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Bracketology 2018: Purdue and West Virginia would be No. 1 seeds if the NCAA tournament started today

Say hello to Purdue and West Virginia and goodbye to Michigan State and Oklahoma following a wild first weekend of January.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, bracket newcomer Georgia Bulldogs rolled the Alabama Crimson Tide in the hardwood appetizer to Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game. But not only was the Bulldogs’ dominant 65-46 victory over the Tide a lousy predictor of the title tilt, it also got lost in the shuffle of a jam-packed first college basketball Saturday of 2018.

And what a day it was — with nine teams from the top 25 tasting defeat. And while four of those defeats were destined to happen, thanks to the quartet of all-Top 25 showdowns on the day’s slate, five ranked teams fell to unranked foes — with four of those defeats coming on the road. The exception: the Texas A&M Aggies home defeat at the hands of the LSU Tigers, courtesy of an unfathomable Tremont Waters buzzer-beater.

And while Sunday was a little more stable, it still provided a seismic result. The Michigan State Spartans, winners of 14 straight since a Nov. 14 loss to the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic, saw that streak end at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. Going on the road in college basketball can indeed be cruel. That result both pushed the Buckeyes into this projection and knocked the Spartans from Friday’s group of No. 1 seeds. But that doesn’t mean the Big Ten is absent from the top line — the Purdue Boilermakers, a two seed on Friday, replace Sparty as the top team in the Midwest Region.

The Oklahoma Sooners, another victim of the road trip blues, also plummeted from the top line, though their replacement is the very team that defeated them in Morgantown — the West Virginia Mountaineers. On the other hand, Duke remains a No. 1 despite picking up a road loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack. That’s thanks to both the Blue Devils’ place at the top of the RPI table and their ownership of three Tier 1 wins. Oklahoma can boast just two of those and Michigan State one. Last, but certainly not least, the Villanova Wildcats picked up a home win over the Marquette Golden Eagles to hold steady as the No. 1 overall seed.

Both Oklahoma and Michigan State dropped to the three seed line, where they’re joined by the Arizona Wildcats and Seton Hall Pirates. That’s because the Kansas Jayhawks, who took down the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, and Virginia Cavaliers, home victors over the North Carolina Tar Heels, join two holdovers, the Arizona State Sun Devils and Xavier Musketeers, as No. 2 seeds. The Musketeers remain in place despite falling to another bracket newcomer, the Providence Friars, in yet another road upset. North Carolina, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Cincinnati Bearcats, and TCU comprise the quartet of No. 4 seeds.

After today’s full bracket, I’ll have a note about Friday’s post, which relates to the new addition at the end of the rundown.

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

Boston (Fri/Sun) Atlanta (Thu/Sat)
Boston (Fri/Sun) Atlanta (Thu/Sat)
Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat) Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
1. Villanova 1. Duke
16. New Orleans/Bethune-Cookman 16. Colgate (Patriot)
8. Rhode Island (A 10) 8. Arkansas
9. Maryland 9. Ohio State
Boise (Thu/Sat) Dallas (Thu/Sat)
5. Wichita State (American) 5. Clemson
12. Buffalo (MAC) 12. Old Dominion (C-USA)
4. TCU 4. Texas Tech
13. William & Mary (CAA) 13. Lipscomb (ASUN)
Wichita (Thu/Sat) San Diego (Fri/Sun)
6. Butler 6. Florida (SEC)
11. St. Bonaventure/Alabama 11. Saint Mary's (WCC)
3. Oklahoma 3. Arizona
14. Wright State (Horizon) 14. Murray State (OVC)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun) Detroit (Fri/Sun)
7. Creighton 7. Texas A&M
10. Washington 10. Notre Dame
2. Virginia (ACC) 2. Xavier
15. Penn (Ivy) 15. Murray State (OVC)

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

Los Angeles (Thu/Sat) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat) Detroit (Fri/Sun)
1. West Virginia (Big 12) 1. Purdue (Big Ten)
16. Robert Morris (NEC) 16. Oral Roberts/Texas Southern
8. Michigan 8. Georgia
9. Nevada (MW) 9. SMU
Dallas (Thu/Sat) Boise (Thu/Sat)
5. Auburn 5. Kentucky
12. New Mexico State (WAC) 12. Louisiana (Sun Belt)
4. North Carolina 4. Cincinnati
13. ETSU (SoCon) 13. Vermont (AmEast)
Nashville (Fri/Sun) Nashville (Fri/Sun)
6. Tennessee 6. Miami
11. Texas/Minnesota 11. UCLA (Pac-12)
3. Michigan State 3. Seton Hall (Big East)
14. Rider (MAAC) 14. Radford (Big South)
San Diego (Fri/Sun) Wichita (Thu/Sat)
7. Gonzaga 7. Florida State
10. Providence 10. Marquette
2. Arizona State 2. Kansas
15. Cal State Fullerton (Big West) 15. Drake (MVC)

First Four

To Pittsburgh (Tue) To Detroit (Wed) To Wichita (Tue) To Nashville (Wed)
16. New Orleans (Southland) 16. Oral Roberts (Summit) 11. St. Bonaventure 11. Texas
16. Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) 16. Jackson State (SWAC) 11. Alabama 11. Minnesota


Marquette Missouri Bethune-Cookman Boise State
Washington Syracuse Buffalo Canisius
Notre Dame Houston Cal State Fullerton Central Michigan
Providence USC Drake College of Charleston
Texas (Dayton) Utah Georgia Missouri
St. Bonaventure (Dayton) Belmont Jackson State Missouri State
Minnesota (Dayton) Colorado Notre Dame N.C. Central
Alabama (Dayton) Baylor Ohio State Prairie View A&M
Oral Roberts South Dakota
Providence Syracuse
Rider Tulsa
William & Mary USC

Bids by Conference (23 one-bid leagues)

Conference Bids Teams (in Seed List Order)
Conference Bids Teams (in Seed List Order)
SEC 8 Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida (auto bid), Texas A&M, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama (First Four)
ACC 7 Duke, Virginia (auto bid), North Carolina, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame
Big East 7 Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall (auto bid), Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence
Big 12 6 West Virginia (auto bid), Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas (First Four)
Big Ten 6 Purdue (auto bid), Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota (First Four)
Pac-12 4 Arizona State, Arizona, Washington, UCLA (auto bid)
American 3 Cincinnati, Wichita State (auto bid), SMU
A 10 2 Rhode Island (auto bid), St. Bonaventure (First Four)
WCC 2 Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (auto bid)

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Nebraska, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Penn State, San Diego San Diego State, South Carolina, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Western Kentucky

Instead of a full bracket on Friday, I’ll turn my attention to an exercise I usually attempt each January — projecting each conference’s March bid total. As you might guess based on the breakdown immediately above, 2018 isn’t shaping up to be a typical year. And that’s not just because the SEC is leading the way. This campaign is just looking like one where potentially messy conference results (looking at you in particular, Pac-12 and Big Ten) could lead to some major variance in bid totals between mid-season and Selection Sunday.