CBT Bracketology: Xavier climbs to the top line

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It’s almost March and the No. 1 seed lines remain an open book.  Kansas is best positioned to retain its slot on the top line, assuming the Jayhawks avoid a cluster of losses.  The remaining spots are more open for debate. Xavier is the latest newcomer – following Wednesday’s victory over Villanova.  Quietly, the Musketeers have compiled a resume worthy of top-seed consideration.  Keeping a spot won’t be easy, however.  North Carolina continues to push, as does a surging Michigan State team that is finally healthy.  Today, Oklahoma and Villanova hold the other No. 1 seed positions.

As it looks right now, a group of teams from the Atlantic 10 could have a lot at stake in the next two weeks.  Dayton is strongest positioned, and most likely safe, even as the Flyers teeter a little.  The next four – Saint Joseph’s, VCU, St. Bonaventure, and George Washington – all have various tasks remaining.  Although St. Joe’s is the final No. 7 seed today, the difference between the Hawks and VCU and St. Bonaventure (among the First Four OUT) is not nearly as deep as it appears.  In fact, it’s rather small –  which serves as a good illustration of where we stand in the middle and lower-end of the bracket.  To varying degrees, teams on seed lines 7-12 all have work remaining.

Consider Providence.  After losing five of six games and six of their past eight, the Friars find themselves among the last four teams with a bye (meaning just above the First Four).  Their last three games should be manageable, but their margin for error is fading – fast.

It could really get interesting if we have a few “upsets” during Championship Week.  How will the cutline look if a few teams like Little Rock, Monmouth, San Diego State, Valparaiso and even Hawaii or Chattanooga lose in the the championship games of their conference tournaments?  What if Gonzaga wins the West Coast tourney? Has Saint Mary’s done enough?  And what if an upstart – say a team like Mississippi State in the SEC – goes on a hot streak for three days?  Stay tuned.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 26, 2016

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. In the event of a tie in the loss column, RPI is first tiebreaker. Notes: To simulate actual bracket conditions, we’ve used current conference leaders to receive the automatic bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (ex: UCLA)

Several new bracketing principles were introduced a couple of years ago. 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)

  • Cincinnati vs. Alabama | Midwest Region
  • Vanderbilt vs. Tulsa | South Region
  • BUCKNELL vs. WAGNER | West Region
  • HAMPTON vs. TEXAS-SOUTHERN | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWEST – Chicago  WEST – Anaheim                                 
Des Moines Oklahoma City
1) KANSAS 1) Oklahoma
16) TX-SOUTHERN / HAMPTON 16) BUCKNELL / WAGNER
8) USC 8) Seton Hall
9) Pittsburgh 9) Oregon State
Oklahoma City Spokane
5) INDIANA 5) Baylor
12) MONMOUTH 12) SAN DIEGO ST
4) KENTUCKY 4) Utah
13) CHATTANOOGA 13) HAWAII
Spokane Des Moines
6) Purdue 6) California
11) Cincinnati / Alabama 11) LITTLE ROCK
3) OREGON 3) Iowa
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) UAB
Brooklyn Raleigh
7) Texas Tech 7) Saint Joseph’s
10) Michigan 10) Providence
2) Miami-FL 2) Virginia
15) MONTANA 15) NEW MEXICO ST
SOUTH – Louisville        EAST – Philadelphia
St. Louis Brooklyn
1) Xavier 1) VILLANOVA
16) NORTH FLORIDA 16) WINTHROP
8) Wisconsin 8) Syracuse
9) Colorado 9) WICHITA STATE
Denver Denver
5) Duke 5) Texas
12) VALPARAISO 12) TEMPLE
4) Iowa State 4) Arizona
13) AKRON 13) STONY BROOK
Providence Providence
6) Texas A&M 6) Notre Dame
11) Vanderbilt / Tulsa 11) SAINT MARY’S
3) Maryland 3) West Virginia
14) HOFSTRA 14) PRINCETON
Raleigh St. Louis
7) DAYTON 7) South Carolina
10) Florida 10) Connecticut
2) NORTH CAROLINA 2) Michigan State
15) BELMONT 15) IPFW

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Oklahoma, Villanova, and Xavier.  Next in line: North Carolina, Michigan State, Virginia, Miami-FL

Last Four Byes (at large): Providence, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan

Last Four IN (at large): Vanderbilt, Alabama, Cincinnati, Tulsa

First Four OUT (at large): VCU, St. Bonaventure, Butler, George Washington

Next four teams OUT (at large): Gonzaga, Washington, BYU, UCLA

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (7): NORTH CAROLINA, Virginia, Miami-FL, Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

Pac 12 (7): OREGON, Utah, Arizona, California, USC, Colorado, Oregon State

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech

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

SEC (6): KENTUCKY, Texas AM, South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence

American (4): TEMPLE, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Tulsa

Atlantic 10 (2): DAYTON, Saint Joseph’s

West Coast (1): SAINT MARY’S

Mountain West (1): SAN DIEGO STATE

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), UAB (C-USA), Ark-Little Rock (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), Stephen F. Austin (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Akron (MAC), North Florida (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), IPFW (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)