Welcome friends to the second week of bracketology. Let's get the show on the road:
As usual, remember that this is "if the season ended today" - maybe in the future I'll just shorten that to ITSET since I am into the whole brevity thing. Autobids are therefore handed out to the team currently leading the conference, with ties broken by LaxPower's computer for convenience. That's the kind of tiebreaker that prevents me from autobidding 2-0 (but 4-5) Drexel over 1-0 (but 7-0) UMass, so it's a good thing.
First and most importantly, UVA does not drop in the seeding despite the loss. Nothing in the world, whether it's a tournament committee or a system like this one, will penalize you for losing in OT to the #1 seed. UVA's RPI and SOS go up, a couple other factors go down, and the result is we stay right where we were. The #1 seed is out of reach unless Hopkins gives it up, which they won't, but pick up a couple wins in ACC play and 2 or 3 are there for the taking.
Told you it wouldn't be long before UNC and Cornell showed up. Cornell I'll get to in a bit. UNC.... they're a little too high, but they did beat Maryland and since Maryland is who they're now very close to in terms of the metrics, they get that edge. These teams' return is helped by some losses - Syracuse, RMU, and most surprisingly Colgate all lost, and for each of them it was enough to boot them from the bracket this week. We've probably seen the last of RMU - they now head into their NEC schedule which will weaken their numbers even if they win out.
But no Syracuse? How can you run a tourney without Syracuse? you ask. For now, easy; they've got three losses and the teams they've beaten all suck, with a combined 10-20 record. It's not hard to find a whole bunch of teams with better resumes than Syracuse, and they've got a three-game stretch coming up - Duke, Princeton, Cornell - that could either launch them into the bracket or lock them out for good.
As for the bubble, Villanova and Lehigh are semi-securely in at this point, and then you've got five teams fighting for the last two spots, and those five teams are incredibly close. You might as well throw a five-sided die. Each one is better than the others in a different metric. Penn State has mostly the best wins. Cornell's RPI is highest of the five. Syracuse has the best SOS. Fairfield's win-loss record is tops. Denver is the most well-rounded. I threw out Cuse first because SOS is meaningless if you don't get some wins against them. Then I threw up my hands. Cornell beat Denver which beat PSU, so there's a little bit of a pecking order, but otherwise, sheesh. Just know that PSU and Fairfield are banging on the door and might get in at any time. (But then, why is Lehigh playing the 4 seed and not a slightly better matchup, if they're clearly above that fray? Travel.)
Here's what happened in last week's big important games:
Cornell 9, Denver 8: Cornell climbs back into the picture. If they ever really left.
Lehigh 9, Penn State 5: A big reason why Lehigh made the jump into the bracket, and PSU didn't.
Bucknell 17, Robert Morris 10: Bucknell serves notice that they're not going to go away in the Patriot League, and probably - nay, almost certainly - ends RMU's tourney chances.
Notre Dame 8, Ohio State 7: The Buckeyes are done except for the chance to be a spoiler or a decent win for the rest of their schedule.
Loyola 11, Georgetown 6
Duke 13, Georgetown 11: G'town can't quite make the leap, earning wins in neither of their big chances to do so.
North Carolina 11, Maryland 10: Knocked the Terps down a few notches and gave UNC the boost they needed to get back in the picture. And while they were at it, thinned out Maryland's depth chart a smidge for our game next week.
Johns Hopkins 11, Virginia 10: Boo.
Loyola 13, UMBC 5: Battle of the Baltimore Dogs. UMBC has phenomenal numbers (for a 2-4 team) thanks to their win over Maryland and the fact that they've only played awesome teams so far. But even though they've got that win over Maryland, now they'll probably need to win their conference in order to get in.
Villanova 11, Syracuse 10: Oops. The Cuse stumbles in the Dome, giving them an uphill climb.
Now for the games to watch this week:
Bucknell at Penn State: An interesting Pennsylvania-only matchup that could do wonders for the winner's ability to hang on to a tourney spot.
Lehigh at Navy: The Middies tripped up Colgate; Lehigh can't afford to make the same mistake. A win for Navy would clinch a Patriot tourney spot and put the league on notice to watch out.
Virginia at Maryland: Seeding battle as far as the tourney is concerned.
Villanova at Penn State: The Nittany Lions' second instate opponent of the week, and both are winnable games that could get them in next week's bracket. Oh, and both are at home.
Syracuse vs. Duke: It'll be interesting to see what happens to the Cuse from here on out.
North Carolina vs. Johns Hopkins: I already said the winner of UVA-Hop would end up with the #1 seed; a win here for JHU could help cement that regardless of whether or not Loyola beats them.