Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Life on the road seems more difficult than usual. There were a few head-scratching losses for teams at the top of the Bracketology projected NCAA Tournament bracket this week.

Northwestern is an especially inhospitable host when top teams come calling. The Wildcats have already beaten Purdue and Dayton this season in Evanston, Illinois, and they added Illinois to the list of victims on Wednesday. That was a banger of a game, with Northwestern prevailing 96-91 in overtime over the Illini, who are No. 3 in the updated bracket with the Wildcats a No. 9 seed.

However, the most baffling loss was Oregon State’s buzzer-beating 83-80 win over Arizona on Thursday. Road losses to non-contenders have become a particularly disturbing trend for the Wildcats. They have lost three straight to drop to 2-3 in road games and fell from a No. 2 seed to a No. 3 seed in Friday’s bracket . Two of the losses are particularly egregious. Besides Thursday’s defeat, Stanford dropped 100 on them in a 100-80 loss last month.

Arizona has managed to pick up a couple of road wins, so it hasn’t been all bad. Somehow, one of those came at Duke. Of course, Pitt just won there too, so maybe it’s not as hard to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. Those are the only home games the Blue Devils have played against teams in the top two quadrants. It’s been a weird season.

Among the teams on the top two lines of the bracket, only Purdue, UConn and North Carolina are above .500 in true road games. The Tar Heels are 4-0 including a win at Clemson.

Bracketology top seeds

Check out Palm’s latest bracket and full field of 68 at the Bracketology hub.

Looking ahead

If you are looking for some potential road upsets this weekend, Saturday gives us Arizona at league leader Oregon, a No. 11 seed and North Carolina visiting Florida State. Purdue fans will likely be triggered by Sunday’s trip to Rutgers after the Boilermakers lost there last season.

Speaking of this weird season, Friday’s bracket only has three ACC teams in it. I have been doing brackets for a very long time and can’t remember one with so few ACC teams in it, even going back to when it was a nine-team league. It has the fewest of any multiple-bid conference except for the American, which has two. Who would have ever thought that the Mountain West could have more teams in the NCAA Tournament than the ACC? There is a long way to go and that could change, but it is a distinct possibility this season.

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