Saturday, March 14, 2009

NCAA Tournament Breakdown

[Editor's Note: The following breakdown is an update to Adam Primm and Chris Stanley's March 5 NCAA Tournament Breakdown which can be found here]

2009 Tournament: Schedule and Preview (can be found here)
Tuesday 1pm ET: South Regional Preview (can be found here)
Tuesday 5pm ET: East Regional Preview (can be found here)
Wednesday 9am ET: Midwest Regional Preview (can be found here)
Wednesday 11am ET: West Regional Preview
Thursday 9am ET: An inside look at entertaining announcer Gus Johnson
Thursday 12:20 ET: 2009 Tournament tips off with Butler and LSU from Greensboro, NC

Bracket to View can be found here

Bracket to Print can be found here

It is that time of year again so get ready to print out your brackets and pull for your upset picks. There are some tough choices to be made by the selection committee and someone is always left feeling snubbed on Selection Sunday. This year, several teams are making things even more interesting by making late runs at their conference tournaments such as Maryland, Baylor and USC. Below you will find a list of teams that should get into the 2009 NCAA field of 65 as of Saturday morning.

Atlantic Coast Conference

1. North Carolina – Likely a #1 seed.
2. Duke – 26-6 record means the Blue Devils are a lock.
3. Wake Forest – A lock, the Demon-Deacons should make some noise in March.
4. Florida State – Dangerous team could upset a high seed and make the Sweet 16.
5. Clemson – Overall body of work gets them in the tournament.
6. Boston College – 22-11 and 9-7 in the ACC gets them in.
7. Maryland – Barely in with wins over North Carolina, Wake, Michigan State and Michigan.

Big East

8. Connecticut – Could still get a #1 seed despite a 6-OT loss to Syracuse
9. Louisville – Pushing for a #1 seed. This team is playing well right now and could make the Final Four.
10. Pittsburgh – No brainer. Despite a loss in the Big East Tournament, they are one of 3 teams hoping for a #1 seed in this conference.
11. Marquette – Injury to Dominic James leaves them vulnerable, but 24 wins is impressive.
12. Villanova – This team is really playing well right now and they are a lock.
13. Syracuse – One of the hottest teams in basketball right now. Boeheim has his boys peaking at the right time and really playing with passion.
14. West Virginia – 23 wins and a nice Big East Tournament run puts them in.

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Big Ten

15. Michigan State – Could be a #1 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.
16. Purdue – Impressive season with 23 wins and could still win the Big Ten Tournament.
17. Illinois – Illini have been ranked most of the season.
18. Ohio State – Big time win against Wisconsin puts the Buckeyes in. They might be a sleeper to upset a big name if they can get the right matchup in the 2nd round.
19. Michigan – Some big wins this year over UCLA and Duke should get them in.
20. Minnesota – With 22 wins, Minnesota gets in over Wisconsin due to head-to-head matchup (2-0).

Big 12

21. Kansas- Looking strong in the conference, but do they have enough experience to repeat?
22. Oklahoma – 27 wins and Blake Griffin. Could be a force in March.
23. Missouri – 27 win Tigers are lock.
24. Texas – Longhorns played a tough schedule and still won 22 games. They are in despite the recent loss to hot Baylor.
25. Texas A&M – Despite an early exit in the Big 12 Tournament, the 23-9 Aggies deserve a berth.
26. Oklahoma State – A strong finish including a big win over Oklahoma puts the Cowboys in.

Pacific 10

27. Washington – The best team in the Pac 10 is a lock.
28. UCLA –Look for Collison and Shipp to make some noise in the early rounds for the 25-8 Bruins.
29. Arizona State – The Sun Devils had a great season and a nice run in the Pac 10 Tournament.
30. California – A good season for the Bears gets them in at 22-10.

Southeastern Conference

31. Louisiana State – The Tigers are the only team that is not on the bubble in this conference.
32. Auburn – The Tigers are HOT. They have won 9 of their last 10 including a big win over LSU. This is one team that is playing their way in. They get in over Florida after putting the Gators out in the SEC Tournament.
33. Tennessee – Strength of Schedule is 3rd and their RPI 22nd. Put them in even if they lose to Auburn tonight.

West Coast

34. Gonzaga – Watch out for the always dangerous Bulldogs. 26 wins, undefeated in conference. Would have been a lock even without conference championship.
35. St. Mary’s – We have seen so many experts put the Gaels out of their field of 65. This team has 26 wins and they deserve a ticket. Give them some respect and put them in.

Mountain West

36. Brigham Young – 25 win Cougars are in.
37. Utah – Wins over Gonzaga and LSU (by 30) get 23 win Utes in as an at-large team.
38. San Diego State – Peaking at the right time, the 23-8 Aztecs deserve a ticket even if they lose to Utah tonight.

Conference USA

39. Memphis – The Tigers are receiving votes as the #1 team in the country with 25 straight wins.

Atlantic 10

40. Xavier – Wins over LSU, Missouri, Virginia Tech, and Memphis for 23 win Musketeers.
41. Dayton – With a loss to Duquesne, they are trying to play themselves out. With an RPI in the 20s and 26 victories under their belt, including wins over Xavier, Marquette and Auburn, I still put them in.
42. Duquesne vs. Temple winner gets in with an automatic berth.

Horizon League

43. Cleveland State – Cleveland State made a great run on the shoulders of Horizon League defensive player of the year, Cedric Jackson. In the process they took an at-large spot from tournament hopefuls.
44. Butler – The Bulldogs were a lock before the Horizon League Tournament and a close loss to 25 win Cleveland State does not hurt them.

Missouri Valley Conference

45. Northern Iowa – They beat Illinois State to take the automatic berth.
46. Creighton- The Bluejays lost in the conference semifinals, but 26 win season should be enough for an at-large bid. Missouri Valley Conference should be a two team conference.

The following teams won their conference's lone berths:

47. Binghamton (American East) – Defeated UMBC to get in.
48. East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun) – East Tennessee State beat Jacksonville to secure a berth.
49. Portland State (Big Sky) – In after beating Montana St. in the championship.
50. Radford (Big South) – Radford is in after defeating VMI in the championship.
51. Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial Athletic) – Eric Maynor and the Rams might repeat their upset of Duke 2 years ago by knocking off a major conference team in the first round.
52. Cornell (Ivy League) - The Big Red is the only school above .500 in the conference.
53. Siena (MAAC) – Siena beat Niagara to get the automatic berth.
54. American (Patriot League) – The American Eagles are in after winning the tournament
55. Robert Morris (Northeast) – Colonials are in after a 24-10 season and a conference tournament win.
56. Morehead State (Ohio Valley) – The Eagles are in after beating Austin Peay in 2 OT.
57. Chattanooga (Southern) – Chattanooga beat College of Charleston in the Championship to secure an automatic berth.
58. North Dakota State (Summit) - The 26-6 Bison earned the first NCAA tournament berth in school history.
59. Western Kentucky (Sun Belt) – The 24-8 Hilltoppers are back after a nice tournament run last year.

Tickets to be punched:

60. Pacific vs. CSU Northridge (Big West) – They play tonight.
61. Buffalo vs. Akron (MAC) – They play tonight.
62. Morgan St. vs. Norfolk St. (Mid-Eastern) – They play tonight.
63. Stephen F. Austin vs. UTSA (Southland) – They play tomorrow.
64. Alabama State v. Jackson State (Southwestern Athletic) – They play tonight.
65. Utah State v. Nevada (Western Athletic) – They play tonight.

Possible Bubble Bursters:

1. Big 12 – Baylor
2. Pac 10 – USC
3. SEC – Mississippi State

Last 5 In:

1. Maryland
2. Tennessee
3. St. Mary’s
4. Creighton
5. Auburn

First Teams Out:

1. Wisconsin – 19-13 might not be enough to get the Badgers in despite a tough non-conference schedule. If USC and Maryland lose then they might sneak in the back-door.
2. USC – A 20 win team who is playing hot right now, but they haven’t quite done enough. They will need to beat Arizona State to punch their automatic ticket.
3. Tulsa – With a win over UAB in the conference semi-finals and 24 wins this season they are trying become the 2nd Conference USA team getting a ticket. Their strength of schedule really hurts them, however.
4. Arizona – Lost 5 of their last 6 and effectively played their way out.
5. Florida – 0-2 against Tennessee makes it hard to put them in. Probably could have gotten in with a few wins in the tournament or a few more wins in conference play.
6. Kansas State – With bad losses against Iowa and Oregon, the 21-11 Wildcats are on the outside looking in.

The Plaxico Burress Award:
The Cincinnati Bearcats shot themselves in the foot/leg by going from the NCAA bubble at 17-8 to the NIT bubble at 18-14 after going 1-6 down the stretch including losses against South Florida, Seton Hall and Depaul (previously 0-16 in the Big East).

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