Monday, February 6, 2012

2/6/12 Bracket

Selection Sunday is five weeks away.
Here is the latest projection of what the field will be on March 11.
New to the blog this week: "Why They're In" analysis for the Last 4 teams in: NC State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh & St. Joseph's.  As usual, we break down each team with a 1 through 4 seed.

Be sure to check out all the brackets in the Bracket Matrix:

1 seeds: Syracuse, Kentucky, Ohio St, Missouri

Syracuse crushed St. Johns at Madison Square Garden on Saturday in a warm-up for two big home games against Georgetown & UConn this week.  Kentucky continues to dominate lower-tier SEC teams, but their schedule gets considerably tougher as Florida comes to Rupp, and the Cats travel to Vandy Saturday.  Upset pick of the week: Look for Vandy to pull off the upset.  Ohio St. picked up a very solid road win at Wisconsin on Saturday, a place where they hadn't won since 2000.  Missouri beat Kansas in an emotional thriller on Saturday night, but better not look past Oklahoma in Norman on Monday.

2 seeds: North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan St, Baylor

North Carolina picked up two road wins against Wake & Maryland last week.  This week they welcome Duke & Virginia to Chapel Hill. Kansas battled Missouri down to the wire Saturday night, but does not have time to sulk because they face Baylor on the road Wednesday. Michigan St. improved to 7-3 in the Big 10, and will travel to Ohio St. on Saturday night in a huge conference battle. Baylor quietly picked up two road wins this week at Texas A&M and Ok. St.  Next week will go a long way to determine their seeding as they welcome Kansas to town, then travel to Missouri.

3 seeds: Duke, Florida, UNLV, Florida St

While it may seem odd, Duke is simply not deserving of anything better than a 3 seed. They haven't beat a team in the top 35 of the RPI since the first week of December and historically teams that earn 1 & 2 seeds in March don't lose at home twice during conference play very often.  Florida has won 7 in a row, but will now face the meat of their SEC schedule, starting with a trip to Kentucky on Tuesday. UNLV lost at the buzzer to Wyoming on Saturday, but will get a chance to bounce back when San Diego St comes to town this week.  As I've said before, their neutral court win over North Carolina will keep them in the hunt for a very impressive seed.  Florida St. is one of the hottest teams in the country winning 7 in a row, beating North Carolina & Duke.  This week they travel to BC, then face the suddenly on the bubble Miami (FL) team.

4 seeds: St. Mary's, Marquette, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt

St. Mary's is 11-0 in an underrated West Coast Conference.  The Gaels will really have a chance to improve their seeding with a game at Gonzaga on Feb. 9 and a Bracketbusters trip to undefeated Murray St on Feb 18. Marquette was taken behind the wood shed by a hot Notre Dame team on Saturday, but still has an 8-3 Big East record, and a very manageable schedule the rest of the way. Wisconsin continues to be very stingy on defense, but is really struggling offensively of late. The Badgers are shooting only 22% from three point land in their last three games - not a good sign for a team that relies heavily on perimeter shooting.  Vanderbilt had a two loss week, but will have a chance to bounce back when they welcome Kentucky to town Saturday night.  This will be the type of game that can affect their seeding by 2-3 spots come March.

5 seeds: Creighton, Georgetown, Michigan, Murray St.

6 seeds: West Virginia, Indiana, Notre Dame, San Diego St

7 seeds: Iowa St, Wichita St, Temple, Miss. St

8 seeds: Louisville, Virginia, Harvard, Washington

9 seeds: Kansas St, Illinois, UConn, Alabama

10 seeds: California, Gonzaga, S. Miss, New Mexico

11 seeds: Memphis, Colorado St, Purdue, BYU

12 seeds: Oral Roberts, Minnesota, St. Louis, Davidson

13 seeds: NC State/Ole Miss, Pittsburgh/St. Joseph's, Middle Tenn, VCU

14 seeds: Cleveland St, Iona, Long Beach St, Nevada

15 seeds: Belmont, Bucknell, Weber St, Ohio

16 seeds: Norfolk St, Vermont, Southern Univ/Coastal Carolina, Lamar/Wagner

Last Four In: NC State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's

Why they are in:
NC State has wins over fellow bubble teams Texas & Miami (FL) which have them in for now, but they have plenty of work to do.  Ole Miss also has wins over bubble teams Miami (FL), Arkansas & Miss. St, but will need to get a marquee win down the stretch to remain in the field.  Pittsburgh is probably the toughest team in the country to seed.  They started out 0-7 in the Big East, but then star point guard Tray Woodall returned from injury and Pitt has beat WVU & Georgetown in the past week.  With Woodall in the lineup the Panthers are 9-2 and a tournament team.  St. Joseph's has a very solid RPI of 45 & SOS of 28, which includes wins over Creighton, Dayton, Villanova & Drexel

First Four Out: Miami (FL), Wyoming, Xavier, Arkansas

Next Four Out: Northwestern, Seton Hall, UMass, Texas,

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