We have a new number 1 seed: The Kentucky Wildcats. Big Blue Nation is surging, following up their fairly easy win over an excellent Tennessee squad last weekend with a blowout of a decent Auburn team this past Saturday. Meanwhile, Tennessee fell again. It was against a very good LSU team, but the results were enough for me to flip the Cats and the Vols in my latest projection.
My home state of Michigan also has some very interesting developments taking place. Michigan State seems like they’ve gotten back to the classic Tom Izzo mold, characterized by great point guard play and a toughness that is hard for their opponents to match. I had a theory last year that their early exits in 2016, 2017, and 2018 were related to relying too heavily on “one and done” types who were more focused on their NBA prospects by March than on the moment. That theory will be put to the test soon enough, but in fact, the one and done era has been characterized by more experienced teams winning it all. So, I might be on to something.
Elsewhere in the state, Michigan seems to be fading. Early in the season, I thought the short rotation would be problematic as the schedule wore on, especially with the back-loaded conference portion. This prediction is bearing itself out lately, as the team simply isn’t closing games as strongly on the defensive end as they were earlier in the season, and the shooting woes have become an epidemic. John Beilein is one of the greatest coaches in the land, but he has to develop more depth quickly for the Wolverines to make one of their now-familiar deep runs in March. Right now, I still have Michigan on the 2 line, but they have a tenuous grip on that last 2 seed, with outstanding Houston and Marquette squads peaking and threatening to jump up to that line.
Last but not least, going back to something I wrote in my update on Friday the 22nd, credit Wofford for a big win at Furman on Saturday. I think the Terriers deserve to be in the field at this point, but recent history is unfavorable to mid-majors who don’t win their conference tournaments. So, we’ll see what happens in the Southern Conference and if they are able to get 2 teams in the field.
With that said, here’s the latest update. Moves up or down since last time are in parentheses after the team’s name.
In since 2/22 update: Texas State, Wright State, UCF
Out since 2/22 update: Georgia State, Northern Kentucky, Nebraska
1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky (+1)
2s: North Carolina, Michigan State, Tennessee (-1), Michigan
3s: Marquette, Houston, Purdue, Kansas
4s: Texas Tech, Wisconsin, LSU (+1), Kansas State
5s: Maryland, Florida State (-1), Mississippi State, Iowa State
6s: Iowa, Nevada, Virginia Tech, Louisville
7s: Cincinnati, Buffalo (+1), Baylor (+1), Ole Miss
8s: Villanova (-1), Saint John’s, Washington (+1), Texas (-1)
9s: Oklahoma, Syracuse, Auburn (-1), Arizona State (+1)
10s: Minnesota (-1), Seton Hall, North Carolina State, TCU (+1)
11s: Florida, Ohio State (-1), VCU, Wofford (+1)
12s: Alabama (-1), Temple (-1), Clemson, UCF (new), Belmont, Old Dominion
13s: Lipscomb, New Mexico State, Vermont, Hofstra
14s: Yale, South Dakota State, UC-Irvine, Texas State (new)
15s: Montana, Radford (-1), Drake, Wright State (new)
16s: Texas Southern, Sam Houston State, Bucknell, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Canisius
Last Four In: Alabama, Temple, Clemson, UCF
First Four Out: Utah State, UNC-Greensboro (+1), Butler (+1), Furman
Next Four Out: Dayton (+1), Saint Mary’s (+1), Georgetown (-1), Nebraska (-2)
Others in Consideration (in no particular order): Davidson, Murray State, San Francisco, Oregon State, Creighton, Toledo
Enjoy the games, and look for my next update mid-week. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!