Kansas Jayhawks (8-3) – 22 years. Prediction: LOCK*
Kansas has one of the most impressive pairs of signature wins: Ohio State and Georgetown. They have losses to Davidson, Duke and Kentucky. Kansas will extend the nation’s longest current streak to 23, getting one step closer to UNC’s all time record of 27.
*lock, for the duration of this article, assumes no tragedies, no roster-wide high ankle sprains, no discovered scandals and no end-of-the-world Mayan prophesies coming true.
Duke Blue Devils (10-1) – 16 years. Prediction: LOCK
Duke has one loss, and that was on the road to Ohio State. They loaded their non-conference schedule and it will pay dividends. Duke has wins against Michigan State, Washington, Davidson, Belmont, Michigan and Kansas. And they still have Temple on their ooc schedule.
Michigan State (12-2) – 14 years. Prediction: LOCK
Sparty began the season with back-to-back losses to UNC and Duke and has since realed off 12 straight, including wins over Florida State, Milwaukee, Gonzaga, Lehigh and undefeated Indiana.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-2) – 13 years. Prediction: LOCK
The Zags suffered back-to-back losses at Illinois and to Michigan State. They beat Washington State, Oral Roberts, Notre Dame and Arizona. And they get Xavier on New Year’s Eve.
Texas Longhorns (9-3) – 13 years. Prediction: 80%
If you realistically look at Texas’s resume with any sort of rational vision then they’re good enough an at-large to make the Tourney. Even they’re questionable losses (to Oregon State and NC State) were to top-75 teams, and neither occurred on their home floor. They have a decent win at UCLA, and a very good win against Temple. And they lost to UNC. And aside from URI they’ve blown everyone out. However, looking at the RPI** things change. Not so much in their losses, but in their wins. Nicholls State and Sam Houston State both have projected RPIs north of 300 and URI and Texas State aren’t far behind. Texas has played a dumb schedule, and it may cost them. Rick Barnes might want to call Seth Greenberg.
**yes, I understand that the RPI is stupid. And yes, I’ve written about that prolifically. But, despite the NCAA stating otherwise (and lying), the RPI is the jelly in the Selection Committee’s donut.
Wisconsin Badgers (12-2) – 13 years. Prediction: LOCK
The badgers have losses to UNC and Marquette. They have wins against BYU, UNLV and at Milwaukee. And they smothered Nebraska in their Big Ten opener. The darlings of the Pomeroys will once again be dancing.
Pitt Panthers (11-3) – 10 years. Prediction: 50%
At this point Pitt is counting on Oklahoma State , La Salle and Robert Morris as their signature wins. That’s not going to look good to the Committee. They lost to Long Beach State and Wagner in their non-conference slate, and got waxed at Notre Dame to kick off Big East play. They’re still one of the most talented teams in the nation, but until they figure out how to play defense (159th nationally) Pitt fans should settle in for a long season on the bubble.
Villanova Wildcats (7-6) – 7 years. Prediction: 10%
Villanova’s projected RPI right now is 84. If La Salle doesn’t stay in the top-100 then they’ll have zero ooc top-100 wins. Couple that with a loss to Santa Clara – who may finish >200 – and the Cats are in trouble. They have an awful lot of work to do in the Big East, and will need a couple signature wins against the Big East elite.
Marquette Golden Eagles (11-1) – 6 years. Prediction: LOCK
Yes, Marquette lost to LSU, but it was on the road and the Tigers have improved enough that they’ll finish in the RPI top-100. They beat Mississippi and Washington on neutral courts, beat Wisconsin at Wisconsin, and beat Milwaukee. And aside from an inexcusable game against Mt Saint Mary’s they’ve played a very smart schedule. Hence their projected 8 in the RPI.
Tennessee Volunteers (5-6) – 6 years. Prediction: 1%
Tennessee will need to win the SEC Tournament. Losses to Oakland and College of Charleston were bad enough, but at home to Austin Peay was a killer. When your signature win is UNC-Asheville, then things are looking bleak.
Texas A&M Aggies (8-3) – 6 years. Prediction: 1%
The Aggies expected RPI is 164th. Why? Because that’s how they set up their schedule. All of their eight wins are to teams with an expected RPI greater than 200, and six of them are to teams >300. If you want to build a schedule that leaves you almost no chance of making the Tourney, look to College Station.
Xavier Musketeers (9-3) – 6 years. Prediction: 60%
Xavier was looking like a lock prior to their fight with Cincinnati. Then they lost to Oral Roberts (uh oh), Long Beach State (well, crap) and Hawaii (seriously?). They have solid wins against Purdue and Cincinnati, and their win over Vanderbilt should look better as the season goes on. The New Year’s Eve showdown with Gonzaga is huge.
BYU Cougars (11-3) – 5 years. Prediction: 85%
The season opening loss to Utah State will haunt the Cougars, but otherwise they’ve only lost to RPI top-10 teams. They don’t really have a signature win but Buffalo, Oregon and Nevada can all finish in the RPI top-100. If they can manage a split with Gonzaga and St Mary’s in conference play they’ll be fine.
Butler Bulldogs (6-7) – 5 years. Prediction: 20%
Brad Stevens’ club is lucky to have two very solid wins against Purdue and at Stanford. But there’s not a realistic chance for them to do enough to get in as an at-large. Which means they’ll need to win the Horizon. And losses to Evansville, Valpo and Ball State don’t make that prospect seem all that likely.
Louisville Cardinal (12-1) – 5 years. Prediction: LOCK
Louisville’s best win is project to finish 31st in the RPI. But they’ve played a tough enough schedule that they will have no worries unless they take a dump in conference play.
Purdue Boilermakers (11-3) – 5 years. Prediction: 85%
Purdue lost to Butler, which could really hurt them, but have wins against Miami, Temple and Iona. As long as they win more than they lose in the Big Ten, they’ll be fine.
Clemson Tigers (7-6) – 4 years. Prediciton: 1%
Another team which will have to win their conference tourney, and in the ACC there is little chance that that will happen. Of course, with five losses to teams ranked >100 in the Pomeroys and a signature win over Iowa (127th), they don’t belong in the Tourney.
Temple Owls (7-3) – 4 years. Prediction: 75%
The A-10 is good for about three bids a year, and Temple should be one of them. A loss to Bowling Green is their one sore spot. And they really need Wichita State and Villanova to play well down the stretch, as those are their best wins (though they still have Duke, and to a lesser extent, Buffalo).
West Virginia Mountaineers (10-3) – 4 years. Prediction: 90%
As long as Kent State performs well in the MAC, then WVU won’t have any non-conference losses outside the RPI top-100. And they have several solid wins over Oral Roberts, Akron, K-State, Miami and Missouri State.
Florida State Seminoles (8-4) – 3 years. Prediction: 65%
The good news for FSU is zero losses outside the projected RPI top-50. The bad news is zero wins inside the RPI top-100. But much smarter scheduling than in recent years has the Noles with a projected RPI of 38. They’ll need at least 10 wins in the ACC, and have to take care of business against RPI killers Wake Forest, Clemson, Maryland and Boston College.
Missouri Tigers (12-0) – 3 years. Prediction: LOCK
The surprise team of the year has non-conference wins over Notre Dame, Cal, Villanova and Illinois. The only question is what seed they’ll be.
Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1) – 3 years. Prediction: LOCK
A loss on the road to Kansas, and that’s it. They beat Florida and Duke and otherwise played a soft schedule. But playing in the toughest conference in the country will make up for that.
Syracuse Orangemen (13-0) – 3 years. Prediction: LOCK
Yeah, they’re in.
Utah State Aggies (8-5) – 3 years. Prediction: 25%
Utah State has to win the WAC, and in that tourney there will be several tough teams for them to contend with. Somehow the Aggies have been Texas A&M Corpus Christie’s only win, and one of two Division I wins for Pacific. They did beat BYU and Kent State, so they can’t be all bad.
Washington Huskies (6-5) – 3 years. Prediction: 15%
11-7 was good enough to get it done in the Pac-10 last year, but it won’t be in the Pac-12. Not only is the conference worse, but the Huskies lost to Nevada and South Dakota State. Their other losses were to good teams, but they’re signature win is Georgia State. And while Georgia State is a great story this year, it’s not a win that will garner Washington committee-cred.