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Nittany White Out Bracketology – Version 5

Submitted by on March 1, 2011No Comment

Jimmer Fredette and BYU's win over SDSU may have given them a #1 seed

With only minutes until the calendars turn to the magical month of March, this current season of NCAA men’s basketball remains crazier than ever. With top teams continuing to fall left and right, and bubble teams consistently playing themselves in and out of the NCAA Tournament, everything remains very unclear.

Nittany Whiteout Exclusive -

- Penn State - (14-11, 7-7) 59 RPI – 33 SOS-
- I said it two weeks ago and I will say it again, if NCAA Basketball was a high school, Penn State would be that really nice kid that annoys the crap out of everyone and won’t go away. You can’t really stand him, and he always seems to go away and keep coming back, but you really have a hard time denying how nice he is. Same goes for Penn State this year. They keep getting beat and fall off the map, only to come back, beat a good team and prove they are a pretty decent product on the basketball court. The Nittany Lions got beat by Michigan, destroyed by Michigan State and pummeled by Illinois all within the span of 10 days. Just when everyone thought they had finally went away, the Nittany Lions bounced back with a blowout win over Northwestern, and a big home win over RPI Top 20 Minnesota.

Thought the ride was over right? Well it wasn’t, Penn State got absolutely demolished in Madison against the Wisconsin Badgers, only to turn around and grab their second road win against Northwestern. The Nittany Lions were right back to where they started after that win over the Wildcats. Penn State still has a lot of work to do however if they wanna make the Big Dance. Tonight against Ohio State, the Nittany Lions have a golden opportunity to knock off the #1 team in country and grab their biggest win of the season. Much like Kansas State did with Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska did with Texas and St. John’s did with Pittsburgh, Penn State can make a statement if they can manage to knock off the Buckeyes on Senior Night in Happy Valley. Talor Battle, Jeff Brooks, David Jackson, Andrew Jones and Steve Kirkpatrick’s biggest game of the season, is also the biggest game of their careers. The NIT is nice, but comparing the NIT to the NCAA Tournament is like comparing fruit snacks to a basket of fruit. Sure it may taste like fruit, but it is not the real thing. Same goes for the NIT, sure it may be a tournament, but it is not the real thing. A win tonight would launch Penn State into the NCAA Tournament as of right now. The biggest issue for Penn State all year has been consistency, and with a 15-12 record, even with a win over Ohio State the Nittany Lions can ill-afford a loss to Minnesota in their regular season finale. The Golden Gophers are stumbling themselves and a win over Penn State would not only help their NCAA Tournament chances, but destroy Penn State’s chances at grabbing an at-large bid in the process.

So what does Penn State have to do make the NCAA Tournament? Take a look at the three scenarios I have posted down below. Sure, there are more potential scenarios some how some way, but these are the best possible ones, and the ones that make most sense.

Scenario 1 – Wins over Ohio State and Minnesota, along with a first round bye and one or two wins in the Big Ten Tournament (Result: 19-13 or 18-13 leaving Indianapolis – Tournament? Likely yes)

Scenario 2 – Win over Minnesota or Ohio State, along with no first round bye and three wins in the Big Ten Tournament (Result: 19-14 leaving Indianapolis – Tournament? Probably, but not a guarantee)

Scenario 3 – Win the Big Ten Tournament regardless of the last two games and their results (Result: Automatic Berth)

There are probably some other ways for Penn State to get into the NCAA Tournament, but not many, and those are the ones that I see most likely to happen. What do I really think will happen? Well, I think Penn State loses tonight and beats Minnesota, however wins at most two games in the Big Ten Tournament. That would leave them at 18-14, and most likely on the outside of the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday

Rest of the bracket -

If you take a look at the bracket, despite a tough road loss to Louisville in overtime, I still have Pittsburgh as my early National Champion. In a treacherous environment in Louisville, the Panthers overcame a rough start and, with help from a cheerleader, nearly pulled off the victory an overtime victory. Even with the loss, the Panthers still showed in the late stages of the game why they are so good. Brad Wannamaker hit clutch shot after clutch shot to finish off Pittsburgh’s comeback and send the game to overtime. On the defensive side of the ball, Gary McGhee led the charge with key defensive stops to allow the Panthers back into the game, and a game saving block at the end of regulation. It may seem like a stretch to praise a team after a loss, but on the road in the Big East, any game that you comeback in and almost win deserves some praise. Turnovers and missed free throws were killer for Pittsburgh, but every team is allowed to have a few slipups. When on their game, Pittsburgh has shown this season that they are the deepest, most consistent and most physical team in the country. Until someone truly exposes them and beats them down within the next two weeks, they will be hard to pick against as National Champions.

My three other Final Four teams, St. Johns, Brigham Young and Ohio State all finished off their weeks with strong wins. The Cougars of BYU, led by non-other than Jimmer Fredette, swept their season season with San Diego State with a convincing performance in California. The Aztecs played sloppy and nervous all game long, but it was BYU’s 14 three-pointers that really stung San Diego State in the end. I still think both teams can make a Final Four run, but with BYU in line for a #1 seed they seem like the better choice right now. The Buckeyes started the week with a tough loss at Purdue, but ended with two dominating performances over Illinois and Indiana. Sullinger and company led the Buckeyes to an eventual #1 ranking after winning both games by a combined margin of 40-points.

The last Final Four team, the St. John’s Red Storm, is most likely the biggest question mark on my bracket. It is only February, so taking risks in a bracket aren’t very hard, but I don’t view St. John’s to the Final Four as much of a risk. With two weeks remaining, don’t be surprised if they can crawl all the way up to a top two or three seed. Sometimes it is good to ride the hot hand into the NCAA Tournament (ie – Butler last season), and St. John’s would be a good example of that. Since a three-game Big East losing streak, the Johnnies have knocked off Duke, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Marquette, Pittsburgh and Villanova. Steve Lavin’s squad also has found a new skill: three-point shooting. The Red Storm have two easy games against Seton Hall and South Florida before entering the Big East Tournament, a tournament that they may dominate. St. John’s has beat five RPI Top 20 teams at home in Madison Square Garden this season, the same location of the Big East Tournament. If St. John’s can somehow make a long run through the conference tournament next week, they may become very serious Final Four contenders.

The bubble continues to amaze when it comes to mediocrity, and it is surely going to change yet again within the next couple days. On Wednesday, there will be another bracketology update that will be accompanied by a big bubble watch post. Keep an eye on the last four teams in and the first eight teams out within the next couple of days.

Upset Special – Belmont Bruins – The Bruins do not have the strongest schedule this season, but in their three games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt (they played Tennessee twice) they showed they could hang close with the big boys. Last season Murray State…Ian Clark, Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders led the charge as double digit scorers for a Belmont team that goes nine to ten guys deep on any given night. The Bruins also hold the most dangerous weapon for any mid-major team: good three-point shooting. With almost 300 three-pointers, good for second in the nation, the Bruins have a high octane, and efficient offense this season. Belmont was seconds away from knocking off Duke as 15-seed back in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, and looks this year to not only win their first game, but to work their way into the second week of the NCAA Tournament.

Who made the bracket:

Conference Conference Bids # of Teams last week Teams
American East 1 1 Vermont
Atlantic Coast 4 5 Duke*, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Atlantic Sun 1 1 Belmont
Atlantic 10 3 2 Temple*, Richmond, Xavier
Big East 11 11 Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh*, St. John’s, Syracuse, West Virginia, Villanova
Big Sky 1 1 Northern Colorado
Big South 1 1 Coastal Carolina
Big Ten 7 6 Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State*, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big XII 7 6 Baylor, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas*, Texas A&M
Big West 1 1 Long Beach State
Colonial 2 2 George Mason*, Old Dominion
Conf USA 1 1 Alabama-Birmingham
Horizon 1 1 Butler
Ivy 1 1 Princeton
Metro Atlantic 1 1 Fairfield
Mid American 1 1 Kent State
Mid Eastern 1 1 Bethune-Cookman
Missouri Valley 1 2 Missouri State*
Mountain West 3 4 Brigham Young*, Nevada-Las Vegas, San Diego State
Northeast 1 1 Long Island
Ohio Valley 1 1 Morehead State
Pacific 10 3 3 Arizona*, UCLA, Washington
Patriot 1 1 Bucknell
Southeastern 6 6 Alabama, Florida*, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Southern 1 1 Charleston
Southland 1 1 McNeese State
Summit 1 1 Oakland
Sun Belt 1 1 Florida Atlantic
Southwestern 1 1 Texas Southern
Western (WAC) 1 1 Utah State
West Coast 2 1 Gonzaga, St. Mary’s*

* – Automatic Bid / italic – New Team


The Breakdown

Big East 11
Big XII 7
Southeastern 6
Big Ten 6
Atlantic Coast 4
Mountain West 3
Pacific-10 3
Atlantic Ten 3
West Coast 2
Colonial Athletic 2
Missouri Valley 1
Horizon League 1
Conference USA 1
Last Four In
  • Baylor
  • Michigan
  • Alabama
  • Colorado
First Four Out
  • Penn State
  • Boston College
  • Memphis
  • Colorado State
Next Four Out
  • Minnesota
  • Wichita State
  • Clemson
  • Nebraska
Also Considered
  • Texas – El Paso
  • Southern Cal
  • Maryland
  • Duquesne
  • Southern Mississippi
  • Virginia Commonwealth
  • Dayton
  • Cleveland State
  • Valparaiso

1st Round Games

12 – Michigan vs. Baylor

12 – Alabama vs. Colorado

16 – Northern Colorado vs. Bethune-Cookman

16 – McNeese State vs. Texas Southern

New Additions (Power Conferences)

- Gonzaga

- Richmond

- Michigan

- Alabama-Birmingham

Dropped Out (Power Conferences)

- Colorado State

- Wichita State

- Boston College

- Memphis


NCAA Tournament Seeding
#1 Seeds -
- Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Brigham Young

#2 Seeds -
- Notre Dame, Duke, Texas, Purdue

#3 Seeds -
- San Diego State, Louisville, Wisconsin, Syracuse

#4 Seeds -
- St. John’s, Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina

#5 Seeds -
- Georgetown, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Arizona

#6 Seeds -
- West Virginia, Xavier, Texas A&M, Villanova

#7 Seeds -
- Kansas State, Temple, California-L.A., George Mason

#8 Seeds -
- Cincinnati, Nevada-Las Vegas, Old Dominion, Missouri

#9 Seeds -
- Utah State, Washington, Florida State, Tennessee

#10 Seeds -
- Illinois, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Marquette

#11 Seeds -
- Alabama-Birmingham, Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, Georgia

#12 Seeds -
- Butler, Richmond, Alabama vs. Colorado, Baylor vs. Michigan

#13 Seeds -
- Belmont, Missouri State, Oakland, Princeton

#14 Seeds -
- Coastal Carolina, Fairfield, Charleston, Bucknell

#15 Seeds -
- Vermont, Kent State, Long Island, Morehead State

#16 Seeds -
- Florida Atlantic, Long Beach St., N. Colorado vs. Bethune-Cookman, TX Southern vs. McNeese State

Procedural Bumps (Seeding Adjustments) -

- Arizona – Down to 6

- Texas A&M – Up to 5

- Utah State – Down to 10

- Illinois – Up to 9


The Bracket


(Click to view full-size image)


Any thing to say to @JeffDLowe about the brackets?

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