What did you think of the NCAA’s bracket preview yesterday? Nothing was too surprising to me. The two biggest questions on ESPN, on Twitter, and seemingly everywhere else college hoops was being discussed were how was Gonzaga the last 1 seed, and how did the Big Ten not have a team on the top 4 lines?
I had Gonzaga as my final 1 seed going into yesterday, as did the Selection Committee. There’s no doubt that the Bulldogs played – and beat – many tough teams in the non-conference, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa State, and Tennessee. They also had the big home win over St. Mary’s (and added a road win against the Gaels last night). But, this is where playing in the West Coast Conference holds them back. They’re a power team in a non-power conference, and they just don’t get the quality win opportunities that fellow 1 seeds Villanova, Kansas, and Baylor get.
Now, the Big Ten. I had Purdue as a 4 seed and Wisconsin as a 5 seed in my projection yesterday. The first time any Big Ten team reached my top 4 lines was two weeks ago on January 27 – that was Purdue (This was the same day Gonzaga reached the 1 line for me.) It seemed like more of the questions yesterday, though, were about how Wisconsin couldn’t be up there. They pass the “eye test,” they’re ranked in the Top 10.
The problem for the Badgers, though, is that their best win is at Minnesota. After that, it’s two wins against Indiana, a home win against Michigan, a home win against Marquette, and a neutral-court win against Tennessee. Looking at yesterday’s update of the Bracket Matrix, that’s a 7 seed (Minnesota), and then three 11 seeds – Marquette, Tennessee, and Indiana – with Tennessee and Indiana being the last two teams in the field.
The other message here seems to be that most of the Big Ten teams near the cut line are in trouble. The Indiana-Michigan game that is happening right now has huge implications right now for that reason.
So, here’s today’s projection. To start, I put the teams on the top 4 lines in order of how they were in the Bracket Preview, and went from there. Of course, there were changes based on the results of yesterday’s games. Moves up or down since yesterday are in parentheses next to the team’s name, with projected auto qualifiers in bold.
In since last update: Texas-Arlington, Cal-Bakersfield, Illinois State
Out since last update: Georgia State, New Mexico State, Seton Hall
1s: Villanova, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga
2s: Louisville, North Carolina, Oregon (+1), Arizona
3s: Florida State (-1), Virginia (-1), Florida (+2), Kentucky
4s: West Virginia (+1), Duke, UCLA (-1), Butler
5s: Creighton (-1), Purdue, Notre Dame (+1), Cincinnati
6s: Wisconsin (-1), Maryland (+1), South Carolina, Xavier
7s: Saint Mary’s (-1), SMU, Iowa State (+1), Southern Cal
8s: Dayton, Minnesota, VCU, Oklahoma State (+1)
9s: Northwestern (-1), Michigan State (+1), Wichita State, Kansas State
10s: Virginia Tech, Miami, Marquette (-1), Indiana (+1)
11s: TCU, Michigan, California (+1), Rhode Island, Middle Tennessee
12s: Wake Forest, Illinois State (new), Valparaiso, Vermont, Akron (+1)
13s: UNC-Wilmington (-1), Nevada, Monmouth, Texas-Arlington (new)
14s: Princeton, UNC-Asheville, Furman, Belmont (-1)
15s: Florida Gulf Coast, North Dakota State, Bucknell, Cal-Bakersfield (new)
16s: Texas Southern, Mount Saint Mary’s, Cal-Irvine, Weber State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central
Last Four In: California, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, Illinois State
First Four Out: Arkansas, Syracuse, Tennessee, Seton Hall
Next Four Out: Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Providence, Texas Tech
Third Four Out: Utah (+1), Ohio State, Clemson (-1), Houston (+1)
Fourth Four Out: Boise State, Georgia (+1), Illinois (-1), Temple
Look for my next update mid-week, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!