Monday, February 10, 2014

Bracketology - Florida finally climbs to No. 1 line; MSU falls to No. 2

There isn't much movement from our opening projections last week, nor should there be from one week to another in February. The biggest change is some shifting on the top line. Kansas recovered well from its thumping at Texas to not only stay on the top line but shift into the Midwest Region. Florida, which continues to streak, is a new No. 1 seed in the South Region as Michigan State is now on the No. 2 line.

There comes a point that injuries can't be an excuse for seeding anymore. The Spartans may never be healthy so there isn't a reason to hold out hope in terms of seeding. Now, if MSU - healthy or not - can win the Big Ten outright and make noise in the conference tournament and even win it then a No. 1 seed in a lock. Until then, the Spartans look like a solid No. 2 seed, banged up and all.

I still believe Wichita State will get a No. 1 seed if it finishes the regular season undefeated and wins the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. At some point undefeated has to mean something, even if the schedule is weak. Will the Shockers be one of the four best teams? I highly doubt it, but 34-0 would be 34-0.

I think San Diego State has an outside chance at a No. 1 seed but would really need two things to happen: Arizona would need to falter a bit without Brandon Ashley making the committee very nervous about considering the 21-0 start with him too heavily as well as a Wichita State loss. If both those things happen and the Aztecs finish with only two losses I could very well see Steve Fisher's club on the No. 1 line.

Here's our second projection of 2014 (through Sunday, February 9th's games):





Analysis: There's a lot of beef at the top, especially in the top three lines with some solid sleepers in the 4-6 range. After that the field is filled with a bunch of teams likely to have 10-12 losses and blah resumes. Seriously, After the first 24 teams on the S-curve the rest of the bracket looks very similar.

Bubble: At this point any team sitting on the No. 10 line or below is a solid bubble team. Heck, even 8/9 seeds should be careful. People often forget it's not so much teams playing their way out of the field right now as its certain teams playing their way in (see Georgetown this week).

FINAL FOUR: Based on these projections it would be very easy to take all No. 1 seeds. However, with Arizona's situation (Brandon Ashley's injury) it would be wise to look at other teams in that region. I still think Syracuse is beatable with the right opponent and Michigan might be that team in an Elite Eight matchup. So, in this hypothetical, give me Michigan (East), Duke (West), Michigan State (Midwest) and Florida (South). You could easily make a case for fifth-seeded Kentucky or fourth-seeded Louisville out of the west. A healthy Arizona rolls that region, however. It's sad we'll never know how good the Wildcats could have been this year. I think Syracuse is beatable but it'll take a certain team to do it and Michigan fits that bill. The Wolverines have struggled in Big Ten play but as we've seen in recent years the conference's top teams always seem to break loose from the league shackles come tournament time and excel. Boy, would the above Final Four be something special.


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