Watching Arizona State fall at home to Utah on Thursday night, I had to ask myself: will the Sun Devils play their way out of the NCAA tournament? That seemed absolutely impossible coming into conference play. They were hotter than the state they play in, at 12-0 with wins over Kansas and Xavier. But now, Arizona State sits at just 3-5 in the fairly weak Pac 12 and seems to be going completely in the wrong direction. While I still see them as a likely participant in March Madness, they’ve fallen from a 4 seed to a 6 seed in today’s projection.
On the other side of that coin, an Auburn team that I didn’t even have in the field in my opening projection of the season has now risen to a 4 seed. While some on the Bracket Matrix have them as high as a 1, I’d still like to see the Tigers do a little more before I move them up further. For example, notch wins over Kentucky, who they play on February 14, and Florida, who they play on February 24. Right now, Auburn owns a win at Tennessee, but lacks any other wins over high-seeded teams. They also have a questionable neutral-court loss to Temple in the non-conference. This year’s SEC is so deep anyway that I figure we’ll see a lot more separation between the teams by Selection Sunday.
With all that said, here’s today’s projection. Moves up or down are in parentheses following the team’s name.
In since last time: Nicholls State, Northeastern, Kansas State
Out since last time: Stephen F. Austin, William & Mary, SMU
1s – Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Duke
2s – Kansas, Oklahoma, Xavier, North Carolina (+1)
3s – West Virginia, Michigan State (-1), Texas Tech, Clemson (+1)
4s – Arizona (-1), Auburn (+2), Tennessee (+1), Ohio State
5s – Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Florida (-1), Kentucky
6s – Wichita State, Arizona State (-2), Seton Hall, TCU
7s – Rhode Island, Saint Mary’s (+1), Arkansas, Miami
8s – Michigan (-1), Florida State (+1), Louisville, Nevada
9s – Creighton (-1), Butler, Texas A & M, Texas (+1)
10s – Notre Dame (-1), Providence, Syracuse, Alabama
11s – USC, Marquette, Western Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas State (new), Houston
12s – New Mexico State, Middle Tennessee, Buffalo, Loyola-Chicago (+1)
13s – Belmont (-1), Vermont, Louisiana, South Dakota State
14s – East Tennessee State, Northeastern (new), Montana, Wright State
15s – Bucknell, UC Davis, Rider, Penn (+1)
16s – Florida Gulf Coast, Radford, Wagner, Nicholls State (new), North Carolina Central, Jackson State
LAST FOUR IN – Western Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas State, Houston
FIRST FOUR OUT – Boise State, Washington, UCLA (+1), North Carolina State
NEXT FOUR OUT – SMU, South Carolina (+1), Georgia, LSU
THIRD FOUR OUT – Oklahoma State (-1), Maryland, Virginia Tech, Utah (+1)
So, that will do it for today. As always, if you want to rip me because I have your team too low or want to discuss anything else related to bracketology, feel free to do so in the comments. And as always, remember to check out the Bracket Matrix, a must for those of us who are obsessed with this stuff.