Editor’s note: For years, our very own Andy Bottoms has been projecting the NCAA Tournament bracket.
Below is Andy’s latest set of projections for 2017. Expect daily updates between now and Selection Sunday.
Bucknell earned the season’s 12th automatic bid by taking down Lehigh in the Patriot League final, while the biggest bubble-related developments came from the ACC.
Let’s take the easy one first. Wake Forest lost to Virginia Tech after beating the Hokies just a few days earlier, and while I don’t consider them a lock, I feel relatively confident the Demon Deacons will get in. They don’t have a sub-100 loss and boast solid non-conference schedule strength and computer numbers, which should be enough along with three Top 50 wins.
Syracuse, however, is much less clear cut.
The Orange have six Top 50 wins, which is more than pretty much any other team near the cutline. That said, all of those wins came at home, which in and of itself isn’t really an issue. The problem is that Syracuse is just 2-11 in road and neutral games, and according to Jerry Palm, no team in at least the past 23 years has gotten in with so few victories away from home.
Syracuse’s RPI also currently sits in the mid-80s, which is about 10 spots worse than the worst RPI to ever get an at-large. Oddly enough that was Syracuse a season ago when they got in when ranked 72nd in the RPI. For now, I am leaving them in the field and ultimately won’t be stunned if they get in, but their case is tenuous at best right now. It’s certainly a profile I will revisit multiple times between now and Selection Sunday.
On this week’s Bracketology.FM podcast, I previewed all of the remaining conference tournaments with my guests Jordan Majewski and Raphielle Johnson. Both offered great insight, and it’s worth a listen as one of the best weeks of the college basketball season rolls along.
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Here are my projections through the games from March 8.
I’ve also listed my last four in and first four out as usual, but my thoughts on those teams can all be found within the latest edition of Bracket Watch.
|EAST (NEW YORK)||MIDWEST (KANSAS CITY)|
|Buffalo – March 16/18||Tulsa – March 17/19|
|1) Villanova||1) Kansas|
|16) Jacksonville St. / Mount St. Mary’s||16) New Orleans / NC Central|
|8) South Carolina
|9) Northwestern||9) Arkansas|
|Buffalo – March 16/18||Salt Lake City – March 16/18|
||5) Notre Dame|
|12) Iowa / Syracuse||12) UT-Arlington
|4) West Virginia||4) Arizona|
|13) Vermont||13) East Tennessee St.|
|Orlando – March 16/18||Milwaukee – March 16/18|
|6) Wisconsin||6) Iowa St.|
|11) Wake Forest||11) Middle Tennessee|
|3) Florida St.||3) Butler|
|14) Bucknell||14) Florida Gulf Coast|
|Indianapolis – March 17/19||Indianapolis – March 17/19|
|7) Virginia Tech||7) Saint Mary’s|
|10) VCU||10) Seton Hall|
|2) Kentucky||2) Louisville|
|15) Texas Southern
|SOUTH (MEMPHIS)||WEST (SAN JOSE)|
|Greenville – March 17/19||Salt Lake City – March 16/18|
|1) North Carolina||1) Gonzaga|
|16) North Dakota||16) South Dakota St.|
|8) Dayton||8) Oklahoma St.|
|9) Wichita St.||9) Marquette|
|Orlando – March 16/18||Milwaukee – March 16/18|
|5) Minnesota||5) Virginia|
|12) UNC-Wilmington||12) Nevada|
|4) Florida||4) Purdue|
|13) Princeton||13) Winthrop|
|Sacramento – March 17/19||Greenville – March 17/19|
|6) SMU||6) Maryland|
||11) USC / Vanderbilt|
|3) UCLA||3) Duke|
|14) Akron||14) Cal St. Bakersfield|
|Tulsa – March 17/19||Sacramento – March 17/19|
|7) Creighton||7) Miami (FL)|
|10) Michigan St.||10) Providence|
|2) Baylor||2) Oregon|
|15) Northern Kentucky||15) UC-Irvine|
Note: I broke down the bubble teams in more detail in the latest Bracket Watch.
Last Four In
First Four Out
Here is how the bids broke down by conference:
ACC (10): Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Big Ten (8): Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big East (7): Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Xavier
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia
SEC (5): Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vanderbilt
Pac-12 (4): Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, USC
American (2): Cincinnati, SMU
Atlantic 10 (2): Dayton, VCU
West Coast (2): Gonzaga*, Saint Mary’s
America East: Vermont
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast*
Big Sky: North Dakota
Big South: Winthrop*
Big West: UC-Irvine
Conference USA: Middle Tennessee
Horizon: Northern Kentucky*
MEAC: NC Central
Missouri Valley: Wichita State*
Mountain West: Nevada
Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s*
Ohio Valley: Jacksonville St.*
Southern: East Tennessee St.*
Southland: New Orleans
Summit: South Dakota St.*
Sun Belt: UT-Arlington
SWAC: Texas Southern
WAC: Cal State Bakersfield
* – Denotes team has earned automatic bid
Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.