We have reached one of my favorite weeks of the year! And, with less than an hour until the Selection Show, it’s time for my final bracket projection of 2015. Bolded teams are automatic qualifiers.
I am predicting that after losing a double-digit lead in the last few minutes, Michigan State falls to Wisconsin in overtime. This puts Wisconsin on the 1 line. I have actually moved Michigan State up to the 6 line, as they are coming together and playing great basketball like a Tom Izzo team always does in March.
Also, with their strong performance in the American Athletic tournament, I think Connecticut gets some consideration from the Committee. Their resume isn’t much different than that of other teams in the Last Four In and First Four Out, in my opinion (after adding wins vs. Cincinnati and Tulsa this weekend). I now have them as the first team out.
Virginia has fallen to the 2 line. They’ve had a great season, but they’ve slipped a bit lately while Wisconsin and Arizona have really looked strong. Another major move is Notre Dame up to the 2 line after their fantastic performance in the ACC tournament, which included beating both Duke and North Carolina in what were essentially home games for those 2 teams (the ACC tourney was in Greensboro). Gonzaga falls to a 3. Will the committee do this? I doubt it, but when you looked at what each team did in its respective conference tournament, there’s no debate to me.
With all that said, here it is:
1s: Kentucky, Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin
2s: Arizona, Virginia, Kansas, Notre Dame
3s: Gonzaga, Iowa State, Maryland, Oklahoma
4s: Baylor, North Carolina, Arkansas, Northern Iowa
5s: Georgetown, Louisville, West Virginia, Providence
6s: Southern Methodist, Butler, Wichita State, Michigan State
7s: Virginia Commonwealth, Utah, San Diego State, Iowa
8s: Xavier, Dayton, Saint John’s, Cincinnati
9s: Oregon, Boise State, Georgia, Ohio State
10s: North Carolina State, Purdue, Davidson, Colorado State
11s: Brigham Young, Texas, Indiana, Louisiana State, Buffalo
12s: Temple, Wofford, Stephen F. Austin, Mississippi, Wyoming
13s: Valparaiso, Georgia State, Eastern Washington, Harvard
14s: California-Irvine, North Dakota State, Belmont, Alabama-Birmingham
15s: Albany, Northeastern, New Mexico State, North Florida
16s: Texas Southern, Coastal Carolina, Lafayette, Manhattan, Robert Morris, Hampton
LAST FOUR IN: Indiana, Louisiana State, Temple, Mississippi
FIRST FOUR OUT: Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, UCLA
NEXT FOUR OUT (basically irrelevant at this point): Miami (Florida), Old Dominion, Murray State, Richmond
So, the First Four would include Indiana vs. LSU, Temple vs. Ole Miss, Lafayette vs. Manhattan, and Robert Morris vs. Hampton. The Final Four? Who knows, but last year we had a 1, 2, 7, and 8, with a 7 (Connecticut) beating an 8 (Kentucky) for the title, so expect anything. The Madness starts Tuesday night!