Monday, February 04, 2008

 

Super Monday Bracket

Less Than Six Weeks to Go

Bracket Number Four was a bit easier to put together than last week's edition, but there is a lot of shuffling going on in the world of college basketball that will make the next six weeks exciting and nerve-racking for fans across the country. UNC rejoins Memphis, Kansas, and Duke on the top line of the s-curve, but they should not feel comfortable there at all. They barely got by a typically fading Florida State team after losing star point guard Ty Lawson, who may not be available for the matchup with Duke in Chapel Hill Wednesday night. Tennessee drops back down to the 2-line, despite two road SEC wins. The Vols are joined by UCLA, Georgetown, and newcomer Wisconsin. The Badgers replace Indiana, who drops to the 3-line. The Hoosiers need to right the ship fast, and a win against Northwestern Sunday was a good start. Michigan State, and Xavier are still 3 seeds, and Stanford has jumped up to join them. Remember how I said the Cardinal were among a group of teams that needed to separate themselves to prove they deserved a protected seed? Sweeping the Washington schools this weekend was a good effort, and now the Cardinal are arguably the only team who can deprive UCLA of the Pac-10 regular season title. Washington State drops down to line 4 after being swept by the Bay Area schools. Louisville, Butler, and Texas are holding on to protected seeds at the moment. Pitt fell down to the 5 line. Watch for the Panthers, Drake, Marquette, and UConn to move up in the coming weeks.

Thoughts from the Wachovia Center

I drove up to Philadelphia on Saturday to see the Syracuse-Villanova game. I've seen the Orange twice this season in person and Nova four times (three times at the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving). SU is playing with a lot of heart right now, especially considering the personnel woes they face. (Josh Wright must be kicking himself right now for quitting the team.) I moved the Orange up to the 11 line this week, since their profile is still borderline, but looking better. The rough section of the Big East schedule awaits. The only sort of breather between here and MSG for the Orange is a road trip to South Florida next Wednesday. It's murderer's row outside of that.

I dropped Nova this week. Four straight league losses and 13th place in the Big East just isn't good enough, no matter what happened in the non-conference schedule. The Wildcats also have a lot of rough games ahead, starting with a Big Five clash with bracket newcomer St. Joe's tonight.

There are few newcomers this week. Outside of the Hawks and three new auto bids (Rider in the Metro Atlantic, Sacred Heart in the Northeast, and Portland State in the Big Sky), I went local. Maryland and George Mason make their debuts in the bracket. The Terps are starting to come together at the right time and Mason seems to have stopped their inconsistent play. The fact the Patriots beat VCU in their only regular season meeting helps their resume, which includes impressive non-conference wins over Dayton and Kansas State. (Sure they lost to East Carolina and Georgia State, but lots of teams have head-scratching losses this year.)

I do think there is room for movement in the at-large pool. Right now, the SEC and Big 12 both have six teams in, while the ACC and Pac-10 have four and five respectively. I think the chances of these numbers remaining the same in six weeks time is slim. If Arizona State gets hot again, Cal builds on their Washington sweep, and Oregon stops their slide, the Pac-10 could be back up to 6 or 7 bids. Virginia Tech and NC State are improving quickly and could add to the ACC's total. Ohio or Akron could give the MAC its first at-large in an eternity, while Illinois State could get back in if they knock of Drake this week. There's a lot of basketball to be played.

Bids by Conference
Big East - 9
Big 12 - 6
SEC - 6
Big Ten - 5
Pacific 10 - 5
ACC - 4
Atlantic 10 -4
Colonial - 2
West Coast - 2

New This Week
George Mason
Maryland
Rider (auto)
Portland State (auto)
Sacred Heart (auto)
Saint Joseph's

Out of the Bracket
Arizona State
Marist (auto)
Massachusetts
Northern Arizona (auto)
Villanova
Wagner (auto)

Last Four In
George Mason
Maryland
Saint Joseph's
Seton Hall

Last Four Out
Arizona State
Illinois State
Massachusetts
Ohio

Next Four Out
Brigham Young
California
NC State
Oregon

Also Considered
Akron
UAB
Boston College
Charlotte
Creighton
Duquesne
Houston
Miami (FL)
Missouri
New Mexico
Providence
San Diego State
Texas Tech
Villanova
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
Western Kentucky
Wright State

E-mail comments to orangegator13@yahoo.com.

In the future, I'd like to start regular mailbag columns. This will both let me see what you're thinking about the season and will give you some insight as to what I'm looking at (and for) when putting together each week's bracket.

Coming Thursday...the annual Banana Peel Report for one-bid leagues.

Comments:
Typically fading my ass. Two in a row against the Gators!
 
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