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Date Posted: 02/ 7/03 12:17pm
Author: TommyDore
Author Host/IP:
Subject: This Week's look at The Big Dance

This week's look at the Big Dance
We all know what the NCAA sleection committee claims to be emphasizing this year. It looks like more mid-major teams will be invited than heretofore believed and supposedly a team finishing 7-9/22-10 from a top conference has no chance at all. With that, here is a conference-by-conference look as we enter the home stretch: Adding up the bids gives you a sum of 59 definites and 13 possibles. 7 of these 13 will be jilted.

Big West--1 bid: Utah State 7-3/16-5 is tied with UC-Santa Barbara 7-3/10-10. UCSB has no chance at an at-large bid. The conference gets hurt by the Gauchos and not the Aggies going to the bracket buster.

SEC--5 or 6 bids: Kentucky 7-0/17-3 is scary right now playing more like Indiana of 1975 and 1976. Florida 7-1/18-3 and Georgia 5-2/13-5 are in. Vying for the last 2 or 3 bids are: Tennessee 4-3/12-6, Auburn 5-3/16-5, and Mississippi St. 4-4/14-5. All the teams finishing 9-7 or better will make it. Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, and Vanderbilt look like NIT teams.

America East--1 bid: Boston U. 8-1/13-7 has a comfortable lead over the pack and is the favorite to win the tourney and repeat.

A-10--3 bids: Dayton 8-0/16-3 and St. Joe's 6-2/16-3 look like locks, with Xavier 7-1/16-4 also looking good. Rhode Island and Richmond lurk just off the bubble and could surprise in the tourney. Temple is 4-4/6-12 and can only get in with a tourney title.

ACC--4 or 5 bids: Wake Forest 6-2/16-2 and Maryland 6-2/14-5 co-lead and are in. Duke 5-3/15-3 is in. N.C. State 5-3/12-6 is close to a lock. Virginia 4-4/13-7 has the advantage over Ga. Tech 4-4/11-8. The Tar Heels are NIT-bound.

A-Sun--1 bid: 4 teams have pulled away from the pack. Troy St. 9-1/18-4 is leading Cent. Fla. 8-2/16-7, Mercer 8-2/14-5, and Belmont 8-2/13-9. Advantage Don Maestri and his Trojans.

Big 12--6 bids: Okl. St. 7-1/18-2, Oklahoma 6-1/15-3, Kansas 6-1/16-5, and Texas 5-2/14-4 are locks and all have final four potential. Competing for the remaining two berths are Missouri 4-3/13-5, Colorado 3-4/13-7, and Texas Tech 3-4/13-5. Missouri and Colorado are unbeaten at home in conference play, while the Red Raiders have lost a home game to the Cowboys--advantage Tigers and Buffs.

Big East--4 or 5 bids: The big 3 in the West are in: Pitt 6-1/16-2, Syracuse 6-2/15-3, and Notre Dame 6-2/18-4. Seton Hall, 4th in the West at 5-4/10-9, is hot and could be a sleeper. In the East, the race is tightening with no team guaranteed to go: Villanova 5-2/12-8 leads U Conn 4-3/13-5, St. John's 4-4/11-7, and Boston College 4-4/11-8.

Big Sky--1 bid: not being in the bracket buster could hurt Weber St. 7-0/17-5 if they fall in the conf. tourney. E. Washington at 6-2/14-8 is capable of being the team to pull off the upset.

Big South--1 bid: Winthrop 8-2/14-7 has risen to the top and should repeat for the umpteenth time. Birminghan Southern 7-3/14-7 is the only real challenger.

Big 10--5 or 6 bids: Purdue leads at 7-1/15-4. Looking to be locks are Illinois 5-3/15-4, Wisconsin 5-3/15-5, and Iowa 4-3/12-6. Indiana 4-4/14-7 is fading, while Michigan St. 4-4/12-8 and Minnesota 4-4/12-7 are coming on. Expect one of the 4-4 teams to miss out. A gut feeling tells me this league will falter in the Dance.

Colonial--1 bid: UNC-Wilmington 8-2/14-5 has a 1 1/2 game lead over Drexel, VCU, and George Mason and a 2 game lead over Drexel and Delaware. Any of these 6 could win the conference tourney.

C-USA--3 or 4 bids: Louisville 7-0/17-1, Marquette 8-1/16-3, and Cincinnati 6-3/13-6 are in. Memphis 4-3/13-5, UAB 4-3/12-6, and South Florida 4-4/11-8 are on the outside looking in, with only one team having a chance. U of L and Marquette both have Final 4 capabilities.

Horizon--1 or 2 bids: This conference lucked into 3 bracket buster teams who all have a chance to play in Mid-March, and none of them are Butler 7-1/17-3, already a lock. Ill.-Chicago 9-2/15-5, Wisc.-Milw. 8-2/17-5, and Detroit 5-5/11-9 all get a chance to showcase their talent on 2/22.


Ivy League--1 bid: Although Brown is 4-0/9-9 and should get to 6-0 by Saturday night, the league is a two-team race between the perennial big 2: Penn 2-0/10-5 and Princeton 2-0/8-7 will decide it in their two (and possibly 3) meetings. Brown's comeuppance occurs next weekend when they face Penn and Princeton on the road on consecutive nights.

MAAC--1 or 2 bids: Even without a bracket buster invite, Manhattan 11-1/18-3 has played itself into the Dance. Fairfield 9-2/13-7 is the team with the best chance of upsetting the Jaspers in the conference tourney.

MAC--1 or 2 bids: Kent St. 10-1/17-2 is in the bracket buster but doesn't need the pub; they're in for the third year in a row (under three coaches). B G U and Marshall's bracket buster bids are worthless. Central Michigan 6-3/13-5 could have benfitted from it, and now the Chippewas must upset the Golden Flashes in Cleveland to give the MAC another bid.

Mid-Cont.--1 bid: Even with Homer Drew Lite, This league is still the Valpo 6-1/12-8 Invitational. Oral Roberts 6-2/15-6 lurks close behind.

MEAC--1 bid: Cy Alexander's S.Carolina State Bulldogs 10-0/12-7 are making shambles of the league race this year. Hampton 7-2/11-7 is fading.

Missouri Valley--2 or 3 bids: Could this conference send 3 teams? You bet. Creighton 10-1/20-2 is a lock, and their bracket buster game is for seeding purposes only. Southern Illinois 10-1/15-4 is also in the bracket buster and is close to securing a bid. Southwest Mo. 9-1/13-6 is good enough to win the tourney. Stranger things have happened.

Mountain West--2 or 3 bids: The top 4 play each other this Saturday and Monday night and the race should become more clear. Wyoming 4-1/16-4 and Utah 4-1/16-4 play Monday night in Laramie. BYU 4-1/15-5 and Colorado St. 3-2/14-6 play Monday night in Ft. Collins. Saturday BYU is at Wyoming and Utah is at CSU. San Diego St., UNLV (host team), and even Air Force have a shot in the conference tourney. This is the most balanced league, with only New Mexico outclassed.

Northeast--1 bid: This is a 3-team race with Monmouth 9-1/11-8, Wagner 8-2/12-8, and Central Conn. 8-2/11-8 fighting for a probable play-in date.

Ohio Valley--1 bid: Morehead St. 9-1/15-6 continues to play well under Kyle Macy. Austin Peay 7-2/14-6 is the most likely spoiler for the Eagles. Perennial champ Murray St. 5-4/12-8 appears to be outmatched this year.

Pac-10--4 or 5 bids: Arizona 9-1/17-2, Cal 8-2/15-4, and Stanford 7-3/16-6 are locks. Oregon 6-4/16-5 is almost a lock. Arizona St. 6-4/14-7 could sneak in with a strong finish.

Patriot--1 bid: Holy Cross 6-1/16-4 has taken over for Lehigh 5-2/13-7 who dropped two in a row. If Holy Cross wins out to the title game and loses there to finish 25-5, they're out--cruel world.

Southern--1 bid: This is the top league left out of the bracket buster, so they will suffer. 5 teams are good enough to win a first round game in the tourney. Appalachian St. 8-1/15-5 leads the way with Charleston 7-2/17-5, Chattanooga 7-3/15-6, Davidson 6-3/12-7, and E T S U 6-3/12-8 very close behind. Appy St., with their blitzing offense, could be the most competitive in the Dance and could make the sweet 16.

Southland--1 bid: We must give much credit to Stephen F. Austin 10-1/14-4 this week for being able to play through the tragedy that rocked Nacogdoches. Sam Houston St. 10-2/14-5 is right behind.

SWAC--1 bid: Could this be happening? Prairie View A&M 8-1/9-8 (picked to finish last every year) tied for first in February? Do you believe in miracles? Yes! The team that was 0-27 just a few years back could be headed to a play-in game thanks to a win over Alabama St. 7-2/10-9. Texas Southern 8-1/12-6 could be the nasty spoiler. The 1944 St. Louis Browns proved it can happen--that was a war year also.

Sunbelt--1 bid: two teams have a nice advantage over 5 others, but any of the 7 could win the tourney. Western Kentucky 6-2/14-8 is in the bracket buster, but they will not get an at-large bid. La- Lafayette 7-1/15-6 could have benefitted from the bracket buster. The 5 sleepers are MTSU 6-3/11-11, UALR 4-4/13-8, New Mexico St. 5-4/14-6, New Orleans 5-5/12-9, and South Alabama 5-5/11-10. Denver 4-5/12-11 has collapsed with 5 straight losses. Of course, the tourney is in Bowling Green, KY.

West Coast--1 or 2 bids: Gonzaga 8-0/17-5 may benefit the most from the bracket buster and a good showing will guarantee them a spot in the Dance. The San Diego Toreos 5-2/11-9 appears to be the one team capable of upsetting the Zags and have the fortune of hosting the conference tourney. Pepperdine 3-5/11-10 is doing its best impersonation of Sham at the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

WAC--1 or 2 bids: 3 teams here get bracket buster games, but only Fresno St. 9-2/16-4 can exploit that appearance into an at-large bid. 4 teams have a shot at pulling off the tourney upset in Tulsa: Nevada 7-3/12-8, SMU 6-4/11-9, Hawaii 6-5/12-6, and Rice 5-4/13-6. Tulsa 4-5/11-7 has swooned.

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