Bracketology for Dummies: Cinderellas could make it to the dance

Bracketology for Dummies: Cinderellas could make it to the dance

Greg Frank ('13)/ Eastside Staff

Fantastic Four (Projected number one seeds):

Kentucky: Receiving 63 of 65 1st place votes in this week’s AP poll, the Wildcats continue to reign supreme as the nation’s best.  A 20-point dismantling win over their biggest challenger in the SEC, the seventh-ranked Florida Gators, on Tuesday night was the latest of many victories for Kentucky. The College Gameday crew will be in Nashville on Saturday for Kentucky’s visit to play Vanderbilt.  While there may be some hyped-up fans in on campus cheering for the Commodores in front of a national audience, nothing seems to be stopping Kentucky right now.

Syracuse: The number-two team in the country may not be on this list next week.  They may be the number-two team in the nation, but the foreseeable future in the always challenging Big East could pose problems for the Orange.  Their next three games are against number-11 Georgetown, Connecticut, and number-23 Louisville.  Georgetown has made their way up the rankings as of late and Louisville has streaked into the top-25 recently.  Connecticut is struggling, but Syracuse-UCONN is always a war. Jim Boeheim moved past Dean Smith on the Division I college basketball wins list on Saturday, and Fab Melo is back starting, which is all well and good, but I have them on upset alert this week.

Missouri: Given that they’re moving to the SEC next season, if they never play Kansas at home again, then they sent the Tiger faithful out the right way.  Saturday night, in front of a national audience and the Gameday guys, Missouri took down Kansas in a thriller, 74-71, in a game that was back and forth filled with lead changes. However, Marcus Denmon seemed to knock down many big shots for Missouri, as he finished with six three point field goals in the victory and was the difference maker in the W for the Tigers. They do, however, play Kansas again later this month in Lawrence at Allen Fieldhouse.  On Monday, Missouri won by the skin of their teeth against Oklahoma surviving 71-68 on the road.  This is not cause for concern though they will have to play much better on Saturday when they host the sixth ranked Baylor Bears, a team they beat on the road earlier this year.  Coach Frank Haith didn’t really have this kind of national spotlight on him during his time at Miami so as the going continues to get tough, and we get closer to March, we’ll see if he can keep his team amongst the nation’s elite.

Ohio State: An unconvincing 87-84 home win Tuesday night against Purdue and a 58-52 survival against Wisconsin has Ohio State as the number-one seed most in doubt right now.  With a tough game looming against number-12 Michigan State on Saturday, the Buckeyes still have some work to do before they enter the big dance as a number-one seed.

Bubble Watch

Ole Miss: The Runnin Rebels took a tough loss to last week’s sleeper team, Alabama, falling in double overtime on Saturday in Tuscaloosa.  However, a 14-8 record and 4-4 in the SEC puts them in the mix for at least discussions for a bid.  A win over currently 18th ranked Mississippi State earlier this season certainly helps their cause and they have a chance to sweep the Bulldogs if they can win on the road on Thursday.  A second good win would go a long way for Ole Miss.  They do have chances against other probable tournament teams, as well, with later dates against Vanderbilt and Alabama as well as a trip to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky.  There’s still work to be done, but Ole Miss is in the mix.

Minnesota: Quietly having posted a 17-7 record, Minnesota is hanging around.  Though this shouldn’t surprise anyone as in their recent NCAA tournament history they’ve gone in as a double-digit seed bubble team.  However, they’re on the bubble yet again and there’s still some work to be done.  They can get to .500 in the Big 10 with a win against number-22 Wisconsin Thursday night.  Following the Wisconsin game they host Ohio State.  If Minnesota is to win their next two games and go to 19-7 and 7-6 in the Big 10, barring a collapse late in the regular season and in the Big 10 tournament, they should be in the field.

Cinderella Chance?

Wyoming: After an upset win over then-number-13 UNLV, Wyoming caught my attention.  They sit at 4th in the Mountain West conference at 18-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play but have chances to beat all three teams ahead of them before the regular season’s end.  Their next game is Saturday at New Mexico, who is 3rd in the Mountain West.  On February 22, they travel to number-14 San Diego State to take on Steve Fisher’s first place Aztecs.  Finally, to wrap up the regular season, they have a rematch with now-number-16 UNLV in Vegas on March 3.  Two out of three here would boost them in the Mountain West standings, and if they go in hot and win at UNLV to close out the regular season and then do some damage in the Mountain West conference tournament, they could make some noise in the big tournament.  Bear in mind Creighton, last week’s Cinderella chance team, lost their two games of the week, so nothing is guaranteed in the College Basketball world.

Don’t Sleep on Me

Purdue: While moral victories don’t exist come tournament time, they fought hard on the road at Ohio State and pushed the Buckeyes to the brink of defeat.  They still have some games against nationally ranked teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana, but that’s not really what it’s about when it comes to the Boilermakers.  Expectations have been high, and in the tournament they have failed to deliver in years past.  Now, with some key departures like Jajuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore, it may be easy to write off Purdue in terms of a team that could win some games in the tournament.  While Johnson and Moore have left the program, during their tenures Robby Hummel was decimated with injuries.  Now that he is finally healthy and has one more year of NCAA eligibility he may be able to led the Boilermakers to a March run.  We’ve seen that they can play with the best as they hung with Ohio State Tuesday night and also hung right in with then number 11 Xavier, eventually losing 66-63 back in December.  Now it’s just a question of if they can beat the best.  Don’t rule it out.

*Wednesday features 3 of the better games we’ve seen all year.  11th ranked Georgetown visits number two Syracuse, the rivalry is renewed when Duke visits North Carolina, and a rematch of a Big 12 showdown earlier this season hits the national stage as number 10 Kansas heads to Waco, Texas to play number six Baylor.  The Groundhog might have called for six more weeks of winter, but signs of March will be in the air tomorrow night.