A new bracket is posted and Alabama continues its rise up the chart. The Crimson Tide, who moved up to a No. 2 seed in Friday’s bracket projection, is undefeated in the SEC and has won 10 in a row overall. Those wins include games at Tennessee and LSU and they will travel to Oklahoma to face another hot team in the Sooners on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. OU has won four straight, the last two of which were against Kansas at home and at Texas.
Here are some other takeaways from this week’s bracket:
Number of games played not the same
One of the things that is different this season in trying to do projected brackets is comparing teams that have played a widely different number of games. Saint Louis just played its first game in about a month this week, and the Billikens showed some rust in a 76-71 loss at home to Dayton. That is just the ninth game they have played and only their second loss. I am trying to compare them with teams like Louisville, which has played 14 games, or Colorado, which has 16 games under its belt. Even Rutgers is in that part of the bracket and the Scarlet Knights have played as many Quad 1 games as Saint Louis has played in total.
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We are still just over six weeks away from Selection Sunday though, so while there will be disparities in the number of games played then as well, the expectation is that there will be enough to fairly judge each team.
Teams showing rust after rest
Speaking of teams coming off long COVID breaks, we are finding that there are mixed results. The expectation is that teams would show some rust after a long time off, and some certainly are, but not all.
Villanova, for example, came off a nearly month long break with wins over Seton Hall and Providence. Georgia Tech came off a break of more than two weeks with a blowout win over Clemson. That was the Tigers’ second game back from a relatively short break, but they got crushed in three straight games before bouncing back with a win over Louisville on Wednesday.
Michigan State, which has not been in my bracket since the preseason, lost by 30 at Rutgers on Thursday night in its first game in three weeks.
I imagine the selection committee may give some consideration to results after a long break, but in the end, wins are wins and losses are losses.
Will teams opt-out of conference tournaments?
Another thing the committee may have to deal with that it has not had to before is the possibility of teams that perceive themselves to be locks for at-large bids opting out of their conference tournament.
That could put the committee in an uncomfortable position of deciding whether to take the winner of a watered down conference tournament as an automatic qualifier. The committee has always left deciding the automatic qualifier up to the conferences in the past.
There is also some talk that some conferences may just cancel their tournaments and declare the regular season champion as the winner. Those decisions do not have to be made yet.