Friday, December 31, 2010

Pre-Lockbox

This is not a full-on Lockbox, but rather a "pre-Lockbox." This has all the conference leaders (potential automatic bids) along with the at-large teams that seem (to me) nearly certain given their performance thus far. Now, it is still very early, but I would be utterly shocked if any of the 13 at-large teams I put in somehow miss the bracket in March.

The purpose of this pre-Lockbox is to give a sense of how many AL slots are actually out there. I have reasons for choosing these leaders and AL teams, but it's pretty easy to poke holes in my logic at this early stage. The picture will become clearer and clearer as we go along.

Remember, with the expansion to a 68 team bracket, there are now 37 slots for AL teams. So, if these 13 are pretty much certain, the rest of hoops nation is battling for about 24 invitations if they do not win their league's auto bid.

I will put together a full Lockbox soon and an initial bracket sometime before mid-January.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunny Opportunities II

The Belt made good on 4/6 games Tuesday night, with Troy picking up its first win of the season on a neutral court vs Western Michigan.

More opportunities await on Wednesday.

--FAMU at FIU
--Oral Roberts vs UALR
--Idaho State vs Troy
--Northern Colorado at UL-Monroe
--Arkansas State at Missouri State

One big one:
--North Texas at LSU

One MASSIVE one:
--Louisville at WKU

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunny Opportunities

The Sun Belt has a load of chances to finish the non-conference with a flurry over the next couple of days.

Tonight
--UA-Pine Bluff at Denver. Pioneers need all the wins they can get, and UAPB hasn't broken through in the W column to date.
--Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee. It doesn't get much bigger than this for Belt home games.
--Alcorn State at South Alabama. USA also faces a winless SWAC team.
--UL-Lafayette at New Mexico State. Cajuns have already fallen to the Aggies at home this season.
--UALR at Akron. Tough one, but a chance to score a good win here on a neutral court.
--Western Michigan at Troy. Trojans still seeking their first win.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Project Mockingbird 2011

This is pretty much a re-post of last year's call to create your own Mock Selection Committee. Only one other group apart from TBB gave this a shot, with some mixed results. The "Omaha Group" got pretty far into the process, but had to throw in the towel before totally completing the deal. I am hoping Team Omaha can give it a shot again this year.

So, do you want to go beyond the bracket? Want to demystify the selection process? Want to free yourself of parroting the IN/OUT claims of "bracketologists"? Do it yourself. No, do not put 65 teams together yourself. There are a great number of people who already do that pretty well.

Instead, become a recruiter and a facilitator. Don't be an army of one, but a oligarchy of ten (or seven or four...). Wrangle up some friends who 1) love college hoops, 2) have a high tolerance for reading tedious rules and regulations, 3) enjoy voting, 4) REALLY enjoy voting, 5) can devote a lot of time reviewing resumes in February and March, and 6) can block off March 12 and 13 on their calendars.

If you have a group that fits the criteria above, all you need is a meeting place be it physical or virtual (I've participated in "mock" committees that have done both).

TBB will keep you posted on where we are in our sixth version of our own committee (the South Central Kentucky Selection Simulation Project or SCKySSiP [SKISS-up]), but your home grown version can start by reviewing the NCAA Men's Selection Committee Principles and Procedures which is generally referred to as the "selection criteria."

Also, here is a page that has a bunch of List 8 ballots and an S-Curve. More stuff will be posted as the season goes along, but the selection criteria and these docs are the building blocks. I am here to help you answer logistical questions about how to vote, meet, how much time this will take, etc. I can only share my own experience, but I have done it six times, so I might be able to save you some headaches on the front end. More on Mockingbird as the season progresses.

This is the ultimate DIY Project for college hoops junkies. The way we do it is not perfect, but we have learned a lot over the years and there is great value in replicating the process versus guessing what the actual committee will do. Huge difference. This is active learning at its finest.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pre-Xmas Watch List

Pay attention to these below-the-radar clubs. No need to track the power conferences, as anyone winning will get plenty of watching.

Vermont (7-2). So, the Siena win looks less impressive, but they also won at Quinnipiac (no slouch), and their losses are to UConn and BYU. They currently have a top 50 RPI as well. At-large is a real long shot, but the Catamounts are playing well.

Belmont (6-2). No bad losses, and they have trounced everyone not name Vandy or Tennessee except MTSU, whom the Bruins beat in OT. The efficiency numbers like them, too.

Old Dominion (8-2). Won the Paradise Jam and toting wins over Clemson, Xavier, Richmond and Dayton. Lost at Delaware, but still, the Monarchs are in a strong position.

UCF (7-0). Win over Florida...and everyone they have played.

Cleveland State (10-0). Not the strongest of schedules, but still blemish-free and 2-0 in conference (both road wins).

The Ivy. 8/10 teams are .500 or better with three in the Top 100 RPI at this early stage (Harvard, Princeton, Yale).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Absolute Monarchs

Old Dominion is your Paradise Jam champeen. Nicely done, Monarchs.

Some big games tonight.

--Butler at Siena. Two non-power powerhouses of recent times.
--Duke vs Kansas State. For all the CBE marbles.
--Gonzaga vs Marquette. The consolation CBE match is not bad, either.
--UConn vs Michigan State. Sparty is the favorite in Maui.
--Kentucky vs Washington. NBA score seems likely in this one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TBB on Twitter

You can now follow TBB on Twitter if you so desire. There is a permalink to your right as well.

Sun Belt Slate

The Belt has a tough row to hoe tonight.

--Arkansas State vs Belmont. The Bruins are a perennial A-SUN power and the Red Wolves did not look that hot against Missouri State. They need to salvage a win here.
--UAB at Middle Tennessee. The Raiders score a nice home game here, but MTSU looks to be down this year. This would be a big win if they pull it off.
--UL-Lafayette at Creighton. ULL is rebuilding and Creighton is usually very tough at home.
--South Alabama at Southern Miss. USM looks to be up this year and USA is an unknown quantity at this point.

Tonight's GOI
--Utah State at BYU. In-state rivalry alert! Always a big one and often factros into future Bubble discussions.
--Murray State at Mississippi. Racers are the OVC fave and return a good bit from last year's 31-5 club that topped Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tourney's 1st round. It's a different team, but expects to be a very good one.

Monday, November 15, 2010

WKU Moves to 2-0

WKU moved to 2-0 on the season with an easy win over Alabama A&M. The Tops next face Minnesota in the Puerto Rico Shootout on Thursday.

Tonight's GOI

--Stetson at Bethune-Cookman. The Hatters try to consolidate their big road win over Wake.
--Ohio State at Florida. Two teams already thinking about seeding.
--UL-Monroe at Iowa. SD State did it...
--Butler at Louisville. The Cards open up to new YUM! Center. Big test for the Bulldogs.
--Texas Tech at North Texas. Huge home game for the Belt's Mean Green.
--San Diego State at Gonzaga. Bigger for the Aztecs.
--NIT Tip Off

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Forecast

Forecast: tidal wave. Enjoy.

TBB will drill down a bit deeper on the Sun Belt. There are fifteen Belt games this weekend including a whopping 12 tonight. The most interesting ones:

--WKU @ Saint Joseph's. Two of the better non-Power clubs of the 00's. Both have a lot of new faces, but WKU certainly has the experience advantage while SJU gets the home court.

--New Mexico State @ UL-Lafayette. The Cajuns open with a bang, hosting one of the premier non-BCS clubs in the USofA.

--UC-Santa Barbara vs Denver. The Pioneers play three this weekend: this one, Oregon, and North Dakota State (all in Eugene, OR). Some neutral wins would be an indicator that Denver might be more than just a home court hero this season. In Belt play, they rarely win on the road, but rarely lose at home. A couple of neutral wins could signal good things.

--UC-Davis vs FAU. The Owls are just over in Portland, OR, to face UC-D tonight, vs Milwaukee tomorrow, and @Portland tomorrow on Sunday. They have been picked to challenge WKU in the Belt East. If that is true, they should have a shot at two wins out there.

Come on, Belt. Let's get off to a great start.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hoops on TV

Great reference link for keeping track of tube hoops via Matt Sarz.

First Games of Import

The Games of Import (GOI) are a near-daily occurrence at TBB and this is the first edition. There are four games tonight, so they all get top billing.

Coaches vs Cancer
--UC-Irvine @ Illinois
--Seattle @ Maryland
--Rhode Island @Pittsburgh
--Navy @ Texas

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sun Belt Schedules Preview

You can read lots of preseason predictions of all conferences elsewhere, including the Sun Belt. Since TBB attempts to focus on what is and not what might be, we will look at schedules. This will also give some insight into the challenging world of non-BCS scheduling.

EAST
FIU: host Florida State, Utah Valley, Chattanooga, Jackson State, Bowling Green, Sam Houston, Florida A&M; @Marshall, @Louisville, @Utah Valley. Not great, but pretty good by FIU standards. They get docked for opening with two non-DI teams.

FAU: host American, South Florida, Manhattan; neutral UC-Davis, Milwaukee; @Portland, @Florida, @George Mason, @Mississippi State, @Hofstra, @Siena, @DePaul. FAU should be decent, but these roadies are murder. They play five straight roadies in December. But, they have USF at home and do play some strong teams.

Middle Tennessee. host UAB, Evansville, Furman, Vanderbilt, Tennessee State; neutral Campbell, Samford; @Auburn, @Tennessee, @SIU-Edwardsville, @Belmont, @Evansville. The Raiders have a couple of good home games and a couple of normally winnable roadies. Too bad they are likely down this season.
South Alabama: host Central Michigan, LSU, Houston Baptist, Alcorn State; @Southern Miss, @UAB, @Alabama, @Louisville, @Georgia Southern. Not a lot to get excited about here.

Troy: host UAB, Belmont; neutral Western Michigan, Idaho State; @Utah State, @Alabama, @Georgia State, @UTSA, @Mississippi State, @Arkansas, @Miami-OH. Brutal. As always.

WKU: host Alabama A&M, South Carolina, Southern Illinois, Louisville, Florida Gulf Coast; neutral Minnesota (plus Puerto Rico tip-off); @Saint Joseph's, @Vanderbilt, @Memphis, @Bowling Green, @Murray State. Pretty stacked, especially if the dominoes fall right in Puerto Rico, (North Carolina likely awaits if WKU can beat UMinn).

WEST
Arkansas State: host Alabama State, Savannah State, Lamar; neutral Missouri State; @
Mississippi, @Memphis, @Missouri State, @Georgia. While the home schedule is abysmal, there are a couple of decent, winnable road games for stAte if they are as good as many think.

Denver: host Colorado State, Alcorn State, Utah State, CS-Northridge, Portland, Northern Colorado, Arkansas-Pine Bluff; neutral ND State, UCSB; @Oregon, @Boise State, @Southern Miss, @Wyoming. The Pioneers are Jekyll at home and Hyde on the road. So, it's good news that they play 9/13 non-conference games either at home or on a neutral court.

Louisiana:
host New Mexico State, Cleveland State, Lamar, Centenary; @Creighton, @Houston, @McNeese State, @Tulane, @UCF, @New Mexico State. Two games against NMSU is nice, but these roadies will be tough for a team in transition.

North Texas: host Texas Tech, Rice, UT-Arlington, Grambling, Jackson State, Texas State; @Kansas, @Texas State, @Texas Southern, @Sam Houston, @LSU. This is a pretty weak home slate for the defending champs and a team that should be pretty tough. They also scheduled two non-DI games. The Belt needs more from the Mean Green, but it's tough to get NCAA-hopeful teams in your gym when you are dangerous and play in the Sun Belt.

UL-Monroe: host Stephen F. Austin, Centenary, Northern Colorado; neutral Jacksonville State, South Dakota; @Illinois State, @Kent State, @Louisiana Tech, @UTEP. The Warhawks have a new coach and only two contributors from last season return. Given their situation, this is not a bad schedule.

UALR: host Illinois State, LA Tech, Tulsa, Mississippi, St. Bonaventure; neutral Akron, Oral Roberts, Stetson; @SMU, @St. Bonaventure, @Oral Roberts, @Missouri State, @Rice. Meh. But, the Trojans are trying to recover from a couple of subpar years by their standards.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bracket Bloated

Do I want to continue projecting brackets if this thing swells to 96 teams?

I had decided the answer to that question was a resounding, "NO." But, what we have is a little weight gain, perhaps even borderline obesity with the bracket ballooning to 68 teams. Of course, bloating long ago cemented itself as an American pastime. I wish the bracket would eat more fruits and veggies, get more exercise and slim back down to its once svelte 64 self. If it ever does Cracker Barrel its way to 96, I will refer it to bariatric surgery by a specialist and retire.

All that said, this is a quick reminder of what happens here.

1. No preseason bracket projections. TBB evaluates results, not rosters; criteria, not recruiting; 2010 accomplishments, not those from past seasons.

2. No projections before Jan 1. Teams need to play some games outside of their own gym before any meaningful evaluation can be made. Even then, projections do not mean much until late January.

3. This space is WKU and Sun Belt heavy in November and December.

4. TBB occasionally may or may not do interesting things from now until January. Once we do hit January, the schedule looks something like this:
--Monday: Bracket
--Tues: Bracket Buster Update
--Wed: Lockbox updates
--Thurs: State of the Sun Belt
--Fri: Weekend Forecasts

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sweet 16

Five of the eight remaining match ups in our national championship bracket will pit a Big 6 conference against a non-Big 6 conference. This will keep me very interested.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day One Recap

First, here is an actual bracket of results.

Second, yesterday yielded the most single day double-digit seed winners in ages (1991). Further, 8 non-BCS teams advanced, fully half of the games yesterday.

There were lots of great moments, but the most shocking to me was seeing Ohio hand a 97-spot on Georgetown. Wow.

Old Dominion's win was not surprising. They have been solid all season. Murray State has been, too, but has always come up short against top competition. Not yesterday.

Day Two awaits.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bracket Reaction

There is not too much to pick at here. I would grade this a B+ job by this committee. I had Virginia Tech IN over Florida, but those last couple of slots were so close. That's the only team that I missed. So, 64/65 teams, 31 seeded exactly, and 58 within one seed line of actual. Pretty darned close.

There are a couple of seeds that are puzzling.

1. Putting Duke ahead of Syracuse on the S-Curve is nearly indefensible. I get that Duke won both the ACC regular season and tourney. But, that's only enough to beat out West Virginia (and that's even debatable), not Syracuse. Simply look at all the numbers that matter. The Orange have a better profile.

Duke beat ONE top 25 RPI team. Syracuse beat five. Syracuse was 8-1 in true road games, while Duke was 5-5. OOC wins are comparable, but I would take Cuse's wins over Cal, Cornell, Marquette, Memphis, Oakland, Florida, and North Carolina (5 NCAA teams) over Duke's wins over Gonzaga, Arizona State, UConn, Tulsa, Charlotte, and St. John's (1 NCAA team). Again, the Orange clearly have a better profile. Now, again, Duke did win both the ACC regular season and tourney titles.

That makes this team an even bigger puzzler...

2. Temple. I nearly put them at a 2 seed! I thought they were easily a 3 at worst and they land at 5. That's particularly difficult to understand given that the reasoning for Duke over Cuse was "regular season and conference champs." Temple did that, too, in the #7 RPI league. The Owls were #8 RPI; beat Villanova, Siena, Virginia Tech, and Seton Hall out of conference; piled up 12 road wins; had a better SOS than Ohio State, New Mexico, and Purdue; had no sub-100 losses (worst loss at @#82 RPI St. John's); won 10 straight to close the season.

And, that garnered only a 5 seed? Temple earned a protected seed. Period.

Those are the only two major issues to me. Otherwise, I thought this committee did a very good job. They handled the Bubble extremely well. Anyone who is not IN knows exactly why they are at home.

And that is the mark of a good committee.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Final Projection

Final bracket is up. It's a crap shoot for those last 4 or 5 slots. I am taking Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Utah State, and UTEP in my last four. I will not be shocked to see Illinois, Mississippi State, Florida or Seton Hall show up. Even Ole Miss or Rhode Island would not be total stunners. And, I assure you, Cal is not resting easy, either.

Duke and West Virginia are very close for the final #1 seed. I am sticking with Duke because they won both the regular season and tourney titles. They likely will be out West together.

Lockbox has been updated.

SCKySSiP Complete!

We have a few contingencies that could change things, but our work is done. Here is the SCKySSiP mock committee's bracket. Remember, this committee replicated the selection process. We in no way tried to "guess" what the committee will do. Huge difference.

If Duke loses today, West Virginia gets the West #1. If Duke wins, they keep it. New Mexico State knocked out Illinois last night.

Last Four IN: Minnesota, Utah State, UTEP, Virginia Tech

Next Five OUT: Illinois, Florida, Mississippi State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall.

VA Tech gets the axe if Miss State beats Kentucky today.

The mock committee worked from 3.30pm until nearly midnight last night. Great fun and a lot of learning took place. The most important lesson is realizing that those last few teams are like picking the prettiest skunk. Anyone who does this will find themselves seeing far less injustice when the bracket comes out. One could take any of our "next five out" and replace any our of our "last few in" and I would not bat an eye.

The Lockbox has been updated. My final projection will be up this afternoon sometime.

The One Stop is up to date as well.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SCKySSiP Day

The bracket has been slightly tweaked. Mostly some seed jostling (K-State up to 2, New Mexico down to 3, plus a few others).

One Stop is up to date. Huge day, of course.

The Lockbox has been adjusted a bit, too.

It's SCKySSiP day, so we'll be hard at work from 3 pm forward today deep into the night. I'll post updates really late tonight or early in the morning. Project Mockingbird has a sister committee in Omaha that is meeting today, too. It will be interesting to compare results of replicating the process.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Updates

The bracket has been updated. EDIT: Again at 6.20PM CT. Washington IN, Mississippi OUT. I have not been a fan of the Rebels all season. They simply do not look like a tourney team to me and their numbers just are not that great. Again, I do live in SEC country, so maybe I have seen them too many times compared to SD State or Washington. And, while the Huskies are deeply flawed, if they beating Stanford and making the Pac 10 final is going to help them versus the likes of Ole Miss, Memphis, UAB, UConn, Cincy, etc. But, they must first do that tonight.

Lockbox has been adjusted a bit. Wake and Missouri are likely IN, but they are backing in. They are not exactly going to strike fear into the hearts of their first-round opponents.

One Stop is up to date (and I corrected the SoCon bracket) and will again be updated numerous times throughout the day. There are tons of important games for Bubble teams today and there will be seismic activity in the Bubble landscape this afternoon and evening. Those last 2-3 slots could look totally different when the day is done.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bracket Update

EDIT: Lockbox update at 2.30 CT. Illinois IN, Memphis OUT. Houston damaged Memphis badly today. I thought the Tigers needed to make the CUSA final to harbor real hopes come Sunday. We'll see how the rest of the Bubble does, though.

Bracket has been updated.

One Stop Shop will be updated frequently once games get going today.

The SCKySSiP (South Central Kentucky Selection Simulation Project--ridiculously long name used for effect) is in full swing. We have voted 29 teams IN at this point.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lockbox Update

Lockbox has been updated. I think the Bubble is down to six slots and I took Virginia Tech, San Diego State, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Rhode Island, and Mississippi over Arizona State, Washington, UAB, Seton Hall, South Florida, Illinois, and Dayton along with some other fringe teams.

Still plenty of hoops for this to look much different come Sunday. Georgia Tech badly needs a win. Illinois could jump in with a victory over Wiscy. Florida could slide back onto the Bubble if they lose their first SEC game. There are plenty of others playing for their lives (Ole Miss, Dayton, Miss State...).

The One Stop is being updated multiple times per day. Bracket update later tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

One Stop Complete

The One Stop now has all 30 brackets full.

Bracket and Lockbox tweaking will occur as warranted.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The No-Doubt Panthers

Northern Iowa has been the best Valley team all season. Nothing in the conference tourney remotely challenged that fact. UNI is IN.

Lockbox update: South Florida IN, Illinois OUT.

I tweaked today's bracket with USF and I also moved Ohio State up to a 2 and Kansas State down to a 3.

One Stop is current and I'll fill in all the remaining tourney brackets today.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Racers, Eagles, and Bucs (Oh, my!)

Three more bids: Murray State (OVC), Winthrop (Big South), East Tennessee State (A-Sun). Congrats to all!

New bracket is up. I cannot remember putting a more flawed team in than Illinois. At the bottom, I think we are back up to eight slots up for grabs (see updated Lockbox). I took Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, St. Mary's, Rhode Island, Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Mississippi, and Illinois over a set of teams that included Dayton, Memphis, Charlotte, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, South Florida, Washington, Arizona State, and Wichita State. I know that "full body of work" is the mantra, but I feel that monster finishes could push a number of these into the bracket over the dregs at the bottom.

The One Stop is also up-to-date. The Valley crowns a champ today and Bubble Nation will be flying UNI's flag. Wichita State is a worthy opponent. Should be a good one.

Illinois has a huge game at home vs Wisconsin today as well.

Lockbox has been updated, too.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Big Red Bid

UPDATE: 3:30 CT. Louisville moves off the Bubble to projected IN. It would take a weird set of circumstances to keep them out. I'll likely upgrade them further after the full bracket update.

Lockbox has been updated.
-----------
Cornell is IN. They clinched the Ivy last night. The One Stop shows this and is up to date.

Mercer and East Tennessee State will tangle for the honor to be the unexpected A-Sun representative in the bracket. Murray State and Morehead State will engage in what should be an epic battle for the OVC bid. I follow the OVC pretty closely, and this should be a great game. Winthrop and Coastal Carolina fight for the Big South's Golden Ticket.

I'll update the Lockbox at day's end to reflect auto qualifiers and any At-Large adjustments that need to be made.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Gaining Steam

Lockbox is updated. UAB in, Dayton out. The Bubble is still at 8, I think.

One Stop is updated through last night. Action is picking up with games in the A-Sun, Colonial, Horizon, MAAC, Valley, OVC, SoCon and WCC today and tonight.

To save a monumental weekend forecast, I'll update daily this weekend as tourney results flow in.

New full bracket will be up later (probably much later) tonight.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

One Stop Action, Lockbox

Sorry for the sparseness this week, but life happens.

One Stop is starting to fill up...and that is like hearing the the ice cream truck in your neighborhood. Something fun and sweet is just around the bend. In fact, some kids already have started eating their ice cream (I like OVC Crunch, personally).

Lockbox is updated. Hello, SD State! Bubble is down to 8 slots by my estimation. People will quibble with Rhode Island as "projected in," but a win at UMass and a first-round A-10 win will make it tough to leave them out. That qualifies as "win games they should." Now, a loss at UMass or in their first round games changes things, but as of now, it's TCB, and URI is likely IN.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lockbox/One Stop Updates

Lockbox is updated. Bottom 4 or 5 are very dicey. Day-to-day, really.

One Stop is updated with active conference tourney games.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bracket Delay

I'm snowed under today. Bracket will have to come tomorrow or Wed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lockbox Update 2/24

The Lockbox has been updated. Since Monday, the only big change was UConn IN, San Diego State OUT. A few other teams upgraded their status.

Remember, while bracket projections do not attempt to predict future results, the Lockbox does take future schedule into account. For example, Xavier is a virtual lock. Even if they lose to St. Louis and Richmond, they close with Fordham and UMass. So, unless a total meltodown occurs, they are going to get IN. Contrast that with Louisville, who lost last night and closes with a murderous stretch (starting with a home to loss to Georgetown last night). They stay on the Bubble right now.

There are a number of teams one win away from upgrading their status (looking at you, Villanova, West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma State).

The Bubble by the Numbers

--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That is also a static number.
--6 teams are LOCKS. There is no way they miss at this point.
--23 teams listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 5 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. Of these 34 black and blue teams, 10 are conference leaders. That means 24 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 10. That's down one from last week and by Selection Sunday, it usually no more than four or five. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Last Night's GOI
--at Florida 75, Tennessee 62. Convincing win for the Gators moves them off the Bubble. They could slide back onto it, but one more win plus one SEC Tourney win probably does the trick.
--Georgetown 70, at Louisville 60. Cards find themselves in a tough spot now. They close with roadies at UConn and Marquette (both desperate) and host a Syracuse team that will be highly motivated by Big East title/1-seed hopes and payback. Cards could easily close with four losses. They will need to win at least one and possibly two more games.
--Illinois 51, at Michigan 44. Illini get a roadie they had to have.

Tonight's GOI
--Texas A&M at Baylor. Both scratching for "protected seeds" in the NCAA Tourney.
--Virginia Tech at Boston College. Hokies can't afford a loss like this.
--San Diego State at BYU. Aztecs seem to live on the Bubble year to year. This would help loads.
--Saint Joseph's at Charlotte. Niners need this one badly. They close with two roadies and host Richmond and have already lost three straight.
--Clemson at Maryland. Tigers close with 3/4 on the road and this is the first.
--Purdue at Minnesota. DANGEROUS game for the Boilers. Gophers can get right in the mix with a win.
--Pitt at Notre Dame. Irish need a big, big finish.
--Xavier at St. Louis. Billikens have won 6 straight including three roadies and home wins over Dayton and Rhode Island.
--Marquette at St. John's. Eagles need to win a couple more, and a win here insures a .500 Big East record.
--Dayton at Temple. Flyers could do themselves a lot of good here with a big home win.
--Oklahoma State at Texas. Cowboys probably move off the Bubble with a win.
--South Florida at Villanova. Long shot, but the Bulls need a monster finish.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Project Mockingbird: Nesting Stage

Project Mockingbird aims to get more mock committees involved in creating a 65-team bracket by replicating the actual selection process. I have been leading a mock committee for many years running. This year is our 5th installment of the South Central Kentucky Selection Simulation Project (SCKySSiP, ridiculously long name used for effect). We have one sister committee in the works that originates from Omaha, NB. I would love to have more if you can wrangle up enough folks to make a committee. I have been on committees with as many as 10 (CollegeRPI.com in 2002) and as small as six, but the important thing is that your group does not get caught up in "guessing the bracket" and focuses on DOING the process. If you are game, here is what you need to do.

  1. Get X# of people to commit to many email votes and physical or virtual meetings/talks during the week of March 8-14 and especially on March 13/14.
  2. Assign members a conference or two to "represent." IE, they need to know which teams had major injuries that might have impacted W/L's and how that might bear on their resume.
  3. Read the Selection Criteria. And, if you are the chair, you need to be able to facilitate smooth List X (nomination) votes and cross-country (ranking) votes.
  4. Here is a link to some docs I use in for SCKySSiP: Ballots/S-Curve. Every member needs an S-Curve when the time for voting comes.
  5. Email me with specific questions about how to make this work. Our process is not perfect, but it works well for us. That said, what I'm most excited about is seeing how others adapt and give me fresh ideas on how to streamline the process and make it more efficient.

So, Mockingbirds, it's time to build the nest.

Last Night's GOI
-- at UConn 73, West Virginia 62. Huskies surge toward the good side of the Bubble.

--Morgan State 65, at UM-Eastern Shore 61. The Bears are your MEAC tourney 1-seed.

Tonight's GOI

--Tennessee at Florida. Gators can breathe a bit easier with a win here.

--Georgetown at Louisville. A Cards' win shifts their thinking from getting IN to seeding.

--Illinois at Michigan. Illini need to take care of roadies like this one.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Bracket/Lockbox Updates (2/22)

First, we have our first LOCKS of the season in the Lockbox. They are:

Kansas, Syracuse, Purdue, Kentucky, Duke, Butler

True, one of these things is not like the others, but Butler has just one regular season game left. Even a loss there and a loss in their tourney is not going to boot them at this point. It's a matter of seeding now. Several other teams are primed for LOCK status. More on this on Wednesday.

Secondly, today's bracket is up and the bottom is not pretty. I don't know if teams like St. Mary's or San Diego State have the juice to stay in. That said, the Aztecs' bid may right on their game at BYU on Wednesday. Win there and finish well and they will stay right in the mix for a fourth MtWest bid. They took UAB's slot, who is likely going to need to take care of Memphis and UTEP to have a legit shot at an AL.

Marquette, Charlotte, and Illinois also got IN, while UAB, Mississippi, UConn and Seton Hall just missed among a few others.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (7): Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Georgetown, Pitt, Louisville, Marquette
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State
ACC (7): Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson
Atlantic 10 (6): Temple, Richmond, Xavier, Rhode Island, Dayton, Charlotte
Big Ten (5): Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois
SEC (4): Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida
Mountain West (4): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV, San Diego State
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Tonight's GOI
--West Virginia at UConn. Massive game for the Huskies. A loss here would force them to sweep games vs Louisville and roadies at Notre Dame and South Florida to get to .500 in league. Win, then get 2/3 to close and they would have to feel decent about their AL chances.
--Morgan State at UM-Eastern Shore. A Bears win seals the MEAC 1-seed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Forecast

Mockingbird update will have to wait until next Tuesday.

Last Night's GOI
--Syracuse 75, at Georgetown 71. Cuse strengthens their 1-seed grip with a tasty road win.
--Pitt 58, Marquette 51. Oh, Eagles, thou art destined to perch thy talons on Bubble fair,
--at Minnesota 68, Wisconsin 52. Your "HELLO!" result of the evening.
--Vanderbilt 82, at Mississippi 78. Not shocked. Rebels are going to sweat without a big finish.
--at Troy 66, Middle Tennessee 62. Helped created a FIVE WAY tie for first with two other teams one back.

WEEKEND FORECAST
Friday
--Cornell at Harvard. For all of the attention the Big Red have had, a loss here likely drops them out of first.
--William & Mary at Iona. A win won't help the Tribe that much.
--Old Dominion at Northern Iowa. Both are very much in the hunt for an AL...and both are playing well.
Saturday
--Xavier at Charlotte. Niners need to hold serve or else they will have dropped 3 straight.
--Virginia at Clemson. Tigers gotta have this one at home.
--Louisville at DePaul. Cards barely survived ND at home last time out. Definitely need to take care of this roadie.
--Georgia Tech at Maryland. Both in pretty good shape, but has ACC impact.
--Florida at Mississippi. Neither has a lot of margin for error, but Rebs need it more.
--Baylor at Oklahoma State. Cowboys could use a big win or two to seal the deal.
--Illinois at Purdue. Illini upset would draw them into a tie with Boilers.
--UConn at Rutgers. Huskies badly need this one.
--Tennessee at South Carolina. Cocks will need a monstrous finish.
--St. John's at South Florida. Bulls are right on the fence.
--Texas at Texas Tech. Both badly need it for different reasons.
--Kentucky at Vanderbilt. Cats best chance to lose another SEC game.
--Seton Hall at West Virginia. Pirates aren't dead yet and this would help loads.
--Siena at Butler. HUGE game for Siena. HUGE.
--Wichita State at Utah State. Fringe Bubblers, one of which will gain a bit here.
Sunday
--Arizona State at Arizona. Devils are fringe and need a big finish.
--Marquette at Cincinnati. One of these two will feel it slipping away after this one.
--Ohio State at Michigan State. Your Sunday Clash of the Titans match up.
--Villanova at Pittsburgh. Nova tries to protect it's 1-seed status in a big road test.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Stop and A10 Attrition

One Stop Shop
It's a big day here at TBB. I have said many times that the best of the NCAA basketball experience comes during the week before games start in November (everyone is undefeated and full of hope) and then during conference tourneys through the first weekend of the NCAA tourney.

Thus, I give you the 2010 One Stop Shop. All 30 conference tourney brackets in one place that will be updated multiple times every day throughout the conference tourney season. Some teams have already secured 1-seeds in their tourneys (Siena, Butler, Murray State, UNI) and I have filled them into those slots. Teams will fall into seed lines in a trickle over the next week and then start to sort out quickly as February comes to a close. Exciting stuff!

A-10 Attrition

It had to happen at some point. Some of the super six in the A-10 eventually had to blink, and it happened to two teams last night. Charlotte dropped a home contest to Duquesne. That is not a resume-killer, but it certainly does not help especially coming off a complete pasting at the hands of Dayton. Also, Rhode Island did itself no favors by losing at St. Louis. Again, not a killer, but it moves both of those teams from "maintain and you are IN" to "Bubble." The Rams are still on the good side, but it reduces their margin for error. URI ends with four very winnable games (Fordham, @St. Bonnie, Charlotte, @UMass) while Charlotte has a tough row to hoe (Xavier, St. Joe's, @GW, @URI, Richmond). Also, St. Louis looks like a dangerous team now having won 5 straight including wins over Dayton and URI and they lead both clubs in the A10 standings.

Tomorrow, some information and updates on Project Mockingbird.

Last Night's GOI
--at Arkansas 82, South Carolina 79. Cocks are out of the Lockbox until further notice.
--Wofford 73, at Davidson 51. Fear the Terriers! 16-2 in their last 18 and the two losses were close ones vs Kent State and at Charleston.
--at Missouri 82, Texas 77. Tigers move closer to lock status.
--at Louisville 91, Notre Dame 89 (2OT). Irish nearly stole one without Harangody...and absolutely NO ANSWER for Samardo Samuels.
--Duke 81,at Miami-FL 74. Devils stay on the fringe of the 1-seed debate in case some powerhouse falters down the stretch.
--Maryland 67, at NC State 58. The kind of roadie that NCAA teams win.
--Purdue 60, at Ohio State 57. I will not be a bit surprised if the Boilers wind up with a 1-seed.
--at Utah State 67, LA Tech 61. USU wins their 11th straight and puts LA Tech two back.
--Florida State 69, at Virgnia 50. Pretty much ends the Cavs meager AL hopes.

Tonight's GOI
--Syracuse at Georgeown. Your Thursday Clash of the Titans match up.
--Pitt at Marquette. Eagles could put themselves in good position with a home win here.
--Wisconsin at Minnesota. Gophers need to start a big run right now.
--Vanderbilt at Mississippi. Rebels will need a strong finish.
--Middle Tennessee at Troy. Wrestling for the Sun Belt East division title, the 1-seed, and a bye.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lockbox 2/17

Let's merge yesterday's bracket and today's Lockbox into a sort of "State of the Bracket" post. First, after last night's results, I replaced Cincinnati with South Florida, and it's not just because USF topped Cincy. USF was close anyway and got a win over a fellow Bubbler. A few notes:

1. 1-seeds: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova. Cuse has a slight edge over Nova because using the RPI as a tie-breaker, they are the "Big East Champ."
2. Mississippi. Pretty much all other bracketologists have them IN and even at 10-seed range. I don't get it. They have one Top 50 win (granted, a good one vs Kansas State). They trail Mississippi State and ARKANSAS (!) in the SEC West where they are .500 in league. They are #51 in the RPI. They have lost 3/4 including at home to the Hogs. I have not been sold on the Rebels at any point. Maybe I just see too much of them in SEC country.
3. That said, there are plenty of flawed teams IN that Ole Miss could make a case against. South Florida, UAB, Louisville, Marquette, Clemson, Virgnia Tech...there is some sorting to do down the stretch.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That is also a static number.
--26 teams listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 7 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do (see a gaggle of A-10 teams!). Of these 33 black and blue teams, 10 are conference leaders. That means 23 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 11. That's up one from last week and by Selection Sunday, it usually no more than four or five. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tonight's GOI
--South Carolina at Arkansas. USC East is a long shot, but can help themselves...and Mississippi and Mississippi State.
--Wofford at Davidson. Big SoCon tilt.
--Texas at Missouri. Big 12 and NCAA seeding ramifications.
--Notre Dame at Louisville. Couple of Big East Bubblers and ND needs it much more.
--Duke at Miami-FL. Devils need to collect some roadies to secure a 2-seed or argue for a 1-seed.
--Maryland at NC State. Terps are in good shape, but need to take care of these types of roadies.
--Purdue at Ohio State. Your Wednesday Clash of the Titans special.
--LA Tech at Utah State. USU can put the Dogs two back with a win.
--Florida State at Virgnia. 'Noles try to stay above .500 in the ACC.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend Forecast 2/12-14

BIG, BIG Weekend.

Friday
--West Virginia at Pitt. Backyard Brawl is always fun.
Saturday
--Alabama at Arkansas. Hogs have won 5 straight since being obliterated at Kentucky. I'm not sure The Ark can run all the way into the AL convo, but if they win the West, they could significantly hurt the chances of Ole Miss and Miss State.
--Missouri at Baylor. Both of these teams are in pretty good shape, but are working to close the deal.
--Miami-FL at Clemson. Tigers have to hold serve in their home games.
--Cincinnati at UConn. Calhoun returns...will UConn's AL hopes?
--Maryland at Duke. This would push Maryland into near lock status.
--Xavier at Florida. An OOC special with high stakes right in the heat of the conference slog.
--South Carolina at Georgia. Road wins do wonders for Bubble teams.
--Tennessee at Kentucky. Good rivalry, and a good test for both.
--South Florida at Marquette. Doesn't get more BEAST Bubbly than this.
--Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. Sooners are trying to climb into the convo, OK State tracking toward "in" but needs their home games for sure.
--St. Mary's at Portland. Gaels can't afford any "non-Gonzaga" losses.
--Cornell at Princeton. Ivy undefeateds. If the Big Red is going to lose in league, this is the one of most likely games along with the game @Harvard next weekend.
--Coastal Carolina at Radford. Highlanders can pull into a tie for first with a win.
--UNLV at San Deigo State. Aztecs are looking to be a fourth team from the MtWest, and they probably need this one if they are going to pull it off.
--Rhode Island at Temple. Titanic A10 tilt.
--Texas A&M at Texas Tech. Raiders need it a lot more.
--Memphis at Tulsa. Nice CUSA match up of Fringe Bubblers.
--Georgia Tech at Wake. For ACC and NCAA seeding.
--Northeastern at William & Mary. Huskies try to hold on to #1 CAA position.
Sunday
--Ohio State at Illinois. Illini look to firm up their ground a bit.
--Minnesota at Northwestern. Fringe Big 10-11-12-13-14 Bubblers.
--St. John's at Notre Dame. Johnnies are pretty far away, and ND has to win their home games at least.
--

Lockbox Update 2/11

Lockbox has been updated. The change from Monday as far as IN/OUT is Illinois IN, Mississippi OUT. I could have just as easily booted South Florida, St. Mary's, Old Dominion, UAB or VA Tech, but I've seen Ole Miss a few times and they just don't pass the smell test given their shaky profile. Plus, third place in the raggedy SEC West does not win any bonus points.

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That is also a static number.
--24 teams listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 10 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do (see FOUR A-10 teams!). Of these 34 black and blue teams, 10 are conference leaders. That means 24 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 10. That's down a whopping three from last week and by Selection Sunday, it usually no more than four or five. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

First Clinches

Siena and Butler clinched shares of their league titles with wins last night. Siena has also locked up the #1 seed in the MAAC Tourney. That means that the One Stop Shop is not far away. It is about one-half ready and I hope to get up all 30 conference tourney brackets sometime next week.

Last Night's GOI

-- at New Mexico State 70, LA Tech 68. Aggies hold serve and are tied with only Utah State atop the WAC.
--Kansas 80, at Texas 68. 'Horns have lost 5/7. #1 in the Popularity Flavor of the Week Contest seems like a LONG time ago.
--Villanova 82, at West Virginia 75. This is what 1-seeds do. Beat excellent teams on their home courts.

Tonight's GOI
--VCU at George Mason. Rams are one back of GMU, but both need it to keep CAA title hopes alive.
--Purdue at Michigan State. Boilers have won 5 straight and Sparty is wounded.
--Texas Tech at Oklahoma. Raiders are near the fence while the Sooners are trying to play their way onto the Bubble.
--Georgetown at Providence. Hoyas look to consolidate that big win over Nova.
--Tennessee at Vanderbilt. In-state rivalry alert! Big SEC implications, too.
--Illinois at Wisconsin. Illini could do themselves a ton of good with this one, unlikely as it is.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bracket Update 2/8

Today's bracket is up. It is less than 5 weeks until Selection Sunday.

At the bottom, it felt like there were six debatable slots and I opted for Virginia Tech, St. Mary's, Old Dominion, UAB, Marquette and South Florida over a group that included Louisville, Clemson, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, and Wichita State among others.

It's jarring to think that UConn, North Carolina and Memphis are all clearly out at this point. Those three have routinely competed for 1-2 seeds over the last several seasons.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (7): Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Marquette, South Florida
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State
ACC (6): Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, Virginia Tech
Atlantic 10 (6): Temple, Rhode Island, Charlotte, Richmond, Xavier, Dayton
SEC (5): Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi
Big Ten (4): Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Colonial (2): Northeastern, Old Dominion
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's
CUSA (2): UTEP, UAB

Tonight's GOI
--LA Tech at New Mexico State. 2/3 of the teams tied in the loss column atop the WAC.
--Kansas at Texas. 'Horns have lost 4/6 and are falling out of "protected seed" range.
--Villanova at West Virginia. Massive implications on BEAST and NCAA seeding. Simply a monster regular season game.
--

Friday, February 05, 2010

Weekend Forecast (2/5-2/7)

Last Night's GOI
--Florida 66, at Alabama 65. Gators narrowly avoid a setback.
--at Duke 86, Georgia Tech 67. Revenge: exacted.
--Maryland 71, at Florida State 67. Terps claim a big, furry road pelt.
--Purdue 78, at Indiana 75. In-state rivalry road test was passed by the Boilers.
--Troy 70, at Middle Tennessee 67. Trojans' big road win coupled with an FAU loss creates a three-way logjam in the Sun Belt East.
--at Notre Dame 83, Cincinnati 65. Bearcats look like a classic Bubble boy.
--at Virginia Tech 74, North Carolina 70. Heels fall to 2-5 and are in big trouble. Hokies are movin' on up.
--at Washington 81, Arizona 75. Huskies trending in the right direction (5-2 in last 7).

WEEKEND FORECAST
Tonight
--Iona at Siena. Sweet MAAC showdown. If the Saints win, you can pretty much ink them as regular season champs. They will be +4 with 5 to play with a win.
Saturday
--Wright State at Butler. If BU is going to stumble in conference, this is one of the better chances.
--Kent State at Central Michigan. Clash of MAC divisional leaders.
--Missouri at Colorado. Buffs have been pretty good at home, so keep an eye on this one.
--Xavier at Dayton. Any games among the top six in the A-10 are vital.
--Mississippi State at Florida. Both are quite Bubbly, though Dawgs need it more.
--Villanova at Georgetown. Hoyas look to atone for their South Florida home loss sins.
--Michigan State at Illinois. Illini need to cash in on their big win opportunities to have an AL shot.
--Gonzaga at Memphis. Tigers can get into the convo with a win after taking out UAB earlier in the week.
--San Diego State at New Mexico. Aztecs need some big wins to fill out their Bubbly resume.
--Seton Hall at Pitt. Panthers have wobbled a bit lately. SHU is trying to salvage one in a tough 3-game road swing.
--Marquette at Providence. Hard luck Eagles could help themselves with a road win.
--Temple at Richmond. That whole A-10 thing again.
--West Virginia at St. John's. Johnnies are going to have to finish big.
--Baylor at Texas A&M. Both have to feel pretty good at this stage.
--BYU at UNLV. Robust MtWest tilt.
--Nevada at Utah State. Two of four within a game at the top of the WAC.
--Tulsa at UTEP. Two fringe CUSA Bubble Boys.
--Old Dominion at VCU. ODU is very much in the AL hunt, VCU can fan their spark with a win.
--Wake at Virginia. Cavs need some juice on their resume to be a real factor.
--Clemson at Virginia Tech. Clemson is trying to stay off the Bubble, VT is trying to get on the good side.
--Arizona State at Washington. Pac-10 and Bubble implications.
--Arizona at Washington State. Cats need a strong finish.
Sunday
--Syracuse at Cincinnati. Bearcats need to cash in at home.
--North Carolina at Maryland. Heels have to start piling up some wins.
--South Florida at Notre Dame. Bulls look to consolidate that big Hoya takedown.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Watch List 2

This is not comprehensive, and some of these teams have no chance at an AL bid, but they are making noise and heading in the right direction as the season's leaves begin to change.

South Florida (15-7, 5-5, 46 RPI)
. Bulls have won 5/6 in the Big East including two roadies which includes that whopper over G'town last night.

Northeastern (15-8, 10-2, 56 RPI).
The Huskies are 13-1 in their last 14 including a win over ODU and at VCU.

UTEP (16-5, 7-1, 68 RPI).
Miners are 12-3 in their last 15 including road wins at UAB and Memphis.

Morehead State (13-7, 9-2).
Most feel Murray State is far ahead of the pack in the OVC (and they are), but Morehead had rattled off 11 straight before a slip at Austin Peay.

Wofford (15-8, 8-3).
The Terriers are 12-2 in their last 14 and those losses were vs Kent State on a neutral court and at College of Charleston. They have won five true roadies in that stretch. WCU and Charleston are getting most of the SoCon love, but Wofford demands attention.

Florida Atlantic (10-10, 8-3).
A perennial Sun Belt doormat, Mike Jarvis has the Owls 7-1 in their last 8, including a win at Middle Tennessee, and tied for first in the Belt East.

New Mexico State (12-8, 6-2).
The Aggies are 10-2 in their last 12 including the road pelts of Utah State and LA Tech.

Portland (13-7, 5-2).
Remember the Pilots from November? Well, those wins over Minnesota and UCLA turned out to be a bit of fools gold and they suffered a December lull, but they are 6-2 in their last 8 and the losses were close ones to Gonzaga and at St. Mary's.


Last Night's GOI

--South Florida 72, at Georgetown 64. Hoyas get the horns, and USF gets into the AL picture in a big way.
--at Memphis 85, UAB 75. Tigers AL hopes are very remote, but this did not hurt.
--Texas A&M 77, at Missouri 74. Aggies get a gem of a roadie.
--at Northern Iowa 59, Wichita State 56. Start the parade. UNI is +3 games with 6 to play.
--at Old Dominion 61, William & Mary 42. ODU is looking more and more like an AL team.
--at Tulsa 73, Marshall 69. Herd's hopes are pretty much gone. Golden 'Canes are slim, but not dead.
--at Vanderbilt 75, Mississippi State 72. 'Dores hold serve at home in a big SEC game.
--at West Virginia 70, Pitt 51. Panthers have dropped 4/5, but have 3 home games coming up.

Tonight's GOI
--Florida at Alabama. Gators need these kind of road games.
--Georgia Tech at Duke. Devils looking for payback.
--Maryland at Florida State. Terps need it much more.
--Purdue at Indiana. In-state rivalry alert!
--Troy at Middle Tennessee. Trojans could pull into a tie with MT.
--Cincinnati at Notre Dame. Bearcats=Good Bubble. ND=Bad Bubble.
--North Carolina at Virginia Tech. Heels desperately need a win.
--Arizona at Washington. Most likely teams to be #2 in the Pac-10 behind Cal.
--

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lockbox 2/3

The Lockbox has been updated.

Tomorrow, we will build a new Watch List. There are lots of under-the-radar teams that are putting it together of late.

The Bubble by the Numbers

--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--23 teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss.
--I have 8 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but still have a work to do. Of these 31 black and blue teams, 10 are conference leaders. That means 21 at-large slots appear to be taken at this stage (it's still early).
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 13 slots right now. That up one from last week, but on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT are in red.

Last Night's GOI
--at Kentucky 85, Mississippi 75. Rebels are now two back of Miss St in the SEC West.
--at Northwestern 67, Michigan 52. Cats get one they had to have.
--at Villanova 81, Seton Hall 71. 3-6 is not a good conference record when you are Bubbly.
--at Wisconsin 67, Michigan State 49. Badgers send a crystal-clear message about the Big 10-11-12-13-14 title race: "it ain't over 'til it's over."

Tonight's GOI
--South Florida at Georgetown. A chance for USF to stamp themselves as a legit AL candidate.
--UAB at Memphis. Tigers may not be AL quality this year, but they can certainly damage UAB's hopes and knock from league leader status.
--Texas A&M at Missouri. Aggies need it more.
--Wichita State at Northern Iowa. A Panther win means, I'll say it, the Valley race is over. A win by the Shockers fans the embers of their AL hopes and pulls them within a game of UNI.
--William & Mary at Old Dominion. Big CAA tilt with repercussions on many levels.
--Marshall at Tulsa. Two of the better CUSA teams on the far fringe of AL Land.
--Mississippi State at Vanderbilt. Bulldogs are right on the fence, so this would help in a big way. Memorial Gym is a tough venue, though.
--Pitt at West Virginia. Your Wednesday "Clash of the Titans" game.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

BracketBusters 3

The pairings are out, and they were mostly according to expectations. ESPN opted for Morgan State over Buffalo, but otherwise it's the same teams I posted last Thursday with the match ups juggled a bit here or there.


Last Night's GOI

--Lipscomb 60, at Campbell 59. This one did not disappoint as the Bisons clawed out a huge road win and stay one game back of ASUN-leading Jacksonville.
--at Louisville 82, UConn 69. Huskies still 0-for-the-season in true roadies while the Cards get a much-needed win.
--Texas 72, at Oklahoma State 60. 'Horns could not stop James Anderson early, but blasted the Cowboys over the last 35 mins or so.

Tonight's GOI
--Mississippi at Kentucky. Rebels are coming off a miserable home loss to Arkansas or else this would have been a match up of SEC division leaders. Rebs look like a Bubble boy to me.
--Michigan at Northwestern. The next five games will tell us if the Cats are an At-Large contender or not. They have 4/5 at home and the road game is at Iowa. They need to stack up some wins in this stretch.
--Seton Hall at Villanova. SHU is playing to stay on the good side of the Bubble while Nova is vying for a 1-seed.
--Michigan State at Wisconsin. Titanic Big 10-11-12-13-14 tilt.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bracket Update 2/1

Bracket is up.

At the bottom, there were about six slots truly up for grabs and I took Old Dominion, Seton Hall, Richmond, St. Mary's, Maryland, and Mississippi State over a group that included Marquette, UConn, North Carolina, Wichita State, William & Mary, Northeastern, Louisville, Minnesota, South Carolina, VCU, and Arizona.

Multi-Bid Conference Breakdown
Big East (7): Villanova, Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Cincinnati, Seton Hall
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
ACC (6): Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, Clemson, Maryland
SEC (6): Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Florida, Mississippi State
Atlantic 10 (6): Temple, Rhode Island, Xavier, Charlotte, Dayton, Richmond
Big Ten (4): Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Tonight's GOI
--Lipscomb at Campbell. One of these two will fall two behind Jacksonville with a loss.
--UConn at Louisville. Huskies still 0-for-the-season in true roadies. Both of these teams just missed the bracket today.
--Texas at Oklahoma State. 'Horns need to stabilize themselves if they want to stay in the Big 12 title race and the 1/2 seed hunt.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BracketsBusters Standings 2

Buster standings have been udpated through last night's games. I may do one more update before Sunday since it looks like Kentucky is going to get hit with a once-every-few-decades kind of winter storm this weekend (that is, I may be homebound), but my guess is that the ESPN BracketBusters pairings will look something like this on Sunday.

Old Dominion at Northern Iowa
Siena at Butler
Wichita State at Utah State
LA Tech at VCU
William & Mary at Kent State
Western Carolina at Northeastern
College of Charleston at George Mason
Nevada at Murray State
Akron at George Mason
Buffalo at Iona
New Mexico State at Pacific

I would not be surprised to see Green Bay, Creighton, or Illinois State in the mix.

The field will be announced on Sunday, February 1, and games will be played on Feb 19-20.

Tonight's GOI
--California at Arizona State. A couple of Pac-10 teams will win enough games to garner an At-Large. These are two of the better candidates.
--Wake at Georgia Tech. Every game seems terribly meaningful in the ACC right now.
--Oakland at IUPUI. HUGE Summit tilt. Grizz can get two clear or IUPUI will tie and split the home/home with Oakland. HUGE.
--St. John's at Pittsburgh. Johnnies cannot affort to slide to 2-6 in league.
--Wisconsin at Purdue. Badgers trail Sparty by 2, the Boilers trail by three. Purdue can forget about catching MSU if they lose here.
--Seton Hall at South Florida. SHU must find a way to win this kind of roadie.
--Siena at St. Peter's. Peacocks are winners of five straight. Saints are +3 in the MAAC, but has a bunch of road games left.
--Virginia Tech at Virginia. In-state rivalry alert!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lockbox 1/27

Lockbox has been updated.

The Bubble by the Numbers

--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--22 teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss.
--I have 9 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but still have a work to do. Of these 31 black and blue teams, 9 are conference leaders. That means 22 at-large slots appear to be taken at this stage (it's still early).
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 12 slots right now. That is two less than last week, and on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bracket Update 1/26

First full bracket is up.

At the bottom, I took Florida, North Carolina, Seton Hall, Louisville, St. Mary's, and Richmond over teams like Cincinnati, St. John's, San Diego State, Mississippi State, VCU, Notre Dame, and several others.

Lockbox update coming tomorrow and new BracketBuster standings on Thursday.

Tonight's GOI
--Kansas State at Baylor. Major implications on many levels.
--Rhode Island at Dayton. Both looking to solidify At-Large status.
--Michigan State at Michigan. In-state rivalry alert!
--Northwestern at Minnesota. Both probably feel like they have to have it.
--North Carolina at NC State. Tar Heels are flirting with the Bubble.
--Tulsa at UAB. CUSA showdown!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lockbox Update

Via a borrowed computer, here is the first real Lockbox. It is still early, so some major sifting obviously will occur over the next several weeks. To refresh readers and inform the unitiated:


BLACK: LOCK, cannot miss (there are none of those yet)

black: Teams who are well on their way. It would be a surprise if they somehow miss.

blue: OK, but need to win games they "should" (define that how you will).

green: Bubble IN

red: Bubble OUT

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--21 teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss.
--I have 7 other teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but still have a work to do. Of these 28 black and blue teams, 8 are conference leaders. There are also Bubble-IN leaders in the ACC (Virginia) and Pac-10 (Cal). That means 20 at-large slots appear to be taken at this stage (again, it's early).
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 14 slots right now. This will shrink over the coming weeks, and on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five.

Tonight's GOI
--Florida at Arkansas. If the Gators cannot win this kind of roadie, they drop off the Lockbox entirely.
--Pepperdine at Gonzaga. It's not St. Mary's who is currently tied for first in the WCC, it's the Waves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Virus Alert/GOI

"Virus Alert! Delete immediately before someone gets hurt!" ~ Weird Al

A nasty worm has shut me down and deep sixed any creative work this week. This should be resolved in the next couple of days. Bracket, Lockbox, Buster...all on tap next week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Weekend Forecast 1/15-1/17

Last Night's GOI
--Gonzaga 89, at St. Mary's 82. Gaels let one of their few chances for a big win get away.
--at UL-Lafayette 55, Denver 49. Business as usual. The Pioneers tank on the road in the Sun Belt.

Weekend Forecast
SATURDAY
--Alabama at Arkansas. Tide have to win the roadies against the dregs of the SEC to have AL hopes.
--Oklahoma State at Baylor. Winner will stabilize itself in Monday's bracket.
--Maryland at Boston College. MD=Alabama above.
--Colorado State at BYU. Winner takes sole possession of first in the MtWest.
--Notre Dame at Cincinnati. Both look like Bubble mainstays.
--Siena at Fairfield. A Stag win ties them for first with the Saints+tiebreak advantage. A Siena win makes running the table a somewhat feasible goal as they have already won at Iona.
--Virginia Tech at Florida State. Every ACC game seems important right now.
--Texas Tech at Kansas. KU has a little something to prove after some recent challenges from all types of teams.
--Illinois at Michigan State. Winner takes sole possession of first in the Big 10-11-12.
--Georgia Tech at North Carolina. Part of the ACC pile o' snakes.
--Clemson at NC State. Really, no one is safe. Any road win is huge right now.
--Purdue at Northwestern. Boilers have dropped two straight and face a not-so-easy roadie.
--Wisconsin at Ohio State. A win here makes one wonder if the Badgers aren't as viable a conference champ as Sparty and Purdue.
--Missouri at Oklahoma. Tigers put their 9-game streak on the line against a desperate club.
--Louisville at Pittsburgh. With Nova at Georgetown on Sunday, a win here would give Pitt a shot at sole possession of first coming out of the weekend if the Cats falter.
--Vanderbilt at South Carolina. 'Dores are surging, but a win like this makes USC East much more viable.
--Mississippi at Tennesssee. Rebels need to stack up some Top 100 wins (current tally: 2).
--Texas A&M at Texas. In-state rivalry alert!
--Cal at Washington. Two most like AL-types in the Pac-10.
--Syracuse at West Virginia. Your "TV Power" game of the Saturday.
--Dayton at Xavier. Always a treat...and meaningful.
SUNDAY
--Wake Forest at Duke. Duke is nearly unbeatable at home, but Wake has already won at Gonzaga this season. Few teams can boast a true road win of that magnitude.
--Providence at Marquette. Eagles had a ROUGH schedule to start the Big East, but 4 of their next 6 are quite winnable. This is one of those, and they need to pad their record and RPI.
--Georgetown at Villanova. Your "TV Power" game of Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daily GOI

Last Night's GOI
--Vanderbilt 65, at Alabama 64. Solid road win for a Vandy club that is coming on. Bama is going to have to find some big wins somewhere.
--at Clemson 83, North Carolina 64. UNC has a ways to go to beat elite teams on the road.
--Pitt 67, at UConn 57. Road wins like this are RARE and cherished.
--Mississippi 80, at Georgia 76. Rebels pull one out on the road.
--Wichita State 84, at Indiana State 73. It's apparent where the Shockers are going: Bubbletown, USA, unless they manage a couple of wins over UNI. They host the Panthers next week.
--at Michigan State 60, Minnesota 53. Despite some struggles, it will not be surprising if Sparty totes a 1-seed in March.
--Wisconsin 60, at Northwestern 50. Hughes was huge in crunch time and secured a precious road win for the Badger (now #9 RPI).
--at St. John's 52, Cincinnati 50. Johnnies are very much in the hunt if they can manage a decent BEAST record.
--Missouri 94, at Texas Tech 89 (OT). Tigers are rounding into form.
--at UNLV 76, San Diego State 66. Rebels looking solid with wins over New Mexico and SDSU in their last two.
--at Virginia 82, Georgia Tech 75. Just 2-3 games into the slate, there is only one ACC team that is unblemished in league play...and it's the Cavs.
--at Virginia Tech 81, Miami-FL 66. Hokies hold serve.

Tonight's GOI
--Gonzaga at St. Mary's. Always a treat, and St. Mary's always needs the games against Gonzaga for marquee wins.
--Denver at UL-Lafayette. The Pioneers currently lead the Belt, but are 1-4 on the road this season. They are 5-1 in league...but all 5 wins were home games and the loss was at Troy. If Denver is going to make the leap, they have to win road games like this one. And, 8 of their next 12 are on the road.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BracketBusters Standings 1

Time for the first installment of the Buster standings. If I were ESPN/BracketBusters czar, I'd go with these match ups.

William & Mary at Butler
Siena at Northern Iowa
Nevada at Old Dominion
Wichita State at VCU
LA Tech at Missouri State
Western Carolina at Northeastern
Western Michigan at Murray State
Indiana State at Kent State
Charleston at Illinois State
Buffalo at Iona
Fairfield at Pacific

The field will be announced on February 1 and games will be played on Feb 19-20.

Tonight's GOI
--Vanderbilt at Alabama. Big chance for the Tide to score a good home win.
--North Carolina at Clemson. Will tell us a lot about both teams.
--Pitt at UConn. Panthers are one of just two unblemished BEAST teams.
--Mississippi at Georgia. Ole Miss is a "ranked" team that really has not shown jack squat since before Thanksgiving.
--Wichita State at Indiana State. If the Trees want to be in the Valley's upper tier, a win here would send a message.
--Minnesota at Michigan State. Couple of Big 10-11-12 contenders.
--Wisconsin at Northwestern. Cats need some big conference wins to have an AL shot.
--Cincinnati at St. John's. Johnnies need some conference wins pronto (0-3).
--Missouri at Texas Tech. Feels quite Bubbly.
--San Diego State at UNLV. The MtWest is going to be a fun, fun race.
--Georgia Tech at Virginia. Cavs have won 5 straight. If GT is going to contend and be a solid AL team, they need road games like this one.
--Miami-FL at Virginia Tech. Same for the 'Canes. Great record...need some conference roadies to become solid.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pre-Lockbox 2

OK, one more "pre"-Lockbox and then an actual bracket (Monday) and Lockbox (probably Wed) come next week. I have 49 potential AL teams listed, 12 in black. That means 37 teams are left for 22 spots, so fifteen "blue" teams would have to be cut to make 34 AL's. Again, for pre-Lockbox purposes, I am only using two designations: likely going (black), and work to do (blue). We will evaluate the landscape with more precision next week.

In the Belt
Conference divisional leaders WKU and Denver squared off in Colorado yesterday and, as they usually do, the Pioneers won at home (11-1 this season). They shot a mind-blowing 83.3% on their 2-pt FG's. WKU won practically every other statistical measure, but it was not enough to overcome that inconceivable percentage and the Toppers fell by 5. Denver as 8/12 remaining conference games on the road, while WKU has 8/12 at home before closing their slate with a 3-game road swing at season's end.

Tonight's GOI
--Villanova at Louisville. There are three teams unbeaten in Big East conference play. Here are two of them.
--Oklahoma State at Oklahoma. In-state rivalry alert!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Weekend Forecast

We are enjoying (?) some of the coldest weather in years down here in southern Kentucky, so it is a great weekend for hoops viewing. We are also enjoying WKU being the only team without a loss in the Sun Belt after the Toppers went into Mobile and dispatched a South Alabama team who is likely the second-best club in the league. If they are not, it's Denver, and WKU plays there on Sunday.

Weekend Forecast
Friday
--Washington State at Arizona. Cougs have stacked up wins against bad teams, while Zona has stacked up losses against good ones.
--Butler at Wright State. Always a tough trip for the Bulldogs, and both are unblemished in league play.
Saturday
--William & Mary at Drexel. The Tribe have the juice for an at-large if they can have a monster CAA record. They won at Delaware in OT in their last outing.
--UConn at Georgetown. Blockbuster in the Big East.
--Duke at Georgia Tech. Dukies have played just one true roadie and lost (Wisconsin).
--Northern Iowa at Illinois State. Redbirds try to put a mark on the clear Valley fave.
--Ohio State at Minnesota. Evan Turner is back, so this is a heavy Big Ten tilt.
--Mississippi State at Mississippi. Probably the two best in the SEC West and it's an in-state rivalry alert!
--Kansas State at Missouri. Tigers have played a fluffy schedule and Wildcats have played just one true roadie.
--UNLV at New Mexico. Mammoth MtWest match up.
--West Virginia at Notre Dame. Joyce will be rockin' and ND needs some meaty wins.
--Texas Tech at Oklahoma State. These two feel like Big 12 Bubblers.
--Gonzaga at Portland. Must win if Pilots want to challenge for WCC title.
--Florida at Vanderbilt. Gators will need a good SEC record to get in, while Vandy is putting it together.
--Purdue at Wisconsin. Boilers toughest roadie to date by far.
Sunday
--Washington at Arizona. Huskies need this one to hang onto the "favorite" label in the Pac-10.
--WKU at Denver. Tops cannot afford many losses on their AL quest.
--Xavier at George Washington. We'll see what the Colonials are made of.
--Florida State at Maryland. Terps have some serious work to do.
--Temple at Rhode Island. Maybe the most intriguing game of the weekend: two top 10 RPI teams that figure to be at the top of the A10.
--Kansas at Tennessee. The OOC match up du jour(s).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

State of the Sun Belt

Why the Sun Belt you ask? A few reasons:
1. WKU plays in the Belt.
2. It is almost a nation conference (Miami to Denver)...that practically no one cares about unless you read this blog or others like it.
3. Studying a conference far out of the mainstream media gives insight into life for most of DI basketball.

The Sun Belt has not gone exactly to plan in the non-conference. Favorite WKU (who is still the favorite) came out of the gate slowly and then lost 2nd-leading scorer and top rebounded Sergio Kerush for 6-8 weeks (he should return in early-to-mid-February). But, they are 6-1 in their last seven with wins over Vandy in Nashville and at home over Mississippi State, so they are close to where folks expected them to be: 8-4, strong RPI, etc.

Denver has been decent, although they continue to languish in road games (1-4 to date) and South Alabama has been a pleasant surprise (9-4, 3-0 in conference, wins over Arkansas and Florida) despite fourteen (!) new faces this year, but the rest of the league has not lived up to billing.

Outside of WKU and USA in the East, Troy has struggled a bit mainly due to playing 7 of 8 non-conference games against DI teams away from home (they lost that one by 3 to a streaking Marshall club). Someone tell me again how IA football will help basketball and hoops scheduling? They have started 3-0 in conference, but besides a win over a bad Auburn team, they have failed to make much noise. Middle Tennessee was horrid early, starting 1-6, but have been much better since Conference POY candidate Desmond "Boogie" Yates has returned from a knee issue. They are 4-1 in their last five (loss at Vandy). Both FAU (3-9)and FIU (3-13) might have big name coaches (Mike Jarvis and Isiah Thomas), but they have been terrible. Thomas has signed a boatload of talent for next season, so we will see how that works out.

It is even worse out West. Perennial West contender UALR has been plain awful. Their signature bruising defense has been ineffectual and it has led to a 2-11 start including 0-4 in league, which is something Trojan fans simply are not accustomed to. North Texas, another perennial West contender, did nothing special out of conference and have labored to a 2-2 start in league including losses to lowly FIU (at home, no less) and Arkansas State. Speaking of stAte, they labored out of conference, then started 2-1 in league only to get housed by Lamar on Monday. UL-Lafayette has far better talent than their 3-9 record but have been totally unimpressive, and UL-Monroe and New Orleans are about the same caliber as FIU and FAU in the East.

It is bleak. The conference RPI is #23 currently and trails the Ivy and the Ohio Valley (which is a crime in these parts). WKU has a slim shot at an AL run. South Alabama has a long RPI hill to climb and probably lacks the scheduling juice to get into the conversation barring a ridiculous Sun Belt record.

We will check in again at the conference season mid-point.

Last Night's GOI
--Rhode Island 68, at Akron 63. Rams pass another test and validate the AL talk...and their gaudy early RPI.
--at Purdue 79, Minnesota 60. Boilers amplify the message: "We'd like a #1 seed, please."
--at San Diego State 74, New Mexico 64. Big win for a team that seems to be perpetually on the Bubble.

Tonight's GOI
--UNLV at BYU. Two of the Mountain West's best.
--Cornell at Kansas. No one is expected to go into Lawrence and win this season, but it will be interesting to see what kind of game the Big Red play in this one.
--Georgetown at Marquette. Talk about a rough schedule. The Warriors first four games in conference: Villanova (twice!), West Virginia and Georgetown.
--Wisconsin at Michigan State. Similar to Purdue/Minnesota last night, Sparty looks to send a message about who the top contenders for the Big Televen title are going to be.
--Wichita State at Missouri State. Two of a large gang of UNI-chasers in the Valley.
--Louisville at Providence. Important for UL because they are currently 0-2 in road games.
--Northern Iowa at SIU. Panthers get a stiff test in conference and the Salukis are part of that big gang hoping to unseat them.
--Memphis at Syracuse. Tigers are sorely lacking in quality wins.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Mid-Majors" Tough At Home, Too

Two Big 6 teams fully expecting to compete for decent NCAA seeding took L's last night in tough "mid-major" venues. UNC famously fell at College of Charleston and SEC West contender Mississippi State was taken out by WKU.

Last Night's GOI
--Pitt 74, at Cincinnati 71. Panthers collect the sweet, sweet nectar of a conference road win.
--at College of Charleston 82, North Carolina 79 (OT). BIG win for the Cougars.
--at WKU 55, Mississippi State 52. After a shaky start, the Hilltoppers are 6-1 in their last 7 (lost at Louisville) including wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Keep an eye on their AL profile in the coming weeks if they can navigate two tough roadies this week at South Alabam and Denver.

Tonight's GOI
--Rhode Island at Akron. Everyone is learning about the Rams, but the Zips are 9-1 in their last 10 (lost at Texas A&M). Tough test for the AL hopeful Rams.
--Minnesota at Purdue. Boilers are a definite favorite, but Gophers could stamp themselves as a Big Ten title contender with a road win like this.
--New Mexico at San Diego State. Lobos certainly look NCAA-worthy, but the Aztecs have been decent, too. They can ID themselves as a potential AL with a win here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Pre-Lockbox

Next week or the week after, a full-color Lockbox will emerge. For now, this pre-Lockbox displays a list of conference leaders along with a gaggle of teams ranging from "almost certain" to "this will look dumb come late February." And, of course, some teams will charge hard late and jump into the box.

As always, leagues currently with just one team in the At-Large convo have their favorite listed in italics. I have put multi-bid conference teams in just two colors for today's purposes. Teams in black represent those that most everyone would expect to be IN even at this early juncture. If any teams in black miss, it would be a major surprise. Teams in blue have work to do. Many have played well, but have few (or no) strong wins. Others have unpredictable issues to sort out (Tennessee). Some have performed well statistically, but are off to tough league starts (Marquette). There is a lot of guesswork at this point, but this does at least narrow the field a bit.

There are 46 AL potentials listed here, so if one were constructing a bracket, 12 teams in blue would have to be cut.

The first actual bracket will come either next Monday or the following one and will appear every Monday until the season ends. Lockbox updates occur on Wednesdays (usually).

Tonight's GOI
--Pitt at Cincinnati. Should be a bruiser.
--North Carolina at College of Charleston. Always interesting when a team of UNC's caliber and funds plays a real roadie at a non-Big 6 school.
--Mississippi State at WKU. Both looking for a solid OOC win.