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Bracketology 2011: Ohio State, Kansas, Pitt, Duke Likely No. 1 Seeds

After a little more than four months worth of games, including a week and a half full of conference tournament action, it's nearly time for all 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket questions to be answered and for all 68 teams to know their path through March Madness to the Final Four in Houston.

Before I jump into the final projection of the year, and one final look at the Last Four In and First Six Out, here are the biggest.changes from this morning's bracket projection.

Duke claimed the final No. 1 seed with its 75-58 win over North Carolina in the ACC final. The Tar Heels drop from a two to a three with the loss. I slotted the Blue Devils in the Southeast, not the West, however. Just a hunch. The Blue Devils join Ohio State, Kansas, and Pittsburgh on the top line, but don't be surprised if Notre Dame replaces the Panthers.

The Buckeyes are the likely No. 1 overall seed after their 71-60 victory over Penn State in the Big Ten final.

Florida also drops down to line No. 3 after a 70-54 loss to Kentucky in the SEC Championship Game. The Wildcats remain a four seed with the win, thanks to having a weaker road/neutral record than Syracuse and BYU, who are ahead of them on my S-curve.

Big East Tournament champion Connecticut, owner of 12 wins over the RPI Top 50, and Big 12 regular season and tourney runner-up Texas, replace the Tar Heels and Gators on line two.

Richmond claimed the Atlantic 10 title with a 67-54 victory over Dayton. That means the Last Four In from this morning remain in place, just in a slightly different order.

Now, here's one last look at the bracket.

National Semifinal Matchups

(1) East vs. (4) West
(2) Southwest vs. (3) Southeast

First Four

Automatic Bid Teams
March 15: ALABAMA STATE (SWAC) (NEW) vs. UNC ASHEVILLE (Big South) to Washington on March 17th
March 16: ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (Sun Belt) vs. TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (Southland) to Cleveland on March 18th

At-Large Teams (Last Four In)
March 15: St. Mary's vs.USC to Tampa on March 17th
March 16: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech to Chicago on March 18th

Next Four In (automatically in the Round of 64): Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, Colorado

Previous seeds are in parentheses. Teams that have earned an auto bid are in ALL CAPS.

Newark (March 25 and 27)
San Antonio (March 25 and 27)
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
1. OHIO STATE (Big Ten)
1. KANSAS (Big 12)
8. Florida State
8. UNLV (7) 
9. Villanova (10)  
Denver (Thu/Sat)
Chicago (Fri/Sun)
5. Vanderbilt
5. Arizona
12. Georgia/Virginia Tech
4. Louisville 
13. OAKLAND (Summit)
4. Purdue
13. BELMONT (Atlantic Sun)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun) Tampa (Thu/Sat)
6. Xavier
11. Penn State
6. Cincinnati
11. Michigan State 
3. North Carolina (2)
14. WOFFORD (Southern) 
3. Florida (2)
14. BUCKNELL (Patriot)
Chicago (Fri/Sun) Washington (Thu/Sat)
7. Kansas State
10. UCLA
7. Temple
10. BUTLER (Horizon)
2. Notre Dame
2. CONNECTICUT (Big East) (3) 
15. ST. PETER'S (Metro Atlantic)  
(Anaheim: March 24 and 26)
(New Orleans: March 24 and 26)
Washington (Thu/Sat)
Charlotte (Fri/Sun)
1. Pittsburgh
16. Boston University (America East)
8. George Mason
9. Tennessee (8) 
8. Missouri (9)
9. Marquette  
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
Tampa (Thu/Sat)
5. St. John's 
12. Colorado 
5. West Virginia (6)
12. St. Mary's/USC
4. Wisconsin
13. INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley)
Cleveland (Fri/Sun)
Denver (Thu/Sat)
6. Texas A&M
11. RICHMOND (A-10) 
6. Georgetown (5)
11. Illinois (12) 
3. Syracuse
14. LONG ISLAND (Northeast)
3. BYU
14. MOREHEAD STATE (Ohio Valley)
Tucson (Thu/Sat)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
7. WASHINGTON (Pac-10) (8)
10. Michigan
7. OLD DOMINION (Colonial)
10. GONZAGA (West Coast) (9)
2. SAN DIEGO STATE  (Mountain West)
2. Texas (3)

Conference Breakdown

Big East: 11
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 6
SEC: 5
ACC, Pac-10: 4
A-10, MWC: 3
21 one-bid conferences

Last Four In

Virginia Tech Hokies (21-11, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 61
SOS: 90
Non-Conf. SOS: 82
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-6
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-11
Road/Neutral Record: 10-8
Quality Wins: Duke, Penn State, Florida State (N), Florida State
Troublesome Losses: at Clemson, Boston College, at Boston College, Virginia, at Virginia
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at Georgia Tech
Considering all of the injury issues the Hokies have had this season, it's miraculous they're even in the bid picture. While the team owns wins over Duke and Florida State (twice), it lost all three games it played against Boston College and Clemson, its ACC bubble brethren. Seth Greenberg went out of his way to schedule a tougher non-conference slate, but his team only won two games with any real value (Penn State and Oklahoma State in Anaheim). Getting swept by Virginia hurts more than the bad RPI loss to Georgia Tech because the Hokies took care of the Yellow Jackets in their next two meetings.

Georgia Bulldogs (22-11, 9-7 SEC East)
RPI: 45
SOS: 40
Non-Conf. SOS: 56
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-9
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-11
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 12-11
Road/Neutral Record: 9-7
Quality Wins: Kentucky, UAB, at Tennessee, Colorado
Troublesome Losses: Alabama (N), at Alabama
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:None
The Bulldogs are not in the discussion really because of what they've done, especially after that debacle against Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, but because of what they haven't done. On the plus side, Georgia has some decent wins, including ones over bubble teams Colorado and UAB, and a road/neutral record that's over .500. Somewhat negatively, they have a record against the top 200 that's barely above average; however, all of those losses came against teams ranked in the RPI Top 100, as Georgia was perfect against the bottom half of D1. In a year when just about every bubble team has some really bad losses, that fact helps the Bulldogs' case considerably.

USC Trojans (19-14, 10-8 Pac-10)
RPI: 67
SOS: 39
Non-Conf. SOS: 163
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 5-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-11
Road/Neutral Record: 7-10
Quality Wins: Texas, Arizona, at Tennessee, at Washington, UCLA
Troublesome Losses: at Nebaska, Rider, Oregon, at Oregon
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley
The Trojans missed a huge opportunity when they lost their Pac-10 semifinal to Arizona on Friday night, but this team, despite some bad losses, has a decent chance at a bid, thanks to numerous quality wins. Sure, the Trojans have several bad losses, but keep in mind that three of them came when Jio Fontan was not yet eligible to play for the Men of Troy. But on the other hand, they dropped three of their four games to the Oregon schools with him in the lineup. Still, with victories over Texas and Arizona at home and at Tennessee and Washington, the Trojans have shown they can play with anyone.\

St. Mary's Gaels (23-8, 11-3 WCC)
RPI: 44
SOS: 99
Non-Conf. SOS: 137
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 3-6
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-7
Road/Neutral Record: 10-6
Quality Wins: St. John's, at Gonzaga
Troublesome Losses: Gonzaga (N), at Gonzaga, at Portland
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at San Diego
The Gaels' two biggest strengths are their ability to defeat bad teams, as they went 15-1 against the bottom half of Division I, and their record away from home. A lack of quality wins overall and relatively weak finish (the Gaels went 7-5 in their last 12 games) are minuses. Strong computer numbers and a more competitive WCC should help Randy Bennett's team earn a bid, however.

First Six Out

Clemson Tigers (21-11, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 50
SOS: 71
Non-Conf. SOS: 146
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 0-6
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 9-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-11
Road/Neutral Record: 6-9
Quality Wins: Florida State, Boston College (N), Boston College, Virginia Tech
Troublesome Losses: at Maryland, at N.C. State, at South Carolina, at Virginia
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:None
Clemson has a shot simply because they have been playing very competitively of late and boast a 3-0 record against their ACC bubble competitors. Outside of the conference, the Tigers have very little on their profile, as their best wins came against College of Charleston and Long Beach State, both of whom are destined for the NIT. A 6-9 mark away from Littlejohn Coliseum also doesn't help mattersa. Still, this team passes the eye test based on their two games in Greensboro, so they have a decent shot at selection.

Boston College Eagles (20-12, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 57
SOS: 38
Non-Conf. SOS: 281
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-7
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-10
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 15-12
Road/Neutral Record: 8-8
Quality Wins: Texas A&M (N), at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech
Troublesome Losses: Harvard, Clemson (N), at Clemson, Miami, at Miami, at Rhode Island
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:Yale
The Eagles' biggest problem is that they couldn't play as consistently in the ACC as they did in the non-conference season. Since Boston College lost to Harvard, Yale, and Rhode Island in that time, that speaks volumes for the issues they had when they were winning more regularly. In the league, they swept Virginia Tech and did little else, losing season series to Clemson and Miami, a team that's not even close to the field.

Harvard Crimson (21-6, 12-3 Ivy)
RPI: 32
SOS: 154
Non-Conf. SOS: 119
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 1-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 10-6
Road/Neutral Record: 9-6
Quality Wins: Princeton, at Boston College, Colorado
Troublesome Losses: at Princeton, Princeton (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Yale
Despite a good position in the RPI, two losses in Yale's Lee Amphitheater may cost the Crimson a place in the field of 68. The first was a February 26th loss to the Bulldogs, and the second was yesterday's Ivy tiebreaker loss to Princeton. Wins over Boston College and Colorado, two other bubble residents, should provide a boost, but I'm just not sure the committee will give an at-large bid to an Ivy member, even if the Crimson's profile compares favorably (and is even better than) some of their other competitors'.

Alabama Crimson Tide (22-11, 12-4 SEC West)
RPI: 78
SOS: 127
Non-Conf. SOS: 253
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 4-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-7
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 10-11
Road/Neutral Record: 5-11
Quality Wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, Georgia (N), Georgia
Troublesome Losses: St. Peter's (N), Seton Hall (N), at Arkansas
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Providence, Iowa (N)
Even with a sweep of Georgia, the Crimson Tide appear to be out because of too many flaws on their profile, which makes it far inferior to that of the Bulldogs'. The two biggest strikes against Alabama are its weak strength of schedule (both overall and outside of the SEC) and a poor record away from Tuscaloosa. The fact Alabama's record against the top 200 teams in the country is under .500 is bad enough, but two losses against teams rated in the bottom half of Division I make that mark so much worse. Losing to the two best teams in the conference, Florida and Kentucky, in blowout fashion the span of 12 days is also not helpful in a year where the committee will be looking for reasons to leave teams out.

VCU Rams (23-11, 12-6 CAA)
RPI: 51
SOS: 86
Non-Conf. SOS: 268
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 12-10
Road/Neutral Record: 13-8
Quality Wins: at Old Dominion, George Mason (N), UCLA (N)
Troublesome Losses: at UAB, James Madison
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at South Florida, at Northeastern, at Georgia State
A trio of bad losses, a 2-3 mark against the CAA's likely two bid teams (with three of the losses coming in Richmond), and a loss at fellow bubble team UAB look likely to keep the CAA Tournament runner-up (and fourth-place regular season finisher) Rams out of the field.

UAB Blazers (22-8, 12-4 C-USA)
RPI: 31
SOS: 79
Non-Conf. SOS: 316
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 0-4
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 10-7
Record vs. RPI Top 200: 13-8
Road/Neutral Record: 9-6
Quality Wins: VCU
Troublesome Losses: East Carolina (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses:at Arizona State
The Blazers have just one quality win on their profile, a December 21st home win over VCU. Even though they won the Conference USA regular season crown, UAB was swept by Memphis (granted both games were very close). They also lost their first game in the league tournament, falling to an East Carolina team they had defeated by 18 just five days before. There simply isn't enough on the Blazers' resume for them to receive a bid, but then again, I said virtually the same thing about UTEP last season.

All that's left is to see what the committee thinks. I, for one, can't wait to see how they dealt with the confusion at the bottom of the at-large pool.