2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Latest Projection of the Field of 68

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJanuary 31, 2017

2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Latest Projection of the Field of 68

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    Manu Lecomte and the Bears are racing to a No. 1 seed.
    Manu Lecomte and the Bears are racing to a No. 1 seed.Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    When Baylor and Kansas square off this coming Wednesday, it will be a battle between projected No. 1 seeds in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Baylor is our new No. 1 overall seed, followed by Villanova, Gonzaga and Kansas.

    It was a brutal week for teams ranked in the Top 17 of last week's AP Top 25, but it was one heck of a stretch for squads on the bubble. Georgia Tech knocked off two ranked teams to become one of six newcomers in this week's bracket projection.

    Of course, not everyone on the bubble had a good week. One of the main reasons we had those six new squads is Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, TCU, Texas Tech and Wake Forest went a combined 2-8 in the past seven days to drop out of the projected field.

    Hate on RPI all you want, but it's still the primary metric the NCAA selection committee uses in picking and seeding the field. KenPom.com rankings and strength of schedule were also crucial pieces of this projection, but prepare yourself for many mentions of how teams have fared against opponents in varying ranges of the RPI.

    As always, we'll take a look at the last five teams to make the field, the first five out and a few on the horizon.

    After that, we'll present each seeded region, including the subregional locations in which each pod would be played and some commentary on which teams have moved the most (and least) in each region. Then we'll defend the rankings of the No. 1 seeds, followed by a summary of the entire field broken up by conference.

Last 5 In

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    L.J. Peak shot the Hoyas onto the right side of the bubble.
    L.J. Peak shot the Hoyas onto the right side of the bubble.Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Last Team In: Georgetown Hoyas (12-10, RPI: 58, KP: 55, SOS: 10)

    If you want to know how much can change in one week, look no further than Georgetown. Seven days ago, the Hoyas were nowhere near the NCAA tournament conversation, sitting at 10-10 with little more than a neutral-court win over less-than-full-strength Oregon from more than two months ago. But after stomping Creighton and winning at Butler, they have a resume with three RPI Top 15 wins and no losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100.

    They'll probably need to get to .500 in Big East play in order to stay in the field. Considering they're already 3-6 and still have two games remaining against Villanova, that won't be easy. But if nothing else, Georgetown should serve as an inspiration to other teams that one great week can make up for more than two months of mediocrity.

              

    Second-to-Last: Arkansas Razorbacks (16-5, RPI: 28, KP: 50, SOS: 51)

    Arkansas was in good shape a week ago, but needing a bone-headed, last-second foul on a three-point shooter to eke a one-point win over Vanderbilt and subsequently losing by 28 to Oklahoma State was not a good look. The Razorbacks still have a solid RPI, but they're 1-4 against the RPI Top 50 with an ugly home loss to Mississippi State. This is a resume that needs statement wins, not understandable losses.

               

    Third-to-Last: Wichita State Shockers (19-4, RPI: 70, KP: 21, SOS: 179)

    Wichita State is this year's case study on the growing impact of KenPom rankings. The Shockers have a bad RPI rank and a downright awful SOS rank, but they're No. 20 on KenPom because their 18 D-I wins have come by an average margin of 24.7 points. The home game against Illinois State on Saturday is the big one. Win the rematch with the Redbirds, and Wichita State will finally have a quality win. Lose that game, and it's auto bid or bust.

                

    Fourth-to-Last: Miami Hurricanes (14-6, RPI: 64, KP: 33, SOS: 81)

    Miami rebounded nicely from its second-half letdown against Duke, narrowly edging Boston College before laying the smackdown on North Carolina. Prior to that game, the Hurricanes had been 0-5 against the RPI Top 50 with a not-great loss at Syracuse. Now that they have a quality win and are back to .500 in ACC play (4-4), there's a chance they can overcome their terrible nonconference SOS.

               

    Fifth-to-Last: Indiana Hoosiers (14-8, RPI: 80, KP: 39, SOS: 57)

    "(Indiana) would need to suffer some sort of collapse down the stretch in order to slip back into any bubble trouble." That's what I wrote about the Hoosiers one week ago, prior to their 30-point loss to Michigan and 13-point loss to Northwestern.

    They're now back below .500 in Big Ten play at 4-5 with three games remaining against Purdue (twice) and Wisconsin. The wins over Kansas and North Carolina still look nice, but at what point do we discount what happened in November and just focus on how bad this team has been for the past two months?

First 5 Out

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    Seton Hall has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now.
    Seton Hall has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now.Steven Ryan/Getty Images

    First Team Out: Michigan Wolverines (14-8, RPI: 68, KP: 35, SOS: 47)

    Michigan annihilated Indiana, but it blew a big opportunity at Michigan State on Sunday. The net result is a break-even week while teams like Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Miami, Tennessee, Oklahoma State and VCU made big statements to bypass the Wolverineswho are now 1-6 against the RPI Top 50. They still have five games remaining against that club, including near must-win home games against Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue.

          

    Second Team Out: Seton Hall Pirates (13-7, RPI: 43, KP: 58, SOS: 40)

    Though the earlier wins over South Carolina and Marquette still look nice, Seton Hall has now lost four of its last five games. Its only wins in the past four weeks have been home games against DePaul and St. John's. And in the past six weeks, Seton Hall's only RPI Top 100 win was a three-point victory over Marquette at home. The resume is decent, but the play hasn't been. The Pirates need to turn things around this week at Xavier and Georgetown.

          

    Third Team Out: TCU Horned Frogs (14-7, RPI: 49, KP: 42, SOS: 36)

    Hope you enjoyed all those "Jamie Dixon thriving in new home" stories from a few weeks ago, because TCU has been a mess lately, losing four in a row, including a home game against Auburn. The Horned Frogs were respectable from three-point range early in the season, but they're shooting just 25.5 percent from downtown during this skid. If they don't win their next three against Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech, they might be finished.

         

    Fourth Team Out: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-9, RPI: 35, KP: 34, SOS: 8)

    In addition to falling to 0-8 against the RPI Top 50, Wake Forest picked up its worst loss of the season against Syracuse this week. The computer profile looks solid, but there are no quality wins, and the Demon Deacons are now 3-6 in the ACC. To have any hope of remaining in the conversation, they must win at Boston College and vs. Georgia Tech this week, but that's just to keep the status quo. They still need to find some good wins.

           

    Fifth Team Out: California Golden Bears (15-6, RPI: 50, KP: 56, SOS: 53)

    Sunday night's home win over Stanford did nothing to move the needle for a Cal team that is still 1-5 against the RPI Top 50 with an ugly loss to San Diego State. It will be interesting to see what happens if the Golden Bears lose remaining games against Arizona and Oregon but win the rest to get to 13-5 in a weak Pac-12. Would a road win over USC really be enough?

On the Horizon

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    Strength of schedule is killing Texas Tech's case for a bid.
    Strength of schedule is killing Texas Tech's case for a bid.John Weast/Getty Images

    Here are a few other teams with decent enough resumes that we didn't immediately throw them away when trying to figure out the last few spots in the field. 

         

    Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-6)

    They almost scored a huge road win over Baylor on Wednesday, but almost doesn't count. Moreover, it especially doesn't count when you have just three RPI Top 100 winsall at homeand one of the worst nonconference SOS ranks in the country. If they beat Texas and Oklahoma this week to get back to .500 in Big 12 play, maybe we'll talk.

     

    Providence Friars (14-9)

    Between Saturday's road win over Marquette and the increased value of the season sweep of Georgetown, Providence suddenly has life. Losses to DePaul, Boston College and St. John's are a lot to overcome, though. The Friars might need to win Wednesday's home game against Villanova to get into the mix.

            

    Rhode Island Rams (13-7)

    The neutral-court win over Cincinnati still looks good, but the Rams need to add to that "list." Following Wednesday's loss to Richmond, they probably cannot afford to lose another regular-season game if they want an at-large bid.

          

    Georgia Bulldogs (13-8)

    Beating Texas was OK. Losing by 20 at home against Alabama was not. It's now or never for the Bulldogs, who play road games against Kentucky and South Carolina this week, followed by a home game against Florida next Tuesday. Georgia needs to win at least two out of three or start hoping for the NIT.

            

    Utah Utes (13-6)

    Utah has a nice 22-point home win over USC, but it doesn't have another victory against a team with at least a dozen wins. The Utes need to sweep this week's road games against California and Stanford or plan on winning the Pac-12 tournament.

         

    Pittsburgh Panthers (12-9), North Carolina State Wolfpack (14-8)

    The ACC is a smorgasbord of opportunities, so it's far too early in the season to rule anyone (other than Boston College) out of the tournament. However, Pitt and N.C. State took turns getting wrecked by Louisville this week, and the Panthers picked up a home loss to Clemson for good measure. Each has two RPI Top 50 wins, each has one ugly loss and each needs to win at least two out of every three the rest of the way.

          

    Ohio State Buckeyes (13-9), Illinois Fighting Illini (13-9)

    The Buckeyes and Illini have similar resumes near the basement of the Big Ten. Neither one has great wins, and Ohio State has a couple of ugly losses, but each has several big opportunities remaining at home. Illinois hosts Wisconsin and Minnesota this week; Ohio State gets Maryland on Tuesday. Based on how these teams have been playing, though, it's more likely those games eliminate them from the bubble for good.

East Region (New York City)

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    Oklahoma State has bounced back from a slow start in conference play.
    Oklahoma State has bounced back from a slow start in conference play.Chris Covatta/Getty Images

    Buffalo, New York

    No. 1 Villanova (20-2, RPI: 2, KP: 6, SOS: 20)
    No. 16 North Carolina Central/Mount St. Mary's (First Four)

    No. 8 Virginia Tech (16-5, RPI: 39, KP: 49, SOS: 70)
    No. 9 Oklahoma State (13-8, RPI: 37, KP: 22, SOS: 16)

           

    Buffalo, New York

    No. 4 West Virginia (17-4, RPI: 27, KP: 5, SOS: 68)
    No. 13 Monmouth (MAAC Auto Bid)

    No. 5 Saint Mary's (19-2, RPI: 18, KP: 15, SOS: 75)
    No. 12 Arkansas/Georgetown (Last Five In)

     

    Sacramento, California

    No. 3 Oregon (19-3, RPI: 12, KP: 19, SOS: 34)
    No. 14 East Tennessee State (Southern Auto Bid)

    No. 6 Purdue (17-5, RPI: 30, KP: 12, SOS: 56)
    No. 11 Illinois State (18-4, RPI: 34, KP: 37, SOS: 114)

               

    Greenville, South Carolina

    No. 2 North Carolina (19-4, RPI: 7, KP: 9, SOS: 26)
    No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun Auto Bid)

    No. 7 SMU (18-4, RPI: 26, KP: 20, SOS: 92)
    No. 10 Michigan State (13-9, RPI: 45, KP: 51, SOS: 13)

                

    Stock Up: Oklahoma State Cowboys (New to the field)

    Though the Cowboys racked up six consecutive losses to start Big 12 play, their computer profile never seemed to suffer. They sat just outside the RPI Top 50 for several consecutive weeks and didn't drop below 40th on KenPom, meaning it would only take a couple of decent wins to bring them back into the projected field.

    Oklahoma State answered the call by winning three in a row against Texas Tech, TCU and Arkansas, each by a double-digit margin. They pushed the winning streak to four games with a nail-biter at Oklahoma.

    The Cowboys are still three games below .500 in conference play, but even getting to 8-10 would probably be enough, given how well their resume has held up. It would be nice if they could score a win over Baylor, Kansas or West Virginia, but it might not be necessary.

             

    Stock Down: Purdue Boilermakers (Down five spots)

    Purdue has mastered the art of making sure we don't buy into its potential to reach the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. The December win over Notre Dame was erased by a home loss to Minnesota two weeks later. Four days after a statement win against Wisconsin, the Boilermakers lost at Iowa. And now, after consecutive emphatic wins over Illinois, Penn State and Michigan State, they added a loss to Nebraska.

    This team has the talent to win the NCAA tournament, but it has the (lack of) reliability to lose its first tourney game for a third straight year.

     

    Holding Steady: Virginia Tech Hokies (No change)

    It was a to-be-expected week for the Hokies, who lost at North Carolina before winning a home game against Boston College. But buckle up for one of the toughest five-game stretches a team could possibly endure: at Virginia, at Miami, vs. Virginia, at Pittsburgh, at Louisville. That 16-5 record could turn into 16-10 in a hurry.

Midwest Region (Kansas City)

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    The Volunteers have become a mandatory inclusion in projected brackets.
    The Volunteers have become a mandatory inclusion in projected brackets.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    No. 1 Kansas (19-2, RPI: 3, KP: 8, SOS: 27)
    No. 16 Sam Houston State (Southland Auto Bid)

    No. 8 Xavier (15-6, RPI: 14, KP: 28, SOS: 7)
    No. 9 Tennessee (12-9, RPI: 41, KP: 38, SOS: 4)

           

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    No. 4 Duke (16-5, RPI: 20, KP: 13, SOS: 28)
    No. 13 Akron (MAC Auto Bid)

    No. 5 Wisconsin (18-3, RPI: 21, KP: 11, SOS: 78)
    No. 12 UNC Wilmington (20-3, RPI: 33, KP: 54, SOS: 151)

     

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    No. 3 Butler (18-4, RPI: 5, KP: 18, SOS: 14)
    No. 14 Valparaiso (Horizon Auto Bid)

    No. 6 Notre Dame (17-5, RPI: 23, KP: 27, SOS: 35)
    No. 11 Middle Tennessee (19-3, RPI: 36, KP: 46, SOS: 116)

           

    Greenville, South Carolina

    No. 2 Virginia (16-4, RPI: 13, KP: 2, SOS: 23)
    No. 15 UNC Asheville (Big South Auto Bid)

    No. 7 Minnesota (15-7, RPI: 24, KP: 44, SOS: 9)
    No. 10 Iowa State (13-7, RPI: 46, KP: 26, SOS: 42)

     

    Stock Up: Tennessee Volunteers (New to the field)

    It was only 10 days ago that Tennessee was 9-9 and nowhere close to the projected field. Three straight home wins over Mississippi State, Kentucky and Kansas State later and the Volunteers have a legitimate tournament resume.

    Though seven of them came against the RPI Top 30, sitting on nine losses in late January leaves little margin for error. They still have road games against Kentucky and South Carolina that will likely result in losses, which means they probably need to win every other game to remain in the projected field, beginning with road games against Auburn and Mississippi State this week.

    Even with the win over Kentucky, if the Volunteers enter the SEC tournament with anything lower than 19 wins, they'll have a lot of work to do.

     

    Stock Down: UNC Wilmington Seahawks (Down seven spots)

    We usually don't pay any mind to the projected auto qualifiers from one-bid leagues, but UNC Wilmington bears mentioning because of its loss to William & Mary this past Saturday.

    Had the Seahawks run the table in the CAA, they would have had a great argument for an at-large bid should anything happen in the CAA tournament. But without a single RPI Top 75 win, that one loss is likely to kill their dreams of an at-large bid.

    We'll have to wait and see what ends up looking like a good resume on the bubble this March, but Middle Tennessee and Illinois State may be the only hope for some of these small conferences.

     

    Holding Steady: Wisconsin Badgers (No change)

    The Big Ten is such a bubbly mess that even its 7-1 projected champion isn't quite good enough for a "protected" top-four seed.

    The Badgers had a dominant home win over Penn State before nearly losing a neutral-site game against Rutgers that would have been unforgivable. As is, Wisconsin is 2-3 against the RPI Top 50 and only has a couple of opportunities remaining. If this league has any hope of getting a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, it probably hinges on Wisconsin's ability to run the table from here.

South Region (Memphis)

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    You don't need three-goggles to see that VCU belongs back in the projected field.
    You don't need three-goggles to see that VCU belongs back in the projected field.Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    No. 1 Baylor (20-1, RPI: 1, KP: 7, SOS: 11)
    No. 16 Weber State/UC Irvine (First Four)

    No. 8 Dayton (15-5, RPI: 31, KP: 36, SOS: 45)
    No. 9 Clemson (12-8, RPI: 40, KP: 31, SOS: 17)

             

    Salt Lake City

    No. 4 Creighton (19-3, RPI: 15, KP: 25, SOS: 33)
    No. 13 Texas-Arlington (Sun Belt Auto Bid)

    No. 5 UCLA (19-3, RPI: 22, KP: 17, SOS: 77)
    No. 12 Nevada (Mountain West Auto Bid)

             

    Indianapolis

    No. 3 Kentucky (17-4, RPI: 8, KP: 3, SOS: 5)
    No. 14 Belmont (Ohio Valley Auto Bid)

    No. 6 Maryland (19-2, RPI: 17, KP: 40, SOS: 54)
    No. 11 Miami/Wichita State (Last Five In)

             

    Indianapolis

    No. 2 Louisville (18-4, RPI: 4, KP: 4, SOS: 1)
    No. 15 Bucknell (Patriot Auto Bid)

    No. 7 Northwestern (18-4, RPI: 29, KP: 30, SOS: 83)
    No. 10 VCU (16-5, RPI: 32, KP: 45, SOS: 58)

             

    Stock Up: VCU Rams (New to the field)

    "New" isn't the right description for VCU's return to the projected field, but Friday's win over Dayton was just what the bracket doctor ordered. It was the best victory of the season for the Rams, who also had a nice home win over Middle Tennessee back in mid-December.

    Beating the Flyers was only the first step, though. They now need to navigate a minefield of potential losses in the form of Richmond (twice), Davidson, St. Bonaventure, George Washington and Saint Joseph's. That's six consecutive games against teams in the RPI 101-130 rangeteams that are good enough to beat them, yet bad enough that one loss might put the Rams back on the wrong side of the bubble.

    Then come the real tests in the form of back-to-back road games against Rhode Island and Dayton. One way or the other, the Rams probably need to go 9-1 down the stretch to enter the A-10 tournament secure in their spot in the NCAA tournament.

          

    Stock Down: UCLA Bruins (Down six spots)

    Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the 18 losses suffered by ranked teams this past week, UCLA lost its second consecutive game to fall to 1-3 against the RPI Top 45. As was the case in the losses to Arizona and Oregon, the Bruins had no answer on defense for USC, allowing the Trojans to drain 14 three-pointers and commit just nine turnovers.

    Poor defense wasn't a problem back when the Bruins were setting the nets on fire against the likes of Kentucky and Michigan. Now that their unsustainable shooting percentages are coming back to earth, though, lack of defensive effort is rearing its ugly head.

    We'll see how the rematches with the Ducks, Arizona Wildcats and Trojans go, but given UCLA's recent struggles and its lackluster computer profile, it's ludicrous that some people are still projecting this team as a No. 3 seed or better.

           

    Holding Steady: Creighton Bluejays (Down two spots)

    Despite the 20-point loss to Georgetown, Creighton's post-Maurice Watson Jr. fall from grace hasn't killed this resume yet.

    The Bluejays still have five RPI Top 50 wins with no losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100putting them on a list of just eight teams that meet both qualifications. The selection committee will eventually judge this squad primarily on what it became without Watson, but there's also time left for Creighton to turn things around with Davion Mintz running the point.

    This will be a huge week for Creighton, traveling to Butler before hosting Xavier. A split would keep the Bluejays in the running for a strong seed on Selection Sunday.

West Region (San Jose)

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    Josh Okogie's game-winning layup pushed Georgia Tech into the projected field.
    Josh Okogie's game-winning layup pushed Georgia Tech into the projected field.Mike Comer/Getty Images

    Sacramento, California

    No. 1 Gonzaga (22-0, RPI: 11, KP: 1, SOS: 87)
    No. 16 Texas Southern (SWAC Auto Bid)

    No. 8 USC (18-4, RPI: 25, KP: 57, SOS: 64)
    No. 9 Kansas State (15-6, RPI: 44, KP: 29, SOS: 74)

                

    Orlando, Florida

    No. 4 Cincinnati (19-2, RPI: 16, KP: 16, SOS: 72)
    No. 13 Vermont (America East Auto Bid)

    No. 5 Florida (16-5, RPI: 9, KP: 10, SOS: 6)
    No. 12 New Mexico State (WAC Auto Bid)

             

    Orlando, Florida

    No. 3 Florida State (18-4, RPI: 10, KP: 23, SOS: 22)
    No. 14 Princeton (Ivy League Auto Bid)

    No. 6 South Carolina (17-4, RPI: 19, KP: 24, SOS: 38)
    No. 11 Indiana (14-8, RPI: 80, KP: 39, SOS: 57)

     

    Salt Lake City

    No. 2 Arizona (20-2, RPI: 6, KP: 14, SOS: 31)
    No. 15 North Dakota State (Summit Auto Bid)

    No. 7 Marquette (14-7, RPI: 54, KP: 32, SOS: 43)
    No. 10 Georgia Tech (13-8, RPI: 65, KP: 71, SOS: 37)

              

    Stock Up: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (New to the field)

    It has been quite the run for a team that went 2-4 against the RPI Top 240 during the nonconference portion of the season.

    When Georgia Tech beat North Carolina in the ACC opener, it was one of the most shocking results to that point in the season. When the Yellow Jackets improved to 3-2 with wins over Clemson and NC State, everyone just assumed that was a testament to how bad those two teams were.

    But after Georgia Tech's back-to-back wins over Florida State and Notre Dame, it's impossible to deny that the Yellow Jackets are good. They now have five RPI Top 50 wins, including three against the RPI Top 25.

    Because of the losses to Ohio, Penn State and Georgia, the overall resume still needs work. However, the schedule is relatively easy the rest of the way, as far as the ACC goes. GT has home games left against Boston College, Syracuse, NC State and Pitt. Even road games against Clemson, Wake Forest, Miami and Syracuse are winnable. Unless the Yellow Jackets suddenly forget how to play, they should at least get to 10-8 in the conference before the ACC tournament.

                  

    Stock Down: Florida State Seminoles (Down five spots)

    One side effect of Georgia Tech's recent success is a wart on Florida State's resume. The Seminoles lost at Syracuse this week and now have a few eyesores to go along with the November neutral-court loss to Temple.

    Florida State is still in great shape, comfortably on the No. 3 line with six RPI Top 25 wins. However, the path to a No. 1 seed got a lot harder when the Seminoles lost their grip on first place in the ACC.

          

    Holding Steady: Kansas State Wildcats (Up one spot)

    Though Kansas State lost road games to Iowa State and Tennessee, its resume didn't change much from last week. The RPI, KP and SOS ranks are all within five spots of where they were seven days ago.

    The main reason the Wildcats didn't move, though, was the struggles of teams previously seeded around them. Indiana and TCU were both No. 8 seeds last week before playing their way onto the bubble. Meanwhile, No. 10 seeds Arkansas and Seton Hall did nothing to improve their lot.

    As a result, Kansas State lost most of its cushiona home loss to TCU would be more damaging now than it would have been a week agobut it didn't yet lose any ground in the projected field.

Ranking the No. 1 Seeds

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    With so many top teams losing, Gonzaga's case for a No. 1 seed got a huge boost this week.
    With so many top teams losing, Gonzaga's case for a No. 1 seed got a huge boost this week.Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

    No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks (19-2, RPI: 3, KP: 8, SOS: 27)

    No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-0, RPI: 11, KP: 1, SOS: 87)

    In the debate over Gonzaga's case for the No. 1 spot in Monday's AP Top 25, someone tweeted me this question: What would Gonzaga's record be if it played Kansas' schedule?

    An interesting what-if that was undoubtedly intended to question the validity of Gonzaga's undefeated record. Here's the thing, though: Gonzaga is 6-0 against the RPI Top 50 and 3-0 against the RPI Top 25 while Kansas is 6-1 and 2-0, respectively.

    Their overall SOS ranks aren't close to each other, but there's nothing Gonzaga can do about the weakness of the West Coast Conference. During the nonconference portion of the season, though, Gonzaga's SOS rank (43) isn't that much worse than Kansas' (24).

    The Zags played neutral-site games against Arizona, Florida and Iowa State, as well as what might as well have been a true road game against Tennessee in Nashville. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks played an Indiana team without a point guard and a Duke team without most of its freshmen in the first five days of the regular season and then coasted mostly at home against mediocre competition.

    So, thank you to whoever asked that question. You inadvertently helped remove any doubts I might have had about slotting Gonzaga ahead of Kansas.

              

    No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (20-2, RPI: 2, KP: 6, SOS: 20)

    With shades of last year's national championship game, Villanova had a flare for the dramatic this week. The Wildcats blew a 17-point lead against Marquette, losing by two when a last-second drive and subsequent tip both missed the mark. They returned the favor against Virginia, erasing a 12-point second-half deficit, winning at the buzzer on a Donte DiVincenzo tip-in.

    The loss to Marquette bumped them from the top spot in the AP poll, but the win over Virginia ensured they remain a projected No. 1 seed. They now have seven RPI Top 50 wins, including four against the RPI Top 25.

     

    No. 1 Baylor Bears (20-1, RPI: 1, KP: 7, SOS: 11)

    The only one-loss team left in the country, Baylor has nine RPI Top 50 wins and 11 RPI Top 75 wins, leading the nation in both categories.

    Nonconference wins over Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier still look fantastic for the Bears, whodespite RPI killers against Oral Roberts, Southern and Jackson Statehad the best run in nonconference play in the country.

    They'll have two big games against Kansas and the rematch with West Virginia in February, but the Bears are in great shape for a No. 1 seed, even if they aren't able to end Kansas' streak of Big 12 titles.

Seeding by Conference

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    Is this the year for Northwestern?
    Is this the year for Northwestern?Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    In case seeded regions aren't for you and you want to know where the "top" 68 teams stand in relation to one another, here is a list of each team's overall seed, broken down by conference. ("First Five Out" in italics.)

    American: 16. Cincinnati; 27. SMU

    Atlantic 10: 32. Dayton; 39. VCU

    ACC: 5. Louisville; 7. North Carolina; 8. Virginia; 10. Florida State; 13. Duke; 23. Notre Dame; 29. Virginia Tech; 33. Clemson; 38. Georgia Tech; 42. Miami; 72. Wake Forest

    Big 12: 1. Baylor; 4. Kansas; 15. West Virginia; 34. Oklahoma State; 35. Kansas State; 40. Iowa State; 71. TCU

    Big East: 2. Villanova; 11. Butler; 14. Creighton; 28. Marquette; 30. Xavier; 47. Georgetown; 70. Seton Hall

    Big Ten: 17. Wisconsin; 21. Maryland; 24. Purdue; 25. Northwestern; 26. Minnesota; 37. Michigan State; 41. Indiana; 69. Michigan

    Missouri Valley: 44. Illinois State; 45. Wichita State

    Pac-12: 6. Arizona; 12. Oregon; 19. UCLA; 31. USC; 73. California

    SEC: 9. Kentucky; 18. Florida; 22. South Carolina; 36. Tennessee; 46. Arkansas

    West Coast: 3. Gonzaga; 20. Saint Mary's

    Other: 43. Middle Tennessee; 48. UNC Wilmington; 49. Nevada; 50. New Mexico State; 51. Akron; 52. Monmouth; 53. Vermont; 54. Texas-Arlington; 55. Valparaiso; 56. Belmont; 57. Princeton; 58. East Tennessee State; 59. Florida Gulf Coast; 60. Bucknell; 61. North Dakota State; 62. UNC Asheville; 63. Sam Houston State; 64. Texas Southern; 65. Weber State; 66. UC Irvine; 67. North Carolina Central; 68. Mount St. Mary's

     

    Stats are courtesy of WarrenNolan.comKenPom.com and Sports-Reference.com and are current through start of play on Monday, Jan. 30.

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.