Duke, Michigan State headline preseason bracket projection

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With tip-off for the 2010-11 college basketball season upon us, we seem to know two things: Duke and Michigan State are strong favorites to make return trips to the Final Four.  After that, there’s a lot of debate.  Which is great, of course, because none of us knows how the season will unfold. 

The No. 1 seed line features … Duke, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State.  The Buckeyes move up to replace Purdue after the Boilermakers lost star Robbie Hummel to another season-ending knee injury.  The Boilers still have a lot of talent and experience in West Lafayette, and open as a projected No. 3 seed in the Southwest Region.  A solid No. 2 line features Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, and Syracuse.  Both KU and UK are still awaiting elibility status on star recruits (Selby, Kanter).  My guess is both play this season; how much we dont’ know.

What about the First Four?  The opening games in Dayton will match the last four at-large teams and the four lowest-rated teams on the S-curve.  In our projection those matchups are … New Mexico vs. Dayton | USC vs. Maryland | Maine vs. Winthrop | Jackson State vs. SF Austin.  The winners advance into the traditional 64-team bracket to play Thursday or Friday.  Our Last 5 in: Northwestern, Maryland, New Mexico, USC, and Dayton.  Our First 5 out: UNLV, UCLA, Connecticut, St. John’s, Mississippi.

NOTE: Teams listed in ALL CAPS are projected conference champions or teams that typically go by appreviations (BYU, USC, etc.)

2010-2011 PRESEASON BRACKET

EAST — Newark SOUTHEAST — New Orleans
Charlotte Chicago
1) DUKE 1) MICHIGAN STATE
16) MAINE / WINTHROP 16) JACKSON ST / SF AUSTIN
8) Wisconsin 8) West Virginia
9) Georgia 9) Washington State
Tucson Charlotte
5) BUTLER 5) Texas
12) New Mexico / Dayton 12) MURRAY STATE
4) Missouri 4) North Carolina
13) FAIRFIELD 13) OLD DOMINION
Tampa Tampa
6) Illinois 6) Baylor
11) Texas A-M 11) Missouri State
3) Florida 3) Villanova
14) OHIO 14) WOFFORD
Washington, DC Washington, DC
7) Virginia Tech 7) BYU
10) Richmond 10) NC State
2) Syracuse 2) KENTUCKY
15) PRINCETON 15) QUINNIPIAC
SOUTHWEST — San  Antonio WEST– Anaheim
Cleveland Cleveland
1) PITTSBURGH 1) Ohio State
16) MORGAN STATE 16) AMERICAN
8) Florida State 8) Xavier
9) Mississippi State 9) Vanderbilt
Denver Denver
5) TEMPLE 5) Georgetown
12) Northwestern 12) USC / Maryland
4) WASHINGTON 4) GONZAGA
13) UTAH STATE 13) WEBER STATE
Chicago Tucson
6) Tennessee 6) SAN DIEGO ST
11) Miami-FL 11) Louisville
3) Purdue 3) MEMPHIS
14) E. TENNESSEE ST 14) UC-SANTA BARBARA
Tulsa Tulsa
7) WICHITA STATE 7) Minnesota
10) Marquette 10) Arizona
2) Kansas State 2) KANSAS
15) OAKLAND 15) NORTH TEXAS

NOTES on the BRACKET:  Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State.  They are followed by Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, and Syracuse.  

Last Five teams in (at large):  Northwestern, Maryland, New Mexico, USC, Dayton

First Five teams out (at large): UNLV, UCLA, Connecticut, St. John’s, Mississippi 

Also Considered: UTEP, Clemson, Northern Iowa, California, Arizona State, Notre Dame, St. Louis, Southern Mississippi, Rhode Island, Texas Tech, Colorado, VCU, Alabama, Indiana, Cleveland State, New Mexico State, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Bradley, Akron

Bracket adjustments: Several teams moved one line from their “true” seed to avoid conference conflicts, to balance the bracket, and or to play closer to home/region.  BYU is always a challenge because the Cougars must be placed in Thursday-Saturday locations for all rounds. 

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (7): PITTSBURGH, Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Marquette, Louisville

Big Ten (7): MICHIGAN STATE, Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern

ACC (7):  DUKE, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, NC State, Florida State, Miami-FL, Maryland

SEC (6): KENTUCKY, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Georgia, Vanderbilt

Big 12 (6): KANSAS, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas, Baylor, Texas A-M

Atlantic 10 (4): TEMPLE, Xavier, Richmond, Dayton

Pac 10 (4): WASHINGTON, Washington State, Arizona, USC

Mountain West (3): SAN DIEGO STATE, BYU, New Mexico

Missouri Valley (2): WICHITA STATE, Missouri State

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

Conference USA (1): MEMPHIS

Horizon (1): BUTLER

Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), Old Dominion (CAA), Ohio (MAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Wofford (Southern), Oakland (Summit), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Quinnipiac (NEC), East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun), North Texas (Sun Belt), Princeton (Ivy), Winthrop (Big South), Morgan State (MEAC), American (Patriot), Maine (America East), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Jackson State (SWAC)

For more bracket-related college hoops fun, visit Bracketville.  Our initial Power 24 is also posted there. You can also follow BracketguyDave on Twitter.  Here’s to a season!