Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh, Minnesota! Where Be Thy Hoopsters?

The Hoops Per Capita numbers show that Minnesota boasts just one DI hoops team. One team for over five million folks? What gives?

As mentioned a couple of days ago, other states with one team are in very low population states. It seems odd for a Big 6 school to have no in-state foil. The Lonely Gophers have no Creighton to their Nebraska, no Louisville to their Kentucky, no Nevada to their UNLV, no New Mexico State to their New Mexico. Further, they do not even have a "mid-major" to avoid and/or from which to demand two-home-games-for-a-neutral-site tilt in scheduling contracts: no Marshall to their West Virginia, no all-ten-other-Louisiana-schools to their LSU.

I do not have an answer here, but a question: is one hoops team enough for 5.3 million people? That ratio is twice as high as the next lowest state (Arizona) and 5.7 times higher than the national average.

Minnesotans: educate us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HoopUcation: Hoops Per Capita (Capitol Edition)

What is the capitol of college basketball? Is it Tobacco Road? Or, with Indiana's resurgence, is it back in the Kentuckiana triangle? As a lifelong Kentuckian, I have long argued that the most passionate region for hoops in our fair nation lay in the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State. But, "depth of passion," like "love," proves difficult to measure. Philosophical and abstract arguments abound when trying to communicate such concepts.

So, how about "Hoops Per Capita?" That is, proportionally, which states have the most DI hoops? Interestingly, neither North Carolina or Kentucky made the top ten in this measure, immediately calling into question HPC's validity in answer questions about "passion." But, from an access standpoint, one could do worse than to look to our nation's capitol to find our hoops capitol. Could this be?

The case looks better than I first thought. That said, we must begin with a caveat: the census numbers get a little tricky here, because everyone knows that metropolitan Washington, DC, has far more than 600,000 people. Nevertheless, the case should be heard. There are four DI basketball teams in a very concentrated area. Washington, DC, houses a storied Big 6 representative (Georgetown), a sometimes excellent non-Big 6 rep (George Washington), and two teams that rely on hopes of winning their conference tourney every season (American and Howard). Each team plays in a different conference. None of the four play "big time/IA/FBS" football. Further, DC is designated as a district, not a state, so it is "neutral" ground by design (unlike Tobacco Road or the Bluegrass). And, per capita, it has the most hoops by a wide margin.

Are DC folks the most passionate about hoops? Probably not. Do they have access, diversity, neutrality (hey, Kentuckians and Carolinians can drive to DC in a day!), and non-football purity in their hoops environment? Hoya, yeah, they do.

Tomorrow's question: Oh, Minnesota! Where be Thy Hoopsters?!?!?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

HoopUcation: College Hoopdom Map Complete!

After six weeks of mapping and plotting, the 2011-12 College Hoopdom Map is complete! My four-year-old son and I had a great time talking about geography, team colors, and the like. While he learned a ton about American geography, he also learned about persistence. Working through 345 teams takes some time. He also learned about population and space, as jamming all of those team-colored circles into the New York City/New Jersey area was not easy. Dad had to do most of those and let the boy draw the circles and write in the in the roomier spaces in the great midwest and the Rocky Mountains. In the end, the most burning question for my four-year-old was this: why doesn't Alaska have a team? It was puzzling to him. Travel, weather, and distance concerns aside, to my son, it just was not fair.

What did I learn? Well, for starters, I find it odd that Minnesota has only one DI basketball team. I guess I knew this, but this is hard to explain on a DI-Hoops-Per-Capita level. For example, Nebraska has just 1.9 million people. But, Minnesota? It boasts 5.3 million people strong! It is similar in population to states like Maryland (eight DI teams), Missouri (five), Wisconsin (four), and Colorado (four). Further, other one-team states are low-population states and not one of them play in a Big 6 league: Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Vermont, and Wyoming. Minnesota, by a wide margin, has the lowest DI-hoops-per-capita in the United States.

All that to say, here is the completed map followed by a couple of regional photos. A big thanks goes out to the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook and Crayola.

Ye Realm of Hoopdom.

Concentration. It helps with free throws, but lives on the East Coast.


More hoops go here.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Belted!

The Sun Belt is off to a better-than-average start in the non-conference. Denver has posted a rare road win, FIU took out George Mason on a neutral court this week, and last night Middle Tennessee romped over UCLA by twenty (!) in Los Angeles. The Raiders are now 3-0 and have two home games this weekend, one of which will be Belmont if their home tourney bracket holds up.

WKU is playing in the ESPN Charleston Classic this weekend. The Tops face Tulsa on ESPN3 tomorrow at 11.30am CT. They will face either LSU or Northwestern on Friday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Introducing #TeamReset

The Bracket Board is happy to be a part of the Mid-Majority's 800 Games Project. Here is my first contribution on #TeamReset and write-up on last night's 52-49 Hilltopper win over Tennessee State.

Monday, November 14, 2011

WKU vs Tennessee State

I am stacked up today, but a full write-up of tonight's Tennessee State at WKU tilt is forthcoming late tonight or tomorrow morning. It will be the first of several contributions to the Mid-Majority's 800 games project.

If you are not reading over there or following TMM and @800GP on Twitter, please do so. Great fun!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The River Wide

Enjoy the rapids of this opening full weekend of college hoops! There are 230 games involving DI schools this weekend including 17 Sun Belt games. The WKU Hilltoppers open the season tonight by hosting Saint Joseph's.

TBB will be running the Chickamauga Marathon tomorrow at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Situated just south of Chattanooga, I had hoped to catch a game there. Alas, the Mocs are at Indiana on Saturday.

More on Monday to recap the Sun Belt weekend and look toward that night's Tennessee State at WKU match up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

HoopUcation: Mapping College Hoopdom Update

It is time for an update on the Mapping College Hoopdom project. A couple of short sessions over the course of the last week was capped by a marathon school-plotting episode last night. My four-year-old and I sat down for a good 1.5 hours and talked through the map while plotting a boatload of teams. His curiosity pulled him westward last night, so we plotted all of the Big Sky teams and all of the teams located in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico while adding a smattering of other Western teams as well. A random set of other teams from all over Hoopdom were also plotted (which included a strange preoccupation with the state of Iowa).

While I do aim for unbiased assessment when building brackets, it is no secret that I am a "mid-major" fan through and through. So, when the Iowa Preoccupation emerged, my son asked, "Who is your favorite team in Iowa?," I immediately answered with Drake. So, the Bulldogs got the first plot-point in Hawkeye State. His response: "Drake is my favorite team in Iowa, too." Brainwashing. Bias. These are hallmarks of excellent parenting.

This is such an enjoyable DIY project. Our tools include:
--this online map
--the hard copy Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook
--hard copy of Rand McNally's Road Atlas
--two sheets of paper from those giant pads you have probably used in workshops at your place of employment
--lots of Crayola markers

College basketball fuels curiosity on so many levels. Engage it. Embrace it. Map it. Drive it. Attend it. The best learning and deeper understanding occur when our passion produces something. Looking at the college hoops map? Good. Creating a college hoops map? Better. Watching the game on TV? Good. Experiencing the game in the arena and adding to the noise and atmosphere in that place? Better.

A four-year-old ponders and plots the Montana Grizzlies.
















Mapping College Hoopdom project's current status.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Head of the River

Three games bubble onto the surface tonight and begin the trickle to a full, raging river that awaits us on the weekend. While there are no Sun Belt games tonight, a home state OVC club tips it off this evening: Eastern Kentucky plays at Mississippi State in the Coaches vs. Cancer.

The night's other two games include William & Mary at St. John's (another Coaches vs. Cancer match up) and Valparaiso at Arizona.

Sun Belt action starts on Friday. More on that coming later in the week.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

HoopUcation: Introduction

As I mentioned in the season’s initial post, a bracket-centric focus seems less relevant these days given the army of capable bracketeers out there. I find myself rethinking what I can add to this conversation, while not giving up “bracketing” every Sunday night from January until March. It has been a hobby of mine for over two decades now. I love engaging in the process, and will continue to do so. A longer essay about identity and doing work that we love will come later, but today I offer a taste of the kind of work that will happen here.

I am a teacher (more on that in the coming “love your work” essay). Helping students see academic disciplines at work in everyday life is a crucial element of my teaching philosophy. For my money, sports (and food) offer some of the richest interdisciplinary experiences we encounter (also, they are “five sense” experiences). So, in short, I feel the content of this blog going in the direction of answering a fundamental question: how can we use college basketball to teach ourselves and others about the world around us? As I said, a longer essay on all this is brewing.

Today, I offer an example of the kind of work I hope to share here on a regular basis this season. File this one under both “teacher” and “daddy.” As a boy growing up in the Eighties, I learned United States geography through college basketball conference affiliation. Some glorious weekend in October, Dick Vitale’s College Basketball Yearbook would hit the local drugstore’s magazine rack, and I would giddily grab it and run to my mother yelling “It’s here today! Can I get it?!” She always said “Yes,” and the stat-ogling would begin. When I grew tired of marveling at how many points Reggie Miller or Reggie Williams averaged or at the size of the Carrier Dome or at the enrollment at Texas, I moved on to drawing uniforms and mascots. Eventually, at some point, this rural Kentucky boy would dig up a map of the United States and hunt for places like Corvallis, Oregon, or Lafayette, Louisiana. I made it a point to know all of the Division I teams, their colors, and their mascots.

So, now as father-teacher, I aim to revisit some of these practices with a four-year-old boy (my daughter is a bit young for this right now, but I hope this can come for her, too). A current obsession of his happens to be maps. This sparked the thought of a massive college hoops project to usher in the season: plot all 345 teams. Yesterday, I created a giant paper map in pencil, and allowed my son to trace over the pencil sketch with a black marker to create those stark state borders essential to understanding concepts like “in-state rivalry” and “border wars.” Perhaps those concepts are a bit advanced for a four-year-old, but a sense of place and geography are not.

There will be more on this project as we go along, but a good work session last night yielded these results:


Overview.










Kentucky and Tennessee up close.










Note that we plotted WKU first, followed by other member Sun Belt institutions. After that, the remaining Kentucky schools went on. Beyond that, I left it up to my son to ask questions and pick states until the session ended. This morning, he rolled out of bed, and his first words to me were, “What about Rhode Island?” So, we put URI’s baby blue and Providence’s black on the map before breakfast.

Curiosity. It is the greatest gift given from teacher to student. And, actually, curiosity is not given, but stirred or inspired or uncovered. That is one of the greatest aspects of a sport with 345 teams: from year to year, there is always room for curiosity.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Rules for 2011-12

I feel what happens here is becoming less and less relevant. There are so many earnest bracket projections out there, I am not sure that my brackets contribute much in the way of accuracy. But, I was making projections long before I started posting them on a blog, and I would do them for fun anyway. That is how TBB started eight years ago: I began emailing them to some friends and we had fun discussing them. Once the email list grew a bit longer, I stuck them up on Tripod as a central location. If I unplugged today, I would still draw them out in pencil on 8x14 paper just as I did in my youth long before the internet. So, in some ways, I am simply sharing one of my rituals that has been part of my life as a hoops fan for many, many years.

All that said, a few words about what will happen here in 2011-12.

1. No bracket projections until at least New Year's Day. I base projections on results in a given season and nothing else. Until nearly all of the non-conference games are in the books, projections are too much like the popularity polls. Results, regardless of budget or conference or pre-season prognostications or preseason accolades, are all that matter in meaningful projections. This goes for the Lockbox as well. The first one will happen after New Year's Day.

2. This does not mean nothing important happens before January. Quite the opposite. Non-conference games are like the opening chapters to novels, and these first words are vital to the ultimate stories (glorious, mundane, tragic or otherwise) of all members in Hoopdom. I write about those stories from time to time. Also, with two kids under the age five, readers will likely have to endure some daddy-rambling on occasion, but I promise to make those ramblings relevant to the college hoops experience. No posts consisting of a dozen pics of my kids hamming it up with Big Red. However, I do feel drawn to share more about what it means to be a fan of a non-BCS team (WKU Hilltoppers). As I get older, the realities of identity, belonging, community, history, and ritual in "being a fan" of a school become clearer and more important to me. I hope I can share some of that as we go along.

3. Extra attention will be paid to WKU and Sun Belt members, especially before January. Also, non-SEC southern conferences get special treatment (especially the SoCon). History shows that they do not get preferences in the bracket projections, just in the amount of verbiage on TBB.

4. No Kardashians. Crap, just broke that one.

That is enough to serve as a start.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Final Bracket

Here is my final bracket projection. I took Virginia Tech, St. Mary's, Colorado, Penn State (still playing), and Clemson as my last five, but there are a number of teams that could easily slide in depending on what the committee favors this year.

Also, our SCKySSiP Mock Committee yielded this S-Curve. Again, this is NOT a projection, but a replication of the selection process (or as close as we can get to replicating it).

Just a little over 3 hours until we see the real deal.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SCKySSiP Mock Committee

The SCKySSiP (SKISS-ip) is in full swing, so most of my bracketing time is spent managing that process. An update on that process will come late tonight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bracket Breakdown 3/10

The One Stop is up to date as is the Lockbox, which reflects the updated bracket.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (11): Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville, St. John's, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette
ACC (6): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Clemson
Big 12 (6): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big Ten (5): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan
Mountain West (3): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV
Pac 10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion
West Coast (2): St. Mary's, Gonzaga


The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--20 teams are LOCKS at this point. More will achieve this status as the tourneys play out.
--22 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point. Several are a win away from LOCK status.
--I have 3 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but could use a win in their conference tourney to avoid the Bubble. That means 26 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 12 at the moment. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Updates 3/8

Could not get to a bracket today. Too much going, including the SCKySSiP 6.0 kickoff. Our mock committee is "meeting" by electronification, so that's taking some time, too. Hopefully, a full bracket update comes tomorrow. But, the Lockbox and One Stop have been updated.

Terriers and Peacocks?

Neither mascot will incite fear in the masses, but these critters can dance. Congrats to Wofford (SoCon) and Saint Peter's (MAAC). They have their golden tickets.

The Lockbox and One Stop are up to date. Full bracket coming later today or tonight.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

First Tickets Punched

Congrats to Morehead State (OVC), UNC-Asheville (Big South), and Belmont (A-Sun). So far, all the teams in the bracket are within a few hours drive of TBB's home base in Bowling Green. In Belmont's case, it's only one hour, and rest assured that some Big Conference U. coach is going to break into a cold sweat when they see Belmont pop up as their 12-13 seed.

One Stop is up to date.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

One Stop Updated

One Stop Shop has been updated. This is the last of the daily reminders. It will be updated daily/nightly, so just hit the link on the right.

Lots of Bubble turmoil last night. When that happens, I am loathe to make quick trigger changes. What is clear is that Georgia and Richmond got the double dose goodness of winning a game and having a lot of Bubble teams that were IN take a loss. Those two have to be feeling pretty good this morning. A loss at Alabama (Georgia) or Duquesne (Richmond) isn't likely to kill your season. One more win of any sort LOCKS Georgia (and they may be there already). Richmond still has work to do, but they got considerable help last night.

I tinkered with the Lockbox a bit, and may make some IN/OUT changes later.

Bubble Tonight
--More conference action in the American East, A-Sun, Big South, Missouri Valley, Northeast, and Ohio Valley.
--UCLA at Washington. UCLA is all but a lock. Washington could take a massive step toward solidifying their spot with a win. Otherwise, they remain scarily close to the Bubble's edge.
--Tennessee at South Carolina. Vols do not have that much room to spare. They need to take care of the Gamecocks or join Washington in "need some wins" mode in the conference tourney.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

One Stop, Lockbox Updated

The One Stop Shop is up to date through last night's conference tourney results. Tourney action continues in the A-Sun, OVC, and Patriot League tonight.

Lockbox has also been updated.

Bubble Tonight
--North Carolina at Florida State. 'Noles could all but seal it up with a big home win.
--St. Louis at Dayton. Flyers must have it.
--Richmond at Saint Joseph's. Spiders cannot afford any bad losses.
--Colorado at Iowa State. Buffaloes need to consolidate couple of solid, recent home wins with a road win over a lesser team.
--Cincinnati at Marquette. Marquette would have to feel solid if they could hold serve tonight.
--Minnesota at Northwestern. Feels like a must win for the Gophers.
--UAB at Southern Miss. Gigantic repercussions in CUSA standing and tourney as well as the larger Bubble.
--Utah at Colorado State. Rams have to pick up a few wins after blinking at Air Force last time out.
--LSU at Georgia. Dawgs can probably afford a loss or two, but this one would hurt.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

One Stop Shop Is Rolling

The One Stop Shop is up to date through tonight's conference tourney results. Thus begins the best three weeks in sports.

Bracket Update 3/1

Updated bracket is up. Yes, that's Colorado in there. Yes, that's Butler in there, too. I took those two along with Memphis, Boston College, and Michigan State as the true bottom. Those bottom five could be shifted in or out pretty easily with teams like Dayton, Clemson, Michigan, Penn St, Colorado State or Baylor. Very fluid at the bottom.

Teams like Virginia Tech, Richmond, Washington, Illinois and maybe a couple of others are certainly in danger if they lose, but they can likely stay in if they win barring massive bid-stealing in the conference tourney.

I also moved BYU to the 1-seed line. And, the Lockbox is starting to fill up a bit. I have 20 teams LOCKED, and there are several more that will reach that status with one more win.

Finally, a shout out to Milwaukee, who came from off the pace to nip the Horizon front-runners and tie atop the league, earning the conference tourney 1-seed in the process. They closed with a 9-1 finish to the season.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (11): Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville, St. John's, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette
Big 12 (6): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big Ten (5): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Boston College
Mountain West (3): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV
Pac 10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion
CUSA (2): UAB, Memphis
West Coast (2): St. Mary's, Gonzaga
Horizon (2): Milwaukee, Butler

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--20 teams are LOCKS at this point, and that number will rise pretty rapidly as the last few games play out.
--23 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point. Several are a win away from LOCK status.
--I have 3 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. That means 26 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 11 at the moment. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Stop Under Construction

The One Stop Shop houses all 30 conference tourney brackets in one low-tech excel doc. It it under construction, and I'll work through it alphabetically. Brackets through CUSA are updated. I hope to finish the others early next week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bubble Breakdown

I dropped Minnesota out of bracket (reflected in the last one and in today's Lockbox). No way a team who lost a significant player and finished 1-6 without him gets in with a 6-9 conference record if today was Selection Sunday.

Monstrous game in Lincoln, Nebraska, tonight. That's right--meaningful Husker Hoops in late February! The Huskers can earn a good win over K-State, put the Wildcats behind them in the standings, and they have an easier finishing schedule than does K-State.

Wisconsin at Michigan. This would be the kind of win to make Michigan a very serious at-large consideration. They have found the Bubble already.

VCU at Drexel. Dragons simply must have it and VCU has a razor-thin margin for error.

Multi-Bid Conferences

Big East (11): Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville, St. John's, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette
Big 12 (5): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big Ten (5): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State
ACC (4): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College
Mountain West (4): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State
CUSA (3): UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss
Pac 10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (3): George Mason, Old Dominion, VCU
West Coast (2): St. Mary's, Gonzaga

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--10 teams are LOCKS at this point, and that number will rise pretty rapidly as the last few games play out.
--21 AL teams are listed in black (or are LOCKS). The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 4 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. That means 25 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 12 at the moment (and it stubbornly staying there). Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bracket Update 2/23

Bracket has been updated.

Marquette, Gonzaga, VCU, and Southern Miss found their way in at the bottom. Minnesota, Dayton, Butler, Michigan, Nebraska and a few others were close.

Full breakdown and updated Lockbox tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First LOCKS

Lockbox has been updated. Butler creeps back in for the first time in a LONG time and fellow non-power perennial Gonzaga is on the verge.

Also, we have our first LOCKS of the season. These teams could lose out and still make it into the bracket: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, Texas, Pitt, Georgetown. Lots more coming with one more win.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bracket Update 2/17

Bracket has been updated, as has the Lockbox.

Those last couple of bids are really painful at the moment. Is Michigan State really IN? Southern Miss? I'd like to say "no," but those last couple plus all the teams that were close (Clemson, Oklahoma State, Mississippi, UAB, UTEP, Missouri State, Harvard, VCU, Dayton, Gonzaga, among others) are certainly no better.

Ole Miss is interesting. They will be favored in every game they have left except maybe a home tilt vs Alabama. They are 5-2 in their last 7. A big finish and a win or two in the SEC Tourney could get them home even after their atrocious start in the SEC.

VCU was badly damaged by getting blasted at home by the other two CAA contenders (GMU, ODU) this week. One also wonders how Butler or Cleveland State will look on SelSun if they gallop home and lose in the Horizon Tourney final. The Vikes have a nice RPI, but very little substance in their wins (best win: Valpo, OOC: Kent St). Butler's loss to Y-town State borders on unforgivable. But, a loss to Valpo or CSU in the tourney final would probably put them squarely on the Bubble.

Some of the very top teams will be LOCKED in by winning this weekend. Even 4-5 games losing streaks obviously would not keep Ohio State or a few others out at this point. The LOCKS will start to trickle in this weekend.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (11): Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, St. John's, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Marquette
Big 12 (6): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, Baylor
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech
Mountain West (4): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State
CUSA (3): Memphis, Southern Miss
Pac 10 (3): , Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--No teams are LOCKS at this point, though that will change as early as next week.
--21 AL teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 4 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. That means 25 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 12 at the moment. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lockbox Update 2/10

The Lockbox has been updated and the Bubble still stands at a healthy 13 slots. This is a good time to clarify how my bracket projections differ from the Lockbox. The bracket is based upon results as of today (or the day the bracket was created). The Lockbox looks at that, plus the remaining schedule.

For example, I believe UCLA is a near lock to make the tourney. They are 7-1 in their last eight games, have nice wins over BYU and St. John's OOC, and haven't lost to any terrible Pac-10 teams to this point. This does not mean that can't miss (near lock, not LOCK), but it would take a severe turn for the worse given where they are and what they have left. On the other hand, Vanderbilt has a better overall profile than UCLA, but are 4-4 in league and have demonstrated that they can lose to bad SEC teams (South Carolina, Arkansas). Further, their division is a meat grinder, and the 'Dores have lots of heavy lifting left (Kentucky twice, Florida, red hot Alabama, at Georgia). They still have work to do even though if the season ended today, they would likely garner a higher seed than UCLA.

Hence, some teams with weaker profiles than a team like Vandy are listed as near locks, while teams like Vandy or Cincinnati are not.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (10): Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, West Virginia, Georgetown, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John's
Big 12 (6): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
SEC (6): Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big Ten (5): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech
Mountain West (4): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State
CUSA (3): UTEP, Memphis, UAB
Pac 10 (3): , Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--No teams are LOCKS at this point, though that will change in a couple of weeks.
--20 AL teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 4 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. That means 24 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 13 at the moment. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bracket Update 2/08

Bracket is up, and the Lockbox is up to date.

At the bottom, I took Boston College, Richmond, Washington, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Memphis and UAB over a group that included Missouri State, Dayton, Mississippi, Washington State, Michigan State, Harvard, New Mexico, Southern Miss, Marquette, Baylor, Duquesne...well, a bunch. It's very fluid at the bottom.

Full honkin' Bubble breakdown coming tomorrow or Thursday.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Lockbox Update/Thursday GOI

The Lockbox has been updated. Penn State got squeezed out as there has been some shakeup of the conference leaders this week, which affected the number of available AL slots.

Tonight's GOI
--Liberty at Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have already won at Liberty, so a win here puts the Flames two games back and gives Coastal the tie-breaker, which essentially makes it a 3-game lead with 6 to play.
--Valparaiso at Cleveland State. For sole possession of first in the Horizon, plus Bubble implications.
--FAU at North Texas. The best team in the Sun Belt on the road against the team most people expected to be the best.
--Gonzaga at Portland. Zags are going to need a big, big finish.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Bracket Update 2/1

It's February, which means the Bubble will likely get smaller, not larger as we head toward March.

A new bracket is up. Virginia Tech, George Mason, Colorado State, Richmond, Washington State, and Marquette found their way in over Penn State, UAB, Kansas State, Maryland, Clemson and a smattering of others.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (11): Pitt, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgetown, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John's, Marquette
Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State
SEC (6): Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech
Big 12 (4): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri
Pac 10 (4): Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State
Mountain West (4): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV, Colorado State
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (3): VCU, Old Dominion, George Mason

Monday, January 31, 2011

Lockbox 1/31

Lockbox has been updated. A full bracket update will come tomorrow. The Bubble is down one from the last update to 12 slots.

A complete breakdown of the Bubble comes on Wednesday.

And, if you want Bubble and bracket tweets/links, you can follow me on Ye Olde Twitter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mostly Jimmer-free Post

Crap. I put Jimmer in the title.

Some major GOI tonight.

--St. Mary's at Gonzaga. Zags really need this one. They will be 3 back of SMC with a loss and if San Francisco wins at LMU, Zags would trail the Dons by two games for 2nd place in the WCC.
--Hofstra at VCU. Winner takes sole possession of first in the CAA.
--Middle Tennessee at FAU. Owls would be FOUR games clear in the Sun Belt East with a win. They are 12-2 in their last 14 games, have won seven straight, and looking like the class of the Belt.
--UCLA at Arizona. Badly needed by both.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bubble Breakdown 1/26

Time for the first full Bubble Breakdown. The Lockbox has been slightly tweaked since Monday.

Multi-Bid Conferences
Big East (11): Pitt, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgetown, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John's, Marquette
Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
Big 12 (5): Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma State
Pac 10 (4): Washington, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State
Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Colonial (3): VCU, Old Dominion, George Mason
Mountain West (3): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV
West Coast (2): St. Mary's, Gonzaga

The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season. Black italics means a team is the projected auto-bid for that conference.
--37 At-Large Bids (AL). That is also a static number.
--No teams are LOCKS at this point, though that will change in a couple of weeks.
--15 AL teams are listed in black. The black teams could miss, but it would take a meltdown at this point.
--I have 9 other AL teams listed in blue, which means they are on their way, but have a bit more work to do. That means 24 AL slots are taken, leaving the Bubble at 13 at the moment. Bubble-IN teams are in green, Bubble-OUT teams are in red.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bracket Update 1/24

New bracket is up. The Lockbox reflects this bracket as well.

--1-seeds are a bit muddier now (especially since Pitt lost tonight, not reflected in this bracket). But, Ohio State is easing forward and if San Diego State can win at BYU this week, one would have to see them as having an inside track. I imagine there is much jostling to be done this season for these 1-seeds.
--It is always messy at the bottom. This year is no different, but with the expanded field it is pretty danged ugly at the very bottom. In the spots truly up for grabs, I took Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Washington State, Gonzaga, Richmond, and George Mason over the near misses which included Butler, Kansas St, Miami-FL, Dayton, Colorado State, Wichita State, Dayton and UAB (among a few others).

Full Bubble Breakdown coming on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lockbox Update 1/23

Lockbox is up. Full bracket later today or tomorrow.

Some tidbits.

1. Probably not feasible, but all six SEC East teams hit the board (5 in) and no teams from the West are even close.

2. UCF, we hardly knew ye. Home losses to East Carolina and Rice will do in a 13-0 start pretty quickly.

3. Never expected Kansas State or Baylor to miss brackets at any point this season. Both out today.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Bracket 1/16

There are still a LOT of teams in the mix in this first bracket of 2011, so a total bracket breakdown would be too unwieldy. I will sort some things out in the Lockbox update on Wed or Thursday.

That said, at the bottom, I took Marquette, Florida State, Colorado, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Cleveland State, Old Dominion, and Arizona over teams like Washington State, Memphis, Baylor, Wichita State, Miami-FL, and Richmond. It is easy to make arguments for/against right now. Things will shape up as we go.

Eleven teams are IN from the Big East. This will likely shrink a spot or two...likely.

Syracuse, Ohio State, and Kansas are no-brainer 1-seeds right now (all undefeated). I took San Diego State over Duke for now for the last 1-seed. The Aztecs have a higher RPI, are still undefeated, and have five top 100 RPI road wins. Duke has none. In fact, SD State is 7-0 in true roadies while Duke is 1-1.

Eight weeks until Selection Sunday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekend Forecast

Each weekend will clear up the very muddy tourney picture from here on out.

Friday

--Iona at Rider. Two one-loss MAAC teams that trail Fairfield by a game.
--Valparaiso at Wright State. Two of four Horizon teams log-jammed atop the league at 4-1.
Saturday
--Arizona State at Arizona. In-state rivalry alert and the Cats are a Bubbly looking bunch.
--Oklahoma State at Colorado. Very intriguing match up of Big 12 hopefuls.
--Temple at Duquesne. Dangerous roadie for the Owls.
--Old Dominion at Hofstra. Your CAA leader is not ODU, GMU, Drexel or VCU. It's the Pride (5-0).
--Marquette at Louisville. These kind are precious. Eagles need it more.
--Georgia at Mississippi. Dogs are going to need all the West wins they can get to pad the win total.
--Boston College at Miami-FL. Two of the ACC's masses that need sorting.
--Northwestern at Michigan State. Tough one for Carmody's bunch, but they will need a few against the cream of the Big 10.
--San Diego State at New Mexico. Aztecs put their 16-0 record up at The Pit. Maybe the Game o' the Weekend.
--Georgetown at Rutgers. Hoyas gotta have this one at 1-4 in the league.
--UCF at Southern Miss. Knights need to bounce back from their first loss.
--Washington State at Stanford. NCAA fringe teams with a need for a big second half of the season.
--Missouri at Texas A&M. Nice Big 12 match up. Tigers need some road meat if they are going to garner a high seed.
--Illinois at Wisconsin. Tasty, single digit seediness.
--Dayton at Xavier. A10 bubbliness.
--Cleveland State at Youngstown State. Vikes are going to need to win a bunch to keep AL hopes alive.
Sunday
--Washington at California. Huskies are the fave. Bears could help themselves tons with a chance at home here.
--Notre Dame at St. John's. One will drop to .500 in the Big East. These feel like tourney teams, but crazy things can happen. Every win is precious.
--Purdue at West Virginia. One of the bigger non-conference games out there.
--Butler at Wright State. Tough roadie for BU.
--

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lockbox 1/13

The first real Lockbox is up.

It is still early, but late enough to get some idea about the wider picture. A few thoughts to accompany this Lockbox.

1. No matter how high your non-conf RPI was, you will still have to win some conference games. This means you, Georgetown. And, Tennessee, Kansas State, and Miami-FL. Still very early, though.

2. Has their been a power conference division worse than the SEC West? Is there any SEC East team that would not win the West? Maybe Tennessee is in too much disarray and maybe South Carolina just is not good enough. But, even those two are debatable.

3. I do not believe the Big East will not send 11 teams in March. Not enough wins to go around.

A proper bracket comes on Monday.