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Bracketology 2017: One-loss Gonzaga remains a 1 seed, for now

But if the Bulldogs lose in the WCC Tournament, the Pac-12’s postseason winner stands to benefit.

NCAA Basketball: Brigham Young at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU Cougars rocked the college basketball world on Saturday night by defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs 79-71, a result that ended the Zags’ hopes for a perfect season. At the moment, the 29-1 Bulldogs remain on the top line of our latest NCAA tournament projection, joining Kansas, Villanova, and North Carolina (even after the Tar Heels lost at Virginia on Monday night).

But if Mark Few’s team loses in the upcoming WCC Tournament — Gonzaga plays its first game in the quarterfinals on Saturday night — the door opens further for those on the two line. At the moment, that’s Baylor, Louisville, Kentucky, and Oregon.

After UCLA’s road win over Arizona on Saturday night, the Ducks aren’t the only Pac-12 team in the race. Considering the Bruins’ splits with Oregon and Arizona and the Ducks’ hammering of the Wildcats in the pair’s lone meeting, next week’s Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas has real importance to the national picture. If the top three get through this week unscathed (a more difficult task for a UCLA squad that plays twice, unlike Arizona and Oregon), those on the East Coast and Midwest might want to stay up late on both Friday and Saturday nights. A potential Bruins-Wildcats semifinal with the winner likely playing the top-seeded Ducks for the title will be must-see TV if the bracket holds up.

UCLA and Arizona share line three with Butler and Florida State, while Duke, Florida, West Virginia, and a surprise out of the Big Ten, Minnesota, are today’s four seeds.

Things continue to remain interesting near the cut line. I’ll discuss that, and the conference-by-conference breakdown, after our full bracket and rundown.

1. Midwest (Left) and 2. East (Right)

Kansas City (Thu/Sat) New York (Fri/Sun)
Kansas City (Thu/Sat) New York (Fri/Sun)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun) Buffalo (Thu/Sat)
1. Kansas (Big 12) 1. Villanova (Big East)
16. North Dakota (Big Sky) 16. Mt. St. Mary's/N.C. Central
8. Dayton (A 10) 8. Miami
9. Virginia Tech 9. Michigan State
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) Greenville (Fri/Sun)
5. Virginia 5. Purdue (Big Ten)
12. UNCW (CAA) 12. Syracuse/Vanderbilt
4. Minnesota 4. Duke
13. Oakland (Horizon) 13. Monmouth (MAAC)
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) Sacramento (Fri/Sun)
6. Cincinnati 6. SMU (American)
11. USC/Rhode Island 11. Illinois State (MVC)
3. Butler 3. UCLA
14. FGCU (A-Sun) 14. Akron (MAC)
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun) Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
7. South Carolina 7. Oklahoma State
10. Wichita State 10. Marquette
2. Louisville 2. Kentucky (SEC)
15. Winthrop (Big South) 15. UNC Greensboro (SoCon)

4. West (Left) and 3. South (Right)

San José (Thu/Sat) Memphis (Fri/Sun)
San José (Thu/Sat) Memphis (Fri/Sun)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Greenville (Fri/Sun)
1. Gonzaga (WCC) 1. North Carolina (ACC)
16. Texas Southern (SWAC) 16. UC Davis/New Orleans
8. Xavier 8. Maryland
9. Northwestern 9. VCU
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) Orlando (Thu/Sat)
5. Notre Dame 5. Creighton
12. Nevada (MW) 12. UT Arlington (Sun Belt)
4. West Virginia 4. Florida
13. Princeton (Ivy) 13. Vermont (AmEast)
Orlando (Thu/Sat) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
6. Wisconsin 6. Saint Mary's
11. Seton Hall 11. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)
3. Florida State 3. Arizona
14. Belmont (OVC) 14. Bucknell (Patriot)
Sacramento (Fri/Sun) Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
7. Iowa State 7. Michigan
10. Arkansas 10. Providence
2. Oregon (Pac-12) 2. Baylor
15. South Dakota (Summit) 15. Cal State Bakersfield (WAC)

First Four

To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
16. Mount St. Mary's (NEC) 11. USC 16. UC Davis (Big West) 12. Syracuse
16. N.C. Central (MEAC) 11. Rhode Island 16. New Orleans (Southland) 12. Vanderbilt


ACC: 9 Providence (38) Oakland Clemson
Big East: 7 Wichita State (39) Rhode Island Furman
Big Ten: 7 Marquette (40) South Dakota Georgia Tech
Big 12: 5 Seton Hall (41) Syracuse Kansas State
SEC: 5 LAST FOUR IN UC Davis North Dakota State
Pac-12: 4 USC (42) UNC Greensboro UC Irvine
A 10: 3 Rhode Island (43) Vanderbilt UNC Asheville
American: 2 Syracuse (44) Winthrop Valparaiso
MVC: 2 Vanderbilt (46)
One-Bid: 22 Illinois (69)
California (70)
Wake Forest (71)
Georgia (72)
Houston (73)
Kansas State (74)
TCU (75)
Clemson (76)

Also considered (in order): Pittsburgh, Valparaiso, Boise State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Ole Miss, BYU, College of Charleston, UCF

The ACC continues to lead the way with nine bids, but thanks to 0-2 weeks for both Clemson and Georgia Tech, don’t expect the conference to grab 10 or 11. Syracuse, which followed up a big home win over Duke with a loss at Louisville on Sunday, is barely hanging in. While the Orange own six top-50 wins, with three of those home victories over top-20 opponents, they’re a miserable 2-10 away from the Carrier Dome. Syracuse might just need an ACC tournament win or two in Brooklyn, where Jim Boeheim’s team lost to South Carolina in November, to remain in the field on Selection Sunday.

The Big East and Big Ten provide seven teams each, with the latter suddenly having a shot at eight. An Illinois squad that’s 16-12 against Division I opposition and 7-9 in conference play is suddenly 57th in the RPI with four top-50 wins. That’s not only good enough to get John Groce’s team a look, but they’re now the first team out! Victories over VCU (in Miami) and Michigan (at home) and a sweep of the Northwestern help the Fighting Illini, while a sweep at the hands of Penn State, a home loss to Winthrop (even if the Eagles are the Big South’s one seed), and road setback at Indiana don’t. Speaking of Northwestern, the Wildcats have won just one of their last five and desperately need a home win over either surging Michigan or Purdue this week to feel a little safer.

The Boilermakers lost to the Wolverines on Saturday, a result that helped drop Purdue down to the five line. But Matt Painter’s squad isn’t the only Big Ten squad struggling, as Wisconsin tasted defeat at Michigan State on Sunday, while Iowa handled Maryland in College Park on Saturday night. The Badgers have now won just one of their last five, while the Terrapins (Wisconsin’s lone victory in that span) have won just two of their last six.

In the Big East, Xavier is going through a similar swoon, dropping five in a row, with a potentially important home game with the Marquette looming on Wednesday. Providence picked up a key win over those Golden Eagles on Saturday to help solidify their own position, but both join Seton Hall in the last four bye group today.

With the departure of the Kansas State from this projection and TCU’s bubble likely bursting thanks to a fifth straight defeat, only five teams represent the Big 12 now. And barring a surprise auto-bid winner in Kansas City, don’t expect the conference to provide any more.

Vanderbilt was a late addition to my Friday bubble post, and the Commodores remain in as a fifth SEC squad at 16-13 after a Saturday win over Mississippi State. With games this week against Kentucky in Lexington and Florida, an outfit Vandy already defeated in Gainesville, at Memorial Gym, Bryce Drew’s squad could solidify its place with a split.

The Pac-12 has four teams in today, with California as the second team out. The Golden Bears will need to split their final road trip to Utah and Colorado to stay in the picture. That’s in no small part due to the struggles of the lone top-50 team that Cal has defeated — USC. Thanks to a loss at Arizona State while everyone was watching Oscars red carpet coverage, Andy Enfield’s squad is among today’s Last Four In. While the Trojans’ profile boasts home wins over UCLA and SMU, they’ve dropped four straight.

On Saturday, the Rhode Island took care of VCU to get themselves back on the right side of the cut line, increasing the Atlantic 10’s total to three for now. But while the Dayton and VCU have gotten themselves to relative safety, Dan Hurley’s squad needs to keep winning — both in their final two regular-season games and at the conference tournament in Pittsburgh.

As usual, the American Athletic (Cincinnati and SMU), West Coast (Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s), and Missouri Valley (Illinois State and Wichita State) are the only other multi-bid conferences this week. With a victory at Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Houston Cougars can give themselves real hope to being a third American entrant. Meanwhile, with Wichita State looking like a solid top-15 team in any metric that’s not the RPI or a poll, I’m increasingly confident the Shockers will make the field if they reach the Valley final and lose to Illinois State. On the flip side, my confidence level isn’t as high on the Redbirds’ chances if the situation’s reversed.

And that day is coming soon, as nearly two weeks’ worth of elimination basketball began last night with a quartet of Atlantic Sun quarterfinals. Over at Blogging the Bracket, my Conference Tournament Central page will have updated scores, matchups, and TV information all the way through Selection Sunday. I’ve even written a brief primer summing up the biggest Championship Week changes for this year, headlined by the Ivy League’s first-ever tournament.

It’s going to be a fun two weeks, so buckle up. My next update, a full one with a quick look at the lock and bubble picture, will arrive Friday. Starting Sunday morning, new brackets will arrive daily.