Rutgers has climbed onto the bubble with an impressive run of wins against ranked teams, but are they in the field in this week’s Bracketology report?
The twists and turns of the college basketball season can often lead to teams emerging out of nowhere to make a run at glory in March. The perfect example of that team this season is Rutgers, which appeared to be well off the bubble after a string of bad losses in non-conference play.
The Scarlet Knights have risen from the dead with an impressive three-game winning streak against ranked opponents, pushing themselves into the bubble fray with just three weeks left in the regular season. We’ll find out if the surge from Rutgers has gotten them onto the right side of the cutline in a bit, but let’s get started with a look at the Top 16 teams in the field with this week’s Bracketology report.
Note: All teams currently leading their conferences are projected to reach the field as automatic qualifiers.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology: The 4 No. 1 Seeds
Gonzaga, Auburn, Arizona, Kentucky
The top three teams on this line haven’t changed from last week but Kentucky has managed to jump Purdue after a shaky week from the Boilermakers. The Wildcats have a huge week ahead of them with a trip to Tennessee on Tuesday and a visit from Alabama on Saturday that could determine if they can maintain this position.
Auburn’s loss last week won’t knock them off the top line but does leave them vulnerable to being passed by Arizona in the weeks ahead. The Wildcats don’t have many more challenges left on their schedule while the Tigers’ road issues could lead to them getting tripped up in a deeper conference.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology: The 4 No. 2 Seeds
Purdue, Baylor, Kansas, Providence
We mentioned the Boilermakers’ stumbles last week as they got blown out at Michigan before struggling to get past a bad Maryland team at home on Sunday. There is national title upside with Purdue but their defensive struggles are a concern at this point of the season.
Kansas and Baylor continue to remain a step above the rest of the Big 12, although the rugged nature of the league could prevent either from claiming a spot on the top line. The newest addition here is Providence, which is 21-2 and has a shot to secure its first Big East regular-season title ever if they can beat Villanova at home tonight.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology: The 4 No. 3 Seeds
Duke, Texas Tech, UCLA, Villanova
The Red Raiders were on the two-line last week but losing by 15 at Oklahoma knocked them down to this tier. Duke’s loss to Virginia also prevented them from moving up despite the fact that the Blue Devils are far more talented than a typical No. 3 seed.
UCLA has been sliding a bit and needs to regain some swagger if they want to get back on the two-line ahead of the NCAA Tournament. The other team to watch here is Villanova, which has done very well against a brutal schedule and will have two shots at the Friars to reclaim Big East supremacy before the regular season is done.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology: The 4 No. 4 Seeds
Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Houston
No movement here from either Illinois or Wisconsin, who went 1-1 on the week to maintain their positions here. Illinois has a big trip to Michigan State on tap this weekend while Wisconsin has to deal with a tough visit to Assembly Hall tonight.
The Volunteers have quietly won seven of eight as their offense has improved, making this week’s games against Kentucky and Arkansas a pivotal time for seed advancement for Rick Barnes’ team. The last team on this line is Houston, which lost twice last week as concerns were raised about the ceiling of this Cougars’ team without Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser, both of whom are out for the season.