An Early Look at the Possible NCAA Field


Now, it's all about the madness ... as in what college basketball teams come Sunday night are gonna be really mad they didn't make this year's "Big Dance" but let us go on record to state that none of the teams we list below that are gonna get "snubbed" really have a leg to stand on:

The fact of the matter is - at least the way we see it - there's a batch of "bubble teams" that are gonna get into the NCAA Tournament that begins Tuesday/Wednesday night in Dayton and there's a batch of "bubble teams" that will be kept on the outside looking in and none of those squads really passes the proverbial eye test. Folks, there's some seriously flawed hoop teams that will be part of the 68-team field that will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. on CBS / ESPN but a few of 'em did a wee bit more than others to land those lower NCAA Tournament seeds.

Now, here's the college hoop teams that will be bummin' by about 7 p.m. ET on Sunday evening

N.C. State (22-11, 9-9) - The Wolfpack needed more than just that one-point win against Clemson in this week's ACC Tournament to make the grade as an NCAA Tournament team and if you really want to blame anyone here than point the finger at the school's athletic director for scheduling cupcake games early against Maryland-Eastern Shore, UNC-Asheville and Maine. Note N.C. State was once-upon-a-time 13-1 SU (straight-up) and the Pack did finish 20-13 ATS (against the spread) but no signature road wins in ACC play, and that's a true killer.

Clemson (19-13, 9-9) - Once the Tigers were beaten 59-58 by 2.5-point pup N.C. State in second-round ACC quarterfinal round play, the lights were dimmed on any/all tournament hopes. Let's face it, Clemson lost key non-league games to both Nebraska and Creighton and finished 0-5 SU against the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia. We thought Clemson might have a shot at one of those #12 seeds for a "First Four" appearance but too many bubble teams won other mini-tourney games and knocked 'em out of the loop. Note Clemson went 14-18 versus the vig overall this year.

ST. JOHN'S (21-12, 8-10) - Here's yet another major-college club that played a bunch of non-league palookas (see Wagner, Mount St. Mary's, etc.) and never at any point of this 2018-19 campaign ever won three games in a row. The signs were good back on Feb. 23rd when the Johnnies beat Seton Hall to go to 20-8 on the year but Chris Mullin's uber-sloppy squad lost four of its final five games (and seven of its final 11 games) and multiple mini-tourney wins by the likes of Minnesota, Colorado and Oregon all helped to doom the Red Storm. Again, we talk "eye test" and this St. John's team simply doesn't belong from what we've seen.
So, as we enter the Sunday menu of college roundball, who do we see making the field? Well, some 10-or-so hours before we tune in to the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, here's our 68-team field ...

1 Virginia vs. 16 Gardner Webb / Fairleigh Dickinson winner
2 Tennessee vs. 15 Vermont
3 Houston vs. 14 Bradley
4 Purdue vs. 13 Belmont
5 Kansas vs. 12 VCU
6 Auburn vs. 11 Minnesota
7 Murray State vs 10 Dayton
8 Washington vs. 9 Syracuse

1 Michigan State vs 16 Liberty / Texas Southern winner
2 Florida State vs. 15 Norfolk State
3 LSU vs. 14 North Dakota State
4 Kansas State vs. 13 New Mexico State
5 Cincinnati vs. 12 Colorado
6 Maryland vs. 11 Old Dominion
7 UCF vs. 10 Baylor
8 Iowa State vs. 9 Louisville

1 Kentucky vs. 16 Colgate
2 Duke vs. 15 Northern Kentucky
3 Texas Tech vs. 14 Yale
4 Villanova vs. 13 Drake
5 Virginia Tech vs. 12 Temple / Fresno State winner
6 Buffalo vs. 11 Arizona State
7 Miss State vs. 10 Iowa
8 Wofford vs. 9 Seton Hall

1 North Carolina vs. 16 Northeastern / Iona winner
2 Gonzaga vs. 15 Abilene Christian
3 Michigan vs. 14 UC-Irvine
4 Nevada vs. 13 Georgia State
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Davidson / Ole Miss
6 Marquette vs. 11 Saint Mary's
7 Oregon vs. 10 Utah State
8  VCU vs. 9 Utah

Okay, so the NCAA Tournament may or may not look like what we've presented here today but let's get you some ways we're looking to handicap this year's "Big Dance" ...

  • In opening-round NCAA Tourney games, we often look to go against power conference teams that really had to go to the mat to win their conference mini tourneys ...
  • It's also generally wise 'capping to take a rock-solid team that was KO'd early in their conference tourney and - off the top of our head - we're thinking about Texas Tech (a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal round loser) and Maryland (a Big 10 Tourney quarterfinal round loser) ...
  • Finally, those double-digit seeded teams that are general unknowns to much of the country that "can play" must be respected here in Round of 64 games and we're looking at the likes of Belmont (they better get in!), Drake and North Dakota State.