After a weekend on the road and a Monday and Tuesday evening full of conference championship games, I finally had some time to put together my second bracket of this Championship Week (seed list, trends). This is the last one before the multi-bid conference tournaments really get into full gear.
North Carolina takes over as the number one overall seed for now, while three Big East teams hold down spots on the top line. Louisville moves up to join Pittsburgh and Connecticut, sending Memphis back down to line two. I don't think it's possible for all three to keep their spots, as only one can win the Big East Tournament and only two can make the final.
Joining the Tigers on line two are Oklahoma, Michigan State, and newcomer Kansas. The Jayhawks replace Duke, who falls down to the three line after losing to the Tar Heels for a second time this year.
The Blue Devils' company on line three includes holdovers Villanova (who get the added benefit of playing at their part-time arena) and Wake Forest, along with Washington. The Huskies move up from the 4 line in what has to be considered a good week for West Coast teams, looking back at how the season has gone so far.
I say that because Gonzaga and UCLA both moved into the group of protected seeds in this projection, so we finally have a shot at having some Western teams having a legitimate homecourt advantage on the first weekend. Missouri drops down from the 3 line after their loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. Xavier holds steady.
Clemson and Marquette fall down to the five line. The question for the Golden Eagles is, when will their fall stop?
At the other end of the spectrum, Creighton, Rhode Island, and Saint Mary's all fall out. The Blue Jays and Gaels suffered damaging blowout losses in their conference tournaments. Making matters worse for SMC, Patty Mills just didn't look like himself in the two games he played. At least the Rams still have the A-10 tournament to look forward to, starting on Thursday.
Arizona and MIchigan move into the bracket as their replacements. San Diego State was going to join them, but then Cleveland State took the Horizon League's auto bid by beating Butler. Florida, Maryland, Miami, Providence, even Virginia Tech and Auburn could make runs along with the Aztecs, although it will be tougher on the Friars, now that they play DePaul in the Big East second round instead of Cincinnati.
Finally, to wrap up tonight's ramblings, now that the one-bid leagues are well into their conference tournaments, it's time to see how I did in predicting the outcomes in these leagues in my Banana Peel List columns from a few weeks ago. (Part I, Part II) As always, these are my actual picks. This place is all about transparency.
Belmont Actual: East Tennessee State
VMI Actual: Radford
Drexel Actual: VCU
Butler Actual: Cleveland State
Metro Atlantic: Siena
Creighton Actual: Northern Iowa
Ohio Valley: Morehead State
Davidson Actual: Chattanooga
Summit: North Dakota State
Sun Belt: Western Kentucky
West Coast: Gonzaga
So, as you can see, my picks have been average so far. Just like with projecting and seeding the field, it's impossible to be perfect, since there is so much unpredictability in college basketball.
Since tomorrow evening is a light one in terms of bubble action, I'll have a new bracket up late Thursday evening.