Bracketology: Holding steady (for the most part) in mid-January

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

While the top four seeds from Chris Dobbertean's first real bracket projection of the season remain in place for another week, the bottom of the at-large pool is as muddled as you would expect with a little more than two months left before Selection Sunday.

Just like last week, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Arizona and Michigan State lead off this week's edition of bracketology. In fact, you probably won't notice too many changes compared to last week's, other than some movement in the seedings.

I'll have more on this week's bracket risers and tumblers after the projection and rundown. New teams to the field this week are indicated by an asterisk (*), while up arrows represent teams that gained position and down arrows indicate those that fell a line or more.

(1) MIDWEST
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
(2) EAST
New York (Fri/Sun)
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) Buffalo (Thu/Sat)
1 Wisconsin (Big Ten) 1 Syracuse (ACC)
16 Southern/Wagner *16 Fort Wayne (Summit)
8 North Carolina 8 VCU
9 Georgetown 9 Connecticut
San Diego (Fri/Sun) Raleigh (Fri/Sun)
55 5 Kentucky 5 Oregon
*12 Louisiana Tech (C-USA) 12 SMU/Texas
4 UMass (A10) 4 Iowa
13 Belmont (OVC) *13 Delaware (CAA)
Spokane (Thu/Sat) San Antonio (Fri/Sun)
6 Michigan 6 Pittsburgh
11 Harvard (Ivy) 11 UCLA
↑3 San Diego State 3 Iowa State
↓14 Manhattan (MAAC) *14 Nevada (MW)
St. Louis (Fri/Sun) Orlando (Thu/Sat)
7 Virginia 7 Louisville
*10 California 10 Kansas State
2 Kansas (Big 12) 2 Florida (SEC)
*15 UC Irvine (Big West) *15 Georgia State (Sun Belt)
(4) SOUTH
Memphis (Thu/Sat)
(3) WEST
Anaheim (Thu/Sat)
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) San Diego (Fri/Sun)
1 Michigan State 1 Arizona (Pac-12)
16 Radford (Big South) 16 Chattanooga/Norfolk State
8 Saint Louis 8 Xavier
9 Missouri 9 Oklahoma
Spokane (Thu/Sat) Raleigh (Fri/Sun)
5 Creighton 5 Memphis
*12 New Mexico State (WAC) 12 Green Bay (Horizon)
4 Colorado 4 Ohio State
*13 Mercer (A-Sun) *13 Buffalo (MAC)
Orlando (Thu/Sat) San Antonio (Fri/Sun)
6 Cincinnati (AAC) 6 Duke
11 George Washington/Minnesota 11 Illinois
3 Oklahoma State 3 Baylor
14 Boston U. (Patriot) 14 Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) St. Louis (Fri/Sun)
7 New Mexico 7 Florida State
10 Dayton 10 Gonzaga (WCC)
2 Villanova (Big East) 2 Wichita State (MVC)
15 Stony Brook (AmEast) 15 Northern Colorado (Big Sky)
FIRST FOUR (Dayton)
Tuesday: To Milwaukee Tuesday: To Orlando
16 Southern (SWAC) 11 George Washington
*16 Wagner (NEC) 11 Minnesota
Wednesday: To San Diego Wednesday: To Raleigh
*16 Chattanooga (SoCon) *12 SMU
*16 Norfolk State (MEAC) 12 Texas

BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
Big 12: 7 Kansas State Buffalo Air Force
Big Ten: 7 California California Arkansas State
ACC: 6 Illinois Chattanooga Florida Gulf Coast
American: 5 UCLA Delaware Hampton
A10: 5 LAST FOUR IN Fort Wayne Hawai'i
Pac-12: 5
Texas Georgia State James Madison
Big East: 4 George Washington Louisiana Tech Kansas City
MW: 3 Minnesota Mercer North Dakota State
SEC: 3 SMU Nevada Notre Dame
1-Bid Conferences: 23 FIRST FOUR OUT New Mexico State St. Francis Brooklyn

Indiana State Norfolk State Southern Mississippi

Tennessee SMU Toledo

Stanford UC Irvine West Virginia

Notre Dame Wagner Western Carolina

NEXT FOUR OUT


Arkansas


Providence


Southern Mississippi


Boise State

Also considered (in order): St. Mary's, Arizona State, Clemson, Marquette, LSU, Mississippi, Washington

Teams are listed in the conference rundowns in seed list order. This post contains information about how I determine automatic bids before the conference tournaments, and my preseason bracket includes a rundown of the new bracket rules for this season. All RPI and SOS data is courtesy Basketball State ($) and reflects games against Division I opposition only that were completed before Monday, January 13, 2014.

American Athletic

Bids This Week (5): Memphis TigersCincinnati Bearcats (auto bid, in as at-large), Louisville Cardinals, Connecticut Huskies, SMU Mustangs (First Four)

Team of the Week: Connecticut (13-3, 1-2 AAC, RPI rank: 25, SOS rank: 44)
Though Memphis has a great argument to be listed here, thanks to its Thursday night win at Louisville, UConn was in danger of moving toward the cut line with a bad week. The Huskies avoided that fate by holding off a pesky Harvard squad on Wednesday to grab a second Top 50 win for the season and by dropping UCF three nights later to pick up their first AAC win. That victory was necessary, considering the gauntlet that awaits Kevin Ollie's squad over the next seven days.

SMU sneaks into this projection primarily due to others' failings. The Mustangs dropped their only game of the week, at Louisville.

Week To Forget: Houston (10-6, 2-1 AAC, RPI rank: 191, SOS rank: 274)
The Cougars played just once this week, but a one-point loss to Cincinnati on Tuesday prevented them from seizing first place in the American, if only temporarily. Plus, given the weakness of Houston's non-conference schedule -- 343rd out of 351 Division I teams -- this team needs every quality win it can get from here on out to have any hope.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Connecticut at Memphis, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Houston at Louisville, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
SMU at UCF, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPNews)
Cincinnati at USF, Saturday 5 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Louisville at Connecticut, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Atlantic 10

Bids This Week (5): UMass Minutemen (auto bid, in as at-large), Saint Louis Billikens, VCU Rams, Dayton Flyers, George Washington Colonials (First Four)

Team Of The Week: Saint Louis (14-2, 2-0 A10, RPI rank: 34, SOS rank: 126)
The Billikens opened their A10 campaign with a pair of difficult road games -- at Rhode Island and Dayton -- and came away with two wins. However, Saint Louis' victory over the Flyers was also the squad's first over a Top 50 opponent, though they'll have chances to build on that total in the coming weeks. Note that the Billikens have lost just twice this season -- to Wisconsin and Wichita State. Does anything stand out to you about those two teams?

Week To Forget: George Washington (13-3, 1-1 A10, RPI rank: 28, SOS rank: 87)
The surprise A10 team of the 2013-14 season opened its conference campaign with a loss at last season's conference darling, La Salle. The Colonials followed that setback with a home win over Rhode Island to limit the week's profile damage. Mike Lonergan's team remains in the First Four in this projection, largely due to a win over Creighton in Anaheim and a lack of bad losses. With the current state of the bubble, that's enough. Over the long run, however, GW will want to start racking up A10 victories.

Five Games To Watch This Week
VCU at George Washington, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
UMass at George Mason, Wednesday 7 p.m. (NESN/SNY/NESN-Plus/A10 Digital Network)
St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis, Wednesday 8 p.m. (FS Midwest/FCS Central)
Dayton at Richmond, Saturday 3 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Duquesne at VCU, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (CBS SN)

ACC

Bids This Week (6): Syracuse Orange (auto bid, in as at-large), Duke Blue DevilsPittsburgh PanthersVirginia CavaliersFlorida State SeminolesNorth Carolina Tar Heels

Team Of The Week: Florida State (11-4 , 2-1 ACC, RPI rank: 29, SOS rank: 26)
Pitt was in the running for this honor, until they lost forward Durand Johnson for rest of the season to an ACL tear. Virginia was next in line, until the Cavaliers lost at Duke Monday, despite a valiant comeback effort. Syracuse should probably get the nod for three wins in the span of a week (with two on the road), but Florida State earns the honor for its pair of Ws, particularly Thursday's 56-41 victory over Clemson, which came less than 48 hours before the Tigers put the clamps on Duke at Littlejohn.

Week To Forget: Notre Dame (10-6, 1-2 ACC, RPI rank: 87, SOS rank: 34)
Following up a home win over Duke with losses to N.C. State and Georgia Tech is not the way to stay in the bracket, Fighting Irish.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Notre Dame at Maryland, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Florida State at Miami, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ACC Network Regional/ESPN3)
Florida State at Virginia, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network/ESPN3)
Pittsburgh at Syracuse, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina at Virginia, Monday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Big 12

Bids This Week (7): Kansas Jayhawks (auto bid, in as at-large), Iowa State Cyclones, Baylor Bears, Oklahoma State CowboysOklahoma SoonersKansas State Wildcats, Texas Longhorns (First Four)

Team Of The Week: Kansas (12-4, 3-0 Big 12, RPI rank: 2, SOS rank: 1)
It was a 3-0 week for the Jayhawks, who really look to be coming together at the right time. Kansas firmly established itself as the Big 12 favorite in the past seven days, thanks to wins at Oklahoma and Iowa State and a 26-point rout of Kansas State in Lawrence.

Week To Forget: Kansas State (12-4, 2-1 Big 12, RPI rank: 45, SOS rank: 50)
Considering that every Big 12 team in this projection is at .500 or above, this wasn't an easy demerit to hand out this week. However, given the way Kansas demolished the Wildcats in Lawrence on Saturday -- to the tune of an 86-60 defeat -- K-State is placed here almost by default.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Oklahoma at Kansas State, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Oklahoma at Baylor, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Oklahoma State at Kansas, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (CBS)
Iowa State at Texas, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/ESPN3)
Baylor at Kansas, Monday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Big East

Bids This Week (4): Villanova Wildcats (auto bid, in as at-large), Creighton Bluejays, Xavier Musketeers, Georgetown Hoyas

Team Of The Week: Creighton (14-2, 4-0 Big East, RPI rank: 22, SOS rank: 75)
Even though Grant Gibbs is out for a month due to a broken kneecap and Doug McDermott's been struggling with a shoulder injury, the Bluejays keep plugging along. Last week, Creighton blasted DePaul in Rosemont, where Gibbs and McDermott were both injured, then held off Xavier in Omaha to move into a first-place tie with Villanova. Those two happen to meet in Philadelphia on Monday night.

Week To Forget: Butler (9-6, 0-4 Big East, RPI rank: 89, SOS rank: 99)
The move to the new Big East has not been kind to the Bulldogs, as they've started the conference season off with four consecutive losses. Three of those have come at home, including last week's back-to-back overtime losses to DePaul and Georgetown. The potential of defeats five and six stares the Bulldogs right in the face this week. Brandon Miller's squad has to travel to Creighton on Tuesday before hosting Marquette at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Butler at Creighton, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (FS1)
Georgetown at Xavier, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Creighton at Providence, Saturday 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
Creighton at Villanova, Monday 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
Marquette at Georgetown, Monday 9 p.m. ET (FS1)

Big Ten

Bids This Week (7): Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans (auto bid, in as at-large), Ohio State Buckeyes, Iowa HawkeyesMichigan WolverinesIllinois Fighting Illini, Minnesota Golden Gophers (First Four)

Team Of The Week: Iowa (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten, RPI rank: 41, SOS rank: 111)
After crushing Northwestern on Thursday night without suspended coach Fran McCaffery, the Hawkeyes got the marquee win they desperately needed in resounding fashion on Sunday. While most people were watching the San Francisco-Carolina NFL playoff game, Iowa marched into Columbus and grabbed an impressive 10-point win over Ohio State.

Week To Forget: Illinois (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten, RPI rank: 23, SOS rank: 51)
Yes, Ohio State also dropped two games this week, but at least the Buckeyes were competitive in those defeats. The Fighting Illini looked simply terrible in falling at both Wisconsin (understandable) and Northwestern (not so much). An offensive output of 113 points in a pair of losses looks even worse when you consider that only 43 of those points were scored in Evanston against a team picked to finish anywhere between 10th and 12th in the conference.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Wisconsin at Indiana, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Ohio State at Minnesota, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Michigan at Wisconsin, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Michigan State at Illinois, Saturday 8 p.m. ET (BTN)
Minnesota at Iowa, Sunday 1 p.m. ET (BTN)

Mountain West

Bids This Week (3): San Diego State Aztecs, New Mexico Lobos, Nevada Wolf Pack (auto bid, not in as at-large)

Team Of The Week: Nevada (9-8, 4-0 MW, RPI rank: 134, SOS rank: 115)
Thanks to the weakness of the Wolf Pack's early Mountain West schedule, it's hard to say if 4-0 Nevada will be in the title hunt for the long run. However, last week's wins at struggling UNLV and against Utah State in Reno put the Pack in the bracket as the auto bid holder for this week.

Week To Forget: Boise State (9-5, 1-2 MW, RPI rank: 68, SOS rank: 55)
Thanks to a heartbreaking three-point loss at San Diego State on Wednesday and a shocking two-point home setback at the hands of Wyoming three nights later, it's increasingly looking like it's auto bid or bust for a Bronco team that's still without a Top 100 win.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Boise State at Nevada, Tuesday 10 p.m. ET (MWN, streaming at Mountain West Connection)
UNLV at New Mexico, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
UNLV at San Diego State, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
New Mexico at Fresno State, Saturday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Utah State at Boise State, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Pac-12

Bids This Week (5): Arizona Wildcats (auto bid, in as at-large), Colorado Buffaloes, Oregon Ducks, California Golden BearsUCLA Bruins

Team Of The Week: California (12-4, 3-0 Pac-12, RPI rank: 31, SOS rank: 54)
Not only did the Golden Bears thump Oregon in Eugene on Thursday night, they handled prosperity and won at Oregon State two nights later, ruining Gary Payton night in the process. That pair of wins -- and the victory over the Beavers was vital as Cal needed to show some consistency -- helped push the Bears into this week's projection and into the list of Arizona's potential challengers for the Pac-12 crown.

Week To Forget (Tie): Oregon (13-2, 1-3 Pac-12, RPI rank: 14, SOS rank: 23) and Colorado (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12, RPI rank: 9, SOS rank: 10)
The Ducks and Buffaloes earn a tie for this demerit for differing reasons. In Oregon's case, it's because they are struggling in Pac-12 play. In fact, if Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson hadn't stolen a game from Utah in the dying seconds of overtime in Salt Lake City, it's likely Oregon would be 0-4 in the conference right now. As for the Buffaloes, their situation is more serious, as leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie tore his left ACL in Sunday's loss at Washington. That's a devastating blow to the Buffaloes' March hopes.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Washington at California, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
UCLA at Colorado, Thursday 8 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Arizona State at Arizona, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (FS1)
UCLA at Utah, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (FS1)
Oregon at Oregon State, Sunday 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

SEC

Bids This Week (3): Florida Gators (auto bid, in as at-large), Kentucky Wildcats, Missouri Tigers

Team Of The Week: Georgia (8-6, 2-0 SEC, RPI rank: 173, SOS rank: 193)
While the Bulldogs aren't close to earning an at-large bid, they are in a tie for first in the SEC with Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M. That's a significant surprise because of the way Georgia struggled through the first half of the season. However, the Dawgs are playing hard for coach Mark Fox who lost his father days before the Bulldogs defeated Missouri (in Columbia) and Alabama.

Week To Forget: Tennessee (9-5, 1-1 SEC, RPI rank: 55, SOS rank: 20)
The Volunteers looked to have a place in this week's bracket after they routed LSU in Baton Rouge a week ago. Then they went out and lost to Texas A&M at Thompson-Boling Arena, thanks to an Antwan Space three-pointer in the final seconds. Making matters worse, while Tennessee's wins over Virginia and Xavier look better and better, the perception of defeats at the hands of N.C. State (in Knoxville) and UTEP (in the Bahamas) are heading in the opposite direction.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Georgia at Florida, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Kentucky at Arkansas, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
LSU at Ole Miss, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (SEC on CSS/ESPN3)
Tennessee at Kentucky, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (CBS)
Alabama at Missouri, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Single-Bid Leagues

Automatic Bids This Week (23): Stony Brook Seawolves (America East), Mercer Bears (Atlantic Sun), Northern Colorado Bears (Big Sky), Radford Highlanders (Big South), UC Irvine Anteaters (Big West), Delaware Blue Hens (CAA), Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (C-USA), Green Bay Phoenix (Horizon), Harvard Crimson (Ivy), Manhattan Jaspers (MAAC), Buffalo Bulls (MAC), Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC), Wichita State Shockers (MVC, in as at-large), Wagner Seahawks (NEC), Belmont Bruins (OVC), Boston U. Terriers (Patriot), Chattanooga Mocs (Southern), Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (Southland), Southern Jaguars (SWAC), Fort Wayne Mastodons (Summit), Georgia State Panthers (Sun Belt), Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC, in as at-large), New Mexico State Aggies (WAC)

Team Of The Week: Indiana State (11-3, 4-0 MVC, RPI rank: 65, SOS rank: 240)
Not only are the Sycamores off to their best Missouri Valley start since their 1978-79 NCAA runner-up season, Saturday's overtime win for Wichita State over Missouri State illustrated that perhaps the Shockers aren't going to run through the conference unscathed after all. While the Trees may not be able to knock off Gregg Marshall's squad on Saturday afternoon, ISU will welcome the Shockers to Hulman Arena on February 5th. However, the Sycamores' at-large hopes remain questionable, especially as their best win -- at Notre Dame -- isn't looking as shiny as it did even a week ago.

Week To Forget: Southern Mississippi (12-3, 1-1 C-USA, RPI rank: 32, SOS rank: 173)
In a season where Conference USA is likely to only get one bid, every game is vitally important, even for favorites like the Golden Eagles. So, a loss to a Tulsa squad that won just five non-league games not only knocked Southern Miss. out of this week's projection, it also all but ended the squad's limited at-large hopes. USM now cannot get caught looking ahead to Sunday's showdown with Louisiana Tech, C-USA's representative for this week, during Thursday's contest against Rice in Hattiesburg.

Five Games To Watch This Week
Missouri State at Indiana State, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, Thursday 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Indiana State at Wichita State, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Louisiana Tech at Southern Mississippi, Sunday 1 p.m. ET (FS1)
Delaware at Drexel, Monday 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

That's bracketology until next Tuesday, January 21st. In the meantime, head over to Blogging the Bracket for my daily TV previews and follow me during each night's action on Twitter @DobberSBN.

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