Bracketology: Syracuse, Ohio State, Kentucky and Baylor Battling for Top Seeds
This bracketology will evaluate teams based on how they have performed up to this point in the season. It will not factor in how they are projected to do in the rest of the season.
A conference in parentheses next to a team indicates a team that would have an automatic bid as a conference champion.
With the 68-team format, there will 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 automatic bids.
In the bracket, the winner of the South Region plays the winner of the West Region, and the winner of the Midwest Region plays the winner of the East Region.
The South Region and the West Region hold the overall No. 1 and No. 4 seeds, respectively. The Midwest Region and East Region hold the overall No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.
No. 1 Syracuse (Big East) vs. No. 16 Vermont (A-East)/Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)
Syracuse remains undefeated and No. 1 in the nation. The Orange open up Big East play in their final game of 2011 against Seton Hall.
Vermont ended a five-game losing streak with a win at Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday.
Mississippi Valley State's single win this season was in double overtime over Tennessee State.
No. 8 California vs. No. 9 Gonzaga (WCC)
Cal has won four straight games by double digits.
Gonzaga has won its last four games, including wins over Arizona and Butler.
No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Florida State/St. Joseph's
Mississippi State has won 11 consecutive games since losing to Akron.
Florida State's three-game winning streak ended with a loss at Florida on Thursday.
St. Joseph's four-game winning streak includes wins over Villanova and Creighton.
No. 4 Xavier (A-10) vs. No. 13 VCU (CAA)
After losing suspended players, Xavier dropped games to Long Beach State and Oral Roberts.
VCU has won six straight games, all by double digits.
East Region (Continued)
No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Minnesota
Alabama has lost three of its last five.
Despite playing without leading scorer Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota has only one loss this season.
No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 14 Lamar (Southland)
Connecticut survived Fairfield's second-half comeback on Thursday to improve to 10-1.
Lamar's four-game winning streak was snapped by Ohio State on Thursday.
No. 7 Virginia vs. No. 10 Northwestern
Virginia swept a West Coast road trip and is now 10-1.
Northwestern's three-game winning streak came to an end with a loss at Creighton.
No. 2 Missouri vs. No. 15 Norfolk State (MEAC)
In its toughest game to this point of the season, Missouri outlasted Illinois, 78-74, on Thursday.
Norfolk State rebounded from a rough loss at Illinois State with a win over Toledo.
No. 1 Baylor (Big 12) vs. No. 16 Belmont (A-Sun)
Baylor outlasted BYU last week to remain undefeated this season.
Belmont lost back-to-back games to Miami-Ohio and Marshall and then beat Austin Peay to finish 1-2 in its road trip.
No. 8 Harvard (Ivy) vs. No. 9 Texas A&M
Harvard has won its last two games, defeating Boston University and Florida Atlantic.
After a strong 8-1 start, Texas A&M has lost back-to-back games to Florida and Rice.
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Memphis
Michigan State has won 11 straight games since starting the season at 0-2. The Spartans host Indiana on Wednesday in their Big Ten opener.
Memphis has lost three of its last four. The Tigers return home for a three-game homestand with games against Robert Morris, Charlotte and Tennessee.
No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Cleveland State (Horizon)
Kansas has won four of its last five, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Davidson.
Cleveland State rebounded from a loss to South Florida with a win over Sam Houston State on Thursday.
West Region (Continued)
No. 6 UNLV (MWC) vs. No. 11 Temple
UNLV improved to 2-1 against Top 25 teams with a win over Illinois last week.
Temple split its two-game road trip, losing to Texas and beating Rice.
No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 14 Davidson (SoCon)
Marquette's undefeated season came to an end with a loss to LSU, but the Golden Eagles then rebounded with a 64-50 win over Milwaukee.
Davidson has lost three of its last four, but during that stretch the Wildcats beat No. 11 Kansas on the road.
No. 7 Creighton (MVC) vs. No. 10 Southern Miss (C-USA)
Creighton outlasted Northwestern to pick up its third straight win.
Southern Miss has won its last three games by a combined nine points.
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 15 Nevada (WAC)
Louisville defeated Memphis and Charleston last week to stay undefeated.
After a shaky start, Nevada has won six straight games and is now 9-3.
No. 1 Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. No. 16 Charleston Southern (Big South)/Robert Morris (NEC)
Ohio State has won four straight games entering Big Ten play on Wednesday with a game against Northwestern.
Charleston Southern is currently 2-0 in the Big South and has won two of its last three games.
Robert Morris has won three consecutive games and six of its last seven. The Colonials continue their five-game road trip at Memphis on Thursday.
No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Vanderbilt
Stanford's five-game winning streak ended with a loss to Butler on Thursday night.
Vanderbilt has won its last two games entering a match with Marquette on Thursday.
No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Wichita State/St. Mary's
Pittsburgh has won its last nine games since losing to Long Beach State.
Wichita State is 9-2 and 1-1 against the Top 25.
St. Mary's eight-game winning streak came to an end with a 72-59 loss to undefeated Baylor.
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Long Beach State (Big West)
Illinois has dropped two of its last three games, most recently losing to Missouri, 78-74.
Long Beach State improved to 2-3 against the Top 25 with a win over Xavier in the Diamond Head Classic.
South Region (Continued)
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa
Michigan has a five-game winning streak entering Big Ten play on Wednesday.
Northern Iowa's nine-game winning streak ended with a 76-59 loss to Ohio earlier in the week.
No. 3 Florida vs. No. 14 Denver (Sun Belt)
Florida has won its last five games, including wins over Arizona, Texas A&M and Florida State.
Denver has won four consecutive games since losing to Iona in overtime on December 7.
No. 7 Purdue vs. No. 10 West Virginia
Purdue lost to Butler on Andrew Smith's buzzer-beater last week, but the Boilermakers then rebounded with a win over IPFW.
West Virginia takes a five-game winning streak into a matchup with Baylor tonight.
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Weber State (Big Sky)
Duke has won its last three games with an average margin of victory of 18.7 points.
Weber State defeated Utah on Thursday behind the nation's leading scorer Damian Lillard's 22 points.
No. 1 Kentucky (SEC) vs. No. 16 Bucknell (Patriot)
Kentucky has won each of its last three games by at least 24 points.
Bucknell rebounded from a loss to Syracuse with a win over Boston University on Thursday.
No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Arizona
Kansas State picked up a huge win over Alabama last week. The Wildcats are currently in the Diamond Head Classic semifinals.
Arizona has won three of its last four games and opens up conference play against Arizona State on New Year's Eve.
No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 Oklahoma
Indiana remains undefeated entering Big Ten play. The Hoosiers' next three opponents are all nationally ranked.
Oklahoma is 9-1 with its only loss coming to Saint Louis at the 76 Classic.
No. 4 Georgetown vs. No. 13 Ohio (MAC)
Georgetown has won its last four games by double digits.
Ohio kept its winning streak going with a 17-point win at Northern Iowa this week.
Midwest Region (Continued)
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 Seton Hall
San Diego State has won its last four games, but the Aztecs do not play another Division I team until January 10.
Seton Hall outlasted Mercer and Dayton in close games to improve to 10-1 on the season.
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Iona (MAAC)
Wisconsin has won its last four games and takes on Mississippi Valley State tonight.
Iona is 6-1 through the first seven games of its road trip. The Gaels finish the stretch at Hofstra on Thursday.
No. 7 Murray State (OVC) vs. No. 10 Saint Louis
Murray State improved to 13-0 this week, defeating Tennessee-Martin to open up OVC play.
Saint Louis has won five straight games since losing to Loyola Marymount.
No. 2 North Carolina (ACC) vs. No. 15 South Dakota State (Summit)
North Carolina has won five straight games, and four of the wins have come by double digits.
South Dakota State improved to 10-4 by blowing out Washington this week.
First Four out
Mississippi has lost its last two games. The Rebels could definitely use a win at Dayton on December 30.
LSU is back in tourney talk for the first time in a few years after upsetting No. 10 Marquette this week.
Marshall has won four straight games, including wins over Iona and Belmont.
Virginia Tech has won five straight games to improve to 10-3.
Next Four out
Indiana State is putting together a solid résumé after beating Vanderbilt on the road.
Iowa State currently stands at 9-3 on the season.
New Mexico has won eight consecutive games.
Brigham Young would be in the bracket had it beaten Baylor. The Cougars start WCC play against St. Mary's on December 29.
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