Monday February 8th, 2010

2010 NCAA Tournament Projection
Selection Sunday is not until March 14, but it's never too early to see what the 2010 NCAA Tournament field looks like as of right now. Note: The top-four seeds in each region, starting with the No. 1 seeds, receive geographic preference when possible. An imbalance in high seeds between regions (e.g. if more than two top-four seeds are closest to the same subregional location) may force a protected seed into a secondary location. Thus, in the coming weeks, shifts in seeding will alter which subregions fall into which regions.

In this bracket, the Midwest matches up with the East, the South with the West in the national semifinals.
MIDWEST - Saint Louis
Oklahoma City
16Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
12Old Dominion
4New Mexico (Mountain West)
13Oakland (Summit)
New Orleans
6Georgia Tech
14Pacific (Big West)
10UTEP (Conference USA)
2West Virginia
15Sam Houston State (Southland)
SOUTH - Houston
16Robert Morris (Northeast)
San Jose
5Texas A&M
12Siena (MAAC)
4Wake Forest
13Kent State (MAC)
New Orleans
3Ohio State
14Weber State (Big Sky)
7Butler (Horizon)
10Florida State
15Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun)
EAST - Syracuse
16Stony Brook (America East)
8California (Pac-10)
9Cornell (Ivy)
12Oklahoma State
13Northeastern (Colonial)
3Michigan State
14College of Charleston (SoCon)
Oklahoma City
7Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)
10Saint Mary's
2Kansas State
15Morgan State (MEAC)
WEST - Salt Lake City
16Jackson State (SWAC)/Lehigh (Patriot)
8Rhode Island
San Jose
12Virginia Tech
13Utah State (WAC)
6Gonzaga (West Coast)
14Murray State (Ohio Valley)
15Coastal Carolina (Big South)

New multi-bid conference teams in: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Dayton.

Multi-bid conference teams out: Cincinnati, William & Mary, Wichita State.

Also considered: Wichita State ... and not really anyone else seriously (see below).

Bids by conference: ACC and Big 12 (7); Atlantic 10 (6); Big East, Big Ten and SEC (5); Mountain West (3); Colonial, West Coast and Conference USA (2).

Auto bids in smaller conferences were determined by best RPI among all first-place (e.g. fewest losses) teams in the league. One-bid league winners and select other auto-bid teams are listed with their conference for clarity. Teams can be moved a seed line up or down to conform to bracketing rules.


Why they made it:

-- Dayton: Has beaten Xavier and Old Dominion, in a very good league that should get at least four bids and quite possibly more, last four losses by total of eight points, passes "eye test." They're better than the other options, based on what I have seen.

-- Old Dominion: Two very solid wins, including at G'town, some other competitive wins in top 100 and losses in top 50. Stays a 12 seed despite loss at VCU.

-- Oklahoma State: Win at Kansas State saves the Cowboys this week. Their overall profile (3-7 vs. Top 100) is pretty weak, but no one behind them did enough to surpass them. If you told me they were out and Wichita State was in, I'd be fine with that.

Why they didn't make it:

-- Wichita State: First team out of the bracket was the only other team in real consideration and OK State was slightly better (more decisive good wins, fewer bad losses). The Shockers also lost a comparison to Dayton, even though the Flyers are in sixth place in the A-10. I've seen both teams play multiple times. Dayton's better. Old Dominion's and UAB's profiles are stronger, too.

There was a pretty good-sized gap between Wichita State and the next teams:

-- Cincinnati: 1-6 true road record, just 5-8 vs. RPI top 100, just .500 in league play.

-- Marquette: Only 3-6 vs. RPI top 100, too many tough losses to overcome at this point.

-- Washington: Playing better in Pac-10, but just 2-2 vs. RPI top 50 and 0-6 road/neutral record.

-- Louisville: 1-6 vs. RPI top 50 (No. 50 South Florida). 2-5 road/neutral plus two bad home losses (one margin, one opponent). The fact that the Cardinals are this close speaks volumes about the bubble.

-- South Florida: Probably has a better overall profile than Louisville now, but lost by 21 at Louisville, is 1.5 games behind in standings and was swept by Notre Dame, which is also ahead of the Bulls in the Big East. Gaining ground on the cutline, though, and getting Gus Gilchrist back soon.

Note: Illinois/Charlotte, Clemson/UTEP, Cal/Florida and Mississippi/Virginia Tech all switched seed lines to help conform to bracket regulations. There was a cluster of Big Ten teams in the 2/3 lines, ACC clogging in the 3/6 half of the regions and A-10 teams in the 8/9 lines.

There were 10 teams from outside the BCS conferences, although seven of those were from the A-10 and Mountain West.

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