March has arrived and the race for the last few NCAA Tournament bids could get messy in this week’s final regular-season Bracketology report.
As the great Jon Rothstein famously says at midnight of the first day of the year’s third month, This is March. College basketball’s regular season is steamrolling towards a conclusion with a ton of momentum thanks to a wild final Saturday in February that led to a massive shakeup in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll.
The season has shown us that this year’s NCAA Tournament could be wild with upsets galore, which is what makes the race for the last few spots feel a bit disappointing since there are mediocre resumes galore near the cut line. We’ll dive deeper into the bubble watch in a minute but let’s get started with a look at the Top 16 teams in this week’s Bracketology report.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology – The 4 No. 1 Seeds
Note: All teams currently leading their conferences were placed in the field with automatic qualifier status.
Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn, Baylor
The top three teams on this line lost last week but it is worth remembering that the NCAA’s Top 16 seed reveal mentioned that there was a significant gap between the top three seeds (Gonzaga, Auburn, Arizona) and the fourth No. 1 seed, Kansas. Auburn has lost two close road games since then but their overall body of work keeps them on the top line.
The big change this week is that Baylor leapfrogs past Kansas onto the top line after beating the Jayhawks in Waco on Saturday. Scott Drew’s team did good work to secure a road win at Texas last night and has a tremendous opportunity to secure their spot on this line over the next two weeks.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology – The 4 No. 2 Seeds
Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Purdue
Three of the teams on this line last week stayed put while Kansas flip-flopped with Baylor. The biggest winner of the week was Duke, which won a pair of road games to move further up the S-curve as they try to position themselves as the top No. 2 seed on the board.
The most disappointing team here is Purdue, which lost on the road to a struggling Michigan State team despite having a week to prepare for the game. The Boilermakers have a tough trip to Wisconsin tonight that could knock them off of this line if they lose.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology – The 4 No. 3 Seeds
Texas Tech, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Providence
Texas Tech held its ground despite a loss to TCU, which is not shameful at all since the Big 12 is a brutally tough league from top-to-bottom, while Tennessee did some impressive work by picking up a huge win over Auburn on Saturday to maintain a shot at sneaking onto the two-line by Selection Sunday.
Wisconsin did strong work by winning a pair of road games to jump up a line and can clinch the Big Ten’s regular-season title outright by completing a sweep of Purdue tonight. Providence is also here after securing its first-ever regular-season title in the Big East and should be rewarded for an excellent year.
NCAA Tournament Bracketology – The 4 No. 4 Seeds
Arkansas, Villanova, UCLA, Illinois
The new addition to this group is Arkansas, which has beaten Auburn and Kentucky over the past two weeks as part of a tear that has seen the Razorbacks rip off 13 wins in their past 14 games. Arkansas also has a shot at Tennessee on Saturday that can boost its seeding even more.
Villanova and Illinois dropped a line after losses last week but both of these teams remain dangerous in the actual tournament, especially if the committee places the Wildcats in the East Regional so they can play the second weekend at the Wells Fargo Center. UCLA narrowly held off UCONN for the last spot in this group but the Bruins need to regain their mojo if they want to live up to the preseason promise bestowed on them after last season’s Final Four run.