Editor’s note: Bracketology has been updated with the latest NCAA tournament projections through games played on March 16.
Selection Sunday is here.
In one of the closest battles for No. 1 seeds in years, Tennessee secured the final top seed over Gonzaga following an SEC tournament semifinal win over Kentucky.
The ‘Zags lost in the West Coast Conference tournament final to Saint Mary’s last week. Despite only three losses and the second-best score in the NET, the NCAA’s new ranking replacing the RPI, their lack of Quadrant 1 (top-30 home, top-75 road) victories ultimately cost them a top seed. Tennessee had nine compared to Gonzaga’s four Q1 wins, along with a much better strength of schedule.
And for the first year since 2009, three No. 1 seeds will be named from one conference — the ACC. Duke (29-5) will be the top overall seed, followed by Virginia (29-3) and North Carolina (27-6).
A LOOK AT THE BUBBLE TEAMS: These 10 are sweating it out today
A wild week of conference tournament action ended up hurting teams on the bubble. Bid thieves Oregon and Saint Louis spoiled the fate of several teams by winning the Pac-12 and Atlantic 10 tournaments. Both of those teams wouldn’t have made the field had they not won their league’s automatic bids, creating two fewer spots for fringe teams.
At the bubble line, expect it to be a close call for mid-major Belmont, a team with a strong profile from the Ohio Valley Conference but just two Q1 wins to go with a top-75 non-conference strength of schedule. Also, expect Arizona State to be sweating it out. The Sun Devils lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinal and could be undermined by a horrid year for that conference as well as two Quadrant 4 losses. The separation between “last four in” and “first four out” is as close as it’s ever been this year.
► No. 1 seeds: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee
► Last four in: Temple, Belmont, Ohio State, St. Johns
► First Four out: Arizona State, UNC-Greensboro, Alabama, North Carolina State
• Others considered for at-large bid (in no particular order): Indiana, Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown, Clemson, Lipscomb, Texas, Furman.
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), SEC (7), Big East (4), American (4), Mountain West (2), Atlantic 10 (2), Ohio Valley (2), Pac-12 (2) West Coast (2).
Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (21 total): Vermont (America East), Liberty (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), Gardner-Webb (Big South) UC Irvine (Big West), Northeastern (CAA), Old Dominion (Conference USA), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Yale (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), Buffalo (MAC), N.C. Central (MEAC), Bradley (MVC), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast), Colgate (Patriot), Wofford (Southern), Abilene Christian (Southland), Prairie View A&M (SWAC), Wofford (Southern), North Dakota State (Summit), Georgia State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC).
- Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama.
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Note: Mostly all statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NCAA’s new NET rankings are also considered; that was rolled out at the beginning of 2018-19.
About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his sixth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past five March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.