Bracketology 2011: Notre Dame Moves To NCAA Tournament Top Line As Duke Falters (Again)

Selection Sunday is now less than a week away, and the only thing that's assured about the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament is that the Selection Committee will have its work cut out for it in selecting and seeding the March Madness field.

After the weekend's games, our latest Bracketology looks significantly different compared to Friday's version. Duke drops from the top line, thanks to its defeat at North Carolina (which moves up to the three-line). The Blue Devils' replacement is Notre Dame, which won at Connecticut despite Ben Hansbrough fouling out with eight minutes left in the contest.

However, the other three top seeds are the same, as Kansas, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh all solidified their positions with wins in their regular season finales. One significant change is that Jayhawks move up to the top overall spot after yet another careful review of each team's profile.

Thanks to an impressive record against the RPI Top 50 and fine road form, Florida joins Duke on the two line after they claimed the outright SEC crown by handling Vanderbilt in Nashville, while Purdue and San Diego State are still hanging around. The Boilermakers remain even with a loss at Iowa Saturday.

BYU drops down to the three line where they're joined by Syracuse, Texas, and the aforementioned Tar Heels, who will move even higher if they can beat Duke again in Greensboro next weekend. Wisconsin is at the top of the fourth line, even with their loss in Columbus Sunday, while Kentucky, Louisville, and St. John's join the Badgers, but are in a far shakier position.

Now on to the rest of the bracket, starting with the picture at the bottom of the at-large pool.

National Semifinal Matchups

(1) Southwest vs. (4) West
(2) East vs. (3) Southeast

First Four

Automatic Bid Teams
March 15: Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) vs. Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt) (NEW) to Washington on March 17th
March 16: McNeese State (Southland) vs. Texas Southern (SWAC) to Cleveland on March 18th

At-Large Teams (Last Four In)
Previous seed in parentheses
March 15: Marquette (10) vs. Virginia Tech (11) to Denver on March 17th
March 16: Clemson vs. Michigan State (11) to Cleveland on March 18th

Next Four In (automatically in the Round of 64): Butler, Richmond, Georgia, Boston College

Remember when Dick Vitale anointed Virginia Tech as a tournament team after they beat Duke last Saturday? Well, the Hokies are now in deep trouble, thanks to their Saturday loss to Clemson. The Tigers aren't safe either, even with the victory. I have both teams in the First Four and they'll each need to win a game or two in Greensboro to ensure they make it even that far.

Clemson's win gave them the four seed and a first round bye, while No. 6 seed Virginia Tech will have to play in the opening round on Thursday against Georgia Tech, a potential RPI killer. Boston College earned the fifth-seed by grabbing a home win over Wake Forest Sunday afternoon, meaning the Eagles get a rematch with the Demon Deacons in round one.

Even with their win over mistake-prone Georgia, Alabama remains out, thanks to their poor performance outside of the SEC. The Bulldogs, however, are just hanging on after the loss. Non-league losses are also keeping Colorado out, even though they beat Nebraska late Saturday.

Michigan completed a sweep of Michigan State to put themselves in far better position, while simultaneously dropping the Spartans down to the First Four. The Spartans will have to play on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time, facing Iowa in the 7 vs. 10 game. If they win the rubber match with the Hawkeyes, No. 2 seed Purdue awaits in Friday's quarterfinals. On the other hand, the Wolverines will wear their home jerseys in the 4 vs. 5 game against Illinois.

Marquette joins Tom Izzo's team in the First Four, thanks to their Saturday loss to Seton Hall, the Golden Eagles' second consecutive loss in a game in which they were favored.

Here's how the full bracket looks. Four teams clinched berths over the weekend, UNC Asheville, Belmont, Morehead State, and Indiana State. These names, and those of the other squads who have clinched auto bids will appear in all caps from here on out.

Previous seeds are in parentheses.

SOUTHWEST
San Antonio (March 25 and 27)
EAST
Newark (March 25 and 27)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
1. Kansas (Big 12)
16. UNC ASHEVILLE (Big South) (NEW)
1.  Ohio State (Big Ten)
16. McNeese State/Texas Southern
8. Old Dominion (Colonial) (9)
9. Illinois (10)
8. Villanova (6)
9. George Mason (7)
Denver (Thu/Sat)
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
5. Arizona (6)
12. Marquette/Virginia Tech
5. Xavier (Atlantic 10)
12. UAB (Conference USA)
4. Louisville (3)
13. Milwaukee (Horizon)
4. St. John's (5)
13. INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley) (NEW)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun) Washington (Thu/Sat)
6. Georgetown (4)
11. Georgia (12)
6. Vanderbilt (5)
11. Butler (12)
3. North Carolina (ACC) (4)
14. Bucknell (Patriot)
3. Syracuse
14. College of Charleston (Southern)
Chicago (Fri/Sun) Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
7. UNLV (8)
10. St. Mary's (West Coast) (11)
7. Texas A&M (6)
10. Michigan (10)
2. Purdue
15. Long Beach State (Big West) (14)
2. Duke (1)
15. MOREHEAD STATE (Ohio Valley) (NEW)
WEST
(Anaheim: March 24 and 26)
SOUTHEAST
(New Orleans: March 24 and 26)
Chicago (Fri/Sun)
Washington (Thu/Sat)
1. Notre Dame (2)
16. Boston University (America East) (NEW)
1. Pittsburgh (Big East)
16. Bethune-Cookman/Middle Tennessee
8. Missouri
9. Utah State (WAC)
8. UCLA (9)
9. Tennessee
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
Tampa (Thu/Sat)
5. West Virginia
12. Clemson/Michigan State
5. Connecticut (4)
12. BELMONT (Atlantic Sun) (13)
4. Kentucky (5)
13. Oakland (Summit)
4. Wisconsin
13. Harvard (Ivy) (NEW)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
Denver (Thu/Sat)
6. Cincinnati (7)
11. Richmond (12)
6. Kansas State (7)
11. Boston College (12)
3. Texas
14. Iona (Metro Atlantic) (NEW)
3. BYU (Mountain West)
14. Kent State (MAC)
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
Tampa (Thu/Sat)
7. Florida State
10. Washington (8)
7. Temple (6)
10. Gonzaga
2. San Diego State
15. Northern Colorado (Big Sky) (16)
2. Florida (SEC) (3)
15. Long Island (Northeast)


Conference Breakdown

Big East: 11
ACC, Big Ten: 6
Big 12, SEC: 5
A-10, MWC, Pac-10: 3
CAA, Horizon, WCC: 2
20 one-bid conferences

At this point, the last eight in and first eight out are very fluid, so expect to see a lot of changes later in the week when the major conference tournaments are all in gear. Besides the Crimson Tide and Buffaloes, watch out for USC, who stunned fading Washington, a team that's suddenly in bubble trouble, on Saturday night, and VCU, who could make the Colonial Athletic Association a three-bid league tonight if they defeat archrival Old Dominion (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

First Four Out
69. Colorado
70. Alabama 71. Memphis 72. USC
Next Four Out
76. Washington State 75. Colorado State
74. VCU
73. Penn State

 

Besides the CAA champion, three other teams will receive dance tickets this evening.

Metro Atlantic Championship: No. 4 St. Peter's vs. No. 2 Iona, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET)
West Coast Conference Championship: No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 St. Mary's , ESPN (9 p.m. ET)
Southern Conference Championship: South No. 2 Wofford vs. South No. 1 College of Charleston, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET)

Head over at Blogging the Bracket for broadcast info and schedules for the other conference tourmament games set for today..

Tomorrow, expect a minor update reflecting the results of tonight's finals, along with another look at the Last Four In and First Four Out.

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