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Bracketology: N.C. State and Purdue crash the party

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With less than a month remaining before Selection Sunday, the stratification of bid contenders is becoming increasingly apparent.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, there is little change at the top of today's projection when compared to Friday's version, as Kentucky, VirginiaWisconsin, and Duke continue to lead the way, with only minor moves made among an unchanged Top 16, including the Badgers jumping the Blue Devils for the No. 3 spot overall.

The separation I laid out in Friday's post seems to be becoming more enforced as the days tick by. The top layer of 16 is itself divided into a clear first and second classes, neatly composed of eight teams apiece. The protected seeds are then followed by another group of 12 or so teams that look to be secure in their positions, but blocked from really moving much higher. At the bottom, are the 21 entrants from the one-bid conferences, the necessary foundation for March Madness, at least for those of us who like upsets.

In between, we have the bubble. After today's full bracket and rundown, I'll discuss some of the big moves made over a tumultuous weekend for the teams in the hunt for the last few bids.

(1) MIDWEST
Cleveland (Thu/Sat)
(2) EAST
Syracuse (Fri/Sun)
Louisville (Thu/Sat) Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
1 Kentucky (SEC) 1 Virginia (ACC)
16 Bucknell/St. Francis-Brooklyn 16 South Dakota State/Texas Southern
8 Ohio State 8 88 Georgia
9 Cincinnati 9 Michigan State
Jacksonville (Thu/Sat) Seattle (Fri/Sun)
5 Butler 5 Baylor
12 Wofford (SoCon) 122 Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
4 Iowa State 4 Northern Iowa (MVC)
13 Murray State (OVC) *13 Valparaiso (Horizon)
Columbus (Fri/Sun) Portland (Thu/Sat)
6 Providence 6666 Oklahoma State
11 Stanford 11 St. John's
3 Louisville 3 Utah
14 N.C. Central (MEAC) *14 Sam Houston State (Southland)
Portland (Thu/Sat) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
7 Texas 7 SMU (American)
10 Texas A&M 10 Iowa
2 Arizona (Pac-12) 2 Kansas (Big 12)
15 High Point (Big South) 15 UL Monroe (Sun Belt)
(4) WEST
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
(3) SOUTH
Houston (Fri/Sun)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
1 Duke 1 Wisconsin (Big Ten)
16 Albany (AE) 16 New Mexico State (WAC)
8 Dayton 8 San Diego State (MW)
9 Temple 9 Ole Miss
Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat) Jacksonville (Thu/Sat)
5 Wichita State 5 VCU (A 10)
12 Iona (MAAC) 12 Illinois
4 Maryland 4 North Carolina
13 William & Mary (CAA) 13 Bowling Green (MAC)
Louisville (Thu/Sat) Columbus (Fri/Sun)
6 Arkansas 6 West Virginia
11 Purdue/Xavier 11 N.C. State/UCLA
3 Oklahoma 3 Notre Dame
14 Harvard (Ivy) 14 Louisiana Tech (C-USA)
Seattle (Fri/Sun) Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)
7 Georgetown 7 Indiana
10 Colorado State 10 LSU
2 Gonzaga (WCC) 2 Villanova (Big East)
15 UC Davis (Big West) 15 FGCU (A-Sun)
FIRST FOUR (Dayton)
Tuesday: To Louisville Tuesday: To Louisville
*16 Bucknell (Patriot) *11 Purdue
16 St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC) 11 Xavier
Wednesday: To Charlotte Wednesday: To Columbus
*16 South Dakota State (Summit) *11 North Carolina State
16 Texas Southern (SWAC) 11 UCLA

* = new team

Note: Illinois is a natural 11 seed that was dropped to the 12 line to make First Four travel easier.

BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
Big Ten: 8 LSU Bucknell Boise State
Big 12: 7 Stanford North Carolina State Colgate
ACC: 6 St. John's Purdue Green Bay
Big East: 6 Illinois Sam Houston State North Dakota State
SEC: 6 LAST FOUR IN South Dakota State Seton Hall
Pac-12: 4
Xavier Valparaiso Stephen F. Austin
AAC: 3 UCLA

A 10: 2 N.C. State

MVC: 2 Purdue

MW: 2 FIRST FOUR OUT

One-Bid Conferences: 22 Miami


Oregon


Pittsburgh


Boise State


NEXT FOUR OUT


Tulsa


BYU


UMass


Old Dominion

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Alabama, Davidson, George Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Oregon State, St. Mary's, Tennessee, UTEP, Wyoming

Boise State and Seton Hall fall out of the projection after weekend losses. The Broncos' eight-game winning streak ended at the hands of Fresno State, while the Pirates dropped their fourth and fifth in a row, falling at both Providence and Villanova, with the latter game marred by Sterling Gibbsstrike of the Wildcats' Ryan Arcidiacono.

Their replacements met in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge back in early December. North Carolina State, who fell at Purdue in the showcase, returns after defeating Louisville by 11 on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers picked up their sixth win in their last seven on Sunday, toppling disappointing Nebraska at Mackey Arena.

The other big winners since Friday include UCLA (trapped Oregon), St. John's (surged past Xavier), LSU (mauled Tennessee), Michigan State (conquered Ohio State late), Texas A&M (planted Florida), and Miami (evacuated Boston College with a win).

On the flip side, Boise State, Seton Hall, Oregon, and Xavier lead the group of teams whose prospects took a hit, joined by Cincinnati (washed away by Tulane), Iowa (clawed by Northwestern), Stanford (stampeded by Colorado), George Washington (rammed by VCU), Old Dominion (shafted by UTEP, the Monarchs' second loss in a 48-hour span), Minnesota (passed by Indiana just three days after upsetting Iowa), and Clemson (stung by Georgia Tech on Monday night).

It was a mixed bag for Pittsburgh, who could not build upon their Saturday win over North Carolina, as the Panthers fell at Virginia on Monday night.

And looking ahead, the next three nights could only create more triumph and heartbreak.

St. John's at Georgetown, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
After three wins in a row, the Red Storm have jumped back into the projected field. They'll face the Hoyas, rather safe despite being 2–3 in their last five, twice in an 11-day span.

Michigan State at Michigan, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
On February 1, the Spartans shut out the Wolverines in overtime, the first of four consecutive losses that all but eliminated Michigan from the at-large picture. Given Sparty's tenuous position, John Beilein's team will look to gain some measure of revenge tonight.

Texas at Oklahoma, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Sooners, fresh off a loss at Kansas State, return home to take on a Longhorn team they blasted by 21 on January 5. Texas has won three straight to more firmly establish itself in the middle of the bracket.

LSU at Texas A&M, Tuesday 9 p.m. (SEC Network)

The Aggies will look to close out a crucial three-game homestand with a second consecutive win, while the Bayou Bengals are in search of back-to-back road wins. A&M defeated LSU 67–64 on January 17 in Baton Rouge.

Xavier at Cincinnati, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
With both teams on the bubble and coming off Saturday losses, suddenly the Crosstown Shootout added importance. The game returns to a campus site after two seasons at neutral US Bank Arena.

UMass at Rhode Island, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (A 10 Network/SNY/CSN New England/Comcast Network Philadelphia)

The Minutemen defeated the Rams by four at back on January 17 -- the first of seven wins in eight for UMass. The only team that defeated Derek Kellogg's team in that span was Saint Joseph's Hawks, the same team that handed the Rams their only loss in the seven games since that Saturday in Amherst.

North Carolina at Duke, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN/ACC Network)
The first of the archrivals' two last season meetings has added importance for the Tar Heels, who have dropped three of their last four.

UCLA at Arizona State, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
A loss in Tempe would be costly for the resurgent Bruins, who have won five of their last six.

Iowa State at Oklahoma State, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

The Cowboys followed up consecutive wins over Texas, Kansas, and Kansas State with a Saturday loss at TCU. On Wednesday, they'll attempt to reverse a 63–61 January 6 defeat in Ames.

Colorado at Oregon, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

The Ducks cannot get caught looking ahead to Saturday's visit from Utah, as the Buffaloes are coming off a nice home win over another bubble team, Stanford.

Purdue at Indiana, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Boilermakers' case would be receive a further boost if they can complete the sweep in Bloomington. Purdue blew past the Hoosiers by an 83–67 score on January 28.

Temple at SMU, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Owls, 60–55 losers to the Mustangs on January 14, are just a loss behind Larry Brown's squad in the American race.

Rutgers at Iowa, Thursday 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
After two losses in a row to open what was supposed to be an easy closing stretch, the Hawkeyes will look to take things out on a Scarlet Knight team that's lost nine straight since defeating Wisconsin on January 11.

UC Davis at Long Beach State, Thursday 10 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
While the Aggies have a two-game lead over UC Irvine, they face one of their toughest remaining regular season tests Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers took Jim Les's squad to overtime on January 10.

Utah at Oregon State, Thursday 11 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks)
The Beavers have already defeated one Pac-12 title contender at home, stunning Arizona on January 11, and they'll look to stun the other on Thursday.

Check back in on Friday to see how this week's early results affect both the lock and bubble pictures.