When you check this week's bracket, you may notice something. Like a pesky double-digit number of bids for a certain megaconference that many of you outside the Northeast think is overrated.
Yes, I know. You don't have to murder my inbox or Twitter feed. The Big East isn't going to get 11 bids in March. Frankly, I had no idea that's what the total was until I started bracketing the teams and ran into all sorts of conflicts. When I realized what had happened, I paused and considered changing something. On the surface, it pretty much looks ridiculous to have that many teams in from one league.
That said, as we sit today, with the Big East handily at No. 1 in the conference RPI rankings and with a gaudy 24-15 record against other BCS leagues, it's not unthinkable that so many teams in the league have viable profiles at this point. When you add in that both Marquette and St. John's are "First Four" at-large selections, it implies that the Beast would have had nine teams in last year's 65-team model, which isn't crazy at all.
So take a deep breath, relax and realize that conference play will sort all of this out. Or the Big East will run roughshod over the process as non-BCS leagues and the Pac-10 trip all over themselves. Either way.
RELATED:Andy Glockner: Big East claims 11 bids in Bracket Watch
Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) and SOS (Strength of Schedule) data are from Sunday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good winsBL = bad losses(N) = neutral-site game
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Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) tweeted on Saturday that Duke has a 93 percent chance to be the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament. That tells you all you need to know about the gap between the Blue Devils and the rest of the league, even though that number is enhanced by Kyrie Irving's prior participation.
SHOULD BE IN
Boston College (11-3 overall, 1-0 conference; RPI: 24, SOS: 29)The Eagles bounced back from a tough two-point loss at regional rival Rhode Island to thrash South Carolina in Columbia. This week features home games with Harvard and Georgia Tech. The one with the Crimson, which beaten BC in each of the last two seasons, may be the tougher one.GW: Texas A&M (N), Cal (N), at MarylandBL: Yale
IN THE MIX
Florida State (11-3, 1-0; RPI: 85, SOS: 201)The 'Noles didn't play this past week after their Hawaiian Christmas fun. I'm not sure a game at Auburn qualifies as much more than that, but they then have an important trip to Blacksburg ahead of the Duke home game.GW: Baylor (N)BL: None
North Carolina (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 18, SOS: 4)After what should be another nonconference win over St. Francis (Pa.), the Heels kick off ACC play with a really manageable start: at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech, Clemson. Things get a lot tougher after that, so banking the early ACC wins is a smart idea.GW: KentuckyBL: None
Miami (11-4, 0-1; RPI: 26, SOS: 28)The 'Canes were handled fairly comfortably at Duke in their ACC opener, which kicks off a stretch of seven games that could define their season. We'll see what happens.GW: West Virginia, Ole MissBL: at Rutgers
Maryland (9-4, 0-1; RPI: 120; SOS: 139)The Terps will have prepped for their trip to Cameron on Sunday by playing only NJIT, North Florida and Colgate over a 27-day period. Let's just say there may be an adjustment period early in the game in Durham, which kicks off a three-game road swing that also includes a contest at Villanova.GW: NoneBL: Boston College
N.C. State (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 100, SOS: 137)The Pack are doing what they have to do in the soft underbelly of their nonleague slate, but these wins are just filler. Beating Wake at home on Saturday is a must before the trips to BC and Florida State.GW: George Mason?BL: None
Virginia Tech (9-4, 0-1, RPI: 47; SOS: 38)The Hokies have won five in a row, including Sunday's 65-point destruction of Mount St. Mary's. We'll see how the injury-depleted lineup handles a step-up in class, starting with FSU's visit on Saturday. That one could be very low-scoring.GW: Oklahoma State (N)?BL: Virginia
Virginia (9-5, 1-0; RPI: 128, SOS: 148)The Cavaliers have regressed toward their mean the last two weeks, despite handling SEC bottom-feeder LSU on Sunday. Virginia Tech's injury struggles may also see that road win get discounted as the season progresses.GW: at Minnesota, at Virginia TechBL: at Stanford (by 21), Seattle, Iowa State (at home by 13)
Clemson (10-4, 0-1; RPI: 132, SOS: 252)The Tigers haven't done a ton to catch anyone's attention, although a win at College of Charleston isn't bad. They host Miami and Georgia Tech next and could get to 2-1 heading to UNC and Maryland.GW: None, reallyBL: None, really
In KenPom's world, the Jayhawks end up with the 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament five out of every six times you run this season. That seems a bit high to me, but hints at KU's quantitative impressiveness in the eye of a very deep and competitive conference. Plus, now they have Josh Selby.
SHOULD BE IN
Texas (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 37; SOS: 109)It's an interesting week for the 'Horns with home games against Arkansas and UConn on tap. If Texas sweeps the week, it will have the most impressive slate of wins in the nation.GW: Illinois (N), North Carolina (N), at Michigan StateBL: at USC
Missouri (13-1, 0-0; RPI: 32, SOS: 155)The home-cooking, softish schedule and late giveaway to Georgetown have kept expectations in check, but the Tigers are trending really nicely, as evidenced by their thrashing of a good Old Dominion team. The defensive performances against the Monarchs and Illinois are really encouraging.GW: Vanderbilt, vs. Illinois, Old DominionBL: None
Texas A&M (11-1, 0-0; RPI: 29; SOS: 126)Repeating some from last week: The Aggies have a chance to post a really gaudy record. Other than a trip to Texas, A&M could be favored in every game it plays until at least late February. They get the one-off North games against Mizzou and K-State at home and don't head to Lawrence until March 2.GW: Temple (N), WashingtonBL: None
Kansas State (10-3, 0-0; RPI: 22, SOS: 21)Jacob Pullen is back tonight and Curtis Kelly will be in a few more games, which means the Wildcats will be whole entering mid-January. They'll need to be for the four-game run starting Jan. 15: at Missouri, at Texas A&M, vs. Baylor and at Kansas.GW: Gonzaga (N), at Washington State?BL: None
IN THE MIX
Baylor (9-3, 0-0; RPI: 154; SOS: 261)If Baylor wanted us to forget its empty profile, scraping past Texas Southern wasn't the best way to do it. The Bears haven't done anything yet that will be helpful in March, so Big 12 play can't get here soon enough.GW: NoneBL: None
Oklahoma State (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 44; SOS: 135)Well, that didn't go so well. The Pokes ran into a Gonzaga team playing its best ball of the season and got routed in Spokane. GW: NoneBL: None
Iowa State (12-2, 0-0; RPI: 96, SOS: 290)Nice job by the Cyclones to nab a road win at Virginia. This is way better than I expected Fred Hoiberg's first season in Ames to go. They have big opportunities at home against Kansas and Baylor next week to really announce some intentions.GW: NoneBL: None, really
Nebraska (10-2, 0-0; RPI: 100, SOS: 243)The Huskers host Iowa State in the Big 12 opener on Saturday, which is a must-get for Nebraska with road trips to Missouri and Kansas after that. The win over USC still looks like a decent one.GW: None, reallyBL: None, really
Locks: Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Syracuse, Connecticut
Connecticut likely will come back to Earth a bit, as the handling at Pitt and the escape at home against USF indicate, but the overall profile should be strong enough to handle almost any regression. Pitt remains the de facto favorite, but this league is the most complex at the top of any BCS conference.
SHOULD BE IN
Notre Dame (11-2, 1-1; RPI: 12, SOS: 42)The Irish had a very solid .500 week, rolling past Georgetown and leading in the second half at Syracuse before fading. ND historically has been a much better team at home, but its two "road" efforts of the year have been fairly encouraging in tough spots. Really, this profile is the equivalent of UConn's. Inconsistent? I guess so. Maybe we'll rejuggle after the two play Tuesday in South Bend.GW: Wisconsin (N), Gonzaga, GeorgetownBL: None
Louisville (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 46, SOS: 71)The Cardinals watched archrival Kentucky go on a second-half serge and fell for the second time at the KFC Yum! Center. They will need to take advantage of a much softer first half of the league slate, starting with reeling Seton Hall on Wednesday.GW: Butler, UNLVBL: Drexel?
IN THE MIX
West Virginia (8-4, 0-2; RPI: 11, SOS: 4)A week that should have been 1-1 at worst ended 0-2 when the 'Eers lost at home to St. John's and then fell late at Marquette. With the depth at the top of the league, that's a dangerous misstep, but the schedule remains pretty favorable coming up.GW: Vanderbilt, Cleveland StateBL: St. John's, at Miami?
Cincinnati (14-0, 0-0; RPI: 65; SOS: 325)I made a point of watching Cincy-Seton Hall on New Year's Eve (insert joke about my life here) just to get an updated sanity check on the Bearcats. Nothing personal, but call me unconvinced. We'll see how this week goes with the Crosstown Shootout against fairly desperate Xavier and then at Villanova.GW: DaytonBL: None
Marquette (10-4, 1-0; RPI: 122; SOS: 197)Marquette got a crucial win over West Virginia after falling in the final seconds at Vandy. You might as well copy and paste last year's Bubble Watch blurbs. The fan base dies a little bit each time they play, the next 11 games are mostly killer, and they should win five of their final six or so to make the NCAAs.GW: NoneBL: None
St. John's (9-3, 2-0; RPI: 7, SOS: 5)Hey, now! Road wins at West Virginia and Providence to open Big East play have amped up the juice for Georgetown's visit tonight. Worth noting: The Johnnies haven't played a team this season that's currently worse than 5-7, thus the computer numbers (that are inflated, but still).GW: at West Virginia, Northwestern?, Arizona State (N)?BL: St. Bonaventure, at Fordham
Providence (11-4, 0-0; RPI: 69, SOS: 105)The Friars are better than expected but may rue the New Year's Day home loss to St. John's. Things could now unravel in a hurry with Pitt visiting and then a three-game road trip.GW: NoneBL: La Salle (N)?, St. John's
Locks: Ohio State
Before the season, this looked like the deepest top of a league in the nation, which makes it even more impressive that the Buckeyes have separated from the pack like this. They're not untouchable, but you can make a very reasonable argument that they are the nation's best team at the moment.
SHOULD BE IN
Illinois (12-3, 2-0; RPI: 38, SOS: 56)The Illini did what they needed to do last week, getting wins at Iowa and at home vs. Wisconsin. If they can handle Northwestern and a trip to Happy Valley, they'll be 4-0 heading to the Kohl Center.GW: Maryland (N), UNC?, Gonzaga (N)BL: Illinois-Chicago (N)
Purdue (13-1, 2-0; RPI: 10, SOS: 53)This is why it's good to have seniors, especially when they're as good as E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. The Boilermakers are quietly (but not subtly) figuring out their offensive issues without Robbie Hummel and are starting to project as a very dangerous team, especially when fully healthy.GW: at Virginia TechBL: None
Minnesota (11-3, 0-2; RPI: 40, SOS: 69)Can you have an OK 0-2 week? If so, the Gophers just did, battling hard in losses at Wisconsin and Michigan State. The efforts were decent validation of the team's chops. Stay solid on them.GW: North Carolina (N), West Virginia (N)BL: Virginia?
Wisconsin (11-3, 1-1; RPI: 33, SOS: 97)The Badgers played two of the top half of the league and won by eight at home (over Minnesota) and lost by eight on the road (at Illinois). Sounds like everything's normal in Madison. Wednesday's visit from Michigan is important ahead of a trip to East Lansing and the rematch with the Illini.GW: at Marquette, Boston College (N), N.C. State?BL: None
Michigan State (8-4, 1-0, RPI: 51, SOS: 28)Likewise, the Spartans' more physical effort against the Gophers is a good sign. Now they need to take care of upstart Northwestern and Penn State on the road.GW: Washington (N)BL: None
IN THE MIX
Northwestern (9-2, 0-1; RPI: 34, SOS: 119)The Wildcats couldn't hang at Purdue and now get Michigan State at home before heading to Champaign. If they start out 0-3, will they be able to reel off at least nine of their last 15 in the league?GW: NoneBL: None
Michigan (10-3, 1-1; RPI: 81, SOS: 110)The Wolverines split two home league games, getting pounded by Purdue before holding off Penn State. That doesn't bode all that well for the next three: at Wisconsin and then home to Kansas and Ohio State.GW: at ClemsonBL: UTEP (N)?
There was an interesting Twitter debate on Sunday about Arizona and whether the Wildcats are the clear No. 2 team in the league. A fearsome two-headed Jeff consisting Yahoo's Eisenberg (@jeffeisenberg) and Fox's Goodman (@goodmanonfox) disagreed with my assertion that the 'Cats were the clear choice for No. 2. Then Arizona went out and tanked one in Corvallis. Thanks, guys.
SHOULD BE IN
Washington (10-3, 2-0; RPI: 25, SOS: 33)It's hard to have a better first weekend of league play than the Huskies, who earned tough wins at USC and UCLA to get a very rare sweep (for them) of the L.A. trip. They now have a big early leg up in the league race and get some validation of ability after some just-miss efforts against top-level competition.GW: None really, but the L.A. road sweep is bigBL: None
IN THE MIX
Arizona (12-3, 1-1; RPI: 31, SOS: 88)The Wildcats suffered a really bad loss at Oregon State Sunday night. If they had any designs on challenging Washington for the league crown, this weekend for both teams has created a huge initial gap. The next three are at home before the trip to Seattle on Jan. 20.GW: at N.C. StateBL: at Oregon State
Washington State (10-4, 0-2; RPI: 63; SOS: 112)The Cougs had the "bizarro Washington" weekend, losing at both L.A. schools to step into a bit of an immediate league hole. Five of the next seven are in Pullman, though, and those are wrapped around a manageable Bay Area trip.GW: Gonzaga, Baylor (N)BL: None
USC (9-6, 1-1; RPI: 58, SOS: 22)A tough overtime loss to Washington spoiled what could have been a terrific weekend. The Trojans will need Tennessee to stop its free-fall, though, for that win to hold up.GW: Texas, at TennesseeBL: A handful to mediocre teams
UCLA (9-5, 1-1; RPI: 77, SOS: 36)The Bruins split a pair of nine-point decisions at home to the Washington schools, but should be a factor in the league. This is a pretty significant early game for both teams at USC on Sunday.GW: BYU (N)BL: Montana
Locks: Kentucky, Florida
For those wondering why Florida is a lock, the Gators still have the profile of the second-best SEC team (although Vandy may soon have something to say) and the SEC isn't getting one bid. The win at Xavier this week is another solid one to add to Kansas State (when whole) and at Florida State.
SHOULD BE IN
Vanderbilt (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 15, SOS: 44)The 'Dores tipped Marquette in the final seconds for a solid home win then pounded Davidson. They now they have until Saturday to rest up for a trip to South Carolina to kick off a manageable start to the SEC slate.GW: North Carolina (N)BL: None
Tennessee (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 39, SOS: 8)This isn't a blip anymore. There are serious problems in Knoxville. After barely holding off Tennessee-Martin, they were thrashed by the College of Charleston (which lost by 20 at Morehead State on Sunday). Now they have to play Memphis before losing Bruce Pearl for half of SEC play.GW: Villanova (N), VCU (N), at PittBL: at Charlotte, Oakland (at home), College of Charleston (at home)
IN THE MIX
Georgia (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 60; SOS: 203)Rest and relaxation is over for the Bulldogs, who open SEC play at home with Kentucky and then head to Vanderbilt. These are the type of games Georgia will need to win to state an at-large case.GW: None, reallyBL: None
Mississippi (11-3, 0-0, RPI: 61, SOS: 108)Playing at No. 313 SMU on Wednesday is a no-win for the Rebels. Playing at Florida on Saturday is a virtual must-win for a team that (as noted last week) only has a few chances in SEC play to impress.GW: NoneBL: None
This was another bad week for the top of the A-10 and these ongoing misses could haunt the league come Selection Sunday. The good news is that separation at the top of the league may help carry multiple teams with it, if they take care of the rest of the league in conference play.
SHOULD BE IN
Temple (9-3, 0-0; RPI: 14, SOS: 18)The Owls battled hard but lost a tight decision at Villanova. They should win their first three in A-10 play, at Fordham and then home to Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure.GW: Maryland (N), GeorgetownBL: Cal (N)?
IN THE MIX
Richmond (11-4, 0-0; RPI: 55, SOS: 172)The Spiders are one of the most mystifyingly inconsistent teams around. Win at Seton Hall, easily handle Wake Forest and then lose at home to Bucknell by bricking a ton of free throws late and then getting Laettner'd at the buzzer. A team this talented shouldn't lose the games Richmond has and they really could end up being costly.GW: Purdue, VCUBL: at Iona, Georgia Tech (N)?, Bucknell
Dayton (10-3, 0-0; RPI: 48, SOS: 106)The Flyers gutted out solid home wins over George Mason and New Mexico that they really needed. They open with three of four on the road in A-10 play, though, so don't get too comfortable.GW: A collection of OK ones in Ole Miss, George Mason and New MexicoBL: East Tennessee State, margin at Cincinnati (by 34)
Xavier (8-4, 0-0; RPI: 57, SOS: 41)The short-handed X-men are rapidly running out of at-large wiggle room after losing at home to Florida. They really need to get this Shootout game at currently unbeaten Cincinnati and then make some hay in the league. The nonconference performance hasn't been good enough to this point.GW: ButlerBL: Miami (Ohio)
Rhode Island (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 36; SOS: 45)After several years of expectations and late-season slides, maybe the Rams will try to sneak up on some folks this year. A solid home win over Boston College slips them into this category, for now. The next three games (at Florida Monday night, Xavier on Sunday and then at Richmond) are really big.GW: Boston CollegeBL: Illinois-Chicago, at Quinnipiac
Locks: San Diego State, BYU
The Aztecs are tops, but it's hard to see BYU missing at this point, even if the Cougars can't get it done at UNLV on Wednesday night. Both teams should have very gaudy records come March. The Rebels look well-positioned to get in, as well. That's probably where things will end.
SHOULD BE IN
UNLV (12-2, 0-0; RPI: 12, SOS: 40)The top-of-the-league fun begins on Wednesday, when BYU comes to the Thomas & Mack Center. Wish I was going to be in Sin City for that one. With a trip to San Diego State next week, holding serve here is important.GW: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech (N)BL: UC Santa Barbara
IN THE MIX
New Mexico (9-2, 0-0; RPI: 59, SOS: 165)The Lobos may regret that double-OT loss at Dayton. They'll have at least six chances in league play to pick up quality wins, though.GW: NoneBL: None, really
There still isn't anyone in this category who's assured of getting in, or really even close at this point, which should make for an even-more intriguing championship week.
Old Dominion (9-3, 0-1; RPI: 20, SOS: 24)The Monarchs had a chance to really solidify their nonleague resume, but got trampled at Missouri. They have some very decent wins against the top of the A-10, but now only CAA games and BracketBusters remain. This is a good team that needs to do some solid work after already having lost its league opener.GW: Clemson, Xavier, Richmond, DaytonBL: at Delaware
Butler (9-4, 2-0; RPI: 19, SOS: 12)The Bulldogs put away Valpo at home to stay perfect in the Horizon. This should be a fun week, with a trip to UW-Wisconsin before a home date with Cleveland State, with first place at stake.GW: Florida State (N), Washington State (N)BL: Evansville (without Nored)
Gonzaga (8-5, 0-0; RPI: 50, SOS: 17)Are the Zags peaking at the right time? They pounded Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve in their best 40-minute effort of the season and then got by Wake Forest on the road in a tough travel turnaround. Suddenly, there's some heft to their nonleague resume.GW: Baylor (N), Marquette (N), Xavier, OK State?BL: None, but five of them already
Central Florida (12-0, 0-0; RPI: 16, SOS: 159)The Golden Knights rallied past Princeton to win their own holiday tournament and stay unbeaten. Now they start C-USA play with Marshall and then a trip to Houston. It's possible UCF will be 17-0 when they play at Memphis late this month.GW: Miami, FloridaBL: None
Cleveland State (13-1, 4-0; RPI: 26, SOS: 157)The Vikings rolled to two home league wins ahead of a monster week in the Horizon: at Butler on Friday and at Valpo on Sunday. Next week's Bubble Watch will know a lot more about CSU's at-large hopes.GW: Kent State?BL: None
Memphis (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 56, SOS: 95)It's hard to be a shakier 11-2, but at least the young Tigers are winning while they continue to try to figure things out. With Tennessee reeling, this is a big chance for a win at Thompson-Boling on Wednesday, but what will it ultimately mean?GW: Miami?BL: None
Saint Mary's (10-2, 0-0; RPI: 45; SOS: 152)The Gaels don't have a ton of great wins, but their losses are to Mountain West heavyweights San Diego State and BYU, who are a combined 26-1. San Diego transfer Rob Jones has provided extra scoring pop to complement the Dellavedova/McConnell backcourt. Even without Omar Samhan, they could threaten Gonzaga.GW: None, reallyBL: None
Drexel (9-2, 1-0; RPI: 30, SOS: 122)The Dragons plastered Niagara in their only action of the holiday week. The win at Louisville will be the nonleague highlight. They can't overlook Hofstra tonight before heading to VCU on Wednesday.GW: at LouisvilleBL: None
Wichita State (10-2, 2-0; RPI: 43, SOS: 117)The Shockers eased to an opening-week Valley sweep and should be 4-0 before hosting Missouri State on Sunday in an early "game of the season" in the league. Both the Shockers and Bears will have to be pretty close to perfect in the league to warrant legit at-large consideration.GW: Virginia (N)?BL: None