Lucky Bracket 13 - 7 March 2009

As I mentioned in the comments yesterday evening, we're at the point of the season where things are going to move very quickly.

Here's a rundown of last night's action and how it impacts today's bracket. (All game info from the always valuable Basketball State.)

  • Tennessee-Martin, the top seed in the Ohio Valley, lost to Morehead State, 63-55.  That means the Skyhawks, featuring Lester "Done Ruthless" Hudson, are bound for the NIT. The Eagles meet up with #2 seed (and the auto bid holder for this bracket) Austin Peay in tonight's final.
  • The top two seeds in the Atlantic Sun, Jacksonville and East Tennessee State, will meet tonight to determine that league's auto bid.
  • Creighton very nearly found themselves out, as it appeared that Wichita State had beaten them.  However, the refs added 1.9 seconds to the clock.  That was just enough time for Valley POY Booker Woodfox to hit a jumper to give the Jays the win, 63-62.  The Shockers won the rebounding battle by 20!
  • And the Cornell Big Red are the first team in, after they beat Penn 83-59 and Princeton lost to Columbia by 14.  Like all teams who win their conference's auto bid, they'll appear in bold in the bracket from here on out.

In terms of the bracket as a whole (seed list, trends), there's been a little bit of shuffling among the protected seeds since my last update on Monday.  Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina are still hanging around on the top line.  Oklahoma falls down to the two line, however, after dropping three of their last four.  Memphis, nearing another perfect Conference USA run, replaces the Sooners.

Joining OU on the two line are three teams who are regulars:  Duke, Louisville, and Michigan State. Of these four, the Sooners and Cardinals probably have the best shot at stealing a #1 seed, but the Blue Devils can't be counted out, especially with a game in Chapel Hill Sunday and the ACC tournament to come.

Kansas, Missouri, and Wake Forest stay on the three line, but Clemson drops down to the 4 line.  Villanova replaces them, as the Wildcats recovered from a disappointing loss to Georgetown last Saturday by closing out their Big East slate with two 17-point wins over former contender Notre Dame and current bubble team Providence.

Joining the Tigers on the 4 line are Marquette, Washington, and Xavier.  The Golden Eagles may not stay here for long, as they've yet to show they can win without Dominic James. The Musketeers, meanwhile, replace Purdue.  The Boilermakers fall down to the 5 line after their home loss to suddenly alive Northwestern on Wednesday night.

For lines 5 on down, here are your jumps and declines for the week, presented in their seed line order:

Jumps: Florida State, UCLA, Syracuse, West Virginia, UNLV, Texas A&M, Minnesota, Binghamton, Morgan State

Declines: Purdue, LSU, Illinois, Utah, Wisconsin, Boston College, South Carolina, Creighton, Dayton, Cornell, Jacksonville

At the bottom of the at-large pool, there are quite a few changes.  Arizona is out after they lost their fourth in a row Thursday night.  Kentucky is also gone after they lost to hapless Georgia at Rupp Wednesday night. Maryland and Virginia Tech both drop out after they lost key midweek games. 

Replacing them are four teams who are actually attempting to play, not back, their way in.  Penn State is in after their thrilling victory over Illinois on Thursday night, a far different one than their infamous 38-33 win in Champaign a few weeks ago.  Oklahoma State has won six straight and is 8-4 in their last 12.  The four losses include three on the road and three to probable tournament teams (and the fourth is to Texas A&M, who is also on the bubble.)  The Cowboys own a win over Rhode Island, another newcomer.  The Rams have also won six straight, but they're 10-2 in their last 12.  New Mexico is the last team in.  The Lobos are 9-3 in their last 12 and have split with all of their competition in the Mountain West.  That's a big reason why they're 4-5 against the RPI Top 50.  Depending on what happens today, they can still claim a regular season conference title, which would definitely boost their case.

I'm headed off to Richmond for the CAA quarterfinals.  I'll be tweeting during my time there, so be sure to follow along.  My next bracket will be out on Tuesday instead of the normal Monday, as real life permitting, I'll be at the CAA championship game.

Happy Hoops Viewing!

Note:  To keep with the theme I've developed over the past couple of years, I use Roadgeek fonts extensively in my files.  You can download them for free from Mike the Actuary's Musings.

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