Michigan State had itself a pretty nice week. Tuesday night, the Spartans played themselves onto the bubble with a win at home over No. 5 Illinois. Just 48 hours later, they followed that up with a win over No. 4 Ohio State. Now, MSU is in Friday's bracket.
The Spartans are among the last four teams in, so they are still comfortably on the bubble, but a week ago, few thought we would talk about Michigan State as a potential tournament team because the schedule looked too daunting. So much for that idea.
The NET has not been as kind to the Spartans. Michigan State only moved up six spots, from 81st to 75th, after the win over the Illini. The Spartans only moved up seven more spots to 68th with the win over OSU.
And just in case you still think margin of victory is not much of a factor in the NET, when North Carolina smoked Louisville by 45 points on Saturday, the Tar Heels jumped 20 places in the NET rankings, from 53rd to 33rd. Michigan State won its two games by a combined 13 points.
Ohio State stays a No. 1 seed
At the top of the bracket, Ohio State remains as the fourth No. 1 seed largely because nobody stepped up to take it from them. Among the teams right behind them, not only did Illinois lose this week, but so did Alabama and Oklahoma.
Villanova is also a No. 2 seed and the Wildcats won their game, but still have not been able to put together a resume strong enough to challenge for the top. The relative weakness of the Big East is not helping them.
Bracketology top seeds
Check out Palm's latest bracket, full field of 68 and all the teams on the bubble on the Bracketology hub.
Creighton's weird resume
Another Big East team has one of the strangest tournament resumes I have ever come across. Creighton is 10-2 against the top two quadrants, with one of the losses being a one-point loss at Kansas. They are a perfect 8-0 against the five other highest rated teams in the NET in conference play, but 2-4 against the four teams below that. The Bluejays have three Q3 losses and the Q2 loss is a road loss at Butler that will likely bounce back and forth over that line.
Teams with four bad losses do not often make the tournament, let alone get good seeds. Yet, the top of their resume dictates that they should be in the top half somewhere and a re a No. 5 seed in the latest bracket.
NCAA releases contingency plans
On Thursday, the NCAA announced a contingency plan in the event teams have to drop out of the tournament or consideration for it due to COVID-related issues.
Before the bracket is released, a league can replace its automatic qualifier if it is determined to be unable to participate in the tournament. If a potential at-large team has to drop out, the committee needs to be notified by 11 p.m. ET on the day before Selection Sunday.
After that time, and up to 48 hours after the bracket is announced, if a team from a one-bid league has to drop out, that conference can name a replacement and that team will go into the previous team's spot in the bracket.
If a multi-bid league loses a team, it will be replaced by the highest ranked team by the committee from among the first four out in the same spot in the bracket. Those teams are typically the first four seeds in the NIT and still will be if they are not used to fill in holes in the bracket.
Note that once the bracket is announced, it will not change except to replace a team with another in the same spot. There will be no shuffling of seeds. And after 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, no teams will be replaced. If someone has to drop out, that is just a hole in the bracket. The other team in that game advances.
The committee really couldn't do much else. They cannot make last-second replacements due to travel, testing and game prep for each team. And once the tournament starts, you just have to roll with it. They cannot very well replace a team in the Sweet 16.
And the committee had to have something of a plan because it is likely to get implemented. It is not reasonable to expect that the committee will be able to select and seed the tournament with the teams they would like and be able to get all 67 games played without an issue. I hope that's the case, but it just does not seem realistic.
Covid-19 already affecting conference tournaments
We are already seeing difficultly getting full fields for conference tournaments. Charleston Southern was forced to withdraw from the Big South Tournament due to COVID issues within the program.
Another school in that city, Charleston of the Colonial Athletic Association, had to cancel the rest of its regular season although it is hopeful to still be able to participate in the conference tournament, which begins Mar. 6.
If Charleston can participate, it will not have played in 15 days. That will be the sixth-longest gap between games among the ten teams in the league. Delaware and UNC Asheville have not played since Jan. 31. Three others have been sitting out since mid-February.
In the West Coast Conference, Portland had to cancel the rest of its regular season Thursday. The Pilots are questionable for the conference tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Mar. 4.
And if you have been following the news, we still do not have any word as to whether or not Gonzaga and BYU will participate in that tournament. Friday is the deadline for conferences to notify the NCAA how they will choose their automatic qualifier.
One of the most difficult things when doing brackets this season is comparing teams with a disparate number of games. For example, in the middle of this bracket, you will see Xavier and Colorado on the same line. It is not easy to compare one team that has 18 wins (and 7 losses) with another that has only played 17 games.
Starting Friday, the bracket will get updated daily if an update needs to be made.