March has officially arrived. Thursday night, Arizona finally picked up a win over a team who is projected to be in the top 6 lines (who statistically have about a 50-50 shot or better of reaching the Sweet 16), defeating California 64-61. This game felt every bit like March Madness is on the horizon, as the Wildcats stormed back from an 8-point deficit with just over a minute to go. It was a fitting end to the final edition of Dave Pasch and Bill Walton, my favorite announcing duo, for this season. Throw it down one time for the Conference of Champions!
This update doesn’t bring as many moves within the bracket as my Thursday update did, but quite a few moves in and out. With conference tournaments underway, and teams on the bubble continuing to lose, shifts are taking place. It is inevitable that some smaller conference teams who have been projected to reach March Madness throughout the season will lose in their conference tournaments, and this year is no different so far.
Austin Peay or Tennessee-Martin is in, and Belmont is out from the Ohio Valley Conference. From the Atlantic Sun, North Florida will reach the Big Dance despite losing in the conference semifinals if Stetson beats Florida Gulf Coast in the conference title game, because Stetson is ineligible for the tournament. For now, I am projecting Austin Peay and Florida Gulf Coast to reach from those two conferences.
With that said, here are my latest projections. As always, moves up or down are in parentheses, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.
In since 3/3 update: Butler, Yale, Montana, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay
Out since 3/3 update: Cincinnati, Princeton, Weber State, North Florida, Belmont
1s: Kansas, Villanova, Virginia, Michigan State
2s: Oklahoma, Xavier, Oregon, Miami
3s: Utah, West Virginia, North Carolina, Purdue
4s: Iowa State, Texas A & M, Duke, Maryland (+1)
5s: Indiana (-1), Kentucky, Arizona (+1), California
6s: Baylor, Texas, Iowa (-1), Wisconsin
7s: Dayton, Colorado, Wichita State, Seton Hall
8s: Notre Dame, Saint Joe’s, Providence, Texas Tech
9s: Vanderbilt, Southern California, Virginia Commonwealth, Saint Bonaventure (+1)
10s: Pittsburgh, Temple, OregonState, Syracuse (+1)
11s: South Carolina (-2), Butler, Tulsa, Michigan, Connecticut, Saint Mary’s (+1)
12s: Monmouth (-1), San Diego State, Valparaiso, Akron (+1)
13s: Hofstra, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock (-1), Chattanooga
14s: Stephen F. Austin, South Dakota State, Stony Brook (+1), Hawaii
15s: Alabama-Birmingham, Montana, New Mexico State, High Point (+1)
16s: Lehigh, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay, Wagner, Texas Southern, Hampton
Last Four In: Butler, Tulsa, Michigan, Connecticut
First Four Out: Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Florida, George Washington
Next Four Out: Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, Houston (+2)
Third Four Out: Louisiana State, Stanford (-1), Washington, Georgia Tech
Even with Houston replacing Stanford in the Next Four Out, that line remains a group of New Year’s Six teams. I really can’t think of too many teams that have had sustained long-term success in both football and basketball.
Look for my next bracketology update in the next couple of days and as always, check out the Bracket Matrix for more in the meantime.