The Bracketology Report: Air Force
Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.
Week in review
Another week, another three wins for Air Force (RPI No. 93 RPI, SOS No. 287) -- yes, the United States Air Force Academy! -- which has ripped off a school-record 12 straight victories en route to the Mountain West Conference lead and planted itself squarely among potential at-large contenders for March. Did we say "Yes, Air Force!" already?
Last Wednesday, the Falcons flattened Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (RPI No. 182, SOS No. 168), 61-37, with Antoine Hood scoring 13 points and Matt McCraw 11. In an MWC test, Air Force stomped on BYU (RPI No. 38, SOS No. 37), 74-52, on Saturday. Nick Welch missed just one of his 10 field goal attempts in notching 20 points, and the Falcons scorched the nets with 73 percent shooting. Finally, on Monday, Air Force loudly proclaimed its legitimacy with a 62-49 home win over Utah (RPI No. 37, SOS No. 90). A.J. Kuhle led the way with 17 points, as the Falcons established themselves as the team to beat in the Mountain West.
How are they doing it? With defense, just as coach Joe Scott learned while an assistant at Princeton. The Falcons lead the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to just over 47 points per game.
A two-game conference trip will take Air Force to San Diego State (RPI No. 87, SOS No. 55) Saturday and UNLV (RPI No. 71, SOS No. 92) next Tuesday. These games will be the Falcons' third and fourth straight against RPI Top 100 teams, giving them a chance to prove their national mettle a couple more times.
The Aztecs will be looking to tighten the Mountain West race, having lost two consecutive MWC contests and falling two games behind Air Force. The Rebels, meanwhile, are still trying to find their footing in conference play and climb out of the MWC cellar.
The Falcons are No. 47 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. That makes Air Force a No. 12 seed, as well as the second Mountain West team in the projected NCAA field.
The Falcons haven't flown this high since making one-and-done tourney appearances in 1960 and 1962. With a 4-0 Mountain West record and 12 straight wins, including back-to-back Ws over tough conference foes BYU and Utah, Air Force has played its way into the at-large picture.
Even if it doesn't hold onto the conference lead, Air Force should merit serious tournament consideration in spite of a glaringly weak non-league schedule.
Games of the Week Air Force fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS. For Mississippi @ AUBURN (Sat.)
Wisc-GB @ WISC.-MILWAUKEE (Wed.)
Against BYU @ UTAH STATE
N. Mexico @ SAN DIEGO ST. (Tues.)
Inside the Numbers Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include: "Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) NONE
(vs. RPI 26-50) Utah, BYU
(vs. RPI 51-100) @California, Wisc-Milwaukee
(vs. RPI 101-200) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-200) NONE
Record vs. projected field (2-0)
Win: Wisc-Milwaukee, Utah
Record vs. at-large pool (1-0)
Reason(s) to INCLUDE Air Force
- Mountain West leader
- 4-2 vs. RPI Top 100
Reason(s) to EXCLUDE Air Force
- SOS No. 287; NonConf SOS No. 312
- Nine sub-150 wins
Season breakdown (14-2, 4-0)
All RPI data through Sunday, Jan. 26
Date Opponent Result Opp.RPI Opp.SOS 11/22 Ark Pine Bluff 63-40 318 244 11/28 @Navy 86-46 316 224 11/30 @Belmont 38-46 (L) 97 121
12/7 @Auburn 49-68 (L) 44 35 12/9 @TX A&M Corpus Christi56-53 182 168 12/20 Char. Southern 67-46 314 221 12/27 N-Prairie View 59-46 29 237 12/28 @California 49-44 75 26
1/2 Wisc.-Milwaukee 71-49 73 127 1/6 Savannah State 72-35 301 124 1/9 IPFW 64-44 236 33 1/12 @Colorado State 65-57 102 45 1/17 @New Mexico 68-42 126 151 1/21 TX A&M Corp Christi 61-37 ??? ??? 1/24 BYU 74-52 38 37 1/26 Utah 62-49 37 90 1/31 @San Diego State 87 55
2/3 @UNLV 71 92 2/7 Wyoming 106 31 2/9 Colorado State 102 45 2/14 New Mexico 126 151 2/16 @TX Pan American 313 230 2/21 @Utah 37 90 2/23 @BYU 38 37 2/28 UNLV 71 92
3/1 San Diego State 87 55 3/6 @Wyoming 106 31
Joe Lunardi's forecast (Jan. 28)
Chance of NCAA top seed: 0 percent
Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 0 percent
Chance of NCAA bid: 55 percent
Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 45 percent
Chance of NIT bid: 45 percent
Chance of missing post-season: 0 percent
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- Mountain West leader