Bracketology for Jan. 13: Projecting the March Madness Field

Jordan SchwartzSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2014

Bracketology for Jan. 13: Projecting the March Madness Field

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Four undefeated teams remain as we enter mid-January. Which will be the last one standing?

    The good news is that in college basketball, one loss does not end your national championship hopes. Let's take a look at the latest bracket projections.

    As always, I am not predicting how teams will finish the season; however, I am simply bracketing them based on what they have done up to this point. I like to break teams down into three categories:

    1. "Wallflowers" are bubble teams. Everyone wants to get into the Big Dance, but not all of them have the guts to ask a girl out onto the dance floor.
    2. A school in the middle is "dancing with its sister."
    3. An elite team that is safely in is "dancing with a hottie." 

    Last four in: Tennessee, Stanford, California, Southern Miss.

    First six out: Arizona State, Boise State, Minnesota, SMU, Texas, Washington.

    The projections are presented in slideshow format, with each major conference receiving its own slide.

ACC (6)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Syracuse (No. 1 seed)

    Dancing with its sister: Pittsburgh (6), Virginia (6), Duke (8)

    Wallflowers: Florida State (9), North Carolina (9)

    Virginia moves up following wins over Wake Forest and at NC State. The Cavs have won three straight and five of six to climb to 22nd in the RPI with a 12th-ranked schedule strength. They have wins over SMU and Florida State, as well as a 6-4 mark against the top 100.

    Duke continues its slide following a stunning 13-point loss at Clemson. The Blue Devils (RPI 32, SOS 38) are 0-2 in true road games and just 3-3 versus the top 100.

    Florida State has righted the ship after a 5-3 start. The Seminoles have won six of seven to move into the top 30 of both the RPI and strength-of-schedule rankings. All four of their losses have come to top-50 teams.

    North Carolina lost at home to Miami last week for its fifth setback versus an unranked opponent, but what might have been more surprising was that the Tar Heels lost at Syracuse three days later because UNC had been 3-0 versus ranked teams. OK, it wasn't that surprising, but the Heels need to start winning some games or else they will miss the NCAA tournament despite wins over Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky.

    It was a bad week for Notre Dame, which not only lost to NC State and Georgia Tech, but saw the value in its win over Duke slip a bit as well. The Irish are off the radar for now.

Big East (4)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Villanova (2)

    Dancing with its sister: Creighton (5)

    Wallflowers: Xavier (9), Georgetown (11)

    Creighton scored a nice win over Xavier on Sunday to run its win streak to nine and climb to 17th in the RPI.

    The loss drops Xavier a bit, but the Musketeers are still in good shape at 28th in RPI, 17th in schedule strength and 6-4 versus the top 100.

    Georgetown lost at Providence on Wednesday, but the Hoyas find themselves in the field following a victory at Butler on Saturday. Georgetown is 46th in the RPI and holds two top-50 wins over Kansas State and VCU.

Big Ten (6)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Wisconsin (1), Michigan State (2), Ohio State (4)

    Dancing with its sister: Iowa (6), Illinois (8)

    Wallflowers: Michigan (10), Minnesota (third team out)

    Michigan State rises to a No. 2 seed after a strong week that included wins over Ohio State and Minnesota. The 15-1 Spartans have reeled off eight in a row to climb to ninth in the RPI, and they are 4-0 against the top 50.

    Ohio State, meanwhile, drops all the way down to a No. 4 seed following losses to Michigan State and Iowa, the last of which came at home. The Buckeyes are just 16th in the RPI and 1-2 versus the top 50.

    Illinois dropped a pair of games last week. The first was an understandable setback at Wisconsin, but the second saw the Illini score just 43 points in an ugly game at Northwestern.

    Let's welcome Michigan back to the field. The Wolverines got into the RPI top 50 with a victory at Nebraska on Thursday. Their 4-3 mark against the top 100 and 5-3 record in road/neutral games are positives on the resume.

    Michigan takes Minnesota's spot after the Gophers lost their fourth game. Minnesota is just 1-3 against the top 50 and 2-4 versus the top 100, including a home loss to the Wolverines. 

Big 12 (6)

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Dancing with a hottie: Iowa State (2), Kansas (3), Oklahoma State (4), Baylor (4)

    Dancing with its sister: Oklahoma (6)

    Wallflowers: Kansas State (10), Texas (fifth team out)

    Iowa State suffered its first loss of the season—at Oklahoma—on Saturday, and while that did slide the Cyclones down the S-curve a bit, it didn't knock them off the No. 2 line. They are still fifth in the RPI, 4-1 against the top 50 and 6-1 away from home.

    Kansas picked up two nice wins last week, at Oklahoma and home versus Kansas State. The Jayhawks are second in the RPI and first in strength of schedule in addition to having an impressive six top-50 wins on their resume.

    Baylor slides after losing by 15 at Iowa State on Tuesday. The Bears are still without a true road win.

    Oklahoma's win over Iowa State is far more important than the Sooners' loss to Kansas earlier in the week. OU is top 25 in RPI and strength of schedule.

    Texas had an opportunity to get itself in the field but fell short at Oklahoma State on Wednesday. The Longhorns' computer numbers are weak (RPI 57, SOS 71), and they are 0-4 versus the top 50.

Pac-12 (6)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Arizona (1), Colorado (3), Oregon (4)

    Wallflower: UCLA (10), Stanford (11), California (12), Arizona State (first team out), Washington (sixth team out)

    Rough week for Oregon, which lost back-to-back home games to California and Stanford, running its losing streak to three after starting the season 13-0.

    That win improves Stanford to 3-1 in true road games, and it was the Cardinal's second top-50 victory after winning at UConn on Dec. 18.

    California gets into the field thanks to a win at Oregon as well. The Bears have won four straight and are 34th in the RPI.

    Arizona State got a nice win at USC but couldn't complete the SoCal sweep when it fell at UCLA, and so the Sun Devils are still right outside the field. Their 116th-ranked schedule strength is dragging down the resume along with an 0-2 mark versus the top 50.

    Washington is at least on the radar this week thanks to a win over Colorado, but the Huskies' computer numbers (RPI 80, SOS 78) are still not good enough, and those two sub-100 losses aren't helping.

SEC (4)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Florida (3)

    Dancing with its sister: Kentucky (5), Missouri (7)

    Wallflowers: Tennessee (11)

    Missouri slips a bit after an emotional home loss to Georgia, just a few days after Bulldogs coach Mark Fox's father passed away. 

    Tennessee didn't do itself any favors losing at home to Texas A&M, but the Vols still have top-30 wins over Xavier and Virginia, as well as the 25th-ranked schedule strength.

    LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss are all off the radar following losses to Tennessee, A&M, Florida and Mississippi State.

Mountain West (2)

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    Dancing with a hottie: San Diego State (3)

    Dancing with its sister: New Mexico (7)

    Wallflowers: Boise State (second team out)

    San Diego State moves up to a No. 3 seed after picking up two more wins last week that increased the Aztecs' win streak to 13 games.

    New Mexico is streaking as well. The Lobos have won five in a row and are ranked 27th in the RPI.

    Boise State, however, is out of the field after losses to SDSU and Wyoming. The Broncos are down to 64th in the RPI and are a woeful 0-5 versus the top 100.

Atlantic 10 (5)

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    Dancing with a hottie: UMass (2)

    Dancing with its sister: George Washington (7)

    Wallflowers: VCU (9), Saint Louis (10), Dayton (11)

    UMass continues to win and move up the seed lines. The Minutemen are third in RPI, fourth in schedule strength, 9-1 versus the top 100 and 7-1 away from home.

    George Washington slides after losing at La Salle.

    Dayton had a great chance to pick up a quality win, playing an early 11 a.m. game at home against St. Louis on Saturday, but the Flyers whiffed on the opportunity, falling 67-59.

American Athletic (4)

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    Dancing with its sister: Memphis (5), Connecticut (5), Cincinnati (7), Louisville (8)

    Wallflowers: SMU (fourth team out)

    UConn got itself going in the right direction with a nice nonconference win over Harvard last week.

    Every year it seems like there is a team that stays in the top 25 all season despite not beating anyone of significance. In 2013-14, that team is Louisville.

    The Cardinals are 14th in the coaches poll and 18th in the AP following a home loss to Memphis and zero wins over teams ranked in the top 39 of the RPI. Wins over Southern Miss and SMU really don't move the needle that much. 

    The Cards' strength of schedule is also an underwhelming 92nd.

Other Conferences (4)

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    Dancing with a hottie: Wichita State (1)

    Dancing with its sister: Gonzaga (8)

    Wallflowers: Saint Mary's (11), Harvard (12), Southern Miss (12)

    Let's welcome Wichita State to the top line. The Shockers are one of four remaining unbeatens, 8-0 away from home, 2-0 versus the top 50 and 5-0 against the top 100.

    Gonzaga's loss at Portland reveals just how lacking the Bulldogs' resume really is. They don't have a single win against the top 50.

    The West Coast Conference took another hit when Saint Mary's fell at home to Santa Clara. The Gaels are barely holding onto a spot, thanks mostly to a 5-1 record against the top 100.

    Harvard's loss at UConn doesn't leave the Crimson much room for error because they don't play anyone of significance the rest of the way.

    Southern Miss loses its automatic bid from Conference USA after falling at Tulsa on Sunday, but the Golden Eagles stay in the field by grabbing the final at-large spot. The 41st-ranked RPI and 8-3 record in road/neutral games are the only bright spots on this resume, but remember, Middle Tennessee somehow made the tournament last year.

Automatic Bids

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    No. 12 Seeds: Green Bay, New Mexico State

    No. 13 Seeds: Ohio, Manhattan, Belmont, Mercer

    No. 14 Seeds: Louisiana Tech, Boston Univ, SFA, Delaware

    No. 15 Seeds: UC Irvine, Georgia State, IPFW, Stony Brook

    No. 16 Seeds: Northern Colorado, Davidson, Norfolk St vs. Southern, Radford vs. Wagner


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