Projecting the Field of 65: Dec. 22

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Projecting the Field of 65: Dec. 22
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And then there were eight.

Three more undefeated teams were knocked off this past week when Temple beat Seton Hall, Old Dominion shocked Georgetown, and Texas Tech fell at Wichita State.

That leaves just eight unbeaten schools remaining in Division 1.  We all know they'll be in my field of 65 (because this isn't college football), but what other 57 squads make my fourth projection of the season?

As always, I am not trying to guess how teams will finish the year; I am simply seeding them based on their current résumés.

I like to break teams down into three categories.

"Wallflowers" are bubble teams because everyone wants to get into the Big Dance, but not all have the guts to ask a girl out onto the dance floor.

Elite teams are safely in the field—"Dancing with a hottie"—and in the middle are the schools that are "Dancing with their sister."

 

ACC

Dancing with a Hottie: North Carolina (2 seed), Duke (2)

Dancing with Their Sister: Georgia Tech (8), Wake Forest (8)

Wallflowers: Florida State (9), North Carolina State (10), Clemson (11), Virginia Tech (third out),  Maryland (13th out), Miami (18th out)

Florida State has been busy this past week.  On Tuesday, the Seminoles beat Georgia State, they took down Auburn on Thursday, opened up conference play with a big win at Georgia Tech on Sunday, and tonight they host winless Tennessee-Martin.  All of that bumps FSU up one seed line.

Virginia Tech actually hurt itself with its last win over RPI No. 287 Charleston Southern.  That game dropped the Hokies' strength of schedule to 175 and their RPI currently stands at 45.  Va Tech's only loss is to Temple, which is safely in the field, but with its best win coming over No. 99 Georgia, the Hokies need to beat some better schools before getting into the tournament.  Doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon as Tech's next two contests are against teams ranked in the 300s.

 

Big East

Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (1), West Virginia (2), Connecticut (3), Villanova (4)

Dancing with Their Sister: St. John's (6), Georgetown (7)

Wallflowers: Marquette (12), Seton Hall (12), Pittsburgh (sixth out), Louisville (16h out), Cincinnati (17th out)

The Hoyas took a big hit when they were upset at home by Old Dominion.  Georgetown's RPI dropped from 15 to 28 and they have another surprisingly strong non-conference game against Harvard on Wednesday.

The Ivy League already picked up a nice win over the Big East last week, when Cornell upended St. John's at Madison Square Garden.  The Red Storm's computer numbers (RPI 13, SOS 15) are still solid, though.

Seton Hall benefited from the Big Red's victory over St. John's.  Even though the Pirates picked up their first loss to Temple, they remain in the field on the improved strength of their Nov. 20 win at Cornell.

 

Big Ten

Dancing with a Hottie: Purdue (2)

Dancing with Their Sister: Michigan State (5), Wisconsin (6), Ohio State (7)

Wallflowers: Northwestern (10), Minnesota (15th out)

Michigan State's seed took a hit this week when Richmond beat Florida (a team the Spartans lost to) and MSU played No. 255 IPFW. 

Illinois had some momentum going with wins over Clemson and Vanderbilt, but a loss at Georgia removes the No. 110 Illini from any consideration at this time.

 

Big XII

Dancing with a Hottie: Texas (1), Kansas (1), Texas A&M (3), Kansas State (4)

Dancing with Their Sister: Oklahoma State (6)

Wallflowers: Texas Tech (9)

Texas Tech's two-point loss at Wichita State was its first of the season, dropping the Red Raiders from 26 to 36 in the RPI and from a 4 to a 9 seed.

Kansas State, meanwhile, continues to just win games and climb the RPI to its current spot in third.  The Wildcats are already an incredible 5-1 vs. the top 50.

 

Pac-10

Dancing with Their Sister: California (7), Washington (8)

Wallflowers: Washington State (19th out)

The Big XII/Pac-10 Hardwood Series continues this week with a couple games that will tell us if the Pac-10 has any chance of advancing a team to the Sweet 16 in March.  Cal travels to top-ranked Kansas and Washington hosts Texas A&M.

 

SEC

Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (1), Florida (4), Mississippi (4)

Wallflowers: Tennessee (10), Mississippi State (11), Vanderbilt (11th out), South Carolina (12th out)

Outside of Kentucky, it wasn't a very good week for the SEC.  On the same day, Florida lost to Richmond at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla., and Tennessee got blown out by 22 at No. 143 USC. 

The Volunteers' defeat was far worse because UT's best win is over Austin Peay.  No matter what the polls may have you believe, Tennessee is not one of the top 25 teams in the country.

Five weeks after suffering a shocking opening game loss at home to Rider, Mississippi State enters the field for the first time thanks to a six-game winning streak and two of the teams it played picking up big wins (Richmond def. Florida, ODU def. Georgetown).

 

Mid-Majors

Dancing with a Hottie: New Mexico (3), Temple (3)

Dancing with Their Sister: UNLV (5), Dayton (5), Missouri State (5), Tulsa (6), Butler (7), Gonzaga (8)

Wallflowers: William & Mary (9), Cornell (9), Charlotte (10), VCU (11), Harvard (11), Richmond (12), Southern Miss (12), Siena (13), Old Dominion (first out), Wichita State (second out), Rhode Island (fourth out), St. Mary's (fifth out), Northern Iowa (seventh out), UAB (eighth out), San Diego State (ninth out), Xavier (10th out), Portland (14th out)

Temple continues to be one of the most surprising teams in the country.  Already with wins over Siena, Virginia Tech and Villanova, the Owls picked up another nice win at Seton Hall.  Temple is now 2nd in the RPI and has the third best strength of schedule in the country.

Butler picked up a very controversial and important win over Xavier on Saturday.  After regaining possession on a questionable jump ball call, the Bulldogs scored with 1.2 seconds left to take a one-point lead.  But during the possession, the home clock temporarily stopped for no reason, putting into question whether or not Butler got the shot off in time.  Not only did the officials decide that the basket was good, but they erased the final 1.2 seconds, denying the Musketeers a chance at a final shot.  The Selection Committee will have to take that finish into account if Xavier is on the bubble come March.

VCU hopped into the field thanks to Richmond's win over Florida.  The Rams, who beat the Spiders on Dec. 12, saw their RPI jump to 18.

 

 

Automatic Bids

13 seeds: Western Carolina, IUPUI, Long Beach State

14 seeds: Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, Radford, Buffalo

15 seeds: Louisiana Tech, Montana, Morgan State, UTSA

16 seeds: Army, Sacred Heart, Vermont, Texas Southern, Belmont

 

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book  Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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