NCAA tournament 2011: Notre Dame overtakes Duke for No. 1 seed
(FYI: The office pool story will run on Selection Sunday. Please email me if you have any questions or comments on anything. email@example.com)
Okay, take a deep breath after a maddening weekend. Here are the answers to some key questions as we begin what promises to be a dizzying week:
1) Will George Mason still play in the NCAA tournament? Yes, I have the Patriots in an 8/9 game right now. For their sake, hopefully they drop to a No. 10 seed to avoid a No. 1 seed in the second round, which is possible. If VCU beats Old Dominion in tonight's CAA final, the CAA will send three teams to the NCAAs because ODU is going, too.
2) Is Duke still a No. 1 seed? The Blue Devils are not a No. 1 seed at the moment. Notre Dame has overtaken them. Duke has a chance to play its way back into a No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament.
3) Is Virginia Tech still in the tournament? At the moment, the Hokies are my last team in the tournament. They can lock up a bid with two wins in the ACC tournament. They might be okay with just one win --- against Georgia Tech on Thursday night -- but they would be sweating it out on selection Sunday (again!) and a lot would depend on what happens across the country. To say the bubble is soft is an understatement. If they beat Georgia Tech, they play Florida State on Friday.
4) Is North Carolina now everyone's favorite Final Four pick? Probably, regardless of where the Tar Heels are seeded. I have them as a No. 3 seed at the moment, but inching very close to being a No. 2.
5) As for the Terps, Maryland will play No. 10 North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC tournament on Thursday. The Terps are four wins away from playing in the NCAA tournament. Tough year for them; I won't pile on. It's a lot more fun and exciting when all the local teams are in the tournament.
6) Will the Big East still get a record 11 bids? Most likely. Marquette is inching in the wrong direction, but the rest of the real bubble is, well, ugh. Marquette would be advised to win its first Big East tourney game.
7) Uh, what's up with the mid-majors? Call this past weekend Mid-Major Madness. George Mason, the top seed in the CAA tournament, lost by 16 to Virginia Commonwealth. Missouri State, the top seed in the MVC tournament, lost by four to Indiana State. Vermont, the top seed in the America East tournament, lost by 22 to Stony Brook. American, the second seed in the Patriot League tournament, lost by two to Lafayette in a great two-overtime affair. Fairfield, the top seed in the MAAC tournament, lost by 14 to St. Peter's. Florida Atlantic, the top seed in the Sun Belt tournament, lost by 14 to North Texas. All this took place after Murray State, the top seed in the OVC tournament, lost. And Coastal Carolina, the top seed in the Big South tournament, lost. Belmont, the top seed in the Atlantic Sun tournament, survived and can be penciled in as a dangerous No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament.
8) Is there a sleeper NOT named North Carolina you should be watching? Yes, they are called the Florida Gators. Billy Donovan's squad is set to make another run in March.
9) Is there an off-the-radar team now threatening to make the tournament? Yes, Southern California. The Trojans have three bad - I mean really bad - losses. But they have won five of six, possess five top 50 wins and earned a had-to-have road victory at Washington this weekend. They have more work to do, but watch out for the revived Trojans.
10) Which team is fading fastest: Tennessee, Missouri or Villanova? Take your pick. Hop on the bandwagon of any of these teams at your own peril.
I will take a closer look at the tournament hopes for all the locals today. I also will post an updated NCAA tournament field and let you know what to watch for as the week progresses.
| March 7, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
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