SEC, ACC dominate bracket talk

April, 29, 2008

Lots of shuffling in the middle of the major conferences; this year it seems like nothing (other than the dominance of the ACC's big three) will be decided until the last few weeks:

National seeds: Miami (No. 1), Arizona State (No. 2), North Carolina (No. 3), Florida State (No. 4), Georgia (No. 5), Rice (No. 6), Stanford (No. 7), Nebraska (No. 8)

Multi-bid conferences: SEC (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (6), Pac-10 (6), C-USA (5), Big West (4), Big East (2), Southern (2), WCC (2)

Last five in: Clemson, College of Charleston, Houston, Oklahoma, UCLA

Also under consideration: Auburn, Baylor, New Orleans, UC Santa Barbara, Washington State

Quick thoughts: The Big 12 seems poised to grab the final national seed; at this point it's probably a coin flip between conference leader Texas A&M and Nebraska, but their series in Lincoln in two weeks should help clear that up. … There's been a greater-than-usual disconnect this year between the RPI and the human polls; these projections follow the RPI fairly closely, while Wichita State, UC Irvine and San Diego will benefit if the human factor dictates (at the expense of NC State and Arizona). … No major movement from last week as far as bids per conference, with the ACC and Pac-10 each picking up one bid at the expense of the Big West and Sun Belt. … While the number of SEC berths remains the same, the last two spots this week go to Arkansas and LSU based on their recent performances. … Clemson continues to be an interesting decision, but if the Tigers can finish the season with a winning record (which will be tough with their closing schedule), they should squeak in.

And now, the bracket:

Coral Gables Regional: Miami (No. 1 national seed), Ole Miss, Dallas Baptist, Canisius
Gainesville Regional: Florida, Southern Miss, St. John's, Jacksonville

Tempe Regional: Arizona State (No. 2 national seed), Long Beach State, Houston, Army
Fullerton Regional: Cal State Fullerton, San Diego, UCLA, Dartmouth

Cary Regional: North Carolina (No. 3 national seed), UNC Wilmington, Elon, Monmouth
Columbia Regional: South Carolina, Virginia, College of Charleston, Stony Brook

Tallahassee Regional: Florida State (No. 4 national seed), Kentucky, Tulane, Bethune-Cookman
Nashville Regional: Coastal Carolina, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Notre Dame

Athens Regional: Georgia (No. 5 national seed), Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Jacksonville State
Raleigh Regional: NC State, East Carolina, Oregon State, Charlotte

Houston Regional: Rice (No. 6 national seed), UC Irvine, Texas, Southern
College Station Regional: Texas A&M, California, TCU, UTSA

Palo Alto Regional: Stanford (No. 7 national seed), Pepperdine, UC Davis, Fresno State
Stillwater Regional: Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts, Louisiana-Monroe

Lincoln Regional: Nebraska (No. 8 national seed), Wichita State, LSU, Illinois-Chicago
Ann Arbor Regional: Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kent State

Quick thoughts: This version ended up with two No. 1 seeds that might not be hosting. Arizona has declined to bid in the past, and Coastal Carolina doesn't have the option of using the ballpark in Myrtle Beach this season. Michigan continues to be on the hosting radar as the NCAA looks to grow the game outside the Sun Belt, while Vanderbilt or East Carolina also could host as a No. 2 seed. … This looks like another year when the NCAA will be able to funnel most of the western teams through the same half of the bracket. UC Irvine and San Diego are still contenders to host, but probably won't if the NCAA continues its recent trend of geographical balancing. … Based on last weekend, it doesn't make much sense that I dropped Oregon State from a 2-seed to a 3-seed after the Beavers won a series from a team that I moved up from a 2-seed to a 1-seed. It helps balance out other moves across the country, though. … The Atlantic Sun should have its automatic bid rescinded this season. Five teams have winning conference records, and four of those are still transitioning to Division I and are ineligible for the NCAA tournament. Lipscomb is the only qualifying team over .500 in league games, and Jacksonville is the only other school over .500 overall.



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