Friday, March 11, 2016

Updated Championship Week Predictions

Yesterday, another 1-seed lost, bringing the total number of 1-seeds that have lost thus far to 12.  By the time we're all said and done, the NIT field could be filled up before Selection Sunday.  (In case you don't know, any regular season conference champion who does not win its conference tournament and does not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament gets an automatic bid to the NIT.)  Today provides the chance for more 1-seeds to fall, as 16 1-seeds will be in action today.  It should be an exciting day, as 13 tournaments have their semifinals and 4 more have their quarterfinals (and the Sun Belt has its second round, which is the equivalent of its quarterfinals).  

Before I get to yesterday's action, there was a pretty big announcement affecting next year's Championship Week.  The Ivy League -- which was the only Division 1 conference that did not hold a conference tournament -- announced that, beginning next year, the conference will have tournament for its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, with the top four regular season teams competing at The Palestra.  The semifinals and finals will respectively be on the final Saturday and Sunday of Championship Week.  Good show, old chap.

Below are the highlights from yesterday.  Note that, for my list of bubble teams that won and lost yesterday, I consider the "bubble" to be a little more expansive than others might, so I included some teams that are relatively safe to get into the NCAA Tournament ("high bubble" teams), some teams that need to win a few games to make the Big Dance ("low bubble" teams), as well as mid-major 1-seeds that I think might still have a shot at getting an at-large bid if they don't win their conference tournaments.  Some teams that fit into my definition of the bubble may play themselves off the bubble with a win (or two or three).
  • In the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, 8-seed Michigan and 9-seed Northwestern went to overtime before Michigan won, 72-70, keeping the Wolverines' NCAA Tournament hopes alive and setting up a meeting with top seed Indiana.  Michigan definitely got away with a travel near the end of regulation that would have given the ball to Northwestern with 14 seconds left, down one.  But, as they say, ball don't lie. After getting fouled, Michigan missed the second free throw, and Northwestern came down and got a fall-away shot in the lane off of a rebound with 0.1 seconds left to sent it to OT.  I hope the Wildcats get into and win the NIT.  Meanwhile, 5-seed Iowa continued its month-long slide by losing to 12-seed Illinois.  I think this puts Iowa on the bubble -- the "high bubble," but the bubble nonetheless.  After starting 19-4, the Hawkeyes have lost 6 of their last 8.  7-seed Ohio State fought off 10-seed Penn State to keep the Buckeyes' slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.  In the last game of the night, 11-seed Nebraska beat 6-seed Wisconsin, much to the delight of Maryland, who will be playing the Cornhuskers today.  Wisconsin is still pretty safe to make the NCAA Tournament, although this loss definitely hurts the Badgers' seed.
  • In the ACC quarterfinals, 4-seed Notre Dame and 5-seed Duke played an up-and-down game, where both teams had big leads in regulation -- ND in the first half and Duke in the second half -- before the Irish won in OT, 84-79.
  • In the Big 12 quarterfinals, 4-seed Texas fell to 5-seed Baylor, 75-61.  That's not a huge upset or anything, but I told you yesterday that I would let you know when a top 4 seed in any tournament fell before the semis, and I wasn't lying.
  • In the Big Sky quarterfinals, 4-seed Idaho State got destroyed by 5-seed North Dakota, 83-49.
  • In the Conference USA quarterfinals, two of the top four seeds lost.  1-seed UAB got beaten pretty handily by 8-seed Western Kentucky, 88-77.  By losing so early, the Blazers likely relegated themselves to the NIT, rather than having a shot at an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Also, 4-seed Louisiana Tech fell to 5-seed Old Dominion.
  • In the MAC quarterfinals, top-seeded Akron came back from a second-half double-digit deficit to beat 8-seed Eastern Michigan, 65-63, but 4-seed Central Michigan could not escape the upset bug, falling to 12-seed Bowling Green 62-59.
  • In the MEAC quarterfinals, 4-seed Bethune-Cookman was downed by 5-seed Savannah State, 57-50, to set up a meeting with 1-seed Hampton tonight.
  • In the Mountain West quarterfinals, two of the top four seeds lost. 1-seed San Diego State survived a scare from 9-seed Utah State, but pulled out a 71-65 win.  4-seed New Mexico lost to 5-seed Nevada, 64-62, while 6-seed Colorado State upset 3-seed Boise State, 88-81.
  • In the wiggity wiggity wiggity wiggity wiggity wiggity WAC quarterfinals, 4-seed Utah Valley fell to 5-seed UMKC, who overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to pull out a 80-78 win.  My main motivation in writing that last sentence is so that I could mention that UMKC's mascot is the Kangaroos.
  • The most exciting game of the day that I haven't already mentioned probably would have to go to the SEC second round matchup between 5-seed Vanderbilt and 12-seed Tennessee.  After getting blown out in their two regular season meetings, the Vols got revenge with a 67-65 win over the Commodores, when what would have been a last-second, game-tying layup by Vandy was ruled to be released after time expired.  That probably ended the Commodores' NCAA Tournament hopes.
  • Bubble teams that won yesterday:  Akron, Alabama, Davidson, Florida, George Washington, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Providence, San Diego State, Seton Hall
  • Bubble teams that lost yesterday:  Butler, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, UAB, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Washington
Here are the tournaments with games today, bids up for grab today, who has already clinched an automatic berth, and my predictions for the remaining conference tournaments.

Tournaments with games today
-Atlantic 10
-Big 12
-Big East
-Big Sky
-Big Ten
-Big West
-Conference USA
-Mountain West
-Sun Belt

Bids up for grabs today (all times Eastern)

Already clinched automatic berths (in parentheses is the NCAA tournament appearances, including the bid just clinched)
-Atlantic Sun:  Florida Gulf Coast (2)
-Colonial: UNC-Wilmington (5)
-Big South:  UNC-Asheville (4)
-Horizon:  Green Bay (5)
-Ivy League:  Yale (4)
-MAAC:  Iona (11)
-Missouri Valley:  Northern Iowa (8)
-NEC:  Fairleigh Dickinson (5)
-OVC:  Austin Peay (7)
-Patriot League:  Holy Cross (13)
-SoCon:  Chattanooga (11)
-Summit:  South Dakota State (3)
-WCC:  Gonzaga (19)

Remaining Tournaments (all times are Eastern)

AAC (March 10-13; Orlando)
3/11 – Quarterfinals
12 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Temple vs. (9) South Florida.  Predicted winner:  Temple
2 p.m. (ESPN2) (4) Cincinnati vs. (5) Connecticut.  Predicted winner:  Connecticut
7 p.m. (ESPNU) (3) Tulsa vs. (6) Memphis.  Predicted winner:  Tulsa
9 p.m. (ESPNU) (2) Houston vs. (10) Tulane.  Predicted winner:  Houston
3/12 – Semifinals
3 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Temple vs. (5) Connecticut.  Predicted winner:  Temple
5 p.m. (ESPN2) (2) Houston vs. (3) Tulsa.  Predicted winner:  Tulsa
3/13 – Finals
3:15 p.m. (ESPN) (1) Temple vs. (3) Tulsa.  Predicted winner:  Tulsa

ACC (March 8-12; Washington, D.C.)
3/11 – Semifinals
7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) (1) North Carolina vs. (4) Notre Dame.  Predicted winner:  Notre Dame
9 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) (2) Virginia vs. (3) Miami.  Predicted winner:  Virginia
3/12 – Finals
9 p.m. (ESPN) (2) Virginia vs. (4) Notre Dame.  Predicted winner:  Virginia

America East (March 2, 7, 12; campus of higher seeds)
3/12 – Finals
11 a.m. (ESPN2) (3) Vermont at (1) Stony Brook.  Predicted winner:  Stony Brook

Atlantic 10 (March 9-13; Brooklyn)
3/11 – Quarterfinals
12 p.m. (NBCSN) (1) Dayton vs. (9) Richmond.  Predicted winner:  Dayton
2 p.m. (NBCSN) (4) St. Joseph's vs. (5) George Washington.  Predicted winner:  St. Joseph's
6:30 p.m. (NBCSN) (2) VCU vs. (10) Massachusetts.  Predicted winner:  VCU
9 p.m. (NBCSN) (3) St. Bonaventure vs. (6) Davidson.  Predicted winner:  St. Bonaventure
3/12 – Semifinals
1:30 p.m. (CBSSN) (1) Dayton vs. (4) St. Joseph's.  Predicted winner:  Dayton
4 p.m. (CBSSN) (2) VCU vs. (3) St. Bonaventure.  Predicted winner:  St. Bonaventure
3/13 – Finals
12:30 p.m. (CBS) (1) Dayton vs. (3) St. Bonaventure.  Predicted winner:  Dayton

Big 12 (March 9-12; Kansas City)
3/11 – Semifinals
7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) (1) Kansas vs. (5) Baylor.  Predicted winner:  Baylor
9 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2) (2) West Virginia vs. (3) Oklahoma.  Predicted winner:  Oklahoma
3/12 – Finals
6 p.m. (ESPN) (3) Oklahoma vs. (5) Baylor.  Predicted winner:  Oklahoma

Big East (March 9-12; New York)
3/11 – Semifinals
6:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1) (1) Villanova vs. (4) Providence.  Predicted winner:  Villanova
9 p.m. (Fox Sports 1) (2) Xavier vs. (3) Seton Hall.  Predicted winner:  Xavier
3/12 – Finals
5:30 p.m. (Fox) (1) Villanova vs. (2) Xavier.  Predicted winner:  Villanova

Big Sky (March 8, 10-12; Reno)
3/11 – Semifinals
8:35 p.m. (1) Weber State vs. (5) North Dakota.  Predicted winner:  Weber State
11:05 p.m. (2) Montana vs. (3) Idaho.  Predicted winner:  Montana
3/12 – Finals
8:45 p.m. (ESPNU) (1) Weber State vs. (2) Montana.  Predicted winner:  Weber State

Big Ten (March 9-13; Indianapolis)
3/11 – Quarterfinals
12 p.m. (ESPN) (1) Indiana vs. (8) Michigan.  Predicted winner:  Indiana
2:30 p.m. (ESPN) (4) Purdue vs. (12) Illinois.  Predicted winner:  Purdue
6:30 p.m. (BTN) (2) Michigan State vs. (7) Ohio State.  Predicted winner:  Michigan State
9 p.m. (BTN) (3) Maryland vs. (11) Nebraska.  Predicted winner:  Wisconsin
3/12 – Semifinals
1 p.m. (CBS) (1) Indiana vs. (4) Purdue.  Predicted winner:  Indiana
3:30 p.m. (CBS) (2) Michigan State vs. (3) Maryland.  Predicted winner:  Michigan State
3/13 – Finals
3 p.m. (CBS) (1) Indiana vs. (2) Michigan State.  Predicted winner:  Indiana

Big West (March 10-12; Anaheim)
3/11 – Semifinals
9:30 p.m. (ESPNU – tape delayed) (1) Hawaii vs. (4) UC Santa Barbara.  Predicted winner:  Hawaii
11:59 p.m. (ESPNU) (2) UC Irvine vs. (3) Long Beach State.  Predicted winner:  UC Irvine
3/12 – Finals
11:30 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Hawaii vs. (2) UC Irvine.  Predicted winner:  Hawaii

Conference USA (March 8-12; Birmingham, AL)
3/11 – Semifinals
4 p.m. (CBSSN) (8) Western Kentucky vs. (5) Old Dominion.  Predicted winner:  Old Dominion
6:30 p.m. (CBSSN) (2) MTSU vs. (3) Marshall .  Predicted winner:  MTSU
3/12 – Finals
2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1) (5) Old Dominion vs. (2) MTSU.  Predicted winner:  MTSU

MAC (March 7, 10-12; Cleveland)
3/11 – Semifinals
6:30 p.m. (Time Warner Sportschannel/BCSN/ESPN3) (1) Akron vs. (12) Bowling Green.  Predicted winner:  Akron
9 p.m. (Time Warner Sportschannel/BCSN/ESPN3) (2) Ohio vs. (3) Buffalo.  Predicted winner:  Buffalo
3/12 – Finals
7:30 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Akron vs. (3) Buffalo.  Predicted winner:  Akron

MEAC (March 7-12; Norfolk, VA)
3/11 – Semifinals
6:00 p.m. (1) Hampton vs. (5) Savannah State.  Predicted winner:  Hampton
8:00 p.m. (2) Norfolk State vs. (3) South Carolina State.  Predicted winner:  South Carolina State
3/12 – Final
1:00 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Hampton vs. (3) South Carolina State.  Predicted winner:  Hampton

Mountain West (March 9-12; Las Vegas)
3/11 – Semifinals
9 p.m. (CBSSN) (1) San Diego State vs. (5) Nevada.  Predicted winner:  San Diego State
11:30 p.m. (CBSSN) (2) Fresno State vs. (6) Colorado State.  Predicted winner:  Fresno State
3/12 – Finals
6 p.m. (CBS) (1) San Diego State vs. (2) Fresno State.  Predicted winner:  San Diego State

Pac-12 (March 9-12; Las Vegas)
3/11 – Semifinals
9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) (1) Oregon vs. (4) Arizona.  Predicted winner:  Oregon
11:30 p.m. (FS1) (2) Utah vs. (3) Cal.  Predicted winner:  Utah
3/12 – Finals
11 p.m. (FS1) (1) Oregon vs. (2) Utah.  Predicted winner:  Oregon

SEC (March 9-13; Nashville)
3/11 – Quarterfinals
1 p.m. (SEC Network) (1) Texas A&M vs. (8) Florida.  Predicted winner:  Florida
3 p.m. (SEC Network) (4) LSU vs. (12) Tennessee.  Predicted winner:  LSU
7 p.m. (SEC Network) (2) Kentucky vs. (10) Alabama.  Predicted winner:  Kentucky
9 p.m. (SEC Network) (3) South Carolina vs. (6) Georgia.  Predicted winner:  South Carolina
3/12 – Semifinals
1 p.m. (ESPN) (4) LSU vs. (8) Florida.  Predicted winner:  Florida
3 p.m. (ESPN) (2) Kentucky vs. (3) South Carolina.  Predicted winner:  Kentucky
3/13 – Finals
1 p.m. (ESPN) (2) Kentucky vs. (8) Florida.  Predicted winner:  Kentucky

Southland (March 9-12; Katy, TX)
3/11 – Semifinals
6 p.m. (ESPN3) (1) Stephen F. Austin vs. (4) Houston Baptist.  Predicted winner:  Stephen F. Austin
8:30 p.m. (ESPN3) (2) Texas A&M-CC vs. (3) Sam Houston State.  Predicted winner:  Texas A&M-CC
3/12 – Finals
9:30 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Stephen F. Austin vs. (2) Texas A&M-CC. Predicted winner:  Stephen F. Austin

Sun Belt (March 10-13; New Orleans)
3/11 – Second Round
6 p.m. (ESPN3) (4) Louisiana Lafayette vs. (8) South Alabama.  Predicted winner:  Louisiana Lafayette
8:30 p.m. (ESPN3) (3) UT-Arlington vs. (7) Texas State.  Predicted winner:  UT-Arlington
3/12 – Semifinals
2 p.m. (ESPN3) (1) Arkansas-Little Rock vs. (4) Louisiana Lafayette.  Predicted winner:  Arkansas-Little Rock
4:30 p.m. (ESPN3) (2) Louisiana Monroe vs. (3) UT-Arlington.  Predicted winner:  UT-Arlington
3/13 – Finals
1 p.m. (ESPN2) (1) Arkansas-Little Rock vs. (3) UT-Arlington.  Predicted winner:  Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC (March 8-12; Houston)
3/11 – Semifinals
3:30 p.m. (1) Texas Southern vs. (4) Southern.  Predicted winner:  Texas Southern
9:30 p.m. (7) Mississippi Valley State vs. (3) Jackson State.  Predicted winner:  Jackson State
3/12 – Finals
6:30 p.m. (ESPNU) (1) Texas Southern vs. (3) Jackson State.  Predicted winner:  Texas Southern

WAC (March 10-12; Las Vegas)
3/11 – Semifinals
9 p.m. (1) New Mexico State vs. (5) UKMC.  Predicted winner:  New Mexico State
11:30 p.m. (2) Cal State Bakersfield vs. (3) Seattle.  Predicted winner:  Cal State Bakersfield
3/12 – Finals
11 p.m. (ESPNU) (1) New Mexico State vs. (2) Cal State Bakersfield.  Predicted winner:  New Mexico State

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