Barnes Bracketology - March 9, 2010

By: Matt Barnes
By: Matt Barnes
On this day a week from now, the NCAA Tournament will officially begin with the opening round game. Granted, that game isn't the most-watched event of the tournament but it does signal the start of what will be 64 basketball games in a span of just 3 weeks. Of course, thanks to championship week this week, we have tons of games this week. So needless the say, the March Madness begins well before the Big Dance. Or maybe as ESPN puts it, it's the "Mayhem before the Madness".

MY PROJECTED FIELD OF 65
(changes in italics)

LOCKS: No one new in this group. The only team to play in this group was Gonzaga, who lost in their conference championship. But again, if you're a lock, you're safe so the Bulldogs are still going dancing.

LOCKS (35): 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, Butler, Northern Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Richmond, Clemson, Marquette, Missouri, Florida State, Louisville, and Virginia Tech


AUTOS:
Last night, 4 more teams clinched their spots in the field and this time, there's no one new. I actually predicted them correctly. Old Dominion won the Colonial, Wofford won the SoCon (first tourney appearance for the Terriers), Siena won the MAAC (in OT), and St. Mary's won the WCC. Granted, I didn't predict St. Mary's would win the WCC but I had them in the field before the game.

Teams that have clinched their automatic bid will appear in bold.

AUTOS (22): America East - Vermont, Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State, Big Sky - Weber State, Big South - Winthrop, Big West - UC Santa Barbara, Colonial - Old Dominion, Conference USA - UTEP, Ivy - Cornell, MAAC - Siena, MAC - Kent State, MEAC - Morgan State, Northeast - Quinnipiac, Ohio Valley - Murray State, Pac-10 - California, Patriot - Lehigh, Southern - Wofford, Southland - Sam Houston State, SWAC - Jackson State, Summit - Oakland, Sun Belt - North Texas, WAC - Utah State, WCC - St. Mary's

AT-LARGE: With St. Mary's moving to the AUTO category, the number of at-large spots is now down to 8. No changes to this group though as none of these teams were in action.

AT-LARGE (8): Notre Dame, UNLV, Washington, San Diego State, Florida, Memphis, Georgia Tech, and Illinois.



BUBBLE WATCH
I've seen talk that St. Mary's win in the conference championship was a punch in the gut for all the other bubble teams. I disagree as I think St. Mary's was probably pretty safe, win or lose. But regardless, with St. Mary's winning, the number of spots does shrink by one. What I think really helped bubble teams are the wins by Siena and Old Dominion. Both teams may have stolen at-large bids but they won their conference tournaments to avoid any wory come Sunday. So the bubble group of 23 is now down to 20 as 3 more teams get their spot via the AUTO category.

BUBBLE (20): UTEP, California, Notre Dame, UNLV, Utah State, Washington, San Diego State, Florida, Memphis, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, South Florida, Saint Louis, UAB, Dayton, and Mississippi State

No changes to the field or the bubble after Monday's games. What about the seeding?

SEEDING
Yeah, no changes here to the bracket. Gonzaga is still pretty safe as a 6 seed despite the loss. St. Mary's could see their seeding elevate from an 11 seed but not until some more games take place in other conference tournaments. The same could be said of Siena and Old Dominion. But again, no changes for now because those teams were expected to win the games they won.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN
Big East (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), Big Ten (5), MWC (4), SEC (4), A-10 (3), C-USA (2), Pac-10 (2), WCC (2)


(click on bracket to enlarge)

MIDWEST vs. WEST
SOUTH vs. EAST

MIDWEST REGION - St. Louis
#1 Kansas* (29-2) vs. #16 Vermont - Oklahoma City

#2
Purdue (26-4) vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara (18-9) - Milwaukee
#3
Villanova (24-6) vs. #14 Sam Houston State (22-7) - Providence

#4
Maryland (23-7) vs. #13 Siena (27-6) - Spokane
#5
Vanderbilt (23-7) vs. #12 Memphis (23-8) - Spokane
#6
Gonzaga (26-6) vs. #11 Washington (21-9) - Providence

#7
Northern Iowa (28-4) vs. #10 UNLV (23-7) - Milwaukee
#8
Louisville (20-11) vs. #9 Utah State (25-6) - Oklahoma City

SOUTH REGION - Houston

#1 Syracuse (28-3) vs. #16 Lehigh (21-10)/Jackson State
(19-11) - Buffalo
#2 Kansas State (24-6) vs. #15 Morgan State (24-9) - Oklahoma City

#3 Michigan State (24-7) vs. #14 Weber State (20-9) - Providence

#4 Texas A+M (22-8) vs. #13 Kent State (23-8) - San Jose

#5
Tennessee (23-7) vs. #12
Illinois (18-13) - San Jose
#6
Georgetown (20-9) vs. #11 San Diego State (22-8) - Providence
#7
Richmond (24-7) vs. #10 Virginia Tech (23-7) - Oklahoma City
#8
Wake Forest (19-9) vs. #9 UTEP (24-5) - Buffalo

EAST REGION - Syracuse
#1 Kentucky (29-2) vs. #16 Winthrop (19-13) - New Orleans

#2 West Virginia (24-6) vs. #15
East Tennessee State (20-14) - Buffalo

#3 New Mexico (28-3) vs. #14 Wofford (26-8) - San Jose

#4
Wisconsin (23-7) vs. #13 Cornell (27-4) - Spokane
#5
Temple (26-5) vs. #12 Notre Dame
(21-10) - Spokane
#6
Butler (27-4) vs. #11 Georgia Tech (19-11) - San Jose
#7
Texas (23-8) vs. #10 Old Dominion (26-8) - Buffalo
#8 Oklahoma State (21-9) vs. #9 Florida State (22-8) - New Orleans


WEST REGION - Salt Lake City

#1
Duke (26-5) vs. #16 Quinnipiac (23-8) - Jacksonville
#2 Ohio State (24-7) vs. #15
North Texas (23-8) - Milwaukee
#3
Pittsburgh (24-7) vs. #14 Oakland (25-8) - Jacksonville
#4 Baylor (24-6) vs. #13 Murray State (30-4) - New Orleans

#5 BYU (28-4) vs. #12
Florida (20-11) - New Orleans
#6 Xavier (23-7) vs. #11
St. Mary's (26-5) - Jacksonville
#7
Clemson (21-9) vs. #10 Missouri (22-9) - Milwaukee
#8
California (21-9) vs. #9 Marquette (20-10) - Jacksonville

*Top overall seed

TUESDAY'S GAMES TO WATCH
Wright State @ Butler (Horizon Championship) - A real bubble-buster game. If Wright State wins, there goes another at-large spot. Butler won both meetings by 12 points in regular season.
DePaul vs. South Florida (Big East First Round) - Needless to say, if South Florida falls in the first round of the Big East tourney, they can kiss any chances of an at-large bid goodbye.
St. Joseph's vs. Rhode Island (Atlantic-10 First Round) - Rhode Island is still on the outside looking in thanks to an awful finish to the regular season. They can begin their charge today.
George Washington vs. Dayton (Atlantic-10 First Round) - Just like Rhode Island, Dayton just needs to start winning again. A loss and they're done.
Providence vs. Seton Hall (Big East First Round) - Like South Florida, Seton Hall is going to have to make a deep run to even get a sniff of an at-large spot. So no way they lose this game and make the dance.
North Texas vs. Troy (Sun Belt Championship) - Both teams finished at 13-5 in the regular season conference standings but it was North Texas who won the only head-to-head matchup.
IUPUI vs. Oakland (Summit Championship) - Both teams are tourney veterans but only one team is going this year. Oakland has won 19 of their last 20 games. The only loss in that span came to none other than IUPUI.

Don't forget, we're going daily until Selection Sunday here so check back tomorrow. And also don't forget you can share your opinion in the comments section below, on Twitter @MattBarnesWRDW, or my Facebook page.

MB
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