It's highly unlikely that Syracuse will be ranked No. 1 in the nation next week after losing to Boston College on Wednesday night, but the Orange remain a No. 1 seed in the projected bracket with just 23 days remaining until Selection Sunday.
For the third consecutive week, Syracuse is joined by Arizona, Florida and Wichita State on the top line.
UCLA was the biggest positive mover in the past week, jumping from a No. 6 seed to a No. 3 seed after blowout wins over Utah and California.
There weren't any teams that suffered huge drops in the past seven days, but VCU did get bumped from a No. 6 seed down to a No. 8 after coming up just short against Saint Louis. That was also largely due to the increased stocks of teams like North Carolina and Colorado.
In recapping the rest of the projected field, we'll start at the bottom by looking at the last five teams to be included and excluded from the field. We will also take a look at five teams that aren't quite deserving of being in the tournament discussion but are creeping onto the radar.
After that, we'll present each seeded region, including the subregional locations in which each pod would be played and some commentary on select teams. Then it's the ranking of the No. 1 seeds, followed by a summary of the entire field broken up by conference.
Win-loss records on the following slides exclude games played against opponents not in D-I and are current through the start of play on Friday, Feb. 21. All Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings (via ESPN) and KenPom (KP) rankings (via KenPom.com) are current through the start of play on Thursday, Feb 20.
Last Team In: Oklahoma State (16-10, RPI: 47, KP: 31)
What to do with the Cowboys? They have lost seven straight games and are currently 4-9 in Big 12 play with games still to come against Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State. The computer numbers are still strong, but a 3-9 record vs. RPI Top 50 isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for inclusion as an at-large bid.
Fortunately for Oklahoma State, teams on the outside aren't exactly playing their way in. Providence blew a golden opportunity against Villanova on Wednesday night while Richmond was blowing a home game against George Washington. Both Georgetown and Southern Miss have been slaughtered twice in the past week.
With those serving as some of the first teams out of the field, Oklahoma State doesn't look so bad. But if the Cowboys' loss total gets up to 12 or 13, it'll be tough to keep them in the field, regardless of how much adversity they have gone through in the past two months.
Second-to-Last: Minnesota (16-10, RPI: 43, KP: 50)
Illinois isn't your average last-place major-conference team, but losing at home by double digits to the Illini was a big red flag for the Golden Gophers.
If we marginally discount their home wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin—since they occurred when those teams were already in a tailspin—what exactly have they done to earn a bid? Minnesota played just four nonconference games against the RPI Top 150, going 2-2 with wins over Richmond and Florida State.
Minnesota's next three games are at Ohio State, vs. Iowa and at Michigan. If the Golden Gophers don't win at least two of those games, they'll likely be on the wrong side of the bubble heading into conference tournament play.
Third-to-Last: Tennessee (15-10, RPI: 52, KP: 25)
The Volunteers are in the Top 25 in the KenPom rankings in very large part due to their 35-point win over Virginia back on Dec. 30. If not for that game to hang their hat on, this team probably wouldn't even be close to the field.
They have six losses in SEC play, including a road loss to Vanderbilt and a home loss to Texas A&M. Wednesday night's dominant win over Georgia was helpful, but they're still walking on a tight rope. Should they suffer a loss in their next four games (against Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt or Auburn), they'll be on the outside looking in.
Fourth-to-Last: California (17-9, RPI: 50, KP: 52)
How long will the Golden Bears be able to rest on their laurels of that buzzer-beating win over Arizona?
Overall, they have nine losses and a 3-6 record vs. RPI Top 50. With each loss, it's getting more difficult to argue why California is more deserving than teams like Dayton, Georgetown or Arkansas. And with games still remaining against Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, it might just be a matter of time before we stop making that argument.
Fifth-to-Last: St. John's (18-9, RPI: 54, KP: 30)
St. John's has a resume almost identical to California's, except the Red Storm have won nine of their last 10 games, including the all-important win over Creighton and a pair of recent wins by more than 20 points against Georgetown and Butler.
They'll likely need to close out the regular season with a 3-1 record to remain in the field. Considering their next game is at Villanova, that means they'll need to beat Xavier, DePaul and Marquette to feel safe upon entering the Big East tournament.
First Team Out: Brigham Young (18-10, RPI: 42, KP: 56)
Thursday night's win over Gonzaga was absolutely massive.
It's hard to believe that an 11-loss team (assuming a loss in the conference tournament to keep them in the at-large discussion) from the West Coast Conference could actually make the tournament, but the bubble is so weak that the Cougars might be able pull it off.
They only have two regular-season games remaining. Wins over San Diego and Portland won't exactly do anything to help their profile, but as long as they can avoid another regular-season loss, they'll be one of the most-debated teams in the days leading up to Selection Sunday.
Second Team Out: Providence (17-10, RPI: 60, KP: 57)
It's painful to penalize a team for losing in double overtime to Villanova, but moral victories don't go too far with the selection committee.
Aside from a pair of wins over DePaul, Providence has been winless for nearly a month—throwing away a great January with a woeful February. Anything short of a 4-0 finish—which would include a road win over Creighton—might not be enough for the Friars.
Third Team Out: Dayton (18-8, RPI: 57, KP: 58)
After closing out the month of January with losses in five out of six games, Dayton has worked its way back into the bubble discussion by opening February with five straight wins.
Saturday's game against Duquesne shouldn't be a problem, but the Flyers finish the regular season with games against Saint Joseph's, Massachusetts, Saint Louis and Richmond.
The optimist will view that stretch as a superb opportunity for them to play their way into the field. The realists among us will see those games as likely causes for Dayton's eventual trip to the NIT.
Fourth Team Out: Southern Miss (20-5, RPI: 40, KP: 76)
We haven't had a reason to really analyze the Golden Eagles until now. Prior to a pair of ugly losses against UAB and Middle Tennessee, they were the presumed winner of the Conference USA tournament. But now that we're projecting MTSU to receive that automatic bid, it's time to ask whether Southern Miss has what it takes for an at-large bid.
It certainly doesn't look promising.
The Golden Eagles played just two nonconference games against the RPI Top 100, barely defeating North Dakota State and getting destroyed by Louisville. They do have five wins against teams in the RPI 101-150 range, but those are the types of wins that inflate a team's RPI without really proving an ability to win a tournament game.
Should they close out the regular season on a five-game winning streak, they'll become a little more interesting. For now, though, it looks like they'll need some help to make the field as an at-large.
Fifth Team Out: Nebraska (15-10, RPI: 51, KP: 61)
The Cornhuskers only play one more game against a team that is currently above .500 in Big Ten play—the season finale at home against Wisconsin. Whether that's good or bad news depends on your perspective.
If they close out the season with a 4-1 record to get to 11-7 in the Big Ten, they would be pretty tough to ignore. However, it'll also be difficult to ignore the fact that their only nonconference RPI Top 100 win came against Georgia—and there's certainly no guarantee that Georgia will still be in the RPI Top 100 come Selection Sunday.
Nebraska probably needs at least one more marquee victory to win over the selection committee.
Richmond (17-9, RPI: 45, KP: 70)
Richmond just keeps bouncing in and out of the picture. In six chances, the Spiders have yet to win a game away from home against the RPI Top 125. They had better fix that problem soon, because without a win at Dayton in the season finale and/or a deep run in the A-10 tournament, they'll barely even be an afterthought on Selection Sunday.
Boise State (15-9, RPI: 53, KP: 63)
The Broncos are 3-9 vs. RPI Top 125 and have six losses against the Mountain West. Other than avoiding horrendous losses, I'm not entirely sure what they've done to deserve a middling computer profile, but it's enough to keep them under consideration.
The road trip to Wyoming on March 1 will either move them closer to the field or knock them out for good.
Arkansas (17-9, RPI: 65, KP: 53)
If the SEC is going to send a fifth team to the tournament—and that's a pretty big "if"—it would most likely be the Razorbacks. They have struggled in conference play, but nonconference wins over SMU, Minnesota and Clemson should hold some weight if they decide to pull it together down the stretch.
Georgetown (15-11, RPI: 59, KP: 60)
There aren't many bubble teams with as many remaining opportunities as Georgetown. The Hoyas still play Xavier, Marquette, Creighton and Villanova before the Big East tournament.
Of course, they have already lost once this season against each of those teams, so they might just be the final nails in the coffin.
Indiana State (19-6, RPI: 58, KP: 87)
The Sycamores only have one win over the RPI Top 100—a home win over Belmont on Dec. 28—but a minimal number of losses and a respectable RPI is keeping them on the fringe of the discussion.
They close out the season with games against Missouri State (RPI: 114), Illinois State (RPI: 125) and Northern Iowa (RPI: 118). A trio of wins would put them at 9-5 vs. RPI Top 150. Should they pull that off before losing in the finals of the Missouri Valley tournament to Wichita State, it just might be enough.
No. 1 Syracuse (25-1, RPI: 6, KP: 9) vs. No. 16 Robert Morris (NEC auto bid, RPI: 135, KP: 146) / Weber State (Big Sky auto bid, RPI: 179, KP: 166)
No. 8 Massachusetts (20-5, RPI: 17, KP: 43) vs. No. 9 Southern Methodist (21-6, RPI: 46, KP: 28)
San Antonio, Texas
No. 4 Saint Louis (23-2, RPI: 13, KP: 19) vs. No. 13 Iona (MAAC auto bid, RPI: 85, KP: 85)
No. 5 Iowa State (20-5, RPI: 9, KP: 26) vs. No. 12 Harvard (Ivy auto bid, RPI: 56, KP: 44)
No. 3 Cincinnati (24-3, RPI: 14, KP: 20) vs. No. 14 Minnesota / Tennessee (Last five in)
No. 6 Ohio State (21-6, RPI: 15, KP: 14) vs. No. 11 Baylor (15-9, RPI: 44, KP: 45)
No. 2 Duke (21-6, RPI: 8, KP: 3) vs. No. 15 Georgia State (Sun Belt auto bid, RPI: 101, KP: 80)
No. 7 Memphis (19-6, RPI: 34, KP: 33) vs. No. 10 Oregon (17-8, RPI: 38, KP: 35)
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the East region is that both Oregon and Baylor are fairly comfortably back in the field after several weeks in the "Last Five In" or "First Five Out" sections. Between Jan. 5 and Feb. 8, the Bears and Ducks were a combined 4-16 and plummeting out of control. But because they played so well in the first seven weeks of the season, their computer profiles never quite buried them.
Baylor has won its last three games, including a pair of do-or-die overtime games at home against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Though the Bears are still well below .500 in conference play, they have afforded themselves a little bit of wiggle room in advance of upcoming road games against West Virginia, Texas and Kansas State.
Oregon's wins over Oregon State and Washington weren't nearly as luxurious as Baylor's, but they were wins nonetheless. The Ducks still have their work cut out for them with a road game against UCLA and a home game against Arizona still remaining, but they should be dancing if they can close out the regular season with a 3-2 record.
Southern Methodist has dropped two seed lines in the past week after losing to Temple and struggling to win a home game against Houston. The Mustangs are quite safely in the field for now, but that might change if they don't win at least one of their remaining games against Connecticut, Louisville and Memphis. Their 21-6 record doesn't look nearly as great once you realize that 15 of their wins—and two of their losses—came against teams outside the RPI Top 150.
If the Buckeyes end up getting a No. 6 seed, they might be the best No. 6 seed in NCAA tournament history. If they're able to exact revenge on Michigan State, Minnesota and Penn State in the final two weeks of the season, I could still see them climbing at least as high as a No. 4 seed before the Big Ten tournament begins.
Saint Louis doesn't quite have the computer profile to move up another seed line just yet. If the Billikens plan to run the table in the A-10, though, three of their four best wins of the season are still forthcoming. They have won their last three games by a total of eight points, so that might be an unrealistic expectation. Still, if Saint Louis finishes the regular season with a 28-2 record, it would have a really strong case for a No. 2 seed.
Despite the loss to North Carolina on Thursday night—not a bad loss by any means—Duke has done enough over the past month to remain a No. 2 seed. A home loss to Syracuse on Saturday would be a different story, though.
St. Louis, Mo.
No. 1 Wichita State (27-0, RPI: 10, KP: 11) vs. No. 16 Southern (SWAC auto bid, RPI: 199, KP: 205) / High Point (Big South auto bid, RPI: 184, KP: 255)
No. 8 Oklahoma (19-7, RPI: 27, KP: 36) vs. No. 9 George Washington (20-6, RPI: 32, KP: 38)
No. 4 Kentucky (20-6, RPI: 11, KP: 15) vs. No. 13 Stephen F. Austin (Southland auto bid, RPI: 76, KP: 65)
No. 5 Iowa (19-6, RPI: 30, KP: 6) vs. No. 12 St. John's (Last five in)
No. 3 Wisconsin (21-5, RPI: 5, KP: 13) vs. No. 14 California / Oklahoma State (Last five in)
No. 6 North Carolina (19-7, RPI: 26, KP: 22) vs. No. 11 Xavier (18-8, RPI: 49, KP: 39)
St. Louis, Mo.
No. 2 Kansas (20-6, RPI: 1, KP: 10) vs. No. 15 Vermont (America East auto bid, RPI: 116, KP: 64)
No. 7 Pittsburgh (20-6, RPI: 33, KP: 16) vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph's (18-7, RPI: 39, KP: 68)
Welcome to the region of doom. Any of the top six seeds in this region could advance to the Final Four without anyone being surprised.
Kansas has lost too many games to be a No. 1 seed at this point in time, but the Jayhawks are still one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Arlington. They are currently 10-6 vs. RPI Top 50. Wichita State is 2-0 vs. RPI Top 50. Let the debate begin.
Wisconsin was really struggling there in the latter half of January, but the Badgers have turned the corner as of late. This isn't necessarily a suggestion that Wisconsin will make a deep run, but keep in mind that Louisville underwent a losing streak in late January last year before winning it all.
Kentucky is 7-6 vs. RPI Top 70 and 0-3 vs. RPI Top 30. It feels like the Wildcats are simultaneously underrated and overrated as a No. 4 seed.
There are three teams who have yet to lose a game to a team outside the RPI Top 20: Villanova, Saint Louis and Iowa. The Hawkeyes do have six losses, but they have all been against great teams. The six losses are also by a combined 29 points.
Between the number of losses and the fact that they haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2006, it might be tempting to pencil in the Hawkeyes for an early exit. Just because it's tempting doesn't mean it's a good idea.
Then there's Pittsburgh. The Panthers are similar to the Hawkeyes in that they don't have any bad losses, and have even suffered their six losses by a combined 30 points. But at least Iowa has shown an ability to beat a quality team once in a while. Pittsburgh has just one RPI Top 50 win (vs. Stanford, RPI: 48), and it came nearly three months ago. There's no rational reason to trust Pittsburgh to do anything in the tournament.
No. 1 Florida (24-2, RPI: 3, KP: 4) vs. No. 16 UC Irvine (Big West auto bid, RPI: 123, KP: 89)
No. 8 VCU (20-6, RPI: 21, KP: 24) vs. No. 9 Arizona State (19-7, RPI: 31, KP: 32)
No. 4 Michigan State (22-5, RPI: 19, KP: 18) vs. No. 13 Mercer (Atlantic Sun auto bid, RPI: 72, KP: 83)
No. 5 Louisville (22-4, RPI: 35, KP: 5) vs. No. 12 Green Bay (Horizon auto bid, RPI: 63, KP: 59)
No. 3 Virginia (22-5, RPI: 16, KP: 8) vs. No. 14 Delaware (Colonial auto bid, RPI: 65, KP: 106)
No. 6 Connecticut (21-5, RPI: 25, KP: 21) vs. No. 11 Toledo (MAC auto bid, RPI: 29, KP: 93)
No. 2 Villanova (23-3, RPI: 4, KP: 7) vs. No. 15 Davidson (SoCon auto bid, RPI: 154, KP: 145)
No. 7 Colorado (20-7, RPI: 23, KP: 55) vs. No. 10 Missouri (19-7, RPI: 36, KP: 47)
The time has come to find out what Louisville is all about. The Cardinals have won their last five games by an average of 26 points per game, but those games were against the bottom half of the AAC. They're supposed to blow out those teams. But they have road games against Cincinnati, SMU and Memphis coming up before finishing the season at home against Connecticut.
Louisville probably deserves better than a No. 5 seed, and it will get a chance to earn it over the next two weeks.
If these seedings actually did hold to form, though, wouldn't Michigan State vs. Louisville be the most incredible Round of 32 pairing of all time? (Would Green Bay even allow it to happen?)
Villanova has certainly had its problems with Creighton, but the Wildcats are playing very well against the rest of the world. They have 11 RPI Top-100 wins, and seven of those have come away from home.
It's still hard to believe, but Virginia is tied for first place in the ACC. Moreover, the Cavaliers will almost certainly win the conference outright if they are able to protect home court against Syracuse on March 1. People have argued over the past few years that winning the Big Ten regular-season title is as close as it gets to an automatic No. 1 seed. What would an ACC title net Virginia? A No. 1 seed isn't out of the question.
Colorado just won't seem to go away. After beating Arizona State on Wednesday night, the Buffaloes have now won five out of six, and have a huge home game against Arizona coming up on Saturday night. Wasn't this team supposed to fall apart without Spencer Dinwiddie?
Last, but not least, let's welcome Missouri back to the tournament field. The Tigers haven't been winning in convincing fashion, but at least they have won three straight games. As long as they can avoid a disastrous loss over their next four games—insert your own Frank Haith comment here—they should be dancing in March.
San Diego, Calif.
No. 1 Arizona (24-2, RPI: 2, KP: 1) vs. No. 16 North Carolina Central (MEAC auto bid, RPI: 124, KP: 105)
No. 8 New Mexico (20-5, RPI: 28, KP: 40) vs. No. 9 Kansas State (18-8, RPI: 37, KP: 37)
San Antonio, Texas
No. 4 San Diego State (21-2, RPI: 20, KP: 23) vs. No. 13 North Dakota State (Summit auto bid, RPI: 41, KP: 77)
No. 5 Michigan (18-7, RPI: 18, KP: 17) vs. No. 12 Belmont (Ohio Valley auto bid, RPI: 62, KP: 133)
San Diego, Calif.
No. 3 UCLA (21-5, RPI: 12, KP: 12) vs. No. 14 New Mexico State (WAC auto bid, RPI: 82, KP: 78)
No. 6 Texas (20-6, RPI: 22, KP: 29) vs. No. 11 Middle Tennessee (C-USA auto bid, RPI: 74, KP: 98)
No. 2 Creighton (22-4, RPI: 7, KP: 2) vs. No. 15 Boston (Patriot auto bid, RPI: 88, KP: 110)
No. 7 Gonzaga (22-5, RPI: 24, KP: 27) vs. No. 10 Stanford (17-8, RPI: 48, KP: 34)
I would like to state for the record that I'm not convinced Creighton is one of the eight best teams in the country. Feel free to throw that in my face if and when the Bluejays make it to the Elite Eight, but my personal opinion doesn't change the fact that they have one of the best computer resumes right now. If they win out (including the Big East tournament), they're probably even headed for a No. 1 seed.
If I had to pick a No. 3 seed to replace Creighton on the 2-line, though, that team would be UCLA. Save for a couple of somewhat surprising road losses to Utah and Oregon State, the Bruins have been wrecking their Pac-12 competition—winning eight of their last 11 games by at least 10 points. In the past seven days, they've beaten three RPI Top-100 teams by a combined total of 52 points.
They might not play each other again, but put Arizona and UCLA on a neutral court tonight and UCLA would win by double digits.
With both Creighton and UCLA on the rise, San Diego State was one of the teams that suffered a slight drop. Despite a 2-0 record since the last update, the Aztecs dropped a seed line, as the wins over Air Force and Utah State didn't do anything to help their RPI or SOS.
Michigan is also on the downward slope, having now lost three out of its last five games.
New Mexico could evolve into an interesting case study over the next few weeks. The Lobos are 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50 with (at least) two games remaining against San Diego State. If they lose those games against the Aztecs, could they slip onto the bubble?
Perhaps more interesting than that will be finding out whether Kansas State is actually capable of winning away from home. Against the RPI Top 150, the Wildcats are 8-0 at home and 1-7 away from home. They still have road games remaining against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. They aren't very close to the bubble today, but they would be if they lost those three games.
No. 4 Arizona (24-2, RPI: 2, KP: 1)
Deciding on the four No. 1 seeds wasn't particularly difficult, but ranking them sure was—not that it really matters, since they aren't competing with each other for geographical preference.
Arizona has the best profile, but the Wildcats have really struggled to rediscover their stride over the past several weeks. In the last seven days, they lost in overtime to Arizona State and needed overtime to beat Utah.
Syracuse hasn't been any better, but the Orange had been running on fumes from three months of maintaining an undefeated record. At worst, we're moderately confident that Syracuse will rebound in time for the tournament.
With the Wildcats, however, we're still waiting for proof that they can be one of the best teams in the country without Brandon Ashley. Perhaps upcoming games against Colorado and California will convince us one way or the other.
No. 3 Syracuse (25-1, RPI: 6, KP: 9)
Had they lost to Duke, Pittsburgh or Virginia, the Orange might have remained the No. 1 overall seed.
Losing to Boston College, though, was pretty inexcusable.
Here's hoping that was exactly the medicine they needed, because if they continue to play as poorly as they have been lately, they could very easily put together a four-game losing streak in these next three road games against Duke, Maryland and Virginia.
No. 2 Wichita State (27-0, RPI: 10, KP: 11)
On Wednesday night, Arizona and Florida struggled, Syracuse lost and Wichita State just kept on doing its thing.
The Shockers kept their undefeated season alive with a 14-point win over Loyola (IL), which wouldn't have looked anywhere near as impressive if the other three No. 1 seeds weren't suffering from the February funk.
They haven't quite done enough to earn the No. 1 overall seed, but they might be one Gator hiccup away from taking the throne.
No. 1 Florida (24-2, RPI: 3, KP: 4)
Even if Syracuse had beaten Boston College, Florida was going to take over the No. 1 overall seed this week after its road win over Kentucky.
The Gators have won 18 in a row, and will most likely be ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Monday.
In case you lost track of how many teams from which conferences received what bids, here's the whole field in one snapshot.
One-bid conferences: 21
- America East (Vermont: 15)
- Atlantic Sun (Mercer: 13)
- Big Sky (Weber State: 16)
- Big South (High Point: 16)
- Big West (UC Irvine: 16)
- Colonial (Delaware: 14)
- Horizon (Green Bay: 12)
- Ivy (Harvard: 12)
- MAAC (Iona: 13)
- MAC (Toledo: 11)
- MEAC (North Carolina Central: 16)
- MVC (Wichita State: 1)
- NEC (Robert Morris: 16)
- OVC (Belmont: 12)
- Patriot (Boston: 15)
- Southern (Davidson: 15)
- Southland (Stephen F. Austin: 13)
- Summit (North Dakota State: 13)
- Sun Belt (Georgia State: 15)
- SWAC (Southern: 16)
- WAC (New Mexico State: 14)
Multi-bid conferences: 11
American: Cincinnati (3), Louisville (5), Connecticut (6), Memphis (7), Southern Methodist (9)
Atlantic 10: Saint Louis (4), VCU (8), Massachusetts (8), George Washington (9), Saint Joseph's (10), Dayton (First Five Out)
ACC: Syracuse (1), Duke (2), Virginia (3), North Carolina (6), Pittsburgh (7)
Big East: Villanova (2), Creighton (2), Xavier (11), St. John's (Last Five In), Providence (First Five Out)
Big Ten: Wisconsin (3), Michigan State (4), Michigan (5), Iowa (5), Ohio State (6), Minnesota (Last Five In), Nebraska (Five Five Out)
Big 12: Kansas (2), Iowa State (5), Texas (6), Oklahoma (8), Kansas State (9), Baylor (11), Oklahoma State (Last Five In)
Conference USA: Middle Tennessee (11), Southern Miss (First Five Out)
Mountain West: San Diego State (4), New Mexico (8)
Pac-12: Arizona (1), UCLA (3), Colorado (7), Arizona State (9), Stanford (10), Oregon (10), California (Last Five In)
SEC: Florida (1), Kentucky (4), Missouri (10), Tennessee (Last Five In)
West Coast: Gonzaga (7), BYU (First Five Out)
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.