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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Field of 64: May 15

Mike Rooney        
 
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Selection Monday is less two weeks away, and while the Patriot League is already underway with the MEAC and SWAC kicking off this week, the bulk of the conference tournaments begin next week. The Field of 64 remains fluid but we clearly have a lot of hay in the barn.

Our projection format will be as follows: the 31 automatic bids, followed by the 33 at-large bids, followed by the 16 Host Sites. We will seed the 16 Host Sites since that became a reality last season for the 2018 tournament. There will also be a list of teams who just missed being part of the field.

Note: the number listed after each team is their RPI as of May 13.


31 Automatic Bids by Conference

America East: Stony Brook (130)
AAC: East Carolina (5)
A10: VCU (54)
ACC: Louisville (8)
ASUN: FGCU (125)

Big 12: Texas Tech (9)
Big East: Creighton (23)
Big South: Campbell (64)
Big Ten: Michigan (42)
Big West: UC Santa Barbara (15)

Colonial: Elon (109)
C-USA: Florida Atlantic (34)
Horizon: Wright State (85)
Ivy: Harvard (107)
MAAC: Canisius (184)

MAC: Central Michigan (114)
MEAC: Norfolk State (263)
MVC: DBU (24)
MWC: Fresno State (47)
NEC: Bryant (87)

OVC: Austin Peay (112)
Pac-12: UCLA (2)
Patriot: Navy (141)
SEC: Vanderbilt (1)
Southern: Samford (81)

Southland: Sam Houston State (55)
SWAC: Alabama State (267)
Summit: Omaha (206)
Sun Belt: Texas State (44)
WCC: BYU (32)
WAC: New Mexico State (100)


33 At-Large Bids

Teams 1-10:
Mississippi State (3)
Georgia (4)
Arkansas (6)
Georgia Tech (7)
Oklahoma State (11)

Miami (12)
Texas A&M (13)
Missouri (14)
Stanford (16)
West Virginia (17)

Teams 11-20:
Oregon State (18)
Auburn (19)
North Carolina (20)
Illinois (21)
LSU (22)

NC State (25)
Indiana (26)
Illinois State (27)
Ole Miss (28)
Baylor (29)

Teams 21-29:
Indiana State (30)
Arizona State (35)
Houston (36)
California (37)
Nebraska (38)

Southern Miss (41)
UC Irvine (50)
Tennessee (10)
Connecticut (31)

Last 4 IN

Florida State (57)
Duke (45)
Gonzaga (74)
Iowa (80)

Teams in the Discussion

Oklahoma (43)
Louisiana Tech (51)
Liberty (53)
Clemson (39)
Florida (33)
Virginia (48)
Wake Forest (59)
UCF (49)
San Diego State (56)


16 Host Sites

1 UCLA vs. 16 LSU
2 Vanderbilt vs. 15 Illinois
3 Arkansas vs. 14 Oregon State
4 Mississippi State vs. 13 Texas A&M
5 East Carolina vs. 12 Miami, FL
6 Georgia vs. 11 Oklahoma State
7 Texas Tech vs. 10 Louisville
8 Stanford vs.  9 Georgia Tech


Observations

1. The host situation is wide open right now. The final five spots are extremely fluid and any team that gets on a roll here at the end could end up in play.

2. The final at-large bids were similarly messy. The final three spots came down to 12 teams and it was difficult to find compelling cases. A team that gets hot could come out of nowhere to snag a bid.

3. This is a year where, in my opinion, the RPI and the eye-test are contradictory in several important instances. For example, Stanford is a Top 8 seed by my eye test but their RPI is light at 16. I also believe UC Irvine to be a very good team but their RPI of 50 is on the bubble. This is an area where the committee might lean on their Regional Advisory Committees to trump RPI.

4. This projection includes the two single highest RPIs we have ever put in the field: Gonzaga at 74 and Iowa at 80. Gonzaga has very little chance to build RPI in Spokane, Wash. so we put that aside and looked deeper. The ‘Zags are 16-8 in a very good WCC and they won three straight road games against the likes of Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M earlier in the season. Iowa is hurt by their nine “Quad 4” (teams 151-299) losses but they have four series wins that made a loud statement: at Oklahoma State, Illinois, Nebraska and UC Irvine.

5. The race for the Top 8 seeds is extremely competitive right now. ECU, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and Stanford are all battling for those final three spots. Texas Tech and Stanford both pass the eye test at a high level and both clubs could still win their respective leagues. As it stands today, the committee will have their work cut out for them here.

6. Once conference tournaments open up let the bid stealing begin. Here are several conferences to keep an eye on with teams listed who could steal one of those at-large bids.

Big East: if Creighton does not win the conference tournament.
C-USA: if FAU or Southern Miss do not win the conference tournament.
Sun Belt: if Texas State does not win the conference tournament.
WCC: if BYU does not win the conference tournament.
MWC: if Fresno State does not win the conference tournament.
 


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