Sunday, January 20, 2008


Results of an Interesting Week

Here is Bracket Number Two.

Little Change at the Top

Despite the interesting results of the past week, very little has changed. However, there is now some hope for those teams on line 2 that hope to break the Memphis, Kansas, UNC, UCLA monopoly on the top line. (Notice the change in the order.) The teams on the second line that stand to benefit the most are Duke and Tennessee. As the loss to Maryland and close call at Georgia Tech proved, the Heels are beatable. The Blue Devils have two chances to do this on the schedule. Tennessee still has to go to Memphis. With apologies to an inconsistent Gonzaga team, the Vols have the best chance to end the Tigers hopes of a perfect season. The 2 line can also take solace in USC's win over UCLA at Pauley on Saturday. Chinks are emerging in the armor of the top four. It's far too early in the season to think that this line will remain intact for the next eight weeks.

Line 2 remains the same as last week, with the Vols and Blue Devils joined by Georgetown and Michigan State. Washington State, Xavier, and Indiana remain on line 3. Wisconsin replaces an inconsistent Texas, however. The Longhorns are now a 4 seed, along with Dayton and newcomers Butler and Pitt, jumping up from last week's five line. Texas A&M's two blowout losses this week and Marquette's no-show at UConn today send them down to the 5 line.

Flux in the Middle

Lines 5 through 12 this week really illustrate some of the inconsistency teams showcased over the past 7 days. For starters, four at-larges fell out after lackluster weeks, while another is perilously close to falling out based on some early road struggles in the conference. Florida State is gone after three straight conference losses. So is Arkansas, since the Hogs dropped consecutive games to the two worst teams in the SEC East. A home loss to newcomer Providence did UConn in (even with a win over Marquette earlier today). The nonconference schedule and two conference losses in a row put the Huskies out, but they could easily be back next week after games with Cincinnati and Indiana. St. Joseph's fell out thanks to a loss to Charlotte. UMass replaces the Hawks after beating Dayton at UD Arena and the aforementioned 49ers yesterday. USC gets in thanks to the big road win at UCLA, which showed that they weren't that far off in the non-conference. Louisville also joins the bracket this week, all the way up on the 7 line. The Cardinals are healthy and becoming dangerous...just ask Marquette. The loss to Seton Hall Saturday is the only thing that really kept them from moving up.

Syracuse needs to watch it. I fear I'll see a bad loss at the Verizon Center tomorrow night. Things won't get any easier for the Orange though, as another bubble team, Providence, visits the Dome Sunday. SU will need to avoid the foul trouble that cost them against Villanova yesterday to get even a split out of this week.

Several teams showed this week that they may be ready to make big moves in the coming weeks. Stanford got a big home sweep of the Arizona schools to get onto the 6 line. They have a very important game with archrivals Cal on Saturday, where the Bears post players should give the Lopez brothers a huge challenge. Arizona State looks more like they're for real after getting a split in the Bay Area. They should move up further if they can do well this weekend (beat UW and play WSU close). The Cougar-Sun Devil game Saturday could be a slugfest. Baylor is currently unbeaten in the Big 12, but the Bears have so far faced some of the conferences lesser lights. Dates at A&M and hosting Oklahoma this week will tell us more about this team.

Meanwhile, if it's January, it must be time for certain ACC teams to start their mid-season swoon. Clemson is 3-3 since the beginning of the year and Miami 2-2 in that same timespan. Both are now on the 9 line. These are two teams in the mix for 3rd place behind UNC and Duke, but they haven't quite proved they can play with the big boys.

My internet connection is currently acting up, so I'm going to cut this post short. To close, here is the key information for this week's bracket.

Bids by Conference
Big East - 9
Pacific 10 - 7
ACC - 5
Big 12 - 5
Atlantic 10 -4
Big Ten - 4
SEC - 4
Horizon - 2
Missouri Valley -2
West Coast - 2

New This Week
Alabama State (auto)
Cornell (auto)
Davidson (auto)
Maryland-Baltimore County (auto)
Northern Arizona (auto)
Quinnipiac (auto)
Siena (auto)
Southern California
Stephen F. Austin (auto)
Virginia Commonwealth (auto)

Out of the Bracket
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (auto)
Chattanooga (auto)
Dartmouth (auto)
Delaware (auto)
Florida State
Idaho State (auto)
Northwestern State (auto)
Saint Joseph's
Stephen F. Austin (auto)
Wagner (auto)

Last Four In
Illinois State

Last Four Out
George Mason
Kansas State

Next Four Out
Florida State
NC State

Also Considered
Brigham Young
Mississippi State

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