Big East displaying enviable depth
The gap between No. 1 Duke and the rest of the ACC is enormous
There isn't a single lock in the Pac-10 at the moment, but Washington should be in
The Mountain West already has a two tourney locks: San Diego State and BYU
When you check this week's bracket, you may notice something. Like a pesky double-digit number of bids for a certain megaconference that many of you outside the Northeast think is overrated.
Yes, I know. You don't have to murder my inbox or Twitter feed. The Big East isn't going to get 11 bids in March. Frankly, I had no idea that's what the total was until I started bracketing the teams and ran into all sorts of conflicts. When I realized what had happened, I paused and considered changing something. On the surface, it pretty much looks ridiculous to have that many teams in from one league.
That said, as we sit today, with the Big East handily at No. 1 in the conference RPI rankings and with a gaudy 24-15 record against other BCS leagues, it's not unthinkable that so many teams in the league have viable profiles at this point. When you add in that both Marquette and St. John's are "First Four" at-large selections, it implies that the Beast would have had nine teams in last year's 65-team model, which isn't crazy at all.
So take a deep breath, relax and realize that conference play will sort all of this out. Or the Big East will run roughshod over the process as non-BCS leagues and the Pac-10 trip all over themselves. Either way.
Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) and SOS (Strength of Schedule) data are from Sunday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good wins
BL = bad losses
(N) = neutral-site game
Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) tweeted on Saturday that Duke has a 93 percent chance to be the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament. That tells you all you need to know about the gap between the Blue Devils and the rest of the league, even though that number is enhanced by Kyrie Irving's prior participation.
SHOULD BE IN
Boston College (11-3 overall, 1-0 conference; RPI: 24, SOS: 29)
The Eagles bounced back from a tough two-point loss at regional rival Rhode Island to thrash South Carolina in Columbia. This week features home games with Harvard and Georgia Tech. The one with the Crimson, which beaten BC in each of the last two seasons, may be the tougher one.
GW: Texas A&M (N), Cal (N), at Maryland
IN THE MIX
Florida State (11-3, 1-0; RPI: 85, SOS: 201)
The 'Noles didn't play this past week after their Hawaiian Christmas fun. I'm not sure a game at Auburn qualifies as much more than that, but they then have an important trip to Blacksburg ahead of the Duke home game.
GW: Baylor (N)
North Carolina (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 18, SOS: 4)
After what should be another nonconference win over St. Francis (Pa.), the Heels kick off ACC play with a really manageable start: at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech, Clemson. Things get a lot tougher after that, so banking the early ACC wins is a smart idea.
Miami (11-4, 0-1; RPI: 26, SOS: 28)
The 'Canes were handled fairly comfortably at Duke in their ACC opener, which kicks off a stretch of seven games that could define their season. We'll see what happens.
GW: West Virginia, Ole Miss
BL: at Rutgers
Maryland (9-4, 0-1; RPI: 120; SOS: 139)
The Terps will have prepped for their trip to Cameron on Sunday by playing only NJIT, North Florida and Colgate over a 27-day period. Let's just say there may be an adjustment period early in the game in Durham, which kicks off a three-game road swing that also includes a contest at Villanova.
BL: Boston College
N.C. State (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 100, SOS: 137)
The Pack are doing what they have to do in the soft underbelly of their nonleague slate, but these wins are just filler. Beating Wake at home on Saturday is a must before the trips to BC and Florida State.
GW: George Mason?
Virginia Tech (9-4, 0-1, RPI: 47; SOS: 38)
The Hokies have won five in a row, including Sunday's 65-point destruction of Mount St. Mary's. We'll see how the injury-depleted lineup handles a step-up in class, starting with FSU's visit on Saturday. That one could be very low-scoring.
GW: Oklahoma State (N)?
Virginia (9-5, 1-0; RPI: 128, SOS: 148)
The Cavaliers have regressed toward their mean the last two weeks, despite handling SEC bottom-feeder LSU on Sunday. Virginia Tech's injury struggles may also see that road win get discounted as the season progresses.
GW: at Minnesota, at Virginia Tech
BL: at Stanford (by 21), Seattle, Iowa State (at home by 13)
Clemson (10-4, 0-1; RPI: 132, SOS: 252)
The Tigers haven't done a ton to catch anyone's attention, although a win at College of Charleston isn't bad. They host Miami and Georgia Tech next and could get to 2-1 heading to UNC and Maryland.
GW: None, really
BL: None, really
In KenPom's world, the Jayhawks end up with the 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament five out of every six times you run this season. That seems a bit high to me, but hints at KU's quantitative impressiveness in the eye of a very deep and competitive conference. Plus, now they have Josh Selby.
SHOULD BE IN
Texas (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 37; SOS: 109)
It's an interesting week for the 'Horns with home games against Arkansas and UConn on tap. If Texas sweeps the week, it will have the most impressive slate of wins in the nation.
GW: Illinois (N), North Carolina (N), at Michigan State
BL: at USC
Missouri (13-1, 0-0; RPI: 32, SOS: 155)
The home-cooking, softish schedule and late giveaway to Georgetown have kept expectations in check, but the Tigers are trending really nicely, as evidenced by their thrashing of a good Old Dominion team. The defensive performances against the Monarchs and Illinois are really encouraging.
GW: Vanderbilt, vs. Illinois, Old Dominion
Texas A&M (11-1, 0-0; RPI: 29; SOS: 126)
Repeating some from last week: The Aggies have a chance to post a really gaudy record. Other than a trip to Texas, A&M could be favored in every game it plays until at least late February. They get the one-off North games against Mizzou and K-State at home and don't head to Lawrence until March 2.
GW: Temple (N), Washington
Kansas State (10-3, 0-0; RPI: 22, SOS: 21)
Jacob Pullen is back tonight and Curtis Kelly will be in a few more games, which means the Wildcats will be whole entering mid-January. They'll need to be for the four-game run starting Jan. 15: at Missouri, at Texas A&M, vs. Baylor and at Kansas.
GW: Gonzaga (N), at Washington State?
IN THE MIX
Baylor (9-3, 0-0; RPI: 154; SOS: 261)
If Baylor wanted us to forget its empty profile, scraping past Texas Southern wasn't the best way to do it. The Bears haven't done anything yet that will be helpful in March, so Big 12 play can't get here soon enough.
Oklahoma State (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 44; SOS: 135)
Well, that didn't go so well. The Pokes ran into a Gonzaga team playing its best ball of the season and got routed in Spokane.
Iowa State (12-2, 0-0; RPI: 96, SOS: 290)
Nice job by the Cyclones to nab a road win at Virginia. This is way better than I expected Fred Hoiberg's first season in Ames to go. They have big opportunities at home against Kansas and Baylor next week to really announce some intentions.
BL: None, really
Nebraska (10-2, 0-0; RPI: 100, SOS: 243)
The Huskers host Iowa State in the Big 12 opener on Saturday, which is a must-get for Nebraska with road trips to Missouri and Kansas after that. The win over USC still looks like a decent one.
GW: None, really
BL: None, really
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