The Big 12 and Big East dominate the top line this week. The polls' top-ranked team—the Oklahoma Sooners—is the third overall seed, following their Monday night loss at Iowa State. That defeat bumped the Kansas Jayhawks up to the top spot. Second goes to Big East-leading Villanova Wildcats, top team in the RPI and KenPom tables, while the Xavier Musketeers, whose only loss came at the hands of the Wildcats, sit fourth. The two Big East squads replace the Michigan State Spartans and North Carolina Tar Heels.
Well, Xavier and UNC both boast 9-1 records against the RPI top 100, but the Musketeers are slightly superior against the top 50, with two more wins against that group than Roy Williams' squad currently has. Plus, Xavier's loss is a bit better than the two Carolina defeats—the setback at Northern Iowa looks worse by the day, even if you account for Marcus Paige's absence.
North Carolina's back-loaded schedule plays a role as well. In their first five conference games, the Tar Heels have played four bubble teams—new arrivals Florida State and Syracuse, a Clemson team that will be a threat if it can get a road win, and fading Georgia Tech. The rest of January is also relatively easy, for this season's ACC anyway. But starting with the Big Monday road trip to Louisville on Feb. 1, eight of UNC's 10 remaining conference games come against NCAA hopefuls. They'll have plenty of opportunities to rise over the final six weeks of the season.
So, for the moment, North Carolina sits on a radically different two line, which also features the returning Maryland Terrapins (coincidentally, the Tar Heels' best win), the Iowa Hawkeyes (twice conquerors of Michigan State) and the SEC-leading Texas A&M Aggies, who have replaced inconsistent Kentucky as that conference's best bet for a protected seed.
After this week's full bracket and rundown, I'll take a look at a few of the other most significant changes on this Tuesday.
Arrows indicate rising or falling seeds, while new entries are marked with an asterisk.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Des Moines (Thu/Sat)||Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Kansas (Big 12)||↑1||Villanova (BE)|
|16||Mt. St. Mary's/Texas Southern||*16||Navy (Patriot)|
|↑8||Monmouth (MAAC)||8||George Washington|
|Spokane (Fri/Sun)||Denver (Thu/Sat)|
|*12||VCU (A 10)||*12||Chattanooga (SoCon)|
|13||UAB (C-USA)||↓13||Little Rock (Sun Belt)|
|Providence (Thu/Sat)||Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)|
|*14||Stony Brook (AE)||14||Princeton (Ivy)|
|Des Moines (Thu/Sat)||Raleigh (Thu/Sat)|
|↑2||Iowa||↓2||North Carolina (ACC)|
|*15||UNC Asheville (Big South)||↓15||North Florida (A-Sun)|
|(4) WEST |
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)|
|16||Hampton/Stephen F. Austin||*16||Tennessee State (OVC)|
|*9||Notre Dame||↑9||Wichita State (MVC)|
|Spokane (Fri/Sun)||Providence (Thu/Sat)|
|12||William & Mary (CAA)||*12||San Diego State (MW)|
|*13||Memphis (AAC)||*13||IPFW (Summit)|
|Denver (Thu/Sat)||St. Louis (Fri/Sun)|
|↑3||Iowa State||↓3||Michigan State|
|↓14||Hawai'i (Big West)||↓14||Northern Illinois (MAC)|
|Raleigh (Thu/Sat)||Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)|
|↑10||Seton Hall||↑10||Saint Mary's (WCC)|
|2||Maryland (Big Ten)||↑2||Texas A&M (SEC)|
|15||Cal State Bakersfield (WAC)||15||Montana (Big Sky)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Des Moines||Tuesday: To Providence|
|*16||Mount St. Mary's (NEC)||↓11||California|
|16||Texas Southern (SWAC)||*11||Syracuse|
|Wednesday: To St. Louis||Wednesday: To Brooklyn
|*16||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)||↓11||Ohio State|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|ACC: 9||Seton Hall (37)||Chattanooga (SoCon)||Albany (AE)|
|Big Ten: 7||Connecticut (40)||Colorado||Boise State (MW)|
|Pac-12: 7||Gonzaga (41)||Florida State||Bucknell (Patriot)|
|Big 12: 5||Florida State (42)||IPFW (Summit)||ETSU (SoCon)|
|Big East: 5||LAST FOUR IN||Memphis (AAC)||High Point (Big South)|
|SEC: 4||California (43)||Mt. St. Mary's (NEC)||Houston (AAC)|
|A 10: 3||Ohio State (44)||Navy (Patriot)||Iona (MAAC)|
|AAC: 2||Florida (45)||Notre Dame||Omaha (Summit)|
|WCC: 2||Syracuse (46)||San Diego State (MW)||St. Bonaventure (A 10)|
|One-Bid Conferences: 23||FIRST FOUR OUT||Stephen F. Austin (Slnd)||Tennessee Tech (OVC)|
|Boise State||Stony Brook (AE)||Texas A&M-CC (Sthlnd)|
|Clemson||Tennessee State (OVC)||UT Arlington|
|Texas Tech||UNC Asheville (Big South)||Wagner (NEC)|
|NEXT FOUR OUT||VCU (A 10)||Washington (Pac-12)|
Also considered: Alabama, Arizona State, BYU, Cincinnati, Creighton, Davidson, Evansville, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, LSU, Marquette, Ole Miss, Rhode Island, Richmond, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech
In the span of a week, Michigan State tumbled from the first overall seed to the three line, where they're joined by West Virginia, which came close to knocking off two top seeds last week; Virginia, more on the strength of their early season results, not the three losses they've suffered in their last four games; and Iowa State.
Duke, losers of three in a row to unranked opponents, and Kentucky, which fell at Auburn and struggled to defeat Mississippi State in Lexington in the past seven days, are now both out of the top 16. With Amile Jefferson still out and the Blue Devils struggling in his absence, Louisville and Pittsburgh may have better protected seed prospects long-term than last season's national champions.
While the ACC leads the way with nine teams, the Big Ten and Pac-12 follow behind with seven apiece. The difference between those two conferences is that the Midwesterners aren't likely to build upon that number. The West Coasters, however, saw their total remain stable this week despite Washington falling out of the conference lead, which cost them the auto bid in this projection. Colorado, winners over both Oregon and Oregon State, simply jumped in to replace the Huskies. Plus, UW, the Beavers and Stanford all remain in the picture. The Big Ten, with a pitiful second division, cannot offer that kind of depth.
With the Metro Atlantic and Sun Belt dropping down to a single bid each this week, the Mountain West's continuing struggles and Gonzaga moving perilously close to the cut line following a home loss to BYU, it's looking like there won't be many at-large bids from outside of the power conferences in 2016. On Friday, as we move closer to the first look at who's safe and who's on the bubble for this season, I will attempt to forecast how many bids each conference will claim on Selection Sunday.