Monday, March 09, 2009

Relax, Minnesota fans

Heck, relax across most of the Big Ten. In the NCAA tournament, there are 34 at large bids. The primary multi bid conferences are the BCS football conferences, with the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and Missouri Valley usually a lock to get a couple teams in. This year, it appears that only Butler and maybe Siena and maybe St. Mary's would be, possibly, at large bids if they don't win their conference tournament. Let's say that happens. 31 at large bids. Our next assumption is that the winner of every conference tournament in the major conferences, the ones listed above, would have been at large teams anyways. Georgia last year is the only team I can think that wouldn't have fallen into the category in the past decade or so.
So we'll stand with 31 at large bids up for grabs. The Mountain West is good this year. A four team logjam at the top, and really, all four of those teams could make the dance. 28 bids. Shockingly, the MVC will be a once bid conference this year, meaning tournament champ Northern Iowa will be the only team with no at large bids burned. The A-10 sees Xavier and Dayton likely to head to the Dance. After considering our mid-majors, we still have 27 spots to go to the 6 power conferences.
The two best conferences this year were the ACC and Big East and will claim a good portion of at large bids. The ACC really has 6 teams that could make it. I'm not buying an 18-12 (7-9) Maryland team getting in this year, but I will give them their top 6. I think 5 are worthy, but I will give them 6. We're down to 22. The Big East has 6 sure fire locks. If any of the teams makes a deep run in the conference tournament, like Providence or West Virginia, they will get 7. I would count on that, because it always happens. 16 bids out there.
Next, lets review the Big 12 (because we're going alphabetically). Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are locks. I'll also say that three of Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and K-State will make it in, depending on how the conference tournament goes. 5 at large bids, were down to 15.
The Pac 10 is a little off this year. I'm giving them 4 bids, and not including Arizona because they hacen't really proven anything yet. 12 bids left as we set our sites on the SEC. The SEC this year is atrocious. LSU and Tennessee are the only teams deserving of a ticket to the Big dance. Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina could negotiate their way in. They really only have the one at large bid locked up, however.
Do you know what that means, Gopher fans and other fans of the Big Ten? That means there are 11 bids still floating around out there. The selection committee can spread those 11 bids liberally across the Big 10 and then go back and give bids to some of the teams I said no to earlier (Maryland, Arizona, Providence). So thats still 8 at large bids. You can't tell me that most of those won't go to the most competetive conference in the country, one that features several teams with RPIs in the top 50. Figure the Big 10 to get their conference champion as well as all teams that don't completely lay an egg to make it to the Dance this year. That means you, Minnesota. And you, Michigan. And even you, Penn State. It might not be because the Big Ten is the supreme conference, but the Big Ten will get at least 7 (and maybe 8) teams to the Dance this year.

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