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With most of the early-season tournaments in the books and conference play looming, it is time to take a look at the N.C.A.A. Tournament field once again.
Michigan State is the number one overall seed this week with a top five RPI and a resume that includes wins over Kansas, Louisville, Providence and Florida. This collection of wins is arguably the most impressive of any team to date, and Michigan State looks like they might be the favorite in the Big Ten instead of preseason pick Maryland.
Speaking of Maryland, the Terps fell off the one line and are a two in this week’s field. Maryland doesn’t have a signature win and has played only one opponent with a top 80 RPI, resulting in an eight-point loss at North Carolina. Regardless, Maryland has avoided any bad losses and will still be in the mix for a Big Ten title with Michigan State and Purdue.
Things are very fluid on the other end of the bracket. Distinguishing between teams from the nine line on down proved very difficult. There are several surprises in the field (Southern California, South Carolina) but also several teams closely on the outside looking in (Marquette, Wichita State).
Two names that are surprisingly missing are Wisconsin and LSU. Wisconsin has appeared in 17 consecutive tournaments but has suffered through a highly disappointing nonconference season. The Badgers’ upset win at Syracuse was nice, but losses at home to Western Illinois, Milwaukee and Marquette dealt an early blow to their resume.
LSU on the other hand is home to one of the best players in the nation in Ben Simmons. The likely number one pick in the 2016 N.B.A Draft has not been enough to keep the Tigers afloat, as a 4-4 record that includes losses to Charleston and Houston dug LSU a tough hole early on.
Stay tuned to @ScoutBrackets on Twitter and continue to follow along as we enter conference play.