clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bracketology 2022: Kentucky Claims the Fourth No. 1 Seed (For Now)

New, comments

The Wildcats have looked largely dominant of late, but some of their rise is due to the struggles of Baylor, Duke, Kansas, and UCLA.

The top four seeds of each region of the projected Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket for Tuesday, February 8th, 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 Friday’s bracket
(#) = Overall rank of the top 16 teams (top four seeds in each region)

Acknowledgements: NET rankings are accurate as of Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Selection Sheet info is from WarrenNolan.com. Team logos are from Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net.

Conference Notes with Key Tuesday–Thursday Matchups

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

Big 12 (7 Teams)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Texas Tech (18-5, 7-3) won its first road game since stunning Baylor on January 11th, taking down West Virginia in Morgantown, 60-53. The Red Raiders have won three straight and five of six to keep themselves firmly in the hunt for a protected seed. This week, they’ll get the chance to hand two more bubble teams losses—starting with Oklahoma on Wednesday in Norman.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: While West Virginia has seen its stock tumble thanks to a losing streak that’s now stretched to seven games, Oklahoma (13-10, 3-7) is also in serious trouble, thanks to seven losses in its last eight. The lone win came against the Mountaineers on January 26th. On Saturday, the Sooners dropped their third straight in Stillwater, dropping the first edition of Basketball Bedlam, 64-55.

Tuesday: Oklahoma State at (11) TCU, 7 p.m. (ESPNU) | (8) Iowa State at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Wednesday: (2) Baylor at Kansas State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (4) Texas Tech at (11) Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Porter Moser’s team will need to use Wednesday’s visit from Texas Tech as a get-right game, since a trip to Phog Allen follows on Saturday (with Texas visiting next Tuesday). Iowa State and West Virginia’s first meeting of the season is vital for both, while it’s clear the Mountaineers are in dire straits, Iowa State is getting there, having dropped four of six. That’s put the Cyclones into a tie for eighth in the Big 12 with Oklahoma. Kansas State and Oklahoma State are both one game up, and the Wildcats will look to boost their slender at-large chances by following up Saturday’s impressive 75-63 win at TCU by defeating Baylor in Manhattan. The Bears, struggling with injuries, have dropped two of three to fall off the top seed line.

Big East (7)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: On Friday night, Seton Hall (14-7, 5-6) handled Creighton (13-8, 5-5), 74-55, to give itself some bubble breathing room. The Pirates get Xavier at home on Wednesday before embarking on a two-game make-or-break road swing to Villanova and UConn.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: Speaking of the Musketeers (16-6, 6-5), visiting DePaul handed them a bad 69-65 loss on Saturday afternoon, with their seeding taking a slight hit as a result. Travis Steele’s club only went 1-3 in its games against Villanova and Marquette. It also has a loss to Providence. The road matchup with the Friars and two games apiece against the Hall and UConn are Xavier’s only remaining quality win opportunities left on the schedule.

Tuesday: (4) Marquette at (7) UConn, 6:30 p.m. (FS1) | (5) Villanova at St. John’s, 8:30 p.m. (FS1) | Butler at (10) Creighton, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

Wednesday: (6) Xavier at (8) Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)

The first of those contests comes on Wednesday night in Newark, where Seton Hall has surprisingly lost twice already (the Pirates’ ugly 84-63 loss to St. John’s came on campus in South Orange). Tuesday night, however, sees the Big East game of the midweek, as Marquette returns to action for the first time since sweeping Villanova last Wednesday. The Golden Eagles head to Hartford to take on UConn, who has dropped two straight, the latest coming at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.

Big Ten (7)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Purdue (20-3, 9-3) may be a game behind Illinois (17-5, 10-2) in the Big Ten standings, but by beating Michigan 82-76 on Saturday, the Boilermakers are set to put themselves into a first-place tie, if they can defeat the Fighting Illini on Tuesday.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: Michigan State (17-5, 8-3), who already had a home loss to Northwestern on its profile, got blown out at the RAC by Rutgers (13-9, 7-5), 84-63, to see its seeding take another hit. And things may get worse before they get better for Tom Izzo’s squad. Of their remaining eight regular season games, seven come against teams currently in the projected field.

Tuesday: (3) Wisconsin at (5) Michigan State, 7 p.m. (BTN) | (4) Illinois at (2) Purdue, 9 p.m. (ESPN) | Michigan at Penn State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2) | (7) Indiana at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (BTN)

Wednesday: (4) Ohio State at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (BTN)

Thursday: (8) Iowa at Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) | (2) Purdue at Michigan, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

The first of those matchups arrives on Tuesday, as Wisconsin heads to the Breslin Center for the the first of two with Sparty before the Big Ten Tournament. However, that contest only serves as an appetizer to Illinois’ trip to Mackey Arena. On Wednesday, Rutgers can improve its bubble fortunes by following its home win over MSU with one over Ohio State, which is now a 4 seed. Elsewhere, Michigan, Indiana, and Iowa all face potential traps on the road. The Wolverines must be particularly careful when visiting State College, as they’ll be tempted to look ahead to their quick home rematch with Purdue that’s set for Thursday night.

SEC (7)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Kentucky (19-4, 8-2) was able to take care of Alabama (14-9, 4-6) rather easily, 66-55, in Tuscaloosa. And that’s something that several other national contenders (Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor) haven’t been able to do. So, it should be no surprise that the Wildcats are on the bracket’s top line as of today.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: Mississippi State (14-8, 5-4) cannot quite get over the bubble hump. The Bulldogs missed a decent opportunity on Saturday when they fell at Arkansas (18-5, 7-3), 63-55. Ben Howland’s squad will get three more chances in the next eight days, though only the first will come in Starkville.

Tuesday: (1) Kentucky at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN) | (1) Auburn at (7) Arkansas, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) | (6) LSU at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. (SECN)

Wednesday: Georgia at (11) Florida, 6:30 p.m. (SECN) | (6) Alabama at Ole Miss, 8:30 p.m. (SECN) | (5) Tennessee at Mississippi State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

That game is Wednesday night’s visit from Tennessee. With trips to LSU and Alabama to follow, it might just be a must-win for Miss. State. That being said, the Tigers (1-6 in their last seven) and Crimson Tide (1-3 in their last four) might be ripe for the picking. Texas A&M has seen its bubble stock drop after six straight losses, but the Aggies can put themselves right back into the picture by defeating LSU and Auburn this week. Speaking of the SEC-leading Tigers, they looked utterly unimpressive at Georgia on Saturday, and a similar performance at Bud Walton on Tuesday night would knock Bruce Pearl’s squad from the already shrinking ranks of the conference unbeatens.

ACC (4)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Even though both Notre Dame (16-7, 9-3) and Wake Forest (19-5, 9-4) both entered the field today, Virginia’s (15-9, 9-5) win at Duke might end up being one of the key bubble victories for the entire season. While the Cavaliers’ profile has a couple of noteworthy issues, a NET ranking of 80th and three Quad 3 losses the primary ones, they also have two of the best bubble wins out there right now—remember that Tony Bennett’s squad beat Providence, 58-40, in Newark in the Legends Classic before Thanksgiving. A four-game swing that begins next Monday in Blacksburg (at Virginia Tech and Miami, Duke and Florida State at JPJ Arena) will likely determine whether Virginia is a real contender.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: North Carolina (16-7, 8-4) may be 42nd in the NET, but the Tar Heels are now 0-7 in Quad 1 games following Saturday’s 87-67 home blowout loss to Duke. That knocks them out of the bracket and behind Notre Dame, Miami, Wake Forest, and Virginia in the ACC bubble pecking order.

Tuesday: North Carolina at Clemson, 6 p.m. (ACCN) | Syracuse at Boston College, 8 p.m. (ACCN)

Wednesday: Louisville at (9) Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPNU) | (11) Wake Forest at NC State, 7 p.m. (ACCN) | Georgia Tech at (10) Miami, 7 p.m. (ACC RSNs/ACCNX) | Pittsburgh at Florida State, 9 p.m. (ACCN)

Thursday: (3) Duke at Clemson, 8 p.m. (ACCN)

With Clemson 78th in the NET, Hubert Davis’s Tar Heels won’t even get a chance to improve their Quad 1 record on Tuesday. The Tigers, on the other hand, get both UNC and Duke in a roughly 48-hour span. Sweep those two games and you’ll have to add Brad Brownell’s club to the expanding ACC bubble conversation. Miami (71-58 at Virginia) and Florida State (68-60 to Wake in Tallahassee) will both need to win at home to get back on track. Notre Dame can’t slip up against struggling Louisville, while Wake Forest and Syracuse both hit the road with the aim of boosting their bubble hopes, even if the Orange’s are far dimmer than the Demon Deacons’ at this point.

MW (4)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Wyoming (19-3, 8-1) earns the honor for the second projection in a row. The Cowboys followed last week’s victories over Colorado State and Boise State by edging Fresno State, 61-59, in the Central Valley. Since dropping a 66-63 decision to Stanford in the Diamond Head Classic quarterfinals, Jeff Linder’s club has won 10 of 11.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: San Diego State (13-6, 5-3) is teetering a bit, as the Aztecs not only lost at Colorado State by one on Friday might, 58-57, they only managed to defeat visiting Nevada by a bucket, 65-63, on Sunday. SDSU hasn’t won consecutive games since a five-game win streak that features its two best wins—over Saint Mary’s in Phoenix and a 30-point victory over the Rams at home. Those results are what’s keeping Brian Dutcher’s club in the field, as the very last team in.

Tuesday: Utah State at (9) Wyoming, 9 p.m. (Stadium College Sports Pacific/MWN) | (10) Boise State at New Mexico, 10:30 p.m. (FS1) | (9) Colorado State at Nevada, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

Wednesday: (12) San Diego State at San José State, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)

For most of the Mountain West’s contenders, the schedule softens for the midweek window, even if Boise State, Colorado State, and SDSU all need to hit the road. Wyoming is the exception, as the Cowboys host a resurgent Utah State on Tuesday, The Aggies have followed a four-game losing streak by winning five in a row. Plus, Ryan Odom’s team played Wyoming tough in Logan, losing by just two on January 15th.

Pac-12 (4)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Washington State (14-7, 7-3) isn’t yet close to the right side of the cut line despite being ranked 33rd in KenPom and 36th in the NET. That’s because the Cougars lack a Quad 1 win, with their best victory coming against 89th-ranked Stanford (14-8, 7-5)—on Thursday. But things could change quickly for Kyle Smith’s Cougs, who host Arizona on Thursday, then visit Oregon, UCLA, and USC in a three-game swing that starts on Valentine’s Day in Eugene.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: UCLA (16-4, 8-3) ceded control of the Pac-12 race to Arizona by following Thursday’s 76-66 loss in Tucson by dropping a triple-OT classic in Tempe on Saturday, 87-84. Those defeats knocked the Bruins from the top line down to the 3 line. And things may get worse before they get better for Mick Cronin’s squad, as UCLA visits both Stanford and USC this week.

Tuesday: Pacific at (6) USC, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks) | (3) UCLA at Stanford, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

Thursday: Stanford at (12) Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPN2) | (1) Arizona at Washington State, 9 p.m. (FS1)

Since the Trojans only meet the Bruins this week, they added a game with Pacific, currently tied for 7th in the WCC. That contest pales in importance to the other three listed here. Note Stanford has a pair of games that could give it some hope, provided the Cardinal can complete a sweep.

WCC (4)

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Gonzaga (19-2, 8-0) may only lead Saint Mary’s by a game in the WCC standings, but by blowing out BYU for a second time on Saturday, the Bulldogs ensured that their two games with the Gaels will determine who wins the regular season title.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: BYU (17-8, 5-5) is going to have to hope that the Selection Committee truly values a team’s body of work after extending its losing streak to four. Despite the Cougars’ poor run, there’s plenty to like about BYU’s profile, particularly potential tiebreaking wins over fellow bubble teams San Diego State and Oregon.

Tuesday: Portland at (10) San Francisco, 10 p.m. (WCCN) | (7) Saint Mary’s at Santa Clara, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

Thursday: Pacific at (1) Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (CBSSN) | San Diego at (7) Saint Mary’s, 9 p.m. (NBCS California/WCCN) | (11) BYU at Loyola Marymount, 11 p.m. (ESPNU) | Pepperdine at (10) San Francisco, 11 p.m. (NBCS California/WCCN)

Mark Pope’s club will look to end its skid at Gersten Pavilion on Thursday, where BYU will meet an LMU club that’s dropped five in a row itself. Both Saint Mary’s and San Francisco have to play twice, which might help Gonzaga increase its lead in the standings, particularly since the Bulldogs only play visiting Pacific team that will be fresh off a trip to USC.

Elsewhere

Biggest Winner of the Weekend: Loyola Chicago (18-4, 9-2) is back in sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley, thanks to Sunday’s impressive 71-62 win at Missouri State and Drake’s 74-69 overtime loss to Northern Iowa in Des Moines.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend: Heading into this week, only eight teams can complete their conference seasons undefeated. Of the teams that fell out of club over the past week, Iona (19-4, 11-1) might have suffered the most damaging loss, as the Gaels dropped an 80-71 decision at Niagara to split the always difficult Western New York road swing. While the Gaels’ win over Alabama at the ESPN Events Invitational keeps them in the thick of the at-large hunt, poor computer rankings (66th in the NET and 77th in KenPom) mean they cannot afford any further slip-ups in MAAC play.

Tuesday: Rhode Island at VCU, 7 p.m. (CBSSN) | (13) Ohio at Toledo, 7 p.m. (ESPN3) | Saint Louis at La Salle, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Fordham at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Lipscomb at Liberty, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Wichita State at UCF, 9 p.m. (ESPNU) | (14) Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State, 10 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Wednesday: Duquesne at Dayton, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Cincinnati at South Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Binghamton at (13) Vermont, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Saint Joseph’s at (8) Davidson, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Yale at Harvard, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Lehigh at (16) Colgate, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Western Carolina at (13) Chattanooga, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (15) Jacksonville State at Stetson, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Missouri State at Drake, 8 p.m. (Bally Midwest/NBCS Chicago/ESPN+ ($)) | Tulane at Memphis, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (9) Loyola Chicago at Bradley, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)

Thursday: Mount St. Mary’s at (14) Wagner, 5 p.m. (ESPNU) | William & Mary at Towson, 5 p.m. (CBSSN) | Georgia Southern at (16) Appalachian State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | USC Upstate at (14) Longwood, 7 p.m. (CBSSN) | Southern Miss at UAB, 7 p.m. (CBSSN) | Louisiana Tech at Charlotte, 7 p.m. (Stadium) | UIC at (15) Cleveland State, 7 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at (16) New Orleans, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Morehead State at Belmont, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (12) Murray State at Tennessee State, 8 p.m. (ESPN+ ($))

(13) New Mexico State at Dixie State, 9 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | (14) South Dakota State at Denver, 9 p.m. (Altitude/Denver stream) | (15) Weber State at Eastern Washington, 10 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)) | Long Beach State at Hawai’i, 12 a.m. (Spectrum Sports Hawai’i/ESPN+ ($))

There are plenty of intriguing mid-major matchups this week, but Tuesday’s rematch of Toledo’s (18-5, 10-2) 87-69 win at Ohio (19-3, 10-1) and two top-three matchups in the Big West stand out from the crowd to me.

Friday, I’ll be back with another projection as we head into the weekend that marks the one-month mark to Selection Sunday.