NCAA Tournament Projections: 'Bracket Now' Commentary for February 8th, 2009
Only one thing is for sure at this point in the season. I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that I know who the best four teams in college basketball have been thus far: Connecticut, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pittsburgh. Louisville, Duke, and Wake Forest may have something to say about that, but they haven’t been as consistent. Rounding out the two seeds, Michigan State, they probably don’t even deserve it. Trust me; I haven’t seen a shakier group of teams seeded 3-10 in a long time. No one wants to get a good seed and play close to home.
We’ve seen teams take major nose dives. Where are Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Baylor? These teams are so bad in their conference that I couldn’t possibly consider them. By this point in the season, my rule of thumb is usually that you need to be at least .500 in the conference. Exceptions can be made, but when you are three games below in conference play, I just can’t do it.
Kansas, remember them, a few months ago they were looking like a rebuilding team who would sneak into the tourney. Now they are 9-0 in the Big 12, and hosting Western Kentucky in Kansas City. Where did fellow Big Twelver Missouri come from? They are solid in the conference and are holding down a five seed.
The Big Ten may be the hardest conference to figure out. Michigan State leads the way, but their two losses are at home against Northwestern and Penn State. Okay, let’s pretend that’s not weird. Illinois, Ohio State, Purdue, and Minnesota have been in this constant leapfrog cycle since the beginning of January. Who knows how it will end up, but right now, Illinois and Ohio State get the slight nod. I’ve been disappointed with Purdue this season.
It finally happened, the Big East pyramid crumbled and teams have beaten up on each other. Notre Dame and Georgetown have been bloodied, but now, Providence just missed out on a bid even though they are above .500 in the strongest conference in the nation, and Cincinnati barely slipped in. This is the first time that only eight Big East teams have been placed in the bracket.
Several other new comers have surprised as well. Not sure if the Wildcats of Kansas State can keep it up, but for now, they are in. Nebraska barely missed a bid, it was close. The SEC, as weak at the top as they are, have several nice looking teams who are tournament worthy, but may not make it out of the first round. Florida seems to be the best of the bunch, but then you have Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, and South Carolina. They are all in this week, but my guess is that come March, the SEC will have four worthy teams.
Now, I know the question weighing on everyone’s mind is, what are you going to do with St. Mary’s. Easy! The Gaels are a top 25 team with Patty Mills, but maybe only a CBI team without him. So, for now, St. Mary’s gets the free pass based on their body of work with Patty, but the seeding is less than optimal, a 13 seed set to face Villanova in Philadelphia.
Not to give away anything, but looking at this bracket, I would like VMI to upset Washington, Siena over Florida, and Northern Iowa over Missouri. A real legitimate sleeper here could be Texas. If they slip by the Bulldogs, they get a Michigan State team who they led at halftime earlier in the year. I’ve seen enough to know that the Final Four will be comprised of the four teams I’ve seeded number one, on this day, February 8th.
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