Normally, my bracketologies will be based only off of how teams have done up to that point in the season, and would not take the future part of the season into account. However, as a preseason bracketology, this bracketology will take into consideration how I think the season will play out through February. All teams which I have projected to win their conference championship receive an automatic bid.
With the 68-team format, there will now be four play-in games. There will be two play-in games for the bottom four at-large teams, and two play-in games for the bottom four conference tournament winners who earned at-large bids. The four play-in games are labeled "Play-In No. 1," "Play-In No. 2," "Play-In No. 3," and "Play-In No. 4." These four games will be listed at the bottom after all the seedings are given. The winners of each of these four play-in games will be seeded in the spots given.
No. 1 Seeds
Duke (ACC) , Michigan State (Big Ten), Kansas State (Big 12), Kansas
Duke enters the season as the defending champions. The Blue Devils are returning some of the key components of last year's team. In addition, Duke will have Liberty transfer Seth Curry (son of Dell, brother of Stephen) and star freshman Kyrie Irving.
Michigan State will be searching for its third straight Final Four appearance. The Spartans return Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, and Draymond Green, and will benefit from the additions of Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Russell Byrd, and Alex Gauna.
Kansas State made a great run in the NCAA Tournament last year, and with the return of a bunch of players, the Wildcats are set to improve on last year. Kansas State will have to fight hard to beat Kansas for a Big 12 title, but the Wildcats' experience will jolt the Wildcats to a Big 12 title.
Kansas will be fighting with Kansas State for the Big 12 crown, but Kansas State's experience will prove to be superior. However, this will not hinder the Jayhawks from having another great season and entering the NCAA Tournament a No. 1 seed.
No. 2 Seeds
Pittsburgh (Big East), North Carolina, Ohio State, Florida (SEC)
The Pittsburgh Panthers finished second in the Big East last season, did not lose a lot of their scoring from last year, and are returning four starters. And don't forget to add in a great recruiting class with J.J. Moore, Cameron Wright, and Isaiah Epps. There is not much holding Pitt back from being a No. 1 seed, and it would not be surprising if they end up as a No. 1 seed in March.
North Carolina lost half of its scoring from last season, but the Tar Heels appear to have the talent to make up for that with three incoming freshmen in the top 25 of this recruiting class. This class is led by overall No. 1 recruit Harrison Barnes.
Ohio State may have lost Evan Turner, but that was the Buckeyes only big loss. The rest of last year's main scorers are back, plus some of the best freshmen in the country will be joining them.
Florida lost a chunk of last year's bench, but the key players from last year's NCAA Tournament team are returning. In addition, the Gators will have McDonald's All-American Patrick Young and top 40 recruit Casey Prather.
No. 3 Seeds
Villanova, Kentucky, Purdue, Washington (Pac-10)
Villanova will definitely struggle a little due to Scottie Reynolds no longer being able to run the point for the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats are returning three of their starters, and they will have key additions of two ESPNU top 100 forwards James Bell and Jayvaughn Pinkston.
Kentucky is only returning 16 percent of its scoring from last year. However, another outstanding recruiting class including Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Elroy Vargas, and Stacey Pool, will keep Kentucky among the nation's best teams.
Purdue was great last season, but took a big hit when Robbie Hummel got injured last in the regular season. Before this season was even underway, Hummel went down once more with a torn ACL. Despite this loss, the Boilermakers still returns the other stars from last year's team, and they should be able to still pull through with a strong season.
Washington lost its leading scorer from last year with the departure of Quincy Pondexter, but the Huskies will still be loaded with talent this season. In addition to Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Venoy Overton, and Abdul Gaddy, the Huskies will also have Terrence Ross, who was ranked the fifth best small forward in his recruiting class.
No. 4 Seeds
Syracuse, Illinois, Baylor, Memphis (C-USA)
Syracuse lost three of its top four scorers from last year, a stellar recruiting class should help the Orange put away any worries about a down season. Despite losing those three main scorers, the Orange still have five players who averaged five or more points per game last season returning. Of those players, the Orange have the players that can make up a solid starting lineup. Syracuse has two solid guards in Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine, and two solid big men in Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph.
Bruce Weber is building Illinois back to the spot where it stood a few years ago. The main players from last year's Illinois team are returning, plus the addition of a very good recruiting class will add some depth. Starting the season ranked No. 13, Illinois has a very good chance at getting a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
LaceDarius Dunn will be suspended to start the season, but once he returns to the roster, Baylor will have an outstanding lineup. In addition to Dunn, Baylor will have juniors Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones and freshman Perry Jones.
Josh Pastner is ready to bring Memphis back into the national spotlight. Although Memphis lost three of its starters from last season, Pastner has brought in an absolutely amazing recruiting class to replace them, including two McDonald's All-Americans and four players in the ESPNU top 100.
In addition, there are also a few other players joining the Memphis program this year that were ranked highly on ESPN. Leading the recruiting class is Will Barton. Barton, who was ranked No. 8 overall and the No. 1 shooting guard, will be able to make a strong impact immediately.
No. 5 Seeds
Temple (A-10), Gonzaga (WCC), San Diego State (MWC), Missouri
Temple will have to fight hard with Richmond for an Atlantic-10 championship, but the Owls' depth will vault them into first place by the end of the season. The Owls are returning multiple players that averaged more than 10 points per game last season, and they also have a handful of other players that can be counted on to chip in a solid contribution in every game.
Gonzaga might not have as much depth as St. Mary's, but the Bulldogs' starting lineup is much better than the Gaels'. The Bulldogs will be returning four of last year's starters, while the Gaels are only returning three. Gonzaga's only real competition in the WCC will be St. Mary's, but the losses of Omar Samhan and Ben Allen are too great for the Gaels to overcome Gonzaga.
Do you like the idea of a 68-team field?
San Diego State is returning more than three-quarters of its scoring from last year, plus the Aztecs will have a lot of experience with five seniors on the roster.
Missouri is losing some of its scoring, but the Tigers are returning their top three scorers from last season. The Tigers also have a solid recruiting class with two members of the ESPNU top 100.
No. 6 Seeds
Richmond, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Georgetown
Richmond enters the season with a great team, but the Spiders simply do not have the depth to match Temple.
Virginia Tech is returning just about all of its scoring from last season. In addition to having practically everybody returning for the 2010-11 season, the Hokies will also have the additions of Jarrell Eddie and Tyrone Garland.
Wisconsin will need someone to step up as a point guard after the loss of Trevon Hughes. If someone like Jordan Taylor can step up early in the season and get the Badgers jelling, they can be a very dangerous team.
Georgetown's 2010-11 season ended with a very disappointing first round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Ohio. The Hoyas will surely hurt a little from the loss of Greg Monroe, but Monroe is the only player that played in more than seven games last season to depart from Georgetown. Plus, ESPNU top 100 power forward Nate Lubrick might be able to fill in for at least part of Monroe's job.
No. 7 Seeds
UNLV, Texas, Butler (Horizon), Tennessee
UNLV was outstanding in the regular season last season before falling to Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Texas lost its top three scorers from last season, but the Longhorns are returning most of the rest of their team. In addition, they will have two freshmen that were McDonald's All-American's in forward Tristan Thompson and guard Cory Joseph.
The defending runner-ups are taking a hit with the losses of Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley. However, Butler still returns its other three starters. Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, and Ronald Nored all played big roles on last year's team. To support those upperclassmen, Brad Stevens' recruit Khyle Marshall, ranked No. 22 small forward on ESPN, will be entering the program. The only real issue for Butler could be their bench and depth.
Tennessee is losing a lot of last year's scoring, but a very good recruiting class led by forward Tobias Harris should keep Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament field.
No. 8 Seeds
Georgia, West Virginia, Brigham Young, Florida State
Georgia went to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 after a miracle run in the SEC conference tournament. Now the Bulldogs are ready to return to the national stage. The Bulldogs return four of last year's starters and will have seven upperclassmen on their roster.
It is tough to predict how West Virginia will do this season. The Mountaineers lost some of their better players, but there are still a few returning players that were big contributers to last year's Final Four run. In addition, the Mountaineers will have ESPNU top 100 point guard Noah Cottrill.
Brigham Young is returning its two leading scorers, but San Diego State will be too talented for the Cougars to win the MWC.
Florida State is returning most of its key players from last season. However, the loss of Solomon Alabi will hurt them and lessen the Seminoles' post presence.
No. 9 Seeds
Old Dominion (CAA), Mississippi State, Maryland, Minnesota
The loss of leading scorer Gerald Lee will definitely hurt Old Dominion, but Lee is the only key player that is not returning to the Monarchs squad. Old Dominion's other four starters are all returning. The Monarchs have a great backcourt and a very good frontcourt, but more importantly the Monarchs have good depth.
Mississippi State lost some of its key players, but the Bulldogs will still have enough talent to return to the NCAA Tournament in March.
Maryland lost more than half of its scoring from last year. Gary Williams has brought in a very solid recruiting class that will keep Maryland competitive.
Minnesota will need to find ways to make up for the lost scoring of Lawrence Westbrook and Damian Johnson. Once the Golden Gophers can do that, they will be set up to return to the NCAA Tournament.
No. 10 Seeds
Seton Hall, Wichita State (MVC), UCLA, Vanderbilt
Seton Hall is putting the Bobby Gonzalez era behind and moving on to what has the potential to be a very successful Kevin Willard era. Willard who had quickly brought an awful, last place Iona program to third place in the MAAC in only three seasons. Now, Willard holds control of a Seton Hall team with a lot of potential. The Pirates are returning more than 70 percent of their scoring from last season, and they are returning four starters.
Wichita State was great last season, but fell short of an NCAA Tournament berth and then lost in the first round of the NIT. The Shockers lost leading scorer Clevin Hannah, but the other leaders of last year's team are returning. The MVC is definitely going to be a weaker conference than it was last year, and the Shockers took the smallest hit out of all the teams in the MVC.
UCLA is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after a miserable 2009-10 season. The Bruins are returning three players who scored more than 10 points per game last season. In addition, UCLA will also have star freshmen Josh Smith and Tyler Lamb.
Vanderbilt lost its two leading scorers from last season, but the rest of last year's roster is returning, plus the Commodores have a solid incoming recruiting class.
No. 11 Seeds
St. John's, North Carolina State, Dayton, Wofford (SoCon)
It took a last second shot to defeat St. John's in the first round of the 2010 NIT. The Red Storm return nearly all of last year's scoring, and they are loaded with experience. This year's St. John's team has nine seniors and two juniors. The Red Storm can also count on some contributions from freshman forward Dwayne Polee.
North Carolina State is returning most of its key players from last season, but the key to getting the Wolf Pack into the NCAA Tournament will be star freshman C.J. Leslie.
Dayton did lose three of last year's starters, but the two who remain on the team for the upcoming season were the two leading scorers last season, Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson. In addition to these two stars, Dayton will also be introducing an excellent recruiting class.
Wofford just barely missed out on a first round upset over Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament. After the big letdown at last season's finish, the Terriers are ready to return to the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers only lost three players from last year's team: Junior Salters, Corey Godzinski, and Jason Dawson. None of these players were a huge part of last year's team, although Salters did contribute 7.7 points per game. Hopefully, freshman guard Josh Corry can step up and make up for that lost ground. There are a couple of teams in the SoCon that might be trouble, but we could be looking at the new Davidson.
No. 12 Seeds
Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio (MAC), Utah State (WAC)
The Colorado Buffaloes have a team that could take them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. Colorado was mediocre but not really in 2009-10. The Buffaloes will be returning most of their scoring and will have a lot of experience from upperclassmen.
Connecticut struggled last season, but a very good recruiting class could be the key to getting the Huskies back into the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio first stunned the MAC by winning the MAC conference tournament, and then the Bobcats stunned the nation with a first round upset over Georgetown. The Bobcats no longer have Armon Bassett, but the rest of the supporting cast, including four players who averaged more than 10 points per game, will be returning. In addition, the Bobcats are bringing in four up-recruits for the upcoming season.
The only player who played more than 10 minutes per game last season that Utah State lost is three-point bomber Jared Quayle. This is definitely a big loss for the Aggies, but it will not be enough to keep them from returning to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the experience of this year's Utah State team, the Aggies will also have freshman guard James Walker. Walker was ranked the No. 42 shooting guard in his recruiting class, and he was given a 92 grade on ESPN.com.
No. 13 Seeds
Oakland (Summit), Northwestern, Play-In #1 Winner, Play-In #2 Winner
Oakland seniors Larry Wright and Keith Benson are ready to lead this team back to the NCAA Tournament. Benson dominated the Summit last season, and he is only getting better. The Golden Grizzlies only problem will their team depth. If the big players can do the bulk of the work and stay away from injuries, Oakland will be on the right track.
Northwestern has slowly built itself out of the dumps of the Big Ten. The Wildcats were successful during preseason games against professional European teams. After going to the NIT last season, the Wildcats are set to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are returning 85 percent of their scoring from last season, plus they will have freshman guard JerShon Cobb.
No. 14 Seeds
Murray State (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), North Texas (Sun Belt), Lipscomb (A-Sun)
Murray State nearly advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and this year the Racers are ready for more. The Racers return three starters and four players who averaged more than nine points per game last season. Last year, Morehead State was the only real threat to Murray State in the OVC. With Morehead State's loss of Kenneth Faried, things should get a little easier for Murray State this season.
Are there any mid-majors that have a legitimate chance at making the Final Four?
Many have assumed that Siena will repeat as MAAC champions. However, with the loss of many of its best players and its coach, Siena will most likely dip down at least one spot in the MAAC standings—and the team moving up to take the Saints stop will be the Fairfield Stags. The Stags finished in second place last year, and they return four starters, plus they will benefit from the addition of fifth year senior Greg Nero, who averaged over 12 points per game two seasons ago. Sophomore point guard Derek Needham returns to the Stags and is ready to lead them once more in 2010-2011.
North Texas won the Sun Belt and went to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Mean Green return four starters and three players who averaged more than 11 points per game last season. The Mean Green will most likely benefit greatly from freshman shooting guard Ronald McGhee.
Lipscomb enters this season as the defending regular season champs in the Atlantic Sun. By the way, the Bisons are returning all five starters. The Bisons had four players scoring in double digits last season, and all of them are returning. Lipscomb will play three games against top 25 teams, and it could be a threat to all of them.
No. 15 Seeds
Boston University (A-East), Lafayette (Patriot) Lamar (Southland), UC Santa Barbara (Big West)
Boston will be the front-runners in the struggling America East Conference. The Terriers will have three returning players who averaged 10 or more points per game last season.
Lafayette was a threat in the Patriot League last season, but inconsistency led them to a disappointing finish. The Leopards have a very good frontcourt with Jared Mintz and Ryan Willen, and these big men along with guard Jim Mower could bring Lafayette back to the top of the Patriot League.
Lamar may have lost its leading scorer from last season, but the rest of the key components will be returning. The Southland does not appear to have any dominant teams, but Lamar seems to have the edge in that conference.
The Big West will ultimately come down to a battle with UC Santa Barbara and Pacific. Both teams had solid years last year, and both have the talent to win the conference this year. Ultimately, the Gauchos have more talent than the Tigers with Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally.
No. 16 Seeds
Weber State (Big Sky), Princeton (Ivy), Play-In No. 3 Winner, Play-In No. 4 Winner
Weber State will be forced to rely on Damian LIllard for most of this season. Lillard averaged 19.9 points per game last season. If Lillard can lead the Wildcats in 2010-11, the Weber State will be returning to the NCAA Tournament..
The Ivy League was exciting last year, but this season it is going downhill. Jeremy Lin graduated from Harvard, and the majority of Cornell's team has graduated. However, Princeton is returning the majority of its scoring and enters the season as the frontrunner in the Ivy League.
Play-In No. 1 (No. 13 Seed)
Xavier vs. Arizona
Xavier will have a good team this year, but it will not quite be able to compete with Temple and Richmond after losing more than 40 percent of its scoring from last year. However, the Musketeers' depth will help them greatly this season.
Arizona had a fairly miserable season and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. However, the Wildcats are returning four out of five starters, and that experience should be enough for them to finish in the top of the Pac-10 and get a bid into a play-in game.
Play-In No. 2 (No. 13 Seed)
Georgia Tech vs. New Mexico
The expansion of the NCAA Tournament field will definitely help Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets lost their two leading scorers from last season, but the addition of freshman Jason Morris and the rest of the returning players will make the Yellow Jackets just good enough to get into a 68-team field
New Mexico certainly lost a good chunk of last year's scoring, but between a few veterans, a very good recruiting class, and strong home-court advantage, the Lobos should be able to pick up enough wins to get into a play-in game.
Play-In No. 3 (No. 16 Seed)
Jackson State (SWAC) vs. Long Island University (NEC)
Jackson State is set up to have a solid season in the SWAC. However, due to the SWAC being one of the weakest college basketball conferences, it will be very hard for the Tigers to get an automatic bid to the 64-team field.
Long Island will really miss last year's leading scorer Jaytornah Wisseh. However, the rest of the bulk of the Blackbirds' scoring will return. Also, the NEC remains a weak conference, so Long Island will enter the season as a frontrunner to receive the NEC's automatic bid.
Play-In No. 4 (No. 16 Seed)
Coastal Carolina (Big South), vs. Morgan State (MEAC)
Coastal Carolina had a very solid year last season. However, the Chanticleers lost two of their leading scorers and might have some trouble finding other ways to score this season. Regardless, Coastal Carolina still appears to be the best team in thee Big South.
Morgan State will certainly have to find a new offensive leader after losing Reggie Holmes, but the season still looks fairly promising with its next two leading scorers returning.
Which BCS conference will get the most bids to the 2011 NCAA Tournament?
First Four Out
Texas A&M, California, St. Mary's, Louisville
Next Four Out
Marquette, Miami (FL), Missouri State, Saint Louis
Big East: 8
Big 10: 7
Big 12: 6