A little late posting today. Three weeks til the real teams are announced but here are the 34 at-large teams we'd expect. I've actually got 34 teams that I think can't be ignored - they come from 13 different conferences, so we assume they get the automatic bids out of those conferences - and therefore, we are really picking 47 teams.
Here are our locks at this point: Duke, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Xavier, Marquette, Indiana, Stanford, Louisville, Connecticut, Drake, Michigan State, Butler, Washington State, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Arizona, Purdue, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, St. Mary's, Miami (FL)
Then I have four that have just about secured their slot in my book...Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth, Texas A&M and USC
So that leaves us with 13 slots for the following teams to fight over. By conference, here are the candidates in my estimation. I've got 19 teams that are worthy of consideration. But I'm going to go ahead and give automatic bids to UNLV (Mountain West), Kent (MAC) and South Alabama (Sun Belt). So that leaves 16 teams fighting for thirteen slots, and I truly believe its a pretty non-descript bunch.
Here they are -
Oklahoma - The Sooners at 18-9 are the best of this grouping and really aren't in danger of not getting in.
Baylor - The Bears have enough quality early and have held their own in the Big 12.
Syracuse - I thought the Orange's 0-2 week would put them on the outside looking in. But I still think they hold on at the moment. The RPI is better than 7 of the other teams, I'm looking at in this grouping, and the SOS is 2nd best.
Dayton - Flyers keep falling. But with a sub 40 RPI - I don't think you can throw them out yet.
Massachusetts - Minutemen went from real bubble concern to a pretty solid status this week.
Arkansas - With the group we are considering, I don't think there's anyway that the Hogs can miss out.
Oregon - Ducks are 15-12. 15-12 and yet I have them in. I think that says something about the quality of the teams we are looking at.
Mississippi State - Bulldogs have had a fairly strong second half, and they are close to securing things at this point.
Maryland - Terps have an RPI that is in the mid-60's. That is what happens when you lose to VCU, Ohio and American at home. They are in, but can't afford upsets in the conference tourneys.
BYU - I think the RPI makes them solid, but a schedule strength near 100 makes it possible that they don't get called.
Ohio State - Buckeyes were very solid a week ago. But how quickly that all changes. Needs to push it back the right way.
St. Joseph's - Hawks were all but done until key road win on Sunday. I think they have survived for now.
Rhode Island - Each week I think that this is the week we eliminate some of these A-10 teams. And I never do it. But Rams can't be too careful.
Arizona State - RPI is in the 70's. They need to play way back into it.
Florida - Two time defending champ doesn't have a defining win. But it does have 20 wins in a BCS conference. Not sure that is enough.
UAB - I still think the CUSA is a one-bid pony. Blazers late run has given it a shot though.
I also include five teams that I think may be close to garnering more support and might be able to chip away at some of the mediocrity we see above.
Illinois State, New Mexico, Ole Miss (if it can regain some of its early form), Southern Illinois and Villanova (which is all of a sudden winning the games you expected)