Difficult to figure out jumbled mess at middle of the ACC
Tourney hopes for St. John's are getting more serious in Steve Lavin's debut year
It seems extremely likely that the top six Big Ten teams will be dancing in March
This is as weak a pool of non-BCS "others" as I can ever remember at this stage
The Pac-10 and SEC were expected to be somewhat down this year, but at least the pecking orders and possibilities in those two leagues are moderately clear. This year's ACC? Not so much.
Thankfully, we still have almost nine weeks until Selection Sunday, because sorting out the current mess in the middle of the ACC is utterly impossible. After you get past Duke, Boston College and North Carolina, you have a collection of undistinguished (and fairly undistinguishable) profiles.
Judging subjectively, Maryland and N.C. State (when healthy) appear to be the two best teams in the pack (and could ultimately end up better than BC and UNC, too). Of course, neither team has done a thing that will help an at-large profile and both currently sit outside the RPI top 100.
Should they be ahead of Florida State, which has no top-100 wins (thanks, Baylor) and a sub-300 loss to Auburn? What about Miami, which has a couple of solid wins but also has two sub-100 defeats and started 0-2 in the league? Virginia Tech, with its crippled roster and win over FSU? Sub-100 Clemson??
Ultimately, I kept Maryland in the bracket this week, although you certainly could argue that Miami or several others should be there in the Terps' place. Looking good in top-20 losses only goes so far.
In the bigger picture, the ACC actually has more teams outside the top 100 right now than the SEC. So don't be surprised if you see a 10-6 ACC team sitting on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday. The record very well won't mean nearly as much as it normally does.
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
Duke survived a test from Maryland Sunday night. It's still unlikely that the Blue Devils will make it to the NCAA tournament unbeaten, but this league below them is a mess. You'd imagine a couple of teams will emerge from the middle of the pack, but very few are showing great signs at this point.
SHOULD BE IN
Boston College (12-4 overall, 2-0 conference; RPI: 38, SOS: 34)
If the Eagles were in the Ivy League, they'd be in some trouble after an 0-2 start. Luckily, they're in the ACC, so their 2-0 mark in that league is what matters. After losing at home to Harvard for the third straight season, BC bounced back to handle Georgia Tech and has more winnable games on tap.
GW: Texas A&M (N), Cal (N)?, at Maryland
BL: Yale, Harvard?
IN THE MIX
North Carolina (11-4, 1-0; RPI: 21, SOS: 19)
The Tar Heels are in prime position to jump out to a strong league start. The next seven games leading up to the trip at Cameron are all winnable. It will be interesting to watch the Heels' profile evolve. There's nothing bad in it but not a ton of good at this point, either.
Maryland (10-5, 0-2; RPI: 128, SOS: 179)
The Terps played well at Cameron, but lost. That more or less sums up their efforts against the good teams they've played this season. The result is that Maryland's profile is really vacant at the moment. Now they're at Wake and Villanova in what could be a fairly defining week. Wins are needed.
BL: Boston College (at home)?
Florida State (11-5, 1-1; RPI: 87, SOS: 136)
This week was a disaster for the Seminoles as they lost at SEC flyweight Auburn (which then posted a six-point half against fellow also-ran LSU on Saturday) and then got handled at Virginia Tech. Up next? Their only shot at Duke this season, although they tend to have success at home in that matchup.
GW: Baylor (N)
BL: at Auburn
Miami (11-5, 0-2; RPI: 31, SOS: 32)
The 'Canes couldn't get it done at Clemson and now have another whole week to prepare for a very big home date with BC. Their computer numbers are way better than the actual profile at this point, and they could find themselves in a big hole quickly with the way the schedule breaks.
GW: West Virginia, Ole Miss
BL: at Rutgers
N.C. State (11-4, 1-0; RPI: 103, SOS: 189)
Pack fans, I read your complaints. Of course you'll get consideration for Tracy Smith's prolonged absence. The problem is you haven't done anything yet with him in the lineup, either. That could change soon, with trips to BC and FSU ahead of a home date with Duke.
GW: George Mason (N)?
Virginia Tech (10-4, 1-1; RPI: 60, SOS: 59)
Nice job by Seth Greenberg's crew to take out Florida State and even its ACC record. Worth noting: of the five teams the Hokies drew for home-and-homes, three are Virginia (already lost the home leg), Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Tech may win some games, but they may not be the right ones.
GW: Oklahoma State (N)?
Virginia (10-6, 1-1; RPI: 136, SOS: 137)
Losing to North Carolina pushes the Cavaliers pretty close to dropping off the Watch, despite a couple of credible road wins in nonleague play. It obviously doesn't get easier with trips to Duke and then BC next.
GW: at Minnesota, at Virginia Tech
BL: at Stanford (by 21), Seattle, Iowa State (at home by 13)
Clemson (12-4, 1-1; RPI: 110, SOS: 226)
The Tigers beat Miami at home and should be able to handle Georgia Tech in their only game this week. If they're 2-1 in the league heading to UNC and Maryland, we'll see what happens.
GW: at College of Charleston?
BL: Michigan (at home)?, at South Carolina?
Kansas escaped Michigan in overtime to remain perfect. The Jayhawks have the potential to reach the level of Duke and Ohio State, but they're not there yet. They'll also be much more heavily tested in league play than the Blue Devils, if you're thinking about relative NCAA seeding.
SHOULD BE IN
Texas (12-3, 0-0; RPI: 35, SOS: 41)
After beating Arkansas, the Longhorns didn't put the hammer down on UConn in the first half and paid the price with a tough overtime loss. This is still a team with a ton of upside. Now the 'Horns need to handle business in the league, starting this week against two strugglers: at Texas Tech and home to Oklahoma.
GW: Illinois (N), North Carolina (N), at Michigan State
BL: at USC?
Texas A&M (13-1, 1-0; RPI: 26, SOS: 132)
The Aggies kept the roll going, getting off to a good league start in Norman. Handle Oklahoma State on Wednesday and they'll have a lot of buzz on the weekend when they host Missouri. (Look for more analysis of the Aggies later this week.)
GW: Temple (N), Washington
Missouri (13-2, 0-1; RPI: 45, SOS: 169)
The Tigers ran into "Good Colorado" and came away with a decisive setback in Boulder, which is a somewhat disappointing step back from how they were trending. Now they'll need to handle Nebraska on Wednesday ahead of a high-profile trip to College Station.
GW: Vanderbilt, vs. Illinois, Old Dominion
BL: at Colorado?
IN THE MIX
Kansas State (11-4, 0-1; RPI: 30, SOS: 24)
Even without Curtis Kelly, that wasn't a good second-half effort in Stillwater, where K-State went without a basket for more than eight minutes. They wasted a good day at the free throw line, too. Home games vs. Colorado and Texas Tech are now paramount with a rough stretch looming after that.
GW: Gonzaga (N), at Washington State?
Baylor (11-3, 1-0; RPI: 119, SOS: 259)
Wins are better than losses, but even if the Bears beat Oklahoma and then win in Ames this week, they'll need to add some meat later in the Big 12 slate. Solid team with potential, vacant profile.
Oklahoma State (13-2, 1-0; RPI: 32, SOS: 105)
A good home win over K-State was important ahead of trips to A&M and Iowa State. Interesting team that may be a bit better than most people think. We'll see what the road tells us.
Iowa State (13-3, 0-1; RPI: 95, SOS: 258)
Losing by a point at Nebraska on a free throw with 0.4 seconds left after turning it over with a chance to win is a bummer for a team hoping to make a run. Now the Cyclones host Kansas and Baylor, which provide big opportunities for validating wins but also a solid chance to be 0-3.
BL: at Nebraska?
Nebraska (13-2, 0-0; RPI: 118, SOS: 305)
Stealing the league opener from Iowa State at the buzzer was huge for the Huskers, who now head to Missouri and Kansas. They have 11 straight wins but not very much that resonates.
GW: USC (N)?
BL: Davidson (N)?