It is Conference Championship Saturday, with a ton of automatic bids being handed out today. We’ve seen most of the bubble battles now start to resolve, though we do have several lurking issues. Will someone steal a bid in the American? Can LSU or Georgia pull more upsets in the SEC tournament? Does San Diego State have to win the Mountain West tourney? (probably).
I broke down some bubble team similarities, but the last spot, for now, seems very open and depends on this particular committee’s view on some ancillary issues.
South Carolina is 24-8, but only has three games against likely tourney teams (wins at Texas A&M, vs Vanderbilt, loss to Kentucky at home). Will that be enough with a plummeting RPI?
Monmouth: how much does the committee want to reward non-conference scheduling for a mid-major? The profile isn’t there. UCLA is a name-win, not a top 50 one. The conference did them no favors, and then they couldn’t win it. The RPI is outside the top 50, and it would be near-unprecedented for an at-large from a small conference to get in with that RPI.
Temple: how much does the committee want to reward the regular season title, outright, in the American? They played almost a true round robin and went 5-0 against Cincinnati, Connecticut, and SMU entering today. They scheduled well non-conference, but played poorly in those games (losses by average of 13 points to UNC, Utah, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Butler).
Syracuse: will they forgive the Boeheim suspensions, slightly? Syracuse is out if they just go by looking at the resumé given the RPI slotting, and total losses.
But let’s talk the other end as well. During the scrubbing process, I moved Seton Hall up to a #5 seed. I have them in the 20th position, just ahead of Texas, Arizona, Baylor and Dayton. They’ve added two huge wins versus Xavier, the RPI is up to 23, they are 24-8, have won 11 of 13, and this young core is starting to surge. They could win the title with another win against Villanova today. A 5-seed, and maybe even a 4-seed, would be a lock then.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is on the 2-line in many brackets. They are a 1-seed in mine. Here’s why. Over the last decade, 38 of the 40 teams ranked in the top 4 of the final AP poll were #1 seeds. Michigan State was ranked 2nd entering the week, and if they win the Big Ten title, I think the committee is in step with general thought: Michigan State is one of the best teams in the country.
Right now, my top 25 seed scrub is as follows, with some movement still possible with many teams playing big games today:
- Michigan State
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Iowa State
- Seton Hall