- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

So what makes this bracket any different than the one from 24 hours ago, especially with only eight games on the Monday slate? Well, one gaffe coupled with a few intriguing results caused some minor alterations.

* First the gaffe. The play-in winner was paired with Ohio State in Lexington in yesterday’s bracket, but that is a Thursday site. The play-in game survivor will get sent to a Friday site — Chicago, perhaps — and that is reflected by a shift in this bracket.

* As far as in-season collapses go, Oklahoma State might be best in show for the year. The Pokes went 0-for-the-road, even losing Monday’s makeup game at Nebraska originally postponed by a mid-January snowstorm. Okie State stumbled home losing eight of its last 10, and Monday’s performance — down 13 at the break and almost down 30 quickly in the second half — was the final gasp of an NIT-bound team. How exactly did this group beat Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Texas and Missouri State earlier this season? In any case, Oklahoma State isn’t even in the last eight out anymore.

* A spot in the field was saved by Virginia Commonwealth, which might be getting some congratulatory phone calls from bubble dwellers and fellow CAA members Drexel and Old Dominion. The Rams dispatched George Mason in the league final, which saved the selection committee the trouble of considering VCU for an at-large berth.

* Speaking of Old Dominion and Drexel, the teams’ profiles are amazingly similar. Old Dominion has an RPI of 39 entering Monday; Drexel’s is 40. Both teams reached the CAA semifinals, Drexel losing to the top seed while Old Dominion was upset. But the Monarchs swept the season series, something that didn’t matter much last year when Hofstra held the head-to-head edge over George Mason and was passed over. Old Dominion owns a victory at Georgetown; Drexel knocked off Syracuse, Villanova and Missouri Valley champ Creighton on the road

Thanks to ESPN’s slick stats, it is clear Old Dominion had a better in-league RPI and strength of schedule than Drexel and finished two games ahead of the Dragons. It would very surprising, then, if the Monarchs are snubbed and Drexel earns a bid come Sunday. Of course, both could be NIT-bound, but that is in the hands of teams like Florida State, Kansas State and West Virginia at this juncture.

* Niagara and Gonzaga both clinched automatic berths, solidifying their spots in the field. The latter overcame a tumultuous season, and is suddenly about the most frightening potential No. 12 seed to come down the pike in years. Unless you count Winthrop this year as well.

* Western Kentucky’s stay in the bracket lasted 24 hours before the Hilltoppers lost to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt semis. Count Arkansas State-North Texas among the few conference finals that should be blown off this week.

EAST REGION

Winston-Salem, N.C.

(1) ACC/North Carolina vs. (16) OVC/Eastern Kentucky

(8) UNLV vs. (9) ATLANTIC 10/Xavier

Sacramento, Calif.

(4) Washington State vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont

(5) Louisville vs. (12) Old Dominion

Columbus, Ohio

(3) Southern Illinois vs. (14) MID-CONTINENT/Oral Roberts

(6) WAC/Nevada vs. (11) Syracuse

New Orleans

(2) SEC/Florida vs. (15) MEAC/Delaware State

(7) Michigan State vs. (10) Georgia tech

SOUTH REGION

Chicago

(1) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (16) SUN BELT/Arkansas State-SWAC/Mississippi Valley State

(8) MVC/Creighton vs. (9) Boston College

Spokane, Wash.

(4) Marquette vs. (13) PATRIOT/Holy Cross

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

Winston-Salem, N.C.

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

(6) MOUNTAIN WEST/Brigham Young vs. (11) BIG SOUTH/Winthrop

Chicago

(2) Wisconsin vs. (15) MAAC/Niagara

(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Southern California

MIDWEST REGION

Lexington, Ky.

(1) BIG TEN/Ohio State vs. (16) NEC/Central

Connecticut State

(8) Kentucky vs. (9) Villanova

Lexington, Ky.

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

(5) Duke vs. (12) Missouri State

Columbus, Ohio

(3) C-USA/Memphis vs. (14) SOUTHLAND/Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi

(6) Arizona vs. (11) Clemson

Buffalo, N.Y.

(2) BIG EAST/Georgetown vs. (15) MAC/Toledo

(7) Vanderbilt vs. (10) Texas Tech

WEST REGION

Sacramento, Calif.

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

(8) Indiana vs. (9) Air Force

Spokane, Wash.

(4) Tennessee vs. (13) Drexel

(5) Virginia Tech vs. (12) WCC/Gonzaga

Buffalo, N.Y.

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

(6) Virginia vs. (11) Stanford

New Orleans

(2) Texas A&M; vs. (15) ATLANTIC SUN/Belmont

(7) HORIZON/Butler vs. (10) Illinois

Moving in: Arkansas State

Moving out: Western Kentucky

Last four in: Drexel, Clemson, Old Dominion, Missouri State

Last four out: Purdue, Florida State, Kansas State, Alabama

Next four out: Michigan, Arkansas, West Virginia, San Diego State

Multiple-bid leagues: ACC (8), Big East (7), Pac-10 (6), Big Ten (5), SEC (4), Big 12 (4), Mountain West (3), Missouri Valley (3), CAA (3)

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