There is one new at-large entrant in Friday's bracketology: BYU, who replaces Georgetown. The Hoyas lost their grip on a place thanks to a loss to Seton Hall Thursday night, a result that gave the Pirates a season sweep over Georgetown. On the other hand, the Cougars picked up a vital win over Gonzaga hours later -- their third this season over a team ranked in the RPI Top 50.
The four No. 1 seeds are in the same order as on Tuesday, even with Syracuse's loss to Boston College on Wednesday night. However, the gap between the Orange, first overall, and Florida, sitting second, is infinitesimal at this point, thanks to the RPI damage a loss to a 7-19 team can create. Arizona sits in third, while Wichita State continues to round out the quartet.
After today's bracket and rundown, I'll break down the field by how close they are to securing places with 23 days left until Selection Sunday.
New teams are indicated by an asterisk (*), while teams shifted for bracketing purposes are marked with a caret (^).
|(1) EAST |
New York (Fri/Sun)
|Buffalo (Thu/Sat)||Orlando (Thu/Sat)|
|16||Alabama State/Weber State||16||Davidson (SoCon)|
|8||New Mexico||8 88||Arizona State|
|Spokane (Thu/Sat)||San Diego (Fri/Sun)|
|55 5||Texas||↓ 5 5||Virginia (ACC)|
|12||North Dakota State (Summit)||↓^1212||St. John's|
|13||Delaware (CAA)||↑ 13||Mercer (A-Sun)|
|Spokane (Thu/Sat)||Raleigh (Fri/Sun)|
|3||San Diego State (MW)||3||Duke|
|↓ 14||UTEP (C-USA)||14||Georgia State (Sun Belt)|
|Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)||Buffalo (Thu/Sat)|
|2||Michigan State (Big Ten)||2||Villanova|
|15||Yale (Ivy)||15||N.C. Central (MEAC)|
|(4) MIDWEST |
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||San Diego (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Wichita State (MVC)||1||Arizona (Pac-12)|
|16||Utah Valley/VMI||↓ 16||Stony Brook (AmEast)|
|↑ 9||Stanford||↑ 9||Missouri|
|San Diego (Fri/Sun)||San Antonio (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 5||UCLA||5||Saint Louis (A 10)|
|12||Green Bay (Horizon)||12||Western Michigan (MAC)|
|4||Iowa State||↓ 4||Michigan|
|13||Belmont (OVC)||13||Iona (MAAC)|
|Raleigh (Fri/Sun)||Orlando (Thu/Sat)|
|6||Louisville||↓ 6||Ohio State|
|↑ 3||Wisconsin||3||Cincinnati (AAC)|
|14||Boston U. (Patriot)||14||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)|
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 10||California||↓ 10||Gonzaga (WCC)|
|2||Kansas (Big 12)||2||Creighton (Big East)|
|↑ 15||Robert Morris (NEC)||↓ 15||UC Irvine (Big West)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Buffalo||Tuesday: To Orlando|
|16||Alabama State (SWAC)||^*11||BYU|
|16||Weber State (Big Sky)||^11||St. Joseph's|
|Wednesday: To St. Louis||Wednesday: To Raleigh
|16||Utah Valley (WAC)||11||Baylor|
|*16||VMI (Big South)||11||Richmond|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|A 10: 6||Xavier||BYU||Coastal Carolina|
|Big 12: 6||Minnesota||VMI||Georgetown|
|Big Ten: 6||Providence|
|Pac-12: 6||St. John's|
|AAC: 5||LAST FOUR IN|
|Big East: 5||Baylor|
|SEC: 3||St. Joseph's|
|WCC: 2||FIRST FOUR OUT|
|1-Bid Conferences: 22||Oklahoma State|
|NEXT FOUR OUT|
Also considered: Southern Mississippi, LSU, Mississippi, Florida State, Marquette, UNLV, Harvard, Clemson, St. Mary's, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech
Breaking Down The Bid Picture
Now that the NCAA Tournament is less than a month away, it's time to start figuring out how many places are actually up for grabs. Yes, this will require arithmetic. I never said that there would be no math in bracketology. So, let's get started.
Road to the Title
Road to the Title
Remember that 32 places in this season's 68-team field are reserved for conference auto bid winners. However, nine of these conferences will more than likely place multiple teams in the field, and typically these leagues' automatic qualifiers would have earned at-large berths anyway. So, let's say that 23 places are off the table, as they'll go to the champions of single-bid conferences.
That leaves 36 at-larges and nine power conference auto bids to fill, for 45 available spots.
Conference leaders are designated by an asterisk (*), while teams shifted for bracketing purposes are marked with a caret (^).
|1 seeds||1. Syracuse
||4. Wichita State*
|2 seeds||8. Michigan State*
|3 seeds||9. San Diego State*||10. Duke
||11. Cincinnati*||12. Wisconsin|
|4 seeds||16. Iowa||15. Kentucky||14. Iowa State||13. Michigan
Those 45 spots are now down to 30 after factoring in the top 16 teams in this week's field. Why 30 instead of 29? Well, Wichita State leads the Missouri Valley, which will only get a second entrant if someone other than the Shockers wins the auto bid, which would be a nightmare scenario for teams further down the bracket.
These 16 teams are called "protected seeds" because they cannot be placed in a situation where they would face a "home-crowd disadvantage" in the Round of 64. Note that this rule does not apply for the Round of 32, however.
|5 seeds||17. Texas||18. Virginia*||19. Saint Louis*
|6 seeds||24. Connecticut
||22. Louisville||21. Ohio State
|7 seeds||25. North Carolina|
The number of available places drops from 30 to 21 after factoring in these nine teams, just about all of whom still have a shot at cracking the "protected seed" group.
In Good Shape
|7 seeds||26. Oklahoma||27. UMass||28. Memphis|
|8 seeds||32. Pittsburgh
||31. New Mexico||30. Arizona State||29. Kansas State|
|9 seeds||33. Geo. Washington
While these 10 look to be in decent shape to make the field, issues with their selection sheets or remaining hurdles make them not quite ready for "lock" status. Still, their presence drops the number of remaining spots from 21 to 11.
|9 seeds||36. Missouri
|10 seeds||39. Gonzaga*
As the cut line approaches, things start to become a bit more fluid. Gonzaga, which doesn't count against our total of available slots because of the West Coast Conference's questionable multi-bid status, fell down here after Thursday night's loss in Provo. With just a single Top 50 win (at home against BYU), the Bulldogs simply don't have the quality wins that guaranteed them a spot in prior seasons.
Missouri falls here because the Tigers lack quality wins and have, frankly, run out of chances to earn them. Cal and SMU, meanwhile, fall here because their decent wins are paired with some truly questionable losses.
The number of available spots is down to eight, which will be filled by four teams destined for Dayton and four who will just avoid the extra game.
Last Four Byes (Avoiding Dayton)
|10 seeds||40. Xavier|
|11 seeds||41. Minnesota||42. Providence||43. St. John's^|
Last Four In (First Four)
|11 seeds||44. Richmond^|
|12 seeds||47. BYU
||46. St. Joseph's||45. Baylor^|
There is honestly very little to separate the bottom eight teams in this projected field at this point. Each team has rather serious flaws on its selection sheet. Baylor, BYU, and to an extent, Xavier, did decent work during November and December, but have been inconsistent since then. The reverse has been the case for Richmond, St. John's and St. Joseph's, while Minnesota and Providence have been all over the place all season.
First Four Out/Next Four Out
|First 4 Out||69. Oklahoma State||70. Tennessee
|Next 4 Out||73. Oregon
||75. N.C. State
||76. West Virginia
With a little more than three weeks left, all is not lost for these squads, though at this point it feels like Dayton, Georgetown, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, Oregon and West Virginia have more quality win chances left than Nebraska and Tennessee. Of course, quality win chances can quickly become opportunities to fall flat on your face in this sport.
In The Hunt
|77. Toledo||78. Southern Miss.||79. LSU||80. Mississippi|
|84. St. Mary's||83. UNLV||82. Marquette||81. Florida State|
|85. Harvard||86. Clemson||87. Arkansas||88. Louisiana Tech|
These teams, particularly the five mid-majors, have an awful lot of work to do to get back in the hunt at this point. In some cases, (cough) Toledo, Southern Miss. and Harvard (cough), poor decisions in non-conference scheduling might result in an NIT trip.
|12 seeds||48. North Dakota St.*||49. Green Bay*|
A pair of mid-major conference leaders actually have a slim shot at earning an at-large spot, most likely in the First Four, should they not win their respective league's auto bid. North Dakota State's RPI ranking has hovered around 50 for most of the season, which would earn them a place on the Selection Committee's consideration board. However, the Bison's best win came against Delaware back in December. Three losses against teams outside of the RPI Top 150 don't help NDSU's case either.
Green Bay, on the other hand, has a Top 50 win -- against Virginia at home -- to go along with a borderline RPI rank of 62, and a pair of losses to teams outside the Top 150.
My advice to both the Bison and Phoenix: don't put your fate in the Committee's hands. Cut down the nets during Championship Week.
Auto Bid Only
|12 seeds||50. W. Michigan*|
|13 seeds||54. Iona*||53. Mercer*||52. Delaware*
|14 seeds||55. UTEP*||56. Boston U.*||57. Stephen F. Austin*||58. Georgia State*|
|15 seeds||62. Robert Morris*||61. N.C. Central*||60. UC irvine*
|63. Davidson*||64. Stony Brook*
|65. Utah Valley*||66. Weber State*||67. VMI*
||68. Alabama State*|
The final group of teams is the one that will see the most changes during Championship Week. Don't expect to see all 19 of these teams in the field on Selection Sunday. Conference tournaments (and a close Ivy race) will simply offer up too many surprises, particularly in a season as wild as this one.
My next bracketology will be a full update on Tuesday. In the meantime, head over to Blogging the Bracket for my daily TV previews and morning recaps, and follow me during the weekend's action on Twitter @ChrisDobbertean.