Monday, February 28, 2011

NCAA Bracket Analysis - February 28, 2011

13 days until selection Sunday...conference tournaments start this week, while the regular season wraps up for others.  At the bottom, the bubble is still there for the taking.  The weekend brought a big change to the bottom of my bracket and there are no certainties from day-to-day.  The top is less volatile, but seed jockeying continues there, as well as in the middle of the bracket where certain teams are hot and others are not.  Here is a little look along my S-curve at some teams and what lies ahead.

The Race for #1's
1.  Ohio State, 27-2, 14-2 (at Penn State, vs Wisconsin, Big Ten Tourney)
2.  Kansas, 27-2, 12-2 (vs Texas A&M, at Missouri, Big 12 Tourney)
3.  Pittsburgh, 25-4, 13-3 (at South Florida, vs Villanova, Big East Tourney)
4.  BYU, 26-2, 13-1 (vs New Mexico, vs Wyoming, Mountain West Tourney)
5.  Duke, 26-3, 12-2 (vs Clemson, at North Carolina, ACC Tourney)
6.  Texas, 24-5, 12-2 (vs Kansas State, at Baylor, Big 12 Tourney)

The four #1's should come from this pool of 6.  Ohio State and Kansas are close to locking up #1 seeds.  BYU likely needs to win out, including the Mountain West Tourney to hold onto a #1.  Texas also would need to win out at this point and garnering a 2nd win over Kansas in the Big 12 tourney could be enough.  Pittsburgh has the upper-hand on Duke for now based on better wins.

7.  Purdue, 24-5, 13-3 (vs Illinois, at Iowa, Big Ten Tourney)
8.  Notre Dame, 23-5, 12-4 (vs Villanova, at Connecticut, Big East Tourney)
9.  Syracuse, 24-6, 11-6 (vs DePaul, Big East Tourney)
10.  Wisconsin, 22-6, 12-4 (at Indiana, at Ohio State, Big Ten Tourney)
11.  San Diego State, 25-2, 12-2 (at Wyoming, vs Colorado State, Mountain West Tourney)
12.  Louisville, 22-7, 11-5 (vs Providence, at West Virginia, Big East Tourney)
13.  Florida, 22-6, 11-3 (vs Alabama, at Vanderbilt, SEC Tourney)
14.  North Carolina, 22-6, 12-2 (at Florida State, vs Duke, ACC Tourney)
15.  Connecticut, 21-7, 9-7 (at West Virginia, vs Notre Dame, Big East Tourney)

If Purdue takes care of their final two Big Ten games, it will be tough to move them off the two line even with a poor showing against a desperate 7 seed in the Big Ten Tourney.  Notre Dame's hold on the last #2 is a bit more tenuous based on their remaining schedule and the Big East Tournament free-for-all.  Syracuse should cruise in their finale, giving them the opportunity to jump if they make a Big East Tourney run (check out the road wins the 'Cuse now has).  Wisconsin would have a case to move-up with a win in Columbus, but with a loss will have to avoid a fall by winning one, if not two Big Ten Tourney games.  San Diego State will be interesting if they win out.  They would be borderline #2 depending on what else happens around them.  If they lose to BYU again, a seed drop is likely.  Louisville is making a seeding push, but has the same Big East Tourney gauntlet as the others plus a trip to West Virginia.  Not everyone will impress in the Big East Tourney.  Louisville is probably maxed at a #3, unless they can somehow jump both Notre Dame and Syracuse in the Big East pecking order.  Florida got a seed reduction this week, but can be a #3 with a strong finish.  North Carolina and Connecticut have the schedules and opportunity to move up or down at this point.

16.  St. John's, 19-9, 11-5 (at Seton Hall, vs South Florida, Big East Tourney)
17.  Vanderbilt, 21-7, 9-5 (at Kentucky, vs Florida, SEC Tourney)
18.  Kentucky, 20-8, 8-6 (vs Vanderbilt, at Tennessee, SEC Tourney)
19.  Georgetown, 21-8, 10-7 (at Cincinnati, Big East Tourney)
20.  Villanova, 21-8, 9-7 (at Notre Dame, at Pittsburgh, Big East Tourney)
21.  Texas A&M, 21-6, 9-5 (at Kansas, vs Texas Tech, Big 12 Tourney)
22.  Xavier, 22-6, 13-1 (vs Charlotte, at St. Louis, A-10 Tourney)
23.  West Virginia, 18-10, 9-7 (vs Connecticut, vs Louisville, Big East Tourney)
24.  Arizona, 23-6, 12-4 (vs Oregon State, vs Oregon, Pac-10 Tourney)
25.  UNLV, 22-7, 10-5 (at Utah, Mountain West Tourney)
26.  Missouri, 21-7, 8-6 (at Nebraska, vs Kansas, Big 12 Tourney)
27.  UCLA, 21-8, 12-4 (at Washington, at Washington State, Pac-10 Tourney)
28.  George Mason, 25-5, 16-2 (Colonial Tourney)
29.  Temple, 22-6, 12-2 (at Massachusetts, vs LaSalle, A-10 Tourney)
30.  Kansas State, 19-9, 8-6 (at Texas, vs Iowa State, Big 12 Tourney)
31. Old Dominion, 24-6, 14-4 (Colonial Tourney)

A couple highlights from this group...St. John's seems maxed at a #4, but who would have thought they would have been that a few short weeks ago.  The schedules dictate that Vanderbilt and Kentucky will decide their own pecking order, with the loser potentially dropping to a #6.  Arizona and UCLA are waging a battle for seed rights in the Pac-10.  UCLA has the bigger wins, Arizona the more consistent resume.  A Pac-10 Tourney grudge match would clear it all up, although UCLA has a tougher week this week to earn a title share.  Georgetown was the biggest loser of the week and conference mate Villanova is not far behind.  Not only did the Hoyas go 0-2, but Chris Wright was injured and may not return for the Dance.  While not a superstar player, this bears watching.  Villanova also went 0-2 and now has two brutal road games before the Big East Tourney.  The three Big 12 teams above have no cakewalks upcoming, so there will be some potential shuffling of that deck as well.

32.  Cincinnati, 22-7, 9-7 (at Marquette, vs Georgetown, Big East Tourney)
33.  Illinois, 18-11, 8-8 (at Purdue, vs Indiana, Big Ten Tourney)
34.  Marquette, 18-11, 9-7 (vs Cincinnati, at Seton Hall, Big East Tourney)
35.  Georgia, 19-9, 8-6 (vs LSU, at Alabama, SEC Tourney)
36.  Washington, 19-9, 10-6 (vs UCLA, vs USC, Pac-10 Tourney)
37.  Utah State, 25-3, 13-1 (at New Mexico State, at Louisiana Tech, WAC Tourney)
38.  Tennessee, 17-12, 7-7 (at South Carolina, vs Kentucky, SEC Tourney)
39.  Michigan State, 15-12, 8-8 (vs Iowa, at Michigan, Big Ten Tourney)
40.  Florida State, 20-8, 10-4 (vs North Carolina, at NC State, ACC Tourney)

This would be the almost locks group.  If each team can win one more game, it will likely punch a dance card.  Close with two regular season losses and the conference tourney games will make it interesting.  This group also has limited upward mobility in seed as the divide between them and most teams in the next tier is quite significant.

41.  Virginia Tech, 19-8, 9-5 (vs Boston College, at Clemson, ACC Tourney)
42.  Richmond, 22-7, 11-3 (at St. Joseph's, vs Duquesne, A-10 Tourney)
43.  Butler, 20-9, 13-5 (Horizon Semifinals)
44.  UAB, 20-7, 10-4 (at Southern Miss, vs East Carolina, C-USA Tourney)
45.  St. Mary's, 21-7, 11-3 (West Coast Semifinals)
46.  Gonzaga, 20-9, 11-3 (West Coast Semifinals)
47.  Memphis, 21-8, 9-5 (at East Carolina, vs Tulane, C-USA Tourney)
48.  Clemson, 19-9, 8-6 (at Duke, vs Virginia Tech, ACC Tourney)
49.  Colorado, 17-11, 7-7 (at Iowa State, vs Nebraska, Big 12 Tourney)
50.  Michigan 17-12, 8-9 (vs Michigan State, Big Ten Tourney)

Butler, the C-USA winner and the West Coast winner are in this list as automatic berths.  The status of these teams will also be predicated on what happens around them.  So far this year, very few teams from this group or the next have shown the ability to go on a hot streak and beat good teams.  If a bunch of them do that, then teams that continue to muddle their way to the finish will be left out.  The trend would indicate that muddling will be enough for quite a few of these teams.  My take on Butler, St. Mary's and Gonzaga is that they are all in if they win one game and get to their conference title games.  I believe the NCAA will want to populate the First Four games with at least two mid-majors, to show they did not expand the tournament for only the BCS leagues.  The loser of the West Coast final, if it is Gonzaga vs St. Mary's, would be a great candidate for one of those games.  Butler might be too with a Horizon Final loss.  Maybe Richmond if they stumble this week.  Or Memphis, who does have 9 top 100 wins, even though the majority are writing them off.  On a side note, the Conference USA Tourney is going to be the craziest group of games involving mediocrity that I can remember (any one of 7 teams could win it).  The last three in, Clemson, Colorado and Michigan are in by a shoestring.  Clemson made it ahead of Boston College due to similar resumes, but a recent victory over the Eagles.  With Clemson's schedule this week, this appearance is likely short-lived, but someone needs to take the spot.  Colorado got the ultra-impressive win of the weekend and now has 3 RPI Top 25 and 5 RPI Top 50 wins.  That alone appears good enough to make this tourney, if you don't lose both games the next week (hello, Nebraska, good job).  Michigan replaces Minnesota as a 6th Big Ten team, but maybe this is just a 5 bid league.  A win over Michigan State and a first round Big Ten win might convince me otherwise.

BUB.  Boston College, 17-11, 7-7 (at Virginia Tech, vs Wake Forest, ACC Tourney)
BUB.  Colorado State, 17-10, 8-6 (vs Utah, at San Diego State, Mountain West Tourney)
BUB.  Penn State, 15-12, 8-8 (vs Ohio State, at Minnesota, Big Ten Tourney)
BUB.  Alabama, 19-9, 11-3 (at Florida, vs Georgia, SEC Tourney)
BUB.  Baylor, 17-10, 7-7 (at Oklahoma State, vs Texas, Big 12 Tourney)
BUB.  Minnesota, 17-11, 6-10 (at Northwestern, vs Penn State, Big Ten Tourney)
BUB.  Nebraska, 18-10, 6-8 (vs Missouri, at Colorado, Big 12 Tourney)
BUB.  Southern Miss, 18-7, 9-5 (vs UAB, at Tulsa, C-USA Tourney)
BUB.  Missouri State, 23-7, 15-3 (Missouri Valley Tourney)
BUB.  USC, 17-12, 9-7 (at Washington State, at Washington, Pac-10 Tourney)
BUB.  Oklahoma State, 17-11, 5-9 (vs Baylor, at Oklahoma, Big 12 Tourney)

Many of these teams on this list have golden opportunities for big wins, some at home, some on the road.  If any can capitalize on these, there will likely be a couple spots open.  Good conference tournament runs would be extremely helpful to this group as well.  I am not sure any could absorb a first round ouster. 

The remaining bids will be automatic bids to one-bid leagues.

Jabe's Bracket - February 28, 2011

Here is the bracket, analysis to come throughout the week...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - February 24, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 24, 2011

Nobody wants it.  Wednesday night was another night of lost opportunities.  It started with Michigan, who played like a team who wanted it and then fell victim to an all-to-familiar result.  Next was Boston College who thought a home loss to Miami would impress the selection committee.  What about a third Colonial team?  VCU's loss at Drexel means they have to win the conference tournament.  Surely Nebraska would seize the opportunity at home.  Kansas State likely punched their card, but the Cornhuskers left themselves work to do.  There will be no last ditch effort from Baylor, who went down with a wimper at Missouri.  Even Alabama needing a tip-in at the buzzer to beat Auburn isn't anything to impress, although the Tide continue to close in on the field.  Florida State, while safe for now, showed that without Chris Singleton they are 16 points worse than the most mediocre team in college basketball.

Cincinnati and Kansas State had the biggest wins of the night.  The Bearcats win at Georgetown should quiet the SOS haters for now.  The top 9 lines on the bracket are starting to take shape.  Lines 10 though 12 have 18 days to sort themselves out.

Thursday's Slate
Marquette at Connecticut - the Big East looks more and more like 11 teams are a possibility.  Marquette could still use a quality road win to make that a certainty.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Cleveland State - the Vikings have an at-large chance with an outright league title and a tourney final appearance, but have to beat the pesky Panthers to have that opportunity.
Georgia at Florida - at this point, nothing more than a seeding game.
West Virginia at Pittsburgh - the Panthers try to hold on to the last of the #1 seeds.
Gonzaga at St. Mary's - the game with the most implications tonight, Gonzaga could bolster their at-large chances with a win here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 23, 2011

Thanks Vandy.  I give your resume a little love and you lose at home to Tennessee.  It was a huge win for the Volunteers, not only cementing their at-large hopes but keeping them in that 7 to 9 seeding mix.  Vanderbilt likely flips with Syracuse on the 4/5 lines.

Michigan State looks like they have turned things around enough to head toward a bid.  After last night's road win at Minnesota, the Spartans will be out of my first four games and up to a 10 or 11 seed mid-week.  Minnesota on the other hand, has played themselves out of the tournament.  When considering the Al Nolen factor, the committee would be hard-pressed to include them at this point.

Wednesday Buffet
Wisconsin at Michigan - A bigger game for the Wolverines as they try for a marquee win for their resume.
VCA at Drexel - any at-large hopes for the Golden Rams require a 2-0 week this week.
Temple at Duke - interesting timing for an OCC game, but it will be telling nonetheless.
Colorado State at BYU - the Rams are in danger of falling out of the field.  A road upset of BYU would change that.  Maybe Jimmer is looking ahead to Saturday?
Kentucky at Arkansas - can the Wildcats reverse their road woes against a mediocre opponent?
Cincinnati at Georgetown - just another Big East battle of current tourney teams.
Kansas State at Nebraska - probably the biggest game of the night on both sides.  The Cornhuskers can't afford to let their home mastery slip now.
Florida State at Maryland - the first real test post Chris Singleton for the 'Noles.
Baylor at Missouri - any chance Baylor has needs to start tonight.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 22, 2011

Monday's are typically pretty quiet and yesterday followed that outline.  Syracuse got a nice road win at Villanova to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Wildcats.  Villanova is a team headed in the wrong direction, surviving at Seton Hall and DePaul last week after a 2-loss week the week prior.  Now a loss to the Orange with white-hot St. John's coming to visit on the weekend.  Oh, and road games at Notre Dame and Pittsburgh to close-out the regular season.  This has the look of a 6 or 7 seed before all is said and done (keep in mind UCLA and Temple are their best OCC wins).

We might be able to stick a fork in desperately mediocre UTEP.  For weeks they have been in people's brackets, assuming they would win either the regular season or conference tourney for C-USA.  Even at home, I don't think they are good enough to do either.

Tuesday's Tilts
Illinois at Ohio State - The Illini are not in huge trouble...yet.  They still have a trip left to Purdue as well, meaning two chances for impressive wins or two automatic losses.  The blueprint has been set how to beat the Buckeyes...have one of your star players throw up a career night a la Jordan Taylor and E'Tuan Moore.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt - The Volunteers are not in huge trouble...yet.  How many games can a team lose and still make the dance, regardless of their extremely strong OCC resume?  Tennessee still has Kentucky to deal with and one more road game, albeit South Carolina.  It would seem a 2-2 finish would be enough.  That plus a 1-1 stint in the SEC Tourney would make 19-14, not a great seed, but enough to dance.

Michigan State at Minnesota - The Golden Gophers are becoming an interesting case to deal with.  They have wins over North Carolina, West Virginia and Purdue...with a different team.  Without Davoe Joseph and Al Nolen, they have sputtered, losing 5 of 6.  They need to finish semi-strong to convince the committee this team is still tournament worthy.  A home loss here and I may need to consider removing them from my bracket despite the OCC body of work.

The Bracket Matrix
I continue getting upset because both Wichita State and Missouri State keep showing up in the National Bracket.  The Missouri Valley is clearly a one-bid league this year, so how does that keep happening?  It is a minor flaw in the bracket matrix, as those teams are currently splitting the Missouri Valley selections with each named on 37 of the brackets.  With 66 people participating, that means they are only being named as an at-large on 8 brackets.  Alabama, the first team out in the matrix, is named in 34 brackets, but I assume as an at-large in most of those.  Therefore, technically speaking, the nation has Alabama in and not two MVC teams.

Resume Comparison
It is time to play resume comparison!! 

Team A (20-6, 10-2, RPI#10, OCC RPI#26) vs Team B (20-6, 8-4, RPI#17, OCC RPI#12)
  • Both teams are in second place in their conference, Team A in the 5th rated conference, Team B in the 6th.
  • Team A is 7-6 in road/neutral games, Team B is 6-5.
  • Team A is 4-5 vs RPI top 50 and 11-5 vs RPI top 100.  Team B is 5-4 vs RPI top 50 and 10-4 vs RPI top 100.
  • Team A is 1-5 road/neutral vs RPI top 50.  Team B is 2-4 road/neutral vs RPI top 50.
  • Team A's best road win is vs RPI#43, Team B's vs RPI#37.  Team A's best neutral win is vs RPI#91, Team B's vs RPI#10.
  • Team A has one loss vs RPI 100+, losing to RPI#153.  Team B has two losses vs RPI 100+, to RPI#114 and RPI#118.
This all looks very close and a case could be made for each resume.  You may not have caught this though, Team B's neutral court win was vs none other than Team A.  Doesn't that seem to favor Team B in this comparison?

Team A is North Carolina, Team B is Vanderbilt.  North Carolina is listed as a #4 seed or higher on 43 brackets in the Bracket Matrix.  Vanderbilt is a #4 seed or higher on 14.  I have them both as #4's, but I just don't understand the current seeding discrepancy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - February 21, 2011

What a week in the bracket world.  Both the top and the bottom of the bracket are getting in on the action.  I chose to take a wait and see approach, only swapping Michigan State in and Virginia Tech out from my mid-week bracket.  There was seed jostling, but I did not want to over-react to Nebraska and their abysmal road record getting one really good win.  So here it is for Monday...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 18, 2011

Thursday night's light schedule meant no major developments in the world of brackets.  Penn State may have played their way back in the conversation, but a 1-7 road record (0-7 against RPI top 100) isn't usually what the committee chooses.  Minnesota, by losing to Penn State, continues to make their own life difficult.  Safe for now, but one to watch.  Richmond's 20 point loss at Temple was not much of a help to the Spiders.  That is how they reward me for finally moving them out of the play-in game.  Alabama and Gonzaga won games they should have and needed to, keeping themselves alive as other teams tumble.  Clemson probably tumbled right into hosting a first-round NIT game.

The Weekend's Big Games
  • VCU at Wichita State - with the soft bubble, both teams could use this one to impress
  • Connecticut at Lousiville - a rare Friday tussle, as the Big East teams continue to play the seed shuffle
  • Pittsburgh at St. John's - the Big East's best against the red-hot Red Storm.
  • Notre Dame at West Virginia - a regular Saturday tussle, as Big East teams continue to play the seed shuffle
  • Georgia at Tennessee - the Bulldogs are suddenly sliding, potentially right out of the bracket
  • Texas at Nebraska - this one interests me due to the home prowess of the Cornhuskers
  • Boston College at North Carolina - the Eagles could use another good win
  • Missouri State at Valparaiso - you never know what the committee will think of these Bracket-Buster games
  • Washington at Arizona - the Huskies try to tighten the race in the PAC-10
  • UNLV at Colorado State - I am a bit higher on the Rams than most right now, but securing 3rd place in the Mountain West should be worth something?
  • George Mason at Northern Iowa - George Mason is last year's Northern Iowa
  • Illinois at Michigan State - almost a must-win for Sparty
  • Texas A&M at Oklahoma State - the Cowboys try to remain relevant
  • Ohio State at Purdue - can the Boilers make a case for a #2 this week?
  • Cleveland State at Old Dominion - another Bracket-Buster beauty
  • Penn State at Wisconsin - this is the beast chance for a resume boosting road win for the Nittany Lions

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - Midweek - February 17, 2011

A quick mid-week update...

Around the NCAA - February 17, 2011

Wednesday night went mostly as scripted.  The home teams won the two big ranked battles, with Purdue quickly making Badger fans forget the Ohio State game and Connecticut cooling off red-hot Georgetown.  The current result is Purdue getting a leg-up for a 3 seed over Wisconsin and Connecticut stopping their seed free-fall that had them at #1 just a few weeks ago.

The top teams in Conference USA faced off and both of these match-ups went to the home side.  Memphis completed a season sweep of UAB and Southern Mississippi put a wrench in UTEP's regular season title hopes.  I think this will end up a 2 bid league, but your guess is as good as mine who will join Memphis in the dance.

Did St. Mary's ruin their at-large chances?  If the Gaels lose at home to Utah State this weekend in Bracket Busters, it might be best to win the West Coast Conference Tourney.  Plus, Gonzaga is going to be gunning for them in the regular season finale as well.

Georgia blew a big lead at home to Vanderbilt and inched closer to the bubble.  With tough games remaining, the Bulldogs cannot afford a tailspin.

Cincinnati got a huge win to keep from falling into major bubble trouble.  It was not surprising based on how the Big East has just beaten each other up this year.

Finally, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Valparaiso took further hits to their at-large chances, although none were unexpected.

Thursday's Lighter Menu
Richmond at Temple - a chance for the Spiders to get more comfortable
Washington State at Arizona - the Cougars try to make a late run and need a signature win like this
DePaul at Providence - just to prove how light tonight's schedule is

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 16, 2011

Tuesday's Games
It was still a pretty light schedule on Tuesday but that will change tonight with a very good Wednesday schedule.  I think two major developments came out of Tuesday.  The first one was in the Colonial, where George Mason continues to impress and all but locked up an at-large selection with an impressive road win at VCU.  On the other side of that ledger, the Golden Rams are in Barney...Rubble...Trouble.  Yes, the bubble is soft, but when you are not playing very well and lost your chance at your last good RPI win before the conference tourney, things look bleak.  The second development is what the heck do you do with Marquette.  Losing to St. John's at home was a lost opportunity and Marquette needs to be thrown into the bubble conversation now.  The Golden Eagles did nothing in the non-conference slate and have three big RPI wins in conference, all at home.  If they can get to 9-9 in conference, it will be tough to keep them out.

The Wednesday Buffet
Wisconsin at Purdue - the Badgers try to build off their strong win against Ohio State...problem is they have won once in 34 years in West Lafayette.  Right now, this game is for a #3 seed.
Louisville at Cincinnati - the Bearcats need a big win and Louisville presents that opportunity.  The schedule is brutal for Cincy down the stretch and they continue to creep toward the bubble.
Georgetown at Connecticut - one of the hot Big East teams meets one of the not-so-hots.  Connecticut needs this game more than Georgetown.  The Hoyas can stake their claim to a #2 seed.
UAB at Memphis - Conference USA is a mess and a UAB win here would make it murkier.
UTEP at Southern Miss - all of this is moot if C-USA ends up being a one-bid league.
Vanderbilt at Georgia - the Bulldogs are not safe and cannot let a home opportunity like this slip away.
Michigan at Illinois - if the Wolverines want to be under consideration, this would be a great place to start.
Oklahoma State at Texas - a brutal closing schedule for the Cowboys starts here and likely ends in the NIT.
New Mexico at San Diego State - with spots still open, New Mexico can state their case with a win like this.

More Bubblicious Resumes
Yesterday, I started to look at some bubblicious resumes.  Below is a chart of the bubblicious teams.  Just another interesting look at these teams.  Barring a major collapse, I think I can lock-up Old Dominion, UNLV, Memphis and Colorado State.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 15, 2011

Monday's Recap
Thank you Kansas State.  I have been asking for a bubble team to beat someone and the Wildcats finally heeded my call with an impressive thumping of the Jayhawks. At 5-6 in the Big 12, K-State still has some work to do, but a win over Kansas could be what it needs to turn this season around. 

Syracuse, who was becoming a seeding nightmare, got a nice win over West Virginia, as the Mountaineers continue a fall down the seeding lines. 

What's on tap for Tuesday
There is a huge tilt in the Colonial, as Virginia Commonwealth hosts George Mason in a desperate attempt to hold onto any at-large chances.  With the weak bubble, a sweep of George Mason and Wichita State this week would get VCU back into the discussion.

Michigan State at Ohio State - the Spartans can thrust themselves safely back in the dance with a huge road win in Columbus
St. John's at Marquette - the Golden Eagles are the most precarious of the Big East teams and may need to beat St. John's here or Cincinnati on March 2nd to lock up a bid.  They can still get to 9-9 in the Big East by sweeping Seton Hall and beating Providence, but a 4th good RPI win tonight would be huge for Marquette.

Finally today, I am going to start dissecting some of the bubblicious teams.  Conference-USA seems a good place to start.

Memphis (19-6, 7-3, RPI#32)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-2
RPI Top 50 record - 3-3
RPI Top 100 record - 8-5
Road/Neutral record - 5-4
Best Win - at UAB (RPI#34)
Best Road/Neutral Win - at UAB (RPI#34)
Bad Losses - at SMU (RPI#204)

UTEP (19-5, 7-2, RPI#54)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-1
RPI Top 50 record - 0-2
RPI Top 100 record - 3-3
Road/Neutral record - 5-4
Best Win - neutral vs Michigan (RPI#59)
Best Road/Neutral Win - Michigan (RPI#59)
Bad Losses - home vs Pacific (RPI#129), neutral vs Georgia Tech (RPI#173)

UAB (18-6, 8-3, RPI#34)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-1
RPI Top 50 record - 0-4
RPI Top 100 record - 6-5
Road/Neutral record - 7-4
Best Win - home vs UTEP (RPI#54)
Best Road/Neutral Win - at Marshall (RPI#62)
Bad Losses - at Arizona State (RPI#153)

Southern Miss (18-6, 7-4, RPI#47)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-0
RPI Top 50 record - 1-3
RPI Top 100 record - 4-5
Road/Neutral record - 7-5
Best Win - at UAB (RPI#34)
Best Road/Neutral Win - at UAB (RPI#34)
Bad Losses - at SMU (RPI#204)

Without comparison to other conferences, these resumes are nothing to write home about.  I am seriously questioning my inclusion of UAB in the field this week.  Memphis should have enough to be an at-large resume, but if the Tigers win the C-USA tourney, does anyone else have a worthy resume?  Let's compare them to some other bubblicious squads.

Virginia Tech (16-7, 6-4, RPI#64)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-2
RPI Top 50 record - 1-5
RPI Top 100 record - 7-5
Road/Neutral record - 7-5
Best Win - home vs Florida State (RPI#48)
Best Road/Neutral win - neutral vs Oklahoma State (RPI#56)
Bad Losses - home vs Virginia (RPI#148), at Georgia Tech (RPI#173)

Boston College (16-9, 6-5, RPI#43)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-3
RPI Top 50 record - 1-5
RPI Top 100 record - 7-8
Road/Neutral record - 5-6
Best Win - neutral vs Texas A&M (RPI#31)
Best Road/Neutral win - Texas A&M (RPI#31)
Bad Losses - home vs Yale (RPI#139)

Clemson (17-8, 6-5, RPI#73)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-2
RPI Top 50 record - 2-4
RPI Top 100 record - 7-6
Road/Neutral record - 4-6
Best Win - home vs Boston College (RPI#43)
Best Road/Neutral win - at College of Charleston (RPI#77)
Bad Losses - at South Carolina (RPI#117), at Virginia (#148)

Kansas State (17-9, 5-6, RPI#32)
RPI Top 25 record - 1-3
RPI Top 50 record - 1-6
RPI Top 100 record - 7-9
Road/Neutral record - 4-7
Best Win - home vs Kansas (RPI#2)
Best Road/Neutral win - neutral vs Gonzaga (RPI#73)
Bad Losses - home vs Colorado (RPI#93)

Oklahoma State (16-8, 4-6, RPI#56)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-1
RPI Top 50 record - 3-2
RPI Top 100 record - 5-7
Road/Neutral record - 4-7
Best Win - home vs Missouri (RPI#26)
Best Road/Neutral win - at Tulsa (RPI#95)
Bad Losses - at Texas Tech (RPI#150)

Baylor (16-8, 6-5, RPI#67)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-2
RPI Top 50 record - 1-4
RPI Top 100 record - 4-6
Road/Neutral record - 3-6
Best Win - at Texas A&M (RPI#31)
Best Road/Neutral win  - Texas A&M (RPI#31)
Bad Losses - at Oklahoma (RPI#124), at Iowa State (RPI#146)

Michigan State (13-10, 6-6, RPI#51)
RPI Top 25 record - 1-6
RPI Top 50 record - 3-7
RPI Top 100 record - 7-9
Road/Neutral record - 3-8
Best Win - home vs Wisconsin (RPI#18)
Best Road/Neutral win - neutral vs Washington (RPI#38)
Bad Losses - at Iowa (RPI#149)

Michigan (15-10, 6-7, RPI#59)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-6
RPI Top 50 record - 1-7
RPI Top 100 record - 7-9
Road/Neutral record - 3-6
Best Win - home vs Harvard (RPI#45)
Best Road/Neutral win - at Michigan State (RPI#51)
Bad Losses - at Indiana (RPI#156)

Alabama (16-8, 8-2, RPI#81)
RPI Top 25 record - 1-2
RPI Top 50 record - 2-2
RPI Top 100 record - 3-4
Road/Neutral record - 3-8
Best Win - home vs Kentucky (RPI#14)
Best Road/Neutral Win - at Tennessee (RPI#28)
Bad Losses - at Providence (RPI#102), at Arkansas (RPI#104), neutral vs St. Peter's (RPI#142), neutral vs Iowa (RPI#149)

VCU (20-7, 12-3, RPI#57)
RPI Top 25 record - 0-0
RPI Top 50 record - 2-3
RPI Top 100 record - 5-4
Road/Neutral record - 8-6
Best Win - at Old Dominion (RPI#30)
Best Road/Neutral win - Old Dominion (RPI#30)
Bad Losses - at South Florida (RPI#157), at Northeastern (RPI#169), at Georgia State (RPI#216)

Richmond (20-6, 9-2, RPI#71)
RPI Top 25 record - 1-1
RPI Top 50 record - 1-2
RPI Top 100 record - 4-4
Road/Neutral record - 10-3
Best Win - neutral vs Purdue (RPI#10)
Best Road/Neutral win - Purdue (RPI#10)
Bad Losses - at Iona (RPI#110), neutral vs Georgia Tech (RPI#173)

Just a sampling of some of the various bubblicious resumes.  All have significant flaws.  By my latest bracket, seven of these teams need to be included in the field.  That is why Kansas State's win over Kansas was huge last night.  They became just the 4th team out of these 15 to beat an RPI Top 25 team.  Only 6 of the 15 have more than 1 RPI Top 50 win.  The committee currently has its work cut-out for them.  Keep deciding it on the court boys!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - February 14, 2011

As I mentioned, the bottom of the bracket is getting tougher to fill.  Michigan State's presence in the bracket is a testament to that.  I chose Oklahoma State as the 5th Big 12 entrant based on their 3 RPI Top 50 wins vs 1 combined for Kansas State and Baylor.  I also took the lazy way out this week naming UTEP Conference USA champ (they are the current leader and host the conference tourney), creating a 3rd bid from Conference USA.  Michigan is closing in on the field, but I couldn't pull the trigger on that yet after getting a little anxious with Alabama last week.  The #1 seeds remained the same, but flipped overall seeds and regions.

NCAA Ratings - February 14, 2011

Update of my rating system used to loosely analyze each team and who they have beaten and been beaten by.  Currently using either 19 or 20 games, depending on which was the higher rating.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 13, 2011

It turned out to be a pretty tame weekend in College Basketball, which might not be good to the overall picture.  The Bubble picture remains muddled and the expansion of the field from 65 to 68 might seem like a bad idea this year. 

Weekend's Biggest Winners
Wisconsin gets the weekend award for best win, taking down previously unbeaten Ohio State at the Kohl Center on Saturday.  It was an impressive win, but it is just one win (and once again at home) and thus we must avoid an overreaction.  Wisconsin travels to Purdue this week in what probably is a bigger game for second place in the Big 10.

Other big winners included Vanderbilt and Florida in the SEC notching home wins against Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively.  Florida and Vandy are currently the 1-2 punch in the SEC.  Louisville took a leg-up on Syracuse in the ever-changing Big East seeding battle.  St. John's impressed yet again, winning at Cincinnati and cementing their NCAA bid.

Old Dominion notched a big road win at VCU, enhancing a strong at-large resume out of the Colonial.  Colorado State, Alabama and Memphis all won battles of bubblicious teams.  For Colorado State and Memphis, these wins will keep them solidly in my field this week.  Alabama still has a little work to do, but with other bubble teams falling like flies, they have the ability to steal a bid.

Weekend Losers
The NCAA expansion committee would be one.  On the court, the Big 12 bubble teams continue to flounder.  Oklahoma State and Kansas State both lost winnable road games and Baylor failed to notch that signature victory at Texas.  I want the Big 12 to be a five bid league, but it is getting tougher and tougher to project that.  One of the three aforementioned teams needs to beat someone.

VCU lost a golden opportunity to sweep ODU and make it tough to keep them out behind the Monarchs.  The Golden Rams have a huge week with games at home against George Mason and at Wichita State.

Duquesne also had a chance to get an impressive win, but failed to beat Xavier at home.  Without that win, the at-large resume of the Dukes is lacking.  Dayton and New Mexico were other bubblicious teams who failed in big games this weekend.

Monday's Games
West Virginia at Syracuse - a huge game for both, but The Orange really need this one to get back on track beating a legitimate team
Kansas at Kansas State - the Wildcats can go a long way to earning an at-large bid with a win here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - Midweek

Around the NCAA - February 11, 2011

Thursday's Big Games
The big winner on Thursday has to be St. John's.  The Red Storm not only added a 5th RPI top 25 win, but they dominated the Huskies with a second half ambush.  Unless there is a complete breakdown, St. John's has proven they belong and may have leapt Cincinnati for the time being in the Big East pecking order.  At least until Sunday when the teams meet at Cincinnati.  Connecticut on the other hand, lost for the 3rd time in 4 games and still has to contend with possibly the toughest remaining schedule in the nation.  Their big early season wins will not be ignored, but a limp to the finish would definitely impact their seed.

Vanderbilt held off Alabama 81-77, denying the Tide a bid-sealing road win.  Washington got back on track, crushing California by 32.  Illinois got a huge road win for their resume, dropping Minnesota on Thursday.  The Gophers fell to 5-7 in league play and need to navigate a fairly manageable schedule down the stretch.

Thursday's Losers
The biggest losers were barely bubblicious teams in Penn State, California and Washington State.  The Nittany Lions failed to show up in East Lansing, potentially getting Sparty back on track.  As mentioned above, Cal did less than show up.  Washington State may still have had the worst loss of the three losing at home to Stanford.  The PAC-10 is clearly a 3-bid league.

The Weekend's Games
The weekend is always full of key games, and this weekend will be no different. 

Syracuse at Lousiville - both teams could use this one to improve their seed
Kentucky at Vanderbilt - a battle for second best in the SEC - the teams meet Saturday in Nashville, but a game in Lexington also remains
North Carolina at Clemson - a chance for the Tigers to notch an NCAA worthy victory
Maryland at Boston College - just one game of many between ACC bubble teams down the stretch
Temple at Dayton - the last hurrah for the Flyers or a decent road win for the Owls
Ohio State at Wisconsin - will #1 finally take one on the chin and suffer the same fate as the football team?
Old Dominion at VCU - a huge game in the Colonial as VCU goes for the season sweep of the Monarchs
Mississippi at Alabama - two SEC bubblicious teams meet in Tuscaloosa
Baylor at Texas - the Bears could use a signature win to impress the committee
Tennessee at Florida - the Gators try to separate themselves from the rest of the SEC
Southern Miss at Memphis - a chance for both to make their case for potentially one C-USA at-large berth
Oklahoma State at Nebraska - the Huskers are likely NIT bound, but the Cowboys need this to avoid joining them
San Diego State at UNLV - the Aztecs get another chance to show they are for real
Kansas State at Colorado - the Wildcats need to put the off-court problems aside and add a good road win
Pittsburgh at Villanova - for Pitt, another game to solidify a #1 seed.  for 'Nova, a chance to grab the #4 spot in the Big East pecking order
New Mexico at Colorado State - a Mountain West game that is the very definition of bubblicious
St. John's at Cincinnati - with West Virginia reeling, this game could be for the #8 slot in the Big East
Marquette at Georgetown - the Golden Eagles need a key road win, the Hoyas are smoking hot right now
Purdue at Illinois - the Illini continue to navigate a tough closing schedule
Xavier at Duquesne - some still think the Dukes are NCAA worthy - this game will give them a chance to prove it

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Around the NCAA - February 10, 2011

Wednesday night was survival night.  Here is a recap of Wednesday and a preview of Thursday in the world of Men's College Basketball...

Wednesday's Big Games
Duke rallied to defeat North Carolina and take a stranglehold on the ACC.  While the ACC is just the 6th rated conference, Duke has a legitimate shot at a #1 seed if it can win the ACC regular season and tournament titles.

Georgetown continued its smoking hot run with a win at Syracuse.  The teams will meet again in D.C.  Also in the Big East, Notre Dame beat Louisville in overtime.  Georgetown and Notre Dame are currently playing like the next best teams behind Pitt in the Big East.  Syracuse, Louisville and Villanova (who we will mention below), are clearly in the next tier, while Connecticut can go either way.

Wednesday's Survivors
A myriad of teams survived close games against teams they needed to beat.  In the end, the "W" is all that counts.

Memphis got a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left to complete a comeback win over Central Florida.  Conference USA does not upsets right now.

Bubblicious Richmond gutted out a 4-point road win at George Washington.  Not a win to get you in, but not a loss to knock you out (Too bad another A-10 team didn't get that memo).

Marquette overcame a 16 point deficit and escaped South Florida with a win in what could have been a disastrous game for the Golden Eagles.

The at-large chances of Virginia Commonwealth were saved as they rallied from 11 down and had to beat Delaware in 2 overtimes.

Baylor did what it needed in securing a 4 point home win against Nebraska. 

Wisconsin overcame a 6-33 shooting performance in the first half and tipped Iowa in overtime in Iowa City.  Next up is #1 Ohio State for the Badgers.

Texas A&M got back on the winning track by rallying on the road at Colorado in overtime.

Wednesday's Losers
Villanova blew a big lead late and lost at Rutgers.  While not a damaging blow to their tournament chances, losses like this get you sent to Tuscon instead of closer to home.

Utah State lost at Idaho, just the 3rd loss for the Aggies this season.  With no RPI top 100 wins, Utah State is a curious at-large contender.  That may be the only loss they can absorb if they lose in the conference tournament.

Dayton was crushed in the second half by Rhode Island and looks destined to defend its NIT title.

If Northwestern was going to get hot, they needed to beat Michigan.

Thursday's Games to Watch
Connecticut at St. John's - another chance for both to add a high RPI win
Penn State at Michigan State - with fading at-large hopes on both sides, the loser might be done
California at Washington - the Huskies desperately need to turn things around
Illinois at Minnesota - at this point more of a seeding game, but the Illini better be careful
Alabama at Vanderbilt - the Crimson Tide can add a 3rd huge win, but its never easy in Nashville

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jabesblog - NCAA Analysis

With less than 5 weeks to go before Selection Sunday there is still plenty of work to do for a lot of teams to lock-up a spot in this year's expanded field.  Other teams are playing for seed, which also impacts location.  Jabesblog takes a look at a conference-by-conference analysis of where teams stand and what remains for each team.

BIG EAST (conference RPI - #1) - projected teams in field - 10 or 11

Pittsburgh (22-2, 10-1, RPI#5)
Notre Dame (19-4, 8-3, RPI#9)
Connecticut (18-4, 6-4, RPI#10)
Georgetown (18-5, 7-4, RPI#6)
Syracuse (20-4, 7-4, RPI#16)
Villanova (19-4, 7-3, RPI#13)
Louisville (18-5, 7-3, RPI#26)
West Virginia (15-8, 6-5, RPI#18)

Cincinnati (19-5, 6-5, RPI#35) - 6 of the last 7 for the Bearcats are against projected Field of 68 teams, so Cincinnati will have opportunities to continue making amends for a cream-puff early season schedule.  That schedule currently has them 9th in the Big East seeding order, which is still good for a top 8 seed.  Upcoming home games against Louisville and St. John's appear crucial, as the four game finish at Georgetown, vs UConn, at Marquette, and vs Georgetown could be disastrous.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

St. John's (13-9, 5-5, RPI#22) - St. John's has the potential to build the most interesting of resumes.  They have 4 RPI top 25 wins, including at West Virginia.  That alone would appear to make them a Field of 68 lock.  They have 5 games remaining against Field of 68 teams, 3 on the road, and the home games are Pitt and UConn.  Wins in the 3 lower RPI games seem crucial, as the "Johnnies" could easily go 1-4 in the other 5.  That would put them at 17-13, 9-9, with 5 RPI top 25 wins and lock them into the field, even with a first round Big East ouster.  I would hate to have to evaluate a 16-15, 8-10 team with 4 or 5 big wins like the Red Storm.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Marquette (14-9, 5-5, RPI#67) - The Golden Eagles are probably the most tenuous of the Big East teams, with a 3-7 record against the RPI top 25 and all 3 wins coming at home.  The good news for Marquette, is that they have possibly the easiest remaining schedule of all the teams mentioned, with 4 games against lower Big East teams and home games against St. John's and Cincinnati.  Take care of those 6, and the lack of quality road win probably doesn't matter.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

BIG TEN (conference RPI #2) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6
Ohio State (24-0, 11-0, RPI#3)
Purdue (19-5, 8-3, RPI#11)
Wisconsin (17-5, 7-3, RPI #20)
Minnesota (16-7, 5-6, RPI#28) - The Gophers are almost there, with 3 RPI top 25 wins.  Their 7 remaining games are all against teams with RPI's 40 or below, so the Gophers just need to beat teams they are better than to lock up a bid.  That has been easier said than done for teams this year.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Illinois (15-8, 5-5, RPI#40) - The Illini are just 2-5 in their last 7 games and have fallen into dangerous territory.  Illinois has only two road wins all season to go with two decent neutral wins against Maryland and Gonzaga.  Road games remain at Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue, as well as a home date with the Boilers.  The trend says that Illinois could go 1-4 or 0-5 in that set, which would place them squarely on the Bubble.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Michigan State (12-10, 5-6, RPI#49) - This season has been a disaster for Sparty, who came in as the consensus pre-season #2.  MSU is 1-5 in their last 6 games and the one win was an OT win at home against Indiana.  Yikes!!  Michigan State only has 2 road wins as well, which does not bode well for trips to Ohio State and Minnesota.  The trend is not good, and its hard to see how this team will even be able to take care of Illinois or Purdue at home.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Penn State (12-10, 5-6, RPI#69) - Sunday's loss at home against Michigan was a killer, both to momentum and the Nittany Lions at-large chances.  Penn State has 1 road win all year and has trips to Michigan State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Minnesota remaining, as well as a home date with the Buckeyes.  Penn State needs to win 2, if not 3 of those games to be under consideration.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Michigan (13-10, 4-7, RPI#62) - The Wolverines have several factors working against them.  A 4-7 conference record, zero RPI top 25 wins, and 10 total losses.  Working in their favor is a manageable remaining schedule with 4 homes games and a trip to Iowa.  One of the home games is vs Wisconsin, which would be an RPI top 25 win.  Michigan likely needs a 5-2 finish and one win in the Big Ten tournament, but the schedule is there to do it.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Northwestern (14-8, 4-7, RPI#81) - The Wildcats have a ton of work to do, but with the next 5 games at Michigan, at Penn State, vs Iowa, at Indiana and vs Penn State, Northwestern has a chance to get hot and feed off Saturday's win against Illinois.  With no bad losses, a 9-9 conference finish plus one Big Ten tourney win could do it for them.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

BIG 12 - (conference RPI #3) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6
Kansas (23-1, 8-1, RPI#1)
Texas (20-3, 8-0, RPI#7)
Missouri (17-6, 4-5, RPI#29)
Texas A&M (16-5, 4-4, RPI#33) - The Aggies are very close and should be able to close the deal with 6 remaining games against RPI 75+ teams.  Their current 1-4 stretch is what categorizes them here, as they need to reverse that trend, especially with that schedule.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Kansas State (15-8, 4-5, RPI#31) - This season wasn't supposed to go like this, but the Wildcats find themselves with work to do.  Zero RPI top 50 wins is the biggest obstacle right now.  Home games against Kansas and Missouri and a roadie at Texas give them their opportunity.  Key road games at Colorado and Nebraska loom as well.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Oklahoma State (16-7, 4-5, RPI#45) - With games at Kansas and Texas, the Cowboys need to be almost flawless in the other 5 if they can not pull off the upset in either of those two.  Road games at Nebraska and Oklahoma are no gimmes, and A&M and a talented Baylor team come to Stillwater yet.  A 7-9 finish in the Big 12 is very possible, meaning a conference tournament victory would seem necessary. (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Baylor (15-7, 5-4, RPI#75) - Probably more disappointing than Kansas State, as at least KSU has a decent SOS.  Baylor has left themselves a lot of work and has the schedule to prove it.  Trips to Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State, as well as home dates with the Longhorns and A&M are huge.  If they can steal a road win or beat Texas at home, Baylor would be back in the fold.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

MOUNTAIN WEST (conference RPI #4) - projected teams in field - 4 or 5

San Diego State (21-1, 8-1, RPI#4)
Brigham Young (21-2, 8-1, RPI#2)
UNLV (17-6, 5-4, RPI#27)

Colorado State (15-7, 6-3, RPI#44) - The Rams made the Jabesblog field this week and have a couple intriguing resume points.  A road win at UNLV and neutral wins vs Mississippi and Southern Mississippi, as well as their 3rd place standing in the nation's 4th ranked conference are all pluses.  Colorado State has two huge home games remaining against New Mexico and UNLV, before having to play at both San Diego State and BYU.  If they can survive trips to TCU and Air Force and take care of their home business, wouldn't it be hard to keep an 20-9, 11-5 Rams team out of the dance?  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

New Mexico (15-7, 4-4, RPI#61) - Los Lobos are under consideration for one major reason - a victory over RPI#2 BYU.  A home win against Colorado State is their lone other RPI top 50 win, with 4 RPI top 100 wins overall.  A season sweep of Colorado State would go along way toward stealing a fourth MWC bid.  Trips to both San Diego State and BYU remain, along with a visit from UNLV.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

ACC (Conference RPI #5) - projected teams in field - 4 or 5

Duke (21-2, 8-1, RPI#8)
North Carolina (17-5, 7-1, RPI#15)

Florida State (16-7, 6-3, RPI#54) - The Seminoles are the safest of the ACC Bubble teams based on their 3rd place standing and RPI top 25 victory over Duke.  Although 4 of the final 7 are on the road, only two games remain against NCAA discussion teams - at Maryland and a home date with North Carolina.  FSU should be able to take care of its business, but beating UNC would lock it up.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Boston College (15-9, 5-5, RPI#43) - The RPI number was prior to last nights loss at Clemson.  Neutral court wins vs Texas A&M and California are their two best wins, and the Eagles do have 6 RPI top 100 wins.  Home wins vs Maryland and Miami seem a must, with road games at North Carolina and Virginia Tech remaining.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Virginia Tech (15-7, 5-4, RPI#68) - The Hokies were my first team out this week based upon their 1 RPI top 50 win and two bad losses.  Home games against Maryland, Duke and Boston College remain to boost an iffy resume, as well as a trip to Clemson for the regular season finale.  Duke or BC would give them another top 50 win, but would 2 be enough?  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Maryland (15-8, 5-4, RPI#78) - The Terps are currently 0-7 against the RPI top 50, not really exuding confidence that they are tournament-worthy.  A schedule that takes them to Virginia Tech, Boston College and North Carolina gives them opportunity, as well as a home game against Florida State.  I am just not sure if there is enough there to make a strong case.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Clemson (17-7, 6-4, RPI#72) - The Tigers got their first RPI top 50 win of the year, although it could knock B.C. out of the top 50 with the loss.  Home dates with North Carolina and Virginia Tech loom, as well as trips to Duke and Miami.  Clemson could use one more big win and the Virginia Tech finale might be for the last ACC bid.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

SEC (Conference RPI #6) - projected teams in field - 5 or 6

Florida (18-5, 7-2, RPI#14)
Kentucky (17-6, 5-4, RPI#12)
Vanderbilt (16-6, 4-4, RPI#19)
Tennessee (15-9, 5-4, RPI#21)

Georgia (16-7, 5-4, RPI#36) - The Bulldogs were fairly safe in the field this week, with 1 RPI top 25 and 2 RPI top 50 wins.  The kicker right now is four tough roadies at South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama, along with a home date against Vandy.  An 0-5 mark in those four might send Georgia to the NIT.  Even the home win against Vandy would give them a likely 2nd RPI top 25 win.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Alabama (15-7, 7-1, RPI#96) - Yes, I put the RPI #96 team in my field this week.  The conference mark is hard to ignore, especially with wins against Kentucky and at Tennessee.  Trips to Florida and Vanderbilt remain, but the rest of the schedule is manageable.  Let's say they slip up at Ole Miss, can you really keep out a 12-4 SEC team with 2 huge wins?  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Mississippi (15-8, 3-5, RPI#58) - The difference between Alabama and Mississippi is slim, but a 4 game difference in standing is huge.  Both have wins over Kentucky, but 'Bama won at Tennessee and Ole Miss has no such win.  The Rebels would need to sweep the two remaining games against the Tide to flip this consideration.  The other 6 games are against RPI 100+ teams, so a 6-2 finish is reasonable.  The problem with it, is that there are no opportunites outside the SEC Tourney for a big win.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

PAC-10 (conference RPI #7) - Projected teams in field  - 3 or 4

Arizona (20-4, 9-2, RPI#17)

UCLA (16-7, 7-3, RPI#41) - The Bruins are an upward mover, winners of 7 of their last 8.  They picked up a second big win last weekend over St. John's, currently an RPI top 25 team, to go with their neutral win over BYU.  A home game against Arizona will be a great chance for another top 25 win.  The Bruins have to go to Cal, Washington and Washington State yet, so nothing will be easy.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Washington (15-7, 7-4, RPI#40) - What has happened to the Huskies?  A 3-game losing streak has sent them down the bracket, mainly because they lost to the Oregon schools who are pitiful.  An RPI top 25 win over Arizona is there, as well as a win at UCLA.  Washington needs to turn it around with a home game against Cal on Thursday.  Only one tough roadie remains at Arizona, so unless the current spin is irreversible, things should be o.k.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Washington State (16-7, 6-5, RPI#70) - A free-falling Washington has tainted their best win, so a win at Arizona or Washington or home to UCLA seems like a must.  With no RPI top 25 wins, the Cougars will likely be leap-frogged by a team having such wins on its resume.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

California (13-10, 6-5, RPI#66) - With a tough SOS and a top 50 win vs Temple, the Golden Bears are not out of the picture yet.  They too could use an RPI top 25 win, but no such games remain outside the PAC-10 Tourney.  Wins over the Washington schools or UCLA would help, but the resume lacks overall.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

CONFERENCE USA (conference RPI #8) - projected teams in field 2 or 3

Memphis (17-6, 5-3, RPI#45) - The Tigers recovered with a big week win Saturday at Gonzaga.  Memphis has two RPI top 50 road wins, and gets those same two teams at home in UAB and Southern Mississippi.  Road games at Central Florida tonight and UTEP down the road are the only other RPI top 100 games left, but Conference USA has proved these teams are not immune to a 100+ loss.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Southern Mississippi (16-5, 7-3, RPI#44) - The Golden Eagles were new to my field this week, but that spot is tenuous.  With 0 RPI top 25 wins and just 1 RPI top 50 win, it was solely based on their first place standing in the conference and 4-game winning streak.  Games remain at Memphis and Tulsa, as well as home games with UAB and UTEP.  A regular-season title is very key in this conference for the second bid.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

UAB - (16-6, 6-3, RPI#36) - A high RPI built on zero top 50 wins, UAB has work to do.  Winnable home games remain, but the Blazers could use a road win at Memphis or Southern Miss to get a top 50 win.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

UTEP - (17-5, 6-2, RPI#58) - I hate to keep saying it, but zero top 50 wins does not a resume make.  UTEP's chances come at Southern Miss and at home against Memphis.  The conference tourney is also in El Paso.  They could easily be Conference USA regular season or tourney champions.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

Atlantic 10 (conference RPI #9) - projected teams in field - 3 or 4

Xavier (17-6, 8-1, RPI#19)
Temple (17-5, 7-2, RPI#32)

Richmond (18-6, 7-2, RPI#74) - The Spiders have an RPI top 25 win over Purdue currently keeping them in the field.  Also, besides a game at Temple, the remaining schedule is soft enough to go at least 5-2, which would get them  to 23-8, 12-4.  That soft schedule will likely keep them right at the fringe, but unless other teams start coming up with top 25 or multiple top 50 wins, Richmond is ok.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Dayton (17-7, 5-4, RPI#54) - Dayton also has an RPI top 25 win, albeit against #23 George Mason.  Home games with Temple and Xavier are huge for Dayton to leap back into the fray.  A road game tonight vs Rhode Island is huge to keep moving forward.  (Jabesblog projection - OUT)

COLONIAL (conference RPI #10) - projected teams in field 2 or 3

George Mason (20-5, 12-2, RPI#23) - The Patriots have zero RPI top 25 wins, but with the conference lead and 2 RPI top 50 wins, they are in the field for now. A split of road games at VCU and Northern Iowa would likely lock-up a spot, as long as an unforeseen disaster is avoided at home or at Georgia State.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

Old Dominion (18-6, 9-4, RPI#29) - What does Bracketology 101 have against the Monarchs?  They have a top 25 neutral win vs Xavier and a top 25 win against George Mason.  So many other teams lack even one RPI top 25 win.  Yes, they lost at home to VCU and a loss at VCU would mean a season sweep, but the more important games may be at home vs Cleveland State and at James Madison.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

VCU (19-6, 11-2, RPI#56) - Two top 50 wins, one neutral vs UCLA and one at Old Dominion are big.  a season sweep of ODU and a home win against George Mason would give the Rams 4 RPI top 50 wins.  They also have a bracket buster game at Wichita State and play at a solid Drexel team.  VCU can definitely play their way in the dance.  (Jabesblog projection - IN)

That's 46 teams from 10 conferences, meaning the remaining 21 conferences would have 22 bids.  St. Mary's and Utah State appear to be the only virtual locks at this point.  Wichita State, Missouri State and Cleveland State appear to have blown their at-large chances recently.  A win at Old Dominion could get Cleveland State back in the mix, but right now, I just don't see it.  That means if St. Mary's and Utah State both win their conference tourney, one more bid would be available.  That will either go to a surprise conference tourney winner from a top 10 conference or one more at-large from those conferences.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - February 7, 2011

Here is the bracket for this week.  The mid-majors keep doing themselves no favors by beating up on each other instead of having 2-3 teams separate themselves.  This is hurting the at-large chances of some of these leagues.  For example, Cleveland State will be a bubble at-large team if it loses any more regular season games because it means at least one more loss in the conference tournament.  From the Missouri Valley, I currently have Wichita State, but neither Wichita State or Missouri State has that strong of an at-large resume.  Conference USA and the Colonial currently sit at 2 bids, which is the likely end-point for both leagues.  Virginia Tech is the team that I should probably have in this week, but two 150+ losses and no big wins have them on the outside right now.  The last 13-15 spots are still wide-open.  Last year, the committee rewarded teams who had RPI Top 25 and 50 wins, except for California, who got an inexplicable 8 seed.  That is why Alabama, now with 2 RPI top 25 wins is in my field this week. 

33 days until Selection Sunday!!

NCAA Ratings - February 7, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jabe's Bracket - February 1, 2011

There was a lot of action this week, with teams losing left and right.  Hopefully some teams will start stepping forward and claim these spots over the next six weeks.  Once again, 11 Big East teams are in.  St. John's and Marquette were living on the edge until big weekend wins.  Texas takes the fourth #1, which was a tough call because UConn won at Texas.  But right now, Texas is playing better, so they get the #1 and UConn placed as #2 in that bracket.  The last four in are obvious now with the "First Four" games.  Teams on the bubble include James Madison, Wichita State, Colorado State, Kansas State, Penn State, Arkansas, and Nebraska.

NCAA Ratings - February 1, 2011

Added some additional criteria...