MICHIGAN: The hottest team in the Big Ten, despite a Wednesday plane crash and an opening round game being played in practice uniforms, dispatched of Purdue in OT to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. In the 74-70 OT win, Michigan never looked like the underdog and countered every Boilermaker punch. All the metrics, believe it or not, have the eighth-seeded Wolverines as the Big Ten Tournament favorites right now.
VILLANOVA: The Wildcats didn't win convincingly, but they won nonetheless, likely securing the No. 1 overall seed. In the 55-53 win vs. Seton Hall, Villanova showed, in contrast to its 100+ point quarterfinal performance, that it can still win games in the 50s.
VANDERBILT: Welcome the 15-loss at-large team to the NCAA Tournament field. Vanderbilt won its third game against Florida this season to advance to the SEC semifinals Friday night. Vandy's schedule plus big wins means the Commodores will be dancing even with a loss on Saturday. Currently at 19-14, Vandy's notable losses this season have come against the following teams: Marquette (proj. 10 seed), Butler (proj. 4 seed), Minnesota (proj. 5 seed), Middle Tennessee State (proj. 11 seed), Dayton (proj. 8 seed), Kentucky x2 (proj. 2 seed), and Arkansas (proj. 10 seed). That leaves six non-tournament losses, but only a loss to dreadful Missouri is on the resume. All other losses are quality, meaning Vanderbilt is a quality team and an 11 seed that many potential No. 6 seeds will dread seeing.
|LAST FOUR IN: USC, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Illinois State|
FIRST FOUR OUT: Rhode Island, Syracuse, California, Iowa
NO. 1 SEEDS: The top four seeds are not changing. Villanova will be the No. 1 overall seed. The only debate is whether the committee will have Kansas or North Carolina as the No. 2 overall seed. My money's on Kansas, who has a better top-to-bottom resume. Gonzaga has cemented its spot as the No. 1 seed in the West.
NO. 2 SEEDS: The winner of the Pac-12 Tournament will be the No. 2 seed out West. All three have similar resumes, with Oregon's having a slight edge as of Friday night. As of now, Kentucky (No. 6 overall), Duke (No. 7 overall) and Arizona (No. 8 overall) have the rest of the 2-line covered. It's amazing to think, when the brackets come out, it might be more probable to see brackets with all No. 2 seeds in the Final Four compared to No. 1 seeds. That is how strong this year's No. 2 seeds are.
DUKE: Duke went from the top No. 4 seed (13th overall) to a No. 2 seed (7th overall) with two neutral site wins over Louisville and North Carolina in the past two days. Duke can't climb to the No. 1 line, but it is starting to look like a preseason No 1 team that'll be a scary opponent on the No. 2 line.
SATURDAY'S BIG GAMES: The ACC and Pac-12 Championships are, obviously, the main events. The Big XII Championship will be intriguing, as will the Big Ten semifinals. In all, 13 automatic bids will be distributed tomorrow, giving us 25 official tourney teams heading into Sunday.