There’s a lot of good news in Pittsburgh these days: the Steelers are headed to another Super Bowl, and – more important for hoops fans – the Panthers are leading the Big East and back on pace for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Our latest bracket projection has Pittsburgh as No. 1 in the East with trips through Cleveland and Newark. Ohio State remains the top overall seed and No. 1 in the Southeast. It’ll be interesting to see if the Buckeyes end up East or Southeast should the current projection move forward. Duke and Kansas are the other No. 1 seeds. Close behind our two-seeds Connecticut, Texas, San Diego State, and Syracuse.
As we noted in our Bubble Preview, there is a large group around the cutline. Bubble Banter officially returns on February 1. On that note, the Big 12 is very bunched. Oklahoma State, Baylor, Colorado, and Kansas State are all on the bubble. This week, KSU squeezes in a single spot above Marquette to avoid being among the Last 5 In. The Wildcats get the nod based on a superior strength of schedule. How these teams separate will be important to watch over the next few weeks. Safe to say, there are a lot of teams who will play their way “in” and/or “out” during February.
If you had to pick a Game of the Week, how about San Diego State at BYU? Can either earn a No. 1 seed? The short answer is yes, obviously. But it will probably require an outright Mountain West regular-season title. What happens at the top of the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC will matter, too. Duke, for example, figures to post a gaudy record in the ACC. We’ll see.
Rebounds always welcome. Follow along at Bracketville.
Teams in CAPS represent the projected conference 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 … UCLA vs. South Carolina | Penn Sate vs. Wichita State | Texas Southern vs. McNeese State | Austin Peay vs. Long Beach. 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: Monday, January 31.
BRACKET PROJECTION …
|EAST – Newark||SOUTHEAST – New Orleans|
|1) PITTSBURGH (19-2)||1) OHIO STATE (20-0)|
|16) LONG ISLAND (14-5)||16) AUSTIN PEAY / LONG BEACH|
|8 UNLV (15-5)||8 Florida State (15-5)|
|9) Virginia Tech (13-5)||9) MISSOURI STATE (16-4)|
|5) Florida (15-4)||5) Vanderbilt (14-4)|
|12) VCU (15-5)||12) MEMPHIS (15-4)|
|4) Wisconsin (15-4)||4) Notre Dame (17-4)|
|13) CHARLESTON (14-6)||13) OAKLAND (13-8)|
|6) West Virginia (13-5)||6) Tennessee (12-7)|
|11) Penn State / Wichita State||11) Kansas State (12-7)|
|3) KENTUCKY (15-4)||3) BYU (17-1)|
|14) BUCKNELL (14-7)||14) FAIRFIELD (15-4)|
|7) Georgetown (14-5)||7) Temple (13-5)|
|10) Arizona (16-4)||10) Boston College (14-6)|
|2) Texas (16-3)||2) Connecticut (16-2)|
|15) BALL STATE (12-3)||15) FLORIDA ATLANTIC (13-6)|
|SOUTHWEST – San Antonio||WEST – Anaheim|
|1) DUKE (18-1)||1) KANSAS (18-1)|
|16) HAMPTON (14-4)||16) McNEESE ST / TX SOUTHERN|
|8 Cincinnati (17-3)||8 North Carolina (13-5)|
|9) ST. MARY’S (14-3)||9) St. John’s (11-7)|
|5) Minnesota (15-4)||5) WASHINGTON (15-4)|
|12) UCLA / South Carolina||12) CLEVELAND STATE (16-3)|
|4) Missouri (16-3)||4) Purdue (17-3)|
|13) UTAH STATE (18-2)||13) BELMONT (18-3)|
|6) Michigan State (11-7)||6) Illinois (14-6)|
|11) Marquette (13-7)||11) XAVIER (13-5)|
|3) Texas AM (16-2)||3) Villanova (17-2)|
|14) PRINCETON (11-4)||14) COASTAL CAROLINA (14-2)|
|7) Georgia (14-4)||7) Louisville (15-4)|
|10) Washington State (14-6)||10) Gonzaga (12-7)|
|2) Syracuse (18-2)||2) SAN DIEGO STATE (18-0)|
|15) MAINE (11-7)||15) NORTHERN COLORADO (9-7)|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Ohio State is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Pittsburgh, Duke, and Kansas. The two seeds in order are Connecticut, Texas, San Diego State, Syracuse
Last Five teams in (at large): Marquette, Penn State, UCLA, South Carolina, Wichita State
First Five teams out (at large): Oklahoma State, Baylor, Colorado, Butler, Old Dominion
Also Considered: Richmond, Central Florida, Duquesne, Dayton, Colorado State, Maryland, Miami-FL, George Mason, Southern Mississippi, UTEP
Bracket adjustments: The First Four matchup of Penn State/Wichita State (East) moves up to the No. 11 line to avoid a conference conflict and Memphis drops to the 12-seed in the Southeast.
Here is the team breakdown by Conference …
Big East (11): PITTSBURGH, Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John’s, Marquette
Big Ten (7): OHIO STATE, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State
SEC (6): KENTUCKY, Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina
ACC (5): DUKE, North Carolina, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Florida State
Big 12 (5): KANSAS, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri, Kansas State
Pac 10 (4): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Washington State, UCLA
Mountain West (3): SAN DIEGO STATE, BYU, UNLV
Missouri Valley (2): MISSOURI STATE, Wichita State
West Coast (2): ST. MARY’S, Gonzaga
Atlantic 10 (2): XAVIER, Temple
Conference USA (1): MEMPHIS
Colonial (1): VCU
Horizon (1): CLEVELAND STATE
Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Austin Peay (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), Ball State (MAC), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), Long Beach (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt), Princeton (Ivy), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Hampton (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Vermont (America East), McNeese State (Southland), Texas Southern (SWAC)