- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A lot of interesting things happened over the weekend, but it only caused one set of teams to swap spots inside and outside the bracket (Alabama, fresh off a victory over Kentucky is in; reeling, Toney Douglas-less Florida State is out).

But there was a lot of fluidity inside the bracket because, frankly, a good victory can still skyrocket a team previously stuck in a mediocre bunch (just ask Vanderbilt, which looks pretty good after beating Florida).

Some other teams on their way up or down …

RISERS:

Texas: Disregard the shaky RPI; the Longhorns look like the kind of team that could win a few games in the tournament. They should be rewarded as such, especially with a dearth of quality between the 4 and 10 lines.

Virginia: Someone has to be a No. 4 seed. Why not the Cavaliers, whose pair of victories over Maryland look better by the day? Speaking of which…

Maryland: The Terrapins weren’t in the mock bracket 10 days ago. Now they’re a No. 7 seed. Let that be a lesson to the reeling (as well as the Terps themselves): It doesn’t take long to punch a ticket or lose one, either.

Louisville: It’s tough to top beating Pittsburgh and Marquette on the road in the same week. The Cardinals suffer from a lousy RPI, but there’s probably not more than 20 teams playing better than them at this point.

Southern Illinois: Are the Salukis a No. 3 seed? As someone who has ranked them on an AP ballot every week this season, even I’m leery of that. But an RPI of 6, sweeps of Creighton and Missouri State and a victory at Butler sent Southern upward.

DECLINERS

Clemson: The Tigers are in trouble and suddenly revitalized Duke visits Littlejohn on Thursday night. It’s not a must win, but it’s close for a team that has dropped six of eight.

Missouri State: The Bears didn’t need a home loss to Winthrop, but took one away. The early victory over Wisconsin is Missouri State’s trump card, but they otherwise look very similar to a bland Bradley team on the outside looking in.

Arizona: Just when it seems the Wildcats have things turned around, they get swept by the Los Angeles schools at home. They’ll find their way into the tournament, but will probably be sent packing to a faraway early-round destination.

Kentucky: An 18-5 Kentucky team can be ranked because it is the product of Big Blue Nation. An 18-8 Kentucky team with no bad losses but few remarkable nights sounds like a sure-fire early departure in March. It goes without saying Rick Pitino isn’t walking through that door.

Illinois: Last week’s car accident involving guard Jamar Smith and forward Brian Carlwell left the Illini without both reserves. It’s not like Illinois lost two stars, but it could hinder its ability to collect three needed, winnable games (vs. Michigan and at Penn State and Iowa) heading into the Big Ten tournament

EAST RUTHERFORD BRACKET

Lexington, Ky.

(1) Ohio State vs. (16) MEAC/Delaware State

(8) Stanford vs. (9) Tennessee

Spokane, Wash.

(4) WAC/Nevada vs. (13) PATRIOT/Holy Cross

(5) Texas vs. (12) Clemson

Columbus, Ohio

(3) Georgetown vs. (14) IVY/Penn

(6) Oregon vs. (11) Old Dominion

Winston Salem, N.C.

(2) ACC/North Carolina vs. (15) SUN BELT/South Alabama

(7) Kentucky vs. (10) Creighton

SAN ANTONIO BRACKET

New Orleans

(1) SEC/Florida vs. (16) NEC/Central Connecticut-SWAC/Jackson State

(8) Michigan State vs. (9) Oklahoma State

Buffalo, N.Y.

(4) Virginia vs. (13) SoCON/Davidson

(5) Marquette vs. (12) CAA/Virginia Commonwealth

New Orleans

(3) BIG 12/Texas A&M; vs.(14) AMERICA EAST/Vermont

(6) Virginia Tech vs. (11) Illinois

Lexington, Ky.

(2) C-USA/Memphis vs. (15) MID-CONTINENT/Oral Roberts

(7) Arizona vs. (10) Villanova

ST. LOUIS BRACKET

Chicago

(1) BIG TEN/Wisconsin vs. (16) ATLANTIC SUN/East Tennessee State

(8) West Virginia vs. (9) Southern California

Spokane, Wash.

(4) Air Force vs. (13) MAC/Akron

(5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Georgia Tech

Sacramento, Calif.

(3) Washington State vs. (14) BIG WEST/Long Beach State

(6) Boston College vs. (11) Missouri State

Chicago

(2) Kansas vs. (15) OVC/Austin Peay

(7) Louisville vs. (10) UNLV

SAN JOSE BRACKET

Sacramento, Calif.

(1) PAC-10/UCLA vs. (16) BIG SKY/Weber State

(8) Indiana vs. (9) Alabama

Winston-Salem, N.C.

(4) Duke vs. (13) WCC/Santa Clara

(5) MWC/Brigham Young vs. (12) BIG SOUTH/Winthrop

Columbus, Ohio

(3) MVC/Southern Illinois vs. (14) SOUTHLAND/Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi

(6) HORIZON/Butler vs. (11) Texas Tech

Buffalo, N.Y.

(2) BIG EAST/Pittsburgh vs. (15) MAAC/Marist

(7) Maryland vs. (10) ATLANTIC 10/Xavier

Last four in: Clemson, Missouri State, Old Dominion, Georgia Tech

Last four out: Purdue, Notre Dame, Florida State, Arkansas

Next four out: Kansas State, Bradley, Syracuse, Georgia

Moving in: Alabama

Moving out: Florida State

Multiple-bid leagues: ACC (8), Pac-10 (6), Big East (6), Big 12 (5), Big Ten (5), SEC (5), Missouri Valley (3), Mountain West (3), CAA (2)

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