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Sunday Conversation 3/8

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Xavier is probably in, but there is still some question. Also, where will bid thieves come from this year?

It's all fun and games when you win.
It's all fun and games when you win.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Joel
Let's take a moment to talk about Villanova before we go forward here. They were up 50-46 at the half against St. John's before outscoring them 55-24 in the second to win 105-68. That is absolutely opening up a can on a team that had been pretty darn hot coming in. If Nova plays like that, they are as viable a champion pick as anyone outside of UK. They can be so good.

Brad
And I think they could, not necessarily will, beat UK. When they get hot, no one can score with them.

Bryan
That being said, if they go cold, they have a good chance of not making the second weekend again. This is what makes March so fun, trying to figure out who is going to stay hot and who is primed for an upset.

Joel
Speaking of upsets, Wichita State went down in their conference tournament. UNI is still an at-large worthy team in contention for that auto bid, but results like that make me nervous. Beating Creighton was hige, but I still don't feel totally safe that we're in even if we lose to Butler. Someone convince me otherwise.

Bryan
We have 5 top 50 and 9 top 100 wins in RPI, which the committee loves. Went .500 in a top conference, and managed to avoid that one last damaging loss. I think it is a better resume than last year's, and enough to avoid Dayton (the city, if not the team).

West Coast d'Artagnan
I definitely agree with Brad. I think that we are safer this year then we were last year. Now if we win one (or more) games in the Big East Tournament, how much could it impact our seed?

Bryan
I think if we beat Butler, the 8/9 game becomes our new landing spot and then a win against Georgetown. assuming we play them, could bump us to a 7. If we win the tournament, a 6 seed might come our way, but that is probably the extent of the help we can give ourselves at this point. Not sure I can see anything higher than a 6 seed, but the committee confuses me every year, so I would be the first to admit I don't really know. I think the possibility is there if we can get 2 more top 50 wins to move up 3 or 4 seeds before next Sunday.

Joel
Yeah, I think a 6 is our ceiling. Realistically though, who is beating Villanova? It's not us, and it certainly doesn't look like St. John's is the team to do it. I think we can play our way to a 7 if we beat Georgetown and Butler, and I don't think a 6 is out of the realm of possibility depending on who else currently seeded above us loses. There's a big potential swing in play here; our worst case scenario may well be Dayton, and our best might be a 6. That's the benefit of playing tournament teams in the conference tournament, I suppose.

Bryan
What is anyone making of Belmont over Murray? Is that an early bid theft or is Murray out too? For me and it seems most I think the latter, but I have seen a couple brackets that have them sneaking into Dayton. Where else will bid stealers come from this week?

Joel
First of all, what a shot that was to put Belmont through, and how about having the sand to draw that up with the season on the line? Murray State has to be out; they have beaten nobody. Illinois State is their only top 100 win, and they're not very good. Murray State's unbeaten run was a nice story, but it's a footnote to a footnote in the larger story of this season.

To open the bid thief conversation, how about Davidson in the A10? They're not going to earn an at-large bid, but they play offense as well as just about anyone. They can get hot and take the auto bid, which would be worth a shuffle if you assume VCU and Dayton are already in.

Bryan
Davidson is pretty firmly on the bubble, so they may not be a theft, but I can't see the A-10 sending 4, so if one of those three doesn't win the tournament, I think Davidson is out. If UK drops in the SEC, I think Florida can sneak in there, and Illinois has been up and down all season, but could make a run if they get hot in Big Ten.

Joel
How about Kansas State in the Big12? They've got some really nice wins already but sit at 15-15 (I think). They're a team that has proven they can play with just about anyone but who have too many losses to earn an at-large bid. I could see them ripping through and getting the auto bid, especially if they get some help along the way. That's such a tough conference, you've gotta figure a top seed or two could get bounced.

Getting out of the high majors, I can see UConn grabbing the auto bid in the American. I mean, they're the defending national champs, Boatright is a streaky but talented guard, and Ollie can really coach. Losing to Memphis and Temple last week didn't make them look good though. Don't sleep on Pepperdine in the WCC; they can really defend, but mostly I just think Gonzaga is butter soft.