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.
The Super Bowl edition of the Selection Sunday special. I've got 41 teams that I would think have to be included in the tournament if it ended today. Of those 41 teams there are 14 different conferences represented. So that would mean that I've accounted for the first 27 at-large bids. Then I'd have 7 more at-large bids to determine.
Here are the teams that I don't believe could be argued at this point.
Duke, Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Michigan State, Drake, Stanford, Marquette, Texas, Xavier
, Indiana, Washington State, Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas State, Butler, Gonzaga, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, St. Mary's, USC, Mississippi
Now the teams that I think are just about guaranteed yet could be open for some discussion.
Vanderbilt - Commodores way too high in the RPI to be ignored.
Dayton - Injury bug has hit the Flyers hard. Therefore, some of the struggles are explained and excused.
Louisville - Cardinals are playing better than in December and are inching their way towards lock status.
Virginia Commonwealth University - The Rams would be well served to win the CAA conference tournament to avoid any discussion. But if the discussion occured they deserve to get in.
Davidson - More and more convinced every day that this tournament can't happen without them.
Clemson - Tigers are the third team from the ACC to get in. Not a lot of depth there is there?
Illinois State - Each week it is the same. Let's change the theme this week. Redbirds deserve to get in on their own merits, not the fact that the Valley deserves multiple bids.
UNLV - Rebels can get a bubble team in by winning the Mountain postseason gathering. Either way they dance.
Rhode Island - Rams haven't kicked bid away yet.
Oklahoma - Sooners split a pair of games this week, but its bid remains in tact.
St. Joseph's - Hawks get a chance to prove it this week. Tomorrow night versus a freefalling Villanova, then road contests at Duquesne and Xavier. 2-1 should suffice.
Massachusetts - Minutemen can't afford any more bad losses. Saint Louis certainly qualifies. Because the reality of five teams from the Atlantic 10 is tough to imagine. But right now they deserve to be in.
Arkansas - Hogs had a big week with big wins over Mississippi State and Florida. That and 16-5 record is enough to include them.
So that leaves us with seven spots left. Here are the teams we feel deserve consideration for thos seven slots.
A whole host of teams, 13 in all that I think folks would consider for those final 7 spots in the tournament. Right now, I think Purdue, Ohio State, Baylor and Syracuse have to be in the field. So that leaves 9 teams fighting for 3 spots. Nobody can believe the ACC can only be worth three teams so everybody throws forth everyone's name as a contender. Maryland, NC State, Virginia Tech, and Miami continue to show up in bracket projections round the country. So that is five of the nine. Florida and Mississippi State are both worthy candidates out of the SEC, but certainly don't have momentum on their side. The other two teams are both headed in the right direction, BYU and Seton Hall are playing good basketball right now. I'll take both of them and pair NC State up with them to complete my field.