This was a relatively stable week in BracketVille. Although Ohio State’s loss shuffled the top three, they didn’t change seeds. Creighton took a tumble after a pretty bad week was capped off with a drubbing at the hands of Wichita State. And Texas and Seton Hall climbed back into the field, although neither did so with much fanfare.
Cougar Headaches: One of the more unpleasant aspects of doing Bracketology every year is dealing with BYU and their “special needs” when it comes to bracketing. For those of you who are unaware, BYU requires that they never play on Sunday due to religious obligation. So every year that the Cougars are eligible for a bid, we end up having to do bracket gymnastics trying to find a site that appeases them. What this requires is finding a pod for them which plays on Thursday/Saturday, AND which feeds into a Regional that plays Thursday/Saturday. If that sounds simple, it’s not — since the pods are uncoupled from the regions, and since they are largely decided based on the conference affiliation of the protected seeds, and since the pod orientation is almost always decided based on who the top four seeds are (and trickles down from there)…what we end up with is a mess. Like this week! BYU was one of my last four in, which should land them in a play-in game. However, the only 4/5 pod that they could fit into was the Louisville/Boston pod…and that created havoc elsewhere thanks to the overabundance of Big East teams. So the Cougars get bumped OUT of the play-in game, down to a 13 seed, where they play Wisconsin.
Baylor scares: Scott Drew’s team presents an interesting challenge. Everyone seems convinced that they’re actually a top 10 team, yet they’ve done nothing to actually prove that this season. They’ve had exactly four games against really top-shelf competition, and they’ve lost all four. They now have no opportunities left to get a big win before the Big 12 tournament. We talked about this as a possible 1 seed just a few weeks ago. Is it now possible that they might not even garner a 3 seed?
Unevenly distributed: The Big Ten has nine teams in this field once again, and I don’t see that changing unless Minnesota or Illinois really falls off the map. It’s interesting to see how the teams are clustered, though. The conference has five teams in the top four seed lines, and three of them (Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana) are frankly difficult to distinguish for seeding purposes. Then there’s a huge gap before you get to the next team (Purdue, at a 9 seed), followed by a cluster of teams in the 10-12 range.
Arrivals: Texas, Seton Hall
Departures: Colorado State, Central Florida
Big Ten (9): Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota
Big East (9): Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Seton Hall
Big 12 (6): Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas
SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Alabama
ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, Miami
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State
Atlantic 10 (3): St. Louis, Temple, Xavier
West Coast Conference (3): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU
Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Creighton
Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi