PRESEASON BRACKETOLOGY: What does the tournament field look like in November?

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The journey to March Madness begins Friday and the North Carolina Tar Heels open as the top overall seed in our preseason bracket projection.  Carolina is joined on the top line by Kentucky, Maryland, and Kansas.

With that out of the way, let’s acknowledge the preseason bracket for what it is: A series of educated guesses.  Some guesses will be on target (or close) and others will miss their mark completely.  That’s the beauty of college hoops, much of what happens is unpredictable.

One of the many interesting teams is Louisville.  How will off-court issues affect the Cardinals?  How will several new faces blend together?  There’s enough talent to suggest the Cards will be a lock to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.  There are also enough questions to have doubts about how Louisville will navigate a deep field in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The fallout?  Louisville is one of the final at-large teams in our preseason projected field.  It could go either way.

The same holds true for other projected bubble teams just outside the opening Field of 68 – from Florida to Ohio State to UNLV.  There a few mild surprises as projected conference champions.  Depending on your point of view, these include Columbia (Ivy), Chattanooga (Southern), and Weber State (Big Sky).

Fortunately, games tip soon and all of these things will be decided on the court.

UPDATED: November 9, 2015

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. In the event of a tie in the loss column, RPI if first tiebreaker used. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UCLA, BYU). Several new bracketing principles were introduced in the past two years. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Louisville vs. Davidson | Midwest Region
  • Providence vs. Tulsa | West Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. WEBER ST | East Region
  • HAMPTON vs. TX-SOUTHERN | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTPhiladelphia SOUTH Louisville                               
Raleigh St. Louis
1) NORTH CAROLINA 1) KENTUCKY
16) MT. ST. MARY’S / WEBER ST 16) HAMPTON / TX-S’THERN
8) RHODE ISLAND 8) NC State
9) Texas 9) Dayton
Denver Denver
5) Oregon 5) Notre Dame
12) OLD DOMINION 12) BYU
4) Indiana 4) Arizona
13) CENTRAL MICHIGAN 13) BELMONT
Brooklyn Oklahoma City
6) Miami-FL 6) Baylor
11) Georgia 11) VALPARAISO
3) VILLANOVA 3) WICHITA STATE
14) COLUMBIA 14) CHATTANOOGA
Oklahoma City Des Moines
7) Wisconsin 7) Texas AM
10) UCLA 10) Xavier
2) Oklahoma 2) Michigan State
15) NEW MEXICO ST 15) SO DAKOTA ST
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Chicago
St. Louis Raleigh
1) KANSAS 1) MARYLAND
16) STONY BROOK 16) NO FLORIDA
8) LSU 8) Butler
9) SAN DIEGO STATE 9) Florida State
Spokane Providence
5) Purdue 5) Vanderbilt
12) Providence / Tulsa 12) Louisville / Davidson
4) GONZAGA 4) CONNECTICUT
13) UL-LAFAYETTE 13) IONA
Spokane Des Moines
6) Michigan 6) Utah
11) West Virginia 11) S.F. AUSTIN
3) CALIFORNIA 3) Iowa State
14) UC-IRVINE 14) HOFSTRA
Providence Brooklyn
7) Cincinnati 7) Georgetown
10) Boise State 10) Iowa
2) Virginia 2) Duke
15) BUCKNELL 15) CO CAROLINA

NOTES on the BRACKET: North Carolina is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kentucky, Maryland, and Kanas.

Last Four teams in (at large): Providence, Louisville, Tulsa, Davidson

First Four teams out (at large): Florida, Oregon State, Syracuse, Ohio State

Next four teams out (at large): UAB, Marquette, VCU, Illinois

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame, Miami-FL, NC State, Florida State, Louisville

Big 10 (7): Maryland, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa

Big 12 (6): Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, West Virginia

Big East (5): Villanova, Georgetown, Butler, Xavier, Providence

Pac 12 (5): California, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, UCLA

SEC (5): Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Texas AM, LSU, Georgia

Atlantic 10 (3): Rhode Island, Dayton, Davidson

American (3): Connecticut, Cincinnati, Tulsa

Mountain West (2): San Diego State, Boise State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, BYU

Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State

Conference USA (1): Old Dominion

ONE BID LEAGUES: UL-Lafayette (SBELT), Columbia (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), S.F. Austin (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Central Michigan (MAC), Iona (MAAC), North Florida (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Coastal Carolina (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mt. St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)