More teams are playing their way in and a few are playing their way out. I will be adding projections of the smaller one bid conferences starting with Friday’s update.
Solid: Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia
Work to do: Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pitt, Clemson
Skinny on the ACC: Little changed over the weekend, Duke aint dropping off the solid line even though they were considering walkons to play in their loss to Louisville. Notre Dame will go nowhere after a shameful loss to Georgia Tech. Syracuse is still a team I cant figure out yet and after a second straight loss, this time to Pitt they are in real danger of falling off. Clemson again? They just wont go away.
Key Game: North Carolina at North Carolina State 7p (ESPN). The Heels are way safe but if they want a number 1 seed, they better keep winning. Playing neighborhood rival State is never a fun proposition.
Projected Bids: 6
Conference Class- Major
Solid: VCU, Dayton, St. Joes
Work to do: GW, St. Bonnies
The A-10 Spec is: Are the Flyers in trouble? Not yet but after a puzzling loss to St Bonnies you have to wonder if that high seed is going by the boards. St Bonnies hasn’t got its moving papers yet, but VCU has gotten to rowdy to ignore and make the move. I get the feeling that the last bid is a toss up between the Bonnies and the Colonials
Key Game: VCU at George Mason Wednesday 7:00(Fox Sports Regional) The Rams are now the hunted team at the top and a road game at the lowly Patriots look like a trap game waiting to be sprung.
Projected Bids: 4
Work to do: Temple, UConn, Tulsa
All-American Spec: Cincy hits the 20 win mark for the sixth straight year and Im not playing the homer or favorites, I think the Bearcats are more solid than any other team in the American right now.
Key Games: Temple at Tulsa 7:00 (ESPNN) Would a win here get the Golden Hurricane solid? Maybe. A win for the Owls keeps them in the American drivers seat.
Projected Bids: 3
Solid: Xavier, Villanova
Work to do: Providence, Seton Hall, Creighton, Butler
Big East Skinny: The Wildcats and Muskies are headed towards an epic clash in the Cintas Center Thursday, but after that things get murky. Butler is getting close but not that close to solid. Just a minute Seton Hall, just because you are in 3rd doesn’t give you an automatic pass up to Solid…yet. Creighton took a tough loss to Butler and is teetering dangerously close to falling from the sheet altogether. That rout of Villanova looks more like a one off fluke.
Key Game: Villanova at Xavier Thursday 7:00 (FS1) The regular season showdown between the two top dogs in the Big East, im expecting a higher stakes rematch in MSG in three weeks.
Projected bids: 4
Solid: Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State
Work to do: Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State
The word on the Big Ten is: Hoosiers win and move solid, did you notice that they are the Big Ten leaders? That’s because Maryland took a shocking loss to the super sad sack Gophers in the Barn and have fallen from the top perch. Other than that, we have no real big shakeup. Yes, I included Ohio State, but don’t get your hopes up Buck fans, they need to get a lot more wins to get on the right side of the ledger.
Key Game: Wisconsin at Iowa Wednesday 9:00 (BTN) Two top dogs in the conference go head up.
Projected Bids: 6
Solid: Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma
Work to do: Iowa State, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech
Skinny from the heartland: The Raiders are charging hard down the stretch and will make the final two weeks a real eye opener. Of the four working teams, Iowa State looks the shakiest. 4-4 over their last 8 and getting housed by the Mountaineers does them no good. No other real changes here as of yet.
Key Game: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Wednesday 9:00 (ESPN) Basketball version of bedlam, the Sooners had best be careful dealing with their instate rival.
Projected Bids: 5
Conference Class-Mid Major
Solid: Wichita State
Work to do: Evansville
Missouri Valley Skinny: The Purple Aces make their first appearance, but need to win win and win some more to get solid. The Redbirds took a pratfall against UNI (They were warned) and tumble out.
Key Game: Evansville at Bradley Today 9:00 (Fox Regional) The Aces now try to hold the #2 MVC to stay opposite of the rampaging Shockers. But a loss in Peoria might be fatal to their chances.
Projected Bids: 1
Solid: Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Cal
Work to do: USC, Colorado
Spec from the left coast: The Utes and Bears have crossed to Solid with winning streak that have pushed them past 20 wins, but USC will stay in the working line for the time being. I was feeling that the winner of the Utes-Trojans game would make the move and I feel confident about the Utes. The Bears as ragged and uneven as their resume can be in places (losses to Richmond at home, a three game conference skid which included back to back losses by the same 77-71 score. Wins over Utah, Colorado
Key Games: USC at Stanford Thursday 11:00 (Pac 12 Net) The Trojans are letting it get away from them having lost three of four, this NoCal trip might be make or break
Projected Bids: 5
Solid: UK, Texas A&M , South Carolina
Work to do: Florida, LSU, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Alabama
Spec is Down South: Guess what UK, you have company on the solid line. The Aggies showed me something with a gutty, gritty grind it out win at home against these Wildcats. South Carolina finally stopped their slide with a tight win over Florida and they should have enough. LSU? They are in serious trouble and the bubble is way too crowded with quality teams to let them in. The working line is long and all the teams on it are flawed, to be sure so are the solid teams but they have less flaws and more marquee wins
Key Game: LSU at Arkansas Tonight 7:00 (ESPNU) The Bayou Bengals need to win out the regular season to keep from needing tourney wins to get to 20. Winning in Fayetteville against the lower echelon Hogs is a must
Projected Bids: 4
Conference Class- Mid Major
Solid: Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Work to do: BYU
West Coast Spec: The Gaels went to the Kennel and completed a stunning sweep of the Bulldogs. That alone makes them solid, but don’t cry for the Zags (I hate that nickname but for creative purposes bear with me) their streak of 17 straight tourney apprearances is far from in danger. I think that they have enough to get in. Now hold up there BYU, you take your root beer and go back to the corner, I still don’t think that the West Coast gets three invites. They still could play their way solid but need to stack the wins.
Key Game: Portland at BYU Saturday 8p (ESPN2) The Coogs whine that they get no respect, they need to win out and looking toward a Saturday tilt with the Bulldogs. But there is the tiny matter of the Pilots who knocked them off a month ago. Get swept and its win it to get in it for them.
Projected Bids: 2
There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial and Big South always are in the mix and can send multiple teams. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid: Amer. East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Mountain West, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit, and SWAC and Western Athletic projected bids from these conferences will be posted here starting February 26th
Since this is still early spec, nothing here is solid and we haven’t even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?
Next Spec Feb 26th