Bracketology: Time for some Friday tweaks

USA TODAY Sports

February's arrival means its time for SB Nation's resident bracketologist to deliver a pair of weekly bracket updates. Here's how the field of 68 looks heading into a weekend highlighted by a massive top three tilt in Bloomington.

With six weeks and two days remaining until Selection Sunday and conference play well underway, the time has come to double up on bracketology. In seasons past, my Friday posts have focused more on the race for bids and the shape of the bubble. This season, thanks to circumstances beyond my control in my non-basketball life, I've had to make some writing adjustments. So, you'll now see a two full bracket updates each week. The longer Tuesday post will continue to review the states of the conference races and the bubble, while the Friday one is designed to be a shorter update, serving an appetizer for a busy weekend of action.

With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, here's today's bracket and rundown. There aren't an overwhelming number changes from Tuesday's projection, but there are a few notable ones. While Kansas, Michigan, Duke and Florida remain on the top line, Oregon, N.C. State and Wichita State fell from the pool of protected seeds. Plus, there are two new at-larges, though both are a decent bet to drop out on Tuesday. More on that after the projected field of 68.

(1) SOUTH
Arlington (Fri/Sun)
(2) MIDWEST
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
Kansas City (Fri/Sun) Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)
1 Kansas (Big 12) 1 Michigan (Big Ten)
16 Northeastern (CAA) 16 Niagara (MAAC)
8 Wisconsin 8 Missouri
9 North Carolina 9 Belmont (OVC)
Kansas City (Fri/Sun) San Jose (Thu/Sat)
5 Wichita State (MVC) 5 Creighton
12 Saint Louis 12 Memphis (C-USA)
4 Marquette 4 Cincinnati
13 South Dakota State (Summit) 13 Lehign (Patriot)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Lexington (Thu/Sat)
6 San Diego State 6 Minnesota
11 Villanova 11 La Salle
3 Gonzaga (WCC) 3 Louisville
14 Stephen F. Austin (Southland) 14 Long Beach State (Big West)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Austin (Fri/Sun)
7 Notre Dame 7 Kansas State
10 Oklahoma State 10 Colorado State
2 Arizona 2 Miami (ACC)
15 Montana (Big Sky) 15 Davidson (Southern)
(4) WEST
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
(3) EAST
Washington (Thu/Sat)
Lexington (Thu/Sat) Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)
1 Florida (SEC) 1 Duke
16 Bryant or Southern 16 Charleston Southern or Norfolk State
8 Pittsburgh 8 Mississippi
9 UCLA 9 Baylor
Dayton (Fri/Sun) San Jose (Thu/Sat)
5 N.C. State 5 Oregon (Pac-12)
12 Indiana State or Iowa State 12 Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt)
4 Butler 4 Ohio State
13 Louisiana Tech (WAC) 13 Akron (MAC)
Austin (Fri/Sun) Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)
6 Georgetown 6 UNLV
11 Illinois 11 Arizona State or Temple
3 New Mexico (MWC) 3 Michigan State
14 Harvard (Ivy) 14 Valparaiso (Horizon)
Dayton (Fri/Sun) Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)
7 Oklahoma 7 VCU (A-10)
10 Colorado 10 Kentucky
2 Indiana 2 Syracuse (Big East)
15 Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun) 15 Stony Brook (AmEast)
FIRST FOUR (Dayton)
Tuesday: To Lexington
Tuesday: To Auburn Hills
16 Bryant (NEC) 11 Arizona State
16 Southern (SWAC) 11 Temple
Wednesday: To Philadelphia Wednesday: To Dayton
16 Charleston Southern (Big South) 12 Indiana State
16 Norfolk State (MEAC) 12 Iowa State

BIDS BY CONFERENCE LAST FOUR BYES ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
Big East: 8 Villanova Indiana State St. Mary's
Big Ten: 7 La Salle Saint Louis Southern Mississippi
Big 12: 6 Illinois South Dakota State Western Illinois
A-10: 5 Saint Louis

Pac-12: 5
LAST FOUR IN

ACC: 4
Temple

MWC: 4 Indiana State

SEC: 4 Arizona State

MVC: 3 Iowa State PROCEDURAL MOVES
1-Bid Conferences: 22 LAST FOUR OUT Wisconsin 7 down to 8

St. Mary's Kansas State 8 up to 7

St. John's Memphis 11 down to 12

Virginia Arizona State 12 up to 11

Southern Mississippi Temple 12 up to 11

NEXT FOUR OUT


BYU


Boise State


Maryland


Wyoming

Also considered (in order): UMass, Charlotte, Stanford

On Wednesday night, after Villanova lost at Notre Dame and just as La Salle was about to fall at home to UMass, I commented on the apparent jinx I hold over teams that are new to the bracket.

A quick bit of research indicates that I may be overselling my jinxing powers a bit and that the inherent mediocrity of bubble teams may actually be to blame, shockingly enough. The at-larges who have entered in any one the first three updates I've released since January 8th -- three on the 15th, four on the 22nd and another quartet this past Tuesday -- have a combined record of 9-9 in their games in the week following their inclusion in the field.

Only two of the 11 teams have gone 2-0 in the seven days after joining the field, Mississippi and Pittsburgh. One of Tuesday's new entrants, St. Mary's, won its only game of the week so far and fell out, as the Gaels were passed (largely due to a marginal profile) by Saint Louis after the Billikens' big win over Butler on Thursday night. The other eight teams all have lost at least once, with Texas A&M and Iowa the only teams to go 0-2 for the week so far. (And both are now long gone from the picture.) La Salle and Villanova will try to avoid the 0-fer this weekend. If the Explorers and Wildcats can manage victories, they'll both be in good shape to stick around on Tuesday.

As for Saint Louis and Indiana State, today's new at-large squads, your challenge is to win on Saturday and better that .500 record by newcomers. Yes, both of you. A 1-1 mark will only keep us average.

One thing that won't change from past Friday posts is the close, a rundown of games to watch between now and Tuesday's projection. The highlight of the weekend's action is naturally the showdown in Bloomington between Big Ten co-leaders Michigan and Indiana, which should have a significant impact on the No. 1 seed. In terms of the bubble, the key game comes courtesy of the same league, as Illinois will look to stop its slide into the NIT with a win over Wisconsin on Sunday. The Fighting Illini have fallen from the protected seed places on January 8th to a position just above the First Four today, thanks to a 2-6 start to conference play. Illinois will have to go 7-3 the rest of the way to get to .500 in the conference, a daunting task considering the strength of the conference this season.

The Big 12 also provides plenty of bubble action over the coming days, with Iowa State and Oklahoma each hosting another bubble team on Saturday before meeting in Ames on Monday night.

Saturday

Syracuse at Pittsburgh, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network/ESPN3)
Auburn at Missouri, 1:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network Regional/ESPN3)
Duke at Florida State, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Wake Forest at Maryland, 2 p.m. ET (ACC Network/ESPN3)
Tulsa at Memphis, 2 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Dayton at Saint Louis, 2 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Colorado at Utah, 2:30 p.m. ET (FSN)
Bradley at Creighton, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
San Diego State at Air Force, 3 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable Sportsnet)
Miami at N.C. State, 4 p.m. ET (CBS Regional)
St. John's at Georgetown 4 p.m. ET (CBS Regional)
Wichita State at Northern Iowa, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Rhode Island at Butler, 4 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Oregon at California, 4:30 p.m. ET (FSN)
Ohio at Akron, 5 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Temple at St. Joseph's, 6 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Kentucky at Texas A&M, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Kansas State at Oklahoma, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Mississippi at Florida, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Wyoming at Colorado State, 7 p.m. ET (ROOT Sports)
Indiana State at Drake, 7:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/ESPN3)
Portland at St. Mary's, 7:30 p.m. ET (CSN California/ROOT Sports Northwest)
Baylor at Iowa State, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Michigan at Indiana, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Arizona State at Washington, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Santa Clara at BYU, 9 p.m. ET (BYU TV)
UNLV at Boise State, 9 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable Sportsnet)
Gonzaga at San Diego, 11 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Sunday

Providence at Villanova, 12 p.m. ET (BIg East Network/ESPN3)
Iowa at Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET (BTN)
Marquette at Louisville, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Virginia at Georgia Tech, 3 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Oregon State at Stanford, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Wisconsin at Illinois, 3:30 p.m. ET (BTN)

Monday

Notre Dame at Syracuse, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Oklahoma at Iowa State, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Seton Hall at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Enjoy this weekend's action, particularly that loaded Saturday. My next full update will arrive on Tuesday.

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