At long last, it is Selection Sunday. And after a wild couple of days, at least Sunday played according to form, much to the delight of sleep-deprived bracketologists and sweating bubble teams around the country.
Georgetown and Oregon State stole bids by winning their conference tournaments Saturday night, but Cincinnati couldn't push the number of bid thieves to three. The Bearcats were pummeled by Houston in the AAC championship.
As a result, our final bracket projection is the same as it was this morning.
Thanks to all of you for following along throughout the week. I hope you enjoyed the madness before the Madness.
FINAL PROJECTION: Sunday 5:15 p.m. ET
West No. 16 Seed: Texas Southern vs. Norfolk State
South No. 16 Seed: Appalachian State vs. Hartford
Midwest No. 11 Seed: Syracuse vs. Drake
West No. 11 Seed: Utah State vs. UCLA
Sunday Morning Scrub
Among the top three seed lines, the only tough call is the final No. 2 seed.
It appears to be a toss-up between Texas, Oklahoma State and Houston. After the Longhorns won the Big 12 championship, they look like the best candidate for it. Oklahoma State has more Quadrant 1 wins, and Houston has the best metrics by far, but that Big 12 conference title is quite the bonus. It took a lot of thought, but Texas moves up to a No. 2, regardless of whether Houston wins the AAC title today.
The final No. 5 seed is even harder than the final No. 2 seed.
If Creighton had won last night, the Bluejays would feel like a lock for no worse than a No. 5. Not only did they lose to Georgetown, but they got pummeled. Colorado also would have had a great case if it had won the Pac-12 title, but it also fell short to a bid thief. Both of those teams have great metrics but now four rather questionable losses each.
Out of seemingly nowhere, LSU has emerged as the best candidate for that spot. After yesterday's win over Arkansas, the Tigers are 5-7 vs. Quadrant 1 with nothing worse than a road loss to NET No. 98 Georgia on their list of mistakes. They're also top-30 in both NET and KenPom. I like their chances of landing on the No. 5 line, regardless of what happens in today's game against Alabama.
LSU's vault from our top No. 7 to our bottom No. 5 bumps Oklahoma from a No. 6 to a No. 7.
The Sooners have been a tough nut to crack. They were No. 12 overall in the top-16 reveal, and they won at West Virginia later that day. Since then, though, they're 2-5 overall with a bad loss to Kansas State and merely two wins over Iowa State. They're also barely top-40 in NET or KenPom. The only real argument for them to be higher than a No. 7 is the committee was enamored with them a month ago. But loves fades, and so did Oklahoma.
Among the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, we have a swap in the ACC with Clemson sliding down as Georgia Tech moves up after its ACC championship win over Florida State. I try not to drastically move teams during conference championship week, but those were two exceptions to the rule.
Georgia Tech was on the bubble to enter the week, but beating Florida State to claim a major-conference title is huge. The Yellow Jackets should at least get the better seed in the 50/50 game to face a No. 1 seed.
And Clemson entered the week as my bottom No. 5 seed before losing to sub-.500 Miami. The problem for Clemson is the metrics were already bad because of its four blowout losses in January, but the lack of any losses outside of Quadrant 1 kept the Tigers looking good anyway. But that loss to Miami is like a moldy apple that hit their resume four days ago and now has gotten extra stinky.
The St. Bonaventure vs. VCU winner will be a No. 9 seed. The loser will be a No. 10 seed. Almost feels like the winner is getting penalized by needing to beat a No. 1 seed to reach the Sweet 16, but such is life.
I'm still constantly grappling with the Big Ten "bubble" teams, Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State. They're each safely in the field, but if they aren't all on the same seed line, it's tough to argue who should be in front or behind. They all have double-digit losses and a nice supply of quality wins. With the fewest losses and the most Quadrant 1 and 2 victories, Rutgers will likely be the highest seeded of the trio. And with a NET ranking all the way down at 70, Michigan State still looks to be the odd man out, landing on the No. 11 seed line.
Of course, No. 11 doesn't feel as safe as it did 24 hours ago, now that Georgetown and Oregon State have jumped into the field as No. 12 seeds, bumping both of the play-in games up to a No. 11. But I'm still confident the Spartans are in with a bit of room to spare.
And that brings us to the heart of the scrub: 10 teams for the final five spots. (Or four spots, if Cincinnati beats Houston.) In alphabetical order, those teams are Boise State, Colorado State, Drake, Louisville, Ole Miss, Saint Louis, Syracuse, UCLA, Utah State and Wichita State.
Of the 10, Louisville appears to be the safest. Duke isn't going to get in, but the Blue Devils were certainly a tournament-caliber team late in the year. Thus, Louisville's two wins over the Blue Devils and home wins over Virginia Tech and now ACC champion Georgia Tech should offset the lone bad loss to Miami.
The rest of the nine can be seen below, but the big overnight change was Syracuse replacing Colorado State as the last team in.
Believe me, I would much rather see a three-bid Mountain West than another blew-a-ton-of-chances major-conference team sneak in, but the more I compare Syracuse and Colorado State head-to-head, the less I like the Rams. The Orange have four wins over definite tournament teams, while CSU only has one. The Rams also have that unsightly 20-point loss to Saint Mary's.
We'll be taking a closer look at the Nos. 13-16 seeds shortly and will make sure there aren't any "illegal" first-round pairings or placements.
Fourth-to-Last In: UCLA Bruins (17-9, NET: 47, KenPom: 44)
The big question for UCLA is: Who did it actually beat? The best win of the season was a home game against a Colorado team that was without its starting center. The Bruins did sweep Arizona, but how much does beating ineligible-for-the-postseason teams actually matter? Outside of that, their best win was at Utah.
When they lost their Pac-12 tournament opener to Oregon State, it looked like an awful Quadrant 3 loss. But the Beavers proceeded to knock off Oregon and Colorado and turned that into not such a bad result for UCLA. However, it's kind of a backhanded compliment to UCLA's resume, because by winning the Pac-12 tournament, Oregon State may have forced the Bruins into a play-in game.
Third-to-Last In: Utah State Aggies (20-8, NET: 41, KenPom: 39)
Utah State was somewhat up a creek without a paddle two weeks ago after getting swept by Boise State. But while others on the bubble (and in the MWC) have been dropping games left and right, the Aggies swept Nevada and won one game each against Wyoming and Fresno State. Nothing fantastic in that bunch, but not losing is always a good thing.
They continued that not-losing trend by making quick work of UNLV in the MWC quarterfinals. That 74-53 victory over the Rebels looks good on its own, but it really looks good when compared to Boise State's loss earlier in the day.
The subsequent 12-point win over Colorado State was simply massive. There had been a lot of complaints brewing about Utah State's inability to win quality games away from home, but this should put an end to that narrative. If Neemias Queta and the Aggies don't get in now, the selection committee will be robbing us all of a good time.
Second-to-Last Team In: Drake Bulldogs (25-4, NET: 44, KenPom: 53)
Without fail, there's always a bubble team that loses in its conference tournament a week before Selection Sunday, left to sweat buckets day after day. As things currently stand, Drake would probably get in. The Bulldogs had two iffy losses at Bradley and Valparaiso, but they went 5-0 vs. Quadrant 2, won one game against Loyola-Chicago and battled well in the MVC championship loss to the Ramblers. But we'll have to wait and see what the bubble teams in the ACC, Big East, Mountain West, AAC and SEC tournaments can do later this week.
(Bonus note: If Drake slips onto the wrong side of the bubble, it would almost certainly have the option of becoming one of the four "at-large replacement teams" placed on standby in the event that an at-large team is unable to play its first tournament game. Not only will Drake be sweating until Selection Sunday, but it might be waiting until the following Saturday to find out if it gets to play in the tournament.)
Last Team In: Syracuse Orange (16-9, NET: 39, KenPom: 41)
It wouldn't be March without Syracuse smack dab on the bubble. The Orange have home wins over Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, as well as a now three-game season sweep of NC State after that 21-point win in the second round of the ACC tournament. But a lack of statement wins and a season sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh has left them in a perilous spot.
The three-point, buzzer-beating loss to Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals was a heartbreaker for the Orange, but it wasn't a bubble popper. Stomping NC State and giving Virginia a run for its money was a nice showing.
Saturday was brutal for the Orange, though. Bid thieves Georgetown and Oregon State knocked Syracuse right to the cut line.
First Team Out: Colorado State Rams (18-6, NET: 48, KenPom: 59)
The season-ending loss at Nevada brought the Rams back to the pack a bit, but it wasn't a terrible misstep. Three-point Quadrant 2 losses aren't great, of course, but it only cost them a couple spots on the overall seed list. That said, there's not a whole lot of meat on this resume. CSU split each of its season series with Boise State, San Diego State and Utah State; it lost at Saint Mary's and Nevada; and those were the only eight games played against the top two quadrants prior to the MWC tournament.
At least the Rams beat Fresno State in the MWC quarters, but another loss to Colorado State may have been the final straw. Well, Oregon State beating Colorado was Colorado State's final straw. The Rams likely would be in were it not for bid thieves.
Second Team Out: Wichita State Shockers (16-5, NET: 64, KenPom: 69)
Just a brutal loss to Cincinnati for Wichita State in the AAC semifinals.
Up until that point, the Shockers' worst loss was either the home game against Missouri or the road game against Memphis. Either way, not an egregious misstep. But in spite of that lack of bad losses, Wichita State has been on the bubble all week because they have a great home win over Houston, a solid road win over Ole Miss and no other victories against the NET Top 100. Just not a whole lot on the resume.
That Quadrant 3 loss bumped Wichita State down to our Last Team In. Georgetown's subsequent bubble-shrinking Big East championship then knocked the Shockers out of the field. We'll take a much closer look at Wichita State's resume in the morning, though.
Third Team Out: Ole Miss Rebels (16-11, NET: 52, KenPom: 47)
Ole Miss has perhaps the most "normal year" bubble resume of the bunch, boasting a healthy dose of both nice wins and questionable losses. The Rebels swept Missouri and won a home game against Tennessee. They were also swept by Georgia, lost at Vanderbilt, lost a home game to Mississippi State and went 0-2 in nonconference games against teams outside of Quadrant 4 (Dayton and Wichita State).
Ole Miss cruised to a second-round victory over South Carolina to set up a big opportunity against LSU on Friday, but the Rebels fell three points shy of knocking off the Tigers.
They still have a shot, though. Five losses to non-tournament teams isn't great, but they didn't suffer any egregious defeats. And it's not like anyone else on the bubble did much to help its case this week. If Georgetown and Oregon State both lose in their conference championships and Ole Miss shows up in a play-in game, I can't say I would be stunned.
Fourth Team Out: Saint Louis Billikens (14-6, NET: 45, KenPom: 48)
The Billikens have a respectable resume with home wins over LSU and St. Bonaventure and just the one awful loss (at La Salle). But if the selection committee is going to cut anyone some slack for poor play after a COVID-19 pause, Saint Louis should be near the top of that list. The Billikens went more than a month between games (Dec. 23 to Jan. 26) before suffering back-to-back losses, one of which was that La Salle game.
Fifth Team Out: Boise State Broncos (18-8, NET: 51, KenPom: 61)
Nothing like ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak, punctuated by a Quadrant 4 loss, am I right? Boise State looked like a near-lock to make the tournament after finishing off its mid-February sweep of Utah State, but back-to-back close losses to San Diego State followed by a terrible home loss to Fresno State leaves the Broncos with work to do.
Boise State probably would've gotten in with a win over Nevada in the MWC's No. 4 vs. No. 5 game. Instead, they lost to the Wolf Pack for the third time this season. Now, they sweat, hoping that the win at BYU from more than three months ago will be enough.
Others Still Under Some Consideration (in no particular order): Memphis, Richmond, Belmont, Seton Hall, Xavier
Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.