SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean, editor of Blogging The Bracket, is back with the NCAA Tournament projection for this week.
Hindsight tells me that I was a bit wrong to keep Purdue on the top line of last Monday's bracket. After losing at home to Ohio State Wednesday and at Northwestern Saturday to run their winless streak to three, the Boilermakers took a tumble in today's bracket (seed list, tracking spreadsheet).
So, Kansas replaces Purdue on the top line after what can now be seen as an unjustified week's absence. During that time, the Jayhawks won their first two Big 12 games, cruising against Nebraska in Lincoln and hammering Texas Tech (who really needs to inquire about Pac-10 membership) back in Lawrence. KU joins Texas, Kentucky and Syracuse as this week's top seeds. All three of those teams earned close wins on what I dubbed "The Living Daylights Saturday."
There was a lot of shuffling throughout the rest of the bracket, but before I break all of that down, here's a quick look at who I think is in less than eight weeks from Selection Sunday.
Top seeds: Texas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas
Last Four In: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, Richmond
First Four Out: Miami (FL), Illinois, Louisville, Northwestern
Next Four Out: Oklahoma State, Marquette, San Diego State, Florida
Atlantic 10: 5
Temple (6), Dayton (10), Rhode Island (11), Xavier (11), Richmond (12)
Conference USA: 2
UAB (9), Marshall (13)
West Coast: 2
Gonzaga (4), St. Mary's (10)
One Bid Leagues: 22
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon League, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Pacific-10, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic
Movers And Shakers
Two seeds: Three of last week's two seeds -- Michigan State, Duke and Villanova -- are still here. However, I didn't simply flip Purdue and Kansas.
Georgetown moves up from a 3 seed, even if they did lose to the Wildcats in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. The Hoyas seem to be playing a little bit better of late, and are showing a lot of fight, even if they have dropped close road games at Nova and Marquette.
Three seeds: In the end, the Boilermakers end up on line 3. They're joined by West Virginia, who doesn't fall despite their close home loss to Syracuse on Saturday.
Like Purdue, North Carolina slid down the bracket considerably thanks to the past seven days. They fell from a 3 to a 6 after getting blasted at Clemson and losing a much closer one at home to Georgia Tech Saturday. Add in their loss to College of Charleston on January 4th, and the Tar Heels have dropped three of their last four.
Wisconsin also dropped down, but just to a 4, thanks to loss at Ohio State on Saturday. The Badgers only fall a line because they did something Purdue couldn't this week, win in Evanston. But Wisconsin's ultimate seeding will depend on how well they play without Jon Leuer for the next four to six weeks.
Tennessee and Kansas State move up from the four line. The Volunteers continue to win, recording a blowout win over Auburn and an OT triumph over Ole Miss in the span of 48 hours. They'll be bolstered by the return of Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins in the coming days. The Wildcats, meanwhile, rebounded from a Big 12 opening loss to Missouri by beating Texas A&M and Colorado.
Four line: The Badgers join returnees BYU and Gonzaga among the last four protected seeds. The Cougars and Bulldogs both picked up big wins in their conference races this week. BYU obliterated Colorado State Saturday to take sole possession of first place in the MWC from the Rams. Gonzaga's first place battle was far closer, but the Bulldogs held off St. Mary's in Moraga to take pole position in the WCC, a lead they cemented in San Diego Saturday night.
Pittsburgh is the newcomer to the group of protected seeds. The Panthers are tied at the top of the Big East with Villanova, thanks to a 10-point win at UConn Wednesday and an OT home triumph over Louisville Saturday. Pitt has won eight straight since losing to Indiana of all teams at the Jimmy V Classic in early December.
The middle: While many teams shifted a single line this week, several (besides Purdue and North Carolina) made more significant moves up or down the bracket.
Ohio State jumps from a 5 to a 7 after picking up big wins at Purdue and against Wisconsin in Columbus. With Evan Turner back, I fully expect the Buckeyes to move up at least one more seed line over the next couple of weeks.
Wake Forest jumped up from a 12 to a 9, even though they did lose at Duke Sunday. Tuesday's OT win over Maryland helped, but so did the arrival of Richmond and Xavier in this week's projection, even if Miami departed. (More on them in a bit.) That boosted the Demon Deacons' overall profile.
Florida State fell from a 5 to a 7 after splitting a pair of ACC home games. A home loss to N.C. State is unforgivable, especially when you're outplayed for most of the night. Add in a lackluster performance in a win against Virginia Tech Saturday, and the Seminoles were due to take a tumble, especially after losing at Maryland last Sunday.
Mississippi State is in the same boat, as they struggled to beat two of the SEC's worst teams, Arkansas and Georgia, at home. If you add in the fact that the Bulldogs' profile isn't exactly overwhelming, you can see why they took a tumble that matched FSU's.
UNLV also took a tumble, from a 5 to an 8, for a couple of reasons. The Runnin' Rebels home loss to Utah Saturday (after they finally managed to beat San Diego State, their bogey team from last season, Wednesday) is a big one. But the struggles of Louisville, Nevada and Arizona have hurt the quality of those wins, so the Rebels' overall profile took a temporary hit.
But the biggest loser of the week, as I discussed in a commentary Sunday, is UConn. The Huskies fell from a 9 all the way down to a 12 after losing to Pitt and Michigan this week. Despite the fact they've been ranked consistently in the AP Top 15, UConn has the profile of a bubble team, not a protected seed. They have a lot of to do to ensure their place in the Big Dance, starting with home games against St. John's and top-ranked Texas this week.
Keep in mind, that even though the Huskies are listed as a 12, they're actually the highest ranked of the "Last Four In" on my S-curve. I had to drop them a line as part of balancing out the bracket.
Departures: Three at-larges fall out this week, but only one enters thanks to Marshall and Xavier grabbing auto bids. Louisville fell out after blowing a big lead at home to Villanova on Monday and losing to Pitt in OT Saturday. Miami was down at 35 at one point in the first half of their loss to Virginia Tech Wednesday, and they were absolutely waxed by new ACC leader Virginia on Saturday. Oklahoma State also drops out, as they lost consecutive games at Oklahoma and Baylor
Arrivals: Richmond is the only new at-large entrant this week. The Spiders are 3-1 in the A-10 at this point and still own wins over two teams in this bracket, Mississippi State and Missouri, and two bubble teams, Florida and Old Dominion, to go along with close losses at Wake Forest and William & Mary.
Auto Bids: The three Colorado schools who appeared in last week's bracket are all gone. Colorado State no longer leads the Mountain West, Weber State has replaced Northern Colorado atop the Big Sky, and Denver can't win on the road in the Sun Belt.
Western Kentucky should own that conference's slot, but Arkansas State has played and won one more league game at this point, so John Brady's Red Wolves are a 15 seed in this week's projection. I expect the Hilltoppers will replace them when the schedule evens out.
A win in their Ivy opener Saturday helped Cornell to Harvard. The Big Red defeated Columbia Saturday to jump into the bracket after a week away.
Xavier also joins the bracket this week, to make it five teams from the Atlantic 10. The Musketeers won a close one over local rivals Dayton early Saturday to move to 4-0 in league play. Temple is also unbeaten in the A-10, but has played one fewer game.
As I mentioned before, Virginia is in this week, as they're the only ACC team that's yet to lose in conference play. The Cavaliers won't see conference action again until they head to Winston-Salem on Saturday.
Butler, Northern Iowa, Siena and Murray State all remain unbeaten in their conferences. For the Bulldogs and Panthers, that means they're a little bit higher this week than they've been in awhile. William & Mary also moved up a couple of lines, though their move may be temporary. The CAA race is far tighter than most, with three other teams deadlocked with the Tribe at 6-1, making Bill & Mary's place more tenuous.
Finally, if it's a new week, that must mean we have a new team representing the Pac-10. Last week's leader, Cal managed to win at Washington State Thursday, but fell flat on their faces at Washington Saturday. Arizona State holds the poisoned chalice this week, heading into their home game in the Territorial Cup series. The Sun Devils swept through Oregon, beating the Ducks Thursday and the Beavers Saturday.
Games To Watch
To help you plan your viewing week, here's seven days worth of games to check out. Check Blogging The Bracket throughout the week for more on these games, and the many that didn't make the cut. Seeds in this bracket are in parentheses, with bubble teams represented by a B.
TV information from Matt Sarz' College Sports on TV site.
(1) Syracuse at (B) Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(1) Texas at (3) Kansas State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(3) Tennessee at (B) Alabama, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(5) Clemson at (6) Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(B) Northwestern at (5) Ohio State, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(B) Oklahoma at (7) Texas A&M, 8 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
(3) Purdue at (B) Illinois, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(7) Northern Iowa at (B) Wichita State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Boston College at (B) Miami, 9 p.m. ET (FS Florida/FS South/NESN/CSN Washington)
(B) San Diego State at Utah, 10 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
(9) Wake Forest at (5) North Carolina, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
USF at (10) Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(2) Georgetown at (4) Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(B) St. Johns at (12) Connecticut, 7 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(11) Xavier at (6) Temple, 7 p.m. ET (FS Ohio/Comcast Network)
(B) Iowa State at (B) Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m. ET (Red Raider Sports/FS Houston/FS Southwest)
(B) UTEP at (B) Memphis, 8 p.m. ET (CBS College)
(B) Tulsa at Oral Roberts, 8 p.m. ET (FCS Central)
(B) Michigan at (4) Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(10) Baylor at (1) Kansas, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) South Carolina at (6) Ole Miss, 9 p.m. ET (SEC on CSS/Full Court)
(8) UNLV at Colorado State, 10 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
(B) Louisville at (B) Seton Hall, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Florida at Arkansas, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Washington at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast SportsNet)
Oregon at (B) California, 10:30 p.m. ET (CSN California+/CSN Northwest/OSN)
San Diego at (10) St.Mary's, 11 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(2) Michigan State at (8) Minnesota or (7) Mississippi State at (B) Alabama, 12 p.m. ET (CBS)
(2) Villanova at (B) St. John's, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Akron at Kent State, 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Boston College at (12) Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(5) Ohio State at (3) West Virginia or Oregon State at (B) California, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)
(B) Texas Tech at (2) Kansas, 1:30 p.m. ET (BIg 12 Network/Full Court)
(1) Kansas at (B) Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Marquette at (1) Syracuse, 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(B) VCU at Northeastern, 2 p.m. ET (Comcast SportsNet)
Colorado State at (5) New Mexico, 3:30 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
(1) Texas at (12) Connecticut, 4 p.m. ET (CBS)
(B) Michigan at (3) Purdue, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Massachusetts at (10) Baylor, 4 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Robert Morris at Monmouth, 4 p.m. ET (MSG)
(B) Oklahoma State at (3) Kansas State, 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
Arkansas at (1) Kentucky, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network/Full Court)
(11) Virginia at (9) Wake Forest, 4 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(3) Tennessee at Georgia, 5 p.m. ET (SEC on FSN/Full Court)
(B) South Carolina at (B) Florida, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
N.C. State at (B) Maryland, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(10) Dayton at St. Joseph's, 6 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(B) Nebraska at (9) Missouri, 6 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
(11) Rhode Island at (12) Xavier, 6 p.m. ET (FS Ohio/Cox New England/Comcast Network)
(9) UAB at (13) Marshall, 7 p.m. ET (CSS)
Houston at Memphis, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(8) UNLV at TCU, 8 p.m. ET (CBS College)
(B) Illinois at (B) Northwestern, 8 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(B) Oklahoma at (B) Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET (Red Raider Sports/Sooner Sports/FS Southwest/Full Court)
(2) Duke at (5) Clemson, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Arizona at (11) Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. ET (FS Arizona/Fox College Sports Pacific)
UC Davis at (13) Pacific, 10 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(4) BYU at (B) San Diego State, 10 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
(B) Washington at USC, 10:30 p.m. ET (FS West/FS Northwest/Fox College Sports Pacific)
(10) Cincinnati at (B) Louisville, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(6) Georgia Tech at (7) Florida State, 12 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(7) Northern Iowa at Indiana State, 2 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago)
(4) Pittsburgh at (B) Seton Hall, 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
Penn State at (4) Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? E-mail me at bloggingthebracket at gmail dot com or follow me on Twitter @BracketDobber. Who knows, maybe I'll get enough to do a mailbag post.