Comparing the Brackets
Every Tuesday I take a look at what some of the experts have predicted for the field of 65 and compare their predictions with mine. Joe Lunardi's picks from ESPN can be found here, and the site Bracketology 101 has picks every week and they can be found here. Michael Lazarus of Fox Sports picks can be found here.
Joe Lunardi has three picks that differ from my own and they are Kent State, Stanford, and LSU.
Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 also have three picks which differ from my own and they are Boston University, Stanford, and Western Kentucky.
Michael Lazarus has three picks which differ from mine and they are Sam Houston State, UL Lafayette, and LSU.
I am going to take a look at these 7 teams and explain why they do not make the tourney.
Stanford: They had one game last week against California and beat them 71-56. This really does not mean anything as Cal does not have a good team this year. Stanford now stands at 13-9 and they are 7-5 in the conference. Dan Grunfield who is the leading scorer for the Cardinals was lost for the season after he hurt his knee in the second half. The injury will require surgery, but no date has been set yet. With 6 games remaining in their season, and 4 of them at home the Cardinals have a good shot at convincing me they belong in my predictions. They play USC and UCLA at home this week. If they beat UCLA, which is a very young, but talented team, I think they will be dancing come this time next week.
Kent State: This team has a few things going for them. They have a very good RPI at 39 and their SOS (strength of schedule) is 58. Both are very respectable numbers for a mid major. Usually the bubble teams such as Kent State have RPI's somewhere between 30 and 70 so they are in the right neighborhood. Kent State has also beaten some worthy opponents in Creighton, Florida State and Miami of Ohio (who by the way happens to be 1st in the MAC). They also came very close to beating BC in December, but lost by two points. The reason I did not pick Kent State is because I think the MAC will only get one team into the tourney, and as of right now I think that team is Miami of Ohio. I hold the right to change my opinion on this in the upcoming weeks.
LSU: Yes, its true that LSU is 6-4 in the always tough SEC conference, but when you look at their schedule, who have they beaten? Their 3 best wins are Arkansas, Ohio State, and Mississippi State (whom I think is vastly overrated). Their next 3 games are against Mississippi State, Florida, and Arkansas. If they win 2 of those games, I will look at them much more favorably then I do now, and they will be in my bracket.
Boston University: They had a huge win over Vermont on Saturday, which was the Catamounts first loss in the American East. Still, I do not see how this conference is going to get two bids, and I think that Vermont will be the only team in the tourney from the American East.
Western Kentucky: Craig and Chris from Bracketology 101 pick Western Kentucky to win the Sun Belt Conference, while I am still sticking with Denver. Denver lost to Western Kentucky on the road last week 84-79. Either of these teams could be in the tourney and it is going to come down to whoever wins the conference championship next month and gets the automatic bid.
UL Lafayette: At 9-2 in conference play they are tied for first place in the west division of the Sun Belt Conference with Denver. However, they have lost both of their games to Denver, which prompted me to include Denver in my picks for the tourney instead of UL Lafayette. They do have wins against Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, but until Denver losses they are going to continue to be my pick to win the Sun Belt Conference.
Sam Houston State: At 8-2, Sam Houston State is one game behind SE Louisiana who is leading the Southland conference at 9-2. Sam Houston State lost the first game they played against SE Louisiana and the rematch is on March 5 and could decide who wins the regular season championship for the Southland conference.