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Posted on: March 13, 2011 1:13 pm
 

The Final Showdowns

by Jerry Palm

The final four games take place today (as opposed to the Final Four games, which take place in three weeks), and there is something at stake in all of them.

Dayton plays Richmond for the A-10 title and a spot in the field.  The Flyers would steal someone's bid, but that some might be Richmond.

Duke and North Carolina are playing to try to improve their seeding.  Duke is hoping to grab that fourth No. 1 seed.  The Tar Heels are looking for just their third top 50 RPI win and first away from home.  That could move them up to a three, but with so few true quality wins and the competition at the top of the bracket, better than that seems out of reach.

An explanation is required for the sites for the 4-seeds in this morning's bracket.  The way the First Four games work is that two are played on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.  That means that at least two of those have to be bracketed to play on Friday.  The way it ended up working out, a Friday site was needed on the 4-line, but it also had to be able to hold an ACC First Four team.  If UNC was in Charlotte, they could meet another ACC team too soon, so Kentucky got that site instead and UNC was put in Tampa.  It's convoluted, but the First Four will occasionally cause strange things to happen.

Florida and Kentucky are also playing for seed.  The Gators could be as high as a two with a win, while Kentucky might have a shot at a 3.

And Ohio State is trying to become the overall No. 1 seed.  That could go to Kansas if Penn State pulls its third upset in a row and takes down the Buckeyes.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.

Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:16 pm
 

Saturday Showdowns

by Jerry Palm

For the most part, this is the last chance for some teams to make their case to the committee.  There are a few games tomorrow that could be impactful, but most of the action is today.

Conference USA gets it started with Memphis and UTEP.  The Miners have to win to get in.  Memphis may be an at-large with a loss, so this could be a two-bid league if UTEP wins.

In the A-10, Dayton and St. Joes play a semifinal game for the right to try to steal a bid from someone tomorrow.  That bid may get stolen from Richmond if the Spiders don't beat Temple in the other semifinal.

Virginia Tech gets another shot at Duke today.  Nolan Smith may give it a go on his injured toe for the Blue Devils.  The Hokies can definitely get off the bubble with a win.  They might be in anyway.

Clemson begins the day without a top 50 RPI win, but can change that in the other ACC semifinal against North Carolina.

Penn State is in my bracket this morning, but the Nits may not be able to survive a loss to Michigan State today.

The Ivy League Tournament championship is today.  It's like the BCS - a one-game tournament between Harvard and Princeton, being played at Yale.  Neither team has at-large hopes though.

Finally, the Mountain West tournament final between BYU and San Diego State will be important to the seeding of both teams.  The Aztecs aren't out of the question as a one-seed.  BYU probably is due to their play since the injury to Brandon Davies, but they may be able to keep from being dropped too far with a win today.


Posted on: March 11, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Break out the Bubbly

by Jerry Palm

It's another big day for teams on the bubble and many fates may be decided.  Still, it's important not to overreact to one game, and also to keep in mind that you can't analyze one team in a vacuum.  All of these teams are to some degree dependent on what other teams do.

Boston College plays Clemson in the ACC is what many are incorrectly calling a play-in game.  The winner helps themselves and the loser hurts themselves, but it will still be possible for either or both teams to make the field or miss.

Virginia Tech may not have to beat Florida State to get in, but a neutral court win over a sure tournament team would really help their cause.

Michigan State, Penn State, Colorado and New Mexico all have a chance to knock off highly-rated teams and give themselves the kind of win that might separate themselves from other teams in contention for spots in the field.

In the SEC, Georgia plays Alabama in another proclaimed "play-in game" that isn't.  Georgia can still make the tournament with a loss, but neither team is guaranteed anything with a win.


Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:49 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:51 am
 

The Battle for the Top Seeds

by Jerry Palm

Pittsburgh's loss to Connecticut in the Big East tournament on Thursday has opened up the battle for the last two spots on the top line of the bracket a little bit (we'll assume Ohio State and Kansas are safe).

Keep in mind though that Pitt lost to UConn, not South Florida.  The Huskies are a top 4 seed.  The profiles of Pitt and Notre Dame, a winner over Cincinnati on Thursday.  At the moment, I have the Irish ahead, but they may have to win on Saturday to stay there.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Duke, which doesn't have near the quality of wins of the Big East schools.  Their best wins are North Carolina and Temple, both at home, and Kansas State in Kansas City.  It's hard to think of Duke catching either without an ACC tournament win, including beating the Tar Heels in the final.

San Diego State is still sitting there also, with just the two losses to full-strength BYU.  If they win the Mountain West tournament, they might get consideration as well.  Again though, the lack of quality wins could be a problem.  The Aztecs best would be, UNLV three times, twice on the road, including today, plus maybe depleted BYU.

Syracuse, Purdue, and Wisconsin could possibly make a run as well.  The Orange could get a crack at Notre Dame themselves.  If Purdue or Wisconsin won the Big Ten tournament, beating Ohio State on Sunday, they might have a case, but would probably need a fair amount of help.


See complete Bracketology coverage here.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:23 am
 

Hoops As Far As the Eye Can See

by Jerry Palm

Today brings a festival of hoops with a lot of important games, most of which involve teams feeling very bubbly.

Oklahoma State's at-large hopes are hanging by a thread, but the Cowboys can make a big splash today by knocking off No. 1 seed Kansas in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.  Yesterday, they eliminated Nebraska from any at-large consideration in the opening round.

Colorado survived a scare against Iowa State to keep in the hunt for as well.  They take on Kansas State today, looking to beat the Wildcats for a third time.  They probably need to.

In the ACC, Boston College and Virginia Tech get underway hoping to avoid a potentially fatal bad loss. The Eagles play Wake Forest, while the Hokies will take on Georgia Tech.

Michigan State and Penn State are in the same boat.  Those teams are each three games over .500, and that record might be hard for the committee to swallow, regardless of their schedules.  A loss today to a Big Ten bottom-feeder would probably do them in.

Tennessee and Georgia also face league also-rans in the opening round of the SEC tournament.  Again, avoiding a bad loss at this point is crucial to their chances.

If Marquette hasn't already punched their ticket, they certainly can with a win over Louisville today in the 15th round of the Big East tournament.  Or something like that.  I lose count.

One of the more interesting conference tournaments gets going in earnest today in Las Vegas.  There is a lot at stake in the Mountain West.  Colorado State and New Mexico play in the 4-5 game.  Both teams have at-large hopes, but each might need to beat BYU to make that happen.  That won't be possible for the loser.

The Cougars will spend the weekend trying to prove to the committee that they are still worthy of a high seed after the loss of Brandon Davies.  They open with last-place TCU today.

San Diego State still has just two losses this season, both to BYU, and might have a shot at a No. 1 seed if they can run the table this weekend and get some help.

And finally, Washington gets a third shot at in-state rival Washington State.  The Cougars swept the season series, and welcome Klay Thompson back to the lineup after a one-game suspension.  Washington lost three of its last four Pac 10 games, including home games to WSU and USC.

Below, Lauren Shehadi and I talk some more bubble.


Posted on: March 9, 2011 9:50 am
 

Mar. 9 - Bubble Talk

by Jerry Palm

Marquette and the Big 12 bubblers take the floor today in the last relatively quiet day of bubble action.  Lauren Shehadi and I talk Villanova, Marquette, Big 12 and A-10 in today's Bubble Watch.


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 7, 2011 6:00 pm
 

Bubble Talk

by Jerry Palm

Who are the teams in the major conferences that can play their way in or out of the NCAA Tournament this week? I join Lauren Shehadi to break it all down.


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 1:10 pm
 

Mar. 6 Bracket - Change at Both Ends

by Jerry Palm

Saturday was a day of change in the bracket at both ends.  At the top, Duke lost to North Carolina, giving the Tar Heels the ACC regular season title.  Quick show of hands - who had UNC winning the ACC regular season back in October.  Yeah, me neither.

That loss by the Blue Devils, combined with Notre Dame's win at Connecticut, has vaulted the Irish to the top line of the bracket.  For now.  In fact, just about ever sentence of this post could end with "for now."

Purdue missed the bus to Iowa, and whoever was wearing their uniforms instead lost to Iowa.  That is costly for the Boilers.  Not only did it cost them a shot at the Big Ten regular season title, but it knocks them out of realistic contention for a No. 1 seed and -- again, for now -- out of the Chicago sub-regional.

Ohio State will go through its coronation ceremony as Big Ten champs later today, but first there is the little matter of facing Wisconsin.   The Badgers are suddenly thrust into 1-seed contention, but would have to win out.  They could have three wins over the Buckeyes if they do so.

The other big game in the Big Ten saw Michigan complete the season sweep of Michigan State.   Despite their 16-13 record, there was still room for Sparty in the bracket in one of the First Four games.  They better do something in Indianapolis though if they hope to stay there.

That may still be true of the Wolverines also.  Just because they beat MSU twice doesn't mean they are safe. 

Also, in the ACC, Clemson knocked off Virginia Tech.   That created a space at the bottom of the bracket for the Tigers, but I believe the Hokies still have a better profile.

Which brings me to today's selection/seeding lesson -- head-to-head isn't decisive.  It is possible for Michigan St to get selected and Michigan left out for for the Spartans to be higher seeded, despite the season sweep by Michigan.  Teams get judged on their entire seasons.  Not just one or two games, as in the case of head-to-head, or even two-thirds, as in the case of conference performance.

Clemson is another example.  The Tigers beat both Boston College and Virginia Tech, but both at home.  They didn't have to travel to either place.  Clemson had a better day when it played each of those teams, but has not has as good a season overall, and that is how those teams are judged.

Louisville fans have also been upset to see the Cards seeded behind Syracuse despite a win over the Orange and being ahead in the conference standings before yesterday's loss at West Virginia.   Syracuse had a much better overall profile though.

Speaking of meaningless conference standings, Alabama picked up a much-needed win over Georgia to keep it's slim at-large hopes alive.  The Tide is going to need to do some serious damage in Atlanta to have any realistic shot at an at-large bid.

Washington lost at home again late last night, this time to USC.   The Huskies will face in-state rival Washington State in the conference tournament.  The Cougars swept UW this season.

Nobody's case for seeding or selection is done yet.  The conference tournaments will certainly have a impact.  Many teams in the middle of the major conference still have a lot of work yet to do.

One more bid will go out later today.  Missouri State looks to make its first tournament appearance since 1999 when it faces sixth-seeded Indiana State in the Missouri Valley final on CBS.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com