- By Jay Morrison Staff Writer
The heavy lifting is done for Wright State, culminating Tuesday night with a 74-57 victory against Cleveland State in the Horizon League championship game.
Now the Raiders, and their fans, wait.
And they watch.
And they wonder.
The NCAA will announce its 68-team tournament bracket Sunday night, but given the popularity – and considerable accuracy – of speculative soothsayers such as Joel Lunardi and Jerry Palm, there are dozens of bracket predictions providing a good idea of who Wright State might face in the first round.
›› PHOTO GALLERY: See pictures from Tuesday’s action and postgame celebration
“I’m sure we’ll have a pretty high seed, and we’ll play a tremendous, probably one of the top nine to 12 teams in the country,” WSU coach Scott Nagy said.
The website bracketmatrix.com compiles the data from 133 prediction sites – yes, 133 – and 103 of them project Wright State as a 15 seed, while 16 have the Raiders as a 14 and six show them as a 16.
ESPN’s Lunardi, the forerunner in the field, had WSU as a 14 seed when the Raiders first appeared on his bracket after beating Northern Kentucky to take over sole possession of first place Feb. 11.
But in his most recent bracket, published Wednesday morning, Lunardi has Wright State as a 15 seed playing No. 2 Purdue in Detroit.
That, of course, would create an interesting storyline with Purdue senior and Middletown native Vince Edwards facing the school where his dad, Bill Edwards, is a Hall of Famer and the career leader in points and rebounds.
The other 2 seeds on Lunardi’s bracket who could be waiting for the Raiders are Cincinnati and blue bloods North Carolina and Duke.
Palm’s bracket, also posted Wednesday morning after WSU locked in its spot, has the Raiders playing UC, also in Detroit. His other 2 seeds are Michigan State, Duke and Purdue.
If the selection committee awards Wright State a 14 seed, the No. 3 seeds on Lunardi’s bracket are Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee.
The 3 seeds on Palm’s bracket are Texas Tech, Tennessee, Auburn and North Carolina.
And while it’s unlikely WSU would be a 16 seed, there is a chance the Raiders could face the current No. 1 seeds in bracketology if they stumble early in their conference tournaments and fall to a 2 seed.
Lunardi and Palm agree on their current No. 1 seeds — Virginia, Villanova, Xavier and Kansas.
Any of those teams on the 1 to 3 lines probably would be favored by at least 15 points against Wright State, but one thing Nagy has learned in his 21 seasons as a college head coach is that anything can happen in March.
“I’ve seen teams at our level do it,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen a lot in my lifetime.
“The one thing we talked about in (the locker room after beating Cleveland State) is the humility that it takes to get yourself gathered,” he added. “Because they’ll walk around for four or five days here before selection Sunday and everybody’s going to pat them on the back, tell them how great they are and they’re going to feel more important that they probably really are. So it will be my job to bring them back down to earth, and then to get them to believe that it can happen.”