It's February, the home stretch of the season, and today's bracket features a lot of teams going in the wrong direction.
West Virginia lost three times since the last bracket was posted, and fell six spots this week. The Mountaineers lost at St. John's and at home to suddenly resurgent Pittsburgh, sandwiched around that controversial loss at Syracuse.
Seton Hall is also fading fast. The Hall got off to a great start this season, but now has lost five in a row. To make matters worse, the opponents that mark their best wins - UConn, West Virginia and Dayton - are also struggling.
The Huskies have lost three i row and five of their last seven. The addition of Ryan Boatright should help, once he works his way into form.
It's not all bad news for the Big East, along with Pitt, Notre Dame is coming on and has crawled onto the bracket in the PIGs. The Irish have very little margin for error though. Despite a nice collection of wins (Syracuse at home, and at Louisville, UConn and Seton Hall), they are only 7-8 vs the top 200 teams in the RPI, and that's a very negative indicator for tournament selection.
Northwestern is stll hanging on by a thread after a loss to Purdue at home this week (a much needed win for the Boilers, by the way). The best thing working for the Cats is that Purdue is the lowest rated team to beat them this year, and they have a couple good wins, although one of them -- Seton Hall -- looks worse every day.
Honestly, the fact that Notre Dame and Northwestern, along with Colorado State and Oklahoma, which round out the First Four, are in a bracket is reason enough to go back to the 64-team field.
Florida made the biggest move up this week by filling in a couple of holes in their tournament profile. Their sweep of the Mississippi schools, including a win at Ole Miss, gave them two more top 50 RPI wins (three total now) and their first win of any consequence away from home.
Dropping off the bracket this week were BYU, Texas, Marshall, UCF and NC State. Coming on were Notre Dame, Colorado State, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Saint Louis. All ten belong in the NIT.
Dayton almost fell off too after losing twice this week, including a real head-scratcher at home to RPI No. 263 Rhode Island.
Michigan State lost more than a game to Illinois last night. The Spartans' heart and soul, Draymond Green, limped off the floor late with an apparent knee injury. If that is serious and causes him to miss significant time, that will be a big blow to Michigan State's chances of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
The highest rated team in the RPI not in my bracket is No. 47 Arkansas. The Hogs are the ultimate Home Court Hero, with a 16-1 home record. The Hogs are 16-0 in Fayetteville, and lost to Houston in Little Rock, which the NCAA considers a home game. They are the only team in college basketball with at least a .500 record that has yet to win off its home floor.
The next bracket will be posted on Tuesday as we move to a twice-a-week schedule.