With its victory over Kentucky – and Arizona’s loss at Oregon - the Florida Gators are in the driver’s seat for the overall No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Regardless, the Gators will be the top seed in the South Region with opening round games in nearby Orlando. The remaining No. 1 seeds as we begin Championship Week: Arizona (West), Wichita State (Midwest) and Villanova (East).
At this point, the first three No. 1 seeds appear to be locked-in. Which leaves us one spot for three or four teams. At least that’s how it appears today. The contenders include Villanova (as noted above), Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Virginia is still in the hunt, but its journey became much tougher after Sunday’s loss at Maryland. Achieving a No. 1 seed with eight losses would be something new, but few teams in history have played Kansas’ schedule. If Michigan wins the Big Ten tournament, the Wolverines would have a legitimate argument. They possess a higher number of NCAA-level wins than Villanova – due to the strength of the Big Ten as compared to the Big East. Wisconsin’s non-conference performance – with victories over Florida and Virginia – would help the Badgers’ case if they find the winner’s circle in Indianapolis next Sunday.
We’ll be updating the bracket every day this week as automatic qualifiers arrive and conference tournaments continue. Teams that have clinched automatic berths are listed in ALL CAPS – with the exception of teams like BYU and UCLA.
The bubble remains a work in progress. Nebraska grabbed a spot after beating Wisconsin on Sunday. Xavier, Tennessee, and BYU join the Huskers at the First Four in Dayton. It’s a big week for those teams and several others who are just above the last four at-larges. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
Championship Week is going to be fun and tension-filled. As this juncture, as many as 15 at-large spots remain uncertain. That’s a high number entering March. Here’s what we do know. Barring an unexpected turn of events, Florida and Arizona will be No. 1 seeds. Although the Gators retain their overall No. 1 seed today, the Wildcats may pass them soon. Either way, it’s about time to lock them in to the South and West regions.
Today’s bracket is also quite unsettled when it comes to the seed list. The first four lines (s-curve spots 1-16) are pretty solid (for now). The middle tier could fluctuate greatly depending on conference tournament results. Teams are that tightly bunched. As for the bubble, it continues to move and shift. Depending on which resume criteria or metrics you prefer, the final teams in and first teams out could be ranked in a variety of orders. Every Selection Committee member will have his or her own viewpoint. Hopefully, a few things will clear between now and March 16.
It’s also worth mentioning the potential for bid thieves – a surprise team winning its conference tournament. For example, if Wichita State were to lose in the Missouri Valley tourney, there would be one less at-large bid available. We saw this happen at the SEC tournament a year ago.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.
With March knocking on the door, road wins for Arkansas and Oregon pushed the Razorbacks and Ducks back into the Field of 68 – they are paired against each other in a First Four matchup in Dayton. Missouri and Minnesota are the other at-large participants in today’s Opening Round games. The revolving door, known as the 2014 bubble, continues to churn.
Nothing new at the top of the bracket: Florida, Arizona, Wichita State, and Syracuse retain No. 1 seeds. In fact, there weren’t many changes – other than some regional adjustments – to the first quadrant (Top 4 seeds). St. Louis did drop a seed line, with surging North Carolina now the final No. 4 seed (No. 16 on the s-curve).
Iowa continues to slide a bit, having lost three straight and 4 of 6 games. The Hawkeyes are not in any danger of missing the NCAA Tournament at this point, but they are at risk of finding themselves in the 7-9 seed range without reversing course. A rather weak non-conference schedule isn’t helping: Iowa’s best non-league wins are Xavier, UTEP, and Notre Dame.
Buckle up for a busy weekend of college hoops. Championship Week is right around the corner.
Florida has not lost a college basketball game in almost three months. Only undefeated Wichita State owns a longer streak. So it’s no surprise that both the Gators and Shockers remain No. 1 seeds in today’s bracket. Given back-to-back losses by Syracuse, it’s also not surprising to find Florida as the top overall seed with Arizona, Wichita State, and Syracuse next in line.
If Kansas wins its remaining regular season games or wins the Big 12 Tournament next month (or both), the Selection Committee will have some difficult decisions to make about the four No. 1 seeds – assuming all finish strong. The Jayhawks have played an incredible 21 games against the RPI Top 100. That’s impressive, even if you’re not a fan of the formula. Kansas has won 15 of those games – with more Top 100 games on tap. At some point, we may also have to factor in Wisconsin or Michigan. Few teams had a better non-conference season than the Badgers. In other words, the race for No. 1 seeding is far from over.
Today’s seeding curve hit a proverbial snag at about No. 27 – which is right in the middle of the seven-seed line. From that point, until the final few teams IN, we find a glob of teams with more interesting profiles – positives, negatives, and a bunch of stuff in-between. Which basically means those spots, along with the those along the cutline, are very much in a state of flux. Unless we have a few conference tournament upsets, we could be in for a very interesting Selection Sunday.
Enjoy your week of hoops!
Today’s bracket update includes this very scenario, as the Flyers are the final at-large team in the projected Field of 68. They are matched against Tennessee in one First Four pairing; Baylor and Providence square off in the other grouping. Given the overall bubble picture, it’s hard to ignore Baylor’s non-conference wins over Colorado (when the Buffaloes were at full strength) and Kentucky. Plus, the Bears’ are riding a three-game winning streak. If we’ve learned anything, though, it’s that the bubble picture changes quickly. Case in point: Baylor visits West Virginia and Texas in its next two games and the Bears have not thrived away from home. Dayton also has a closing schedule that can help or hinder their NCAA chances. It starts with trips to Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s.
No changes today on the No. 1 seed line despite Syracuse’s unexpected home loss to Boston College. We’ll see how the Orange respond at Duke on Saturday night. It should be a game where two feisty teams try to undo an unpleasant result (the Blue Devils are coming off a defeat at rival North Carolina on Thursday).
One housekeeping note … BYU is a true 11-seed after beating Gonzaga. However, accommodating BYU’s bracketing requirements (Thursday-Saturday sites only) forced the Cougars down a seed line (12-seed in South Region). The projected good news: they open in Spokane.
Enjoy a stellar weekend of college hoops.