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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

School basketball’s 5 largest questions heading into Championship Week

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The insanity earlier than the insanity is upon us.

Main convention tournaments get happening Tuesday and received’t decelerate till proper earlier than the bracket is unveiled on Choice Sunday. Listed here are the 5 largest questions that will probably be answered over the week forward.

1. Who will earn the fourth No. 1 seed?

UConn, Purdue, and Houston may all lose the primary video games of their respective convention tournaments by 35 factors, they usually’d all nonetheless be locks to earn a 1-seed on Choice Sunday.

You could be pondering that “who would be the No. 1 general seed” could be a logical leaping off level right here. Whereas it’s attention-grabbing, the truth is that this yr it doesn’t matter in any respect.

The most important profit to being the No. 1 general seed within the event is that you just get to decide on your geographical path to the Ultimate 4. The difficulty with that this season is that each one three groups are pretty spaced out, so all are going to get their most well-liked geographical designation no matter what order they’re seeded in.

UConn is headed to Brooklyn after which Boston. Houston will probably be despatched to Memphis after which Dallas. Purdue will play in Indianapolis after which Detroit.

So there’s no actual intrigue in terms of the highest three general seeds. That fourth No. 1 seed although …

There are three groups with a powerful case for that last spot, and a minimum of two others with a prayer. 5 groups from 5 totally different conferences.

Tennessee, regardless of shedding at dwelling to Kentucky on Saturday, would appear to have the within observe. Primarily based on their general resume, in the event that they win the SEC event, they ought to earn the ultimate spot on the highest line.

One factor to regulate right here: The SEC event last is performed on Choice Sunday. For years, there’s been a typical thought that the choice committee doesn’t weigh the impression of these Sunday video games except they completely should (in 2015 they really admitted they didn’t weigh the impression of the SEC title recreation the yr earlier than due to the “time crunch”). So maybe if North Carolina — the group I feel is second in line right here — rolls to an ACC event championship on Saturday, the committee goes forward and decides that who’s No. 4 and who’s No. 5 doesn’t matter all that a lot and goes forward and awards the highest spot to UNC. We’ll should see.

The Pac-12’s Arizona additionally has a shot at a No. 1 seed, however they would wish to win their convention event in convincing style and have each the opposite groups above them lose, ideally earlier than their convention championship video games.

Iowa State and Marquette are each longer photographs (means longer), however there’s a world the place one among them wins their convention title in dominant style and everybody else loses early they usually wind up leaping to the highest line.

2. Which bubble groups will solidify at-large bids?

Individuals love dismissing bubble discuss and saying that there’s far an excessive amount of consideration paid throughout these weeks to groups that don’t have any actual shot at doing something of substance within the NCAA event.

I’m right here to make the case that these individuals are mistaken.

For starters, despite the fact that the “First 4” — these 4 video games usually performed in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday that includes the lowest-seeded 4 groups within the area and the final 4 at-large groups to get in — has been pretty controversial and infrequently mocked since its inception in 2011, a group popping out of Dayton has received a minimum of one recreation within the event’s “fundamental draw” in yearly however one because the First 4 grew to become a factor. The one time it hasn’t occurred was in 2019.

Total, the First 4 has produced a complete of twenty-two victories within the “fundamental draw” of the event, 5 Candy 16 squads, and two Ultimate 4 groups, the latest being UCLA in 2021.

Moreover, each single Ultimate 4 however one since 2012 has featured a minimum of one group seeded No. 7 or worse. Since 2011, a complete of 12 groups seeded seventh or worse have crashed the season’s last weekend, and a stable chunk of these groups have been squads who discovered themselves close to or across the heart of “bubble” discuss through the last weeks of the common season.

Mainly, the bubble issues.

I feel we will boil issues all the way down to the purpose the place we are saying that now we have 4 open spots for 14 totally different groups. A type of groups, Indiana State, has no extra basketball to play. Their case is about in stone. One other, James Madison, performs Arkansas State for the Solar Belt championship Monday evening. Win they usually’re in. Lose and the corporate has to determine whether or not they exclude a 30-win group from the sector of 68 for the primary time ever.

Listed here are the opposite 13 groups and once they hit the ground this week:

St. John’s — Thursday, Large East event quarterfinals vs. Seton Corridor

Villanova — Wednesday, Large East event first spherical vs. DePaul

Windfall — Wednesday, Large East event first spherical vs. Georgetown

Wake Forest — Wednesday, ACC event second spherical vs. Notre Dame/Georgia Tech

Virginia — Thursday, ACC event quarterfinals vs. TBD

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Pittsburgh —Thursday, ACC event quarterfinals vs. TBD

New Mexico — Wednesday, Mountain West event first spherical vs. Air Drive

Iowa — Thursday, Large 10 event second spherical vs. Ohio State

Ohio State — Thursday, Large 10 event second spherical vs. Iowa

Texas A&M — Thursday, SEC event second spherical vs. Ole Miss

Mississippi State — Thursday, SEC event second spherical vs. LSU

Colorado — Thursday, Pac-12 event quarterfinals vs. Utah/Arizona State

Kansas State — Wednesday, Large 12 event second spherical vs. Texas

Bubble insanity will get getting into about 48 hours. Get your relaxation now.

3. Which groups will eradicate themselves from nationwide title competition earlier than the event even begins?

My favourite March tidbit is that no group has ever misplaced the primary recreation of its convention event and gone on to win the nationwide championship.

The closest a group has come to snapping this development was Texas Tech in 2019. The Crimson Raiders have been upset by West Virginia within the quarterfinals of the Large 12 event after which three weeks later got here one shot away from knocking off Virginia to assert the nationwide title.

When an sudden early exit occurs throughout Championship Week, followers (and generally coaches) like to act prefer it’s a blessing in disguise that the group is getting a couple of additional days of relaxation earlier than the Large Dance. The truth is that the numbers say this isn’t the case.

4. Will this week function a bid thief or a number of bid thieves?

As talked about earlier, bubble boys needs to be rooting laborious for James Madison on Monday evening within the Solar Belt championship recreation. If the Dukes are upset by Arkansas State — the event’s No. 7 seed — there’s an opportunity their glowing 30-4 report, which features a street win over Michigan State, will probably be sufficient to get them into the dance. Two groups from the Solar Belt would imply one much less spot for everybody else.

Clearly, if now we have a 2021 Georgetown or 2021 Oregon State scenario the place a group with no shot on the event will get sizzling and win 4 or 5 video games in 4 or 5 days, that wouldn’t bode properly for anybody on the bubble both.

Within the American Athletic Convention, Florida Atlantic is an NCAA event lock, whereas everybody else within the league — even Memphis and South Florida — probably must win the convention event to get in. That’s definitely doable.

The massive league to regulate for a bid theft this week would be the Atlantic 10. Dayton is the event’s No. 3 seed, however the Flyers are the one squad from the convention that’s locked into the sector of 68. The A-10’s event last is performed on Choice Sunday. A number of occasions lately, a group on the surface trying in has punched its ticket hours earlier than the bracket was revealed, and damaged the collective coronary heart of the group that was unknowingly sitting in spot No. 68. Don’t be shocked if the A-10 brings the cruelest of drama once more this yr.

5. Who’s going to get fired?

Mike Hopkins is already out at Washington, and Louisville’s Kenny Payne appears to be a surefire guess to get the axe inside 24-48 hours of the Cardinals’ elimination within the ACC event. However there are a handful of different names from energy conferences who could be teaching for his or her jobs this week.

Right here’s an inventory of fellows to regulate this week:

Jerod Haase (Stanford)

Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt)

Wayne Tinkle (Oregon State)

Mike Boynton (Oklahoma State)

Juwan Howard (Michigan)

Bobby Hurley (Arizona State)

Guys like Kevin Keatts (NC State), Johnny Dawkins (UCF) and Andy Enfield (USC) may not be on seats which are fairly as sizzling because the others on the listing, however could be well-served to not embarrass themselves this week (the Wolfpack play Louisville within the ACC event first spherical on Tuesday). A man like Pitt’s Jeff Capel would even be well-served to lock up an NCAA event bid with a minimum of one win in D.C.

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