Just as quickly as I moved Auburn up to the 1 line on Saturday, they suffered a borderline bad loss at South Carolina to drop them right back to a 2 seed. Taking their place is Kansas, who is making a strong late-season push (as they seem to do every year). Most recently, the Jayhawks crushed the slumping Sooners of Oklahoma on Monday night by a count of 104-74. In addition to a ton of good wins, Kansas has the best strength of schedule, and leads the way with 10 wins over Quadrant 1 teams.
Throughout the bracket, there was as much movement as I can ever remember seeing within four days. Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers here:
Kentucky (5 seed, up 3 spots from the 8 line last time): Hardly anyone has been as inconsistent as the Wildcats, but they appear to be surging now, recording back to back double digit wins vs. Alabama and at Arkansas. This adds to several other quality wins, the best of which was at West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge last month. Kentucky also boasts the 3rd best strength of schedule and an RPI of 17. Another thing that helped them move up so much was losses by seemingly everyone who was previously on the 6 and 7 lines in the last few days.
Florida (9 seed, down 3 spots from the 6 line last time): See my comment about inconsistency above. The Gators have been absolutely all over the place this year, beating the likes of Cincinnati and Gonzaga at neutral courts and also winning at Kentucky, while also losing at Ole Miss and most recently at Vanderbilt. What is really hurting Florida right now is that their RPI has dropped all the way to 65, which traditionally puts a team in jeopardy of missing out, regardless of their resume. Florida needs to turn it around, or they risk falling out of the field.
Oklahoma (8 seed, down 3 spots from the 5 line last time): Let’s be honest about it, the Sooners are not even a tournament-quality team at this time. They have lost 6 games in a row to fall to 16-11 overall, and are now in serious danger of missing out based on record alone.
Remember that only one team has ever earned an at-large bid with 15 losses (Vanderbilt last year). Oklahoma closes Big 12 regular season play with Kansas State at home, Baylor on the road, and Iowa State at home. As poorly as they’ve played lately, the only one of those games I’d give them the edge in is against Iowa State, and that’s not by much. Lose all three of these games and drop a game in the Big 12 tournament, and Oklahoma will miss March Madness, which was unimaginable a month ago. In fact, the Sooners peaked as a 2 seed, and the 6th team overall, in my January 27 projection. This would be an epic collapse.
With all that said, here’s today’s update. Moves up or down since last time are in parentheses after the team’s name.
1s – Virginia, Villanova, Kansas (+1), Xavier
2s – Auburn (-1), Duke, Purdue, Michigan State (+1)
3s – North Carolina, Texas Tech (-1), Cincinnati, Arizona (+1)
4s – Clemson (-1), West Virginia, Wichita State (+1), Tennessee
5s – Gonzaga (-1), Ohio State, Rhode Island, Kentucky (+3)
6s – Arizona State, Nevada (+1), Florida State (+1), Saint Mary’s
7s – Houston (+2), Michigan (+1), Seton Hall (+1), Alabama (-1)
8s – TCU (+1), Miami (-1), Oklahoma (-3), Butler (+2)
9s – Florida (-3), Texas A & M (-2), Arkansas, Texas (+1)
10s – Missouri (-1), Creighton (-2), Virginia Tech (+1), North Carolina State (+1)
11s – Providence (-1), Baylor, Kansas State, Louisville (-1), UCLA, Syracuse
12s – Middle Tennessee, Loyola-Chicago (+1), Louisiana (+1), New Mexico State
13s – South Dakota State, Vermont (-1), Buffalo (-1), Belmont
14s – Charleston, Rider, East Tennessee State, Bucknell (+1)
15s – UC Santa Barbara (-1), Wright State, Montana, Stephen F. Austin
16s – UNC-Asheville, Penn, Wagner, Florida Gulf Coast, Grambling, Savannah State
LAST FOUR IN – Kansas State, Louisville, UCLA, Syracuse
FIRST FOUR OUT – Washington, Marquette (+2), LSU (+1), Saint Bonaventure
NEXT FOUR OUT – USC (-1), Mississippi State (+1), Utah (+1), Western Kentucky (-1)
THIRD FOUR OUT – Georgia (+1), Notre Dame (-1), Temple (-1), Penn State (+2)
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. Look for my next update on Friday, and check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime.