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Bracketology 2022: Welcome Wisconsin to the Land of the No. 1 Seeds

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The Badgers have been racking up quality wins and passed Purdue following the Boilermakers’ Thursday night loss at Indiana.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern
The Badgers’ quality wins were too much to overlook.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Note: This story is best viewed on desktop.

✴️ = new bracket entrants
⬆️ and ⬇️ = bracket returnees’ seed movement

The projected Midwest and West regions for Friday, January 21, 2022.
The projected East and South regions for Friday, January 21, 2022.
The bracket rundown for Friday, January 21, 2022.

Conference Notes with Key Weekend/Monday Matchups

Note the oddness of today’s projection. Thanks to losses by Belmont and St. Bonaventure, this projection features just eight multi-bid leagues. Four of those conferences provide seven teams each, while the other four each place a quartet in the field.

All game times are Eastern. All game info is subject to change due to the pandemic. Seed numbers in parentheses.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State
It’s really too bad that Oklahoma State is not NCAA Tournament eligible this season.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 (7 Teams)

Winner of the Midweek: Texas Tech rebounded from a surprising Saturday loss at Kansas State by knocking off Iowa State, 72-60. That result kept the Red Raiders on the 4 line.
Loser of the Midweek: TCU slipped out of the bracket following Wednesday night’s narrow 57-56 loss at Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs now have company in the race to be a potential eighth Big 12 bid, as Kansas State has won two in a row after dropping its first four conference games.

Saturday: (7) West Virginia at (4) Texas Tech, 12 p.m. (ESPN2); Oklahoma State at (10) Texas, 2 p.m. (ESPN2); TCU at (5) Iowa State, 4 p.m. (ESPN2); (3) Kansas at Kansas State, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); (1) Baylor at (8) Oklahoma, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Monday: (4) Texas Tech at (3) Kansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

In such a loaded conference, a single weekend can really shake the race up. TCU and Kansas State have the biggest opportunities to jump back into the field, while Texas Tech could really improve its seed by knocking off West Virginia at home on Saturday and turning around and winning at Kansas in the nightcap of this season’s first Big Monday.

Big East (7)

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Villanova
Marquette won at Finneran Pavilion for the first time ever on Wednesday night.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Winner of the Midweek: Marquette jumped to the 6 line from the 9 line after a thrilling 57-54 victory over Villanova—the Golden Eagles’ fifth win in succession.
Loser of the Midweek: DePaul had an opportunity to win its second straight Big East game, after starting league play with five consecutive losses, but the Blue Demons’ already slim at-large hopes took another hit with a 68-67 home defeat at the hands of Xavier.

Saturday: (2) Villanova at Georgetown, 12 p.m. (Fox); (7) Seton Hall at St. John’s, 12 p.m. (FS1); DePaul at (9) Creighton, 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

Sunday: Butler at (4) Providence, 12 p.m. (FS1); (4) Xavier at (6) Marquette, 2 p.m. (FS1)

Monday: St. John’s at (7) Seton Hall, 9 p.m. (FS1)

Marquette has a great opportunity to boost its seeding when it hosts Xavier on Sunday afternoon; however, the Golden Eagles lost in Cincinnati in the pair’s Big East opener on December 18th. That was the second loss in a four-game skid for Shaka Smart’s club. St. John’s, currently outside the NET Top 100, can get its campaign back on track after a poor 2-4 run in which the Red Storm have only defeated DePaul and Georgetown, the two worst teams in the league.

Big Ten (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Even though Wisconsin is now a No. 1 seed, Indiana takes the honor for its 68-65 home win over Purdue, which snapped the Hoosiers’ nine-game losing streak against their archrival.
Loser of the Midweek: Iowa was unable to overcome Rutgers in a sluggish 48-46 contest at the RAC. While the Hawkeyes are a Top 25 team in both NET and KenPom, they currently own just a single win (Indiana at home) over a team that’s in today’s projected field.

Friday: (8) Illinois at Maryland, 7 p.m. (FS1); (5) Michigan State at (1) Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: Rutgers at Minnesota, 12 p.m. (B1G Network); Penn State at (10) Iowa, 4:30 p.m. (B1G Network)

Sunday: Northwestern at (2) Purdue, 1 p.m. (B1G Network); Michigan at (7) Indiana, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)

While Iowa won’t be able to improve upon that total when it welcomes Penn State to Carver-Hawkeye, Wisconsin has a great opportunity to solidify its place on the No. 1 line when Michigan State visits tonight. The Badgers are 10-2 in Quad 1 and 2 games (5-1 in each category) and the Spartans, 25th in the NET, could be a sixth Quad 1 victim.

SEC (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Florida entered Wednesday night’s home game with Mississippi State knowing it would need to make it through the evening without center Colin Castleton, who would be in street clothes with a shoulder injury. It seemed like the Gators were headed for a potential disaster, particularly with a daunting three games in five days gauntlet starting Saturday against Vanderbilt. Somehow, Florida was able to overcome the Bulldogs’ size advantage while holding the dynamic Iverson Molinar to a mere 12 points to claim an 80-72 win. When combined with results elsewhere, that pushed Mike White’s team out of the First Four group for now.
Loser of the Midweek: Texas A&M edges Mississippi State out here simply because its potentially season-making win opportunity against Kentucky came at Reed Arena.

Saturday: (3) Kentucky at (1) Auburn, 1 p.m. (CBS); Vanderbilt at (11) Florida, 1 p.m. (SECN); Georgia at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. (SECN); Ole Miss at Mississippi State, 4 p.m. (ESPNU); (3) LSU at (6) Tennessee. 6 p.m. (ESPN); Missouri at (5) Alabama, 6 p.m. (SECN); Texas A&M at (12) Arkansas, 8:30 p.m. (SECN)

Monday: (11) Florida at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (SECN)

All is not lost for the Aggies; however, as they host fellow bubble team (and bracket newcomer) Arkansas on Saturday night. That’s not the marquee game of the weekend, though, as Kentucky, currently a 3 seed, visits No. 1 overall seed Auburn in a big national CBS showdown and LSU visits Tennessee in an ESPN primetime matchup. The Tigers have slipped from a 1 to a 3 in this projection thanks to consecutive losses to Arkansas and Alabama.

ACC (4)

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Florida State
Florida State celebrated a 79-78 overtime win over Duke on Tuesday night.
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Winner of the Midweek: Florida State extended its win streak to five by taking down Duke in OT and North Florida in a rescheduled non-conference matchup. That puts the Seminoles back in the field. While FSU is currently the top-rated First Four team, completing a season sweep of Miami on Saturday will likely provide a nice seeding boost.
Loser of the Midweek: North Carolina was smoked in Coral Gables on Tuesday night, 85-57. That pushed the Tar Heels, who currently have no wins against the projected field, out.

Saturday: Syracuse at (2) Duke, 12 p.m. (ESPN); Virginia Tech at Boston College, 12 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX); (12) Florida State at (9) Miami, 2 p.m. (ESPN); Notre Dame at Louisville, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Virginia at NC State, 4 p.m. (ACCN); Pittsburgh at Clemson, 6 p.m. (ACCN); North Carolina at (12) Wake Forest, 8 p.m. (ACCN)

Monday: Boston College at (12) Wake Forest, 6 p.m. (ACCN); Louisville at Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN); Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 8 p.m. (ACCN)

With Wake Forest joining Florida State as new ACC entrants, the Demon Deacons’ home game against UNC is perhaps the second most important game of the Saturday slate, following the all-Sunshine State matchup. Big Monday’s “marquee” ACC showdown, on the other hand, features a pair of teams that have a lot of work to do to reach the field—despite their brand names.

Pac-12 (4)

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Colorado
A late afternoon start in Boulder saw USC claim a rare win on Colorado’s home floor.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Winner of the Midweek: On Thursday evening, USC won in Boulder for the first time since 2018, a nervy 61-58 decision over Colorado to rebound from Saturday’s home loss to Oregon.
Loser of the Midweek: Entering the night at 12-4, the Buffaloes could have used the victory to boost their sagging metrics and at-large hopes. But after falling to the Trojans, Tad Boyle’s team now sits at 12-5 and outside the Top 80 in both the NET and KenPom.

Saturday: (6) USC at Utah, 6:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks); (4) UCLA at Colorado, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks); Arizona State at Stanford, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Sunday: (2) Arizona at California, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks); Washington at (11) Oregon, 10 p.m. (FS1)

Monday: Arizona State at (6) USC, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

Colorado will get another opportunity to boost its case when it hosts UCLA on Saturday. Arizona, now a 2 seed despite being the top team in the NET and 3rd in KenPom, should be able to maintain its position by winning at Cal. USC, however, continues its three games in five days run with the second half of the Mountain road swing on Saturday followed by a needed home game against a bad Arizona State team on Monday night.

Mountain West (4)

Winner of the Midweek: Boise State set up a battle of the Mountain West unbeatens against San Diego State by taking down both Air Force and Utah State during the midweek window.
Loser of the Midweek: Utah State, which looked to be an at-large threat thanks to early wins over Richmond and Oklahoma, has now dropped four straight in conference play. Not only did the Aggies lose to the Broncos last night, they also dropped a seven-point decision at Fresno State on Tuesday.

Friday: Fresno State at Nevada, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: (8) Colorado State at Air Force, 2 p.m. (FS1); New Mexico at (12) Wyoming, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN); (12) Boise State at (9) San Diego State, 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

Monday: UNLV at (9) San Diego State, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

While the Boise-San Diego State showdown will grab most of the weekend’s headlines, keep an eye on Colorado State’s trip to Air Force. The Rams sit at 14-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, but the Falcons are typically tough at home and will aim to avoid being swept by their in-state rival.

WCC (4)

NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Gonzaga
Andrew Nembhard and Gonzaga keep rolling, even if San Francisco kept their offense in check on Thursday night.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Winner of the Midweek: Saint Mary’s took down Bay Area neighbors Santa Clara, 73-65, to remain one loss behind Gonzaga in the conference race.
Loser of the Midweek: San Francisco dropped its second game in a succession, 78-62 at Gonzaga. At least the Dons were able to snap the Bulldogs’ 110-points-plus streak at three and their 90-plus points streak at five.

Saturday: (10) San Francisco at Pepperdine, 7:30 p.m. (Bally SoCal/WCCN); Portland at (8) BYU, 9 p.m. (BYU TV/Stadium/Marquee); (10) Saint Mary’s at Loyola Marymount, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)

Atlantic 10 (1)

Winner of the Midweek: Davidson moved to 5-0 in Atlantic 10 play by winning a game it had no business in claiming at the Siegel Center. The Wildcats took down VCU, 63-61.
Loser of the Midweek: St. Bonaventure continues to play with fire. On Tuesday night in Dayton, Mark Schmidt’s team got burned badly in a 68-50 loss to the Flyers. That defeat helped push the Bonnies to the edge of the NET’s Top 100 and out of this projection.

Friday: St. Bonaventure at Duquesne, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday: George Washington at Rhode Island, 12:30 p.m. (USA); (9) Davidson at Fordham, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Saint Joseph’s at VCU, 2:30 p.m. (USA); Richmond at La Salle, 4:30 p.m. (USA); Dayton at George Mason, 7 p.m. (MASN/ESPN+ ($))

Sunday: UMass at Saint Louis, 2:30 p.m. (USA)

Despite having just one team in the field, I kept the Atlantic 10 separate from the other one-bid conferences, thanks to the number of potential at-large contenders still in its ranks. VCU, Dayton, and Saint Louis all rank in the NET Top 75 alongside Davidson, while Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure are in the Top 100 (and Richmond is 102nd). Even though Davidson, Dayton, and Richmond all hit the road this weekend, Saint Louis is the contender in the most danger of slipping. On Sunday, the Billikens host a UMass team they lost to on Thursday night in Amherst.

Elsewhere Nationally

Winner of the Midweek: Loyola Chicago is now two games up in the Missouri Valley race, thanks to the combination of a Tuesday win at Evansville and losses by Northern Iowa (at Valparaiso) and Drake (against Bradley in Des Moines).
Loser of the Midweek: Not long ago, Belmont was pretty securely in the field. However, losses to Murray State and Morehead State have not only pushed the Bruins out of this projection, but put them in third in the OVC. That would keep them from having a bye to the conference tournament semifinals.

Friday: Toledo at (13) Ohio, 6 p.m. (CBSSN); Marist at 912) Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

Saturday: Army West Point at Navy, 1:30 p.m. (CBSSN); Tulane at UCF, 2 p.m. (ESPNU); (14) Princeton at Dartmouth, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); New Mexico State at Stephen F. Austin, 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Missouri State at (7) Loyola Chicago, 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN); UAB at (13) Louisiana Tech, 4 p.m. (Stadium/Marquee); Yale at Penn, 4 p.m. (NBCS Phila. Plus/ESPN+ ($)); East Carolina at (3) Houston, 6 p.m. (ESPN2); Drake at Northern Iowa, 6 p.m. (ESPNU); Old Dominion at North Texas, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); UT Martin at (12) Murray State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Sunday: (12) Iona at Quinnipiac, 2 p.m. (ESPN3); Memphis at Tulsa, 3 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday: Belmont at Eastern Illinois, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Tennessee Tech at (12) Murray State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Loyola will face another two-loss Valley team on Saturday afternoon when Missouri State visits Gentile Arena. However, the mid-major game of the weekend looks to be in Ruston, Louisiana, where the host Bulldogs, 6-0 in Conference USA, welcome 15-4 UAB, who is 5-1 in the league. The Blazers, Louisiana Tech, and North Texas anchor a C-USA West division that’s head and shoulders above the East.

On Tuesday, check back in for a new bracket and look at the midweek slate.