Bracketology: Duke, Wisconsin in danger of not being in NCAA field

Five teams have active NCAA Tournament appearance streaks of at least ten years, and three of those are in some jeopardy. Those struggling include last year’s championship game participants.

Bracketology

Jerry Palm’s projected bracket

Here’s a look at the programs with the longest streaks of NCAA Tournament appearances and what their status is as we enter the last weekend of January.

  • Kansas: The longest current streak belongs to the Jayhawks, which have been to the last 26 tournaments. There is little doubt that Kansas will extend that streak to 27, and in fact, the Jayhawks figure to be among the favorites in March.
  • Duke: But it’s not such a sure thing for the team with the second-longest run of appearances. The Blue Devils last missed the tournament in 1995, but the way things have gone for them lately, that streak could be in trouble. Duke has lost four of its last five and is playing without Amile Jefferson, at least for now. The Blue Devils need to make some hay over the next couple of games (at Georgia Tech, home with North Carolina State) because the schedule takes a turn for the worse after that.
  • Michigan State: The Spartans have had some short term struggles, but seems to have righted the ship, so at least for now, the Spartans 18-year consecutive tournament appearance streak seems safe.
  • Wisconsin The Badgers, who have been to the last 17 NCAA Tournaments including making last year’s title game vs. Duke, have shown some signs of life after a brutal start to the season that included losses to Marquette, Milwaukee and 4-11 Western Illinois. All of those came at the Kohl Center, where the Badgers used to be near-invincible. Recent wins over Michigan State and Indiana may offer a little hope, but there is still a long way to go to save their streak.
  • Gonzaga: The Zags’ 17-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances, is in less trouble than Wisconsin’s, but you’d have to put the Bulldogs on the list of this season’s biggest disappointments so far. There is no question that they have missed Przemek Karnowski in their lineup. The Zags have yet to beat a sure tournament team and have losses to both St. Mary’s and BYU in league play. The Bulldogs don’t’ have a bad loss yet and it needs to stay that way for them to stay in the at-large hunt.

There’s still a lot of basketball left to play, and a lot of time left for these teams to fix what ails them, but we may have an NCAA Tournament this year without some very familiar names.

Iowa loses to Maryland, but remains a No. 1 seed

Iowa’s loss to Maryland wasn’t quite enough to knock the Hawkeyes off the top line yet. Kansas is the closest pursuer, but the loss to Oklahoma State is holding the Jayhawks back. Villanova is close as well, but can’t match the Hawkeyes’ quality wins. So for the moment, Iowa holds on to the fourth spot heading into its game Saturday vs. Northwestern.

You can use our team vs. team comparison tool to compare Iowa’s resume against both Kansas and Villanova.

A look at the other other No. 1s in the latest bracket:

  • Oklahoma: The Sooners, the No. 1 overall seed, face LSU on Saturday in a game that is much bigger for the Tigers than OU as far as the bracket is concerned.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers had a nice road win at Providence on Tuesday and are also away from home Saturday when they face DePaul.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels play host to Boston College on Saturday with a game at Louisville looming large Monday.

Will Duke's Amile Jefferson and Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes make this year's tournament. (USATSI)
Will Duke’s Amile Jefferson and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes make this year’s tournament? (USATSI)

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