First off, thanks to @jackviking for pointing out my clerical error involving Minnesota and providing a compelling, evidence-based argument. And that's what it was... clearly the Gophers ought to be in the 5/6 range with that resume. I did a revision tonight incorporating last night's results but without skipping what might be the second best Big 10 team in the process.
Teams I like:
I'm bullish on Providence. When you look at their numbers they have six top 50 wins and an RPI and SOS well within the at-large range. They've won four straight against tournament-level teams. Also think things are looking up at the moment for Vanderbilt... that Iowa State win looks better and better, they have a signature win over Florida, and they're third in SOS. Just don't stare at that unsightly loss to Missouri (!). They probably ought to steal one from the Gators or Wildcats this week to stay in the field, or else win a couple in the SECT. (update: make that "steal one from the Gators"... a shame they missed their chance. Pretty resilient of Kentucky to come back, but Vandy played them tight twice.)
Teams I just don't know what to do with:
Virginia Tech. With the understandable loss to Louisville you have a team that's won five of six which includes two solid wins against tournament teams. I still feel like they're an 8/9 team.
USC. Yeah, no shame in losing to Oregon, Arizona and UCLA all in a row. But that was a weak non-con schedule that they ran the table against, with only SMU the only compelling win. And that's still a four game losing streak (when you factor in the loss to ASU) in late February. I could say similar things about Cal, who just happened to be lucky enough to face Oregon State recently but otherwise have been slumping.
Wisconsin: What to make of the Badgers' losing four of five, but beating arguably the best team in that stretch?? They don't really have "bad" losses, but nor have they defeated any truly "marquee" teams. Hard to put a 23 win Big 10 team on the 7-line... the 7's didn't deserve a promotion (yet... maybe St. Mary's oughta be a 6 and were yesterday, but I think the Committee will impose the usual "mid-major" penalty, which is why I'll have them seeded a line lower than where I'd like. Plus they were a casualty when I made the Gopher Correction).
The Lannisters (and the 17th Seed) Send Their Regards To:
Pittsburgh, Indiana, Clemson. Not seeing a path for any of them short of a conference tourney title. I just wanted to say "The Lannisters send their regards."
I like looking at the pod matchups and seeing which are most compelling. I have a soft spot for teams outside the power conferences, so wherever Dayton, VCU, Wichita State, UT Arlington or MTSU end up, I'd like to be there. I think MTSU could take Creighton in the Bluejays' current state. I'd hate to put Northwestern up against the hot Cyclones in their first-ever tournament game. And I think UT-Arlington vs Virginia would be one of those interesting 5-12 matchups. I'd love the Buffalo games, some upset potential there.
Full disclosure: I'm a Syracuse fan, so this is the price you pay for reading this blog. Despite the blowout loss to the Cardinals, I think they're still in, and above a play-in game, for now. But I really think they need to beat GT this weekend and win a game in the ACCT to feel truly safe (and maybe move up into a 10 spot). It won't be easy - GT already beat them, and UVA, while slumping, is a good team in what might be an 8/9 game (with UNC on deck after that...). Those gaudy wins over Duke, Virginia and Florida State still look better than what most bubblers have to offer, but a 17-15 team probably shouldn't dance just on principle. And let's face it... they're gonna be a 14-loss team minimum going into the NCAAs unless Melo and McNamara have some eligibility left. Which they don't.
That got longer than I intended.
Comments and constructive criticism accepted at @Chris17thseed.