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Bracketology: Everyone lost and nothing really changed

The lesson: When more than half the top-10 loses on the same day, individual setbacks become less important.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Just one week ago, my projection had to account for a week that saw 13 ranked squads lose 15 games. It’s a similar story again now, as six teams ranked in the AP Top 10 — No. 2 Baylor, No. 3 Kansas, No. 5 Arizona, No. 7 West Virginia, No. 8 Kentucky, and No. 9 Virginia — all lost on one of the wildest college basketball Saturdays in recent memory.

All of these teams sat on the top four seed lines of last Tuesday’s projection, and all but one of them, the Mountaineers, remain there this week. In fact, the Jayhawks, who coughed up a big halftime lead to Iowa State at home, and the Bears, whose late rally against visiting Kansas State fell just short, remain on the top line alongside Villanova and still-unbeaten Gonzaga. Thanks to a strong non-conference schedule and the Big 12’s overall strength, Baylor remains at the top of the RPI table, with top-overall seed ‘Nova just behind. As for the Jayhawks, they recovered to win a close game at Kansas State on Big Monday.

Florida State returns to the two line, thanks in part to Sunday’s dominant 109-61 win over bubble squad Clemson. Two other ACC squads — Louisville and North Carolina — join the Seminoles. While FSU’s ACC slate was frontloaded, the strength in the Tar Heels’ slate arrives late, starting with Thursday’s trip to Durham to take on Duke. That makes UNC a serious contender to eventually supplant Baylor on the one line.

As for the Cardinals, they stick around even after losing at Virginia on Monday, thanks in no small part to the absence of four key players. Oregon supplants Kentucky as the final No. 2 seed, thanks to its dominant 85-58 home win over Arizona on Saturday afternoon.

Butler and Virginia join the Pac-12’s and SEC’s Wildcats as No. 3 seeds, while a Florida squad that’s won four in a row by 20 or more points, Big Ten leader Wisconsin, American frontrunner Cincinnati and Pac-12 contender UCLA comprise line four.

At the other end of the bid picture, it was another week full of mixed results for bubble teams. I know. I know. You’re surprised. More on that after today’s full bracket and rundown.

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

New York (Fri/Sun) Kansas City (Thu/Sat)
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/N.C. Central 16. Sam Houston St. (Southland)
8. Michigan State 8. Northwestern
9. Kansas State 9. Virginia Tech
Orlando (Thu/Sat) Buffalo (Thu/Sat)
5. West Virginia 5. Maryland
12. UNCW (CAA) 12. Illinois State (MVC)
4. Florida 4. Cincinnati (American)
13. Vermont (AmEast) 13. Monmouth (MAAC)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
6. South Carolina (SEC) 6. Notre Dame
11. Middle Tennessee (C-USA) 11. Indiana/Seton Hall
3. Arizona 3. Butler
14. Arkansas State (Sun Belt) 14. FGCU (A-Sun)
Orlando (Thu/Sat) Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
7. Saint Mary's 7. USC
10. TCU 10. Marquette
2. Florida State 2. Louisville
15. Furman (SoCon) 15. Winthrop (Big South)

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

Memphis (Fri/Sun) San José (Thu/Sat)
Memphis (Fri/Sun) San José (Thu/Sat)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
1. Baylor 1. Gonzaga (WCC)
16. Weber St./Mt. St. Mary's 16. Texas Southern (SWAC)
8. Minnesota 8. Oklahoma State
9. Dayton 9. VCU (A 10)
Sacramento (Fri/Sun) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
5. Creighton 5. Duke
12. New Mexico State (WAC) 12. Akron (MAC)
4. UCLA 4. Wisconsin (Big Ten)
13. Boise State (MW) 13. Valparaiso (Horizon)
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun) Greenville (Fri/Sun)
6. Purdue 6. Xavier
11. Clemson 11. Tennessee/Syracuse
3. Kentucky 3. Virginia
14. Belmont (OVC) 14. Princeton (Ivy)
Greenville (Thu/Sat) Sacramento (Fri/Sun)
7. SMU 7. Iowa State
10. California 10. Miami
2. North Carolina (ACC) 2. Oregon (Pac-12)
15. Bucknell (Patriot) 15. North Dakota St. (Southland)

First Four

To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Tulsa (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Tulsa (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
16. UC Davis (Big West) 11. Indiana 16. Weber State (Big Sky) 11. Seton Hall
16. N.C. Central (MEAC) 11. Tennessee 16. Mount St. Mary's (NEC) 11. Syracuse


ACC: 10 Miami (38) Boise State Georgia Tech
Big 12: 7 Marquette (39) California Michigan
Big Ten: 7 California (40) N.C. Central Morgan State
Big East: 6 Clemson (41) Syracuse Nevada
Pac-12: 5 LAST FOUR IN Tennessee Richmond
SEC: 4 Indiana (42)
American: 2 Tennessee (43)
A 10: 2 Syracuse (44)
WCC: 2 Seton Hall (45)
Georgia Tech
Wake Forest
Wichita State
Rhode Island
Texas Tech

Also considered: Alabama, Georgia, Houston, Memphis, North Carolina State, Providence, Utah

Iowa State, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State all find themselves with a bit more breathing room, since all three managed to upset the odds and defeat Big 12 top 10 teams on the road. When you add TCU to those six, that means there are seven Big 12 squads in this projection, a number that matches the Big Ten for the second-most among the conferences. Michigan fell out following Saturday’s disappointing home loss to Ohio State.

Of course, the ACC leads the way with 10, though surging Syracuse replaces Georgia Tech. The Orange have won four in a row, with home wins over ranked FSU and Virginia on consecutive Saturdays. On the other hand, the Yellow Jackets have dropped two in a row — to a Clemson team that’s still hanging in despite getting shellacked in Tallahassee and a Wake Forest squad that’s also on the outside looking in. While the RPI loves the Demon Deacons, ranking them in the top 30, they’re also currently 0-8 against that metric’s top 50 teams.

Note that Syracuse and Georgia Tech meet twice before the end of the regular season, while the Orange travel to Clemson tonight.

With weekend wins over DePaul and Georgetown, respectively, Marquette and Seton Hall remain in the projected field to give the Big East six squads. California, who joined the field in Friday’s bubble post, sticks around following a weekend sweep of Utah and Colorado. That means the Pac-12 has five teams, with a surprise conference tournament winner likely the only path for the conference to get six. That’s due in no small part to the Utes being swept out of the Bay Area.

The SEC had five teams in on Friday, but that number is now down to four. While Tennessee remains barely in after losing at Mississippi State, Arkansas picked up a far worse defeat — the Razorbacks became Missouri‘s first SEC victim of the season. Therefore, the Hogs drop out.

The Atlantic 10, American Athletic, and West Coast conferences all remain two-bid leagues. Don’t expect that to change unless a surprise team claims those leagues’ auto bids come March.

Back on Friday, I wrote about the 10 teams that still had a chance at finishing unbeaten in conference play. That number is down to six, as four of those squads lost on Saturday. While I already mentioned Arizona’s road loss at Oregon, Akron fell at Ohio University, Wichita State shellacked Illinois State at Koch Arena and, most damagingly, Middle Tennessee fell at UTEP. That loss might have ended the Blue Raiders’ at-large hopes, as the Miners rank 295th in the RPI. So, an already dire bid picture for the mid-major conferences suddenly looks even worse.

On Friday, Selection Sunday will be a month and two days away. In my next post, I will award my first “lock” statuses of the season and take yet another look at the messy bubble.