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Bracketology 2018: Duke drops down to No. 2 seed, Kansas rises to top line

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While the Jayhawks advanced to the Big 12 title game by defeating Kansas State for a third time, a late Blue Devils rally against North Carolina in Brooklyn fell just a bit short.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Kansas State v Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday morning, I wrote that the ACC Tournament, Big 12 Tournament and Big East Tournament semifinals would be the biggest games of the weekend in terms of shaping the top line. That turned out to be true thanks to this combination of results:

  • The Kansas Jayhawks (26-7) claimed a place in the Big 12 final by topping the Kansas State Wildcats, 83-67. They’ll take on the West Virginia Mountaineers, now a four seed in this projection after their win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, in Saturday night’s final (6 p.m. Eastern, ESPN). With seven losses, Bill Self’s team probably needs to win, as no team with eight defeats has ever reached the top line. But not many of those teams could also claim 12 RPI top 50 wins.
  • A little later in the evening, the Duke Blue Devils (26-7) fell short against the North Carolina Tar Heels (25-9) in the second ACC semifinal. As a result, I dropped the Blue Devils to sixth overall, behind new No. 1 seed Kansas and the Tar Heels, who currently hold the top No. 2 seed. I doubt that nine-loss UNC will rise to the top line, even if they pick up a fifth top 50 win by defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC championship (8:30 p.m., ESPN), thanks to those losses.
  • The Cavaliers (30-2) also held off a late rally, this time by the Clemson Tigers, in the first ACC semifinal to put themselves in great position to grab the No. 1 overall seed with a victory on Saturday.
  • Virginia’s main competition for that honor is the Big East’s Villanova Wildcats (29-4). After their resounding 87-68 triumph over the Butler Bulldogs, they’ll face the Providence Friars in Saturday’s Big East finale (6:30 p.m., Fox).
  • Ed Cooley’s squad topped the Big East’s other No. 1 seed contender, the Xavier Musketeers (28-5), after overtime in the first semifinal at Madison Square Garden. I’m keeping Xavier on the top line for now, though it’s a close call between the Musketeers, who have the advantage in RPI, overall record and record away from home, and Duke, who has the advantage in quality wins and predictive metrics, though the Blue Devils own worse losses (at St. John’s and Boston College).

Here’s Saturday’s full bracket and rundown, incorporating the changes I made in Friday night’s bubble review.

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

Atlanta (Thu./Sat.) Boston (Fri./Sun.)
Atlanta (Thu./Sat.) Boston (Fri./Sun.)
Charlotte (Fri./Sun.) Pittsburgh (Thu./Sat.)
1. Virginia (ACC) 1. Villanova (Big East)
16. SE La./Ark.-Pine Bluff 16. LIU BROOKLYN/Hampton
↑8. Providence 8. Virginia Tech
↓9. Nevada 9. St. Bonaventure
San Diego (Fri./Sun.) Dallas (Thu./Sat.)
5. Ohio State ↓5. Texas Tech
12. New Mexico State (WAC) *12. WKU (C-USA)
↑4. West Virginia ↓4. Auburn
↑13. UNCG (SoCon) ↓13. Buffalo (MAC)
Nashville (Fri./Sun.) Wichita (Thu./Sat.)
6. Miami (Fla.) ↓6. Florida
11. Texas/Arizona State ↓11. UCLA
3. MICHIGAN (Big Ten) 3. Michigan State
14. CHARLESTON (CAA) 14. BUCKNELL (Patriot)
Detroit (Fri./Sun.) Charlotte (Fri./Sun.)
7. Texas A&M 7. Rhode Island (A 10)
10. Creighton ↑10. USC
2. Cincinnati (American) 2. North Carolina
15. WRIGHT STATE (Horizon) ↑15. LIPSCOMB (ASUN)

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

Los Angeles (Thu./Sat.) Omaha (Fri./Sun.)
Los Angeles (Thu./Sat.) Omaha (Fri./Sun.)
Detroit (Fri./Sun.) Wichita (Thu./Sat.)
1. Xavier 1. Kansas (Big 12)
16. RADFORD (Big South) *16. UC Irvine (Big West)
8. Kansas State 8. Missouri
9. Florida State 9. Butler
Boise (Thu./Sat.) Boise (Thu./Sat.)
5. Kentucky 5. Clemson
↑12. SOUTH DAKOTA ST. (Summit) 12. MURRAY STATE (OVC)
4. GONZAGA (WCC) 4. Wichita State
13. Vermont (AE) 13. Louisiana (Sun Belt)
San Diego (Fri./Sun.) Dallas (Thu./Sat.)
6. Arkansas 6. Houston
↑11. LOYOLA (ILL.) (MVC) 11. Oklahoma/Syracuse
↑3. Arizona (Pac-12) 3. Tennessee (SEC)
14. Montana (Big Sky) *14. New Mexico (MW)
Pittsburgh (Thu./Sat.) Nashville (Fri./Sun.)
↑7. Seton Hall 7. TCU
↑10. Alabama 10. N.C. State
2. Duke 2. Purdue
15. Harvard (Ivy) 15. IONA (MAAC)

First Four

SOUTH (Automatic) EAST (Automatic) WEST (At-Large) MIDWEST (At-Large)
SOUTH (Automatic) EAST (Automatic) WEST (At-Large) MIDWEST (At-Large)
To Charlotte (Wed.) To Pittsburgh (Tue.) To Nashville (Wed.) To Dallas (Tue.)
(to play Virginia) (to play Villanova) (to play Miami) (to play Houston)
16. SE Louisiana (Southland) 16. LIU BROOKLYN (NEC) ↓11. Texas ↓11. Oklahoma
16. Ark.-Pine Bluff (SWAC) 16. Hampton (MEAC) *11. Arizona State *11. Syracuse
KEY: ALL CAPS = clinched auto bid * = new to bracket ↑ = seed rising ↓ = seed falling

Rundown

LAST EIGHT IN FIRST EIGHT OUT DROPPING OFF ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
LAST EIGHT IN FIRST EIGHT OUT DROPPING OFF ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
N.C. State Middle Tennessee Penn State Arizona State Baylor
Alabama Saint Mary's Mississippi State New Mexico Middle Tennessee
USC Louisville Oregon Syracuse Old Dominion
UCLA Baylor Georgia UC Irvine Saint Mary's
Texas (Dayton) Marquette Utah Western Kentucky UC Davis
Oklahoma (Dayton) Notre Dame Boise State
Arizona State (Dayton) Oklahoma State Washington
Syracuse (Dayton) Nebraska LSU

Note: The teams under the “Dropping Off” column will not feature in future updates.

Currently, only 13 teams have claimed automatic bids to the 2018 NCAA Tournament, but that number will more than double Saturday, thanks to the 14 conference title games on today’s slate. You can find information on all of them at Conference Tournament Central.