Seven Days of Bracketology 2: Michigan Climbs

Michigan’s Big Ten Tournament win catapulted the Wolverines up to the three line, while Purdue falls to a four seed. Not much else changes, although a blowout Gonzaga win tonight could move the Zags over Clemson. On to the field!

1 seeds (#1-4)
Virginia
Villanova
Kansas
Xavier

2 seeds (5-8)
Duke
Cincinnati
Michigan State
North Carolina

3 seeds (9-12)
Auburn
Tennessee
Michigan
Texas Tech

4 seeds (13-16)
Purdue
West Virginia
Wichita State
Clemson

5 seeds (17-20)
Gonzaga
Arizona
Houston
Ohio St

6 seeds (21-24)
Kentucky
Missouri
TCU
Miami

7 seeds (25-28)
Florida
Texas A&M
Arkansas
Nevada

8 seeds (29-32)
Virginia Tech
Rhode Island
Seton Hall
Creighton

9 seeds (33-36)
NC State
Oklahoma
Butler
Florida St

10 seeds (37-40)
Arizona St
St. Mary’s
USC
St. Bonaventure

11 seeds (41-45)
Middle Tennessee
Alabama
Kansas St
Baylor*
Providence*

12 seeds (46-50)
Louisville*
Nebraska*
Loyola-Chicago
New Mexico St
UL-Lafayette

13 seeds (51-54)
Buffalo
South Dakota St
Vermont
Murray State

14 seeds (55-58)
UNC Greensboro
Charleston
Montana
Bucknell

15 seeds (59-62)
UC Davis
Wright State
Pennsylvania
Lipscomb

16 seeds (63-68)
Wagner
Iona
Radford*
Nicholls State*
Hampton*
Ark-Pine Bluff*

*Denotes play-in game

First four out
Texas
Washington
Syracuse
Marquette

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Seven Days of Bracketology 1: The First Autobids Finalize

One week until Selection Sunday, college basketball has received some clarity. Conference tournaments are underway, with two teams (Radford and Lipscomb) booking their tickets to March Madness. Three top seeds seem entrenched, but Xavier could slip. Which of the two seeds will position themselves for a move up?

1 seeds (#1-4)
Virginia
Villanova
Kansas
Xavier

2 seeds (5-8)
Duke
Michigan State
Cincinnati
North Carolina

3 seeds (9-12)
Auburn
Tennessee
Purdue
Texas Tech

4 seeds (13-16)
W Virginia
Wichita St
Clemson
Michigan

5 seeds (17-20)
Gonzaga
Arizona
Houston
Ohio St

6 seeds (21-24)
Kentucky
Missouri
TCU
Miami

7 seeds (25-28)
Florida
Texas A&M
Arkansas
Nevada

8 seeds (29-32)
Virginia Tech
Rhode Island
Seton Hall
Creighton

9 seeds (33-36)
NC State
Oklahoma
Butler
Florida St

10 seeds (37-40)
Arizona St
St. Mary’s
USC
St. Bonaventure

11 seeds (41-45)
Middle Tennessee
Alabama
Kansas St
Baylor*
Providence*

12 seeds (46-50)
Louisville*
Nebraska*
Loyola-Chicago
New Mexico St
UL-Lafayette

13 seeds (51-54)
Buffalo
South Dakota St
Vermont
Murray State

14 seeds (55-58)
UNC Greensboro
Charleston
Montana
Bucknell

15 seeds (59-62)
UC Davis
Wright State
Pennsylvania
Lipscomb

16 seeds (63-68)
Wagner
Iona
Radford*
Nicholls State*
Hampton*
Ark-Pine Bluff*

Team clinched autobid

*Denotes play-in game

First four out
Texas
Washington
Syracuse
Marquette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bracketology 2018: Chaos Everywhere

Apologies for the last two inactive weeks. Life is a thing, and despite some others’ indications, I have one. Moving on. College basketball’s season is winding down, but the excitement is just beginning. To map the chaos, After the Whistle premiers a long-requested topic, bracketology.

I won’t bother with regions, because the selection committee always decides to mess it up. Comments, questions, and disputes are always welcomed in the comments. On with the chaos!

This week’s statement win belongs to. . . Wichita State. In a massive game against Cincinnati for control of the American, the Shockers came out on top. Landry Shamet led the way with 19 points, five assists, and four rebounds. The sophomore flamethrower also canned three triples, continuing a worrying trend. . . for his opponents.

It’s time to start talking about. . . Texas Tech. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 at 10-4 in the conference, and hold the tiebreaker over fellow 10-4 Kansas due to a twelve point win in Lawrence. Add in Tech’s 16-0 record at home, and the Red Raiders are a legitimate national championship threat.

A mid-major rising is. . . Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are dominating a solid Conference USA at 14-1 in the conference, and I have them at a 7 seed. Those in front of MTSU can’t afford to lose, or their seed will be taken by the Blue Raiders

 

1 seeds (Ranked #1-4)

Virginia
Villanova
Xavier
Texas Tech

2 seeds (#5-8)
Kansas
Auburn
Michigan State
Duke

3 seeds (#9-12)
Clemson
Tennessee
North Carolina
Purdue

4 seeds (13-16)
Wichita St
Cincinnati
Ohio St
Arizona

5 seeds (17-20)
Rhode Island
Gonzaga
W Virginia
Missouri

6 seeds (21-24)
Alabama
Creighton
Texas A&M
Florida

7 seeds (25-28)
St. Mary’s
Nevada
Middle Tennessee
Houston

8 seeds (29-32)
Michigan
Oklahoma
Kentucky
Miami

9 seeds (33-36)
Arkansas
Florida State
Arizona State
TCU

10 seeds (37-40)
Seton Hall
Butler
NC State
Virginia Tech

11 seeds (41-44)
Providence
Kansas St
St. Bonaventure
Loyola-Chicago

12 seeds (45-48)
Syracuse/Nebraska*
Texas/Louisville*
Vermont
East Tennessee State

*denotes play-in game.

13 seeds (49-52)
New Mexico St
Buffalo
UL-Lafayette
South Dakota St

14 seeds (53-56)
Charleston
Belmont
Rider
Bucknell

15 seeds (57-60)
Montana
UCSB
N Kentucky
FGCU

16 seeds (61-64)
Pennsylvania
UNC-Asheville
Wagner/Arkansas-Pine Bluff*
Nicholls State/Savannah State*

*denotes play-in game

 

Last four in

Syracuse
Texas
Louisville
Nebraska

First four out

Baylor
Boise St
UCLA
USC

Next four out

Washington
Temple
Penn St
Utah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Wins and the Race to March

While college basketball’s consistent chaos reigns, there is a constant for power conference teams. Generally, 20 wins send a team to play in March. For mid-majors, an at-large bid is almost impossible, and requires a higher win total.

While 20 wins seem to be the metronome, factors also include non-conference success, strength of schedule, and most importantly, conference record. After the Whistle sets the stage for the teams that have clinched tickets to the NCAA Tournament.

Clinched (a month early)

This section includes teams who could lose every remaining game and still make the tournament. However, 20 wins are not the only factor. It’s a short list one month prior to March Madness.

Villanova (20-1, 7-1 Big East)

A terrific non-conference run highlighted by a win over a really good Tennessee team continued, as the Wildcats destroyed Xavier by 24 en route to a 20-1 record. The sole blemish is a loss to Butler, who always seems to beat the nation’s current #1.

Virginia (20-1, 9-0 ACC)

After limiting red-hot Clemson to 36(!!!) points, the Cavaliers stand undefeated in the best league in basketball. Virginia hasn’t lost since December 5th at West Virginia. Re-read. Other teams run away. Continuing!

Purdue (21-2, 10-0 Big Ten)

Non-conference losses to Tennessee (understandable) and Western Kentucky (less so) have vanished into oblivion, as the Boilermakers are tearing up the Big Ten. Ohio State (9-1) and Michigan State (8-2) are the only teams close to the conference leaders.

One concern for Purdue’s March seeding is the schedule of another B1G contender. With the return of Amir Coffey, Minnesota faces a similar situation to last year, and a similar schedule. If the Golden Gophers go on a similar run to 2017, their B1G tournament semifinal (4 v. 1 seed) could be against Purdue.

 

While some other teams are close to clinching bids to the Tournament, these three can start worrying about seeding. Villanova, Virginia, and Purdue have played terrific basketball en route to strong cases for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Minnesota Miracle Sends the Vikings to Philly

Decades of heartbreak for the Vikings were set to continue after a Will Lutz field goal put the Saints up 24-23 in the divisional round. Bud Grant’s four Super Bowl losses, Gary Anderson’s Falcons miss, and Blair Walsh’s 27-yard whiff were ready to welcome another chapter into the Vikings’ book of misery.

Then Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs did this.

As a Vikings fan, the exhilarating win was indescribable. The players were lost for words, the fans wanted to storm the field, and Bountygate has been avenged. For the first time since 2009-10, the Vikings are heading to the NFC Championship.

Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia hosts the top-seeded Eagles against Case Keenum and Co., and early weather forecasts are predicting a moderate 53 degrees for the clash. The Eagles might lean on the ground game, to avoid letting the Vikings defense get After backup QB Nick Foles. Minnesota is one win away from the Super Bowl. SKOL Vikes!

Raptors, Cavs, and the East’s Crucial Battle

Tonight the Toronto Raptors welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers to Canada for a pivotal Eastern Conference clash. A quick snapshot of the East’s standings shows Toronto’s 2.5 game lead over Cleveland in the standings, while the Raptors have only one more loss than the Boston Celtics. A Raptors win launches their top-seed bid, while a Cavs win pulls Cleveland back to 1.5 games behind. . .with the Raptors playing the Warriors in two days.

The Raptors are 14-2 at home on the year, better than the Warriors and Rockets. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will once again lead the charge, although Lowry’s status is in question with a bruised tailbone. OG Anunoby and CJ Miles will combine for the unenviable task of slowing down LeBron James, while Jonas Valanciunas’ mideason surge will need to continue. Starting power forward Serge Ibaka is out due to suspension.

Projected starting lineup: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas

The Cavaliers are on a skid, posting a 4-6 mark over their last ten games. LeBron James’ superhuman efforts will need to be helped on by someone else, and Isaiah Thomas’ shoot-first mentality is not what is needed for Cleveland’s point guard. Kevin Love’s rebounding will be the key, due to the aforementioned Ibaka suspension.

Projected starting lineup: Isaiah Thomas, JR Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson.

Although they’re banged up, the Raptors should continue their incredible run with a victory, as Cleveland will face an increasing threat from the surging fourth-placed Heat.

Pick: Raptors 112, Cavaliers 105

Analyzing the NBA Standings at the Start of 2018

2017 is over and done with, and basketball has served up some surprises. After the Whistle takes a look at where teams stand heading into the new year.

Eastern Conference

1. Celtics—32-10

2. Raptors—27-10

3. Cavaliers—25-13

4. Wizards—23-16

5. Heat—21-17

 6. Bucks 20-17

7. Pistons 20-17

8. 76ers 19-19

Just outside: Pacers (19-19) and Knicks (18-21)

Talking points

Celtics on Top

Boston has played the NBA’s most packed schedule since October, and is off to a terrific start. Al Horford might be the most improved player in basketball, and Kyrie Irving’s 24.4 points per game paces the East’s top unit.

Raptor Resurgence

Toronto could be the best team in the East. Level in the loss column with Boston, the Raptors are still paced by DeMar DeRozan (25 PPG), but the bench has transformed into a fearsome unit led by Delon Wright (8.9 PPG, 1.2 SPG).

All-Star Oladipo

The Pacers combo guard has lit up for 24.9 points per game, fueled by a terrific 42.3% clip from the arc. Oladipo is carrying the Pacers within striking distance of a playoff spot.

The East’s current All-Stars. . .

G Victor Oladipo, Pacers

G DeMar DeRozan, Raptors

F LeBron James, Cavaliers

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

C Al Horford, Celtics

 

Western Conference

1. Warriors—31-8

2. Rockets—27-10

3. Spurs—27-13

4. Timberwolves—24-16

5. Thunder—22-17

6. Nuggets—21-17

7. Trail Blazers—20-18

8. Pelicans—19-18

Just outside: Clippers (17-20) and Jazz (16-23)

Talking points

The Rockets Fall

Houston was on pace for the top seed heading into Christmas weekend, but lost the perch due to losing six of their last ten. To make matters worse, James Harden is out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Muddled Five-seed Race

The Thunder have surged up into the five spot, but the Nuggets and Trail Blazers lurk within 1.5 games, and the Pelicans can beat anyone with their Davis-Cousins tandem. Just something to keep an eye on. . .

The (Even More) Muddled 8-seed Race

The Clippers have surged into the picture to contend with the inconsistent Pelicans, and the Jazz have the pieces to string together a long winning streak. Who wants to get blown out by the Warriors?

The West’s current All-Stars. . .

G Russell Westbrook, Thunder

G James Harden, Rockets

F Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

F Kevin Durant, Warriors

C DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans