Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 NCAA Tournament Projections -- January 7, 2008

Right when you thought North Carolina was going to lose at Littlejohn (YEAH!), Wayne Ellington reminds us exactly how good he is. Furthermore, Ellington let us know that Chris Lofton is, at best, the second-best contested long-distance shooter in the nation.

Although it is early, there is an increasing amount of separation between the top four teams in the nation and everyone else. Though Michigan State and Duke are also among the upper echelon, both seem to be missing a piece that the top four teams have.

Among the risers are Drake, Dayton and Wisconsin. While Drake has yet to seal a signature win, they have been consistent behind first-year coach Keno Davis. Sound familiar? He’s the son of Iowa legend Dr. Tom Davis. As for Dayton, Brian Roberts is the real deal. Not only did they crush Pittsburgh prior to an injury suffered by Levance Fields, they won ugly against a good Akron team. As I highlighted early on in the preseason rankings, the A-10 is no kiddie pool and is at its strongest since my adolescent days when John Cheney wanted to strangle John Calipari. In Madison [and Austin], absolutely no one has forgotten about Michael Flowers’s three-point shot and subsequent hustle play to buoy Bucky to an unlikely victory against the Longhorns. The high-profile win really went a long way in showing the Badgers’ resolve.

There are also a bunch of teams that raise serious concerns. The first two are Arizona and Southern California. First, how long can the Wildcats go without Jerryd Bayless? Sure, Nic Wise has deputized decently well and improved greatly since last year, but his out-of-control style brings horrific memories of the Mustafa Shakur years. Second, what lessons have Tim Floyd learned since blowing a double-digit lead last year in the Sweet 16? I’ll spell it out. Grow a bench! If this was a straight prediction model, I would not have included the Trojans at all, but I think USC will hit their stride in about two weeks’ time. Of course, there is Pittsburgh, who raises major red flags due to long-term injuries to two starters. If the Panthers finish 5th or better in the dog-eat-dog Big East Conference, then you can consider this to be Jamie Dixon’s best coaching job.

Lastly, Arkansas’s victory at Baylor went a long way in determining the last four teams in the field of 65. For Arkansas, it meant that they got to stuck around. It was only a few days earlier that they lost to this year’s Appalachian State team. Thanks to Michigan football, we all know where Appalachian State is. As for BC, they beat out North Carolina State as the 6th team to represent the ACC. For the 65th pick, I went with a flyer in Valpo. No … no member of the Drew family plays for this team, but they have been good enough to the be the #2 team in the 9th-rated conference and three of their four losses have been away to teams in my Power 16.
Cases can be made for Providence and Oregon, but is it realistic to have a 9th Big East team and a 7th PAC-10 team represented? History shows that it is unlikely in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Of course, there may be a third team represented from the Missouri Valley once the smoke clears and the dust settles from an upside-down start to the season.

If you have any questions, comments, or just wish to send a shout, shoot me a line at As always, feel free to comment on the board.

The Seedings
1: North Carolina (ACC), Memphis (C-USA), UCLA (PAC-10), Kansas (Big XII)
2: Michigan State (Big Ten), Duke, Texas, Georgetown (Big East)
3: Washington State, Tennessee (SEC), Texas A&M, Marquette
4: Vanderbilt, Butler (Horizon), Rhode Island, Ohio State
5: Dayton (A-10), Ole Miss, Clemson, Drake
6: Oklahoma, Indiana, Stanford, Gonzaga (WCC)
7: UMass, Arizona, Syracuse, Southern California
8: Wisconsin, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Xavier
9: Kent State (MAC), Louisville, St. Mary’s, Miami-FL
10: Sam Houston State (Southland), West Virginia, Arizona State, Notre Dame
11: Villanova, George Mason (Colonial), Kansas State, Boston College
12: Arkansas, Southern Illinois (MVC), Utah (MWC), Baylor
13: Valparaiso, Siena (Metro Atlantic), Davidson (Southern), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West)
14: Holy Cross (Patriot), Winthrop (Big South), Hampton (MEAC), New Orleans (Sun Belt)
15: New Mexico State (WAC), UM-Baltimore County (America East), Yale (Ivy), Oakland (Summit)
16: Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Montana (Big Sky), East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun), Sacred Heart (Northeast), Grambling (SWAC)

IN: Drake, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Boston College, Valparaiso
OUT: Creighton, Oregon, North Carolina State, Providence, Brigham Young

Last Four In: Boston College, Arkansas, Baylor, Valparaiso
Last Four Out: Providence, Illinois State, Oregon, UConn
Next Four Out: Houston, Florida, Akron, Minnesota

Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Pac-10: 6/10 – UCLA, Washington State, Stanford, Southern California, Arizona, Arizona St.
Big XII: 6/12 – Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor
ACC: 6/12 – North Carolina, Duke Clemson, Virginia, Miami-FL, Boston College
Big East: 8/16 –Georgetown, Marquette, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova, Notre Dame
Big Ten: 4/11 – Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin
SEC: 4/12 – Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Arkansas
A-10: 4/14 – Rhode Island, Dayton, UMass, Xavier
Missouri Valley: 2/10 – Drake, Southern Illinois
Horizon: 2/10 – Butler, Valparaiso
West Coast: 2/10 – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s

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