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Bracketology 2020: The top of the NCAA tournament bracket is stable. Nothing else is.

Even with all of the chaos of the 2019-20 season, the same quartet somehow have the regional top spots locked down for the third straight week.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco
This week, Gonzaga gets top billing for the bracket post, even if the Bulldogs are the No. 3 overall seed naturally. Baylor needs a break.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Both of the Big 12’s No. 1 seeds from last Tuesday’s bracket, the Baylor Bears and Kansas Jayhawks, recorded wins on Monday night, though to be honest, neither would have slipped off the top line had they dropped their respective games against the Kansas State Wildcats and Texas Longhorns. But Baylor and Kansas no longer find themselves one and two on the seed list. Sure, the Bears remain in the top spot overall, thanks to their 20-1 record, but the San Diego State Aztecs, 22-0 in games against Division I opposition, and Gonzaga Bulldogs, 23-1, rank ahead of the 18-3 Jayhawks for the moment.

But while seed line No. 1 remains remarkably stable, there are a pair of new No. 2 seeds this week, as a pair of conference leaders, the Atlantic 10’s Dayton Flyers and ACC’s Louisville Cardinals, replace the Florida State Seminoles and Seton Hall Pirates. The newcomers find themselves between the holdovers, the Duke Blue Devils and West Virginia Mountaineers.

It was not a great Saturday for Big East home teams, with its effects reverberating throughout the bracket. Aforementioned Seton Hall finds itself on seed line No. 3 following its home loss to the Xavier Musketeers, one of today’s bracket newcomers. The Villanova Wildcats, on the other hand, hit a roadblock on their way to a possible two-seed, the Creighton Bluejays, who have now risen to seed line No. 4 following their victory in Philadelphia. Florida State, victorious over the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday and North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday, and the Pac-12-leading Oregon Ducks, who split their trip to the Bay Area over the weekend, round out the quartet of threes.

Joining Creighton on seed line No. 4 are a Maryland Terrapins squad that’s won four straight, a Michigan State Spartans outfit that dropped a road game to the Wisconsin Badgers and the third Big East outfit that lost at home on Saturday as a ranked team, the Butler Bulldogs.

After today’s full bracket and rundown, I’ll talk a little bit about this bracket’s newcomers and the big annual event that’s coming up on Saturday.

Full seed list

1. South Region (Houston)

St. Louis (Thu./Sat.)

1. Baylor (Big 12) vs. 16. Robert Morris (NEC)/North Carolina A&T (MEAC)
↑8. Michigan vs. 9. Arkansas

Omaha (Fri./Sun.)

5. LSU (SEC) vs. *↓12. Virginia/Memphis
4. Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. 13. North Texas (C-USA)

Albany (Thu./Sat.)

↓6. Kentucky vs. ↑11. Northern Iowa (MVC)
↓3. Seton Hall (Big East) vs. 14. Wright State (Horizon)

St. Louis (Thu./Sat.)

↑7. Wisconsin vs. ↑10. Rhode Island
↑2. Louisville (ACC) vs. 15. South Dakota State (Summit)

4. East Region (New York, New York)

Omaha (Fri./Sun.)

1. Kansas vs. 16. Monmouth (MAAC)/Prairie View A&M (SWAC)
↓8. Houston vs. ↓9. Rutgers

Greensboro, North Carolina (Fri./Sun.)

↑5. Auburn vs. 12. Yale (Ivy)
↑4. Maryland vs. 13. Vermont (Amer. East)

Albany (Thu./Sat.)

6. Illinois vs. *11. Tulsa (American)
3. Villanova vs. *14. Bowling Green (MAC)

Greensboro (Fri./Sun.)

↑7. Stanford vs. 10. Saint Mary’s
2. Duke vs. ↓15. William & Mary (CAA)

2. West Region (Los Angeles)

Sacramento (Fri./Sun.)

1. San Diego State (MW) vs. *16. Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
8. USC vs. *9. Texas Tech

Sacramento (Fri./Sun.)

↑5. Penn State vs. *12. Furman (SoCon)
4. Butler vs. ↑13. New Mexico State (WAC)

Spokane, Washington (Thu./Sat.)

↑6. Marquette vs. 11. BYU
3. Oregon (Pac-12) vs. ↑14. Colgate (Patriot)

Cleveland Fri./Sun.)

↓7. Colorado vs. *10. Mississippi State
2. West Virginia vs. 15. Murray State (OVC)

3. Midwest Region (Indianapolis )

Spokane (Thu./Sat.)

1. Gonzaga (WCC) vs. *16. North Florida (ASUN)
↓8. Wichita State vs. ↓9. Indiana

Tampa (Thu./Sat.)

↓5. Iowa vs. ↑12. Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
↑4. Creighton vs. ↑13. UC Irvine (Big West)

Tampa (Thu./Sat.)

↑6. Arizona vs. ↓*11. Oklahoma/Xavier
↓3. Florida State vs. ↑14. Winthrop (Big South)

Cleveland (Fri./Sun.)

7. Ohio State vs. 10. Florida
↑2. Dayton (A 10) vs. ↑15. Little Rock (Sun Belt)


Bids by Conference: 10 Big Ten, 6 Big East, 6 SEC, 5 Big 12, 5 Pac-12, 4 AAC, 4 ACC, 3 WCC, 2 A 10, 23 one-bid conferences

Last Four Byes: Saint Mary’s, Florida, BYU, Mississippi State
Last Four IN: Oklahoma, Virginia, Xavier, Memphis
First Four OUT: VCU, Alabama, Cincinnati, Georgetown
Next Four OUT: ETSU, Purdue, Minnesota, Utah State

Lowest-Ranked NET At-Large: Virginia (58)
Highest-Ranked NET Exclusion: VCU (36)

New Today (10/68): Bowling Green, Eastern Washington, Furman, Mississippi State, North Carolina A&T, North Florida, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Virginia, Xavier
Leaving Today: Akron, Alabama, ETSU, Liberty, Minnesota, Montana, Norfolk State, Purdue, VCU, Virginia Tech

Bracket Notes

  • While the BYU Cougars are a true 10-seed after their Saturday night victory over the Saint Mary’s Gaels, I needed to drop them down to the 11 line to ensure their placement in Thursday/Saturday sites for both the first and second rounds and regional weekend. The Mississippi State Bulldogs, a new at-large entrant, were bumped to the 10 line in exchange.
  • Saturday’s top-two Elite Eight doubleheader would feature three teams from outside of the traditional power conferences, with Gonzaga-Dayton in Indianapolis and San Diego State-West Virginia in Los Angeles. Sunday’s action would undoubtedly start with Baylor and Louisville in Houston and conclude with the Kansas-Duke blue blood showdown.

The Cut Line

Friday’s bubble update featured four new at-large entrants. Three of them, Mississippi State, the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Virginia Cavaliers remain, while the Utah State Aggies fell back out after a loss at San Diego State. As I mentioned above, Xavier is now in the field thanks to Saturday’s win at Seton Hall and bubble victories over the TCU Horned Frogs, Cincinnati Bearcats and Georgetown Hoyas. The Musketeers replace an Alabama Crimson Tide team that has dropped two straight, including Saturday’s home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The VCU Rams also dropped out today, thanks in part to Friday’s night loss at Rhode Island, a result that gave David Cox’s version of the Rams a season sweep. However, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane’s buzzer-beating win over the Wichita State Shockers, a result that put Frank Haith’s team in the field as the American’s auto bid holder, was equally responsible for VCU’s exclusion.

I’ll have far more bubble talk in Friday’s post, which will be my final attempt to project the field before the Selection Committee presents its annual bracket preview on Saturday afternoon. If the show is anything like the previous three editions, the committee’s will provide far more information about which metrics it values the most. And that will be extra valuable in forecasting what’s to come in what’s been a most unusual season so far.