There are quite a few changes compared to the bracket I put out earlier this week, as four new teams are now in the field. A number of other teams are still in contention, and conference tournaments will wind up being a make-or-break proposition for quite a few squads.
Below are my latest bracket projections through Thursday’s games. As usual, underneath the bracket I will give my last four in, and this week I am including my last five 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 (29-1)||1 Kentucky (29-1)|
|16 Texas-Arlington (23-6)||16 NC-Ash. (23-9)/Savannah St. (21-10)|
|8 Alabama (20-9)||8 Memphis (22-8)|
|9 Harvard (24-4)||9 Iowa State (21-9)|
|NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18||PORTLAND – March 15 & 17|
|5 Murray State (28-1)||5 Florida State (20-9)|
|12 BYU (24-7)/Texas (19-11)||12 Long Beach State (22-7)|
|4 Indiana (23-7)||4 Wisconsin (22-8)|
|13 Iona (24-6)||13 VCU (25-6)/Xavier (18-11)|
|ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17||LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17|
|6 Louisville (22-8)||6 Creighton (25-5)|
|11 Washington (21-8)||11 California (23-7)|
|3 Baylor (25-5)||3 Marquette (24-6)|
|14 Davidson (22-7)||14 Akron (20-10)|
|PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17||OMAHA – March 16 & 18|
|7 Notre Dame (20-10)||7 New Mexico (23-6)|
|10 Virginia (21-8)||10 West Virginia (18-12)|
|2 Ohio State (24-6)||2 Missouri (26-4)|
|15 Belmont (25-7)||15 Valparaiso (21-10)|
|MIDWEST (ST. LOUIS)||WEST (PHOENIX)|
|OMAHA – March 16 & 18||COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18|
|1 Kansas (25-5)||1 Michigan State (24-6)|
|16 Stony Brook (20-8)/Miss. Vall. St. (18-12)||16 Long Island (23-8)|
|8 Purdue (20-10)||8 Saint Mary’s (25-5)|
|9 Saint Louis (23-6)||9 Southern Mississippi (24-6)|
|PORTLAND – March 15 & 17||ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17|
|5 Vanderbilt (21-9)||5 UNLV (24-7)|
|12 Colorado State (18-10)||12 South Florida (19-11)|
|4 Wichita State (26-4)||4 Temple (23-6)|
|13 Oral Roberts (26-5)||13 Drexel (25-5)|
|COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18||NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18|
|6 San Diego State (23-6)||6 Gonzaga (24-5)|
|11 Connecticut (17-12)||11 Mississippi State (20-10)|
|3 Michigan (22-8)||3 Georgetown (22-6)|
|14 Nevada (24-5)||14 Middle Tennessee State (25-5)|
|GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18||GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18|
|7 Florida (22-8)||7 Kansas State (20-9)|
|10 Cincinnati (21-9)||10 Seton Hall (19-10)|
|2 North Carolina (26-4)||2 Duke (26-4)|
|15 Bucknell (23-8)||15 Montana (23-6)|
Last Four In:
The Cougars start West Coast Conference play on Friday night, and a loss to San Diego would seal their fate. As it stands, they have just one Top 40 win, and 10 of their 22 D-I wins came against sub-200 squads. If they don’t get to the finals, I can’t see them getting in.
After struggling to beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma in their last two games, the Longhorns have clinched at least a .500 record in the Big 12. However, they head to Kansas this weekend for a season finale I don’t see them winning. Consequently, they will likely need to win a game or two in the Big 12 Tournament.
The Musketeers played well in the first half at Saint Louis and built a double-digit lead before a 24-2 run by the Billikens crushed their hopes of winning. Xavier has seven Top 100 wins and just one sub-100 loss, but they have little margin for error based on their recent play. They need to beat Charlotte at home this weekend and then win at least one more game in the A-10 Tournament.
I slid the Rams in the field even though they have not played since the last set of projections. They have four Top 100 wins, which is almost as many as Northwestern despite having just eight chances compared to NW’s 17 opportunities. That said, VCU needs to get to the CAA Finals to solidify their case. Even that may not be enough based on their strength of schedule.
First Five Out:
After another heart-breaking loss, the Wildcats are on the outside looking in. Despite countless chances to pick up another signature win, they continue to come up short. Sure, the Michigan State win is nice, and they have no bad losses. But they are 2-10 against the Top 50 and 5-12 against the Top 100. Now they need to win at Iowa and beat one of the top teams in the Big Ten Tournament.
A second loss to North Carolina State pushes the Canes outside of the field. Much like Northwestern, they have had plenty of opportunities, but they are just 3-10 against the Top 100. Give them credit for wins at Duke and at home against FSU, but a few questionable losses have hurt their relatively weak profile. Their oerformance in the ACC Tournament will determine their fate.
The Flyers fell at Richmond this week to pick up a relatively bad loss. They do have nine Top 100 wins, but two sub-200 losses are killer at this stage of things. Dayton faces a “can’t lose” game against George Washington this week before heading to the A-10 Tournament.
Following a double overtime loss to Saint Bonaventure, the Hawks are back out of the field. Seven Top 100 wins definitely help, but three sub-100 losses cancel that out to a certain extent. Consequently, they need a good showing in the A-10 Tournament, which should be fantastic.
The Ducks took care of Colorado at home and leap-frogged idle Arizona in the process. Oregon is now 44th in the RPI, but they have just one Top 50 win (against 50th-ranked Washington) and are 3-7 against the Top 100. However, they have improved since Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph became eligible, which the committee will have to consider. They should handle Utah easily this weekend, but a deep Pac-12 Tournament run will still be necessary.
Here is how the bids broke out by conference:
Big East (10): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas
SEC (5): Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
ACC (4): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Atlantic 10 (3): Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Colonial (2): Drexel, VCU
Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
Pac-12 (2): California, Washington
America East: Stony Brook
Atlantic Sun: Belmont
Big Sky: Montana
Big South: UNC-Asheville
Big West: Long Beach State
MEAC: Savannah State
Northeast: Long Island
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit: Oral Roberts
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee State
SWAC: Mississippi Valley State