No doubt about No. 1 seeds in latest NCAA bracket projection

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It really wasn’t that difficult determining the No. 1 seeds this week.

It came down to Ohio State and Duke after North Carolina absorbed a 33-point loss at Florida State.  While individual head-to-head results aren’t a huge factor in final selection or seeding, the Buckeyes soundly beat Duke in Columbus during the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.  It’s enough of an edge to move forward realizing we still have two months of basketball before Selection Sunday.  Duke is close behind the Buckeyes, though, with a strong number of Top 100 RPI wins.

Your No. 1 seeds this week: Syracuse (East), Kentucky (South), Baylor (West) and Ohio State (Midwest).  The South Region is a more natural base for UK and the mileage difference between Atlanta and St. Louis is minimal, so that’s why we have the Wildcats placed in Georgia.  It also makes more sense to slot Baylor toward Phoenix than St. Louis or Atlanta.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee views those decisions.

The toughest part of this bracket (as usual) was determining the last few teams in.  Take, for example, Cincinnati.  Since a troublesome opening month and a brawl with Xavier, the Bearcats have played basketball worthy of NCAA consideration.  But we can’t just forget November and December, and neither will Selection Committee members in March.  Cincinnati played a non-conference strength-of-schedule ranked No. 323, and has one victory over a team that today would be in the NCAA tournament (at Georgetown).  Positives include a 4-1 record in true road games and a 4-1 mark in the Big East standings through Sunday’s games.  According to CollegeRPI.com, UC began the day with an RPI of 107.  A team with that overall profile would not be an at-large team in March.  What the past three weeks have done is move Cincinnati into consideration, which is a long way from where the Bearcats were in late December.

As for the remaining teams along the cutline, all have flaws.  We focused on quality wins, schedule strength, and wins over teams in the projected field as determining factors.

It’s still a bit early to be overly concerned with league standings.  Conference pecking order will be more important once we hit the midway point in late January or early February.  Look no further than Kansas State: the Wildcats opened Big 12 play with Kansas, Missouri, Baylor and Oklahoma.  K-State lost to Kansas and Baylor, and beat Missouri.  And the Baylor game was a close one in Manhattan.  So a 1-3 mark (despite a somewhat surprising loss at Oklahoma) isn’t nearly as bad as it might look.   The Wildcats play Texas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech in their next three.  Let’s reserve judgement on K-State’s league standing until the schedule evens.  That goes for a lot of teams.

Enjoy another great week of hoops.

UPDATED: Monday, January 16

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)

  • Minnesota (14-5) vs. Denver (14-4) | Midwest Region
  • Colorado State (11-4) vs. St. Joseph’s (12-6) | South Region
  • MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ST (5-11) vs. ALBANY (12-7) | East Region
  • NC ASHEVILLE (7-6) vs. UT-ARLINGTON (3-11) | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (19-0) 1) KENTUCKY (17-1)
16) MS VALLEY ST / ALBANY        16) NC-ASHEVILLE / UT-ARLINGTON
8) Purdue (13-5) 8) Gonzaga (14-3)
9) HARVARD (14-2) 9) MEMPHIS (12-5)
Portland Portland
5) Mississippi State (15-3) 5) Kansas State (12-4)
12) St. Louis (13-4) 12) Northwestern (12-5)
4) CREIGHTON (16-2) 4) Virginia (14-2)
13) IONA (14-4) 13) Colorado State / St. Joseph’s
Omaha Columbus
6) Marquette (14-4) 6) Vanderbilt (13-4)
11) California (15-4) 11) Florida State (11-6)
3) Kansas (14-3) 3) Georgetown (13-3)
14) GEORGE MASON (13-5) 14) BELMONT (11-6)
Greensboro Columbus
7) Wisconsin (14-5) 7) San Diego State (13-2)
10) Xavier (12-5) 10) DAYTON (13-5)
2) North Carolina (15-3) 2) Michigan State (14-3)
15) AKRON (10-6) 15) BUCKNELL (12-6)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Pittsburgh Albuquerque
1) OHIO STATE (16-3) 1) BAYLOR (16-0)
16) LONG ISLAND (12-6) 16) NORFOLK ST (12-4)
8) ST. MARY’S (15-2) 8) Louisville (14-4)
9) New Mexico (14-2) 9) Wichita State (13-3)
Nashville Albuquerque
5) MURRAY STATE (15-0) 5) Michigan (13-4)
12) NC State (13-5) 12) ORAL ROBERTS (16-4)
4) Connecticut (14-3) 4) UNLV (14-3)
13) Denver / Minnesota 13) MID TENNESSEE ST (16-2)
Nashville Louisville
6) Illinois (15-3) 6) West Virginia (12-5)
11) Temple (11-5) 11) BYU (13-4)
3) Seton Hall (15-3) 3) Indiana (15-3)
14) CLEVELAND STATE (14-4) 14) LONG BEACH ST (10-6)
Omaha Greensboro
7) Florida (14-4) 7) Alabama (13-4)
10) Southern Mississippi (14-3) 10) STANFORD (15-3)
2) Missouri (16-1) 2) Duke (15-2)
15) WEBER STATE (12-3) 15) NEW MEXICO ST (12-5)

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

Last Five teams in (at large): NC State, Denver, St. Joseph’s, Minnesota, Colorado State

First Five teams out (at large): Oklahoma, UCF, Iowa State, Texas, Maryland

Next Five teams out (at large): Cincinnati, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas

Bracket adjustments: BYU has to be placed in Thursday-Saturday sites only.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (9): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota

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

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

ACC (5): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, NC State

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

Big 12 (4): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State

Mountain West (4): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico, Colorado State

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

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

Pac 12 (2): Stanford, California

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State,

Sun Belt (2): Denver, Middle Tennessee State

Conference leaders/champions … Cleveland State (Horizon), Akron (MAC), 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), Albany (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)