INDIANA: Indiana, the only team to likely beat two No. 1 seeds (Kansas and UNC) earlier this year, kept its at-large hopes alive by beating Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament second round. Indiana has to beat Wisconsin to keep those hopes alive. Even then, when some people will say it's a "lock" the Hoosiers would be dancing, that's far from true. Indiana had a putrid stretch and likely needs to beat both Wisconsin and the Maryland/Northwestern winner to have a legitimate shot. Indiana might need to win the Big Ten Tournament, too.
XAVIER: The one team that helped itself the most was Chris Mack's X-men. While Xavier was always in my field, it was sweat-inducing close to the cutline due to a rough closing month. A win against Butler was big as the team will be evaluated as a whole but also on how it can play right now. Xavier is in for sure, folks.
|LAST FOUR BYES: Xavier, Providence, Marquette, Vanderbilt|
LAST FOUR IN: USC, Illinois State, Wake Forest, Kansas State
FIRST FOUR OUT: Syracuse, Rhode Island, California, Iowa
NEXT FOUR OUT: Indiana, TCU, Illinois, Georgia
USC: Losing to UCLA shouldn't knock USC out of the field. The Trojans are 24-9 with six of those losses coming to Oregon, Arizona and UCLA. The problem: USC only has two notable wins (one being vs. UCLA). It should be enough to get USC into the field, but a Play-in game seems like the right spot. This could be one case, however, where the selection committee baffles everyone and seeds USC in the 9/10 range, safely in the field.
KANSAS: The Jayhawks are a No. 1 seed. In the Midwest. Playing in Tulsa. With the Sweet 16/Elite Eight games in Kansas City. The biggest changes that we could foresee are UNC passing Kansas for the No. 2 overall seed, which only changes the color of jerseys should the teams meet in the Final Four. Otherwise, the only thing Kansas has going against it is this: No team has won the NCAA Championship after losing the first game in its conference tournament. The Jayhawks will be one of the favorites, but this year's team, while senior-laden and clutch, was the eighth-luckiest squad via KenPom (one spot behind the much-maligned Maryland team). Just sayin'...
DUKE: The Blue Devils are peaking at the right time. Do I think Duke will win it all? No, but the Blue Devils have many ways they can win games, proving that by using a 2-3 zone in the second half to stifle Louisville in the ACC quarterfinals. Now, Duke has a matchup with UNC (Duke-Carolina Part III, anyone?).