NCAA Tournament Betting: Last 4 in, First 4 out update

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 8, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

We are one week from Selection Sunday so here’s an update of our last four in and first four out. After some turnover, see who we now have in the NCAA field who is probably NIT bound.

Selection Sunday for the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is now just a week away on March 17th, when college basketball fans eager to fill our their brackets such as the NCAA Bracket contest at SBR, as well as players from bubble teams anxious to learn their NCAA fate will all be glued to their television sets as the seedings, regions and matchups are announced.

We did our initial bubble team analysis a couple of weeks ago, but with this entire situation being a vey liquid process, there has been quite a bit of turnover even over that brief span. Thus, he is an update of our NCAA Tournament betting picks on who will be the last four teams in the 68-team field and who will be the first four teams that will be left out and are most likely NIT bound entering this final weekend of the regular season.

As always, please remember that these predictions would be impacted if some unexpected underdogs win their conference tournaments to earn automatic NCAA bids. That would especially have a direct impact on the last four teams in as each upset takes away an available spot.

So with all of that in mind, here are last four teams in and first four teams out for the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Last Four In
Temple Owls: The Owls looked dead in the water when they lost to the last place team in the Atlantic 10, Duquesne, at home on February 14th, but they have rallied by winning six straight games since then. Temple is now 10-5 inside a conference that is the second highest rated mid-major on the Pomeroy Ratings, behind only the Mountain West. In our minds, we feel they would clinch an NCAA Tournament berth by beating VCU at home in the season finale. However, since they are already at 10 wins in the conference, a close loss may even be good enough to get the Owls in. Temple has a couple of very nice conference wins vs. Saint Louis and La Salle, and it has an excellent non-conference win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden, which is like a semi-road game.

Cincinnati Bearcats: Cincinnati was safely in the tournament until losing four of its last five games, so being one of the last four in is a huge drop from where the Bearcats were. In fact, we would move them out of the tournament if they lose the season finale to South Florida at home. We do not see that happening though, so we are leaving them in based on the full body of work. A win on Saturday would give this Big East team 21 wins overall and make the Bearcats 9-9 inside the second ranked conference on the country, and after all none of those last four losses would be categorized as a bad loss. Marquette has nice wins over Pittsburgh and Marquette in conference, and non-conference wins over Iowa State and Oregon both on a neutral court look more impressive now in light of the seasons those two teams have had.

Denver Pioneers: We felt that the Pioneers would be our most controversial selection when we made them one of our last four in the last time we did an update two weeks ago, but Denver has just kept on winning to make us look like geniuses, as the Pioneers have won nine games in a row going into a tough home date in the regular season finale Saturday vs. a Louisiana Tech team that is now 16-1 on the WAC after suffering it first conference loss at New Mexico State on Thursday. Denver runs a methodical offense, ranking 346th out of 347 Division I teams with 59.1 possessions per game, but it is a joy to watch the Pioneers almost always work for the best possible shot at the end of those possessions, as they rank third the entire country in two-point shooting percentage at 56.6 percent! Denver’s style alone would make for an intriguing matchup vs. a major conference team.

Virginia Cavaliers: We admit that Virginia is one bubble team that consistently drives us crazy. The Cavaliers have some inexplicable losses to the likes of George Mason, Delaware and, worst of all, Old Dominion, and yet they are ranked 21st in the country overall by Pomeroy. We actually had Virginia as one of our first four out in our last update, but we then gave the Cavaliers a boost after beating Duke on February 28th. However, they followed that up with back-to-back close losses to Boston College and Florida State, both on the road, to fall to 10-7 in the ACC going into a home game with Maryland that could make or break their tournament chances. We like Virginia to win that game, so we are literally making it the last team in for now. That means that the Cavaliers would be the first team to get bumped if there is an upset in a conference tournament.

First Four Out
Southern Miss Golden Eagles: Southern Miss is 22-8 and 12-4 inside Conference USA, but it plays in a very weak conference where Memphis is a certainty to make the tournament, and we are not sure a second team deserves a bid. Yes, Southern Miss is ranked 60th overall, making it the only other C-USA team ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100 besides Memphis, but the Golden Eagles faced a schedule ranked 121st in SOS, and of their 22 wins, the only one over a team ranked in the Pomeroy 100 was over 96th ranked Georgia.. They had a chance to validate their record when they were actually favored at home over Memphis, and they promptly lost by 13 points. Ultimately, losing to 226th ranked Marshall on Tuesday could end up being their death blow.

Boise State Broncos: The mid-major Mountain West Conference is the third ranked conference in the whole country behind only the Big Ten and the Big East, but it is a mid-major nonetheless so the selection committee may not want to slight a major by taking five teams from the conference. Fair or not, that could make 20-9 Boise State the victim of a numbers game, as New Mexico, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego State seem certain to be in. That appears to make the Broncos the odd men out. Yes, Boise State has a great non-conference road win at Creighton, but it does not have any quality road wins inside the conference, where it is only 2-6 on the road with the wins coming vs. conference bottom dwellers Fresno State and Wyoming.

Kentucky Wildcats: The defending national champions can still sneak into the 68-team field if they can beat Florida on Saturday, which is actually not impossible considering some of the road losses that the Gators have had in the SEC. Still, the Wildcats have been a very mediocre team since losing Nerlens Noel for the season, and they have four recent losses to teams all ranked 66th or worse on Pomeroy. The committee does take injuries into consideration so the Wildcats’ recent play without Noel probably offsets their 17-6 record at the time he went down. Plus, Kentucky simply does not have the boatload of quality wins that we have all become accustomed to seeing, as a home win over 18th ranked Missouri is shockingly its only win all season over a team ranked in the Pomeroy Top 50!

Mississippi Rebels: Although Florida remains the number one team in the country according to Pomeroy, the SEC grades out as the weakest of the six major conferences, in fact ranking seventh in the country overall with the mid-major Mountain West crashing the top six. That is because besides Florida, Missouri looks like the only other shoe-in for the Big Dance, and it is entirely conceivable that those end up being the only two SEC teams in the entire field! Mississippi looked to be in good shape when it was 17-2 and off to a 6-0 start in the conference, but then a home loss to Kentucky started a downward spiral that has seen the Rebels go 5-6 starting with the Wildcats’ loss. Now that actually would not be too terrible if not for two of those losses coming to 207th ranked South Carolina and, worse yet, to 260th ranked Mississippi State last Saturday in the game that may have sealed the Rebels’ fate.