Robby D’s BRACKETOLOGY – February 20, 2012

Many apologies to all of you Bracket Enthusiasts, but I have been incredibly busy the past month or so with the job and all. But Bracketology is BACK! And wow, have I missed out on a lot the past month!

What a phenomenal weekend for Bracketbusters as well. The Long Beach State-Creighton game was sensational, Murray State-St. Mary’s was electric, and you’ll get to read what I think about Wichita State later on.

For those who haven’t been here, here’s a summary of what you missed from the previous post…For those who didn’t know, yours truly has been a resident bracketologist for over 3 years. I even predicted every team in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, which is not easy to do with the ever-crowded bubble list of teams.

We will analyze and gaze into the college basketball crystal ball to predict and foresee the future of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

With all of that being said, let’s get to breaking down the early BRACKETS!

EAST REGION (Boston, MA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 SYRACUSE
#16 VERMONT

#8 Virginia
#9 Kansas State

Nashville, TN
#5 TEMPLE
#12 Seton Hall

#4 Florida State
#13 IONA

Columbus, OH
#6 Saint Louis
#11 West Virginia

#3 Georgetown
#14 Belmont

Pittsburgh, PA
#7 NEW MEXICO
#10 SOUTHERN MISS

#2 Ohio State
#15 DAVIDSON

WEST REGION (Phoenix, AZ)

Omaha, NE
#1 Kansas
#16 TEXAS ARLINGTON vs. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE

#8 St. Mary’s
#9 Memphis

Albuquerque, NM
#5 UNLV
#12 Arizona

#4 Notre Dame
#13 LONG BEACH STATE

Albuquerque, NM
#6 Vanderbilt
#11 Washington

#3 Baylor
#14 NEVADA

Columbus, OH
#7 GONZAGA
#10 Cincinnati

#2 MICHIGAN STATE
#15 ORAL ROBERTS

MIDWEST REGION (St. Louis, MO)

Louisville, KY
#1 KENTUCKY
#16 UNC-ASHEVILLE

#8 San Diego State
#9 Iowa State

Portland, OR
#5 Louisville
#12 Alabama

#4 Wisconsin
#13 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Louisville, KY
#6 MURRAY STATE
#11 Purdue

#3 Florida
#14 VALPARAISO

Greensboro, NC
#7 Creighton
#10 Xavier

#2 DUKE
#15 AKRON

SOUTH REGION (Atlanta, GA)

Omaha, NE
#1 MISSOURI
#16 SAVANNAH STATE vs. LIU-BROOKLYN

#8 BYU
#9 HARVARD

Portland, OR
#5 WICHITA STATE
#12 Northwestern vs. UConn

#4 Michigan
#13 St. Joseph’s vs. South Florida

Nashville, TN
#6 Indiana
#11 Mississippi State

#3 Marquette
#14 WEBER STATE

Greensboro, NC
#7 CALIFORNIA
#10 DREXEL

#2 North Carolina
#15 BUCKNELL

LAST FOUR IN:
St. Joseph’s
UConn
South Florida
Northwestern

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Miami (FL)
Texas
Oregon
Illinois

NEXT FOUR OUT:
NC State
Dayton
Colorado State
VCU

BID BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE:
Big East: 10
Big Ten: 7
SEC: 5
Big 12: 5
ACC: 4
Atlantic 10: 4
Mountain West: 3
Pac-12: 3
West Coast: 3
Conference USA: 2
Missouri Valley: 2

5 Teams on the Rise:

*MICHIGAN STATE: When you think about it, this Spartans team really isn’t all that different than last year’s team (remove Kalin Lucas) that got bounced by UCLA in the first round. What you see this year with this team is the effort and tenacity on the glass that Tom Izzo teams are known for. Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, and Big Ten POTY candidate Draymond Green are pounding the boards and getting baskets inside. Freshman Branden Dawson has been big for Sparty. Last year, I had an inkling after seeing them demolish Purdue in the B10 Tourney that they were finally rounding into form. You don’t have to worry about that with this year’s team, Sparty’s for real and are a legit Final Four contender.

*WICHITA STATE: There may not be a hotter team in college basketball right now than the Shockers. I’ve seen them twice in the past week and I’m convinced this team are world beaters. They throttled Creighton on their home court last week and then did the same thing to a Davidson team that had only lost once at home all year. Ever since their triple-OT loss to Drake, this team has been a different animal. Remember this name: Shocker PG Joe Ragland. He is their heart and soul, and is only the second leading scorer on the team. Watch out for the Shockers folks, they’re for real.

*SAINT LOUIS: Another team to be weary of come March are the fighting Rick Majerus’s. One of the best defensive teams in the country, and could be a bracket buster team if you’re looking for a possible sweet 16 sleeper. The stats won’t wow you about this team. They aren’t off the charts when it comes to rebounding, they don’t put up a ton of points. But one thing you’ll need to know RIGHT off the bat with the Billikens is their defense like I mentioned earlier. They have yet to allow a team to score more than 80 POINTS.You read that correctly. In their victories this season, they’ve yet to allow a team to score more than 70 on them. A grind it out, stopper of a team is one of those kinds of teams that could be dangerous if they play to their tempo in the Tournament. 

*NOTRE DAME: Most of you know my affiliation is to my alma mater of Purdue. Most of you should know that one of Purdue’s biggest rivals is Notre Dame. Most of you should also know that I hate the Irish with a passion. That being said, I’ve got to give Mike Brey credit with this team. I don’t know how they’re doing it (literally, I don’t) but the Irish have now rattled off 8 wins in a row in the Big East and they’re doing it all WITHOUT Tim Abromaitis. Their most recent victory may not have come against the best team in the conference, but it may have been their most impressive. Trailing by 20 points at multiple times in their battle at Villanova, Notre Dame stuck in it, came back, and beat the Wildcats. Winning 8 games in a row is no easy task, but doing it in one of the toughest conferences in America will get you noticed quickly. One thing to remember about this team is they seem to crumble quickly come Tourney Time. Keep an eye on them, cause that burn offense seems to fail them in March Madness. But for now, they are en fuego.

*NEW MEXICO: I didn’t think the Lobos had it in them coming into a week where they had to go to San Diego State, then come home to face UNLV. Wow, was I wrong. Steve Alford’s team is playing some of the best basketball in the nation and they’ve got the wins to back it up. Now you may see that they’ve defeated the top 3 teams in the Mountain West in the past 2-3 weeks…Colorado State, San Diego State, and UNLV. But they haven’t just beaten the best of their conference, they’ve dismantled them. Colorado State by 33, San Diego State by 10, UNLV by 20. What on earth? To add to that, Drew Gordon was absolutely sensational against UNLV on Saturday. No one knows about him, but you’ll learn of him quickly. 26 points and 20 rebounds is no stat line to laugh about, throw in two other Lobos that average over 11 a game…and New Mexico just may be putting together a team to remember.

5 Teams on the Decline:

*ILLINOIS: Easy to throw the Illini at the top of this list. Talk about a dumpster fire…Illinois was a 7-seed on my Bracketology just one month ago. Now, they are completely out of my field 0f 68. Sure, their numbers are nice: 23rd SOS, RPI of 63, 4 wins against the RPI Top 50…but that’s a load of BS when you lose 8 of your last 9 including an absolutely INEXCUSABLE 23 point loss at Nebraska on Saturday. You know, the Nebraska team that’s 12-13 this year. Yeah, that one. The Fighting Illini lost by 23 to the Huskers. My word. Sure, they’ve got a win against Michigan State sandwiched in their 8 of 9 losing party, but that win means jack squat when you can’t follow it up with more victories. We’ll see what this team is made of VERY quickly, but right now the Fighting…let me rephrase that, the Siss-Girl Illini are in free-fall and don’t appear to be picking themselves back up anytime soon.

*UCONN: Another team much like the Illini that has loads of talent yet seems to be falling apart at the seams right now. There’s no team chemistry what so ever with this squad, and without the services of head coach Jim Calhoun at the helm, the Huskies are falling quickly. The only thing that’s keeping this team afloat are their extremely powerful numbers. RPI of 25, the #1 SOS, 5 RPI Top 50 wins are keeping them in the field. Jeremy Lamb looks like a lost little girl, Andre Drummond is playing like a freshman, is Roscoe Smith still on this team? What’s shocking is this team is relatively the same squad minus Kemba Walker that won a National Championship last year. What’s funny though is the Huskies were in a familiar position last year…will they turn around at the right time? We shall see.

*MISSISSIPPI STATE: Can things get any worse for the Mississippi State Bulldogs? Actually it can. After 3 straight losses to teams outside the RPI Top 60 including two that aren’t even in the Top 100, what’s the perfect way to get back on the winning track? Play Kentucky at home. Yeahhh, that should help. Tuesday night the Hump will be rocking, but will the Bulldogs bring their A-game finally? We’ve seen them at their best coming back and winning at Vanderbilt or nearly defeating Baylor on a neutral court, but right now the Dawgs are seeing their at-large birth slowly fade away. A win over UK will DEFINITELY punch their ticket to the Tourney, but I wouldn’t count on it. A win at Alabama this Saturday would be huge down the road.

*NC STATE: Mark Gottfried’s team appeared to be finally getting things together after 3 wins over the worst of the ACC. But that road loss at Duke where the Wolfpack were leading by a hefty margin may have derailed NC State’s at-large chances and their confidence. They got blown off their home court by Florida State which may begin their tailspin. Their power numbers aren’t bad, but they are without a top 25 victory and their best win they can rest on is on a neutral court against Texas. If they can beat UNC at home on Tuesday, all this negative talk gets flipped and the Wolfpack may be back in the field of 68.

*BAYLOR: It was hard to pick this last one, but the Baylor Bears aren’t a 1-seed worthy team anymore. Yeah, they’ve played some of the best in the conference in KU and Mizzou, but the loss at home to Kansas State sorta showed to me this team is beginning to fall fast. They’ve now lost to both KU & Mizzou twice this year, which shows me they aren’t ready to compete with a 1 or 2-seed in the Tourney and their loss to K-State displayed their lethargic level of energy and their loss of confidence. Scott Drew is getting nothing from his 5-star freshmen Perry Jones and Quincy Miller, and teams are starting to realize you stop those two and Pierre Jackson, you’ve got a great shot at beating the Bears. We’ll see where this team goes from here, but I’m not nearly as high on the Bears as I was a month ago.

And that’s it! We are less than THREE WEEKS AWAY FROM SELECTION SUNDAY! Until then, enjoy the college hoops!!

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About Robby Donoho

I'm a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, majoring in Mass Communication. I currently reside in the beautiful Columbus, Mississippi as a sports anchor and reporter for WCBI-TV covering the SEC and all its glory. My sports allegiance lies with the: Colts, Cubs, Pacers, Boilermakers, Blackhawks, anyone that plays IU or Notre Dame, and USA (anything). I love watching The Office and enjoying a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with a nice, leather-bound book.
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