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Bracketology 2022: One Week

In just seven days, we will have an actual bracket for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. What twists and turns await us in those intervening hours? Saturday might have given us a sneak preview.

The top four seeds in each region for the bracket projection for Sunday, March 6, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from

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Acknowledgements: NET rankings and records are accurate as of Sunday, March 6, 2022. Both reflect only games against Division I teams. Selection Sheet info is from Team logos are from Chris Creamer’s

Teams with a gold background have secured automatic bids.
✴️ = new bracket entrants
⬆️ and ⬇️ = bracket returnees’ seed movement relative to Saturday’s bracket
(#) = Overall rank of the top 16 teams (top four seeds in each region)

Here’s a quick rundown of Saturday’s results that led to shifts in the field.

For starters, you undoubtedly knew that yesterday’s UNC-Duke game would be Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium—because ESPN had been hammering the fact for the past two weeks or so. However, the Worldwide Leader’s plans for the evening were ruined by a Texas-Kansas overtime game, which naturally spilled into a slightly extended game window the network set up for the occasion, a failure to put the game on ESPN News, which resulted in it being placed on ESPN2, bumping the final moments of a crucial Atlantic 10 game to streaming only, then, when the game actually made it on the Mothership, the Tar Heels played their best game of the season and defeated the Blue Devils, 94-81. That game all but locked up a bid for UNC, an eight seed today and with the ACC being mediocre-to-poor likely sealed Duke’s seeding fate. The Blue Devils will be no higher than a 2.

In conference tournament games with bubble implications, Morehead State almost made the OVC a two-bid league, but fans of bubble teams could exhale after Murray State won in Evansville, 71-67, to move to 30-2 on the season. In the Racers’ future conference, Loyola will have the opportunity to make the Missouri Valley a one-bid conference. However, the Ramblers will need to defeat third-seeded Drake for the first time this year to do so (2 p.m., CBS). So far, Loyola’s revenge tour has been a relative walk in the park, as the Ramblers won rubber matches against Bradley and Northern Iowa by 15 and 23.

The WCC takes today off due to BYU’s “No Sundays” policy. Not that it matters to the Cougars this year, as San Francisco eliminated the Cougars in the pair’s vital Saturday quarterfinal, 75-63. That result moved the Dons out of the ‘Last Four In’ group and kept BYU in the ‘First Four Out’ range. Mark Pope’s team could end up in the field, but they’re going to need a lot of help.

There’s just one new at-large team today, as Dayton replaced VCU. There’s a decent chance they’ll settle it on the court in Saturday’s Atlantic 10 semifinals. However, the Rams lost their first game as an at-large, as a furious comeback fell short at Saint Louis, 69-65, as the Billikens led by 21 with just under 16 minutes to go in the second half. This was, for the record, the game ESPN bumped to streaming for UNC-Duke. As for the Flyers, they took advantage of their lone meeting with regular-season champ Davidson, holding the Wildcats off, 82-76.

So, now Dayton is the second-to-last team in, just ahead of Michigan. Of course, with the First Four played at UD Arena, that would mean the Flyers would get a second home First Four game, with the first coming in 2015. They defeated Boise State that season and ended up winning a round of 64 game over Providence for good measure.

It ended up being a fairly dire Saturday for many bubble teams. Florida and Indiana both lost close contests to Kentucky and Purdue, respectively, which would have been major profile boosts. Virginia Tech lost 63-59 at Clemson, which the Hokies could not do. While the loss didn’t hurt their metrics much, quality wins are going to be a real issue for Tech, particularly if it exits the ACC Tournament early. Oregon also got trucked by Washington State in Pullman, meaning its Pac-12 Tournament title or bust for the Ducks.

Surprisingly, Virginia (18-12) and Oklahoma (17-14) are back in the ‘First Eight Out’ following their respective wins over Louisville and Kansas State. Both teams have quality wins that should put them in the frame over teams like Virginia Tech and Washington State that are metrics darlings.

But, there’s more to be decided today ...

Regular-Season Finales

Big Ten

Penn State (12-15, 7-12) at Rutgers (17-12, 11-8), 12 p.m. (BTN)
Michigan (16-13, 10-9) at Ohio State (19-9, 12-7), 12:30 p.m. (Fox)
Nebraska (9-21, 3-16) at Wisconsin (24-5, 15-4), 2 p.m. (BTN)
Maryland (15-15, 7-12) at Michigan State (19-11, 10-9), 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
Iowa (22-8, 12-7) at Illinois (21-8, 14-5) , 7:30 p.m. (FS1)

Rutgers, with its six Quad 1 wins, against five losses, is the first team out. That’s despite their mediocre metrics and trio of Quad 3 and 4 defeats. However, the Committee has shown that quality wins, particularly high quality wins (home against the NET Top 15, neutral against the Top 25, away against the Top 40), matter the most. The Scarlet Knights are 4-4 in high-quality games. Of course, a home loss to Penn State would be a fourth Q3 or Q4 defeat.

16-13 Michigan is the last team in, but a loss at Ohio State would drop them to 4-10 in Quad 1 games with a 2-8 mark in those high-quality games. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, defeated Michigan State Thursday to snap a bad two-game skid that dropped OSU from a 3 seed to a 6 in this projection. The Spartans, meanwhile, host the Maryland team that handed the Buckeyes the first of those two losses. Tom Izzo’s team has fallen down to an 8/9 matchup at this point.

Wisconsin only needs to beat Nebraska at home to lock up the Big Ten regular season title and add another exhibit to its case for a No. 1 seed. If the Badgers lose, that opens the door for Illinois, which hosts Iowa in the final regular-season game of 2022 (barring any late games scheduled by bubble teams).

American Athletic

Houston (26-4, 15-2) at Memphis (18-9, 12-5), 12 p.m. (CBS)
Tulane (13-13, 10-7) at SMU (21-7, 12-4), 3 p.m. (ESPN+ ($)

Houston has wrapped up the top seed in the American Athletic Tournament in Fort Worth, but with a loss at Memphis today, the Cougars will have done so by going 1-3 against their primary competition in the league race. A Tiger win would move them closer to ‘lock’ status, though they’ll have to avoid a bad loss in Texas next weekend. As for SMU, one of the ‘First Four Out,’ the Mustangs will need to avoid picking up a home loss to a tricky Tulane team. The Green Wave can complete a first winning regular season since 2012-13 with a victory this afternoon.

Check back Monday morning for a fresh bracket!