NCAA Tournament bracketology: Illinois nabs last No. 1 seed but Ohio State, Iowa, Alabama still alive

Illinois basketball owns the last No. 1 seed but the race is far from over with Iowa, Ohio State and Alabama still in the running.

The final week of the college basketball regular season is upon us and the race to improve seeding in the NCAA Tournament has taken on even greater importance. There has been plenty of movement thanks to some huge games over the past seven days, shuffling up the bracketology picture compared to how it looked a week ago.


There are a few conference tournaments starting this week but the majority of the sport is set to wrap up the regular season by Sunday. Let’s take a look at where the top 16 teams stand at the moment, beginning on the top line as always.

Bracketology – No. 1 seeds

Gonzaga, Michigan, Baylor, Illinois

The Bulldogs wrapped up an undefeated regular season on Saturday and are locked into this slot for the time being. Mark Few’s team is now off until March 8 as they await their semifinal date in the WCC Tournament, leaving them two wins away from entering the NCAA Tournament undefeated.

Michigan is now up to the second overall seed after a strong week with a convincing beatdown of Iowa and an effortless road win over slumping Indiana. There are three games on the docket for the Wolverines this week, including Tuesday’s massive showdown with Illinois along with a home-and-home against Michigan State.

A loss to Kansas knocked the Bears from the ranks of the unbeaten and down behind Michigan on the S-Curve, but the bigger concern is how sluggish Baylor looked coming off of a COVID pause. Games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech this week are key to see if the Bears can bounce back or if they are in danger of slipping off the top line altogether.

Illinois is on the top line for the first time this season after bouncing back from an upset loss at Michigan State by holding off Wisconsin. The reward for the Fighting Illini is a brutal season-ending gauntlet with a road trip against Michigan and Ohio State.

Bracketology – No. 2 seeds

Ohio State, Alabama, West Virginia, Iowa

A three-game losing streak has seen Ohio State fall off the top line as there are now some causes for concern with the Buckeyes’ recent play. The only game on Ohio State’s schedule this week is Saturday’s showdown with Illinois on Senior Day, a contest that could play a key role in determining which Big Ten rival ends up on the one-line.

Alabama missed out on a chance to get on the top line by losing against Arkansas and looked sluggish against Mississippi State over the weekend. Closing the regular season with wins against Auburn and Georgia are musts if the Crimson Tide want to keep the possibility of a No. 1 seed on the table.

West Virginia is also in the hunt for a top seed thanks to a strong finish to the season. Dates with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State this week offer a tremendous opportunity for the Mountaineers to pad their resume ahead of the Big 12 Tournament.

Finding a way to split the Michigan-Ohio State double was huge for Iowa, which maintained its place on the two-line thanks to its win over the Buckeyes on Sunday. The Hawkeyes have a winnable game against Nebraska coming up ahead of a Senior Day showdown with Wisconsin on Sunday.

Bracketology – No. 3 seeds

Florida State, Houston, Kansas, Arkansas

The Seminoles saw their four-game winning streak come to an end against North Carolina but Leonard Hamilton’s team has done very well to cement their spot on the three-line. Taking care of business against Boston College and Notre Dame this week should leave Florida State set up well headed into the ACC Tournament.

Kelvin Sampson did a fellow mid-major a solid by scheduling Western Kentucky for a mid-week non-conference game and his team rewarded the faith by pulling away in the second half of an 81-57 win. The Cougars finish the regular season in Memphis on Sunday in a game that could be tricky.

Getting swept by Texas wasn’t great for Kansas but they made up for it by being the first team to beat Baylor with a huge win at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night. The Jayhawks wrapped up their  Big 12 schedule in the process so Bill Self added a non-conference game against UTEP this week to keep his team sharp ahead of the conference tournament.

The last spot on this line goes to Arkansas, which made a big statement last week by knocking off Alabama in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks are set to wrap the regular season this week against South Carolina and Texas A&M.

Bracketology – No. 4 seeds

Villanova, Oklahoma State, Texas, Purdue

The Wildcats slipped to the four-line following a loss to Butler, which is a bad one this season with the Bulldogs’ struggling. There isn’t a ton of substance on Villanova’s resume so finding a way to top Creighton this week would be significant.

Sweeping Bedlam has allowed Oklahoma State to leap into the Top 16 seeds for the first time. Matchups against Baylor and West Virginia offer plenty of upside for the Cowboys to improve their seed even more ahead of the Big 12 Tournament.

Finding a way to sweep Kansas was enough to keep the Longhorns on the four-line despite a weekend loss to Texas Tech. Texas should find a way to top Iowa State and TCU, leaving an opportunity for a three-win week if they can find a way to top slumping Oklahoma in Norman.

The last spot in the Top 16 goes to Purdue, which is a combined four points against Maryland and Minnesota away from going 11-1 since Jan. 8. The Boilermakers get Wisconsin and Indiana this week as they look to secure a better seed at the Big Ten Tournament.

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