Countdown to March: Top seeds remain the same
After a somewhat bumpy weekend, not a lot has changed from Saturday. Kentucky (South), Syracuse (East), Michigan State (Midwest), and Kansas (West) remain No. 1 seeds. Ohio State’s home loss to Wisconsin drops the Buckeyes to No. 8 on the s-curve. That means the Buckeyes are one spot from falling to a No. 3 seed. Baylor, Marquette, and Georgetown are all in play for OSU’s spot heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Duke is next in line for a one-seed and does hold tie-breaker advantages over both MSU and KU thanks to head-to-head victories. As we noted Saturday, however, the Spartans and Jayhawks both have outright leads in the Big Ten and Big 12. Although Duke won the its initial matchup with North Carolina, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are tied for the ACC lead.
February 27 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
Overall, we have just two changes to today’s bracket – plus some minor seeding adjustments. Colorado State and Arizona slide out. St. Joseph’s and Northwestern move in and join the First Four groupings in Dayton. In Arizona’s case, the Wildcats were simply passed on the s-curve. Barely beating UCLA at home wasn’t enough t0 help UA hold its final at-large position. Colorado State lost at San Diego State. Not a bad loss, but it drops the Rams to 2-9 on the road. St. Joseph’s (Creighton) and Northwestern (Seton Hall) also have better out-of-conference wins than CSU.
The margins separating these teams – along with several others – are very thin. Expect the give and take to continue until someone plays their way in, or more likely, out. Among those considered for the final spots, Northwestern was the only team without a sub-100 RPI loss. In fact, all but two of the Wildcats’ losses have come to Top 40 RPI teams. That alone won’t carry NW into the NCAAs, but it’s enough to give them a slight edge today. Compared side-by-side, Northwestern has six (6) Top 100 wins while Miami has three (3). That and a higher strength of schedule gives the Wildcats a small edge on the Hurricanes.
You’ll notice that both First Four winners are slotted into 11-seed locations. As one at-large First Four game will be played Tuesday and one Wednesday, the Selection Committee will try to locate one to a Thursday-Saturday site and one to a Friday-Sunday site. That is replicated here. The only way that could be accomplished within the current bracket was to send them to Louisville and Columbus (plus both are close for travel from Dayton). Washington and Southern Mississippi fall to the 12-seed line by virtue of the procedural bump.
March is three days away. Enjoy the hoops.