Bracketology: Louisville’s postseason ban opens up spot for Gonzaga

Louisville announced last week that it is declaring itself ineligible for the postseason in an effort to get in front of possible NCAA sanctions that may come from the current investigation into the basketball program. The Cardinals are the second NCAA Tournament-caliber team to be declared ineligible for this year’s tournament. SMU is also sitting out as a result of NCAA sanctions.

Bracketology

Jerry Palm’s projected bracket

That opens up two spots at the bottom of the bracket for teams that most likely wouldn’t make the tournament otherwise. We won’t know for sure which two teams that will be until selection Sunday, but in my current bracket, those two teams are VCU and Gonzaga – two teams that are very familiar to people who follow the tournament. Gonzaga has been to 17 straight NCAA tournaments, while the Rams have been to five in a row, which started with that wild First Four to the Final Four run in 2011.

More Bracketolgy notes:

  • Bracketing the First Four was somewhat challenging in this bracket. The last four at-large teams are Cincinnati, George Washington, VCU and Gonzaga. The normal pairings would be Cincinnati vs. George Washington and VCU vs. Gonzaga. However, the Bearcats played GW in the regular season, so the committee might want to avoid that rematch. The problem with that is that Cinci also played VCU, so the only non-rematch would be a game with the Zags. Doing that would be an A-10 match between GW and the Rams that would be at least the third of the season, and that isn’t any good either. So, they would end up sticking with the original pairings as the best possible outcome.
  • This bracket also has an unusual feature for a bracket projection – a bid stealer. LSU is in the bracket as the leader of the SEC, but the Tigers have a borderline at-large profile at best. Other than a home win over Kentucky, there wouldn’t be anything to talk about. But, LSU has a one-game lead in the conference race so there they are.

Kyle Wiltjer has led Gonzaga to a 19-5 record, good enough for the last spot in the bracket. (USATSI)
Kyle Wiltjer has led Gonzaga to a 19-5 record, good enough for the last spot in the bracket. (USATSI)

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