Before I jump into this week's breakdown, a little bit of housekeeping. I've decided to use take advantage of my unexpected vacation this week to start doubling up on my weekly brackets. Brackets will come out Saturday morning at the latest and then on Monday evening, at the latest. Times will vary based on my travel schedule and the TV listings. For example, this week, I'll release the Friday/Saturday bracket before I head up to Philadelphia on Saturday morning. The Friday night/Saturday morning bracket will take into account the action from Monday through Friday, while the Sunday evening/Monday evening one will include the weekend's action. I'll ramp up my bracket frequency again during Championship Week.
TV previews will be a low priority this week as I will be on the road quite a bit over the next few days. Tuesday night, I will be at South Carolina-Florida in Gainesville. I'm then traveling down to Orlando to take in Houst0n-UCF on Wednesday night.
Now onto the bracket...
The same four teams as last week fill the top seed line in this week's bracket (seed list). UConn has replaced Duke as the number one overall seed, at least temporarily. (Bracket Trends page) They face a major test tonight as they visit my top rated #2 seed, Louisville (ESPN, 7 EST). North Carolina and Pittsburgh remain where they were last week, heading up the South and West regions, respectively.
Joining the Cardinals on the second line are holdovers Wake Forest and Oklahoma and one newcomer, Marquette. I think the Golden Eagles have the lowest chance of moving up to the one line of this group, however. Their best wins out of the league are at home to Wisconsin, who is out of the bracket this week and at NC State, who isn't even close. Losses to Tennessee in Nashville and Dayton in suburban Chicago are nothing to be ashamed of, but considering these teams are in the bottom half of the at-large pool, they could present the committee with quite a bit to think about.
There's only one holdover among the #3's this week. Xavier stays put, Michigan State dropped down from the 2-line, Clemson arrives from line 4, and Memphis jumps up from a 5-seed. Texas didn't fall far, as they're a 4 this week. Arizona State and Syracuse, meanwhile, tumbled all of the way down to the 6 line, as they've both hit the skids over the past couple of weeks. Both of these teams are in danger of falling all the way down to the bubble if they don't turn things around quickly.
Joining the Longhorns as 4-seeds are Hoosier State risers Butler and Purdue and holdover UCLA. Like Marquette, the Bruins non-conference schedule really hurts their chances of moving much higher on the S-curve. Kentucky looked like a great candidate for the 4 line, but consecutive losses to Mississippi and bracket newcomer South Carolina scuppered their chances.
Georgetown falls all the way from a 4-seed to one of the last four in this week. The Hoyas have now dropped five in a row.
The Gamecocks aren't the only new at-large entrant this week. (They also aren't even the only new SEC entrant, as LSU has the auto bid this week.) While Michigan and Wisconsin have fallen down, Penn State has risen up. The Nittany Lions are in after their upset win at Michigan State Sunday. Arizona also returns after a week's absence, thanks to their sweep of the Washington schools.
Cal, Miami, and Notre Dame fell out this week. The Golden Bears have dropped 4 of 5, with the lone win in that span being against Oregon in Berkeley. The Hurricanes have dropped four out of five as well. There replacements are LSU and Utah, who have the SEC and Mountain West auto bids this week.
The Irish have dropped five straight, like Georgetown. A marginally better set of wins (Memphis, @UConn, Syracuse compared to Texas in Maui and Georgetown - see head-to-head only goes so far) keeps the Hoyas in.
Look for my next bracket on Saturday morning at the latest. I will, as usual, send a message on twitter when it's out. You can also follow my visits to Gainesville and Orlando via twitter.