This Week's Bracket
Big 12 (6)
Big Ten (6)
Big East (6)
Mountain West (2)
West Coast (2)
Missouri Valley (2)
This week’s bracket produced the most movement so far this season. The top seed lines remained relatively stable, but from the five seeds on down almost every team was in a new spot. We are beginning to enter the point of the season where résumés can stand alone and the projection is influenced less and less by what teams might do going forward. By mid-January, the bracket will be entirely based on “if the tournament started today.”
The Big Ten was regarded as one of the strongest conferences coming into the season, but so far the league has taken some major hits. Michigan dropped out of the field entirely this week, following home losses to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, punctuated by a thrashing from Arizona in Tucson. Maybe the Wolverines lost more than we realized from last year or maybe this rough stretch is a blip on the radar. Either way, it will take several weeks of damage control before they can start to climb back up.
Nebraska also suffered a perplexing loss, falling at home to Incarnate Word. Combine that with earlier losses to Creighton and Rhode Island, along with the absence of a single win against an RPI top 100 team and the Huskers find themselves on the outside looking in. Ohio State and Michigan State are off to decent starts, but they both lack quality wins as well. Wisconsin is clearly the class of the Big Ten and the gap looks bigger than previously thought.
The SEC has struggled out of the gate as well. Kentucky is the clear-cut top overall seed but after them the conference is very mediocre. Florida already has four losses, although they are all to teams currently in the field and were all close. Arkansas has been impressive and could surprise some people going forward, but the relatively weak schedule has prevented them from making a lot of noise early on. Alabama had a great chance for a huge win at Wichita State but coughed up a late 11-point lead.
The American Conference has been tough to figure out. Connecticut’s title defense is off to a disappointing start, and Cincinnati currently holds the automatic bid with an RPI of 107. SMU and Memphis were both in the preseason projection but are now on the outside. The AAC will need someone to step up if it want to get more than two teams into the field in March.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 have been pleasant surprises early on. Both conferences currently hold six bids each due to the emergence of teams like Utah and Oklahoma, and the Big 12 moved up to number two in this week’s conference rankings.
Here are some coming games I will have an eye on:
- UCLA vs. Kentucky, December 20th
- Syracuse at Villanova, December 20th
- North Carolina vs. Ohio State, December 20th
- Oklahoma vs. Washington, December 20th
- VCU at Cincinnati, December 20th
- Stanford at BYU, December 20th
- Maryland at Oklahoma State, December 21st
- Kentucky at Louisville, December 27th
The movement this week is an example of the chaos that is college basketball. We’re still months away from March, but things are already changing on a nightly basis. The bracket will continue to sort out the changes in the college hoops world, so stay tuned to @ScoutBrackets.