clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bracketology 2022: February Draws to Close ...

With so much to still be decided, including the sorting of the crowded bubble picture.

The top four seeds in each region of the projected bracket for Friday, February 25, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean using 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 25, 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.

Once again, 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 from conferences that are likely to earn one bid.
  • Combine the 9 likely multi-bid auto bid winners 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 25th?

Based on the designations below:

  • 26 teams are currently locks.
  • 8 teams are near-locks.
  • That’s 34 of 45 spots gone, leaving 11 for the bubble. That’s a drop of four from the 15 spots noted last week.

Note: This week I’ve placed each team’s overall rank on the seed list before its name.

Big Ten (9 Bids)

Locks (5)

Near Lock (1)

  • (30) Iowa (19-8/9-7/7-8/1-5/19/16)

Bubble In (1)

  • (39) Michigan (15-11/9-7/6-10/3-7/33/30)

Last Four Byes (2)

  • (41) Rutgers (16-11/10-7/8-8/5-4/83/72)
  • (44) Indiana (17-10/8-9/5-10/2-6/42/46)

Friday: Iowa at Nebraska, 9 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: Purdue at Michigan State, 12 p.m. (ESPN) | Wisconsin at Rutgers, 6 p.m. (BTN)

Sunday: Illinois at Michigan, 2 p.m. (CBS) | Ohio State at Maryland, 4 p.m. (CBS) | Indiana at Minnesota, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday: Northwestern at Iowa, 9 p.m. (BTN)

By winning twice over the next four days—and avoiding two bad losses—Iowa will attain ‘Lock’ status heading into the final week of the regular season. Two the current Big Ten teams with that designation meet in East Lansing on Saturday afternoon with Purdue very much in the thick of the race for one of the last two No. 1 seeds ... and Michigan State tumbling toward a 7/10 or 8/9 game after winning just once in its last six outings. Rutgers has slipped back toward the cut line following consecutive losses at Purdue and Michigan, but sweeping Wisconsin will put the Scarlet Knights on more sure footing.

Sunday sees the Wolverines host Illinois in a game where a win would really help Phil Martelli’s temporary charges hang in the field. The Fighting Illini, however, swapped places with Ohio State following their Thursday home loss to the Buckeyes, who must avoid a slip-up in College Park to remain on seed line 3. Indiana, on the other hand, cannot afford a loss at Minnesota after its re-entry following a win over the same Terps OSU must meet next.

Big East (7)

Locks (4)

  • (10) Villanova (21-7/14-4 Big East/12-7 vs. Q1 & Q2/7-6 vs. Q1/NET: 8/KenPom: 11)
  • (14) Providence (auto bid, 23-3/13-2/13-3/6-2/28/44)
  • (16) UConn (20-7/11-5/12-7/5-6/16/18)
  • (24) Marquette (17-10/9-7/9-10/7-7/34/32)

Near Locks (3)

  • (29) Seton Hall (16-9/8-8/7-9/5-6/38/37)
  • (31) Xavier (17-10/7-9/9-9/5-8/25/35)
  • (33) Creighton (19-8/11-5/8-7/5-5/59/63)

Saturday: Butler at Marquette, 1 p.m. (Fox) | Seton Hall at Xavier, 3:30 p.m. (Fox) | Creighton at Providence, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)

Sunday: UConn at Georgetown, 12 p.m. (CBS) | St. John’s at DePaul, 5 p.m. (FS1)

After narrowly losing at home to Creighton on Wednesday night, the inclusion of the St. John’s trip to Chicago doesn’t have the postseason implications it could have. But that win moved the Bluejays to ‘near lock’ status despite some concerning metrics. If the Jays can beat a supremely lucky Providence team at the Dunk on Saturday night, you’ll be able to remove the ‘near’ from that designation. Elsewhere on Saturday, Marquette begins a three-game closing stretch that sees it avoid a current NCAA contender, and the winner of Seton Hall’s trip to Xavier will jump to lock status (the Pirates won the pair’s first meeting 73-71). In Sunday’s noon showdown in the Nation’s Capital, new 4 seed UConn will look to win its fifth straight while handing the hapless Hoyas an 18th straight loss. Making matters worse for Georgetown, this is its home finale, with its final two games on the road.

Big 12 (6)

Locks (4)

  • (4) Kansas (auto bid, 23-4/12-2 Big 12/16-4 vs. Q1 & Q2/10-4 vs. Q1/NET: 5/KenPom: 5)
  • (5) Baylor (23-5/11-4/15-5/10-4/6/4)
  • (8) Texas Tech (22-6/11-4/13-6/7-6/7/7)
  • (21) Texas (20-8/9-6/10-8/5-7/15/14)

Near Lock (1)

Last Four Byes (1)

  • (40) TCU (17-9/6-8/8-9/4-6/54/54)

Also Considered

Saturday: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 12 p.m. (CBS) | Texas at West Virginia, 2 p.m. (ESPN2) | Iowa State at Kansas State, 2 p.m. (ESPNU) | Texas Tech at TCU, 6 p.m. (ESPN2) | Kansas at Baylor, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday: Baylor at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN) | Kansas State at Texas Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

The chances of the Big 12 placing more than six teams in the field are just about toast now, barring one of the .500ish teams in the “Also Considered” trio winning three (or four) games in Kansas City. Not that they can’t cause trouble in the meantime! Just ask Iowa State who needed some Hilton Magic to rally against West Virginia on Wednesday night to reach ‘Near Lock’ status. The Cyclones will need to win on the home floor of another member of the trio of mediocrity, Kansas State, to lose the ‘near.’

With Kansas the No. 4 overall seed and Baylor one spot back, Saturday night’s showdown in Waco is huge nationally and in the Big 12 race. The Bears will look to reverse the Jayhawks’ 24-point win at the Phog three weeks ago. The defending national champs will be back in action in Austin on Monday night where a Texas team that may have been tenderized by West Virginia Saturday will be waiting. Texas Tech travels to Fort Worth for the first of three straight huge opportunities for TCU. Next up for the Horned Frogs, a home-and-home witht Kansas. With the Red Raiders now the fourth No. 2 seed, they’ll look to keep rolling both in their trip to the Metroplex and K-State’s Monday visit to Lubbock.

SEC (6)

Locks (6)

  • (2) Auburn (auto bid, 25-3/13-2 SEC/13-3 vs. Q1 and Q2/7-3 vs. Q1/NET: 10/KenPom: 8)
  • (7) Kentucky (23-5/12-3/11-5/7-5/3/3)
  • (15) Tennessee (20-7/11-4/10-7/5-7/9/10)
  • (19) Arkansas (22-6/11-4/10-4/4-4/24/20)
  • (20) Alabama (18-10/8-7/13-8/7-7/23/22)
  • (25) LSU (19-9/7-8/9-8/5-6/18/17)

First Four OUT

  • (74) Florida (17-11/7-8/5-10/2-8/55/56)

Also Considered

Saturday: Florida at Georgia, 12 p.m. (ESPN2) | Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 1 p.m. (SECN) | Kentucky at Arkansas, 2 p.m. (CBS) | Texas A&M at Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m. (SECN) | Auburn at Tennessee, 4 p.m. (ESPN) | South Carolina at Alabama, 6 p.m. (SECN) | Missouri at LSU, 8:30 p.m. (SECN)

On Tuesday, Florida couldn’t record a second noteworthy home win in a row, so the Gators drop back out following that loss to Arkansas. The bad news for Mike White’s team is that road trips to Georgia and Vanderbilt serve as serious obstacles before Kentucky visits Gainesville next Saturday for UF’s last chance at a marquee win before the team travels down I-75 for the SEC Tournament in Tampa. Elsewhere on the bubble, South Carolina has suddenly joined Mississippi State and Texas A&M in the ‘Also Considered’ group, thanks to four straight wins. The Gamecocks can take a huge step by winning at Alabama on Saturday evening.

The two biggest games of the weekend fill the mid- to late afternoon hours on Saturday, as Kentucky, No. 7 overall, visits Fayetteville, with Arkansas knocking on the door of a top four national seed thanks to winning 12 of its last 13. Then, Auburn heads to Knoxville for its lone regular season meeting with Tennessee. The Vols, anointed a 3 seed by the Committee last Saturday, have slipped down to a 4 for now, but beating the Tigers will change that. Otherwise, the SEC’s other two sets of Tigers meet in Baton Rouge with LSU sliding down the seed list thanks to an inability to string more than three wins together.

ACC (4)

Lock (1)

  • (9) Duke (auto bid, 24-4/14-3 ACC/10-3 vs. Q1 & Q2/5-1 vs. Q1/NET: 12/KenPom: 9)

Bubble In (2)

  • (35) Notre Dame (19-8/13-4/6-7/2-6/56/58)
  • (38) Miami (20-8/12-5/8-5/4-2/61/62)

Last Four Byes (1)

Last Four IN (1)

Next Four Out

Also Considered

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

Monday: Syracuse at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

It’s a case of quantity over quality when it comes to the ACC slate this weekend. Virginia Tech’s trip to Coral Gables is the lone true bubble matchup on the schedule ... for now. If Syracuse can defeat Duke on Saturday night, and that’s a huge IF, there will be another in Chapel Hill on Monday night. However, the Orange’s Wednesday loss at Notre Dame was a major missed opportunity for them heading into a difficult weekend.

The Tar Heels join the Hokies in needing to pick up a road win for their NCAA hopes on Saturday, while Virginia, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest all join the Hurricanes in having home-floor advantage.

MW (4)

Near Locks (2)

  • (32) Colorado State (21-4/12-4/10-3/2-2/30/36)
  • (34) Boise State (auto bid, 21-6/13-2/10-5/4-2/32/27)

Bubble In (1)

  • (37) Wyoming (21-5/11-3/8-3/3-3/39/50)

Last Four IN (1)

  • (45) San Diego State (17-7/9-4/5-7/3-6/31/23)

Friday: San José State at San Diego State, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: Nevada at Wyoming, 8 p.m. (CBSSN) | Boise State at UNLV, 10 p.m. (CBSSN) | Colorado State at Utah State, 10:30 p.m. (FS1)

Monday: San Diego State at Wyoming, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

The two lower-ranked Mountain West teams of the four projected in the field happen to be the ones playing twice, with San Diego State traveling to Wyoming for a Monday night showdown—their lone regular season meeting. Both the Aztecs and Cowboys should head into that one after home wins. The top two conference teams on the seed list might not find it so easy; however. Boise State heads to the site of the Mountain West Tournament to meet a UNLV squad that’s won three straight since losing by six in the Broncos’ building. A half-hour later, Colorado State tips at Utah State in a rematch of the Rams 77-72 win at Moby on January 12th.

Pac-12 (3)

Locks (3)

  • (3) Arizona (25-2/15-1 Pac-12/12-2 vs. Q1 and Q2/5-2 vs. Q1/NET: 2/KenPom: 2)
  • (17) UCLA (20-6/12-5/8-6/3-4/13/12)
  • (22) USC (24-4/13-4/8-3/3-1/26/31)

First Four Out

  • (71) Oregon (17-10/11-6/7-7/3-5/58/65)

Also Considered

Saturday: UCLA at Oregon State, 4 p.m. (CBS) | Washington State at Washington, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | Arizona at Colorado, 8 p.m. (ESPN2) | Stanford at California, 8:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | USC at Oregon, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday: UCLA at Washington, 11 p.m. (ESPN2) | Washington State at Oregon, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

CBS should have probably tried to flex out UCLA’s trip to Oregon State, which is trying survive an awful post-Elite Eight season. That leaves ESPN2 with the top tow games of the day, as Arizona will attempt to win in Boulder for the first time since 2015 and Oregon hosts USC looking for another profile-boosting Quad 1 win. The Ducks would be hard to leave out if they can record four wins in four games against the L.A. schools.

Oregon returns to action Monday night when they host a Washington State team that’s still hanging around (and in need of quality wins). The Cougars must first survive a trip to Seattle on Saturday, while Washington also plays late on Monday too—at UCLA. Note that Wazzu beat UW in their first meeting in Pullman on Wednesday night, 78-70.

WCC (3)

Locks (2)

  • (1) Gonzaga (24-2/13-0 WCC/10-2 vs. Q1 and Q2/8-2 vs. Q1/NET: 1/KenPom: 1)
  • (26) Saint Mary’s (22-6/11-3/8-6/3-6/20/21)

Last Four IN (1)

  • (48) San Francisco (21-8/9-6/8-7/3-5/29/25)

First Four OUT

  • (70) BYU (19-9/8-6/7-8/3-5/49/48)

Saturday: San Francisco at San Diego, 5 p.m. (Bally San Diego/WCCN) | Portland at Santa Clara, 5 p.m. (WCCN) | Pepperdine at BYU, 8 p.m. (ESPNU) | Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m. (ESPN)

The WCC regular season wraps up Saturday. While Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s will only need to win twice to claim the conference’s auto bid, San Francisco and BYU will have to wait until the night is over to see where they will each fit in the conference’s stepladder bracket. The prospect of a Dons/Cougars 4 vs. 5 quarterfinal elimination game is very much in play following USF’s Thursday loss to the Zags and BYU’s win over Loyola Marymount.

American Athletic (2)

Lock (1)

  • (18) Houston (auto bid, 23-5/12-2 AAC/7-4 vs. Q1 & Q2/0-3 vs. Q1/NET: 4/KenPom: 9)

Last Four IN (1)

  • (47) SMU (20-6/11-3/5-4/2-1/45/55)

First Four OUT

  • (69) Memphis (16-9/10-5/6-7/3-3/44/40)

Sunday: SMU at Houston, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN) | Wichita State at Memphis, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

All three AAC at-large contenders won their midweek games—by identical 14-point margins. Houston took down Tulane in New Orleans, while SMU handled Tulsa and Memphis pulled away from Temple in the second half—both at home. Throw 2021 at-large Wichita State into the Sunday slate, and you have an American Athletic doubleheader worth watching. Note that SMU can tie Houston for the conference lead with a win in Houston—and a season sweep that would give the Mustangs the inside track at the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.

Atlantic 10

Bubble In (1)

  • (36) Davidson (auto bid, 22-4/13-2 A 10/5-4 vs. Q1 & Q2/2-1 vs. Q1/NET: 46/KenPom: 51)

First Four OUT

  • (72) Dayton (20-8/12-3 A 10/7-5/2-2/47/42)

Next Four OUT

  • (73) VCU (19-7/12-3/6-6/2-2/57/69)
  • (75) St. Bonaventure (18-7/10-4/6-6/3-3/82/82)

Also Considered

  • Saint Louis (18-9/10-5/3-7/1-4/60/61)

Friday: Saint Louis at Richmond, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday: Dayton at La Salle, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Fordham at Davidson, 2:30 p.m. (USA) | VCU at UMass, 4:30 p.m. (USA) | St. Bonaventure at Saint Joseph’s, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)

With Davidson the current fourth-ranked 9 seed, Dayton the fourth team out, two conference teams in the Next Four Out group, and another, Saint Louis, not too far back, the final week and a half of the Atlantic 10 regular season has the potential for plenty of drama. And that’s just to set the bracket for what’s to come Selection Weekend in Washington, D.C.

Next week’s schedule sets up to be much more intriguing than this one, which largely provides contenders with potential banana peels to avoid. If they can get past them, you’ll see VCU play both St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis, Davidson host George Mason and travel to Dayton, the Flyers visit Richmond before welcoming the Wildcats to Ohio, and the Bonnies face both teams based around the Virginia capital.

Buckle up.

Elsewhere

Near Lock (1)

  • (28) Murray State (auto bid, 24-2/17-0 OVC/5-1 vs. Q1 & Q2/2-1 vs. Q1/NET: 22/KenPom: 24)

Bubble In (3)

  • (42) Loyola Chicago (auto bid, 21-6/13-4 MVC/5-5/2-2/17/28)
  • (49) North Texas (auto bid, 19-4/14-1 C-USA/5-3/1-1/37/39)
  • (50) Iona (auto bid, 22-5/14-2 MAAC/2-3/1-2/76/84)

Also Considered

  • UAB (19-7/11-4 C-USA/4-4/2-1/51/49)
  • Belmont (23-6/14-3 OVC/4-6/1-4/67/78)

Most notable games in bold.

Friday: Akron at Ohio, 6 p.m. (CBSSN) | Harvard at Princeton, 7 p.m. (ESPN News) | Canisius at Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Appalachian State at Arkansas State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Texas State at Troy, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday: Miami (Ohio) at Toledo, 12 p.m. (ESPNU) | Wagner at Bryant, 1 p.m. (NEC Front Row) | Bellarmine at Eastern Kentucky, 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Jacksonville at FGCU, 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Kennesaw State at Liberty, 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Navy at Colgate, 2 p.m. (CBSSN) | UMass Lowell at Vermont, 2 p.m. (ESPN3) | Penn at Dartmouth, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | North Alabama at Jacksonville State, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | William & Mary at Hofstra, 2 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | Cleveland State at Oakland, 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | New Mexico State at Chicago State, 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Southern Illinois at Drake, 4 p.m. (CBSSN) | Louisiana Tech at North Texas, 4 p.m. (Stadium) | Charleston Southern at Winthrop, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Cal State Fullerton at UC San Diego, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Samford at Chattanooga, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Towson at James Madison, 4 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | UNCW at Delaware, 4 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | New Orleans at Northwestern State, 4 p.m. (NSU stream) | Longwood at Campbell, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3) | Murray State at Southeast Missouri State, 5 p.m. (ESPN3) | Missouri State at Evansville, 5 p.m. (ESPN3)

Tennessee State at Belmont, 6 p.m. (ESPN3) | Yale at Cornell, 6 p.m. (ESPN3) | South Carolina State at Norfolk State, 6 p.m. (NSU stream) | Alcorn State at Prairie View A&M, 6:30 p.m. (PV A&M stream)

South Dakota State at Kansas City, 8 p.m. (KC stream) | Jackson State at Texas Southern, 8:30 p.m. (TSU stream) | Seattle at Dixie State, 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | UAB at UTEP, 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Long Beach State at UC Irvine, 12 a.m. (ESPNU) | Cal State Bakersfield at Hawai’i, 12 a.m. (Spectrum Sports Hawai’i/ESPN+ ($))

Sunday: Princeton at Harvard, 12 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Iona at Rider, 2 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Montana State at Montana, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday: Delaware at Towson, 6 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | College of Charleston at Hofstra, 7 p.m. (FloHoops ($)) | NC Central at Norfolk State, 7:30 p.m. (NSU stream) | Alcorn State at Texas Southern, 8:30 p.m. (TSU stream)

For many, but certainly not all conferences, the regular season will wrap up this weekend. In the WCC, OVC, and Summit League, the leaders will all attempt to complete perfect league campaigns before heading off to single-elimination play. Murray State laid down a warning to the nation on Thursday night by pummeling second-place Belmont, 76-43, a result that boosted the Racers’ computer numbers into “cannot ignore” territory. While both Matt McMahon’s club and Gonzaga had little trouble in their respective Thursday games, South Dakota State needed OT against 2021 Summit Tournament champ Oral Roberts to move to 17-0 in league play, eventually winning a 106-102 thriller in Tulsa.

In conferences like the Southern and Horizon and Patriot Leagues, potential title game previews are on tap. Remember that the first conference tournament game of 2022 will be on Monday night, when the NEC’s 8 and 9 seeds meet for the right to travel to the top seed, either Bryant or Wagner, on Wednesday. And that’s when things really get into gear on this website.