BracketEliminators: Another weekend of carnage for mid-majors (cont.)
Locks: San Diego State, BYU
The beat goes on for the two best teams in the league, with San Diego State keeping the inside track on the league title by winning at UNLV and keeping pace with BYU with the home rematch still in its pocket. Below them, though, there's a shake-up underway. UNLV fans, start to get nervous.
SHOULD BE IN
UNLV (20-7, 8-5; RPI: 26, SOS: 27)
It wasn't pretty, but boy was the win at Colorado State on Saturday huge for UNLV. Now the Rebels have a good chance to finish in third place in the league (even if they can't handle New Mexico at the Pit) and they aren't staring at an 0-6 league mark against the rest of the MWC's best. Plus, the Wisconsin and K-State wins continue to give. The Rebs have a little breathing room, but not enough to really mess around.
GW: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech (N), at K-State (without Pullen/Kelly)?
BL: UC Santa Barbara
IN THE MIX
Colorado State (17-8, 8-4; RPI: 47, SOS: 43)
The Rams needed to beat UNLV at home and get the sweep. Now they're in trouble, unless they can pull off a huge road upset at either BYU or SDSU. Not enough in this profile to make it with a fourth-place finish and no marquee wins.
GW: at UNLV
BL: Sam Houston State, vs. Hampton
BracketEliminators forced a thorough shuffling of the order in this category, with a couple of CAA teams moving up a level and heading toward safety. Could two brand names in this category be on their way to sneaking into the bracket after being left for dead several weeks ago?
SHOULD BE IN
George Mason (23-5, 14-2; RPI: 20, SOS: 65)
Very, very impressive week for the Patriots, who rolled into Richmond and crushed VCU and then rallied past Northern Iowa on the road despite an unexpected hailstorm of threes from the Panthers. Barring a major upset, GMU will win the league by at least two games and should be headed to the NCAAs.
GW: Old Dominion, at VCU (plus Duquesne, Harvard and at No. Iowa?)
BL: Wofford (N)
Old Dominion (22-6, 12-4; RPI: 28, SOS: 63)
The Monarchs won't catch Mason for the CAA crown, but they probably don't need to after muscling past Cleveland State on Sunday. There are no monster wins on the dossier, but there's a sizable collection of decent ones. The CAA looks set for at least two bids and has a real chance for three.
GW: Clemson (N), Xavier (N), Richmond, at VCU, Cleveland State
BL: at Delaware
IN THE MIX
Utah State (24-3, 12-1; RPI: 19, SOS: 106)
Well done, Aggies. With a commanding second-half performance in Moraga, USU nailed down a very credible road win and eased a bit of the concern about its profile and quality. That said, this doesn't suddenly make USU a mortal lock to dance. Auto bid would be the smart way to go.
GW: at Saint Mary's
BL: at Idaho
Butler (20-9, 12-5; RPI: 49, SOS: 75)
It appears Butler may try to test my theory that they'll make it by winning out until the Horizon final. Of course, they could just win one more game beyond that and take the doubt out. They'll likely fall a game short of Cleveland State and (maybe) Valpo, but still have the best at-large profile. The tiebreaker situation for the tourney is megaconvoluted, but getting that double-bye would be nice.
GW: Florida State (N), Washington State (N), Cleveland State twice?
BL: Evansville (without Nored), UW Milwaukee (twice), at Wright State, at Youngstown State
Saint Mary's (20-6, 10-2; RPI: 46, SOS: 127)
The Gaels had a disastrous three days, first inexplicably losing at No. 313 San Diego, who had three D-I wins all season, and then having Utah State roar past them on their home floor on Saturday. Now the home date with Gonzaga on Thursday is monstrous. If the Gaels lose, they don't even have the best at-large hopes in the league anymore, let alone sole possession of first.
GW: St. John's
BL: at San Diego
Gonzaga (18-9, 9-3; RPI: 71, SOS: 91)
All we have to do is keep winning and have Saint Mary's lose to one of the worst teams in the nation and then have that compound with a home loss to Utah State and ... Wait, all of that happened? Giddy up! The Zags now have an enormous chance to steal at least a piece of the league title, which looked impossible a week ago. Time to get it done in Moraga.
GW: Xavier, Baylor (N)?, Marquette (N)?, Oklahoma State?
BL: at Santa Clara, at San Francisco
VCU (21-8, 12-4; RPI: 57, SOS: 120)
If the CAA was trying to create a three-bid scenario, having VCU lose to ODU and Mason and then win at Wichita State wasn't a bad plan. The Monarchs and Patriots look like solid bets for at-larges, so if VCU (or someone else) can win the auto bid, it should be three. That doesn't mean VCU's at-large hopes are doomed. A loss in the CAA final would make them an interesting case.
GW: UCLA (N), at Old Dominion, at Wichita State
BL: at Georgia State, at South Florida
Memphis (19-6, 7-3; RPI: 32, SOS: 46)
C-USA is 2-13 vs. the RPI top 50 out of conference, which explains how a league with four solid RPI teams could end up with just one NCAA bid. Memphis is the best (only?) hope for an at-large, but a 15-point loss at sub-150 Rice was a really harmful misstep. Now the pressure is on to win at UTEP or Memphis could end up multiple games off the pace (albeit against a harder unbalanced league schedule).
GW: Miami (Fla.)?, at Gonzaga?, sweep of Southern Miss, at UAB
BL: at Rice
Harvard (18-4, 9-1; RPI: 41, SOS: 179)
The Crimson are now in the Ivy driver's seat after Princeton's upset loss at Brown on Saturday. Now tied with the Tigers in the loss column and still with a home date with Princeton left, the Crimson are four wins away from their first-ever Ivy League title. The downside, if there is one, is they probably don't have any at-large hopes. I'm sure Harvard fans would take that tradeoff.
GW: at BC, Colorado
Missouri State (21-7, 13-3; RPI: 51, SOS: 130)
The Bears were part of the three-stage Valley TV disaster over the weekend, falling at Valpo and pretty much kissing at-large consideration good bye. They still host Wichita State in the season finale, which very likely will decide the league title, but that's probably not enough with no other solid wins.
GW: at Wichita State
BL: at Tulsa?, at Evansville
Wichita State (21-6, 13-3; RPI: 53, SOS: 109)
Losing at home to VCU likely was the death knell for Wichita State's at-large hopes. The Shockers are another good team that hasn't beaten anyone. Just 2-5 against the RPI top 100, with a best win of No. 88 UNI. If they win their last two, including at MO State, they clinch the league title, but this looks like a one-bid year.
BL: Southern Illinois
Cleveland State (21-6, 12-4; RPI: 35, SOS: 124)
The Vikings still lead the Horizon (by a win over Valpo and one in the loss column over Butler), but this is a profile like a couple of Siena's recent teams: nothing else is helping and the league title isn't enough. They needed to win at Old Dominion on Sunday for any kind of marquee win and couldn't, despite Norris Cole's big day.
BL: at Detroit
Avs rally in 3rd period, beat Wild in overtime
Alexander Steen, Blues beat Blackhawks in triple overtime