It’s that time again friends, March Madness time baby! Yes, indeed, the Madness is almost here and now is a good time for some March Madness Bracketolgy to breakdown exactly who will make this year’s Big Dance. We know the big boys like Duke, Kansas and Kentucky will have their tickets punched come Selection Sunday, but who else will be joining them? Well, I have crunched the numbers and analyzed the resumes of all the teams and have come to the following conclusions for each conference that has a chance to send more than the automatic qualifier. Below are my 31 at-large picks for 2011 March Madness selections upto this point in the season. However, keep in mind, there is still enough games left for teams on the “Bubble” to play themselves in or out of the tournament.
* NOTE: RPI rankings are as of February 23, 2011
Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC) – The ACC should get at least 4 bids and maybe 5. Duke, North Carolina and Florida State are all locks to make it with Virginia Tech looking solid with a 8-5 ACC record. Boston College, Maryland and Clemson still have time to possibly play themselves in and grab a 4th ACC at-large bid with Boston College having the best resume as of today with their strong RPI of 44 and season series sweep over Maryland. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 3 at-large bids.
Atlantic 10 Conference – The A-10 deserves 3 bids and should definitely get it. No matter what, Xavier and Temple are going and Richmond should be going dancing but still need to finish strong to close the deal and hope nobody outside of Temple, Xavier or themselves win the postseason tournament. If that happens, take Richmond off the field. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 2 at-large bids.
Big East Conference – The Big East almost certainly will get the most teams invited to the NCAA Tournament again come selection sunday. The question is how many? Well, Pittsburgh, Uconn, Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Louisville are all locks. Cincinnati, St John’s and West Virginia should all get invited as well. That’s an incredible 10 teams. Some will argue that the Big East was overrated last year and were a dissapointment in the NCAA Tournament, but how can anyone argue against any of the 10 teams I mentioned getting into this year’s March Madness 68-team field? PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 9 at-large bids.
Big 10 Conference – It will be a travesty if this league gets any more than 3 teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Purdue all deserve to go and will no matter who wins the Big 10 tournament. However, who else deserves to go? Michigan State? Michigan? Illinois? Those teams are mediocre at best and will struggle to make .500 in league play. This conference only deserves 3 teams. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 2 at-large bids(3 if Ohio St, Purdue or Wisconsin don’t win tournament).
Big 12 Conference – The Big 12 should get 6 teams into the field on selection sunday. Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Texas A&M are all locks. Nebraska, Kansas St and Baylor all have work to do but 2 of those 3 should get invites when all is said and done with Kansas St looking strong with a RPI of 32. Nebraska only has a 66 RPI and Baylor even lower at 79 so they will need to finish strong. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 5 at-large bids.
Colonial Athletic Conference – This league might be the most underrated league in the nation. They play some outstanding brand of basketball that goes unnoticed mostly nationwide. Having said that, this league deserves at least 2 teams in this year’s field. The Conference Tournament Champion will go and then the best team left out of George Mason and Old Dominion should get an at-large bid. They deserve it and will get it. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 1 at-large bid.
Mountain West Conference – We know BYU and San Diego State are going dancing in March. No question. Who else? That’s easy. The UNLV Runnin Rebels baby! How can Lon Kruger’s team NOT be invited after beating Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Kansas St in non-conference play? Well, the only thing that prevents UNLV from being an absolute lock is their 0-4 record versus BYU and San Diego St this season. If UNLV plays either team in the postseason tournament it might have to win to secure their bid. However, with a RPI of 25 today I say UNLV makes it no matter what. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 2 at-large bids.
Pac 10 Conference – This league is an easy one to call. They will get 3 bids only with Arizona, UCLA and Washington all going unless someone other than those 3 teams wins the Pac 10 Tournament automatic berth in which the league would get 4 teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 2 at-large bids(3 if Arizona, Washington or UCLA don’t win the postseason tournament).
Southeastern Conference(SEC) – The SEC West is terrible and I mean T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E, TERRIBLE! Only Alabama gets in from that division. As for the SEC East side, you can count on Florida, Vanerbilt and Kentucky being locks to make the 68-team field. Georgia(RPI 38) and Tennessee(RPI 28) will most likely duke it out for the league’s 5th bid. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 4 at-large bids.
Missouri Valley – The Missouri Valley isn’t as strong top to bottom and especially at the top as in prior years, however Wichita St and Missouri St are still quality teams that should get invited to this year’s field. Missouri St has a RPI of 50 and Wichita St is right behind at 51 as of today. Both should make the field if they get to the MVC Tournament Championship game. PREDICTION: Tournament Champion plus 1 at-large bid.
Conference Breakdown for the 31 At-Large NCAA Tournament Bids:
ACC – 3
ATLANTIC 10 – 2
BIG EAST – 9
BIG 10 – 2
BIG 12 – 5
COLONIAL – 1
MOUNTAIN WEST – 2
PAC 10 – 2
SEC – 4
MISSOURI VALLEY – 1
LAST Four At-Large Teams “On the Bubble” In the Field: Nebraska, Cincinnati, Richmond, Missouri St
LAST Four Teams “On the Bubble” OUT of the Field: Boston College, Michigan St, Georgia, Memphis