2011 March Madness Field of 68 Projections: February 7
The Super Bowl is over and the nation's attention turns primarily to college basketball now that the calendar has flipped to February.
So with 34 days left until Selection Sunday, which 68 teams are in the field and where do they stand?
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:
1. "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.
2. Elite teams are safely in the field—"Dancing with a Hottie."
3. In the middle are the schools that are "Dancing with Their Sister."
Last year, I placed 22nd out of 83 bracketologists across the country in my final projections, ahead of Joe Lunardi of ESPN, Yahoo!, Rivals.com and the two other guys from Bleacher Report.
You can also check out my projections on FoxSports.com.
The tournament will be expanding from 65 to 68 teams for the first time this year, and while that is completely ridiculous, at least it's not 96 teams. Because of this, I'll begin my projections this season with my two First Four at-large matchups. The two First Four automatic bid games will be listed at the bottom of this article.
Which of my first four teams out most deserves to be in the field?
(12a) UAB vs. (12b) Colorado State
(13a) Butler vs. (13b) VCU
First eight teams out: Boston College, Gonzaga, Richmond, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Washington, Dayton, Baylor
Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (2 seed), North Carolina (4)
Wallflowers: Florida State (11), Boston College (first team out), Virginia Tech (fifth team out)
Could the ACC get only three teams in the field? Boston College's 32-point home loss to North Carolina on Tuesday bounced the Eagles from the bracket and while a two-point triumph over Virginia Tech kept them from falling completely off the radar, BC still has a lot of work to do. Its computer numbers are good (RPI 44, SOS 22), but just one top-50 victory isn't enough, especially when it came way back in November.
Clemson is off the board after dropping a game at No. 149 Virginia. The Tigers don't have single top-50 win.
The departure of Larry Drew II from UNC was a major blow to the team, but the Heels didn't skip a beat in their first game without him, as freshman point guard Kendall Marshall dished out a remarkable 16 assists in a victory over Florida State on Sunday.
Dancing with a Hottie: Pittsburgh (1), Notre Dame (2), Villanova (3), Georgetown (3), Syracuse (3), Connecticut (3), Louisville (4)
Dancing with Their Sister: West Virginia (7), St. John's (8)
Wallflowers: Cincinnati (9), Marquette (12)
Villanova and Syracuse both rebounded from their losing streaks last week. The Wildcats beat Marquette and West Virginia at home, while the Orange avoided Jim Boeheim's first five-game skid by picking up an enormous win at UConn.
Georgetown, meanwhile, continued to roll, defeating Louisville and Providence at home to run the Hoyas' win streak to six, but next up is a road date at rival Syracuse on Wednesday.
Big Ten (6)
Dancing with a Hottie: Ohio State (1), Purdue (4)
Dancing with Their Sister: Wisconsin (5), Minnesota (6), Illinois (8)
Wallflowers: Michigan State (11), Penn State (fourth team out)
Purdue drops a seed line with a loss at Wisconsin, while the Badgers move up after backing up that win with a crushing 26-point defeat of Michigan State on Sunday.
The Spartans, who were ranked second in the country to start the season, are barely holding onto a spot following losses at Iowa and Wisconsin. Tom Izzo's bunch has dropped five of six.
Penn State drops out of the field as quickly as it entered. The Nittany Lions lost at Illinois by 17 before they fell at home to Michigan in back-to-back games last week. PSU is under .500 in the conference, a woeful 1-6 on the road and ranked just 69th in the RPI.
Big 12 (6)
Dancing with a Hottie: Kansas (1), Texas (1)
Dancing with Their Sister: Missouri (5), Texas A&M (6)
Wallflowers: Kansas State (9), Oklahoma State (11), Baylor (eighth team out)
Missouri split a pair of games last week, losing at Oklahoma State, but beating Colorado at home. The Tigers are just 1-4 on the road.
But A&M had a really bad week, dropping two games at home to the surging Longhorns and the Baylor Bears. The Aggies have lost three in a row and four of five.
Baylor, meanwhile, really needed that win in College Station because the Bears had just lost at lowly Oklahoma. Baylor is still hanging around, but its 77 RPI, 83rd-ranked strength of schedule and mere three victories against the top 100 are preventing the Bears from securing a bid.
Dancing with Their Sister: Arizona (5)
Wallflowers: UCLA (8), Washington (10), Washington State (sixth team out)
There aren't a lot of opportunities for big wins in the Pac-10, but UCLA picked one up out of conference when it defeated St. John's, 66-59, in Los Angeles on Saturday.The Bruins have won three in a row and seven of eight to climb to 40th in the RPI.
Washington, on the other hand, had a brutal week, losing at both of the Oregon schools to extend its losing streak to three. The Huskies are just 5-4 against the top 100 and have three losses to sub-100 teams.
Washington State, meanwhile, scored only 43 points in its loss at Oregon on Thursday and now finds itself on the outside, looking in.
Dancing with a Hottie: Florida (4)
Dancing with Their Sister: Kentucky (6), Vanderbilt (6), Tennessee (7)
Wallflowers: Georgia (10)
Florida scored two big victories at home last week over Vanderbilt and Kentucky to improve to a very impressive 6-1 against the top 50. The Gators are also 11-2 versus the top 100.
The Wildcats are headed in the opposite direction after falling at Ole Miss and in Gainesville. Kentucky is under .500 against the top 100.
Tennessee concluded its eight games without Bruce Pearl on a sour note, losing at home to Alabama, but the Vols still managed to go 5-3 during their coach's suspension.
Mountain West (4)
Dancing with a Hottie: BYU (2), San Diego State (2)
Dancing with Their Sister: UNLV (7)
Wallflowers: Colorado State (12b)
Colorado State missed a golden opportunity to impress the selection committee when it lost by just two points at home to San Diego State on Wednesday. I still have the Rams in my field, though, because their RPI (47), SOS (46), two wins against the top 50 and 8-4 record in road/neutral games are better than most other Wallflowers.
Other Conferences (13)
Dancing with Their Sister: Temple (5), Xavier (7), Saint Mary's (8)
Wallflowers: Utah State (9), George Mason (9), Cleveland State (10), Old Dominion (10), Wichita State (11), Memphis (12), Southern Miss (12), UAB (12a), Butler (13a), VCU (13b), Gonzaga (second team out), Richmond (third team out), Dayton (seventh team out)
Xavier's loss at No. 187 Charlotte on Wednesday snapped the Musketeers' seven-game winning streak, but they're still tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 with Duquesne. I still don't have the Dukes anywhere near my field because their computer numbers (RPI 73, SOS 130) are weak and they hold just three wins against the top 100. Their loss at St. Bonaventure on Saturday didn't help their cause either.
George Mason's 17-point win over Old Dominion on Saturday helped the Patriots jump all the way up to a No. 9 seed. They've won nine in a row, are tied for the lead in the Colonial and are ranked 23rd in the RPI.
Wichita State enters the field because it leads the Missouri Valley Conference, but the Shockers' profile remains awfully weak. They are 1-4 against the top 100 and don't have a single win over the top 50.
Memphis lost at home to Tulsa on Wednesday, but rebounded nicely with a win at Gonzaga to remain in the field by the slimmest of margins.
UAB sneaks into the field as the third representative from Conference USA. An RPI of 41 and five wins against the top 100 look good when compared to other bubble teams.
Butler seems destined for one of these First Four games. The Bulldogs lost at No. 273 Youngstown State on Thursday, but turned around two days later to beat first-place Cleveland State on the road by 12.
VCU's loss at Northeastern was not good, but the Rams still share the lead in the Colonial and hold wins over UCLA and Old Dominion.
No. 13 seeds: Princeton, Coastal Carolina, Belmont
No. 14 seeds: College of Charleston, Vermont, Oakland, Kent State
No. 15 seeds: Florida Atlantic, Fairfield, Bucknell, Murray State
No. 16 seeds: Long Island, Long Beach State, Northern Colorado vs. Hampton, Northwestern State vs.Texas Southern
Follow me on Twitter at @ JordanHarrison.
Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. 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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