Sports | Analysis
March 9, 2018 at 10:33 AM
Where does your college basketball team stand as Selection Sunday draws closer? We’ll break down the winners and losers from all the conference tournament action, with an eye on how the results will affect the NCAA tournament bracket. Check back for updates.
There are three more days of conference tournaments, with plenty of seeding and automatic bids at stake. The edge of the NCAA tournament field, outside the lingering possibility of bid snatchers, might have sorted itself out early.
The list of teams sent packing in conference tournaments the last two days reads like a who’s who of programs scrambling for the last few at-large spots: Baylor, Boise State, Florida State, Marquette, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Utah and Washington.
Whether those teams can make the cut is a matter of debate. What isn’t is whether their resumes will change much. With no games left, the arguments for and against are pretty much set.
It also means both Alabama and Providence, as perhaps the only borderline tournament teams still playing, enjoy great opportunities to further distinguish themselves. Maybe they remove any lingering doubts. Maybe they can bypass a play-in game. The next day or two (or three) could prove most helpful.
For the rest at the edge, it’s just a matter of waiting. There’s little else to do now.
Friday’s early bracket projection
(1) ATLANTIC COAST/Virginia vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/Radford — SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Arkansas-Pine Bluff winner
(8) Missouri vs. (9) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(4) Texas Tech vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Cincinnati vs. (14) COLONIAL/Charleston
(6) Miami vs. (11) Saint Mary’s
(7) Creighton vs. (10) Kansas State
(2) SOUTHEASTERN/Auburn vs. (15) BIG WEST/UC Davis
(1) Villanova vs. (16) SOUTHLAND/Southeastern Louisiana — NORTHEAST/LIU Brooklyn winner
(8) N.C. State vs. (9) Southern California
(5) Florida vs. (12) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State
(4) West Virginia vs. (13) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(3) BIG TEN/Michigan vs. (14) PATRIOT/Bucknell
(6) Arkansas vs. (11) Florida State-Providence winner
(7) Houston vs. (10) St. Bonaventure
(2) North Carolina vs. (15) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona
(1) BIG EAST/Xavier vs. (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Hampton
(8) UCLA vs. (9) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada
(5) Clemson vs. (12) MISSOURI VALLEY/Loyola Chicago
(4) Wichita State vs. (13) CONFERENCE USA/Old Dominion
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) SOUTHERN/UNC Greensboro
(6) Seton Hall vs. (11) Alabama-Syracuse winner
(7) Texas Christian vs. (10) Virginia Tech
(2) Purdue vs. (15) HORIZON/Wright State
(1) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (16) IVY/Harvard
(8) ATLANTIC 10/Rhode Island vs. (9) Butler
(5) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (12) MID-AMERICAN/Buffalo
(4) PAC-12/Arizona vs. (13) SUN BELT/UL Lafayette
(3) Michigan State vs. (14) BIG SKY/Montana
(6) Kentucky vs. (11) Texas
(7) Texas A&M; vs. (10) Arizona State
(2) Duke vs. (15) ATLANTIC SUN/Lipscomb
Friday’s early NCAA field notes
Last four included: Florida State, Providence, Alabama, Syracuse
Four just on the outside: Louisville, Marquette, Baylor, Notre Dame
Next four on the outside: Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Penn State, Middle Tennessee
Moving in: Old Dominion, Syracuse
Moving out: Marquette, Middle Tennessee
Clinched automatic bids: Bucknell (Patriot), Charleston (Colonial), Gonzaga (West Coast), Iona (Metro Atlantic), Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), LIU Brooklyn (Northeast), Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley), Michigan (Big Ten), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Radford (Big South), South Dakota State (Summit), UNC Greensboro (Southern), Wright State (Horizon)
Conference call: Atlantic Coast (10), Southeastern (8), Big 12 (7), Big East (6), Big Ten (4), Pac-12 (4), American Athletic (3), Atlantic 10 (2), West Coast (2)
THURSDAY’S LATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
It’s just not enough for Notre Dame.
The first 12 minutes of Notre Dame’s ACC quarterfinal against Duke on Thursday was a glimpse of what could have been. Matt Farrell conducting the Fighting Irish’s offense. Bonzie Colson collecting baskets thanks to both skill and savvy. Skip passes, bounce passes, and flat-out smart passes. It was a lot like how Notre Dame played the last three seasons.
It wasn’t always so during league play this season. Colson’s nearly two-month absence because of a broken foot sapped the Irish of one of the nation’s best interior players. Farrell missed time, too, and it contributed to the Irish’s midseason seven-game slide.
When they returned healthy, Notre Dame’s postseason hopes were boosted during the final week of the regular season. Against postseason-worthy competition, the Irish played Virginia tough on the road, rallied past Virginia Tech in the second round of the ACC tournament and then traded baskets with Duke before fading to an 88-70 loss.
At full strength and regular rest, few would argue the Irish aren’t dangerous. But they weren’t at full strength for much of the season, and they only did so much (beating Wichita State in Maui, knocking off Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, upending Florida State and N.C. State at home).
In the end, teams have to prove it in the win column, and Notre Dame didn’t do it enough. Some of that was a function of injuries, but that’s probably not going to be enough to receive clemency from the NCAA basketball committee.
Where, exactly, are the Cowboys?
The Second Most Interesting Team in the Country made a run at top honors when it built a 10-point lead in the first half against Kansas. Oklahoma State taking three from the Jayhawks would have helped the Cowboys’ stealth campaign at an out-of-nowhere at-large bid.
Oklahoma State beat Kansas twice and both Texas Tech and West Virginia once. It was also dominated by the middle of the Big 12 pack, going a combined 0-6 against Baylor, Kansas State and Texas Christian. But at their best, the Cowboys were awfully dangerous.
Oklahoma State also entered the day ranked No. 85 in the RPI, a metric that isn’t (and shouldn’t be) the final arbiter for selection. It is a sorting tool, and it does have importance. But there’s never been an at-large selection with an RPI in the 80s, a stat Oklahoma State is unlikely to change.
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