Bracketology: Kentucky and Syracuse Battling for No. 1 Overall Seed

Jesse KramerCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2012

Bracketology: Kentucky and Syracuse Battling for No. 1 Overall Seed

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    This bracketology will evaluate teams based on how they have performed up to this point in the season. It will not factor in how they are projected to do in the rest of the season.

    A conference in parentheses next to a team indicates a team that would have an automatic bid as a conference champion. So far, no team has actually earned an automatic bid.

    With the 68-team format, there will be four play-in games. There will be two play-in games for the bottom four at-large teams and two play-in games for the bottom four conference tournament winners who earned automatic bids.

    In the bracket, the winner of the South Region plays the winner of the West Region and the winner of the Midwest Region plays the winner of the East Region.

    The South Region and the West Region hold the overall No. 1 and No. 4 seeds, respectively. The East Region and Midwest Region hold the overall No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.

South Region

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    No. 1 Kentucky (SEC) vs. No. 16 Savannah State (MEAC)/Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

    Kentucky is a lock for one of the top two overall seeds. If the Wildcats win their final two regular season games and then win the SEC tournament, they will be the overall No. 1 seed.

    With a win over Maryland-Eastern Shore or a Norfolk State loss tonight, Savannah State will win the MEAC regular season conference championship outright.

    Mississippi Valley State has won 17 games in a row after a 1-11 start.

    No. 8 Purdue vs. No. 9 Saint Louis

    Purdue clinched its spot in the field of 68 with a win over No. 13 Michigan, its first against a top 25 team all season. 

    Saint Louis rebounded from its rough loss to Rhode Island with a double-digit win over Xavier. The Billikens control their own destiny for second place in the A-10.

    No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 Texas

    UNLV fell out of first place in the Mountain West with a loss at Colorado State last night.

    Texas stayed in the field with a win over Oklahoma last night.

    No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Oral Roberts (Summit)

    Louisville lost a heartbreaker to South Florida on senior night, but the Cardinals road does not stop there—they play No. 2 Syracuse this weekend.

    Oral Roberts enters the Summit League tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Golden Eagles only conference loss this season came to second place South Dakota State on the road.

South Region (Cont.)

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    No. 6 Vanderbilt vs. No. 11 Long Beach State (Big West)

    Vanderbilt had plenty of opportunities for top 25 wins in SEC play, and it finally came through against No. 13 Florida this week with a 77-67 win.

    Long Beach State improved to 15-0 in the Big West with a win over UC Irvine on senior night. The 49ers close the regular season at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

    No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 Davidson (SoCon)

    Baylor has won its last three games to get back into the top 10, but the Bears put the winning streak on the line at Iowa State this weekend.

    Davidson has a great record at 22-7, but the Wildcats must win the SoCon tournament to make the Big Dance.

    No. 7 Temple (A-10) vs. No. 10 Southern Miss

    Temple survived Massachusetts in overtime to stay in first place in the Atlantic 10. As long as the Owls defeat last-place Fordham on Saturday, they will be the No. 1 seed in their conference tournament.

    Southern Miss defeated Rice and Southern Methodist in its last two games to remain in the field. With a win at Marshall on Saturday, the Golden Eagles can essentially be promised a bid to the NCAA tournament.

    No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Montana (Big Sky)

    Marquette had won five games in a row, but its winning streak ended last night with a loss to Cincinnati.

    Montana defeated Weber State on Tuesday to win the Big Sky regular season title.

West Region

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    No. 1 Kansas (Big 12) vs. No. 16 Long Island (NEC)

    Kansas beat out Missouri for a spot as a No. 1 seed by beating the Tigers in overtime last week.

    LIU won the NEC regular season championship despite losing to Monmouth in the final game of the season, so the Blackbirds will play eighth place Sacred Heart in the NEC quarterfinals.

    No. 8 New Mexico vs. No. 9 California

    New Mexico had the chance to get a very good seed in March, but losses to Colorado State and TCU bumped the Lobos back to the No. 8 seed line.

    California will get the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament with a win at Stanford and a Washington loss to either USC or UCLA.

    No. 5 Murray State (OVC) vs. No. 12 Colorado State

    As the No. 1 seed in the OVC tournament, Murray State gets a bye to the semifinals.

    Colorado State sneaks into the field after beating UNLV last night. The Rams now have three wins against the top 25.

    No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt)

    Wisconsin is back on track with wins over Ohio State and Minnesota after losing to Iowa.

    Middle Tennessee lost to Western Kentucky in its final regular season game, but it will still be the top seed in the Sun Belt tournament.

West Region (Cont.)

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    No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 West Virginia

    Creighton finished two games behind Wichita State in the Missouri Valley, so it will be the No. 2 seed in the MVC tournament, playing either Indiana State or Southern Illinois in the quarterfinals.

    West Virginia will try to beat South Florida in order to finish .500 in Big East play. With a win, the Mountaineers would guarantee a finish no worse than ninth.

    No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 14 Iona (MAAC)

    Michigan lost to Purdue last weekend, but the Wolverines are still in good position for a high seed in the tournament.

    Iona won its final four MAAC games down the stretch to finish in first place. The Gaels get a bye to the MAAC quarterfinals and will play either Marist or St. Peter's on Saturday.

    No. 7 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Alabama

    Iowa State fell short of an upset at Missouri, falling to fourth place in the Big 12.

    Alabama stayed in fourth place in the SEC with a win over Auburn last night.

    No. 2 Duke (ACC) vs. No. 15 Valparaiso (Horizon)

    Duke will play North Carolina on Saturday with an ACC regular season conference championship on the line.

    Valparaiso came in first place in the Horizon League at 14-4 and receives a bye to the conference tournament semifinals.

East Region

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    No. 1 Syracuse (Big East) vs. No. 16 Bucknell (Patriot)/Stony Brook (AEC)

    Syracuse already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament, but the Orange can continue to improve its case for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a win over Louisville this weekend.

    Bucknell easily defeated Navy last night to advance to the Patriot League semifinals, where the Bison will play Lafayette.

    Thanks to Vermont's embarrassing loss to Binghamton, Stony Brook was able to win the America East regular season conference title for the second time in three years.

    No. 8 San Diego State (MWC) vs. No. 9 Kansas State

    San Diego State is tied for first place in the Mountain West and has the edge in the tiebreaker. The Aztecs finish the regular season at TCU.

    Kansas State outlasted Texas A&M on the road this week to improve to 9-8 in Big 12 play.

    No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 Oregon

    Indiana defeated No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday for its third win over a top five team this season.

    Oregon currently sneaks into the field, but the Ducks must beat both Colorado and Utah this weekend to keep at-large hopes alive.

    No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Drexel (CAA)

    Florida State picked up a rough loss to Miami (FL) on Sunday, but the Seminoles have one more chance for a key win in the regular season against Virginia tonight.

    Drexel defeated Old Dominion last week to win the CAA regular season title outright.

East Region (Cont.)

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    No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 11 Mississippi State

    Notre Dame is still a lock to make the tournament, but its résumé took a hit with a 61-58 loss at St. John's last week.

    Mississippi State has quickly turned into a bubble team after losing five games in a row. But finally, the Bulldogs ended the losing streak last night with an overtime win at South Carolina.

    No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Akron (MAC)

    Ohio State survived an upset bid from Northwestern last night on Jared Sullinger's game-winning layup with 3.1 seconds remaining.

    Akron fell to Buffalo last night for its first back-to-back losses since early December.

    No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 Seton Hall

    Gonzaga's streak of 11 straight regular season conference championships was snapped this year by St. Mary's, but the Zags are once again a lock for the NCAA tournament.

    Once again, Seton Hall followed up an impressive win with an embarrassing loss. As long as the Pirates beat DePaul and win a game in the Big East tournament, they will be in the field.

    No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 15 Belmont (A-Sun)

    North Carolina took care of business against Maryland to keep pace with Duke. With a win at Duke on Saturday, the Tar Heels will win the ACC regular season conference championship.

    Belmont defeated Jacksonville yesterday to advance to the Atlantic Sun semifinals, where the Bruins will play either East Tennessee State or North Florida.

Midwest Region

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    No. 1 Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville (Big South)

    Michigan State's seven-game winning streak ended with the loss at Indiana. But right now, it is looking like Sunday's matchup with Ohio State could potentially be for a spot as a No. 1 seed.

    UNC-Asheville blew out High Point yesterday in the Big South quarterfinals.

    No. 8 Memphis (C-USA) vs. No. 9 Cincinnati

    Memphis wraps up the regular season at Tulsa on Saturday. With a win, the Tigers will be guaranteed an outright regular season C-USA championship.

    Cincinnati followed up a close loss to South Florida with a double-digit win over No. 7 Marquette.

    No. 5 Florida vs. No. 12 Brigham Young

    Florida dropped down to a No. 5 seed after losing a pair of road games to Georgia and Vanderbilt over the last week.

    Brigham Young will be the No. 3 seed in the WCC tournament after finishing the season at 12-4.

    No. 4 Wichita State (MVC) vs. No. 13 Northwestern/Miami

    Wichita State cracked the top 15 this week after beating Drake over the weekend. The Shockers will play their first MVC tournament game on Friday against Drake or Bradley.

    Northwestern could have sealed the deal on its first-ever NCAA tournament bid, but the Wildcats fell short of Ohio State last night, 75-73.

    Miami just barely stayed in the tournament field after losing to NC State last night. 

Midwest Region (Cont.)

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    No. 6 St. Mary's (WCC) vs. No. 11 Harvard (Ivy)

    St. Mary's won a pair of road games last week to win the WCC regular season championship outright.

    Harvard fell to Penn at home, 55-54, last Friday, trimming the Crimson's first-place lead to a half-game. If both Harvard and Penn win out in the regular season, they will play a one-game playoff to determine which gets the conference's automatic bid.

    No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Nevada (WAC)

    With a win over Marquette on Saturday, Georgetown will be the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament.

    Nevada survived a scare from Fresno State in triple overtime last week to stay two games ahead of New Mexico State in the WAC.

    No. 7 Virginia vs. No. 10 Washington (Pac-12)

    Virginia has struggled as of late, going 2-3 in its last five games. The Cavs will get one more chance for another top 25 win against Florida State tonight.

    Washington remains atop the Pac-12 at 13-3, and it controls its own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

    No. 2 Missouri vs. No. 15 Texas-Arlington (Southland)

    Missouri defeated Iowa State on senior night, clinching the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

    Texas-Arlington continued its run to perfection with a win over Texas A&M-CC last night. The Mavericks are 15-0 in conference play and finish the regular season at Texas-San Antonio.