With just over a week until Selection Sunday the bracket is beginning to take shape.
The Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun, Big South and Missouri Valley conferences will crown its tournament champions over the weekend and give us the first four teams to clinch an automatic bid into the bracket.
Of those four leagues, the Missouri Valley is the only one where a “bid steal” could take place, which would only occur if Wichita State and Illinois State both fail to claim the title. As we discussed last week, Wichita State is in a better position to claim a potential at-large bid than Illinois State
Elsewhere around the country, Duke and North Carolina rematch Saturday and North Carolina has a chance to clinch the ACC regular season championship outright. The Tar Heels are currently sitting on the top line in the bracket, despite their most recent setback at the hands of Virginia.
Another ACC frontrunner took a hit this week when Louisville was upset by Wake Forest. Wake Forest has been squarely on the bubble for some time now, and that win could be the one that pushes the Demon Deacons into the tournament. For now, Wake Forest is projected to be part of the “First Four” play-in games.
As always, the bubble is a fluid situation. Illinois has played its way back into consideration with a late-season rally highlighted by a home victory over Michigan State. TCU’s loss to Kansas State probably eliminated the Frogs from tournament contention. It is really tough to imagine the committee selecting a team with a sub-.500 conference record and 11 conference losses.
In the Big East, Xavier has slid down the seed list thanks to a late-season slump that has seen the Musketeers lose six games in a row. While still boasting solid RPI numbers, Xavier needs to end the regular season with a win and get one in the Big East tournament to feel truly safe. Marquette followed a massive win over Villanova by going 3-5 in its next eight games before beating Xavier on Wednesday. Any combination of two wins the rest of the way should be enough to secure a bid for Marquette.
Stay tuned to @ScoutBrackets on Twitter for the latest on “BubbleWatch” and conference tournament implications.
Teams with projected automatic bids are listed with the conference in (parentheses)
|1. Kansas (Big 12)||1. Villanova (Big East)|
|16. New Orleans (Southland) vs. North Dakota (Big Sky)||16. Mount Saint Mary's (NEC) vs. North Carolina Central (MEAC)|
|8. Wisconsin||8. VCU|
|9. Wichita State||9. Michigan|
|5. Cincinnati||5. Minnesota|
|12. Rhode Island vs. Wake Forest||12. Monmouth (MAAC)|
|4. Duke||4. Florida State|
|13. Belmont (Ohio Valley)||13. Princeton (Ivy)|
|6. Iowa State||6. Maryland|
|11. Illinois State (Missouri Valley)||11. Syracuse vs. Providence|
|3. Butler||3. Florida|
|14. Bucknell (Patriot)||14. Winthrop (Big South)|
|7. Miami (Fl)||7. Dayton (A-10)|
|10. Xavier||10. Michigan State|
|2. UCLA||2. Louisville|
|15. Oakland (Horizon)||15. UNC Greensboro (Southern)|
|1. Gonzaga (WCC)||1. North Carolina (ACC)|
|16. UC Irvine (Big West)||16. Texas Southern (SWAC)|
|8. Virginia Tech||8. South Carolina|
|9. USC||9. Northwestern Wildcats|
|5. West Virginia||5. Virginia|
|12. UNC Wilmington (CAA)||12. UT Arlington (Sun Belt)|
|4. Notre Dame||4. Purdue (Big Ten)|
|13. Nevada (MWC)||13. Vermont (America East)|
|6. SMU (AAC)||6. Creighton|
|11. Seton Hall||11. Middle Tennessee (CUSA)|
|3. Baylor||3. Kentucky (SEC)|
|14. Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)||14. Akron (MAC)|
|7. Oklahoma State||7. Saint Mary's|
|10. Arkansas||10. Marquette|
|2. Oregon (Pac-12)||2. Arizona (Pac-12)|
|15. CSU Bakersfield (WAC)||15. South Dakota (Summit)|