Today's bracket is posted. There are virtually no changes at the top, thanks to Duke's comeback over North Carolina State last night.
There is some shuffling at the bottom though. The First Four provides a post-season version of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Miami and Northwestern are bracketed for one game, and the Wolfpack faces Minnesota in the other.
There are still nine Big Ten teams in the bracket, but obviously, two are in serious trouble.
A second Pac 12 team (Arizona) is in for now and Washington is among the first four out.
Iowa State is out, not because they lost, but because the Cyclones haven't beaten anyone of any significance away from home. That is an important thing for the committee. It's also the problem for fellow conference mate Texas.
I will write in more detail about the bottom and off-the-bracket teams in Bubble Watch in a little bit.
However, here's a few helpful hints for those of you commenting on your teams.
Conference record is just a number. Teams are evaluated on their entire seasons, not just the conference portion, which is only about 2/3 of a team's full schedule (and less than that with three weeks to go). If all you have is conference record and/or position in the conference standings, you have nothing.
Head to head results are not decisive. Teams are judged on their entire seasons, not one or two games. Alabama fans know that well, after beating Georgia twice in the final week of the season last year, only to see the Bulldogs be selected ahead of them.
How teams finish the season has been deemphasized by the committee. It has no bearing on how you do in the tournament. VCU lost four of its last five last year.
Speaking of the Colonial league, people are asking if there is an at-large team in the trio atop the league (Drexel, VCU, George Mason). They ask because the league usually has at-large quaity teams at the top of the league and has performed well in the tournament. However, this is a down year. Those three are rated betewen 80-100 in the RPI, or a good 50-60 spots below where the league's best team usually rates. Those three teams have combined for three non-conference wins against top 100 teams. There just isn't enough there to compete for at-large bids, so the Colonial will be a one-bid league.
I will be headed to the Murray State-St. Mary's game on Saturday, followed by the Michigan State-Purdue game on Sunday. The SMC-Murray game is part of the bracket buster, which rarely, if ever, busts a bracket, but Murray can really help itself with a win over the Gaels in the event the Racers get upset in the OVC tournament and need an at-large big.
Another team that can boost its potential at-large hopes with a win is Long Beach, which travels to Creighton. It would be their best win of the year.