March Madness: Tournament Watch 3/9

By Mike Bachini, CBS Connecticut

Connecticut (CBS) – Things are starting to heat up in the conference tournaments, and today’s action is crazy everywhere you turn. The ACC and Big 12 conferences are so deep that today’s match ups feature quality teams going at each other which is strange so early in their respective tournaments. Today will be a lot of fun and today and tomorrow will paint a pretty good picture as to how Sunday will go.

In = The team could lose all of the rest of their games between now and March 12th and they would still be in the tournament. Obviously their seeding would take a hit, but it would be a complete shock if they weren’t in the tournament.

Almost In = These are the teams who are not quite there yet, but only need a win or two more, or to avoid any devastating losses between now and the end of the season.

Bubble = Teams that might be in if the field was announced today, but are in direct competition with many other teams.

ACC

In (8) – Louisville, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech
Bubble In (1) – Wake Forest
Bubble Out (1) – Syracuse

 

Wake Forest avoided a bad loss to BC in the opening round of the ACC tournament on Tuesday night. A loss there would have put Wake right on the edge. Last night they led Virginia Tech at the half but couldn’t pull out the win. If they had won that one, they would have been a lock in my opinion. They are directly on the bubble right now. I have them projected to go to Dayton as the 3rd to last at-large team in the field.

Syracuse was right on the cut line with Wake Forest, but lost their first round game yesterday to Miami. I had them as the 2nd to last at-large team in the field before that loss. But now they sit at home and anxiously await their fate. I have the Orange as the last team out right now.

Big East

In (3) – Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall
Almost In (3) – Providence, Marquette, Xavier

 

– Not much has changed for Providence and Marquette. They are in the field as 10 seeds right now and any loss in the quarterfinal wouldn’t hurt them enough to knock them out. The only reason I’m not moving them up to the “In” category is to save for the possibility of craziness in the next 4 days and potential bid stealing in other conference tournaments.

Xavier avoided a bad loss for the second straight game against DePaul and should now feel safe. A loss to Butler won’t damage the Musketeers profile and they’ve done just barely enough to get in to the tournament. Their seed took a hit, but I believe they will avoid Dayton as part of the first four as well.

Big 12

In (5) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State
Bubble In (1) – Kansas State

 

Kansas State plays Baylor today in the Big 12 quarterfinals. A win there might seal it for them as the neutral court win would be added on top of the win at Baylor earlier in the season. If they lose, they will be right on the edge with Syracuse (although a loss to Baylor looks much better than a loss to Miami). They need to keep their eyes on Rhode Island, Illinois and Iowa.

Big Ten

In (7) – Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State
Bubble Out (2) – Illinois, Iowa

 

Michigan is a projected 8 seed and Michigan State is a projected 9 seed. There’s just no way a loss sends them down the seed list far enough that they need to worry.

Illinois is currently down 15 points to Michigan in the first half as I write this. Unless they have a great comeback in them, that loss will probably send them to the NIT.

Iowa would be wise to take advantage of Illinois recent struggles. First up is a date against Indiana tonight. If they win that one and then their quarterfinal match up against Wisconsin we can definitely talk.

Pac-12

In (3) – Oregon, Arizona, UCLA
Bubble In (1) – USC

 

USC avoided a crippling

loss last night to Washington. A loss there and they would have been sent to the cut line with Kansas State, Illinois State and Syracuse. A rubber match against UCLA awaits late tonight. A loss there might send USC to Dayton, but as of right now I have them as the last number 11 seed not heading to Dayton as part of the first four.

– I don’t really consider Cal to be on the bubble any more. They need to beat Utah and then Oregon to get back on the map.

SEC

In (4) – Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas
Almost In (1) – Arkansas
Bubble In (1) – Vanderbilt

 

Arkansas is a projected 8 seed and should feel safe at this point. They are now in.

Vanderbilt is headed to Dayton in this projection. A loss to Texas A&M might send them out of the field, but a win should make them feel relatively safe. They’d be smart to win 2 games to avoid playing in the first four next week.

 

American

In (2) – Cincinnati, SMU
Bubble Out (1) – Houston

 

Houston awaits the winner of UConn and South Florida tomorrow night. They’ll probably need to beat Uconn/South Florida and Cincinnati to approach the cut line.

Atlantic 10

In (2) – VCU, Dayton
Bubble Out (1) – Rhode Island

 

Rhode Island plays the winner of Umass/St. Bonaventure tomorrow. They’ll need to win that one to stay where they are and be considered, but a win over Dayton would definitely go a long way. Right now they are the 2nd team out of the field and can easily pass Syracuse, Kansas State and Illinois State with a win there.

Missouri Valley

Bubble In (1) – Illinois State

 

Illinois State moves into the field as the 68th and last team with Syracuse’s loss. Rhode Island, Kansas State, Illinois and Iowa are all still playing and could easily bump them back out. Such is life when your conference tournament ends early and you have to sit back and watch all the other bubble teams either play their way in to, or out of the tournament.

 

Bracket Projection

** = Won automatic bid into tournament via conference championship

 

Midwest

1. Kansas
16. North Dakota/New Orleans
8. Dayton
9. Wichita State**
5. Notre Dame
12. Kansas State/Illinois State
4. Butler
13. Akron
6. Minnesota
11. Xavier
3. UCLA
14. East Tennessee State**
7. Wisconsin
10. Providence
2. Baylor
15. Texas Southern

 

West

1. Gonzaga
16. South Dakota State
8. Michigan
9. Seton Hall
5. Virginia
12. Nevada
4. Purdue
13. Vermont
6. St. Mary’s
11. USC
3. Arizona
14. Cal State Bakersfield
7. South Carolina
10. Marquette
2. Oregon
15. UC Irvine

 

East

1. Villanova
16. Mt. St. Mary’s
8. VCU
9. Miami
5. Cincinnati
12. UNC Wilmington**
4. Duke
13. Princeton
6. Maryland
11. Vanderbilt/Wake Forest
3. Florida State
14. Iona**
7. Creighton
10. Northwestern
2. Kentucky
15. Florida Gulf Coast**

 

South

1. North Carolina
16. NC Central/Jacksonville State**
8. Arkansas
9. Michigan State
5. SMU
12. UNC Wilmington**
4. West Virginia
13. Bucknell**
6. Iowa State
11. Middle Tennessee
3. Florida
14. Winthrop**
7. Oklahoma State
10. Virginia Tech
2. Louisville
15. Northern Kentucky**

 

Last 4 In: Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Illinois State

First 4 Out: Syracuse, Rhode Island, Illinois, Iowa

Teams that can jump back into the conversation with a few quality wins: Houston, Cal, Georgia, TCU, Indiana

Officially Out: Georgia Tech, BYU, Ohio State

Follow Mike Bachini on Twitter @MikeBachini

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