By Zach Hayes, Rush the Court.
Last Four In: Xavier, Miami, BYU, South Florida
First Four Out: Northwestern, VCU, Oregon, Arizona
Next Four Out: St. Joseph’s, Dayton, NC State, UCF
(italics indicates auto bid)
1 Seeds: Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, Kansas
2 Seeds: Michigan State, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio State
3 Seeds: Baylor, Michigan, Georgetown, Marquette
4 Seeds: Indiana, Wisconsin, Wichita State, Florida State
5 Seeds: Vanderbilt, Louisville, Temple, Murray State
6 Seeds: Florida, UNLV, Notre Dame, San Diego State
7 Seeds: New Mexico, Creighton, Gonzaga, Purdue
8 Seeds: Iowa State, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State, Cincinnati
9 Seeds: Alabama, Memphis, Southern Miss, Saint Louis
10 Seeds: Virginia, California, Harvard, Seton Hall
11 Seeds: Long Beach State, West Virginia, Connecticut, Washington
12 Seeds: Mississippi State, Texas, Colorado State, South Florida, BYU
13 Seeds: Miami, Xavier, Oral Roberts, Iona, Drexel
14 Seeds: Middle Tennessee, Nevada, Akron, Davidson
15 Seeds: Belmont, Valparaiso, Montana, UT-Arlington
16 Seeds: Bucknell, LIU-Brooklyn, UNC-Asheville, Stony Brook, Mississippi Valley, Savannah State
Bubble Games This Weekend
Saturday: Pittsburgh at Connecticut- The Huskies would fall out of Monday’s bracket with a home loss to reeling Pitt. Even with their #36 RPI, #2 SOS and five wins over the RPI top-50, I can’t include a team sitting at four games below .500 in league play and losers of 10 of their last 13 games.
Saturday: West Virginia at South Florida- The biggest bubble game on the slate this weekend. The Bulls entered the field with their huge road win Wednesday at Louisville while the Mountaineers have lost seven of 10 to fall perilously close to the bubble.
Saturday: Washington at UCLA- Washington is in as the Pac-12′s automatic bid, but their resume doesn’t include a single victory over a team currently projected in the field. Even if they win the conference’s regular season crown, an at-large is far from guaranteed.
Saturday: Cincinnati at Villanova- Despite their horrid RPI and non-conference SOS, the Bearcats are almost off the bubble after blowing out Marquette for their sixth win over an RPI top-50 opponent. A loss in Philly would negate some of the good will collected on Wednesday.
Saturday: Charlotte at Xavier- Somehow losing to a Charlotte team with a #169 RPI and 5-10 A-10 record would obviously knock Xavier out of Monday’s bracket.
Saturday: Northwestern at Iowa- An absolute must win for Northwestern at an arena where Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana have fallen. The victory over Michigan State and a healthy SOS can only keep the Wildcats on the bubble for so long.
Saturday: Colorado State at Air Force- The Rams have now beaten Mountain West powers UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State at home. But a loss to Air Force would knock their road record down to a pathetic 2-10 overall with their best win at #150 RPI UTEP.
Saturday: Alabama at Ole Miss- The #29 RPI, #16 SOS and 20-9 (9-6) overall record appears stellar, but the only meat on Alabama’s resume is two November neutral court wins over Wichita State and Purdue. A loss to Ole Miss would push the Tide down a seed line and force them to do some work at the SEC Tournament.
Saturday: Arkansas at Mississippi State- The Bulldogs narrowly avoided a disastrous loss at South Carolina. The Hogs have one road win the entire season at Auburn, so a stumble here would be incredibly damaging.
Saturday: Seton Hall at DePaul- The Blue Demons have given Georgetown, Marquette and Louisville battles in Rosemont. Hall has to avoid this tricky roadblock to feel semi-comfortable heading into the Big East Tournament. A loss likely drops them to last four in territory.
Saturday: Harvard at Cornell- I don’t believe Harvard gets in as an at-large with just one top-50 victory (FSU, neutral) on their resume and their next best wins over UCF and St. Joe’s. They need to hold off Penn and collect that Ivy auto bid.
Saturday: Texas at Kansas- If the Longhorns somehow pull off the upset of the year, they can buy dancing shoes.
Saturday: BYU at Gonzaga- The Cougars are much closer to the NIT than most realize with a #45 RPI, #103 SOS and only one win over a projected NCAA Tournament team (Gonzaga at home). They first need to beat San Diego to earn another shot at the Zags.
Saturday: Utah at Oregon- An absolute must win to stay in the potential at-large pool.
Saturday: George Washington at Dayton- Ditto.
Sunday: Virginia at Maryland- Don’t look now, but Virginia is a soft 21-7 with only one top-40 RPI win over Michigan at home back in November. They also beat Miami by one in Charlottesville. Their seed is plummeting and this is a dangerous road game.
Sunday: Arizona at Arizona State and NC State at Virginia Tech- See: Oregon.
Sunday: CAA Semifinals- VCU and Drexel are the only halfway decent at-large candidates out of this league. Both have fantastic records but lack the one or two quality wins that bubble teams Miami, Texas, Xavier, BYU, USF, Colorado State and others boast. VCU’s win over USF is looking increasingly valuable.
Sunday: California at Stanford- The Bears wouldn’t drop out of the field with a loss at rival Stanford, but it will relegate them to 11/12 seed territory.