Top seeds jockeying for geography
Editor's note: Charlie Creme will project the 2007 NCAA Tournament bracket right up to Selection Monday in March. Click here for this month's field of 64 Women's Bracketology and Charlie's team-by-team analysis. This projection includes games through March 4.The 2007 NCAA Bracket will be unveiled March 12 on ESPN's Selection Show beginning at 8 p.m. ET, with continued coverage at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Six conference tournament No. 1 seeds were eliminated on Saturday. Then it was goodbye to George Washington on Sunday (Ohio State gave us a close call, too). Warnings go out to the likes of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Texas-Arlington, Montana, Coppin State and Belmont as they begin their conference tournaments later this week. All dominated the regular season, but this weekend proved it might not matter. Tulane, Long Island and Bucknell all suffered shocking upsets as top seeds facing much lower seeds, paying the ultimate price -- no NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee, Duke and George Washington, none of which have to worry about their tournament status, all managed to go three months without losing in their respective leagues and then were all out before the tournament finals. Amazing.
So what does it all mean?
The No. 1 overall seeds in this week's projection remain unchanged as they have for weeks, but these wins and losses matter within the group jockeying for geography. Not much has separated Tennessee, North Carolina and Connecticut most weeks and now they all look even closer. Duke remains the clear No. 1 overall with just one loss and a 3-0 record against the other No. 1 seeds, but the Blue Devils have taken an ever-so-small step back toward the pack.
The biggest impact is the tussle between North Carolina and Tennessee for the right to stay closer to home in the Dayton Regional instead of being moved to Dallas. Now the edge goes to the Tar Heels. All winter it has been a debate over Tennessee's overall tougher schedule and dominance in the SEC against North Carolina's head-to-head win over the Lady Vols. I've gone with the Lady Vols in Dayton for the last three weeks, but now the Tar Heels have an ACC tournament championship to match Tennessee's regular-season SEC title and regains the right to use fewer frequent flyer miles.
The question of who goes to Fresno also persists. Given that all four No. 1 seeds are on the East Coast, it looks like a punishment to be sent there. Of course, it isn't, but the fact remains that someone has to go. I still have Connecticut as that team.
The Huskies arguably are playing better than anyone right now. And perhaps, if they deliver the conference tournament title that Tennessee could not to accompany their unbeaten Big East regular season, it might change. When it is this close, however, it could be one piece that makes the difference. In this case that piece is that UConn is 0-2 against North Carolina and Tennessee. Admittedly, even the most recent of those losses was two months ago, but while time might dim some memories, it doesn't erase them. Given that Tennessee has a tougher schedule and North Carolina does have a championship on its résumé now, I can't put the Huskies higher than fourth overall.
The other end of the bracket continues to be a mess. New Mexico, Washington, Western Kentucky, Auburn and Seton Hall -- all teams vying for one of the final few spots -- each lost at least once in the last week.
Washington and New Mexico are in chiefly because they have more good wins than anyone else in this group that also includes Texas, Hofstra and Ball State. Western Kentucky's loss to Arkansas State coupled with the fact that it has no top-50 wins really hurt its chances. Seton Hall lost two games to South Florida it really needed to win. Hofstra is close, but also lacks in the "good wins" category and 14 of the Pride's victories come outside the top-150. Ball State's résumé just doesn't hold up anymore with 15 of those sub-150 wins and two losses outside the top-100.
The questions also will roll in about Tulane, the regular-season Conference USA champion which was upset in the tournament semis. Forget it. The Green Wave have zero wins in the top-50, 14 worthless wins, one bad loss, an RPI in the 60s and a SOS in the 170s. That's not one of the best 33 teams in the at-large pool.Click here to send Charlie Creme an e-mail.
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