Wednesday, March 7, 2018

6-MAR Bracket Projections: The Big Ominous Sky

Three additional programs failed to secure the automatic bid tonight and instead notched another tick mark on the Futility list.  South Dakota State won the Summit League invite by knocking off South Dakota.  The Coyotes will now see their tenth season of Division I go by without that first NCAA appearance. 

In the American East, Hartford was eliminated by UMBC in semifinal action tonight.  This will be the 34th year of play for the Hawks at this level, and none of them have come with a tournament berth.  Sacramento State also failed to navigate past Portland State in the Big Sky, and their 22nd season of Division I basketball will end without an NCAA invite.

Nine schools are left to with their fates undecided.

Most of the carnage on the lists tonight came with the Drought teams, and in addition to Sacramento State the Big Sky was a killjoy all day long.  Idaho State was upset in first round, and will now miss 31 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  Also in conference Montana State started the day in Reno and built up a large lead over North Dakota, only to see it fritter away with contributions coming from a half court heave by Geno Crandall and another late bucket in the final seconds of the second half to seal the UND win.  This is now 22 in a row for the Bobcats.  Not to be left out, last place Northern Arizona got obliterated by Northern Colorado.  The Lumberjacks made their last NCAA appearance in 2000.

Howard was eliminated in MEAC play, and the Bison have not made the dance since 1992.  Alcorn was knocked out of SWAC play to ensure the Braves will miss their sixteenth tournament in a row.

On a positive note, however, the College of Charleston will be the subject of many dancing puns as they were able to withstand the bombogenesis deployed by Northeastern with a late comeback and outlasting the Huskies in overtime.  This is the first trip to the dance since 1999 for the Cougars.

Conference Tournaments
We ramp up to twelve conference tournaments tomorrow, albeit just one championship game in the bunch.  Nine leagues hit the post-season floor for the first time.  The Patriot League final is our one title game.  Bucknell will be looking to repeat, while Colgate is chasing their first NCAA since 1996. 

We have two other returning brackets.  The ACC comes back tomorrow with four second round games with some integral matchups for bubble teams like Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville and Florida State.  The other returning bracket is the MEAC who will have two of the four quarterfinal games tomorrow.  Bethune Cookman has never made the NCAA Tournament since their Division I inception in 1980. 

The Sun Belt begins with four first round games.  Texas State is the opening game, and they have not made any of the last 20 NCAA Tournaments.  The Bobcats opponent will be Coastal Carolina.  Appalachian State and Little Rock will follow that game, and the Mountaineers have not been dancing since 2000.  In the final game of the day Louisiana Monroe will draw Arkansas State, and ULM has missed the last 21 NCAA Tournaments.  Meanwhile Arkansas State has missed the last 18.

The Mountain West Conference have arrived in Vegas, and last place San Jose State will participate in the third and final first round game tomorrow.  The Spartans have not made the NCAA Tournament since 1996, and will need to get past Wyoming to potentially change that this season.

The Atlantic 10 will hold two first round games tomorrow.  Fordham takes on George Washington.  The Rams last appearance came in 1992. 

In perhaps the biggest upset, it appears CUSA will have their games available on facebook and not behind a paywall.  This.  Is.  March.  If you’re looking for something beyond that, then your rooting interests tomorrow are Louisiana Tech who have had no tournament appearances since 1991, FIU who have not been seen since 1995, and Florida Atlantic who have not been in the dance since 2002.

The Southland Tournament starts up, using the ladder tournament approach.  Central Arkansas is the seven seed, and will be looking to move past sixth seeded Lamar and continue to push through for their first ever NCAA Tournament. 

The PAC 12 Tournament gets underway on Wednesday.  Washington State is in action tomorrow and has the longest drought in conference with their last appearance coming in 2008.  In the Big East, tenth seeded Depaul owns the longest drought just outside the top 100, but still checking in with 13 consecutive misses.  The SEC and Big Twelve will also have two first round games.

Notable Games (predictions in italics, 2-3 tonight, 0-1 from pending games previous night, 88-57 overall, 0 game pending from tonight)
Wednesday's top five as I see them:
#5 Boston College vs North Carolina State- North Carolina State 77, Boston College 74
#4 Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma- Oklahoma 79, Oklahoma State 78
#3 Syracuse vs North Carolina- North Carolina 73, Syracuse 70
#2 Louisville vs Florida State- Florida State 75, Louisville 74
#1 Notre Dame vs Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech 73, Notre Dame 72

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