How does BYU do it? Over the last four seasons, the Cougars have beaten Gonzaga as many times as the entire rest of the West Coast Conference has beaten Gonzaga. BYU is 4-4 against the Zags in this time frame, while the rest of the conference is 4-66.
Even more importantly, this throws into question something I strongly believed just two short days ago: will the Zags still earn a 1 seed? They are certainly worthy. But, the winner of the Pac-12 will be worthy, as well. Think about it: the top three teams in the Pac-12 are Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA. All are in the top 6 of the AP poll. Assuming one of them wins the Pac-12 tournament, they will have to beat at least one of the other top three teams in the conference to do it. On the other hand, the best win Gonzaga can get at this point is against St. Mary’s. That is definitely a good win, but not as good a win as one over Oregon, Arizona, or UCLA.
So, just like last year’s debate over whether Michigan State or Oregon deserved the final 1 seed, this one is likely to come right down to the wire on Selection Sunday as well. Stay tuned, because we have an exciting couple of weeks ahead as regular season play finishes and the madness begins in the conference tournaments.
Here’s today’s projection. As always, moves up or down since my last update are in parentheses after the team’s name, and projected automatic qualifiers are in bold. I’m also including a list of teams that I feel are trending in either the right or the wrong direction. Not all of these teams changed seed lines in this update, but they are likely to do so quickly if they continue their current trend.
In since Friday’s update: Rhode Island, South Dakota
Out since Friday’s update: Kansas State, North Dakota State
Trending up: Oregon, UCLA, Butler, Saint Mary’s, SMU, Minnesota, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Miami, Michigan, Arkansas, Providence, Illinois State, Texas-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Vermont, Monmouth, Oakland, Vanderbilt
Trending down: Baylor, Duke, Wisconsin, Creighton, Maryland, Xavier, Northwestern, Southern California, Marquette, Kansas State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Alabama
1s: Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina, Gonzaga
2s: Oregon, Baylor, Louisville, Arizona
3s: Florida State, UCLA (+1), Butler, Kentucky (+1)
4s: Florida (-1), Duke (-1), West Virginia, Purdue
5s: Virginia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s
6s: SMU, Minnesota, Iowa State (+1), Wisconsin
7s: Creighton (-1), Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Miami (+1)
8s: Dayton, Maryland (-1), Xavier, Michigan (+1)
9s: Virginia Tech, Wichita State, VCU (-1), Northwestern
10s: Arkansas, Michigan State, Southern California, Seton Hall
11s: Providence, Illinois State (+1), California (+1), Syracuse, Middle Tennessee
12s: Marquette (-1), Rhode Island (new), Texas-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada
13s: Vermont, Monmouth, Princeton, Akron
14s: East Tennessee State, Winthrop, Bucknell (+1), Belmont
15s: Oakland, Florida Gulf Coast (-1), Cal-Bakersfield, North Dakota (+1)
16s: South Dakota (new), Texas Southern, UC-Davis, Mount Saint Mary’s, North Carolina Central, New Orleans
Last Four In: California, Syracuse, Marquette, Rhode Island
1s (First Four Out of NCAA Tournament field): Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt (+1), Kansas State
2s (Next Four Out of NCAA Tournament field): TCU (-1), Houston, Indiana (+1), Tennessee
3s (Third Four Out of NCAA Tournament field): Georgia, Illinois, Utah (+1), Texas Tech (-1)
4s: Alabama, Ohio State, BYU (+2), Charleston (+1)
5s: Clemson (-1), Boise State, Valparaiso, Iowa (+2)
6s: Georgetown (-2), Pittsburgh (-1), Ole Miss, Colorado State (+1)
7s: Arkansas State (-1), Auburn (-1), San Francisco (+1), Richmond (+1)
8s: Chattanooga (-1), New Mexico (-1), Stanford, UNC-Asheville (new)
Thanks for reading, and look for my next update early in the week. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!