Will out of conference play over for most conferences, I wanted to take a look at the current bracket (as of today) put out there by Fat Andy Bernard (Ed Helms from The Office) – Joe Lunardi.
First impression is that it is a fair bracket. Big 10 and Big East both have 7 teams currently in the tournament (the most for any conference). The Mountain West is the lone “mid-major” amongst the Big Dogs with 6 bids. The next mid-major is the A10 with 4 bids (tied with the SEC and Pac-12).
Duke, Michigan, Louisville, and Arizona are the four #1 seeds. This makes sense to me since those 4 teams all are ranked 1-4 (in some order) in both the AP and USA Today polls.
Some notable seeds for mid-major schools are Gonzaga (a 2-seed), Creighton (a 3-seed) and. New Mexico (a 5-seed). It just goes to show you, the term “mid-major” needs to be retired. There is too much parity in D1 basketball now where schools in the traditional power conferences are losing more regularly to schools that “they shouldn’t lose to” because they are in mid-major conferences.
But the point of this post is not to climb on my soap box ranting and raving about how ancient and disrespectful the term “mid-major” is. I want to look specifically at the A10 teams in the bracket.
The 4 teams that are currently in the bracket are Butler (#5-East Region), VCU (#6-Midwest Region), Temple (#9-West Region), and St. Louis (#11-South Region). Just a side note, Lunardi has St. Joe’s as the “Next Four Out” in terms of being a bubble team.
Obviously we are only essentially halfway through the season and there is still a long way to go. This could change drastically over the next couple weeks as these A10 teams start beating each other up. There is always a team that is an after thought that gets hot and gets a few big wins that somehow finds their way on to the bubble. This, of course, would likely be at the expense of a team already in the field and hurting their seeding (or knocking them on to the bubble as well). God knows that was what happened to URI leading up to the 08, 09, and 10 tournaments. That UMass game in late February of 2010 still haunts me to this day. They win that game, they were dancing.
I think Butler and Temple are essentially locks to make it in. VCU has a great chance too but I want to see how they do on the road against A10 teams. SLU is most likely to fall from the field as their schedule leading into A10 play was weak at best. Sure they beat a very good New Mexico team and had a couple of close loses to some very good teams but 13 of 14 of their games were at home. They lost their only road game. They have not been tested on the road yet and they go on the road to: Temple, Richmond, Butler, and Xavier. Those 4 games will be very tough on SLU and if they have any ugly losses, that could knock them out and on to the bubble. I actually wrote a post about SLU a couple weeks back discussing their schedule.
Well, as we get into conference play, let’s hope those 4 make it and a couple other teams catch fire and make their way in as well. This is the time to show those power conferences that the A10 should be feared.+