We’re now just under two weeks from the NCAA Selection Show, and the races for our final tournament slots are starting to heat up. Here’s a look at our new updated last-8-in-first-8-out:
Last In, First Out
The big change is that we’ve now got North Texas making the tournament regardless of results of the Conference USA Tournament. North Texas could earn an automatic berth by beating Western Kentucky there, but now have a shot at an at-large bid, too, thanks to a 26-2 regular season.
Maryland is dropping fast, riddled with injury and coming off a 0-3 loss to Penn State. Maryland has lost four straight with just one set win among those four matches. On the other hand, they have played tournament locks Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State all on the road – about as brutal a stretch as you could imagine. They finish with a four-match homestand against Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State and Northwestern, and a 3-1 finish with that group would probably be enough to earn an at-large bid.
Temple makes a jump after beating SMU head-to-head on the road. Temple is now solidly the #2 team in the AAC behind Wichita State.
Iowa got a big win against tournament team Ohio State at home. That helps their prospects, though no one in the final 8 had a bad enough loss to drop. Washington State lost to Stanford (forgivable) and Missouri lost to Florida in a tough road matchup.
This coming weekend will see the champions of 20 conferences decided, which will give us a lot more clarity on automatic vs at-large bids.