2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Latest Projection of the Field of 68

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystFebruary 17, 2015

2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Latest Projection of the Field of 68

0 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    In our latest projection of the 2015 NCAA tournament field, Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Wisconsin remain the No. 1 seeds for a second consecutive week, though it should be noted that Villanova and Gonzaga are outstanding candidates for a spot on the top line.

    At the other end of the at-large spectrum, Davidson, North Carolina State and UCLA all found their way back onto the right side of the bubble, replacing Miami, Rhode Island and Texas A&M.

    However, the bubble is still outrageously soft. A total of eight at-large teams in the field have already suffered at least three losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100, which would have been unthinkable in years past.

    There are less than four weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, but there's still plenty of time and room for movement into and out of the field.

    The three primary computer metrics considered in this projection are RPI, KenPom.com (KP) and strength of schedule (SOS), though Sagarin and BPI ratings are also taken into consideration for a more holistic view of each team's resume. And, of course, the oft-mentioned, never-quantifiable eye test was part of the seeding process.

    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 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.

    Statistics on the following slides courtesy of ESPN.com and KenPom.com. RPI, KP and SOS numbers current through the start of play on Monday, Feb. 16. Win-loss records include only games against D-I opponents and are current through the start of play on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Last 5 In

1 of 9

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Last Team In: Iowa Hawkeyes (15-10, RPI: 55, KP: 38, SOS: 13)

    Maybe this is an overreaction to a bad week, but maybe not. Either way, it's not a good idea for a team to suffer its two worst losses of the season in back-to-back games to drop to 2-5 in its last seven.

    As a result, the Hawkeyes now have 10 losses and have fallen out of the RPI Top 50neither of which is a great place to be in mid-February.

    The good news is the road wins over North Carolina and Ohio State aren't going anywhere, and four of their remaining six regular-season games should absolutely be wins. Then again, the home game against Minnesota and road game against Northwestern should have been wins, too.

    Iowa entered last week with plenty of margin for error, but that appears to be gone now.

    Second-to-Last: Purdue Boilermakers (17-9, RPI: 64, KP: 49, SOS: 80)

    Not much change for the Boilermakers, who transition from last team in to second-to-last team in after winning a pair of can't-lose games against Rutgers and Nebraska.

    Conference record is 100 percent irrelevant when it comes to selecting the field, but Purdue still needs to get to at least 12-6 in Big Ten play to feel good about its tournament hopes. The Boilermakers are currently 9-4 and still play an extremely winnable home game against Rutgers. To reach the goal, then, they'll need to win two out of these four: at Indiana, at Ohio State, at Michigan State and vs. Illinois.

    It won't be easy, but they don't deserve easy after losing games to North Florida, Gardner-Webb and Vanderbilt in December. 

    Third-to-Last: Stanford Cardinal (16-9, RPI: 51, KP: 37, SOS: 76)

    It wasn't that long ago that Stanford looked like a lock for the tournament, but after Sunday's loss to Colorado, the Cardinal have now lost four of their last five, including two losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100.

    That wouldn't be the end of the world if they had great wins, but they have only beaten two RPI Top 80 teamsa home win over Wofford two days into the season and a road overtime win over Texas during the part of the season when the Longhorns couldn't seem to beat anyone.

    Whether Stanford is playing to protect a bid or trying to play its way back into the field is up for debate, but the end result is the same. The Cardinal need substantially more wins than losses down the stretch.

    If they don't plan on winning their season finale at Arizona, they better win the four games (vs. California, vs. Oregon, vs. Oregon State and at Arizona State) between now and then.

    Fourth-to-Last: UCLA Bruins (16-10, RPI: 40, KP: 45, SOS: 17)

    If nothing else, the season sweep of Stanford looks pretty good now that those two teams are hanging out in similar spots on the bubble.

    The Bruins also have that huge home win over Utahpayback for the 32-point thrashing the Utes handed them in Salt Lake City. But that blowout loss apparently knocked something loose for UCLA, as the Bruins are 8-3 in their last 11 games.

    This is the week that likely seals their fate or punches their ticket, though, as they travel to face both Arizona and Arizona State.

    Fifth-to-Last: Davidson Wildcats (16-6, RPI: 58, KP: 40, SOS: 162)

    The Wildcats seem to keep playing their way into and out of the projected field in weekly cycles, and that do-si-do takes them back to the right side of the bubble this week.

    That's because they won consecutive games against George Mason and Duquesne in blowout fashion before picking up a crucial road win against La SalleDavidson's third RPI Top 100 win of the season.

    If we assume wins over Fordham and Duquesne, that puts the Wildcats at 18-6 with games remaining at Rhode Island and George Washington and at home against VCU and George Washington. Against that schedule, 20-8 should do the trick.

First 5 Out

2 of 9

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    First Team Out: Texas A&M Aggies (17-7, RPI: 44, KP: 51, SOS: 93)

    Herein lies the annual bubble dilemma: Do we reward a team for not suffering any bad losses or penalize them for not picking up any marquee wins?

    The Aggies have seven losses, but not one of them came at the hands of a team outside the RPI Top 100. However, they only have one win against the RPI Top 75, and let's just say Texas A&M wouldn't be the only team to miss the tournament despite beating LSU.

    The Aggies get to go for a sweep of LSU on Tuesday, but it's a bit of a Catch-22, because beating the Tigers again would likely knock them out of the RPI Top 50, leaving Texas A&M with nothing resembling a quality win. It would certainly help A&M's case in the head-to-head battle with LSU, though, which may actually come into play given how close both teams are to the cut line.

    Unless they win at Arkansas next week, though, the Aggies will have to wait until the SEC tournament for a chance at a resume-bolstering win.

    Second Team Out: Boise State Broncos (16-7, RPI: 43, KP: 53, SOS: 99)

    It certainly doesn't take long to go from "Hottest bubble team in the country" to "They still have work left to do," as the Broncos proved by snapping their eight-game winning streak with a loss to Fresno State (RPI: 213) over the weekend.

    Boise State still has two very difficult road games remaining against San Diego State and UNLV, but its other four regular-season games are extremely winnable. A 5-1 finish before the Mountain West tournament might be enough, but it would certainly depend on what other bubble teams decide to do. A six-game winning streak would be a much better plan.

    Third Team Out: BYU Cougars (18-8, RPI: 60, KP: 32, SOS: 96)

    BYU only has three regular-season games remaining (vs. San Diego, at Portland and at Gonzaga), and the Cougars need to win them allthe first two to avoid adding any more bad losses to their resume and the third one to finally have a win away from home worth mentioning.

    Fourth Team Out: Pittsburgh Panthers (16-10, RPI: 46, KP: 77, SOS: 41)

    Over their last nine games, the Panthers have played six times against the five-headed monster of Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia.

    Because they won two of those gamesmost recently the 89-point explosion against North Carolina—they are right on the bubble with the toughest part of the season behind them.

    The problem now is that opportunities turn into traps. With 10 losses already on the docket, Pittsburgh can't very well afford to lose any of its remaining games against Boston College, Florida State, Miami, Syracuse and Wake Forest.

    Let's put it this way: Pittsburgh likely needs five more wins to reach the NCAA tournament. For every regular-season game the Panthers lose, their required run in the ACC tournament increases by one day. But if they win those remaining regular-season games, they should be able to rest easy, regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament.

    Fifth Team Out: Massachusetts Minutemen (16-9, RPI: 37, KP: 102, SOS: 32)

    The fifth team out has unofficially evolved into the "Why the heck not?" slot, so if there are already a bunch of at-large teams in the projected field with at least three losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100, why wouldn't we at least consider Massachusetts?

    The Minutemen struggled early and often this season, but they have won nine out of their last 11 gamesincluding five road winsat a point in the season when we're practically begging teams to look like they actually want to play in the tournament.

    They still have three big road games remaining against Rhode Island, VCU and George Washington, but two out of three might be the magic number.

Next 6 Out

3 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    The pool of tournament candidates just keeps shrinking by the day, but here are five other teams deserving of momentary considerationand a sixth team that perhaps isn't as hopelessly far from the bubble as its RPI suggests.

    Tulsa Golden Hurricane (17-6, RPI: 46, KP: 78, SOS: 117)

    One nice win and two terrible losses does not a tournament resume make.

    Moreover, the Golden Hurricane have lost consecutive games by double digits to SMU and Connecticut. They're not even going to come close to the field unless they turn things around and win a couple of the upcoming games against Temple, Cincinnati, Memphis and SMU.

    Miami Hurricanes (16-9, RPI: 62, KP: 61, SOS: 55)

    The big win at Duke keeps us from ever being able to completely throw this resume away, but the four losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100 also keep us from taking it too seriously. The Hurricanes still have games remaining against Louisville, North Carolina and Pittsburgh. They better win at least two of them.

    Oregon Ducks (17-8, RPI: 61, KP: 75, SOS: 87)

    The game against UCLA on Saturday was a temporary elimination game for the loser, which Oregon was. However, the Ducks still have a chance to get back into the thick of things with a home game against Utah and road games against California, Stanford and Oregon State on the horizon.

    Rhode Island Rams (16-6, RPI: 69, KP: 60, SOS: 187)

    The Rams look like a solid team on the court, but they have no RPI Top 50 wins and two losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100. They still have four games remaining against teams currently in the RPI Top 75, and they probably need to win at least three of them.

    Connecticut Huskies (14-10, RPI: 85, KP: 57, SOS: 83)

    The Huskies didn't even come close in what was a huge opportunity at SMU on Saturday, but the defending national champions aren't completely dead just yet. They have three RPI Top 50 wins and only one loss to a team outside the RPI Top 60though that one loss was a very troublesome one at Houston.

    Connecticut still plays two games against Memphis, a home game against SMU and a road game against Temple. The Huskies probably need to run the table in those games, but it just might be enough to get them back into the conversation.

    TCU Horned Frogs (15-10, RPI: 129, KP: 55, SOS: 139)

    This one is a bit crazy, but hear me out.

    TCU has two RPI Top 50 wins and only one loss to a team outside the RPI Top 35. Is that really that much worse than UCLA's one RPI Top 50 win and five losses to teams outside the RPI Top 50?

    Granted, TCU's nonconference schedule was a giant pile of garbage, but what if the Horned Frogs won home games against Kansas State and Texas Tech, and picked up a marquee road win over Kansas, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State to get to 18-13 before the start of the Big 12 tournament?

    The moral of the story here is that the bubble is extremely soft and devoid of deserving teams. TCU isn't particularly close to the field, but the fact that we can even mention the Horned Frogs should tell you all you need to know about how hard it is to find 68 teams this year.

East Region (Syracuse)

4 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    Charlotte, North Carolina

    No. 1 Virginia (24-1, RPI: 3, KP: 2, SOS: 11)
    No. 16 High Point/American (First Four)

    No. 8 Oklahoma State (16-8, RPI: 25, KP: 24, SOS: 26)
    No. 9 Michigan State (17-8, RPI: 36, KP: 23, SOS: 35)

    Jacksonville, Florida

    No. 4 North Carolina (18-7, RPI: 10, KP: 16, SOS: 3)
    No. 13 Old Dominion (C-USA auto bid)

    No. 5 Arkansas (20-5, RPI: 16, KP: 26, SOS: 68)
    No. 12 Harvard (Ivy auto bid)

    Louisville, Kentucky

    No. 3 Oklahoma (17-8, RPI: 18, KP: 10, SOS: 14)
    No. 14 Georgia State (Sun Belt auto bid)

    No. 6 SMU (20-5, RPI: 22, KP: 22, SOS: 69)
    No. 11 North Carolina State (15-11, RPI: 45, KP: 42, SOS: 2)

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    No. 2 Villanova (24-2, RPI: 4, KP: 7, SOS: 28)
    No. 15 North Carolina Central (MEAC auto bid)

    No. 7 West Virginia (20-6, RPI: 28, KP: 29, SOS: 79)
    No. 10 Ole Miss (17-8, RPI: 38, KP: 30, SOS: 39)

    Stock Up: North Carolina State Wolfpack (New to the Field)

    Against the second-strongest schedule in the country, 11 losses isn't as much of a deal-breaker as it would be for most teams.

    North Carolina State has played 16 games against the RPI Top 100. Yes, 10 of those 16 games resulted in losses, but that means six of them were wins. Moreover, four of those wins came against the RPI Top 50, and two of them (vs. Duke and Saturday's game at Louisville) were season-altering victories.

    Now, at a certain point, a resume can only handle so many acceptable losses. Georgetown went 17-14 against the 12th-most difficult schedule last seasonincluding a 7-10 record vs. the RPI Top 100 and three RPI Top 25 winsbut the Hoyas simply accumulated too many losses and missed the tournament.

    The Wolfpack can probably endure one more regular-season loss at North Carolina, but anything more than that and they'll be right back on the outside looking in.

    Stock Down: West Virginia Mountaineers (Down One Line)

    Even with the big upset of Kansas on Monday night, the Mountaineers still have a ton of work to do to prove they deserve better than a middling seed.

    After all, a one-point home win doesn't exactly erase the previous stretch of four games in which they lost three games by margins of at least 18 points each.

    The win also did nothing to change the fact that this is a team that can't shoot. The Mountaineers made just 37.5 percent of their field-goal attempts against the Jayhawks, which is just slightly worse than the 38.5 percent they shot in their first four games in February.

    But the win certainly helps. West Virginia now has two RPI Top 25 wins with at least four more games against that collection of teams forthcoming. It's make-or-break time.

    Holding Steady: Ole Miss Rebels (No Change)

    Though Ole Miss' seed didn't change, Saturday's home loss to Arkansas did make things a little bit dicier for the Rebels.

    Let's not forget, this team had three home losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100. With merely a 3-5 record vs. RPI Top 50 and a 6-5 record vs. the RPI Top 100, they incessantly remain one bad loss away from slipping smack dab onto the bubble.

    Beating Arkansas would have done a lot to change that narrative. Maybe with a season sweep of the Razorbacks they could have stomached a home loss down the stretch to Tennessee or Vanderbilt, or a road loss to Mississippi State, and still remained comfortably in the tournament. But now that cushion is gone.

Midwest Region (Cleveland)

5 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    Louisville, Kentucky

    No. 1 Kentucky (25-0, RPI: 2, KP: 1, SOS: 25)
    No. 16 Albany/St. Francis (NY) (First Four)

    No. 8 Indiana (18-8, RPI: 29, KP: 41, SOS: 20)
    No. 9 St. John's (16-8, RPI: 34, KP: 36, SOS: 33)

    Jacksonville, Florida

    No. 4 Northern Iowa (24-2, RPI: 19, KP: 15, SOS: 172)
    No. 13 Iona (MAAC auto bid)

    No. 5 Baylor (17-7, RPI: 14, KP: 11, SOS: 6)
    No. 12 Murray State (Ohio Valley auto bid)

    Columbus, Ohio

    No. 3 Louisville (20-5, RPI: 15, KP: 12, SOS: 30)
    No. 14 UC Davis (Big West auto bid)

    No. 6 Providence (18-8, RPI: 24, KP: 43, SOS: 10)
    No. 11 Illinois (17-9, RPI: 42, KP: 54, SOS: 64)

     

    Portland, Oregon

    No. 2 Arizona (22-3, RPI: 7, KP: 3, SOS: 43)
    No. 15 Texas Southern (SWAC auto bid)

    No. 7 Temple (19-7, RPI: 33, KP: 47, SOS: 58)
    No. 10 Xavier (16-10, RPI: 41, KP: 25, SOS: 31)

    Stock Up: Temple Owls (Up Four Lines)

    We've frequently noted this season that Wisconsin has not been beaten at full strength, but have you heard the same is true for Temple?

    The Owls didn't have Jesse Morgan or Devin Coleman in losses to Duke, UNLV, Saint Joseph's and Villanova, and Will Cummings was banged up in the losses to Tulsa, SMU and Cincinnati. They even played their last three games without Obi Enechionyia, but they have still been able to string together seven consecutive wins.

    To be sure, we're not directly comparing Temple to Wisconsin or saying the Owls are a title contender at full strength, but it's worth noting that this is a very good team that perhaps still hasn't reached its ceiling. If the Owls can pick up road wins over SMU and Tulsa this week, they could climb yet another line or two next week.

    Stock Down: Xavier Musketeers (Down One Line)

    It has been more than two months since the Musketeers won or lost more than two consecutive games, and that inability to string together wins has been eroding Xavier's resume for some time. So while the home loss to St. John's wasn't individually a terrible one, it ended up being pretty painful in conjunction with everything else that has happened lately.

    Things aren't about to get any easier either. The Musketeers have their annual rivalry game against Cincinnati this week before closing out the season with home games against Butler and Villanova, along with road games against St. John's and Creighton.

    They could legitimately lose all five of those games, but they've put themselves in a position where they probably need to win three out of five to stay in the projected field.

    We'll see how things play out over the next three weeks, but this one may very well come down to the Big East tournament.

    Holding Steady: Indiana Hoosiers (No Change)

    Like Xavier, the Hoosiers have been bouncing back and forth between wins and losses for the past several weeks, but at least they have picked up a few quality wins while avoiding bad losses.

    Zach Osterman wrote for The Indianapolis Star before Sunday's game against Minnesota, "Indiana faces its greatest opportunity of the season, as it begins the easiest third of its Big Ten schedule. Ending a season that has defied expectations, can the Hoosiers now meet them at the most opportune moment?"

    After that key win, they're now 9-8 vs. RPI Top 100 teams, which is more than enough to remain comfortably in the field. They do still have potential land mines against Rutgers and Northwestern, but it would likely take a colossal collapse for Indiana to miss the tournament.

South Region (Houston)

6 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    Charlotte, North Carolina

    No. 1 Duke (23-3, RPI: 5, KP: 8, SOS: 8)
    No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun auto bid)

    No. 8 Dayton (19-5, RPI: 31, KP: 33, SOS: 124)
    No. 9 Georgia (16-8, RPI: 30, KP: 35, SOS: 24)

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    No. 4 Maryland (21-5, RPI: 11, KP: 39, SOS: 34)
    No. 13 Bowling Green (MAC auto bid)

    No. 5 Wichita State (22-3, RPI: 17, KP: 13, SOS: 109)
    No. 12 Stanford/Iowa (Last 5 In)

    Portland, Oregon

    No. 3 Utah (19-4, RPI: 9, KP: 6, SOS: 36)
    No. 14 Eastern Washington (Big Sky auto bid)

    No. 6 Ohio State (19-7, RPI: 35, KP: 14, SOS: 86)
    No. 11 Davidson (Last 5 In)

     

    Omaha, Nebraska

    No. 2 Kansas (21-5, RPI: 1, KP: 9, SOS: 1)
    No. 15 William & Mary (Colonial auto bid)

    No. 7 Georgetown (16-8, RPI: 20, KP: 21, SOS: 4)
    No. 10 Cincinnati (17-8, RPI: 39, KP: 44, SOS: 46)

    Stock Up: Maryland Terrapins (Up One Line)

    If you've only seen Maryland play in the past three-plus weeks, this probably seems crazy. The Terrapins eked out wins they arguably should have dominated and were blown out three times on the road.

    But this is where the "entire body of work" trumps the "eye test." Maryland is 21-5 with 10 RPI Top 100 wins, no bad losses and an RPI rank of 11.

    Not only did the Terrapins jump back up to a No. 4 seed this week, but with so many othersLouisville, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor and North Carolinasuffering losses in the past week, they almost jumped all the way up to a No. 3 seed for merely beating Indiana and Penn State by a combined five points.

    Outside of the home game against Wisconsin, Maryland has it pretty easy the rest of the way, so a spot on the No. 3 line might still be in play.

    Stock Down: Cincinnati Bearcats (Down Three Lines)

    Cincinnati simply makes no sense.

    In the past three weeks, the Bearcats beat Connecticut by double digits, won a road game against SMU, were blown out by Temple and failed to score 50 points in terrible losses to East Carolina and Tulane.

    And with the Temple and Tulane losses coming since the last projection, they had the second-largest drop of any team in this week's fieldand it was tempting to drop them even further.

    As already noted in the Midwest Region, Cincinnati and Xavier square off this week in a rivalry game with massive tournament implications. The loser just might drop to the wrong side of the bubble.

    Holding Steady: Utah Utes (No Change)

    A notion has been floating around the Twittersphere over the past 48 hours that a chasm has opened up between the top two seed lines and the rest of the country, which apparently means that people are really sleeping on Utah.

    The Utes are 9-4 vs. RPI Top 100 teams and have yet to lose to a team outside the RPI Top 50. Their last 15 games have each been decided by at least 10 points, and 13 of those games were wins. Outside of a couple of tough road games against Arizona and UCLA, they have been absolutely destroying everyone in the Pac-12.

    They still get a home game against Arizona in a couple of weeks that could absolutely vault them to a No. 2 seed at the expense of the Wildcatsprovided they can win the road games against Oregon and Oregon State before then.

West Region (Los Angeles)

7 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

    Omaha, Nebraska

    No. 1 Wisconsin (23-2, RPI: 6, KP: 4, SOS: 37)
    No. 16 New Mexico State (WAC auto bid)

    No. 8 Texas (17-8, RPI: 32, KP: 19, SOS: 21)
    No. 9 Colorado State (20-5, RPI: 27, KP: 68, SOS: 85)

    Seattle, Washington

    No. 4 Notre Dame (22-4, RPI: 26, KP: 18, SOS: 114)
    No. 13 Wofford (Southern auto bid)

    No. 5 VCU (19-6, RPI: 12, KP: 27, SOS: 7)
    No. 12 Green Bay (Horizon auto bid)

    Columbus, Ohio

    No. 3 Iowa State (18-6, RPI: 13, KP: 17, SOS: 19)
    No. 14 Stephen F. Austin (Southland auto bid)

    No. 6 Butler (19-7, RPI: 21, KP: 20, SOS: 18)
    No. 11 UCLA/Purdue (Last 5 In)

     

    Seattle, Washington

    No. 2 Gonzaga (25-1, RPI: 8, KP: 5, SOS: 94)
    No. 15 South Dakota State (Summit auto bid)

    No. 7 San Diego State (19-6, RPI: 23, KP: 28, SOS: 52)
    No. 10 LSU (18-7, RPI: 50, KP: 31, SOS: 102)

    Stock Up: VCU Rams (Up One Line)

    How much are we supposed to penalize the Rams for their last two losses?

    On the surface, losses to Saint Bonaventure and La Salle look terrible. But keep in mind the circumstances. Briante Weber is out for the year, and Treveon Graham was out for those two games.

    Expecting VCU to win games without either of those studs in the lineup is roughly the equivalent of expecting Duke to win games without Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.

    With Graham back, though, the Rams comfortably won a road game against George Washington on Saturday, which is by no means an easy thing to do.

    Now we can go back to judging VCU by its resume, which is quite impressive. The Rams have the No. 1 nonconference strength of schedule and a 10-4 record vs. RPI Top 100. They may never reach the ceiling they had with Weber, but we can't continuously disregard their computer numbers if they continue winning games without him.

    Stock Down: Butler Bulldogs (Down One Line)

    The two-point win over Creighton was much more troubling than the three-point loss to Villanova, but it was also somewhat expected as Butler adjusts to life without Andrew Chrabascz, who will miss at least two weeks with a broken hand, as first reported by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.

    Without him in there, Butler's offense suffered. Tyler Wideman and Austin Etherington combined for two points on five field-goal attempts in 34 minutes in trying to replace Chrabascz.

    That type of production just barely cut it against Creighton, but it'll be a big problem if it continues against Xavier, Georgetown and Providence.

    Holding Steady: LSU Tigers (No Change)

    The Tigers have the talent to be incredible.

    They just lack the consistency.

    Two weeks ago, LSU lost back-to-back games to Mississippi State and Auburnthe latter at home. But in their last two games, the Tigers destroyed Tennessee on the road and went on a 21-2 run against 23-0 Kentucky to come within a last-second shot of ending that quest for perfection.

    Which version will show up this week against Texas A&M and Florida?

Ranking the No. 1 Seeds

8 of 9

    James Crisp/Associated Press

    No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (23-2, RPI: 6, KP: 4, SOS: 37)

    Picking the fourth-best resume in the country just keeps getting more difficult by the week.

    Gonzaga is 25-1 with 22 wins by a margin of at least 11 points and a solitary loss in overtime at Arizona more than two months ago. But since we already decided last week that Gonzaga wasn't a No. 1 seed and no one near the top suffered a loss, it wasn't too difficult to keep the Bulldogs off the top line again.

    Villanova actually presented the most compelling case to unseat Wisconsin. After beating Georgetown, Providence (road), Butler (road) and Seton Hall in the span of 10 days, the Wildcats are now 24-2 with five RPI Top 25 wins, nine RPI Top 50 wins and 13 RPI Top 100 wins.

    However, when comparing Villanova and Wisconsin head-to-head, it's hard to overlook Villanova's 20-point loss to Georgetown and the fact that Wisconsin might be undefeated were it not for injuries.

    We're truly splitting hairs, though. Any of those three teams would be extremely deserving of this fourth No. 1 seed. For the sake of inertia, though, we're keeping the Badgers here for another week, with the understanding that this spot will be determined during conference tournament week, per usual.

    No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (22-3, RPI: 5, KP: 8, SOS: 8)

    The Blue Devils would be right in the middle of that host of teams fighting for the fourth No. 1 seed were it not for their three true road wins against the RPI Top 15.

    Those 15 teams have suffered a combined total of 15 home losses this season, so for Duke to be responsible for 20 percent of them is pretty impressive.

    No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (24-1, RPI: 3, KP: 2, SOS: 11)

    Of course, Virginia also has three true road wins against the RPI Top 15, as well as two other road wins against the RPI Top 50.

    More importantly, the Cavaliers have won three straight games since losing Justin Anderson to a fractured finger, reasserting their position as the second-best team in the country behind Kentucky.

    It will be interesting to see how things shake out for these top two ACC teams. Duke still plays two games against North Carolina, and Virginia faces revenge games from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest before a road game against Louisville.

    It's far from a foregone conclusion that either one will make it to the ACC tournament without another loss, but with so many teams vying for a No. 1 seed and a maximum of one conference tournament championship being awarded to Duke and Virginia, it's probably what they need to do in order to assure both of their spots on the top line come Selection Sunday.

    No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (25-0, RPI: 2, KP: 1, SOS: 25)

    The Wildcats got quite the scare from LSU last week, but they still took two more steps toward an undefeated season, responding with an absolute blowout of South Carolina over the weekend.

    Their grip on the top spot is so tight that they could lose a game to either Arkansas, Florida or Georgia and still be the No. 1 overall seedassuming they bounce back to win the SEC tournament.

    What Kentucky has done in going 10-0 vs. RPI Top 50 teams and 25-0 overall is far too impressive to be ruined by one theoretical hiccup that will probably never happen anyway.

Seeding by Conference

9 of 9

    USA TODAY Sports

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

    American: 21. SMU; 28. Temple; 40. Cincinnati

    Atlantic 10: 20. VCU; 32. Dayton; 43. Davidson; 73. Massachusetts

    ACC: 2. Virginia; 3. Duke; 12. Louisville; 15. North Carolina; 16. Notre Dame; 42. North Carolina State; 72. Pittsburgh

    Big 12: 8. Kansas; 10. Iowa State; 11. Oklahoma; 17. Baylor; 27. West Virginia; 29. Oklahoma State; 31. Texas

    Big East: 5. Villanova; 22. Butler; 23. Providence; 25. Georgetown; 35. St. John's; 39. Xavier

    Big Ten: 4. Wisconsin; 13. Maryland; 24. Ohio State; 30. Indiana; 33. Michigan State; 41. Illinois; 46. Purdue; 47. Iowa

    Missouri Valley: 14. Northern Iowa; 19. Wichita State

    Mountain West: 26. San Diego State; 34. Colorado State; 70. Boise State

    Pac-12: 7. Arizona; 9. Utah; 44. UCLA; 45. Stanford

    SEC: 1. Kentucky; 18. Arkansas; 36. Georgia; 37. LSU; 38. Ole Miss; 69. Texas A&M

    WCC: 6. Gonzaga; 71. BYU

    Other: 48. Murray State; 49. Harvard; 50. Green Bay; 51. Old Dominion; 52. Bowling Green; 53. Iona; 54. Wofford; 55. Stephen F. Austin; 56. Georgia State; 57. Eastern Washington; 58. UC Davis; 59. North Carolina Central; 60. South Dakota State; 61. William & Mary; 62. Texas Southern; 63. New Mexico State; 64. Florida Gulf Coast; 65. High Point; 66. American; 67. Albany; 68. St. Francis (NY)

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

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X