Projecting the Field of 65: Jan. 11
The biggest story in college basketball this week was a short-handed Tennessee team knocking off the top-ranked and undefeated Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday.
The Vols were playing without senior Tyler Smith , who was dismissed two days earlier after being arrested on misdemeanor gun and drug charges. UT was also playing without Cameron Tatum , Melvin Goins , and Brian Williams , who were also arrested on New Year's Day.
But Kansas, which had earlier been pushed to the brink by Cornell, wasn't the only unbeaten to go down this past week. Purdue also lost at Wisconsin, leaving just Texas and Kentucky with unblemished records. They are clearly the top two seeds in my projections, but where does everyone else fall?
As always, I am not trying to guess how teams will finish the year; I am simply seeding them based on their current resumes.
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."
Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (2 seed), North Carolina (3)
Dancing with Their Sister: Wake Forest (5), Georgia Tech (8), Florida State (8)
Wallflowers: Miami (9), Virginia Tech (10), Clemson (11), Maryland (third out)
Miami enters the field after nipping Wake Forest. The Hurricanes have also beaten Minnesota and South Carolina, and their only loss is an acceptable one by one point at Boston College.
NC State is removed from consideration after falling at home to Virginia, but Maryland creeps closer to the right side of the bubble with a win over Florida State. The Terps, however, still don't have any top-50 wins and their RPI is a less-than-impressive 79th.
Dancing with a Hottie: Villanova (1), Syracuse (2), West Virginia (2), Georgetown (3)
Dancing with Their Sister: Connecticut (5), Pittsburgh (6)
Wallflowers: Notre Dame (9), Cincinnati (11), Louisville (12), St. John's (13th out)
With so many top teams falling this past week, Villanova rises to a No. 1 seed thanks to its five straight wins. The Wildcats have solid victories over Dayton, Ole Miss, Maryland, and Marquette (twice) but will need to overcome a pair of difficult conference games this week against Louisville and Georgetown in order to hold onto their top seed.
Pittsburgh continues to roll, following up its impressive win at the Carrier Dome with another solid road victory at Cincinnati. The Bearcats, meanwhile, nearly slip out of the field, having lost two of three.
Notre Dame took a huge leap into the field while jumping 24 spots in the RPI thanks to a massive win over West Virginia.
Louisville also had a nice week, winning at Providence and beating St. John's at home. The Red Storm, meanwhile, falls out of the tournament after three straight losses.
Dancing with a Hottie: Purdue (1), Michigan State (3), Wisconsin (4)
Wallflowers: Ohio State (second out), Minnesota (seventh out), Northwestern (14th out)
A victory over Wisconsin propels Michigan State to more secure ground. The Spartans have won four in a row and are 2-1 vs. the top 20 in the RPI.
While the top of the Big Ten is strong, the conference is currently lacking depth. Evan Turner returned for Ohio State after missing four weeks with broken bones in his back, but the Buckeyes continued their slow start to league play when they lost by 11 at Minnesota.
Dancing with a Hottie: Texas (1), Kansas (2), Kansas State (4)
Dancing with Their Sister: Texas A&M (5), Missouri (7), Texas Tech (7)
Wallflowers: Oklahoma State (11), Baylor (fifth out)
Following a 5-3 start, Missouri has reeled off eight consecutive wins, including a big one over Kansas State on Saturday. The Tigers are 2-2 against the top 50.
Oklahoma State's victory over Texas Tech gets the Cowboys back in the field. It was their first top-50 win of the season.
Dancing with Their Sister: Washington (8)
Wallflowers: California (12)
Each week, the Pac-10 hits a new low. The latest embarrassing moment came when lowly independent Seattle University crushed Oregon State by 51 points in Corvallis. Not to be outdone, Washington has dropped three straight, and Washington State is removed from consideration with a 25-point loss at Arizona State.
Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (1), Tennessee (3)
Dancing with Their Sister: Mississippi (6), Vanderbilt (6), Mississippi State (7)
Wallflowers: Florida (9)
Credit must go to Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl for turning a negative into a positive by upsetting No. 1 Kansas following the suspension of four Volunteers. UT's last three games have been top-100 wins over Memphis, Charlotte, and KU.
Mississippi drops a few notches after losing to its in-state rival, but the Bulldogs don't gain any ground thanks to a loss at Western Kentucky.
Vanderbilt extended its winning streak to six with a victory over Florida, which falls to 81st in the RPI.
Dancing with a Hottie: Temple (4), Gonzaga (4), Dayton (5)
Dancing with Their Sister: New Mexico (6), Butler (7), Cornell (8)
Wallflowers: William & Mary (9), BYU (10), Rhode Island (10), Northern Iowa (10), UNLV (11), Harvard (12), UAB (12), VCU (first out), Wichita State (fourth out), Xavier (sixth out), Missouri State (eighth out), Richmond (ninth out), St. Mary's (10th out), Old Dominion (11th out), Western Kentucky (12th out), Tulsa (15th out)
The top teams in the Mountain West went at it this past week, and New Mexico came out the big loser. The Lobos were defeated by both San Diego State and UNLV, but UNM still has the strongest non-conference resume in the league with wins over Cal, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Dayton.
BYU, meanwhile, improved its standing the most with a win over UNLV, while San Diego State gave back everything it had earned by losing at RPI No. 201 Wyoming.
William & Mary suffered a bad one-point loss at home to UNC Wilmington but still has wins over Wake Forest, Maryland and Richmond on its ledger.
Both Richmond (L at St. Louis) and VCU (L vs. Northeastern, Drexel) fell from the field.
Western Kentucky will be an interesting case if its falls into the at-large category, where I have the Hilltoppers this week after they lost at conference-leading Denver. WKU has wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, but it's also stumbled at LSU and on a neutral court against Indiana State.
13 seeds: Western Carolina, Siena, Oakland, Kent State
14 seeds: Northern Colorado, Murray State, Pacific, Louisiana Tech
15 seeds: Denver, East Tennessee State, Morgan State, UTSA
16 seeds: Vermont, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Army, Quinnipiac
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 email@example.com
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