Pre-Conference Tournament Week Bracketology

Feb 29, 2020; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Cartier Diarra (2) drives to the basket against Kansas Jayhawks center Udoka Azubuike (35) and guard Devon Dotson (1) during the first half of a game at Bramlage Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The tournaments for the top conferences in college basketball start next week, and Selection Sunday is only 10 days away.

Many teams are still on the bubble for the final tournament, and others who have most likely already punched their ticket to the big dance will look to make a run in their conference tournaments to improve their seedings. There is still a lot that needs to be decided before the NCAA committee picks their final 68 teams.

Here is how I think the bracket is shaping up as of now.

Kansas

Record: 27-3 (16-1)

Good Wins: Dayton, West Virginia (twice), Baylor

Bad Losses: None

The Jayhawks, led by guard Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike, are well-coached and talented. If they win the Big 12, they will easily get the top overall seed.

Gonzaga

Record: 29-2 (15-1)

Good Wins: BYU, Oregon, Arizona

Bad Losses: None

This may be the year that Gonzaga finally goes all the way. With an experienced and well-rounded team, the Bulldogs have done enough for another top seed placement.

Baylor

Record: 26-3 (15-2)

Good Wins: Villanova, Kansas, West Virginia

Bad Losses: TCU, Washington

While I think Kansas is the better team, Baylor arguably has the better resume. Even if they don’t win the Big 12, they should be awarded a top seed.

Dayton

Record: 28-2 (17-0)

Good Wins: Rhode Island (twice), Saint Louis (twice)

Bad Losses: None

Obi Toppin is one of the most electrifying players in college basketball this year. I think he will lead the Flyers to a top seed, edging out San Diego State in the process.

 

Last Four In

Texas Tech

Record: 18-12 (9-8)

Good Wins: Louisville, West Virginia

Bad Losses: Oklahoma State, TCU

Last season’s runners up haven’t had the season they had hoped for. The Red Raiders have talent but have lost many close games. I think their resume is just good enough for a trip to the First Four and possibly another miracle run.

North Carolina State

Record: 18-12 (9-10)

Good Wins: Duke, Wisconsin, Virginia

Bad Losses: Boston College, North Carolina (twice)

NC State can probably go either way here. I have them just cracking the field of 68 due to their high strength of schedule, tough conference, and several solid victories. Their blowout of Duke really showcased how much talent this Wolfpack has.

Stanford

Record: 20-10 (9-8)

Good Wins: Oregon, Colorado, UCLA

Bad Losses: Cal, Oregon State (twice)

A bad loss to Oregon State late Thursday night will hurt Stanford’s chances. However, I believe that the Cardinal has done just enough to make it in. They’ve put up a solid record in a tough PAC-12 and have performed well in out of conference play.

Cincinnati

Record: 19-10 (12-5)

Good Wins: Houston, Memphis, Wichita State (twice)

Bad Losses: Tulane, Bowling Green, UCF, Colgate

The Bearcats currently sit in second place in the American Athletic Conference, and I think that is what gets them through in the end. While they had a few very bad losses, Cincinnati held their own against top conference foes.

 

First Four Out

Rhode Island

Record: 20-9 (12-5)

Good Wins: Providence

Bad Losses: Brown, Davidson

Only two weeks ago, I would’ve said Rhode Island was comfortably in the NCAA Tournament. That had quickly changed after the Rams dropped three out of their last four. Their inability to beat their top conference foes should leave them looking in from the outside.

Wichita State

Record: 22-8 (10-7)

Good Wins: Memphis

Bad Losses: Temple

This is a bit of a surprise. The Shockers started out the season hot but then settled down, losing seven conference games. It might be tough to keep an eight-loss team in a decent conference out of the tournament but Wichita State’s two losses to Cincinnati will do just that.

Notre Dame

Record: 18-12 (9-10)

Good Wins: UCLA

Bad Losses: Boston College, Wake Forest, North Carolina

Playing in the ACC will always help out a team’s resume. In this case, it will not help enough for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a decent record, but they have not beaten anyone that great. A few poor losses will have them playing in the NIT in a couple of weeks.

South Carolina

Record: 18-12 (10-7)

Good Wins: Kentucky, Virginia

Bad Losses: Boston University, Stetson, Ole Miss

I contemplated putting South Carolina in the last four in, but losing to both Boston University and Stetson is simply inexcusable. In the end, beating high-ranked Kentucky isn’t good enough for the Gamecocks to qualify for the tournament.

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