Monday, February 18, 2008


Four Weeks to Stake a Claim

Just about a month from today, millions of people across the country and around the world will start filling out brackets for fun (certainly not for financial gain, NCAA). In the next four weeks, we'll probably come to a better understanding of which 34 at-large teams will make the tournament. As for now, I think pretty much everyone is stumped. In fact, with some of the inconsistency in the middle of the major conferences, you could probably knock four at-larges out of the field and not have much of a problem. Unfortunately, we're still stuck with placing 65 teams in this week's bracket.

There's no change among the one seeds this week, but there is a slight shuffle in the order. Memphis passes Duke for the top overall spot. The Tigers are still unbeaten, and the Blue Devils drop after their Sunday night loss at bracket newcomer Wake Forest. Tennessee is now the number three overall seed, while Kansas drops to fourth. This makes the ideal semifinal matchups Memphis-Kansas and Duke-Tennessee.

Georgetown tumbles from the two line to the four line after their loss to Syracuse (which kept the Orange in the bracket...barely) and Texas moves up to replace them. The Longhorns now own wins over two one seeds (Kansas and Tennessee) and a two (UCLA) and along with the Bruins have the best chance to jump onto the top line. North Carolina and Stanford round out the two seeds.

No change among the three seeds as Connecticut, Louisville, Wisconsin, and Xavier stay steady. The aforementioned Hoyas lead off the four line, where they're joined by Big Ten leader Purdue (who moves up from a six seed) and holdovers Indiana and Drake. If the Boilermakers keep it up, they'll probably pass the Badgers soon. (Their non-conference slate is currently holding them back.)

As for the bubble, Florida drops out as a result of two losses this week. The close loss to Vanderbilt would have been OK by itself, but losing at home to LSU was unforgivable. The opposite is the case for Syracuse. The Orange stay in by following an unforgivable loss at South Florida with a good win at home over Georgetown. SU is still on life support, however. They likely will need a split at Louisville and Notre Dame this week to stay in. Mississippi falls out. Their conference struggles are hurting their computer numbers, not that their non-conference profile was that great to begin with. Oregon jumps in, despite being very up and down lately. Arizona State and Dayton are hanging on at the moment after splitting their two games this week. The Sun Devils beat Stanford, but lost to Cal; the Flyers lost to Duquesne and beat Temple.

There are also two Sun Belt teams in the field this week. Western Kentucky plays South Alabama in Bowling Green on Thursday with the regular season title on the line. The Hilltoppers have the auto bid this week, since the Jaguars dropped a game to Middle Tennessee. South Alabama stays in as an at-large, even with a close loss to Mississippi. They've beaten Mississippi State and the fact that they've been winning games when teams like Florida and Mississippi aren't helps them. The Jags will probably be the only Sun Belt team in next week if they win on Thursday night.

Coming on Thursday, a BracketBusters preview.

Conference Breakdown
Big East - 8
Pac 10 - 7
Big 12 - 6
Big 10 - 5
ACC - 5
SEC - 4
Atlantic 10 - 4
Sun Belt - 2
West Coast - 2

New This Week
Boise State (auto)
Wagner (auto)
Wake Forest
Western Kentucky (auto) (Note: South Alabama is in as an at-large.)
Winthrop (auto)

Out of the Bracket
UNC Asheville (auto)
Sacred Heart (auto)
Utah State (auto)

Last Four In

South Alabama
Wake Forest

Last Four Out

Next Four Out
George Mason

Also Considered
Illinois State
New Mexico
Seton Hall
Virginia Tech

E-mail me with comments or questions.

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