Last week I started this bracketology report that brings together and attempts to wrap up all things NCAA tournament as we creep ever closer to March Madness. So far this season, college basketball in general has been madness, and I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.
This past weekend had a lot of big games including Baylor taking down Kansas in Lawrence, West Virginia taking out Texas Tech, and Clemson winning at Chapel Hill for the first time in 60 attempts. Bill Walton also licked peanut butter off the camera so.... yeah. Things are getting into swing. With all that comes change, so lets see what the latest release of bracketology entails.
Last week the Badgers were on the 8 seed line in the East region where they were projected to take on the Florida Gators. Not a lot changed this time around, but the Badgers were able to hop up to a 7 seed in that same region and Florida fell to the 10 seed. While the first round match up is essentially the same, the change would be significant for the winner.
Duke is currently listed as the 1 seed in the East region so moving to the 7/10 line would avoid playing the 1 seeded Blue Devils and instead face you off with the 2 seeded West Virginia Mountaineers. Both teams are strong, so really its dealer’s preference as to who you want to see that early in March. This release was pre-Maryland upset (and pre-Duke loss to Clemson lmao), so the Badgers should be on the move in next week’s release.
Big Ten Report
This conference is certifiably insane. As of now there are 11 teams from the Big Ten in Joe Lundari’s projections. A week ago Illinois was in the ‘Next Four Out’ category, but after their wins against Wisconsin, Purdue, and Rutgers the Fighting Illini have jumped into a 9 seed and second place in the Big Ten standings.
The top guns of the conference took a tumble this week as Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan all fell to lower seeds after a less than stellar week. Michigan State suffered a 29 point loss at Purdue which dropped them from a 2 to a 3 seed. Ohio State’s four game losing streak also sent them flying down as the Buckeyes fell from a 3 seed to a 5 seed and the 13th spot in the Big Ten standings. Despite a three game winning streak the Wolverines also fell from a 4 to a 6, largely due to the play of teams around them in the standings.
I think the biggest surprise to me is the surge of the SEC teams over the last week. Kentucky basketball continues to wait in the shadows of this college basketball season, but after a win against Alabama, the Wildcats look like they could be a dangerous team come March.
The same can be said for the Auburn Tigers who are coming off a win where they really flexed their muscles on the Georgia Bulldogs. Many thought Auburn may be due for a down year after some key departures, but that has not been the case as the high tempo Tigers continue to shine under Bruce Pearl.
Another Tiger team is also surging, as the LSU Tigers have won five straight and moved up to a 9 seed in the latest release. I am sure LSU fans are focused on celebrating their National Title, but their basketball team isn’t too shabby either.
Region I’d most like to watch?
The Albany cluster in the Midwest region is by far the best one in this latest release. This cluster will be home to one of the play in games, and would feature defending National Champion Virginia taking on Georgetown. That is one of the first four? Sign me up.
However, it gets better. The winner of that game is currently projected to take on Ohio State who righted the ship against Nebraska on Tuesday night. On the other part of the cluster, Kentucky is projected to take on Stony Brook. That should be a W, which means we’d have a Kentucky vs. Virginia/Georgetown/Ohio State match up in round two. You can’t beat that.
Worst Possible Final Four?
Iowa, Duke, Marquette, and Kentucky. This would take some upsets by the lower seeded Hawkeyes and Eagles, but it isn’t super unrealistic. These four teams in the Final Four would be painful to watch for Badger fans. Each one has history with Wisconsin and each one makes Badger fans roll their eyes. This would be torture.
Best Possible Final Four?
I should clear this up, obviously, the Badgers being there would be all our favorites. In order to switch that up, I am purposely leaving them out. This round I’d really like to see Auburn, West Virginia, Louisville, and Kentucky. Yes, as gross as it would be, it would be kind of special to see Louisville and Kentucky square off in the Final Four on one side. It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college hoops, so you’d definitely tune in.
On the other side you’d have Auburn and West Virginia which would be fascinating to watch in terms of pace. Auburn’s fast moving offense would be fun to watch as they try and dissect the nasty defense of West Virginia. The Mountaineers have not pressed as much this season, but their play in the half court is still fun to watch. I think these two games would be incredible high quality.