Saturday, February 24, 2007

Who Won't Be Dancing

With no games of meaning last night, today brings an opportunity to present the teams that won't be invited to the NCAA Tournament, which begins with Selection Sunday on March 11 and ends with the National Championship Game on Monday, April 2.

There are 65 teams invited, two of which will play for the final spot in the seedings on Tuesday, March 13. Actual 1st round games get underway on Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16.

While there are plenty of shoo-ins, a number of teams have already played poorly enough as to eliminate themselves.

In the ACC, which will probably send 5 or 6 teams to the tourney, Wake Forest, NC State and Miami are already out with conference records well under .500. The big surprise is Clemson, which started the season 17-0, but since has gone 2-8. At 5-8 in the conference, the only way they can make the tournament is to win the ACC tourney, and that's just not going to happen.

The other ACC teams which are not going to be invited will be Maryland or Georgia Tech and possibly both. The Terps play North Carolina tomorrow, then visit Duke and close the regular season with NC State. If they win just one of those games, they'll finish 8-8, not good enough. A win over Duke is possible, as Maryland just did that 2 weeks ago.

That the Yellow Jackets won't get a bid is more likely. They are 6-7 and play at Virginia today, then host North Carolina and Boston College. A loss today just about seals their fate. Even winning two of their remaining three won't likely be enough.

In the Big East, which could send as many as 8 teams, the bottom of the conference - St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati - are already beyond consideration. After that it gets a little dicey. Connecticut (6-7, 17-10) doesn't look like a Final 64 kind of team. It will be the first time in many years that the Huskies haven't made it to the tourney.

Villanova (6-7, 18-9) also may not get the job done, and DePaul (7-7, 16-12) already has too many losses to be considered. Right now, Providence (7-6 17-9) is on the outside looking in. They host Syracuse today in a critical game for both teams. If the Friars win, it may be the end of the line for the 'Cuse. A loss by Providence would likely eliminate them.

In the Big 10, count Iowa out. The Hawkeyes' 12 losses already have them eliminated. Besides, they've lost to all 4 Top 25 teams they've played (Alabama, Ohio St., Wisconsin twice). After Ohio State and Wisconsin, only Indiana looks like a legitimate invitee. Michigan, Michigan St. Illinois all have a shot, while Purdue, Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State are already out.

The Big 12 has three teams sure to go - Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas. After that Kansas St., Texas Tech (and what's a NCAA tournament without Bobby Knight?) and Missouri are on the bubble. Missouri is the one likely not to make the list. Oklahoma St. has played themselves right out of it. At 5-7 in the conference, stick a fork in them. Iowa St., Nebraska, Colorado and Baylor are at the bottom, thus, out.

In the PAC-10, don't expect any sympathy for Lute Olson and the Arizona Wildcats (8-7, 17-9). Unless they reach the conference finals, they're out. Oregon has played itself into a bubble position, and may not get an invite, though I wouldn't bet against it. UCLA, Washington St., USC and Stanford are all going, while Washington, Cal, Oregon St. and Arizona St. are staying home.

The SEC is probably the toughest to figure, but Alabama's loss to Tennessee the other night was critical. Tennessee will get a bid; Alabama will not. Expect 6 teams from this conference - Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi and Mississippi St. - unless Alabama comes alive in the conference tourney. Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn and Arkansas stay home.

One other interesting conference to watch is Conference-USA, where Memphis has blitzed the opposition, which has been diminished by teams going to the Big East or elsewhere. Besides the Tigers, only UCF (20-7) and Southern Miss. (17-9) have less than 10 losses and even they look like 11-14 seeds at best. Memphis may get a #2, but they haven't beaten anybody good in a long time except Gonzaga.

Speaking of the Zags, they are 9-3 in the West Coast Conference, right behind 10-2 Santa Clara. One of those two will likely win the conference tournament, and both may get bids. Nobody else is even close to getting a whiff of March Madness.

No comments: