It's finally here! Selection Sunday!
The selection show for the 2018 men's NCAA tournament is less than two hours away, but we can already guarantee that Virginia, Villanova and Kansas will be No. 1 seeds. And we can almost guarantee Xavier will get the fourth spot on the top line.
Final Update: 4:15 p.m. ET on Sunday
It was a fun, buzzer-beating, bid-stealing, sleep-depriving ride through Championship Week, but we made it. The official brackets are coming shortly.
After a few months of weekly updates and six days of manning this live update, here is Bleacher Report's final projection for the 2018 NCAA tournament, followed by a bit of bubble commentary:
No. 16 in Midwest: North Carolina Central vs. Radford
No. 16 in South: LIU-Brooklyn vs. Texas Southern
No. 11 in East: Texas vs. USC
No. 11 in Midwest: Butler vs. Oklahoma State
Fourth-to-Last In: Texas Longhorns (19-14 overall; 8-10 in Big 12)
Early in Championship Week, it felt like Texas was safely in the tournament field. But with teams like Alabama and Providence playing their way comfortably into the field and others like San Diego State and Davidson stealing bids from the bubble, the Longhorns have slipped down to a projected trip to Dayton.
Third-to-Last In: Butler Bulldogs (20-13 overall; 9-9 in Big East)
At the end of the night Friday, this spot belonged to UCLA. But upon further inspection/scrubbing, UCLA moved up a bit, while Butler's resume looked a little uglier than before. The Bulldogs are going to make the tournament. The win over Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinal solidified that. But losses to Georgetown, St. John's and Maryland put a damper on a resume that only boasts one win over a projected No. 5 seed or better. The good news is that lone win over Villanova is a big one.
Second-to-Last In: Oklahoma State Cowboys (19-14 overall; 8-10 in Big 12)
Oklahoma State has ugly computer numbers. The Cowboys are 54 on KenPom.com, 85 in RPI and 290 in NC SOS at last check. But here's a number to consider: Oklahoma played 22 games against KenPom top 50 teams, resulting in a sweep of Kansas, two wins over Oklahoma and quality victories over West Virginia, Texas Tech, Florida State and Texas. Also, Oklahoma State didn't suffer a single Quadrant 3 or Quadrant 4 loss. That has to count for more than computer numbers weighed down by playing four nonconference games against horrendous opponents, right?
Last Team In: USC Trojans (23-11 overall; 12-6 in Pac-12)
It's weird to see the second-best team in a major conference on the bubble, but what has USC done to avoid this? The Trojans got 12 Pac-12 wins, but they went 0-5 against Arizona (twice), Arizona State and UCLA (twice). They did have nonconference, neutral-court wins over Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State, but they lost a home game to Princeton to counterbalance those victories. They had a chance to lock up a bid in the Pac-12 championship, but they are instead in prime position for a trip to Dayton for the second straight year.
First Team Out: Arizona State Sun Devils (20-11 overall; 8-10 in Pac-12)
It's hard to believe it has come to this. Arizona State started the season 12-0 with outstanding wins over Kansas and Xavier. Since then, the Sun Devils are 8-11 with two losses each to Colorado, Oregon and Stanford, as well as one apiece against Utah, Washington and Oregon State. That means nine losses to teams currently projected to miss the tournament. The immediate loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament may have been the final straw, and if it wasn't, it's likely that Davidson's win over Rhode Island sealed the deal.
Second Team Out: Marquette Golden Eagles (19-13 overall; 9-9 in Big East)
The more I look at Marquette's resume, the less impressed I get. A bid thief in the Mountain West Conference was what it finally took to squeeze the Golden Eagles out of the field, though. They swept Creighton and Seton Hall and got a good road win over Providence, but that's the extent of the quality wins on a resume with bad losses to DePaul and Georgia.
Third Team Out: Louisville Cardinals (20-13 overall; 9-9 in ACC)
We originally kept Louisville in the field after its loss to Virginia, but an end-of-the-night scrubbing bumped the Cards from the last team in to the second team out. They're just 5-13 vs. Quadrants 1 and 2, and those wins are Florida State (two), Virginia Tech (two) and a double-overtime win over Notre Dame sans Bonzie Colson. If one or two of those quality wins were over a great nonconference opponent or one of the top six teams in the ACC, it'd be a different story. As is, Louisville just has a few victories over bubbly teams and 13 losses. That's not a great combo.
Fourth Team Out: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (24-7 overall; 16-2 in Conference USA)
The loss to Southern Miss in the C-USA quarterfinal might have ended MTSU's hopes for a bid, but don't be surprised if the Blue Raiders sneak into Dayton for the second time in six years. They scheduled aggressively—which is more than can be said for a lot of the teams we're talking about—and got quality road wins over Murray State, Western Kentucky and Old Dominion. Emphasis on "road," as committee chair Bruce Rasmussen reiterated road wins multiple times during the top-16 reveal earlier this season. If that's important, MTSU's 12-1 road record could pay major dividends.
Fifth Team Out: Saint Mary's Gaels (28-5 overall; 16-2 in WCC)
Oh no, Gaels. What have you done? A loss to Gonzaga in the WCC championship might have been acceptable, but losing to BYU in the semifinal? Two days after needing a late comeback to beat a six-win Pepperdine team? Woof. Saint Mary's has an excellent road win over Gonzaga, a decent home win over New Mexico State and four bad losses—BYU, Georgia, San Francisco and Washington State—to teams with no business in the at-large conversation. This is a good team with a dreadful resume, and that probably won't end well for Saint Mary's.