SUNDAY UPDATE: For now, 'Zona, Terps, Wisconsin, Creighton are in
Well, we're here. Almost. There's still that sticky "Mississippi State hijacking a bid" problem looming for the final few teams in the bracket, but a Tennessee win in the SEC final should finalize the picture below.
Despite a wild week, there are surprisingly few bids left up for grabs. And like always, the final candidates are all fairly interchangeable. You'll judge this exercise on whether this interpretation of split hairs matches the groupthink of the 10-person selection committee, but there's no "right answer."
In the end, it realistically comes down to seven teams for four spots if you believe San Diego State, despite just an OK overall profile, is safe after its strong MWC tourney. Pending the SEC final, the last four teams in are Arizona, Wisconsin, Maryland and Creighton. The last three out are Saint Mary's, Minnesota and Penn State. If Mississippi State takes the auto bid, Creighton goes to the NIT.
You can cut these decisions dozens of ways. Ultimately, quality of wins carried Arizona and Maryland, both of which showed they were capable of beating top-four seeds in the NCAAs. Maryland's under-.500 ACC mark is tempered by the Terps having now played seven games against teams that were ranked No. 1 at some point this season.
Wisconsin got in, well, it's not 100 percent clear why. If you're looking for Sunday's so-called shock omission (and a team that was seeded too high here most of this week), it will be the Badgers. In the end, the three-way tango in the Big Ten was broken by Wisconsin's large schedule strength advantage on Penn State (which has an embarrassing nonleague SOS of 313) and its slight schedule strength and overall standings advantage on Minnesota, which swept the Badgers but still finished a game behind them in the Big Ten. If you want to insert either omitted Big Ten team instead, it's fine.
Why Creighton instead of either of them or Saint Mary's? The Bluejays should be rewarded for playing their way into the picture, tying for the league crown in a pretty solid Missouri Valley and winning 11 straight before the league semis. They also are whole, so they get the mulligan over Saint Mary's, which didn't prove clearly enough that
Resolving today's other intriguing subplot: the potential for a two-bid SEC. While the league has strong selection committee representation in chairperson
Enjoy your Selection Sunday and the madness itself.
(Records listed are
After another half-hour of examination, yesterday's determination that