Here’s your New Year’s Day forecast … the Kentucky Wildcats will be a No. 1 seed when the 2015 Men’s Division I Basketball Championship bracket is unveiled in March. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Thus far, the ultra-talented Wildcats have conquered every challenge. And while an undefeated season may or may not occur, it’s hard to imagine UK faltering enough to lose its grip on the Midwest region. We could say similar things about Duke’s hold on the East. But the Blue Devils’ route through the ACC figures to be a bit more rigorous than the Wildcats’ drive through the SEC. Either way, UK and Duke hold the top two spots in today’s updated bracket projection – followed by Wisconsin (South) and Arizona (West).
One could easily make an argument that Virginia and Villanova should be ranked ahead of Wisconsin and Arizona. But before we drop the Badgers or West-Coast Wildcats from their preseason perches, let’s see how conference play unfolds.
If you’ve followed college hoops during the first two months, you’re well aware of the quirky resumes available for review. So take the current bracket for what it is … a synopsis of where we are now, with some potential mixed in, and a whole lot of educated guesswork. Simply put: there isn’t much difference between an 8-seed and a team listed among the First Five out. With a lack of strong non-conference profiles, league results will play a huge role in determining at-large candidates.
A couple of additional notes:
As conference play is barely underway (and hasn’t begun yet in some leagues), the automatic qualifiers are projected champions, balancing current results with some future expectations.
Non-conference strength of schedule (NC SOS) could prove problematic for a few potential bubble teams. In particular, TCU (No. 347) and Wyoming (No. 323) have real issues – think about SMU last year. While Notre Dame is safely “IN” at the moment, the Irish need to keep pace in the ACC or a No. 323 NC SOS mark could be considered. Here are a few additional NC SOS numbers to keep in mind: Minnesota (238), Davidson (228), Indiana (219), New Mexico (279), Hawaii (287) and Evansville (288) – per ESPN data through Dec. 13 games.
We’ve got a long way to go. Enjoy the ride.
Happy New Year! You can find complete Seed List information for the bracket at Bracketville.
BRACKET UPDATE: January 1, 2015
Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU, etc).
Several new bracketing principles were introduced last year. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)
UNLV vs. Penn State | East Region
TCU vs. California | South Region
ST. FRANCIS (NY) vs. AMERICAN | Midwest Region
CO. CAROLINA vs. TX-SOUTHERN | East Region
BRACKET PROJECTION …
MIDWEST – Cleveland
EAST – Syracuse
16) AMERICAN / ST. FRAN (NY)
16) C. CAROLINA / TX-SOUTHERN
5) Notre Dame
12) EASTERN WASHINGTON
12) UNLV / Penn State
4) West Virginia
6) Northern Iowa
3) Iowa State
14) MURRAY STATE
10) George Washington
10) Ohio State
15) STONY BROOK
WEST – Los Angeles
SOUTH – Houston
16) NEW MEXICO ST
8) Colorado State
5) WICHITA STATE
5) SAN DIEGO STATE
12) GREEN BAY
12) TCU / California
4) North Carolina
4) St. John’s
13) GEORGIA STATE
14) S.F. AUSTIN
7) OLD DOMINION
10) Michigan State
10) Seton Hall
15) FL GULF COAST
NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona.
Last Five teams in (at large): Cincinnati, California, UNLV, Penn State, TCU
First Five teams out (at large): Minnesota, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami-FL, Wyoming
Next five teams out (at large): Illinois, Providence, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Pittsburgh
Breakdown by Conference …
Big 10 (7): Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU
Big East (6): Villanova, St. John’s, Butler, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier
ACC (6): Duke, Virginia, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse
Pac 12 (5): Arizona, Utah, Washington, Stanford, California
SEC (3): Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU
American(3): Temple, SMU, Cincinnati
Atlantic 10 (3): VCU, Dayton, George Washington
Mountain West (3): San Diego State, Colorado State, UNLV
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU
Missouri Valley (2): Wichita State, Northern Iowa
ONE BID LEAGUES: Old Dominion (C-USA), Georgia State (SBELT), Harvard (IVY), Eastern Washington (BSKY), Green Bay (HZN), S.F. Austin (SLND), Wofford (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Buffalo (MAC), Iona (MAAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Murray State (OVC), Northeastern (CAA), Coastal Carolina (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), Denver (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), American (PAT), St. Francis-NY (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)