Monday, February 23, 2009

NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections - February 23, 2009

It's not a misprint. UConn remains the top overall seed despite a loss to Pitt. It's not easy for even the top team to lose its best perimeter threat and then face another top seed. I believe UConn will get used to live without Jerome Dyson during the regular season and the conference tournament, and that Kemba Walker will fill at least a portion of the void.

Despite a loss to Texas and a predicted home loss against Kansas (that's why we have them as a #3 seed this week), Blake Griffin will return to full strength and the Sooners will be judged on their performances with the nation's best player. Staying in the Big XII, they remain at 4 teams this week. That changes if Kansas State pulls off the upset at Missouri on Wednesday, then wins one of their final three (v. Nebraska, @ Oklahoma State, v. Colorado) and avoids a 5/12 defeat in the Big XII tournament.

This week's team to look out for is Villanova. They are 10-4 in the Big East (playing PC, Cuse and Marquette 2x), have a legitimate interior threat in Dante Cunningham, and are one of the nation's hottest teams. In fact, it was a toss up between Memphis and Villanova, but the nation's top defense won out.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another team to look out for is Ohio State. The value of their early season wins have fizzled and they are suddenly .500 with four games to play in the Big Ten, leaving many things to chance at the Big Ten Tournament, unless they win at least three of their last four. Another team that needs a rapid mend is none other than Davidson. Even a blind man can see that Stephen Curry, even prior to his ankle injury, was pressing and forcing shots. They were bumped up a seed due to matchup conflicts and can find themselves on the 12 or 13 line if they do not rectify their play quickly.

Moving to the last four in (which is easily the most fun topic for true bracket aficionados), Maryland and Notre Dame seeped into the field while Miami-FL (5-8 in the ACC, but I think they will win their last three games and easily pass the eye test) and South Carolina hung on for dear life. The margin for error is not very much, as Cincinnati (who blew a chance at a signature win on Saturday versus Louisville), San Diego State (20+ point loss to a NIT team = NIT bound) and Kansas State are all within an earshot of that elusive 34th at-large bid.

The Seedings

1: UConn (Big East), Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Oklahoma (Big XII)

2: Duke (ACC), Louisville, Michigan State (Big Ten), Memphis (C-USA)

3: Villanova, Wake Forest, Kansas, Marquette

4: Clemson, Missouri, Washington (PAC 10), Arizona State

5: Purdue, Illinois, West Virginia, Xavier (A-10)

6: Butler (Horizon), Florida State, Texas, UCLA

7: Gonzaga (WCC), Syracuse, LSU (SEC), Minnesota

8: California, Tennessee, Boston College, Ohio State

9: Utah, Dayton, Penn State, Wisconsin

10: Arizona, Davidson (Southern), BYU, Florida

11: Kentucky, Siena (Metro Atlantic), Creighton (MVC), Maryland

12: Utah State (WAC), UNLV (MWC), Notre Dame, Miami-FL

13: South Carolina, Vermont (America East), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), VCU (CAA)

14: Buffalo (MAC), North Dakota State (Summit), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), American (Patriot)

15: Cornell (Ivy), VMI (Big South), Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley), Belmont (Atlantic Sun)

16: Weber State (Big Sky), Morgan State (MEAC), Long Beach State (Big West), Robert Morris (Northeast), Alabama State (SWAC)

IN: Penn State, Maryland, Notre Dame

OUT: Virginia Tech, USC, Cincinnati

Last Four In: Maryland, Notre Dame, Miami-FL, South Carolina

Last Four Out: Cincinnati, San Diego State, Kansas State, USC

Next Four Out: St. Mary’s, Georgetown, Michigan, Virginia Tech

Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
ACC: 8/12

Big Ten: 7/11

Big East: 8/16

Pac-10: 5/10

SEC: 5/12

Big XII: 4/12

Mountain West: 3/9

A-10: 2/14

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