With conference tournaments now underway, the bracketology landscape is changing every single day. How does the current field shake out?
It. Is. Time. After months and months of waiting, conference tournaments have arrived. Now in the maddest of months, college basketball season is only just hitting its stride as the NCAA Tournament is approaching quickly. And with monster games on every single night, bracketology and projecting the field needs to be taken up a notch.
At the top of the bracket, North Carolina and Kentucky are two teams that I want to highlight. These blueblood programs have put together terrific seasons to this point and both are knocking on the door of a potential No. 1 seed. For the time being, I feel very comfortable with the top three teams on my No. 1 line but that fourth spot is up for grabs. I currently have Tennessee slotted there but I think that the Tar Heels and the Wildcats are nipping at their heels.
Moving a bit further down in the field, UCF certainly helped itself this week. Over the past few months, the Knights had grown accustomed to sitting on the bubble but propelled themselves in the right direction with a monster win over Cincinnati (just after beating Houston). This result quickly moved UCF up into a projected single-digit seed. Additionally, two more big winners this week were Seton Hall and Creighton, both of whom took down Marquette (and others) to move into my field.
There were, of course, plenty of losers this week as well but I will hit on that a bit more in my “state of the bubble” section. For now, though, here is a look at my current bracketology projected field of 68.
Projected Field of 68
Of note: All automatic bids (which are indicated by italics) for this bracket were awarded to the team with the highest seed from each conference or their current leader. Additionally, this field is not broken into regions but is simply a straightforward list of where I project each team to land should the Selection Show take place right now. This field was updated prior to the games played on March 8, 2019.
No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Tennessee
No. 2 seeds: North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State
No. 3 seeds: LSU, Houston, Texas Tech, Kansas
No. 4 seeds: Purdue, Florida State, Marquette, Kansas State
No. 5 seeds: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Maryland
No. 6 seeds: Villanova, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Buffalo
No. 7 seeds: Nevada, Auburn, Louisville, Wofford
No. 8 seeds: Oklahoma, UCF, Iowa, VCU
No. 9 seeds: Baylor, Washington, Syracuse, Ole Miss
No. 10 seeds: Texas, Utah State, Florida, Minnesota
No. 11 seeds: NC State, Ohio State, St. John’s, Seton Hall
No. 12 seeds: TCU, Clemson, Belmont, Creighton, Alabama, Lipscomb
No. 13 seeds: New Mexico State, Vermont, Hofstra, UC Irvine
No. 14 seeds: Old Dominion, South Dakota State, Yale, Texas State
No. 15 seeds: Northern Kentucky, Montana, Radford, Loyola-Chicago
No. 16 seeds: Colgate, SHSU, Norfolk State, PV A&M, Iona, St. Francis (PA)
State of the Bubble
Last Four Byes: NC State, Ohio State, St. John’s, Seton Hall
Last Four In: TCU, Clemson, Creighton, Alabama
First Four Out: Indiana, Arizona State, Temple, ( – gap – ) Saint Mary’s
Next Four Out: Murray State, Butler, Furman, Toledo
As I mentioned earlier this week, this bubble is extremely small. In fact, I had a reasonably difficult time even filling out my “next four out” category for this piece. On the whole, I believe that several teams have the ability, though, to make a big rise in the final two weeks. Even though bid-stealers may run rampant throughout the next couple of weeks, it is not out of the realm of possibility that one of those thieves comes from a major conference. I mean, would anyone really be surprised if a team like Creighton, Butler, or Xavier won the Big East Tournament? I certainly wouldn’t be.
With regards to the teams that are currently dropping in the rankings a bit, NC State headlines the list. Even though the Wolfpack boast a really solid NET ranking, it is hard to believe that they are still firmly in my field right now. They do not pass the eye test all that often and might not even be in consideration if the RPI was still a major part of selection (they are ranked 100+ in RPI). Additionally, TCU is falling while Arizona State’s resume continues to be one of the most difficult to place in the country.
That concludes this edition of my bracketology projected field. I hope that you enjoyed and that your favorite squad was able to find a spot. If not, who knows what conference tournament week will hold? (Oh, and there is room on plenty of bandwagons right now as well if you are so inclined.)