Well. Holy guacamole. That's how to best describe half-court bank shots to force 4th pts. Half court buzzer beaters that weren't. Bakersfield. Hawaii. Texas transfers helping former Texas assistants make the tournament. A huge dose of Jameel Warney. And then another dose of Jameel Warney. Connecticut. St. Joseph's. VCU. All using this week to cement their bid. LSU. Houston. Georgia. All using this week to do the opposite.
Here's where the Buffet stands -- as of now our 1 seed - Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan St & Oregon. Oregon is the wild card - but with the Pac12 double (tournament & regular season), 7 good wins, great computer numbers, strong schedule, early bad losses that were part of some injury issues, and the natural 1-seed in the West confirms it.
Could Michigan St lose their place to Virginia if they don't finish off the Big 10 tournament? Perhaps, but unlikely.
At the very bottom - this is shaping up as a discussion between: Temple, Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Monmouth, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, St. Mary's, San Diego State, South Carolina and Tulsa. It feels like Michigan & Temple are safe.
The discussion turns on:
St. Bonaventure - 8-2 down the stretch with wins over St. Joe's, Dayton and Waiting Liner, but ultimately off-consideration George Washington. But the losses, La Salle and a tough game against similarly situated to GW, Davidson - could that doom them. Computers had them as a 79, SOS of 78, and 8-6 on road/neutral. Beat Dayton and Saint Joe's away from home, and finished tied for first in the Atlantic 10. With the aforementioned La Salle and Duquesne as bad losses on the bottom of the resume
St. Mary's - 8-2 themselves down the stretch. They just feel like empty computer rankings (32 average) but a 148 SOS, only defeated Gonzaga. They did win their conference outright.. but to the Buffet, they just did want the Committee has stressed NOT TO DO. Didn't schedule to any degree of difficulty, and what slim margin they gave themselves -- they didn't win (Lost at Cal), and after their Gonzaga sweep, their next wins: UC Irvine, BYU, Stanford and Grand Canyon. Other than some deep Buffet bias, those aren't necessary gimme wins, but they also aren't anyone you or I have discussed for weeks now as potential Waiting Line teams.
San Diego State - 42 by computers, #2 NC SOS, beat Cal on a neutral court, and won their conference. But that's about it. Even with that SOS. Lost to San Diego (#302), but played well away from home (9-2 in true road games). If they just could've finished off a November road game in Utah -- they be a slam dunk - if you are splitting between SD State/St Mary's, both are conference champs, SD State has the best win (and not at home), and scheduled more difficult. Even if the MWC isn't the WCC this year, I believe SD State wins that war.
Syracuse - The Orange comes down to what the Committee values. Wins away from the Carrier Dome? Check - Duke & Texas A&M. Good collection of wins overall - Those two plus St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame and UConn (all in the field). They do have bad losses - St. John's, notably. Perform favorably on computers (48). But didn't schedule very difficult out of the ACC (117) and only finished .500 when they play in-conference. Most importably, what kind of team are they now? They've lost 3 straight and 5 of 6. While L10 isn't a criterion any longer, it is still trying to differentiate between really close teams, and 'Cuse hasn't played like a tournament in February/March (0 wins against teams in the field). Will the top of their resume rule the day?
Monmouth: Oh, the #monmouthatlargemob. I tried, and failed spectacularly to get that trending. It didn't. And it might not come to fruition. But remember the discussion re: St. Mary's? Monmouth did the opposite. Now, some of their wins (Georgetown, @UCLA) did not turn out to be as notable as first thought. But they still hold those wins and neutral courts versus Notre Dame and Southern Cal. They have ugly losses, no doubt - Manhattan, Army and Canisius - but 2 of those are in conference and won by double-digits (or close) in return games against Manhattan & Canisius. With good scheduling, 13 true road wins - even with low computer numbers (69), gut feeling says Committee says "yes, this is how to schedule if you want to get in from a small conference, winning the regular season but not winning your conference tournament" But, there's enough on that resume to justify exclusion as much as inclusion.
South Carolina - Gamecocks limped their way home. Limped. Stumbled. Lost their way. 5-5 including losses to Georgia twice, Mississippi St, and Missouri. But, they can't just be shunted into a corner that easily. They did beat outright SEC champ Texas A&M in College Station, Hofstra (who were surprisingly close to getting in the Buffet, and a lot more of a presence in the Waiting Line than readers might expect) and Tulsa. 9-6 in road/neutral, with a computer average of 51. Like Syracuse, but with less resume effort, will Committee note the team that finished the season as tournament undeserving.
Temple - Won the AAC, who is getting multiple bids outside the Owls. 7-4 in true road, and 10-5 in road netural. Beat SMU (who would be a tournament team), UConn twice (tournament team) and Cincinnati twice (tournament team). Two questionable losses (East Carolina) became less of one when Memphis made their run to the tournament final. This feels like a tournament resume, especially with winning the conference outright...
For the Buffet, it comes down to Syracuse v. San Diego State for the very last spot. As of now, it's Syracuse, but that's subject to change over the next hour...
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