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Bracketology: Gonzaga jumps to top line after tumultuous week

With 13 ranked teams dropping 15 games since last Tuesday’s bracket dropped, there are changes aplenty in today’s projection.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga, now 22-0 and tops in both polls, replaces Kentucky on the top line. The Wildcats are one of two top-10 squads to lose twice in the last week, as they followed a Tuesday loss to new bubble team Tennessee with an SEC/Big 12 Challenge setback to Kansas at Rupp Arena on Saturday. That victory helped the Jayhawks solidify their case for one of the four top seeds in the final bracket, as they sit behind No. 1 overall seed Villanova and ahead of Big 12 rival Baylor (who just happens to visit Lawrence on Wednesday) and the Zags.

Kentucky now joins arch-rival Louisville, Pac-12 leader Arizona, and North Carolina on line two. The Tar Heels jump up despite a Saturday loss at the hands of bracket returnee Miami. Meanwhile, the other top-ranked team to drop two games in the past seven days — Florida State — falls to the three line. Virginia, Butler, and Oregon join the Seminoles, even though all three lost over the weekend. UCLA slipped all the way to line four following a fourth consecutive loss to USC. West Virginia (who topped Kansas on Tuesday), American front-runner Cincinnati, and Big Ten co-leader Maryland round out the top 16.

Yes, there are some changes here that seem to defy the past week’s results. But remember that wins and losses don’t occur in a vacuum — a single game can alter the perception of multiple teams in the tournament chase. Saturday provided a couple of useful examples of this phenomenon, and I’ll discuss those after today’s full bracket and rundown.

1. EAST 2. MIDWEST
1. EAST 2. MIDWEST
New York (Fri/Sun) Kansas City (Thu/Sat)
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
1. Villanova (Big East) 1. Kansas (Big 12)
16. UC Davis /Morgan State 16. Mt. St. Mary's/Weber St.
8. Virginia Tech 8. Dayton
9. Michigan State 9. Minnesota
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) Sacramento (Fri/Sun)
5. Wisconsin 5. Duke
12. Illinois State (MVC) 12. New Mexico State (WAC)
4. West Virginia 4. UCLA
13. Richmond (A10) 13. Monmouth (MAAC)
Sacramento (Fri/Sun) Orlando (Thu/Sat)
6. South Carolina 6. SMU
11. Kansas State 11. UNCW (CAA)
3. Oregon 3. Florida State
14. Georgia Sthn. (SB) 14. Belmont (OVC)
Greenville (Fri/Sun) Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
7. Xavier 7. Saint Mary's
10. Michigan 10. Seton Hall
2. North Carolina (ACC) 2. Kentucky (SEC)
15. Bucknell (Patriot) 15. Winthrop (Big South)

4. WEST 3. SOUTH
4. WEST 3. SOUTH
San José (Thu/Sat) Memphis (Fri/Sun)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
1. Gonzaga (WCC) 1. Baylor
16. Texas Southern (SWAC) 16. Furman (SoCon)
8. Marquette 8. Indiana
9. Iowa State 9. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)
Orlando (Thu/Sat) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
5. Notre Dame 5. Florida
12. Akron (MAC) 12. Clemson/TCU
4. Maryland (Big Ten) 4. Cincinnati (American)
13. Vermont (AmEast) 13. Valparaiso (Horizon)
Greenville (Fri/Sun) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
6. Creighton 6. Purdue
11. Miami/Oklahoma State 11. Nevada (MW)
3. Virginia 3. Butler
14. Princeton (Ivy) 14. North Dakota State (Summit)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
7. Northwestern 7. USC
10. Georgia Tech 10. VCU
2. Arizona (Pac-12) 2. Louisville
15. Sam Houston St. (Southland) 15. FGCU (A-Sun)

First Four

To Buffalo (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Tulsa (Wed.) To Milwaukee (Tue.)
To Buffalo (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Tulsa (Wed.) To Milwaukee (Tue.)
16. UC Davis (Big West) 11. Miami 16. Mount St. Mary's (NEC) 12. Clemson
16. Morgan State (MEAC) 11. Oklahoma State 16. Weber State (Big Sky) 12. TCU

Rundown

BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
ACC: 10 Michigan (38) Arkansas State California
Big Ten: 8 Seton Hall (39) Clemson FDU
Big 12: 7 Georgia Tech (40) Furman
Big East: 6 Kansas State (41) Georgia Tech New Orleans
Pac-12: 4 LAST FOUR IN Miami Rhode Island
A 10: 3 Miami (44) Mount St. Mary's Texas Tech
SEC: 3 Oklahoma State (45) Oklahoma State UC Irvine
American: 2 Clemson (46) Richmond UNC Greensboro
WCC: 2 TCU (47) Sam Houston State Utah
One-Bid: 23 FIRST FOUR OUT UC Davis Wake Forest
Tennessee
California
Texas Tech
Rhode Island
NEXT FOUR OUT
Wake Forest
Utah
Arkansas
Georgia

After a week that featured wins over both Florida State (in blowout fashion) and Notre Dame (in cardiac fashion), Georgia Tech jumps into the field. While the Yellow Jackets still have some questionable losses and their best road win so far came against fellow bubble outfit VCU, it’s hard to ignore their three huge home wins (North Carolina, FSU, Notre Dame).

Plus, one of Tech’s more questionable losses no longer looks quite so awful, as Tennessee is now just outside of both this projection and the RPI Top 40 following home wins over Kentucky and Kansas State (in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge). Much like the Yellow Jackets, the Volunteers need another road win or three to feel safe, but Rick Barnes’ team might just join Josh Pastner’s as a surprise NCAA entrant.

Thanks to Georgia Tech’s entry and the return of both Miami and Clemson, the ACC is back to 10 bids at the moment. The Tigers slide in despite a 2-6 conference mark, thanks to a Top 40 RPI and 7-7 record against the RPI Top 100. Eight Big Ten squads are currently in — though the hopes of Minnesota (five straight losses), Michigan State (two wins in its last six), Michigan (4-5 in league play), and Indiana (two setbacks in a row and dealing with injuries to both OG Anunoby and James Blackmon) are all in various states of distress.

Conversely, the Northwestern Wildcats earned a bit of breathing room with home wins over Nebraska and Indiana, but this week the Wildcats embark on a four-game stretch where they’ll play the three Big Ten teams ahead of them in the pecking order. How Chris Collins’ team performs over the next 16 days will determine whether it really can earn a first-ever NCAA bid.

Such is the shape of the bubble that the Big 12 still has seven teams in despite some questionable losses in Saturday’s showdowns with the SEC. Oklahoma State enters the field despite a 3-6 conference mark, thanks to four straight wins, capped by a close road win at Oklahoma last night and highlighted by Saturday’s beatdown of Arkansas. TCU remains in despite a loss to Auburn and Kansas State sticks around after falling to Tennessee. On the other hand, Texas Tech departed after handling LSU. You can blame the Red Raiders’ RPI (75th) for that — it doesn’t really compare to the Horned Frogs’ and Wildcats’ ranking (both in the top 50 at the time of publication).

Six Big East teams remain in — though Seton Hall should be thankful for a bye this weekend. Meanwhile, the Pac-12’s total drops from a half dozen to four, as both California and Utah fell out. The SEC appears to have three teams solidly in, with Tennessee or Alabama looking more likely as a fourth option than either Arkansas or Georgia. On the other hand, a surprise auto-bid winner (like current leader Richmond) is the only way the Atlantic 10 sends more than Dayton, VCU, and perhaps Rhode Island (if Dan Hurley’s team can get back in gear). It’s a similar story for the two-bid American Athletic and West Coast Conferences.

Speaking of the bubble, I’ll be back on Friday with another look at where things stand with five weeks to go.