Bracketology: NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections as of 3/9

Thursday was filled with overtime games and upsets, which led to quite a bit of movement at the bottom of the bracket.  Based on some of the matchups tomorrow, the same thing could happen again, and interestingly enough, some of the teams that lost earlier in the week seem to be the benefitting from sitting back and watching other bubble teams lose.

Below are my latest bracket projections through Thursday’s games. As usual, underneath the bracket I will give my last four in and my 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 (31-1) 1 Kentucky (30-1)
16 Lamar (22-11) 16 UNC-Asheville (24-9)
8 Purdue (21-11) 8 Kansas State (21-10)
9 Saint Louis (24-6) 9 Virginia (22-8)
ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17 PORTLAND – March 15 & 17
5 Florida State (21-9) 5 Murray State (30-1)
12 Texas (20-12) 12 Long Beach State (23-8)
4 UNLV (26-7) 4 Temple (24-6)
13 Drexel (27-6)/Iona (25-7) 13 Nevada (26-5)
ALBUQUERQUE – March 15 & 17 COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18
6 Vanderbilt (21-10) 6 Louisville (24-9)
11 West Virginia (19-13) 11 VCU (28-6)
3 Baylor (26-6) 3 Michigan (23-8)
14 Davidson (25-7) 14 Detroit (22-13)
PITTSBURGH – March 15 & 17 OMAHA – March 16 & 18
7 Notre Dame (22-10) 7 Gonzaga (25-6)
10 Harvard (26-4) 10 Colorado State (20-10)
2 Ohio State (25-6) 2 Missouri (28-4)
15 Lehigh (26-7) 15 LIU Brooklyn (25-8)
MIDWEST (ST. LOUIS) WEST (PHOENIX)
OMAHA – March 16 & 18 GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18
1 Kansas (27-5) 1 North Carolina (27-4)
16 Stony Brook (22-8)/Miss. Vall. St. (19-12) 16 W. Kentucky (15-18)/Norfolk St. (23-9)
Cincinnati (23-9) 8 Iowa State (22-10)
Memphis (24-8) 9 Alabama (21-10)
PORTLAND – March 15 & 17 NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18
5 Wichita State (27-5) 5 Creighton (28-5)
12 BYU (25-8) 12 Dayton (20-11)
4 Wisconsin (23-8) 4 Indiana (25-7)
13 Tennessee (18-13)/Saint Joseph’s (20-12) 13 South Dakota State (27-7)
LOUISVILLE – March 15 & 17 NASHVILLE – March 16 & 18
6 New Mexico (25-6) 6 San Diego State (25-6)
11 California (24-8) 11 Xavier (19-11)
3 Marquette (25-7) 3 Georgetown (23-8)
14 Akron (21-10) 14 Belmont (27-7)
GREENSBORO – March 16 & 18 COLUMBUS – March 16 & 18
7 Florida (22-9) 7 Saint Mary’s (27-5)
10 Southern Mississippi (25-7) 10 Connecticut (20-13)
2 Duke (26-5) 2 Michigan State (24-7)
15 Montana (25-6) 15 Loyola, MD (24-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**********

Last Four In:

Drexel

A valiant comeback fell just short in the CAA Championship Game, but the Dragons still went 25-2 in the last 27 games. The issue is that 15 of their 27 victories came at the expense of sub-200 squads, and outside of an early January win over VCU, Drexel has not beaten a tournament team. Still, the Dragons were the outright regular season champs in the Colonial, and I think they deserve a bid. Any bid thieves in smaller leagues would put them in serious danger though.

Tennessee

There probably isn’t a more interesting case for the selection committee, as the Vols were just 8-8 prior to the mid-season addition of freshman Jarnell Stokes. Tennessee proceeded to go 10-5 in their last 15 games to tie for second place in the SEC. Last year’s USC team faced a similar situation with guard Jio Fontan, and the Trojans wound up in the First Four. Tennessee could do the same (or better) with a strong showing in the SEC Tournament.

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks beat Charlotte by 16 points in their A-10 Tournament opener, which sets up a rematch with Saint Bonaventure, who beat them in double overtime last week. If they can win there, the Hawks would likely face a Temple squad they knocked off within the last month.

Iona

A rash of losses by other bubble teams helped the Gaels to back into the field.  The struggles of major conference teams would seem to dictate the committee will give more mid-majors a look, and Iona seems to be the best of that bunch.  They are 5-3 against the Top 100, and while they do have a few ugly losses, their RPI is still inside of the Top 50.  The Gaels certainly aren’t safe, but they are worthy of a second look after losing in the MAAC Tournament.

First Four Out:

Washington

The best thing the Huskies have going for them is the fact that they won the Pac-12 regular season outright, but they have just one Top 50 win and lost in the Quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament.  The talent is definitely there, but I’m not sure the profile is there to back it up.  It will be yet another interesting decision for the selection committee.

Seton Hall

The Pirates took care of business in the opening round of the Big East Tournament by crushing Providence, but Wednesday’s loss to Louisville moved them out of the field. They have four Top 50 wins but are just 5-10 over their last 15 contests, which certainly doesn’t help their case.

Mississippi State

Eight Top 100 wins are nice, but Thursday’s opening round loss to Georgia was the culmination of a month-long slide by the Bulldogs.  They lost six of their final eight games, and their RPI has plumetted during that stretch to the point where it’s hard seeing them rewarded with an at-large.

Miami (FL)

The Canes took care of business against Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament, which gives them another crack at Florida State on Friday.  A loss there would be the final nail in the coffin, but a second win over the Noles would certainly help their case.

*******

Here is how the bids broke out by conference:

Big East (8): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, 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

Atlantic 10 (5): Dayton, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier

SEC (5): Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

ACC (4): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia

Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV

West Coast (3): BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s*

Colonial (2): Drexel, VCU*

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi

MAAC (2): Iona, Loyola (MD)*

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton*, Wichita State

Pac-12 (1): California

America East: Stony Brook

Atlantic Sun: Belmont*

Big Sky: Montana*

Big South: UNC-Asheville*

Big West: Long Beach State

Horizon: Detroit*

Ivy: Harvard*

MAC: Akron

MEAC: Norfolk State

Northeast: LIU Brooklyn*

Ohio Valley: Murray State*

Patriot: Lehigh*

Southern: Davidson*

Southland: Lamar

Summit: South Dakota State*

Sun Belt: Western Kentucky*

SWAC: Mississippi Valley State

WAC: Nevada

* – Won automatic berth

**********

Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops, and check out the latest edition of the Bottoms Line podcast.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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