The five games between 02/23 and 03/01 that really impacted the brackets:
1)@ Oklahoma St 85, Kansas 77: This was a key win for the Cowboys. Instead of sitting at 3-7 vs. the RPI top 50, 8-8 in conference, with one great win and two decent wins, they now add a second elite win, and are projected 4-6 against the RPI top 50. That pushes them off the bubble and into the 6-8 seed range.
2) @ Notre Dame 68, Pitt 53; Notre Dame78, @ Georgetown 64: Two games pushed Notre Dame from “solidly out” to “near the top of the bubble”. These two games give the Irish two additional wins over top 25 teams, and are now projected to go .500 against RPI top 50 teams, and 9-8 against the top 100. More important is the fact that they won on the road against a decent team. The win in DC helped eliminate the major flaw in the Irish resume – the lack of a big road win.
3) Michigan St 53, @Purdue 44: This win shores up the drooping Michigan St resume with a road win, but opens up two new questions. First, how good is Michigan St, really? This team lost at home by 12 to a healthy Purdue team, lost by 11 to Texas on the road, lost by 7 to North Carolina on the road, lost by 3 on a neutral court to Florida, and lost by 5 on the road to Illinois. Even their wins (4 points at home over Gonzaga, 7 points at home over Wisconsin) seem to indicate that this team should be somewhere between a 6 and 8 seed, with a 5 as the ceiling. But that begs the question “How good is Purdue without Robbie Hummel”? With what we saw Saturday, I’d say that this Purdue team is about on par with Illinois. They’ll still garner a high seed in the tournament, but look for them to be upset early.
4) New Mexico 83, @BYU 81: One of the big knocks on New Mexico was that despite their gaudy 27-3 record, the only road wins they had were against UNLV and New Mexico St. Moreover, a loss here would have assured them of finishing second in their conference. By completing the sweep, New Mexico answered both of those knocks. They will finish the season 28-3, 7-2 against the RPI top 50, with one loss outside the RPI top 50. They are very comparable to the 2s and the 3s, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them in the final four.
5) Minnesota 62, @Illinois 60: This loss puts Illinois in a precarious position – while 4 RPI top 50 scalps is nice, their overall projected profile (18-13, 4-8 vs. RPI top 50, 1-2 vs. RPI 50-100) seems to suggest that most nights, this team can’t play with the big boys. Imagine how different this would look with a 2-1 instead of a 1-2. That little switch puts Illinois right on the cut line.
Quick Hit Honorable Mentions:
Clemson 53, @Florida St 50: Florida St and Clemson essentially switch places on the bubble.
Maryland 104, @Virginia Tech 100: Maryland creates separation at the top of the ACC.
@Tennessee 74, Kentucky 65: I have to admit, CJ was right: I wasn’t giving Tennessee the full weight of their projected win over Kentucky.
@St. Bonaventure 81, Rhode Island 74; @George Washington 75, Charlotte 70: When your resume is based around the fact that you haven’t taken any bad losses, taking a bad loss is devastating.