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Bracketology 2023: The Final SEC/Big 12 Challenges Delivered Its Verdict

The Big 12 won this season’s series 7-3 and the all-time one 55-44. While there are two SEC teams on today’s top seed line, Saturday’s games spoke more of the Big 12’s potential to dominate the top 16 of March’s bracket.

The top four seeds in each region of Blogging the Bracket’s NCAA Men’s Tournament projection for Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean using logos from

Graphics by Chris Dobbertean using logos from either, Wikimedia Commons, or the institutions’ websites.

Fresh off a dominant Sunday home win over Michigan State, Purdue remains the No. 1 overall seed in the final bracket projection of January. Tennessee jumps up to the second spot overall—from the 3 line—following an impressive 82-71 home victory over future SEC rival Texas. That was the Vols’ fourth consecutive win by double digits. Houston and Alabama hang on to the third and fourth top seeds, even though the Cougars struggled mightily against Cincinnati at home and the Crimson Tide were run out of the Lloyd Noble Center in their matchup with future league rival Oklahoma, 93-69.

Still, Alabama’s profile, metrics, and record away from home—particularly in true road games—keep them off the two line. That quartet features a trio of Big 12 teams—Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas—with the Jayhawks and Wildcats having won their Challenge games over Kentucky and Florida, respectively, before their rematch in Lawrence tonight (8 p.m., ESPN+ ($)). Yes, it really is streaming only. The Longhorns are the Big 12 leader at the moment—a half-game up on K-State—thanks to their win over Baylor on Monday night. The Bears are the top No. 3 seed even after the loss, followed by a pair of conference leaders in Xavier and UCLA and the WCC’s second-place team, Gonzaga.

Virginia and UConn drop down to seed line 4, where they are joined by holdovers Marquette and TCU. The Horned Frogs were set to drop following their Challenge loss at Mississippi State. But then Iowa State followed up a four-point home win over Kansas State with two road losses—at Missouri by 17 and, more embarrassingly, Texas Tech. The Cyclones led that contest by 23 with 12:38 to play and ended up losing in OT—giving the Red Raiders’ their first Big 12 win of the season.

Down by the Cut Line, today’s projection features three new at-large teams in Nevada (paired with fading Arkansas in a “Muss Bowl” First Four matchup in Dayton), Pittsburgh (who followed a bad home loss to Florida State by defeating Wake Forest and Miami—with the loss knocking the Demon Deacons out), and West Virginia. The Mountaineers’ 80-77 Challenge win over Auburn was their third in four games.

Let’s take a look at the full final bracket for January 2023.

Seed List and Text-Only Bracket for Screen Readers


  • Conference logos indicate auto bid holders.
  • Numbers in red squares indicate team’s position in the bracket’s top 16 (top four seed lines).
  • Colors next to seed numbers indicate bracket movement: yellow (new), green (seed up), red (seed down) relative to last Tuesday’s bracket.

Bids By Conference

24 one-bid conferences

Ins and Outs (11)

New Entrants: Fairleigh Dickinson (NEC), Furman (SoCon), Louisiana (Sun Belt), Maryland-Eastern Shore (MEAC), Nevada, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis (A 10), Southeastern Louisiana (Southland), Utah Valley (WAC), Vermont (AE), West Virginia

Out For Now: Arizona State, Marshall (Sun Belt), Morgan State (MEAC), Nicholls State (Southland), Ohio State, Samford (SoCon), Seattle (WAC), St. Francis (Pa.) (NEC), UMass Lowell (AE), VCU (A 10), Wake Forest

Midweek Games To Watch

Over the next three days (two really, since none are scheduled for Thursday), there are a mere seven games pairing teams found in this current projection (bolded in their entirety). But that doesn’t mean that the next 72 hours will lack for drama. And that’s thanks to a copious number of matchups with bubble implications. I’ve only bolded the names of the bubble teams involved in these. That gives us crucial head-to-head matchups in the SEC on Tuesday, Big 12 (Bedlam II) and Mountain West on Wednesday, and Big Ten on Thursday—as Ohio State followed Wisconsin out of the bracket today, just in time for the pair’s showdown in Columbus.

All times are p.m. Eastern unless noted.

Tuesday, January 31

Mississippi State at South Carolina, 6:30 (SECN)
Wake Forest at Duke, 7 (ESPN)
Texas A&M at Arkansas, 7 (ESPN2)
Nebraska at Illinois, 7 (B1G Net)
Virginia Tech at Miami, 7 (ESPNU)
Clemson at Boston College, 7 (ACCN)
Saint Louis at Fordham, 7 (SNY/Bally Midwest/ESPN+ ($))
Central Michigan at Kent State, 7 (ESPN+ ($))

UConn at DePaul, 8 (FS1)
Kansas State at Kansas, 8 (ESPN+ ($))

Vanderbilt at Alabama, 8:30 (SECN)
Kentucky at Ole Miss, 9 (ESPN)
Indiana at Maryland, 9 (ESPN2)
Northwestern at Iowa, 9 (B1G Net)
West Virginia at TCU, 9 (ESPNU)

San Diego State at Nevada, 11 (CBSSN)

Wednesday, February 1

Providence at Xavier, 6:30 (FS1)
Penn State at Purdue, 6:30 (B1G Net)
Creighton at Georgetown, 6:30 (CBSSN)
Tennessee at Florida, 7 (ESPN2)
Georgia at Auburn, 7 (SECN)
Pittsburgh at North Carolina, 7 (ACCN)
Big South: Longwood at Winthrop, 7 (ESPN+ ($))
MVC: Southern Illinois at Bradley, 7 (ESPN+ ($))

MVC: Belmont at Murray State, 8 (ESPN+ ($))

Villanova at Marquette, 8:30 (FS1)
Minnesota at Rutgers, 8:30 (B1G Net)
Seton Hall at St. John’s, 8:30 (CBSSN)
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 9 (ESPN2)
LSU at Missouri, 9 (SECN)
Florida State at NC State, 9 (ACCN)

New Mexico at Utah State, 10:30 (FS1)

Thursday, February 2

Michigan at Northwestern, 7 (ESPN2)
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 7 (FS1)
Big South: High Point at UNC Asheville, 7 (ESPNU/ESPN+ ($))
C-USA: Florida Atlantic at UAB, 7 (CBSSN)
CAA: Charleston at Drexel, 7 (NBCS Philadelphia/FloHoops ($))

Oregon State at Arizona State, 8 (Pac-12 Net Oregon and Arizona)
Stanford at Utah, 8 (Pac-12 Net Bay Area and Mountain)
ASUN: Liberty at Austin Peay, 8 (ESPN+ ($))

Washington at UCLA, 9 (FS1)
Houston at Wichita State, 9 (ESPN2)

Big Sky: Eastern Washington at Sacramento State, 10 (ESPN+ ($))
Big West: Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara, 10 (ESPN+ ($))
Oregon at Arizona, 10:30 (ESPN)
Washington State at USC, 11 (FS1)
San Francisco at Saint Mary’s, 11 (ESPNU)
Santa Clara at Gonzaga, 11 (CBSSN)

On Friday, it’s time to start looking at the lock and bubble picture, as just five weeks and two days will remain before Selection Sunday.