March 8, 2012
By Bruce Marshall
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There wasn't much movement on the bubble on Wednesday, although it was still a somewhat eventful day with more tickets punched as the Patriot (Lehigh), Northeast (Long Island), and Big Sky (Montana) Tourneys crowned their champions.
The last of the lower-rung Division I-A loops also got their conference tourneys underway, and there was one significant upset right off the bat with Shannon Sharpe's alma mater and MEAC top seed Savannah State dumped out in the first round at Winston-Salem vs. an 11-20 Hampton side.
If there was a bubble development of note on Wednesday, it was Seton Hall missing a golden opportunity to solidify its claim to an at-large spot when bowing to Louisville in the Big East second round, 61-55. The Pirates have played themselves into real bubble trouble by not only losing 10 of their last 15 games, but also three of their last four, including damaging setbacks last week vs. Big East also-rans Rutgers and DePaul. The Hall will thus straddle the cut line into Selection Sunday.
Meanwhile, another Big East bubbler, South Florida, at least avoided what would have been a cataclysmic defeat vs. Villanova by grinding out a 56-47 win over the Wildcats at Madison Square Garden. The win over Nova probably doesn't move the Bulls' needle too much, but a win over Notre Dame in the quarterfinal round on Thursday night would definitely help. For the moment we have the Hall and USF both among the first teams out, although the situation remains fluid and the names could certainly change in the next 72 hours prior to Selection Sunday. Movement on the bubble could really accelerate on Thursday and Friday as conference tourney action switches into higher gear.
West Virginia also might not be feeling completely comfy, either, after its 67-63 overtime loss in the opener of Wednesday Big East action vs. UConn, but coming into his week we had the Mountaineers better-positioned than either Seton Hall or South Florida and into our field of 68 regardless what happened in the Big East Tourney.
After Wednesday's games, here's how our projected seeds (1 thru 16) for the Big Dance set up as of AM, Thursday, March 8...
No. 1 seeds...Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, North Carolina.
No. 2 seeds...Duke, Missouri, Ohio State, Michigan State.
No. 3 seeds...Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Baylor.
No. 4 seeds...Wisconsin, Florida State, Georgetown, Wichita State.
No. 5 seeds...Temple, Creighton, UNLV, Florida.
No. 6 seeds...Gonzaga, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Louisville.
No. 7 seeds...Virginia, Saint Mary's, Saint Louis, Memphis.
No. 8 seeds...New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Murray State.
No. 9 seeds...Iowa State, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Washington.
No. 10 seeds...BYU, UConn, California, Mississippi State.
No. 11 seeds...Oregon, Long Beach State, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern.
No. 12 seeds...Alabama, West Virginia, Colorado State, Miami-Fla., Texas.
No. 13 seeds...Akron, Belmont, Harvard, Southern Miss, Drexel.
No. 14 seeds...Loyola-Md., Davidson, Detroit, Nevada.
No. 15 seeds...Lehigh, UT-Arlington, South Dakota State, Montana.
No. 16 seeds...Long Island, UNC-Asheville, Norfolk State, Stony Brook, Mississippi Valley State, Western Kentucky.
Last four in...Miami-Florida, Texas, Southern Miss, Drexel.
First four out...South Florida, NC State, Seton Hall, Tennessee.
Next four out...Arizona, Iona, Middle Tennessee, Oral Roberts.