Right around now is when I start checking the calendar every day, hoping it’s somehow already Selection Sunday. If you’re like me, then work with me on this: we still have 3.5 amazing weeks of basketball to enjoy before then, so let’s bathe in the hoops like Harry Potter in the prefect’s bathroom. And if the Selection Show simply can’t come soon enough, remember: it’s an hour closer than you think, thanks to good ol’ Spring Forward on the clocks!
Before getting to the bracket, some thoughts on the week that was, the bracket’s big movers and shakers, etc.:
1. Call them Fashionably Late Florida, but it appears the version of the Gators that many expected to see (see: me, the idiot holding a UF Final Four futures ticket) has finally joined us for the 2018-19 season. The Twittersphere has been crying out for bubble teams to do something, anything of note, and Florida’s road wins at Alabama and LSU over the last 7 days have done wonders to push them into the field and out of Dayton.
2. A few other teams that reside slightly further down the S-Curve had statement wins this week and are threatening to pass the current malaise of teams who refuse to help themselves: Dayton won at Davidson, which currently qualifies as a Q1 win; Georgetown dispatched Villanova in an incredibly impressive wire-to-wire victory; and South Carolina continues its resurrection from the land of the bubble dead, this time beating Mississippi at home. The Weave isn’t the only organization taking notice (ignore Dayton being listed twice):
I’m not quite seeing the Memphis path to the tournament - they’re currently 2-10 vs Q1+Q2 with a Q3 loss - but the team at Delphi is sharp, so it’s best to pay attention.
3. On the other end, a few teams took a machete to their own at-large chances, taking harmful losses in must-win games (or simply didn’t show up at all – that’s you, Nebraska). Lipscomb’s loss at FGCU isn’t appalling in a talent sense – The Artist Formerly Known As Dunk City has plenty of impressive transfers on its roster – but dumping a Q3 game is dangerous, especially given how hard the committee has tried to keep mid-major at-larges from dancing in the past. Indiana actually put out a gutsy effort in a home spot against archrival Purdue, but they, too, came up short, despite Carsen Edwards shooting like a drunken pirate (4/24 from the field!).
4. St. John’s isn’t really in any bubble trouble at this point, but fellas, maybe at least have a cup of coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center before getting rolled over by the host Friars? Conference counterpart Seton Hall didn’t do themselves any favors, either, dropping a home game to a quietly-improving Xavier squad.
5. In the annually hideous UCF vs. Cincinnati brawl/basketball game, the Golden Knights missed a huge chance for a Q1 road win. Their resume still lacks any top-end heft (0 Q1 wins), and Johnny Dawkins may yet end up back “on” with his old flame, the NIT.
6. Butler, Clemson, Creighton, Alabama, Minnesota, etc., etc. all continue to hope that “intensely average” is good enough, which makes a mid-major aficionado like myself hopeful for bid stealers in the MAC, SoCon, WCC, and MWC.
7. Much further up the bracket, I’m sticking with Duke in the top spot. Their resume is still terrific, and if you think the committee won’t explain away Duke’s losses due to injury, then I have a great music festival in the Bahamas that you might want to attend.
8. Loyola-Chicago technically has the MVC auto-bid right now with a tiebreaker over Drake, but I’m putting the Ramblers in timeout for a week. Congratulations, Bulldogs!