Welcome back to The Catch and Shoot’s bracket projections!

The bracket is broken down into 32 spots given as automatic bids (noted in the bracket with italics), and the remaining 36 are at-large selections.

Teams are evaluated by how they have performed to this point in the season without projecting how they will perform the rest of the year.

However, I’ve determined conference auto bids by whom Kenpom projects as the conference champion. If Kenpom projects a tie, I used the team currently higher in the standings. If Kenpom projects a tie between two teams that are also currently tied in the standings, I used the team ranked higher in Kenpom as that team would theoretically be favored in a neutral-site conference championship game.

Here’s the full field of 68 through results of Feb. 7 with some notes on the bracket below.

WEST
EAST
Salt Lake City
1
Gonzaga
1 Villanova
Buffalo
16
Weber State/UC Davis
16
New Orleans
8 Kansas State 8 Iowa State
9 Seton Hall 9 Dayton
Sacramento
5 Purdue 5 Duke
Buffalo
12
Nevada
12 Valparaiso
4 UCLA 4 West Virginia
13
New Mexico State
13
Monmouth
Orlando
6 Notre Dame 6 USC
Indianapolis
11 Wake Forest/Cal 11 UNC Wilmington
3 Florida 3 Louisville
14
Princeton
14
Vermont
Salt Lake City
7 SMU 7 Maryland
Greenville
10 Miami 10 Georgia Tech
2 Arizona 2 North Carolina
15
North Dakota State
15
UNC Asheville
SOUTH
MIDWEST
Tulsa
1 Baylor 1 Kansas
Tulsa
16
Texas Southern
16
NC Central/Mount St. Mary’s
8 Northwestern 8 Virginia Tech
9 Marquette 9 Indiana
Milwaukee
5 Wisconsin 5 Creighton
Milwaukee
12 Middle Tennessee 12 Wichita State
4 Butler 4 Cincinnati
13 Arkansas State 13
Akron
Sacramento
6 Saint Mary’s 6 Xavier
Greenville
11 VCU/Clemson 11 Syracuse
3 Oregon 3 Virginia
14
Florida Gulf Coast
14
Belmont
Orlando
7 South Carolina 7 Minnesota
Indianapolis
10 TCU 10 Oklahoma State
2 Florida State 2 Kentucky
15
Furman
15
Bucknell

 

Last four in: VCU, Cal, Wake Forest, Clemson

In whispering distance: Michigan State, Michigan, Arkansas

In talking distance: Rhode Island, Texas Tech, Georgetown, Tennessee

In shouting distance: Alabama, Auburn, Pittsburgh, Illinois State, NC State, Providence

Bracket notes:

—Oklahoma State is seeded higher than Seton Hall on my 1-68 list, but Big 12 conflicts forced the Cowboys one seed lower while the Pirates got bumped up.

—While Northwestern is trending down, the Wildcats are still doing fine as a No. 8 seed, albeit the worst of my 8’s. NU does not have many good wins, nor does it have a marquee win. But, NU beat Dayton and Wake Forest (both in the at-large field), and although it lost to two teams outside the at-large field, Michigan State is only the first team out. The Wildcats should be fine without a bad loss the rest of the way, but beating Wisconsin, Maryland or Purdue before the end of the year would make them essentially a lock.

—I’ve got an absurd 12 teams from the ACC in the field, although five are among my last seven in. The five are Clemson, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Miami and Georgia Tech.

—Meanwhile, I have the Big Ten with only six bids, but all six are in pretty good shape with Indiana being the lowest as a No. 9 seed. My first two teams out are also Big Ten teams.

—Also of note with the Big Ten, I have nobody seeded higher than a No. 5, although Wisconsin and Purdue are right on the edge to cracking a top four seed.

—The chances for a mid-major at-large (not counting the A-10, American or Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s here) are basically zero. UNC Wilmington lost to Charleston, Middle Tennessee lost to UTEP and Illinois State lost to Wichita State last weekend. The Shockers — if you’re willing to count them as a mid-major — are the last hope, and they’d likely have to win out until the MVC championship game and lose to Illinois State there.

—How about that Creighton-Wichita State matchup, Valley fans? I swear it was unintentional. Just the way the bracket fell.

—While I wouldn’t advise anyone to pay too much attention to my actual matchups this far out from Selection Sunday, another fun one is Northwestern-Marquette in an 8/9 game. Chris Collins vs. Steve Wojciechowski in a Coach K disciple battle.

Bids by conference:

ACC — 12

Big 12 — 7

Big East — 6

Big Ten — 6

Pac-12 — 5

SEC — 3

AAC — 2

A10 — 2

WCC — 2

 

 

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