Last year’s finalists, Kentucky and Wisconsin, both lost a lot of talent to the NBA. So far this year, Kentucky wasn’t really in jeopardy of missing the tournament at any point, but I can’t say the same for Wisconsin. In fact, Wisconsin looked far out of it, starting the season with an absolutely terrible home loss to Western Illinois (who is now 8-13 and 1-9 in Summit League play), eventually entering Big Ten play at 8-5. A poor 1-4 start to conference play left Wisconsin at 9-9 overall and not even remotely on the NCAA tournament radar.
But all that has changed. Wisconsin has now won 6 straight, including home wins against Michigan State and Indiana. It really looks like they will make the tournament for the 18th straight year. And Kentucky? After a bizarre loss at Tennessee last week in which they blew a 21-point lead, they rebounded in their last 2 games by easily beating a solid Florida team and absolutely crushing Georgia, by 34 points.
And in a year where we’ve had more teams ranked #1 than anyone can count at this point and no team has established itself as the odds-on favorite, why count these two out? With that said here are my new seedings, with moves up or down in parentheses.
1s – Oklahoma, Iowa, Villanova, Virginia
2s – North Carolina, Oregon, Kansas, Xavier
3s – Miami, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa State
4s – Dayton, Purdue (+1), Kentucky (+1), West Virginia
5s – Texas (-1), Texas A & M (-1), Utah, South Carolina
6s – Baylor, Southern California, Arizona, Notre Dame (+1)
7s – Duke, Providence (-1), Colorado, Florida (+1)
8s – Indiana, Wichita State, Pittsburgh (-1), Michigan (+1)
9s – California, Syracuse, Wisconsin (+2), San Diego State (-1)
10s – Monmouth, Saint Joe’s (+1), George Washington (-1), Saint Mary’s
11s – Virginia Commonwealth, Washington (-1), Seton Hall (-1), Vanderbilt, Butler (+1)
12s – Chattanooga, Valparaiso, Temple, Gonzaga, Cincinnati (NEW)
13s – Arkansas-Little Rock, Akron, South Dakota State, Yale
14s – Stony Brook, California-Irvine, Belmont, New Mexico State
15s – North Carolina-Wilmington, Alabama-Birmingham, Montana, Stephen F. Austin
16s – North Carolina-Asheville, North Florida, South Carolina State, Fairleigh-Dickinson, Bucknell, Texas Southern
Chattanooga, Valparaiso, and Temple – who has beaten SMU, Connecticut, Cincinnati (twice), and Tulsa in American Athletic play – are projected as automatic qualifiers on the 12 line. That leaves us with:
LAST FOUR IN – Vanderbilt, Butler, Gonzaga, Cincinnati
FIRST FOUR OUT – Tulsa, Louisiana State, Florida State, Connecticut (+1)
NEXT FOUR OUT – Stanford (-1), Saint Bonaventure, Alabama (+2), Georgetown (+1)
THIRD FOUR OUT – Clemson (-1), UCLA, Oregon State, Texas Tech (+1)
(Kansas State fell from the Next Four Out to a “20” seed and Georgia fell from the Third Four Out to a “20” seed to make up the difference here.)
In the Field of 68 since last time – Cincinnati, Texas Southern
Out of the Field of 68 since last time – Louisiana State, Southern
Look for another update from me over the weekend. And, now that you’ve read this one, why not check out the Bracket Matrix?