While the top three teams from the first Friday projection of 2015 -- the Kentucky Wildcats, Virginia Cavaliers, and Duke Blue Devils -- remain in place, the Wisconsin Badgers have jumped the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the fourth No. 1 seed. Yes, the Badgers lost at Rutgers, a result that would, under normal circumstances, automatically disqualify them from the position on the two line they've long held. (Remember, the Cavaliers held the Scarlet Knights to 26 points in the Barclays Center Classic final on Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, that's 26 points, over 40 minutes.)
However, Wisconsin lost senior point guard Traevon Jackson to a broken right foot on that January night in Piscataway, N.J., and in their last six games -- all wins -- the Badgers have shown that they are still a national contender without him. And guess what, there's a chance he will be back for the NCAA Tournament.
With that in mind, it was an easy decision to elevate a Wisconsin squad that boasts a 7-1 record against the RPI Top 50 and 12-1 mark against the Top 100.
Badgers historically good
Gonzaga joins the Kansas Jayhawks, Villanova Wildcats and Arizona Wildcats on the two seed line. Given the presence of two ACC squads in the quartet of top seeds, I must again stress that teams ranked five through eight aren't out of it, though Arizona's hopes took a serious hit with a Saturday loss at Arizona State.
After today's full bracket and rundown, I'll take a look at a change near the cut line, which is also Big Ten-related.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Louisville (Thu/Sat)||Charlotte (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Kentucky (SEC)||1||Virginia (ACC)|
|16||Colgate/St. Francis-Brooklyn||16||Sacramento State/Texas Southern|
|↑ 8||Cincinnati||↑ 8 88||Dayton|
|9||Seton Hall||↓ 9||Michigan State|
|Seattle (Fri/Sun)||Columbus (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 12||Murray State (OVC)||122||Illinois/LSU|
|4||VCU (A 10)||4||Iowa State|
|*13||Bowling Green (MAC)||13||Louisiana Tech (C-USA)|
|Columbus (Fri/Sun)||Jacksonville (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 6||Oklahoma State||↓ 6666||West Virginia|
|↓ 11||Colorado State||↑ 11||Tulsa (AAC)|
|*14||Valparaiso (Horizon)||14||N.C. Central (MEAC)|
|Portland (Thu/Sat)||Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 10||Ole Miss||10||Texas A&M|
|2||Arizona (Pac-12)||2||Villanova (Big East)|
|15||High Point (Big South)||15||Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun)|
|(4) WEST |
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
|Omaha (Fri/Sun)||Charlotte (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 1||Wisconsin (Big Ten)||1||Duke|
|16||New Mexico State (WAC)||16||North Dakota State (Summit)|
|Louisville (Thu/Sat)||Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)|
|5||Wichita State (MVC)||↓ 5||Northern Iowa|
|12||George Washington/Old Dominion||12||Iona (MAAC)|
|↑ 13||Harvard (Ivy)||13||William & Mary (CAA)|
|Jacksonville (Thu/Sat)||Portland (Thu/Sat)|
|14||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)||*14||UC Davis (Big West)|
|Seattle (Fri/Sun)||Omaha (Fri/Sun)|
|↓ 7||Ohio State||↑ 7||SMU|
|↓ 10||San Diego State (MW)||10||Xavier|
|↓ 2||Gonzaga (WCC)||2||Kansas (Big 12)|
|*15||UL Monroe (Sun Belt)||15||Albany (AE)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Louisville||Tuesday: To Louisville|
|16||Colgate (Patriot)||↓ 12||George Washington|
|16||St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC)||12||Old Dominion|
|Wednesday: To Charlotte||Wednesday: To Columbus
|16||Sacramento State (Big Sky)||*12||Illinois|
|16||Texas Southern (SWAC)||↓ 11||LSU|
* = new team
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|Big 12: 7||Xavier||Bowling Green||Buffalo|
|Big Ten: 7||Ole Miss||Illinois||Georgia Southern|
|ACC: 6||Colorado State||Louisiana Tech||Green Bay|
|Big East: 6||Miami||UC Davis||Long Beach State|
|SEC: 6||LAST FOUR IN||UL Monroe||Purdue|
||Old Dominion||Valparaiso||Western Kentucky|
|A 10: 3||George Washington|
|MVC: 2||FIRST FOUR OUT|
|MW: 2||St. John's|
|One-bid conferences: 21||UCLA|
|NEXT FOUR OUT|
Also considered (in alphabetical order): Alabama, BYU, California, Clemson, Davidson, Eastern Washington, Florida, Green Bay, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon State, Penn State, Pepperdine, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Mary's, Tennessee, Wyoming
There is only one new at-large entrant in today's field -- the Illinois Fighting Illini, who defeated Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday, a result that bumped their record against the RPI Top 50 to a respectable 3-3. The Illini replace Big Ten rivals Purdue, who could not build off their recent home successes, falling at Minnesota later in the day. As a result of the switcheroo, the Big Ten's bid total remains at seven, a number replicated by the Big 12. The ACC, Big East and SEC all contribute a half-dozen teams, while the American, Atlantic 10 and Pac-12 provide a trio each. Conference USA, Missouri Valley and Mountain West are two-bid leagues.
Keep an eye on the Atlantic 10 -- the Massachusetts Minutemen have jumped into the Top 50 and the Rhode Island Rams are close, while the Davidson Wildcats aren't yet out of it despite a couple of disappointing recent losses to Saint Joseph's and St. Bonaventure. The Pac-12 could also boost its total with UCLA and Oregon moving back into contention. The Bruins and Ducks meet at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
But weekend action is a few days off, so here are some games of importance to tie you over as the work week wears on.
Kentucky at LSU, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Wildcats survived Gainesville on Saturday, but Baton Rouge will be another stiff test on the path to potential perfection.
Pittsburgh at Louisville or Virginia at North Carolina State, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (ACC Network Regional/ESPN3)
The Panthers and Wolfpack could both really use a victory against a likely protected seed right about now.
Indiana at Maryland, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (BTN)
The Terps have alternated wins and losses over their last five games, a run that started with a 19-point defeat in Bloomington on Jan. 22. That's the type of inconsistency that can cost a team a spot among the Top 16.
Oregon State at UCLA, Wednesday 10 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks)
After splitting their Bay Area trip, the Bruins would be well-advised to defeat the visiting Oregon schools this week, though that will be easier said than done.
Wyoming at San Diego State, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (CBSSN)
The Aztecs can complete a season sweep of the Cowboys, a result that would likely leave Larry Shyatt's team in a position where only earning the Mountain West's auto bid will get them in.
Ole Miss at Florida, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Gators have dropped two in a row and five of their last seven -- including a 72-71 heartbreaker in Oxford on Jan. 24 -- meaning they literally need every win they can get at this point. A loss in Gainesville would slightly dampen the Rebels' prospects, on the other hand.
Minnesota at Iowa, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (BTN)
The Golden Gophers -- 77-75 losers in Minneapolis on Jan. 13 -- will attempt to debunk the notion of the Hawkeyes' late schedule being "easy" while trying to mount their own late charge at a bid.
Michigan at Illinois, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Fighting Illini will likely slide out of Friday's projection should they fall to the feisty Wolverines in Champaign.
Stanford at Utah, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks)
After splitting a road weekend in Washington and a home weekend against the Los Angeles-area schools, the Cardinal hit the road for what looks like another likely split, though a shock win in Salt Lake City would boost a lagging profile.
My next update will come on Friday, with a first look at how the lock and bubble picture looks just a month and two days from Selection Sunday.