Here we go! It’s officially Championship Week, and as we count down to Selection Sunday, Illustrated Sports will keep you updated on the latest movements around support during the week. Stay tuned as more teams hit their tickets, bargain thieves wreak havoc on the bubble, and bubble teams make their final plea to the selection committee.
Tuesday games to watch:
- Gonzaga vs. BYU, WCC championship: Gonzaga can complete a perfect season and close out the No. 1 spot overall with a win against the second-best club in the WCC. Meanwhile, a surprise for BYU would see the Cougars move up the seed line.
- Boston College vs Duke, ACC first round: Duke needs a miraculous deep run in the ACC tournament to get back in the bubble, and that starts Tuesday against humble Boston College. A defeat would end the hopes of the Blue Devils.
Tuesday Autobids to Pierce:
- National executive committee: Bryant vs. Mount St. Mary’s
- CAA: Drexel vs. Elon
- Summit: State of North Dakota vs. Oral Roberts
In the bubble
Last four byes:
State of colorado
Last four in:
First four out:
de San Juan
Next four out:
This is the point where even the bubble has some locks. Michigan State fits that bill – even a loss in the second round of the Big Ten tournament wouldn’t keep it out after a thrilling win over Michigan on Sunday. Unless the committee finds that MSU’s résumé is very different from mine, the Spartans are blocked from dancing.
Meanwhile, the opening weekend conference tournament teams that lost are now in the unenviable position of sitting at home, while others around them can help with their resumes. Of the two teams, Drake appears to be in slightly better position than Saint Louis at the moment, but both will be sweating in a major way (and leaning against all the bubble teams this week).
* Indicates that the team has secured the automatic bid for your conference.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Appalachian State * / NC A&T
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 UConn
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 12 Drake / Wichita State
No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 Toledo
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 State of Colorado
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 14 UNC Greensboro *
No. 7 Loyola Chicago * vs. No. 10 Louisville
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon
Ohio State’s downfall continued through the weekend with a loss to Illinois, the Buckeyes’ fourth in a row. They remain on the No. 2 line for now, but two Big Ten tournament wins might be necessary to secure that spot. OSU’s seven Quad 1 wins are tied for third nationally, and combined with a NET No. 9 ranking, the team is well positioned.
From a bracketing perspective, the No. 5 / No. 12 matchups would be juicy for big middleweight fans. Former MVC team Creighton took on the winner of a battle between former MVC member Wichita State and current MVC club Drake. It would feel like Arch Madness in Indianapolis.
No. 1 Baylor * vs. No. 16 Drexel
No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 LSU
No. 5 USC vs. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 Western Kentucky
No. 6 Missouri vs. No. 11 VCU
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 San Buenaventura
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Cleveland State
West Virginia had been charging hard for a No. 2 seed, but their hopes of slipping away from Ohio State or another fringe team took a hit when the Mountaineers lost to Oklahoma State this weekend. The path to one of the first two seeds is still feasible, but now it may require WVU to defeat Baylor or others across the country to help it out.
One team that I’m curious about what the committee will do is Missouri. The Tigers are one of nine teams in college basketball with seven wins in Quad 1, but their No. 44 NET is closer to that of a bubble team than it is to a top five. A good performance in Nashville this week would bolster the Tigers’ case for moving up the seeded list.
No. 1 Michigan * vs. No. 16 North Dakota State
No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 9 Rutgers
No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 Winthrop *
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Colgate
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Maryland
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 Morehead State *
No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 North Carolina
No. 2 Houston * vs. No. 15 Southern Utah
Michigan remains our third-place overall for now despite the loss to Michigan state. However, the margin between the Wolverines and Illinois is narrowing and could disappear depending on the results in the Big Ten tournament. A head-to-head showdown in the championship game would be the easiest way to settle the debate, but it’s far from a blockage for both teams to go that far.
One story that’s also worth watching, particularly as more and more No. 1 seeds are knocked out of mid-majors conference tournaments, is how the middle majors rise up the seeded list. Using the example of Morehead State, when the Eagles punched their ticket Saturday night they were probably looking for a No. 15 seed. The losses around them have already moved them to No. 14, and it is possible that enough surprises will occur to make it happen. Getting Morehead State up to No. 13. That move can be the difference between having a chance to pull off a surprise and not.
No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 16 Hartford / Prairie View A&M
No. 8 BYU vs. No. 9 UCLA
No. 5 Virginia vs. No. 12 Boise State / Xavier
No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 13 Liberty *
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Michigan State
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Bryant
No. 7 San Diego State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Siena
Oklahoma State’s meteoric rise continues as the Cowboys won on the road in West Virginia without Cade Cunningham to continue adding impressive victories to their resume. As with Missouri, NET and KenPom don’t believe much in OSU, but their work is hard to ignore. My hunch is that those metrics will put Oklahoma State in third place no matter what it does in the Big 12 tournament.
Finally, we will be watching the ACC tournament this week for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons will be to track whether Virginia can jump Florida State on the seeded list. UVA has better metrics, but FSU has better wins and a head-to-head win over the Cavs. If either team wins the ACC tournament, they will likely claim first ACC place.
Full screening of Sweeney’s March Madness, starting March 9:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.