Bracket Predictions – February 22

Ok, so I’m a day late here. I really did have the bracket done yesterday. However, the computer I was working on didn’t want to load up Blogger’s editor and I had to sleep thanks to some work schedule changes. Anyway, this bracket is good as of Tuesday’s games. No consideration has been made for what happened last night. I still haven’t looked at the scoreboard from last night yet.
Also, I tried to fill out the bracket as the NCAA does it, ranking teams from 1-68 to decide whose in and then doing the seeding and bracketing. That was much more work that the way I had been doing it, which was the scattershot approach. Less formulaic, but easier on me since I have a hard time taking in as many games as I probably should to do this column competently. Working overnights + the Pacific time zone is a detriment to amateur bracketologists. The advantage to the NCAA method is that I was able to actually place teams at sites, so there’s that. I think I’ll go back to just filling the seed lines next week.
Finally, look for some analysis/explanations after the full bracket. And, the whole thing in convenient graphic form for those so inclined thanks to Armando.

First Round
Dayton
East #16 – Texas-Arlington (Southland) vs. Stony Brook (America East)
Midwest #16 – Norfolk State (MEAC) vs. Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)
Midwest #12 – Xavier (Atlantic 10) vs. Northwestern (Big 10)
West #13 – Miami (FL) (ACC) vs. Colorado State (MWC)

East (Boston) Region
Pittsburgh
#1 Syracuse (Big East) vs. #16 UTA/SB winner
#8 Seton Hall (Big East) vs. #9 Southern Mississippi (Conference-USA)
Albuquerque
 #5 Wichita State (Missouri Valley) vs. #12 BYU (WCC)
#4 Wisconsin (Big 10) vs. #13 Middle Tennessee St. (Sun Belt)
Nashville
#6 UNLV (MWC) vs. #11 Long Beach State (Big West)
#3 Georgetown (Big East) vs. #14 Drexel (CAA)
Greensboro
#7 Saint Mary’s (WCC) vs. #10 Iowa State (Big 12)
#2 North Carolina (ACC) vs. #15 Cleveland State (Horizon)
West (Phoenix) Region
Columbus
#1 Michigan State (Big 10) vs. #16 UNC Asheville (Big South)
#8 Memphis (Conference-USA) vs. #9 Alabama (SEC)
Portland
#5 Florida State (ACC) vs. #12 Connecticut (Big East)
#4 Florida (SEC) vs. #13 MIA/CSU winner
Pittsburgh
#6 Creighton (Missouri Valley) vs. #11 Washington (Pac-12)
#3 Marquette (Big East) vs. #14 Davidson (Southern)
Omaha
#7 San Diego State (MWC) vs. #10 Purdue (Big 10)
#2 Kansas (Big 12) vs. #15 Weber State (Big Sky)
Midwest (St. Louis) Region
Omaha
#1 Duke (ACC) vs. #16 NSU/MVSU winner
#8 Harvard (Ivy) vs. #9 Mississippi State (SEC)
Nashville
#5 Indiana (Big 10) vs. #12 XU/NW winner
#4 Louisville (Big East) vs. #13 Iona (MAAC)
Columbus
#6 Notre Dame (Big East) vs. #11 Arizona (Pac-12)
#3 Michigan (Big 10) vs. #14 Nevada (WAC)
Louisville
#7 Gonzaga (WCC) vs. #10 Virginia (ACC)
#2 Missouri (Big 12) vs. #15 Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
South (Atlanta) Region
Louisville
#1 Kentucky (SEC) vs. #16 Long Island (NEC)
#8 Saint Louis (Atlantic 10) vs. #9 Kansas State (Big 12)
Portland
#5 Murray State (OVC) vs. #12 Cincinnati (Big East)
#4 Temple (Atlantic 10) vs. #13 Oral Roberts (Summit)
Albuquerque
#6 New Mexico (MWC) vs. #11 West Virginia (Big East)
#3 Baylor (Big 12) vs. #14 Akron (MAC)
Greensboro
#7 Vanderbilt (SEC) vs. #10 California (Pac-12)
#2 Ohio State (Big 10) vs. #15 Bucknell (Patriot)
Last Four In: Xavier, Northwestern, Miami, Colorado State
First Four Out: Minnesota, NC State, Texas, South Florida
Next Four Out: UCF, Illinois, George Mason, Oregon
NIT Bound: Saint Joseph’s, VCU, Mississippi, Wyoming

Once again, anything that happened last night didn’t factor into this bracket so there’s legitimately some movement in the middle seeds. I don’t think anyone may have played their way out yesterday, but a bubble or two may have popped (Wyoming). Here’s just a few notes on this week’s blog and a look ahead to next week’s Bang coverage.

  • Michigan State is the latest beneficiary of a stumble on the one line. Missouri’s 2nd loss to Kansas State was enough to knock them down a peg, allowing the Big Ten leaders to take the last #1 seed. The Spartans are rolling on a 6-game win streak that includes wins over Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. They have a tough road next week with a trip to Indiana and a rematch with the Buckeyes. Winning out should make them a lock on the top line. 
  • Missouri, as I just said, took a step backwards to the 2 line. They gave up the Big 12 lead to Kansas with a huge showdown Saturday in Lawrence. If they can complete the season sweep of the Jayhawks, they would make a case for a #1 seed, but a lot would depend on what happens above them during conference tournaments.
  • Murry State made a statement with their win over Saint Mary’s. That statement was that if they slip up in the OVC tournament, they deserve an at-large bid. The Racers and Long Beach State are the only small conference team that deserve the at-large bid this season, should they slip up in their tournaments. 
  • Wichita State also impressed on Bracketbuster weekend, stomping on Davidson. They’ve locked up the MVC regular-season title, taking full advantage of Creighton’s February skid. They’re also the mid-major team with the highest RPI rating for what that’s worth. A 5 seed may be a little high, but looking at their resume it made sense to me. If you compare them with my top #5 seed Indiana, they have a better overall RPI and a similar non-conference RPI. Of their 4 losses, 2 came in overtime. That includes their only bad loss, a triple-overtime loss on the road at Drake. That looks good to me.
  • What a difference a week makes for San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico. The Lobos surged to the top of the MWC standings after knocking off SDSU and UNLV in back-to-back games before having their momentum stopped by Colorado State on Tuesday. That alone was enough to shoot them from a 12 seed a week ago to a 6 this week. Drastic? Probably and today I may have them sliding back to a 7 or 8. But, the real question is what happened to the other MWC contenders? SDSU, once a solid 3 seed is all the way down to a 7 after losing three of their last four and needing overtime to dispatch Wyoming last night. The Runnin’ Rebels haven’t fared much better, going two-and-two in their last four and dropping 10 spots in this week’s AP poll. With three games each left in the season, the MWC tournament could play a big part in these three teams final seeds. Oh, and determine which side of the bubble Colorado State will end up on too. 
  • Seton Hall’s upset of Georgetown on Monday launched them up many lists into the middle of the tournament picture. They needed a signature win with a decent resume in a top conference and they got it against the Hoyas. Their last two games should be gimmes, but a win in the Big East tournament locks them in. The farther they can get, the better their seeding. 
  • Kansas State is another team finally getting noticed after a big upset. Back-to-back upsets actually, after taking out two top-ten teams in Baylor and Missouri. They’ve got a manageable final three games and should net at least one win in the Big 12 tournament. All signs point to their stock rising even higher then the 9 seed I’ve put them at.

For even more analysis, watch this spot right here Friday night for the next edition of the Bangcast. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. A show that we’ll be putting out once again weekly after some time off. Coming up next week, we will start our coverage of every conference tournament. That’s right EVERY tournament starting on Monday. That first batch of previews will feature previews of the Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon League, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, and West Coast tournaments the rest close to follow.

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