SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean, editor of Blogging The Bracket, returns with another edition of Bracketology.
Now that the Super Bowl is over (Congratulations New Orleans!) and football is finished for another year, just five weeks remain until Selection Sunday. That means it's time for more casual college basketball fans to hop on the bandwagon.
For those of you who are just merging onto the road to Indianapolis, welcome. It's been a wild season so far, so don't be surprised to see some unexpected names receive party invites come Selection Sunday, and a few old standbys relegated to the NIT. More on that in a minute, though.
This week, there wasn't much upheaval at the top of the bracket. For the third straight week, the same four teams occupy the top line, even with Villanova's burial by Georgetown's offensive blizzard on Saturday afternoon here in snowbound D.C. The Wildcats are fourth overall and head up the West region, falling behind Kansas (Midwest), Syracuse (South) and Kentucky (East).
Meanwhile, he Badgers made a move of their own, as they jump up to a 3, replacing BYU, who drops down to the 4 line after Saturday's road loss at UNLV.
But as I alluded to at the start of this piece, the big news this week is at the bottom of the at-large pool, where if the season ended Sunday, we would be looking at our first NCAA field without both North Carolina and UConn in recent memory. The Tar Heels followed up last Sunday's home loss to Virginia with two road setbacks, to Virginia Tech by 4 and Maryland by 21, to fall to 13-10 and 2-6 in the ACC. UNC is now just 2-7 since the calendar turned over to 2010, with a home game against Duke next on the schedule.
The Huskies drop out even though they split their two games, losing a bubble battle at Louisville on Monday, then sneaking past DePaul at home on Saturday, to sit at 4-6 in the Big East and 14-9 overall.
Before I get into some of this week's other storylines, here's a quick look at who is in and out this week.
Teams are listed in S-curve, or selection, order.
Top seeds: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Villanova
Last Four In: Illinois, South Florida, Dayton, Virginia Tech
First Four Out: Oklahoma State, VCU, Cincinnati, Old Dominion
Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Virginia, Northwestern, Notre Dame
Atlantic 10: 6
Temple (5), Rhode Island (8), Charlotte (9), Xavier (10), Richmond (11), Dayton (12)
Conference USA: 2
UAB (9), UTEP (13)
West Coast: 2
Gonzaga (4), St. Mary's (8)
One Bid Leagues: 22
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Pacific-10, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic
Movers And Shakers
The Atlantic 10: Your eyes aren't deceiving you. There really are six A-10 teams in this week's field, and thanks to the weakness of the middle to bottom of the BCS conferences (and the Pac-10 as a whole), expect to see this conference take a higher number of bids than normal. It may not be six, as Charlotte is in as an auto bid this week and Dayton and returnee Richmond still have work to do, but with many traditional powers struggling, someone has to fill those slots.
Departures: Joining UNC and UConn on the outside looking in are two teams who have been sliding down the bracket over the past few weeks and three others who just snuck in as at-larges last Monday.
Mississippi State and Cincinnati have been struggling over the past few weeks, and I have both sitting on the wrong side of the bubble this week. The Bulldogs have dropped four of their last five, including close road contests against Vanderbilt and Florida this week. The Bearcats, meanwhile, are 6-6 over their last 12, dropping two straight, at Notre Dame and at home to Syracuse, and three of their last four.
Oklahoma State and Seton Hall both jumped into last week's projection, and seven days later both are gone after losing twice this week. The Cowboys fell to struggling Texas at home and at Texas Tech, another team fighting for a bid.
The CAA is back to a one-bid league. Old Dominion drops out of the bracket after their 70-58 loss at VCU Saturday.
Arrivals: Five new at-large entrants join A-10 newcomer Richmond.
Illinois is the fifth Big Ten team in the field, thanks to Saturday's close home win over the Kalin Lucas-less Spartans and a road triumph at Iowa earlier in the week. The Illini are part of the four-team logjam that's a game behind the Spartans in the Big Ten race.
North Carolina may be gone, but two other ACC teams have returned after a week's absence to replace them. Maryland sees itself as a 9 seed after claiming a big win over the Tar Heels and a close road win against Florida State on Thursday. Virginia Tech also topped the Heels at home before they moved to 18-4 with a victory over Clemson Saturday afternoon.
On the other hand, while three Big East teams dropped out, only two move in, and one is a big surprise. South Florida makes their debut in this week's projection, even though their four-game Big East win streak ended Sunday afternoon at Notre Dame. That setback puts the Bulls' road/neutral mark for the year at 7-5, which is better than most of their bubble competition. The biggest of their wins away from Tampa is undoubtedly Wednesday's triumph at Georgetown.
The other Big East newcomer is last year's number one overall seed, Louisville, who's getting hot at the right time. The Cardinals followed Monday's win over UConn with a 16-point triumph over Rutgers. Rick Pitino's team has won three of their last four to leave a three-game skid in the rearview.
Auto Bids: Had Old Dominion beaten VCU, the Monarchs would have been tied atop the CAA with Northeastern and claimed the auto bid because of a better overall record. But they didn't. so the Huskies, now the lone 10-2 in the conference, hold the auto bid after they claimed wins at Delaware and Hofstra this week's. ODU and last week's auto bid holder, George Mason (who lost twice this week), still sit a game behind Matt Janning and the Huskies.
Utah State holds the WAC's auto bid for this week as they ran their conference record to 8-2 with home wins over Idaho and Nevada. The Aggies own one more conference win than Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, and a non-conference win over BYU, which boosts their seeding slightly.
Conference USA could very well be a two-bid league in the first season of the post-Calipari era. UAB holds on to its at-large spot, thanks to early season wins over Butler and Cincinnati, but Wednesday's 10-point home loss to Memphis means they're among the group of three teams chasing new league leader UTEP. The Miners claimed sole possession of first with a 73-59 home winover Tulsa Saturday night.
Finally, there is a little bit of stability in the Pac-10, as California holds the conference's auto bid for the third straight week. The Golden Bears hold a tenuous one-game lead over five teams even though they split their trip to LA, falling at USC and winning at UCLA this week.
Games To Watch
To help you plan your viewing week, here are seven days worth of games to check out. Seeds in this bracket are in parentheses, with bubble teams represented by a B.
TV information from Matt Sarz' College Sports on TV site.
(1) Villanova at (2) West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Fairfield at (11) Siena, 7 p.m. ET (MSG/CST/FCS Atlantic/Full Court)
(16) Robert Morris at (7) Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(1) Kansas at (3) Texas, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN Plus/Altitude 2/CST/Full Court)
(4) Tennessee at (6) Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(2) Georgetown at (B) Providence, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(B) VCU at George Mason, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(11) Illinois at (3) Wisconsin, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Boston College at (5) Wake Forest, 7 p.m. ET (FS Florida/FS South/CSN Washington+)
Vermont at Boston University, 7 p.m. ET (CSN New England/Full Court)
(B) Texas Tech at Oklahoma, 8 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
(2) Purdue at (3) Michigan State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Alabama at (1) Kentucky, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(5) Ohio State at Indiana, 6:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(B) Connecticut at (1) Syracuse, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(10) Florida State at (10) Clemson, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(B) Virginia at (9) Maryland, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(11) Richmond at (8) Rhode Island, 7 p.m. ET (Cox Sports New England)
(9) Charlotte at (11) Dayton, 7 p.m. ET (WHIO-TV)
(10) Florida at (B) South Carolina, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network/Full Court)
(B) Northwestern at Iowa, 8:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(2) Duke at (B) North Carolina, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN or Raycom)
(12) Virginia Tech at NC State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(4) New Mexico at (6) UNLV, 11 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports)
Michigan at (B) Minnesota, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(9) Louisville at St. John's, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(B) Notre Dame at (B) Seton Hall, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(8) Mississippi at (B) Mississippi State, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Washington at (11) California, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Morehead State at Eastern Illinois, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
New Mexico State at Fresno State, 10 p.m. ET (Full Court)
(8) St. Mary's at (4) Gonzaga, 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(7) Cornell at Penn, 7 p.m. ET (Comcast Network)
(11) Siena at Niagara, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(2) West Virginia at (7) Pittsburgh, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(3) Michigan State at Penn State, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(13) Kent State at Buffalo, 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Miami at (10) Clemson, 12 p.m. ET (NESN/FS Florida/FS South/CSN Washington)
(B) Cincinnati at (B) Connecticut, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(9) Maryland at (2) Duke, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
(8) Missouri at (6) Baylor, 1:30 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
Oklahoma at (B) Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Providence at (1) Villanova , 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Indiana at (3) Wisconsin, 2 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
(5) Butler at Cleveland State, 2 p.m. ET (Horizon League Network/Full Court)
NC State at (B) North Carolina, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Washington State at (11) California, 4 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast SportsNet)
(7) UNLV at (B) Sam Diego State, 4 p.m. ET (Versus)
(12) Dayton at St. Louis, 4 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Iowa at (2) Purdue, 4 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
George Mason at (B) Old Dominion, 4 p.m. ET (Comcast SportsNet)
Nebraska at (3) Texas, 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court)
(8) Rhode Island at (5) Temple, 4 p.m. ET (Cox Sports New England/CSS/CSN Philly)
(7) Texas A&M at (B) Texas Tech, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) VCU at James Madison, 6 p.m. ET (CSN New England/CSN Washington/CSS/Comcast Network)
Memphis at (B) Tulsa, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Auburn at (B) Mississippi State, 7 p.m. ET (SEC on FSN/Full Court)
IUPUI at Oral Roberts, 8 p.m. ET (FCS Central)
(B) Washington at Stanford, 8 p.m. ET (FSN Northwest/CSN Bay Area/CSN Chicago/FCS Pacific)
(B) Virginia at (12) Virginia Tech or (6) Georgia Tech at (5) Wake Forest, 8 p.m. ET (Raycom/Full Court)
(12) South Florida at (B) Marquette, 8:30 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(4) Tennessee at (1) Kentucky, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(8) St. Mary's at Portland, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
(4) New Mexico at Utah, 9 p.m. ET (the mtn.)
San Diego at (4) Gonzaga, 10 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
DePaul at (B) Seton Hall, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
(5) Ohio State at (11) Illinois, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
(9) Louisville at (1) Syracuse, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
(B) Minnesota at (B) Northwestern, 5 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Boston College at (10) Florida State, 7:30 p.m. ET (FSN/Comcast SportsNet)
St. John's at (B) Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court)
Missouri State at (B) Wichita State, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? E-mail me at bloggingthebracket at gmail dot com or follow me on Twitter @BracketDobber.