Bracketology: Kansas leads final march to Selection Sunday

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March is here. Madness awaits.  The next ten days will be filled with hope, excitement, and anxiety as teams and fans await their 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket on Selection Sunday.  Between now and then, we still have several things to sort out.  Here’s what we know:  Kansas, fresh off yet another Big 12 title, sits atop the bracket, followed closely by Villanova.  Both the Jayhawks and Wildcats look fairly entrenched on the top line.  The other two spots remain in play.  Will Gonzaga hold on?  Will a Pac-12 team make a jump to the one line?  Can North Carolina survive the ACC tournament and keep its perch in the South?

Each of those story lines should be fun to watch.  And we haven’t even talked about the bubble.  Illinois, Wake Forest, and Kansas State all helped themselves Wednesday.  USC and California are trying to hold on and state their case.  Xavier continues to struggle, its NCAA outlook now unclear.  Next week’s conference tournaments loom large for final seeding and selection.  If a few bid stealers emerge,  hold on.

UPDATED:  March 2, 2017

Note: Now that conference tournaments have begun, teams in ALL CAPS will represent automatic bids as they are earned.

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)

  • Wake Forest vs. USC | Midwest Region
  • Illinois vs. Seton Hall East Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC-CENTRAL | East Region
  • UC-IRVINE vs. NEW ORLEANS | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWEST – Kansas City              EAST New York  
Tulsa Buffalo
1) Kansas 1) Villanova
16) New Orleans / UC-Irvine 16) NC Central / Mount St. Mary’s
8) South Carolina 8) Miami
9) Michigan State 9) Arkansas
Orlando Buffalo
5) Cincinnati 5) Minnesota
12) UT-Arlington 12) UNC-Wilmington
4) Florida State 4) Virginia
13) Vermont 13) Monmouth
Milwaukee Indianapolis
6) Iowa State 6) SMU
11) Wake Forest / USC 11) Seton Hall / Illinois
3) Butler 3) Louisville
14) Belmont 14) Akron
Salt Lake City Tulsa
7) Virginia Tech 7) Maryland
10) Wichita State 10) VCU
2) Arizona 2) Baylor
15) South Dakota 15) Florida Gulf Coast
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Salt Lake City Greenville
1) Gonzaga 1) North Carolina
16) North Dakota 16) Texas Southern
8) Northwestern 8) Dayton
9) Marquette 9) Michigan
Orlando Milwaukee
5) Notre Dame 5) West Virginia
12) Nevada 12) Illinois State
4) Florida 4) Purdue
13) Princeton 13) Valparaiso
Greenville Indianapolis
6) Wisconsin 6) Saint Mary’s
11) Xavier 11) Syracuse
3) Duke 3) Kentucky
14) East Tennessee State 14) Winthrop
Sacramento Sacramento
7) Creighton 7) Oklahoma State
10) Mid Tennessee State 10) Providence
2) Oregon 2) UCLA
15) CSU-Bakersfield 15) Bucknell

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Villanova, North Carolina, and Gonzaga.

Last Four Byes (at large): Wichita State, Providence, Syracuse, Xavier

Last Four IN (at large): Seton Hall, USC, Wake Forest, Illinois

First Four OUT (at large): Kansas State, Rhode Island, California, Georgia Tech

Next four teams OUT (at large): Vanderbilt, Georgia, Houston, Iowa

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): NORTH CAROLINA, Louisville, Duke, Florida State, Notre Dame, Virginia, Miami-FL, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest

Big 10 (8): PURDUE, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois

Big East (7): VILLANOVA, Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Xavier, Seton Hall

Big 12 (5): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

Pac 12 (4): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, USC

SEC (4): FLORIDA, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas

Atlantic 10 (2): DAYTON, VCU

American (2): SMU, Cincinnati

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (2): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), North Dakota (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), CSU-Bakersfield (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)