2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Latest Projection of the Field of 68
With less than three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, Villanova remains our projected No. 1 overall seed for the 2017 NCAA tournament. Close behind the Wildcats on the top line are Kansas, Gonzaga and Louisville.
But one glance at the AP or Coaches Top 25 can give you a good guess at which teams belong on the top few seed lines. It's on the bubble where things get more interesting, particularly for the ACC, which has several teams just barely on each side of the tournament cut line.
There are only a couple of teams that have moved more than one full seed line since our last projected bracket. Iowa State, Marquette and Arkansas were the biggest climbers, while Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee and Virginia moved significantly in the wrong direction.
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 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
Last Team In: Clemson Tigers (14-12, RPI: 59, KP: 38, SOS: 18)
No team epitomizes the bubble more than Clemson, and the Tigers just had one of the bubbliest weeks of the season, winning a home game against Wake Forest before a close road loss to Miami.
They're now 4-10 in conference play and have yet to beat one of the ACC teams that is a virtual lock to reach the NCAA tournament. However, they do have four RPI Top 50 wins and nine wins against the RPI Top 100.
Still, they probably need to win their final four games. They cannot afford to lose either of the remaining home games against NC State and Boston College and might need to beat both Virginia Tech and Florida State just to get their RPI back to a respectable spot in the top 50. At any rate, a 3-1 finish would leave them needing to do some work in the ACC tournament.
Second-To-Last: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (15-11, RPI: 76, KP: 76, SOS: 48)
Like Clemson, Georgia Tech had itself a week on the bubble, losing a road game against Miami before a home win over Syracuse.
Unlike the Tigers, the Yellow Jackets are sitting at .500 in ACC play with great conference wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame. But a lackluster nonconference schedule with losses to Tennessee, Georgia, Penn State and Ohio is still weighing down Georgia Tech's overall resume.
The Yellow Jackets will need to win at least three of their final four games, but at least there are three winnable games on the docket. They host NC State and Pittsburgh before closing with a road game against Syracuse.
Third-To-Last: Seton Hall Pirates (16-10, RPI: 47, KP: 59, SOS: 35)
Two out of three in this homestand was the mandate for the Pirates. They beat Creighton before losing to Villanova, which leaves a virtual must-win game against Xavier this Wednesday. A loss to the Musketeers wouldn't knock Seton Hall out of the at-large conversation, but it would mean a road win over Butler in the season finale becomes a requirement.
Long story short, a 2-2 finish and 8-10 Big East record with only one home win against the conference's top four teams wouldn't cut it. Seton Hall had nice victories over South Carolina and California in nonconference play, but its nonconference SOS rank (159) isn't nearly enough to overcome a below-average conference season.
Fourth-To-Last: Kansas State Wildcats (17-10, RPI: 57, KP: 28, SOS: 47)
Kansas State won 12 of its first 13 games. Since then, it is just 5-9 in the last 14 and would need to win at least three of the final four games to finish .500 in Big 12 play.
The Wildcats only have three RPI Top 95 wins, but each of those has come against the RPI Top 30—including road wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State. Moreover, their only "bad" loss of the season was a road game against Texas Tech, which is also on the bubble. They played a weak nonconference schedule (NC SOS rank: 238) but somehow have a solid overall resume.
A win over Oklahoma State this coming Wednesday would be huge, but it might not be necessary. As long as they can beat Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech in the subsequent three games, the Wildcats should go dancing.
Fifth-To-Last: Michigan State Spartans (16-11, RPI: 43, KP: 53, SOS: 14)
If the Spartans do make the NCAA tournament, they better send their thanks to the Golden Gophers. Michigan State only has two wins against the RPI Top 35, and both of those came against Minnesota—which appears to be safely in the field thanks to its current five-game winning streak.
Aside from those two games, Michigan State hasn't done much, suffering losses to Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Indiana and Northeastern. The best thing about this profile is the strength of schedule, which comes courtesy of nonconference losses to Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Kentucky.
The Spartans might need to win three of their final four games, which means either a home win over Wisconsin or a road win over Maryland. But it's almost March, so it's time for Tom Izzo's guys to start exceeding expectations.
First 5 Out
First Team Out: TCU Horned Frogs (16-10, RPI: 58, KP: 43, SOS: 32)
In the past five weeks, TCU has lost seven of 10 games, including its two worst losses of the season (vs. Auburn; at Texas Tech). The Horned Frogs did pick up a road win over Kansas State during that stretch, but with the Wildcats trending in the wrong direction as well, even that victory doesn't look all that great.
Overall, TCU has just two RPI Top 50 wins—home games against Iowa State and Illinois State—with the Kansas State win serving as the only other victory against the RPI Top 75.
The Horned Frogs play at Kansas on Wednesday night and host West Virginia this Saturday. If they don't win at least one of those games, they're toast. And even if they go 1-1, they'll need to win the next two against Kansas State and Oklahoma just to get to .500 in Big 12 play. It's not looking promising.
Second Team Out: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (15-12, RPI: 38, KP: 30, SOS: 15)
Wake Forest remains a team that cannot buy a quality win. Following road losses to Clemson and Duke this week, the Demon Deacons are 1-11 against the RPI Top 60, with a home win over Miami (RPI: 45) serving as the outlier on that list.
At this point, they need to win each of their final three regular-season games—both to add quality wins and to avoid picking up any other losses. They host Pitt and Louisville before a season-ending game at Virginia Tech, so it won't be an easy journey.
Third Team Out: Vanderbilt Commodores (14-13, RPI: 49, KP: 56, SOS: 3)
During the same stretch of the season in which TCU has gone 3-7 with two bad losses and no great wins, Vanderbilt is 6-3 with its four best wins of the year (at Florida, at Arkansas, vs. South Carolina and vs. Iowa State).
Unfortunately for the Commodores, they entered that run with an 8-10 record and added a horrendous loss to Missouri just 10 days ago.
But if there's any team that belongs in the at-large conversation with 13 losses, it's the one that faced the No. 1 nonconference SOS and currently has the third-toughest overall SOS in the country. However, they'll need to win out to remain in that conversation, which means road wins over Tennessee and Kentucky and a home win over Florida.
Fourth Team Out: Tennessee Volunteers (14-12, RPI: 50, KP: 42, SOS: 10)
Speaking of Tennessee, the Volunteers need Wednesday's game against Vanderbilt as badly as the Commodores do.
In fact, with only one RPI Top 48 win and 12 total losses, Tennessee needs to win every remaining game in order to reach the NCAA tournament. But beating Vanderbilt and South Carolina this week would at least keep them on the bubble for the beginning of conference-tournament play.
Fifth Team Out: Syracuse Orange (16-12, RPI: 86, KP: 48, SOS: 53)
Syracuse surged onto the right side of the bubble with a five-game winning streak that included home games against Virginia and Florida State. But after three straight losses to Pittsburgh, Louisville and Georgia Tech, the Orange are back on the wrong side of the cut line.
They do have two RPI Top 15 wins, but they're going to need two more. If the Orange don't beat both Duke and Louisville in the next six days, they'll have (at least) 13 total losses and an RPI that only a deep run in the ACC tournament could possibly save.
On the Horizon
Providence Friars (16-11, RPI: 66, KP: 58, SOS: 36)
Providence swept Georgetown and has home wins over Butler, Xavier, Seton Hall and Rhode Island. That's the good news. The bad news is the Friars are a combined 0-3 against Boston College, DePaul and St. John's and still have games remaining against the latter two teams—which won't do their RPI or SOS any favors. Win at Creighton this Wednesday and Providence will have a solid case for a bid. Without that victory, though, the balance of quality wins to bad losses wouldn't appear to be enough.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-11, RPI: 89, KP: 36, SOS: 88)
In the past five games, the Red Raiders have lost by one to Kansas, lost by one to TCU, lost in overtime to Iowa State and lost in double overtime to West Virginia. That leaves them with two great home wins (Baylor and West Virginia) and not a whole lot else. But finishing the season with road wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State could put them in decent shape heading into the Big 12 tournament.
Rhode Island Rams (17-9, RPI: 51, KP: 55, SOS: 60)
Rhode Island's at-large hopes likely died with Wednesday's home loss to Fordham, but the Rams do still have a home game against VCU that could help matters. With just three RPI Top 100 wins, though, they probably need to beat VCU this Saturday and score at least one victory over either VCU or Dayton in the A-10 tournament to have any hope.
Pittsburgh Panthers (15-12, RPI: 60, KP: 64, SOS: 11)
The 4-10 record in ACC play is hideous, but Pittsburgh does have wins over Maryland, Virginia and Florida State. And the Panthers have plenty of opportunities remaining, including a home game against North Carolina, a road game against Virginia and whatever the ACC tournament has in store. They'll need to keep actually winning games, but three victories in the last four have at least given this team a pulse again.
Indiana Hoosiers (15-12, RPI: 90, KP: 45, SOS: 37)
Following Wednesday's one-point loss to Minnesota, the Hoosiers have now lost six of the last seven and are nowhere near the tournament picture. If the light suddenly comes back on and they win games against Northwestern and Purdue in the next 10 days, there's still a chance. But there's a reason this team has a 5-9 record in Big Ten play. The next regular-season loss will be the one that allows us to stop even considering Indiana.
Georgia Bulldogs (14-12, RPI: 56, KP: 51, SOS: 13)
Georgia came so close to a bunch of quality wins, but it kept coming up short—including Saturday's loss to Kentucky in which the Bulldogs held the lead multiple times in the final two minutes. But an inability to close out those games leaves them with 12 total losses and no wins against the RPI Top 48. Even a seven-game winning streak to reach the SEC championship game might not be enough to save them now.
Houston Cougars (18-8, RPI: 62, KP: 40, SOS: 87)
The eight in the loss column looks nice, but the Cougars only have two RPI Top 100 wins and have four losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100. Unless they win each of their final four games and make a considerable run in the AAC tournament, they'll have to settle for the NIT again.
Georgetown Hoyas (14-13, RPI: 61, KP: 52, SOS: 9)
Sunday's loss at Creighton was probably the final straw, but Georgetown still has a solid computer profile and finishes the season with a home game against Villanova. If the Hoyas can turn things around and win the next four games, they still have a shot at an at-large bid.
East Region (New York City)
Buffalo, New York
No. 1 Villanova (26-2, RPI: 2, KP: 2, SOS: 31)
No. 16 Texas Southern / New Orleans (First Four)
No. 8 VCU (22-5, RPI: 25, KP: 41, SOS: 68)
No. 9 Arkansas (20-7, RPI: 34, KP: 50, SOS: 61)
No. 4 Notre Dame (21-7, RPI: 26, KP: 26, SOS: 30)
No. 13 Akron (MAC Auto Bid)
No. 5 Wisconsin (22-5, RPI: 24, KP: 15, SOS: 70)
No. 12 Nevada (Mountain West Auto Bid)
Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 3 Arizona (25-3, RPI: 8, KP: 21, SOS: 38)
No. 14 New Mexico State (WAC Auto Bid)
No. 6 Saint Mary's (24-3, RPI: 16, KP: 16, SOS: 76)
No. 11 Middle Tennessee (Conference USA Auto Bid)
Greenville, South Carolina
No. 2 North Carolina (22-5, RPI: 5, KP: 6, SOS: 17)
No. 15 Bucknell (Patriot Auto Bid)
No. 7 Dayton (20-5, RPI: 27, KP: 32, SOS: 69)
No. 10 USC (21-6, RPI: 32, KP: 63, SOS: 74)
Stock Up: Arkansas Razorbacks (New to the Field)
February has been a bizarre month for the Razorbacks.
Their computer profile hasn't changed much in the past three weeks. On Jan. 30, their RPI and SOS ranks were six and 10 spots better, respectively. Their KenPom rank hasn't moved an inch. But during that time, they picked up three of their seven RPI Top 75 wins, including their best win (at South Carolina). They also suffered a terrible loss to Missouri and barely showed up for a home loss to Vanderbilt.
Those losses came back in the first week of the month, though. In the past 14 days, Arkansas is 3-0 with that marquee win over the Gamecocks—hence their meteoric rise from "On the Horizon" to a No. 9 seed.
How the Razorbacks fare in the final week of February should determine whether they even have a chance to play into the second half of March. They host Texas A&M on Wednesday before a Saturday road game against Auburn. If they lose either of those games, they might need to win the subsequent road game against Florida in order to cobble together a good enough resume, and that might be asking too much.
If Daryl Macon keeps playing like he did in Saturday's win over Ole Miss, though, beating the Aggies and Tigers won't be a problem. The JUCO transfer scored a D-I career-high 30 points on 13 field-goal attempts against the Rebels, pacing the Razorbacks to one of their best offensive outputs of the season.
Stock Down: USC Trojans (Down Six Spots)
USC only played one game in the past seven days, and it was obliterated by UCLA.
We didn't expect the Trojans to win that road game. However, it's troubling that they barely even tried in the 102-70 rout. USC only has six losses on the season, but that was its third loss by a margin of at least 22 points.
The bigger problem for the Trojans is the minimal number of quality wins. They do have a pair of great home wins over SMU and UCLA, but the only other RPI Top 90 win was a home game against Stanford (RPI: 68). USC is now 1-5 against the other Pac-12 teams in the running for an at-large bid and has a lackluster nonconference SOS rank of 164.
Even if they no-show again for Thursday's game at Arizona, the Trojans should be fine as long as they win remaining games against Pac-12 basement dwellers Arizona State, Washington and Washington State. But for a team that opened the season with a 14-0 record and doesn't have a single loss to a team outside the RPI Top 100, they're not in great shape.
Midwest Region (Kansas City)
No. 1 Kansas (24-3, RPI: 1, KP: 9, SOS: 5)
No. 16 North Carolina Central / Mount St. Mary's (First Four)
No. 8 Northwestern (20-7, RPI: 37, KP: 33, SOS: 65)
No. 9 Wichita State (24-4, RP: 41, KP: 13, SOS: 155)
No. 4 Butler (21-6, RPI: 13, KP: 25, SOS: 21)
No. 13 Monmouth (MAAC Auto Bid)
No. 5 Virginia (18-9, RPI: 15, KP: 8, SOS: 7)
No. 12 UNC Wilmington (Colonial Auto Bid)
No. 3 Kentucky (22-5, RPI: 9, KP: 7, SOS: 12)
No. 14 East Tennessee State (Southern Auto Bid)
No. 6 Maryland (21-5, RPI: 19, KP: 31, SOS: 39)
No. 11 Kansas State / Clemson (Last Five In)
Greenville, South Carolina
No. 2 Duke (22-5, RPI: 11, KP: 12, SOS: 23)
No. 15 UNC Asheville (Big South Auto Bid)
No. 7 Oklahoma State (17-9, RPI: 29, KP: 20, SOS: 20)
No. 10 Marquette (16-10, RPI: 71, KP: 35, SOS: 58)
Stock Up: Marquette Golden Eagles (Up Eight Spots)
Marquette has been up, down and back again over the past two months. It hasn't had a three-game winning or losing streak since December. But the Golden Eagles blew out Xavier in their only game in the past week.
Freshman combo guard Markus Howard has quietly been one of the best shooters in the country, and he put on a shooting clinic in this one. Now a 53.7 percent three-point assassin, Howard shot 9-of-12 from downtown in racking up a career-high 34 points.
It was Marquette's fifth RPI Top 50 win and third victory over the RPI Top 25.
There's still work to be done, though. The Golden Eagles play four more regular-season games and can't afford to lose either of the next two against St. John's and Providence. They probably also need to at least split the final two games against Xavier and Creighton to get to 19-11. Anything short of that would leave them needing to do some damage in the Big East tournament.
Stock Down: Virginia Cavaliers (Down Seven Spots)
In a couple of slides, we'll get to a team that has won three games in the past week. Balancing the scales is Virginia, loser of four games in the past nine days.
As if that isn't bad enough for the Cavaliers, the losses have gotten increasingly worse.
The double-overtime road loss to Virginia Tech from two Sundays ago wasn't bad. Losing the following home game to Duke was understandable. Getting blown out by North Carolina by 24 points was the signal that this team could be fatally flawed. And scoring 48 points in a home overtime loss to Miami was the final straw.
Virginia's offense is broken. It shot 10-of-52 (19.2 percent) from three-point range and 42-of-110 (38.2 percent) from inside the arc this week. Once the sparks off the bench, freshmen Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome have been held scoreless in each of the past two games. In the loss to Miami, London Perrantes had four points on 15 shots.
South Region (Memphis)
No. 1 Louisville (22-5, RPI: 4, KP: 4, SOS: 4)
No. 16 UC Irvine (Big West Auto Bid)
No. 8 South Carolina (19-7, RPI: 30, KP: 29, SOS: 44)
No. 9 Miami (19-8, RPI: 45, KP: 34, SOS: 57)
No. 4 Purdue (22-5, RPI: 21, KP: 11, SOS: 51)
No. 13 Princeton (Ivy League Auto Bid)
No. 5 UCLA (24-3, RPI: 20, KP: 18, SOS: 89)
No. 12 Seton Hall / Georgia Tech (Last Five In)
No. 3 Florida (22-5, RPI: 10, KP: 5, SOS: 19)
No. 14 Valparaiso (Horizon Auto Bid)
No. 6 Minnesota (20-7, RPI: 23, KP: 39, SOS: 22)
No. 11 Illinois State (22-5, RPI: 33, KP: 49, SOS: 140)
No. 2 Baylor (21-5, RPI: 3, KP: 10, SOS: 1)
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun Auto Bid)
No. 7 SMU (24-4, RPI: 17, KP: 17, SOS: 84)
No. 10 California (18-8, RPI: 39, KP: 47, SOS: 43)
Stock Up: Illinois State Redbirds (New to the Field)
Illinois State didn't do anything in the past seven days to play its way into the field. If anything, the Redbirds tried to play their way out of the tournament picture with back-to-back nail-biters against Missouri State and Loyola-Chicago.
However, they won both of their games for a second consecutive week, which is more than any other team on the bubble can claim.
In fact, of the other nine teams in last week's Last Five In and First Five Out, Marquette was the only one that didn't suffer at least one loss. Add in teams like Michigan State, Kansas State, USC and California playing their way onto the bubble with losses and Illinois State's resume looks better by the day.
But there are still major concerns here. The Redbirds only have one RPI Top 50 win (vs. No. 41 Wichita State) and only one other RPI Top 100 win (vs. No. 77 New Mexico), and they have bad losses to Tulsa and Murray State.
If they lose either of their remaining regular-season games, they're toast. If they lose to any team other than Wichita State in the Missouri Valley tournament, they're toast. And you have to think a couple of the major-conference bubble teams will play their way into the field in their respective conference tournaments. If Selection Sunday were today, though, it'd be tough to deny Illinois State a bid.
Stock Down: California Golden Bears (Down Five Spots)
From Jan. 8 through Feb. 8, California won eight out of nine games, including its best win of the season (at USC) and a handful of borderline RPI Top 100 home wins (Stanford, Utah and Colorado). During that hot streak, the Golden Bears climbed from the wrong side of the bubble into a relatively comfortable position in the field.
After back-to-back losses to Arizona and Stanford, though, they're back in a bit of bubble trouble. The loss to Arizona was understandable, but committing 20 turnovers in the loss to the Cardinal was ill-advised.
California has just the one RPI Top 50 win and now has multiple losses to teams outside the RPI Top 50. There aren't any terrible losses, but this is just an overall "blah" resume. Winning the home game against Oregon this Wednesday would be huge, but a loss would leave the Golden Bears in dire straits. They might need to beat one of Arizona, Oregon or UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament in order to remain in the field.
West Region (San Jose)
Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 1 Gonzaga (28-0, RPI: 6, KP: 1, SOS: 79)
No. 16 Eastern Washington (Big Sky Auto Bid)
No. 8 Iowa State (18-9, RPI: 44, KP: 24, SOS: 45)
No. 9 Virginia Tech (18-8, RPI: 35, KP: 46, SOS: 59)
Buffalo, New York
No. 4 Creighton (21-5, RPI: 22, KP: 23, SOS: 42)
No. 13 Vermont (America East Auto Bid)
No. 5 West Virginia (22-6, RPI: 28, KP: 3, SOS: 63)
No. 12 Texas-Arlington (Sun Belt Auto Bid)
No. 3 Florida State (22-6, RPI: 12, KP: 19, SOS: 24)
No. 14 Belmont (Ohio Valley Auto Bid)
No. 6 Cincinnati (24-3, RPI: 14, KP: 22, SOS: 80)
No. 11 Michigan State (Last Five In)
No. 2 Oregon (23-4, RPI: 7, KP: 14, SOS: 26)
No. 15 North Dakota State (Summit Auto Bid)
No. 7 Xavier (18-9, RPI: 18, KP: 37, SOS: 6)
No. 10 Michigan (17-10, RPI: 55, KP: 27, SOS: 33)
Stock Up: Iowa State Cyclones (Up 12 Spots)
It's not often that a team plays three games in the span of one bracket update, but Iowa State capitalized on its Wednesday-Saturday-Monday gauntlet against the other three bubble teams from the Big 12.
First, the Cyclones jumped out to a 22-6 lead in the process of scoring a road win over Kansas State. All five starters scored at least 14 points as Iowa State had an offensive output reminiscent of some of those Georges Niang-led teams from yesteryear.
In Saturday's home win over TCU, it was the Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long show. The former had 18 points and 11 assists with just one turnover, while the latter drained seven triples en route to a game-high 25 points. Mitrou-Long has been on fire in February, shooting 28-of-55 (50.9 percent) from downtown in his last six games.
And Monday night, the Cyclones became the latest team to hand Texas Tech a heartbreaking loss. The Red Raiders had a chance to win at the end of both regulation and overtime, but Iowa State did just enough to emerge with its fourth straight win.
The Cyclones are now 10-5 in Big 12 play with games remaining against Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. As long as they win one of those three, they'll be on the right side of the bubble no matter what happens in the Big 12 tournament.
But rather than considering the minimum requirement for a tournament bid, what if Iowa State were to extend this four-game winning streak to seven games? It's possible this team could still get into the mix for a No. 4 seed. Not bad for what was a projected No. 11 seed seven days ago.
Stock Down: Florida State Seminoles (Down Four Spots)
Despite a 104-72 drubbing of Boston College on Monday night, Florida State's resume took a hit in the past week with the 14-point loss to Pittsburgh over the weekend.
Unofficially, the Seminoles now have the most bizarre resume in the nation. They have wins over Louisville, Duke, Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest—each of which is in the RPI Top 45. But the Seminoles also have losses to Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Temple—not one of which is in the RPI Top 50.
Good wins are more important than bad losses, and Florida State has a ton of the former. But in the past eight games, the Seminoles have acquired three of those bad losses while only picking up one of the good wins. As a result, they're trending in the wrong direction, even though they still looked primed for a No. 3 seed.
Ranking the No. 1 Seeds
No. 4 Louisville Cardinals (22-5, RPI: 4, KP: 4, SOS: 4)
Choosing between Louisville and North Carolina for the fourth and final No. 1 seed was an impossible endeavor. The Tar Heels have more RPI Top 50 wins (nine) than the Cardinals have (six), but North Carolina's worst losses (Indiana, Georgia Tech and Miami) are more troubling than Louisville's worst losses (Notre Dame, Virginia and Florida State).
For now, we're giving the slightest edge to the Cardinals, because they're ahead of the Tar Heels in all three of the primary computer metrics. However, this debate will be decided Wednesday night when Louisville travels to Chapel Hill for a game that will likely determine who wins the ACC.
Given how great the ACC has been from top to bottom, winning that conference should be worth a spot on the top line. But if Arizona, Oregon or UCLA wins both the Pac-12 regular-season and conference-tournament titles, it's possible the ACC could fail to produce a No. 1 seed for just the second time in the last 13 years.
No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-0, RPI: 6, KP: 1, SOS: 79)
The naysayers keep insisting that Gonzaga doesn't deserve a No. 1 seed because it allegedly hasn't played anybody, but did you know the Zags are tied for the national lead in RPI Top 20 wins? They have four of them (Florida, Arizona and Saint Mary's twice), matching Kansas, Florida State and Butler as the only teams with at least that many wins.
The overall strength of schedule is nothing special because of the weakness of the West Coast Conference, but Gonzaga has proved on multiple occasions that it can beat the best teams in the country. And it has consistently blown out the teams that it should, including a 35-point win over San Francisco and 21-point win over Pacific in the past week.
No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (24-3, RPI: 1, KP: 9, SOS: 5)
If you want to know how to put together a nonconference schedule, go ask Bill Self and the Jayhawks athletic department. Kansas only played one game this season against a team outside the RPI Top 200—a road game against UNLV—and has ascended to No. 1 in RPI as a result.
Granted, you need to also have a team capable of winning games against that schedule, and the Jayhawks proved their mettle once again this week with wins over West Virginia and Baylor.
They now have a three-game lead in the Big 12 and should have no problem hanging onto a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, as two of their four remaining regular-season games will come against Oklahoma and Texas. Even if they were to lose the other two games (vs. TCU; at Oklahoma State), this resume is almost bullet-proof.
No. 1 Villanova Wildcats (26-2, RPI: 2, KP: 2, SOS: 31)
Ho hum. Just another week with the defending national champions projected as the No. 1 overall seed.
Villanova has now won seven in a row, including three consecutive road games by a margin of at least 13 points. Like Kansas in the Big 12, Villanova has an insurmountable three-game lead in the Big East and can clinch the regular-season title with a home win over either Butler or Creighton this week.
As long as the Wildcats win two of their final three regular-season games—the third one is at Georgetown—they could lose their first game of the Big East tournament and still likely earn the No. 1 seed in the East Region.
Seeding by Conference
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" are in italics.)
American: 22. Cincinnati; 25. SMU
Atlantic 10: 26. Dayton; 31. VCU
ACC: 4. Louisville; 5. North Carolina; 7. Duke; 12. Florida State; 16. Notre Dame; 20. Virginia; 35. Virginia Tech; 38. Miami; 45. Georgia Tech; 46. Clemson; 70. Wake Forest; 73. Syracuse
Big 12: 2. Kansas; 6. Baylor; 18. West Virginia; 27. Oklahoma State; 29. Iowa State; 43. Kansas State; 69. TCU
Big East: 1. Villanova; 13. Butler; 15. Creighton; 28. Xavier; 37. Marquette; 44. Seton Hall
Big Ten: 14. Purdue; 19. Wisconsin; 21. Maryland; 24. Minnesota; 32. Northwestern; 36. Michigan; 42. Michigan State
Missouri Valley: 33. Wichita State; 41. Illinois State
Pac-12: 8. Oregon; 11. Arizona; 17. UCLA; 39. USC; 40. California
SEC: 9. Florida; 10. Kentucky; 30. South Carolina; 34. Arkansas; 71. Vanderbilt; 72. Tennessee
West Coast: 3. Gonzaga; 23. Saint Mary's
Other: 47. Middle Tennessee; 48. UNC Wilmington; 49. Texas-Arlington; 50. Nevada; 51. Vermont; 52. Princeton; 53. Monmouth; 54. Akron; 55. New Mexico State; 56. Belmont; 57. East Tennessee State; 58. Valparaiso; 59. UNC Asheville; 60. Bucknell; 61. Florida Gulf Coast; 62. North Dakota State; 63. Eastern Washington; 64. UC Irvine; 65. Texas Southern; 66. New Orleans; 67. North Carolina Central; 68. Mount St. Mary's
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.