All hail the mighty Showcase Game.
So, yeah... all that talk about whether Notre Dame deserved a bid to the tournament just became moot as hell; the Domers can't be left out now. The ACC looks to be a very secure six-bid league.
If things don't change much, this could be a very good test of the system I've put together here. Notre Dame as high as #4 seems a little crazy, but that in fact is the way things are. They beat Maryland and Syracuse on their way to the title, which is gonna give you a boost no matter what; I admit I was a little surprised to see it be that much of one.
The second excellent test of the system could be Hofstra. During the UVA/UNC game, much talk was talked about who was going to get a tourney bid, and Hofstra might as well have been on Neptune for all the attention they were paid. This system, however, likes them quite a bit - relative, at least, to the general feeling about them. The line between the last two in and the first two out is a huge, gaping, possibly insurmountable chasm. The Ivies ate each other up, and it's highly, highly possible that league is only a two-bid affair; its saving grace is that Cornell vs. Penn is a first-round game, and thus, someone is going to have a shot to be a bid thief. (Also, just to be on the safe side, rooting for Hofstra in the CAA tourney.)
Last week's games of interest went thus:
Patriot League tournament: Loyola took the prize, and rather handily, too. This 9-team conference comprised mostly of teams that have had some legitimate success in the recent past, is a one-bid league.
ACC tournament: Discussed above. The strength-of-schedule party went absolutely as well as the ACC could've schemed, and the conference looks like it'll send all six teams to the dance. Notre Dame goes from potentially facing a win-or-die game against Army next week to an automatic invite.
Denver 17, Marquette 9: This was only here because the Big East regular season title was on the line; Marquette is nowhere near actual tourney consideration. I spoke of the Patriot League as a conference that has seen better days than this year, but they've got nothing on the Big East in that regard when two-year-old Marquette is running roughshod over the sorry competition.
Penn State 8, Hofstra 7: The system didn't seem to mind that Hofstra flopped in this one.
Harvard 11, Yale 10: Harvard weed-whacked Yale's shot at an at-large bid, much to their delight, I'm sure, but not to the Ivy in general.
Cornell 12, Princeton 10: The last-ditch effort for the Tigers falls flat.
Virginia 13, North Carolina 11: Showcase game forever. UVA gained a very, very good shot at a home game to start the tournament in two weeks.
This week's games that matter:
CAA tournament: The Biggest Disappointment of the Year (Penn State) is ineligible for the tourney because they're leaving the conference after the season, which is good news for a lot of other teams because they were just hitting their stride. The matchups are Towson/Drexel and Hofstra/Delaware. Only Hofstra has a legit chance at an at-large bid.
A-Sun tournament: One bid for a play-in game on the road is up for grabs. Matchups: High Point vs. Jacksonville and Mercer vs. Richmond. High Point is the favorite here.
NEC tournament: St. Joseph's vs. Hobart and Bryant vs. Sacred Heart. Not gonna lie: am rooting hard for St. Joe's here, as they've been a great story to follow all season.
Big East tournament: One of the biggest questions is this: Does Denver get a bid if they fail to win this tournament? Likely moot because the teams in this conference stink, but I think the answer's yes. Matchups: Denver/Rutgers and Villanova/Marquette.
A-East tournament: No, Albany is not getting a bid if they lose. Matchups: Albany/Stony Brook and Binghamton/UMBC. You haven't seen Binghamton's name all year in this bracketology, but lately they've been popping up at the very bottom of my list of teams under consideration, which is a tremendous leap forward in and of itself.
MAAC tournament: A while back, somebody on the LaxPower forums posited that if A, B, C, and so on through like N happen, the MAAC would end up with one undefeated team, one winless team, and five in the middle at 3-3. This then proceeded to take place. The tiebreaker, as it turns out, was goal differential, leaving two teams out in the cold and three in. The matchups here are Siena/Canisius and Marist/Detroit. Should Siena lose, it would be a tremendous upset, but this conference tourney has become known for those in recent years.
ECAC tournament: A similar mess is going on here, with three teams at 3-1 and one at 1-3. (And winless Bellarmine sopping up all the other losses.) The tiebreaker is RPI, so they won't be officially announcing the matchups til tomorrow - it takes the NCAA stat monkeys a while to get the difference engine fired up - but here they are anyway: Fairfield/Michigan and Air Force/Ohio State.
Johns Hopkins at Loyola: Besides all the tournaments, there's this one very interesting game going on here, with a tourney home game on the line in all likelihood.