Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep...~Genesis 1:2
Out of the shapeless mass of November and December comes the beginnings of an identifiable creation in January. No, I'm not ready to unveil an in-season bracket yet. That will likely come early next week on Monday or Tuesday. But, today, I think we can scratch up a list of teams expected to make the Dance barring major nosedives or signigicant injuries.
This list is based on one question:
Would I be more than a little surprised if this team missed the NCAA Tourney based on performance to this point, their existing talent, and their current resume?
I answered "yes" when looking at these teams.
ACC: North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Maryland, Florida State
Big XII: Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas A&M
Big East: Pitt, Notre Dame, West Virginia
Big Ten: Wisconsin, Ohio State
MVC: SIU, Wichita State
Mt West: Air Force, UNLV
Pac-10: UCLA, Arizona, Oregon
SEC: Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU
There are 30 teams from 12 conferences on this list, meaning that 18/34 of the At-Large bids look to be taken at this point. Granted, this is merely a list of likely NCAA teams in early January.
There are a number of teams that can join this list by accomplishing a bit more over the next few games (Northern Iowa, Missouri State, Villanova, Michigan State, and Georgia Tech come to mind) or bouncing back from a recent slide (Washington, Marquette).
Some teams listed here will almost assuredly fall off the list as conference play separates wheat and chaff. This is just an early stab to identify the contenders.
A full bracket is coming on Monday or Tuesday.