FINAL — updated March 17 at 5:12 p.m. ET
Here we go. It’s Selection Sunday, and all but six automatic bids have been determined as of this morning. All bid-stealing battles are also done, as everyone playing in the Ivy League, SEC, Atlantic 10, Sun Belt, American, and Big Ten championship games is either already a lock for an at-large bid or coming from a one-bid league
In the bracket below, Virginia is the overall No. 1 seed, followed by Duke, Gonzaga, and North Carolina. The winners of the East and Midwest regions would face off in the national semifinal, as would the winners of the South and West regions. Conference champions are noted with their conference next to their name in parentheses.
I’ve included some analysis and explanation of my projections below in the “Bracket Notes” section, but feel free to tweet @catch_n_shoot with additional questions and comments. Keep checking back here throughout Selection Sunday as I’ll be updating this page all the way through the end of the Big Ten title game.
|EAST (Washington D.C.)|
|16||North Dakota State (Summit)/Fairleigh Dickinson (NEC)|
|12||Saint Mary's (WCC)|
|13||Old Dominion (C-USA)|
|14||Georgia State (Sun Belt)|
|2||Michigan State (Big Ten)|
|MIDWEST (Kansas City)|
|16||Gardner-Webb (Big South)|
|8||Utah State (MW)|
|Salt Lake City||5||Mississippi State|
|12||Murray State (OVC)|
|Tulsa||6||Iowa State (Big 12)|
|14||Montana (Big Sky)|
|16||Prairie View A&M (SWAC)|
|13||UC Irvine (Big West)|
|14||Saint Louis (A10)|
|15||Abilene Christian (Southland)|
|Salt Lake City||1||Gonzaga|
|16||Iona (MAAC)/NC Central (MEAC)|
|San Jose||5||Virginia Tech|
|12||New Mexico State (WAC)|
|Jacksonville||6||Villanova (Big East)|
|Des Moines||7||Wofford (SoCon)|
|15||Northern Kentucky (Horizon)|
Last Four In: Arizona State, St. John’s, Washington, Temple
Whispering Distance: Belmont, NC State, Furman, UNCG, Indiana
Talking Distance: Lipscomb, Creighton, Alabama, Clemson, Texas
Shouting Distance: Nebraska, Georgetown, Xavier
—(Update: 4:33 p.m. ET) Tennessee’s loss to Auburn in the SEC finals should cause a shakeup among the No. 1 seeds, as Tennessee falls to the 2-seed line and North Carolina takes its place as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest. The ACC would be the first conference since the 2009 Big East to produce three No. 1 seeds.
—One bubble team got bumped on Saturday night when Oregon defeated Washington in the Pac-12 championship
I was hoping all of championship week I wouldn’t have to do a deep comparison on Arizona State’s resume vs. Belmont’s, but here we are. Unfortunately, I think the committee will keep Arizona State in the field and knock Belmont to the NIT.
As far as rallying against mediocre Power 5 teams making the Big Dance goes, Arizona State isn’t the hill to die on. The Sun Devils have legitimately great wins against Kansas, Mississippi State, and Utah State. And it’s not like they got a crazy amount of Quadrant 1 opportunities (six to Belmont’s four). They did, however, take advantage of a multitude of Quadrant 2 games, going 8-3 in that category.
What it boils down to is ASU matched Belmont’s winning percentage against Q1 (with wins against better opponents) and out-performed the Bruins against Q2 and Q3. The Bruins’ have a big edge in Q4, which they dominated, while Arizona State went an ugly 6-2. But we know from the past that a few bad losses usually isn’t a dealbreaker for the committee as long as you have some marquee wins.
—Every year, the committee seems to throw one big curveball, snubbing a pretty deserving team for someone most people assumed was out. (See Syracuse last year and Tulsa in 2016, among others.)
If we get a surprising snub, I expect it to be one of these three teams: St. John’s, Temple, or Washington. Here’s the case against each of them.
The Johnnies have some really good wins, but they enter Selection Sunday ranked No. 73 in the NET. When the selection committee went by RPI, they never gave a team ranked that low an at-large bid. Are they willing to set a new precedent with the NET?
Temple is 2-6 against Quad 1. The Owls have one undeniably great win over Houston, but their second Quad 1 win is over UCF, which is ranked No. 30 in NET. If the Knights literally fall just one spot, that becomes a Quad 2 win. Now, the difference there between a Quad 1 and a Quad 2 win is a prime example of why grouping wins into very general categories is problematic. Plus, the committee has probably already decided if Temple is in or out, so a last-second change in the NET wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) change of the committee views Temple’s resume. But it’s shows that the Owls’ resume is thin. While most other mediocre power conference teams in the field have racked up a bunch of impressive wins, the Owls don’t have all that much of an edge against mid-majors like Belmont and UNC Greensboro, or even high-major programs like Clemson and NC State that most people assume are out because of poor Quad 1 records.
Washington, other than being the Pac-12 regular season champion, really has almost nothing to show on its resume. The Huskies went 2-4 against Quadrant 1, and neither were impressive (at No. 66 Colorado, at No. 51 Oregon). The strength of the Huskies’ resume lies in Quadrant 2, where they went 8-3. Remember how above I discussed how Arizona State’s strong Quadrant 2 record is an important factor in choosing them over Belmont? Well, the Sun Devils also have some really great wins, while the Huskies have none. And, even with some great wins, we’re talking about Arizona State being the last team in the field. From that perspective, what does that say about Washington?
—When it’s all said and done, I think the Pac-12 is a three-bid league — but that’s even less impressive than it sounds. I have Washington and Arizona State headed to Dayton, and Oregon as an automatic bid outside the at-large field. It’s still better than 2012, when the Pac-12 only got two teams in — Cal as a 12 seed and Colorado as an 11 — but not by much.
Bids by conference:
Big Ten – 8
Big 12 – 8
ACC – 7
SEC – 7
AAC – 4
Big East – 4
Pac-12 – 3
A10 – 2
MW – 2
WCC – 2
Photo credit: Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel KNS