Projecting the NCAA Field of 65: Jan. 25

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Projecting the NCAA Field of 65: Jan. 25

The four No. 1 seeds are easy to pencil into the draw with Kentucky, the lone undefeated team remaining in the country, followed by three one-loss teams—Syracuse, Kansas, and Villanova.

But it gets a little more difficult from there with several top 10 schools dropping games this past week.

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

I like to break teams down into three categories:

"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.

Elite teams are safely in the field—"Dancing with a hottie"—and in the middle are the schools that are "Dancing with their sister."

 

ACC

Dancing with a Hottie: Duke (3 seed)

Dancing with Their Sister: Wake Forest (6), Georgia Tech (6), Clemson (8), North Carolina (8)

Wallflowers: Florida State (10), Maryland (11), Virginia Tech (12), Virginia (16th out)

It's been quite a down year for the ACC so far. When the season began, not many could've imagined that North Carolina would be trailing first place Maryland and Virginia by two games in the final week of January.

Along with the Tar Heels, which are riding a three-game slide, Georgia Tech (lost at Florida State) and Clemson (fell to the Yellow Jackets and Duke) are also struggling.

The bubble is littered with Atlantic Coast Conference squads. FSU, Maryland, and Va Tech all held strong this past week by going a combined 5-0.

Virginia could've jumped into the field with a win at Wake Forest, but will instead have to settle for at least getting its first mention in my projections this season. 

The Cavs lead the ACC after running off eight in a row with nice wins over UAB and Georgia Tech, but ghastly non-conference losses to South Florida, Stanford, Penn State, and Auburn leave UVA far from a bid.

 

Big East

Dancing with a Hottie: Syracuse (1), Villanova (1), Georgetown (2), West Virginia (2)

Dancing with Their Sister: Connecticut (5), Pittsburgh (5)

Wallflowers: Seton Hall (11), Louisville (ninth out), Cincinnati (10th out), Notre Dame (13th out)

Georgetown's impressive win at Pittsburgh—one of two Panthers losses this past week—not only helped to drop Pitt three seeds, but it also sets up a huge showdown between the Hoyas and Orange at the Carrier Dome on Big Monday. The winner will walk out holding great position for a top seed.

Connecticut pulled off one of the bigger shockers of the week when it handed No. 1 Texas its second consecutive loss. 

The Huskies entered the contest having dropped three of four and without the services of head coach Jim Calhoun, who missed the game for medical reasons. But UConn scored 54 in the second half to jump back into the national spotlight.

Seton Hall also experienced a resurgence by beating Louisville and Pittsburgh to get back into the draw. All five of the Pirates' losses are to teams that I have in the field, and SHU has four top-50 victories.

Marquette is removed from consideration after becoming DePaul's first conference victim in two years.

 

Big Ten

Dancing with a Hottie: Michigan State (2), Purdue (3), Wisconsin (4)

Dancing with Their Sisters: Ohio State (8)

Wallflowers: Northwestern (12)

Ohio State's defeat at West Virginia not only reasserts the Big East's dominance over college basketball, but it also dropped the Buckeyes, who are now a dismal 1-5 on the road.

Northwestern lost at Ohio State but beat Illinois to barely hang on to one of my last at-large spots in the bracket. The Wildcats recently beat Purdue, and really haven't had a bad loss all season.

 

Big XII

Dancing with a Hottie: Kansas (1), Texas (2), Kansas State (3)

Dancing with Their Sister: Oklahoma State (7), Baylor (7), Texas A&M (8)

Wallflowers: Missouri (12), Texas Tech (13)

Oklahoma State was the big riser this past week, beating Colorado before winning at Kansas State, which must've been suffering a hangover following its enormous victory over Texas. The Cowboys are ranked 24th in the RPI.

Missouri's loss at Oklahoma has the Tigers on the brink of missing the field, but that was their first defeat in 10 games and Mizzou is 3-2 against the top 50.

Texas Tech grabs my last at-large spot after beating Iowa State and OU. The Red Raiders don't have any top-50 victories, but they also don't have any bad losses, and their computer numbers are strong (RPI 33, SOS 37).

 

Pac-10

Wallflowers: California (9), Washington (first out), Arizona State (15th out)

With the Pac-10 shaping up to be a one-bid league, I'm not even sure why I continue giving this conference its own space. Cal is in first place but is 0-4 against the top 50. Washington drops from the field after being swept at the Los Angeles schools, and Arizona State just lost at home by 19 to Arizona, which is 10-9.

 

SEC

Dancing with a Hottie: Kentucky (1), Tennessee (3)

Dancing with Their Sister: Vanderbilt (4), Mississippi (6)

Wallflowers: Mississippi State (9), Florida (11)

Mississippi State's loss at Alabama drops the Bulldogs a few seed lines, while Chandler Parsons continues to single-handedly keep Florida in the field, sinking his second game-winning trifecta in three weeks to beat South Carolina on Saturday.

 

Mid-Majors

Dancing with a Hottie: Temple (4), Gonzaga (4)

Dancing with Their Sister: BYU (5), New Mexico (5), Butler (6), UAB (7), Xavier (7)

Wallflowers: Dayton (9), Northern Iowa (9), UNLV (10), Cornell (10), Old Dominion (10), Rhode Island (11), Siena (12), St. Mary's (second out), Northeastern (third out), VCU (fourth out), William & Mary (fifth out), Charlotte (sixth out), Richmond (seventh out), San Diego State (eighth out), Wichita State (11th out), Harvard (12th out), Tulsa (14th out)

The Atlantic 10 continues to be one of the best conferences in the nation. Xavier bounced back from a loss at Temple to knock off Rhode Island. It was the Musketeers' fourth top-50 win of the season, and they have excellent computer numbers (RPI 13, SOS 2). 

Charlotte, meanwhile, is quietly moving up the ranks and finds itself just outside the field after reeling off three straight wins, including a 12-point victory at fellow wallflower Richmond. The 49ers only have two top-100 wins, but all five of their losses have come against teams that should be dancing.

Northern Iowa didn't deserve to be ranked this past week, and it quickly showed why with a nine-point loss at Wichita State. Just because you have a great record, doesn't mean you're a great team. The Panthers' best win is over Siena, and their strength of schedule is 91st.

The Colonial had an interesting week. VCU and Old Dominion both beat William & Mary to move into a first-place tie with Northeastern, which has won 11 in a row, including a sweep of Virginia Commonwealth.

 

Automatic Bids

13 seeds: Louisiana Tech, Oakland, Kent State

14 seeds: Murray State, College of Charleston, Weber State, Pacific

15 seeds: Sam Houston State, Coastal Carolina, Morgan State, Arkansas State

16 seeds: Stony Brook, Lehigh, Campbell, Quinnipiac, Texas Southern

 

See how my projections (BR-JS) and Brad Wachtel's (F&B) compare to others in the Bracket Project .

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book  Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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