Teams with a Zero
As expected Texas Tech cruised this week, and Furman and LSU also picked up wins to keep the nine undefeated teams intact heading into the weekend. Eight of the nine teams will be in action, as only Virginia will be missing as they are in the midst of a ten day break before they go to South Carolina for a game against the Gamecocks. All eight games are at home, with Michigan (Western Michigan), Texas Tech (Abilene Christian), and St. John’s (Wagner) all anticipated to pick up wins by double digits. Three others are favorites, but maybe by not quite as large of margin. Those programs would beFurman (UNC Wilmington), Houston (Saint Louis), and Buffalo (Southern Illinois). If there is some intrigue, and I think you have to squint to find some, it might be in the final two games. Kenpom has Kansas over Villanova as a nine point game, and Nevada over South Dakota State as a sixteen(!) point game, but I feel like both have a chance to be close competitive games.
Unlike the undefeated teams, the sixteen winless programs winnowed ever so slightly. Al Skinner and the Kennesaw State Owls went into Boiling Springs, North Carolina and saw a thirteen point lead in the second half evaporate against Gardner Webb before ultimately dropping an 81-77 decision in overtime. McNeese State put together a second half Kennesaw State couldn’t, and erased a halftime deficit to easily dispatch North Carolina Central for their inaugural 2018-19 win. Fifteen teams remain.
Coppin State, Monmouth, La Salle, Alabama A&M, Delaware State, New Hampshire, and Alcorn State are all idle this weekend Mount St. Mary’s is in action, but against a Division III school. As for those who are on the calendar, Maryland Eastern Shore (@Pittsburgh), UNC Asheville (@Wofford), Alabama State (@Utah State), and North Alabama (@UNC Greensboro) will probably need to look later on their schedule for the first win as all will be big underdogs. South Carolina State (@USC Upstate) will have slightly better odds, but will still enter Saturday getting points. If the Bulldogs are not able to spring an upset, solace may be found in Kennesaw, where the Owls are hosting Tennessee Tech, or with Southern who takes on Northwestern State on a neutral in Shreveport. Both Kennesaw State and Southern are anticipated to be small favorites.
This week's top five as I see them (4-1 last week, 33-17 overall):
#5 South Dakota State at Nevada, Sat – Nevada 80, South Dakota State 76
#4 Saint Mary’s vs LSU, Sat – Saint Mary’s 74, LSU 73
#3 Indiana vs Butler, Sat – Indiana 71, Butler 70
#2 Cincinnati at Mississippi State, Sat –Mississippi State 69, Cincinnati 67
#1 Gonzaga at North Carolina, Sat – North Carolina 86, Gonzaga 82
My updated bracket can be found below. Currently, the weighting is 85% this season’s results and 15% last year/pre-season.
Four automatic bids are being swapped out in this update.
SWAC- Grambling State (Prairie View A&M)
Atlantic Sun- Liberty (Lipscomb)
Missouri Valley- Loyola Chicago (Southern Illinois)
MEAC- Howard (Norfolk State)
As for the at large teams, just one update on that side. BYU is in, Connecticut has fallen out.
My latest bracket has three bids going to first timers, with Grambling State, Sacred Heart, and Abilene Christian taking a spot. Wichita State (7), Xavier (5), Providence (5), West Virginia (4) Seton Hall (3), Miami FL (3) and Iona (3) would see multiple year streaks of tournament appearances snapped if this bracket would hold. Grambling State would be ending a 41 year drought and Furman would be ending a 38 year drought with conference automatic bids. San Francisco, an at large selection in my current bracket, would be ending a 20 year drought.
Edit: A disastrous attempt at the end of last night. I've updated the image. Previously I had Virginia twice (the second was to be Virginia Tech), and I had "Butler" instead of "Buffalo" listed.