Two days until Selection Sunday…

The day after I witnessed one of the best college basketball games that I have ever watched (not including the Arizona vs. Illinois game in 2005 … THE best college basketball game ever) I have realized that this whole bracketology thing is really tough. It seems as though all the upsets happen at the same time. For example, both Kansas and Oklahoma lost yesterday to lower seeds in the Big 12 tournament. Luckily, I didn’t have either one of those teams as a one seed in my projected NCAA bracket, but it did affect my S-shaped rankings a little bit. For those of you that don’t know, the S-shaped rankings are what I use to seed all of the teams and place them in the different regions.

There hasn’t been any automatic bids handed out in the past couple of days, but there have been some bubble teams on the move since my last bracket projection. I’ll get into more depth about some of those bubble teams, but for now here is the list of automatic bids to the NCAA tournament:

Cornell (Ivy)
Radford (Big South)
E. Tenn. State (Atlantic Sun)
Morehead State (OVC)
Northern Iowa (MVC)
Gonzaga (WCC)
VCU (CAA)
Siena (MAAC)
Chattanoga (Southern)
Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)
Cleveland State (Horizon)
Robert Morris (NEC)
North Dakota State (Summit)
Portland State (Big Sky)

Again, the most surprising of all of these teams is Cleveland State who beat Butler in the Horizon league championship game. This both locked up a spot for the Vikings for the first time in 23 years, and it took away an at-large bid as the Bulldogs are already considered a lock to make the NCAA tournament. The room for error in the world of bubble teams just got smaller.

NEW LOCKS:
Dayton
Oklahoma State
Boston College

Dayton’s road to the Atlantic 10 championship game got a lot easier as Rhode Island was upset by Duquesne yesterday. This also ended URI’s hopes of getting an at-large bid. The Flyers should have an easy road to getting an at-large bid if they do happen to either lose to Duquesne or a potential matchup with Xavier for the Atlantic 10 championship.

Oklahoma State pretty much secured their at-large bid with their win over Oklahoma yesterday. Not much more to say about them.

Boston College has three marquee wins over ACC locks. A win tonight over the Blue Devils would lock up an at-large bid for sure (if they don’t win the ACC tournament, of course). I still think that they are in even if they lose.

Obviously there is still a lot of time for some of the bubble teams to move up or down on this list with some of the games being played as I type, but here are my rankings of bubble teams. At the top of the list is the most safe team, and the bottom of the list contains teams that are most likely to have their bubble busted.

1. Ohio State
2. Wisconsin
3. Michigan
4. Penn State
5. Minnesota
6. San Diego State
7. Texas A&M
8. New Mexico
9. St. Mary’s
10. Creighton

Ohio State, like the rest of the Big Ten bubble teams, can write their own way into the NCAA tournament by winning games in the Big Ten tournament. As I am typing, I am also watching the matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin. I think this game is way more important to the Badgers because if they lose, their bubble hopes might become slim, depending on how the rest of the bubble field does. OSU should be in the tournament regardless.

Creighton might benefit from the fact that their conference tournament ended long before the rest of the bubble teams’ tournaments will end. The selection committee might forget about the bad loss to Illinois State, and Creighton might move back into contention of an at-large bid depending on how other bubble teams fare (Minnesota, SDSU, New Mexico)

The rest of the teams are still going to have to fight for their projected at-large bids with these teams :

1. UNLV
2. Arizona
3. Providence
4. South Carolina
5. Temple
6. Auburn

UNLV drops out of the “last four in” due to losing to a fellow bubble team in SDSU. The Aztecs swept UNLV three times, so that is a pretty easy comparison.

The rest of these teams on this list all have/will have one thing in common (except for South Carolina and Auburn). They have all lost in their respective conference tournaments which don’t help their chances. I’m assuming that Temple is going to lose to Xavier tonight, but if the Owls do happen to pull off the upset, they can climb back into the at-large bubble hopefuls. In the case of South Carolina, they are playing in a WEAK Southeastern Conference, and I believe that they will have to play into the SEC Championship game in order to be considered as the fourth SEC team to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. In Auburn’s case, they have just played their way onto this list by beating LSU. A victory over Florida will help their chances. However, they must win out in order to get into the NCAA tournament, but it’s nice to be mentioned I guess…

There has been a lot of talk about the Big Ten getting eight teams into the tournament. As this is very tough, I am also very excited to see that this might happen. Being an Illinois alumnus, I always seem to root for Big Ten teams. I think that the style of play in the Big Ten won’t get their teams very deep into the tournament (maybe Sweet 16), I do think that eight teams is within grasp. If Penn State and Minnesota win and move on into the next round of Big Ten tournament play, eight teams is a realistic possibility. However, if one of those two teams loses, the Big Ten might only get seven into the NCAA tournament. Either way, I’m very excited to see at least 64% of the Big Ten teams make it into the tournament. Not even the Big East can boast a percentage of teams getting in that high.

With all of this talk, here is my bracket for today. We’ll see how this might change tomorrow. I will for sure get a bracket up tomorrow night or Sunday morning before the actual Selection Show comes on Sunday afternoon. Then I would like to see how bad my bracket is compared to what the selection committee decides.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8aTtrDEI_cU/Sbq8ZkxxgJI/AAAAAAAAAC4/WNnYZ0scz6o/s1600-h/2009ProjectionBracket+(3-13).jpg