As mentioned yesterday, Florida’s win over LSU is likely to pay dividends for the Gators.
It might even be enough to move up a seed line.
Friday’s edition of the Bracket Matrix still has Florida at the No. 9 line, but the Gators are now just one spot removed from the No. 8 line, pushing past St. Mary’s for that top-of-the-line position. And just four of the brackets published on Thursday had Florida as low as a No. 10 seed, while one — shout out to @The_StatsGuru — was bold enough to slot the Gators in at the No. 7 line.
But as I’ll be harping on until probably a week before Selection Sunday, not every bracketer is a) up and running and part of the Matrix or b) updating brackets daily. and c) the Matrix is lagging a bit behind full updated data. More than half of the Matrix that we see today is based on brackets published on Thursday, but fully 45 of the brackets included in its calculations were published on Tuesday or Wednesday, before Florida’s win over LSU.
Bracketology, at least until the last few days before the NCAA Tournament, is a slow science that depends on its practitioners’ free time. I still think Florida should probably be considered a No. 8 seed line on most brackets — especially given what happened to one of the other presumptive No. 8 seeds on Thursday — but we may not see that reflected except on Saturday, right before another result that might move the Gators up or down.
The Closest Competition
None of St. Mary’s, Indiana, and Virginia — the three teams with Florida on the No. 9 line — was particularly impressive in midweek action this week, with none of those three teams coming close to matching what Florida did. St. Mary’s and Virginia both won on the road, but the Cavaliers’ win was nearly a collapse and the Gaels needing 33 points from the dynamic Jordan Ford — remember that name — to get a road win over lowly Santa Clara (the Broncos are just 5-10 in the West Coast Conference) in a game that never featured a double-digit lead.
The No. 8 line was also relatively static this week, apart from LSU dropping down to it as Wisconsin rose to the No. 7 line after a big win at Michigan. Illinois took care of business at Northwestern, and Houston was idle.
Directly ahead of Florida, though, Arizona State failed to get what would have been a very helpful road win at UCLA, its own seven-game winning streak getting snapped by a pack of Bruins that has improbably surged into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 despite starting the year 8-9 and 1-3 in conference play. Bobby Hurley’s charges could have been alone in first in the conference with a win; instead, they now sit in third, and probably need to win out to have a chance of winning the league.
And earlier in the week, defending national runner-up Texas Tech continued its bizarre season with a 65-51 loss to Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Chris Beard’s squad is the top-ranked team in the Matrix to not appear on more than one of the 94 brackets, a reflection of a season in which wins over Louisville and West Virginia are the only things the Red Raiders can be sure are working for them and in which many different views on them are valid.
Probably, Tech will win Saturday at home against Texas and get to 19 wins and 10 Big 12 triumphs, both nice round numbers that they could then get to 20 and 11 at the Big 12 Tournament.
But if the Red Raiders don’t hold off the Longhorns, they risk a four-game skid to finish their regular season, given that Baylor and Kansas comprise their final week. And an 18-12, 9-9 record in the regular season would give the Selection Committee plenty of reason to scrutinize Tech closely — and almost assuredly clear room for the Gators to move up.