Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:55 am

Four more in the field

Four more teams clinched berths in the tournament tonight in down-to-the-wire championship games.

VCU held off a Drexel rally to win the Colonial title and will get a chance to make back-to-back Final Four runs.  Despite the media shilling for the Dragons, at the moment, their tournament profile doesn't measure up to at-large status.

Loyola of Maryland is in the tournament for just the second time ever after beating Fairfield for the MAAC championship.

St. Mary's needed overtime to beat Gonzaga for the West Coast title.  The last time the Zags came away without a regular season or conference tournament title was in 1997.

Davidson took two overtimes to disperse Western Carolina to win the Southern Conference championship.  This is the Wildcats' first trip back to the tournament since their Elite Eight run in 2008.

Oral Roberts was knocked out of the Summit league tournament by Western Illinois.  The Golden Eagles are the fourth non-major team that started their conference tournament as the top seed and in the top 50 of the RPI to lose before the finals of their tournament.

The Sun Belt had another upset tonight as Western Kentucky took out Denver, the top remaining seed.  The NO. 7 seed Hilltoppers will play 5th-seeded North Texas in the final for a trip to Dayton and the play-in games.

Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:05 am

Upsetting day

Sunday was a day of upsets that altered the bracket, but not to the point that any bids were stolen.

That almost happened though.  Creighton needed overtime to dispatch Illinois State in the Missouri Valley final.  ISU would have stolen a bid from someone with a win.

Top seeded Iona and Middle Tennessee State lost in their conference tournaments, but their at-large prospects are not very good.  Both teams too bad losses relatively early in their tournaments, and it's hard to see either one getting in now.

In fact, the second seed in the Sun Belt lost also, so Denver shows up as the league rep in today's bracket.

Further up the bracket, Ohio State won at Michigan State to create a three-way tie for the Big Ten title with Michigan.  It's the first Big Ten regular season title for the Wolverines since 1986.  The Fab Five and the 1989 National Champs didn't win the league.

The game wasn't the only loss for the Spartans.  Star freshman Brandon Dawson was lost for the year with a torn ACL.  It remains to be seen how much of an impact that will have on MSU.

Both the Buckeyes and Spartans are two-seeds in the bracket today, but still in the hunt for a one.

The Pac-12 disaster keeps chugging along.  Cal, Washington and Arizona all took bad losses on the road this weekend.  Washington is back in the bracket as the conference leader today after relinquishing that on Saturday.  Cal remains an at-large for now, but in a first four game.  Texas fell out of the bracket to make room for the Huskies.

Four more bids will be clinched tonight, including the Colonial, which has the top two seeds, Drexel and VCU, facing off.  Many are championing the idea that both teams should be in win or lose, but those people are living in the past.  The committee doesn't care that VCU was in the Final Four last year or that George Mason was in 2006.  The league is way down this year.  Drexel did next to nothing out of conference.  VCU has a win at home over the lesser version of South Florida.  That's pretty much it.  If these teams played in the Pac-12, the same media people be fuming over them even being considered.  Actually, that's pretty much happening anyway -- the people who think both these teams should be in are repulsed by the idea that a Pac-12 team could be an at-large.  The reality is that neither league has a good at-large candidate.  That doesn't mean a team or two won't get in -- there is a 68-team bracket to fill -- but nobody in either league will be able to complain about being left out.

Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm

Jan. 25 Bracket

Today's bracket is posted.  Kentucky is the new overall top seed, followed by Missouri, which is the only newcomer to the top line, replacing Duke.

Syracuse and Baylor remain No. 1 seeds despite losses last week.  Kansas is pushing hard, and beat Baylor recently, but the Jayhawks have done most of their damage at home, and still have that extra loss - to Davidson.

Ohio State has also rejoined the fight, but is another team that has struggled away from home.  All three of the Buckeyes' losses have come on the road, to their three best opponents away from home.  They are mighty in Columbus, and the tournament is played there, but Ohio St will be shipped out.

The Big Ten still sports nine teams, but Purdue is hanging on for dear life.  The Boilers have struggled recently, losing at home to Wisconsin and just on Tueday, to Michigan.  They are the only Big Ten team still looking for a win over a ranked opponent.  If the field were more accomplished, Purdue would definitely be on the outside looking in.

Illinois also took a beating this week in the bracket.  The Illini fell from second to seventh after losing at Penn State and at home to Wisconsin.  They are a true six-seed that was moved to seven to help with bracketing considerations, but that is still a sizeable drop.  Also hurting them is that the loss to Purdue looks worse than it did last week.

Cincinnati, despite a 1-2 week, is getting closer to the bracket despite a non-conference schedule rankng 329th out of 344.  That's going to be an albatross around the Bearcats' neck all season long.  The committee, even in an expanded field, still takes a very dim view of that and will eliminate teams for no other reason.

Cinci is also a strange team in that it is better on the road than at home.  The Bearcats are 6-2 in games away from home, but only 9-4 on their home floor, including losses to St. John's and Presbyterian.  That 92 RPI ranking is due to their weak non-conference schedule and their difficulty defending the home floor.

Cincinnati has nothing on Loyola Marymount though.  The Lions are 7-2 on the road, but only 3-6 at home.

And from the Teams Get Bids, Not Conferences departement: Conference USA has four teams in the bracket, but all are 10-seeds or lower.

New to the bracket this week: Ole Miss, Iowa State, Texas and UCF.
Leaving us, for now: Stanford, Northern Iowa, Denver and Colorado State, which is the highest rated RPI team left out.

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