Here is our final look at the NCAA Tournament bubble with Selection Sunday this weekend. These are our last four teams in and first four out as of Friday, March 13th.
The big day has arrived as Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is this weekend, and all the major conference tournaments are going on as we speak. That means it is time for our final weekly projections for which teams will be in the NCAA Tournament and which teams will have to settle the NIT, CIT or CBI as we present our final NCAA Basketball picks for the NCAA Tournament field, keeping in mind conference tourneys are not over.
More specifically, we are actually presenting which teams are our last four in the field and which will be the first four teams out of the Big Dance, and these selections are now almost final with Selection Sunday just two days away. Remember though, conference winners get automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, so these picks could be affected by some major upsets in conference tournaments by teams that would not have made it otherwise.
Thus one conference tournament upset could knock out the very last of our last four teams in, and two upsets could cut our last four bids in half, while also increasing our odds of being correct on the first four teams out. And as you will see, these projections could still be affected by what some teams we currently have in each group do in the next few days and some are still participating in their conference tournaments.
So without further ado, here are our final predictions for the last four teams selected for the NCAA Tournament field, as well as our selections for the first four teams out of the Big Dance before the start of play on Friday, March 13th.
Last Four In
Oklahoma State Cowboys: This final edition of this weekly forecast is actually the first time that Oklahoma State shows up in either category, and it is for all the wrong reasons. You see, we actually has the Cowboys safely in earlier on when they were 17-7 overall and 7-5 inside a Big 12 Conference that is the top ranked conference in the country as a whole according to the Pomeroy Ratings, including season sweeps of Baylor and Texas and a big win over Kansas. However they then lost five of their last six regular season games and were then routed by Oklahoma 64-49 in the Big 12 Tournament, to go from a sure thing to possibly playing in an 11-seed matchup during the First Four.
Purdue Boilermakers: We had Purdue as one of our first four teams out last week coming off of an 0-2 week where they lost on the road at Ohio State and Michigan State Yes those are difficult venues and the Boilermakers do have several nice home wins, but our knock against them is they still lack that one quality road win. And that did not change in the last seven days as they won their season finale at home over Illinois. However they are beneficiaries here of several bubble teams blowing this chances early on in their conference tournaments and the Boilers can help their chances even more with a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament. Their first action in that tournament actually comes today vs. Penn State.
Texas Longhorns: Texas may not have lived up to its preseason hype this season and the Longhorns surprisingly finished the regular only seventh in the Big 12 with an 8-10 conference mark as well as a pedestrian 19-12 overall. But they did end the season well by winning their last two games including a crucial win over Baylor to give them the statement win they were lacking, and they then got to 20 wins by beating Texas Tech in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. Granted they then lost to Iowa State in the quarterfinals, but it was a game effort in a narrow 69-67 loss to a quality rival. And remember that despite having 12 losses, Texas is ranked 19th in the country overall on Pomeroy, with the help of tackling a schedule ranked 10th in the land in SOS.
UCLA Bruins: UCLA is another team that finished just 19-12 overall, as well as 11-7 inside a Pac-12 that is the lowest ranked of the six major conferences according to Pomeroy, but at least the Bruins faced a good non-conference schedule that leaves them facing the 34th ranked SOS in the country overall. More importantly the Bruins have shown noticeable improvement since a home upset of Utah on January 29th, as that started an 8-3 finish to the regular season where they even played well in the three losses, covering the spread in a 10-point loss at Arizona and losing the other two games by two points each on the road at Arizona State and California respectively. They then routed USC 96-70 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to further improve their position.
First Four Out
Mississippi Rebels: Even though the SEC boasts the undefeated top ranked team in the country in Kentucky, we are not too crazy about the conference as a whole and we have our doubts as to whether or not the selection committee will choose more than four teams form the conference. Well, Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU now appear safely in and we think Georgia has an excellent chance for a fourth bid at 20-10 overall and a third place finish in the conference at 11-7. That may leave the Rebels on the outside looking in and Ole Miss may have only itself to blame for that, with a win over Alabama being its only triumph in its last four games of the regular season and then perhaps most damning of all with a loss to 11th seeded South Carolina in its first game in the SEC Tournament.
Indiana Hoosiers: Remember that the Hoosiers are still playing in the Big Ten Tournament as they advanced to the quarterfinals with a fairly easy 71-56 win over Northwestern, so Indiana is one team that still has a chance to improve its position in the upcoming days. We moved the Hoosiers to our first four out last week and they then lost their regular season finale at home to Michigan State immediately afterwards to make it eight losses in their last 12 regular season games. Sure the win over Northwestern in the opening round helped but we want to see one more win vs. a good team before moving them back into the tournament. In other words, Indiana’s game this evening vs. second seeded Maryland could be for its NCAA Tournament life.
Miami Hurricanes: The Hurricanes had a huge fall from grace since early in the ACC season, when they shockingly went on the road and routed Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium like few teams have ever done before 90-74. It was mostly downhill for Miami after that though as it finished 10-8 in the ACC but had some bad losses late in the year to a Georgia Tech team ranked 94th on Pomeroy, 125th ranked Wake Forest and 102nd ranked Florida State. The Canes may have been given new life by winning their last two games, but we felt this team needed to win a couple of ACC Tournament games to move back up. Well Miami won its first tournament game, albeit unimpressively 59-49 over a bad Virginia Tech team, but then in all likelihood has its tournament dreams squashed with a 70-63 loss to Notre Dame.
Richmond Spiders: The Spiders are an interesting story because they have come out of nowhere to crack our first four teams out, although they would obviously need a lot of help to get into the Big Dance as obviously the fourth of those teams. Richmond won its last six regular season games to finish at 19-12 overall and 12-6 in the Atlantic 10 including a sweep of perennial conference power VCU and one win over this year’s conference champion Davidson. And best of all the Spiders are still playing as they have a chance to make it three wins over VCU today when the teams meet in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. If the Spiders pull of that three-peat, they may have a case to crack the last four in depending on what Indiana does and what some teams we currently have in that group do.