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Bracketology 2022: Arizona Defeats UCLA; Wildcats Replace Bruins on Top Line

The new Pac-12 leader jumped Kentucky, who struggled a bit at home against Vanderbilt on Wednesday, to stay on seed line No. 2.

The top four seeds in each region for this projection.
Chris Dobbertean, logos via

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 are accurate as of Friday, February 4, 2022. Selection Sheet info is from Team logos are 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 or weather. Seed numbers in parentheses.

Big 12 (7 Teams)

Winner of the Midweek: With a pair of Big Monday games and tournament-ineligible Oklahoma State meeting Kansas State, the midweek pickings were slim in the Big 12. Texas Tech (17-5, 6-3) earns this honor by default after earning an emotional 77-64 home win over Texas (16-6, 5-4) in Chris Beard’s return to Lubbock. The Red Raiders continue to hang on to a top 16 ranking in this projection as several rivals for those spots have tumbled.

Loser of the Midweek: One of those rivals, Iowa State (16-6, 3-6) has slipped down to the 6 line after being swept by Kansas (18-3, 7-1). Even though the Cyclones only lost by one to the Jayhawks in Lawrence, they couldn’t better that performance in falling 70-61 on Tuesday night.

Saturday: (11) Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 12 p.m. (ESPN2) | (4) Texas Tech at West Virginia, 2 p.m. (ESPN) | (6) Iowa State at (7) Texas, 2 p.m. (LHN) | (1) Baylor at (2) Kansas, 4 p.m. (ESPN) | Kansas State at (9) TCU, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday: (2) Kansas at (7) Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Starting tomorrow in Lawrence, two of the next four Saturdays will see the clear top two teams in the conference, Baylor and Kansas, clashing—a pair of contests that will go a long way toward settling not only the Big 12 regular season title, but at least one spot on the top line of the national bracket. The Jayhawks have a quick turnaround before traveling to Austin on Monday, where the Longhorns will hope to be fresh off a home victory over bracket neighbor Iowa State. Closer to the cut line, while TCU has seen its position improve, Oklahoma has slid down the bubble and West Virginia is now out of the field after six straight losses. Both teams face significant challenges on Saturday afternoon, as the Sooners head to Stillwater for the first edition of basketball Bedlam in 2022, while the Mountaineers face the challenge of Texas Tech as they attempt to get back on track.

Big East (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Although Marquette (16-7, 8-4) is still a game behind Villanova (16-6, 9-3) in the standings, the Golden Eagles certainly look like the second best team in the conference at the moment following their 83-73 win over the Wildcats—a result that gave Shaka Smart’s club a deserved season sweep.

Loser of the Midweek: UConn (15-5, 6-3) hasn’t looked right for a few games, even if Tuesday’s 59-55 home loss to Creighton (13-7, 5-4) snapped a five game win streak. Unfortunately for the Huskies, each and every single one of those victories came against teams that aren’t in the at-large hunt. Things won’t get easier for Connecticut either, as their next three games all come against teams currently seeded fourth or fifth.

Friday: (9) Creighton at (10) Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: (6) UConn at (5) Villanova. 12 p.m. (Fox) | St. John’s at Butler, 12 p.m. (FS1) | DePaul at (5) Xavier, 2 p.m. (FS1)

Sunday: (2) Providence at Georgetown, 12 p.m. (FS1)

The first of those games comes in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, as UConn will be one of the opponents Villanova hosts at the Wells Fargo Center as the Wildcats attempt to be placed in the East regional, set for that venue. That’s clearly the game of the weekend in the Big East, though the Creighton-Seton Hall showdown tonight in Newark pits two bubble squads against each other. On Sunday, Georgetown will attempt to win its first conference game of the season in its 10th attempt. But that won’t be simple, as conference leader (and new 2 seed) Providence visits the Nation’s Capital.

Big Ten (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Kofi Cockburn is back for Illinois (16-5, 9-2), and the Fighting Illini are back at the top of the Big Ten and in the bracket’s Top 16 following Wednesday’s 80-67 home win over Wisconsin. Brad Underwood’s club has won three in a row, though a difficult two-game road swing through Indiana is on deck.

Loser of the Midweek: It was an abbreviated the Big Ten slate this midweek, with Thursday’s Iowa-Ohio State game being postponed due to weather. So, Wisconsin (17-4, 8-3) ends up here by default. In the Badgers’ last four outings, they’ve lost to Michigan State at home and the Illini away and only defeated Nebraska and Minnesota unconvincingly. That’s why the former No. 1 seed now finds itself on line 3.

Saturday: (4) Illinois at Indiana, 12 p.m. (ESPN) | Northwestern at Nebraska, 1 p.m. (BTN) | Michigan at (3) Purdue, 2:30 p.m. (Fox) | (4) Michigan State at Rutgers, 4 p.m. (FS1) | Penn State at (3) Wisconsin, 6 p.m. (BTN)

Sunday: Maryland at (5) Ohio State, 1 p.m. (CBS) | Minnesota at (11) Iowa, 4:30 p.m. (BTN)

The first game on the schedule might very well be the best, as Illinois visits Bloomington before heading to West Lafayette on Tuesday. Speaking of Purdue, it hosts a Michigan team that’s been climbing closer to the field, thanks to four wins in its last five. The Boilermakers and Wolverines will actually meet twice this week, with a rescheduled rematch set for Ann Arbor on Thursday. Elsewhere on the bubble, Iowa saw its position improve while idle, but the Hawkeyes can’t afford dropping Sunday’s visit from Minnesota.

SEC (7)

Winner of the Midweek: Arkansas (17-5, 6-3) isn’t quite back at the “40 minutes of hell” level just yet, but the Razorbacks 99-73 win over Georgia on Wednesday was their seventh in a row. That streak has given Eric Musselman’s team considerable breathing room relative to the bubble.

Loser of the Midweek: Back in the first bracket of the calendar year, LSU (16-6, 4-5) was an unlikely No. 1 seed. But 2022 hasn’t been kind to the Tigers, who have dropped five of their last six, including Tuesday’s 76-72 home loss to Ole Miss. The Bayou Bengals have now tumbled down to seed line 5 and their decline shows no sign of stopping.

Saturday: (6) Tennessee at South Carolina, 1 p.m. (CBS) | (1) Auburn at Georgia, 1 p.m. (SECN) | Ole Miss at (11) Florida, 3:30 p.m. (SECN) | Missouri at Texas A&M, 4 p.m. (ESPN2) | (5) LSU at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. (SECN) | (2) Kentucky at (6) Alabama, 8 p.m. (ESPN) | Mississippi State at (8) Arkansas, 8:30 p.m. (SECN)

While Baylor and Kansas will occupy the prime late afternoon window on ESPN Saturday, the teams that defeated them in last weekend’s Big 12/SEC Challenge will meet in Tuscaloosa in primetime. Kentucky was in line to jump to the top line with a strong midweek performance, but while the Wildcats did beat Vanderbilt 77-70, you can’t really call a seven-point home win over one of the SEC’s worst a No. 1 seed worth performance. As for the Crimson Tide, seed line 6 is currently home because of their wildly unpredictable results.

Elsewhere, Florida rose above the First Four group with a gutsy road win at Missouri. But the Gators will give those gains back if Ole Miss completes a season sweep. In other bubble matchups, Mississippi State heads to Fayetteville looking for a win that would potentially put them in this projection, while Texas A&M must snap its five-game skid when Missouri visits College Station.

MW (4)

Winner of the Midweek: Obviously, after ending Boise State’s 14-game win streak, Wyoming (18-3, 7-1) earns this honor along with some seeding breathing room. The Cowboys jumped from an 11 to a 9 following Thursday’s 72-65 victory in Laramie—a worthy follow-up to Monday’s home OT win over Colorado State.

Loser of the Midweek: Again, with a light midweek schedule, the Winner of the Midweek’s victim earns this dishonor by default for the Mountain West. So, Boise State (17-5, 8-1) slots here despite remaining a half-game up on Wyoming in the league standings.

Friday: (12) San Diego State at (8) Colorado State, 9 p.m. (FS1) | Nevada at Fresno State, 11 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday: UNLV at Utah State, 6 p.m. (CBSSN) | San José State at (10) Boise State, 6 p.m. (Stadium College Sports Atlantic/MWN) | New Mexico at Air Force, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)

Sunday: Nevada at (12) San Diego State, 4 p.m. (CBSSN) | (9) Wyoming at Fresno State, 7 p.m. (FS1)

You could argue that San Diego State should have earned the nod instead of Boise State, even though the Aztecs were idle, as they’ve now slid to the last team in the projected field. Tonight, they’ll aim to complete a season sweep of Colorado State, something that would greatly improve their position should they be able to pull it off. Don’t expect this one to be a repeat of SDSU’s 79-49 home win from January 8th, however. Boise State hosts a bad San José State squad as it attempts to start a new win streak, while Wyoming travels to face a Fresno State team that needs win to stay in the bubble hunt.

Pac-12 (4)

Winner of the Midweek: Arizona (18-2, 9-1) avenged its 75-59 loss at UCLA (16-3, 8-2) from January 25th by winning the reverse fixture in Tucson, 76-66, on Thursday night. The Wildcats are now the fourth No. 1 seed despite a relative lack of NET Top 50 wins (2-2). Still, it’s difficult to deny an 18-2 team that’s ranked third in the NET, particularly when its two losses came on the road to teams ranked in the top 15 of the same metric.

Loser of the Midweek: Stanford (13-8, 6-5) saw its bubble chances take a hit with a 66-60 home loss to Washington State (13-7, 6-3). On the flip side, that’s the type of result the Cougars will need to start recording more of to push their results closer to their metrics (34 in KenPom and 36 in the NET). Last night’s victory was Wazzu’s first against a team ranked in the NET Top 100, and the Cardinal currently barely qualify at 92nd.

Saturday: Washington State at California, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | (7) USC at (1) Arizona, 5 p.m. (Fox) | Oregon State at Colorado, 6 p.m. (FS1) | (11) Oregon at Utah, 8:30 p.m. (FS1) | (2) UCLA at Arizona State, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Sunday: Washington at Stanford, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday: (1) Arizona at Arizona State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Arizona puts its No. 1 seed status on the line twice between now and Tuesday’s update with both contests posing unique challenges. USC could use a quality win to boost its seeding, which has slipped over the past few weeks, while Monday’s contest is a road rivalry game. UCLA heads to Tempe first, however, as the Bruins will look to avoid being swept out of the Grand Canyon State. Looking at the bubble, Washington State will aim to complete a 2-0 week, while Stanford must be wary of an improving Washington club. Colorado hosts Oregon State having lost six of eight, while Oregon visits Utah having just lost once in its last nine outings.

WCC (4)

Winner of the Midweek: After narrowly losing to Saint Mary’s and defeating Santa Clara last week, you probably didn’t expect San Francisco (18-5, 5-3) to go into the Marriott Center and handle BYU, 73-59. But the Dons did and they’re back in this projection as a result.

Loser of the Midweek: As for BYU (17-7, 5-4), it’s now dropped three in a row heading into Gonzaga’s visit on Saturday night. It’s danger time for the Cougars who suddenly don’t appear quite so safe.

Saturday: Santa Clara at San Diego, 7 p.m. (Bally Bay Area/WCCN) | (11) San Francisco at Portland, 8 p.m. (WCCN) | (1) Gonzaga at (10) BYU, 10 p.m. (ESPN) | Loyola Marymount at (7) Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

That showdown is the only meeting of two WCC at-large contenders set for Saturday, and the host Cougars will be desperate to avenge January 13th’s 110-84 blowout at the Kennel. Otherwise, San Francisco travels north for the first of a back-to-back with Portland, and Saint Mary’s hosts LMU aiming to complete a season sweep. The Gaels won by 32 in Los Angeles back on January 22nd.

ACC (3)

Winner of the Midweek: Unusually, both of today’s ACC squads find themselves outside of the field. Notre Dame (15-7, 8-3) is close; however, after Wednesday’s 68-64 win at Miami. Had the Fighting Irish not been blown out by Duke at home on Monday, they’d likely be in and not out heading into the weekend.

Loser of the Midweek: Florida State’s (13-8, 6-5) Wednesday loss at Clemson was its third in succession. That pushed the Seminoles out despite two wins over Miami and a home victory over Duke.

Saturday: Wake Forest at Florida State, 12 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX) | Louisville at Syracuse, 2 p.m. (ESPN2) | Clemson at Georgia Tech, 2 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX) | Notre Dame at NC State, 3 p.m. (ACCN) | (8) Miami at Virginia, 5 p.m. (ACCN) | (3) Duke at (12) North Carolina, 6 p.m. (ESPN) | Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (ACCN)

Monday: Virginia at (3) Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN) | Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (ACCN)

And that sets up a bubble showdown in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon when the Seminoles, currently the fourth team out, meets the six team out, Wake Forest. Notre Dame, meanwhile, visits NC State, who lost at home to Syracuse on Wednesday.

However, the biggest game of the weekend is without a doubt Duke’s final visit to Chapel Hill under Mike Krzyzewski. This one has become more interesting over the past couple of weeks as North Carolina has won four straight to get back into the field (barely) while Duke is treading water seeding wise despite an equivalent winning run.


Winner of the Midweek: Dayton (15-7, 7-2) pummeled a shorthanded VCU squad (13-7, 6-3), 82-52, to jump into second in the Atlantic 10, a game behind leader Davidson. Were it not for three bad losses in November, the Flyers would be in right now. They might need to come close to running the table or secure at least a share of the conference regular-season crown to have a real chance next month.

Loser of the Midweek: On Tuesday, I noted that 15 teams still had a chance to run the table in conference play. A particularly rough set of midweek matchups pushed that number down to 10. While Jacksonville State (ASUN) lost at home to North Florida, Hawai’i (Big West; UC Riverside); Seattle (WAC; Grand Canyon), UNCW (CAA; Elon) joined Boise State in losing on the road.

Friday: Dartmouth at Yale, 5 p.m. (ESPNU) | St. Bonaventure at Richmond, 6 p.m. (ESPN2) | (9) Iona at Canisius, 7 p.m. (ESPN3) | (14) Princeton at Cornell, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (12) Toledo at Ball State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Saturday: Mercer at Chattanooga, 12 p.m. (ESPNU) | UNCG at (13) Furman, 12 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (13) Vermont at UMass Lowell, 1 p.m. (ESPN3) | LIU at (14) Wagner, 1 p.m. (NEC Front Row) | Dayton at Saint Louis, 2 p.m. (ESPNU) | (9) Davidson at George Washington, 2 p.m. (NBCS Washington/ESPN+ ($)) | Western Michigan at Ohio, 2 p.m. (ESPN3) | James Madison at Hofstra, 2 p.m. (FloHoops ($))

(15) UNCW at William & Mary, 4 p.m. (CBSSN) | Duquesne at VCU, 4 p.m. (MASN2/ESPN+ ($)) | Towson at Northeastern, 4 p.m. (NESN+/FloHoops ($)) | Austin Peay at Morehead State, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (16) Colgate at American, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Middle Tennessee at UAB, 4 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Texas Southern at (16) Florida A&M, 4:30 p.m. (NBA TV) | Navy at Loyola (Md.), 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Jacksonville at (15) Jacksonville State, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (16) New Orleans at Incarnate Word, 5 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Longwood at Charleston Southern, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

SMU at Wichita State, 6 p.m. (ESPN2) | Northern Iowa at Drake, 6 p.m. (ESPNU) | (14) Seattle at New Mexico State, 6 p.m. (Aggie Vision/Bally Sports Arizona Plus/ESPN+ ($)) | UTSA at (12) North Texas, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Princeton at Columbia, 7 p.m. (SNY/ESPN+ ($)) | (13) South Dakota State at South Dakota, 7 p.m. (Midco Sports/ESPN+ ($)) | Liberty at Eastern Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Louisiana Tech at FIU, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Harvard at Yale, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (14) Oakland at Wright State, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Belmont at Tennessee Tech, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | UCF at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPN2) | Montana State at (15) Weber State, 8 p.m. (KJZZ/ESPN+ ($)) | (16) Hawai’i at UC Davis, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | SIU Edwardsville at (12) Murray State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Sunday: (9) Iona at Niagara, 1 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (10) Loyola Chicago at Missouri State, 2 p.m. (ESPNU) | (3) Houston at Cincinnati, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday: (15) UNCW at Hofstra, 5 p.m. (CBSSN) | Holy Cross at (16) Colgate, 6 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (13) Furman at ETSU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU) | George Mason at Richmond, 7 p.m. (MASN/ESPN+ ($)) | Chattanooga at Mercer, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | UTEP at (12) North Texas, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

As usual, it will be a loaded weekend of mid-major action with the six conference unbeatens (bolded) in this group all in action, with Iona, currently the highest seeded of the half dozen, playing twice. On Tuesday, we’ll see if their numbers have declined again and if those changes shook the national picture up.