CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK
-Its been an absolutely insane couple of days. The new bracket will be posted hopefully later this morning after I get a chance to sort out all of the meyhem.
-Instead of the bubble shrinking like most years, it appears to be growing. Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas State, Mississippi State and Purdue are among the teams that are really making a charge. Three of the four teams in the SEC finals are on the bubble, which should make for an interesting Saturday.
-I believe Illinois punched their ticket with a win against Indiana. They face Wisconsin next, but a loss to a team like that is of little consequence if theyve already played their way in. Of course a win really boosts their seed.
-Xavier lost to Rhode Island, which isnt good for them. Theyd been red hot coming into that game, but none of their wins during that run had come against strong tournament teams. They do have a good win against Villanova, but next two best wins were at home against Kansas State and Illinois. Other than that, there is nothing impressive on their resume, and given some of their bad losses, it really makes them look inferior to some of the other bubble teams. Then again, Xavier pretty much beat themselves in their loss to Rhode Island in the semifinals of the Atlantic Ten. Since the committee rewards teams for beating RPI top 50 teams, there is always a chance theyll reward Xavier for beating themselves since theyre an RPI top 50 team.
-As sad as I am to see the regular season come to an end, Im getting sick of these Disney commercials that ESPN Full Court bombards us with. Ive never been to Disney World, and Im still sick of it. Ive seen the previews for the new Mickey Mouse movie and for the dance competition taking place this summer a few too many times. This isnt as bad as the Applebees commercials during the NCAA Tournament last year where the two morons were singing that song about shrimp to the tune of Gilligans Island, but it is very quickly making Disney World a place I never care to visit.
-North Carolina State continues their incredible run through the ACC Tournament. Theyve beaten Duke and Virginia, and will now play a Virginia Tech team in the semis that they beat twice during the regular season. If they win, theyll most likely face North Carolina, which was also a team they managed to beat during the regular season. Its too bad it took them so long to kick it into gear. As it stands now, they need to win the ACC Tournament in order to make the NCAAs.
-W2. MISSISSIPPI VS E1. FLORIDA. Both teams won in blowouts in the quaterfinals, which is strange because seemingly all the games prior to that had been close. Florida is at worst a #2 seed, and will most likely end up a #1 seed if they win this tournament. Mississippi is getting closer and closer to the bubble. I still believe theyre out, but a win in this game today will get them one strong look, and could be enough to get them into the field. Whats interesting about this tournament is that Florida is the only remaining team that is solidly in, so they can expect to get everyones best shot from here on out. Then again, that should serve as a great tune-up for the NCAA Tournament.
-W3. ARKANSAS VS W1. MISSISSIPPI STATE. Neither of these teams managed winning records in conference play, but one of them will get a chance to play for the conference title. Both teams are very hot right now as well. I didnt have either in my previous bracket, but Mississippi State has won six of their last eight, and four of those wins have come against the RPI top 50. Arkansas, after having been in a slump, has won four straight, and three of those were away from home. With a very strong SOS, they are now on the bubble. I dont think the loser of this game will make the field, but the winner very well could. Neither of these teams are locks, but both have a shot, which is why this is such a huge game.
BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
-3. PITTSBURGH VS 1. GEORGETOWN. Both of these teams won exciting semifinal games to advance this far. Although Pitt is the #3 seed, they still appear to be one of the two best teams in the league given the schedule that they played, so its fitting that these two are squaring off for the conference championship. I believe both teams will end up as #3 seeds at worst regardless of what happens today, but the winner should end up with a #2. Its possible that both teams could end up seeded #2, so this is the perfect tuneup for the NCAA Tournament.
PAC TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
-4. OREGON VS 3. USC. Oregon blew out California in the semifinals, and is on an impressive five game winning streak. USC has been playing well in this tournament having defeated a good Stanford team, along with a very good Washington State team in the semifinals. Now they have a chance to win a Pac Ten Championship in their home city, which is a big deal for a team that hasnt done all that much to impress in the years prior to this. Both teams are in the NCAA Tournament, but are playing for seeding. A win in this game should boost it up quite a bit for either team.
BIG TEN SEMIFINALS
-5. PURDUE VS 1. OHIO STATE. Purdues win against Iowa was huge, and it could be enough to land them in the field, but a win today pretty much cements them into the field. A win over Ohio State on a neutral floor will guarantee them a spot in the field. Ohio State is a likely #1 seed regardless of what happens the rest of the way, but with Wisconsin in the other semifinal game they could hammer out the top #1 seed if they can end up winning this tournament.
-6. ILLINOIS VS 2. WISCONSIN. I believe Illinois got themselves into the dance with their win over Indiana last night. They can really boost the quality of their seed if they can pull off an upset win in this game. Wisconsin is in contention for a #1 seed, and has a chance of getting one with a win today whether they win the conference title or not. Illinois could really boost the value of their resume with a major win on a neutral floor in a game like this. Either way, I believe both teams are safely in, and the worst that could happen to Wisconsin is that they wind up a #2 seed.
-4. BOSTON COLLEGE VS 1. NORTH CAROLINA. Neither team played all that well in their quarterfinal games. BC struggled with Miami, but ended up pulling it off in an overtime thriller. North Carolina won rather handily against Florida State, but didnt play anywhere near up to their potential. Nevertheless, the two will face each other with a chance to go to the ACC title game. Both teams are in the NCAA Tournament regardless, and a win for North Carolina today could be enough to have them end up as a #1 seed.
-10. NORTH CAROLINA STATE VS 3. VIRGINIA TECH. NC State has pulled off two big upsets against Virginia and Duke to get to the semifinals. Whats interesting is that theyve beaten Virginia Tech rather handily twice this season, so they could very easily end up winning this game with a chance to play for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They really cant get in any other way. Virginia Tech is in regardless, but is playing to help improve their seed. Advancing to the ACC Championship Game certainly wouldnt hurt.
BIG TWELVE SEMIFINALS
-4. KANSAS STATE VS 1. KANSAS. Kansas is a lock for the dance, and can pretty much wrap up a #2 seed with a win today. Kansas State won a big game against Texas Tech in the quarters and have certainly gotten themselves onto the bubble. I believe a win today will be enough to put them into the field. This is a big rivalry off paper, and a high stakes game off paper as Kansas State is fighting to lock up a spot in the dance. As good as they looked against Texas Tech, they may have a shot at pulling off the upset.
-7. OKLAHOMA STATE VS 3. TEXAS. Oklahoma State has no true road wins, but they just won a huge game against Texas Tech. It is easily their most impressive win of the season, and it ends a stretch for them where they really havent been playing well. They are a very difficult team to figure out because they have some big wins, and some of those were away from home, but they also have some underwhelming losses. Still, a win today will give them neutral floor wins against Syracuse, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, and now Texas, which are four solid teams. Texas struggled against Baylor in their quarterfinal game and had to come from 20 points down in order to win. A win today should be enough to land them in the pod system.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
-1. BYU AT 2. UNLV. BYU is the higher seeded team, but UNLV is the host. Thats not too big a deal because both teams are going to the NCAA Tournament. If anything, it gives BYU a chance to pick up one of their most impressive wins of the year, and thats a road win against a nationally ranked BYU team. That would really help boost their seed. A win for UNLV could get them as high as a #4 seed, but I still think its a long shot for them to be seeded any better than #5. A loss isnt likely to hurt them all that much either.
CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP
-3. HOUSTON VS 1. MEMPHIS. Memphis is looking at no worse than a #4 seed if they win this game, and theyll have a huge advantage over Houston. They are a much better team and theyre playing at home. Houston does have some talent, and although theyve been inconsistent this year there have been times when they have been consistently good. It would take an incredible upset to get them to the dance, but if it were to happen, it would take a bid away from a bubble team. The teams on the bubble probably have more at stake in this one than Memphis does.
-4. UTAH STATE AT 2. NEW MEXICO STATE. New Mexico State has looked impressive in both their tournament wins, but hasnt faced a team quite as good or as hot as Utah State yet. Utah State upset Nevada in the semifinals, and has a resume that is beginning to look very good, but chances are it wont be good enough to get them an invite if they dont win this game. New Mexico State needs a win in this game as well. Both teams are good and could really be a tough first round opponent, but I believe both will have to win this game in order to get the opportunity. Expect a rabid crowd to come out and support New Mexico State. Theyve supported the team all year, and will definitely be out in force seeing as how they have a chance to make the dance.
ATLANTIC TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
-4. RHODE ISLAND VS 3. GEORGE WASHINGTON. Im not sure if either of these teams really expected to be here, but here they are with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. George Washington defeated Saint Louis rather handily in the semifinals, and Rhode Island shut down Xavier to pull the upset in their semifinal game. Neither team has any shot at all of getting in without winning this game, so its a winner take all scenario.
MID AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
-4. MIAMI, OH VS 2. AKRON. These two teams met twice during the regular season, and split the series with each team winning by just two points each time, so this could turn out to be a very exciting basketball game. On top of that, they are conference rivals and its a winner take all game. The best the loser can hope for is the NIT. Miami tends to slow the game down and rely on their passing and shooting, whereas Akron has some athletes. It should be a great match-up, and the winner advances to the NCAA Tournament.
AMERICA EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
-2. ALBANY AT 1. VERMONT. Vermont swept the regular season title, and was unbeaten at home throughout conference play, so they are the favorites to win this one. They also have a big win at Boston College earlier this season, and will likely be seeded as good as #13 if they go on to win this. Albany has some talent and is coming into this game with a five game winning streak. They won this tournament last year and were pretty impressive against Connecticut in the first round, so several of their players have big time game experience. It should be a good game between the two best teams in the conference.
BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
-2. CAL POLY VS 1. LONG BEACH STATE. These were the top two teams in the league, and both had a relatively easy time advancing through the semifinals, so its very fitting that the two are facing each other. Long Beach is a very good team and could end up being a dangerous first round opponent for whoever they face. They beat Cal Poly twice during the regular season, but both games were close, so this is by no means a guarantee. Long Beach is most likley looking at a #14 seed if they end up winning. Cal Poly would probably end up as a #15.
-2. FLORIDA A&M VS 1. DELWARE STATE. Delaware State was the hands down preseason favorite to win this league, and is on a nine game winning streak that includes a 12 point win over FAMU. Theyre looking at a #15 seed if they win this game, but FAMU will almost assuredly end up as a #16. Still, a #16 seeded team is a team that gets to play in the NCAA Tournament, and that opportunity is whats at stake in this game.
-2. JACKSON STATE VS 1. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE. Chances are the winner of this game can begin making travel plans for Dayton because theyre going to the play-in game. Both teams have more than five sub 200 RPI losses, and Jackson State hast just two wins againt the RPI top 200. Mississippi Valley State only has one. Jackson State won the regular season meeting between the two, but Misssissippi Valley State ended up winning the league, so its a pretty evenly matched contest.
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The name on the back of the jersey means just as much as the name on the front here at DraftExpress, so if youre watching the NCAA tournament with an eye on scouting future NBA players, youve come to the right place.