Saturday, May 28, 2022 |
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There aren’t many better days of the year than Selection Sunday. For the next three weeks, your dreams will be filled with brackets.
You’ll get up from a meal and think to yourself, “that was pretty good, but not great… probably worthy of a 4-seed.”
The NCAA tournament will consume your entire being.
Except, there are some teams who woke up this morning with an uneasiness as soon as they opened their eyes. They had some breakfast, though a nervous stomach probably limited their appetite.
They are now sitting around, waiting to see if the selection show hosts display their name on the big board.
It seems like there are just three spots still available for about 10 teams.
That very fragile bubble will be bursting for most.
Here is how I see the day shaping out for those nervous souls who probably couldn’t enjoy their breakfast.
Seton Hall: OUT. Though the Pirates compiled a 9-9 record in the most loaded conference in all the land, they beat up on local, weak competition out of conference. They do have wins over Louisville and Pittsburgh, but being the ninth team to make it from the Big East is now looking like a longshot with the shrinking at-large bids available.
Mississippi State: IN. The Bulldogs were clearly behind Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee all year. A strong run in the SEC tournament has brought them up to the level those three have occupied and a win over Vandy on Saturday gives them a chance to make this argument moot. If they can knock off Kentucky today, they will earn the conference’s automatic bid and make the rest of the bubble teams frown.
Florida: OUT. Speaking of the SEC, the Gators had a chance to make themselves a tournament lock with a solid showing in the conference tournament. But their bubble showdown with Mississippi State didn’t go as designed. The Bulldogs just stole their dessert without ever asking for a bite. Later, Gators.
Virginia Tech: OUT. The Hokies have found themselves in this same spot for a few years now. Last year they got hot and forced the committee to at least consider them. This year they fell flat and have gone from lock to bubble. They have lost four of their last six, including a first-round defeat to Miami in the ACC tourney and didn’t beat any top teams in conference play.
Rhode Island: OUT. I think they had to beat Temple in the Atlantic 10 semifinals on Saturday. The A-10 will get three teams into the tournament (Temple, Xavier, Richmond). To get a fourth, one team must really force the committee’s hand. The Rams didn’t. Enjoy the NIT.
Illinois: IN. I’m not a fan of this squad, but for some reason, the committee gives the Big Ten more credit than it typically deserves. The Illini stumbled into the conference tourney, but did beat Wisconsin and took Ohio State — a likely No. 2 seed — to double-overtime. Bruce Weber just might have done it again.
Minnesota: IN. I think the Gophers are more deserving than Illinois and they can also play their way in with a win today over Ohio State. They have won seven of nine, including Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue and at Illinois. They also crushed San Diego State early in the season. I like their chances even with a loss today.
Memphis: OUT. The first season without John Calipari had its ups and downs, but the Tigers needed a strong C-USA tournament. They didn’t have one. This conference is better than people realize and they did go 13-3, but it will be NIT time in head coach Josh Pastner’s rookie season.
Arizona State: OUT. Probably hoping and praying, but the Sun Devils should see the writing on the wall.
Ole Miss: OUT. The Rebels hurt themselves with a poor finish and are now just another SEC also-ran.
So I’ve got Mississippi State, Minnesota and Illinois, though the Illini should be rubbing rabbits feet by the dozens.
Enjoy the selection show and start crafting the perfect bracket.
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