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Bracketology: Florida ascends to the top

A pair of Syracuse losses opened up the No. 1 overall spot in Chris Dobbertean's Tuesday bracket. The Gators, the polls' new leader, jumped up to fill the void.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Friday's lead quartet remains in place, even with East No. 1 Syracuse skidding last week. The Orange, however, drop down to the third of the overall top seeds, with Florida (South) and Arizona (West) slotted above them and undefeated Wichita State (Midwest) sitting just behind.

Duke jumps up to the two line, where they are joined by holdovers Kansas, Creighton and Villanova. The No. 3 line has a heavy Big Ten flavor, thanks to the presence of Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State, along with ex-Wolverine coach Steve Fisher's San Diego State squad.

Cincinnati tumbled down to line four, where the Bearcats are joined by holdover Iowa State and newcomers Saint Louis and Virginia. Iowa and Kentucky made corresponding moves outside of the Top 16.

At the other end of the picture, Oklahoma State -- which has won two straight since Marcus Smart's return from suspension -- replaces Missouri, who picked up an awful road loss at Alabama on Saturday night. The Cowboys are the only new at-large entrant on the final Tuesday in February.

I'll have more on each multi-bid conference, and the rest of the invite landscape, after today's bracket and rundown.

Memphis (Thu/Sat)
(2) WEST
Anaheim (Thu/Sat)
Orlando (Thu/Sat) San Diego (Fri/Sun)
1 Florida (SEC) 1 Arizona (Pac-12)
16 Davidson (SoCon) 16 Robert Morris (NEC)
8 Kansas State 8 88 George Washington
9 Arizona State 9 Pittsburgh
Spokane (Thu/Sat) San Diego (Fri/Sun)
55 5 Texas 5 5 Kentucky
↓^12 Minnesota 1212 North Dakota State (Summit)
4 Virginia (ACC) 4 Saint Louis (A 10)
*13 Middle Tennessee (C-USA) 13 Belmont (OVC)
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) Raleigh (Fri/Sun)
6 New Mexico (MW) 666 UCLA
11 BYU/Richmond *11 Harvard (Ivy)
3 Wisconsin 3 Michigan (Big Ten)
14 Stephen F. Austin (Southland) 14 Mercer (A-Sun)
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) Raleigh (Fri/Sun)
7 Oklahoma 7 UMass
10 Gonzaga (WCC) 10 Providence
2 Villanova 2 Duke
15 Boston U. (Patriot) 15 Georgia State (Sun Belt)
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
(3) EAST
New York (Fri/Sun)
St. Louis (Fri/Sun) Buffalo (Thu/Sat)
1 Wichita State (MVC) 1 Syracuse
16 Stony Brook/Weber State 16 Alabama State/VMI
8 VCU 8 Stanford
9 Colorado 9 SMU
San Antonio (Fri/Sun) San Antonio (Fri/Sun)
5 Ohio State 5 Louisville
*12 New Mexico State (WAC) ^12 St. John's
4 Cincinnati (AAC) 4 Iowa State
13 Western Michigan (MAC) 13 Green Bay (Horizon)
Spokane (Thu/Sat) Raleigh (Fri/Sun)
6 Iowa 6 North Carolina
11 St. Joseph's ^11 Oklahoma State/Xavier
3 San Diego State 3 Michigan State
14 Delaware (CAA) 14 Iona (MAAC)
St. Louis (Fri/Sun) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
7 Connecticut 7 Memphis
10 California 10 Baylor
2 Kansas (Big 12) 2 Creighton (Big East)
*15 UC Santa Barbara (Big West) 15 N.C. Central (MEAC)
Tuesday: To Buffalo Tuesday: To Milwaukee
16 Alabama State (SWAC) ^11 BYU
16 VMI (Big South) ^11 Richmond
Wednesday: To St. Louis Wednesday: To Raleigh
16 Stony Brook (AmEast) ^*11 Oklahoma State
16 Weber State (Big Sky) ^11 Xavier

Big 12: 7 Providence Harvard Missouri
A 10: 6 St. Joseph's Middle Tennessee UC Irvine
Big Ten: 6 St. John's New Mexico State Utah Valley
Pac-12: 6 Minnesota Oklahoma State UTEP
AAC: 5 LAST FOUR IN UC Santa Barbara Yale
ACC: 5

Big East: 5 BYU

MW: 2 Oklahoma State

SEC: 2 Richmond


1-Bid Conferences: 22 Missouri







N.C. State

West Virginia

Also considered: Clemson, Florida State, Toledo, Southern Mississippi, Tennessee, Marquette, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech

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, Feb. 24, 2014.


Bids Today (5): Cincinnati (auto bid), Louisville, Connecticut, Memphis, SMU

Over the past seven days, Louisville has put itself in prime position to steal the first-ever AAC crown from Cincinnati. SMU moved closer to ending a 21-year tournament drought, and UConn and Memphis continued to tread water.

The Cardinals (12-2) now sit a half-game behind the Bearcats (13-2) in the hunt for the top seed in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament, but it will be intriguing to see they can actually catch their rivals, given the pair's remaining schedules. Both face UConn and Memphis along with a bottom-feeder (Temple in Louisville's case, Rutgers for Cincy). However, Rick Pitino's Cards face a significant challenge in its game in hand, a trip to Dallas to take on SMU.

On Sunday, those Ponies picked up the quality road win they vitally needed for their selection sheet, earning a sweep of UConn in Storrs. While a pair of bad losses might diminish its seed, a 5-4 mark against the Top 100, with a quartet of Top 50 wins along with an RPI ranking of 36th, should see SMU end its a long tournament drought, provided it avoids a bad late loss. There's one final opportunity to pick up one of those; Saturday against UCF at Moody Coliseum.

Five Games To Watch
Connecticut at USF, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Memphis at Houston, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Cincinnati at Connecticut, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Louisville at Memphis, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (CBS)
UCF at SMU, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPNews)

Atlantic 10

Bids Today (6): Saint Louis (auto bid), UMass, VCU, George Washington, St, Joseph's, Richmond (First Four)

In the Hunt (1): Dayton

Saint Louis, three games up on second-place St. Joe's with four games left, are one of select group of conference leaders that can clinch at least a share of a regular-season crown this week. The Billikens get their first shot on Thursday night at home against Duquesne, a mere 48 hours before what should be an intriguing rematch with VCU in Richmond.

The Rams took a step back from a seeding perspective, as they lost at UMass on Friday night, a result that simultaneously gave the Minutemen's position more security. VCU has dropped three of its last four, all on the road, and will need to rally to avoid an 8/9 game. But really, outside of the Billikens, it's looking like the A 10's entrants will be in the middle or lower-half of the bracket at best. Sure, UMass has rescued its position a bit by defeating George Washington and VCU back-to-back, but the Colonials are on shaky ground after a rough 1-3 patch, while St. Joseph's, Richmond and Dayton look to be set for a double-digit seed at best with less than three weeks to go.

Five Games To Watch
Dayton at St. Joseph's, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
VCU at Fordham, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
UMass at Dayton, Saturday 11 a.m. ET (ESPNU)
St. Joseph's at St. Bonaventure, 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Saint Louis at VCU, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)


Bids Today (5): Syracuse, Duke, Virginia (auto bid), North Carolina, Pittsburgh

In The Hunt (3): Clemson, N.C. State, Florida State

Just one week ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that Virginia (14-1) would be in the driver's seat to win the ACC's unofficial regular season title, but thanks to a pair of Syracuse (12-2) losses, that possibility is very real and could be realized in Charlottesville on Saturday evening. While the Orange fell to both Boston College and Duke and struggled mightily with Maryland over the past week, the Cavaliers slipped past Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and blasted Notre Dame at home to open up a one-game lead for the No. 1 seed in Greensboro.

While Duke (11-4) and North Carolina (10-4) sit three losses behind UVa and will need a miracle to grab that top spot in the ACC Tournament, improved NCAA seeding looks to be on the horizon for both. The Blue Devils have now lost only in Chapel Hill and Syracuse since their indifferent 1-2 start to conference play, while the Tar Heels are among the hottest teams in the country, having rattled off nine in a row. While some bad early losses will limit UNC's ceiling, they certainly look like they'll avoid an 8/9 or 7/10 game at this point.

The same cannot be said for Pittsburgh, who is tumbling down the seed list following three consecutive losses, capped by Sunday's home defeat at the hands of Florida State. As a result of that stunner, the Seminoles are now back in the ACC bubble chase, along with Clemson and N.C. State. The Tigers managed to defeat the Wolfpack a week ago, a result that might just give them an edge in the Committee room, provided there isn't a rematch in the postseason.

Five Games To Watch
Clemson at Wake Forest, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ACC RSNs/ESPN3)
North Carolina at N.C. State, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (ACC Network Regional/ESPN3)
Syracuse at Virginia, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Maryland at Clemson, Sunday 1 p.m. ET (ACC Network/ESPN3)
N.C. State at Pittsburgh, Monday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Big 12

Bids Today (7): Kansas (auto bid), Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma State (First Four)

In The Hunt (1): West Virginia

While Kansas has sewn up a share of the Big 12's regular season title, there is still much left to play for in one of the nation's most competitive conferences. The race for the No. 2 seed in Kansas City is intense with Iowa State and Texas sitting at 9-5, Oklahoma at 9-6 and Kansas State at 8-6. Plus bubble teams Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia can all pick up necessary wins over the next seven days, as the Bears visit Texas, the Mountaineers head to Ames to take on the Cyclones, and the Cowboys host Kansas and Kansas State over a 48-hour span.

By the time next week rolls around, it's possible the Big 12 could move up to eight bids or drop down to five. Such is life in the league this season.

Five Games To Watch
Baylor at Texas, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Texas at Oklahoma, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/ESPN3)
Iowa State at Kansas State, Saturday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Kansas at Oklahoma State, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, Monday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Big East

Bids Today (5): Creighton (auto bid), Villanova, Providence, St. John's, Xavier (First Four)

In The Hunt (2): Georgetown, Marquette

After a week when the Big East's five bubble teams managed to earn a whole bunch of splits, it's becoming clear that the conference could get anywhere from two (Creighton and Villanova, naturally) to seven bids on Selection Sunday. St. John's and Providence both missed great opportunities to edge closer to bid safety, as each dropped three-point decisions to Villanova over the past seven days, with the Friars falling after double overtime. Xavier also didn't help its case by getting blasted at Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, a result that pushed the Hoyas closer to a bid.

Between now and next Tuesday, the Musketeers will be among several teams that will have a chance to grab some late quality or tiebreaking wins. Xavier first visits fellow bubble team St. John's before hosting first-place Creighton on Saturday, with a game at Seton Hall following two nights later. Marquette, currently on the outside looking in, welcomes Georgetown (the Hoyas' lone game this week) and travels to Villanova. The Red Storm get a winnable home game against DePaul after hosting the Musketeers. However, Providence joins the Hoyas in having only one game this week, at Seton Hall in a Friday Night special.

Five Games To Watch
Xavier at St. John's, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
Georgetown at Marquette, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (FS1)
Providence at Seton Hall, Friday 7 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Creighton at Xavier, Saturday 5 p.m. ET (FS1)
Marquette at Villanova, Sunday 2 p.m. ET (CBS)

Big Ten

Bids Today (6): Wisconsin, Michigan (auto bid), Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota

In The Hunt (1): Nebraska

Thanks to Sunday's victory over Michigan State and a relatively soft finishing stretch, Michigan is in prime position to win the Big Ten's regular season crown, which might put the Wolverines in line for a No. 2 seed on Selection Sunday. The Spartans and Wisconsin -- themselves a contender for a two seed, thanks to an astounding 9-3 record against the Top 50 -- are at this point likely to join the Maize and Blue in the Top 16, while Iowa and Ohio State can still get there. The Hawkeyes, who simply could not close out the Badgers at home on Saturday, will be challenged to keep pace in the race this week, as they must play three games in the span of five days, thanks to the rescheduling of a postponed game at Indiana for Thursday night.

Still, all five of those teams are in better position than Minnesota, which has won only two of its last eight. The Golden Gophers played an awful second half in Columbus on Saturday night, and the 18-point loss that resulted indicated that they might just not be ready for an NCAA appearance this season. On the other hand, Nebraska continues to edge closer to consideration, as a pair of home wins this week boosted its conference record to 8-6. However, the Huskers won't get another chance at a quality win until they host Wisconsin to end the regular season on March 9th. They'll likely need to win a couple of games in Indianapolis to sneak into the field.

Five Games To Watch
Iowa at Minnesota, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (BTN)
Nebraska at Illinois, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (BTN)
Iowa at Indiana, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Minnesota at Michigan, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (BTN)
Ohio State at Indiana, Sunday 4 p.m. ET (CBS)

Mountain West

Bids Today (2): San Diego State, New Mexico (auto bid)

On Saturday, New Mexico met San Diego State for the first time this season and the Lobos came away with a 58-44 victory that both solidified their place while raising questions about the Aztecs' long-term hopes for a spot on the top four seed lines. The two will meet again at Viejas Arena on March 8th, and I would not rule out the possibility of a third meeting in Las Vegas a week later. Given how other national contenders have boosted their profiles in recent weeks, Steve Fisher's team may want to buckle down for any future meetings with New Mexico, SDSU's lone remaining quality opponent.

Five Games To Watch
Utah State at New Mexico, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
San Jose State at San Diego State, Tuesday 11 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Boise State at Fresno State, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
Boise State at Wyoming, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (CBS SN)
San Diego State at Fresno State, Saturday 10 p.m. ET (CBS SN)


Bids Today (6): Arizona (auto bid), UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado, California

In The Hunt (1): Oregon

Arizona moved closer to the Pac-12 regular season crown by sweeping the Rocky Mountain schools this week, while UCLA could only earn a split in the Bay Area; hammering Cal before falling to Stanford, a win that gave the Cardinal's hopes a nice boost. On the flip side, Arizona State -- who had won three straight -- slides back a bit following an 0-2 trip to Colorado and Utah, a pair of results that provided hope to both the Buffaloes and Utes. The win over the Sun Devils was the first over an Tournament-level opponent for the Buffs since Spencer Dinwiddie went down, while Utah has enough quality win opportunities left that they could make a late run. However, an RPI ranking of 90th and lack of quality non-conference wins really damage the Utes' chances.

Oregon swept the Washington schools to stay in the hunt, though this week's trip to Los Angeles -- particularly Thursday's game at UCLA -- is vital for the Ducks' hopes. The Bay Area schools' trip to Arizona also bears watching, particularly considering how close Cal, Stanford and Arizona State are on the Seed List. In other words, there's plenty of room for jostling between now and my next update.

Five Games To Watch
California at Arizona, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Stanford at Arizona State, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Oregon at UCLA, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Colorado at Utah, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
California at Arizona State, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)


Bids Today (2): Florida (auto bid), Kentucky

In The Hunt (5): Missouri, LSU, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas

A two-bid SEC is looking increasingly likely, barring a surprise tournament winner in Atlanta on March 16th. Florida and Kentucky continue to have plenty of breathing room, while their rivals continue to do their best impersonation of Inspector Clouseau while on the trail of a bid.

For example, on Saturday, a seven-way tie for fourth place was established by a motley crew of 7-7 teams. Tennessee was swept by Texas A&M, which meant that means the Volunteers will likely need to at least make the SEC final to qualify for the NCAAs. Ole Miss lost to Florida at home, not a helpful result for a team with just one Top-50 win and a 4-9 mark against the Top 100. Missouri fell from a nine seed on Friday to out of the field completely after a loss at struggling Alabama. LSU could have replaced the Tigers, but the Bayou Bengals were unable to close a season sweep of Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Georgia, which currently sits in third behind Florida and Kentucky, but ahead of the fourth-place quagmire, has no real chance at an at-large. That's due to a lack of quality wins and four losses against teams outside of the Top 100.

Bubble teams from the rest of the country are surely thankful that SEC basketball is simply the polar opposite of SEC football at this point. They'll likely benefit from this league's continued struggles on the evening of March 16th.

Five Games To Watch
Florida at Vanderbilt, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Missouri at Georgia, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Arkansas at Kentucky, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
LSU at Florida, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (CBS)
Georgia at Arkansas, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (SEC TV Regional/ESPN3)

Likely Single-Bid Conferences

Auto Bids Today (23): Vermont (America East), Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Weber State (Big Sky), VMI (Big South), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Delaware (Colonial), Middle Tennessee (Conference USA), Green Bay (Horizon), Harvard (Ivy), Iona (Metro Atlantic), Western Michigan (Mid-American), N.C. Central (Mid-Eastern), Wichita State (Missouri Valley, in as at-large), Robert Morris (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Boston U. (Patriot), Davidson (Southern), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Alabama State (Southwestern), North Dakota State (Summit), Georgia State (Sun Belt), Gonzaga (West Coast, in as at-large), New Mexico State (Western Athletic)

At-Large Bids Today (1): BYU (First Four)

Yes, Championship Week is coming, as several of these conferences will wrap up league play next weekend in preparation for the first few bids to be handed out, starting on March 8th. From a bubble perspective this season, the most intriguing tournament will be the West Coast Conference's, as BYU sits right near the cut line, thanks to one of the more confusing at-large profiles in recent memory, and Gonzaga is not safe at all, thanks to a lack of quality wins (only one over a team in the Top 50) and a pair of bad losses (admittedly, fewer than what the Cougars have on their sheet). If the two happen to meet for the WCC crown, expect the loser to have CBS' cameras trained on them for a nervous wait during the Selection Show.

Five Games To Watch
Wichita State at Bradley, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Stony Brook at Vermont, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine, Thursday 10 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Iona at Manhattan, Friday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Western Michigan at Toledo, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (TWCS/ESPN3)

My next bracketology will come on Friday, just in time for the weekend's action. In the meantime, head over to Blogging the Bracket for my daily TV previews and morning recaps, and follow me during each night's action on Twitter @ChrisDobbertean.