W4 Projections for the Field of 68

It’s that time of year again! The first conference tournament games kick off tomorrow.

Probably the biggest bracket discussion yesterday was the fate of Gonzaga and the top Pac-12 teams. Gonzaga dominated the WCC in such a way that I don’t think a single loss to BYU suddenly drops them from the 1 seed line. There is simply not an obvious replacement, be it a second ACC team or a Pac-12 team. The biggest complication for them is probably if Louisville beats North Carolina in the ACC title game.

As for the top Pac-12 teams, the media seems oddly confused by why the bracketologists are “down” on UCLA, putting them more in the 3 or 4 seed range than the 1 seed range. The fact that their offense is really good or that “they can beat anybody” is not really an argument for seeding, since their defense is a mess and teams aren’t judged by how good they look anyway. The problem for UCLA is that their strength of schedule is so poor. Even with yesterday’s huge victory, they still have only 5 RPI Top 50 wins and 11 RPI Top 100 wins. That’s basically equivalent to Gonzaga (5 and 10, respectively), and Gonzaga’s schedule has been softer than usual this season as well. In comparison, a team like Baylor, despite going just 10-6 in Big 12 play thus far, has 8 RPI Top 50 wins and 14 RPI Top 100 wins. And that is why Baylor is in a better position than UCLA to earn a 2 seed.

Anyway, there was just one at-large change this week, with Rhode Island pulling themselves back in and Kansas State dropping out. There were also two changed auto-bid projections, with Cal State Bakersfield replacing New Mexico St as WAC champion, and Eastern Washington replacing Weber State as Big Sky favorite.

Capitalized teams are projected automatic bid winners. Remember that this is a projection of what the bracket will look like on Selection Sunday, and not a measure of where teams would be if the season ended now:

1. VILLANOVA (BIG EAST)
1. KANSAS (BIG 12)
1. NORTH CAROLINA (ACC)
1. GONZAGA (WCC)

2. Louisville
2. KENTUCKY (SEC)
2. Baylor
2. ARIZONA (PAC-12)

3. Florida
3. Oregon
3. UCLA
3. WISCONSIN (BIG TEN)

4. Florida State
4. Duke
4. Purdue
4. Butler

5. Virginia
5. CINCINNATI (AAC)
5. West Virginia
5. SMU

6. Saint Mary’s
6. Notre Dame
6. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma State

7. DAYTON (ATLANTIC TEN)
7. South Carolina
7. Minnesota
7. Creighton

8. Maryland
8. Xavier
8. VCU
8. Miami FL

9. Michigan
9. Arkansas
9. WICHITA STATE (MVC)
9. Michigan State

10. Virginia Tech
10. Northwestern
10. Illinois State
10. Syracuse

11. USC
11. Wake Forest
11. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (CONFERENCE USA)
11. NEVADA (MOUNTAIN WEST)
11. Rhode Island

12. California
12. TCU
12. Marquette
12. VERMONT (AMERICA EAST)
12. TEXAS-ARLINGTON (SUN BELT)

13. VALPARAISO (HORIZON)
13. AKRON (MAC)
13. MONMOUTH (MAAC)
13. UNC-WILMINGTON (COLONIAL)

14. PRINCETON (IVY LEAGUE)
14. EAST TENNESSEE ST (SOCON)
14. BELMONT (OVC)
14. BUCKNELL (PATRIOT)

15. EASTERN WASHINGTON (BIG SKY)
15. CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD (WAC)
15. FLORIDA GULF COAST (ATLANTIC SUN)
15. NORTH DAKOTA ST (SUMMIT)

16. UNC-ASHEVILLE (BIG SOUTH)
16. TEXAS SOUTHERN (SWAC)
16. UC-IRVINE (BIG WEST)
16. NEW ORLEANS (SOUTHLAND)
16. NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (MEAC)
16. MOUNT ST MARY’S (NEC)

Teams seriously considered that just missed the cut:
Houston, Providence, Seton Hall, Vanderbilt

Decent resumes, but not good enough:
Indiana, Kansas State, Georgia, Tennessee

Long shots, but still in the at-large discussion:
Illinois, Utah, Alabama, Mississippi, BYU, Ohio St

Still alive, but pretty much need a miracle:
UCF, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, St. Bonaventure, Georgetown, St. John’s, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn St, Texas Tech, Boise St, Colorado St, Colorado, Stanford, Auburn, Texas A&M

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