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Bracketology 2022: Time to Lock in Some Bids

Did you realize that exactly one month after the Super Bowl kicks off, we will have a bracket? This season is flying by.

The Top 4 seeds for each region for the bracket projection for Friday, February 11, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from SportsLogos.net.

Note: This story is best viewed on desktop.

✴️ = new bracket entrants
⬆️ and ⬇️ = bracket returnees’ seed movement relative to Tuesday’s bracket
(#) = Overall rank of the top 16 teams (top four seeds in each region)

Acknowledgements: NET rankings and records are accurate as of Friday, February 11, 2022 and reflect only games against Division I teams. Selection Sheet info is from WarrenNolan.com. Team logos are from Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net.

Before I get into the details of where each conference stands in terms of the bubble heading into the weekend, a quick reminder of how this all works.

  • The 2022 NCAA Tournament will feature 68 teams: 32 conference tournament winners who will claim automatic bids and 36 teams the Selection Committee will select at-large.
  • Of the 32 auto bids, it’s looking like 23 of those will come out of conferences that are likely to earn one bid.
  • Combine the 9 likely multi-bid auto bid holders with the 36 at-large teams, and you’re left with 45 spots that are up for grabs. (Of course, if the power conference tournaments go haywire like they did in 2021, this number will decline as Selection Sunday gets closer.)

So, How Many of the 45 Spots Remain Open on February 11th?

Based on the designations below:

  • 18 teams are currently locks.
  • 13 teams are near-locks.
  • That’s 31 of 45 spots gone, leaving just 14 for the bubble.

Big 12 (7 Teams)

Locks (3)

  • Kansas (auto bid, 19-4/8-2 Big 12/12-4 vs. Q1 & Q2/7-3 vs. Q1/NET: 7/KenPom: 6)
  • Baylor (20-4/8-3/12-4/8-3/7/5)
  • Texas Tech (18-6/7-4/9-6/5-6/13/13)

Near Lock (1)

  • Texas (18-6/7-4/9-6/4-5/15/14)

You could argue that the Longhorns belong with the Locks based on their computer numbers and strong 9-6 record in Quad 1 and 2 games. Texas really needs to get to .500 or better in Quad 1 games to jump into the group.

Bubble IN (2)

  • Iowa State (16-8/3-8/7-8/5-7/39/42)
  • TCU (16-5/5-4/7-5/4-3/55/55)

Last Four Byes (1)

First Four OUT

The biggest worry for Big 12 bubble teams is conference record. Given the strength of the conference, getting to 8-10 should do it for these four squads, with 7-11 possibly being acceptable for Iowa State and TCU.

Saturday: (5) Texas at (2) Baylor, 12 p.m. (ESPN2) | (11) Oklahoma at (2) Kansas, 1 p.m. (CBS) | West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. (ESPN2) | Kansas State at (8) Iowa State, 4 p.m. (ESPNU) | (9) TCU at (4) Texas Tech, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Monday: West Virginia at Kansas State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) | Oklahoma State at (2) Kansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Texas will have an opportunity to get to 5-5 in Q1 games at Baylor on Saturday, while Oklahoma and TCU can both boost their hopes significantly, thanks to road games against squads that are both locks and seeded on the top four lines, like the Bears. West Virginia, however, could put itself behind the eight-ball with two tough road games with a short turnaround.

Big East (7)

Locks (3)

  • Providence (auto bid, 20-2/10-1 Big East/10-2 vs. Q1 & Q2/5-1 vs. Q1/NET: 25/KenPom: 44)
  • Villanova (18-6/11-3/8-6/5-5/5/9)
  • Marquette (16-8/8-5/9-6/7-6/24/24)

I’m really curious to see how the Committee handles the top three teams in the Big East, since the efficiency metrics hate Providence and love Villanova, and Marquette to a lesser extent. The Friars have done the work against quality opponents, however.

Near Locks (3)

  • UConn (16-6/7-4/6-5/3-5/17/19)
  • Xavier (16-7/6-6/8-6/4-6/22/28)
  • Seton Hall (14-7/6-6/6-6/4-5/34/38)

By beating Marquette on Tuesday night, UConn put itself in position to lock up a bid with a strong weekend. Xavier, on the other hand, has dropped two straight, including a trip to the Hall on Wednesday. The Musketeers play the Huskies twice in their next three, with the middle game in that stretch coming against St. John’s

Last Four Byes (1)

  • Creighton (14-8/6-5/4-7/4-5/77/78)

The Bluejays are another team with some good wins and terrible efficiency metrics, which you can pin on blowout road losses to Villanova, Butler, and Seton Hall.

Friday: (6) UConn at (7) Xavier, 7 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: (10) Creighton at Georgetown, 12 p.m. (FS1) | (7) Seton Hall at (4) Villanova, 1 p.m. (Fox) | (5) Marquette at Butler, 4:30 p.m. (FS1) | DePaul at (2) Providence, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)

Sunday: (6) UConn at St. John’s, 12 p.m. (Fox)

Monday: Georgetown at (10) Creighton, 9 p.m. (FS1)

The Bluejays could put themselves in bubble danger if they lose even once to a Georgetown team that’s yet to record a Big East win. Seton Hall has an opportunity when it heads to Philadelphia to take on a Villanova team that defeated the Pirates by six in Newark on New Year’s Day. You’d expect Providence to handle DePaul at home, but Marquette could have trouble at Hinkle, and UConn must play two road contests in a span of less than 48 hours.

Big Ten (8)

Locks (5)

Near Locks (2)

  • Indiana (16-7/7-6/4-7/2-5/37/41)
  • Iowa (16-7/6-6/5-7/1-5/19/17)

Efficiency metrics consider Iowa a lock. A single Quad 1 win (Utah State in Sioux Falls) and single win over a projected at-large team (Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye) beg to differ. At least Indiana has three wins over teams in the field (Purdue, Ohio State, and Notre Dame) to balance out losses at Syracuse and Penn State.

Last Four IN (1)

Also Considered

Michigan saw its metrics shoot up after Thursday night’s 82-58 thumping of Purdue, which puts the Wolverines back in heading into the weekend. Rutgers, meanwhile, has an impressive 5-3 record in Quad 1 games. That should be enough, but four sub-100 losses, including an ugly Q4 home defeat to Lafayette and 2-7 road record hurt the Scarlet Knights. Then there’s the fact they are barely in the NET Top 100.

Saturday: Rutgers at (2) Wisconsin, 2 p.m. (FS1) | (8) Indiana at (5) Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. (Fox) | (4) Ohio State at (11) Michigan, 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday: Maryland at (3) Purdue, 1 p.m. (CBS) | Nebraska at (8) Iowa, 2 p.m. (FS1) | Northwestern at (3) Illinois, 2 p.m. (BTN)

Beat Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday afternoon; however, and that narrative will change. Michigan gets another great opportunity at grabbing a home win when Ohio State visits Crisler a few hours later. Indiana is another team that could grab a timely road win when it travels to East Lansing. Sunday’s slate; however, features three games the hosts should take with relative ease.

SEC (6)

Locks (2)

  • Auburn (auto bid, 22-2/10-1 SEC/12-2 vs. Q1 and Q2/7-2 vs. Q1/NET: 8/KenPom: 8)
  • Kentucky (20-4/11-2/8-4/5-4/4/3)

Near Locks (4)

  • Tennessee (17-6/8-3/9-6/4-6/10/11)
  • Alabama (15-9/5-6/10-7/6-5/23/18)
  • LSU (17-7/5-6/9-6/5-4/16/16)
  • Arkansas (19-5/8-3/2-3/32/22)

Alabama and LSU could be considered locks based on their quality wins so far and impressive efficiency metrics. However, neither team has shown that it can get out of its own way when it comes to inferior competition. Tennessee’s case is awfully similar to a that of the Texas team it lost to two weekends ago. On the other hand, Arkansas has rocketed up from the bubble to near lock status thanks to nine straight wins, the latest of which came against Auburn on Tuesday night.

First Four OUT

While the Gators avoided recording bad losses in their last three games (at Missouri and against Ole Miss and Georgia at home), surprise MVC auto bid holder Northern Iowa pushed them out for now.

Also Considered

Since defeating Alabama on January 22nd, the Bulldogs have gone 2-5. All of those losses have come against teams that are above them in the bid pecking order.

Saturday: Texas A&M at (1) Auburn, 12 p.m. (ESPN) | (6) Arkansas at (6) Alabama, 12 p.m. (SECN) | Florida at (1) Kentucky, 4 p.m. (ESPN) | Vanderbilt at (5) Tennessee, 6 p.m. (SECN) | Mississippi State at (7) LSU, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Texas A&M has fallen off the board after seven straight losses, and the Aggies will be hard pressed to end that streak at Auburn, particularly with the Tigers looking to get back on track after some unconvincing performances. Arkansas-Alabama has serious seeding implications at this point, while Florida could vault back into the field if it can record an unlikely road win at Kentucky. Mississippi State, meanwhile, has yet another crack at grabbing a marquee-type win, when it heads to LSU. Tennessee, however, can’t afford a slip-up against Vanderbilt.

ACC (4)

Lock (1)

  • Duke (auto bid, 20-4/10-3 ACC/8-3 vs. Q1 & Q2/5-1 vs. Q1/NET: 11/KenPom: 8)

Bubble IN (2)

Notre Dame has won seven of eight to position itself as the second-ranked ACC team in the field, despite middling efficiency metrics. Wake Forest should be higher based on its computer numbers, but like Iowa, the Demon Deacons really need record some quality wins to feel safe.

Last Four IN (1)

  • Miami (17-7/9-4/7-5/2-1/73/70)

First Four OUT

Next Four Out

Also Considered

Thanks to wins at Duke, both Miami and Virginia have crossed “earn a marquee victory” off their respective to-do lists. Again, however, their metrics aren’t matching up with their results, particularly in the Cavaliers’ case. Tony Bennett’s team is harmed by three Quad 3 losses and a bad Quad 2 defeat at NC State. The situation is reversed for UNC and Virginia Tech, who have strong metrics, but a combined one Quad 1 win (UNC over Michigan) in 12 opportunities.

Saturday: Florida State at North Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPN) | (12) Miami at (10) Wake Forest, 3 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX) | Georgia Tech at Virginia, 4 p.m. (ESPN2) | (3) Duke at Boston College. 5 p.m. (ACCN) | Syracuse at Virginia Tech, 6 p.m. (ESPN2) | (9) Notre Dame at Clemson, 7 p.m. (ACCN)

Monday: Virginia at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

The biggest game of the weekend is set for Blacksburg on Monday night, with the winner likely to find itself higher on the seed list on Tuesday. Of course, whether that team ends up in the projected field will depend on results elsewhere. Both of the Commonwealth’s ACC squads face potentially trick home contests to start the weekend, however. Otherwise on Saturday, Notre Dame will look to hand Clemson a third straight home loss, while UNC and Wake both welcome Sunshine State teams that have varying levels of bubble hope.

MW (3)

Bubble IN (2)

  • Wyoming (19-3/9-1/7-3/2-2/27/35)
  • Boise State (auto bid, 17-5/9-1/7-3/5-1/35/30)

Last Four Byes (1)

  • Colorado State (17-3/8-3/6-2/1-2/36/48)

First Four OUT

  • San Diego State (14-6/6-3/3-6/1-5/53/43)

Also Considered

  • Utah State (14-10/6-6/4-8/1-7/45/31)

The Mountain West is in a similar position as the Missouri Valley was in 2006. The conference’s squads were able to get enough decent non-conference results to boost their metrics heading into conference play. That’s allowed the top teams to rack up wins against each other, in turn boosting their records in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games. Will that be enough to get the conference three, four, or even five bids? I’m not sure at this point, considering the goings-on in the more likely multi-bid leagues.

Don’t discount Utah State, particularly since the Aggies beat fellow bubble team Oklahoma on a neutral floor in November. Note that Ryan Odom’s club has reached the conference tournament final three straight times, winning in 2019 and 2020.

Friday: Nevada at Utah State, 9 p.m. (FS1) | Fresno State at (11) Colorado State, 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN) | UNLV at (9) Boise State, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: Air Force at San Diego State, 8 p.m. (CBSSN) | (8) Wyoming at San José State, 9 p.m. (Stadium College Sports Pacific/MWN)

Sunday: (11) Colorado State at (9) Boise State, 4 p.m. (FS1)

Colorado State and Boise State both play at home tonight before meeting at Extra Mile Arena before football on Sunday afternoon. The pair will meet again in Fort Collins to close the regular season. Among the other bubble teams, Utah State and San Diego State should both be expected to record home wins, while Wyoming travels to SJSU, 0-11 in the league in Tim Miles’ first season.

Pac-12 (4)

Locks (2)

  • Arizona (21-2/11-1 Pac-12/8-2 vs. Q1 and Q2/6-2 vs. Q1/NET: 2/KenPom: 2)
  • UCLA (17-4/9-3/7-3/3-2/14/12)

Near Locks (1)

  • USC (20-4/9-4/5-3/1-1/29/34)

USC is yet another team whose results haven’t quite meshed with its efficiency metrics. Beating UCLA at the Galen Center on Saturday night should do it for the Trojans, however.

Bubble IN (1)

  • Oregon (15-7/9-3/5-5/2-4/48/52)

Also Considered

Oregon was able to knock Stanford down the bubble pecking order on Thursday, while Washington State could not record a needed Quad 1 win. Arizona snapped the Cougars’ five-game winning streak, 72-60, in Pullman.

Saturday: California at Oregon, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | Arizona at Washington, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | Utah at Colorado, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | UCLA at USC, 10 p.m. (ESPN) | Arizona State at Washington State, 10 p.m. (ESPNU) | Stanford at Oregon State, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Monday: Washington State at Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Unfortunately for Wazzu, Saturday’s visit from Arizona State won’t do much to move the needle. However, winning in Eugene on Monday night would help. The Ducks host California Saturday needing to avoid a bad loss before Kyle Smith’s team visits. Arizona, meanwhile, must be wary of a Washington team that’s quietly won eight of 11.

WCC (4)

Lock (1)

  • Gonzaga (20-2/9-0 WCC/7-2 vs. Q1 and Q2/5-2 vs. Q1/NET: 1/KenPom: 1)

Near Lock (1)

  • Saint Mary’s (19-5/8-2/6-5/3-4/21/20)

Last Four Byes (1)

  • San Francisco (19-6/7-4/6-5/2-3/38/39)

Last Four IN (1)

  • BYU (16-8/6-5/8-7/4-3/50/50)

Also Considered

  • Santa Clara (17-8/7-3/3-5/1-4/67/65)

Thursday saw the Gaels and Dons rebound from their respective Tuesday losses to Santa Clara and Portland. BYU also ended its four-game skid by defeating Loyola Marymount in OT. But the Cougars’ recent struggles have put them in both poor position in the conference (a 5 seed would have them entering the WCC Tournament in the second round, meaning they’d need to win four games to claim the auto bid) and on the bubble.

Saturday: (11) San Francisco at Santa Clara, 6 p.m. (Stadium/Marquee) | (7) Saint Mary’s at (1) Gonzaga, 10 p.m. (ESPN2) | (12) BYU at Pepperdine, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

Obviously, the first of two Saint Mary’s-Gonzaga showdowns is the highlight of Saturday’s slate, but both San Francisco and BYU could find themselves out of Tuesday’s projection if they record road losses.

Elsewhere

Lock (1)

  • Houston (auto bid, 20-3/9-1 AAC/6-3 vs. Q1 & Q2/2-3 vs. Q1/NET: 3/KenPom: 4)

Near Lock (1)

  • Davidson (auto bid, 19-3/10-1 A 10/4-2/1-1/54/63)

Fans of bubble teams will be cheering hard for both the Cougars and Wildcats on Selection Eve and Selection Sunday. As Houston’s Wednesday loss at SMU and Davidson’s numerous close calls in the Atlantic 10 have shown, there will be plenty of opportunity for surprise teams to win the American and A 10’s auto bids.

Bubble IN (2)

  • Murray State (auto bid, 20-2/13-0 OVC/3-1/2-1/28/27)
  • Iona (auto bid, 19-4/9-1 MAAC/3-3/1-3/68/77)

Iona saw its at-large take a serious hit with Sunday’s loss at Niagara. Making matters worse for the Gaels is a set of lackluster computer numbers, with their NET sitting 40 spots below Murray State. The Racers are poised to earn one last at-large for the OVC before heading off to the Missouri Valley with fellow contender Belmont.

Last Four IN (1)

  • Loyola Chicago (17-5/9-3 MVC/4-5/2-2/31/33)

The good news for the Ramblers is that Bradley, who defeated them on Wednesday, and Drake, who took them down to end January, are now both in the NET Top 100. Still, Loyola cannot afford many more losses in Valley play, since that could drop their NET from the low 30s, well within at-large range, to a ranking that will be less than palatable to the Committee.

First Four OUT

  • SMU (17-5/8-2 AAC/4-3/2-3/51/64)

Next Four OUT

  • Dayton (16-8/8-3 A 10/6-4/2-2/62/57)
  • Saint Louis (16-6/8-2 A 10/4-5/1-3/49/47)

SMU’s win over Houston wasn’t enough to get the Mustangs in, and given their schedule, they might need to beat the Cougars again on February 27th to have any realistic shot. Dayton and Saint Louis are looking to be Davidson’s most serious threats in the Atlantic 10 race. The Flyers in particular must keep winning, thanks to their early home losses to UMass Lowell, Austin Peay, and Lipscomb.

Most intriguing games are in bold.

Friday: St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis, 9 p.m. (ESPN2) | (12) Iona at Siena, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Saturday: Navy at Army West Point, 1:30 p.m. (CBSSN) | (9) Davidson at Rhode Island, 2 p.m. (ESPNU) | Harvard at Penn, 2 p.m. (NBCS Philadelphia Plus/ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Yale at Columbia, 2 p.m. (SNY/ESPN+ ($)) | George Washington at Dayton, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (12) Chattanooga at Furman, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Northern Arizona at (14) Montana State, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | IUPUI at (15) Cleveland State, 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (12) North Texas at Rice, 3 p.m. (CUSA.tv ($))

Memphis at (4) Houston, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) | Ohio at Eastern Michigan, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3) | Valparaiso at Missouri State, 4 p.m. (Bally Midwest/NBCS Chicago/ESPN+ ($)) | VCU at George Mason, 4 p.m. (MASN2/ESPN+ ($)) | (11) Murray State at Morehead State, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Dartmouth at Princeton, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Longwood at North Carolina A&T, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (13) New Mexico State at Utah Valley, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Georgia State at (15) Appalachian State, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Grambling State at Texas Southern, 4:30 p.m. (NBA TV) | (13) Toledo at Northern Illinois, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (16) Colgate at Loyola (Md.), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Belmont at Southeast Missouri State, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Incarnate Word at (16) New Orleans, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Omaha at (13) South Dakota State, 5:15 p.m. (Midco Sports/ESPN+ ($))

SMU at East Carolina, 6 p.m. (ESPNU) | La Salle at Richmond, 6 p.m. (NBCS Washington Plus/ESPN+ ($)) | (14) Liberty at Jacksonville, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (13) Vermont at Albany, 7 p.m. (ESPN3) | College of Charleston at (16) UNCW, 7 p.m. (FloHoops ($))

South Florida at Wichita State, 8 p.m. (ESPNU) | Cincinnati at Tulsa, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i, 12 a.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday: Monmouth at (12) Iona, 1 p.m. (ESPN3) | (14) Northern Iowa at (11) Loyola Chicago, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday: William & Mary at (16) UNCW, 2 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure, 5 p.m. (CBSSN) | Lafayette at (16) Colgate, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | High Point at (15) Longwood, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (13) Vermont at Hartford, 7 p.m. (ESPN3) | Duquesne at (9) Davidson, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Tulsa at UCF, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Cleveland State at Purdue Fort Wayne, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (16) Southern at Texas Southern, 8:30 p.m. (Texas Southern YouTube) | Dayton at Rhode Island, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

With both Auburn and Houston losing at midweek, only six teams can achieve in-conference perfection this season: Vermont, Longwood, Wagner, Murray State, South Dakota State, and Gonzaga. While the Racers (Morehead State) and Bulldogs (Saint Mary’s) have the toughest tests on paper, the Catamounts and Lancers both must play twice between now and Tuesday’s update.

Enjoy the weekend!