Thursday, December 5, 2013

College Basketball 2013-14 - Field of 68 (December 5, 2013 Update)

It is about a month into the 2013-14 College Basketball season and it seems like a good time to re-evaluate the Field of 68 to this point.  This is the hardest part of the year, as I have to combine what has happened with some realistic thoughts as to what is going to happen.  Some teams have played the meat of their non-conference schedule, while others have some tasty bits left to play.  Nobody has played a meaningful conference game.  So here is my best shot, with of course my random thoughts and insights...

The 1's - Arizona, Syracuse, Ohio State and Kansas
On the #1 line, I am giving recognition to those that have achieved thus far.  Arizona has been very impressive and is giving the PAC 12 a realistic top seed for the first time in years.  With a solid PAC 12 that is a bit on the rise this year, it is not out of the question that the Wildcats can maintain this lofty seed and have the SOS #'s to back it up.  Syracuse leads the way in the ACC and has nice victories over Minnesota, California, Baylor and Indiana.  Ohio State takes over for Michigan State as the Big Ten representative on this line, although I still think Sparty is the better overall team.  The Buckeyes are still unbeaten though and have an early RPI in the Top 10, enough to give them credit with a #1 seed.  The Final spot goes to once-blemished Kansas, but the loss to Villanova is nothing to sneeze at.  The Big 12 rates out as the top conference to date and Kansas currently rates out slightly higher than OK State.
The 2's - Michigan State, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Louisville
Here is where the what I realistically think will happen part comes in.  All four of these teams have one loss.  None of the 4 have a bad loss (2 to North Carolina, one to Michigan State and one to Memphis).  I believe all four of these teams will be competing for a #1 seed all season long.  Louisville is the least-worthy of this spot.  I am not sure what kind of non-conference schedule the defending champs thought they were trotting out there, but it isn't good.  Kentucky has upcoming games against Baylor, Boise State, North Carolina and Louisville that will tell us a lot about the young cats.
The 3's - Wisconsin, Villanova, Memphis and Connecticut
Wisconsin might have the best group of wins (Florida, Virginia, St. Louis, St. John's, West Virginia) of any team thus far.  It isn't always pretty, but a victory over Marquette Saturday will almost assure a 13-0 non-conference season.  Combine that with Bo Ryan's history of Top 4 finishes in the Big Ten and Wisconsin should be here at season's end.  Villanova's win over Kansas is huge notch for the new Big East front-runners.  That win over Iowa is a nice one too.  Same for Memphis who gained a split with Oklahoma State, giving them a top win on their resume.  Connecticut grabs the last spot, with victories over Florida and Indiana supporting an unbeaten start for the Huskies.
The 4's - Duke, North Carolina, New Mexico and Iowa State
Duke's two losses are to Kansas and Arizona.  The Michigan win is a start and I fully expect Duke to challenge for the ACC Title and a high seed.  Based on wins against Louisville and Michigan State, the same can be expected of North Carolina.  Losses to Belmont and UAB indicate that the resume of the Tar Heels will be one of the most challenging of the 2013-14 season.  I am sticking with recent history that suggests this kind of seeding for the Mountain West champ.  The loss to UMass looks better by the day.  I am giving the Cyclones the current edge over Baylor for three reasons.  Current RPI's aside, I think BYU and Michigan are slightly better victories than Colorado and Dayton.  Plus Baylor has a loss.  Finally, Baylor has to quit playing teams like Hardin-Simmons.
The 5's - Baylor, Wichita State, UCLA and Florida
Baylor does fit in on the 5's, with a solid early season resume.  Last year's cinderella is taking care of business this season.  The only mark on Wichita State is that the MVC will be down a little minus Creighton, so this might be the ceiling seed-wise barring a 1 or 2 loss season for the Shockers.  The Bruins are off to a solid start, but it would be nice to pick-off either Missouri or Duke to give them a nice non-conference win to hang their hat on come Selection Sunday.  The Gators are an early season mystery.  Losses to Wisconsin and Connecticut aren't bad, but with all the injuries, it is tough to gauge yet how good this team really is.  They get Kansas and Memphis in the next two, so the potential resume boost is available.
The 6's - Gonzaga, Iowa, Oregon and Massachusetts
It is time to reward Massachusetts for their great start to the season.  This is right around the spot the Atlantic 10 champion will fall, which I still think will be VCU, but the Minutmen deserve it for now.  Gonzaga will also flirt with this area all season and it appears both St. Mary's and BYU are formidable enough to give the WCC enough juice.  Oregon has the nice win over Georgetown, but will need more.  Finally, my early season viewing has Iowa establishing themselves as the 4th best team in the Big Ten, not Michigan or Indiana who you will see later on this list.
The 7's - VCU, Virginia, San Diego State and Colorado
The Rams have been a little erratic to start the season, but wins over Virginia and Belmont are still solid.  As for the Cavaliers, losses to VCU and Wisconsin aren't terrible, they just need some better wins as the season progresses.  San Diego State's win in the Old Spice classic got them wins over Creighton and Marquette, notching them above conference-mate Boise State who really hasn't played anybody.  Colorado is off to a very good start and I am slotting them 4th in the PAC 12 at this point, but it should be a good race behind Arizona.
The 8's - Michigan, Cincinnati, Boise State and Creighton
Michigan is a mess right now.  I will call it Post-TreyBurke Syndrome.  They are getting this spot only on the premise that things will get better.  Cincinnati is off to their usual beat nobody start.  At least Xavier and Pittsburgh loom in the coming weeks.  Same for Boise State, who has the look of a Mountain West contender, but Utah? is their best win.  Let's see how they do at Kentucky and against St. Mary's.  Creighton should be better and somebody has to be 2nd best in the Big East.
The 9's - Indiana, Missouri, Georgetown and Dayton
Dayton has victories over Gonzaga and Cal and Baylor is their only loss.  The trick will be to avoid bad losses in the A-10.  Indiana is doing about what they should, so I am still trusting the masses that say this team is talented enough to make the tournament.  Georgetown has a nice win over VCU and gets Kansas and Michigan State down the line to improve the resume.  Missouri hasn't lost, but hasn't beaten anyone of consequence yet either.  They play West Virginia, UCLA, Illinois and NC State before the SEC season starts, so we should know more soon.
The 10's - Harvard, Marquette, St. Louis and Pittsburgh
Harvard won the Great Alaska Shootout and only has lost to Baylor.  Marquette has disappointed, but I still expect them to come around in the new Big East.  St. Louis looks tough and hard-nosed as usual, which should play well in the Atlantic 10.  Pittsburgh hasn't lost and has decent wins in Stanford and Penn State.
The 11's - BYU, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Arizona State
It starts to open up right around this area.  I gave BYU the edge over St. Mary's for now, with wins over Stanford and Texas who are both in my first teams out at this point.  Notre Dame is getting in based on gut, while Ole Miss hasn't lost and looks like they might hold up in the SEC.  Arizona State has a couple of nice wins and will be on the bubble for the balance of the season.
The 12's - St. John's, St. Mary's, Tennessee, George Washington, Belmont and Southern Miss
The Red Storm and the Volunteers are in based on talent, but they have both disappointed some to start the year.  St. Mary's is doing their usual bubble dance and the Colonials grab another bid out of the A-10 with a nice win over Creighton.  Texas, Oklahoma, California, Stanford, LSU among others haven't impressed quite enough to this point.
The 13's - Towson, North Dakota State, New Mexico State and Toledo
The 14's - Iona, UWGB, Louisiana-Lafayette and UCSB
The 15's - Davidson, Oral Roberts, Florida Gulf Coast and Stony Brook
The 16's - Bryant, NC Central, Texas Southern, Boston U., Eastern Washington and Winthrop


EAST (New York)
SOUTH (Arlington)
WEST (Anaheim)
Ohio State
Boston U./Texas So.
NC Central/Winthrop
Eastern Washington
Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, NY
St. Louis, MO
San Diego, CA
Boise State
Wichita State
Tennessee/St. Mary’s
Southern Miss
Spokane, WA
San Antonio, TX
Spokane, WA
San Diego, CA
Iowa State
North Carolina
New Mexico
New Mexico State
North Dakota State
Notre Dame
Arizona State
Raleigh, NC
Orlando, FL
Orlando, FL
Milwaukee, WI
St. John’s/Geo. Wash.*
San Diego State
St. Louis
St. Louis, MO
Raleigh, NC
Milwaukee, WI
San Antonio, TX
Michigan State
Oklahoma State
Florida Gulf Coast
Stony Brook
Oral Roberts


  1. It is interesting how much the bracket can change from week to week. I think Kentucky's stock is falling rapidly, and the Pac-12 now has 4 teams that could find themselves with very good seeds.

  2. Right now, some of the early season perceptions are still being erased. Teams like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke have all suffered more losses than expected to this point. In my next update, there will definitely be some further adjustments. I also like what the PAC 12 has done so far this year, a big change from recent seasons. It should allow them to get 5-6 teams into the bracket on Selection Sunday.


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