We have a monster game at the top of the bracket tomorrow night, when Indiana and Michigan face off. I have both projected as #1 seeds, with Indiana narrowly over Florida.
After that, the top of the bracket is fairly stable from last week. The top four seeds are all there again, while the 5 line stays the same. It’s after that, in the 6 to 11 slots, where there is a lot of movement, and I suspect that is an area that will be volatile for a while, as so many teams have similar expected profiles. Remember, I am not only projecting the field based on the current results, I am also trying to project the future results, through the conference tournaments, and how the committee will view the team then, not now.
I still have Pittsburgh (rated in the top ten in most predictive systems like Pomeroy or Sagarin, but without signature wins) as a 5 seed this week. If they do not beat Syracuse at home tomorrow, expect them to drop. If they win that game, though, they will be favored in their remaining games, and should have a better profile by March.
The Big issue at the bubble looks like it could be the Big Five in Philadelphia. Four of the teams should be in consideration, but none appear to be solid clear choices. Villanova has beaten Louisville and Syracuse back to back to salvage their season, but still sit at 13-8 with plenty of questionable losses. La Salle is coming off big wins over both Butler and VCU. Temple has struggled recently, but also has that win over Syracuse. St. Joseph’s needs to do some work, but gets the big game against Temple tomorrow to start.
I put Villanova and La Salle just in, and dropped Temple just out. It was, quite honestly, to close to call. Temple beat Villanova earlier this year, something that could factor if it is still close. I went with Villanova based on their improved play recently, and La Salle based on what I think will be a better finish in the A-10 than Temple, but if the Owls turn things around, they can jump right back in. I suspect that their will be some very happy and very sad players in the city of Philadelphia on Selection Sunday.
#1 Seeds: Kansas*, Michigan*, Duke*, Indiana
#2 Seeds: Florida*, Syracuse*, Arizona*, Louisville
#3 seeds: Miami, Gonzaga*, Minnesota, Michigan State
#4 seeds: Butler*, Creighton*, Ohio State, Oregon
#5 seeds: Wichita State, UNLV*, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
#6 seeds: Marquette, Kansas State, San Diego State, Virginia Commonwealth
#7 seeds: Wisconsin, New Mexico, NC State, Georgetown
#8 seeds: Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Mississippi, UCLA
#9 seeds: Colorado, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
#10 seeds: Kentucky, St. Mary’s, Baylor, Missouri
#11 seeds: Virginia, Southern Mississippi*, La Salle, St. Louis
#12 seeds: Arizona State vs. Iowa State, Memphis vs. Villanova, Belmont*, Middle Tennessee State*
#13 seeds: Bucknell*, North Dakota State*, Akron*, Stephen F. Austin*
FIRST FOUR OUT: Temple, Indiana State, Illinois, Iowa
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]