After 4 months of college basketball, Selection Sunday is finally upon us. For fans of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, it has been a long time coming. Directly below where you can find the selection show either on your television set or online. After that, I will provide a breakdown of teams for Wake Forest fans to look out for as the bracket is unveiled.
How to Watch
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Online Streaming: NCAA March Madness TV
The NCAA Tournament consists of 68 teams. 32 teams automatically earn their way into the tournament by winning their conference championship. The 36 best remaining teams receive “at-large” bids. Some of those, like a Gonzaga who won their conference championship, would have made the NCAA Tournament whether or not they won the West Coast Conference Championship. Those types of teams are excellent for Wake Forest and other bubble fans, as they reduce “bid stealers” and allow more bubble teams to make the NCAA Tournament. Fortunately, many conference favorites have won their tournament this week.
Below I’ll take a look at teams Wake Forest fans shouldn’t worry too much about if they see called on Selection Sunday, and teams that should cause Wake Forest fans to panic. Hopefully Wake is in the first bracket announced and there’s much less reason for panic. That said, CBS loves drama and might make Wake fans sweat it out.
Automatic Qualifiers - Top Seed Territory
Projected Seeds (per Bracket Matrix) are included in parentheses
Villanova (1), Gonzaga (1), Kentucky (2), Arizona (2), Duke (2), Iowa State (6), Wisconsin (6)
Wisconsin and Kentucky will not play in their conference championship games until later this afternoon, but they are expected to win. Either way, neither Arkansas nor Michigan are potential bid stealers.
Automatic Qualifiers - Bubble Territory
Wichita State (8), VCU (9), Middle Tennessee (11), Nevada (12), UNC Wilmington (12), Vermont (12), Princeton (13), East Tennessee St. (13), Bucknell (13), Winthrop (13)
All of these teams are in prime “bubble territory” (8 through 13 seeds), so don’t get freaked out if you see any of these teams. They won their conference tournament and do not take up bubble spaces. Wake Forest fans, and other bubble fans, were quite fortunate that so many of these teams won conference tournaments. The only potential exception is if Princeton loses the Ivy League championship tomorrow afternoon. Additionally, VCU will play for its conference tournament this afternoon. There’s no guarantee that they win it, but they should safely be in the field. Rhode Island might already be in the tournament, but can lock it up if they beat VCU.
Automatic Qualifiers - Outside of Bubble Territory
Florida Gulf Coast (14), New Mexico State (14), Iona (14), Northern Kentucky (14), Kent State (15), Texas Southern (15), North Dakota (15), UC Davis (16), South Dakota State (16), Jacksonville State (16), North Carolina Central (16), New Orleans (16), Mount Saint Mary’s (16), Texas State (16).
Some of these may change based on title games, but when you see seeds 14+ announced, please know that these are from one bid leagues and aren’t potentially stealing bids from the Deacs.
Now that we got that out of the way, it will be important to focus on seeds 8-12 when the brackets are being revealed. Wake Forest is a bubble team, but has some upside due to advanced metrics and potentially conference affiliation.
Based on my good friend Stonz’s analysis, there are (being generous with how many teams actually being on the bubble) 28 bubble teams 9 bubble spots available. This will change to 27 teams for 9 spots if Rhode Island wins. If Rhode Island loses then it becomes 28 teams for 10 spots. If Princeton wins, then subtract one from either the 27 or the 28. We would need to be ahead of the bottom 4 bubble teams in order to avoid Dayton.
Strong Bubble Teams - No Need to Worry
Vanderbilt - The Commodores ended the season very strong, and have 3 wins over Florida, as well as a nice victory over Iowa State. Despite their high number of losses, they played an extremely difficult schedule. I would not be surprised at all to see Vandy get a better seed than Wake Forest. That said, root for them to be in Dayton.
Michigan State - The Spartans faced an extremely difficult non-conference schedule (Arizona, Kentucky, Duke, Wichita State, Baylor), but only defeated Wichita State of that group. Additionally, they only won two true road games. I believe they should be receiving more legitimate bubble talk than they are getting, but I do think they will be part of the field of 68.
Kansas State - Kansas State played a weak non-conference schedule, but did defeat West Virginia once and Baylor twice. They play in a strong league and have no bad losses. I believe they will be in and deserve to be in.
Marquette, Seton Hall, Xavier - I feel that all 3 of these teams are pretty solidly in the tournament. Xavier was a bit dicey for a while, but had a nice Big East Tournament. Of these, I would say that we have the best chance of being ranked ahead of Marquette.
USC - USC is right on the fringe of me not being too concerned when I see them and starting to worry. I believe that USC will be one of the very last teams to get in the tournament. I think that the Pac 12 is highly overrated, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see USC get in and be the Pac 12’s 4th team.
Start worrying if you see some of the following teams called:
UT Arlington - They were a darkhorse candidate to be an at-large candidate, but they lost in their conference tournament semi-final by 20 points. Would be a major head scratcher.
Illinois State - They had a very impressive record on the surface, but also had 3 sub-100 Ken Pom losses. They did beat Wichita State once, but also lost to them by 41 in Wichita and 20 in the Missouri Valley Championship.
Indiana, Iowa, or Illinois - Illinois fired their coach on Saturday, so I wouldn’t worry too much about these guys. Indiana and Iowa had A LOT of work to do in the Big Ten Tournament, yet neither made the semifinals. None of these should get in, but you never know with the committee. If one of these teams gets in, then a team more deserving is getting bounced out.
Clemson, Georgia Tech - I mean it shouldn’t even be a discussion, but absolutely freak out if you see any of these teams in it.
Syracuse - Really interesting team because of their top wins, but they have lost to some bad teams and have hardly done anything away from the Carrier Dome. I won’t be shocked to see them get in, but I feel very strongly that Wake deserves to be ranked ahead of them.
Houston - The Coogs don’t really have many big wins to write home about and they have a handful of bad losses. They needed to at least beat Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament to have a shot, but got upset by UConn in the previous round.
Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss - Alabama had a nice mini run in the SEC Tournament, but they really needed to win the entire thing, or at least beast Kentucky. I’m not concerned about these teams making it.
Monmouth - 27 wins, but their best win was over #62 Princeton. 2nd best win? #98 Memphis. They scheduled some challenging teams out of conference, but couldn’t close. This is not a resume worthy of an at-large bid.
Rhode Island - Rhode Island has a chance to win the Atlantic 10 title this afternoon. They have some bad losses, but have won 7 in a row. I won’t be too concerned if I see this team called on Sunday evening (assuming a loss against VCU, which isn’t the safest assumption), but hoping that they miss.
Providence - Losing to DePaul and Boston College in the same year should probably eliminate you from NCAA Tournament consideration, but they finished the regular season strong with wins over Marquette, Butler, Creighton, and Xavier. The Big East probably gets too much credit for beating each other, but it is what it is. Wake most definitely deserves to be in over Providence. Don’t panic if you see Providence called, but don’t be thrilled either.
Princeton - Princeton earned an automatic bid by beating Yale in the Ivy League. This is just one fewer bubble teams to worry about.
TCU, Texas Tech - TCU had a nice win over Kansas, who was without Josh Jackson, but they finished just 6-12 in Big 12 play. Texas Tech shouldn’t even be in the consideration set whatsoever, but I’ll include them here for CYA purposes.
Cal, Utah - Like TCU and Texas Tech, neither of these teams belong in the field. If either of their names is called, then continue to get more concerned.
Bottom line is that Wake Forest’s resume is very solid for a bubble team, and should be able to withstand a few of these “surprise” teams getting in. It may end up that they go to Dayton as a result, but at least they’d be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us with a seed between 8-10. We are 30th in Ken Pom and 9-9 in the ACC, those seeds certainly aren’t unreasonable given that resume.
We will have TONS of NCAA Tournament coverage today on Blogger So Dear. I feel great about Wake’s chances, but I’ll certainly be nervous until I see the Wake Forest logo on my television.