Barnes Bracketology - February 24, 2010

By: Matt Barnes
By: Matt Barnes

It's starting to get tough for yours truly. Putting together my top 65 was mainly a gut decision for me yesterday. But putting the teams in order really forced me to compare records, resumes, RPI rankings and still, my gut. It wasn't an easy task by any means but I did it. Of course, much will be changed by time I come out with my final bracket in about 2 weeks. But for now, enjoy the structured randomness that is today's bracketology.

As I mentioned, what's new is that I put in order the AT-LARGE teams and the BUBBLE teams to give you a better idea of where they stand. While some teams may seem high or low right now, that is strictly because I feel they have some more to prove. Some of them have crucial games coming up that if they win will vault up the list. Others though who may win but play scrubs will find themselves either treading water or sinking slowly.

MY PROJECTED FIELD OF 65

LOCKS: I was all set to add Northern Iowa to this list on Tuesday but I told myself that they needed to avoid the big upset on the road to Evansville, who at the time had just 7 wins. Well guess what, UNI lost. Therefore, they remain an AUTO and not a LOCK. While they are still in great shape, the loss keeps them from LOCK status for another day or two. Other than that, no changes.

LOCKS (25): Duke, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Villanova, West Virginia, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Texas A+M, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, New Mexico, BYU, Temple, Xavier, Gonzaga and Butler.


AUTOS:
No change here from yesterday.

AUTOS (22): America East - Stony Brook, Atlantic Sun - Campbell, Big Sky - Weber State, Big South - Coastal Carolina, Big West - UC Santa Barbara, Colonial - Old Dominion, Conference USA - UTEP, Ivy - Cornell, MAAC - Siena, MAC - Akron, MEAC - Morgan State, MVC - Northern Iowa, Northeast - Robert Morris, Ohio Valley - Murray State, Pac-10 - California, Patriot - Lehigh, Southern - Wofford, Southland - Sam Houston State, SWAC - Jackson State, Summit - Oakland, Sun Belt - Middle Tennessee State, WAC - Utah State

AT-LARGE: As I stated up top, these names are now in order from most secure to least secure. That should give you an idea of who I think is also getting close to LOCK status. Teams near the beginning of this list are probably just a big win away from being a LOCK.

There is a change though in who is in this list and who is out. Illinois jumps into my field with a solid road victory over Michigan. Out of the group is Dayton for now.

AT-LARGE (18): Richmond, Missouri, Clemson, Maryland, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, UNLV, Florida, Virginia Tech, William & Mary, Marquette, UConn, Rhode Island, Illinois, Washington and St. Mary's



BUBBLE WATCH

Of course, there is still a BUBBLE category. You will see repeat names in the category because though a team may be an AT-LARGE, they are still always on the BUBBLE until they become a LOCK. No changes to this group but they are now in order from best chance to worst chance.

BUBBLE (39): Richmond, Northern Iowa, Missouri, Clemson, Maryland, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Old Dominion, UNLV, Florida, Virginia Tech, William & Mary, Marquette, UConn, Rhode Island, Illinois, Washington, St. Mary's, Dayton, California, San Diego State, Utah State, Siena, Seton Hall, Charlotte, Cincinnati, UTEP, UAB, Ole Miss, South Florida, Saint Louis, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Northeastern, Wichita State, and Cornell

Hopefully, that clears things up a bit. Again, I reserve the right to make drastic changes to this field of 65 as I continue to compare each team's bodies of work. The more time I look the numbers, the more I change my mind so changes will come.

SEEDING

For the second night in a row, no changes. Georgetown's win over Louisville was huge, keeping them as a solid #3 seed. Same can be said for Syracuse's road win. A loss there may have opened the door slightly for a team like Kansas State (who also won on the road) to creep closer to a #1 seed. New Mexico avoided upset and stays where they are. Meanwhile Tennessee, who had a chance to make a move toward a top 4 seed suffered a loss to Florida, keeping a team like Vanderbilt breathing easy for now.

The goal was to have a bracket up by tomorrow but instead, it will be Friday. With all the big games tomorrow, that will allow me to first make changes to the teams in the actual field and then, give me time on Thursday to place them into my first bracket.

For now though, here are my projected top 4 seeds:

MIDWEST REGION - St. Louis
1. Kansas (Oklahoma City) -- TOP OVERALL SEED.
2. West Virginia (New Orleans)
3. Michigan State (Buffalo)
4. New Mexico (San Jose)

EAST REGION - Syracuse
1. Kentucky (New Orleans)
2. Kansas State (Oklahoma City)
3. Georgetown (Jacksonville)
4. Wisconsin (Spokane)

SOUTH REGION - Houston
1. Syracuse* (Buffalo)
2. Duke (Jacksonville)
3. Pittsburgh (Providence)
4. Vanderbilt (San Jose)

WEST REGION - Salt Lake City
1. Purdue (Milwaukee)
2. Villanova (Providence)
3. Ohio State (Milwaukee)
4. Gonzaga (Spokane)

*NOTE: Syracuse is ineligible to play in the East Region because their home court is being used as the region site.

WEDNESDAY'S GAMES TO WATCH
Purdue @ Minnesota - For Purdue, staying as a #1 seed is on the line. For Minnesota, a chance to get back in the bubble talk.
South Florida @ Villanova - USF needs a win like this badly to boost their resume. Villanova just better not be looking ahead to their showdown at Syracuse on Saturday
San Diego State @ BYU - The Aztecs could really help their cause with a win on the road. BYU won the first meeting at SDSU by just 2 points. Cougars also right on cusp of grabbing a top 4 seed.
Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame - A must-win for Notre Dame if they want to stay a bubble team. For Pitt, a must-win if they want to even be considered for anything higher than a 3 seed.
Dayton @ Temple - Temple is safely in the tournament and now, fighting for a high seed. Dayton could help themselves immensely with a road victory in Philly.
Oklahoma State @ Texas - I think it's safe to say a win in Austin would move the Cowboys from at-large to lock status. The Longhorns have been struggling as of late but are safely in the dance.
UTEP @ Southern Miss - The Miners have won 10 in a row and are quickly rising up my rankings. Gotta get past their road test though against USM, who nearly beat UAB last week.
Virginia Tech @ Boston College - This is a game the Hokies are supposed to win. If they lose, they may lose their spot among the at-large crowd too.
Florida State @ North Carolina - UNC's chances are on life support. They need to win out and then some. FSU needs to avoid this loss and win a couple more to feel safe about their standing.
Xavier @ Saint Louis - The Billikens are a desperate team in need of a marquee win so Xavier better be ready. A loss by Saint Louis probably bursts their bubble, despite their great play as of late.
Clemson @ Maryland - With a loss, neither team will lose their spot in the field. But with a win, they can really shore up their spot in the at-large pool.

There you have it. Should be a great day of basketball as there's a lot at stake for many teams. Bubbles could be burst tomorrow but at the same time, we could see more teams added to the discussion. I'll be watching closely as I try to figure out who is worthy of a spot in my field of 65.

Ddon't forget, you can share your opinion in the comments section below, on Twitter @MattBarnesWRDW, or my Facebook page. I'd love to hear what you think. See ya tomorrow.

MB
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