Sitting on a Bubble

Picking a field for the NCAA Tournament is a yeoman's task that takes a panel of experts days to complete. So, naturally, Jeff Wolf figured he could give it a go in my spare time. The result is the official MarquetteHoops.com Bracket Prediciton.

Picking a field for the NCAA Tournament is a yeoman's task that takes a panel of experts days to complete. So, naturally, I figured I could give it a go in my spare time. The result is the official MarquetteHoops.com Bracket Prediciton.

The Big East is well represented in my bracket, with Syracuse and West Virginia in off the bubble. The Big 12 gets Texas A&M, who should turn some heads with their athleticism, and the Big 10 gets Ohio State in on the strength of their final win against Michigan State. The ACC gets five, with late-season slip-ups from Maryland and Virginia Tech proving costly. Winning 11 of their last 13 in the SEC and boasting a solid strength-of-schedule, Kentucky gets in off the bubble as a 10-seed.

Butler sweeps the Horizon regular and post-season titles and is the sole representative from that league. IUPUI, who gave Marquette a battle in the season opener, knock off Oral Roberts to claim the Summit League crown. High-scoring New Mexico State also finds their stride at the right time to win the WAC's automatic bid. Clemson, who would have already been in as an at-large, earns a solid four-seed by winning the ACC championship.

I thought long and hard about whether to include Illinois State. The Redbirds won Finishing second in the rugged and ever-strong Missouri Valley has to count for something. A berth in the conference tournament finals solidifies it – Illinois State makes my field of 65.

Assuming that a talented New Mexico squad claimed the Mountain West title, the last five teams on my bubble were Arkansas, Massachusetts, Dayton, South Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth.

VCU really hurt themselves by falling to William & Mary in the CAA quarterfinals. With a poor showing against top- RPI teams and a lack of stellar wins (their best is either Houston or Maryland), there just aren't enough positives. As much as I would love to see Eric Maynor strut his stuff in my postseason, there will be no dancing for the Rams this year.

The bubble also bursts on South Alabama, who shared Sun Belt regular season dominance with Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State (my eventual league champ). (Should either UNLV or BYU win the MWC in real life, then South Alabama should be in the picture.)

Now on to Arkansas. After a fairly strong showing in non-conference play, the Razorbacks struggled in a weak SEC. However, they recently posted a strong resume win against Vanderbilt. Arkansas beat VCU on the season, and also knocked off Baylor, Mississippi State and Oral Roberts for a 5-4 record against the RPI Top-50. And as much as people say representation of the power conferences doesn't matter, it does. Arkansas is in, but just barely.

That leaves two Atlantic-10 teams and only one spot. The parity in this league really hurt a lot of its members, who consistently recorded strong non-conference starts only to hit a wall during conference season (see Rhode Island). Dayton was one of those teams. They beat both Louisville and Pittsburgh early on and boast one of the top scorers in the nation in Brian Roberts.

On the other hand, there's UMass. Not much on the non-conference slate besides a win against a then-reeling Syracuse team. However, they have won their last six and beat Dayton head-to head. The Minutemen have six losses in the A-10, which is only two fewer than Dayton's eight, without the Fliers' strong resume.

In my world, the Fliers win a few in the A-10 Tournament and plant themselves firmly in the field of 65. Dayton also looks to get second-leading scorer Chris Wright back from injury soon and has gone 7-8 in his absence.

My next five out: Florida, Oregon, Maryland, Western Kentucky, UAB

See the complete list of seedings, by region, below. No. 1 seeds are ranked from highest to lowest and conference champs are indicated by parenthesis. Teams that have already won an automatic bid are listed in bold.

So enjoy, analyze, and let the second-guessing begin.

CHARLOTTE (EAST)

1. North Carolina (1)

2. Wisconsin (Big East)

3. Xavier (Atlantic 10)

4. Notre Dame

5. Drake (Missouri Valley)

6. Washington State

7. Pittsburgh

8. St. Mary's

9. UNLV

10. Kentucky

11. Winthrop (Big South)

12. Dayton

13. Illinois State

14. George Mason (Colonial)

15. Sacred Heart (Northeast)

16. Hampton (Atlantic Sun)/

Austin Peary (Ohio Valley)

PHOENIX (WEST)

1. UCLA (2) (Pac-10)

2. Louisville (Big East)

3. Texas

4. Vanderbilt

5. Michigan State

6. Butler (Horizon)

7. BYU

8. Davidson

9. Baylor

10. Kansas State

11. Arkansas

12. San Diego (West Coast)

13. IUPUI (Summit)

14. New Mexico State (WAC)

15. UC Santa Barbara (Big West)

16. Belmont (Atlantic Sun)

HOUSTON (SOUTH)

1. Memphis (3) (Conference USA)

2. Kansas

3. Georgetown

4. Clemson (ACC)

5. Marquette

6. Mississippi State

7. USC

8. Kent State (MAC)

9. Miami

10. Syracuse

11. Arizona State

12. Ohio State

13. Middle Tennessee St
.
(Sun Belt)

14. UMBC

15. Portland State (Big Sky)

16. Alabama State

DETROIT (MIDWEST)

1. Tennessee (4) (SEC)

2. Duke

3. Stanford

4. Connecticut

5. Purdue

6. Indiana

7. Gonzaga

8. Oklahoma

9. West Virginia

10. Arizona

11. New Mexico (Mountain West)

12. Texas A&M

13. Cornell (Ivy)

14. Siena (MAAC)

15.

Sam Houston St.
(Southland)

16. American (Patriot)


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