ACC dominates tourney predictions

May, 13, 2008
Just two weeks to go until conjecture gives way to reality:

National seeds: Miami (#1), North Carolina (#2), Florida State (#3), Arizona State (#4), Rice (#5), Nebraska (#6), Georgia (#7), Texas A&M (#8)

Multi-bid conferences: SEC (8), ACC (6), Pac-10 (6), Big 12 (5), Big West (4), C-USA (4), WCC (3), Big East (2), Missouri Valley (2), Southern (2), Sun Belt (2)

Last five in: College of Charleston, Missouri State, Notre Dame, Troy, Washington

Also under consideration: Alabama, Baylor, Houston, Louisville, UCLA, Washington State

Quick thoughts: No changes among the teams earning national seeds, but some jockeying of positions based on the weekend's results. It's unlikely that the ACC will get the top three seeds, but it works out well for balancing things regionally. Georgia and Texas A&M have the weakest résumés, but both should win their regular season conference title, which usually is an important factor for the committee. There's a pretty clear cutoff between these eight and the rest of the top teams, so I don't see much movement over the next two weeks. … Each of the four conferences with two bids in this version follows a similar form, one team with a résumé that merits an at-large bid without a conference title with the second team in a more precarious position. St. John's, Elon, New Orleans and Wichita State are all in strong shape heading into the final two weeks of the season. College of Charleston, Missouri State, Notre Dame and Troy all have work to do, as each sports a borderline RPI and will be on the bubble if they fail to take the conference title. These four are the most likely to be hurt by upsets in conference tournaments around the country. … Which will be more important this year, RPI or conference standing? Inquiring minds want to know, especially in the Pac 10 and SEC. Out west, Washington earned a spot over Washington State after taking the season series to stay in third in the conference while the Cougars sit in last place. In the SEC, South Carolina earned the nod over Alabama despite trailing in the conference standings, partly due to gaudy RPI and partly due to an easier final weekend in conference play (the Gamecocks host floundering Tennessee while the Tide travel to conference-leading Georgia).

And now, the bracket:

Coral Gables Regional: Miami (#1 national seed), Florida, St. John's, Bethune-Cookman
Palo Alto Regional: Stanford, Pepperdine, UC Davis, Fresno State

Cary Regional: North Carolina (#2 national seed), UNC Wilmington, Elon, Monmouth
Nashville Regional: Vanderbilt, Virginia, Missouri, Lipscomb

Tallahassee Regional: Florida State (#3 national seed), Southern Miss, Mississippi, Troy
Ann Arbor Regional: California, Michigan, Notre Dame, Wright State

Tempe Regional: Arizona State (#4 national seed), UC Irvine, Santa Clara, Canisius
Fullerton Regional: Cal State Fullerton, San Diego, Oregon State, Stony Brook

Houston Regional: Rice (#5 national seed), Long Beach State, Texas, Columbia
Stillwater Regional: Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts, Missouri State

Lincoln Regional: Nebraska (#6 national seed), Wichita State, TCU, Kent State
Columbia Regional: Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, Charlotte, College of Charleston

Athens Regional: Georgia (#7 national seed), Georgia Tech, Washington, Jacksonville State
Greenville Regional: NC State, East Carolina, Kentucky, Navy

College Station Regional: Texas A&M (#8 national seed), Arizona, Dallas Baptist, UTSA
Baton Rouge Regional: LSU, New Orleans, Tulane, Southern

Quick thoughts: This version has three top seeds traveling because of various factors. California travels to Michigan because Berkeley lacks lights, as well as the NCAA's desire to expand the game outside the Sun Belt/West Coast. It probably won't happen because of its poor conference standing, but South Carolina could host as a two seed since it's unclear whether Coastal Carolina will be able to play on campus and the minor league park in Myrtle Beach is unavailable this year. And with national seed North Carolina hosting in Cary, the NCAA might not want a regional down the road in Raleigh this year, which could result in the Wolfpack making the 80-mile trip to Greenville. … There should probably be one more regional in the west, but someone will need to finish hot down the stretch to secure it. UC Irvine, Arizona and Long Beach State are the best bets to host if the NCAA decides to go that route, likely at the expense of one of the four SEC schools currently slated to host. … We could see a regional in the true sense of the word at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge; all four teams are from either Baton Rouge or New Orleans, which is just 80 miles down the road. The regionals in Stillwater, Columbia and Palo Alto would also help the NCAA keep travel costs under control.



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