Al Dannity was starting to get comfortable with his seeding predictions for March Madness. Then New Mexico came along and reminded him just how volatile the last two weeks before Selection Sunday can be.
One man tears apart the top of the bracket The dismissal of Brandon Davies from BYU has caused massive upheaval at the top of the NCAA Tournament bracket. The Cougars are no longer likely to be a #1 seed in the Big Dance and could fall all the way to a #3 seed depending on how they fare in the Mountain West Conference tournament. The loss of Davies, their top rebounder, has removed the inside force BYU relied on to create so many second-chance opportunities.
Pittsburgh and Ohio State look like locks at this stage for #1 seeds while the Big 12 should deliver a #1 seed from either Texas or Kansas. Whichever of these teams fails to make the top line could risk dropping all the way to a #3 seed due to the clutch of #2 seeds looking to move up. Notre Dame, Duke, and possibly even North Carolina are all in position to take a #1 seed.
Big drop-off While there’s no team like the 2009 UNC outfit or Florida’s Oh-Fours, the top end of the bracket is still vastly superior to the teams clogging up the middle seeds. Once you get past the #7 seeds, there’s an immediately noticeable decline in quality. Utah State, Old Dominion, Washington, and UNLV all performed solidly in the regular season and make up my current #8 seed line. None of these teams however look capable of giving the #1 seeds a run for their money in the second round. The same scenario plays out in the #5 vs #12 seed games in the first round. Historically there’s always an upset at this stage but it’s tough to see at-large candidates such as Michigan, Baylor, or Alabama, taking down a big gun on a neutral-court.
Soft bubble This drop in quality makes the decision at the bottom of the bracket at tad easier. There are few teams making a serious case to challenge the teams already inside the bubble. College Basketball betting fans know it’s never quite that straightforward. Bid thieves will start to emerge throughout the next week and a half. Upsets in the conference tournaments will see teams with no hope of an at-large bid steal the automatic bid from a team that’s a lock for the NCAA Tournament. That in turn will push teams out of the bracket.
Even with some inevitable upsets, this still looks like the softest bubble in years. There are few teams from mid-major conferences sure to get an at-large bid. That means that bid thieves will mostly just take the place of perceived conference favorites. That will put extra pressure on some familiar names to seal the deal in conference play or else risk missing an invite to the Big Dance.
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