Selection Sunday is just three days away, and the bracket is starting to solidify. Although there are still some seedings to sort out near the top of the bracket and toward the bubble, teams are beginning to settle into place. Conference tournament play will certainly help wrap up any of these final issues, but there is always an element of uncertainty when it comes to predicting what the selection committee will do. Still, Bauertology will do its best to project the NCAA Tournament field at this moment in time.
EAST (Washington, D.C.)
1 Virginia vs. 16 Prairie View A&M / Iona
8 UCF vs. 9 Washington
5 Maryland vs. 12 New Mexico State
4 Kansas State vs. 13 UC Irvine
6 Villanova vs. 11 Indiana
3 LSU vs. 14 Georgia State
7 Cincinnati vs. 10 Seton Hall
2 Michigan State vs. 15 Montana
Salt Lake City
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson / Norfolk State
8 Ole Miss vs. 9 Syracuse
5 Marquette vs. 12 Ohio State / Temple
4 Florida State vs. 13 Liberty
6 Auburn vs. 11 TCU
3 Houston vs. 14 Harvard
7 Louisville vs. 10 Utah State
2 Michigan vs. 15 Bradley
1 North Carolina vs. 16 Sam Houston State
8 VCU vs. 9 Baylor
Salt Lake City
5 Virginia Tech vs. 12 Murray State
4 Kansas vs. 13 Old Dominion
6 Buffalo vs. 11 St. John's
3 Purdue vs. 14 Northeastern
7 Iowa State vs. 10 Minnesota
2 Kentucky vs. 15 Colgate
MIDWEST (Kansas City)
1 Duke vs. 16 North Dakota State
8 Oklahoma vs. 9 Iowa
5 Mississippi State vs. 12 Saint Mary's
4 Wisconsin vs. 13 Vermont
6 Nevada vs. 11 Florida / NC State
3 Texas Tech vs. 14 Northern Kentucky
7 Wofford vs. 10 Texas
2 Tennessee vs. 15 Gardner-Webb
Last Four Byes: Texas, Indiana, St. John's, TCU
Last Four In: Florida, NC State, Ohio State, Temple
First Four Out: Creighton, Clemson, Alabama, Arizona State
Next Four Out: Belmont, Georgetown, Lipscomb, UNC Greensboro
North Carolina introduces itself onto the 1-seed line with another win over Duke. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, stay up there thanks to Gonzaga’s loss to Saint Mary’s. There will certainly be an argument that Gonzaga should drop to a 2-seed, considering the Bulldogs’ résumé is arguably weaker than Kentucky’s or Michigan State’s, but if the committee rewards dominance within the conference, Gonzaga should stay near the top. However, if Kentucky or Michigan State were to win their conference tournaments, the committee very well could place either team ahead of Gonzaga on the 1-seed line.
With Clemson falling out of the picture following yesterday’s loss to NC State, the ACC receives eight bids in this projection, less than the Big Ten’s current projected total of nine. However, the result of today’s Ohio State vs. Indiana game may change that, as there’s a good chance the loser is also left out entirely. It’s looking nine is the maximum numbers of bids any conference will receive, though eight is a lot more likely.
This weak bubble is shaping up to be a fascinating conversation for Selection Sunday. Can .500 Texas be included with a loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament? Should a single-digit-loss Temple team be left out instead because of inferior metrics? Are NC State-Clemson and Ohio State-Indiana truly elimination games? Is there a chance for the likes of Belmont, Furman, Lipscomb or UNC Greensboro, who all failed to win their minor conference tournaments? There’s plenty of discussion to be had.
One potential matchup to watch out for here is the possible second-round matchup between Michigan and Louisville in the Des Moines pod of the West Region. This game would be a rematch of the 2013 NCAA Tournament championship game, in which Louisville took home the trophy by six points. Six years later, Michigan could get some revenge by knocking the Cardinals out of championship contention.
Even with three days to go, nothing is set in stone. There’s still plenty of games to be played within conference tournaments, and the bubble could be changing shape as a result of it. Regardless of what the committee decides to do on Selection Sunday, we should be in for one fantastic March full of college basketball madness.
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.