Following a week where more teams seemed intent on playing their way out of the field as opposed to playing their way in, four new at-large teams enter this week’s projections. At the same time, a few teams saw large changes in their seed based on big wins over the weekend.
Below are my latest bracket projections through Sunday’s games. As usual, underneath the bracket I will give my last four in and last four out, as well as the rationale I used to make those decisions.
|EAST (BOSTON)||SOUTH (ATLANTA)|
|PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|1 Syracuse (27-1)||1 Kentucky (26-1)|
|16 Texas-Arlington (20-6)||16 NC-Ashe. (19-9)/Savannah St. (17-10)|
|8 Virginia (20-6)||8 Kansas State (18-8)|
|9 Southern Mississippi (22-5)||9 Harvard (23-3)|
|PORTLAND – March 15 & 17||PORTLAND – March 15 & 17|
|5 Wisconsin (20-7)||5 Temple (21-5)|
|12 Long Beach State (19-7)||12 Northwestern (16-10)|
|4 New Mexico (22-4)||4 Wichita State (24-4)|
|13 Middle Tennessee State (24-4)||13 Iona (22-6)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|6 Florida (21-6)||6 Murray State (26-1)|
|11 Seton Hall (18-9)||11 BYU (23-6)|
|3 Baylor (22-5)||3 Marquette (22-5)|
|14 Davidson (20-7)||14 Akron (19-8)|
|GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18||PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17|
|7 Vanderbilt (19-8)||7 San Diego State (20-6)|
|10 Purdue (17-10)||10 Memphis (19-8)|
|2 Duke (23-4)||2 Ohio State (22-5)|
|15 Bucknell (20-8)||15 Weber State (22-4)|
|MIDWEST (ST. LOUIS)||WEST (PHOENIX)|
|OMAHA – March 16 & 18||COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18|
|1 Missouri (25-2)||1 Michigan State (22-5)|
|16 Vermont (19-10)/Miss. Vall. St. (15-11)||16 Long Island (21-7)|
|8 West Virginia (17-10)||8 Saint Louis (22-5)|
|9 California (22-6)||9 Mississippi State (19-8)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18|
|5 Indiana (20-7)||5 Florida State (19-7)|
|12 Cincinnati (19-8)/Miami, FL (16-9)||12 Washington (19-8)|
|4 UNLV (22-6)||4 Louisville (21-6)|
|13 Oral Roberts (25-5)||13 Saint Joseph’s (18-10)/Texas (17-10)|
|COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18||NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18|
|6 Creighton (23-5)||6 Gonzaga (21-5)|
|11 Xavier (17-9)||11 Alabama (17-9)|
|3 Michigan (20-7)||3 Georgetown (20-5)|
|14 Nevada (22-5)||14 Drexel (23-5)|
|GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18||OMAHA – March 16 & 18|
|7 Notre Dame (19-8)||7 Saint Mary’s (23-5)|
|10 Iowa State (19-8)||10 Connecticut (16-10)|
|2 North Carolina (23-4)||2 Kansas (22-5)|
|15 Belmont (21-7)||15 Valparaiso (19-10)|
Last Four In:
Once again, the Bearcats find themselves in this category, although two wins last week solidifed their profile. Still, the non-conference strength of schedule is an issue, as are losses to Presbyterian, Rutgers, and St. John’s. They have managed to make their way up to 81st in the RPI and boast four Top 50 wins, and Thursday’s home game with Louisville gives them a great opportunity to pick up another one.
The Hurricanes missed a golden opportunity to pick up a signature win last week when they lost at home to North Carolina, but they still don’t have a bad loss and rank 47th in the RPI. Still, they have just one Top 50 win and are only 3-9 against the Top 100. If they can run the table in their last four games, they would pick up a home win over Florida State and a road win again bubble competitor North Carolina State, both of which would help to tighten Miami’s grip on an at-large bid.
Six Top 100 wins helped the Hawks earn their way into the field of 68. As it stands, they are just inside the RPI Top 50 and are 8-5 in the tough A-10 with three regular season games left. A non-conference win against Creighton certainly helps their case, but their margin for error is slim at best. Saint Joe’s has a pair of home games this week against Richmond and Temple, so it will be important for the Hawks to win both games to strengthen their profile.
Had they not lost at Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Longhorns would have been in a much better position. Even so, they are barely in the field thanks to a weak bubble and three Top 50 wins. Still, Texas is just 4-8 against the Top 100 with four games to play. If they can manage to go 3-1 in home games with Baylor and Oklahoma and road dates with Texas Tech and Kansas, the Longhorns would be 10-8 in the Big 12, which I think would be enough.
First Four Out:
Arizona’s loss to Washington was a huge blow to their tournament hopes, but they still have a chance if they can run the table and at least get to the Pac-12 Championship Game. As it stands, they are 10-5 in the conference and 6-8 against the Top 100. On the surface, that doesn’t seem overly impressive, but you’d be suprised how many teams can’t claim that many Top 100 victories.
The Knights are in the conversation based on thanks in large part to wins over Connecticut and Memphis, but in all likelihood, they need to win out and make a deep run in the C-USA Tournament to earn a bid. The only game left on their regular season slate that could really make an impact is a road trip to Memphis on February 28th, and a win their would give them a season sweep over the Tigers.
Strong computer numbers are keeping the Rams in the mix despite a 5-5 record in the Mountain West. They took care of business in a must-win game against Wyoming on Saturday, but the next three games will decide their fate. CSU hosts New Mexico, travels to San Diego State, and hosts UNLV during that critical span, and they probably need to go at least 2-1 in those contests.
North Carolina State
Tuesday’s game against North Carolina is essentially a must-win for the Wolfpack who came up empty last week against Duke and Florida State. They held a 20-point lead against the Blue Devils but couldn’t hold on, while the FSU game wasn’t all that close. As it stands, the Wolfpack are now 1-7 against the Top 50 and are ranked 60th in the RPI. They simply can’t sustain any other regular season losses.
Here is how the bids broke out by conference:
Big East (9): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten (7): Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas
ACC (5): Duke, Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Virginia
SEC (5): Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Atlantic 10 (4): Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
Pac-12 (2): California, Washington
America East: Vermont
Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big Sky: Weber State
Big South: UNC-Asheville
Big West: Long Beach State
MEAC: Norfolk State
Northeast: Long Island
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit: Oral Roberts
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee State
SWAC: Mississippi Valley State