It’s that time of year again! Here are the current conference outlooks for all 32 leagues, in alphabetical order. Rankings are the DPI rankings current as of 9 PM Saturday. The last game included in the analysis is Stephen F. Austin-Sam Houston State. I will update again later tonight after some more results.
(#75) Albany def. (#105) Stony Brook, 51-50
Oh, boy. Stony Brook was *this close* to securing their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, but Peter Hooley and Albany had other plans. The Aussie sharpshooter knocked down a three after a rebound was batted back to him, giving the Danes a one-point lead with 1.1 seconds to play. Major props to Carson Puriefoy and the Seawolves, but Albany was simply the class of the America East this year. As good a story as Stony Brook would have been, the team from upstate New York really deserved this win. They could cause problems for somebody next week.
Champion: (#75) Albany
NIT Teams: none
(#20) SMU def. (#36) Temple, 69-56
(#73) Connecticut def. (#54) Tulsa, 47-42
Now, I’m not saying that Ryan Boatright is going to be able to recreate all of last year’s magic, but God knows he’s trying. After Boatright sank the buzzer-beater that knocked (#33) Cincinnati out of the AAC tournament, it was Rodney Purvis that nocked down the big shot that put the Huskies past Tulsa.Kevin Ollie has shown that he can coach in March. Honestly, watching Boatright and his crew, and all the buzz around the Huskies at the moment, it’s easy to believe that they might actually pull off the upset. Larry Brown’s Mustangs are a certain lock for the tournament, but I don’t think they will stop Connecticut. Temple is near the fringe, but I think they’ve been good enough to warrant an at-large bid, even with the loss to SMU. Tulsa, on the other hand, needed the win over UConn, and may have actually needed to win the whole shebang in order to get to the NCAAs. Right now, I see them a being one of the first teams out.
Predicted Champion: (#73) Connecticut
At-Large: (#20) SMU, (#33) Cincinnati, (#36) Temple
NIT Teams: (#54) Tulsa, (#79) Memphis
(#22) VCU def. (#39) Davidson, 93-73
(#40) Dayton def. (#58) Rhode Island, 56-52
Okay, I’ll admit that the DPI has a bit of a blind spot in that it doesn’t account for individual players. VCU has been slipping like crazy since losing Briante Weber. That said, the Rams played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation and fared admirably. I think they are a lock, especially after their win on Saturday against Davidson. Speaking of the Wildcats, this is a team that has really turned it on of late. Even though they lost to VCU, Davidson should be safely in the tournament. On the other side of the A-10 bracket, Dayton and Rhode Island faced off. The Flyers are far enough from the cut line that I don’t think a loss to URI would have killed their tournament chances, but the win was a good buffer. Rhode Island, however, is almost assuredly out of the tournament, as is (#58) Richmond.
Predicted Champion: (#22) VCU
At-Large: (#39) Davidson, (#40) Dayton
NIT Teams: (#57) Richmond, (#58) Rhode Island, (#69) St. Bonaventure, (#77) George Washington, (#80) Massachusetts
(#8) Notre Dame def. (#12) North Carolina, 90-82
Well, then. After all that dogfighting up at the top of the rankings, neither (#3) Virginia nor (#4) Duke played in the ACC Championship game. Give a lot of credit to the Tar Heels and Irish for pulling those upsets. All four of these teams have legitimate chances to make it to Indianapolis. Notre Dame really impressed me over the last two days. In my estimation, the Irish have not only won an ACC Tournament title, but also a 2-seed. This team is playing as well as any in the country. Above them, Virginia and Duke have done just enough to keep their 1-seeds for the moment. (#13) Louisville has come back to life after a puzzling slump a few weeks ago. (#31) North Carolina State has been playing well ever since their Valentine’s Day massacre of the Cardinals. (It was actually a very close game, but I couldn’t resist the wordplay.) The Wolfpack have locked in their bid. (#44) Miami is a perplexing team. Those losses to (#87) Green Bay and (#144) Eastern Kentucky are ugly, as are conference slipups against (#110) Georgia Tech and (#100) Wake Forest. But that win over Duke and a couple decent ones over NC State, (#35) Syracuse (who is ineligible for postseason play), and (#60) Pittsburgh bolster their resume. Right now, I have Miami as one of the last teams in.
Champion: (#8) Notre Dame
At-Large: (#3) Virginia, (#4) Duke, (#12) North Carolina, (#13) Louisville, (#30) NC State, (#44) Miami
NIT Teams: (#60) Pittsburgh, (#64) Clemson, (#83) Florida State
The Ospreys of (#135) North Florida secured their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth after toppling (#149) USC Upstate in the A-Sun title game. The Spartans actually held the season sweep over UNF before the championship game. North Florida has won eight straight games. The Ospreys also own a 3-70 win over (#37) Purdue. Dallas Moore and Beau Beech will try to make the most of UNF’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Champion: (#135) North Florida
NIT Teams: none
(#10) Iowa State def. (#7) Kansas, 70-66
This is the Big XII championship that I was been waiting for. The Jayhawks have had the Cyclones’ number this season, but with the league title on the line, Georges Niang and company battled tooth and nail to score a victory. Even though KU has faltered recently, I think a Big XII title game appearance solidifies their two-seed. They simply played a tougher schedule than any other team in the nation. They ought to be rewarded for that. The Cyclones will likely pick up a 3-seed. Elsewhere in the conference, (#11) Baylor and (#14) Oklahoma are going to be top-4 seeds, which means they should get to play relatively close to home. (#16) West Virginia has also been dangerous. The real story here revolves around (#34) Texas and (#55) Oklahoma State. Even though the Cowboys actually did better in the Big XII than the Longhorns, not to mention holding a season sweep of them, I just can’t justify putting OSU in the tournament right now. Yes, Oklahoma State swept Texas and owns wins over Kansas and Baylor. They also lost to (#140) Texas Tech, (#92) TCU (by 15), and (#103) South Carolina (by 26!). The body of work just leaves a little to be desired. Texas benefits from a tough nonconference schedule, where they racked up wins over (#28) Iowa and (#73) Connecticut. Losing to (#62) Stanford wasn’t great, but that’s really their worst loss. That lack of a really glaring blemish, coupled with wins over Baylor, West Virginia, and Iowa, makes the difference.
Champion: (#10) Iowa State
At-Large: (#7) Kansas, (#10) Baylor, (#14) Oklahoma, (#15) West Virginia, (#34) Texas
NIT Teams: (#55) Oklahoma State, (#67) Kansas State
(#5) Villanova def. (#29) Xavier, 69-52
What more does Villanova have to do to secure a 1-seed? Well, beating Xavier for the Big East title is certainly a start. The Wildcats are still just a little short of supplanting Duke as the final 1-seed. No matter what, Villanova is one of the top five teams in the nation. They have a legitimate shot at the national championship, behind the great backcourt of Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard. After Nova, the Big East has a slew of middle-seeds in (#19) Providence, (#27) Georgetown, and (#24) Butler. Xavier and (#41) St. John’s are also pretty much locked in. The only thing left to figure out that final 1-seed. At the moment, I have the Cats as the best 2-seed, but that could leave them matched up a with a stumbling (#3) Virginia team in the East bracket.
Champion: (#5) Villanova
At-Large: (#19) Providence, (#27) Georgetown, (#24) Butler, (#29) Xavier, (#41) St. John’s
NIT Teams: (#90) Seton Hall
(#96) Eastern Washington def. (#154) Montana, 69-65
Tyler Harvey is one of the top scorers in the nation, so it didn’t come as much surprise when he took the game over in the Big Sky final. Harvey and the Eagles rallied from 11 down to hold off Montana. The Eagles actually have a chance to pull off an upset in the NCAA tournament, although I wouldn’t bet the house on it. They did beat Indiana in November, though. So you never know. If Harvey can get hot like he did today, Eastern Washington could sneak up on a top seed.
Champion: (#96) Eastern Washington
NIT Teams: none
(#113) Coastal Carolina won the league without having to play either of the top two seeds, benefitting from earlier upsets. While (#139) Charleston Southern gets a free NIT bid, (#137) High Point will likely be staying home from both tournaments in March. The Chants have a solid guard in Warren Gillis, but this team is not as strong an upset candidate as they were a few years ago. This bid is the product of two conference tournament upsets that Coastal Carolina played no part in.
Champion: (#113) Coastal Carolina
NIT Teams: (#139) Charleston Southern
(#2) Wisconsin def. (#37) Purdue, 71-51
(#23) Michigan State def. (#17) Maryland, 62-58
Wisconsin was essentially a known quantity coming into the season. We knew that Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker would have the Badgers up near the top of the standings. The big surprise in this conference is Maryland. The Terps have excelled behind Dez Wells and Melo Trimble. Losses to (#49) Indiana and (#51) Illinois look worse now than they did a month ago, which is part of the reason they have been dragged down a little in the DPI. Maryland will have a top-four see in the tournament, despite losing to Michigan State. The Spartans are a lock for the tournament, as are the Boilermakers. Purdue was a shaky bubble team for a while, but they have won 10 of 13 since January 24th. In that time, they picked up a sweep of Indiana (more on the Hoosiers in a moment), beat (#28) Iowa and (#25) Ohio State, and lost all three games on the road. Purdue also owns wins over NC State and BYU. Indiana, on the other hand, was really hurt by the Purdue sweep. The Hoosiers have lost nine of their last 14 games, including one to Northwestern. Don’t forget about that loss to (#96) Eastern Washington, either. That loss may be what put the Hoosiers in the position to be squeezed out of the tournament field when (#67) Wyoming stole the Mountain West bid.
Predicted Champion: (#2) Wisconsin
At-Large: (#17) Maryland, (#23) Michigan State, (#25) Ohio State, (#28) Iowa, (#37) Purdue
NIT Teams: (#49) Indiana, (#51) Illinois, (#81) Michigan (#82) Minnesota
(#129) UC Irvine def. (#163) Hawai’i, 67-58
After cruising to a 14-2 conference record, (#114) UC Davis slipped up in the semis against Hawaii. Later, Irvine downed Alan Williams and (#123) UCSB in Friday’s last game. The Anteaters slipped past Hawai’i in the final behind some strong performances from Mamadou Ndiaye and Luke Nelson. This is the first-ever bid for UC Irvine, who have a pair of 7-footers, Depending on who they draw in the Big Dance next week, the Anteaters could pose a problem.
Champion: (#129) UC Irvine
NIT Teams: (#114) UC Davis
Though (#126) William & Mary was the league champion, the best team in the Colonial is (#95) Northeastern. That’s why the Huskies beat the Tribe twice this year, including the CAA title game. But William & Mary earned an NIT bid out of the whole thing, which is probably an immeasurably small comfort. As for Northeastern, the Huskies won’t be an easy out next week. This team shoots very well. They beat (#83) Florida State and (#57) Richmond. Something to consider when you’re filling out your bracket.
Champion: (#95) Northeastern
NIT Teams: (#126) William & Mary
(#106) Alabama-Birmingham def. (#159) Middle Tennessee, 73-60
The Conference USA tournament saw two upsets that just about guarantee that this will be a one-bid league. UAB’s upset of (#63) Louisiana Tech sent the Bulldogs flying from the Big Dance, and they don’t have the resume to get in as an at-large. (#52) Old Dominion was so, so close to being in the tournament. Even with a loss in the C-USA championship, the Monarchs may have had a chance to make the tournament. But dropping their quarterfinal contest with Middle Tennessee puts just one more bad loss on their resume. I think there were a lot of people who wanted to give the mid-major team the benefit of the doubt, but the loss to the Blue Raiders makes that really difficult now. This is going to be a one-bid conference, with none of its three best teams getting the nod. It’s a shame, but that’s life in this league. The last time UAB and Middle Tennessee met, the Blazers triumphed in a three-overtime contest. This time, the Blazers coasted to an easy victory and an unexpected automatic bid.
Champion: (#106) Alabama-Birmingham
NIT Teams: (#52) Old Dominion, (#63) Louisiana Tech, (#89) Texas-El Paso
This league has two solid teams in (#59) Valparaiso and (#87) Green Bay, but alas, the Horizon league is ever a one-bid league. When Valpo kept the Phoenix at bay, they secured that bid. I hope that Keifer Sykes and Green Bay get a shot at the NIT, but the Horizon is definitely sending its best to the NCAAs. Alec Peters can score and rebound. The Crusaders beat (#61) Murray State by 35 points. They have talent and could make life difficult for some unlucky teams next weekend.
Champion: (#59) Valparaiso
NIT Teams: (#87) Green Bay
(#71) Harvard def. (#84) Yale, 53-51
Well, that was exciting! Usually we don’t hear from the Ivy on the last weekend of the regular season. But today, Harvard and Yale went head to head to see who would represent the smart kids in the Big Dance. Steve Mondou-Missi’s jumper with 7 seconds remaining gave the Crimson the victory after a Javier Duren layup rimmed out. This was a dogfight, but at the end of the day, Harvard didn’t squander their second chance. In case you forgot, Dartmouth’s buzzer beater against Yale kept the Elis from clinching the Ivy League last weekend. Harvard got lucky a week ago. And their luck continued today. This was an amazing back-and-forth game, but I think the best team won. This is the same Harvard team that pulled off upsets a year ago, so I feel bad for whichever team draws them. This Crimson team looks reenergized after saving their season from the brink of destruction.
Champion: (#71) Harvard
NIT Teams: (#84) Yale
That’s why you play the games, I suppose. (#66) Iona looked like a lock to run through the MAAC Tournament, behind prolific scorer David Laury. The Gaels fell short against (#169) Manhattan, however, costing themselves the automatic bid. Despite a gaudy record, the resume really isn’t there to give Iona serious consideration for an at-large. They’re going to have to settle for the NIT this season, which is a shame, because Laury and the Gaels could have been a force in the tournament. The Jaspers are a team that go hot at the right time, but I’m really not expecting much out of them in the Big Dance.
Champion: (#169) Manhattan
NIT Teams: (#66) Iona
(#43) Buffalo def. (#76) Central Michigan, 89-84
The Bulls downed the Chippewas in the Mid-American final today behind strong performances from Justin Moss and Shannon Evans. The MAC is an interesting league. There are eight – count ‘em, eight – 20-win teams in this conference. Five are in the DPI top 100. The top two teams in the MAC squared off on Saturday, and Bobby Hurley’s Buffalo came away with their first NCAA Tournament bid in the history of their programs. Hats off to the Bulls. Welcome to the Dance!
Champion: (#43) Buffalo
NIT Teams: (#76) Central Michigan
(#256) Hampton def. (#247) Delaware State, 82-61
Ladies and gentlemen, your annual sub-.500 tournament team, the Hampton Pirates! In what has become commonplace, a team that has lost more games than it has won will be representing its conference in the Big Dance. The Pirates drilled Delaware State, who did the heavy lifting by beating (#108) North Carolina Central. The Eagles cruised to an unblemished 16-0 conference record, but faltered in the semis against the Hornets and will miss out on the NCAA Tournament. Hampton will invariably have to beat another 16-seed to make it to the Round of 64, but hey, they’ve made it this far.
Champion: (#256) Hampton
NIT Teams: (#108) North Carolina Central
(#15) Wichita State and (#21) Northern Iowa battled each other all season long. I think everyone was a little disappointed when the Shockers were upended by (#74) Illinois State in the semifinals. The MVC Championship would have been Round 3 of this heavyweight clash, the rubber match that would have broken the tie between these two. Instead, the Redbirds spoiled all of that. The Panthers did their part by winning the MVC and keeping Illinois State from shrinking the bubble. Both the Shockers and UNI will be tough outs in the tournament, with great players like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker for Wichita State and Seth Tuttle for Northern Iowa.
Champion: (#21) Northern Iowa
At-Large: (#15) Wichita State
NIT Teams: (#74) Illinois State
(#67) Wyoming def. (#32) San Diego State, 45-43
Wow. Wyoming came out of nowhere and stole the Mountain West bid from the San Diego State Aztecs. This shrank the bubble so that (#47) Boise State, who had been cruising for the past week or so, comes under scrutiny. That regular-season sweep of the Aztecs is going to come in handy for them, though. I currently have Boise State as the last team in the tournament if Connecticut steals the AAC bid. (#30) Colorado State is another team from the Mountain West that will make the tournament. In fact, the statistical measures of the Rams place them a tick above the Aztecs in the standings.
Champion: (#67) Wyoming
At-Large: (#30) Colorado State, (#32) San Diego State, (#47) Boise State
NIT Teams: none
The heartache on Long Island didn’t start when (#105) Stony Brook was buzzer-beaten by (#75) Albany on Saturday morning. On Tuesday, (#160) Robert Morris traveled to Brooklyn to take on first-place (#93) St. Francis (NY). The Terriers were poised to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid on their home floor. Then, before they knew it, the Colonials had stolen the bid and dashed all of those hopes. Robert Morris is a pretty good First Four candidate, with zero good wins and a handful of bad losses.
Champion: (#160) Robert Morris
NIT Teams: (#93) St. Francis (NY)
Poor (#61) Murray State. The Racers did just about everything asked of them for all but 2 seconds. But that Taylor Barnett game-winner for (#130) Belmont was enough to push Murray State out of the NCAA Tournament. They’re still technically on the bubble, but I don’t see the committee being able to justify putting the Racers in with their lackluster (to put it kindly) schedule. It’s too bad, too, because Cam Payne could have made some noise in the tournament. Belmont, for what it’s worth, is a very talented team that could very well cause some trouble of their own. In the end, though, this was always going to be a one-bid conference.
Champion: (#130) Belmont
NIT Teams: (#61) Murray State
(#6) Arizona def. (#38) Oregon, 80-52
Joe Young’s last-second shot against (#26) Utah put the Ducks into the title game against Arizona, where Oregon got smashed by a great Wildcats team. Oregon is definitely a lock for the tournament, although I still don’t see their resume as being overwhelming. A pair of wins over Utah is certainly nice (although only one came in conference play), but losing games to (#121) Washington and (#153) Washington State is a bad play. Outside of the Pac-12, Oregon’s best win is against (#51) Illinois. This team needed overtime against (#122) UCSB and (#209) Cal Poly and lost to (#48) Ole Miss in Eugene. They’re in, but I’m not in love with their resume. The same can be said for (#45) UCLA. A lot of pundits are writing the Bruins off, and it’s not without cause. They have a couple not-so-great conference losses against (#118) Colorado, (#116) Oregon State, (#115) California, and (#91) Arizona State, and another not-so-great non-conference loss to (#98) Alabama (all on the road). If you’re looking for marquee wins, well, you won’t find many. They beat Utah and Oregon at home. They own a season sweep of (#62) Stanford. That’s about it. But what keeps UCLA afloat is their strength of schedule. They faced (#1) Kentucky, (#9) Gonzaga, (#12) North Carolina, and (#14) Oklahoma in the early season. Yes, they lost all of those games. But, hey, that’s why those teams are ranked so high. They’re good. Anyway, I like their resume enough to keep them in the tournament, though they may end up in the First Four round.
Champion: (#6) Arizona
At-Large: (#26) Utah, (#38) Oregon, (#45) UCLA
NIT Teams: (#62) Stanford
(#148) Bucknell was never going to be a very dangerous team in the NCAA tournament, but they were definitely the best regular-season squad in the Patriot. In the end, it was (#179) Lafayette that prevailed in the league tournament. The Leopards will leap into the First Four, more than likely. A 9-9 mark in the weak Patriot League is the stuff of 16-seeds. I wouldn’t expect to see too much out of these guys, although they could very well rack up a win against whichever 16-seed they draw in the opening round.
Champion: (#179) Lafayette
NIT Teams: (#148) Bucknell
(#1) Kentucky def. (#165) Auburn, 91-67
(#18) Arkansas def. (#50) Georgia, 60-49
The SEC has been a one-horse town all season long. Kentucky has simply outplayed everybody in the nation all year long. It’s hard to foresee that dominance ending any time soon. Especially in the SEC Tournament. Yeah, Arkansas and Georgia are both pretty good teams, but Kentucky will roll through either of them on Sunday. The big question for the Cats is whether they can stay perfect and join the ranks of the best all-time teams. Outside of Kentucky (yes, apparently there are some other teams in the SEC), Arkansas is definitely the second best team in this league. After that, there are three teams that are pretty logjammed in (#42) LSU, (#48) Mississippi, and Georgia. Here’s how I see it playing out for these three teams: LSU and Ole Miss are barely in; Georgia is barely out. I’ve seen Georgia listed as a tournament lock, but I am really not impressed by their resume. They do have the sweep over Ole Miss, but being swept by (#103) South Carolina is ugly. They lost to (#110) Georgia Tech in their season opener and Auburn on Valentine’s Day. They lost to LSU and Arkansas in their only games against them in conference play. Those wins against Mississippi are the only ones they have against Top 50 opponents in the DPI. They needed the win against Arkansas to get in, but they came up short. Ole Miss has their own bad losses, too. I wrote about their loss to (#139) Charleston Southern in November, wondering if it could come back to cost them a trip to the Dance. Well, it might. Especially when you consider the missteps against (#92) TCU and (#134) Western Kentucky. Wins over Oregon and Cincinnati give the Rebels the slight edge over Georgia, but if Connecticut steals the American bid, Ole Miss is likely going to be the team that gets squeezed out.
Predicted Champion: (#1) Kentucky
At-Large: (#18) Arkansas, (#42) LSU
NIT Teams: (#48) Ole Miss, (#50) Georgia, (#56) Texas A&M, (#65) Florida, (#88) Vanderbilt
It almost seems rare now, but the SoCon is one one-bid league that will be sending its best squad to the NCAA Tournament. (#72) Wofford dominated the conference all year long and didn’t lose pace in the conference tournament. The Terriers have caused problems in the NCAA Tournament before, so don’t be surprised if Karl Cochran and company make a little more noise. I would not want to be the 4- or 5-seed that has to match up with Wofford. This is a good team.
Champion: (#72) Wofford
NIT Teams: none
(#53) Stephen F. Austin vs. (#97) Sam Houston State
The two heavyweights of the Southland go toe-to-toe on Saturday. The Lumberjacks of SFA have put together a 28-win season, but that could all be lost if they fall to the Bearkats. SHSU is no slouch, either. They have 25 wins of their own. If Stephen F. Austin loses, they will not be good enough to squeeze into the bubble. The Bearkats are even farther off the bubble. The Southland comes down to one game. As expected, Thomas Walkup and the Lumberjacks brought it home. Next, they will become everyone’s favorite office pool sleeper team. We’ll see if they can pull off an upset.
Predicted Champion: (#53) Stephen F. Austin
NIT Teams: none
(#155) Texas Southern def. (#244) Southern, 62-58
Ugh, what a mess. Because of various NCAA violations, the SWAC didn’t have enough teams to field their conference tournament. Therefore, two teams who were ineligible for the postseason were allowed to compete, (#195) Alabama State and Southern. Because both schools won in the quarterfinals, the semifinal matchup between Texas Southern and (#286) Prairie View was the de facto championship game. Texas Southern prevailed in an embarrassing tournament. The SWAC, which has long been among the weakest conferences in America, has sunk to a new low. For its part, the Bobcats did score a win over (#28) Michigan State earlier this year. But they will likely be a First Four team, and could well be facing (#1) Kentucky or (#2) Wisconsin if they make it out alive. Something tells me they won’t win against either of them.
Champion: (#155) Texas Southern
NIT Teams: none
The Summit league saw its best two teams go head-to-head in an interstate rivalry that has become the marquee matchup in this conference. In the end, the (#107) North Dakota State topped (#112) South Dakota State, sending the Bison to the tournament for the second straight year. NDSU can play, so whichever team they draw in the Round of 64 better be ready for a battle.
Champion: (#107) North Dakota State
NIT Teams: (#112) South Dakota State
(#78) Georgia State def. (#141) Louisiana-Lafayette, 83-79
(#127) Georgia Southern def. (#171) Louisiana-Monroe. 44-43
Georgia State slipped past upset-minded Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, clinching their spot in the Sun Belt Championship tomorrow. The Panthers are the best team in this one-bid league. Georgia Southern could certainly give them a run for their money after getting past Louisiana-Monroe. The intrastate rivals split their season series, so Sunday will feature a rubber match between the Panthers and Eagles. Georgia State packs a better scoring punch than Georgia Southern, so we’ll see if Ryan Harrow and RJ Hunter can take the Panthers to the Big Dance. I think that they will.
Predicted Champion: (#78) Georgia State
NIT Teams: none
Aside from losing to (#46) BYU, (#9) Gonzaga has been excellent all year long. It was only after the Cougars toppled them that they lost out on a 1-seed. With Notre Dame’s surge through the ACC Tournament, I feel that the Irish have taken away the 2-seed from Gonzaga, too. The plus side of the Zags’ resume is that their only other loss besides BYU was a three-point overtime defeat at (#6) Arizona. Three points. Overtime. In Tucson. Yeah, that’s pretty forgivable. For their part, BYU pretty much did everything it needed to in order to skate into the NCAA Tournament at the last second. As noted, they beat Gonzaga in Spokane. They reached the WCC Tournament final and put up a decent fight against the Zags. This team is loaded, headlined by Taylor Haws and Kyle Collinsworth. They don’t really have any marquee wins outside of Gonzaga, with (#62) Stanford and (#80) Massachusetts being the closest. But they took (#32) San Diego State and (#37) Purdue to overtime and played Utah very close. Being swept by (#131) Pepperdine and losing to (#157) San Diego are what really call BYU into question, along with its relatively weak conference affiliation. In the end, I think this is too good a team to leave behind, so the Cougars make it in right above the cut line.
Champion: (#9) Gonzaga
At-Large: (#46) Brigham Young
NIT Teams: (#70) St. Mary’s
(#101) New Mexico State def. (#260) Seattle, 80-61
Another WAC season, another dominant performance from the Aggies. New Mexico State lost only one game in conference play and has a 22-10 record. The WAC is a comical mishmash of teams that passes for a conference, but there’s only one really solid program in there. Seattle is getting a little better, though, as evidenced by their presence in the WAC final. But the Aggies dominated this game. remember that one conference game they lost? Well, it was to this very Seattle team. However, NMSU crushed the Redhawks in their two meetings since that loss. Remy Barry and the Aggies could challenge some teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Predicted Champion: (#101) New Mexico State
NIT Teams: none
Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, Duke
Villanova, Arizona, Kansas, Notre Dame
Gonzaga, Iowa State, Baylor, North Carolina
Louisville, Oklahoma, Wichita State, West Virginia
If Connecticut wins the AAC:
LAST FOUR BYES:
Davidson, Dayton, St. John’s, LSU
LAST FOUR IN:
UCLA, Miami, BYU, Ole Miss
FIRST FOUR OUT:
Boise State, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois
NEXT FOUR OUT:
Old Dominion, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
If SMU wins the AAC:
LAST FOUR BYES:
Dayton, St. John’s, LSU, UCLA
LAST FOUR IN:
Miami, BYU, Boise State, Ole Miss
FIRST FOUR OUT:
Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Old Dominion
NEXT FOUR OUT:
Tulsa, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Richmond