Since the conference schedules have gotten underway and the RPI no longer looks like a jacked-up collection of overrated mid-majors it's time to start projecting who will make the NCAA Tournament and who won't. These projections will appear every Friday.
With the boilerplate out of the way I can now get down to the ranting and raving portion of the program. Whoever decided that expanding the tournament to 68 teams was a good idea needs to be forced to explain why Terrell Pryor gets to play in a bowl game while Enes Kanter continues to languish in limbo. Seriously, I can't see 37 teams that deserve an at-large bid to this field. Ever since someone came up with the bright idea of awarding participation trophies and ribbons we seem to reward mediocrity. But the NCAA has made it so which means more work for guys like me who clearly have too much time on their hands.
Number 1 Seeds: Duke, Syracuse, Ohio State and Kansas. This was pretty obvious as they're all undefeated, highly ranked and have top 10 RPIs except for Ohio State.
Last Four In: New Mexico, Butler, Washington State and Georgia. Obviously we have a veritable murderers row here. New Mexico got their butts handed to them by Cal and has no quality wins to speak of but has an RPI of 50. Butler is reeling from the loss of Gordon Hayward, comes off a 24-point loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee but has an RPI of 30 (they have played a tough schedule). Washington State got off the conference schneid and had a nice run in December (though their win over Baylor isn't looking as strong at the moment). Georgia has a decent overall record but only beat Mississippi Valley by two, Mercer by three and was taken to overtime by Eastern Kentucky. My kingdom for tournament retraction!!
First Four Out: Portland, George Mason, Ole Miss and Missouri State. Portland will be counted in if bracketologists consider them to be the West Coast winner if the tournament started today. I counted St. Mary's and threw a bone to Gonzaga over Portland for the second West Coast bid (they will not get three teams in at this juncture). George Mason has a decent RPI for some reason even though they have lost to Wofford, North Carolina State and Hofstra. Ole Miss looks like the class of the SEC West, which makes them the Farmer Ted (Sixteen Candles reference) of Division I. Missouri State can feel confident that the Missouri Valley commissioner will piss and moan on television during the first week of March Madness that only one of their teams made it to the Dance. I'm sure this will give them great comfort while they play in the NIT.
As the bracket projections continue I will highlight teams that are making a move up and those teams that are begging the committee to tear up their bids into neat little bits of confetti.
Hopefully the at-large teams will be a little more deserving as the season progresses but somehow I did it.
1 Duke v. 16 Long Beach/Jackson State
2 Purdue v. 15 Florida Atlantic
3 Notre Dame v. 14 Furman
4 Vanderbilt v. 13 Vermont
5 Missouri v. 12 Princeton
6 Temple v. 11 Gonzaga
7 UNLV v. 10 Arizona
8 Minnesota v. 9 Cincinnati
1 Ohio State v. 16 St. Francis(NY)
2 San Diego State v. 15 American
3 Connecticut v. 14 Hampton
4 Texas v. 13 Harvard
5 Florida v. 12 Butler/Washington State
6 Kansas State v. 11 Utah State
7 Wisconsin v. 10 Dayton
8 St. John's v. 9 Miami (Fla.)
1 Syracuse v. 16 Fairfield
2 Kentucky v. 15 Coastal Carolina
3 Georgetown v. 14 Buffalo
4 Central Florida v. 13 Belmont
5 Texas A&M v. 12 New Mexico/Georgia
6 Michigan State v. 11 Oklahoma State
7 North Carolina v. 10 Louisville
8 Old Dominion v. 9 Cleveland State
1 Kansas v. 16 Austin Peay/Stephen F. Austin
2 Pittsburgh v. 15 Montana
3 BYU v. 14 IPFW
4 Villanova v. 13 Wichita State
5 Illinois v. 12 Xavier
6 Washington v. 11 Memphis
7 Tennessee v. 10 Boston College
8 St. Mary's v. 9 West Virginia