Who’s In and Who’s Out

Who’s In and Who’s Out

Who’s In and Who’s Out                      
By Bill Milton  02/25/2014
Playbook.com

Here is a conference by conference look at my projected NCAA Tournament field:

Pac 12 - Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Colorado, Arizona State are IN the tournament, with Utah and Oregon on my bubble. Many others have Oregon and Colorado flipped with the Buffs on the bubble, but I like that team a good deal whereas the Ducks are SO up and down it is hard to trust them. With that said, if UO goes on a tear in the conference tourney they could earn their way into the dance, likely knocking out one of their conference brethren, as do not see the Pac 12 getting seven bids.

Big 10 - Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio State are on, with Minnesota and Nebraska on the bubble. Minnesota can move into my "Probably In" column with a victory against the Hawkeyes tonite.

Big 12 - Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State are on in, with Oklahoma State on my Probably In list. West Virginia playing better of late but probably too little too late. Big question mark team for me is Baylor, as they have enough talent to make the Dance, but have not been playing up to that level.

ACC - Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, UNC, Pitt are in, with Clemson Probably In, with NCSU and Maryland on the bubble. Terps likely would have moved to Probably In class has they beaten Cuse last night.

AAC - Cincinnati, Louisville, SMU, Memphis, U Conn are in....and that is it, as no teams from the bottom of the AAC have anything close to the resume needed. SMU gets lots of deserved attention, but a note about Memphis: For years the knock was that first Calipari and then Pastner's team did not play quality competition. That has changed, and this team is still good.

A10 - The Atlantic 10 as a basketball hotbed? Yep. I have Saint Louis, VCU, St Joes, Richmond and U Mass as in the tournament, with George Washington in the Probably In category and Dayton on my bubble. Many talk of this league being underrated - but hard to make that argument when only once conference in the nation will have more bids.

Big East - How the mighty have fallen. It was only a few years back that the Big East got NINE teams to the Dance... this year I call for just a third of that as I have Creighton, Villanova and Xavier into the tournament with St Johns, Georgetown, Marquette,  and Providence all on the outside looking in. Also, Butler stands at 12-15 on the year. That record shows just how good of a coach Brad Stephens is, and also what it is like to move up to a bigger conference most of the time. Folks trying to get Wichita State a #1 seed should consider two time national finalist Butler being 12-15 in their first year in the big leagues.

SEC - I have the SEC with two assured spots going to Florida and Kentucky, with two VERY tenuous bids at the moment going to Arkansas and Missouri. I have Georgia and Tennessee on the bubble. If Georgia wins tonite against Missouri I will be switching those two teams. [By the way, pretty strong chatter coming my way that former Wyoming Head Coach and current UNLV assistant Heath Schroyer will be the new coach at Tennessee if Cuonzo Martin is relieved of his duties - something that is looking more and more likely.]

Mountain West - San Diego State and New Mexico are sure things, and right now I have Boise State in the field as well - with the Broncos getting my final at large bid to the dance. UNLV is the tournament host, and as such if Dave Rice can get that talented team to actually play to its talent level they can still make the NCAA's.

West Coast Conference - Gonzaga is as always a lock for the tournament, and with BYU getting healthier they deserve to be in the Big Dance as well. I have St. Marys and USF on the bubble. Very unlikely the WCC gets four teams, but Dons do deserve at least bubble mention.

Missouri Valley Conference - Arch Madness not going to be as compelling this season as it has in the past, as Wichita State dominates what is a down year for the Valley. The only other MVC team under consideration for the Dance is Indiana State, and do not see them getting at At Large at all.

Conference USA - This is a one bid league, especially if Southern Miss wins the league. However, if the Eagles do not win the tournament, they have a pretty strong RPI and SOS case to make the Dance. I still have them out, but bubble teams around the nation will be rooting for USM to win the C-USA crown.

All of the rest of the field will come from the automatic qualifiers of the regular season (Ivy, Harvard your VERY likely winner) or conference tournament. One team to mention comes from the Big Sky, and that is Sacramento State. The Hornets are playing the best ball in the Big Sky, and while the event will almost assuredly be on the home floor of Weber State, do not be stunned if Sacto State sneaks away with that bid.  The MAC, Sun Belt, Southern, and Colonial should also be solid conference tournaments.

Finally, since it seems mandatory for every one of these previews to list the last four teams and the first four out, I will do the same:

First Four Out: Providence, Oregon, Georgia, St Marys

Last Four In: BYU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Boise State

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