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Bracketology 2022: The Big 12 and SEC Take the Saturday Spotlight

This weekend’s slate features what are likely to be the most meaningful non-conference games until March Madness tips off.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Kansas
Kansas is now on the No. 1 seed line in this projection, but will the Jayhawks be able to keep their place with Kentucky visiting on Saturday?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Note: This story is best viewed on desktop.

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

Team logos from Chris Creamer’s

Conference Notes with Key Friday–Monday Matchups

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

Big Ten (8 Teams)

Winner of the Midweek: Illinois finally added a marquee win to its profile, though there were several nervous moments late in Tuesday night’s victory over Michigan State. The Spartans rallied from a 14-point deficit late in Champaign, but the Fighting Illini held on, 56-55, to improve their mark without star center Kofi Cockburn to 1-1.
Loser of the Midweek: Iowa continues its slide down the seed list, thanks to Thursday night’s 83-73 home loss to Purdue. While the Hawkeyes remain a NET Top 25 team, they’re 0-5 in games against Quad 1 competition.

Saturday: (12) Michigan at (3) Michigan State, 12:30 p.m. (CBS); (7) Indiana at Maryland, 2:30 p.m. (Fox); (6) Illinois at Northwestern, 4:30 p.m. (B1G Network)

Sunday: (5) Ohio State at (2) Purdue, 12 p.m. (CBS); Minnesota at (2) Wisconsin, 1 p.m. (B1G Network)

Monday: (10) Iowa at Penn State, 7 p.m. (B1G Network)

Ohio State’s trip to Purdue is the game of the weekend in the Big Ten, a fitting lead-in to Sunday’s AFC championship game on CBS. The Boilermakers continue to be in the thick of the hunt for a No. 1 seed, while the Buckeyes are on the cusp of breaking into the protected seed group. Looking at the bubble, Michigan, back in the field after three straight wins pushed the Wolverines to 10-7 overall, has a major opportunity to cement its position when it visits another top seed contender, Michigan State. The former 2 seed Spartans have dropped two of their last three and have slid to the 3 line as a result.

Big 12 (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Oklahoma snapped its four-game losing streak in the most surprising fashion by winning at West Virginia, 72-62.
Loser of the Midweek: TCU drops out of today’s projected field thanks to Tuesday’s embarrassing 73-50 blowout home loss to Texas, a game the Horned Frogs didn’t lead after the first minute.

SEC (6)

Winner of the Midweek: Arkansas has now won five in a row, with Wednesday’s 64-55 road victory over Ole Miss helping to push the Razorbacks out of the First Four places.
Loser of the Midweek: There are so many possibilities here, but the alma mater takes the dishonor again over Alabama, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. Florida finished its three games in five days run with a second straight road loss, collapsing in the second half at Tennessee, 78-71, a result that pushed the Gators out of this projection. Mike White’s club played the entire second half without a recognized center, as Jason Jitoboh left late in the first with an eye injury. If both he and Colin Castleton remain out for an extended period, UF’s tournament hopes might be toast.

Saturday (Big 12/SEC Challenge): (2) LSU at TCU, 12 p.m. (ESPN); (8) Oklahoma at (1) Auburn, 2 p.m. (ESPN); (9) West Virginia at (11) Arkansas, 2 p.m. (ESPN2); Missouri at (6) Iowa State, 2 p.m. (ESPNU); (1) Baylor at (7) Alabama, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Oklahoma State at Florida, 4 p.m. (ESPN2); Kansas State at Ole Miss, 4 p.m. (ESPNU); (4) Kentucky at (1) Kansas, 6 p.m. (ESPN); Mississippi State at (4) Texas Tech, 6 p.m. (ESPN2); (5) Tennessee at (7) Texas, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday (SEC): Georgia at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. (SECN); South Carolina at Texas A&M, 8:30 p.m. (SECN)

Monday (Big 12): (9) West Virginia at (1) Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN); TCU at (8) Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday’s challenge lineup isn’t as good as it could be had the conferences adopted a BracketBuster-style scheduling model that set the matchups a few weeks in advance, as opposed to in the offseason. Still, Kentucky-Kansas will be as huge as it typically is, Tennessee-Texas has real potential for being decent or a rock fight, Baylor has to be careful on its trip to Alabama—a team that’s been playing to its opponent’s level all season, West Virginia-Arkansas is suddenly a bubble battle, and TCU (at home) and Oklahoma (at Auburn) have great opportunities at grabbing marquee wins.

Of the four SEC teams stuck playing conference games this weekend, only Texas A&M is currently in the bubble picture. When Big 12 play resumes on Big Monday, West Virginia and TCU will again have quality win opportunities in their respective grasps, though only the Horned Frogs can complete a season sweep of their opponents.

Big East (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Marquette extended its winning run to seven by holding off a late Seton Hall rally on Wednesday night, 73-63. The Golden Eagles now find themselves on the cusp of the 4 seed line, where their Saturday opponent, Providence, currently resides. Remember that Shaka Smart’s club demolished the Friars, 88-56, on January 4th to begin this current streak.
Loser of the Midweek: Creighton heads into a crucial three-game stretch that starts at home against Xavier on Saturday afternoon coming off a bad 72-55 road loss to Butler. That result pushed the Bulldogs to .500 overall and the Bluejays down to the 10 line.

Saturday: Georgetown at Butler, 12 p.m. (FS1); (6) Xavier at (10) Creighton, 2 p.m. (FS1); St. John’s at (4) Villanova, 4:30 p.m. (FS1); (5) Marquette at (4) Providence, 4:30 p.m. (FS1); (5) UConn at DePaul, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)

Even though Xavier-Creighton and Marquette-Providence will drive the headlines this weekend, St. John’s could improve its fading chances by winning at Villanova. New 5 seed UConn, meanwhile, has to be careful when it visits DePaul.

ACC (5)

Winner of the Midweek: North Carolina took care of Boston College on Wednesday night, 58-47, in the second outing of a three-game homestand. The Tar Heels move back into the field, though that’s due more to the failings of Florida and TCU than this result, however.
Loser of the Midweek: Florida State dropped out of the ACC lead pack with a 75-61 loss at Georgia Tech. The Seminoles are now a loss behind Miami, Duke, and Notre Dame and rank 70th in the NET.

Saturday: (2) Duke at Louisville, 12 p.m. (ESPN); (9) Miami at Georgia Tech, 12 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX); NC State at (12) North Carolina, 2 p.m. (ACCN); Virginia Tech at (10) Florida State, 3 p.m. (ABC); Virginia at Notre Dame, 6 p.m. (ACCN); (11) Wake Forest at Syracuse, 8 p.m. (ACCN)

Monday: (2) Duke at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Notre Dame is now the fifth team out of this projection, but the Fighting Irish will play a pair of home games that could push them right into Tuesday’s update. Elsewhere, Georgia Tech will look to grab their second straight win over a visiting Sunshine State foe, Duke gets to visit both South Bend and Louisville (playing for an interim coach), UNC hosts NC State aiming to win its fourth straight, Virginia Tech visits Tallahassee in desperate need of a win, and Wake Forest will look to complete a season sweep of Syracuse.

Pac-12 (4)

Winner of the Midweek: It’s no contest here, as UCLA’s dominant home wins over Arizona and California pushed the Bruins back to the 2 line, in the West regional behind Gonzaga.
Loser of the Midweek: Colorado pushed itself closer to the bubble by grabbing a nice 82-78 win at Oregon, then promptly handed those gains back by losing at Washington, 60-58, on Thursday night.

Saturday: Arizona State at (3) Arizona, 2:30 p.m. (CBS); California at (6) USC, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks); Stanford at (2) UCLA, 9:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network); Oregon State at (12) Oregon, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday: Colorado at Washington State, 10 p.m. (FS1)

While Arizona and Oregon host their in-state rivals, Los Angeles features the two most intriguing matchups of the weekend. USC hosts California fresh off a 64-61 loss to Stanford, who visits UCLA. A victory for the Cardinal, who now own a sweep of the Trojans, would boost its NCAA chances heading into a midweek visit from the Golden Bears.

WCC (4)

Winner of the Midweek: Saint Mary’s won its Bay Area bubble showdown by traveling to San Francisco and rallying from as much as 23 down to stun the Dons, 72-70.
Loser of the Midweek: While BYU also lost at Santa Clara, 77-76, the Cougars were in a stronger position than USF heading into Thursday night. As a result, the Dons claim this dishonor, as they now sit in the First Four group after their collapse.

Saturday: Santa Clara at (12) San Francisco, 7 p.m. (Stadium/Marquee); Pepperdine at (10) Saint Mary’s, 8 p.m. (CBSSN); Portland at (1) Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (KHQ/WCCN); (8) BYU at Pacific, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

And San Francisco could slip further with a loss to visiting Santa Clara, who’s now 13-7 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga should both win at home, with the Gaels facing a Pepperdine team that’s 0-7 in WCC play. BYU also faces another club that’s yet to record a conference win; however, Pacific has only played four WCC games, and the Cougars must travel to Stockton.

MW (3)

Winner of the Midweek: Boise State edged visiting Wyoming in the battle of the Mountain West unbeatens, 65-62, on Tuesday night. The Broncos now sit on the 9 line, thanks to 13 straight wins, while Wyoming continues to sit just outside the field despite ranking 32nd in the NET.
Loser of the Midweek: The Cowboys would have been the easy choice here, but San Diego State dropped its second game of its last three. Utah State whooped the Aztecs, 75-57, in Logan on Wednesday night.

Friday: Wyoming at Air Force, 6 p.m. (MWN); UNLV at (7) Colorado State, 9 p.m. (FS1); (9) Boise State at Fresno State, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: Utah State at Nevada, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

Monday: (7) Colorado State at Wyoming, 8 p.m. (FS1); New Mexico at (11) San Diego State, 10 p.m. (FS1)

San Diego State should be able to get right on Monday, when New Mexico visits Viejas. The Lobos are 0-7 in Mountain West play, though they host 0-6 San José State Friday. Boise State, however, puts its perfect league mark on the line in Fresno tonight. The host Bulldogs are a perfect 9-0 at the Save Mart Center so far this season. Wyoming hosts Highway 287 rival Colorado State Monday night—another opportunity for the Pokes to pick up a quality win.


Winner of the Midweek: While I haven’t broken the Atlantic 10 back out into a separate group yet, since it’s still a one-bid league, that might not last long, thanks to VCU and Dayton. The Rams avoided being swept by Davidson by recording a 70-68 victory at Belk Arena on Wednesday night. Mike Rhoades’ club is now 12-6 overall and 5-2 in the conference, one game back of the Wildcats. Dayton also sits at 5-2 after its 68-61 home win over Fordham on Tuesday. Still, those three bad November defeats weigh down the Flyers’ profile
Loser of the Midweek: I’ll stick in the Atlantic 10 for this one, as St. Bonaventure lost yet again, 75-66 at George Mason (who is now 3-1 in A 10 play). The Bonnies are now outside of the NET Top 100 and will probably need to win the conference’s auto bid to make the field.

Friday: (16) Colgate at Boston University, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Penn at Harvard, 5 p.m. (ESPNU); Rhode Island at Dayton, 7 p.m. (ESPN2); Ohio at Buffalo, 7 p.m. (CBSSN); Akron at (13) Toledo, 7 p.m. (CBSSN); (15) Cleveland State at Wright State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Saturday: La Salle at (9) Davidson, 12 p.m. (USA); Wichita State at Tulane, 12 p.m. (ESPNU); (13) Chattanooga at the Citadel, 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure, 2 p.m. (USA); Maine at (13) Vermont, 2 p.m. (ESPN3); Saint Louis at Duquesne, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); North Dakota State at (13) South Dakota State, 3 p.m. (MidCo Sports 2/ESPN+ ($)); Winthrop at (16) Longwood, 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); VCU at Richmond, 4 p.m. (CBSSN); North Texas at Louisiana Tech, 4 p.m. (Stadium/Marquee); Yale at (14) Princeton, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Sam Houston State at (14) Seattle, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Morehead State at (12) Murray State, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Temple at SMU, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); (14) Jacksonville State at Liberty, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); (12) UAB at Marshall, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Hofstra at (16) UNCW, 7 p.m. (FloHoops ($)); (3) Houston at UCF, 8 p.m. (ESPN2); (15) Cal State Fullerton at UC Riverside, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Grand Canyon at New Mexico State, 9 p.m. (AggieVision/ESPN+ ($)); Stephen F. Austin at California Baptist, 10 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i, 12 a.m. (Spectrum Sports Hawai’i/ESPN+ ($))

Sunday: (15) Cleveland State at Northern Kentucky, 12 p.m. (Bally Ohio/ESPN+ ($)); Cincinnati at East Carolina, 12 p.m. (ESPNU); Saint Peter’s at (11) Iona, 1 p.m. (ESPN3); (8) Loyola Chicago at Drake, 2 p.m. (ESPN2); George Mason at UMass, 2 p.m. (USA)

Monday: (16) Colgate at Lafayette, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)); Albany at (13) Vermont, 7 p.m. (ESPN3); (16) Norfolk State at NC Central, 9 p.m. (ESPNU); Eastern Washington at (15) Weber State, 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

This weekend is chock full of potential Championship Fortnight previews. I’ve bolded all of these matchups for your reference. The fun starts tonight in the MAC, where the top four teams all meet each other. There are potential conference title matchups in the Big West, CAA, C-USA, Horizon, Ivy, MEAC, and WAC. The same goes for the Big South, where North Division leader Longwood hosts South Division standard bearer Winthrop, and ASUN, which features a matchup of league unbeatens, 5-0 East leader Liberty and 7-0 West leader Jacksonville State, who will meet in Lynchburg, Va. There’s also another meeting of teams with perfect conference marks in the OVC, where 9-0 Murray State hosts 8-0 Morehead State.

On Tuesday, after this weekend shakes out and the calendar has turned to February, I’ll have a fresh bracket and a look at which teams still have the chance to finish with a perfect conference record.