We've hit the Major Conference Corridor, so let's deep dive in the prescriptions for schools playing this week for getting that almighty invitation..
But, just preview the championship putting autobids on the line tonight, for your viewing reminders:
Gonzaga/St Mary's Invitational - decided tonight between, you guessed it Gonzaga & St. Mary's -- interestingly, Gonzaga let Santa Clara stick around and St. Mary's absolutely HAMMERED BYU.
Northern Kentucky tries to make a wrong Buffet prediction look good by being the Upset Special that was in the Horizon final versus Milwaukee
- South Dakota St tried to make a upset prediction look excellent in the Summit final versus a red-hot Nebraska-Omaha
- St. Francis-PA and Mount Saint Mary's close out the NEC season with their championship battle
ACC TOURNAMENT - IT'S NOT IN CAROLINA!
From where the Buffet sits, as of now, there are 10 ACC tournament teams, there could be room for 11 but 12 probably stretches it (unless Georgia Tech finds Clemson in the conference tournament final, then our discussion could be different).
- 12: Clemson -- as we speak (as you saw from the Buffet banner), the Tigers drew 13 seed NC State, lame duck coach Mark Gottfried, one of the country's best freshman Dennis Smith Jr., and a super young squad that was 11-2 going into ACC play and just fell apart (more on them in a second). Obviously, Clemson must beat N.C. State, then they face 5th seeded, a win there and it would be very difficult to keep them out - this would get them to 18 wins, 7 wins away from home, a top 25 (top 20 to be precise) win their resume desperately needs, With that strength of schedule, and computer numbers already putting them in the middle of the Waiting Line... - I imagine they'd get in. (update: Clemson took out NC State, sending Gottfried and Dennis Smith Jr. out of Raleigh)
- 11: Georgia Tech -- Josh Pastner ACC Coach of the Year. Let that sink in for a second. Credit where it's due -- this team does rank 8th in the country in KenPom's Adjusted Defense Efficiency rating, that's the work he has done. Now, credit where it isn't due:
- Now to keep it real: 93-62-77-89-76: Those are Georgia Tech's computer rankings. They've won 2 games away from home, put, haven't really defended home court to any stretch of perfection, losing to Ohio and the afore-discussed NC State. It gets uglier in the non-conference - a 270th ranked strength of schedule, and an RPI of 168 - so essentially only by being a member of the ACC have they propped up a resume that is tournament discussion worthy. They do have 4 nice wins, including VCU on the road, and 3 great conference home wins (UNC, Florida State and Notre Dame). But then it gets empty. You go here and look at the "Loss" column and it's an assault of road game losses. To get in? Obviously you don't lose to a Pitt team that went 4-14 in conference and comes in a 4-game losing streak. Then comes Virginia, who has solidified themselves a bit after a mid-February swoon, this win is must too, but don't believe it alone will be enough, add Notre Dame and avoid getting blown away by Florida St, and the conversation will be much different.
- 10 Wake Forest -- @tiedyenation Danny Manning's Demon Deacons found a formula in late February, closing the season with wins over Pitt, and then impressively over Louisville and at Virginia Tech, they have been a BOOP darling ever since enter was hit on the formula (been sitting at 4-8 slots higher than consensus ratings had them) and now they've vaulted themselves into the Buffet's latest bracket. They do have the unfortunate zero value game today -- beating Boston College adds nothing to their resume, losing would be devastating, then comes Va Tech. A win there -- and John Collins & Brandon Crawford and can discuss where their seed will be not if they'll be in, a loss wouldn't be fatal to an invite, but it would make things a bit more complicated.
- 9 -- Miami, currently both the Buffet & Consensus Ranks have them at an 8. They open with Syracuse, and in that spot, all they can do is potentially doom (or at least send to Dayton for a first four matchup) a team that has won 2 games, none out of conference and none against a team in the top 50. Next comes North Carolina. You beat the regular season champ, we'll give a long look to bump a Miami team that will then have 2 wins over UNC, 4 top 25 wins, 7 road/neutral wins - problem with Miami's resume is their efforts outside of the conference with a neutral win over Stanford their best work. 6 or 7 with an ACC win feels like their ceiling. Which, it turns out IS the roof (promise that was not planned, but it flowed nicely in an ACC discussion)
- 8 -- Syracuse -- The Orange have been on a bracket yo-yo, in, out, up to 10, down to 11 and in online consensus their a slot lower than the Buffet has them, at 12. We discussed their work, bereft of anything consequential out of the Carrier Dome. Now in the Dome they did beat Duke, Virginia & Florida St - and that's not nothing. But losses to Boston College (one of their 2 conference wins) and St. John's loom. I think a loss to Miami could be a tournament invite eliminator, but they'll stay in the conversation because of those top wins, and because even the computers can't figure out who they are. RPI, they sit at 80, the KPI is 61, whereas ESPN's BPI has them at 33 and Sagarin seems them at 40. A win over Miami, and a close to UNC and they'll likely be safe, but blowout loss to UNC? First four will likely be there home. Ceiling? Probably 10 with the unlikeliest of ACC runs.
- 7 -- Virginia Tech: Buffetology: 10; Online consensus: 8. This team is in, it's all a matter of where they're slotted. I seem them as a 9, beat Florida State, that Online Consensus is probably their place. Win or get to the ACC final? 7 isn't out of the question.
- 6 -- Virginia. It's been an on again/off again love affair with Virginia. Buffetology/Online Consensus: 5. I have had them pushing up against a 3. Now they're Feb losing streak has them sitting at 5. But look at that resume -- 4 top 25 wins, 14 wins over the top 100 overall. A winning road record -- including Louisville (they swept the Cardinals), win at Notre Dame, and victory in Charlottesville to reset themselves. They are 10th in computer average! If they do fall to the GaTech/Pitt winner, then 5 is their destiny. But a bit of a run? Beating Notre Dame & Florida State? This could get to 3, but I think 4 with a resume deserving of a 3 is the best prediction here.
- 5 -- Duke. (Karl Ravech note of the day - no #5 seed has ever won the ACC tournament, and not since 1994 (6-seeded Maryland) has a team lower than #3 won it. The Blue Devils went on an odd trajectory this year. Between the Coach K back surgery, Harry Giles didn't quite live up to the recruiting hype (he's 18, you're not a bust in life until you spending 4 hour plane rides calling yourself Doctor Buffet), the Grayson Allen nonsense, and yes, this was an on-purpose elbow/flop daily double
- then, Luke Kennard & Amile Jefferson took the reigns, Jayson Tatum stepped up as the Duke freshman to watch -- and a 7 game winning streak, including a thriller over UNC, reasserted themselves. But they've lost 3 of 4 (yes, all on the road. But this is a team lacking a dominant front court player and a game handling point guard, and well-adjusted face of the team. Keep your eye on a kid who gets maybe the least amount of pub, Frank Jackson -- been super effective of late. Buffet/Online Consensus has them at 4. ACC run (beating Louisville, North Carolina again and then Fla St/Notre Dame winner, and they'll end up a 3 with some 2 discussion, but #2 seed is crowded)
- 4 -- Louisville -- The Cardinals are probably at their seed limit, at 2. Gonzaga and the Pac12 schools are probably playing with Kentucky for that last #1. WIn the ACC and we'll see where that can go...
- 3 -- Notre Dame -- Sitting 5 in both Buffetology/Consensus, a run to the championship would mean their 2-7 record versus the top 20, which is really holding down their seed line ceiling, would now look like 5-7 and potentially get them on the 3-4 line, but that's probably their best possible end game.
- 2 -- Florida St is sitting at 3 in Consensus - 4 in Buffetology -- could maybe get a 2 going through Va Tech, Notre Dame and North Carolina, but the 3 is probably where they'll settle.
- 1 -- UNC is getting a 1 - the only thing that would keep it in a conversation would be an opening game loss to the Syracuse/Miami winner, but even then...