Barnes Bracketology - March 12, 2010

By: Matt Barnes
By: Matt Barnes

I feel like a broken record when I say the mission for teams on the bubble is to win and keep winning. But for some reason this year, bubble teams are trying a method of getting into the tournament. It's called lose and hope. It's not a smart strategy. Last year, I found myself trying to find reasons to not allow the last few teams into the tournament as an at-large. But his year, I have to find reason to put teams into my field of 65. And they talk about expanding the tournament to 96 or 128 teams? That's absolutely ridiculous.

MY PROJECTED FIELD OF 65
(changes in italics)

LOCKS: With Selection Sunday so close, it's time to get serious about this category. That's why thanks to their wins yesterday and the amount of losses by others teams, I have added UTEP, California, and UNLV to this category. UTEP has been close for awhile now, thanks to their Conference USA championship in the regular season and amazing 15-game win streak. California probably felt safe after not tripping up too badly in the Pac-10 regular season but yesterday's romp over Oregon should be enough. And UNLV, while they didn't win any regular season title, have a solid overall resume that is tournament worthy.

LOCKS (39): 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, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, UTEP, California, and UNLV.

AUTOS: Two words: GO BOBCATS! Yes, bracketology can be a bit biased at times, sorry. My alma mater Ohio University upset the 1 seed in the MAC Tournament in Kent State, forcing me to project a new champ. I'm not going to project OU to win though. I'm going with the 2 seed in Akron. But I wouldn't mind putting Ohio in bold come Saturday.

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

AUTOS (22): America East - Vermont, Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State, Big Sky - Montana, Big South - Winthrop, Big West - UC Santa Barbara, Colonial - Old Dominion, Ivy - Cornell, MAAC - Siena, MAC - Akron, MEAC - Morgan State, Northeast - Robert Morris, Ohio Valley - Murray State, 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 UNLV moving up to the LOCK category, we're down to just 6 at-large spots. We also have a new team as Mississippi joins the group, thanks to a bad loss by Memphis to Houston. That loss will probably keep the Tigers out of the tournament.

AT-LARGE (6): Washington, San Diego State, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Mississippi


BUBBLE WATCH

There was once a time the bubble watch had around 30 teams in it. Now, we're down to 16. Here's what changed. UTEP, California and UNLV are locks. UAB is out, after a quarterfinal loss in the C-USA tourney. Minnesota is in but at the tail end of the line. Arizona State has dropped after losing to Stanford in the Pac-10 quarters. And finally, Utah State leads the way and with one more win in WAC tournament, probably moves up to lock.

BUBBLE (16): Utah State, Washington, San Diego State, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Mississippi, Memphis, Rhode Island, Arizona State, Saint Louis, Dayton, Mississippi State, and Minnesota.

So a new team in the field. But how did yesterday's games affect the seeding?

SEEDING
There was some minor shifting thanks to yesterday's games. Among them, Georgetown's win over Syracuse has them up to a 5 seed, dropping Vandy down one. Marquette's win over Nova moved them up to a 7 seed, dropping Clemson who lost to NC State to an 8 seed. UTEP moved up to an 8 seed and FSU moved up to a 9 seed while Wake fell two seeds to a 10 seed after being dominated by Miami (FL). Siena is up to a 12 seed while Mississippi joins the mix as a 13 seed.

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* (30-2) vs. #16
Robert Morris (23-11) - Oklahoma City
#2
Purdue (26-4) vs. #15 North Texas (24-8) - Milwaukee
#3
Pittsburgh (24-8) vs. #14 Oakland (26-8) - Providence
#4
Maryland (23-7) vs. #13 Akron (23-9) - Spokane
#5
BYU (29-4) vs. #12 Florida (21-11) - Spokane
#6
Xavier (23-7) vs. #11 St. Mary's (26-5) - Providence
#7
Texas (24-9) vs. #10 Wake Forest (19-10) - Milwaukee
#8
UTEP (25-5) vs. #9 Louisville (20-12) - Oklahoma City

SOUTH REGION - Houston

#1 Syracuse (28-4) vs. #16 Lehigh (21-10)/Jackson State
(19-11) - Buffalo
#2 Kansas State (25-6) vs. #15
UC-Santa Barbara (18-9) - Oklahoma City
#3
New Mexico (29-3) vs. #14 Montana (22-9) - Providence
#4
Wisconsin (23-7) vs. #13 Cornell (27-4) - San Jose
#5
Tennessee (24-7) vs. #12
Siena (27-6) - San Jose
#6
Butler (28-4) vs. #11 Washington (22-9) - Providence
#7
Marquette (22-10) vs. #10 Old Dominion (26-8) - Oklahoma City
#8
Oklahoma State (22-10) vs. #9 Florida State (22-8) - Buffalo

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

#2
Ohio State (24-7) vs. #15 Morgan State (25-9) - Buffalo
#3
Villanova (24-7) vs. #14 Wofford (26-8) - San Jose
#4
Texas A+M (23-8) vs. #13 Murray State (30-4) - Spokane
#5
Temple (26-5) vs. #12
San Diego State (23-8) - Spokane
#6
Gonzaga (26-6) vs. #11 Virginia Tech (23-7) - San Jose
#7
Northern Iowa (28-4) vs. #10 Missouri (22-10) - Buffalo
#8
Clemson (21-10) vs. #9 Notre Dame (23-10) - New Orleans

WEST REGION - Salt Lake City

#1
Duke (26-5) vs. #16 East Tennessee State (20-14) - Jacksonville
#2
West Virginia (25-6) vs. #15 Vermont (24-9) - Milwaukee
#3
Michigan State (24-7) vs. #14 Sam Houston State (24-7) - Jacksonville
#4 Baylor (25-6) vs. #13 Mississippi (21-9) - New Orleans

#5
Georgetown (22-9) vs. #12 Illinois (18-13) - New Orleans
#6
Vanderbilt (23-7) vs. #11 Georgia Tech (20-11) - Jacksonville
#7
Richmond (24-7) vs. #10 UNLV (24-7) - Milwaukee
#8
California (22-9) vs. #9 Utah State (26-6) - Jacksonville

*Top overall seed

FRIDAY'S GAMES TO WATCH
Texas A+M vs. Kansas (Big 12 semifinals) - This game can do more good for Texas A+M than harm for Kansas, who has all but sowed up the top overall seed.
Virginia @ Duke (ACC quarterfinals) - Duke knows they need to win the ACC tournament if they want to be a 1 seed because WVU and OSU are breathing down their neck.
Notre Dame vs. West Virginia (Big East semifinals) - Notre Dame can keep moving north with their seed with a win while West Virginia just wants to stay in the hunt for that last 1 seed.
Michigan vs. Ohio State (Big Ten quarterfinals) - The Buckeyes are a solid 2 seed but could be a 1 seed with a Big Ten tourney championship and a Duke loss.
San Diego State vs. New Mexico (Mountain West semifinals) - A loss by the Lobos doesn't hurt them too much but a win by SDSU locks them in the tournament.
Baylor vs. Kansas State (Big 12 semifinals) - Baylor has been playing well as of late and with a win here, will get serious consideration for a 3 seed.
Minnesota vs. Michigan State (Big Ten quarterfinals) - A must-win for the Gophers if they want to be dancing come Selection Sunday. MSU still has hopes to be a 2 seed.
Tennessee vs. Mississippi (SEC quarterfinals) - As soon as Mississippi gets into my projected field, they could find themselves out with a loss here. They need a good win here late in the season.
UNLV vs. BYU (Mountain West semifinals) - Another great Mountain West semifinal. BYU is fighting for a 4 seed and a win here plus losses by others may just do it.
Illinois vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten quarterfinals) - Before yesterday, I thought this was a must-win for Illinois. The losses by so many teams changed my opinion but it would be wise for the Illini to win.
Georgia Tech vs. Maryland (ACC quarterfinals) - GT can lock up their spot with an upset of the Terps. Meanwhile, Maryland is hoping to keep their projected 4 seed.
Tulsa vs. UTEP (Conference USA semifinals) - Every bubble team is rooting for UTEP to win the conference tournament. If they don't, another at-large spot goes away.
Georgetown vs. Marquette (Big East semifinals) - Not the semifinal everyone anticipated but a big one nonetheless as both teams fight for better seeding.
Georgia vs. Vanderbilt (SEC quarterfinals) - Look out for Georgia, who has been known to play spoiler many times this season. Vandy is playing for a 5 seed.
Rhode Island vs. Saint Louis (Atlantic 10 quarterfinals) - A true elimination game for two A-10 bubble teams. Loser can kiss any at-large chances goodbye.
Lafayette vs. Lehigh (Patriot championship) - Someone is going to the Big Dance. They split the regular season meetings but this is the one that matters.
Dayton vs. Xavier (Atlantic 10 quarterfinals) - A must-win for the Flyers, who with a run to the conference championship, couldbecome an at-large, especially with the weak field.
Florida vs. Mississippi State (SEC quarterfinals) - The Gators have some margin for error but the Bulldogs do not. Keep your eyes on this one.
Ohio vs. Miami (OH) (MAC semifinals) - Two words: GO BOBCATS!
Stanford vs. Washington (Pac-10 semifinals) - A win by Washington makes them a lock in my bracket, especially with Arizona State tripping up yesterday.

We're just two days away from finding out the 2010 NCAA Tournament Bracket. Until then, hope you check back here to see what I'm projecting. 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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