Check out the final pairings, including who is IN and OUT, at: www.phsports.blogspot.com
With my favorite weekend of the regular season (i.e. BracketBusters Weekend) out of the way, let’s just cut to the chase.
After Tennessee’s win against Memphis, they catapulted to the top overall seed. Let’s fast forward to the final #1 seed. Texas has the credentials (wins v. Kansas, v. Tennessee on a neutral court and @ UCLA) but I see two losses (@ Kansas State on Monday and in the Big XII tournament) in their future and Kansas taking home the Big XII title because of depth and talent. Somehow, I have a feeling that I’ll get some lovely comments at around 11:05pm Eastern time on Monday night following their tussle against the Beasleys.
Marquette – With a useless game against Florida Gulf Coast inside a sandwich of @ Villanova, v. Georgetown and @ Syracuse, the Warriors can either sweep or lose 3 of 4. Sweep and you’re 13-5 in a top 4 conference which suggests a #3 or #4 seed. Lose all 3 and you’re 10-8. Not to mention, you’re leaving it up to the devices of the tournament selection committee if you’re one-and-done at MSG.
Miami – After one of the greatest weeks in Miami basketball (an oxymoron, to say the least) in about a decade, the Hurricanes’ remaining schedule (@ Clemson, v. Virginia, v. BC, @ Florida State) will be as tough as they would like to make it. Eight wins in the regular season should be enough for the ‘Canes, but nine can garner a #7 seed or better because their current play further validates the non-conference wins that were considered to be flukes just two weeks ago.
Texas A&M – There’s nothing like a 5-game win streak bookended by 3-game losing streaks to drive a bracketologist crazy. Right when you think you have a team pegged after winning two away games in succession, they lose twice at home to Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Following a home bout with Texas Tech, A&M had better pray for at least one excellent performance with matchups forthcoming @ Oklahoma, @ Baylor and v. Kansas. I’m already targeting the March 5 game at Baylor as a bubble-buster.
Kentucky – A couple weeks ago, I drew some ire for shockingly predicting the Wildcats to win 11 in the SEC after coasting to a 6-2 conference record. Thankfully, the reader was gracious enough to listen to the logic. That said, I am now predicting Kentucky to go 3-1 in their final four games giving them 12 conference victories on the tougher side of the SEC. Impressive to say the least (Kentucky, not me). For two straight years, I’m eating my words about Billy Gillispie. I’ll learn one of these years.
Kent State - For all the critics who have either e-mailed or commented hastily about my liking for and overseeding of Kent State, they can look no further than this game recap. Despite two bad losses, one of which was in the season opener, the Golden Flashes are white-hot. At 23-5 overall and 11-2 in the MAC East, Kent State has almost assured itself of an at-large bid should they reach 25 wins.
Southern Illinois – Call me absolutely nuts, but the Salukis have a tournament resume given the playing field. With two brutal matchups this week (@ Bradley with a healthy Ruffin, v. Illinois State) leading into Arch Madness, SIU is playing its best basketball of the year. Though they have 12 losses and play in the 8th-rated conference, SIU has a neutral court victory over Mississippi State and home wins against Drake, St. Mary’s, Western Kentucky and Nevada. They also rate 10th nationally in strength of schedule.
That’s all for now. If you have any questions, comments, or just wish to send a shout, shoot me a line at email@example.com.
2: Kansas (Big XII), Texas, Xavier (A-10), Duke
3: Stanford, Louisville, Georgetown (Big East), Wisconsin (Big Ten)
4: UConn, Purdue (Big Ten), Indiana, Drake (MVC)
5: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Washington State, Marquette
6: USC, Vanderbilt, Butler (Horizon), Arizona
7: Kansas State, Clemson, Gonzaga (WCC), Mississippi State
8: Miami-FL, Kent State (MAC), Pittsburgh, St. Mary’s
9: Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, BYU
10: Texas A&M, UMass, South Alabama (Sun Belt), UNLV (MWC)
11: Maryland, Baylor, Villanova, Arizona State