Before we get to the bracket, here’s a quick recap of Saturday’s reveal with my thoughts.
- My four No. 1 seeds on Saturday morning were Alabama (South), Purdue (Midwest), Houston (West), and Kansas (East). While I was four-for-four there, Committee placed the Cougars (Midwest) ahead of the Boilermakers (East), which had repercussions down the bracket.
- Again, my No. 2 seeds matched the Committee’s, though I established a slightly different order. Texas was the panel’s top two (No. 5 overall), while I had nominated Arizona, who ended up sixth overall. In fact, I had the Longhorns No. 8 overall, with Baylor and UCLA ahead of them. The Committee went Texas, Arizona, Baylor, and UCLA. That meant that Texas, as the top No. 2, couldn’t be placed with Alabama in the South. So, the ‘Horns were paired as Houston’s 2 in the Midwest, with 7 overall Baylor paired with the Crimson Tide. Arizona, two spots higher on the seed list ended up getting the nod for the West 2 seed over UCLA, who was shipped East.
The Selection Committee—as usual—valued quality wins, particularly high-quality road wins over all others. That’s why Arizona ended up being seeded above UCLA, even though the Bruins’ metrics are superior.
- Seed line No. 3 sees deviations both from my Saturday morning picks and the Committee’s reveal. On Saturday, I ranked the No. 3 seeds in this order: Virginia, Tennessee, Marquette, UConn. The Committee gave us an order of Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa State, and Kansas State, with the Golden Eagles on seed line 4 and the Huskies only “considered.” However, after Tennessee’s second loss to Kentucky (who is now out of the “Last Eight In” group) and K-State’s home win over Iowa State, I realigned today’s order to Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State, Tennessee.
- Not only was Indiana a controversial pick as a Committee No. 4 seed, the Hoosiers were ranked at the top of the quartet. That remains the case here, as IU held off Illinois not long after the preview show ended. Marquette, Gonzaga, and Xavier follow. All three of those teams were ranked lower than I had projected Saturday, but only the Golden Eagles dropped a seed line as a result.
- The four teams Selection Committee chair Chris Reynolds indicated were on deck for a spot on the 4 line were UConn, Miami, Creighton, and Saint Mary’s. They comprise the 5 line for today’s projection.
As I wrote last year, in each season where we’ve had both a bracket preview show and an NCAA Tournament, three of the four preview No. 1 seeds ended up on the real bracket’s top line a few weeks later. That pattern continued last year, with again, one of the preview show 2 seeds (Baylor) passing the unfortunate No. 1 (Auburn). Gonzaga, Arizona, and Kansas kept their No. 1’s all the way through Selection Sunday.
Last season, 15 of the 16 teams in the Committee’s reveal ended up on the real bracket’s top four seed lines—matching 2017’s success rate. In 2018, three teams missed out, while four dropped out in 2019 and 2021. 2022 Texas fell from a preview show 4 to a 6 with Arkansas replacing them on the 4 line.
Facts to chew on over the next three weeks. I suspect there will be changes in three weeks’ time, thanks to how unpredictable this season has been.
On to the bracket ...
Text-Only Bracket for Screen Readers and Seed List
- 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 Saturday’s bracket.
Graphics by Chris Dobbertean using logos from either SportsLogos.net, Wikimedia Commons, or the institutions’ websites.
Lowest-ranked NET at-large: USC (56)
Lowest-ranked KenPom at-large: Missouri (62)
Highest-ranked NET exclusion: Utah State (33)
Highest-ranked KenPom exclusion: Utah State (37)
Bids By Conference
23 single-bid conferences
Ins and Outs (3, 1 at-large)
New Entrants: New Mexico, UC Irvine (Big West), Yale (Ivy)
Out For Now: Princeton (Ivy), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), Wisconsin
The Monday and Tuesday Slates
All times are p.m. Eastern unless noted. My choices for the important games are marked in bold.
Monday, February 20
Louisville at Duke, 7 (ESPN)
Oklahoma State at West Virginia, 7 (ESPN2)
Howard at Morgan State, 7:30 (Morgan St. stream)
Kansas at TCU, 9 (ESPN)
Minnesota at Illinois, 9 (BTN)
Cal State Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara, 10 (Spectrum Sportsnet/ESPN+ ($))
UC Irvine at Cal Poly, 10 (ESPN+ ($))
The two Big 12 games are the clear headliners here, with the Cowboys-Mountaineers matchup in Morgantown a huge one for the hosts, who are fading. Their Saturday home loss to Texas Tech (now back on the consideration board) was their third straight.
In the Big West, UC Irvine won at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night, which put the Anteaters a game up on the Gauchos with five to play. Since its a three-game window week for the conference, both take the floor tonight—with Irvine visiting last-place Cal Poly and UCSB hosting 2022 tournament champ Fullerton.
Tuesday, February 21
Villanova at Xavier, 6:30 (FS1)
Tennessee at Texas A&M, 7 (ESPN)
Baylor at Kansas State, 7 (ESPN2)
Miami at Virginia Tech, 7 (ESPNU)
Mississippi State at Missouri, 7 (SECN)
Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7 (ACCN)
VCU at Saint Joseph’s, 7 (NBCS Philadelphia Plus/ESPN+ ($))
Youngstown State at Robert Morris, 7 (ESPN+ ($))
Kent State at Ball State, 7 (ESPN+ ($))
Marquette at Creighton, 8:30 (FS1)
Indiana at Michigan State, 9 (ESPN)
Texas Tech at Oklahoma, 9 (ESPN2)
Georgia at Arkansas, 9 (SECN)
Utah State at Wyoming, 9 (CBSSN)
Iowa State at Texas, 9 (LHN)
San José State at Nevada, 10 (NSN/MWN)
Colorado State at San Diego State, 11 (CBSSN)
Tuesday night’s slate is loaded, particularly early on. There are not only six matchups of teams present in today’s bracket, the other 11 feature at least one team in the field or under consideration.
On Wednesday, I will be back with an updated look at the lock and bubble picture.