NIT Bracket: February doesn’t mean clarity

Welcome to February. We’re in the thick of conference play, so that means that the NCAA tournament bracket is becoming more clear, right? Wrong. Unbalanced schedules are a death knell to a bracket prognosticator right now. Teams of equal quality can play completely different schedules and ::poof:: no one knows what’s up anymore. Take for instance Northwestern, the reason I started tracking this darn stuff in the first place. Two respectable bubble watch guys, Eamonn Brennan over at ESPN and Andy Glockner at SI don’t even have the Wildcats in their respective watches. Jerry Palm, another respected bracketologist has Northwestern in the NCAA tournament in his latest bracket.

That is just one extreme example, but the Pac-12, Big East and Big Ten have all given us a mess to sort out at this point. (Not to mention whatever the heck is going on over in the Atlantic 10.) It’s made this process a lot harder and is part of the reason why the bracket changes so much from week to week, especially the NIT one.

Rules: 

  • I’m using data from CollegeRPI.com as of Wednesday night. There were some adjustments made for Wednesday’s results as well.
  • Palm’s bracket is the defacto standard for who is in and out of the NCAA tournament right now. That’s why Northwestern and Dayton aren’t to be found. You want to know why you also don’t see New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado State or Notre Dame? Check where they’re seeded on CBS.
  • No one below the six seeds is safe. Auto-bids will steal some of the bottom two seed lines.

The Projected 2012 NIT Bracket:

1. Arkansas
8. Virginia Tech
4. South Florida
5. Arizona
3. Maryland
6. Marshall
2. UCF
7. Rutgers

1. BYU
8. New Mexico State
4. Oregon
5. South Dakota State
3. Saint Joseph’s
6. Denver
2. Stanford
7. Wyoming

1. N.C. State
8. St. Bonaventure
4. Washington
5. Ohio
3. LSU
6. VCU
2. Cincinnati
7. WAGNER

1. La Salle
8. Drexel
4. Miami (FL)
5. Massachusetts
3. Pittsburgh
6. Colorado
2. Texas
7. Northern Iowa

The highest RPI team not in my NIT bracket is Loyola (MD). The Greyhounds are currently 82nd in RPI, but just don’t have a win that makes me want to put them into the tournament. It’s going to be really tough to get one now in MAAC play and without a great BracketBusters game. Expect them to stay on the outside looking in. Virginia Tech really doesn’t deserve to be in the NIT at this point, but you have to take 32 teams and the Hokies did manage to beat in-state rival Virginia. Their only other decent win is over St. Bonaventure. Want a second opinion? NIT-ology and I disagree a lot. Thoughts? Gripes? Leave them in the comments.

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