Could the Gonzaga Bulldogs have a 1 seed locked up? A couple weeks ago, the discussion was about what would happen if they lost a game. Many seemed to think that this would keep the Zags from the 1 line. Now, I think the Zags are safely on the 1 line, even if they do lose before Selection Sunday. Not only have they beaten Florida and Arizona, plus Saint Mary’s twice, but they are also crushing teams by unheard-of margins. Last night’s win by 58 points at San Diego stands out. In their last nine games, the Zags have won by 30 or more points six times! That is absolute domination.
Further down the field, some teams are making a strong push to wrap up an at-large bid. Syracuse jumped back into the field after their buzzer-beating win against Duke on Wednesday night. The Orange still have work to do, but that was their third win over a top ACC opponent (the others being Florida State and Virginia). Impressive for a team that looked totally out of it after losing to a bad UConn team and a far worse St. John’s team (in a blowout) before conference play.
Elsewhere, Providence pulled off a nice last-second win at Creighton on Wednesday to strengthen their case. Michigan State, who many have had close to the cut line for a while, solidified their case with a 16-point home win over Nebraska last night. Nebraska has fallen apart since the early part of Big Ten play, when they won at Maryland and at Indiana, but this gives MSU five wins in their last seven games. They also own a season sweep over Minnesota, who is now up to the 6 line. This will only add to the quality of their resume.
With that analysis, let’s get into the projection. As always, moves up or down since the last update are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold.
In since Wednesday’s update: Winthrop, UC-Davis, East Tennessee State, Syracuse
Out since Wednesday’s update: UNC-Asheville, UC-Irvine, Furman, TCU
1s: Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, North Carolina
2s: Baylor, Oregon, Louisville, Arizona (+1)
3s: Florida State, Florida, Butler (+1), Duke (-1)
4s: UCLA (-1), Kentucky, Purdue, West Virginia
5s: Cincinnati, Virginia, Notre Dame (+1), Saint Mary’s (+1)
6s: SMU, Creighton (-1), Minnesota (+1), Wisconsin (-1)
7s: Iowa State, Maryland (-1), Oklahoma State, South Carolina
8s: VCU, Dayton, Xavier, Miami
9s: Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Wichita State, Michigan
10s: Michigan State, Arkansas (+1), Southern California, Seton Hall (+1)
11s: Marquette (-1), Providence, Syracuse (new), Kansas State (-1), Middle Tennessee
12s: Illinois State, California (-1), Texas-Arlington, Nevada, UNC-Wilmington
13s: Vermont, Monmouth, Princeton, Akron
14s: Winthrop (new), East Tennessee State (new), Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont
15s: Oakland (-1), Bucknell, Cal-Bakersfield, North Dakota State
16s: North Dakota, Texas Southern, New Orleans, UC-Davis (new), Mount Saint Mary’s, North Carolina Central
Last Four In: Syracuse, Kansas State, Illinois State, California
1s (First Four Out of NCAA tournament field): Wake Forest, Rhode Island, TCU, Georgia Tech (+1)
2s (Next Four Out): Tennessee (-1), Houston (+1), Vanderbilt (+1), Texas Tech
3s (Third Four Out): Alabama (-1), Georgia (+1), Indiana, Illinois
4s: Utah, Ohio State (+1), Clemson, Georgetown (-2)
5s: Boise State (-1), Pittsburgh, Charleston, Valparaiso
6s: Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas State, BYU (+1)
7s: Chattanooga (-1), New Mexico, Colorado State, Iowa (+1)
8s: Memphis (-1), Richmond, San Francisco, Stanford (+1)
Look for more updates over the weekend, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!