NCAA Tournament Betting: Last Four In, First Four Out - Final

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 14, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

We are now two days away from Selection Sunday so here are our last four in, first four out for the final time before the NCAA Tournament field is officially drawn on March 16th.

We are now just two days away from Selection Sunday for the 2014 NCAA Tournament on March 16th, and while there are still conference tournaments going on that may affect who goes to the Big Dance and who is more likely NIT bound, surprises should be kept to a minimum at this point in time Therefore, for the final time in 2014, we have updated our selections on our NCAA Basketball picks to make the NCAA Tournament.

More on point, we have updated our predictions on who we feel will be the last four teams in the field and who will be the first four teams out of the Big Dance. Always remember though that conference winners get automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, and just about the only possible surprises right mow would be if there are some upsets in the conference tournaments by teams that would not have made the tournament field otherwise, as those schools would take away bids from other at-large bubble-team hopefuls.

Thus, one conference tournament upset could knock out the last of our last four teams in and two upsets could cut these bids in half, while at the same time increasing our odds of being correct on the first four teams out. And upsets are still not impossible at this late stage either as quite a few high seeds have already been knocked out of their conference tournaments early!

Those are the obstacles on the NCAA Basketball odds of making these predictions before the end of the conference tournaments on Sunday, but what fun is there in making these predictions without some possible last-minute drama?

So without further ado, here are our final predictions (as of Friday, March 14th) for the last four teams selected for the NCAA Tournament field, immediately followed by our selections of the first four teams out of the Big Dance.

Last Four In
Tennessee Volunteers: We had the Volunteers as the second of our last four teams in last week and they proceeded to rout Missouri 72-45 in the regular season finale last Saturday. That improves Tennessee to 20-11 overall with 10 of the 11 losses being by single-digits including nine-point losses to the top two teams in the country in Florida and undefeated Wichita State, and despite facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Tennessee is ranked 18th in the country in offensive efficiency and 28th in defensive efficiency. Furthermore, Tennessee ended the regular season with four straight wins with the last three being by 38, 28 and 27 points respectively! Even though other teams may have better records overall, it seems to us the Volunteers are in, although a nice win over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday would seal the deal even further.

Providence Friars: The Friars flip-flop with the Volunteers as we had Providence as the first of our last four teams in last week. The Friars finished 10-8 in a Big East Conference ranked as the third strongest conference in the land according to Pomeroy, trailing only the Big Ten and Big 12. The Friars did lose their regular season finale by 15 points at Creighton on Saturday to enter the Big East Tournament as the fifth seed, although in reality they finished in a three-way tie at 10-8 with Xavier and St. John’s. They then proceeded to beat St. John’s in their first tournament game on Thursday in a semi-road game at Madison Square Garden, and in our minds, punched their ticket to the Big Dance by doing so, regardless what happens the rest of the way.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: The Gophers were on the wrong side of the bubble about two weeks ago, but they have won three of their last four games with the loss being a forgivable one at Michigan. That gets the Golden Gophers to 20 wins, with the most recent victory coming in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament vs. Penn State. Getting to 20 wins while playing in the top ranked conference in the country and facing a schedule ranked 24th overall in SOS should now be enough to get the Gophers in, especially with a conference tournament win now under their belts. However, the selection committee may disagree with us, especially if Minnesota gets blown off the floor by Wisconsin on Friday. Keep in mind though that the Gophers did hand Wisconsin one of its worst losses during the regular season by 13 points.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles / Louisiana Bulldogs: These two teams play each other in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament on Friday, and one of them will literally be our last team in barring a major upset in some other conference tournament. There are two possible scenarios here: if the winner of Friday’s semifinal then goes on to win the Conference USA Championship on Saturday, this spot goes to the Friday loser; if the winner of Friday’s semifinal then gets upset in the championship game Saturday, this spot goes to the Friday winner (championship loser). Southern Miss enters the semifinal at 25-7 overall with one of those losses being a good one to Louisville out of conference. Louisiana Tech is 26-6 entering the semifinal including a good loss to Oklahoma State.

First Four Out
Iowa Hawkeyes: We felt that Iowa was overrated for most of the season as the Hawkeyes received a lot of respect on the betting lines for a team without that one real quality win, and some sets of power ratings even had Iowa as sleepers to reach the Elite Eight a few weeks ago. However, while this may be a controversial choice, we feel that Iowa played its way out of the tournament by losing five of its last six regular season games despite being favored in four of those five losses, and especially by then losing to 11th seeded Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in the biggest upset of all as a 13-point favorite!

Florida State Seminoles: Florida State started the season fairly well, but the Seminoles were plagued with inconsistency and they never did get to 20 wins. Considering that the ACC already has five teams with at least 23 wins as of this writing that are certainly in the tournament, we simply feel there is no room for another ACC team that finished with 19 wins, especially with the Seminoles losing to some bottom half teams in the conference such as Miami and NC State. Furthermore, Florida State won just two games all season vs. teams currently ranked in the Pomeroy Top 40, with those wins coming vs. Pittsburgh in conference late while the Panthers were slumping and vs. VCU out of conference early during the Seminoles’ hot start.

Green Bay Phoenix: Green Bay finished the season at 24-6, with two of those six losses coming vs. Wisconsin by three points and vs. Harvard by 12. Also, many experts had the Phoenix pegged as one of their favorite sleepers for the NCAA Tournament because this was a team that did everything well without necessarily blowing you away in any one individual category. But then Green Bay suffered a shocking loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Horizon League Tournament, a tournament played on the Phoenix’s own home floor. Fifth-seeded Milwaukee then went on to win the tournament to earn the automatic bid, and unfortunately for Green Bay, it is extremely unlikely that the selection committee will grant an at-large bid to a team from a Horizon League ranked just 12th overall as a whole on the Pomeroy Ratings.

St. John’s Red Storm: St. John’s may have overachieved by going 10-8 in the Big East, but really this team only had one real quality win vs. Creighton. That may have been enough if not for the fact that the Red Storm lost to Xavier late in the regular season and to Providence in their first Big East Tournament game, with both of those losses coming at their second home at Madison Square Garden. As we mentioned previously, those were the two teams that the Johnnies finished tied with during Big East play, so the first round loss to Providence may have been considered an elimination game for NCAA Tournament purposes. An earlier loss to last place DePaul also hurts the Red Storm’s cause.