Latest NCAA tourney projections kind to Kansas, not Ohio St.


After a somewhat bumpy weekend, not a lot has changed from Saturday.  Kentucky (South), Syracuse (East), Michigan State (Midwest), and Kansas (West) remain No. 1 seeds.  Ohio State’s home loss to Wisconsin drops the Buckeyes to No. 8 on the s-curve.  That means the Buckeyes are one spot from falling to a No. 3 seed.  Baylor, Marquette, and Georgetown are all in play for OSU’s spot heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Duke is next in line for a one-seed, and does hold tie-breaker advantages over both MSU and KU thanks to head-to-head victories.  As we noted Saturday, however, the Spartans and Jayhawks both have outright leads in the Big Ten and Big 12.  Although Duke won the its initial matchup with North Carolina, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are tied for the ACC lead.

Overall, we have just two changes to today’s bracket – plus some minor seeding adjustments.  Colorado State and Arizona slide out.  St. Joseph’s and Northwestern move in and join the First Four groupings in Dayton.  In Arizona’s case, the Wildcats were simply passed on the s-curve. Barely beating UCLA at home wasn’t enough help. UA hold its final at-large position.  Colorado State lost at San Diego State.  Not a bad loss, but it drops the Rams to 2-9 on the road.  St. Joseph’s (Creighton) and Northwestern (Seton Hall) also have better out-of-conference wins than CSU.

The margins separating these teams – along with several others – are very thin.  Expect this give and take to continue until someone plays their way in, or more likely, out.  Among those considered for the final spots, Northwestern was the only team without a sub-100 RPI loss.  In fact, all but two of the Wildcats’ losses have come to Top 40 RPI teams.  That alone won’t carry NW into the NCAAs, but it’s enough to give them a slight edge today.  Compared side-by-side, Northwestern has six (6) Top 100 wins while Miami has three (3).  That and a higher strength of schedule gives the Wildcats a small edge on the Hurricanes.

You’ll notice that both First Four winners are slotted into 11-seed locations.  As one at-large First Four game will be played Tuesday and one Wednesday, the Selection Committee will try to locate one to a Thursday-Saturday site and one to a Friday-Sunday site.  That is replicated here.  The only way that could be accomplished within the current bracket was to send them to Louisville and Columbus (plus both are close for travel from Dayton).  Washington and Southern Mississippi fall to the 12-seed line by virtue of the procedural bump.

March is three days away.  Enjoy the hoops.

UPDATED: Monday, Feb. 27

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc). Records are for games against Division I teams only.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Dayton (18-10) vs. Texas (18-11) | West Region
  • St. Joseph’s (19-11) vs. Northwestern (17-11) | Midwest Region
  • MISS VALLEY ST (17-11) vs. SAVANNAH ST (17-10) | South Region
  • STONY BROOK (18-8) vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE (16-9) | East Region


EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta                                      
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (29-1) 1) KENTUCKY (28-1)
8) Purdue (19-10) 8) Virginia (21-7)
9) MEMPHIS (21-8) 9) Cincinnati (20-9)
Portland Albuquerque
5) Florida (22-7) 5) UNLV (22-6)
12) BYU (22-7) 12) Xavier (18-10)
4) TEMPLE (22-6) 4) Indiana (22-7)
13) ORAL ROBERTS (26-5) 13) DREXEL (25-5)
Albuquerque Nashville
6) Creighton (25-5) 6) Florida State (19-9)
11) California (23-7) 11) Mississippi State (19-10)
3) Baylor (23-5) 3) Georgetown (20-6)
14) NEVADA (21-5) 14) AKRON (19-9)
Greensboro, N.C. Pittsburgh
7) Gonzaga (23-5) 7) Kansas State (19-9)
10) West Virginia (17-12) 10) St. Louis (21-6)
2) North Carolina (25-4) 2) Ohio State (23-6)
15) VALPARAISO (18-10) 15) BELMONT (23-7)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Columbus Omaha
1) MICHIGAN STATE (23-5) 1) KANSAS (24-5)
16) LONG ISLAND (22-8) 16) UT-ARLINGTON (20-6)
8) Iowa State (21-8) 8) ST. MARY’S (23-5)
9) Alabama (19-9) 9) Connecticut (17-11)
Portland Nashville
5) Notre Dame (20-9) 5) Louisville (22-7)
12) WASHINGTON (20-8) 12) Southern Mississippi (21-6)
4) WICHITA STATE (25-4) 4) Wisconsin (20-8)
13) LONG BEACH (19-7) 13) IONA (24-6)
Louisville Columbus
6) MURRAY STATE (25-1) 6) Vanderbilt (19-9)
11) St. Joseph’s / Northwestern 11) Dayton / Texas
3) Marquette (24-5) 3) Michigan (20-8)
14) MID TENNESSEE ST (22-5) 14) DAVIDSON (21-7)
Omaha Greensboro
7) San Diego State (20-6) 7) New Mexico (21-6)
10) HARVARD (22-4) 10) Seton Hall (19-10)
2) Missouri (25-4) 2) DUKE (25-4)
15) WEBER STATE (21-4) 15) BUCKNELL (21-8)


NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Syracuse, Michigan State, and Kansas. Next in line are Duke, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio State

Last Five teams in (at large): Xavier, Dayton, Texas, St. Joseph’s, Northwestern

First Five teams out (at large): Miami (Fla), Colorado State, VCU, South Florida, Arizona

Bracket adjustments: Several one-line adjustments were made to accommodate bracket principles and procedures.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (9): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Seton Hall

Big Ten (7): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Northwestern

Big 12 (6): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama

Atlantic 10 (5): Xavier, St. Louis, Temple, Dayton, St. Joseph’s

ACC (4): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State

Mountain West (3): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico

West Coast (3): Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, BYU

Conference USA (2): Memphis, Southern Mississippi

Pac 12 (2): Washingon, California

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Conference leaders/champions … Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt), Valparaiso (Horizon), Akron (MAC), Drexel (CAA), Nevada (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Harvard (Ivy), NC-Asheville (Big South), Savannah State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

UMBC becomes first No. 16 seed to beat No. 1 seed in beatdown of Virginia

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UMBC made sports history on Friday night by becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The America East champions pulled off a shocking 74-54 upset over No. 1 seed Virginia in the South Region.

The Retrievers (25-10) not only made history by beating a No. 1 seed — they also knocked off the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament in dominating fashion. Tied at the half, UMBC jumped out to a double-digit lead and maintained its dominance throughout the second half by consistently knocking down three-pointers and keeping the pressure on.

Senior guard Jairus Lyle, the team’s hero in the America East title game, finished with 28 points to pace the Retrievers as he went 9-for-11 from the field.  Joe Shurburne (14 points), Arkel Lamar (12 points) and K.J. Maura (10 points) also finished in double-figures for UMBC, as they extended its winning streak to six games.

Virginia (31-3) won the ACC regular season by four games. They took the league’s conference tournament as well. The Cavaliers were the most consistent team in college basketball this season. The Cavaliers lost sixth man DeAndre Hunter to the season with an injury earlier in the week. They were still a heavy favorite in this game.

But Virginia struggled to knock down three-pointers. It was clear Virginia started playing scared once the upset became apparent. And that’s how once of the biggest upsets in sports history went down. Sophomore guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome led Virginia with 15 points each.

Virginia shot only 41 percent (23-for-56) from the field and 19 percent (4-for-22) from three-point range as they couldn’t find consistent offense or a go-to player.

UMBC advances to battle No. 9 seed Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats advanced earlier on Friday night with a balanced effort in a win over No. 8 seed Creighton.

UMBC social media won the night as much as the basketball team

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The eyes of the sports world are on UMBC. Cinderella has arrived.

The No. 16 seed shocked No. 1 seed Virginia by double digits on Friday night as the Retrievers became the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

UMBC’s basketball team wasn’t the only group from the school ready to go on Friday night.

The school’s social media presence was trolling everyone and showing tons of swagger as the Retrievers built a second-half double-digit lead on Virginia.

The UMBC Athletics account called out pundits, trolled doubters and had fun with fans during a special moment in sports history.

Some examples:

Now that the historic win has gone down, UMBC, and their social media account, have become immortal.

No. 1 Xavier takes down No. 16 Texas Southern

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Xavier got off to a slow start, but rallied to run past No. 16 Texas Southern for a 102-83 NCAA tournament victory on Friday night in the West Region.

The Musketeers (29-5) had huge performances from seniors Trevon Bluiett (26 points) and J.P. Macura (29 points) as the duo combined for seven three-pointers and 35 points in the first 20 minutes. The duo ended up getting a third major scorer in the second half when senior big man Kerem Kanter stepped up his play. Kanter ended up with 24 points.

Xavier shot 45 percent (11-for-24) from three-point range and 54 percent from the field (35-for-64) in the win.

Texas Southern (16-20) went on a 16-0 run at one point in the first half to take a 20-13 lead. The Tigers had the momentum, but things quickly turned the other way when Xavier responded with its own 16-0 flurry.

The Tigers had five double-figure scorers, led by point guard Damontrae Jefferson with 20 points, but they couldn’t get stops on the other end. Guard Derrick Bruce finished with 18 points while Robert Lewis (14 points), Donte Clark (12 points) and Trayvon Reed (10 points) also finished in double-figures.

The Tigers started this season 0-13 as they lost all road games against tough competition. The SWAC champions rallied to win eight straight games before the NCAA tournament and put up an admirable fight before falling to the Big East regular season champions.

Xavier moves on to face the winner of No. 8 seed Missouri and No. 9 seed Florida State as the Musketeers could have a tough matchup against either team.

No. 4 seed Auburn survives off-night, beats No. 13 Charleston

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Auburn did everything they possibly could to become the third No. 4 seed to fall to a No. 13 seed in their first round game of the NCAA tournament.

Charleston, who was essentially playing without their best player, Joe Chealey, who was a shell of himself as he battled an ankle injury, turned the ball over 21 times and shot 5-for-22 from beyond the arc and still managed to find a way to be ahead in the final three minutes.

The Tigers, who are eighth in the country in free throw shooting percentage, made just 15-of-32 from the charity stripe. They missed all 13 threes they shot in the first half — a first for the program in Bruce Pearl’s tenure — and finish the night just 5-for-24 from beyond the arc while shooting 35.6 percent from the floor.

After Bruce Brown missed a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left, Charleston’s Grant Riller had a shot to tie the game. He missed, Auburn finally made a free throw down the stretch, and the Tigers escaped with a 62-58 win that they barely deserved.

The most important part of that sentence, however, is “win”.

There’s a reason that the saying in March is “survive and advance”. As long as you survive, as long as you live to advance and play another day, there’s always a chance.

I don’t think there is a single player on that Auburn roster, on the Auburn coaching staff or in the state of Alabama that will believe that the way they played on Friday night will be enough to get this team — who were co-champions of the SEC that went wire to wire in first place in the league — where they want to be this year. And to be frank, with the injury to Anfernee McLemore and the shoulder issue that is plaguing Bruce Brown, there’s a chance that this team may be too beaten down to make any kind of serious run in March.

But they’re still here.

Hope is still alive.

And that counts for something.

Miles Bridges goes into takeover mode as No. 3 Michigan State survives Bucknell

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It took a while for No. 3 seed Michigan State to get into a rhythm, but once they did, Bucknell, the Patriot League champs, didn’t have enough of an answer.

After heading into halftime with just a 44-40 lead, the Spartans held Bucknell to just 14 points in the first 16 minutes of the second half, pushing their lead as high as 18 points in an 82-78 win. The Bison hit a flurry of shots in the final seconds to make the final score look much more flattering than the second half actually was.

For Michigan State, however, the story of this game was Miles Bridges.

Oft-derided this season as a talent that couldn’t take over when his team needed him to, a player that was said to have “no game” by Big Ten expert that shall remain nameless, the NBC Sports Preseason Player of the Year took over against Bucknell. He finished with 29 points, nine boards and four assists, taking 22 shots from the floor with just seven of them coming from beyond the arc.

He went into takeover mode without simply settling for jumpers.

And that is when the Spartans end up at a different level. That’s when they reach their peak, and if we are going to see that Bridges for the rest of the NCAA tournament, then maybe — just maybe — this team has a chance to live up to the potential we all bestowed upon them at the start of the season.

The Spartans will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they will face off with the winner of tonight’s No. 6 TCU-No. 11 Syracuse game.