SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean, editor of Blogging The Bracket, is back with this week's NCAA Tournament projection.
Remember the four number one seeds from last week's bracket? They all remain at the top of the first projection for February, just in a slightly different order. At the bottom of the at-large pool, North Carolina and UConn are barely hanging in, but they will have to start winning games more consistently over the next six weeks to be in the real field on Selection Sunday.
Kansas is the new overall number one seed. The Jayhawks take the top spot in the Midwest after they routed Missouri in Lawrence on Monday and snuck past Kansas State in Manhattan Saturday. They replace Kentucky, who started off the week at number one in both polls, got a phone call from the President on Tuesday, then lost at South Carolina hours later. While the Wildcats rebounded with a win over Vanderbilt Saturday, it wasn't enough to remain at the very top.
Syracuse is now the second team overall, which is why they're in the South. (Remember that the Orange can't play in the East, as they'll host the regional.) The Orange move up after claiming a big win over Georgetown on Monday and a difficult victory at DePaul on Saturday.
The fourth top seed, West No. 1 Villanova, was off this weekend. They looked impressive in claiming a 90-72 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Thanks to a whole slew of teams going 1-1 over the past week, there wasn't too much shuffling among the other protected seeds. I'll discuss those moves after I take a brief look at who's in and out of this bracket.
Teams are listed in S-curve, or selection, order.
Top seeds: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Villanova
Last Four In: Connecticut, Florida, Dayton, Seton Hall
First Four Out: Virginia Tech, Illinois, Minnesota, Old Dominion
Next Four Out: Louisville, Richmond, Wichita State, Marquette
Atlantic 10: 5
Temple (5), Xavier (8), Rhode Island (9), Charlotte (10), Dayton (11)
Old Dominion (12), George Mason (13)
West Coast: 2
Gonzaga (4), St. Mary's (9)
One Bid Leagues: 22
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Conference USA, 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: Michigan State went 2-0 this week to stay here and West Virginia did the same to jump up from the 3 line. Thanks to what's gone on around them, the Spartans are best placed to jump up to the top line at this point. Michigan State closed the week by pulling away from Northwestern to move to 9-0 in the Big Ten, an improvement upon their 57-56 win at Michigan on Tuesday, which could have turned into their first league loss had DeShawn Sims' layup gone in at the buzzer. It was the reverse for the Mountaineers, who hammered DePaul on Tuesday and came from behind to beat Louisville in controversial fashion on Saturday.
Georgetown followed up their loss to Syracuse with a convincing win over Duke Saturday. Both the Hoyas and Blue Devils remain here after uneven weeks thanks to other teams losing.
Three seeds: Texas drops down from the 2 line after they lost on Saturday to surging Baylor, who themselves jumped from an 8 to a 6. The Longhorns have now lost three of their last four.
Kansas State and BYU both stick around after going 1-1 during the week. While the Wildcats couldn't beat the Jayhawks in overtime on Saturday, they won a thriller in regulation at Baylor on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Cougars suffered their first conference loss at New Mexico on Wednesday, but they recovered and pulled away from archrival Utah at home on Saturday night.
Four seeds: Speaking of the Lobos, they jump back to the group of protected seeds after that win over BYU and a follow-up victory over TCU Saturday.
Much like the 3 line, only one 4 seed, those Lobos, managed to win both of its games this week. Tennessee stays here by following up their loss to Vanderbilt on Wednesday with a gutsy win over Florida Sunday. The Commodores would have probably jumped up here had they managed to beat Kentucky Saturday.
The middle: Much like Baylor, Oklahoma State made a nice jump in this week's bracket. The Cowboys moved up to a 9 seed from the 12 line, even though they lost by 15 to Missouri on Saturday. They're actually a 10 seed on my S-curve, but I had to switch them and Mississippi State to balance out the bracket.
The Atlantic 10 had a good week, even if Temple dropped a line. Xavier and Rhode Island both to the middle, where the Musketeers sit on line 8 and the Rams on line 9. I made this adjustment to reflect the strength of the conference this season, but the fact both teams went 2-0 for the week helped.
Tournament fixtures Connecticut and North Carolina continue to just hang on. The Huskies just missed inclusion in the "Last Four In" group after they dropped consecutive decisions to Providence and Marquette, effectively undoing all of the good work they did in beating Texas the previous Saturday. Thanks to a procedural move, the Huskies find themselves on the 12 line.
The Tar Heels remain in even though Virginia pounded them in Chapel Hill Sunday night. Their 5-7 mark against the RPI Top 100, which includes their early season wins over Michigan State and Ohio State, continues to help keep them in. This week they're an 11 seed, one of the very last teams in, but they could fall out soon, as road games against Virginia Tech and Maryland await UNC this week.
Virginia Tech also dropped out, as they followed up a rousing OT win at Virginia by losing in Miami, where they put themselves into a hole they couldn't quite dig out of. Even though the Hokies are 15-4, they're only 4-4 against the RPI top 100, with no wins against the top 50.
Maryland's loss to Clemson Sunday cost them a spot. The Terps are now just 3-6 against the top 100, and their home win over Florida State is the only one against a top 50 team.
Even though Old Dominion fell out of the CAA lead when they fell at Northeastern on Saturday, the Monarchs remain in the bracket as the final at-large. The Monarchs are 5-5 against the top 100, with a road win over two seed Georgetown.
Arrivals: The Monarchs also own a 33-point home win over Charlotte, a team that jumps into the bracket after a week where they knocked off Temple at home and beat Massachusetts in Amherst. The 49ers are 4-5 against the top 100, but eight of those games were against the top 50. Bobby Lutz' team has three top 50 wins, with two of those coming on the road.
Seton Hall also jumps in, despite their loss to USF on Thursday. (Just ask Pitt how easy the Bulls are to beat in Tampa this season.) With the exception of the setback in Tampa, the Pirates are starting to win the close games they were losing a few weeks ago, especially at home. However, games at Villanova and Pitt this week will test their staying power.
Auto Bids: Even though they lost to Arizona on Sunday afternoon, Cal still holds onto the Pac-10's auto bid, as they have a better overall record than the Wildcats, who join them at the top of the standings.
Remember George Mason? Their win over James Madison Saturday, combined with Old Dominion's loss at Northeastern, moves the Patriots into this week's projection as the Colonial Athletic Association's representative.
Cornell seized control of the Ivy League race with an emphatic 86-50 win over Harvard on Saturday night. The two meet again on February 19th in Cambridge, but Jeremy Lin and the Crimson will have to improve by leaps and bounds to force a split in the series. I have the Big Red as an 8 seed in this projection.
Like Cornell, Butler, Morgan State, Murray State and Siena are all rolling in their conferences and remain unbeaten heading into another week.
Sam Houston State topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a battle of Southland unbeatens Saturday. The Bearkats stronger computer numbers help boost them to a 14 seed, an improvement over the 16 seed the Islanders would likely earn.
Defending MAC champ Akron jumps back into this projection.The Zips claimed wins over Western Michigan and Toledo to join last week's auto bid holder Central Michigan and Kent State at 5-2, but as Akron has a better overall record than those two, they're back in for the moment.
Keep an eye on the WAC race, where preseason favorite Utah State, New Mexico State and early leader Louisiana Tech are all at 6-2. The Bulldogs have the auto bid this week because of their superior overall mark.
Finally, Maine's stay in the projection was a short one. The Black Bears fell to UMBC Saturday, giving the Retrievers their first America East win in the process. That means Stony Brook, who like Maine has lost twice in the conference, jumps in, as the Seawolves own one more conference win.
Games To Watch
To help you plan your viewing week, here are seven days worth of games to check out. Visit 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.
(12) Connecticut at (B) Louisville, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Prairie View A&M at Alabama State, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(3) Texas at (9) Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(6) Ole Miss at (1) Kentucky, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Miami at (7) Wake Forest, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(12) Seton Hall at (1) Villanova, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Michigan at (B) Northwestern, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Providence at (1) Syracuse, 7 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(2) Michigan State at (4) Wisconsin, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(6) Pittsburgh at (2) West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(B) USF at (2) Georgetown, 7 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(10) UAB at Memphis. 8 p.m. ET (CBS College)
(10) Mississippi State at (5) Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network/Full Court)
(B) Wichita State at (7) Northern Iowa, 8 p.m. ET (local only)
(8) Texas A&M at (7) Missouri, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Houston at UTEP, 10 p.m. ET (CBS College)
Idaho at Utah State, 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(10) Cincinnati at (B) Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(5) Georgia Tech at (2) Duke, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(12) Florida at (B) Alabama, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Detroit at (6) Butler, 7 p.m. ET (FS Detroit/WNDY/FCS Atlantic)
(3) Purdue at Indiana, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
San Jose State at (13) Louisiana Tech, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN Plus/Full Court)
(B) Maryland at (9) Florida State, 9 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(11) North Carolina at (B) Virginia Tech, 9 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
Arizona at (B) Washington, 10:30 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast Sports Net)
Portland at (4) Gonzaga, 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(16) Jacksonville at Belmont, 7 p.m. ET (CSS/Full Court)
(1) Villanova at (2) Georgetown, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(8) Xavier at (11) Dayton, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(B) Marquette at Providence, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(7) Wake Forest at (B) Virginia, 12 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(12) Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 1:30 .m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
(10) Mississippi State at (12) Florida, 1:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network/Full Court)
(5) Temple at (B) Richmond, 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(4) Wisconsin at Michigan or (11) Cal at UCLA, 4 p.m. ET (CBS)
(3) Texas at Oklahoma, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(4) Gonzaga at Memphis, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(3) BYU at (7) UNLV, 4 p.m. ET (Versus)
(12) Old Dominion at (B) VCU, 4 p.m. ET (Comcast SportsNet)
(6) Baylor at (8) Texas A&M, 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
N.C. State at (5) Georgia Tech, 4 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(9) Clemson at (B) Virginia Tech, 4 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(B) South Carolina at (4) Tennessee, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(12) Seton Hall at (6) Pittsburgh, 6 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(B) Alabama at (6) Ole Miss, 6 p.m. ET (SEC on FSN/Full Court)
(B) San Diego State at (4) New Mexico, 6 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
Miami at (9) Florida State, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
DePaul at (12) Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(2) Michigan State at (B) Illinois, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Tulsa at (B) UTEP, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Nevada at Utah State, 10 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(B) Arizona State at (B) Washington, 10:30 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast SportsNet
(B) USF at (B) Notre Dame, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(11) North Carolina at (B) Maryland, 2 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast SportsNet)
Indiana at (B) Northwestern, 2 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(1) Syracuse at (10) Cincinnati, 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? E-mail me at bloggingthebracket at gmail dot com or follow me on Twitter @BracketDobber.