March Madness 2014: Field of 68 Projection for Dec. 16
Not a whole lot of action across the country last week with finals upon us, but there were some results that shifted teams up or down the projected seed lines.
I like to break teams down into three categories:
1. Wallflowers are bubble teams. Everyone wants to get into the Big Dance, but not all of them have the guts to ask a girl out onto the dance floor.
2. An elite team that is safely in is "Dancing with a Hottie."
3. A school in the middle is "Dancing with Its Sister."
I'll begin with the first four at-large bid games:
(12a) UAB vs. (12d) Florida State
(12b) Minnesota vs. (12c) California
First 11 Teams Out: Indiana, Cincinnati, VCU, BYU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, Butler, Richmond, Pacific, Princeton
The projections are presented in slideshow format, with each major conference receiving its own slide.
First up is the ACC.
Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (1 seed), North Carolina (2)
Dancing with Its Sister: Duke (5), Pittsburgh (7)
Wallflowers: Virginia (10), Florida State (12d)
Syracuse's lone game of the week was a 68-63 win over St. John's at the Garden. The Orange trailed by two late in the second half, but senior forward C.J. Fair hit some clutch shots down the stretch to put SU back in front, en route to his total 21 points. Freshman guard Tyler Ennis also had 21.
It's hard to find a team with three better wins than UNC's victories over Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky. The Tar Heels beat the Wildcats on Saturday night, but they still have those losses to Belmont and UAB on their resume.
Duke was idle this past week, but the Blue Devils slipped a bit because a team they lost to (Kansas) fell at Florida. Duke doesn't have a single top-100 win, and Coach K's bunch is ranked just 61st in the early RPI.
Pittsburgh continued to beat up on cupcakes to remain among the 14 last unbeatens in America.
Big East (4)
Dancing with a Hottie: Villanova (3)
Wallflowers: Marquette (9), Creighton (10), Georgetown (12), Butler (fifth team out)
With other bubble teams losing, Georgetown, riding a five-game winning streak, moves into the field. The Hoyas have lost to Oregon and Northeastern, but defeated VCU.
Butler sneaks closer to the field after a win over Purdue in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs have still lost to Oklahoma State and LSU, and their best win is over Princeton.
Big Ten (7)
Dancing with a Hottie: Ohio State (1), Wisconsin (1), Michigan State (2)
Dancing with Its Sister: Iowa (6), Michigan (8)
Wallflowers: Illinois (11), Minnesota (12b), Indiana (first team out)
Iowa suffered a tough 85-82 loss at rival Iowa State on Friday, but the Hawkeyes remain on the 6-line because the Cyclones are undefeated and ranked 13th in the RPI.
Michigan moves up despite losing its only game last week because the team that beat the Wolverines was the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats, and Michigan had a very good shot at winning that game.
Illinois also benefits after a loss because there's no shame in falling to undefeated Oregon in Portland.
Minnesota moves into the field following a nondescript victory over South Dakota State. The Gophers' RPI of 57 is just barely in the acceptable range, though they did have a nice win at Richmond.
Indiana slides out of the field this week after losing to Notre Dame in Indy. The Hoosiers don't have a top-100 win and are ranked 90th in the RPI.
Big 12 (6)
Dancing with a Hottie: Baylor (2), Oklahoma State (4)
Dancing with Its Sister: Iowa State (5), Kansas (5)
Wallflowers: Texas (11), Oklahoma (11)
Iowa State picked up its third significant win of the season on Friday, knocking off rival Iowa at home. The other two big wins came against Michigan and BYU.
Not many were expecting Kansas to have three losses already, but that's exactly where the Jayhawks stand after falling at Florida on Tuesday. They bounced back with a nice win over New Mexico, and KU has outstanding computer numbers (RPI 4, SOS 1).
Texas and Oklahoma both moved up to No. 11 seeds this past week as each of their five-game winning streaks got them into the Top 40.
Dancing with a Hottie: Arizona (1), Colorado (3), Oregon (4)
Dancing with Its Sister: UCLA (6)
Wallflower: Arizona State (9), California (12c)
Oregon's 71-64 victory over Illinois was its third top-50 win of the season. The undefeated Ducks are ranked sixth in the RPI.
Let's welcome Cal to the field, moving in following two wins last week. The Bears' three losses all came against top-27 teams, and they have a nice win over Arkansas.
Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (3)
Dancing with Its Sister: Florida (5), Missouri (6)
Wallflowers: Arkansas (fifth team out), Ole Miss (sixth team out), LSU (seventh team out)
Kentucky's third loss of the year came at North Carolina on Saturday. The good news is that all three setbacks have come against good teams: Michigan State, Baylor and UNC.
Florida's win over Kansas was the Gators' first top-100 win.
Arkansas, Ole Miss and LSU are all within striking distance. They each have two losses and an RPI between 35-41. The problem is the Razorbacks lost to fellow bubbler Cal, the Rebels lost to No. 175 Kansas State and while the Tigers don't have any bad losses, their only top-100 win is over Butler.
Mountain West (3)
Dancing with Its Sister: San Diego State (7), New Mexico (7), Boise State (8)
There's no shame in New Mexico's loss to Kansas in Kansas City.
Boise State, meanwhile, had two shots to pick up resume-building wins this past week, but dropped both of them to Kentucky and Saint Mary's.
Atlantic 10 (4)
Dancing with Its Sister: UMass (6), Dayton (8)
Wallflowers: Saint Louis (9), George Washington (10), VCU (third team out), Richmond (ninth team out)
VCU fell out of the field after losing at Northern Iowa. That's the Rams' third setback versus a team ranked 75th or lower in the RPI.
Richmond is on the radar with a 58th ranked RPI and a win over Belmont.
American Athletic (3)
Dancing with a Hottie: Louisville (2), Memphis (4), Connecticut (4)
Wallflowers: Cincinnati (second team out)
Cincy's 17-point loss to Xavier knocks the Bearcats from the field. They are 104th in the RPI without a top-100 win.
Other Conferences (8)
Dancing with a Hottie: Wichita State (3)
Dancing with Its Sister: Harvard (7), Saint Mary's (8), Gonzaga (9)
Wallflowers: Charlotte (10), Southern Miss (11), Belmont (12), UAB (12a), BYU (fourth team out), Pacific (10th team out), Princeton (11th team out)
Wichita State moved its record to 9-0 with a solid win over Tennessee on Saturday. The Shockers are ranked 12th in the RPI.
Saint Mary's undefeated mark carries a bit more weight following a victory at Boise State. The Gaels are 11th in the RPI.
The momentum of Belmont's win over North Carolina is all but gone after the Bruins' loss at South Dakota State. Their at-large hopes are very remote at this point, but they should still earn an automatic bid.
BYU loses its spot after falling at Utah. The Cougars have four losses, but that was their first bad one.
No. 13 Seeds: Drexel, North Dakota State, Toledo, UCSB
No. 14 Seeds: Mercer, La-Lafayette, Bryant, Bucknell
No. 15 Seeds: SFA, Manhattan, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, New Mexico State
No. 16 Seeds: Winthrop, Elon, Norfolk State vs. Northern Colorado, Stony Brook vs. Alabama State
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