Have you recovered from the weekend yet? You know, the one where it felt like everyone in the AP Top 25 lost?
Well, catch your breath, as with a few meetings of ranked teams on the slate, it was impossible for everyone to taste defeat over Saturday and Sunday. For example, top-ranked Ohio State, the No. 1 overall seed in both last week's bracket and this edition, remained undefeated, just, thanks to Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody's inability to draw up a decent inbounds play in the final seconds in Evanston on Saturday evening. Neither did the other returnees to the top line, Kansas and Pittsburgh, though the Panthers did have a close call of their own at Rutgers on Saturday night, and Texas, who hops up to the top line after grabbing easy wins against Missouri and Texas A&M.
But 12 of the 23 ranked teams in action over the weekend tasted defeat, including former top seed Duke, which fell down to line three after they were blasted by St. John's on Sunday. That loss and all of the others led to numerous changes in this week's field of 68.
The biggest loser of the week is Syracuse, which drops to the fourth line from last week's position at the end of the second line, thanks to a four-game losing streak, capped by Saturday's loss at Marquette. The Orange nearly dropped to line five, but were saved by Washington loss at Washington State (a new entrant) late Sunday night. And things may get worse before they get better for Jim Boeheim's team with a game at UConn on Wednesday night. The fear among Orange fans is that Syracuse will be the 2011 version of last year's Texas team -- a club that peaked too early, imploded, and was only able to sneak into an 8/9 game at the end.
Otherwise, several teams who were making decent progress up the S-curve dropped winnable games in-conference, albeit in arenas where they haven't had a ton of recent success. Florida, for example, basically lost to four players at Mississippi State. BYU followed their big win over San Diego State with a defeat at New Mexico. But the worst of these was perhaps Florida State performance at Clemson, where they managed just 18 points in the first half in their 62-44 loss.
All these defeats mean is that I had to spend a lot of extra time with each team's profile in selecting and seeding this week's bracket, which is why some of the slotting may seem odd. For example, BYU and San Diego State are on the two line this week after losing during the past seven days, and Minnesota moves up to the five line after losing to new three seed Purdue on Saturday, while Florida and Florida State both drop (thanks to some questionable losses on the resume).
Finally, Michigan State, who I mentioned in Friday's Bubble Watch, remains in trouble, moving into an 8/9 game in this projection. Topping Indiana in overtime Sunday night wasn't enough to boost their seed for this week.
Now, here's a look at the 68 teams who did make this week's projection.
Last Four IN (First Round): Gonzaga vs. Penn State and Richmond vs. Washington State
This week, each First Round game feeds into a different region; however, the two at-large games feed into Thursday sites and the two auto bid contest winners will play on Friday.
Next Four IN: (Second Round): Boston College, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, UCLA
First Eight OUT: Memphis, Butler, Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Missouri State, Duquesne, Kansas State, Clemson
The Big 12 is in real danger of having four locks and a whole slew of teams left out. Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State all have profiles that require significant work (or, for our purposes, wins) before they can get back into the bracket. Fortunately for these four, they're in a conference where quality wins and upsets are there for the taking. However, three of the four (Kansas State excepted) have also shown that they're capable of dropping games against the bottom of the conference. While it's true that nearly every team on the bubble has a bad loss or three at this point of the season, a lack of marquee, or at this point, passable wins does more harm than good.
The Pac-10 equals the Big 12 total this week, as UCLA stays in (and escapes the First Four) by just scraping out a split in Arizona, while Washington State jumps in after topping Washington in their first Apple Cup meeting of the season.
The Big East holds steady at 11, and I'm still waiting for someone to drop down. St. John's and Marquette solidified their positions with their big weekend victories. Cincinnati, thanks to their pillow soft non-conference slate, looks to be in the most danger, but just when you think the Bearcats are going to skid into the NIT, they pull right out of it with a win or two.
And there is only one certified bid thief in the field this week: Alabama, who leads the SEC with a 5-1 mark, keeps Memphis out of the bracket. The Crimson Tide are not yet a legit at-large candidate, thanks to an underwhelming 1-5 record against the RPI Top 100 (the lone win came at home against Kentucky), two head-scratching losses at the Paradise Jam back in November (Iowa and St. Peter's), and a 2-7 record away from Coleman Coliseum.
Overall, only 10 conferences have more than one entrant this week, as Conference USA and the Horizon League each lost a team. The West Coast Conference and Colonial Athletic Association both return a pair of teams.
Seeds in Parentheses
Big East: 11
Pittsburgh (1), Connecticut (2), Notre Dame (2), Villanova (3), Georgetown (4), Syracuse (4), Louisville (5), West Virginia (6), St. John's (8), Marquette (9), Cincinnati (9),
Big Ten: 7
Ohio State (1), Purdue (3), Wisconsin (5), Minnesota (5), Illinois (6), Michigan State (8), Penn State (12, Rd. 1)
Kentucky (3), Vanderbilt (6), Florida (7), Tennessee (7), Georgia (9), Alabama (13)
Duke (3), North Carolina (6), Florida State (9), Boston College (10), Virginia Tech (11)
Big 12: 4
Kansas (1), Texas (1), Texas A&M (4), Missouri (4)
Washington (5), Arizona (8), UCLA (11), Washington State (12, 1st Rd.)
Atlantic 10: 3
Xavier (7), Temple (7), Richmond (12, Rd. 1)
Mountain West: 3
BYU (2), San Diego State (2), UNLV (8)
VCU (10), Old Dominion (11)
West Coast: 2
St, Mary's (10), Gonzaga (12, 1st Rd.)
One Bid Leagues: 21
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern (1st Rd.), Missouri Valley, Northeast (1st Rd.), Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland (1st Rd.), Southwestern (1st Rd.), Summit, Sun Belt, WAC
My next projection will come on Tuesday, Feb. 8, which is just a little more than a month before Selection Sunday. Bubble Watch returns Friday with a count of locks and bubble teams, along with a look at the Last Four In and First Four Out. In the meantime, visit Blogging The Bracket and follow me on Twitter for information on each night's TV games that have bubble and bracket impact.