It is exactly 79 days until Selection Sunday, which means faux brackets like this one will be all the rage soon enough.
In all candor, I meant to avoid doing one of these until conference play started in most of the power conferences. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet.
But there was a little time to kill today and some more immediate work to avoid, which is no doubt a feeling many folks can sympathize with. Anyway, it was tougher than expected to come up with this, simply because “expectations” and “perception” still sort of matter at this stage.
Some really good teams (or suspected really good teams) have yet to play many reputable opponents. As a result, it’s hard to peg them at this point.
So the RPI was used as a very basic, imprecise tool. Results count, but so does an assumed talent level on a team. That’s why Louisville and Memphis linger at the bottom of the at-large pool even now – it’s just hard to believe those teams won’t get their acts together eventually.
Once mid-January arrives, those assumptions will be close to meaningless. There will be two or three league games to evaluate everyone, and the guesswork will be heavily reduced. But until then, here’s a far-from-perfect 65-team field to consider heading into the weekend:
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) NEC/Central Connecticut State
(8) PAC-10/California vs. (8) MWC/Brigham Young
(4) A-10/Xavier vs. (13) CAA/Virginia Commonwealth
(5) Notre Dame vs. (12) Missouri
(3) Gonzaga vs. (14) ATLANTIC SUN/East Tennessee State
(6) BIG TEN/Illinois vs. (11) Kentucky
(2) Syracuse vs. (15) OHIO VALLEY/Jacksonville State
(7) SOUTHERN/Davidson vs. (10) Boston College
(1) Connecticut vs. (16) IVY/Cornell
(8) Miami vs. (9) Dayton
(4) HORIZON/Butler vs. (13) MAC/Miami (Ohio)
(5) Purdue vs. (12) Arizona
Kansas City, Mo.
(3) Texas vs. (14) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(6) Stanford vs. (11) West Virginia
(2) Wake Forest vs. (15) BIG SOUTH/VMI
(7) Michigan vs. (10) Creighton
Kansas City, Mo.
(1) BIG 12/Oklahoma vs. (16) MEAC/Hampton
(8) WCC/Saint Mary’s vs. (9) Marquette
(4) ACC/Clemson vs. (13) BIG SKY/Portland State
(5) SEC/Tennessee vs. (12) Louisville
(3) Georgetown vs. (14) SOUTHLAND/Stephen F. Austin
(6) Arizona State vs. (11) MVC/Evansville
(2) Ohio State vs. (15) BIG WEST/Cal State Fullerton
(7) Maryland vs. (10) CONFERENCE USA/UAB
(1) BIG EAST/Pittsburgh vs. (16) SWAC/Alabama A&M-SUMMIT/North Dakota State
(8) Minnesota vs. (9) Florida
(4) UCLA vs. (13) WAC/Utah State
(5) Baylor vs. (12) Memphis
(3) Michigan State vs. (14) MAAC/Siena
(6) Villanova vs. (11) UNLV
(2) Duke vs. (15) PATRIOT/Lehigh
(7) Texas A&M vs. (10) SUN BELT/Western Kentucky
Last four in: Louisville, Missouri, West Virginia, Arizona
Last four out: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Florida State, Oklahoma State
Bids by league: Big East 9, ACC 7, Big Ten 6, Big 12 5, Pac-10 5, SEC 3, Atlantic 10 2, Conference USA 2, Mountain West 2, Missouri Valley 2, West Coast 2