Daddy, are you still talking just about basketball in your column?
Happy Birthday to my youngest Princess Jazzie, who turns 6 today
Spec Sheet 3-11
The Dance invites are now going out fast and furious. Harvard got the first golden dance ticket as they easily defeated Yale to claim the Ivy League title. As Midnight Tuesday 8 of the automatic bids have been claimed. At the bottom of the sheet they will be listed in bold as teams that have earned the automatic bid in the conferences that will likely send one team. This is where the speculation is at its highest and most fluid. Updates will be made daily through Selection Sunday
Going: Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina
Looking Good: Pitt
Work to do: Florida State, Clemson
Skinny on the ACC: The four teams that have the double bye into the Quarters in Greensboro are way safe. Pitt keeps playing and delaying but I think that they are safe. Clemson is the one in trouble; they needed that win against Pitt Saturday and lost a tough OT game. They will need to win their second round game (they have one bye) and beat Duke to get to Saturday and have a realistic chance Please stop asking about Florida State…they are not a viable team to go unless they too get to the Saturday semis at least. That would entail beating ACC regular season champ Virginia.
Key Games: Georgia Tech vs Boston College Wednesday 7p (ACCNet/ESPN3) The lone night game of the first day pits a team needing a win to get into the NIT vs a team that wont go anywhere but home when they lose
Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Tournament: March 12-16 Greensboro Coliseum; Greensboro, NC
Projected Bids: 6
Conference Class- Major
Going Saint Louis, George Washington, VCU
Looking Good: UMass, St. Joes, Dayton
The A-10 Spec is: The Billikens righted themselves enough to finally clinch the #1 seed here and are way safe for the tourney but they are very vulnerable for an upset in the Brooklyn, The Hawks went right back to bubble trouble with back to back losses, the second an ill-timed loss to fellow Philly Big 5 neighborhood rival LaSalle. But even though their status is shaky as long as they don’t get routed in their A-10 quarters game (likely against Dayton) they should be good. VCU and GW I think are safe. UMass lost a heartbreaker to Saint Louis that would got them a double bye, and now have to get one win to get to bulletproof status.
Key Game: George Mason vs Fordham Tuesday 7p The winner here gets the right to get hammered by Dayton
Atlantic 10 Conference Championship: Mar 11-15 Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Projected Bids: 6
Going: Cincy, Louisville, UConn, Memphis, SMU
All-American Spec: Cincy and Louisville share the regular season crown and Cincy won the coin toss for the #1 seed, though many think that Cards have the easier route to the Saturday evening finale. Both teams could be as easily be upset in the American quarters as face each other in the finals. But it’s really all academic. 5 teams listed are good to go and are playing for the highest seed that they can get
Key Game: Temple vs Central Florida 9:30p Thursday (ESPN2) The winner gets Cincy in the quarterfinals. This game could be inter
The American Championship: March 12-15: FedEx Forum, Memphis
Projected Bids: 5
Going: Creighton, Villanova
Looking Good: Xavier
Win it to get in it: Providence, Marquette, St. John’s
Big East Skinny: Villanova and Creighton are way safe but who is the third team? Xavier keeps throwing away its chances but as a 3 seed need only to beat Marquette and play honorably against a bulletproof Creighton. Meanwhile the Friars, Johnnies and aforementioned Eagles need to get to the Saturday Night finale to have a shot
Key Game: DePaul vs Georgetown Wednesday 9:30p (CBSSN) The Blue Demons are used to playing on the first day of the tourney, but the Hoyas aren’t. The Hoyas slim, slim chances to make a late dash need to start with a convincing win.
Big East Championship Tournament: March 12-15 Madison Square Garden, New York City
Projected bids: 3
Going: Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin
Looking Good: Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa
Win It to Get In It: Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana
The word on the Big Ten is: Now the Hawkeyes are in definite trouble, what was a lock now is in serious doubt especially with the hard charging Huskers having passed them and the ranked Bucks. The Wolverines, Spartans and Badgers are spot on locks, I’m pretty sure that barring a meltdown that the Bucks are good to go too, though Ill hold off on the move up till they beat Purdue. I’m thinking even with a bye, the Huskers would be better off with another win. Gopher, Illini and Hoosier fans can sneer all they want, their respective teams need to get to Sunday to even have a real thought of getting to the dance.
Key Game: Purdue vs Ohio State Wednesday 2:25p (BTN) Despite having to play on the first day of the Big Ten, the Bucks would generate just some more doubters if they lose to an unremarkable team in Purdue.
Big Ten Championship Tournament: March 13-16 Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Projected Bids: 6
Lock: Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma
Looking Good: Baylor, Oklahoma State
Work to do: West Virginia
Skinny from the heartland: How many teams could come out of this conference? With West Virginia winning a thriller against Kansas on Saturday. They force themselves back into the picture but along with Baylor and Oklahoma State really need to avoid a first round pratfall. Both the Bears and Pokes need only not get hammered in their likely Big 12 Quarters meeting with Oklahoma and Kansas respectively and they should be good to go even with a loss. West Virginia would need to beat Texas to really get noticed more
Key Games: Texas Tech vs Oklahoma State (Big12Net/ESPN3) These two teams clash in an ironic meeting, The Pokes fragile chances will be destroyed if they stumble
Big XII Championship Tournament March 12-15 Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
Projected Bids: 7
Solid: La. Tech, Middle Tennessee
Work to do: Southern Miss, UTEP, Tulsa
Oh Say Can You C-USA Spec: The four co-champs of this conference are sitting out till Thursday so the real madness here won’t start till 8-15 seeded chaff is cleared out.
Key Games: East Carolina vs UTSA Tuesday 11:30p Could one of these two teams do a five wins in five days? The winner here could be a tough out for UTEP
Conference USA Championship Tournament: March 11-15 Haskins Center El Paso, TX
Projected Bids: 2
Conference Class-Mid Major
Clinched: Wichita State
Missouri Valley Skinny: Salute the Shockers! The rolled by Indiana State and are the first team since the 90-91 UNLV Rebels to head to the tourney unbeaten. They will likely get a #1 seed and try to be the first team to win 40 games in one season. The Sycamores best chance to make it was by defeating the rampaging Shockers and will likely be headed to the NIT
Missouri Valley Conference Champions: Wichita State
Projected Bids: 1
Going: San Diego State, New Mexico
Win it to get in it: UNLV, Nevada
Spec from the Mountains: Not much spec here, The Aztecs are heading to Vegas as the #1 seed as the regular season champs. The Lobos will look toward a possible third meeting in the high stakes championship game to settle this score. UNLV is off the list after losing to Nevada and will basically have to bid steal to get more than the one at large bid that this conference will likely get.
Key Games: UNLV vs Wyoming Thursday 5:30p (Cox) The Rebels need to get to the finals and win, nothing less will be acceptable and the Pokes are far from a pushover.
Mountain West Championship Tournament: March 12-15 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
Projected Bids: 2
Going: Arizona, UCLA, Oregon
Looking Good: Colorado, Arizona State
Work to do: Stanford, Cal, Utah
Spec from the left coast: Oregon knocked off Arizona in the woods and are essentially bulletproof, I think that the Buffs are safe barring epic fail losses in the Pac 12 tourney. The Buffs need only beat lowly SC to get safe. The Sun Devils status get shakier by the second after losing 4 of their last 6, and 7 of their last 8 outside of Tempe. The nightmare trip to Oregon confirmed that they are the likeliest team to get upset in Vegas. They would be wise to avoid an upset loss in their first game to avoid bubble trouble.
Key Games: Washington State @ Stanford Wednesday 11:30p (PAC12 Net) I’m not real convinced that the Cardinal are tourney worthy, to move up to that status they have to win at least two games. This is a must win.
Pac-12 Conference Championship Tournament: March 12-15 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
Projected Bids: 5
Looking Good: Arkansas, UK
Work to do: Tennessee, Mizzou, Georgia
Spec is Down South: Call the SEC soft this year if you’d like but you have to be impressed by the Gators 18-0 conference ledger. They are safe and barring a quarterfinal pratfall are likely getting the #1 overall seed. UK got poleaxed by the Gators again and will watch the 7-10 matchup warily between Bama and LSU. Georgia may get the benefit here but they must get to Saturday, heck I’d push em to Sunday before I’ll give them a shot at a tourney bid. I’, just not really sold on Tennessee, if they beat Arkansas in the SEC quarters they will have a better chance. Mizzou is in a real pickle. Their chances are much better if they get to the Saturday semis, one problem…there is a massive roadblock in Gators colors waiting for them in the quarters…their chances are in jeopardy.
Key Game: Vanderbilt vs Mississippi State Wednesday 9:25p (SECNet/ESPN3) Winner gets Ole Miss
Southeastern Conference Championship: March 12-16 Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Projected Bids: 4
Conference Class- Mid Major
Work to do: BYU, San Francisco
West Coast Spec: The Bulldogs keep playing with fire, they survived a mammoth scare from a fearless Santa Clara and thumped Saint Mary’s effectively ending the Gaels slim chances but now face a BYU team that survived a game Dons squad in OT and have beaten them before. Call this a high stakes grudge match
West Coast Conference Championship: BYU vs. Gonzaga 9p (ESPN) Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
Projected Bids: 1
There are others in the mix to be sure. Teams from the always dangerous Colonial (Delaware) and Big South Coastal Carolina) always are in the mix. Of course the champions from the following conferences get an automatic bid (projected winners in parentheses, conference winners in bold): Amer. East (Stony Brook), Atlantic Sun (Mercer), Big Sky (Weber State), Big West (UC Irvine) , Horizon (Wright St.), Ivy (Harvard), MAC (Toledo) , MAAC (Manhattan) , MEAC (NC Central), Northeast (Robert Morris), Ohio Valley (Eastern Kentucky) , Patriot (Boston U.), Southern (Wofford), Southland (SF Austin), Sun Belt (Georgia St.) , Summit (IPFW), and SWAC (Alabama State) and Western Athletic (New Mexico St). Note: Southern U is leading the SWAC but is currently ineligible pending an NCAA mandate on their academic compliance progress
Remember that this is still speculation, nothing here is ever solid and we haven't even brought up the possibility of upsets. But those never happen, right?
Next Update Daily thru Selection Sunday
Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!