2013 March Madness Field of 68 Projections: Dec. 3

Jordan SchwartzSenior Writer IDecember 3, 2012

2013 March Madness Field of 68 Projections: Dec. 3

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    As the calendar flips to December, the RPI starts to align more with the national polls, making it a more reliable tool when projecting the field of 68.

    As always, I am not trying to guess how teams will finish the year. I am simply seeding them based on their current résumés.

    I like to break teams down into three categories:

    1. Wallflowers are bubble teams because everyone wants to get into the Big Dance, but not all have the guts to ask a girl out onto the dance floor.

    2. Elite teams that are safely in the field are Dancing with a Hottie.

    3. In the middle are the schools that are Dancing with their Sister.

    For two of the past three years, my final bracket projections have been more accurate than those of ESPN's Joe Lunardi, and I had the most accurate projections in the country in 2011.

    I'll begin with the two First Four at-large bid games:

    (12a) St. John's vs. (12b) Miami

    (13a) Ole Miss vs. (13b) Temple

    First four teams out: Maryland, Texas A&M, California, Texas

    The projections are presented in slideshow format, with each major conference receiving its own slide. First up is the ACC.

ACC (5)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (No. 1 seed)

    Dancing with their Sister: Virginia Tech (7), NC State (8), North Carolina (10)

    Wallflowers: Miami (12b), Maryland (first team out)

    You never really know how good an undefeated team is until it beats someone good, and that's exactly what 7-0 Virginia Tech did Saturday with a 10-point win over Oklahoma State.

    NC State hasn't beaten a team in the top 100 and whiffed on both of its opportunities against Oklahoma State and Michigan.

    North Carolina was annihilated at Indiana on Tuesday and remains without a top-65 win, but with a loss to Butler.

    Miami got itself in the tournament conversation Wednesday with a win over Michigan State, and that loss at Florida Gulf Coast earlier this season isn't looking that bad considering the Eagles are 42 in the RPI and are on target to earn a 12 seed as the automatic bid out of the Atlantic Sun.

    Maryland was another ACC squad to benefit from its game against a Big Ten opponent last week. The Terps crushed Northwestern on the road and followed that up with another nice win over George Mason. They're right on the doorstep of the tournament.

    Florida State, on the other hand, has dropped off the radar following back-to-back home losses to Minnesota and Mercer.

Big East (7)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (2), Louisville (2), Cincinnati (3), Georgetown (4)

    Dancing with their Sister: Pittsburgh (6), Notre Dame (9)

    Wallflowers: St. John's (12a)

    The fact that Notre Dame fans rushed the court after beating Kentucky (a team the Irish were favored to defeat) looked even worse following the Wildcats' subsequent home loss to Baylor. While beating UK right now is not a great win, it's still a solid victory and improved the Irish's good resume.

    Marquette got absolutely embarrassed in the SEC/Big East Challenge on Thursday, losing by 33 to Florida. The Eagles have also lost to Butler and remain without a top-50 victory.

Big Ten (6)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Indiana (1), Michigan (1), Ohio State (2), Illinois (3), Minnesota (4)

    Dancing with their Sister: Michigan State (5)

    Illinois is undefeated, has top-50 wins over Butler and Georgia Tech and is ranked fourth in the RPI.

    Wisconsin falls out of the field after losing at home to Virginia. The Badgers are 5-3 with an RPI of 94.

    Northwestern is also gone following consecutive home losses to Maryland and Illinois-Chicago.

Big 12 (5)

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    Dancing with their Sister: Kansas (5), Kansas State (7), Oklahoma State (8)

    Wallflowers: Baylor (10), Oklahoma (11), Texas (fourth team out)

    Oklahoma State takes a step back after losing at Virginia Tech, 81-71, on Saturday.

    Baylor pulled off a shocker, snapping Kentucky's 55-game home winning streak on Saturday, and will hope that victory increases in value as the Wildcats improve this season.

    Let's welcome Oklahoma to the party. The Sooners are 6-1 with a top-40 RPI.

Pac 12 (3)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Arizona (2), Oregon (4)

    Dancing with their Sister: Colorado (7)

    Wallflowers: California (third team out)

    Oregon is 7-1; its only loss came to undefeated Cincinnati. The Ducks own a win at UNLV, and their RPI is 29.

    Colorado suffered its first setback of the season, a 76-69 loss at Wyoming over the weekend. The Buffaloes are still in good shape with wins over Baylor and Murray State. This week, they face two tough challenges against Colorado State and Kansas.

    California is out of the field after a 25-point shellacking at Wisconsin, and UCLA follows the Bears out, losing to San Diego State for its third loss of the young season.

SEC (5)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Florida (1)

    Dancing with their Sister: Alabama (5), Missouri (6), Kentucky (9)

    Wallflowers: LSU (11), Texas A&M (second team out)

    So, Kentucky had a rough week. First, the Wildcats lost a game they were favored to lose at Notre Dame, and then they were upset at home by Baylor, ending their 55-game home win streak. UK is 4-3, does not have a top-60 win and should not be anywhere near the Top 25 right now.

    LSU doesn't have any great wins, but the Tigers are 5-0 with four top-100 victories.

    You never want to lose the ugliest game of the season. Tennessee did just that with a 37-36 loss at Georgetown on Friday.

Mountain West (6)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: New Mexico (3)

    Dancing with their Sister: UNLV (5), Colorado State (6), San Diego State (6), Wyoming (7), Boise State (8)

    The Mountain West is stacked this season. New Mexico and Colorado State are undefeated, UNLV's only loss is to 7-1 Oregon and San Diego State has only been bested by undefeated Syracuse.

    But Wyoming had the best week, defeating previously unbeaten Colorado to improve to 7-0 against Division I competition.

    Boise State wasn't far behind, crushing previously undefeated Creighton on the road to move to 6-1, with its only loss coming to Michigan State.

Atlantic 10 (6)

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    Dancing with their Sister: VCU (8), Temple (9)

    Wallflowers: Xavier (10), Charlotte (11), Butler (11), Saint Joseph's (13b)

    Like the Mountain West, the Atlantic 10 has been an impressive mid-major thus far, ranking seventh in the RPI, ahead of the SEC.

    Charlotte and Temple are two of the 20 remaining undefeated teams in the country, VCU played tough with Wichita State, Duke and Missouri, and Butler has a top-10 RPI and strength of schedule.

    On the other hand, Saint Louis' loss at Washington on Wednesday drops the Billikens out of the field, and Dayton is way off the radar after falling at home to Weber State that same night.

Other Conferences (5)

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    Dancing with a Hottie: Gonzaga (3), Wichita State (4), Creighton (9)

    Dancing with their Sister: Murray State (10)

    Wallflowers: Memphis (12)

    Creighton took a major step back, losing by 13 at home to Boise State in the Missouri Valley/Mt. West Challenge.

    Ohio is out of at-large consideration for the time being thanks to an 84-76 loss at Robert Morris on Saturday.

Automatic Bids

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    No. 12 seeds: Bryant, Florida Gulf Coast

    No. 13 seeds: Illinois-Chicago, Stephen F. Austin, George Mason

    No. 14 seeds: Albany, Lehigh, Louisiana Tech, Ohio

    No. 15 seeds: North Dakota State, Middle Tennessee, Charleston, Canisius

    No. 16 seeds: Cal State Northridge, Norfolk State, Prairie View vs Cornell, Radford vs Sacramento State