A few words about how this version differs, though, from some others. First, I tried to make this first pass projection without looking at what other brackets were projecting, though I did try to use some of the same tools – RPI, quality wins, etc. However, this is not my projection of what the bracket would look like today. Most brackets are a “at the time” projection. I also looked at how a team has played more recently, and predictive ranking systems, as well as the upcoming schedule to project who has a chance to improve or hurt their standing.
As a result, I have some teams projected in who would not be in today, but have the opportunity to make a move. I also have some teams out that rate much lower in predictive rankings than in the current RPI.
Of course, these projections also have one other major difficulty. The “bubble” as always, will decrease as conference tournament results roll in. My current projections have 15 different conference champions projected among the top 11 seeds, easily within at-large consideration. If Southern Miss or Memphis don’t win Conference USA, or Murray State loses in their tournament, or in this down season for the Pac-10 someone besides California wins the tournament, then it will shrink. My guess: 3-4 spots, so that the teams currently projected for the play-in games as #13 seeds are on the cut line, and the play-in games will be #12 seeds. That will also bump some of those teams on the #15 and #14 seed lines as tournament champs up a line or two.
Here they are, with current conference auto bid projections with an *, and play-in game participants marked with a +.
#1 Seeds: Kentucky*, Syracuse*, Ohio State*, Kansas*
#2 Seeds: North Carolina*, Missouri, Baylor, Duke
#3 Seeds: Michigan State, Marquette, Creighton*, UNLV*
#4 Seeds: Florida, Georgetown, Wisconsin, St. Mary’s*
#5 Seeds: Murray State*, Florida State, Virginia, Indiana
#6 Seeds: Michigan, Southern Miss*, Gonzaga, San Diego State
#7 Seeds: Temple*, Vanderbilt, Wichita State, Memphis
#8 Seeds: Louisville, California*, Kansas State, Harvard*
#9 Seeds: Mississippi State, West Virginia, New Mexico, St. Louis
#10 Seeds: Illinois, Long Beach State*, Iowa State, Alabama
#11 Seeds: Middle Tenn. State*, Connecticut, Purdue, Arkansas
#12 Seeds: BYU, Xavier, Oral Roberts*, La Salle
#13 Seeds: Cleveland State*, Seton Hall, Notre Dame+, NC State+, Washington+, Colorado State+
#14 Seeds: Nevada*, Davidson*, Akron*, Iona*
#15 Seeds: Bucknell*, Belmont*, Virginia Commonwealth*, Wagner*
#16 Seeds: Norfolk State*, Weber State*, Stony Brook*+, UNC-Asheville*+, UT-Arlington*+, Miss. Valley State*+
[photo via Getty]