Bracketology for Dummies: Can St. Joseph’s make a late run?

Bracketology for Dummies: Can St. Joseph's make a late run?

Greg Frank ('13)/ Eastside Staff

Greg Frank is an avid sports fan whose favorite college team, the Boston College Eagles, will not be making the NCAA tournament this year.  Tell Greg what you think: send a message via Twitter @GFrankAbagnale.

Fantastic Four (Projected number one seeds):

Kentucky: Did you really think they were going to lose that game against Mississippi State? Sure it was a nail-bitter but the great teams find a way to prevail in the darkest of moments.  They pulled out a 73-64 win after trailing by 13 at half on the road at Mississippi State for those of you that didn’t get to watch.  An earlier win this week against Ole Miss wasn’t as hard for the Wildcats.  Their other game this week is a home game against Vanderbilt, who gave them a test earlier this month in Nashville.  Not so sure if they’ll be able to test the Wildcats again in Lexington.

Syracuse: A Sunday scare at Rutgers put their status as a number-one seed in jeopardy, but the Orange pulled through with a 74-64 win.  Tomorrow they host South Florida before heading to Storrs to take on UCONN on Saturday night.  While I’ve spoken down on them in weeks past, I expect ‘Cuse to coast through these two games safely heading into their season finale against Louisville.

Kansas: Since their loss early in the month to Missouri, the Jayhawks are firing on all cylinders.  In their current four-game winning streak against Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of 17 points and nothing seems to be stopping them.  They head to College Station to play Texas A&M tomorrow before the much-anticipated rematch with Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse on the Jayhawks’ home floor.  Barring no slip-up against the Aggies, look for Kansas to avenge their earlier loss this season against Missouri.  They’ve won eight straight Big 12 regular season titles, and I look for the Jayhawks to make it nine this March.

Michigan State: That’s right, Sparty! With Missouri’s loss to Kansas State tonight, it came down to Michigan State or Duke for the fourth number-one seed.  But Michigan State’s quality wins all across the board are hard to pass up on.  Remember when they opened the season unranked playing the preseason number one North Carolina on an air craft carrier? They’ve came a long way since.  They have a season sweep of nationally-ranked Big 10 foe Wisconsin, to go with against another top-25 team in Michigan.  Not that that’s it or anything as they also have wins over Indiana and their best win of the year came last weekend at Ohio State.  They’ll have chances to complete sweeps of Indiana and Ohio State before the regular season’s end.  At this time of year it also helps to have a calming presence on the sideline who keeps everything under control.  Ever heard of Tom Izzo? He’s been to 6 final fours in the last 13 years and is primed to make it 7 final fours in the last 14 years.

Bubble Watch

St. Joseph’s: Come late February, the clock begins to tick on all the bubble teams in the nation.  Chances to improve resumes continue to dwindle, and winning the conference tournaments begins to look like the only hope for some bubble teams.  St. Joe’s has one chance to improve their resume, or else in all likelihood they’ll have to resort to the A-10 tournament when looking for a trip to the dance.  That one chance comes Saturday night when they host local and now nationally ranked rival Temple.  Assuming they take care of Richmond tomorrow and St. Bonaventure next Wednesday night, a win against the Owls on Saturday could put the Hawks in line for an at-large, but they would still probably have to win at least one game in the A-10 tournament.  The bottom line is, there is no margin of error for Phil Martelli’s group, but if they can win their last three and carry the momentum into the A-10 tournament en route to another win or two, they may not need to win the conference tournament to get into the field.

Seton Hall: On Tuesday night there were three key bubble teams all in action.  Northwestern fell at home to Michigan, Miami went down in College Park against Maryland, but Seton Hall separated themselves from the pack and got a huge win at home against number-eight Georgetown.  If the selection committee takes margin of victory into account, then the 73-55 W looks even better for the Pirates.  With cookies against Rutgers and DePaul to close out the regular season, Seton Hall looks pretty safe right now, but if they lose one of those two games, they are right back on the bubble heading into the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Cinderella Chance?

New Mexico: Danny Granger may be busy playing for the Indiana Pacers, but I’m sure he’s well aware that his alma mater is representing the Mountain West as the highest ranked team from the conference and second-highest-ranked mid-major in this week’s poll behind Murray State.  A win against number-21 UNLV over the weekend got the Lobos on the map and catapulted them to the top of the Mountain West conference standings.  Two of their wins before UNLV were against another nationally ranked team in San Diego State, and the Cinderella team from Bracketology for Dummies week two (February 7, 2012: Wyoming.  They slipped up Tuesday night at Colorado State, losing 71-63, but I was not that surprised with that score given the growing depth of the Mountain West conference.  The Mountain West produced two Sweet Sixteen teams last year in BYU and San Diego State.  After having looked at two Mountain West teams as possible Cinderellas in the four weeks of Bracketology for Dummies, if the Lobos can patch things up after the Colorado State letdown (with remaining games at TCU, Air Force and Boise State), don’t be shocked if New Mexico is the team out of the Mountain West that could make a run in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Don’t Sleep on Me

Kansas State: When talking about Michigan State in the fantastic four, I referenced all of their quality wins this season as to why I chose them over Duke for the fourth number-one seed.  But if you want to look at another team’s resume that is loaded with good wins, then take a look at Frank Martin’s crew.  Kansas State completed a season sweep of Missouri tonight winning by double digits in Columbia to go with their home triumph earlier this year over the Tigers.  Earlier this season they went out of conference to bet then-number 21 Alabama.  While they were swept by in-state rival Kansas, the Jayhawks are a number one seed in my opinion and the best team in the Big 12, and Kansas State gave them a game last week in the Octagon of Doom only to fall 59-53.  They spilt with another Nationally ranked team this year, Baylor, and recently got their win against Baylor in Baylor’s own backyard.  They aren’t the Denny Clemente and Jacob Pullen K-State Wildcats we’ve seen in years past. But…they win.

Note: Last week’s sleeper, Saint Mary’s, lost a game I was very confident they would win as they lost at Murray State.  The other two sleepers (Alabama and Purdue) have also lost games since appearing in Bracketology for Dummies.  Kansas State wins right now, we’ll see if they can win next week against Iowa State and at Texas A&M.  If they can’t….blame me.