The top-seed line is the place on the bracket where no team relocated this week, as the Oklahoma Sooners (Midwest), North Carolina Tar Heels (South), Villanova Wildcats (East) and Iowa Hawkeyes (West) all hold their places for the second consecutive week. The Tar Heels stick around despite Monday night's defeat at Louisville.
It's a different story on the two line, however, as both Texas A&M and the Iowa State squad the Aggies defeated in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday afternoon dropped to line three. The surging Oregon Ducks, an impressive 7-1 against the RPI Top 50, and the Maryland Terrapins, who picked up their first Top-50 win in four attempts when they knocked off Iowa on Thursday, join the returning Kansas Jayhawks and Xavier Musketeers as two seeds, and all four have a chance to hear their names announced at the very beginning of the Selection Show on March 13.
The Virginia Cavaliers, who followed a buzzer-beating win at Wake Forest with a defensive tour de force at Louisville on Saturday, jumped to the three line alongside aforementioned Iowa State and Texas A&M as well as the Michigan State Spartans, who showed absolutely no mercy to Northwestern and Rutgers last week. Tony Bennett's squad replaces the West Virginia Mountaineers, who were surprisingly blown out at Florida in the Big 12/SEC event on Saturday, but the next three weeks will go a long way to determining whether the Mountaineers hold their new place among the four seeds or if they rise or fall. But for now, WVU, the Providence Friars, Miami Hurricanes and Purdue Boilermakers complete the Top 16. Purdue edges out the Baylor Bears and a pair of its Big Ten rivals— the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers—for the final protected seed spot for today.
After today's full bracket and rundown, I'll have a few words on some teams closer to the cut line that made moves in the past week.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)||Raleigh (Thu/Sat)|
|1||Oklahoma (Big 12)||1||North Carolina (ACC)|
|16||New Mexico State (WAC)||16||Texas Southern/Wagner|
|8||Wichita State (MVC)||↑8||Florida|
|9||South Carolina||↑9||Monmouth (MAAC)|
|Spokane (Fri/Sun)||Denver (Thu/Sat)|
|↓12||California||12||San Diego State (MW)|
|*13||UC Irvine (Big West)||*13||South Dakota State (Summit)|
|Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)||Oklahoma City (Fri/Sun)|
|11||Saint Joseph's/Seton Hall||↑11||Gonzaga|
|3||Michigan State||↓3||Texas A&M (SEC)|
|*14||UNC Wilmington (CAA)||*14||Akron (MAC)|
|St. Louis (Fri/Sun)||Des Moines (Thu/Sat)|
|10||Valparaiso (Horizon)||↑10||Florida State|
|15||North Florida (A-Sun)||↑15||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)|
|(4) WEST |
|Des Moines (Thu/Sat)||Brooklyn (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Iowa||1||Villanova (Big East)|
|*16||UNC Asheville (Big South)||16||Bucknell/Hampton|
|9||Saint Mary's (WCC)||↓9||Connecticut|
|Providence (Thu/Sat)||Denver (Thu/Sat)|
|↑5||Utah||5||Indiana (Big Ten)|
|12||Butler/George Washington||12||Chattanooga (SoCon)|
|13||Stony Brook (Am East)||13||Little Rock (Sun Belt)|
|Providence (Thu/Sat)||St. Louis (Fri/Sun)|
|14||Yale (Ivy)||↓14||Belmont (OVC)|
|Spokane (Fri/Sun)||Raleigh (Thu/Sat)|
|↑10||VCU (A 10)||↑10||Cincinnati (American)|
|15||Montana (Big Sky)||↓15||UAB (C-USA)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Raleigh||Tuesday: To Providence|
|16||Texas Southern (SWAC)||↓12||Butler|
|*16||Wagner (NEC)||↓12||George Washington|
|Wednesday: To Brooklyn||Wednesday: To Brooklyn
|16||Bucknell (Patriot)||*11||Saint Joseph's|
|16||Hampton (MEAC)||↓11||Seton Hall|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|ACC: 9||Gonzaga (41)||Akron (MAC)||High Point (Big South)|
|Pac-12: 7||California (42)||Saint Joseph's||James Madison (CAA)|
|Big 12: 6||Syracuse (43)||Syracuse||Kent State (MAC)|
|Big Ten: 6||Washington (44)||UNC Asheville (Big South)||Mount St. Mary's (NEC)|
|Big East: 5||LAST FOUR IN||UNC Wilmington (CAA)||Stanford|
|SEC: 4||Seton Hall (45)||Wagner (NEC)||Tulsa (AAC)|
|A 10: 4||Butler (46)||Washington||UCLA|
|AAC: 2||George Washington (47)|
|WCC: 2||Saint Joseph's (48)|
|One-Bid Conferences: 23||FIRST FOUR OUT|
|NEXT FOUR OUT|
Also considered: Boise State, Creighton, Davidson, Evansville, Georgia, Kansas State, LSU, Marquette, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Temple, Texas Tech, Wisconsin
Other than Florida making a big jump thanks to its win over West Virginia, Saturday's Big 12/SEC Challenge didn't really do all that much to the bid picture, especially since one of the SEC's main bid threats, the South Carolina Gamecocks, were skipped. LSU's failure to hold on against Oklahoma in the event's most thrilling contest might end up being quite costly, even if Texas A&M still has to visit Baton Rouge before the regular season ends.
The Florida State Seminoles managed to grab a home win over Clemson, avoiding a season sweep at the hands of the Tigers, who still have only defeated the Syracuse Orange on the road in ACC play, in the final game of Jim Boeheim's suspension. The Orange also rejoin the field this week, even if they struggled to follow up their resounding home win over Notre Dame with a victory over Georgia Tech less than 48 hours later.
The Washington Huskies completed a season sweep of UCLA on Thursday, a result that contributed to both the Huskies' entry as an at-large and the Bruins' departure. Lorenzo Romar's team even managed to stick around despite a Saturday loss at USC. The Colorado Buffaloes, who took a pair of games from the Stanford (completing a season sweep) and California in Boulder, were other big Pac-12 winners of the week.
You'll note that both First Four at-large matchups are Atlantic 10 vs. Big East affairs, as a pair of fading squads, Butler and George Washington, are paired in one match, while Seton Hall is matched with bracket newcomer Saint Joseph's in the other. The Bulldogs are 6-6 in their last 12 and 1-5 against the RPI Top 50. Losing at Creighton and Marquette, both of whom sit outside of the RPI Top 100, on consecutive Saturdays doesn't bode well for Butler's long-term prospects. Seton Hall, on the other hand, is 2-1 against the Bluejays and Golden Eagles, beating both on the road, curiously enough.
GW's Thursday night double-OT home loss to Richmond was their third to an opponent from outside the Top 100 this season. On the other hand, Saint Joe's is rising, mostly because they've only lost to three squads, all of whom are in the Top 40. The Hawks will need to pick up a quality win or two along the rest of the way to keep their place, however.
I'll be back on Friday with a closer look at the lock and bubble picture with five weeks and two days before the big announcement of the field of 68.