NCAA Tournament Bracketology

Updated through results of Feb. 16, 2017

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

The bracket is broken down into 32 spots are 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. 16 with some notes on the bracket below.

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

Last four in: Marquette, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Syracuse

In whispering distance: Wake Forest, Texas Tech

In talking distance: Tennessee, Indiana, Georgetown, Clemson, Illinois State

In shouting distance: Alabama, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rhode Island, Ohio State, Georgia

Bracket notes

—Once again, bracketing procedures with several Big 12 teams as No. 1 seeds and No. 8/9 seeds led to some wacky changes. TCU and Kansas State are “really” No. 9 seeds on the true seed list, and Seton Hall and VCU are “really” No. 10 seeds.

—Northwestern is still safely in the field after losing to Maryland on Wednesday, and in fact I moved them up my true seed list as South Carolina and Xavier took worse losses the same night.

—The ACC still has a leading 10 bids, as Syracuse is back in the field while Wake Forest fell out. The only other change from Tuesday regarding selection is Arkansas moving into the field with Texas Tech dropping out.

—A couple of weeks ago, I did not see a path for Illinois State to get an at-large bid, but as more teams lose and the bubble gets even weaker, the Redbirds have a chance. They’re my 7th team out, and right now there’s not a ton of separation between them and Tennessee, who is my 3rd team out.

Biggest weekend games

Villanova @ Seton Hall — While the Wildcats would still be in No. 1 seed shape with a loss, the Pirates could essentially lock up a bid with a win Saturday.

Kansas @ Baylor — Baylor has three wins against the Top 15 RPI, but the most recent one was in early December.

USC @ UCLA — The Trojans have a good road/neutral record, but against bad teams. Their best win away from home came against BYU.

Texas Tech @ West Virginia — The Red Raiders’ biggest issues are their RPI and road/neutral record. Can they help both numbers out in a big way?

Virginia @ North Carolina — The Tar Heels will have four quality chances for wins down the stretch plus the NCAA Tournament. They have a few bad losses, but a few more good wins would close the gap between them and Baylor for a No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, Virginia is trying to stay above .500 against the top 50 RPI.

Wake Forest @ Duke — Wake needs to beat someone good eventually if its going to get a bid. This is their last chance to do it on the road before the ACC Tournament.

Michigan State @ Purdue — A loss at home for Purdue would make the Big Ten’s hopes for a top 4 seed even bleaker, but a road win for Michigan State would separate the Spartans from the bubble a bit. Which would the Big Ten prefer?

Syracuse @ Georgia Tech — The loser of this game will almost certainly be out the field come Monday.

Bids by conference:

ACC — 10

Big 12 — 7

Big Ten — 7

Big East — 6

Pac-12 — 5

SEC — 4

AAC — 2

A10 — 2

WCC — 2