A new edition of my bracketology projected field has arrived following a hectic weekend. Who were some of the biggest movers?
With just a few weeks remaining in the regular-season, teams across the country are looking to make their last-minute bracketology pitches to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. While many teams already appear to be “locked” into the field for next month, there are several others fighting to garner a spot over the final few weeks of the campaign. Even those “locked” teams are seeking movement up projected seed lines at this moment to potentially garner a more favorable path for a deep run in the Big Dance.
This season has been incredibly unpredictable and it feels like any number of teams could wind up winning the title. Kansas and Baylor appear to be the frontrunners at this moment but either one could be upset in order to open the door for someone else. Favorable seeding and matchups are always crucial to making a run at the national title and that is certainly the case this season. As fans, we have seen several upsets throughout the first few months of this campaign and March has the potential to truly be Madness.
This past weekend showed another glimpse into the potential havoc of next month. While all of my No. 1 seeds from prior to the weekend remained steady on that line, three of them suffered losses to make their positioning a bit more precarious. Additionally, there were several shifts in the projected field behind them. So, without any further ado, let’s dive into my midweek bracketology update:
Midwest Region (Indianapolis, IN)
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Prairie View A&M/North Carolina A&T
(8) Wisconsin vs. (9) Arizona State
(4) Kentucky vs. (13) Vermont
(5) Michigan vs. (12) Northern Iowa
(6) Iowa vs. (11) NC State/USC
(3) Creighton vs. (14) New Mexico State
(7) Marquette vs. (10) Wichita State
(2) Dayton vs. (15) Little Rock
Notable mover: Michigan. The Wolverines have been playing extremely well lately and are knocking on the door of joining the No. 4 seed line. They have won five consecutive games (and seven of eight) over the past few weeks and are now looking like a very dangerous team come March. Michigan has made this sort of charge in the past and head coach Juwan Howard deserves a ton of credit for this high level of success in his first season at the helm.
South Region (Houston, TX)
(1) Baylor vs. (16) St. Francis-PA/Siena
(8) Saint Mary’s vs. (9) Indiana
(4) Auburn vs. (13) North Texas
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) Providence/Cincinnati
(6) Butler vs. (11) Utah State
(3) Louisville vs. (14) Belmont
(7) Arizona vs. (10) Rhode Island
(2) Maryland vs. (15) Wright State
Notable mover: Providence. This is the first time that the Friars have joined my projected field all season. Head coach Ed Cooley’s men started the year extremely slowly with an unexpectedly poor set of non-conference performances. Providence has since recovered while leaping out to a very strong Big East record of 9-6. The Friars are being held back by four very ugly losses but they have overcome those to this point with seven Q1 wins. They are still hovering right near the cutline but have been rising steadily over the last two months.
West Region (Los Angeles, CA)
(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Radford
(8) LSU vs. (9) Florida
(4) Oregon vs. (13) Stephen F. Austin
(5) Michigan State vs. (12) Yale
(6) BYU vs. (11) East Tennessee State
(3) Seton Hall vs. (14) Colgate
(7) Texas Tech vs. (10) Rutgers
(2) Florida State vs. (15) UC Irvine
Notable mover: BYU. When healthy, the Cougars have proven to be one of the best teams in the country. Yoeli Childs has missed 12 total games this season (some due to a non-conference suspension) but has been on the court for each of BYU’s last 10 games. There is also a great supporting cast around him filled with more-than-capable shooters. Over this past weekend, the Cougars defended their home court for an upset victory over Gonzaga. They now hold a 23-7 overall record (15-2 with Childs) and great metric rankings. It’s hard to argue with their continued rise up seed lines.
East Region (New York, NY)
(1) San Diego State vs. (16) Montana
(8) Illinois vs. (9) Virginia
(4) Penn State vs. (13) Akron
(5) Colorado vs. (12) Liberty
(6) West Virginia vs. (11) Stanford
(3) Villanova vs. (14) Hofstra
(7) Houston vs. (10) Xavier
(2) Duke vs. (15) South Dakota State
Notable mover: Virginia. The defending national champions started this season quite slowly but have picked up their level of play over the past few weeks. Tomas Woldetensae, most notably, has seriously upped his game while emerging as one of the top perimeter threats in the country. The Cavaliers’ offensive efficiency has climbed as a result of his sensational shooting and their defense remains among the best in the country. Virginia is now 19-7 on the season after winning seven of its last eight games. Woldentensae has shot 44.8% (on 8.4 3PA per game) from distance during this stretch. The Cavaliers are starting to look like a very dangerous No. 7-10 seed.
Last Four Byes: Rutgers, Rhode Island, Utah State, Stanford
Last Four In: USC, NC State, Providence, Cincinnati
First Four Out: Richmond, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Arkansas
Next Four Out: Purdue, UNC Greensboro, Mississippi State, Memphis
My next complete updated bubble watch breakind down each team in at-large contention at this moment will release on Wednesday, Feb. 26th. This will provide a better analysis of cutline and the teams hovering around it at this point in time.
Check back Friday for another projected field!