We’re creeping ever so closer to the end of the regular season in college basketball and the tournament projects are being altered by the day. The NCAA Tournament selection committee gave us an early taste of what the top of the field could look like with the release of the Top 16 last Saturday and even that could drastically change in the coming weeks.
Analysts like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS’ Jerry Palm, Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller, and Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney are regularly updating their projected field of 68 and going over where the top programs will end up come tourney time in mid-March. We’ll go over what the experts are projecting as the rest of the season unfolds.
No. 1 seeds
As it stands right now, there’s a consensus of who will grab a No. 1 seed as all four experts have Gonzaga, Auburn, Arizona, and Kansas claiming a top spot. It’s not a shock considering that falls right in line with what the selection committee projected last Saturday.
There’s still a question of where these teams will be slotted as No. 1 seeds. Barring a setback, Gonzaga seems to be set in stone as the top overall seed in the field. Arizona is currently ranked No. 2 in NET while Kansas is tied for the nation lead in Quadrant 1 victories with 10. Auburn has taken a slight step back after falling twice in the last two weeks.
Other Notable Seeds
Just below that tier are teams like Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, Purdue, and Texas Tech, who projected two-seeds as we near the end of February. The reigning national champion Bears are currently tied with Kansas for Quad 1 victories at 10 and could potentially play their way into a No. 1 seed with a strong finish to the season.
Despite being ranked No. 4 in NET, Houston was snubbed last Saturday when it was left out of the Top 16 by the selection committee and are being slotted as a fourth or fifth seed according to the bracketology experts. The Cougars do not own a single Quad 1 victory this season and that’s what may be holding them back. Other strong mid-major teams like Saint Mary’s and Murray State are being slotted anywhere from six to 10 in expert brackets.
The real tension comes from the bubble and determining who will sneak their way into the tournament and who will be left out.
Right now, there’s varying opinions on teams like Florida, BYU, and SMU with Lunardi and Miller having these teams out while Palm has them in. Florida in particular notched an upset victory over Auburn last Saturday, a win that at the very least kept them in the conversation.
ACC - 5 (Lunardi and Miller), 4 (Palm and Sweeney)
Big 12 - 6 (Lunardi, Miller, and Palm), 5 (Sweeney)
Big East - 7 Lunardi, Miller, and Palm, 6 (Sweeney)
Big Ten - 9 (Lunardi, Miller, and Sweeney), 7 (Palm)
MWC - 4 Lunardi, Miller, Palm, and Sweeney)
Pac-12 - 3 Lunardi, Miller, Palm, and Sweeney)
SEC - 7 Palm, 6 Lunardi, Miller, and Sweeney)
WCC - 4 (Palm), 3 Lunardi, Miller, and Sweeney)