NCAA Tournament Bracket – 3/9
The Thursday before Selection Sunday is akin to a frenetically prepared appetizer that gets us prepared for Selection Sunday. Every major conference will had four conference tournament games on Thursday, including the quarterfinals in the Big East, Pac 12, and Big 12, and the first round of the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC. They were joined by the MWC, MAC, WAC, Big West, Southland, MEAC, SWAC and Conference USA quarters as well. And the games did not dissapoint.
Two more overtime games and a huge upset (Louisville over Marquette) in the Big East moved Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Notre Dame into the Big East semifinals tonight. Cincinnati is unequivocally in the tournament at this point, while South Florida will have to sweat it out on the bubble after blowing a late lead to Notre Dame in the ugliest fashion possible.
The Pac 12 saw a similarly poor end game display, as Washington freshman Tony Wroten, who had 29 points on the day and had been 9-11 at the free throw line going into the final minute twice missed two consecutive free throws when down 1 point to Oregon State. Any of the four would have at least tied the game, but instead Washington saw their tournament chances slip out of their own hands with a bad quarterfinal loss to the Beavers.
One more bubble heartbreak came in the Big Ten. You almost had to know Northwestern’s bid to gain inclusion in the NCAA tournament would go down to the wire, and it did one better, progressing to overtime. But in the overtime period, the Minnesota Golden Gophers became public enemy number 1 as they knocked off the Wildcats and put Northwestern’s shaky resume in the hands of the selection committee.
Taking a look at the bracket, 40 teams should now feel very good about their inclusion, to go along with 11 automatic bids that have been captured at the bottom of the bracket. Let’s take a good look at seed lines 1-10:
|21||Nevada Las Vegas||39.49|
|30||San Diego St.||45.62|
Next, let’s look at the bubble picture. A number of bubble teams ended their seasons yesterday, while those still in their conference tournaments have big games on tap today. and most have very little margin for error as 25 teams fight for the final 12 spots (including the Big West and maybe WAC and CUSA conference automatic bids). Note the teams in bold have secured automatic bids by winning the CAA, Atlantic Sun, and Summit conferences. Washington is currently the last team in with Tennessee the first team out of the tournament.
|44||Long Beach St.||79.27||64.19%|
|50||North Carolina St.||82.79||52.03%|
|61||South Dakota St.||93.41||100.00%|
Let’s discuss by conference:
Here is the updated bracket, with secured automatic bids in bold.
|2||Duke||Michigan St.||Ohio St.||Missouri|
|5||Murray St.||Florida||Wichita St.||Louisville|
|6||St. Mary’s||Notre Dame||Nevada Las Vegas||Creighton|
|8||Kansas St.||St. Louis||Iowa St.||San Diego St.|
|11||Southern Mississippi||Virginia Commonwealth||South Florida||Long Beach St.|
|12||Drexel||Colorado St.||West Virginia||Miami FL|
|13||Xavier/NCSU||BYU/Washington||Belmont||South Dakota St.|
|15||Lehigh||Loyola MD||Long Island||NC Asheville|
|16||Norfolk St.||Stony Brook||Detroit||Lamar|
|16||Mississippi Valley St.||Western Kentucky|
|Next Four||Second Four Out||Bubble Fringe|
|Seton Hall||Mississippi St.||Central Florida|
In addition, the conference breakout is included below. The cutoff between virtual locks and teams just “comfortably in” as defined by a better than 98% chance of getting in is between Virginia and Cincinnati in the top table above. The next cutoff, which denotes which teams should feel comfortable with a greater than 75% chance of receiving a tournament bid occurs between VCU and South Florida. Of course VCU is in the tournament and I included USM in the bubble analysis above as a bad loss could be enough to knock them out. UConn, Cincinnati, and Texas should feel safe after yesterday and are now in the projected in category. “Lost Bids” denote those reserved for teams that could get into the NCAA tournament by winning their conference tournament that would not otherwise get an at-large bid, thus shrinking the number of available at-large bids for other teams. I’ve reserved 1 for the possibility of the Pac 12, SEC, CUSA, or A-10 resulting in a lost bid at this point. Odds are about 50/50 that one pops up somewhere over the next three days, with the Pac
10 12 being the most likely location.
|Current||Proj||Lock/Close||Proj. IN||Bubble In||Bubble Out||In Contention|
|Note: Conferences listed above with zero projected bids are included in auto bids.|