We’re under 48 hours till the field of 68 is revealed. You thought the upsets weren’t going to happen? Ask Baylor, Kansas, Butler or any other team that though they had easy draws and are now on the bus back to the hotel to pack and go home. All these teams are safe but now are left to wonder if their performance here will cost them seeding in the big dance. We’ll see.
Bona Fide Safe UNC, Louisville, Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Syracuse, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech,
Work to Do : Wake Forest, Clemson
On The Fringe Georgia Tech
Skinny On The ACC: Clemson is just about done after their brave but futile effort against Duke. I think that Wake sweats the weekend and depending on what happens they still are far from safe. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim made no fans in Greensboro with his disparaging comments and it’ll be funny if Syracuse gets sent to South Carolina for their first round game.
Key Game: UNC vs Duke 7:00 Friday (ESPN) Does this game mean anything? Nope, will it be must see hoops? Better believe it.
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament: March 7-11 Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Projected Bids: 9
Conference Class- Major
Bona Fide: Dayton
Solid: VCU, Rhode Island
The A-10 Spec is: Rhode Island might need to make it to Saturday to have a real shot. If they get to the A-10 finals all the better.
Key Game: St. Bonaventure vs Rhode Island 2:30 Friday (NBCSN) The Rams better be careful
Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament March 8-12 PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh
Projected Bids: 2
Bona Fide: Cincy, SMU
Work to do: Houston, UCF
The Mustangs and Bearcats look to be on a collision course. As much as I think it might be a mistake to take the Huskies off the sheet they have stumbled down the stretch and despite hosting the AAC tourney they still will likely need to win the whole shooting match to get a berth. I still am wary of the Huskies, they have a history of making improbable runs like this. UCF will be a problem as Tacko Fall continues his ascent as a defensive force but this is a team that wants to play slow and other teams will try to run them. The Coogs will need to get to Sunday and that means beating the Bearcats to do so, a team that they have had numerous problems with over the years.
Key Game: UConn vs Houston 9p Friday (ESPNU) The Huskies know they have to win it to get in it. If the Coogs lose here they are NIT bound
The American Athletic Conference Tournament: March 9-12, XL Center Hartford
Projected Bids: 2
Bona Fide Safe: Villanova, Butler, Creighton
Work to Do Marquette, Providence, Xavier, Seton Hall
Big East Skinny: The Muskies may have very well brought their season back from the brink with a gutty, gritty win over a Big East tourney jinxed Butler (still winless in the Big East tourney) I think Creighton boosted their shaky chances but Providence didn’t hurt theirs. I still think Nova is playing for a #1 overall seed and their frightening evisceration of St. Johns was a powerful statement to that fact
Key Game: Xavier vs Creighton 9p (FS1) The Muskies do nothing but strengthen their resume with every win. Getting to the Big East Finale would be a nice capstone
Big East Conference Tournament March 8-11 Madison Square Garden, New York
Projected bids: 6
Bona Fide Safe Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan
On The Fringe: Indiana
Hoping For The Best: Michigan State,Illinois, Iowa
The Word on the Big Ten Is: Im sorry, I think Sparty is done. After their loss to Minnesota, they have 14 losses. No team with that many losses has ever gotten an at large. Michigan is BFS after knocking off top seeded Purdue.
Key Game: Indiana vs Wisconsin 6:30 (BTN) Indiana might be the biggest benefactor and is still in line to be a bid stealer. If they can beat the Badgers their case gets stronger
Big Ten Conference Tournament March 8-12, Verizon Center (Washington DC)
Projected Bids: 7
Bona Fide: Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma State
On The Fringe: TCU
Skinny from the heartland: Kansas State validated my faith in them and get a promotion. TCU still might need to get to Saturday night and even then might be sweating all day Sunday
TCU vs Iowa State 7p (ESPN2) Can the Frogs continue their stunning run for a bid steal?
Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Tournament March 8-11 Sprint Center, Kansas City
Projected Bids: 5
Solid: Middle Tennessee
Work to do: Louisiana Tech
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: The march of the Blue Raiders continue, gunning for 30 wins. The Bulldogs are their likely opponent in the early Saturday morning (10:30a CST) finale
Conference USA Tournament: March 8-11 Legacy Arena Birmingham, AL
Projected Bids: 1
Conference Class-Mid Major
Going Wichita State, Illinois State
Missouri Valley Skinny: Salute the Shockers! They routed a good Illinois State team and will be a major headache for an unsuspecting team in 10 days or so. I think the Redbirds are safe themselves but a trip to Dayton might be in the cards
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions: Wichita State
Projected Bids: 2
Work to do: Colorado State
Spec from the Mountains: Boise State got itself bounced from the sheet after their lackluster loss to San Diego State. Colorado State throttled Air Force
Key Game: San Diego State vs Colorado State 11:59p (CBSSN) Both teams think they have the chops to beat Nevada in Saturday’s finale but they might beat each other up trying to get there.
Mountain West Conference Tournament Mar 8-11, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
Projected Bids: 1
Bona Fide: Oregon, UCLA, Arizona
Solid USC, Cal, Utah
Spec From the Left Coast : With the dearth of major bid stealers I think its safe to say that both the Utes and Trojans are safe despite losing Thursday
Key Game: Cal vs Oregon 9:00 (Pac12 Net) The Ducks still dream of a #1 seed.
Pacific 12 Conference Tournament Mar 8-11 T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Projected Bids: 6
Bona Fide: Florida, UK,
Solid: South Carolina, Arkansas
Work to do: Alabama, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Georgia
Spec is Down South: Tennessee is finally done if any of the working teams win on Friday they get moved up
Key Game: Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina 7p (SECN) If the Commodores want to bid steal they must win out
Southeastern Conference Tournament: March 8-12 Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
Bona Fide: Gonzaga, Saint Marys
On The Fringe: BYU, Santa Clara
The Bulldogs roared out to big halftime lead weathered a spirited Gael rally and pulled away for a solid win. They have 32 wins and have all but assured themselves a #1 seed out West. Weep not for the Gaels as they will be a major headache for any team to cross them. I see them as 6 seed that will be a tough out.
West Coast Conference Tournament Champions: Gonzaga
Projected Bids: 2
There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial (UNC Wilmington) and Big South (Winthrop) always are in the mix. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid (projected bids from these conferences are in parentheses, clinched bids in bold): Amer. East (Vermont) Atlantic Sun (Florida Gulf Coast), Big Sky (Eastern Washington), Big West (Cal Irvine), Horizon (Northern Kentucky), Ivy (Princeton), MAC (Akron) , MAAC (Iona), MEAC (North Carolina Central), Northeast (Mount St. Marys), Ohio Valley (Jacksonville State), Patriot (Bucknell), Southern (East Tennessee State), Southland (New Orleans), Sun Belt (UT-Arlington), Summit (South Dakota St), and SWAC (Texas Southern) and Western Athletic (New Mexico State)
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 Mar 11