You’ve heard this story before. Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans look like they’re shifting into gear as we approach March Madness. It’s as predictable as the sun coming up. Having won 9 out of 10, a stretch that includes home wins against Indiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin, a road win at Michigan, and now back-to-back wins by an emphatic 31 points, the Spartans have moved up to the 1 line. They replace Xavier as the final 1 seed.
This bracket also features a lot of other movement up and down seed lines. Indiana is one of the most interesting teams right now. With their win at Iowa (who has really struggled lately) on Tuesday night, the Hoosiers captured the outright regular season Big Ten title. Now, this doesn’t mean as much as it used to with the unbalanced schedule brought on by a 14-team league. And, detractors will point out that Indiana had the weakest in-conference schedule of any Big Ten team. However, the Hoosiers swept Iowa while also beating Purdue and Michigan in the past month. As a result, they jump from a 6 to a 4.
Finally, Butler very nearly jumped into the field after their win against red-hot Seton Hall last night. The team that was the closest to falling out was my hometown Wolverines. The two teams’ resumes are incredibly close. Of Michigan’s 10 losses, 9 have come by double digits, which is clearly working against them at this point. However, they just edged out Butler for the final at-large spot in this update due to a slightly better strength of schedule and because Butler has questionable losses vs Creighton and Marquette. But stay tuned, because with nearly all of the major conference teams still playing one more regular season game, there will surely be some movement in and out and all throughout the bracket by the end of the weekend.
So, here are the seeds currently. Moves up or down are in parentheses, projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.
In since 3/1 update: none
Out since 3/1 update: none
1s: Kansas, Villanova, Virginia, Michigan State (+1)
2s: Oklahoma, Xavier (-1), Oregon, Miami (+1)
3s: Utah (-1), West Virginia, North Carolina, Purdue (+1)
4s: Iowa State (-1), Texas A & M, Duke (+1), Indiana (+2)
5s: Kentucky (-1), California, Maryland, Iowa (-1)
6s: Baylor (-1), Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin
7s: Dayton (+1), Colorado (+1), Wichita State (+1), Seton Hall
8s: Notre Dame (-1), St Joe’s (-1), Providence, Texas Tech (-1)
9s: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Southern California (+2), Virginia Commonwealth (+1)
10s: Pittsburgh (-1), Saint Bonaventure (+1), Temple, Oregon State (-1)
11s: Connecticut (-1), Syracuse (-1), Tulsa, Cincinnati, Michigan, Monmouth
12s: Arkansas-Little Rock, San Diego State, Saint Mary’s, Valparaiso
13s: Princeton, Akron, Hofstra, Chattanooga
14s: South Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin, Belmont, Hawaii
15s: Alabama-Birmingham, Stony Brook, New Mexico State, Weber State
16s: High Point, North Florida, Hampton, Texas Southern, Wagner, Lehigh
First Four Out: Butler, Gonzaga, Florida, George Washington (+1)
Next Four Out: Stanford, Florida State, Alabama (-1), Ohio State
Third Four Out: Louisiana State, Washington, Georgia Tech, Brigham Young
Random fact (or maybe not so random, since very few schools are at the top in both football and basketball): all of the current Next Four Out were in New Year’s Six bowls this past football season, with Alabama winning the national championship.
Look for my next update on Saturday, and go to the Bracket Matrix before then.