Bracketology: The Big East powers and the projected field

Let’s take a deeper look at the Big East and the rest of the field in this week’s Bracketology.

At this point in the season, it is easy to point out how certain teams or conferences have played weak schedules. But that cannot distract from everything that a conference or team has achieved. And looking at the Big East, their powerhouses have come out to play in the early portion of this season, making conference play look incredibly daunting for everyone.

First, Villanova continues to hold down my number one overall seed and is playing outstanding basketball. They also have played a pretty solid schedule to this point. With wins over Purdue, Notre Dame and Temple, they have three wins over potential at-large teams.

Xavier was expected to be the number two team in the conference this year, and at the moment they find themselves slightly behind Creighton and Butler in this bracket. They suffered losses to both Baylor (one seed) and Colorado (not in bracket), but also snagged victories over Wake Forest and Clemson.

This was not a great start to the year, but dates with Villanova and Butler on the road are coming up, giving them plenty of opportunities for big wins. Also, Myles Davis will be hopefully be coming back soon for Chris Mack and company.

Coming in at a three seed for another week, the Creighton Bluejays have had a better start to the season than most expected. Creighton was a preseason top-25 team, but it was not predicted that they would catapult into the top tier of teams this quickly. Their marquee victory came at home against Wisconsin, who is one of the front runners in the Big Ten. The Bluejays start the Big East schedule with Seton Hall and Villanova, who are both currently in the tournament.

Maybe the biggest surprise out of the conference, the Butler Bulldogs, have rocketed up the rankings and into a three seed in the last two brackets. Losing Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones has not seemed to hurt them, as Kelan Martin has seamlessly moved into the role of the team’s number one scorer and looks like an All-Big East player.

Along with Martin, Kamar Baldwin is a big-time impact freshman who is excellent on both sides of the ball. Butler’s one loss came to Indiana State on the road, which isn’t great, but their wins outweigh that loss. Indiana, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Northwestern, who are all likely tournament teams, have all fallen victim to the Dawgs. With Villanova coming to town in a few days, will we see number one team fall?

These four teams are off to excellent starts, but Seton Hall and Providence also fall into this bracket and round out the six teams that are currently projected to make the Big Dance. Without more introduction, here is where things stand:

1 VILLANOVA
16 NC CENTRAL/UC-IRVINE

8 Virginia Tech
9 Seton Hall

4 Wisconsin
13 Texas-Arlington

5 Xavier
12 Nevada

6 Florida
11 Miami

3 North Carolina
14 Bucknell

7 South Carolina
10 Oklahoma State

2 Louisville
15 Yale

1 KANSAS
16 EWU/WAGNER

8 Arkansas
9 Iowa State

4 Purdue
13 MONMOUTH

5 Saint Mary’s
12 NC-WILMINGTON

6 Notre Dame
11 Texas Christian

3 Creighton
14 FGCU

7 Southern California
10 Ohio State

2 DUKE
15 VERMONT

1 UCLA
16 WINTHROP

8 Minnesota
9 WICHITA STATE

4 West Virginia
13 CHATTANOOGA

5 Florida State
12 VALPARASO

6 Maryland
11 Rhode Island/VCU

3 Butler
14 Fort Wayne

7 Northwestern
10 Clemson

2 GONZAGA
15 TEXAS SOUTHERN

1 Baylor
16 SAM HOUSTON STATE

8 Michigan
9 Texas A&M

4 INDIANA
13 AKRON

5 Arizona
12 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

6 Oregon
11 Providence/Kansas State

3 Virginia
14 TENNESSEE STATE

7 Cincinnati
10 DAYTON

2 KENTUCKY
15 NEW MEXICO STATE

Last Four In: Providence, Kansas State, Rhode Island, VCU

First Four Out: SMU, Pittsburgh, Temple, Wake Forest

Bids by Conference Breakdown:

 ACC: 9    Big Ten: 8

Pac-12: 4    Big 12: 7

Big East: 6    SEC: 5

    A-10: 3     West Coast: 2

With that, this is the end of this week’s Bracketology. We enter conference play this week, and you can expect some more shake-ups in the future as more big games approach. I hope everybody has had a wonderful holiday season!

Comment below, or tweet at @bustingbrackets or @hardwiredsports to discuss this week’s Bracketology. May your bubble remain intact throughout the next stretch of games.