After an eventful Saturday, there are several new protected seeds in my second-to-last projection of the season. Things seem to be coming into focus with only four games left in Championship Week.
Kansas looks to have sewn up the top overall seed, as they grabbed their third victory of the season over Kansas State to claim the Big 12 Tournament crown. Kentucky and Syracuse remain on the top line, and West Virginia staked a claim by winning the Big East Saturday night. Currently, I have the Mountaineers as the final No. 1 instead of Duke.
While the Mountaineers and Blue Devils have similar records against the Top 50, WVU's wins are simply better. WVU owns an 8-5 record against these teams, with victories against No. 7 (twice) Georgetown, No. 9 Texas A&M, No.13 Villanova and No. 15 Pitt. Duke, meanwhile is 7-4, with their best victories coming against No. 22 Maryland and No. 32 Georgia Tech, who they split with. They also lost to the seventh-rated Hoyas. The Blue Devils could take the top spot back with a win over the Yellow Jackets in today's ACC final, but I doubt it.
Below the top line, Tennessee and Vanderbilt may have played themselves out of protected seed range after their losses in the SEC semifinals. Purdue is also in danger after they were demolished by Minnesota in the Big Ten semis. I still have both the Volunteers and Boilermakers on the four line, so they're as protected as two Southern/Midwestern teams forced to play out West can be. Vanderbilt drops to a five, but they're in a pod with Wisconsin in Spokane.
At the other end of the field, Houston stole a bid by beating UTEP for the second time this season, meaning the Miners are squarely on the bubble. Washington also played bid thief by topping Cal in the Pac-10 final. Finally, in the WAC final, New Mexico State beat Utah State for the second time, meaning the Blue Aggies likely took another at-large.
That means teams like Virginia Tech and Florida could be out, especially if Mississippi State beats Kentucky in the SEC championship on Sunday. Illinois looked to be in good shape, but they couldn't close the deal at the end of regulation and the first overtime, before they fell to Ohio State. Then, Minnesota made Purdue look like a bunch of middle schoolers. Not quite the contrast the Illini needed.
It will indeed be a tense day.
Here's how things stand on Selection Sunday at around noon ET.
Temple (3), Richmond (6), Xavier (7)
UTEP (12), Houston (14)
Gonzaga (6), St. Mary's (10)
Utah State (12), New Mexico State (13)
One Bid Leagues (20): America East (Vermont), Atlantic Sun (ETSU), Big Sky (Montana), Big South (Winthrop), Big West (UC Santa Barbara), Colonial (Old Dominion), Horizon (Butler), Ivy (Cornell), Metro Atlantic (Siena), Mid-American (Ohio), Mid-Eastern (Morgan State), Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa), Northeast (Robert Morris), Ohio Valley (Murray State), Patriot (Lehigh), Southern (Wofford), Southland (Sam Houston State), Southwestern (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Summit (Oakland), Sun Belt (North Texas)
For a more detailed breakdown of the teams fighting for the final few spots in the tournament, visit Bubble Watch.