There is no doubt that we are looking at some really good teams along the top seed lines. It was tough to keep Florida State, UCLA, and Oregon as 3 seeds. Florida State in particular has wins over Florida, Duke, Virginia (on the road), Notre Dame, and Minnesota, all of whom are on the 4, 5, or 6 lines. UCLA has the best road win of the season, having beaten Kentucky at Rupp Arena in early December. Oregon has a home win against UCLA, has won 15 straight, and is blowing teams out.
But, the current 2 seeds just beat out FSU, UCLA, and Oregon in my opinion. UCLA has a weak non-conference strength of schedule and Oregon doesn’t yet have enough wins over teams in the field. Florida State dropped after a loss at North Carolina last Saturday, and they’ll have a chance to jump back up if they can knock off Louisville tomorrow.
On the other hand, once we get down to the 9 line, it’s almost at the point where someone has to be in there. There is no choice but to fill the spots. We’re not looking at particularly strong resumes at this point. For example, Virginia Commonwealth has one win over a team currently in the field (Middle Tennessee) and their second-best win is over Massachusetts, currently in the Fourth Four Out. That’s better than Southern California, though, who has a win over SMU but then hasn’t beaten anyone else who is near the field right now, and has a recent 22-point loss at an average Utah team.
The sleeper in this part of the bracket seems to be UNC-Wilmington. After an impressive win at Charleston last night, they could be on their way to sweeping the Colonial Athletic and surprising a team or two in March. Nebraska also shouldn’t be taken lightly, as they’ve won road games at Maryland and the extremely tough environment of Assembly Hall.
With all that, here’s the latest projection. Seed changes since Monday’s post are in parentheses.
In since last update: Winthrop, Bucknell, Wake Forest (prev First Four Out), Wichita State (prev Third Four Out)
Out since last update: UNC-Asheville (previously 15 seed), Lehigh (prev 15 seed), Miami (prev 12 seed), Illinois (prev 12 seed)
1s: Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor
2s: Gonzaga, North Carolina, Louisville, Creighton
3s: Florida State, UCLA, Oregon, Butler (+1)
4s: Virginia, West Virginia, Florida (-1), Arizona (+1)
5s: Duke (-1), Notre Dame, Maryland, Purdue (+1)
6s: Cincinnati, Wisconsin, South Carolina (+1), Minnesota
7s: Saint Mary’s, SMU, Xavier (-2), Northwestern
8s: Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Michigan State, Indiana (+1)
9s: Virginia Tech (+1), Rhode Island, TCU, VCU (-1)
10s: Southern Cal (-1), Illinois State, UNC-Wilmington (+1), Nebraska
11s: Georgia, Nevada, Arkansas (+1), Valparaiso (+1)
12s: Iowa State, Pittsburgh (-2), Clemson (-1), Marquette, Wake Forest (new), Wichita State (new)
13s: Chattanooga, Monmouth, Vermont (+1), Akron (+1)
14s: Princeton (-1), New Mexico State (-1), Belmont (+1), Georgia Southern
15s: Winthrop (new), Bucknell (new), North Dakota State, Florida Gulf Coast (-1)
16s: Texas Southern, UC-Irvine, Sam Houston State, North Carolina Central, Weber State, Mount Saint Mary’s (a 7-12 team!)
Last Four In: Clemson, Marquette, Wake Forest, Wichita State
First Four Out: Providence (+1), Ole Miss (+1), Illinois, Michigan
Next Four Out: Central Florida, Miami, Seton Hall (-1), Temple (-1)
Third Four Out: Texas-Arlington, La Salle (+1), Massachusetts (+1), Charleston
Fourth Four Out: North Carolina State (+2), Kansas State (+1), California (-1), Houston (-2)
Look for my next update on Sunday or Monday and as always, check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!