makeup game against New Mexico State tonight will be an interesting contest, which you can tune in online at ESPN3 at 8 PM Eastern.

At one time, Valparaiso had a shot at earning an at-large spot in the Big Dance if they lost in the Horizon League Finals, but a second loss to Wright State and a killer closing schedule means the Crusaders may have a tough time hanging on to the number one seed, as they hold a slim lead over Wright State and Oakland.

Three teams moved higher up on the Bubble since our last report. Gonzaga had won six straight games until falling at SMU Saturday night, but the Bulldogs appear to be on the safe side of the Bubble for now. If the Zags beat Saint Mary’s Saturday night, they should be safe with just one WCC Tournament win.

San Diego State continues to lead the Mountain West. The Aztecs are three games up on New Mexico, and a 4-1 finish with a visit to the MWC semifinals should allow SDSU to get into the field of 68 as an at-large.

Finally, there is Monmouth. Usually, teams in low-major conferences rarely sniff at-large consideration, but the Hawks are not your typical MAAC team. With non-conference wins over UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, and Georgetown, and having won 12 of their last 13 games, Monmouth may be a power conference team’s worst nightmare.

Let’s take a brief look at the One-Bid Leagues this week. These bids will go to the conference tournament champions. Rather than repeat much of the same stuff from last week, let’s concentrate on the actual upcoming tournaments.

All Standings from the official NCAA website.
All Championship Game times are Eastern

One-Bid Leagues
America East
Site–Campus Sites. All games will be played on home court of higher seed.
U Mass-Lowell is not eligible for the tournament, leaving eight teams to play a true 8-team bracket
Quarterfinals–March 2: 8 @ 1, 7 @ 2, 6 @ 3, 5 @ 4
Semifinals–March 7
Championship–March 12: ESPN2 @ 11:00 AM

Current Standings

America East CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Stony Brook 13 0 22 4
Albany 10 3 21 7
New Hampshire 8 4 15 10
Vermont 7 5 15 12
Massachusetts Lowell 7 6 11 15
Maine 4 9 8 18
Binghamton 3 9 6 19
Hartford 2 10 7 20
UMBC 2 10 6 21

Atlantic Sun
Site–Campus Sites. All games will be played on home court of higher seed.
Stetson is ineligible for the automatic NCAA bid, but the Hatters will be allowed to participate in the conference tournament; if Stetson wins the tournament, then the regular season champion will get the automatic bid.
Quarterfinals–March 1: 8 @ 1, 7 @ 2, 6 @ 3, 5 @ 4
Semifinals–March 3
Championship–March 6: ESPN2 @ 12:30 PM

Current Standings

Atlantic Sun CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
North Florida 7 4 18 10
N.J.I.T. 7 4 16 11
Jacksonville 7 4 15 13
Florida Gulf Coast 6 5 15 12
Lipscomb 6 5 10 18
Kennesaw State 5 6 9 18
Stetson 3 8 9 18
USC Upstate 3 8 9 19

Big Sky
Site: Reno
All 12 teams will be eligible
Opening Round–March 8: 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinals–March 10: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6/11, 4 vs. 5/12
Semifinals–March 11
Championship–March 12: ESPN-U @ 8:45 PM

Current Standings

Big Sky CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Montana 11 2 16 8
Weber State 10 2 18 7
Eastern Washington 9 4 15 10
Idaho State 8 4 13 11
Idaho 8 5 16 10
North Dakota 7 6 12 12
Montana State 7 6 12 13
Northern Colorado 5 8 8 17
Portland State 4 8 8 15
Sacramento State 3 9 10 13
Southern Utah 2 11 4 19
Northern Arizona 2 11 4 20

Big South
Site: Campbell will host the conference tournament in Buies Creek, NC, with all 11 teams participating.
Opening Round–March 3: 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinals–March 4: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6/11, 4 vs. 5
Semifinals–March 5
Championship–March 6: ESPN2 @ 2:30 PM

Current Standings

Big South CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Winthrop 10 4 18 7
UNC Asheville 10 4 17 9
Coastal Carolina 10 5 16 9
High Point 9 5 16 9
Liberty 9 5 12 15
Gardner-Webb 8 7 13 14
Radford 7 7 14 12
Charleston Southern 5 10 9 17
Longwood 4 10 8 19
Campbell 4 11 10 15
Presbyterian 3 11 8 17

Big West
Site: Anaheim
The number nine team will be disqualified from the tournament, with the other eight playing at the Honda Center.
Quarterfinal–March 10: 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: ESPN2 @ 11:30 PM

Current Standings

Big West CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Hawaii 9 1 20 3
UC Irvine 8 2 19 7
Long Beach State 8 3 14 12
UC Santa Barbara 5 5 11 12
UC Davis 5 6 10 14
UC Riverside 4 7 13 14
Cal State Northridge 4 7 9 16
Cal Poly 3 8 9 15
Cal State Fullerton 2 9 9 15

Colonial Athletic
Site: Baltimore
All 10 teams will participate
Opening Round–March 4: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 5: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 6
Championship–March 7: NBC Sports Network @ 7:00 PM

Current Standings

Colonial Athletic CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
North Carolina-Wilmington 12 2 20 5
Hofstra 10 4 18 8
James Madison 9 5 19 8
William & Mary 9 5 17 8
Towson 9 5 18 9
Charleston 8 6 16 9
Northeastern 6 8 14 13
Elon 5 9 14 13
Delaware 1 13 6 19
Drexel 1 13 3 22

Conference USA
Site: Birmingham
Southern Miss. is ineligible. The remaining 13 teams will participate.
Opening Round–March 8: 12 vs. 13
Second Round–March 9: 5 vs. 12/13, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 10: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6/11, 4 vs. 5/12/13
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: Fox Sports 1 @ 2:30 PM

Current Standings

Conference USA CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
UAB 11 2 21 5
Middle Tennessee 10 3 18 7
Marshall 9 3 13 12
Louisiana Tech 8 4 19 6
Old Dominion 7 5 14 11
UTEP 7 6 15 11
Charlotte 6 6 10 15
Florida International 6 7 12 14
Florida Atlantic 5 8 7 19
Western Kentucky 4 8 12 13
North Texas 4 8 9 16
Rice 4 8 9 16
Southern Miss 4 8 7 16
UTSA 2 11 4 22

Horizon
Site: Detroit (Motor City Madness)
Northern Kentucky is ineligible for NCAA or NIT play, but they will participate in the Horizon Tournament
Opening Round–March 5: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 6: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 7
Championship–March 8: ESPN @ 7:00 PM

Current Standings

Horizon CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Valparaiso 11 2 21 5
Oakland 10 4 18 9
Wright State 10 4 16 11
Milwaukee 7 6 16 10
Green Bay 7 6 15 11
Detroit 7 7 13 12
Northern Kentucky 5 9 9 16
Youngstown State 4 9 9 17
Cleveland State 3 10 8 18
Illinois-Chicago 3 10 5 19

Ivy
The Ivy League does not conduct a conference tournament, even though they claim that their conference tournament is a 14-game round robin. However, all ties for first place result in a playoff for the championship, regardless of whether one team swept another team. There can be multiple team playoffs, and there is a slight chance that three teams could finish 12-2 or 11-3 this year.
There is a strong indication that the Ivy League will implement a conference tournament in the near future, possibly as early as next season.
If there is a playoff between two teams, it will be held on Saturday, March 12. If there is a three-way tie for first, two teams will play on Thursday, March 10, with the winner playing the third team on March 12.

Current Standings

Ivy League CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Yale 8 0 17 5
Princeton 6 1 16 5
Columbia 6 2 17 8
Pennsylvania 3 4 9 12
Harvard 2 6 10 14
Cornell 2 6 9 13
Dartmouth 2 6 8 14
Brown 2 6 7 15

Mid-American
Site: Opening round games will be played on campus sites on March 7. Final three rounds will be played in Cleveland.
Opening Round–March 7: 12 @ 5, 11 @ 6, 10 @ 7, 9 @ 8
Quarterfinal–March 10: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6/11, 4 vs. 5/12
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: ESPN2 @ 7:30 PM

Current Standings

Mid-American CONFERENCE OVERALL
EAST W L W L
Akron 9 3 20 5
Ohio 7 5 16 8
Kent State 7 5 16 9
Buffalo 7 5 14 11
Bowling Green 4 8 13 12
Miami (OH) 3 9 9 16
WEST W L W L
Ball State 7 5 16 9
Toledo 7 5 16 9
Northern Illinois 6 6 17 8
Central Michigan 6 6 13 12
Eastern Michigan 5 7 13 12
Western Michigan 4 8 10 15

Mideastern Athletic
Site: Norfolk State will host this tournament in Norfolk.
Florida A&M is ineligible. The remaining 12 teams will participate
Opening Round–March 7: 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11 & March 8: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 9: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10 & March 10: 3 vs. 6/11, 4 vs. 5/12
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: ESPN2 @ 1:00 PM

Current Standings

Mid-Eastern CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Hampton 9 2 14 9
Norfolk State 9 2 13 13
South Carolina State 9 3 14 12
Bethune-Cookman 6 5 9 16
Savannah State 6 6 10 13
Maryland-Eastern Shore 5 6 8 18
North Carolina A&T 5 6 8 18
Howard 4 6 10 15
North Carolina Central 4 6 9 15
Coppin State 4 7 6 18
Florida A&M 3 7 7 16
Morgan State 3 7 5 18
Delaware State 3 7 5 20

Northeast
Site: Campus Sites. All games will be played on home court of higher seed.
9th and 10th place teams will be disqualified, while the top 8 teams will participate in the tournament.
Quarterfinal–March 2: 8 @ 1, 7 @ 2, 6 @ 3, 5 @ 4
Semifinal–March 5
Championship–March 8: ESPN or ESPN2 @ 7:00 PM

Current Standings

Northeast CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Wagner 9 5 16 9
Fairleigh Dickinson 9 5 13 12
St. Francis (PA) 9 5 13 12
Mount St. Mary’s 9 5 12 15
Sacred Heart 8 6 9 16
St. Francis (BKN) 7 6 11 15
LIU Brooklyn 6 7 12 12
Robert Morris 6 8 8 19
Bryant University 4 10 7 20
Central Connecticut State 2 12 3 22

Ohio Valley
Site: Tennessee State & Belmont are the home teams in Nashville
The top 8 of the 12 teams will qualify for the tournament. The top 2 seeds get byes to the semifinals.
Opening Round–March 2: 5 vs. 8, 6 vs. 7
Quarterfinal–March 3: 3 vs. 6/7, 4 vs. 5/8
Semifinal–March 4: 1 vs. 4/5/8, 2 vs. 3/6/7
Championship–March 5: ESPN2 @ 7:00 PM

Current Standings

Ohio Valley CONFERENCE OVERALL
EAST W L W L
Tennessee Tech 10 3 18 8
Belmont 10 3 18 9
Tennessee State 9 3 18 7
Morehead State 8 5 14 11
Eastern Kentucky 5 8 14 14
Jacksonville State 4 9 8 20
WEST W L W L
Murray State 8 5 14 12
Tennessee-Martin 7 5 15 12
Eastern Illinois 7 6 11 15
Austin Peay 5 8 12 16
SIU-Edwardsville 2 11 5 20
Southeast Missouri State 2 11 5 21

Patriot
Site: Campus Sites. All games will be played on home court of higher seed.
All 10 teams will participate
Opening Round–March 1: 9 @ 8, 10 @ 7
Quarterfinal–March 3: 8/9 @ 1, 7/10 @ 2, 6 @ 3, 5 @ 4
Semifinal–March 6
Championship–March 9: CBS Sports Network @ 7:30 PM

Current Standings

Patriot League CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Bucknell 10 4 13 12
Navy 9 5 18 9
Boston University 9 5 16 11
Lehigh 8 5 10 14
Colgate 8 6 12 13
Loyola (MD) 7 7 8 17
Army 6 8 15 11
Holy Cross 5 8 10 14
American University 5 9 7 18
Lafayette 2 12 5 20

Southern
Site: Asheville, NC
All 10 teams will participate
Opening Round–March 4: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 5: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 6
Championship–March 7: ESPN2 @ 9:00 PM

Current Standings

Southern CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Chattanooga 12 2 23 4
Furman 11 4 17 11
Wofford 10 4 14 13
East Tennessee State 9 4 16 10
Mercer 8 6 18 9
Western Carolina 6 7 11 15
UNC Greensboro 5 8 9 17
Citadel 3 11 10 17
Samford 3 12 12 16
Virginia Military 2 11 7 17

Southland
Site: Katy, TX (About 30 miles west of Downtown Houston) (Houston Baptist is quasi-home team)
Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, and Incarnate World are not eligible.
The top 8 of the 10 remaining teams will participate. The top 2 seeds receive byes to the semifinals.
Opening Round–March 9: 5 vs. 8, 6 vs. 7
Quarterfinal–March 10: 3 vs. 6/7, 4 vs. 5/8
Semifinal–March 11: 1 vs. 4/5/8, 2 vs. 3/6/7
Championship–March 12: ESPN2 @ 9:30 PM

Current Standings

Southland CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Stephen F. Austin 11 0 18 5
Texas A&M-CC 9 3 18 6
Incarnate Word 8 3 13 9
Houston Baptist 8 4 14 11
Sam Houston State 8 4 13 12
Abilene Christian 6 5 11 13
New Orleans 4 7 8 14
Southeastern Louisiana 4 7 6 18
Central Arkansas 4 7 5 16
Northwestern State 4 8 7 15
McNeese State 4 8 6 16
Nicholls State 3 9 7 19
Lamar 2 10 10 14

Southwestern Athletic
Site: Houston (Texas Southern will be the host team)
Alcorn State is ineligible for the NCAA & NIT, but the Braves will be allowed to participate in this tournament.
Opening Round–March 8: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 9: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10 & March 10: 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: ESPN-U @ 6:30 PM

Current Standings

Southwestern Athletic CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Texas Southern 10 1 11 12
Southern University 9 3 17 8
Alcorn State 9 3 11 12
Jackson State 8 4 13 12
Mississippi Valley State 5 7 5 21
Alabama A&M 4 8 8 13
Alabama State 4 8 9 15
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 4 8 6 20
Prairie View A&M 3 8 3 20
Grambling State 3 9 6 18

Summit
Site: Sioux Falls, SD
The number 9 team does not qualify. The remaining 8 teams participate.
Quarterfinal–March 5: 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 & March 6: 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 7
Championship–March 8: ESPN2 @ 9:00 PM

Current Standings

Summit League CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
South Dakota State 9 3 20 6
IPFW 9 3 20 7
Nebraska-Omaha 9 4 17 10
IUPUI 7 5 11 16
North Dakota State 6 6 16 10
Denver 5 8 13 13
Oral Roberts 5 8 13 14
South Dakota 4 9 12 15
Western Illinois 2 10 9 14

Sun Belt
Site: New Orleans
The 9th, 10th, and 11th place teams do not qualify. The remaining 8 teams participate with the top 2 seeds receiving byes to the semifinals.
Opening Round–March 10: 5 vs. 8, 6 vs. 7
Quarterfinal–March 11: 3 vs. 6/7, 4 vs. 5/8
Semifinal–March 12: 1 vs. 4/5/8, 2 vs. 3/6/7
Championship–March 13: ESPN2 @ 1:00 PM

Current Standings

Sun Belt CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Arkansas-Little Rock 12 2 22 3
Louisiana-Lafayette 10 4 14 9
Texas-Arlington 8 5 17 7
Louisiana-Monroe 8 5 13 12
Arkansas State 7 6 11 14
Georgia Southern 7 7 11 13
Georgia State 6 8 13 10
South Alabama 6 8 11 14
Texas State 4 9 10 12
Appalachian State 4 10 6 19
Troy 3 11 8 17

Western Athletic
Site: Las Vegas
Grand Canyon is ineligible. The remaining 7 teams will participate.
Quarterfinal–March 10: 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semfinal–March 11: 1 vs. 4/5, 2/7 vs. 3/6
Championship–March 12: ESPN-U @ 11:00 PM

Current Standings

Western Athletic CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
New Mexico State 9 1 18 8
Grand Canyon 8 2 22 4
Cal State Bakersfield 8 2 18 7
Seattle 6 4 12 12
Utah Valley 4 6 10 15
UMKC 3 7 10 15
Texas Rio Grande Valley 2 8 6 19
Chicago State 0 10 4 23

Possible Two-Bid Leagues
These are the conferences where if the overwhelming favorite wins the conference tournament, there will only be one bid awarded to these leagues, but if the heavy favorite loses in the championship round or possibly semifinal round, there could be two bids awarded to these leagues, bursting the bubble of a probably undeserving at-large team from a power conference.

Metro Atlantic
Site: Siena will host the MAAC Tournament in Albany
Opening Round–March 3: 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 4: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, & March 5: 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 6
Championship–March 7: ESPN @ 7:00 PM

Current Standings

Metro Atlantic Athletic CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Monmouth 13 2 21 5
Iona 11 4 14 10
Siena 11 5 18 9
St. Peter’s 9 6 11 13
Manhattan 8 6 11 12
Fairfield 8 7 14 11
Rider 7 9 11 16
Canisius 6 10 11 16
Quinnipiac 5 10 8 16
Niagara 4 12 6 21
Marist 2 13 5 19

Monmouth has a shot at receiving an at-large bid if they do not win the MAAC Tournament. Siena would be a tough out in a possible semifinal or championship game match, but the Hawks swept the Saints, including a 6-point win in Albany. At 28-6, Monmouth would have to be a serious candidate for an at-large bid, but we won’t discard the fact that politics play some part in the Selection Committee’s decision-making, so a borderline team from a power conference could take this spot away from a deserving Monmouth team should the Hawks hit a bump in the road in Albany.

Missouri Valley
Site: St. Louis (Arch Madness)
All 10 teams will participate.
Opening Round–March 3: 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 4: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 5
Championship–March 6: CBS @ 2:00 PM

Current Standings

Missouri Valley CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Wichita State 12 2 18 7
Illinois State 10 4 16 11
Southern Illinois 9 5 20 7
Evansville 9 5 20 7
Northern Iowa 8 6 16 11
Indiana State 7 7 13 13
Missouri State 7 7 11 15
Loyola (IL) 5 9 12 14
Bradley 2 12 4 23
Drake 1 13 6 20

Mountain West
Site: Las Vegas (UNLV Hosts)
All 11 teams participate.
Opening Round–March 9: 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 10: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7/10, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 11
Championship–March 12: CBS @ 6:00 PM

Current Standings

Mountain West CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
San Diego State 12 1 19 7
New Mexico 8 4 15 10
Boise State 8 5 17 9
Fresno State 7 5 16 9
Nevada 7 5 15 9
Colorado State 6 6 14 11
UNLV 6 7 15 11
Wyoming 5 8 12 14
Utah State 4 8 12 11
Air Force 3 10 12 14
San Jose State 3 10 8 17

San Diego State has one difficult game left on its regular conference schedule, a game at New Mexico, where the Lobos are tough to beat. If the Aztecs win that game and win out the regular season, their record will then be 24-7 with wins over California and two over New Mexico, plus losses to Utah, West Virginia, and Kansas. This looks like a rather thin resume, but the Aztecs currently hold onto a #46 RPI, and if they win out, that ranking will move up a little. SDSU would then have to make it to the championship round and lose before they would be a serious at-large candidate at 26-8.

West Coast
Site: Las Vegas
Pacific is ineligible. The remaining 9 teams will participate.
Opening Round–March 4: 8 vs. 9
Quarterfinal–March 5: 1 vs. 8/9, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5
Semifinal–March 7
Championship–March 8: ESPN @ 9:00 PM

Current Standings

West Coast CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Gonzaga 12 2 20 6
Saint Mary’s 11 3 20 4
BYU 10 4 19 8
Pepperdine 9 6 16 10
San Francisco 7 7 13 11
Portland 5 9 11 16
Santa Clara 5 9 9 17
Pacific 5 9 7 17
Loyola Marymount 4 11 11 15
San Diego 3 11 8 17

What’s an NCAA Tournament without Gonzaga? The Bulldogs are to the 21st Century Big Dance what Marquette was to the 1970’s NCAA Tournament, the best program year in and year out not in a power conference. Saint Mary’s can no longer be considered a serious at-large candidate, but the Gaels could still work their way into contention by winning out, including a season-sweep over Gonzga.

The Power Conferences

American Athletic
Site: Orlando
SMU is ineligible. The remaining 10 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 10: 8 vs. 9 (ESPNU–3:30 PM), 7 vs. 10 (ESPNNews–6 PM)

Quarterfinal–March 11: 1 vs. 8/9 (ESPN2–12PM), 4 vs. 5 (ESPN2–2PM), 2 vs. 7/10 (ESPNU–7PM), 3 vs. 6 (ESPNU–9PM)

Semifinal–March 12: ESPN2 @ 3 & 5 PM

Championship–March 13: ESPN @ 3:15 PM

Current Standings

American Athletic Conference CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Temple 10 3 16 8
SMU 9 3 21 3
Cincinnati 9 4 19 7
Connecticut 8 4 18 7
Houston 8 5 18 7
Tulsa 8 5 16 9
Memphis 5 7 14 11
UCF 5 7 11 12
Tulane 3 10 10 16
East Carolina 2 10 10 15
South Florida 2 11 5 21

Safe
—–

Close
Connecticut

Bubble
Cincinnati, Temple, Tulsa

With wins over Wichita State, Connecticut, and SMU, Tulsa could have been cruising up to Last Four In status with a win at UConn Saturday. Falling just short in a frantic comeback, keeps the Golden Hurricane out of the Dance for now. Temple is the hot team with five consecutive wins boosting the Owls into first place ahead of SMU in the league standings. Still, their resume needs a little more upward tweaking. Cincinnati has won six of seven and eight of ten games, and the Bearcats have a chance to work their way into the Field of 68 by closing strong with two wins from among Tulsa, Connecticut, and SMU.

 

Atlantic 10
Site: Brooklyn
All 14 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: American Sports Network 12-13 (6:30PM), 11-14 (9PM)

Second Round–March 10: NBC Sports Network 8-9 (12PM), 5-12/13 (2:30 PM), 7-10 (6:30 PM), 6-11/14 (9PM)

Quarterfinal–March 11: NBC Sports Network 1-8/9 (12 PM), 4-5/12/13 (2:30 PM), 2-7/10 (6:30 PM), 3-6/11/14 (9PM)

Semifinal–March 12: CBS Sports Network @ 1:30 PM & 4:00 PM

Championship–March 13: CBS @ 12:30 PM

Current Standings

Atlantic 10 CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Dayton 11 1 21 3
Saint Joseph’s (PA) 10 2 21 4
Virginia Commonwealth 10 2 18 7
St. Bonaventure 9 3 17 6
George Washington 7 5 18 7
Davidson 6 6 14 9
Richmond 6 6 14 10
Rhode Island 6 6 14 11
Duquesne 5 7 15 10
Massachusetts 4 8 11 13
Fordham 3 9 12 11
George Mason 3 9 9 16
Saint Louis 3 9 8 16
La Salle 1 11 5 18

Safe
Dayton

Close
St. Joseph’s

Bubble
VCU, George Washington, St. Bonaventure

St. Joe’s has won nine of their last ten, and the Hawks could move to safe status with a midweek win over Dayton. Losing at UMass last week sent VCU down to the Bubble, and the Rams don’t seem to be clicking at crunch time like they did when Shaka Smart coached this team. GWU has fallen even more than VCU. The Colonials have only split their last eight games, and without a mad dash to the finish, they will be NIT-bound. St. Bonaventure owns a five-game winning streak, but the Bonnies must pick up a signature win on the road to climb high enough to earn an at-large bid. They will get that chance with a Saturday afternoon contest at Dayton.

 

Atlantic Coast
Site: Washington, D.C.
Louisville is ineligible. The remaining 14 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 8: ESPN2 12 vs. 13 (12PM), 11 vs. 14 (2 PM)

Second Round–March 9: ESPN 8 vs. 9 (12 PM), 5 vs. 12/13 (2 PM), ESPN2 7 vs. 10 (7 PM), 6 vs. 11/14 (9 PM)

Quarterfinal–March 10: ESPN 1 vs. 8/9 (12 PM), 4 vs. 5/12/13 (2 PM), 2 vs. 7/10 (7 PM), 3 vs. 6/11/14 (9 PM)

Semifinal–March 11: ESPN or ESPN2 @ 7:00 PM & 9:00 PM

Championship– March 12: ESPN @ 9:00 PM

Current Standings

Atlantic Coast CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
North Carolina 10 2 21 4
Miami (FL) 9 3 20 4
Virginia 9 4 20 5
Notre Dame 9 4 18 7
Duke 8 4 19 6
Louisville 8 4 19 6
Clemson 8 5 15 10
Syracuse 8 5 18 8
Pittsburgh 6 6 17 7
Florida State 6 7 16 9
Virginia Tech 5 7 13 12
Georgia Tech 3 9 13 12
North Carolina State 3 9 13 12
Wake Forest 1 12 10 15
Boston College 0 12 7 18

Safe
Virginia, North Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Duke

Close
Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

Bubble
Florida State, Clemson
Duke moved into safe status with wins over Louisville and Virginia. With three straight wins over North Carolina, Clemson, and Louisville, Notre Dame is maybe one more win away from moving to the Safe line. Syracuse has won five in a row, and a Saturday win over Pittsburgh may be enough to move the Orangemen to Safe status. as for the Panthers, three consecutive losses and a 3-6 record after a 3-0 start in league play is quickly pushing them down to the Bubble. Pitt must correct the free fall and win at least three of their last six games and then once in the ACC Tournament to stay on the positive side of the Dance fence. Florida State faces must wins this week in games with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The Seminoles then need to win at least one of their last three against Duke, Notre Dame, and Syracuse and then probably win one ACC Tournament game before they become serious players. Clemson probably needs to get to 12-6 in league play to make the Tournament, because the Tigers don’t have much to show outside of league play with no impressive wins.

Bubble Buster: Virginia Tech has played the league leaders close and owns a win over Virginia. They will have to win four games in four days, but it is remotely possible, they could do it.

 

Big 12
Site: Kansas City
All 10 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: ESPNU 8 vs. 9 (7:00 PM), 7 vs. 10 (9:00 PM)

Quarterfinal–March 10: ESPN2 4 vs. 5 (12:30 PM), 1 vs. 8/9 (2:30 PM), ESPNU 2 vs. 7/10 (7 PM), 3 vs. 6 (9 PM)

Semifinal–March 11: ESPN or ESPN2 @ 7:00 PM & 9:00 PM

Championship–March 12: ESPN @ 6:00 PM

Current Standings

Big 12 CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Kansas 9 3 21 4
West Virginia 9 3 20 5
Oklahoma 8 4 20 4
Baylor 7 5 18 7
Iowa State 7 5 18 7
Texas 7 5 16 9
Texas Tech 5 7 15 9
Kansas State 3 9 14 11
Oklahoma State 3 9 12 13
TCU 2 10 11 14

Safe
Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State

Close
Texas, Baylor

Bubble
Texas Tech, Kansas St.

Texas and Baylor are virtually safe at this moment, just as long as neither goes into a free-fall. The Longhorns have a 21 RPI, while Baylor is at 30, and both teams’ schedules will only send those numbers higher shy of losing out. Texas Tech is now a serious player following a week in which the Red Raiders beat Iowa State and then trounced Baylor in Waco. TTU can get into the Dance with an 8-10 league record and one conference tourney win. Kansas State is a different story altogether. The Wildcats have a lot of work left to do. It will take a sweep of TCU plus upset wins over Texas and Texas Tech just to get to 7-11 in league play, which would be a historic low conference record for any at-large team. We don’t see the boys from the Little Apple making it this year.

 

Big East
Site: New York (St. John’s is the host at Madison Square Garden)
All 10 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: Fox Sports 1 8 vs. 9 (7:00 PM) 7 vs. 10 (9:30 PM *)

Quarterfinal–March 10: Fox Sports 1 1 vs. 8/9 (12 PM), 4 vs. 5 (2:30 PM *), 2 vs. 7/10 (7 PM), 3 vs. 6 (9:30 PM *)

Semifinal–March 11: Fox Sports 1 @ 6:30 PM & 9:00 PM *

Championship–March 12: FOX @ 5:30 PM

* All Games immediately following another game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the preceding game. Times given are approximate.

Current Standings

Big East CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Villanova 12 1 22 3
Xavier 10 3 22 3
Creighton 8 5 17 9
Seton Hall 7 5 17 7
Providence 7 6 19 7
Georgetown 7 6 14 12
Butler 6 7 17 8
Marquette 5 8 16 10
DePaul 2 10 8 16
St. John’s 0 13 7 19

Safe
Villanova, Xavier

Close
Providence

Bubble
Seton Hall, Butler, Creighton

A 2-4 slide has begun to drop Providence out of Safe status and close to falling to Bubble status. The Friars next two games are on the road against Xavier and Seton Hall and two more losses sends them down to the Bubble. Seton Hall’s home loss to Butler damaged but did not destroy the Pirates’ chances, and did not rescue the Bulldogs. It just left both in limbo with more work to accomplish if they want a Dance ticket. Creighton is trying to be like a stretch-running horse, picking the right time to start a winning streak that has reached three games. A win at Butler tomorrow night would send the Blue Jays ahead of both Butler and Seton Hall in the Bubble department.

 

Big Ten
Site: Indianapolis
All 14 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: ESPN2 12 vs. 13 (4:30 PM), Big Ten Network 11 vs. 14 (7:00 PM)

Second Round–March 10: Big Ten Network 8 vs. 9 (12PM), 5 vs. 12/13 (2:30 PM), ESPN2 7 v. 10 (6:30PM), 6 vs. 11/14 (9PM)

Quarterfinal–March 11: ESPN 1 vs. 8/9 (12PM), 4 vs. 5/12/13 (2:30PM), Big Ten Net. 2 vs. 7/10 (6:30PM), 3 vs. 6/11/14 (9PM)

Semifinal–March 12: CBS @ 1:00 PM & 3:30 PM

Championship–March 13: CBS @ 3:00 PM

Current Standings

Big Ten CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Iowa 11 2 20 5
Indiana 10 3 20 6
Maryland 10 3 22 4
Michigan 9 4 19 7
Wisconsin 8 4 16 9
Purdue 8 5 20 6
Ohio State 8 5 16 10
Michigan State 8 5 21 5
Nebraska 6 7 14 12
Northwestern 5 8 17 9
Penn State 3 9 12 13
Illinois 3 9 11 14
Rutgers 0 12 6 19
Minnesota 0 13 6 19

Safe
Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue

Close
Indiana, Michigan

Bubble
Wisconsin

If the NCAA Tournament began today, Wisconsin would be in the field. The Badgers are the hottest team in the league with seven consecutive wins, including a mighty impressive 13-point win at Maryland Saturday night, in which the Badgers were in control for almost the entire game, following an early 23-5 run.

 

Pac-12
Site: Las Vegas
All 12 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: Pac-12 Net. 8 vs. 9 (3PM), 5 vs. 12 (5:30 PM), 7 vs. 10 (9PM), 6 vs. 11 (11:30 PM)

Quarterfinal–March 10: Pac-12 Net. 1 vs. 8/9 (3PM), 4 vs. 5/12 (5:30 PM, 2 vs. 7/10 (9PM), Fox Sports 1 3 vs. 6/11 (11:30 PM)

Semifinal–March 11: Pac-12 Network @ 9:00 PM, Fox Sports 1 @ 11:30 PM

Championship–March 12: Fox Sports 1 @ 10:00 PM

Current Standings

Pac-12 CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Oregon 9 4 20 6
Arizona 9 4 21 5
Colorado 8 5 19 7
Utah 8 5 19 7
USC 7 5 18 7
California 7 5 17 8
Washington 7 6 15 10
Oregon State 6 7 15 9
Stanford 5 7 12 11
UCLA 5 7 14 11
Arizona State 4 9 14 12
Washington State 1 12 9 16

Safe
Oregon, Arizona, Utah, USC

Close
California, Colorado

Bubble
Oregon St., Washington, Stanford, UCLA

Cal’s three straight wins gives the Bears a leg up on the five other contenders in the Close or Bubble range. Cal’s last six games are pivotal, starting with a road trip to the Evergreen State to take on Washington and Washington State; followed by home games with USC and UCLA; and concluding with road games at Arizona and Arizona State. A 4-2 finish would give them enough wins to secure a bid. Colorado must win three out of their final five and then do something in the Pac-12 Tournament, and the Buffs have a tough road to climb to get there. As for the four teams on the Bubble, only Oregon State is playing like they belong in the conversation. It figures that one of these four will move into the field, but it is not a guarantee. Washington is the most likely of this quartet to get hot and go on a run in Las Vegas.

 

Southeastern
Site: Nashville (Vanderbilt is the host team)
Missouri is ineligible. The remaining 13 teams will participate.

Opening Round–March 9: SEC Network 12 vs. 13 (8:00 PM)

Second Round–March 10: SEC Net. 8 vs. 9 (1 PM), 5 vs. 12/13 (3:30 PM), 7 vs. 10 (7 PM), 6 vs. 11 (9:30 PM)

Quarterfinal–March 11: SEC Net. 1 vs. 8/9 (1 PM), 4 vs. 5/12/13 (3:30 PM), 2 vs. 7/10 (7 PM), 3 vs. 6/11 (9:30 PM)

Semifinal–March 12: ESPN 1:00 PM & 3:30 PM

Championship–March 13: ESPN 1:00 PM

Current Standings

Southeastern CONFERENCE OVERALL
Team W L W L
Kentucky 9 3 19 6
LSU 9 3 16 9
South Carolina 8 4 21 4
Texas A&M 7 5 18 7
Florida 7 5 16 9
Georgia 7 5 14 9
Vanderbilt 7 5 15 10
Ole Miss 6 6 16 9
Alabama 6 6 15 9
Arkansas 5 7 12 13
Tennessee 5 7 12 13
Mississippi State 3 9 10 14
Auburn 3 9 9 15
Missouri 2 10 9 16

Safe
Kentucky

Close
Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida

Bubble
LSU, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss

Texas A&M fell from the Safe to Close with their 0 for February streak. 3-3 is about the absolute worst the Aggies can finish, and they will be in with a 10-8 league mark with just one conference tournament win. South Carolina and Florida will eventually play themselves into the Safe range short of losing four in a row like A&M. LSU is tied for first in the league standings, and with Ben Simmons, it figures that the Selection Committee will give the Tigers major extra credit. Alabama is the team nobody wants to play at the present. The win at Florida Saturday night was ugly, but the Crimson Tide dominated the Gators in the second half and looked like an Alabama team from the Wimp Sanderson days. With their schedule, a 10-8 record probably gets ‘Bama in the party. Vanderbilt has yet to get a signature win away from home. They still have road games at Florida and Texas A&M, and it figures the Commodores will have to win at least one of those two and hold serve at home, or if they cannot win a key road game, Vandy will need to make it to the semifinals of the conference tournament to have a shot. Ole Miss has even less road success this year, and the Rebels have just one more chance to pick up a quality road win at Texas A&M, who they play tomorrow night. Short of winning in Aggieland, Ole Miss will probably have to make it all the way to the conference championship game to have any at-large shot.

 

This Week’s Bracketology Field of 68

Seed Team
1 Kansas
1 Villanova
1 Oklahoma
1 Virginia
2 North Carolina
2 Iowa
2 Xavier
2 Maryland
3 Miami (Fla.)
3 West Virginia
3 Oregon
3 Michigan St.
4 Iowa St.
4 Kentucky
4 Dayton
4 Duke
5 Purdue
5 Arizona
5 Utah
5 Notre Dame
6 Texas
6 Texas A&M
6 USC
6 Indiana
7 South Carolina
7 Baylor
7 California
7 Providence
8 Colorado
8 Syracuse
8 Florida
8 Connecticut
9 St. Joseph’s
9 Pittsburgh
9 Michigan
9 Wisconsin
10 Oregon St.
10 Seton Hall
10 Florida St.
10 Wichita St.
11 Monmouth
11 Gonzaga
11 Valparaiso
11 San Diego St.
12 Cincinnati
12 Texas Tech
12 LSU
12 VCU
12 Temple
12 UALR
13 Chattanooga
13 Akron
13 Stony Brook
13 South Dakota St.
14 Hawaii
14 Yale
14 UNC-Wilmington
14 UAB
15 Tennessee St.
15 Stephen F. Austin
15 New Mexico St.
15 Montana
16 UNC-Asheville
16 Hampton
16 NJIT
16 Wagner
16 Bucknell
16 Texas Southern

 

Last 4 In
Texas Tech
LSU
VCU
Temple
 
First 4 Out
Alabama
Butler
Washington
St. Bonaventure
 
Next 4 Out
Vanderbilt
GWU
Tulsa
UCLA
 
1st Round #16’s
NJIT
Wagner
Bucknell
Texas Southern

 

 

February 8, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 8, 2016

With each passing week, one near fact emerges in this college basketball season.  No one team is dominant this year.  The eventual national champion might be a middle of the pack team in its own conference today.  A mid-major team or two might be poised to make it to the Final Four.  A good dozen at-large teams that will be awarded will probably be weaker than NIT teams of recent years.  Of the 46 or 47 at-large bids that will be awarded, probably no more than 25 to 30 will really deserve that invitation this year.

Let’s take a look at how our 32 geniuses bracketed the teams this week.  Most agreed on 63 of the 68 participants, not counting any disagreements in which teams will represent the one-bid leagues.

 

One-Bid Leagues
America East
Stony Brook’s (10-0/19-4) winning streak has now extended to 15 games. The Seawolves followed up their win at Vermont (6-4/14-11) the previous week with consecutive blowouts over two bottom-division conference foes. The league faces a three-game week, and Stony Brook’s contest at New Hampshire (6-3/13-9) on Sunday figures to be the key game.

Albany (8-2/19-6) plays at New Hampshire Thursday night, and the Great Danes still have a home game with Stony Brook, but it may be a little too late to overtake the Seawolves for the top seed. Albany edged SBU by a point in last year’s conference tournament championship, and the two teams may be headed to a rematch on the Seawolves’ home floor this year.

Atlantic Sun
This race got interesting last week. North Florida (7-2/18-8) fell twice, once at home to a Stetson team that is just one game ahead of last place. Meanwhile, Jacksonville (7-2/15-11) ran its winning streak to five games including a second win over Florida Gulf Coast (5-4/14-11). Don’t overlook NJIT (5-4/14-11). The Highlanders, in their first year in the league, could be a tough out in Newark, where all conference tournament games are played on campus sites of the better seeds.

Big Sky
The top two teams both suffered losses last week, and now the rest of the field is closing in. Montana (9-2/14-8) and Weber State (8-2/16-7) were picked one-two in most preseason polls, and Eastern Washington (7-4/13-10) was the consensus third place choice, so this league is holding to form. The one surprise is the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota (7-4/12-10). There is no clear-cut leader as the race enters its final weeks.

Big South
Six of the 11 schools in this league are still in contention for the top seed, and it promises to lead to an exciting conference tournament in Buies Creek, North Carolina, home to current last place team Campbell. Until somebody dethrones them, defending champion Coastal Carolina (9-4/15-8) is our favorite to repeat as conference tournament champion. Coach Cliff Ellis tends to produce teams that pound the ball inside and control the boards, beating teams with physical dominance. In their current seven-game winning streak, the Chanticleers are keeping opponents out of the lane with tough defense, dominating on the glass, and getting the ball inside for cheap baskets.

UNC-Asheville (10-3/17-8) still leads the loop, but the Bulldogs have a tough closing schedule, that includes a chance to get some revenge on CCU after losing to them in overtime.

Winthrop (8-4/16-7) made it to the championship game of the Big South Tournament last year, and the Eagles had won seven games in a row before falling to Liberty (8-5/11-15) Saturday. Gardner-Webb (8-5/13-12) faced a killer pre-conference schedule, and it appeared to wear the Bulldogs down some in January, but GWU is a definite contender. The Bulldogs beat Coastal Carolina and had a big lead at UNCA before falling at the end. GWU would be the clear front-runner if Jerome Hill had not decided to become a pro in Iceland.

Big West
Both of the co-leaders recovered from unexpected losses the prior week to return to their winning ways. Hawaii (7-1/18-3) won twice by double digits on the mainland to run their league road record to 4-0. The Rainbow Warriors have been a major surprise under first-year coach Even Ganot, a former St. Mary’s assistant. Hawaii has a +5 rebounding edge and +3 turnover margin, and they are consistent. It took five three-pointers and eight for eight foul shooting from All-American Buddy Hield for Oklahoma to hang on and edge the Warriors in Norman earlier this year.

UC-Irvine (7-1/18-6) doesn’t have as impressive stats as Hawaii, but they have the headache matchup problem for opponents. He isn’t nearly as talented as an A.J. Hammons or Jakob Poeltl, but Mamadou Ndiaye is a 7 foot 6 fly-swatter. Backing him up is a Greek monolith in seven foot, two inch Ioannis Dimakopoulous. The two titans combine to score 17.8 points, pull down 9.8 rebounds, and block 3.5 shots per game. These stats are more impressive when you consider that UCI runs a slower-paced game.

The two contenders face off twice in eight days, beginning on the island late Thursday night/early Friday morning. We believe these teams will split and more than likely finished tied for first, with the rubber game coming in the conference championship at Disneyland in Anaheim.

Long Beach State (6-3/12-12) cannot be overlooked. The 49ers’ pre-conference schedule was brutal with games against BYU, Seton Hall, and New Mexico State, which they won, and two games against Oklahoma State plus games against Virginia, San Diego State, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, and Duke.

Colonial Athletic
This continues to be a race with a lot of contenders. Six teams look talented enough to get hot for three days in March in Baltimore. Up in Louisville, the Cardinal fans are sadly disappointed for their team’s fate, but many of them will now route for UNC-Wilmington (10-2/18-5), led by former UL assistant Kevin Keatts. In just his second season in Wilmington, Keatts has shown that the Rick Pitino coaching tree is still fruitful, as it looks like the Seahawks could finish first in the CAA for the second consecutive season after suffering through seven losing years in a row prior to Keatts’ arrival.

The leading contender to UNCW has a coach from a famous tree as well. William & Mary (9-3/17-6) head coach Tony Shaver comes directly from the Dean Smith coaching tree, having played for the maestro at North Carolina while Roy Williams was an assistant on that staff. Shaver made Hampden-Sydney a major power at the Division III level, and he has done a very good job building up the Tribe program to where they have a legitimate shot at getting to the Big Dance for the first time in school history.

Other teams firmly in contention in the CAA include Hofstra (8-4/16-8), Towson (8-4/17-8) , James Madison (8-4/18-7), and Charleston (7-5/15-8). The CAA will not produce an at-large team and can probably expect a 14-seed, but whoever represents the league is going to make it hard on the three-seed that draws a team from this league. JMU defeated Hofstra in an overtime thriller yesterday.

Conference USA
This league has two teams that are too far behind the other bubble teams to receive serious consideration as an at-large candidate, but the top two teams in C-USA might defeat most of the bubble teams on a neutral floor. UAB (10-1/20-4) and Middle Tennessee (9-2/17-6) go on the road this week as a pair, both playing Louisiana Tech (6-4/17-6) and Southern Miss. Then, they face off against each other in Murfreesboro, on the Blue Raiders’ home floor on Sunday, February 21, in a nationally televised contest.

UAB pulled off the big NCAA Tournament upset over Iowa State last year, and this Blazer squad is considerably better under fourth year coach Jeron Haase, a former North Carolina assistant and former teammate of Jason Kidd. Haase is sure to get a lot of attention after this season by power conference teams looking for a bright and energetic coach to turn around a beleagured program.

Middle Tennessee has won nine of their last ten games, and they feature a powerful quartet of players that make it hard to consistently slow the Blue Raiders down. Middle doesn’t excel in anything, but they don’t have any major weaknesses either, and they have a deep bench. Guard Giddy Potts has been lighting it up from outside in recent games, where he has connected on 58.6% of his three-point attempts over the last six games.

Horizon
Three teams have separated themselves from the rest of the league, but two others could be contenders in the conference tournament in Detroit. Valparaiso (10-1/20-4) is among the national leaders in scoring margin, rebounding margin, and field goal percentage defense. This is a Valpo team that returned all five of its starters from a team that took third-seeded Maryland to the wire in the NCAA Tournament last year, losing by three.

Oakland (9-3/17-8) and Wright State (9-3/15-10) are the chief competition to Valpo for the conference title, and Wright State penned the lone conference loss on the Crusaders. Oakland blew Wright State off the floor in a home contest, but the Grizzlies lost big at home to Valpo, and they still must play the other two on the road this month.

Keep an eye on three other teams. Green Bay (6-5/14-10) and Detroit (6-6/12-11) can both light up the scoreboard, and both teams rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring (Oakland is number two nationally). Milwaukee (6-6/15-9) has lost four of seven games after having defeated Wisconsin and Minnesota earlier in the season.

Ivy
For now, Yale (6-0/15-5) is the leader after dusting Columbia (5-1/16-7) by 14 points Friday night on national television. The Bulldogs were blistering hot from the field, hitting better than 60% of their shots and then running time off the clock, forcing the Lions to foul numerous times, and then connecting on 28 out of 36 foul shots. Princeton (4-1/14-5) makes this a three-team race, and this race will get much more interesting the rest of the way.

Yale finishes with six road contests in their last eight games, including trips to Columbia and Princeton. One of these three teams will win the Ivy, and two or even all three could end up tied and force a playoff.

A couple of notes about the contenders; they are not your typical Ivy League teams. Yale currently rates number two in the nation in rebounding margin at +12.4. Princeton, long-noted as a team that slowed the pace of games down to win 60-50, now is one of the quicker-paced teams in the nation and tops in the Ivy.

Mid-American
Akron (8-2/19-4) is the class of the league this year as well as the hottest as they ride a six-game winning streak, but the Zips are not a sure thing to receive the one bid from this league. It might help that the conference tournament is just up the road in Cleveland, but even the class of the league is not head and heels better than three to five other teams in what is usually a very competitive tournament.

Buffalo (7-3/14-9) fell at home to Akron, but the Bulls recently went on the road to first-division Toledo (5-5/14-9) and Northern Illinois (5-5/16-7), winning both games. Ball State (6-4/15-8) has the league’s top defense.

Look out for NIU in the conference tournament. The Huskies have positive rebounding and turnover margins, and well as the top field goal percentage defense, and they have a balanced lineup with seven players contributing positive minutes.

Mideastern Athletic
Three teams have pulled away from the field, and their closing schedules set them up to finish in a three-way tie if they continue to play at their current paces.

Hampton (8-2/13-9) fell at Maryland-Eastern Shore Saturday to fall into a tie with South Carolina State (8-2/13-11). SCSU won at Hampton, so they would be the top-seed if the conference tournament began today. Norfolk State (7-2/11-13) is just a half-game behind the co-leaders, and the Spartans downed SC State by 13 in their lone meeting. Norfolk hosts Hampton to close out the regular season on March 3, and that game could decide which team gets the top seed. The MEAC Tournament will be in Norfolk, so the Spartans must be considered the favorite.
Keep an eye on Howard (4-4/10-13). The Bison have the nation’s top scorer in James Daniel (27.8 ppg), who is also one of the top thiefs in D1 with better than 2 1/2 steals per game. With big man Marcel Boyd, Howard could sneak through to the championship game of the MEAC Tournament and be a tough out for any of the top contenders.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth (11-2/19-5) might have done enough this year to earn an at-large tournament bid if they do not earn the automatic bid. For that to happen, the Hawks would have to win out until the finals of the MAAC Tournament and lose to Siena (9-5/16-9) on the Saints’ home floor. Monmouth would then be 28-6 with wins over USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and two out of three against Siena with losses to USC and Dayton. It is a long shot, but it could happen.

Iona (11-3/14-9) was supposed to race through the league and repeat as regular season champions after returning four starters from last year’s title run, but the Gaels lost guard Kelvin Amayo early in the season and did not recover for a month en route to a 4-6 start. Iona’s win over Niagara was its fourth consecutive victory, the last three of which came on the road. The Gaels still must face Siena twice and Monmouth on the road.

Mountain West
San Diego State (11-0/18-6) is the class of the MWC, but the Aztecs appear to be in a different situation than Wichita State in the MVC. SDSU’s schedule and results are not enough to merit an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. The Aztecs shouldn’t even be undefeated in the MWC, as the officials made a grievous error that cost New Mexico (7-3/14-9) a victory over SDSU Saturday night in San Diego.

Boise State (7-4/16-8) and Fresno State (6-4/15-8) are capable of doing damage in the conference tournament in Las Vegas. San Diego State is still the overwhelming favorite, and the Aztecs currently lead the nation in field goal percentage defense at 36.3%.

Northeast
This continues to be one of the most interesting conference races in college basketball. Eight of the ten teams qualify for the conference tournament, with all games played at the better seed. So, finishing in the top four is the key, and as of today, six teams are fighting it out for those top four seeds.

Wagner (8-4/15-8), Fairleigh Dickinson (8-4/12-11), and St. Francis (Pa.) (8-4/12-11) lead Mount St. Mary’s (7-5/10-15) and Sacred Heart (7-5/8-15) by one game and St. Francis (Brkn) (6-6/10-15) by two games. St. Francis (Pa.) and Sacred Heart are the current hot teams, but none of the teams look capable of avoiding a 16-seed, and the automatic participant might be faced with an opening round game in Dayton.

Ohio Valley
Until the last 10 days, Belmont (9-2/17-8) looked unstoppable in the OVC. Now, they don’t even look like the frontrunner after losing to Tennessee Tech (9-2/17-7) and bottom division Eastern Kentucky. Tennessee State (7-3/16-7) leads a group of three other contenders in what should be a fantastic conference tournament in Nashville.

Keep an eye on Morehead St. (6-5/12-11). The Eagles have lost a lot of close games, and they are starting to look like a cohesive team under former Kentucky Wildcat Sean Woods’ coaching style. Woods plays 10 players extensive minutes in every game, and the Eagles are a vastly improved team since the year began.

Patriot
This league plays its conference tournament on campus sites of the better seeds. So, finishing first guarantees home court advantage all the way through the tournament. Bucknell (10-2/13-10) has opened up a three-game lead over four others with a fifth team another half-game back. The Bison lost at home to Colgate (7-5/11-12).

Navy (7-5/16-9) must not be overlooked. The Midshipmen combine strong rebounding with excellent ball handling and could go on a late season run to earn the number two seed.

Southern
Chattanooga (10-1/21-3) won three home games by an average score of 95.3 to 67.3 to run their winning streak to eight games. The Mocs don’t exactly excel at any one thing, but they are good at every facet of the game. The Mocs are +6.1 in rebounding plus turnover margin, and they shoot 5% better from the field than their opposition. It’s hard to lose many games when you get more scoring opportunities thanks to your superior rebounding and turnover margins, while shooting better than your opponents.

Mercer (8-3/18-6) lost by 12 at Chattanooga last month, and the Bears host the Mocs in Macon tonight in a game you can see on ESPN3. A Mercer win would throw this race wide open with East Tennessee (8-3/15-9), Furman (8-4/14-11), and Wofford (7-4/11-13) within striking distance if Mercer can pull off the upset.

The conference tournament is in Asheville, where the league has no team.

Southland
What team is outscoring its conference rivals by 20.7 points per game? It isn’t Oklahoma, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, or Arizona. It’s not Wichita State either, although the Shockers were in that range until losing Saturday. The answer is Stephen F. Austin (9-0/16-5). On consecutive Saturdays, the Lumberjacks went on the road to the top two contenders, Texas A&M Corpus Christi (8-2/17-5) and Houston Baptist (8-2/14-9), and won both games to put this race away.

Road games against Incarnate Word (7-2/12-8) and Sam Houston (7-4/12-12) are the only possible stumbling blocks in SFA’s way of running the table in conference play in the regular season. Coach Brad Underwood will get multiple chances to move up the ladder after this season, as the Lumberjacks are now 77-13 under his direction. They lead the nation in turnover margin, and if they draw a team that is not an exceptional rebounding squad, SFA could scare a possible two-seed for much of 40 minutes.

Southwestern Athletic
After beginning the season 1-11, Texas Southern (9-1/10-12) began conference play by upsetting Southern U (8-2/16-7) and continued until their streak reached nine wins in a row. The Tigers fell Saturday to a Prairie View team that entered the game 1-20. TSU and Southern met in the SWAC Conference Tournament Championship Game last year, and there could be a rematch in Houston in a month.

Summit
South Dakota State (8-2/19-5) has won five in a row, the latest a 22-point win over IUPUI (7-4/11-15). IPFW (8-3/19-7) lost by 16 at SDSU in January, but the two teams play again in Fort Wayne on February 18. Omaha (7-4/15-10) and North Dakota State (6-4/16-8) give this league five competitive teams, but the conference tournament is Sioux Falls, less than an hour’s drive from Brookings, where SDSU is located.

Sun Belt
Chris Beard is the last of the Bob Knight assistant coaches to obtain a head coaching position at the Division 1 level. In his first year at UALR (11-1/21-2), Beard has the Trojans two games ahead of second place Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3/13-8). UALR is among the national leaders in field goal percentage defense (37.0%) and points allowed per game (57.2). The Trojans lead the league in turnover margin, and they are above average in shooting and rebounding. Senior guard Josh Hagins is one of the most consistent players in college basketball. He’s good for 12 points a night for three year’s running as well as the best assist to turnover ratio in the league among regulars.

UT-Arlington (6-5/15-7) at one time looked like a top contender for the regular season championship, but the Mavericks have dropped four straight games and five of six to fall out of the race. Arkansas State (7-5/11-12) and UL-Monroe (7-5/11-12) have passed UTA, but it is strictly a two-team race to the top seed in the SBC.

The conference tournament is in New Orleans, and in the SBC’s format, the top two teams receive double byes to the semifinals.

Western Athletic
New Mexico State (8-1/16-8) has won seven consecutive games to sprint to the top of the league and look like a team ready to make it five consecutive NCAA appearances. With Grand Canyon ineligible for the postseason, Cal State-Bakersfield (7-2/17-7) is the top contender. Former Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes has the Roadrunners on a hot streak with a February 18 rematch against NMSU just ten days away. NMSU must play a weather-caused make-up game at Wichita State three days earlier, and it could help the Roadrunners, who lost the first contest to the Aggies in double overtime.

With seven teams headed to Las Vegas for the conference tournament, the top-seed will receive a bye to the semifinals.

Possible 2-Bid League

Missouri Valley
We continue to keep this as a one-bid league for now, but Wichita State (11-1/17-6) took one on the chin Saturday night in Normal, Illionois, against Illinois State (8-4/14-11), and the Shockers are not so invincible in the Valley. Now, Arch Madness might be a little interesting, as the Redbirds have moved into a tie for second with Evansville (8-4/19-6), ahead of the swooning Southern Illinois Salukis (7-5/18-7).

The Shockers only have one tough road game left, at Indiana State (7-5/13-11), so Wichita State will soon clinch the top seed in the conference tournament. Should they fall in St. Louis, then the MVC comes a bid-stealer from the bubble.

American Athletic
Safe
—–

Okay for Now
Connecticut (7-3/17-6)

Bubble–IN
Cincinnati (7-4/17-7)

Bubble–OUT
Temple (8-3/14-8)

Connecticut has won six out of seven games and has non-league wins over Michigan, Ohio State, and Texas. The win over the Longhorns was in Austin. The Huskies have key road games against Temple and Cincinnati in the next two weeks.

Cincinnati fell at Memphis Saturday, and the Bearcats still have work to do. A 5-2 finish and a win in the conference tournament should be enough to get Cinti in the Dance, but if some conference tournament upsets accrue in other major conference tournaments, their bubble could be popped.

Atlantic 10
Safe
Dayton (9-1/19-3)

Okay for Now
VCU (9-1/17-6)

Bubble–IN
St. Joseph’s (8-2/19-4)

Bubble–OUT
George Washington (7-3/18-5)

GWU picked up a crucial road win at VCU Saturday night, and the Colonials’ closig schedule gives them a chance to play themselves into an at-large spot in the Field. It starts with a key game against St. Joe’s in D.C. Wednesday night.

Atlantic Coast
Safe
North Carolina (8-2/19-4)
Virginia (8-3/19-4)
Miami (Fla.) (7-3/18-4)

Okay for Now
Duke (6-4/17-6)
Pittsburgh (6-4/17-5)
Notre Dame (7-4/16-7)
Syracuse (6-5/16-8)

Bubble–IN
Florida State (6-5/16-7)
Clemson (7-4/14-9)

Bubble–OUT
—–

Louisville may be the top team in the loop, but even without the Cardinals’ participation in the postseason, this league still could place nine teams in the Big Dance.

Clemson’s hold on the bubble will either become firmer or burst tonight, when the Tigers play host to Notre Dame. CU needs to win five of their final seven conference games and then maybe one in the ACC Tournament to move into the safe zone.

Big 12
Safe
Oklahoma (7-3/19-3)
Kansas (7-3/19-4)
Iowa St. (6-4/17-6)
West Virginia (8-2/19-4)

Okay for Now
Baylor (6-4/17-6)
Texas (7-3/16-7)

Bubble–IN
—–

Bubble–OUT
Texas Tech (3-7/13-9)
Kansas St. (3-7/14-9)

The big game of the week takes place tomorrow night in Lawrence, when Kansas takes on West Virginia. In the first meeting in Morgantown, WVU forced 22 turnover and had 12 steals to win by 11 despite shooting just 33.3% from the field.

Vastly improved Texas has won seven of eight games, but the Longhorns have a tough schedule this week, starting with a road game tonight against Oklahoma and followed by a trip to Ames Saturday night to face Iowa State. If UT can get star center Cameron Ridley back before the Big 12 Conference Tournament begins, and Ridley can provide some meaningful minutes, then Texas could be a sleeper team to watch for in the Big Dance. Coach Shaka Smart has already shown he can take a mid-Major to the Final Four.

The conference tournament in Kansas City should be its most exciting in years.

Big East
Safe
Villanova (10-1/20-3)
Xavier (9-2/21-2)

Okay for Now
Providence (6-5/18-6)

Bubble–IN
Seton Hall (7-4/17-6)
Butler (5-6/16-7)

Bubble–OUT
Georgetown (6-5/13-11)
Creighton (6-5/15-9)

The Big East wasn’t expected to stay near the top of the power conferences when the American Athletic Conference formed taking all the football playing schools. However, if the tournament started today, there is a chance this league could have two number one seeds! The two powers face off for the second time on February 24 in Cincinnati.

In past years, Villanova was a little soft inside, and it cost the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament. That is not the case this year. VU has the talent and toughness to go to the Final Four. ‘Nova allows just 41.1% shooting from inside the arc, and they are more dominant on the boards this year than last, when they were an early upset loser to North Carolina State in the Round of 32.

Big Ten
Safe
Iowa (10-1/19-4)
Maryland (10-2/21-3)
Michigan St. (7-4/20-4)
Purdue (7-4/19-5)

Okay for Now
Indiana (9-2/19-5)
Michigan (7-4/17-7)

Bubble–IN
—–

Bubble–OUT
Wisconsin (6-4/14-9)

The Big Ten has placed at least one team in the Final Four for four consecutive seasons and six of the last seven years. Seeds as low as number seven have advanced to the Final Four from this league, so don’t discount teams like Indiana and Michigan just yet.

Michigan State, Iowa, and Maryland have proven it on the court this year with a combined 10-6 record against Top 25 teams. All three have brilliant inside and outside games, and Iowa has all the ingredients to go all the way. The Spartans and Terrapins have shown a tendency to have ball-handling issues at times and do not create a lot of turnovers against their opponents.

Pac-12
Safe
Oregon (9-2/20-4)
Utah (6-5/17-7)

Okay for Now
USC (7-3/18-5)
Arizona (7-4/19-5)

Bubble–IN
Colorado (6-5/17-7)
California (5-5/15-8)
Washington (7-4/15-8)

Bubble–OUT
Oregon State (5-6/14-8)
UCLA (4-6/13-10)
Stanford (4-6/11-10)

In recent years, the Pac-12 has been acquiring excellent coaches, and it is starting to show off in the bracketology research. Dana Altman at Oregon, Larry Krystkowiak at Utah, Andy Enfield at USC, Cuonzo Martin at Cal, Bobby Hurley at Arizona State, Steve Alford at UCLA, Sean Miller at Arizona, and Wayne Tinkle at Oregon State join long-timers Johnny Dawkins at Stanford and Lorenzo Romar at Washington to make this possibly the most well-coached league in college basketball. When 10 of the 12 teams are still contending for NCAA Tournament berths in the second week of February, that is quite telling.

Southeastern
Safe
Texas A&M (7-3/18-5)
Kentucky (7-3/17-6)

Okay for Now
Florida (6-4/15-8)
South Carolina (7-3/20-3)

Bubble–IN
LSU (8-2/15-8)

Bubble–OUT
Vanderbilt (5-5/13-10)
Alabama (4-6/13-9)
Ole Miss (5-5/15-8)

You have to figure that if LSU continues to stay in first place in the SEC, the Tigers will be in the Field of 68. The Bayou Bengals can earn their way into safe for now status with two wins this week, as LSU faces South Carolina in Columbia Wednesday night, and Texas A&M in Baton Rouge Saturday afternoon.
As for Vanderbilt, Alabama, and Ole Miss, it is going to take a monumental finish. The cut line in the SEC will probably be 11-7 with at least one additional conference tournament win. Alabama gets an immediate excellent opportunity to prove they belong; the Tide’s next three games are against Texas A&M on Wednesday night, Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, and LSU in Baton Rouge the following Wednesday. If they come out of this at 6-7, and then close 4-1 to begin conference play at 10-8, then Coach Avery Johnson’s squad might only need one conference tournament win thanks to wins over Clemson, Wichita State, and Notre Dame and a competitive loss to Oregon.

West Coast
Safe
—–

Okay for Now
Saint Mary’s (10-2/19-3)

Bubble–IN
Gonzaga (11-2/19-5)

Bubble–OUT
BYU (8-4/17-8)

Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga have become the 21st Century versions of UNLV and Marquette from year’s past and Davidson from even farther year’s past. You expect one or both of these teams to be in the NCAA Tournament every year, and you know that one season, one of these two Western mini-powers will make the Final Four. Gonzaga made its second Elite 8 appearance last year, and Saint Mary’s has been a Sweet 16 participant in the recent past.

Former SEC semi-stars Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky) and Eric McClellan (Vanderbilt) have joined monster center Domantas Sabonis to make Gonzaga much more athletic the last two seasons than they have been in the past, and the Bulldogs may be primed to make a run to the Final Four this year. Their liability is an inability to force turnovers on opponents, and a powerful rebounding team like Michigan State would be a tough matchup.

Saint Mary’s has all the tools to do well in the Dance. The Gaels can shoot lights out from inside and outside; they can dominate on the glass; and they don’t turn the ball over.

This Week’s Seedings

1 Oklahoma
1 Villanova
1 Iowa
1 Kansas
2 Xavier
2 Maryland
2 North Carolina
2 Michigan St.
3 Oregon
3 Virginia
3 West Virginia
3 Miami (Fla.)
4 Iowa St.
4 Dayton
4 Texas A&M
4 Kentucky
5 Purdue
5 Arizona
5 USC
5 Baylor
6 Utah
6 Texas
6 Duke
6 Providence
7 South Carolina
7 Notre Dame
7 Indiana
7 Pittsburgh
8 Colorado
8 Connecticut
8 Florida
8 VCU
9 Seton Hall
9 Wichita St.
9 California
9 Florida St.
10 Michigan
10 Saint Mary’s
10 Syracuse
10 George Washington
11 Gonzaga
11 St. Joseph’s
11 Washington
11 Butler
11 Monmouth
12 Valparaiso
12 Chattanooga
12 Stony Brook
12 Cincinnati
12 LSU
13 San Diego St.
13 South Dakota St.
13 UAB
13 Akron
14 UALR
14 UC-Irvine
14 Yale
14 UNC-Wilmington
15 Stephen F. Austin
15 New Mexico St.
15 Belmont
15 UNC-Asheville
16 Montana
16 Hampton
16 North Florida
16 Bucknell
16 Wagner
16 Texas Southern

Last 4 In

Washington
Butler
Cincinnati
LSU

First 4 Out

Oregon St.
Kansas St.
Temple
Vanderbilt

Next 4 Out

Texas Tech
Ole Miss
Georgetown
Creighton

 

January 25, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—January 25, 2016

There has been little change in the bracketology rankings in the last six days, but there has been a shifting in the seedings.  Additionally, we have moved another mid-major team ahead of some at-large major conference opponents.  This now allows for two 11-seeds and two 12-seeds to appear in First Four games in Dayton.

Let’s start with the One-Big Leagues.  As of today, there are 23 one-bid leagues, but in the case of two or three leagues, if the overwhelming favorite fails to earn the automatic bid, there is a puncher’s chance that these leagues will steal a second bid away from an at-large team.

America East

Stony Brook 6-0/15-4 is beginning to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the league.  The Seawolves mounted a late charge Saturday to knock off second place Albany.  They must make up a game tonight against Maine, and then they play at Vermont on Saturday.  If SB wins both games, the regular season title is almost assured.

 

Atlantic Sun

North Florida (6-0/17-6) took sole possession of first place after Lipscomb upset Florida Gulf Coast (4-1/13-8) thanks to raining threes for 40 minutes.  It will be a big bird fight this Saturday when the Ospreys and Eagles meet at FGCU.

 

Big Sky

The two previously unbeaten teams in conference play lost last week.  Montana (7-1/12-7) and Weber State (5-1/13-6) now have six additional contenders to worry about in a league where just the top 8 of the 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.  It should be an exciting three days for this league when determining their one automatic bid.

 

Big South

UNC-Asheville (7-2/14-7) lost at High Point (6-3/13-7) in the middle of last week, and now this league is a wide-open race with Winthrop (6-3/14-6), Coastal Carolina (5-4/11-8), Radford (5-4/12-9), and Gardner-Webb (5-4/10-11) all in contention.  This will also be an exciting conference tournament.

 

Big West

It looks like a two-team race between Hawaii (5-0/16-2) and UC-Irvine (5-0/16-5).  The Warriors have won eight games in a row including one over Auburn, while their two losses were on the road by eight at Texas Tech and by three to Oklahoma.  UH should be in the discussion for at-large worthiness.  UCI has won nine of ten games, with the sole loss coming at Kansas.  In that KU game, UCI led for almost all of the first half, as the Jayhawks were hesitant to penetrate the lane against 7 foot 6 inch titan Mamadou Ndiaye and backup center, 7 foot 2 inch Herculean Ioannis Dimakopoulos.

 

Colonial Athletic

This is a tight three-way race at the moment with a group of two or three more capable of getting back into the hunt.  James Madison (6-2/16-5), UNC-Wilmington (6-2/14-5), and Hofstra (6-2/14-6) lead two others by a game and two additional teams by two games.  JMU won at Hofstra in overtime, so the Dukes are the team to beat for now.

 

Conference USA

This race is starting to evolve into a three-team contest.  UAB (7-0/17-3) has won 14 consecutive games, but they have no signature wins and cannot possibly earn an at-large bid with their resume.  Middle Tennessee (6-1/14-5) and Marshall (6-1/10-10) are a game back, but UAB must still play at both contenders plus host Marshall.

 

Horizon

With six consecutive wins, including an 11-point victory over the co-leader, Wright State (7-1/13-8) has moved into the penthouse with Valparaiso (7-1/17-4).  The race will probably come down to the wire, with a February 13 game left at Valpo, the Crusaders are still the slight favorite.  If Valpo wins 25 games and then loses to Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament Championship, there is a very slim chance the Crusaders could sneak an at-large bid.  They have semi-big wins against Oregon State and Belmont.

 

Ivy

The Ivy League is the most prestigious academic group in the nation, but their athletic scheduling is just plain goofy. Six of the eight teams have played two conference games.  In all six cases, the teams played home and home against one other conference team.  Yale (2-0/11-5) swept Brown. Columbia (2-0/13-6) swept Cornell; and Harvard (1-1/9-9) and Dartmouth (1-1/7-9) split their two games.  Princeton (1-0/11-4) appears to be the best in the league, and the Tigers won their lone conference game over Penn.  There are no big wins outside of the league, and there is no conference tournament.  The regular season champ gets the automatic bid, but there is a playoff in any tie for first, even if one team swept the other in the regular season.

 

Metro Atlantic

Monmouth (7-2/15-5) is the only team with multiple quality wins (UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, and Georgetown), but the Hawks are struggling to keep the lead in the MAAC having lost at Manhattan (5-4/8-10) last week.  St. Peter’s (6-2/8-9) had snuck into a tie until losing to fading Iona (7-3/10-9).  Siena (6-3/13-7) has won four of five to move into contention.  While Monmouth has the best chance of becoming a Sweet 16 darling, they have not wrapped up a bid and will most likely get the shaft if they do not earn the automatic bid.

 

Mid-American

The MAC is the final remaining conference to divide its teams into basketball divisions.  There are two teams in both divisions that look capable of winning an opening round NCAA Tournament game, but this league will not receive multiple bids.  In the four-way cat fight for the lone bid are Kent State (5-1/14-5) and Akron (4-2/15-4) from the East and Northern Illinois (5-1/16-3) and Ball State (4-2/13-6) from the West.  Akron has the best out-of-conference success with wins over Arkansas, Marshall, and Iona.

 

Mideastern Athletic

Hampton (7-0/11-7) has opened up a game and a half lead over Norfolk State (5-1/9-12) and a 2 1/2 game lead over Howard (3-1/9-10).  If the Pirates win the bid, the MEAC might avoid a First Four game in Dayton, but that is still not definite.

 

Missouri Valley

This is the one of two leagues where the number of bids will move from one to two if the one behemoth loses in the MVC Tournament.  Wichita State (8-0/14-5) is going to be in the Big Dance whether it is an automatic or at-large invitation.  If the Shockers win Arch Madness, then the MVC is almost guaranteed to be a one-bid league.  Southern Illinois (7-1/18-3) and Evansville (6-2/17-4) look like they have records deserving of at-large contention, but SIU has no resume-building win, while the Purple Aces can boast of wins over Belmont and UC-Irvine, which is not going to get them in the Dance without having a guaranteed ticket.

 

Mountain West

This is the other league where an upset in the conference tournament could see a second bid awarded to the league.  San Diego State (7-0/14-6) is the class of the league again, but the Aztecs cannot count on a definite at-large invitation if they come up short in the conference tourney.  SDSU has a win over Cal, when the Bears were ranked in the top 15, but UC has fallen out of the rankings.  The Aztecs have losses to power teams in Utah, West Virginia, and Kansas.  Boise State (6-1/15-5) has a win over Oregon as well as non-embarrassing losses to Michigan State and Arizona twice.  The Broncos lost at home to SDSU.

 

Northeast

Eight of the Ten teams can still win the conference title, and any of the eight could win the conference tournament.  Mount St. Mary’s (6-2/9-12) leads, but Wagner (5-3/12-7) would probably give the conference a better chance to avoid Dayton and a First Four game.

 

Ohio Valley

Belmont (7-0/15-6) sprinted to a 20+ – point lead over Tennessee State (5-1/14-5) in their first meeting of the season yesterday, before withstanding a late Tiger rally to make it close.  One of these two Nashville rivals should get the automatic bid.

 

Patriot

This looks like a three-team race for the conference title, and the winner hosts the conference tournament, so it is important to win the regular season title.  Bucknell (7-1/10-9) is the closest thing to a dynasty team in this league.  Navy (6-1/15-5) and Colgate (6-2/10-9) are the two others contending for first.

 

Southern

Chattanooga (6-1/17-3) has wins over Georgia and Dayton as well as a win over leading contender East Tennessee (6-1/13-7).  Mercer (4-3/14-6) still hosts the co-leaders, so the Bears have a chance.

 

Southland

This league is quickly improving each year, and the time may come when the SLC challenges the Missouri Valley for Mid-Major supremacy.  Houston Baptist (7-0/12-7) has won 10 of 11 games, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christie (6-0/15-3) has won 14 of 15 games but neither the Huskies nor the Islanders have yet to face multiple time defending champ Stephen F. Austin (6-0/13-5).  Incarnate Word (4-1/9-7) is ineligible for the bid, but the Cardinals may have a say in who does, by changing a seed or two.

 

Southwestern Athletic

The SWAC has been a regular in the First Four in recent years.  It looks very possible like the league champ will be headed to Dayton again this year.  Texas Southern (6-0/7-11).  Southern (5-2/13-7) and Jackson State (5-2/10-10) are the top two contenders.  As has been the case in the SWAC in recent years, one of the better league teams, Alcorn State (5-2/7-11) is not eligible for the tournament due to low APR scores.

 

Summit

Maybe it is Peyton Manning’s year, because Omaha 6-1/14-7) leads the league.  The Mavericks will have to hold off a fiesty trio of competitors in South Dakota State (5-2/16-5), IPFW (5-2/16-6), and IUPUI (5-2/9-13).  Our money is on SDSU to win the conference tournament.  The Jackrabbits have the best program in the league.

 

Sun Belt

What will it take for Arkansas-Little Rock (7-1/17-2) to get some respect?  The Trojans won at San Diego State and Tulsa in the pre-conference schedule and have run out to a game and a half lead in the league?  UALR could make it to the Dance with 30 wins and still be a prohibitive underdog in their first game due to lower than deserved seeding.  Texas-Arlington (5-2/14-4) is the chief contender.

 

Western Athletic

The hands-down best team in the league in the last three or four seasons won’t get the opportunity to play for a spot in the Dance.  Grand Canyon (5-0/18-2) is ineligible for a couple more years.  New Mexico State (5-1/13-8) and Cal State Bakersfield (4-1/14-6) are the next best two in line.

 

The League In The Cracks

American Athletic

With SMU ineligible for the tournament, the AAC could very well find itself with just one bid this year, but there are five teams capable of earning at-large bids as of now.  We cannot put a second AAC team in this week’s Field, but we cannot place the league with the definite one-bid only conferences.

Tulsa (5-2/13-6) and Temple (5-2/11-7) lead Connecticut (4-2/14-5) and Central Florida (4-2/10-7) by a half game with Cincinnati (5-3/15-6) lurking close behind.  Memphis (3-3/12-7) is still alive and capable of winning the automatic bid.  Temple upset previously unbeaten SMU yesterday.

 

The Multi-Bid Leagues

We moved one league from possible second bid to definite second bid this week.  The West Coast Conference went from one and maybe another to two definite as of now.

Atlantic Coast

Safe

North Carolina (7-0/18-2)

Louisville (5-1/16-3)

Pittsburgh (5-2/16-3)

Miami (4-2/15-3)

Duke (4-3/15-5)

Virginia (4-3/15-4)

Okay for Now

Notre Dame (5-2/14-5)

Bubble–IN

Syracuse (3-5/13-8)

Bubble–OUT

Clemson (5-2/12-7)

Florida St. (2-5/12-7)

 

Atlantic 10

Safe

Dayton (6-1/16-3)

Okay for Now

—–

Bubble–IN

Virginia Commonwealth (7-0/15-5)

St. Joseph’s (5-1/16-3)

George Washington (4-2/15-4)

Bubble–OUT

Davidon (3-3/11-6)

 

Big 12

Safe

Oklahoma (5-2/16-2)

Kansas (5-2/16-3)

West Virginia (5-2/16-3)

Iowa St. (4-3/15-4)

Baylor (5-2/15-4)

Okay for Now

Texas (4-3/12-7)

Bubble–IN

Texas Tech (2-5/12-6)

Bubble–OUT

Kansas St. (2-5/12-7)

 

Big East

Safe

Villanova (7-1/17-3)

Xavier (5-2/17-2)

Okay for Now

Providence (4-2/17-3)

Bubble–IN

Seton Hall (3-4/13-6)

Butler (2-5/13-6)

Bubble–OUT

Creighton (5-2/14-6)

Georgetown (5-2/12-8)

 

Big Ten

Safe

Iowa (7-0/16-3)

Indiana (7-0/17-3)

Maryland (6-2/17-3)

Michigan (5-2/15-5)

Purdue (5-3/17-4)

Michigan St. (4-4/17-4)

Okay for Now

—–

Bubble–IN

—–

Bubble–OUT

Ohio St. (4-3/12-8)

 

Pac-12

Safe

Oregon (5-2/16-4)

Arizona (4-3/16-4)

USC (4-3/15-5)

Okay for Now

Utah (4-3/15-5)

Colorado (4-3/15-5)

Bubble–IN

Washington (5-2/13-6)

California (4-3/14-6)

UCLA (3-4/12-8)

Bubble–OUT

Stanford (4-3/11-7)

Oregon St. (3-4/12-6)

 

Southeastern

Safe

Texas A&M (7-0/17-2)

Kentucky (5-2/15-4)

Okay for Now

South Carolina (4-2/17-2)

Florida (5-2/13-6)

Bubble–IN

—–

Bubble–OUT

LSU (5-2/12-7)

Georgia (4-3/11-6)

Vanderbilt (3-4/11-8)

Ole Miss (2-5/12-7)

Alabama (1-5/10-8)

 

West Coast

Safe

—–

Okay for Now

St. Mary’s (8-1/17-2)

Bubble–IN

Gonzaga (7-2/15-5)

Bubble–OUT

—–

 

The Field of 68 Seeded

# Team
1 Oklahoma
1 North Carolina
1 Villanova
1 Kansas
2 Iowa
2 Xavier
2 Texas A&M
2 Virginia
3 West Virginia
3 Michigan St.
3 Iowa St.
3 Oregon
4 Maryland
4 Miami (FL.)
4 Louisville
4 Purdue
5 Arizona
5 Kentucky
5 Dayton
5 Duke
6 USC
6 Providence
6 Baylor
6 Indiana
7 Pittsburgh
7 Notre Dame
7 Michigan
7 Texas
8 Utah
8 Florida
8 South Carolina
8 Wichita St.
9 Colorado
9 St. Mary’s
9 California
9 Connecticut
10 George Washington
10 VCU
10 Butler
10 Seton Hall
11 St. Joseph’s
11 Texas Tech
11 Washington
11 Gonzaga
11 Valparaiso
12 Syracuse
12 UCLA
12 Monmouth
12 San Diego St.
12 UALR
13 Chattanooga
13 Hawaii
13 UAB
13 Stony Brook
14 James Madison
14 Northern Illinois
14 Omaha
14 Princeton
15 Belmont
15 Texas A&M-CC
15 North Florida
15 Montana
16 UNC-Asheville
16 New Mexico St.
16 Bucknell
16 Hampton
16 Wagner
16 Texas Southern

Last 4 IN–First Four Games in Dayton

Syracuse vs. UCLA

Gonzaga vs. Washington

First 4 OUT

Cincinnati

Florida St.

LSU

Creighton

Next 4 OUT

Stanford

Boise St.

Evansville

Vanderbilt

 

 

 

January 19, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—January 19, 2016

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.

 

One-Bid Conferences

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

Solid

North Carolina (5-0/16-2)

Pittsburgh (4-1/15-2)

Louisville (3-1/14-3)

Notre Dame (3-2/12-5)

Duke (3-3/14-5)

Miami (FL) (2-2/13-3)

Contending for final 2 Bids

Clemson (5-1/12-6)

Virginia Tech (4-1/12-6)

Syracuse (3-4/13-7)

Virginia (2-3/13-4)

Florida St. (2-3/12-5)

 

Atlantic 10: 4 Bids

Solid

Virginia Commonwealth (5-0/13-5)

Dayton (4-1/14-3)

St. Joseph’s (4-1/14-3)

Contending for 1 Bid

St. Bonaventure (4-1/12-4)

George Washington (3-2/14-4)

Davidson (3-2/11-5)

 

Big 12: 7 Bids

Kansas (4-1/15-2)

West Virginia (4-1/15-2)

Baylor (4-1/14-3)

Oklahoma (4-2/15-2)

Texas (3-2/11-6)

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

Solid

Villanova (6-0/16-2)

Xavier (4-1/16-1)

Contending for 3 Bids

Creighton (4-2/13-6)

Georgetown (4-2/11-7)

Providence (3-2/15-3)

Seton Hall (3-2/13-4)

Butler (2-3/13-4)

 

Big Ten: 6 Bids

Solid

Indiana (5-0/15-3)

Iowa (5-0/14-3)

Maryland (5-1/16-2)

Purdue (4-2/16-3)

Michigan (3-2/13-5)

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

Solid

USC (4-1/15-3)

Arizona (3-2/15-3)

Colorado (3-2/14-4)

Oregon (3-2/14-4)

Contending for 4 Bids

Washington (4-1/12-5)

Stanford (3-2/10-6)

Utah (2-3/13-5)

Oregon St. (2-3/11-5)

California (2-3/12-6)

UCLA (2-3/11-7)

 

Southeastern: 4 Bids

Solid

Texas A&M (5-0/15-2)

South Carolina (3-1/16-1)

Kentucky (3-2/13-4)

Contending for 1 Bid

LSU (4-1/11-6)

Florida (3-2/11-6)

 

Here is how the 29 Bracketology experts bracketed the field

Seed Team
1 Oklahoma
1 Kansas
1 Villanova
1 Xavier
2 North Carolina
2 Iowa
2 West Virginia
2 Texas A&M
3 Michigan St.
3 Maryland
3 Virginia
3 Miami (FL.)
4 Iowa St.
4 Arizona
4 USC
4 Duke
5 Purdue
5 Oregon
5 Kentucky
5 Dayton
6 Pittsburgh
6 Louisville
6 Providence
6 South Carolina
7 Baylor
7 Utah
7 Butler
7 Indiana
8 Colorado
8 Michigan
8 Notre Dame
8 Florida
9 Valparaiso
9 Wichita St.
9 Texas
9 St. Mary’s (CA)
10 Monmouth
10 George Washington
10 California
10 Memphis
11 Seton Hall
11 Texas Tech
11 St. Joseph’s
11 Gonzaga
11 Virginia Commonwealth
12 Arkansas-Little Rock
12 San Diego St.
12 Oregon St.
12 UCLA
12 Florida St.
13 Chattanooga
13 Hawaii
13 Northeastern
13 UAB
14 Indiana-Purdue Ft. Wayne
14 Stony Brook
14 Northern Illinois
14 Princeton
15 Belmont
15 North Florida
15 Stephen F. Austin
15 Montana
16 UNC-Asheville
16 CSU Bakersfield
16 Navy
16 Hampton
16 Mount St. Mary’s
16 Texas Southern

 

Last Four In

Florida St.

UCLA

Oregon St.

Virginia Commonwealth

First Four Out

Washington
Clemson
Alabama
Connecticut

Next Four Out

Cincinnati
Stanford
Evansville
Boise St.

 

 

March 16, 2015

Bracketnomics 505–The Advanced Level Course in Bracket Picking

Welcome to Bracketnomics 505 for 2015–The Advanced Level Course in Picking NCAA Tournament winners.  The best way to describe our PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Bracket-Picking formula is to call it the Past Performances of the teams.  If you are familiar with the Daily Racing Form or other thoroughbred horse racing publications, you probably know how to read the PPS of the horses in each race.  

If you have followed our statistical releases for the past 15 years, you will see a noticeable difference this year, as the PiRate Ratings have incorporated the infamous “Four Factors” into our bracket selection tutorial.

Here is a description of all the pertinent information you need to pick your brackets.  We will explain each important statistic and tell you how it applies to the NCAA Tournament.  Then, we will apply it to all 68 teams in the Big Dance and let you use what you want to fill out your brackets.  Remember one important bit of information–this process deals a lot with past tendencies trying to predict future outcomes.  It is mechanical and has no real subjective data.  It will not include information such as how your team’s star player may have the flu this week, so if you have other information, by all means include this in your selections.

THE FOUR FACTORS

Statistician and author Dean Oliver created this metric.  He did for basketball what the incredible Bill James did for baseball.  Oliver wrote the excellent book Basketball on Paper, where he showed that NBA winners could break down four separate statistical metrics to show how the winner won and the loser lost.  Later experimentation showed that this metric works for college basketball when strength of schedule is factored into the metric.

The four factors are: Effective Field Goal Percentage, Rebound Rate, Turnover Rate, and Free Throw Rate.  Each of these four factors apply to both offense and defense, so in essence, there are really eight factors.

Each Factor has a formula that can be calculated if you have the statistics.  We have all the statistics for all 68 teams, and we did this for you.

Effective FG% =  (FGM + (.5 * 3ptM))/FGA  where FGM is field goals made, 3ptM is three-pointers made, and FGA is field goals attempted.

If a team made 800 FG, 250 3-pointers and attempted 1750 field goals, their EFG% is:

(800+(.5*250))/1750 = .529 or 52.9%

Rebound Rate = Offensive Rebounds/(Offensive Rebounds + Opponents’ Defensive Rebounds)

If a team has 500 offensive rebounds and their opponents have 850 defensive rebounds, their Rebound Rate is:

500/(500+850) = .370 or 37.0%

Turnover Rate = Turnovers per 100 possessions.  Possessions can be estimated with incredible accuracy by this formula:

(FGA + (.475*FTA)-OR+TO)/G, where FGA is field goal attempts, FTA is free throw attempts, OR is offensive rebounds, TO is turnovers, and G is games played.

If a team has 1700 FGA, 650 FTA, 425 OR, and 375 TO in 30 games played, their average possessions per game is:

(1700+(.475*650)-425+375)/30 = 65.3, and thus, their TO Rate would be:

Turnovers per game / possessions per game * 100

((425/30)/65.3) * 100 = 21.7

Free Throw Rate: Oliver and others determined that getting to the line was actually more important than making the foul shots, so they did not include made free throws in their equation.  Their formula was simply:

FTA/FGA, as they believed that getting the other team in foul trouble was the most important part.

Later statisticans changed this formulas to FT Made/FGA, which included made free throws, but it also erred by making teams that do not attempt many field goals but lead late in games look much better than they really were.  If a team like Virginia attempted just 42 field goals and led an opponent by three or four points late in the game, they would pad this stat by making a lot of FT in the final minutes when the opponent was forced to foul.

A third group of statisticians, including the PiRate Ratings, believe that free throws made per 100 possessions is a better metric, and thus we go with this rating, which we call FT*:

If the team above with 65.3 possessions per game averages 17 made free throws per game, then their FT Rate is:

17 / 65.3 * 100 = 26.0

The PiRate Specific Statistics

For 15 years, the PiRate Ratings have relied on specific back-tested data that showed us what stats were important in selecting Final Four teams.  We looked back in history to see how previous Final Four teams dominated in certain statistical areas while not dominating in other areas.  Here is what we found.

  1. Scoring Margin

For general bracket picking, look for teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.  Over 85% of the Final Four teams since the 1950’s outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.

More than 80% of the final four teams in the last 50 years outscored their opponents by double digit points per game.  When you find a team with an average scoring margin in excess of 15 points per game, and said team is in one of the six power conferences, then you have a team that will advance deep into the tournament.

This is an obvious statistic here.  If team A outscores opponents by an average of 85-70 and their team B opponent outscores similar opposition by an average of 75-70, and the teams played comparable schedules, then team A figures to be better than team B before you look at any other statistics.

In the days of the 64 to 68-team field, this statistic has become even more valuable.  It’s very difficult and close to impossible for a team accustomed to winning games by one to seven points to win four times in a row, much less six or seven consecutive games.

This statistic gives the same significance and weighting to a team that outscores its opposition 100-90 as it does to a team that outscores its opposition 60-50.

  1. Field Goal Percentage Differential

Take each team’s field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage to calculate this statistic.  Look for teams that have a +7.5% or better showing.  50% to 42% is no better or no worse than 45% to 37%.  A difference of 7.5% or better is all that matters.  Teams that have a large field goal percentage margin are consistently good teams.  Sure, a team can win a game with a negative field goal percentage difference, but in the Big Dance, they certainly are not going to win six games, and they have no real chance to win four games. Two games are about the maximum for these teams.

This statistic holds strong in back-tests of 50 years.  Even when teams won the tournament with less than 7.5% field goal percentage margins, for the most part, these teams just barely missed (usually in the 5.5 to 7.5% range).  In the years of the 64 to 68-team tournament, this stat has become a more accurate predictor.  In the 21st Century, the teams with field goal percentage margins in the double digits have dominated the field.  For example, if you see a team that shoots better than 48% and allows 38% or less, that team is going to be very hard to beat in large arenas with weird sight lines.

  1. Rebound Margin

This statistic holds up all the way back to the early days of basketball, in fact as far back to the days when rebounds were first recorded.  The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance past the first week in the tournament.  What we’re looking for here are teams that out-rebound their opposition by five or more per game.  In the opening two rounds, a difference of three or more is just as important.

There are complete rebounding statistics back to 1954, and in the 61 NCAA Tournaments between 1954 and 2014, the National Champion outrebounded their opponents 61 times!  Yes, no team with a negative rebound margin has ever won the title.

The reason this statistic becomes even more important in mid-March is that teams do not always shoot as well in the NCAA Tournament for a variety of reasons (better defense, abnormal sight lines and unfamiliar gymnasiums, nerves, new rims and nets, more physical play with the refs allowing it, etc.).  The teams that can consistently get offensive put-backs are the teams that go on scoring runs in these games.  The teams that prevent the opposition from getting offensive rebounds, holding them to one shot per possession, have a huge advantage.  Again, there will be some teams that advance that were beaten on the boards, but as the number of teams drop from 64 to 32 to 16 to eight, it is rare for one of these teams to continue to advance.  West Virginia in 2005 made it to the Elite Eight without being able to rebound, but not many other teams have been able to do so.  There have been years where all four Final Four participants were in the top 20 in rebounding margin, and there have been many years where the champion was in the top 5 in rebounding margin.

  1. Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game

Turnover margin can give a weaker rebounding team a chance to advance.  Any positive turnover margin is good here.  If a team cannot meet the rebounding margin listed above, they can get by if they have an excellent turnover margin.  Not all turnover margins are the same though.  A team that forces a high number of turnovers by way of steals is better than a team that forces the same amount of turnovers without steals.  A steal is better than a defensive rebound, because most of the time, a steal leads to a fast-break basket or foul.  When a team steals the ball, they are already facing their basket, and the defense must turn around and chase.  Many steals occur on the perimeter where the ball-hawking team has a numbers advantage.

The criteria to look for here is a positive turnover margin if the team out-rebounds its opposition by three or more; a turnover margin of three or better if the team out-rebounds its opposition by less than three; and a turnover margin of five or more if the team does not out-rebound its opponents.  Give more weight to teams that average 7.5 or more steals per game, and give much more weight to teams that average double figure steals per game.  A team that averages more than 10 steals per game will get a lot of fast-break baskets and foul shots.  In NCAA Tournament play, one quick spurt can be like a three-run homer in the World Series, and teams that either steal the ball or control the boards are the ones who will get that spurt.

  1. The All-Important R+T Margin: Consider this the basketball equivalent of baseball’s OPS (On Base % + Slugging %) or even better, the “MoneyballFormula.”  The formula has undergone a couple of changes in recent years, including this season, and we think it will be slightly adjusted in the future based on changes in how the game is played.

The R+T Formula for 2015 is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T, where R is rebounding margin, S is average steals per game (Opp S is opponents steals per game), and T is turnover margin.  The numbers are all rounded to one digit.

Look for teams with R+T ratings at 15 or above.  These are the teams that will get several additional opportunities to score points and go on scoring runs that put opponents away

When this stat is 7.5 to 15, you have a team that can overcome a few other liabilities to win and cut down the nets in Indianapolis if they don’t run into a team from the 15+ R+T range with similar shooting percentages and defense.

When this stat is 4.5 to 7.5, you have a team good enough to win early and get to the Sweet 16 or lite 8 but not advance past that round, unless said team has a large field goal percentage difference margin.

When this stat is 0 to 4.5, you have a team that better enjoy a large field goal margin advantage, or they will be one and done or two and out.

When this stat is negative, you have a team that will be eliminated quickly, even if they are playing a lower seed.  We have isolated many early round upsets due to this statistic, and we have eliminated many teams expected to perform well that bombed in the opening round.

A few years ago, Georgetown had a negative R+T rating but was a prohibitive favorite against Ohio U.  The Bobcats had a positive R+T rating and decent numbers in the other PiRate factors.  We called for Ohio to upset Georgetown in the first round, and Ohio won by double digits.

The same thing occurred again a couple years later when Georgetown had a negative R+T rating as the Hoyas faced unknown Florida Gulf Coast.  FGCU not only pulled off the upset, they blew GU off the floor.

  1. Power Conference Plus Schedule Strength

Up to this point you might have been thinking that it is much easier for Stephen F. Austin or Wofford to own these gaudy statistics than it is for Iowa St. or Notre Dame.  And, of course, that is correct.  We have to adjust this procedure so that teams that play tougher schedules get rewarded and teams that play softer schedules get punished.  We use three different SOS ratings to come up with an average, and then we plug it into a formula that gives extra points for teams with tough schedules, while taking away points from teams with easy schedules.

  1. Won-Loss percentage Away From Home Floor

This should be obvious.  Except in the rarest of instances (like Dayton playing in a First Round Game this year), all NCAA Tournament games are played on neutral courts.  Some teams play like titans on their home floor but become pansies when playing away from home.  It is one thing to accumulate great statistics by scheduling 19 home games, three neutral site games, and eight away games and then going 18-1 at home, 1-2 on the neutral site, and 3-5 on the road to finish 22-8.  However, we need to locate the teams that continue to dominate away from home.  Combine the road and neutral games played and look at that percentage.  When you find a team with a 75% or better win percentage away from home, this team is a legitimate contender in the Big Dance.  When this number tops 85%, you have a tough team capable of winning four consecutive games and advancing to the Final Four.

These are the basic PiRate criteria.  You might be shocked to see that there are some key statistics that are not included.  Let’s look at some of these stats not to rely upon.

  1. Assists and Assists to Turnover Ratio

While assists can reveal an excellent passing team (and we love great passing teams), they also can hide a problem.  Let’s say a team gets 28 field goals and has 21 assists.  That may very well indicate this team can pass better than most others. However, it may also mean two other things.  First, this team may not have players who can create their own offense and must get by on exceptional passing.  That may not work against the best defensive teams in the nation (like the type that get into the Dance).  Second, and even more importantly, it may indicate that this team cannot get offensive put-backs.  As explained earlier, the offensive rebound is about as important as any stat can be in the NCAA Tournament.  So, consider this stat only if you must decide on a toss-up after looking at the big seven stats.

  1. Free Throw Shooting

You might say we are contradicting the Four Factors with this, but we are not.  It is the least important of the Four Factors, and we only apply this to the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, free throw shooting in the clutch decides many ball games.  However, history shows a long line of teams making it deep into the tournament with poor free throw shooting percentages, and teams that overly rely on free throws may find it tough getting to the line with the liberalized officiating in the tournament.

Let’s say a team shoots a paltry 60% at the foul line while their opponent hits a great 75% of their foul shots.  Let’s say each team gets to the foul line 15 times in the game, with five of those chances being 1&1, three being one shot after made baskets, and seven being two shot fouls.  For the 60% shooting team, they can be expected to hit 3 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 1.8 of the 3 bonus shots; they can be expected to hit 1.8 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to hit 8.4 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 15 out of 25.  The 75% shooting team can be expected to connect on 3.75 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 2.8 of 3.75 on the bonus shot; they can be expected to hit 2.3 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to connect on 10.5 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 19.35 out of 25.75.

A team with one of the top FT% only scores 4.35 more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst.  That is not a lot of points to make up, and when you consider that this is about the maximum possible difference, this stat is not all that important.  Also consider that teams that shoot 60% of their foul shots and make the NCAA Tournament are almost always the teams that have the top R+T ratings, which is vitally important after the Ides of March.

Teams that make the NCAA Tournament with gaudy free throw percentages frequently get there by winning close games at the line.  In the NCAA Tournament, fouls just don’t get called as frequently as in the regular season.  The referees let the teams play.  So, looking at superior free throw percentage can almost lead you down the wrong path.

Ponder this:  The 1973 UCLA Bruins are considered to be the best college basketball team ever.  That team connected on just 63% of its free throws.  They had a rebounding margin of 15.2, and they forced many turnovers via steals thanks to their vaunted 2-2-1 zone press.  In the great UCLA dynasty from 1964 through 1973 when the Bruins won nine titles in 10 years, they never once connected on 70% of their free throws and averaged just 66% during that stretch.

  1. 3-point shooting

You have to look at this statistic two different ways and consider that it is already part of field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not count the difference in made three-pointers and multiply by three to see the difference in points scored.  If Team A hits eight treys, while their Team B opponents hit three, that is not a difference of 15 points; it’s a difference of five points.  Consider made three-pointers as one extra point because they are already figured as made field goals.  A team with 26 made field goals and eight treys has only one more point than a team with 26 made field goals and seven treys.

The only time to give three-point shots any weight in this criteria is when you are looking at a toss-up game, and when you do look at this stat, look for the team that does not rely on them to win, but instead uses a credible percentage that prevents defenses from sagging into the 10-12-foot area around the basket.  If a team cannot throw it in the ocean from behind the arc, defenses can sag inside and take away the inside game.  It doesn’t play much of a role in the NCAA Tournament.  A team that must hit 10 threes per game in order to win is not going to be around after the first weekend.

  1. One Big Star or Two Really Good Players

Teams that get to the Dance by riding one big star or a majority of scoring from two players are not solid enough to advance very far.  Now, this does not apply to a team with one big star and four really good players.  I’m referring to a team with one big star and four lemons or two big scorers with three guys who are allergic to the ball.  Many times a team may have one big scorer or two guys who score 85% of the points, but the other three starters are capable of scoring 20 points if they are called on to do so.  If you have a team with five double figure scorers, they will be harder to defend and will be more consistent on the attack side.  It is hard for all five players to slump at once.

We hope this primer will help you when you fill out your brackets this year.

Here is a list of all the statistics for the Big Dance teams.  Hopefully, they will align properly on your computer, as we had issues getting the alignment to work here.  Our provider is not really set up for tabular posts, and that is our problem and not theirs.

Offense Statistics

Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Albany 706 1605 197 547 487 640 320 756 374 181
Arizona 908 1855 172 478 611 874 368 898 381 244
Arkansas 932 2083 227 648 562 776 442 774 399 264
Baylor 794 1831 229 607 476 710 485 808 413 261
Belmont 831 1746 321 841 400 579 301 763 439 205
Boise St. 809 1768 291 738 426 581 286 800 339 201
Buffalo 817 1878 193 567 573 794 412 818 361 244
Butler 777 1771 184 514 488 718 390 785 364 204
BYU 948 2032 85 734 660 859 415 895 402 257
Cincinnati 716 1581 161 483 403 598 351 744 409 210
Coastal Carolina 808 1841 221 621 529 769 440 873 393 232
Davidson 877 1861 337 849 386 543 325 789 297 170
Dayton 750 1620 213 605 538 789 245 796 379 230
Duke 944 1880 250 648 522 755 401 831 371 237
E. Washington 951 1981 335 832 509 704 341 814 367 216
Georgetown 750 1650 181 521 511 728 347 742 392 240
Georgia 728 1673 180 524 551 800 348 869 408 179
Georgia St. 854 1778 163 492 504 693 309 773 352 300
Gonzaga 973 1856 242 593 502 726 347 940 359 211
Hampton 753 1847 187 615 523 802 404 820 469 220
Harvard 650 1493 141 399 420 589 304 695 342 204
Indiana 899 1930 308 764 451 631 395 792 379 167
Iowa 758 1776 181 545 524 703 401 805 361 211
Iowa St. 916 1908 257 703 497 714 314 870 364 209
Kansas 822 1869 198 528 579 804 402 888 435 222
Kentucky  883 1884 185 529 596 825 439 859 361 223
Lafayette 851 1744 257 622 415 542 272 720 351 179
Louisville 783 1827 181 595 468 709 413 808 378 266
LSU 868 1902 184 543 438 636 388 865 468 235
Manhattan 733 1686 209 615 561 808 333 691 464 259
Maryland 741 1693 241 647 570 753 302 855 397 160
Michigan St. 901 1912 256 663 386 610 390 891 395 181
N. C. St. 820 1875 219 606 464 679 400 849 347 131
New Mexico St. 788 1692 160 435 524 755 414 756 459 209
North Carolina 1019 2144 167 484 522 746 488 948 444 233
North Dakota St. 714 1659 220 579 417 602 271 803 312 153
North Florida 872 1858 308 788 522 721 326 851 417 213
Northeastern 811 1670 200 515 510 703 284 843 467 181
Northern Iowa 735 1523 242 609 445 613 239 778 346 196
Notre Dame 945 1853 281 716 509 688 283 831 319 234
Ohio St. 916 1886 225 605 445 656 372 811 373 257
Oklahoma 818 1874 216 629 450 612 351 868 388 221
Oklahoma St. 706 1607 216 618 459 632 238 730 380 245
Ole Miss 788 1850 207 612 541 695 397 805 363 211
Oregon 937 2031 248 688 447 588 359 877 401 195
Providence 808 1830 161 520 540 761 398 791 391 238
Purdue 801 1768 191 571 515 752 388 810 432 180
Robert Morris 802 1798 211 555 462 647 344 759 454 282
San Diego St. 756 1805 178 556 411 653 413 784 386 236
SMU 812 1695 138 384 529 750 378 833 417 226
St. John’s 808 1831 195 552 468 676 329 803 342 239
S.F. Austin 894 1819 257 666 577 786 402 745 464 252
Texas 779 1787 206 607 478 659 410 900 420 124
Texas Southern 794 1789 180 562 550 831 386 788 445 209
UAB 820 1907 187 563 514 694 403 841 461 225
UC-Irvine 830 1799 212 544 368 539 320 849 382 189
UCLA 849 1927 205 564 473 700 406 847 392 226
Utah 788 1624 247 611 484 692 296 821 366 190
Valparaiso 817 1780 224 593 446 658 386 859 413 198
VCU 872 2076 283 828 510 778 431 809 372 338
Villanova 861 1833 306 787 565 777 351 819 369 265
Virginia 761 1644 162 449 407 563 329 829 304 179
West Virginia 813 1975 213 669 527 798 539 638 418 350
Wichita St. 784 1756 224 619 439 638 380 758 301 225
Wisconsin 860 1793 237 663 487 638 322 823 252 154
Wofford 800 1745 215 572 463 672 310 792 371 223
Wyoming 726 1573 200 620 445 629 212 813 380 189
Xavier 885 1870 214 613 517 713 340 844 411 207

Defense

Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Albany 672 1600 243 666 340 486 259 665 399 153
Arizona 686 1752 181 581 440 636 258 710 481 159
Arkansas 824 1914 212 600 525 736 402 800 543 188
Baylor 716 1782 191 637 368 570 367 663 404 211
Belmont 828 1832 232 675 363 514 319 726 411 212
Boise St. 710 1712 188 611 381 544 276 729 419 158
Buffalo 773 1831 230 697 409 618 358 774 436 197
Butler 701 1684 175 571 381 561 260 708 403 175
BYU 858 1972 211 643 540 770 354 788 449 224
Cincinnati 654 1678 184 560 277 427 347 589 390 177
Coastal Carolina 691 1766 231 718 422 604 305 722 394 191
Davidson 779 1769 175 582 405 636 337 749 365 159
Dayton 731 1738 181 571 367 541 309 768 449 172
Duke 829 1931 171 534 335 483 357 670 415 188
E. Washington 876 1953 268 697 484 676 353 796 417 187
Georgetown 650 1614 203 566 501 709 338 665 420 192
Georgia 707 1826 200 647 440 626 353 729 355 194
Georgia St. 667 1749 237 735 482 683 398 704 500 154
Gonzaga 737 1917 191 589 406 615 372 669 395 191
Hampton 744 1801 188 546 568 827 367 826 461 178
Harvard 587 1471 159 486 327 484 268 623 368 156
Indiana 875 1925 194 591 413 617 359 724 357 200
Iowa 701 1788 211 652 367 522 354 718 400 195
Iowa St. 842 2012 245 697 357 488 358 786 427 186
Kansas 780 1977 195 631 444 664 415 751 398 216
Kentucky  651 1836 156 570 377 581 398 647 478 159
Lafayette 850 1864 263 698 415 542 370 687 354 190
Louisville 676 1740 160 547 393 603 362 763 463 191
LSU 796 1986 180 575 395 597 427 753 439 262
Manhattan 710 1630 145 450 595 846 351 740 531 221
Maryland 756 1910 223 713 352 533 374 733 372 180
Michigan St. 728 1821 208 643 492 686 312 738 377 194
N. C. St. 757 1877 195 588 450 640 370 770 331 176
New Mexico St. 727 1725 120 409 384 557 329 618 434 179
North Carolina 818 2056 227 763 531 773 416 734 435 234
North Dakota St. 697 1668 206 556 369 497 237 771 338 146
North Florida 851 1971 172 549 430 633 389 767 420 217
Northeastern 848 1905 191 555 323 470 289 674 342 240
Northern Iowa 641 1638 197 624 167 221 287 652 372 163
Notre Dame 847 1984 213 647 325 463 384 725 384 176
Ohio St. 743 1833 221 694 350 502 370 718 484 166
Oklahoma 727 1888 197 637 357 546 399 785 443 209
Oklahoma St. 646 1620 176 519 464 678 349 722 426 185
Ole Miss 708 1771 245 703 499 729 374 740 405 161
Oregon 853 2025 215 652 484 697 399 790 395 190
Providence 742 1762 210 631 467 679 331 730 430 188
Purdue 724 1807 196 560 485 696 365 684 385 228
Robert Morris 778 1835 222 664 457 690 424 756 482 216
San Diego St. 659 1750 172 567 317 456 339 748 451 184
SMU 671 1768 258 803 372 548 350 632 423 220
St. John’s 768 1895 221 675 407 619 431 822 423 165
S.F. Austin 712 1627 150 451 555 800 312 656 571 196
Texas 686 1862 200 575 421 637 367 668 298 209
Texas Southern 850 1930 188 550 405 629 410 749 419 220
UAB 824 1960 206 635 447 653 411 780 452 210
UC-Irvine 716 1823 179 527 445 644 373 746 375 191
UCLA 779 1866 259 729 428 611 331 793 416 207
Utah 643 1681 152 477 384 569 313 640 373 176
Valparaiso 670 1762 219 667 397 565 319 687 404 223
VCU 794 1835 223 648 482 694 359 928 566 205
Villanova 752 1856 186 603 380 563 369 724 483 192
Virginia 578 1600 177 584 289 447 267 641 341 163
West Virginia 697 1488 173 473 572 833 285 778 628 185
Wichita St. 617 1551 161 469 391 576 272 698 426 127
Wisconsin 742 1771 170 442 254 373 256 686 339 135
Wofford 715 1715 170 551 433 613 292 762 435 180
Wyoming 692 1725 210 612 309 444 290 733 370 178
Xavier 814 1862 242 693 430 641 314 746 440 221

Four Factors

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Albany 50.1 49.6 32.5 25.5 19.1 20.2 24.8 17.3
Arizona 53.6 44.3 34.1 22.3 16.7 21.1 26.8 19.3
Arkansas 50.2 48.6 35.6 34.2 16.6 22.6 23.3 21.8
Baylor 49.6 45.5 42.2 31.2 19.7 19.3 22.7 17.6
Belmont 56.8 51.5 29.3 29.5 20.3 19.0 18.5 16.7
Boise St. 54.0 47.0 28.2 25.7 16.2 19.8 20.3 18.0
Buffalo 48.6 48.5 34.7 30.4 16.4 19.8 26.0 18.6
Butler 49.1 46.8 35.5 24.9 17.4 19.3 23.4 18.2
BYU 48.7 48.9 34.5 28.3 16.6 18.5 27.2 22.2
Cincinnati 50.4 44.5 37.3 31.8 21.3 20.3 21.0 14.4
Coastal Carolina 49.9 45.7 37.9 25.9 18.2 18.4 24.5 19.7
Davidson 56.2 49.0 30.3 29.9 14.2 17.4 18.5 19.3
Dayton 52.9 47.3 24.2 28.0 17.8 21.0 25.3 17.2
Duke 56.9 47.4 37.4 30.1 16.8 18.7 23.6 15.1
E. Washington 56.5 51.7 30.0 30.2 15.7 17.8 21.7 20.7
Georgetown 50.9 46.6 34.3 31.3 19.2 20.7 25.0 24.6
Georgia 48.9 44.2 32.3 28.9 19.3 16.7 26.1 20.7
Georgia St. 52.6 44.9 30.5 34.0 16.4 23.0 23.4 22.2
Gonzaga 58.9 43.4 34.2 28.4 16.2 17.7 22.7 18.2
Hampton 45.8 46.5 32.8 30.9 20.5 20.2 22.8 24.8
Harvard 48.3 45.3 32.8 27.8 18.9 20.4 23.2 18.2
Indiana 54.6 50.5 35.3 31.2 17.1 16.1 20.4 18.6
Iowa 47.8 45.1 35.8 30.5 17.4 19.2 25.3 17.6
Iowa St. 54.7 47.9 28.5 29.2 15.8 18.5 21.6 15.4
Kansas 49.3 44.4 34.9 31.8 19.0 17.5 25.4 19.5
Kentucky  51.8 39.7 40.4 31.7 16.4 21.8 27.1 17.2
Lafayette 56.2 52.7 28.4 33.9 16.9 16.8 19.9 19.7
Louisville 47.8 43.4 35.1 30.9 17.8 21.8 22.0 18.5
LSU 50.5 44.6 34.0 33.0 20.5 19.2 19.2 17.3
Manhattan 49.7 48.0 31.0 33.7 21.1 24.0 25.5 26.9
Maryland 50.9 45.4 29.2 30.4 18.5 17.2 26.6 16.3
Michigan St. 53.8 45.7 34.6 25.9 17.9 17.0 17.5 22.2
N. C. St. 49.6 45.5 34.2 30.4 16.2 15.5 21.6 21.0
New Mexico St. 51.3 45.6 40.1 30.3 21.9 20.7 25.0 18.3
North Carolina 51.4 45.3 39.9 30.5 18.1 17.8 21.3 21.7
North Dakota St. 49.7 48.0 26.0 22.8 15.7 16.9 21.0 18.4
North Florida 55.2 47.5 29.8 31.4 18.2 18.2 22.8 18.7
Northeastern 54.6 49.5 29.6 25.5 21.4 15.7 23.3 14.8
Northern Iowa 56.2 45.1 26.8 26.9 18.0 20.4 23.2 9.1
Notre Dame 58.6 48.1 28.1 31.6 14.4 17.4 23.0 14.7
Ohio St. 54.5 46.6 34.1 31.3 17.0 22.1 20.2 16.0
Oklahoma 49.4 43.7 30.9 31.5 17.6 20.2 20.4 16.3
Oklahoma St. 50.7 45.3 24.8 32.3 18.5 21.1 22.4 23.0
Ole Miss 48.2 46.9 34.9 31.7 16.9 18.9 25.2 23.2
Oregon 52.2 47.4 31.2 31.3 17.0 16.8 19.0 20.6
Providence 48.6 48.1 35.3 29.5 17.9 19.7 24.7 21.4
Purdue 50.7 45.5 36.2 31.1 19.9 17.8 23.7 22.5
Robert Morris 50.5 48.4 31.3 35.8 20.5 21.7 20.9 20.6
San Diego St. 46.8 42.6 35.6 30.2 18.5 21.7 19.7 15.3
SMU 52.0 45.2 37.4 29.6 19.9 20.1 25.3 17.7
St. John’s 49.5 46.4 28.6 34.9 15.8 19.4 21.6 18.7
S.F. Austin 56.2 48.4 38.0 29.5 20.6 25.2 25.6 24.5
Texas 49.4 42.2 38.0 29.0 19.9 14.2 22.7 20.1
Texas Southern 49.4 48.9 34.0 34.2 19.8 18.7 24.5 18.1
UAB 47.9 47.3 34.1 32.8 20.1 19.6 22.4 19.3
UC-Irvine 52.0 44.2 30.0 30.5 18.0 17.6 17.4 20.9
UCLA 49.4 48.7 33.9 28.1 17.5 18.6 21.1 19.1
Utah 56.1 42.8 31.6 27.6 18.1 18.5 23.9 19.1
Valparaiso 52.2 44.2 36.0 27.1 19.5 19.1 21.0 18.8
VCU 48.8 49.3 31.7 30.7 15.6 23.9 21.4 20.3
Villanova 55.3 45.5 32.7 31.1 16.6 21.6 25.4 17.0
Virginia 51.2 41.7 33.9 24.4 16.1 18.1 21.6 15.3
West Virginia 46.6 52.7 40.9 30.9 18.7 28.2 23.6 25.7
Wichita St. 51.0 45.0 35.3 26.4 15.2 21.5 22.2 19.8
Wisconsin 54.6 46.7 31.9 23.7 12.4 16.7 24.0 12.5
Wofford 52.0 46.6 28.9 26.9 17.5 20.2 21.8 20.1
Wyoming 52.5 46.2 22.4 26.3 18.6 18.4 21.8 15.3
Xavier 53.0 50.2 31.3 27.1 18.0 19.2 22.7 18.8

PiRate Ratings Essential Information For Bracketnomicss

Pos = Possessions Per game (and Defensive Possessions)

PM = Scoring Margin

FGM = Field Goal % Margin

RbM = Rebound Margin

TOM = Turnover Margin

RT = R + T Score

Rd = Won-Loss away from home

SOS = Strength of Schedule (ESPN’s version)

Team Pos DPos PPG D PPG PM FGM RbM TOM RT Rd W-L SOS
Albany 61.3 61.6 65.5 60.2 5.3 2.0 4.8 0.8 14.3 12-5 24-8 43.3
Arizona 67.2 67.0 76.4 58.6 17.8 9.8 8.8 2.9 25.4 8-3 31-3 58.4
Arkansas 70.8 70.7 78.0 70.1 7.9 1.7 0.4 4.2 9.4 7-5 26-8 64.2
Baylor 63.5 63.3 69.5 60.3 9.2 3.2 8.0 -0.3 19.2 6-5 24-9 65.1
Belmont 67.5 67.8 74.5 70.3 4.1 2.4 0.6 -0.9 2.9 7-8 22-10 45.6
Boise St. 63.5 64.0 70.8 60.3 10.5 4.3 2.5 2.4 11.6 9-5 25-8 51.9
Buffalo 68.9 68.8 75.0 68.3 6.7 1.3 3.1 2.3 12.1 10-7 23-9 57.2
Butler 65.2 65.4 69.6 61.2 8.4 2.2 6.5 1.2 17.9 7-4 22-10 66.4
BYU 71.4 71.6 77.7 72.6 5.1 3.1 4.9 1.4 14.5 8-3 25-9 58.9
Cincinnati 60.1 60.1 62.4 55.3 7.1 6.3 5.0 -0.6 13.1 6-5 22-10 57.8
Coastal Carolina 65.4 64.9 71.7 61.7 10.0 4.8 8.7 0.0 21.1 8-7 24-9 40.2
Davidson 67.4 67.7 79.9 69.0 10.9 3.1 0.9 2.2 7.6 9-4 24-7 56.5
Dayton 64.5 64.7 68.2 60.9 7.3 4.2 -1.1 2.1 4.2 6-7 25-8 60.3
Duke 66.9 67.2 80.6 65.6 15.0 7.3 6.2 1.3 17.7 10-2 29-4 62.0
E. Washington 68.9 68.8 80.8 73.6 7.1 3.2 0.2 1.5 5.5 11-6 26-8 42.5
Georgetown 65.8 65.6 70.7 64.6 6.1 5.2 2.8 0.9 10.1 7-5 21-10 68.9
Georgia 66.0 66.4 68.3 64.2 4.2 4.8 4.2 -1.7 9.5 8-5 21-11 68.3
Georgia St. 65.2 65.9 72.0 62.2 9.8 9.9 -0.6 4.5 9.2 10-8 24-9 46.9
Gonzaga 65.1 65.7 79.1 60.9 18.2 14.0 7.2 1.1 19.0 13-1 32-2 56.3
Hampton 69.5 69.3 67.2 68.0 -0.8 -0.5 0.9 -0.2 5.6 7-12 16-17 37.0
Harvard 62.4 62.1 64.2 57.2 6.9 3.6 3.7 0.9 12.5 9-4 22-7 49.3
Indiana 67.1 67.2 77.5 71.4 6.1 1.1 3.2 -0.7 8.1 4-7 20-13 64.8
Iowa 64.7 65.1 69.4 61.9 7.5 3.5 4.2 1.2 12.8 7-4 21-11 63.7
Iowa St. 69.6 70.1 78.4 69.3 9.1 6.2 1.2 1.9 7.9 7-5 25-8 67.7
Kansas 67.2 66.9 71.2 64.7 6.5 4.5 3.6 -1.1 9.1 6-6 26-8 71.2
Kentucky  64.6 64.5 74.9 54.0 20.9 11.4 7.4 3.4 22.9 14-0 34-0 58.5
Lafayette 65.0 65.8 74.2 74.3 -0.1 3.2 -2.0 0.1 -1.1 9-7 20-12 44.0
Louisville 66.5 66.5 69.2 59.5 9.7 4.0 3.0 2.7 12.8 8-3 24-8 66.7
LSU 71.4 71.3 73.7 67.7 6.0 5.6 2.3 -0.9 5.1 8-5 22-10 62.7
Manhattan 68.8 69.1 69.9 67.5 2.4 -0.1 -2.1 2.1 1.0 8-9 19-13 46.0
Maryland 65.0 65.5 69.5 63.2 6.2 4.2 1.5 -0.8 5.2 9-4 27-6 65.0
Michigan St. 64.9 65.1 71.9 63.4 8.5 7.1 6.8 -0.5 16.0 9-6 23-11 65.0
N. C. St. 65.0 64.9 70.4 65.4 5.0 3.4 3.3 -0.5 8.8 7-9 20-13 66.8
New Mexico St. 63.5 63.5 68.5 59.3 9.2 4.4 6.8 -0.8 16.5 7-8 23-10 44.1
North Carolina 70.1 69.8 77.9 68.4 9.5 7.7 8.2 -0.3 18.7 11-5 24-11 68.6
North Dakota St. 62.1 62.7 64.5 61.5 3.0 1.3 2.1 0.8 8.8 7-9 23-9 42.6
North Florida 67.4 67.7 75.7 67.8 7.9 3.8 0.6 0.1 4.1 11-9 23-11 41.1
Northeastern 64.3 64.2 68.6 65.0 3.6 4.0 4.8 -3.7 7.6 13-8 23-11 49.5
Northern Iowa 58.2 55.4 65.4 49.9 15.5 9.1 2.4 0.8 9.5 12-3 30-3 55.6
Notre Dame 65.2 64.8 78.8 65.6 13.2 8.3 0.1 1.9 6.5 11-2 29-5 61.1
Ohio St. 66.6 66.2 75.8 62.3 13.5 8.0 2.9 3.4 14.0 5-8 23-10 63.4
Oklahoma 68.8 68.5 71.9 62.8 9.2 5.1 1.1 1.7 6.8 6-7 22-10 66.7
Oklahoma St. 66.1 65.1 67.3 62.3 5.0 4.1 -3.3 1.5 -1.2 4-9 18-13 65.8
Ole Miss 67.1 67.1 72.6 67.5 5.1 2.6 2.8 1.3 11.1 10-4 20-12 65.7
Oregon 69.2 69.2 75.6 70.7 4.8 4.0 1.4 -0.2 5.9 7-6 25-9 63.7
Providence 66.2 66.2 70.2 65.5 4.7 2.0 3.9 1.2 12.8 8-6 22-11 68.1
Purdue 65.7 65.4 69.9 64.5 5.4 5.2 4.5 -1.4 9.4 7-8 21-12 66.0
Robert Morris 67.1 67.3 69.0 67.7 1.3 2.2 -2.3 0.8 -0.1 9-8 19-14 43.6
San Diego St. 61.4 61.1 61.8 53.1 8.6 4.2 3.2 1.9 12.4 10-6 26-8 56.1
SMU 63.3 63.7 69.4 59.8 9.7 10.0 6.9 0.2 16.8 10-4 27-6 58.1
St. John’s 67.7 68.2 71.2 67.6 3.6 3.6 -3.8 2.5 -0.5 5-8 21-11 63.7
S.F. Austin 68.3 68.7 79.5 64.5 14.9 5.4 5.4 3.2 18.0 14-3 29-4 43.6
Texas 63.9 63.5 67.9 60.4 7.5 6.8 8.3 -3.7 14.5 6-8 20-13 67.6
Texas Southern 66.0 65.8 68.2 67.4 0.7 0.3 0.4 -0.8 2.7 13-11 22-12 40.5
UAB 67.5 68.0 68.9 67.7 1.2 1.0 1.6 -0.3 6.0 3-8 19-15 52.4
UC-Irvine 64.2 64.6 67.9 62.3 5.6 6.9 1.5 -0.2 5.9 7-9 21-12 50.8
UCLA 68.0 67.9 72.0 68.0 4.0 2.3 3.9 0.7 11.7 4-12 20-13 65.9
Utah 63.2 62.9 72.1 56.9 15.2 10.3 5.1 0.2 13.9 8-7 24-8 59.0
Valparaiso 64.2 64.1 69.8 59.3 10.5 7.9 7.2 -0.3 16.5 13-4 28-5 46.4
VCU 68.2 67.8 72.5 65.5 7.0 -1.3 -1.3 5.5 7.8 14-5 26-9 63.4
Villanova 65.3 65.8 76.3 60.9 15.4 6.5 2.3 3.4 12.1 15-2 32-2 59.8
Virginia 59.0 58.9 65.3 50.7 14.7 10.2 7.8 1.2 20.5 14-2 29-3 61.2
West Virginia 69.8 69.6 73.9 66.8 7.1 -5.7 3.6 6.6 19.4 11-6 23-9 65.8
Wichita St. 61.9 61.8 69.7 55.8 13.9 4.9 5.3 3.9 20.0 13-4 28-4 56.1
Wisconsin 59.6 59.7 71.9 56.1 15.8 6.1 6.0 2.6 18.8 16-2 31-3 59.9
Wofford 62.5 63.2 67.0 59.8 7.2 4.2 1.4 1.9 8.7 15-5 28-6 47.5
Wyoming 60.0 59.3 61.7 56.0 5.7 6.0 0.1 -0.3 3.4 8-7 25-9 48.8
Xavier 67.0 67.4 73.6 67.6 5.9 3.6 3.6 0.9 10.7 8-10 21-13 66.4

Coming tomorrow, we look at each game in the opening round and round two, picking the winners and then picking the entire bracket.

March 9, 2015

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—March 9, 2015

Championship Week has arrived, and in less than 150 hours, the field of 68 will be set.

This week, the bubble shrunk to just five teams over the limit, and as of today, March 9, no bubbles have been burst by dark horse teams winning their conference tournament.  For 30 minutes yesterday, Illinois St. threatened to pop one bubble, but Northern Iowa staged a magnificent comeback to earn the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Here are the four teams already in the Big Dance

Atlantic Sun
North Florida (23-11) (16-seed)
Big South
Coastal Carolina (24-9) (16-seed)
Missouri Valley
Northern Iowa (30-3) (4-seed)
Ohio Valley
Belmont (22-10) (15-seed)

A host of other leagues are in the middle or nearing the end of their conference tournaments.  Here are where these already in progress tournaments stand this afternoon.  The number in parentheses indicates the probable seed should the best remaining team win each tournament.

America East (16)
3 Stony Brook (23-10) at 1 Albany (23-8)
Saturday, March 14 11AM EDT
Colonial (15)
1 William & Mary (20-11) vs. 3 Northeastern (22-11)
Monday, March 9 7 PM EDT NBC Sports Net.
Horizon (13)
2 Green Bay (24-7) at 1 Valparaiso (27-5)
Tuesday, March 10 7 PM EDT
Ivy (13)
1 Harvard (21-7) vs. 1 Yale (21-9)
Saturday, March 14 @Palestra (Time TBA)
Metro Atlantic (13)
1 Iona (26-7) vs. 3 Manhattan (18-13)
Monday, March 9   9PM EDT   ESPN2
Northeast (16)
2 Robert Morris (18-14) at 1 St. Francis (NY) (23-10)
Tuesday, March 10 7 PM EDT
Patriot (16)
6 American (17-15) at 4 Lafayette (19-12)
Tuesday, March 11 7 PM EDT
Southern (12)
1 Wofford (27-6) vs. 10 Furman (11-21)
Monday, March 9 7 PM EDT   ESPN2
Summit (14)
1 South Dakota St. (22-9) vs. 5 South Dakota (17-15)
Monday, March 9 7 PM EDT
2 North Dakota St. (21-9) vs. 3 Oral Roberts (18-13)
Monday March 9, 30 minutes after 1st game ends
West Coast
1 Gonzaga (30-2) vs. 4 Pepperdine (18-12)
Monday, March 9 9PM EDT   ESPN
2 BYU (24-8) vs. 6 Portland (17-14)
Monday March 9, 11:30 PM EDT ESPN2

All remaining conference tournaments begin this week, and for the best look at the brackets, go to one of these two excellent links.

ESPN:

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/champweek2015/

CBS: http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/schedules/conference-tournament

Let’s take a look at how the 26 experts show the field as of today.  Teams in Bold have already clinched a spot.

Seed Team Conference
1 Kentucky SEC
1 Villanova Big East
1 Virginia ACC
1 Duke ACC
2 Wisconsin Big Ten
2 Arizona Pac-12
2 Kansas Big 12
2 Gonzaga West Coast
3 Maryland Big Ten
3 Iowa St. Big 12
3 Oklahoma Big 12
3 Baylor Big 12
4 Notre Dame ACC
4 Louisville ACC
4 Northern Iowa Missouri Valley
4 North Carolina ACC
5 Utah Pac-12
5 West Virginia Big 12
5 Wichita St. Missouri Valley
5 Arkansas SEC
6 Georgetown Big East
6 Butler Big East
6 SMU American
6 Providence Big East
7 Iowa Big Ten
7 Michigan St. Big Ten
7 VCU Atlantic 10
7 San Diego St. Mountain West
8 St. John’s Big East
8 Ohio State Big Ten
8 Oregon Pacific-12
8 Cincinnati American
9 Xavier Big East
9 Dayton Atlantic 10
9 Colorado St. Mountain West
9 N. C. St. ACC
10 Davidson Atlantic 10
10 Oklahoma St. Big 12
10 Georgia SEC
10 LSU SEC
11 Boise St. Mountain West
11 Ole Miss SEC
11 Texas Big 12
11 Purdue Big Ten
11 Temple American
12 BYU West Coast
12 Indiana Big Ten
1-Bid Leagues
12 Stephen F. Austin Southland
12 Wofford Southern
12 Louisiana Tech CUSA
13 Valparaiso Horizon
13 Harvard/Yale Ivy
13 Iona MAAC
13 Central Michigan MAC
14 UC Davis Big West
14 Georgia St. Sun Belt
14 Eastern Washington Big Sky
14 South Dakota St. Summit
15 William & Mary Colonial
15 UNC-Central MEAC
15 Belmont Ohio Valley
15 New Mexico St. WAC
16 Albany America East
16 Coastal Carolina Big South
16 North Florida Atlantic Sun
16 Texas Southern SWAC
16 Lafayette Patriot
16 St. Francis (NY) Northeast

The First 5 Out (In Order)

Texas A&M

Tulsa

Illinois

UCLA

Miami (FL)

Opening Round Games

Purdue vs. Temple

BYU vs. Indiana

North Florida vs. St. Francis (NY)

Texas Southern vs. Lafayette

Sweet 16 Schedule if Top 4 Seeds Hold

East

Villanova vs. Notre Dame

Kansas vs. Iowa St.

South

Kentucky vs. North Carolina

Gonzaga vs. Maryland

Midwest

Duke vs. Northern Iowa

Wisconsin vs. Baylor

West

Virginia vs. Louisville

Arizona vs. Oklahoma

March 2, 2015

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—March 2, 2015

For some leagues, the regular season race is now over, and the important next step begins as 13 conference tournaments begin between Tuesday and Saturday. We have listed the pairings for these baker’s dozen following the regular Bracketology report.

We have adjusted our format beginning this week to better show you the seedings from 1 to 16 of our two dozen plus Bracketology experts. The Bubble has greatly contracted, and it is close to impossible to even select a top 10 teams out of the tournament as of today. It is our belief that at most one or two of these last 10 out have any realistic chance of gaining admission to the Dance; in essence, these are mostly top seeds for the NIT.

Actually, the last 5-10 teams in the tournament as of today are the schools that need close watch. Some will secure a bid by continuing a late-season momentum swing to the positive. Some will misfire at the most inappropriate time and seal their fate to the NIT. And, some will become a victim of upsets in conference tournaments that will need to add one to their pot of dance partners. It could happen this week, as both the Missouri Valley and West Coast Conferences would add a dancer should a 3 seed or higher win these tournaments.

Let’s take a look at how our experts seed the 68 teams as of today. Remember, there are 20 or 21 leagues as of today that will definitely send just one team, so we went with the highest rated team in these leagues, highest rating being their NCAA Tournament criteria and not necessarily their conference record. The higher up each team is within each seed, the higher the team ranked.

The 1-Seeds
Kentucky
Virginia
Duke
Villanova
The 2-Seeds
Arizona
Wisconsin
Kansas
Gonzaga
The 3-Seeds
Oklahoma
Maryland
Baylor
Iowa St.
The 4-Seeds
Wichita St.
Utah
Louisville
Notre Dame
The 5-Seeds
Northern Iowa
Arkansas
North Carolina
West Virginia
The 6-Seeds
Butler
SMU
Providence
Georgetown
The 7-Seeds
VCU
San Diego St.
St. John’s
Ohio St.
The 8-seeds
Michigan St.
Indiana
Oklahoma St.
Dayton
The 9-Seeds
Georgia
Xavier
Iowa
LSU
The 10-Seeds
Colorado St.
Oregon
Ole Miss
Cincinnati
The 11-Seeds
Texas A&M
N. C. St.
Boise St.
Tulsa
Purdue
The 12-Seeds
Temple
Davidson
Wofford
Murray St.
Stephen F. Austin
The 13-Seeds
Louisiana Tech
Harvard or Yale
Valparaiso
Iona
The 14-Seeds
UC Davis
Central Michigan
Georgia Southern
Eastern Washington
The 15-Seeds
South Dakota St.
William & Mary
High Point
UNC-Central
The 16-Seeds
Albany
New Mexico St.
Texas Southern
Florida Gulf Coast
Bucknell
St. Francis (NY)

 

Last 10 IN

59 Oregon
60 Ole Miss
61 Cincinnati
62 Texas A&M
63 N. C. St.
64 Boise St.
65 Tulsa
66 Purdue
67 Temple
68 Davidson

 

First 10 OUT

69 BYU
70 Texas
71 Illinois
72 UCLA
73 Stanford
74 Miami (FLA.)
75 Pittsburgh
76 Old Dominion
77 TCU
78 Vanderbilt

 

Opening Round at Dayton

Tulsa vs. Davidson

Temple vs. Purdue

Texas Southern vs. St. Francis (NY)

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Bucknell

 

Sweet 16 if Seeds Held

East Regional

1 Virginia vs. 4 Notre Dame

2 Gonzaga vs. 3 Oklahoma

South Regional

1 Kentucky vs. 4 Louisville

2 Kansas vs. 3 Maryland

Midwest Regional

1 Duke vs. 4 Utah

2 Wisconsin vs. 3 Baylor

West Regional

1 Villanova vs. 4 Wichita St.

2 Arizona vs. 3 Iowa St.

 

Conference Tournament Pairings for Tournaments Commencing This Week

America East Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Lower Seed
Wednesday, March 4
8 Maine 2-14/3-26 @
1 Albany 15-1/21-8
5 Hartford 7-9/14-15 @
4 New Hampshire 11-5/18-11
6 Binghamton 5-11/6-25 @
3 Stony Brook 12-4/21-10
7 UMBC 2-14/6-25 @
2 Vermont 12-4/17-12
Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Lower Seed
Tuesday, March 3
8 Stetson 3-11/9-21 @
1 North florida 12-2/20-11
5 Lipscomb 7-7/13-16 @
4 Northern Kentucky 7-7/13-16
6 Kennesaw St. 4-10/10-21 @
3 USC Upstate 8-6/21-10
7 Jacksonville 4-10/10-21 @
2 Florida Gulf Coast 11-3/21-9
Big South Conference Tournament
Conway, SC
Wednesday, March 4
8 Presbyterian 6-12/10-21
9 Longwood 5-13/9-22
Winner vs. 1 Charleston Southern 13-5/19-10
4 Winthrop 12-6/17-12
5 Radford 12-6/21-10
6 UNC-Asheville 10-8/14-15
11 Liberty 2-16/8-23
Winner vs. 3 Coastal Carolina 12-6/21-9
7 Gardner-Webb 10-8/18-13
10 Campbell 4-14/10-21
Winner vs. 2 High Point 13-5/22-8
Colonial Conference Tournament
Baltimore
Friday, March 6
8 Elon 6-12/14-17
9 Towson 5-13/12-19
Winner vs. 1 William & Mary 12-6/18-11
4 James Madison 12-6/19-12
5 Hofstra 10-8/19-12
3 Northeastern 12-6/20-11
6 Delaware 9-9/10-19
7 Drexel 9-9/11-18
10 Charleston 3-15/8-23
Winner vs. 2 UNCW 12-6/17-12
Horizon League Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Lower Seed
Tuesday, March 3
8 Youngstown St. 2-14/11-20 @
5 Detroit 7-9/14-17
Winner at 4 Cleveland St. 11-5/17-13
Subsequent winner at 1 Valparaiso 13-3/26-5
7 Wright St. 3-13/11-19 @
6 UIC 4-12/8-23
Winner at Oakland 11-5/16-15
Subsequent winner at 2 Green Bay 12-4/23-7
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Albany, NY
Thursday, March 5
8 Siena 7-13/10-19
9 Niagara 7-13/8-21
Winner vs. 1 Iona 17-3/24-7
4 Monmouth 13-7/17-14
5 Canisius 11-9/16-13
6 Quinnipiac 9-11/15-14
11 Marist 5-15/6-24
Winner vs. 3 Manhattan 13-7/17-14
7 St. Peter’s 8-12/14-17
10 Fairfield 5-15/7-23
Winner vs. 2 Rider 15-5/21-10
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
Thursday, March 5
8 Missouri St. 5-13/11-19
9 Southern Illinois 4-14/11-20
Winner vs. 1 Wichita St. 17-1/27-3
4 Illinois St. 11-7/19-11
5 Evansville 9-9/19-11
3 Indiana St. 11-7/15-15
6 Loyola (Chi.) 8-10/18-12
7 Drake 6-12/9-21
10 Bradley 3-15/8-23
Winner vs. 2 Northern Iowa 16-2/27-3
Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Lower Seed
Wednesday, March 4
8 LIU 8-10/12-17
1 St. Francis (NY) 15-3/21-10
5 St. Francis (PA) 9-9/15-14 @
4 Mt. St. Mary’s 11-7/15-14
6 Sacred Heart 9-9/15-16 @
3 Bryant 12-6/15-14
7 Wagner 8-10/10-19 @
2 Robert Morris 12-6/16-14
Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Nashville
Wednesday, March 4
5 Morehead St. 10-6/15-16
8 SEMO 7-9/13-16
Winner vs. 4 UT-Martin 10-6/18-11
Subsequent winner vs. 1 Murray St. 16-0/26-4
6 E. Illinois 9-7/16-13
7 SIU-Edwardsville 8-8/12-15
Winner vs. 3 Belmont 11-5/19-10
Subsequent winner vs. 2 Eastern Kentucky 11-5/19-10
Patriot League Tournament
All Games Played at Lower Seed
Tuesday, March 3
9 Loyola (MD) 7-11/11-18 @
8 Holy Cross 8-10/13-15
Winner at 1 Bucknell 13-5/18-13
5 Boston U 9-9/13-16 @
4 Lafayette 9-9/17-12
6 American 8-10/15-15 @
3 Lehigh 10-8/15-13
10 Army 6-12/15-14 @
7 Navy 8-10/12-18
Winner at 2 Colgate 12-6/15-16
Southern Conference Tournament
Asheville, NC
Friday, March 6
8 UNCG 6-12/10-21
9 Samford 6-12/13-18
Winner vs. 1 Wofford 16-2/25-6
4 Western Carolina 9-9/14-16
5 East Tennessee 8-10/16-13
3 Mercer 12-6/17-14
6 VMI 7-11/11-18
7 Citadel 6-12/11-18
10 Furman 5-13/8-21
Winner vs. 2 Chattanooga 15-3/22-9
Summit League Tournament
Sioux Falls, SD
Saturday, March 7
1 South Dakota St. 12-4/21-9
8 Western Illinois 3-13/8-19
4 IPFW 9-7/16-13
5 South Dakota 9-7/16-15
3 Oral Roberts 10-6/17-13
6 IUPUI 6-10/10-20
2 North Dakota St. 12-4/20-9
7 Denver 6-10/12-17
West Coast Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
Friday, March 6
8 San Francisco 7-11/13-17
9 Pacific 4-14/12-18
Winner vs. 1 Gonzaga 17-1/29-2
4 Pepperdine 10-8/17-12
5 San Diego 8-10 15-15
3 St. Mary’s 13-5/21-8
6 Portland 7-11/16-14
7 Santa Clara 7-11/13-17
10 Loyola Marymount 4-14/8-22
Winner vs. 2 BYU 13-5/23-8

 

February 23, 2015

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 23, 2015

And down the stretch they come! By the end of this week, the first conference tournament brackets will be finalized, and by the end of the following week, the rest of the leagues will follow suit.

Not a lot changed last week, but there has been subtle updates to the field of 68. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the 1-bid leagues first. Here are the contenders for each of these low-major leagues, with the highest rated team displaying their predicted seed if they win their conference tournament (conference championship in Ivy).

America East Conf. Overall Seed
Albany 13-1 19-8 16 *
Vermont 11-3 16-11
Stony Brook 11-4 19-10
New Hampshire 11-4 17-10
Atlantic Sun Conf. Overall Seed
Florida Gulf Coast 11-1 21-7 15
North Florida 10-2 18-11
USC Upstate 7-5 20-9
Big Sky Conf. Overall Seed
Sacramento St. 12-3 18-8
Montana 12-3 16-10
Eastern Washington 11-3 20-7 14
Northern Arizona 10-4 15-12
Portland St. 8-7 14-11
Big South Conf. Overall Seed
High Point 12-4 21-7 15
Charleston Southern 12-4 18-9
Coastal Carolina 11-5 20-8
Radford 11-5 20-9
Winthrop 11-5 16-11
Gardner-Webb 9-7 17-12
UNC Asheville 9-7 13-14
Big West Conf. Overall Seed
UC Davis 11-1 21-4 14
UC Irvine 9-3 16-10
UC Santa Barbara 7-5 14-12
Long Beach St. 7-5 13-15
UC Riverside 7-6 14-13
Colonial Conf. Overall Seed
Northeastern 11-5 19-10 15
William & Mary 11-5 17-10
James Madison 11-5 18-11
UNC Wilmington 11-5 16-11
Hofstra 9-7 18-11
Conference USA Conf. Overall Seed
Louisiana Tech 12-3 21-7 13
UTEP 11-3 19-7
UAB 11-4 15-13
Old Dominion 9-5 20-6
Western Kentucky 9-5 16-10
Middle Tennessee 8-7 15-13
UT San Antonio 7-7 13-12
North Texas 7-7 13-13
Horizon Conf. Overall Seed
Valparaiso 12-2 25-4 12
Cleveland St. 11-4 17-12
Green Bay 10-4 21-7
Oakland 10-4 15-14
Milwaukee 7-7 12-16
Ivy Conf. Overall Seed
Harvard 9-1 19-5 12
Yale 8-2 19-8
Metro Atlantic Conf. Overall Seed
Iona 16-2 23-6 13
Rider 13-5 19-10
Monmouth 12-6 16-13
Manhattan 11-6 14-12
Canisius 10-8 15-12
Mid-American Conf. Overall Seed
Central Michigan 10-4 20-5 14
Kent State 10-4 19-8
Toledo 10-4 18-9
Bowling Green 9-5 17-8
Buffalo 8-6 17-9
Akron 8-6 17-10
Mid-Eastern Conf. Overall Seed
North Carolina Central 13-0 21-6 16
Norfolk St 10-3 17-11
UM-Eastern Shore 9-5 16-13
Howard 8-5 14-13
Delaware St. 7-5 13-14
Hampton 7-6 11-15
South Carolina St. 7-6 10-18
Northeast Conf. Overall Seed
St. Francis (NY) 14-2 20-9 16 *
Mt. St. Mary’s 10-6 14-13
Robert Morris 10-6 14-14
Bryant 10-6 13-14
St. Francis (PA) 8-8 14-13
LIU Brooklyn 8-8 12-15
Wagner 8-8 10-17
Ohio Valley Conf. Overall Seed
Murray St. 14-0 24-4 13
Belmont 10-5 18-10
Tenn-Martin 9-5 17-10
Eastern Kentucky 8-5 16-10
Eastern Illinois 9-6 16-12
Morehead St. 7-6 12-16
SIU-Edwardsville 8-7 12-14
Patriot Conf. Overall Seed
Bucknell 12-4 17-12 16 *
Colgate 10-6 13-16
Lehigh 9-7 15-12
Lafayette 8-8 16-11
Boston University 8-8 12-15
Southern Conf. Overall Seed
Wofford 14-2 23-6 12
Chattanooga 13-3 20-9
Mercer 11-5 16-13
East Tennessee St. 8-8 16-11
Western Carolina 8-8 13-15
Southland Conf. Overall Seed
Sam Houston St. 13-1 22-5 13
Stephen F. Austin 12-1 22-4
Northwestern St. 10-4 15-10
Texas A&M-CC 9-5 14-12
Southwestern Conf. Overall Seed
Texas Southern 11-2 14-12 16 *
Prairie View 8-5 10-16
Jackson St. 7-7 9-18
Summit Conf. Overall Seed
South Dakota St. 12-3 21-8 15
North Dakota St. 12-3 20-8
IPFW 8-6 15-12
Oral Roberts 8-6 15-13
South Dakota 8-6 15-14
Sun Belt Conf. Overall Seed
Georgia Southern 12-4 19-6 14
Georgia St. 12-4 19-8
UL Monroe 12-4 18-9
UL Lafayette 10-7 16-12
UT-Arlington 9-7 15-11
Western Ath. Conf. Overall Seed
New Mexico St. 11-1 19-10 16
CSU Bakersfield 7-5 12-16
UMKC 6-5 11-17
Seattle 6-6 13-13
Note: Asterisk (*) indicates opening round participant

Here is how our expert bracketologists see the multi-bid conferences as of today.

American Conf. Overall Seed
SMU 13-2 22-5 6
Tulsa 12-2 19-7 Bubble
Temple 10-5 19-9 11
Cincinnati 9-5 18-9 10
Memphis 9-5 17-10 Out
Connecticut 8-6 15-11 Out
Atlantic Coast Conf. Overall Seed
Virginia 13-1 25-1 1
Notre Dame 12-3 24-4 3
Duke 11-3 24-3 1
Louisville 9-5 21-6 4
North Carolina 9-5 19-8 4
Pittsburgh 7-7 18-10 Bubble
Miami (FL) 7-7 17-10 Bubble
N. C. St. 7-7 16-11 11
Atlantic 10 Conf. Overall Seed
VCU 11-3 21-6 5
Rhode Island 11-3 19-6 Bubble
Dayton 10-4 20-6 11
Davidson 10-4 19-6 Bubble
UMass 9-5 16-11 Bubble
Richmond 8-6 15-12 Out
George Washington 7-7 17-10 Bubble
St. Bonaventure 7-7 14-11 Out
La Salle 7-7 15-12 Out
Big East Conf. Overall Seed
Villanova 12-2 25-2 2
Georgetown 10-5 18-8 7
Providence 9-5 19-8 6
Butler 9-5 19-8 6
Xavier 8-7 18-10 8
St. John’s 7-7 18-9 9
Big Ten Conf. Overall Seed
Wisconsin 13-1 25-2 2
Maryland 10-4 22-5 4
Michigan St 10-4 19-8 7
Purdue 10-4 18-9 11
Indiana 9-6 19-9 8
Ohio State 8-6 19-8 8
Iowa 8-6 17-10 9
Illinois 7-7 17-10 12
Michigan 7-8 14-13 Out
Minnesota 5-10 16-12 Bubble
Big 12 Conf. Overall Seed
Kansas 11-3 22-5 2
Iowa State 10-4 20-6 3
Oklahoma 10-5 19-8 3
West Virginia 9-5 21-6 6
Baylor 8-6 20-7 4
Oklahoma St 7-8 17-10 7
Texas 6-8 17-10 10
Kansas St 6-9 13-15 Out
TCU 3-11 16-11 Bubble
Missouri Valley Conf. Overall Seed
Northern Iowa 15-1 26-2 5
Wichita St. 15-1 25-3 5
Mountain West Conf. Overall Seed
San Diego St 12-3 22-6 7
Wyoming 10-4 21-6 Out
Boise State 10-4 20-7 Bubble
Colorado St 10-5 23-5 9
Utah State 9-5 16-10 Out
Pac-12 Conf. Overall Seed
Arizona 12-2 24-3 2
Utah 11-3 21-5 3
Oregon 10-5 20-8 11
Stanford 8-6 17-9 12
Oregon St 8-7 17-10 Out
UCLA 8-7 16-12 Bubble
Arizona St 7-7 15-12 Bubble
Southeastern Conf. Overall Seed
Kentucky 14-0 27-0 1
Arkansas 11-3 22-5 5
Texas A&M 10-4 19-7 10
Ole Miss 10-4 19-8 8
LSU 8-6 19-8 10
Georgia 8-6 17-9 9
Florida 6-8 13-14 Bubble
West Coast Conf. Overall Seed
Gonzaga 16-0 28-1 1
Saint Mary’s 12-4 20-7 Out
BYU 11-5 21-8 Bubble

Here is the bubble–last 10 in and first 14 out.

Last 10 In #
Texas A&M 59
Cincinnati 60
LSU 61
Dayton 62
N. C. St. 63
Temple 64
Purdue 65
Oregon 66
Stanford 67
Illinois 68
1st 14 Out #
Tulsa 69
Pittsburgh 70
Boise St. 71
UCLA 72
Davidson 73
BYU 74
Miami (FL) 75
Florida 76
U Mass 77
Minnesota 78
Arizona St. 79
TCU 80
Rhode Island 81
George Washington 82

Here are the Opening Round participants to play at Dayton.

Opening Round Games (Dayton)
11 Oregon vs.
11 Purdue
12 Stanford vs.
12 Illinois
16 Albany vs.
16 St. Francis (NY)
16 Bucknell vs.
16 Texas Southern

And, here are the top four seeds by region.

Top 4 Seeds By Region
East Team
1 Virginia
2 Kansas
3 Iowa St.
4 Maryland
South Team
1 Kentucky
2 Arizona
3 Oklahoma
4 Louisville
Midwest Team
1 Duke
2 Villanova
3 Utah
4 Baylor
West Team
1 Gonzaga
2 Wisconsin
3 Notre Dame
4 North Carolina
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