So far this week, we have seen a number of surprises, especially among our bubble teams. PHSports conducts a pulse check to determine where these teams are now.
Virginia Tech - The Hokies have defeated exactly 1 team in our field of 65. If they hold serve at home (win against UVa, Wake, Maryland, NC State), they are in with no questions asked. If they are 8-3 in ACC play after Tuesday, not only will they be in our field, they will be a 8 seed or better.
Mississippi State - Right when they needed a win, they came out strong against their rival (as we predicted). This team remains barely in the tournament.
Illinois - And off of the bubble they go. Everyone - and I mean everyone - outside of Champaign thought the Fighting Illini would be 7-5 in the Big Ten after two fatal blows to the ego against two of the conference's finest teams. Now, this team is clicking on all cylinders, and suddenly, someone other than Bo Ryan is in the discussion for Big Ten Coach of the Year. 11-7 in conference is very, very possible, which would make them a shoe-in for the tournament. As a result, the resumes of Missouri and Gonzaga improved.
North Carolina - a great performance for 33 minutes was not enough. If the Heels put in the same effort for 33 minutes at the defensive end in their last 7 games, they can win 6. They will not though. Off to the NIT ... or CBI.
The A-10 - We knew Charlotte was in for a difficult stretch, but a whopping 28-point loss to Dayton was not what we envisioned. The Flyers have some good OOC wins (v. Georgia Tech on a neutral court, @ George Mason, v. Old Dominion), and boast one of the most talented rosters in the conference. Rhode Island has the RPI numbers, but surprised us with a loss against the Richmond Spiders. U of R, who another PHSports contributor may call the 2nd best team in Richmond, has a strong resume thanks to some great scheduling. They will be one of the interesting case studies to examine come the weekend of March 14.
Louisville and Notre Dame - The Cardinals mailed it in against St. John's on Thursday night. As for Notre Dame, they fought hard against The Hall, but they lost in true Fighting Irish fashion surrendering 90+ points. To boot, 'Gody is injured.
UConn - They fought hard and fell short. Because ESPN did the game, some of the talking heads are raising a stink about poor officiating. Don't get me wrong, this team is very talented, and I like what George Blaney has done by widening his bench. If UConn goes 9-9, they are in. If they 8-10 with another signature win, they will make it in over a more deserving mid-major.
Minnesota - Shame on you, Golden Gophers. Way to lose on national television to a struggling Michigan team! They are in better shape than Northwestern, but not by a whole lot.
UTEP - A completely different team since Derrick Caracter entered the fray. If you get to watch this team, they are not the most crisp on offense, but they take no prisoners on defense. A trip to Tulsa may be among their toughest tests to date.
St. Mary's - A 19-point loss is close to exactly what we expected at Gonzaga. That's why they were on the outside looking in. For them to get in, they need to win a game that they are not supposed to win. Ultimately, they will need to win the WCC Tournament.