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Bracketology: Creighton and Liberty join the party

Two teams clinched NCAA spots on Sunday, bringing the 2013 total to five. Liberty, with 20 losses, is destined for the First Four after it rolled past Big South regular season champion Charleston Southern in that conference's final. The day's second auto bid went to Creighton, which held off likely at-large Wichita State in the Missouri Valley title game in St. Louis.

Dilip Vishwanat

Sunday's key bracket-related results and a recap of the Last Four In and First Four Out follow Monday's bracket and rundown.

(1) EAST
Washington (Thu/Sat)
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
Philadelphia (Fri/Sun) Dayton (Fri/Sun)
1 Duke 1 Indiana (Big Ten)
16 Northeastern (CAA) 16 LIBERTY or Southern
8 Oregon 8 Missouri
9 Illinois 9 N.C. State
San Jose (Thu/Sat) Austin (Fri/Sun)
55 5 Butler 5 Pittsburgh
12 Cincinnati 12 BELMONT (OVC)
4 Oklahoma State 4 Kansas State
13 South Dakota State (Summit) 13 Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Dayton (Fri/Sun) Lexington (Thu/Sat)
6 CREIGHTON (MVC) 6 Syracuse
11 Kentucky or La Salle 11 Boise State or Tennessee
3 Marquette 3 Miami (ACC)
Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
7 Colorado State 7 UCLA (Pac-12)
10 California 10 Temple
2 Michigan 2 New Mexico (MWC)
*15 Iona (MAAC) 15 Montana (Big Sky)
Arlington (Fri/Sun)
(3) WEST
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
Lexington (Thu/Sat) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
1 Louisville 1 Gonzaga (WCC)
16 Long Island U or Norfolk State *16 Florida International (Sun Belt)
8 San Diego State 8 North Carolina
9 Colorado 9 Villanova
Kansas City (Fri/Sun) San Jose (Thu/Sat)
5 Saint Louis (A-10) 5 Wisconsin
12 Akron (MAC) 12 Iowa State
4 Ohio State 4 Arizona
13 Bucknell (Patriot) 13 Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
Austin (Fri/Sun) Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)
6 Memphis (C-USA) 6 UNLV
11 St. Mary's 11 Wichita State
3 Florida (SEC) 3 Michigan State
14 Davidson (Southern) 14 Valparaiso (Horizon)
Kansas City (Fri/Sun) Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)
7 Notre Dame 7 VCU
10 Minnesota 10 Oklahoma
2 Kansas (Big 12) 2 Georgetown (Big East)
15 Long Beach State (Big West) *15 Vermont (AmEast)
Tuesday: To Lexington Tuesday: To Lexington
16 Long Island U (NEC) 11 Boise State
16 Norfolk State (MEAC) 11 Tennessee
Wednesday: To Dayton Wednesday: To Dayton
*16 LIBERTY (Big South) 11 Kentucky
16 Southern (SWAC) 11 La Salle

Big East: 8 Wichita State Arkansas State Charleston Southern
Big Ten: 7 Oklahoma Iona Middle Tennessee
A-10: 5 St. Mary's Liberty Niagara
Big 12: 5 Iowa State Vermont Stony Brook
MWC: 5

Pac-12: 5
Boise State

ACC: 4 La Salle

SEC: 4 Kentucky

WCC: 2 FIRST FOUR OUT Minnesota 9 down to 10
1-Bid Conferences: 21 Virginia Colorado 10 up to 9

Mississippi Wichita State 10 down to 11

Baylor Oklahoma 11 up to 10

Alabama Cincinnati 11 down to 12

NEXT FOUR OUT Boise State, Tennessee 12 up to 11

Middle Tennessee Belmont 11 down to 12

Southern Mississippi Kentucky, La Salle 12 up to 11


Arizona State

Also considered (in order): Maryland, Providence, Arkansas, UMass

  • The outright Big Ten title went to Indiana, as the Hoosiers picked up a wild 72-71 at Michigan, thanks in no small part to two missed Wolverine layups in the dying seconds. Indiana still heads up the Midwest Region, passing Gonzaga for the second spot overall on the top line. Duke remains No. 1 overall with Louisville in fourth.
  • Elsewhere in the Big Ten, protected seed candidate Ohio State defeated Illinois, who's stuck in the middle of the bracket, in Columbus. The Illini face Minnesota in the first round 8 vs. 9 game in Chicago on Thursday -- a contest with significant seeding implications. Wisconsin needed a Traevon Jackson buzzer-beater to avoid what would have been a damaging loss (seed-wise) at Penn State. Michigan State also struggled in their regular season finale, as the Spartans pulled away from Northwestern late to win by 10.
  • Temple, among the Last Four Byes on Sunday morning, is considerably safer in today's projection, thanks to an impressive home win over VCU.
  • Virginia, one of Sunday's First Four Out, remains there despite an overtime home win over Maryland. In short, the high number of bad losses the Cavaliers have racked up have yet to be overcome; however, they'll get the chance to move into the field in Greensboro. Being one place out with potential quality win shots against N.C. State and Miami isn't the worst place to be with a week to go.

There are no changes to the order of the Last Four In and First Four Out from Sunday's bracket, a situation that should remain roughly the same until Wednesday. However, I did update Virginia's profile to reflect its Sunday win.

Last Four In

Note: All RPI and SOS information is courtesy Basketball State and is accurate as of the morning of Monday, March 11, 2013. All records reflect games against Division I opposition.

Avoiding Dayton: Wichita State, Oklahoma, St. Mary's, Iowa State

Boise State
19-9; 9-7 MWC; RPI: 30; SOS: 46; Non-conf. SOS: 54; Road/Neutral (R/N) Record: 7-8
With Saturday's home win over San Diego State, the Broncos moved to 8-7 against the Top 100, with four Top 50 wins. While Boise State has handled the Aztecs, UNLV and Colorado State at home, its most impressive win came on the road -- at Creighton on November 28th, as the Bluejays lost just one other time in Omaha all season. Certainly, there are some lost opportunities on the Broncos' profile, as they couldn't close out New Mexico in either of their meetings and fell in close contests at San Diego State, UNLV and Michigan State. Plus, there are a couple of bad losses -- at Nevada and Utah. However, Bronco sharpshooter Jeff Elorriaga was out for both of those games and a 20-point loss to Colorado State. The Committee will take his absence into consideration. Of course, the Mountain West Tournament will provide Boise State with more chances to make a case, starting with an immediate rematch with SDSU on Wednesday.
Next game: MWC Quarterfinal vs. San Diego State (Wed.)

La Salle
21-8; 11-5 A-10; RPI: 40; SOS: 84; Non-conf. SOS: 111; R/N Record: 8-6
The biggest things working against the Explorers are a relative lack of quality non-conference wins -- a home win over Villanova on November 25th is by far its best -- and a loss to Central Connecticut State that came one week earlier. A win in Saint Louis on Saturday would have helped bolster a Top 50 record that now stands at 2-3, but wins at VCU and against Butler at home are nothing to sneeze at. A loss at Miami is a quality one, but defeats at Bucknell, Charlotte, Xavier and to UMass at Tom Gola Arena are problematic. La Salle should go dancing if it doesn't get tripped up by a weaker foe in Brooklyn this week. The A-10's decision to restrict its postseason tournament to the top 12 teams should help in that effort.
Next game: A-10 Tournament Quarterfinal (Fri.)

21-10; 12-6 SEC; RPI: 50; SOS: 63; Non-conf. SOS: 68; R/N Record: 5-8
On Saturday, the Wildcats picked up their second win against a team in the RPI Top 50, as they toppled SEC regular season champion Florida. Curiously, both the win over the Gators and February 23rd's home triumph over Missouri came after Nerlens Noel was lost for the season with a torn ACL in Kentucky's loss in Gainesville. Since Noel went down, John Calipari's team has gone 4-4, with all of the wins coming at home -- typical for an SEC club this season. With Noel, the Wildcats grabbed a rare quality SEC road win at fellow bubble squad Mississippi and lost at Alabama. Tennessee blew UK out of the water in the first full game Noel missed. At 7-9 against the Top 100, and owning a bad loss to Georgia, Kentucky still has to win games at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, where it could meet Missouri or Ole Miss in the semifinals, to qualify for an at-large
Next game: SEC Tournament Quarterfinal (Fri.)

19-11; 11-7 SEC; RPI: 59; SOS: 49; Non-conf. SOS: 84; R/N Record: 5-8
If the Volunteers had managed to find some offense in back-to-back early losses at Georgetown (37-36) and Virginia (46-38), I wouldn't need to be writing this paragraph right now ... but here we are. Winner of eight of nine, Tennessee is one of the hottest teams in the country. Three of those victories -- over Kentucky, Florida and Missouri -- are quality ones, though all of them came at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols also own a quality non-conference win over Wichita State, which again came in Knoxville. However, the Shockers are renowned for being a quality road team. On the flip side, Tennessee has lost to Virginia and was swept by both fellow SEC bubble contender Ole Miss and Georgia, an NIT team at best. Injuries have played a toll, as Jeronne Maymon has missed the entire season with a knee injury and several other Vols have missed games in 2012-13. The fact Tennessee has responded while shorthanded should give it a boost when its fate is discussed, but winning games in Nashville will help its case more. A potential quarterfinal game with Alabama looms as an elimination contest.
Next game: SEC Tournament Second Round (Thu.)

First Four Out

21-10; 11-7 ACC; RPI: 64; SOS: 124; Non-conf. SOS: 78; R/N Record: 3-9
In a season full of messy profiles, the Cavaliers, along with Indiana State, really take the cake. On the plus side, the Cavaliers have a nice record of 8-3 against the RPI Top 100, with a 4-2 mark against the Top 50. That quartet of wins -- over Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State at home and at Wisconsin -- is among the finest in America. However, Virginia is 13-7 against teams from outside the Top 100, a winning percentage is weighing down its RPI. The worst loss came at the hands of Old Dominion, 318th out of 347 Division I teams, on a neutral court in Richmond, though the Cavaliers were without point guard Jontel Evans on that afternoon. However, the Cavaliers have been woeful on the road, as illustrated by losses to Florida State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson. Sunday's overtime win over Maryland, a team with slim NCAA hopes of its own, was a good start, but the Cavaliers will need to take advantage of potential quality win opportunities against N.C. State and Miami in this week's ACC Tournament.
Next game: ACC Tournament Quarterfinal (Fri.)

23-8; 12-6 SEC; RPI: 55; SOS: 135; Non-conf. SOS: 110; R/N Record: 7-7
The Rebels' win at LSU on Saturday pushed their record against the Top 100 to just above .500 at 7-6. Unfortunately, just one of those wins came against a Top 50 foe, Missouri, which naturally was a home win. A sweep of Tennessee is helpful, but falling to Kentucky at home is not. A loss to Indiana State in Hawaii looked better when the Sycamores were a bid threat, but not so much now that they're on their way to the NIT or CBI. Making matters worse, Ole Miss lost at South Carolina and Mississippi State -- two of the worst a bad SEC has to offer --very late in the season. Sure, the Rebels have struggled without three injured players -- forwards Anthony Perez and Aaron Jones and guard Martavious Newby -- but they haven't responded like Tennessee has to being shorthanded. Much like the Volunteers, Kentucky and Alabama, Mississippi's fate will be decided in Nashville, where the Rebels should get a rubber match against Mizzou in Friday's quarterfinals.
Next game: SEC Tournament Quarterfinal (Fri.)

17-13; 9-9 Big 12; RPI: 61; SOS: 23; Non-conf. SOS: 27; R/N Record: 6-8
The Bears' blowout home win over Kansas was only their second against a Top 50 opponent (with a whopping 10 losses). With the weakness of the bottom four teams of the Big 12 limiting games against teams ranked between 51 and 100, Baylor's record against the Top 100 is an unimpressive 5-10. Making matters worse, Baylor dropped two home games in the early part of the season to College of Charleston and Northwestern, both of whom are out of the RPI Top 150. In other words, while the win over Kansas was a good late statement, Baylor will need to make a run in Kansas City this week to make the field.
Next game: Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinal vs. Oklahoma State (Thu.)

19-11; 12-6 SEC; RPI: 62; SOS: 88; Non-conf. SOS: 67; R/N Record: 6-8
The Crimson Tide probably shouldn't be here, as it has just one Top 50 win (Kentucky in Tuscaloosa), three bad home losses and a defeat at Auburn (while failing to break 40 on the scoreboard) on its profile. Alabama fans probably aren't too happy with the SEC schedule makers, who sent the team to Florida, Missouri and Ole Miss -- three games that resulted in losses --without giving them a return contest at Coleman Coliseum. Still, the Crimson Tide did beat the Wildcats and Tennessee on its home floor (losing to the Vols in Knoxville). However, Bama's ace in the hole may be a 22-point win over surging Villanova in the 2K Sports Classic final in New York in November. The Tide seems to have a knack for winning on neutral courts, something they'll need to tap into in Nashville this week, particularly if it meets Tennessee for a third time on Friday's quarters.
Next game: SEC Tournament Quarterfinal (Fri.)

Next Four Out: Middle Tennessee, Southern Mississippi, Iowa, Arizona State

Tonight, the number of teams officially in the 2013 bracket will double. The showcase game is the West Coast Conference championship, which features two teams, Gonzaga and St. Mary's, that are probably in the field win or lose. In the Colonial final, regular season champion Northeastern will look to build on the comeback it staged to beat George Mason in Sunday's semifinals -- the Huskies came back from an early 24-point deficit to win by a bucket -- against third-seeded James Madison. Meanwhile, in the Metro Atlantic championship, shock 2013 at-large Iona can book an auto bid with a win over No. 6 seed Manhattan.

Southern Conference regular season champion Davidson will look to complete the double with a win over College of Charleston. In the Sun Belt, Florida International, fresh off an upset of Middle Tennessee, will look to earn its first bid since 1995. The Golden Panthers take on 2013 tourney champ Western Kentucky.

As for the Blue Raiders, they're now in the group of teams that's seeking one of the final at-large bids. I'm not sure they can break through, thanks to the overall weakness of the Sun Belt. While Middle Tennessee has a sterling 28-5 record and ranks 32nd in the RPI this morning, it's just 2-3 against the Top 100 with no Top 50 wins and hasn't played a team from that group since a December 13th loss at OVC champ Belmont. They may very well regret failing to make it to tonight's final.

Here's the full TV lineup for Monday night.

TV information courtesy of Matt's College Sports on TV Website.

Conference Championships
Southern: College of Charleston vs. Davidson, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Sun Belt: Western Kentucky vs. Florida International, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
CAA: James Madison vs. Northeastern, 7 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
WCC: St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
MAAC: Manhattan vs. Iona, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Other Conference Tournament Action
Summit Semifinals: 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET (MidCo SN/FCS Atlantic)

Tuesday's update, and Wednesday's for that matter, will be relatively minor, thanks to the abundance of action from one-bid conferences, with tonight's WCC final being the exception. In that time, I'm going to scrub the seed lists and conduct another careful review or two, so expect some major changes in Thursday's projection.