Championship Week begins tomorrow. It’s time to start handing out Dance tickets.
The two teams leading our March Madness Gala … Florida and Arizona. The Gators and Wildcats both have the opportunity to enter the NCAA Tournament dance as the overall No. 1 seed. Should both win their remaining games – including conference tournament titles – the edge will likely to go Arizona. Not that it’s that critical this year because the two teams are geographically separated. Florida will lead the South Region; Arizona the West. A year ago, when Louisville and Indiana were battling for the top spot in the Midwest, and a route through Indianapolis, that top position meant more.
Wichita State begins Missouri Valley Tournament play today in St. Louis. The Shockers ended the regular season without a blemish. If they win three more under the Arch, expect WSU to be a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Kansas continues to hold the final No. 1 slot. Four other teams are chasing the top line: Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Villanova. Recent struggles make it difficult for Syracuse to regain a No. 1 seed.
It’s going to be another busy week on the bubble. With so many teams tightly bunched around the cutline we’ll find out who plays their way in or out. Keep a close eye on conference tournaments in the Big East, Atlantic 10, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12. In particular, those leagues have several teams with an uncertain prognosis.
Those same teams will be watching conference tournaments in the Missouri Valley and Horizon League, among others. If Wichita State were to lose, one less at-large berth will be available. And what if Green Bay reaches the Horizon final and loses a close game? Whether or not the Phoenix would earn an at-large bid is up for debate. But they will certainly be discussed inside the Selection Committee bunker.
Enjoy the Madness.
Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid based on current standings with RPI as a tiebreaker for teams with the same number of losses. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc).
Several new bracketing principles were introduced after last year’s tournament. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)
Missouri vs. Dayton | Midwest Region
Pittsburgh vs. BYU | West Region
ALABAMA STATE vs. UTAH VALLEY | South Region
WEBER STATE vs. HIGH POINT | Midwest Region
BRACKET PROJECTION …
SOUTH – Memphis
WEST – Anaheim
16) UTAH VALLEY / ALABAMA ST
16) ROBERT MORRIS
9) Oklahoma State
12) LOUISIANA TECH
12) BYU / Pittsburgh
4) North Carolina
4) Michigan State
13) NORTH DAKOTA ST
6) NEW MEXICO
6) Ohio State
11) GREEN BAY
14) GEORGIA STATE
14) BOSTON UNIVERSITY
7) SAINT LOUIS
7) Kansas State
10) Saint Joseph’s
EAST – New York
MIDWEST – Indianapolis
1) WICHITA STATE
16) FLA GULF COAST
16) WEBER ST / HIGH POINT
9) George Washington
9) Arizona State
12) Missouri / Dayton
4) San Diego State
3) Iowa State
14) S.F. AUSTIN
NOTES on the BRACKET: Florida remains the overall No. 1 seed followed by Arizona, Wichita State, and Kansas.
Last Five teams in (at large): Georgetown, BYU, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Missouri
First Five teams out (at large): California, Tennessee, Providence, Nebraska, Minnesota
Next five teams out (at large): Florida State, St. John’s, LSU, Clemson, Southern Miss
Breakdown by Conference …
Big 12(7): Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State
Atlantic 10 (6): Massachusetts, VCU, Saint Louis, George Washington, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton
Big Ten (5): Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin
ACC (5): Duke, Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh
American (5): Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati, SMU
SEC (4): Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas
Big East(4): Creighton, Villanova, Xavier, Georgetown
Mountain West (2): New Mexico, San Diego State
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU
Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State
Conference Automatic Qualifiers … Louisiana Tech (C-USA), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Georgia State (Sun Belt), Boston University (Patriot), North Dakota State (Summit), Green Bay (Horizon), Davidson (Southern), Utah Valley (WAC), Iona (MAAC), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Toledo (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun), Harvard (IVY), UC-Irvine (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Vermont (American East), Weber State (Big Sky), NC-Central (MEAC), High Point (Big South), Robert Morris (NEC), Alabama State (SWAC)