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Notre Dame’s the new No. 1 in our latest NCAA tourney projections

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Less than a week until Selection Sunday and we have a lot to be decided in conference tournaments.  We also have at least one spot up for grabs at the top.  Today, Notre Dame grabs the final No. 1 seed and is slotted out West – with opening games in Chicago.  Ohio State is a lock for the top line. Pittsburgh and Kansas are looking very strong, too. 

Here are some teams who have the most at stake entering conference tournament play: Michigan State, Alabama, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Boston College, Marquette, Penn State, Colorado State, Washington State, and Memphis. I would expect we’ll see some changes at the bottom of the bracket throughout the week – especially if we get a few upsets.  Stay tuned.

UPDATED: Monday, March 7 | Records reflect Division I games only – through March 6.

NEW: Teams in CAPS represent the AUTOMATIC bid champion for this bracket. Exceptions are made for those teams that traditionally use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc).

NOTE: In the new 68-team format you will notice two pairing games that represent the First Four pairings. In this bracket the First Four games in Dayton would be … Alabama vs. Butler | Michigan State vs. Clemson | Texas Southern vs. McNeese State | UNC-ASHEVILLE vs. Bethune-Cookman. The final four at-large teams are paired along with the teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve. The matchups are indicated in the bracket below.

Next Update: Wednesday, March 9.

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Cleveland   Cleveland
1) Ohio State (29-2)   1) PITTSBURGH (27-4)
16) Beth-Cookman / NC-ASHEVILLE   16) McNeese State / Texas-Southern
8  UCLA (22-9)   8  George Mason (26-6)
9) Old Dominion (25-6)   9) Illinois (19-12)
     
Tampa   Tampa
5) Texas AM (22-7)   5) Connecticut (21-9)
12) Alabama / Butler   12) BELMONT (30-4)  
4) Louisville (23-8)   4) Florida (24-6)
13) Harvard (21-5)   13) Charleston (24-9)
     
Washington, DC   Denver
6) Vanderbilt (21-9)   6) Temple (24-6)
11) Michigan (18-12)   11) Gonzaga (23-9)
3) Syracuse (25-6)   3) Wisconsin (23-7)
14) Milwaukee (19-12)   14) Kent State (20-10)
     
Charlotte   Tulsa
7) UNLV (23-7)   7) Arizona (25-6)
10) Richmond (24-7)   10) Marquette (18-13)
2) Duke (27-4)   2) Texas (25-6)
15) Long Island (26-5)   15) MOREHEAD STATE (23-9)
     
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Tulsa   Chicago
1) Kansas (28-2)   1) Notre Dame (25-5)
16) Boston University (19-13)   16) North Texas (20-10)
8  Utah State (27-3)   8  Missouri (21-9)
9) Tennessee (18-13)   9) Florida State (21-9)
     
Washington, DC   Tucson
5) Xavier (24-6)   5) West Virginia (20-10)
12) Michigan State / Clemson   12) UAB (22-7)  
4) St. John’s (20-10)   4) Kentucky (22-8)
13) Iona (22-10)   13) Oakland (22-9)
     
Chicago   Charlotte
6) Cincinnati (24-7)   6) Georgetown (21-9)
11) Boston College (19-11)   11) St. Mary’s (22-7)
3) Purdue (25-6)   3) North Carolina (23-6)
14) INDIANA STATE (19-13)   14) Bucknell (24-8)
     
Tucson   Denver
7) Villanova (21-9)   7) Kansas State (21-9)
10) Georgia (20-10)   10) Washington (20-10)
2) San Diego State (27-2)   2) BYU (27-3)
15) Northern Colorado (17-10)   15) Long Beach State (18-10)

 

 

NOTES on the BRACKET: Ohio State remains the No. 1 overall seed followed by Pittsburgh, Kansas, and Notre Dame. The two seeds in order are Texas, Duke, BYU, San Diego State

Last Five teams in (at large): Michigan, Michigan State, Butler, Clemson, Alabama

First Five teams out (at large): Virginia Tech, Colorado, VCU, Penn State, Missouri State

Next in Line: Colorado State, New Mexico, Washington State, Memphis, Baylor

Bracket adjustments: None in this update.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (11): Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville, St. John’s, Cincinnati, Marquette

Big Ten (6): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan

SEC (6): Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri, Kansas State

ACC (5): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Clemson

Pac 10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington

Mountain West (3): San Diego State, BYU, UNLV

Atlantic 10 (3): Xavier, Temple, Richmond

Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion

West Coast (2): St. Mary’s, Gonzaga

Horizon (2): Milwaukee, Butler

Conference USA (1): UAB

Missouri Valley (1): INDIANA STATE

Conference leaders/champions … Utah State (WAC), MOREHEAD STATE (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), BELMONT (Atlantic Sun), North Texas (Sun Belt), Harvard (Ivy), UNC-ASHEVILLE (Big South), Bethune-cookman (MEAC), BUCKNELL (Patriot), Boston University (America East), McNeese State(Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC)

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.