Projecting the Field of 65: Feb. 15

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Projecting the Field of 65: Feb. 15
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With just 27 days left until Selection Sunday, three No. 1 seeds from last year's tournament are in danger of missing this season's Big Dance. Where do Louisville, North Carolina, and UConn stand as of now?

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."

ACC

Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (2 seed), Wake Forest (3)

Dancing with Their Sister: Georgia Tech (8), Maryland (8), Clemson (8)

Wallflowers: Florida State (10), Virginia Tech (10)

Clemson increased its chances of making the NCAA Tournament by beating Florida State and Miami at home to climb above .500 in conference and move up to 35 in the RPI. The Tigers are 3-5 vs. the top 50 and 6-6 against the top 100.

Virginia Tech also got itself on more solid ground by defeating NC State and Virginia to run its win streak to four.  It's hard to see a 20-4 team with a 7-3 record in the ACC being left out of the field.

The Cavs, which dropped to 95 in the RPI, and North Carolina, which is now 3-7 in conference, have been removed from consideration at this time.

 

Big East

Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (1), Villanova (1), West Virginia (3), Georgetown (3)

Dancing with Their Sister: Pittsburgh (6)

Wallflowers: Marquette (11), Louisville (12), Cincinnati (12)

It was a good week for the Big East bubble teams.  Marquette improved its win streak to five with a 63-52 victory over South Florida. The Eagles are 7-5 in conference, but with just a 2-6 mark vs. the top 50 and a 4-6 record against the top 100, they might want to beat Pittsburgh at home on Thursday.

Louisville had a roller-coaster week. First, the Cardinals were embarrassed by St. John's in a 74-55 loss at Madison Square Garden, putting their tournament hopes on life support. But on Sunday, Rick Pitino's team put together a great second-half defensive effort to shock the second-ranked Orange at the Carrier Dome.  The win sneaks No. 31 Louisville (16-9, 7-5) into one of the final four spots.

Cincinnati wasn't as fortunate against Syracuse, but the Bearcats won 60-48 at UConn in Jim Calhoun's return to get themselves the last at-large bid.  Cincy has good non-conference wins over Vanderbilt and Maryland.

 

Big Ten

Dancing with a Hottie: Purdue (2), Ohio State (3), Wisconsin (4), Michigan State (4)

Dancing with Their Sister: Illinois (8)

Illinois appeared destined for the NIT as recently as Jan. 26, but the Illini have won five of six since then including victories over Michigan State and at Wisconsin, and now may be the higher seed in their NCAA first-round matchup.  Illinois was blown out at home by Ohio State on Valentine's Day, but the Illini are still 4-5 vs. the top 50.

Northwestern removed itself from consideration with a 13-point loss at No. 182 Iowa and then Minnesota did the same thing when it fell to Michigan and NU in back-to-back games.

 

Big XII

Dancing with a Hottie: Kansas (1), Kansas State (2), Texas (4), Texas A&M (4)

Dancing with Their Sister: Baylor (5)

Wallflowers: Missouri (10), Oklahoma State (first out), Texas Tech (fifth out)

Texas Tech survived by just one point at Oklahoma before losing at home to Texas A&M by two to drop from the field. The Red Raiders are now 1-8 vs. the top 50 and 4-6 in conference.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, kept its hopes alive by crushing the Sooners by 21 in the Cowboys' only contest this past week. They are 5-5 in the league and 32 in the RPI, but find themselves just out of the bracket having lost three of four with a 2-6 road mark.

 

Pac-10

Wallflowers: California (9), Washington (sixth out), Arizona State (eighth out)

California is beginning to put together a respectable resume despite being 0-4 against the top 50. The Bears beat Washington by 12 and have now won three straight to rise to 22 in the RPI with the fifth toughest schedule in the country. They are 9-4 in the Pac-10.

Arizona State kept its name in the discussion by sweeping the Oregon schools by 10 points each at home. The Sun Devils are 8-5 in conference, but just 2-7 vs. the top 100.  Their win over San Diego State on Dec. 19 is looking better.

 

SEC

Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (1)

Dancing with Their Sister: Vanderbilt (5), Tennessee (5)

Wallflowers: Mississippi (11), Mississippi State (12), Florida (fourth out), South Carolina (seventh out)

Mississippi State took Florida's spot in the field when the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss and the Gators lost at South Carolina and at home to Xavier.  Florida is just 2-6 against the top 50.

 

Atlantic 10

Dancing with Their Sister: Temple (6), Xavier (6), Richmond (7), Rhode Island (7)

Wallflowers: Charlotte (9), Dayton (9)

Richmond continued its torrid pace by winning at Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure to run its streak to six games and take sole possession of first place.

Temple also beat URI, which dropped all the way down to sixth in conference. The Rams are still 24 in the RPI with wins over Oklahoma State and Dayton on their ledger.

The Flyers, meanwhile, suffered the worst loss this past week at St. Louis, but not before destroying Charlotte by 28.

Xavier picked up the biggest win of the last seven days beating Florida by 12 on the road in a big non-conference battle. The Musketeers are now 4-6 vs. the top 50 and sit at 20 in the RPI.

 

Mountain West

Dancing with a Hottie: New Mexico (2)

Dancing with Their Sisters: BYU (6), UNLV (9)

Wallflowers: San Diego State (11)

I see no reason why New Mexico doesn't deserve a two seed right now. After winning at UNLV and Utah to improve its winning streak to nine games, the Lobos are currently 7-2 vs. the top 50 and 11-2 against the top 100. They are No. 9 in the RPI with other solid victories over Cal, A&M, Texas Tech, Dayton, BYU and San Diego State.

The Aztecs, meanwhile, finally got that second big win they needed to back up their Jan. 5 victory over UNM and propel themselves into the field when they beat UNLV by 10 on Saturday. SDSU has an RPI of 40.

 

Other Conferences

Dancing with Their Sister: Butler (5), Northern Iowa (7), Gonzaga (7)

Wallflowers: UTEP (10), Old Dominion (11), Kent State (12) Saint Mary's (third out), Memphis (ninth out)

UTEP is one of the hottest teams in the country with nine consecutive wins, but fellow Conference USA team UAB was dropped from the field after losing at home to Marshall. The Blazers have come up short in three of their last four contests.

Cornell lost any chance at claiming an at-large when they were shocked at 4-16 Pennsylvania.

Siena also deeply damaged its at-large hopes with a loss at Niagara, but the Saints will have a chance to redeem themselves in Saturday's Bracketbuster game at Butler.

Another big Bracketbuster to keep an eye on is Old Dominion at Northern Iowa on Friday.

Saint Mary's has pretty much no shot at an at-large after losing at Gonzaga and Portland. The Gaels' final three regular-season games are against sub-200 competition, so they'll have to win the West Coast Conference Tournament to earn a bid.

 

Automatic Bids

13 seeds: Utah State, Siena, Cornell, Murray State

14 seeds: Oakland, College of Charleston, Weber State, Sam Houston State

15 seeds: Belmont, Coastal Carolina, Morgan State, UCSB

16 seeds: Stony Brook, Robert Morris, Lehigh, Middle Tennessee, Jackson State

 

See how my projections (BR-JS) and Brad Wachtel's (F&B) compare to others in the Bracket Project .

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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