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Projecting the NCAA tournament field

A lot can change in a year. 

Virginia was cutting down the nets last April after a memorable run to its first national title. Then the Cavaliers lost their top three scorers to the NBA. With its offense struggling, Virginia is squarely on the NCAA tourney bubble in early February, a place it hasn’t been since coach Tony Bennett drastically flipped the trajectory of the program in 2014. 

The Cavaliers (14-6, 6-4 ACC), projected as a No. 11 seed set, are one of the last four teams in. Yes, they still have an elite defense, but a lack of quality wins is hurting their cause. Virginia has only notched three victories against projected tournament teams — including a big one over Florida State — and lost to ACC doormat Boston College. 

Texas Tech (13-8, 4-4 Big 12) is better positioned than the team it lost to in the title game last year. Currently forecasted as a No. 10 seed, the Red Raiders benefit from the strength of the Big 12 which provides the opportunity for quality wins. But coach Chris Beard has an inexperienced roster that’s been .500 in league play. Texas Tech’s résumé is aided from having two Quadrant 1 (top 30 home, top 50 neutral court) wins over Louisville and West Virginia and no bad losses. 

Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Davide Moretti (25) reacts after a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats at United Supermarkets Arena.

Both Virginia and Texas Tech were preseason top 15 teams. But their current résumés need work if they’re going make the field in six weeks. It’s a critical juncture in the conference game slate where both teams could make or break their season. Their February outlook is vastly different than a year ago. 

 No. 1 seeds: Baylor, Kansas, San Diego State, Gonzaga

► Last four in: Memphis, Virginia, Arizona State, Mississippi State

► First Four out: Georgetown, North Carolina State, Virginia Commonwealth, Cincinnati 

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