The Miami Hurricanes continue to rise, the Michigan State Spartans made a big statement, and the picture up top is still blurry.
Below I present my projections for the tournament seeds, but I think it’s just as important to look at tiers and where teams are falling. There are a few points where there is a divide, and others where very little is separating teams three seed lines apart and there will be plenty of movement. Also, remember, I am projecting teams based on the current resumé plus projecting the future schedule. An example of this can be seen in some of the teams where my seed projection differs from others.
The top of the Mountain West Conference is one case, where Lunardi has New Mexico as a 3 seed and Colorado State as a 7 seed. New Mexico beat Colorado State by 5 earlier at home, but the two are in a virtual dead heat at the top of the conference. I am projecting that Colorado State is more likely to finish as the top seed, in part based on the home rematch, and also more likely to win the tournament based on efficiency numbers. Other cases like VCU in the Atlantic 10, or Notre Dame, who has a tough closing schedule and has surrounded the Louisville thriller with two different OT wins over DePaul, are examples where looking ahead swaps some teams.
The Big XII with Oklahoma State and Kansas State is another example. There is a three way tie atop the standings right now with Kansas. The Cowboys get Kansas and Kansas State at home (as well as Oklahoma) and have a chance to improve their profile to jump around Kansas State, and will have at least one victory over Kansas that Kansas State will not have, if they avenge their earlier loss to the Wildcats in the season finale in Stillwater.
As for tiers, it was a close call at the top. I temporarily dropped Michigan, but they are still very much in the running for a #1 seed. I think Arizona and Kansas dropped from contention for that spot with their recent performances. The rest of the top 3 seeds are in contention.
The next tier runs between Pittsburgh and most of the 6 seeds. Very little was separating those teams, so expect movement. After that, there is a stretch between VCU as the last 6 seed, and the 9 seeds, where the teams are very similar in how they project. After that, you have the 10’s and 11’s, and then the final teams in, with very little separating them from those on the wrong side of the bubble.
#1 Seeds: Indiana, Miami, Duke, Florida
#2 Seeds: Michigan, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Louisville
#3 Seeds: Arizona, Syracuse, Kansas, Pittsburgh
#4 Seeds: Georgetown, Colorado State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State
#5 Seeds: New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Butler
#6 Seeds: Kansas State, Oregon, Cincinnati, Virginia Commonwealth
#7 Seeds: Wichita State, Missouri, Colorado, Marquette
#8 Seeds: Notre Dame, Creighton, NC State, San Diego State
#9 Seeds: Memphis, UCLA, Oklahoma, UNLV
#10 Seeds: Mississippi, Baylor, Virginia, Illinois
#11 Seeds: Kentucky, North Carolina, La Salle, St. Louis
#12 Seeds: Indiana State vs. Iowa State, California vs. St. Mary’s, Belmont, Middle Tennessee
#13 Seeds: Akron, Louisiana Tech, Bucknell, Valparaiso
#14 Seeds: Stephen F. Austin, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota State, Davidson
#15 Seeds: Stony Brook, Long Beach, Iona, Harvard
#16 Seeds: Weber State, Bryant, Northeastern vs. Southern, UNC-Asheville vs. UNC-Central
The Next Ten Out: Iowa, Southern Miss, Charlotte, Temple, Stanford, Boise State, Villanova, Alabama, Maryland, Arkansas
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]