Monday, February 11, 2008


Five Weeks Away

This week's bracket features some major moves (and likewise some falls) at the top of the bracket and a certain level of stability at the bottom of the at-large pool, with only two new at-large entrants.

Change at the Top

Duke replaces Memphis as the number 1 overall team this week by a whisker. The win over North Carolina plays a major role in this, but so does the fact the Blue Devils are more regularly playing teams capable of giving them a game than the Tigers are. I don't really see this changing until Memphis plays Tennessee a week from Saturday. Speaking of the Vols, they replace UNC on the top line this week. Sunday morning, I was prepared to give the 4th one seed to UCLA. The Bruins promptly lost to a disappointing Washington team in Seattle. However, UCLA stays in the West region, where they would face Tennessee in the ideal regional final.

Stanford moves up to the 2 line, replacing Wisconsin. The Badgers drop after losing at home to Purdue and struggling at a bad Iowa team last week. The Cardinal are quietly putting together a nice run, winning seven Pac 10 games in a row. They are in position to more than make up for their embarrassing performance in last year's tournament. Georgetown holds steady on the 2 line, but there are two Big East teams breathing down their backs.

Louisville and Connecticut are making up for early season slip ups and find themselves on the 3 line. (In fact, the only reason the Cardinals didn't pass the Hoyas this week is their inconsistent play in the non-conference part of the season.) Xavier and the aforementioned Badgers are the other two 3 seeds.

The people of Des Moines can rejoice. Drake's impressive win at Redbird Arena (and overall winning streak) moves them into a protected seed spot. They have a huge game at SIU Wednesday night. Even though the Salukis are down, their fans will be up for this one. Indiana drops down to from the 3 line, while Butler and Texas hold steady on the 4 line. Michigan State and Washington State fall into the dreaded 5-12 game this week. Teams on the 4 line need to try to hold off Kansas State and Notre Dame. These two teams are really starting to come together right now. Michael Beasley and Bill Walker are really getting in a groove for the Wildcats and the Irish are winning the games they need to in the Big East.

At the bottom of the bracket, George Mason drops out after losing at Old Dominion. (This isn't 2006 or 2007, Patriots. And 25 point swings against conference opponents aren't helpful either.) Seton Hall also falls out after three straight conference losses, including one to Villanova in Philly, which broke the Wildcats five-game league losing streak. Arizona State comes back into the fold after completing a sweep with Arizona. Massachusetts becomes the fifth A10 team in the bracket this week as well based on their win over Rhode Island Thursday. The overtime loss at Temple Sunday made me think long and hard about including the Minutemen, but they're in for the moment.

Conference Breakdown
Big East - 8
Big 12 - 6
Pac 10 - 6
SEC - 6
Atlantic 10 - 5
Big 10 - 5
ACC - 4
West Coast - 2

Last Four In
Arizona State

Last Four Out
George Mason
Seton Hall

Next Four Out
Illinois State
NC State

Also Considered
San Diego State
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

New This Week
American (auto)
Arizona State
Belmont (auto)
BYU (auto)
Morgan State (auto)

Out of the Bracket
George Mason
Hampton (auto)
Jacksonville (auto)
Lafayette (auto)
UNLV (auto)
Seton Hall

E-mail me with comments or questions.

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