By Kyle Beery
They call it March Madness for a reason. We had a whole lot of madness take place over the weekend. There have been several bids stolen in mid-major conferences, and there are a lot of teams on pins and needles waiting for the bracket to be revealed.
Here’s a look at my final projections. Auto-bids are listed in bold. NCAA Tournament Selection Committee bracket principles were used in creating the bracket. In this version of the bracket, the winners of the South and West brackets would meet in the Final Four in San Antonio, while the East and Midwest champions would face each other.
SOUTH REGIONAL — Atlanta — Thursday, March 22 & Saturday, March 24
- Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed, and there’s no question about it.
- Cincinnati is locked into a 2-seed, even with a loss against Houston in the currently ongoing American Championship game. The outcome of that game could affect their placement, though.
- Texas and St. Bonaventure are two of the last teams in. The bubble has gotten a lot stronger over the last few days, thanks to bid stealers like Davidson, the No. 13-seed in this region.
EAST REGIONAL — Boston — Friday, March 23 & Sunday, March 25
- Villanova stormed to yet another Big East title and a No. 1 seed is in order for the Wildcats.
- Duke may have had a shot at a 1-seed had it won the ACC Tournament, but the Blue Devils will be a No. 2-seed, likely the highest ranked 2-seed.
- San Diego State stole a bid out of the Mountain West and will be a tough out in the first round.
- Tennessee lost in the SEC championship game, but it wasn’t a bad enough loss to knock them off the 3-line.
MIDWEST REGIONAL — Omaha — Friday, March 23 & Sunday, March 25
- Just think about how we all thought back in January that Kansas was having a down year and was in jeopardy of ending its Big 12 reign, looking at a middle-of-the-pack seed. And then shake your head. We should have known better.
- USC is an interesting case on Selection Sunday. Jerry Palm currently has the Trojans on the outside looking in, but an appearance in the Pac-12 title game — with nine wins between quadrant 1 + 2 to boot — should be enough to get them in.
- Arizona is red-hot right now, and they could beat just about anybody in the country. I wouldn’t be shocked if they ended up as a 3-seed, but I see them as the highest 4-seed.
WEST REGIONAL — Los Angeles — Thursday, March 22 & Saturday, March 24
- Xavier gets the last 1-seed, though it probably would have slipped down a line had Duke won the ACC.
- Butler is sweating things out a lot more than we thought it would be about three or four days ago. They should be safe enough with eight wins between Q1 + Q2 and a very high strength of schedule. Put the Dawgs’ resume up against a team like Saint Mary’s or Marquette (whom they beat twice), and tell me it’s not worthy of a bid.
- Gonzaga is probably going to be under-seeded yet again. They are as good as a No. 3-seed, but the resume has the Zags as a 4-seed. A 5-seed wouldn’t be shocking either.
Last four byes (avoiding Dayton)
- USC – The Trojans are the closest to the “Last Four In” category out of these four teams.
- Alabama – The Tide rolled to the SEC semifinals, and that was enough to get them a bid.
- Florida State – The Seminoles have been nothing but mediocre over the last month, but they’ll wind up in the field.
- Butler – These nervous moments for Bulldogs fans were unexpected, but considering where some thought they’d end up in the preseason with LaVall Jordan in his first season, this was a very successful for Butler.
Last four in (First Four @ Dayton March 13-14)
- Texas – The Longhorns are the closest to safety out of this group. Mo Bamba’s injury has certainly affected their seeding over the last few weeks.
- St. Bonaventure – The Bonnies lost to Davidson in the A-10 Tournament, but they were pretty safe just a few days ago. They have nine Q1 + Q2 wins, far more than some of the teams that will be left out.
- Louisville – The decision on the Cardinals will be polarizing no matter what it is. If they’re out, in favor of a mid-major, they will be crying about strength of schedule. If they get in, they will be boasting about playing in a tougher conference.
- Oklahoma – The Sooners have stunk lately. There’s no denying that. But they have six quad 1 wins — two on the road, and very nice wins over Kansas and Wichita State. Many fans want to see them out, but they probably stacked enough wins early in the year to slide into the field.
- Also, if they’re in the field, don’t give me trash about how the committee wants Trae Young in because he brings viewers and sells tickets. The TV contract has been signed, the tickets have been sold, and people will watch and go to the games regardless if he’s in.
First four out
- Arizona State – The Sun Devils have a similar case to the Sooners. They were once the No. 3 team in the country and drawing all sorts of buzz. But unlike OU, they two real ugly Q3 losses. Still, they’re right at the cut line and hearing their name called wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
- Saint Mary’s – In the year of the quadrant, the mid-major team will fall victim to the new system. Saint Mary’s is just one example. They didn’t care enough to schedule tough non-conference games, instead focusing on stacking easy wins to try and improve its RPI.
- Marquette – A win over Villanova on Thursday would have punched the Golden Eagles’ ticket, but they’ll probably end up a 1-seed in the NIT instead.
- Syracuse – Two Q2 losses, and not enough eye-popping wins will keep the orange out.
Next four out
- Oklahoma State – A terrible RPI (90) ruins a resume that boasted two nice wins over Kansas.
- MTSU – Again, the mid-majors are taking the biggest hits after all the bid-stealing this weekend.
- Baylor – The Bears are only 17-14 against DI teams. That’s not good enough.
- Notre Dame – The Irish made a nice push in bubble talks once it got Bonzie Colson back, but it will be nice for him to get to play a few more times in front of a South Bend crowd in the NIT.