Championship Week Wrap-Up

There are four games left — Duke/FSU, Miss. St./Tenn, Ohio St./Purdue and the Southland final — but just one, the SEC final, has bubble implications. Despite their tournament run, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will have to beat Tennessee to get a berth, and the Volunteers are already in.

As of this morning, Joe Lunardi says the last four teams in will be Minnesota, Maryland, Creighton and Saint Mary’s. His first four out are Penn St., Arizona, San Diego State and Auburn. His next four out are Florida, New Mexico, UNLV and Tulsa.

It seems odd to me that he has SDSU out of tournament after the Aztecs finished the season with back-to-back wins against a bubble team (UNLV), a win over an in-the-Dance team (BYU) and a near-miss against another in-the-Dance team (Utah). Sure, SDSU doesn’t have a marquee win, but neither does Saint Mary’s. I guess Lunardi points to the head-to-head matchup (which the Aztecs lost) as the difference. But SDSU is playing better right now, so it depends on how much stock the committee puts in late season versus early season play. Also, SDSU lost to Arizona by 13 (on the road), so that can’t help either.

It’s also odd to see Creighton back in after being on the “first four out” or “next four out” lists all week. After all, they didn’t do anything to improve their situation after losing by 24 points against Illinois State. SDSU has a tougher schedule (35 vs. 111), a better RPI (35 to 40) and Creighton doesn’t have a single win against a top 25 RPI team. (The Aztecs beat Utah back in January.) Maybe SDSU doesn’t deserve a nod over Saint Mary’s or even Arizona, but they should get in before the Blue Jays do.

It seems to me that if Mississippi State loses, there are two spots available for five teams: Creighton, Saint Mary’s, SDSU, Arizona and Penn State. If the Bulldogs win, there will just be one spot available for those five teams.

On the flip side, Lunardi has removed UConn from his top line and replaced the Huskies with the Memphis Tigers, who blew out Tulsa en route to their 987th straight C-USA title. I just don’t know what to make of Memphis. They lost to Syracuse at home, lost to Xavier on a neutral court and had a road loss to Georgetown. They did blow Gonzaga out by 18 in Spokane, and that’s their only really good win. I watched some of the C-USA championship game and they didn’t wow me despite beating Tulsa (#56 RPI) at the FedEx Forum.

Michigan State and Oklahoma knocked themselves out of contention for a #1 seed with poor performances in the conference tournaments, but Duke can make a case if they can beat Florida State in the ACC tourney. Either way, I think North Carolina, Louisville, Pitt and Memphis will be the #1 seeds and Oklahoma, Duke, Michigan State and UConn will be #2 seeds, just as Lunardi has it. I don’t think there is anyone on his #3 line — Kansas, Missouri, Wake Forest and Villanova — that has a strong argument to be a #2 seed.

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