NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections: Feb. 27

I apologize for the one-day delay in getting the projections out this week, but a death in the family changed my priorities early this week.

Tuesday night’s slate looked to be an uneventful one, but two potential No. 1 seeds lost on the road, as Minnesota knocked off top-ranked Indiana while surging Tennessee took care of a short-handed Florida squad.

Those two results, along with Memphis’ road loss at Xavier, produced a small shakeup in this week’s bracket.

There is still the potential for a lot of movement at the top of the bracket, and with bubble teams floundering left and right, a few mid-majors such as Akron, Belmont, Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee may be able to work their way into the at-large picture if they fail to win their respective conference tournaments.

The projections below take into account all games played through Tuesday, Feb. 26.

MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS) EAST (WASHINGTON, DC)
Dayton – March 22nd/24th Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th
1) Indiana (24-4) 1) Duke (24-3)
16) Charleston So. (16-10)/Southern (20-8) 16) Northeastern (18-10)
8) Oklahoma (18-8) 8) UCLA (20-7)
9) Colorado (18-8) 9) Wichita State (24-5)
Lexington – March 21st/23rd Austin – March 22nd/24th
5) Saint Louis (21-5) 5) Oklahoma State (20-6)
12) Boise St. (18-8)/Tennessee (17-10) 12) Kentucky (19-8)/Villanova (18-11)
4) Marquette (20-7) 4) Wisconsin (20-8)
13) Davidson (21-7) 13) Akron (22-4)
Dayton – March 22nd/24th Austin – March 22nd/24th
6) UNLV (21-7) 6) Notre Dame (22-6)
11) Saint Mary’s (24-5) 11) La Salle (19-7)
3) Louisville (22-5) 3) Florida (22-5)
14) Northwestern State (19-7) 14) Valparaiso (23-7)
Kansas City – March 22nd/24th Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd
7) Illinois (20-9) 7) San Diego State (20-7)
10) North Carolina (19-8) 10) California (18-9)
2) Kansas (24-4) 2) Michigan State (22-6)
15) Montana (19-6) 15) Stony Brook (21-6)
SOUTH (DALLAS) WEST (LOS ANGELES)
Lexington – March 21st/23rd Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd
1) Miami, FL (22-4) 1) Gonzaga (27-2)
16) Norfolk St. (18-10)/Robert Morris (20-9) 16) Mercer (20-9)
8) VCU (22-6) 8) North Carolina State (19-8)
9) Cincinnati (19-9) 9) Missouri (19-8)
Kansas City – March 22nd/24th San Jose – March 21st/23rd
5) Ohio State (20-7) 5) Butler (22-6)
12) Belmont (22-6) 12) Middle Tennessee (25-4)
4) Kansas State (23-5) 4) Syracuse (22-6)
13) Bucknell (23-5) 13) Louisiana Tech (24-3)
Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th San Jose – March 21st/23rd
6) Colorado State (21-6) 6) Pittsburgh (21-7)
11) Iowa State (19-9) 11) Temple (19-8)
3) Georgetown (21-4) 3) Arizona (23-4)
14) Harvard (17-7) 14) South Dakota State (21-9)
Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd
7) Oregon (22-6) 7) Minnesota (19-9)
10) Memphis (24-4) 10) Creighton (22-7)
2) Michigan (23-4) 2) New Mexico (23-4)
15) Niagara (17-11) 15) Long Beach State (17-10)

———————–

Last Four In

Boise State

The Broncos were one of the only bubble teams not to lose last week. Even though wins over Air Force and Fresno State don’t knock your socks off, it was enough to keep them in my field.

Boise State is now 6-6 in the Mountain West with six wins against the RPI top 100 and a 7-7 mark in road and neutral games. After Wednesday’s home date with Nevada, the Broncos enter a critical three-game stretch to end the season with home games against Colorado State and San Diego State sandwiched around a road trip to UNLV.

Villanova

Jay Wright’s club continued its Jekyll and Hyde act last week with a huge win over Marquette followed up with a late-game meltdown and loss at Seton Hall.

The Wildcats now boast four top 30 wins, but they also have an ugly loss to Columbia and were swept by Providence. Still, I think their quality wins will be enough to get them in, but splitting their final two regular-season games (at Pittsburgh, vs. Georgetown) certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Kentucky

After getting steamrolled by Tennessee, the Noel-less Wildcats bounced back and finished the week with arguably their best game of the season against Missouri. At a minimum, it proved Kentucky can still beat tournament-caliber teams.

The other thing working in UK’s favor is the fact that the Wildcats have no sub-100 losses against a solid schedule.

cuonzo-martin-tennessee-bubble-watch-ncaa-tournament

Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers are surging in February. Is it enough to get them in the field of 68?

After a very winnable game against Mississippi State at home, Kentucky travels to face Arkansas and Georgia before the season finale vs. Florida. Anything less than 3-1 over that stretch would probably push the Wildcats out of the field.

Tennessee

It came down to Tennessee and Virginia for the final spot in the field after the Volunteers’ critical win over Florida on Tuesday night.

While the Cavaliers do boast a head-to-head win against Tennessee, I have a hard time believing the committee will overlook Virginia’s six sub-100 losses. The Volunteers have one such loss to go with eight top-100 wins.

Cuonzo Martin’s Vols need to take care of business in their next two road games against Georgia and Auburn, and they host Missouri to close out the regular season. A 3-0 finish would give the Vols nine straight wins while bolstering their at-large profile.

First Four Out

Virginia

As mentioned above, I gave Tennessee the slight nod over the Cavs for the final spot. To my knowledge, there is simply no precedent for a team with so many bad losses getting into the field.

The horrific nonconference strength of schedule (and consequently their RPI) would look much better had the Wahoos knocked off Delaware to get to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals. But the harsh reality is that they lost that game and deprived themselves of that chance.

Virginia is also just 3-7 away from home, but the Cavaliers have a huge opportunity when Duke comes to Charlottesville on Thursday. They would then need to take care of business at Boston College and Florida State before a season-ending bubble battle vs. Maryland.

Mississippi

After a 17-2 start, the Rebels have now dropped five of eight, including last week’s road loss against a terrible South Carolina squad. Ole Miss has just one top-50 win, which came in mid-January over Missouri, and 10 of its 20 wins have come against sub-200 teams thanks to a poor nonconference schedule.

For bubble purposes, a sweep of Tennessee certainly helps the Rebels’ case. But while the Volunteers have stepped up their game in recent weeks, Ole Miss will finish February without a top-100 win if it can’t beat Texas A&M this week.

At this point, the Rebels would be well-served to win out with games at Mississippi State, vs. Alabama and at LSU after Wednesday’s matchup with the Aggies.

Arizona State

The Sun Devils can’t seem to get out of their own way, and Saturday’s home loss to Washington pushed them out of the field. As it stands, ASU is 88th in the RPI with a really poor nonconference strength of schedule.

The good news is the Sun Devils have four top-50 wins and actually boast a winning record away from home. That mark will be tested, though, as Arizona State closes out the year with three road games — at UCLA, USC and Arizona. Going 2-1 during that stretch is an absolute must at this point.

Maryland

The fact that the Terrapins are still in the discussion tells you all you need to know about the bubble.

Maryland has a pair of key wins over North Carolina State and Duke, but it has just three top-100 wins. The Terps didn’t really challenge themselves outside the ACC, and they have yet to prove they can win on the road.

That certainly doesn’t bode well for Maryland’s hopes because three of their final four regular-season games are at Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest, and at Virginia. The lone remaining home date with North Carolina won’t be an easy one either. Winning at least three out of those four and making a deep run in the ACC tournament are musts at this stage of the game.

 

*******

Here is how the bids broke out by conference:

Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova

Big Ten (7): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin

Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU

Big 12 (5): Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Mountain West (5): Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV

Pac-12 (5): Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA

ACC (4): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State

SEC (4): Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

America East: Stony Brook

Atlantic Sun: Mercer

Big Sky: Montana

Big South: Charleston Southern

Big West: Long Beach State

Colonial: Northeastern

Conference USA: Memphis

Horizon: Valparaiso

Ivy: Harvard

MAAC: Niagara

MAC: Akron

MEAC: Norfolk State

Northeast: Robert Morris

Ohio Valley: Belmont

Patriot: Bucknell

Southern: Davidson

Southland: Northwestern State

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee

SWAC: Southern

WAC: Louisiana Tech

**********

Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops.



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

Comments

  1. Thorough and reasonable, as always, especially the potential at-large bids for some “low majors.” That said, I think Michigan is a one seed if they win one of their home games vs IU or MSU. All their losses have been on the road to top teams — unlike losses suffered by Duke, Miami or even UF. As bad as the ACC is, I cannot fathom one much less two ACC #1 seeds. They beat up on no one all season, and with Miami/Duke playing Saturday, I figure the winner (likely Duke) is a 1 seed barring disaster. Amazing how November scheduling can do. You need not do much the next three months.

  2. doctor d-dunk says:

    Maryland and Virginia.can beat the top seeded teams you have on your bracket right now, and that is for sure, i hope they both are selected. there are no top teams in this field, we all know that, we may not even see a four seed in the final. so lets have the best teams out there playing. i cant stand watching second round games that (stink) and there is no reason we need that. you have two # 1 seeds that have a( big) that puts up stats once every three games.the big east is licking its chops this year and will most likely match up against the acc

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      I agree that Maryland and Virginia can beat good teams. The problem is they have both been prone to some bad losses, while both have a poor non-conference strength of schedule.

  3. James Stumpf says:

    I think your brackets have more holes in them then the Scientology Church. You have Florida listed as a number three seed. What are you smoking. Number two at worst. Only because they have lost t streak shooting on opponents home courts. I’m surprised you didn’t place Indiana in a low seed. If any team were to play all of the tourney games on there home court they would have a good chance of walking.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      So if you think Florida should be a 2, who do you bump? Florida has certainly played well and looked great over the course of the season, but at the end of the day, they have just two Top 40 wins, which really hurts them when you compare their profile to the other teams in the mix for 1 and 2 seeds. Part of that obviously isn’t there fault since the SEC is so down, but I’m not sure the committee cares much about that.

  4. Andy, please tell me how you have Cincinatti IN and UVA OUT? Explain your logic, oh great one…While Cincy has a higher RPI they are playing BAD. In FACT they’ve lost 6 of last 10 games. UVA is 8-2, has BETTER non-conference schedule and bigger non-conference win. WHO the heck did Cincy play on Wisconsin’s level. QUIT propping up the Big East and evaluate fairly, as having Cincy OR Villanova IN and UVA out is pathetic.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      I agree that Cincinnati isn’t playing well right now, but the committee has gone on record as saying they look at the entire body of work and not just the last 10 games. A couple things to consider:

      1. Cincinnati’s non-con strength of schedule: 173 / UVA’s non-con SOS: 303
      2. Cincinnati has zero losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 100. UVA has 6.
      3. Cincinnati is 4-4 in true road games and 8-4 in road/neutral games. UVA is 3-6 in road games and 3-7 road/neutral.

      So while UVA has a handful of really nice wins (@ WIS, NC, NC St.), that doesn’t erase the fact that they six losses to teams outside of the Top 140, including an 0-3 record against the Colonial. I would also recommend reading this post from Jerry Palm that gives some context to UVA’s case. Here’s an excerpt: “Only one team has received an at-large bid in the last 19 years with six bad losses (USC 2011 — don’t count on the committee making that mistake again) and only one team with a non-conference SOS of 320 or worse has received one as well (GW 2006, which finished 26-2).” At the time, UVA’s non-con SOS was 320, so while it’s better now, the point is still valid.

  5. Also, show some COMMON Sense in your seedings if you want to be relevant…
    You have Wichita State seeded ahead of several teams that played SIGNIFICANTLY stronger schedules, such as UNC, Cincy has lost 3 in a row and you have them at 9. That’s a JOKE. ‘Nova just lost and you have them in. Do you have a bias, or do you just read and listen to ESPN when doing your stats, as you clearly are sucking up to Big East..Cincy AND ‘Nova…Yeah…brilliant…HEY, I bet if Providence makes a run they too deserve to be in…right?

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      As I mentioned in your comment below, it’s about the entire body of work, not just what happened this week. As for the schedules, Wichita’s state’s non-con SOS is 61 compared to 78 for UNC. Obviously UNC’s overall number will be better by virtue of playing in the ACC vs. the Missouri Valley, but the Shockers challenged themselves out of conference, which the committee typically rewards. Villanova does have a couple bad losses as I mentioned in the post, but they also have four Top 30 wins, which is more than other bubble teams can claim.

      But you’re right on sucking up to the Big East. I want to make sure I’m in its good graces before it ceases to exist.

  6. AJ Kaufman says:

    It’s good to see Andy reply with logic and facts to some of the angry replies. Professionalism versus those biased toward their schools.

  7. Michael Fletcher says:

    I am puzzled at your puzzlement about Virginia’s early losses. Their point guard was out afyer foot surgery and played with a freshman point guard until his return. Supposedly the selection committee looks at injuries and emphasizes performance toward the end of the season. Concepts that continually escape your analysis.

  8. Mike McConnell says:

    So sorry for your loss my condolences to you and family. Keep up the good work. Go Lobos!!!

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Thank you for your condolences.

      Another big W for New Mexico last night, I was skeptical of them at the start of the season since I wasn’t sure what to expect from their frontcourt, but they have definitely proven me wrong. 41 combined from Kirk and Bairstow against SDSU, really impressive.

  9. gordon johnson says:

    late again where will the minnesota team play

  10. its now march and i guess your in feb did you know duke lost would be nice if this was up to date

  11. Here’s where you are wrong. Penn state. Now the other point is shouldn’t they be expected to WIN one of those away games. They haven’t beat anyone of value all year away. I’d say they are the most over rated school besides Gonzaga in the ncaa. But they need gonzaga to be highly rated so people west of the mississippi will watch

  12. why in the world would reference jerry palm? palm is so clueless it hurts. Go to espn and look for joe lunardi, not only is uva not on the bubble, they are in the danace.He did come up with bracketology and may have a good idea what he is talking about.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      While I often disagree with Palm’s seeding, he does have a good historical perspective on these kinds of things in terms of what the committee has and has not done in the past.

      As for your boy Lunardi, the Bracket Project has been tracking performance for a few years now, and he doesn’t do as well as you might expect. Here are the rankings, you will notice Palm is slightly ahead of Lunardi, but both are in the middle of the pack: http://bracketproject.50webs.com/rankings.html

      As of now, I would have UVA in, but we’ll see if they can beat BC this weekend.

    • Andy Bottoms says:

      Also, your boy Lunardi had Texas Southern in his bracket today. They are ineligible for the tournament this year, so you may not want to blindly follow everything he throws out there.

  13. nice working 2 days a week must be a retired pro

  14. Hey this guy must be watching the girls or something, because he gave no props to the little school in Florida that beat a number 1 seed (Miami (FL) and won there conference, thus making it to the big dance in only there second year of eligibility!!! watch more espn and get your facts straight and STOP DISRESPECTING FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY!!!!

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