Sunday, January 20, 2019

20-JAN Bracket Projections: Kentucky rises, Kansas, Auburn, and Ohio State drops.

Teams with a Zero
So, this is a UNC Asheville blog from now on.  An eventful Saturday for the Teams with a Zero.
We started the day in Madison, as Wisconsin used a late run to create some separation.  Wisconsin excelled by forcing Michigan into its worst efficiency of the season, aided by the largest turnover per possession percentage (24.1%) this season.  Ethan Happ led the way with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, ending the undefeated Wolverine run. 

A few hours later in Durham, the sole remaining unbeaten team suffered their first loss as Duke beat Virginia 72-70.  After the discussion around Duke’s three point shooting woes against Syracuse, neither team fared well in this regard.  In fact, Virginia delivered their worst day shooting the long ball, just 17.6%, this season.  Duke was even worse, 14.3%, but dominated from inside the arc shooting 64.9%.  That’s the best any team has shot against Virginia all season.  Salute to all the folks who picked January 19th as the day the last undefeated teams would fall. 

It was also a great day for the winless teams.  Maryland Eastern Shore went on the road and beat Florida A&M in overtime 60-58 for the Hawks first Division I win this season.  Southern was at home, yet also needed overtime, and were able to knock off Arkansas Pine Bluff 69-67.  In fact, all the SWAC teams have now made their way off the list, as Alcorn State won at home handing Mississippi Valley State a 63-57 loss. 

That leaves us with one team.  UNC Asheville, 2-17 on the season with wins over St. Andrews Presbyterian and a ten point win over Milligan.  It’s been quite the fall from grace for the Bulldogs in their post-Nick McDevitt chapter.  They are 0-5 in Big South play, and this season have only hung within single digits of Stetson (80-74), Longwood (67-62) and Radford (71-63).  According to kenpom, the Bulldogs's best chance left at a win in the regular season will be in ten days when they host USC Upstate.  This Monday they will head to Rock Hill for a rematch against Winthrop, a game the Bulldogs lost at home 80-65. 

Notable Games
This week's top five as I see them (2-3 last week, 65-35 overall):
#5 Mississippi State at Kentucky, Tue – Kentucky 75, Mississippi State 72
#4 Iowa State at Kansas, Mon – Iowa State 73, Kansas 72
#3 North Carolina State at Louisville, Thu – North Carolina State 76, Louisville 75
#2 Maryland at Michigan State, Mon – Michigan State 76, Maryland 70
#1 Virginia Tech at North Carolina, Mon – North Carolina 75, Virginia Tech 74

My updated bracket can be found below.  This bracket (as well as my previous brackets) are a projection of where I think the teams will be as of Selection Sunday.  In other words, it includes their future schedule, for better or for worse. 

One automatic bid is being swapped out in this update. 
Atlantic 10- VCU (Dayton)

Two at-large bids being updated in this bracket.  Lipscomb remains in, but their conference counterpart Liberty has fallen out, giving the Bisons the automatic bid.  Replacing the slot the second Atlantic Sun was previously holding down is Toledo.  Butler is also in the field, while Florida State has fallen out. 

My latest bracket has three bids going to a first timer, with Abilene Christian, Grambling State, and Sacred Heart each earning 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, Rider, and Texas State would be ending droughts of at least 20 years with an automatic bid.  Toledo and San Francisco I have securing an at large bid, which would be the first bid in 38 years and 20 years, respectively. 

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