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Bracketology 2018: Virginia replaces Duke as a No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament projection

That’s thanks to the Cavaliers’ impressive win in Durham Saturday afternoon. Plus, it was a good week for the ACC in the at-large picture.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did the Virginia Cavaliers join the quartet of No. 1 seeds, they jumped into the third spot overall, ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks. That means Tony Bennett’s squad anchors the South region while the Jayhawks are shipped out West for today. Naturally, the top two teams in this projection — the Villanova Wildcats (East) and Purdue Boilermakers (Midwest) — find themselves at the top of their preferred regions.

Duke drops down to the No. 2 seed line thanks to Saturday’s loss, joining the Xavier Musketeers and Auburn Tigers, who remain in place following their promotion from Friday’s first look at the bid and bubble picture. So do the North Carolina Tar Heels, despite Saturday’s overtime home loss to the NC State Wolfpack. Three of the four No. 3 seeds — the Clemson Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, and Cincinnati Bearcats — are new when compared to last Tuesday, with the Oklahoma Sooners the lone holdover from a week ago. The Wildcats, victorious over the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, were probably the Big 12/SEC Challenge’s biggest winner, while the Sooners, who fell at Alabama, join WVU as one of the event’s most notable losers. Still, a 6-4 mark in Group 1 games keeps Oklahoma on the three line ahead of a West Virginia team that’s merely 4-5 in such contests.

The Mountaineers now find themselves among the No. 4 seeds alongside the Pac-12-leading Arizona Wildcats, a Tennessee Volunteers squad whose Challenge win over the Iowa State Cyclones didn’t provide much of a profile boost, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, picked up a nice non-conference road win over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Seton Hall Pirates and Florida Gators dropped out of the top 16 for today, but both are well-placed to return with the right combination of results nationally.

After the full bracket and rundown, I’ll discuss the shake-up in today’s conference lineup.

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

Boston (Fri./Sun.) Omaha (Fri./Sun.)
Boston (Fri./Sun.) Omaha (Fri./Sun.)
Pittsburgh (Thu./Sat.) Detroit (Fri./Sun.)
1. Villanova (Big East) 1. Purdue (Big Ten)
16. New Orleans/Ark.-Pine Bluff 16. Harvard/N.C. A&T
8. Rhode Island (A 10) 8. Arizona State
9. USC 9. Providence
Boise (Thu./Sat.) San Diego (Fri./Sun.)
5. Michigan State 5. Florida
12. Buffalo (MAC) 12. New Mexico State (WAC)
4. Tennessee 4. Texas Tech
13. Louisiana (Sun Belt) 13. Belmont (OVC)
Wichita (Thu./Sat.) Pittsburgh (Thu./Sat.)
6. Louisville 6. Michigan
11. SMU 11. Syracuse/Washington
3. Oklahoma 3. Clemson
14. Rider (MAAC) 14. Vermont (AE)
Charlotte (Fri./Sun.) Nashville (Fri./Sun.)
7. Alabama 7. Florida State
10. Marquette 10. Butler
2. Duke 2. Auburn (SEC)
15. FGCU (ASUN) 15. Charleston (CAA)

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

Los Angeles (Thu./Sat.) Atlanta (Thu./Sat.)
Los Angeles (Thu./Sat.) Atlanta (Thu./Sat.)
Wichita (Thu./Sat.) Charlotte (Fri./Sun.)
1. Kansas (Big 12) 1. Virginia (ACC)
16. Long Beach State (Big West) 16. Radford (Big South)
8. Gonzaga 8. TCU
9. Nevada (MW) 9. Creighton
San Diego (Fri./Sun.) Boise (Thu./Sat.)
5. Ohio State 5. Seton Hall
12. N.C. State/Houston 12. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)
4. Arizona (Pac-12) 4. West Virginia
13. ETSU (SoCon) 13. South Dakota State (Summit)
Dallas (Thu./Sat.) Dallas (Thu./Sat.)
6. Wichita State 6. Miami (Fla.)
11. Kansas State 11. Loyola (Ill.) (MVC)
3. Kentucky 3. Cincinnati (American)
14. Bucknell (Patriot) 14. Wright State (Horizon)
Nashville (Fri./Sun.) Detroit (Fri./Sun.)
7. Saint Mary's (WCC) 7. Arkansas
10. Texas A&M 10. Texas
2. North Carolina 2. Xavier
15. Montana (Big Sky) 15. Wagner (NEC)

First Four

EAST (Automatic) MIDWEST (Automatic) MIDWEST (At-Large) WEST (At-Large)
EAST (Automatic) MIDWEST (Automatic) MIDWEST (At-Large) WEST (At-Large)
To Pittsburgh (Tue.) To Detroit (Wed.) To Pittsburgh (Tue.) To San Diego (Wed.)
16. New Orleans (Southland) 16. Harvard (Ivy) 11. Syracuse 11. N.C. State
16. Ark.-Pine Bluff (SWAC) 16. N.C. A&T (MEAC) 11. Washington 11. Houston


Butler South Carolina College of Charleston Bethune-Cookman
Marquette St. Bonaventure Harvard Canisius
Kansas State Missouri Long Beach State Georgia
SMU Georgia N.C. State Hawai'i
Syracuse (Dayton) Notre Dame New Orleans Missouri
Houston (Dayton) Western Kentucky North Carolina A&T Northeastern
N.C. State (Dayton) Utah Rider Penn
Washington (Dayton) Virginia Tech Syracuse Southeastern Louisiana

Also considered: Maryland, Colorado, LSU, Boise State, UCLA, Wyoming, UCF, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Boston College, Missouri State, BYU, Mississippi State, Oregon, Iowa State, Baylor, Ole Miss, Stanford, Temple, Penn State

Bids by Conference

Conference Bids Teams (in Seed List Order)
Conference Bids Teams (in Seed List Order)
ACC 9 Virginia (auto bid), Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami (Fla.), Louisville, Florida State, Syracuse (First Four), N.C. State (First Four)
Big 12 7 Kansas (auto bid), Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas, Kansas State
Big East 7 Villanova (auto bid), Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence, Creighton, Butler, Marquette
SEC 7 Auburn (auto bid), Kentucky, Tennessee, Floria, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Big Ten 4 Purdue (auto bid), Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan
American 4 Cincinnati (auto bid), Wichita State, SMU, Houston (First Four)
Pac-12 4 Arizona (auto bid), Arizona State, USC, Washington (First Four)
WCC 2 Saint Mary's (auto bid), Gonzaga

Up until today, the SEC has placed the most teams in each of my projected brackets, with the ACC consistently sitting in at least a tie for second. But as you can see immediately above, that’s no longer the case — even with the SEC claiming its challenge series with the Big 12 for the first time. That’s because two of the league’s bubble teams — South Carolina and Georgia — lost their challenge matchups, while the Missouri Tigers, one of the four conference teams to miss the event, lost at Mississippi State — their third straight setback. On the other hand, the Syracuse Orange won for the third consecutive time, while bracket newcomer NC State’s Saturday road win at UNC is the Wolfpack’s fourth over a team ranking in the RPI’s top 15. Sure, a pair of defeats to two teams from outside the top 100 hurts, but they won’t matter if Kevin Keatts’ squad keeps winning — the Pack’s next game comes at home on Saturday against an injury-plagued Notre Dame squad that’s now dropped six in a row.

The Big East and Big 12 continue to supply seven teams each. As for the three four-bid leagues, it seems slightly more likely that the Big Ten increases its total than the Pac-12 and American Athletic do. While Arizona ranks among the top 16 and the USC Trojans look increasingly safe, the Arizona State Sun Devils haven’t won consecutive games since their 12-0 start and the Washington Huskies look very bubbly. That same adjective applies to the Utah Utes, UCLA Bruins, Oregon Ducks, and Colorado Buffaloes. On the flip side, the Big Ten’s Maryland Terrapins, Penn State Nittany Lions, and Nebraska Cornhuskers could conceivably win enough conference games to get back in the picture — though the Terps and Nittany Lions will face a far stronger group of opponents the rest of the way than the Huskers will.

The WCC is the eighth and final multi-bid league, with both the Saint Mary’s Gaels and Gonzaga Bulldogs rolling toward their Feb. 10 rematch in Moraga — and possibly a third showdown in Vegas on the Tuesday of Championship Week.

I’ll be back on Friday with a fresh look at the bid picture heading into the first weekend in February.