Preseason Bracket Projection: Duke, Kansas lead preseason Field of 68

AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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As we begin another journey toward Selection Sunday, a pair of familiar names headline the preseason Bracket: Duke and Kansas. Both the Blue Devils and Jayhawks are loaded with talent and experience. Duke opens as the No. 1 seed in the East, Kansas as No. 1 in the Midwest.

Although Kentucky (No. 1 / South) and Villanova (No. 1 / West) occupy spots three and four on the Seed List, keep an eye on Oregon. The Ducks are going to be good again – and if Dillon Brooks were healthy, they would have been slotted just ahead of Villanova for the top spot in San Jose. We’ll see how it plays out.

Opinions vary greatly in November, as do expectations – especially once you meander past the top few teams. Projections are a starting point, not an ending one. The road to March will be filled with twists, turns, and speed bumps. Expect a few surprises and a few disappointments. That’s the way it works. It’s why they play the games.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is a juggernaut. While I’m skeptical that double-digit teams will make the actual Field of 68, it’s not impossible. It should be quite a race atop the Big Ten, and the Big East will be heard from too – defending champ Villanova could easily make another push for the Final Four. Count aforementioned Oregon in the discussion. Who knows? Maybe this is the year that Gonzaga breaks through. Regardless, it should be an incredible ride.

Regarding bracketing principles, 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)

  • Michigan vs. Washington | East Region
  • SMU vs. Butler | Midwest Region
  • WINTHROP vs. HOWARD | East Region
  • JACKSON STATE vs. FLA GULF COAST | Midwest Region

PRESEASON BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York                             MIDWEST – Kansas City
Greenville Tulsa
1) DUKE 1) KANSAS
16) WINTHROP / HOWARD 16) JACKSON ST / FLA GULF CST
8) Florida 8) California
9) Georgetown 9) Texas AM
Salt Lake City Orlando
5) CONNECTICUT 5) Syracuse
12) Washington / Michigan 12) SMU / Butler
4) GONZAGA 4) Michigan State
13) NC-WILMINGTON 13) VALPARAISO
Milwaukee Salt Lake City
6) Florida State 6) Creighton
11) Colorado 11) PRINCETON
3) INDIANA 3) Arizona
14) VERMONT 14) LONG BEACH ST
Indianapolis Buffalo
7) NC State 7) Iowa State
10) VCU 10) Ohio State
2) Xavier 2) Virginia
15) FORT WAYNE 15) NEW MEXICO ST
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Buffalo Indianapolis
1) VILLANOVA 1) KENTUCKY
16) FAIR-DICKINSON 16) LEHIGH
8) Oklahoma 8) Dayton
9) SAN DIEGO ST 9) Virginia Tech
Tulsa Sacramento
5) Cincinnati 5) West Virginia
12) OHIO 12) UAB
4) Purdue 4) UCLA
13) MONMOUTH 13) CHATTANOOGA
Milwaukee Orlando
6) Saint Mary’s 6) RHODE ISLAND
11) Maryland 11) Seton Hall
3) Louisville 3) Wisconsin
14) UT-ARLINGTON 14) BELMONT
Sacramento Greenville
7) Miami-FL 7) Texas
10) Baylor 10) WICHITA STATE
2) OREGON 2) North Carolina
15) WEBER STATE 15) SAM HOUSTON ST

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the overall No. 1 seed followed by Kansas, Kentucky, and Villanova. Next in line: Oregon, North Carolina, Xavier, Virginia

Last Four Byes (at large): Ohio State, Colorado, Seton Hall, Maryland

Last Four IN (at large): Michigan, SMU, Butler, Washington

First Four OUT (at large): Notre Dame, Marquette, Nevada, Georgia

Next four teams OUT (at large): Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, BYU

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, Syracuse, Florida State, NC State, Miami, Virginia Tech

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

Pac 12 (6): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, California, Colorado, Washington

Big East (6): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Creighton, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Butler

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

Atlantic 10 (3): RHODE ISLAND, Dayton, VCU

American (3): CONNECTICUT, Cincinnati, SMU

SEC (3): KENTUCKY, Florida, Texas AM

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

Mountain West (1): SAN DIEGO STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), UAB (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), Sam Houston St (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), Long Beach St (BWEST), Ohio (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), Howard (MEAC), Fort Wayne (SUM), New Mexico St (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), Fairleigh-Dickinson (NEC), Jackson State (SWAC)