Less than six weeks from Selection Sunday, Rick Bozich looks at the NCAA Tournament outlook for U of L, UK, IU and WKU.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The end of the football season means the start of the countdown clock to NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.
We'll get our answers in 41 days, six hours, eight minutes and 17 … 16 … 15 seconds.
I refuse to wait. Punxsutawney Phil poked his head out of the backboard again today. Phil told the Monday Rewind that his forecast is NCAA Tournament bracket chatter will percolate until we hear the names for the 68-team field.
The folks on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee aren't the only ones fussing with preliminary brackets. Put me on that list, too, which makes this a perfect day to consider the status of four local teams – Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana and Western Kentucky.
Best Wins (in order): At UConn (31, all rankings from Ken Pomeroy computer formula); Southern Methodist (28), Southern Mississippi (37).
Worst Loss: Memphis (33) at home. All four U of L defeats are to teams ranked 14-33.
Something to Fix: Cards rank 102nd in rebounding margin and have been outrebounded in all four losses. Rick Pitino's latest idea is to stop obsessing about rebounding and go with guys who can score. Interesting.
Schedule Quirk: Cards have played the three top teams in the American Athletic Conference at home, but not on the road. They're only 1-2 in those home games. Beware.
Conference Quirk: UConn looked like a Top 15 team after racing to a 9-0 start and beating Florida at the buzzer. Don't look now because the Huskies are sitting in fifth place behind SMU and Memphis.
Stretch Drive: Pomeroy has Louisville finishing 7-2 in its final nine games, for a 14-4 league record, one game behind Cincinnati. Wins at Cincinnati, Memphis and SMU are U of L's three chances to earn Selection Sunday credibility.
Computer Rankings: Pomeroy 8; Sagarin Predictor 6; RPI 37. Never trust the RPI, right?
NCAA TOURNAMENT SEED: I've seen the Cards seeded anywhere from four-through-six. So make it a FIVE.
Best Wins (in order): Louisville (8), Tennessee (23), Providence (47) on a neutral floor.
Worst Loss: at Arkansas (56), one of three teams ranked 50 or lower that have beaten Kentucky. Ugh.
Something to Fix: The Wildcats rank 242nd in free-throw percentage. Major ugh. Dribble, dribble, dribble. Swish.
Schedule Quirk: Wildcats play Mississippi State and Ole Miss twice but Tennessee and Georgia once. Who says they don't have a sense of humor in the Southeastern Conference?
Conference Quirk: Arkansas has the sixth-best computer ranking of any team in the league and has delivered wins against Kentucky, SMU, Minnesota and Clemson. But Mike Anderson's team still can't win on the road. The underachieving Hogs sit tied for 12th place with Auburn. Bring back Scotty Thurman.
Stretch Drive: Pomeroy has the Wildcats finishing 7-3 over its final 10 Southeastern Conference games, finishing three games behind Florida and tied with Tennessee. If Kentucky loses in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, it will be a 10-loss season.
NCAA TOURNAMENT SEED: I can't remember the last time I've seen the computers agree on a team – unless that team was ranked first. Who am I question the math? A 14 ranking translates to a FOUR SEED, which means the Wildcats would be playing a one seed in the Sweet Sixteen.
Best Wins: Michigan (15); Wisconsin (20) and Illinois (80), all in Assembly Hall.
Worst Loss: Northwestern (109) at home – and I know the Wildcats have won four of five. That's still a head-scratcher. Losing to Notre Dame was another killer.
Schedule Quirk: Only one game with Purdue and Minnesota (away) and one against Ohio State and Iowa (home), a plus for Tom Crean's team.
Conference Quirk: It's difficult for the Big Ten to make its claim as the best league in the country when Northwestern (losers to Illinois State, N.C. State and DePaul) sits alone in fourth place in the league with a 5-5 record.
Something to Fix: The Hoosiers rank 309th in turnover margin.
Stretch Drive: Pomeroy predicts IU will finish 4-5 in the Big Ten for an 8-10 league record, tied for seventh with Northwestern. That won't be good enough.
NCAA TOURNAMENT SEED: Wins against Wisconsin and Michigan gave the Hoosiers a pulse, but they don't have a spot in the tournament yet. IU will have to get to 9-9 in the Big Ten, win at least one game in Indianapolis and hope for the best.
Best Wins (in order): Southern Miss (37); Louisiana Lafayette (141) on the road.
Worst Loss: Arkansas Little Rock (222) at home.
Something to Fix: Crooked jump shots. The Hilltoppers rank 300th in field-goal percentage, making only 41.6 percent of their shots. Back to the gym, guys.
Schedule Quirk: The Hilltoppers have a chance to avenge both of their conference losses, Georgia State and Arkansas Little Rock, but need to do it on the road.
Conference Quirk: Georgia State, led by Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow, has cruised to a two-game cushion in the loss column in the Sun Belt. That's right, Ryan Harrow is on track for an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Stretch Drive: Pomeroy predicts WKU will win only five of its last nine, finishing 12-6 in the league.
Computer Rankings: Pomeroy 154; Sagarin Predictor 161; RPI 123. Gotta love the RPI, right?
NCAA TOURNAMENT SEED: We'll talk after the Hilltoppers win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, something Ray Harper has done the last two seasons.