One of the toughest annual quandaries in Bracketville is how to treat a highly competitive league that lacks a lot of top-end power. Last year, 9-9 in the Big Ten was good enough for a couple of teams. This year's test case is going to be the ACC.
ACC supporters tout the league's depth and competitive balance. With all 12 teams currently in
The ACC went just 3-11 vs. RPI top 25 teams in nonleague play, and two of those three wins were over non-BCS clubs -- Butler and Xavier. The league did go 9-4 against RPI 26-50, but seven of those victims, again, were good non-BCS teams: Gonzaga twice, Charlotte twice, Richmond, UAB and Siena. Only North Carolina, with wins over Michigan State and Ohio State, has beaten an elite big-conference team. It's quite possible none of the ACC's non-BCS victims will make the second weekend of the NCAAs.
Duke's destruction at Georgetown on Saturday, in which the Hoyas shot 72 percent in a not-nearly-that-close 12-point win, is more fuel for the detractors' fire. It's rarely a good idea to overreact to one game, but a performance that shocking -- to go with Duke's 1-4 road record and the data above -- creates reason to question not only Duke's quality, but that of all the ACC bubble teams clustered around .500 in the league. As these teams continue to beat each other, is it a sign of quality? Or is it mediocrity?
Come Selection Sunday, the ACC will be part of a bigger puzzle. For every league like the Mountain West (eyeing three bids) and the A-10 (hungry for four or more), there's a Pac-10 (two ... or worse?) and a Big Ten (steaming rapidly toward just four). There should be bids available, which means the evaluation of what 8-8 in the ACC is worth (vs. perhaps 9-9 in the Big East or second place in the Valley) will be a very big factor in how this year's bracket comes together. Right now, it's not clear what it means -- or that it means all that much.
That was a bad showing by the Blue Devils at Georgetown, and it cost them a seed line. They're still the best team in the ACC on paper, but what that means at this point is unclear.
Conversely, the rout was huge
Saturday's great game in Manhattan validated both Kansas schools while questions about Texas' recent play continue to grow. The 'Horns are still very locked up, but their seed position is weakening. The most important thing for Texas is to try to maintain as high a seed as possible and hope Kansas gets put in the St. Louis region, which opens up Houston for the 'Horns.
Below this trio, teams basically are taking turns beating each other at home, so bubble clarity will come when someone breaks through and gets road wins against their chief at-large competitors.
While bubble rivals were losing to each other on the road,
There's no hiding the truth about
Georgetown's rout of Duke was good news for a league where there's a burgeoning gap after the top five teams. If the Hoyas, currently tied for fourth place, can do that to the ACC's best team, then shouldn't the committee take a longer look at the mid-tier teams in this league? It's at least arguable.
OK, so apparently
Just keep remembering who tweeted/called 11-7 for
It's tempting to say
Losing at South Florida in overtime may be really bad news for
The Spartans have a three-game lead on four teams and continue to position themselves nicely for a No. 2 seed in the NCAAs.
For the sake of some brevity, there's no real reason not to bump the other three teams up at this point. They're all making it, even as they'll probably take turns beating each other down the stretch. Purdue and Wisconsin have plenty in the nonleague bank and Ohio State is 13-3, 6-1 with
After those four? It could be no one else, although this week, Illinois slips in.
Now Arizona is tied for first with Cal, which is not a good thing. If the Golden Bears keep struggling and no one else gets really hot really quickly, it's possible the league won't have any viable at-large candidates heading into the Pac-10 tourney. I guess a winner-takes-all major-conference tourney could be dramatic, and could (weirdly) make avoiding the extra 8-9 game important.
Say hello to league co-leader
Well, the 'Cats found a road test at South Carolina and were done in by the best 9-for-29 shooting game in recent memory. Then they rebounded and handled Vandy and remain a fairly comfortable 1 seed. That said, a couple more losses before the NCAAs would not be shocking.
Charlotte's upset of Temple changes the mix behind the Owls. League ordering -- and who you beat in the top six -- is going to be paramount in the NCAA at-large race. Ordering the four teams behind the Owls is brutally tough. Can they all get in after they start seeing more of each other on the schedule? Could be difficult, but for now they all make the bracket. Dayton is the big loser, with a make-or-break week on tap.
After losing at home to URI by a point after the one-point drop at Saint Joe's,
If Old Dominion drops another game this week, the Colonial could be looking more at a one-bid season than
It's almost certain now that both BYU and New Mexico will be dancing, but it's more fun to add a few words about them for another week or two for those less familiar with the league. UNLV remains well positioned to make it a three-bid haul for the MWC.
Winning at Colorado State is what
The top two got close wins they needed to keep two-bid possibilities alive.
UAB continues to be the best hope for an at-large. Losing at home to UTEP was damaging to the Blazers' hopes, but helped push UTEP into the bracket. Still a lot of room for movement here, and two bids is not a lock by any means.
Everything was going right for
Siena (MAAC), Cornell (Ivy)