A weekly feature of the The Fan Blog, from here on out, If Today were Selection Sunday...does just that. It looks at the 34 at-large spaces available in the field and and determines who are the best candidates for those spots as of right now. It does not attempt to project or predict what will happen in the future and whether or not these teams will actually appear in March when the real committee makes its selections. But it does base this on the 65 team field and will only include that many teams each week.
This week we see a group of 43 teams that have to be included. That group comes from 13 different conferences. So within our group of must-include teams we've got 13 automatic bids, which means we've taken up 30 of the 34 at-large bids with our grouping. We will list the teams that we think no one will argue about, then we'll state our case for the rest of the 43 and then we'll pick the final four teams that should be included.
Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, Tennessee, Georgetown, Marquette, Washington State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State, Texas, Xavier, Drake, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Mississippi, Butler, Dayton, West Virginia, St. Mary's, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Gonzaga, Arizona, Clemson, Rhode Island are all teams that have to be included in the field and not sure that anyone could argue with that. So that is 28 of my 43 teams.
Here are the 15 teams that I think have to be included but figure might need some explanation....
Virginia Commonwealth - The Rams are likely the Colonial automatic bid, but if they weren't they've got to be included.
Illinois State - The Missouri Valley is going to end up getting two teams in. Right now the Redbirds are that second team.
Louisville - Speaking of Redbirds. They'd likely be in the other group if they didn't lose at the Rock last night.
Providence - Look at that more teams from the Big East
Connecticut - More mediocre teams
Massachusetts - Minutemen got a solid win over Charlotte yesterday and continue to be a team that the RPI likes. If the RPI likes them, they are in.
Arizona State - Not the best of weeks in the land of Pitchfork but I wouldn't want to play them in March.
Creighton - Remember what we were saying about the Valley getting two teams in. Yeah, well make it three for now.
Missouri - The Tigers are still one of those teams you don't want to play and one of those teams that probably deserves to get in. They probably are a higher seed, but one that could win a game or two.
Niagara - For now we're are forgetting about the loss to Canisius on Friday night. But anything else like that and they can't be taken seriously. They benefit from some of the upsets this week to keep a slot.
Kansas State - Working its way toward lock status. Very Quickly.
Ohio State - The Buckeyes continue to play good teams fairly tough. But they continue to lose. Still if they win the games they are supposed to, they will be impossible to ignore.
Siena - The Saints are the other side of the MAAC equation.
Oregon - Ducks are one of those teams that is going to ride the bubble all year. But for now they are safe.
Miami (FL) - The Canes are 14-3 and falling fast. But they are 14-3.
For me it comes down to ten teams fighting for the final four slots. I'd like to include St. Joe's and get another team out of the A-10, but the loss to Charlotte midweek bounced them. Virginia and Syracuse are both worthy of consideration, but I've got the Orange out right now, so I can't have the Cavs who lost at Home to SU in. Florida State is 12-6 without a marquee win, they are out. Notre Dame got slaughtered yesterday and for now, I think they are the Big East team that gets the cold shoulder. California is tough to discard, but the Bears have to do a little bit more for me at the moment. Arkansas is a team that can easily play itself back in, but I can't include them this week. My final four into the field this week are Baylor, who had a huge road win at a decent Nebraska last night, the two-time defending champ Florida Gators, I'm keeping Oklahoma in for now, and my final slot goes to Villanova whose come-from behind win at the Dome yesterday secured this final spot from me.