Competitive Atlantic 10 looking to make major impact on the bubble
A slice of bracket history ...
Three-quarters of a millennium later, Occam's Razor is helping shape the transition to modern bubble thought, where the ordering of groups of similar objects may differ greatly from historic trends.
Today's bracket dilemma: What do you do with a conference with six very good teams, where the auto-bid is currently held by a team with one of the weaker at-large profiles in the group, in a year when other major conferences are top-heavy or just bad, and very few mid-majors have staked a real claim?
Channeling William (who would have been masterful on the selection committee): You put them all in.
Yes, there are six Atlantic 10 teams in
It would take a very unusual sequence of events -- like a near-perfect series of remaining league results, a one-bid Pac-10, no one emerging from the Big East muck and very few small-conference tourney upsets -- for the A-10 to crack open a six-pack on March 14, but it's not impossible. And that's the point.
We have to get to 34 at-larges somehow. So, given today's data, what would William say about a bracket with six A-10 teams in it? The easiest answer is: They all belong.
The Blue Devils bounced back against Georgia Tech before struggling again on the road, escaping Boston College by a trey. Duke's relative road woes are a bit alarming at this stage for a team with some veterans. Figuring out the order of the teams after Duke is really difficult now, with unbalanced schedules impacting things.
What else can you say?
Horns down, literally, this week. Texas' drop out of lockdom is worth a discussion. Are the Longhorns in any real danger of missing the NCAAs? Not with how weak the bubble is, barring an epic collapse, but there are some very real warning signs now on both sides of the ball.
Here's an honest question: Based on overall profile, how much should Texas even be seeded ahead of Texas A&M at this point? A&M's 0-4 mark against RPI top 25 (vs. Texas' 3-1) is the difference, but this is much closer than you'd think.
The more interesting action is happening below this locks group. G'town had a midweek home stumble against surging USF, but then thrashed Villanova to feel better about itself. All four will be very high seeds in the NCAAs and two could get 1 seeds.
The Spartans have dropped back to the pack and the title is really up for grabs now. This league has a better top four than anyone other than the Big East. Can Wisconsin horn its way into the Milwaukee regional? That would be a huge plus for the very underrated Badgers, who have the statistical makings of an Elite Eight team (similar to Missouri at this time last year).
Cal leads the league at 7-4 and five teams are a game back. As far as improving the Pac-10's chances for two NCAA spots, I have no idea if it would be better for Washington to win or lose at Cal on Thursday. Right now, if Cal gets the auto bid, no one else is getting in.
Solid week for the 'Cats as they continue to head toward a 1 seed in the NCAAs. The schedule stiffens after Tuesday's visit from Alabama, so UK will need to play well to ensure that position.
The best description of
Saturday was perfect for the A-10's ongoing march toward a bunch of NCAA bids. Richmond rocked Temple and Dayton smoked Xavier while URI and Charlotte won their games against lesser foes. Now, five teams are 7-2 or better in league play. If Dayton (5-3) can handle league-leading Charlotte on Wednesday, things will be really interesting. Six bids? It's not impossible, folks.
I'll be at Rhode Island Wednesday night when Richmond visits, and I'm irrationally excited about that.
Northeastern is now the auto-bid, but isn't a legitimate at-large, so the CAA probably is a one-bid league now with ODU's loss at VCU. The conference tourney should be awesome, though.
The MWC is rolling like the A-10: Separation at the top + home-court domination = multiple bids. For the sake of brevity, we'll lock up these two. I know BYU was crushed at UNLV, but that more helps the Rebels than really puts a chink in BYU's overall position. New Mexico likely will be the highest seed this week, though.
The Panthers held off Wichita State at home, now lead the league by three games with six remaining, are going to be the regular-season league champs and are going to the NCAAs regardless of Arch Madness. The most interesting thing left is the BracketBusters home game against Old Dominion -- a game the Monarchs will need badly.
Interesting week, with UTEP taking over the league lead. UAB continues to be the best hope for an at-large, but dropping the final two games of the four-game gauntlet was disappointing.
Why wait for the Zags' probable home win over SMC when we can just lock them up now? They have one excellent win (Wisconsin) and a bunch of other solid ones. They're going to dance.
Siena (MAAC), Cornell (Ivy)