I'll save you the suspense and put my bracket guess at the top, with the explanation to follow. So here it is by seed, I won't bother embarrassing myself by putting them in regions:
1: UNC, Ohio St, Florida, UCLA
2: Wisconsin, Georgetown, Kansas, Pitt
3: Memphis, Texas A&M, Oregon, Texas
4: Southern Illinois, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Washington St
5: Louisville, Notre Dame, Tennessee, USC
6: UNLV, Marquette, Virginia, Creighton
7: Arizona, Nevada, Villanova, Boston College
8: Duke, Butler, Vandy, Xavier
9: BYU, Indiana, Michigan St, Kentucky
10: VCU, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, ODU
11: Winthrop, Syracuse, Illinois, Purdue
12: Drexel, Davidson, GW, Gonzaga
13: Wright St, New Mexico St, Miami(OH), Holy Cross
14: Albany, Long Beach, Penn, TAMU-CC
15: Niagra, Oral Roberts, Eastern Kentucky, Belmont
16: Central Conn St, North Texas, Weber St
16b: Jackson St, FAMU
Last 5 Out: Stanford, Kansas St, Missouri St, Texas Tech, Air Force
Some Comments On Today's Games:
- Kansas can earn a 1-seed by winning the Big 12. Wisconsin can earn a 1-seed by winning the Big 10. But it's inter-related. UNC and Ohio St are locks as 1-seeds regardless of the outcome today. Florida is a lock if they win the SEC tourney. If all three win, Kansas is the team stuck with the 2-seed. If Florida loses, it loses a 1-seed before UCLA. So it's still pretty fluid.
- If NC State wins, Drexel is out of the tourney. They are my last team in. Arkansas is in even with a loss.
- Northwestern St would save the Committee the PR disaster of a play-in game between two traditionally black colleges. The Committee has bent over backwards in previous years to prevent the all-black college play-in game, but FAMU and Jackson St are clearly the two worst teams in the tourney. Northwestern St would allow them to bump Jackson St to the 16-seed line. And Niagra would get TAMU-CC's 14-seed and North Texas would move up to the 15-seed.
All right, the bubble is ridiculously close right now. I've gone back and forth all weekend. So, let me explain my logic and I'll willingly concede I'm going to miss at least two, probably four.
Every team on the top 9 seed lines are locks, and all of the teams on the 13 seed line and below are auto qualifiers plus three 12-seeds, one 11-seed, and one 10-seed (maybe two if Arkansas wins). Add that up, and that leaves only seven at-large slots and plenty of viable candidates. Here's how I separated them, in order of how they are on my personal S-Curve
GEORGIA TECH (#52, 20-11)
The road record sucks and they were slightly below 500 in ACC play, but they finished strong and they are 8-9 vs. the RPI top 50. That's just a boatload of tough games.
ARKANSAS (#35, 21-12)
They played a tough OOC schedule, and they are finally above .500 in the SEC. Their road record is mitigated by going 6-1 on neutral courts. They are 5-4 vs. the RPI top 50 (which to me is the biggest guide, did you play good teams and did you beat them?)
OLD DOMINION (#40, 24-8)
Won the CAA regular season title. 9-1 in their last 10. Beat Georgetown in Georgetown. They have three really bad losses, but they have enough huge positives to outweigh that.
SYRACUSE (#51, 21-10)
11-7 in the Big East. I think that's what does it. The conference is brutal, and they won 11 games. The other peripherals are average at best (3-7 vs. the top 50), but you win in the Big East this year, you get in.
ILLINOIS (#29, 23-11)
No bad losses. They have a high RPI. And they scheduled a brutal OOC slate, something the Committee has long sressed. They should be rewarded for not ducking anyone.
PURDUE (#42, 21-11)
I'm actually not sold. I wouldn't put them in, but I'm hedging because so many people do. Their road record stinks, they played .500 in conference, and they are 3-6 vs. the top 50. Actually, I'm changing my mind again. I'm sticking to my guns and say they don't make it, they don't have the OOC slate that Illinois did and their win over the Illini was at home.
DREXEL (#39, 22-8)
13 road wins. I'm simply flabbergasted by that. TheCommittee tells the mid-majors to go on the road and play tough. Well, that's what Drexel did. If the Committee obeys their guidelines, Drexel's in.
Hey, I have a new team to put in Purdue's slot! Let's look at the contenders:
STANFORD (#63, 18-12)
The RPI freaks me out. 4-6 in the last 10, and the Committee loves teams they are hot. 4-8 vs. the top 50. Not enough to get in.
TEXAS TECH (#53, 21-12)
They lost by 20 with their tourney lives on the line. No real positives, but no negatives either. They are just decent on the road, in conference, out of conference, and vs. the top 50. That loss just kills me. And I still only have three Big 12 teams in, all seeded three or above.
KANSAS ST (#56, 22-11)
Play a team with a pulse. 2-6 vs. the top 50, but most importantly, their OOC schedule was a joke. Their best OOC win is USC. The second best is Tennessee Tech. That doesn't cut it. The Committee has routinely punished teams for lousy schedules. They won' buck the trend to help Bob Huggins.
MISSOURI ST (#36, 21-10)
13-7 in the Valley. 8-4 on the road. 1-7 vs. tourney teams. But that one is Wisconsin. I really want to put them in, but they really do lack marquee wins.
AIR FORCE (#30, 22-8)
They played their way out of the tourney by absolutely imploding down the stretch. they actuially have a nice profile, but they are in an absolute free fall.
FLORIDA ST (#41, 20-12)
Below 500 in conference. 4-6 in the last 10. 5-9 vs. the top 50. Does that sound like a tourney team to you?
APPALACHAIN ST (#59, 22-7)
3-2 vs. the top 50, but no games against the top 25. Nine road wins, a gaudy conference record. Didn't just lose those two games, they got crushed. Clemson beat them by 30, Virginia Tech by 32. OK, they beat VCU and Vandy narrowly. I would love to put them in, but I don't think the Committee will.
Looking at that group, I am reminded why I put Purdue in the field in the first place. Also, looking at those flawed profiles reminds me why the field does not need to expand past the current 65. The teams are tightly packed, and it really is a crapshoot right now.