Latest NCAA tournament projections: Baylor’s on the rise

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Another week closer to Selection Sunday and Seton Hall and West Virginia are the week’s biggest movers. Michigan State and Indiana also climb, anchoring 2-seeds in the East (Indiana) and Midwest (Michigan State). Our No. 1 seeds remain the same: Syracuse, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio State. Baylor would be next in line.

The bracket is still very fluid, and there’s a fine line between the final few teams selected and those among the first teams out. One of the biggest factors used this week in determining those final spots was non-conference strength-of-schedule and overall strength-of-schedule.  So if you’re wondering why a team like Cincinnati remains out look no further than a non-conference SOS that ranks No. 317 – among the bottom 25 in college hoops. Other teams with that issue include Oregon State (No. 325) and Wyoming (No. 318).

The Pac-12 retains three teams this week but none higher than a 10-seed: Stanford.  Arizona is among our Last 5 teams in. Could either of those teams or Cal win games in the NCAA tournament? Absolutely. Washington is very talented, too. But the Huskies – like its other Pac-12 team members – will have to make the Field of 68 first.

The Big Ten remains the conference leader (No. 1 in the RPI) and has eight teams in the bracket today. Minnesota (now 0-4 in the Big 10) drops out; and Northwestern is just one line on the s-curve above the play-in games in Dayton. That’s largely due to an early win over Seton Hall and no bad losses. That said, the Wildcats will not make the NCAAs if they continue to lose home games.

UPDATED: Monday, January 9

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)

  • Arizona (11-5) vs. Northern Iowa (11-4) | Midwest Region
  • Iowa State (12-3) vs. Marshall (10-4) | West Region
  • NORKFOLK STATE (10-4) vs. STONY BROOK (7-6) | East Region
  • NC ASHEVILLE (7-6) vs. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ST (3-11) | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (17-0) 1) KENTUCKY (15-1)
16) NORFOLK ST / STONY BROOK 16) NC ASHEVILLE / MS VALLEY ST
8) San Diego State (11-2) 8) Wisconsin (12-5)
9) Southern Mississippi (13-2) 9) New Mexico (12-2)
Nashville Portland
5) Michigan (12-3) 5) CREIGHTON (13-2)
12) IONA (13-3) 12) Xavier (10-5)
4) Mississippi State (13-3) 4) GONZAGA (13-2)
13) CLEVELAND STATE (13-3) 13) DENVER (13-3)
Omaha Omaha
6) West Virginia (11-3) 6) Virginia (14-1)
11) NC State (12-4) 11) California (13-4)
3) Missouri (14-1) 3) Kansas (12-3)
14) DAVIDSON (9-4) 14) BELMONT (10-6)
Louisville Greensboro
7) Vanderbilt (11-4) 7) Purdue (13-4)
10) St. Louis (12-3) 10) DAYTON (12-4)
2) Indiana (15-1) 2) Georgetown (12-2)
15) GEORGE MASON (12-4) 15) LONG ISLAND (10-6)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Greensboro Pittsburgh
1) NORTH CAROLINA (14-2) 1) OHIO STATE (15-2)
16) BUCKNELL (10-6) 16) LAMAR (9-5)
8) Illinois (14-3) 8) Wichita State (11-3)
9) St. Mary’s (12-2) 9) MEMPHIS (10-5)
Nashville Albuquerque
5) MURRAY STATE (13-0) 5) Louisville (13-3)
12) OHIO (11-3) 12) BYU (12-4)
4) Seton Hall (14-2) 4) UNLV (14-2)
13) Arizona / No. Iowa 13) Iowa State / Marshall
Portland Columbus
6) Marquette (12-4) 6) Connecticut (12-3)
11) Temple (10-4) 11) Northwestern (11-4)
3) Kansas State (12-2) 3) Duke (13-2)
14) LONG BEACH ST (8-6) 14) ORAL ROBERTS (14-4)
Columbus Albuquerque
7) Alabama (12-3) 7) Florida (12-4)
10) HARVARD (12-2) 10) STANFORD (13-3)
2) Michigan State (13-2) 2) BAYLOR (14-0)
15) NEW MEXICO ST (10-5) 15) WEBER STATE (10-3)

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

Last Five teams in (at large): Northwestern, Arizona, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Marshall

First Five teams out (at large): Colorado State, UCF, Missouri State, LSU, Virginia Tech

Next Five teams out (at large): St. Joseph’s, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Washington

Bracket adjustments: BYU and NC State switch positions to accommodate Thursday-Saturday sites only for BYU. Also, Northwestern and Xavier switch lines to avoid conference bracket procedures.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (8): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern

Big East (7): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Seton Hall

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

Big 12 (5): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State

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

Atlantic 10 (4): Xavier, St. Louis, Dayton, Temple

Pac 12 (3): Stanford, Arizona, California

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

Conference USA (3): Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Marshall

Missouri Valley (3): Creighton, Wichita State, Northern Iowa

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

Sun Belt (1): Denver

Mid-American (1): Ohio

Horizon (1): Cleveland State

Conference leaders/champions … George Mason (CAA), New Mexico State (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), Norfolk State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), Lamar (Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)