6 days more.
As the larger conference tournaments start this week with Selection Sunday looming, there is one thing on everyone’s mind: Brackets. Who’s a lock? Who’s on the bubble? Who are the one seeds? What region will my team be in? And the list goes on.
Today is my second attempt to bring you what I think the 68-team field would look like if today were Selection Day. You can see that field above, with The Dom and Thunder Show logo smack-dab in the middle (follow us on Twitter @domandthunder).
Here’s a look at my bubble:
Next Four In
- Utah State Aggies
- Indiana Hoosiers
- Temple Owls
- Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last Four In
- St John’s Red Storm
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Creighton Bluejays
- TCU Hornfrogs
First Four Out
- Georgetown Hoyas
- Ohio State Buckeyes
- NC State Wolfpack
- Clemson Tigers
Next Four Out
- Lipscomb Wildcats
- Furman Paladins
- Butler Bulldogs
- Xavier Musketeers
This week for a little write-up to accompany the bracket, I thought I would delve into a few teams’ whose stock is rising and a few who are just the opposite.
North Carolina Tar Heels (1 seed, South region)
Roy Williams’ club is coming off another win against a Zion-less Duke, effectively taking the Blue Devils’ spot on the top line that they held for so long. The Tar Heels possess everything you want from a one-seed: Strong conference play, high SOS, fantastic road record, and of course the wins against Quad 1 and ranked opponents. By winning at least a game in the ACC Tournament, UNC will lock up a top seed.
UCF Knights (9 seed, East Region)
The Knights recently beat Houston and Cincinnati, the class of the AAC, in a span of 5 days. Led by coach Johnny Dawkins and 7’6″ Godzilla Tacko Fall, the Knights have gone from a shaky bubble team to a near-lock in a matter of a few games. They have an excellent NET rating (28) and a strong strength-of-schedule to go with it. If they are able to make some noise in the seemingly wide-open AAC tournament, they could raise their stock to as high as maybe a 6 seed.
Murray State Racers (12 seed, East Region)
The Racers are going dancing! Thanks to a herculean effort from superstar PG Ja Morant, the Racers fought off the high-flying Belmont Bears in the Ohio Valley final. Some (including myself) believed they needed the automatic bid to make it into the tournament, as they they severely lacked quality wins. But, that is irrelevant now, as they did the deed and now are ready to make some real noise in a few weeks.
Marquette Golden Eagles (5 seed, East Region)
What in the world happened to the Golden Eagles? After setting themselves up as the clear-cut team to beat in the Big East with a 12-2 start in-conference, they have dropped four in a row to close out the regular season slate, including three to bubble threats Seton Hall, Georgetown, and Creighton. The skid has taken them off a top 16 seed in my book, and while they already have the Quad 1&2 wins as well as the non-conference schedule to back them up, its tough sledding right now.
Iowa Hawkeyes (8 seed, East Region- I promise I’m not sticking in the East Region on purpose)
The Hawkeyes, like Marquette, finished their regular season on a four game skid. They seemed like a promising top-16 team two weeks ago, but now find themselves middling in the muck of average Power 5 clubs. You have wonder if Fran McCaffery’s tirade on officials and consequent suspension has anything to do with this recent slide.
Ohio State Buckeyes (First Four Out)
A 10-seed last week, Ohio State has fallen out of the 68-team field. In the last week alone, they lost by 35 points to Purdue before losing by 18 to a horrible Northwestern club, and falling to Wisconsin. Combine the last two weeks, and it’s a 2-6 skid at the worst possible time for the Buckeyes. They are one of those teams trying to take advantage of their strong conference, but with just one win over a ranked opponent and three dreadful Big Ten losses, OSU has some work to do in the Big Ten tournament.