Predicting the Entire 68-Team NCAA Basketball Tournament Pool
Predicting the NCAA Basketball Tournament Pool
So much has to happen before the 68-team field can be created for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. However, that is what the season is all about--having a good enough resume to earn a bid to the Big Dance. So, this article will be predicting the entire 68-team NCAA basketball tournament pool.
So much can change now and until the tournament actually begins. Heck, so much happened just this past weekend with Villanova upsetting Kansas and Arizona taking Duke out.
Conference play hasn’t even started, so this 68-team field is bound to change a number of times this season.
It is almost impossible to factor RPI and all of that other fun stuff into the mix because some teams haven’t even been challenged yet. Did I mention conference play hasn’t even started?
This article is simply a prediction on what could happen with the tournament field.
So far Michigan State has looked great and so have many other teams. No No. 1 seed is set in stone and Arizona proved that by knocking off the Blue Devils. I am not even going to begin talking about who will win the dance because we are way too early in the season for that.
Without further ado, here is a prediction of the entire 68-team NCAA basketball tournament pool.
Keep in mind that dates and sites for the Big Dance are not factored into this article.
68. North Carolina Central Eagles (Midwest No. 16)
North Carolina Central has already beaten the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Not the biggest win on the season, but pretty solid for a team that has to win its conference tournament just to make the dance.
67. Charleston Southern Buccaneers (Midwest No. 16)
Charleston Southern is being challenged early and often in its non-conference schedule. It has already played New Mexico and Baylor. The Buccaneers may have lost both of those games--not by much--but at least they are being tested.
66. Texas Southern Tigers (East No. 16)
West Virginia transfer Aaric Murray has been great for Texas Southern so far. He needs to continue that if Texas Southern is going to win its conference this season.
65. Wagner Seahawks (East No. 16)
Wagner is not off to the best start, but it has already played a couple of power conference teams. The Seahawks should have more success once conference play starts.
64. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (South No. 16)
Oral Roberts has not made the dance in a few years, but it has the team to do so this year. It has already played Kansas State, Saint Louis and Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles may have lost all of those games, but it played very tough in each one.
63. Georgia State Panthers (West No. 16)
The name Ryan Harrow may sound very familiar to you. Harrow did play for the Kentucky Wildcats just a season ago. Well, Harrow is now on Georgia State and he is usually the best player on the court no matter who the Panthers play.
His addition to the team will be huge all season long.
62. Boston University Terriers (Midwest No. 15)
Just like a lot of the teams so far on this list, Boston U will play a couple of power conference teams before conference play. The Terriers already played Connecticut and they still have to play Maryland. The contest against Harvard will not be a cakewalk either.
61. Akron Zips (East No. 15)
Akron made the dance last season and it has the team to do so again this season. Zeke Marshall is no longer on the Zips, but enough talent came back for this team to challenge and win the Mid-American.
60. Davidson Wildcats (South No. 15)
I figured Davidson would have gotten off to a much better start--currently 2-5--but I am still going with the Wildcats to win the Southern Conference. Playing three ranked opponents already will probably have this team prepared for conference play.
59. Manhattan Jaspers (West No. 15)
Manhattan beat La Salle in its very first game of the season. The Explorers may be off to a bad start, but that is still a pretty solid win on the resume.
58. Drexel Dragons (Midwest No. 14)
Drexel may have two losses on the season, but it played UCLA and Arizona very tough. It only lost those games by a combined score of nine. A win against Alabama showed this team’s worth.
57. Wright State Raiders (West No. 14)
Butler is two years removed from the Horizon League, which has opened the door for basically every other team in the conference. However, I still have Wright State winning the conference title.
56. Weber State Wildcats (East No. 14)
Weber State lost its first three games of the season. The Wildcats finally recorded their first victory against San Jose State. Many more can be expected.
55. Vermont Catamounts (South No. 14)
Vermont already has lost six games on the season, but it only lost to Duke by the score of 91-90. At Cameron Indoor Stadium. That has to count for something.
54. Long Beach State 49ers (West No. 13)
Long Beach State is one of my favorite mid-majors on a yearly basis for the simple fact that it always challenges itself in its non-conference schedule. The 49ers have already played Arizona, Michigan and VCU. They have also played Kansas State (twice) and Washington. Creighton, North Carolina State and USC are still left on the schedule.
This year they are one of the favorites to win the Big West, so being challenged that much could go a long ways.
53. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (Midwest No. 13)
Florida Gulf Coast was the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 last season. Ever. The Eagles lost their head coach and some talent, but they still have a good enough team to make the dance once again.
52. New Mexico State Aggies (East No. 13)
People should get used to hearing about New Mexico State all season long, as this could be one of the best mid-majors in the country. With that in mind, the Aggies just dropped a game against Colorado State.
Still, this team can get back on track--while making a lot of noise--when it takes on New Mexico, Gonzaga and Arizona in back-to-back-to-back games.
51. North Dakota State Bison (South No. 13)
North Dakota State has a few seniors on its team. The Bison are experienced and talented and should be the favorite to win the Summit League this season. It helps that the conference’s best player--Nate Wolters--is no longer on South Dakota State.
50. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (South No. 12)
Louisiana Tech has the talent to win the Conference USA this season. It helps that Memphis moved on to the AAC.
49. Belmont Bruins (Midwest No. 12)
Being ranked No. 49 may seem a bit high for Belmont, but they beat North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels then went on to beat the Louisville Cardinals.
48. Providence Friars (East No. 12)
Bryce Cotton is going to be in the headlines all season long. Him and Providence may be underrated in the Big East, but the Friars have the talent to make a lot of noise in the conference.
47. Alabama Crimson Tide (West No. 12)
Alabama already has three losses on the season, but all three came against teams that have the talent to make the Big Dance. Oklahoma is one of the teams that beat the Crimson Tide. The Sooners may have a better case to make the tourney as of right now, but I am not sure if both teams will make it.
46. San Diego State Aztecs (West No. 12)
San Diego State only lost to Arizona by nine and it beat the Creighton Bluejays. The Aztecs lost a bunch of talent, but they still may surprise us this season.
45. BYU Cougars (East No. 11)
BYU has Tyler Haws. He is going to challenge for the scoring title in college hoops this season. Who knows, he could help lead the Cougars to a conference title over Gonzaga.
44. Pittsburgh Panthers (Midwest No. 11)
It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh adjusts to the ACC this season, but it is off to a 7-0 start.
43. Cincinnati Bearcats (West No. 11)
Cincinnati has the talent to compete for an AAC title. Regardless, this team should finish no worse than No. 4 in the conference standings.
42. LSU Tigers (East No. 11)
LSU is going to be a lot better than some people may think by the time SEC play begins. Just give Jarell Martin some time to adjust and the Tigers will be one of the best teams in the conference in no time.
41. Dayton Flyers (South No. 11)
Dayton has already beaten Gonzaga and California on the year. It only lost to Baylor by one point. Don’t expect the Flyers to disappear anytime soon.
40. Villanova Wildcats (Midwest No. 10)
By the time March rolls around, Villanova may be a No. 3 seed or somewhere close to that. The Wildcats have already beaten Kansas and Iowa in back-to-back games. Both teams were ranked.
I talked this team up a lot during the off-season and I still think the Wildcats have a great shot at winning the Big East title.
39. Massachusetts Minutemen (South No. 10)
Massachusetts is off to a very hot start. The Minutemen already beat LSU and New Mexico. Chaz Williams is a beast and it would not surprise me if he won player of the year in the Atlantic 10.
38. Boise State Broncos (East No. 10)
Boise State currently has the top scoring offense in college hoops and people better believe that this team will challenge New Mexico for a MWC title.
37. Stanford Cardinal (West No. 10)
Stanford is not as talented as Arizona, but not many teams are. Still, the Cardinal are more than capable of finishing in the top five of the Pac-12 standings, which should earn them a bid to the dance.
36. St. John’s Red Storm (Midwest No. 9)
I really think D’Angelo Harrison is one of the best players in college basketball. However, him and the rest of the Red Storm need to improve.
This could be the most talented team in the Big East, but talent doesn’t always meet expectations, which has kind of been the case ever since Steve Lavin took over as the head coach.
35. Harvard Crimson (East No. 9)
Harvard fell to a very talented Colorado team. However, the Crimson really should make the dance. They did knock off the No. 3 New Mexico Lobos in the tourney last season.
34. Arizona State Sun Devils (South No. 9)
Jahii Carson has the talent to be an All-American this year. That is saying a lot with all of the talented freshmen in the sport this season.
Regardless, the Sun Devils have already beaten UNLV and Marquette. Not a bad start to the season.
33. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (West No. 9)
Just like Pittsburgh, it is going to be interesting to see how Notre Dame does in its first season in the ACC. The team already slipped up against Indiana State, but the Fighting Irish seem to make the tourney on a yearly basis and this year should be no different.
32. Saint Louis Billikens (Midwest No. 8)
Saint Louis is one of the best teams in the A 10 and it very easily could repeat as the conference champ. However, the conference is packed with talent once again, so it will not be easy.
31. Virginia Cavaliers (East No. 8)
Virginia only lost by three points against a very good VCU team on Nov. 12. Syracuse, North Carolina and Duke are getting a lot of credit this season, but the Cavaliers have a legit shot at finishing in the top three of the conference standings.
30. Georgetown Hoyas (South No. 8)
Georgetown lost two games early on, but it has since rebounded--beat Kansas State and VCU. The Hoyas may have lost some talent, but they still are a threat in the Big East.
29. Indiana Hoosiers (West No. 8)
Indiana arguably lost the most talent in the off-season, but players like Yogi Ferrell have stepped up in a big way. It also helps that freshman Noah Vonleh has been well worth the hype.
28. Iowa State Cyclones (Midwest No. 7)
Iowa State already knocked off the Michigan Wolverines. In no way is this team getting as much hype as Kansas or Oklahoma State, but don’t be surprised if the Cyclones knock off either one in Big 12 play.
27. Colorado Buffaloes (East No. 7)
Colorado lost its first game of the season, but has been undefeated since then. The Buffaloes are a serious threat for a Pac-12 title.
26. New Mexico Lobos (South No. 7)
New Mexico may have already been knocked out of the top 25, but this team will benefit from the MWC losing so much talent. This is truly the most talented team in the conference.
25. Marquette Golden Eagles (West No. 7)
Marquette has proved early on that it is not as good without Vander Blue, but I am sure it will get better and better as the season progresses.
24. UCLA Bruins (Midwest No. 6)
As expected, Jordan Adams is leading the Bruins in the scoring department and he may be the best scorer in the Pac-12. Jahii Carson is also in the Pac-12, so that tells you how good he is.
23. Baylor Bears (East No. 6)
I really thought that Isaiah Austin was going to be a star this season, but I am still waiting for that to happen. Regardless, the Bears have a solid starting five and have looked great early on.
22. Tennessee Volunteers (South No. 6)
Tennessee is very underrated. The Volunteers have the talent to compete for an SEC title and they will show that once conference play begins. It would be a shocker if this team did not dance, though.
21. Iowa Hawkeyes (West No. 6)
Iowa is not only one of the most underrated teams in the Big Ten, but the entire nation as well. The Hawkeyes missed out on the tourney last season, but that will not be the case this season.
20. Gonzaga Bulldogs (South No. 5)
I still think the Gonzaga Bulldogs are overrated, but they really do not have that tough of a schedule, so they will more than likely receive a good seed in March.
19. Wichita State Shockers (East No. 5)
The Shockers could be the best mid-major in college hoops, but I think there is one better than them. Regardless, Wichita State surprised us all by making a run to the Final Four last season. I doubt they do that again this year, but they still have the talent to run.
18. Creighton Bluejays (Midwest No. 5)
Doug McDermott is going to be the best player on the court every single game he plays. As a result, no one should take Creighton lightly. The Bluejays are a season removed from the MVC and they have the talent to win the Big East.
17. VCU Rams (West No. 5)
VCU is the best mid-major in college basketball. The Rams are not off to the best start in school history or anything like that, but they still arguably have their most talented team yet.
16. Memphis Tigers (Midwest No. 4)
Josh Pastner has been great ever since taking over at head coach and this should be the season that his team finally shows that in the NCAA tournament. Talent wise, the Tigers are just as good as anyone.
15. Connecticut Huskies (West No. 4)
Connecticut is currently undefeated, as it should be. Shabazz Napier and co. are going to be very hard to beat this season. Winning a conference title could be in store for the Huskies.
14. Wisconsin Badgers (East No. 4)
Wisconsin has passed every test so far this season. The Badgers have already beaten St. John’s, Florida and Saint Louis.
This team usually enters Big Ten play underrated, but they are always in the race for a conference title.
13. Oregon Ducks (South No. 4)
Oregon’s transfers have looked great so far and they will more than likely lead it to a very good seed in the dance.
Mike Moser is looking like his old double-double self and the Ducks could be a serious threat for a national title.
12. North Carolina Tar Heels (Midwest No. 3)
North Carolina beat Louisville without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. Just imagine how good this team would be with them in the lineup.
11. Florida Gators (East No. 3)
Just like North Carolina, Florida has been shorthanded since the season started. At full strength, the Gators are a top five team. Until that actually happens, though, who knows how good Billy Donovan’s team will be.
10. Ohio State Buckeyes (South No. 3)
Ohio State has looked like a top 10 team so far, but its schedule will get much tougher once Big Ten play starts.
9. Syracuse Orange (West No. 3)
This Syracuse team does not look as good as last year’s Final Four team, but C.J. Fair has been very impressive so far and the Orange have already beaten Minnesota, California and Baylor.
8. Louisville Cardinals (East No. 2)
It wouldn’t surprise me if Louisville earned a No. 1 seed in the dance, but it did lose to a shorthanded North Carolina team.
7. Michigan Wolverines (Midwest No. 2)
Michigan has a lot of work to do and Mitch McGary has not lived up to expectations, but I still think it has the talent to win a national title.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (South No. 2)
Marcus Smart is easily one of the best players in the country and he plays for one of the best teams.
Kansas is still probably the favorite to win the Big 12, but Oklahoma State has been my pick since the beginning, even though I still have the Jayhawks ahead of the Cowboys on this list. Kansas has a much tougher schedule, which could lead to more quality wins.
5. Arizona Wildcats (West No. 2)
Arizona got a huge win by knocking off the Duke Blue Devils and it clearly looks like one of the best teams. Still, I have Duke and three other teams ahead of the Wildcats.
4. Kansas Jayhawks (West No. 1)
Andrew Wiggins has slowed down quite a bit since the first couple of games, but he is still the most talented player in college hoops and he is only going to get better. The same thing can be said about the Jayhawks.
3. Duke Blue Devils (South No. 1)
Duke already has two losses on the season, but both came against top five teams. I have the Blue Devils ranked higher than Kansas and Arizona. That is because I still think the Blue Devils will win the ACC, which will lead to a No. 1 seed.
2. Michigan State Spartans (East No. 1)
Michigan State has so many weapons on the offensive side of the ball, it is very experienced and it can play defense. That could lead to a national championship in the 2013-14 college basketball season.
1. Kentucky Wildcats (Midwest No. 1)
So much has already been said about this Kentucky team. Regardless, the Wildcats are the most talented team and they are going to be a very tough out come March.
Julius Randle is arguably the best player so far and he is still relatively new to the college level. The same thing is the case with most of this team.
It is very hard to beat a team that brings in arguably the best recruiting class of all time. Sure, Kentucky has already lost a game, but just imagine how good this team will be once all of the players get used to playing with one another.