Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 8

The bubble started to get a little messy last night. Arizona State lost to Colorado. Oklahoma State and Notre Dame picked up wins. Syracuse lost to North Carolina. Washington was stunned by Oregon State, as was NC State by Boston College. Marquette and Texas escaped fatal opening-round upsets.

No, conference tournament first-round results don’t change a lot. They’re still one game.

But yes, if your team won Wednesday night, it’s doing something right, because now it has a chance to play its way into the field Thursday night.

And if your team lost… you’ll just have to sit and wait.

While you’re doing so, check out today’s bracket update,

Note: all-caps denote a projected conference champion; all-caps & bold face denote a clinched conference champion.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 HAMPTON

No. 8
Arkansas
No. 9 Seton Hall

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 ARIZONA
No. 12 NEW MEXICO STATE

No. 4 West Virginia
No. 13 VERMONT

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Miami
No. 11 Providence / No. 11 UCLA

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 UC DAVIS

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Kansas State

No. 2 Duke
No. 15 MONTANA


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 IONA

No. 8 
Houston
No. 9 St. Bonaventure

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Saint Mary’s

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 CHARLESTON

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 Louisville

No. 2 Michigan State
No. 15 WRIGHT STATE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 RADFORD

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Oklahoma

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 12 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 MURRAY STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Oklahoma State / No. 11 Syracuse

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 RHODE ISLAND
No. 10 NC State

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS
No. 16 LIU BROOKLYN No. 16 ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

No. 8 
Virginia Tech
No. 9 Butler

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky
No. 12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 4 MICHIGAN
No. 13 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 NEVADA
No. 11 Texas

No. 3 Tennessee
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Texas Christian
No. 10 Arizona State

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 LIPSCOMB


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
Kansas State
Arizona State
Saint Mary’s
Texas

Last Four In
Providence
Oklahoma State
Syracuse
UCLA

First Four Out
Notre Dame
Alabama
Baylor
USC

Next Four Out
Marquette
Penn State
Nebraska
Boise State

 

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Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 7

Okay, today the fun begins.

Last night, Gonzaga, South Dakota State, Wright State, LIU Brooklyn and Charleston all locked up their spots in the NCAA Tournament.

Today, tournament major action from all of the high-major and notable mid-major conferences gets going, as we look to iron out the bubble and all the close calls between seeds.

One last look at the field before chaos ensues? Be my guest.

Note: all-caps denote a projected conference champion; all-caps & bold face denote a clinched conference champion.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 HAMPTON

No. 8
Arkansas
No. 9 Seton Hall

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 ARIZONA
No. 12 NEW MEXICO STATE

No. 4 West Virginia
No. 13 VERMONT

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Miami
No. 11 Providence / No. 11 UCLA

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 UC DAVIS

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Saint Mary’s

No. 2 Duke
No. 15 MONTANA


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 IONA

No. 8 
Houston
No. 9 NC State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Texas

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 CHARLESTON

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 Kansas State

No. 2 Michigan State
No. 15 WRIGHT STATE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 RADFORD

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Oklahoma

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 12 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 MURRAY STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Saint Mary’s

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 RHODE ISLAND
No. 10 Butler

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS
No. 16 LIU BROOKLYN No. 16 ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

No. 8 
Virginia Tech
No. 9 Arizona State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky
No. 12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 4 MICHIGAN
No. 13 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 NEVADA
No. 11 Syracuse / No. 11 Alabama

No. 3 Tennessee
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Texas Christian
No. 10 St. Bonaventure

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 LIPSCOMB


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
Kansas State
Louisville
Saint Mary’s
Texas

Last Four In
Providence
Syracuse
Alabama
UCLA

First Four Out
Baylor
USC
Marquette
Oklahoma State

Next Four Out
Washington
Penn State
Nebraska
Boise State

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 6

Day two of the “true” Championship Week is upon us. On Monday, Iona and UNC Greensboro locked up their spots in the dance, increasing the number of clinched bids to seven.

61 to go!

Take a look at our bracket, with just a few minor tweaks. Don’t worry, chaos isn’t far away, with most major tournaments tipping off Wednesday and Thursday.

Note: all-caps denote a projected conference champion; all-caps & bold face denote a clinched conference champion.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 HAMPTON

No. 8
Arkansas
No. 9 Seton Hall

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 ARIZONA
No. 12 NEW MEXICO STATE

No. 4 West Virginia
No. 13 VERMONT

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Miami
No. 11 Providence / No. 11 UCLA

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 UC DAVIS

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Saint Mary’s

No. 2 Duke
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 IONA

No. 8 
Houston
No. 9 NC State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Texas

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 CHARLESTON

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 Kansas State

No. 2 Michigan State
No. 15 WRIGHT STATE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 LIPSCOMB

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Oklahoma

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 12 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 MURRAY STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Louisville

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 RHODE ISLAND
No. 10 Butler

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 WAGNER


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS
No. 16 RADFORD No. 16 ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

No. 8 
Virginia Tech
No. 9 Arizona State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky
No. 12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 4 MICHIGAN
No. 13 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 NEVADA
No. 11 Syracuse / No. 11 Alabama

No. 3 Tennessee
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Texas Christian
No. 10 St. Bonaventure

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 MONTANA


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
Kansas State
Saint Mary’s
Louisville
Texas

Last Four In
Providence
Syracuse
Alabama
UCLA

First Four Out
Baylor
USC
Marquette
Oklahoma State

Next Four Out
Washington
Penn State
Nebraska
Boise State

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 5

With one week left before Selection Sunday, a handful of NCAA Tournament bids have been clinched, with several to be locked up in the coming days.

On that note, congratulations are due to Michigan, Loyola-Chicago, Murray State, Radford and Lipscomb (for the first time ever), each of which is already dancing.

You’ll see a lot of movement in this week’s bracket, mostly due to a more in-depth study of each individual résumé so as to negate any previous errors made and get a clean slate heading into the last week of bracket projections.

Take a look:

Note: all-caps denote a projected conference champion; all-caps & bold face denote a clinched conference champion.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 HAMPTON

No. 8
Arkansas
No. 9 Seton Hall

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 ARIZONA
No. 12 NEW MEXICO STATE

No. 4 West Virginia
No. 13 VERMONT

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Miami
No. 11 Texas / No. 11 UCLA

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 UC DAVIS

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Alabama

No. 2 Duke
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 IONA

No. 8 
Houston
No. 9 NC State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Louisville

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 CHARLESTON

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 St. Bonaventure

No. 2 Michigan State
No. 15 WRIGHT STATE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 LIPSCOMB

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Oklahoma

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 12 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 MURRAY STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Syracuse / No. 11 Providence

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 RHODE ISLAND
No. 10 Saint Mary’s

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 WAGNER


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS (24-6, 13-4 Big 12)
No. 16 RADFORD No. 16 ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF

No. 8 
Virginia tech
No. 9 Arizona State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky
No. 12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 4 MICHIGAN
No. 13 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 NEVADA
No. 11 Kansas State

No. 3 Tennessee
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Texas Christian
No. 10 Butler

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 MONTANA


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
St. Bonaventure
Alabama
Kansas State
Louisville

Last Four In
Texas
Syracuse
Providence
UCLA

First Four Out
Baylor
USC
Marquette
Oklahoma State

Next Four Out
Washington
Penn State
Nebraska
Boise State

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Mar. 2

Yes, it is. There are conference tournaments under way across the country. Rutgers has won two games in Madison Square Garden — something the Scarlet Knights rarely did when they played there back in their Big East.

In just a few short days, we’ll have a handful of teams locked into the bracket, with the first bid going to the winner of the Ohio Valley title game on Saturday.

But, for now, let’s take one last look at the bracket before we gear up for true championship week, and the inevitable chaos that will ensue.

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (27-2, 16-1 ACC)
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE (21-9, 15-2 Southland) / No. 16 GRAMBLING (16-14, 12-5 SWAC)

No. 8
Seton Hall (20-10, 9-8 Big East)
No. 9 Arkansas (21-9, 10-7 SEC)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 NEVADA (26-5, 15-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 VERMONT (25-6, 15-1 America East)

No. 4 Texas Tech (22-8, 10-7 Big 12)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (25-5, 15-3 Missouri Valley)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Michigan (25-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
No. 11 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (24-5, 16-1 Conference USA)

No. 3 AUBURN (24-6, 12-5 SEC)
No. 14 BUCKNELL (23-9, 16-2 Patriot)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Creighton (21-9, 10-7 Big East)
No. 10 St. Bonaventure (23-6, 13-4 Atlantic 10)

No. 2 MICHIGAN STATE (28-3, 16-2 Big Ten)
No. 15 CHARLESTON (23-7, 14-4 Colonial)


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (26-4, 13-4 Big East)
No. 16 MONTANA (22-7, 15-2 Big Sky)

No. 8 
Florida State (19-10, 8-9 ACC)
No. 9 Houston (23-6, 13-4 American)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 Kentucky (21-9, 10-7 SEC)
No. 12 BUFFALO (22-8, 14-3 MAC)

No. 4 Clemson (22-7, 11-6 ACC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (24-5, 11-2 WAC)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (19-11, 8-9 SEC)
No. 11 Louisville (19-11, 9-8 ACC)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (26-4, 15-2 American)
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY (22-8, 15-3 Horizon)

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 7 Michigan (25-7, 13-5 Big Ten)
No. 10 Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC)

No. 2 Duke (24-6, 12-5 ACC)
No. 15 UC DAVIS (20-9, 11-4 Big West)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (26-4, 14-3 Big East)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST (23-10, 12-2 Atlantic Sun)  / No. 16 BETHUNE-COOKMAN (18-13, 12-4 Mid-Eastern)

No. 8 
Saint Mary’s (27-4, 16-2 West Coast)
No. 9 NC State (20-10, 10-7 ACC)

(Dallas, Tex.
No. 5 West Virginia (22-8, 11-6 Big 12)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (26-4, 16-1 Sun Belt

No. 4 Ohio State (24-7, 15-3 Big Ten)
No. 13 RIDER (22-8, 15-3 Metro Atlantic)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Florida (19-11, 10-7 SEC)
No. 11 Kansas State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12)

No. 3 Wichita State (24-5, 14-3 American)
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO (24-7, 15-3 Southern)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Butler (19-11, 9-8 Big East)
No. 10 Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-7 ACC)

No. 2 Purdue (26-5, 15-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA (21-7, 11-1 Ivy)



WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 1 KANSAS (24-6, 13-4 Big 12)
No. 16 UNC ASHEVILLE (21-11, 13-5 Big South)

No. 8 
Florida State (19-10, 8-9 ACC)
No. 9 Arizona State (20-9, 8-9 Pac-12)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA (27-4, 17-1 West Coast)
No. 12 Texas (17-13, 7-10 Big 12) / No. 12 Southern California (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12)

No. 4 Tennessee (22-7, 12-5 SEC)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (25-6, 13-1 Summit)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 RHODE ISLAND (23-5, 15-2 Atlantic 10)
No. 11 Providence (18-12, 9-8 Big East) / No. 11 Baylor (18-12, 8-9 Big 12)

No. 3 ARIZONA (23-7, 13-4 Pac-12)
No. 14 MURRAY STATE (24-5, 16-2 Ohio Valley)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Missouri (19-11, 9-8 SEC)
No. 10 Oklahoma (17-12, 7-10 Big 12)

No. 2 North Carolina (22-8, 11-6 ACC)
No. 15 WAGNER (22-8, 14-4 Northeast)


And here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
Virginia Tech
Oklahoma
Louisville
Kansas State

Last Four In
Providence
Baylor
Texas
USC

First Four Out
Washington
Syracuse
UCLA
Boise State

Next Four Out
Nebraska
Temple
Penn State
Marquette

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 26

It’s championship week! For a handful of small conferences — and the Big Ten — at least.

Entering the busiest couple of weeks of the college basketball season, there are bound to be surprise teams picking up steam — looking at you, Houston — and others falling off of cliffs.

We already talked about Oklahoma.

But before things get wild, let’s take one more crack at the field of 68 and beyond:

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA
No. 16 MONTANA

No. 8 
Alabama
No. 9 Seton Hall

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 NEVADA
No. 12 VERMONT

No. 4 Clemson
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 6 Michigan
No. 11 Virginia Tech

No. 3 AUBURN
No. 14 BUCKNELL

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Butler
No. 10 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

No. 2 North Carolina
No. 15 CHARLESTON


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST / No. 16 BETHUNE-COOKMAN

No. 8 
Florida State
No. 9 Houston

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 5 GONZAGA
No. 12 USC / No. 12 Baylor

No. 4 Tennessee
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Florida
No. 11 Louisville

No. 3 CINCINNATI
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Miami
No. 10 Oklahoma

No. 2 MICHIGAN STATE
No. 15 UC IRVINE


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER
No. 16 NICHOLLS STATE / No. 16 GRAMBLING

No. 8 
TCU
No. 9 NC State

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 West Virginia
No. 12 BUFFALO

No. 4 Ohio State
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Texas A&M
No. 11 Kansas State

No. 3 Wichita State
No. 14 UNC GREENSBORO

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Creighton
No. 10 Arkansas

No. 2 Purdue
No. 15 PENNSYLVANIA


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 Duke
No. 16 UNC ASHEVILLE

No. 8 
Saint Mary’s
No. 9 Arizona State

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 5 RHODE ISLAND
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

No. 4 Texas Tech
No. 13 RIDER

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 Kentucky
No. 11 Texas / No. 11 Providence

No. 3 ARIZONA
No. 14 MURRAY STATE

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Missouri
No. 10 St. Bonaventure

No. 2 KANSAS
No. 15 WAGNER


Oh, and here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
St. Bonaventure
Virginia Tech
Louisville
Kansas State

Last Four In
Providence
Texas
USC
Baylor

First Four Out
Syracuse
Boise State
Washington
Temple

Next Four Out
UCLA
Nebraska
Penn State
Maryland

Four More
Marquette
Western Kentucky
Mississippi State
Georgia

Gearing up for Champ Week, Part II: Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

It’s February 22.

That means there’s about two weeks left of the regular season, unless you’re the Big Ten, and you thought it was a genius idea to end your season week early so you could play your conference tournament in an arena that’s in a different time zone than more than half of your league.

But for the sane power basketball conferences — you know, your ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC and Pac-12 — there’s still two more weeks to sure up seeding and scenarios for championship week.

We’re taking a look around the country to see how our power-conference friends are preparing for early March, picking things back up with the Big 12:

Big 12
The Details: Mar. 7-10 // Sprint Center // Kansas City, Mo.

The Frontrunners: Well, there’s the obvious: Kansas. The Jayhawks have won seven Big 12 tournaments since 2006 and look poised to be right back where they belong in a few weeks, having fallen in their first contest of last year’s event. Texas Tech is right there as well, and player-of-the-year candidate Keenan Evans at point guard has the skill-set to lead the Red Raiders to their first conference title. But yeah, gun to my head, I’m picking Kansas any year until proven otherwise.

The Dark Horse: There’s a handful of teams that could fit this billing. West Virginia’s pretty good, led by senior Jevon Carter and a heralded pressure defense. There’s also TCU. Jamie Dixon knows how to coach in March; his Horned Frogs pulled an early-round upset over Kansas last year and are back for blood in the second year of his regime.

Spongebob-i-need-it-gif-20.gif

The Bubble teams who need thisFuture NBA top-five picks Trae Young and Mohamed Bamba. Translation: Oklahoma and Texas. The Sooners have lost six straight and seven of their last eight and will likely need a solid performance in Kansas City in order to shore up a bid. Same deal for the Longhorns, who have lost four of their last five. The only win in that stretch? At Oklahoma. Both teams sit at 16 wins with a 6-9 record in conference play. Not ideal, with NBA prospects who we all selfishly want to see in the tournament.

The seeding storylines: There really aren’t any. The top four are pretty much set in stone, but the race to get out of an opening-round game (seeds 7 through 10) is relatively contested. Currently tied in fifth, Baylor and Kansas State lead Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State all by a game.

Intrigue Score: 8.5 of 10. This tournament is sneaky interesting. On the surface, it looks like it’s just Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia, but this conference is pretty deep and I’d almost guarantee at least one or two upsets.

Pac-12

The Details: Mar. 7-10 // T-Mobile Arena // Las Vegas, Nev.

The Frontrunners: Arizona. That’s really it. Even potentially without Allonzo Trier due to PED usage, the one-two punch in the frontcourt of Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic is second to none in this conference. I’m more confident in the Wildcats to win their conference than any other power-five team.

The Dark Horses: That being said, there are a couple of sneaky teams. Arizona State’s senior guards — Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice — are talented, and, when they’re hot, they’re able to compete with anyone. USC could also make noise, with the likes of Bennie Boatwright, Jordan McLaughlin and Chimezie Metu.

The Bubble teams who need this (see Spongebob-I-Need-This.gif)The Trojans will probably need it, too. USC has been in and out of the field over the last several weeks and will need a strong finish to the regular season, as well as a win or two in Vegas, to make sure they’re not sweating on Selection Sunday. The same is true for Washington, Utah and UCLA, which are in a far worse bubble position. Maybe one of those three will be able to do enough in the conference tournament to seal up a bid in the big dance.

The seeding storylines: Utah, which holds the four-seed and therefore the last bye, leads Washington and Stanford by half a game and ASU and Oregon by 1.5 games. The Sun Devils have an easy remaining schedule and could very well slip into that fourth spot, but my money’s probably on Washington to slither its way out of the first round.

Intrigue Score: 5 of 10. It’s really Arizona’s league to lose, and there aren’t any major intriguing bubble storylines either. Not the greatest year for the Pac-12, but if it’s ASU-Arizona in the title game, that would be quality entertainment.

SEC

The Details: Mar. 7-11 // Scottrade Center // St. Louis, Mo.

Wait, why is the SEC playing in St. Louis?

The Frontrunners: Like many other college basketball minds, I spent a large portion of this season trying not to believe that the answer to this question was Auburn and Tennessee. But it is. Auburn just won’t lose. The Tigers are 24-4 and have lost just three SEC games by a combined 15 points. Bruce Pearl’s got his guys in position to rip through the SEC tournament, but his former school isn’t far behind. The Volunteers looked completely dead in the water when they lost to Alabama by 28, but the team that just beat Florida looks poised to make some noise in St. Louis.

Again, why St. Louis? 

The Bubble teams who need thisI don’t know, Georgia? LSU? South Carolina? All three seem to have an outsdie, outside shot at a bid, but nothing more. A&M, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri could all use a win or two to solidify things, but none of them should be particularly worried unless they limp their way down the stretch and into St. Louis (WHY IS THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT IN ST. LOUIS?!). Georgia’s got a lot of work left to do, but Yante Maten and company could potentially pull a few upsets and slip their way into the field. Mississippi State’s an interesting case, too. They’ve been off the bubble all year, but with 20 wins, could make a case to the committee with a solid performance during championship week.

The seeding storylines: The race for the top four is clogged. After Auburn and Tennessee, there are SIX teams tied at 8-7 in league play: Mississippi State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Alabama. And then there’s LSU right behind at 7-9. At a surprising 6-9 conference mark, Texas A&M is in a three-way tie with South Carolina and Georgia for tenth and would love to avoid falling into the bottom four and an opening round game. But even then, literally every team ranked between second and twelfth in this league is within two-games of a double bye. It’s going to come down to tiebreakers, I guarantee it.

Intrigue Score: Honestly, 9.5 of 10. This is the most intriguing SEC tournament we’ve seen in years, potentially ever. This league is pretty deep and has some hidden gems. Throw in the Michael Porter factor, and we’re going to have some fun in St. Louis (don’t get me started again).

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 23

 

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of movement his week.

Most of the top seeds held serve. Even a lot of the teams below them did the same.

And then there’s Oklahoma.

Trae Young and his perceived one-trick-pony Sooners have been on a tailspin into the finally week of the season, losing six straight and seven of their last eight. They may just miss the tournament, but we’ll get to that in a week or so…

But, yeah, other than Oklahoma falling five seed lines — I had been trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’ll admit — this bracket won’t look much different than Monday’s iteration.

Ed. Note: all-caps denote a current conference leader.

~~~

EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 Villanova (25-3, 12-3 Big East)
No. 16 GRAMBLING (15-12, 11-3 SWAC) / No. 16 NC A&T (17-11, 10-3 MEAC)

No. 8 
Alabama (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
No. 9 Florida State (19-8, 8-7 ACC)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 5 NEVADA (24-5, 13-2 Mountain West)
No. 12 Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 ACC) / No. 12 Texas (16-12, 6-9 Big 12)

No. 4 Ohio State (23-7 14-3 Big Ten)
No. 13 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (24-5, 14-3 Missouri Valley)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 6 Florida (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
No. 11 Louisville (18-10, 8-7 ACC)

No. 3 CINCINNATI (24-4, 13-2 American)
No. 14 BUCKNELL (21-9, 15-2 Patriot)

(Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 7 Michigan (23-7, 12-5 Big Ten)
No. 10 St. Bonaventure (21-6, 11-4 Atlantic 10)

No. 2 North Carolina (22-7, 11-5 ACC)
No. 15 CHARLESTON (23-6, 14-3 Colonial)


SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 VIRGINIA (25-2, 14-1 ACC)
No. 16 MONTANA (20-7, 13-2 Big Sky)

No. 8 
Creighton (19-9, 8-7 Big East)
No. 9 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (22-5, 14-1 Conference USA)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 GONZAGA (26-4, 16-1 West Coast)
No. 12 VERMONT (23-6, 13-1 America East)

No. 4 Clemson (20-7, 9-6 ACC)
No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE (23-5, 10-2 WAC)

(Dallas, Tex.)
No. 6 Texas A&M (17-11, 6-9 SEC)
No. 11 Virginia Tech (20-8, 9-6 ACC)

No. 3 Texas Tech (22-6, 10-5 Big 12)
No. 14 NORTHERN KENTUCKY (20-8, 13-3 Horizon)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Miami (19-8, 8-7 ACC)
No. 10 Arkansas (19-9, 8-7 SEC)

No. 2 KANSAS (22-6, 11-4 Big 12)
No. 15 UC IRVINE (15-5, 10-4 Big West)


MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

(Pittsburgh, Pa.)
No. 1 XAVIER (25-4, 13-3 Big East)
No. 16 PENNSYLVANIA (19-7, 9-1 Ivy)

No. 8 
Arizona State (19-8, 7-8 Pac-12)
No. 9 Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 Big 12)

(San Diego, Calif.
No. 5 West Virginia (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
No. 12 BUFFALO (20-8, 12-3 MAC)

No. 4 Wichita State (22-5, 12-3 American)
No. 13 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (24-6, 12-1 Summit)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 6 Saint Mary’s (26-4, 15-2 West Coast)
No. 11 USC (20-9, 11-5 Pac-12)

No. 3 MICHIGAN STATE (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten)
No. 14 EAST TENNESSEE STATE (23-6, 14-2 Southern)

(Detroit, Mich.)
No. 7 Missouri (18-10, 8-7 SEC)
No. 10 Houston (21-6, 11-4 American)

No. 2 Purdue (25-5, 14-3 Big Ten)
No. 15 WAGNER (21-7, 14-3 NEC)


WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

(Charlotte, N.C.)
No. 1 Duke (23-5, 11-4 ACC)
No. 16 FLORIDA GULF COAST (21-10, 12-2 Atlantic Sun / No. 16 NICHOLLS ST. (19-9, 13-2 Southland)

No. 8 
TCU (19-9, 7-8 Big 12)
No. 9 Seton Hall (19-9, 8-7 Big East)

(Boise, Idaho)
No. 5 RHODE ISLAND (22-4, 14-1 Atlantic 10)
No. 12 LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (24-4, 14-1 Sun Belt)

No. 4 Tennessee (20-7, 10-5 SEC)
No. 13 MURRAY STATE (23-5, 15-2 Ohio Valley)

(San Diego, Calif.)
No. 6 Kentucky (19-9, 8-7 SEC)
No. 11 Providence (17-11, 8-7 Big East) / No. 11 Kansas St. (20-8, 9-7 Big 12)

No. 3 ARIZONA (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12)
No. 14 RIDER (21-8, 14-3 Metro Atlantic)

(Wichita, Kan.)
No. 7 Butler (19-10, 9-7 Big East)
No. 10 NC State (19-9, 9-6 ACC)

No. 2 AUBURN (24-4, 12-3 SEC)
No. 15 UNC ASHEVILLE (20-10, 13-4 Big South)


Oh, and here’s a look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes
St. Bonaventure
Louisville
Virginia Tech
USC

Last Four In
Providence
Kansas State
Texas
Syracuse

First Four Out
UCLA
Boise State
Baylor
Maryland

Next Four Out
Washington
Penn State
Nebraska
Marquette

Four More
Temple
Utah
LSU
Western Kentucky

Gearing up for Champ Week, Part I: ACC, Big Ten, Big East

It’s February 21.

That means there’s about two weeks left of the regular season, unless you’re the Big Ten, and you thought it was a genius idea to end your season week early so you could play your conference tournament in an arena that’s in a different time zone than more than half of your league.

But for the sane power basketball conferences — you know, your ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC and Pac-12 — there’s still two more weeks to sure up seeding and scenarios for championship week.

We’re taking a look around the country to see how our power-conference friends are preparing for early March, starting with the ACC:

Atlantic Coast Conference

The Details: Mar. 6-10 // Barclays Center // Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Frontrunners: No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 2 seed Duke. If one of these two teams doesn’t win the ACC I’ll be shocked. The Cavaliers have the defense to hold any team in this league and in the country to under 65 point, and the Blue Devils have the talent to score more than 75 on just about any team. I mean, it was pretty good game last time they played.

If you’re a casual basketball fan, you’re hoping and praying these two teams meet again on Saturday night in Brooklyn. And they probably will. But then again…

The Dark Horse: …It’s March, and this is the ACC. It’s a deep league, with teams with the talent and coaching to conceivably catch fire in a four-day span. Take Clemson, which somehow survived a season-ending injury to Devonte Grantham and still sits in the AP Top 15. Or North Carolina, with upperclassman leadership in Luke Maye and Joel Berry III, guys who have experience playing at a high level deep into March — oh, yeah, they won it all last year. These two are right behind UVA and Duke in terms of their chances to win the league.

The Bubble teams who need thisThere’s quite a few of them. There’s NC State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Louisville, all of which are either 19-8 or 18-9 and hovering right around .500 in conference play. There a some good athlertes in that bunch, too, like Louisville forward Deng Adel, ‘Cuse shooting guard Tyus Battle, Virginia Tech sharpshooters Justin Robinson and Justin Bibbs and NC State big man Omer Yurtseven. All these teams could make a run, and they all probably need at least one win to feel completely comfortable with their standing on Selection Sunday.

Spongebob-i-need-it-gif-20.gif

The seeding storylines: Syracuse, Miami and Florida State are all within a half-game of one another in the 8-9-10 positioning, which means one of these three will likely be forced to play on the first day of tournament play, Tuesday, against likely No. 15 seed Pittsburgh. That probably means any easy win, which all three could use. The top four — the “double-byes,” Virginia, Duke, UNC and Clemson — all seem to be a step above the pack, but NC State is nipping at the heels of a bye into Thursday, just half a game behind Clemson. Keep an eye on the Wolf Pack.

Intrigue Score: 9.5 out of 10. Great basketball, talented teams, interesting storylines. This will be the kind of tournament you’ll want to have open on your laptop when you get bored at your day job in the early afternoon.

Big Ten

The Details: Feb. 28-Mar. 4 // Madison Square Garden // New York, N.Y.

Side Note: The 2018 Big Ten Tournament will be played a week early so the league can access the Garden, which is locked down by the Big East for the typical large-conference championship weekend. 

The Frontrunners: Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State. That’s really it. This league is shallow, but the top of it is outstanding. At least two of these three teams will be in the semifinals, and those two — yes, I’m talking about Purdue and MSU, sorry Buckeyes — will be playing for the league title. And it will be must-see television.

Again.

The Dark Horse: Okay, Michigan’s pretty good, too. The Wolverines have a handful of talented players like junior forward Moritz Wagner and senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman; these guys helped Michigan win the Big Ten as a No. 8 seed last year, not to mention reach the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 7 seed a week later. I don’t like how they match up with the two true elites of this league, but don’t be surprised if they slip back into Sunday afternoon’s title game.

The Bubble teams who need this (see Spongebob-I-Need-It.gif)Penn State is kind of intriguing. Tony Carr is one of the best young point guards in the country and has led the Nittany Lions into the bubble conversation in his sophomore season.

You remember this, right?

https://twitter.com/TitanicHoops/status/956730298934484992

Penn State’s probably going to need about two wins in NYC to get on the right side of the bubble. As for fellow bubble teams like Maryland and Nebraska, the Terps and ‘Huskers probably need to reach Sunday if they want to see the Big Dance. Either that, or they’re going to need some serious help from the rest of the bubble.

The seeding storylines: After the clear top three, Nebraska and Michigan are separated by half a game for the fourth double-bye. The Wolverines has a pair of road games against hungry bubble teams (PSU and Maryland), and the CornHuskers have one more game, at home against the Nittany Lions. Advantage Nebraska, I guess? Even still, I think Michigan gets by Nebraska in a potential No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. Other than those two, all other bye situations are set in stone with two wins separating No. 8 Maryland and No. 9 Northwestern.

Intrigue Score: 6 out of 10. There won’t be a lot going on for the first three days of this tournament, but the last day or two will be thrilling. You’ll probably want to watch the Big Ten semifinals on Saturday, and you’ll definitely want to watch the title game on Sunday, especially because there will be nothing else on TV. But yeah, that’s about it.

Big East

The Details: Mar. 7-10 // Madison Square Garden // New York, N.Y.

The Frontrunners: To the fan who loves elite teams, here’s your reason to watch the Big East Tourney: Villanova and Xavier. Two potential No. 1 seeds, two bonafide Final Four contenders, a handful of NBA prospects, two player-of-the-year candidates… that’s about all you need to know. One of these teams should cut down the MSG nets, and could very well do the same in San Antonio. If they meet for Nova-Xavier Part III Saturday night, it’s going to be a fun one.

The Dark Horse: To the fan who loves college basketball as a whole, here’s your reason to watch the Big East Tourney. Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall all have the talent to make a run. Butler has beaten ‘Nova in three of its last four tries. Providence beat ‘Nova and Xavier. Creighton has Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Seton Hall has Angel Delgado. Marquette has Markus Howard. Watch your back, Wildcats and Musketeers.

The Bubble teams who need this: Marquette and Providence still have work to do, and will probably still have work to do when they hit the Garden. Looking at the Big East standings, there’s a decent possibility the two could meet in the quarterfinals, and I think both teams will probably need to advance from said round to feel safe on Selection Sunday. There’s also the anomaly case of St. John’s, which has proven it can knock off giants like Villanova and Duke, and could do the same in March if it didn’t already have 13 losses on its record. The Red Storm need a Big East title and nothing less.

The seeding storylines: After the top two, there’s a whole lot of jockeying for position. Seeds three through seven are separated by two games with about four games left. In the Big East, though, with ten teams, six get byes into the quarterfinals with the other four forced into opening round games. With this in mind, one of those five bubble teams in the middle of the league standings will be pushed into Wednesday evening action, and as of right now, it looks like that’ll be Marquette.

Intrigue Score: 8 out of 10. It’s the Big East Tournament, it’s the Garden, it’s how things should be during Champ Week. Villanova and Xavier are phenomenal, the excitement of the bubble situation in this league is second to none, except maybe the Big 12, and even some of the bottom-dwellers have a flair for the dramatic. Classic Big East.