March Madness bracketology: Kentucky and Indiana face a big week

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Welcome back to Sports Illustrated‘s Bracket Watch! With less than a week until Draft Sunday, we’ll be constantly updating this page as things change during conference tournaments. With plenty of auto deals to hand out and teams on the bubble battling for their seasons, expect regular updates from the men’s field of 68 and notes from SI Bracket expert Kevin Sweeney on the hottest events. most important related to the Big Dance.

Tuesday’s automatic auctions to be awarded:

  • A-Sun: Jacksonville U at Bellarmine (Note: If Bellarmine wins, Jacksonville State wins the automatic bid as the league’s No. 1 seed because Bellarmine is ineligible for the playoffs.)
  • NEC: Wagner at Bryant
  • CAA: Delaware vs. UNC-Wilmington
  • Horizon: Wright State vs. Northern Kentucky
  • COE: Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s

Tuesday bubble games to watch:

NOTHING

on the bubble

Last four byes:

Creighton
Miami
WakeForest
xavier

The last four entrants:

Wyoming
our Lady
VCUs
EMS

First four out:

Rutgers
Indiana
BYU
Dayton

Next four outings:

Oklahoma
Florida
Virginia Tech
UAB

Neither was a flashy game, but weekend wins by Wyoming and Xavier kept each club on the field after recent struggles. Xavier would be especially advised to win his first conference tournament game, but each team now has a little more leeway than they woke up to on Saturday morning.

The first two teams out of our field are the Big Ten’s Rutgers and Indiana. A significant percentage of projected supports submitted to the support matrix have Rutgers on the pitch, but the Scarlet Knights’ historically poor quality metrics versus bubble and horrific early season loss to Lafayette have them for me. . Another Quad 1 victory at the Big Ten tournament could sway me though, because at some point the Knights’ good wins might be too good to pass up.

*Indicates that the team should win their conference’s automatic auction
Bold indicates that the team has won its conference’s automatic auction

West Region

No. 1 Gonzaga* vs. No. 16 Nicholls State*/Alcorn State*
No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 9 San Diego State
No. 5 Texas vs. No. 12 Wyoming/Notre Dame
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 South Dakota State*
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Xavier
#3* Duke vs. #14* Montana State
USC No. 7 vs. Davidson No. 10 *
No. 2 Villanova against No. 15 state of georgia

Duke’s weekend loss to North Carolina drops the Blue Devils to the No. 3 line heading into Champions Week. As it stands Tuesday, they are our No. 3 and No. 9 seeds overall on the seed list. The Blue Devils may need to win the ACC Tournament to get back on the No. 2 line, though the team’s two wins on neutral ground over Gonzaga and Kentucky should keep them in the conversation even if they don’t win the trophy in Brooklyn this week.

The team that skipped the Blue Devils is Villanova, who earn the last No. 2 seed heading into the Big East tournament. The Wildcats’ seven Q1 wins were a big factor in the move, although the race remains very tight for the last two No. 2 seeds. Villanova will almost certainly earn a No. 2 if he can win the Big Tournament. East – otherwise it will likely depend on what happens to the other teams also competing for that spot.

South Region

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Bryant * / Norfolk State *
Michigan State No. 8 vs. North Carolina No. 9
No. 5 UConn vs. No. 12 Chattanooga
UCLA No. 4 vs. Vermont No. 13 *
Colorado State No. 6 vs. Wake Forest No. 11
Illinois No. 3* vs. No. 14 Longwood
No. 7 Boise State* vs. No. 10 Memphis
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Long Beach State

One team to watch in Sunday’s draft is Colorado State, which quietly has a remarkably impressive resume. The Rams are 5–2 against Q1 and 12–3 overall against the top two quadrants. Outcome-based metrics like KPI (#16) and record strength (#27) love the Rams, and a non-conference win over Saint Mary’s is huge. CSU is currently on SI’s No. 6 line, but a No. 5 seed isn’t out of the question.

North Carolina’s huge road win at Duke ended any debate about the Heels’ bubble status. Now it’s about when UNC will hear his name, not if he’ll dance. Carolina already had strong metrics but lacked a signature win. Now his CV clearly stands out from the other teams in the bubble. Even a quarterfinal loss in the ACC Tournament wouldn’t be enough to bring the Heels down, and a deep run in the tournament could see them wear the house colors in the first round of the dance.

Midwest region

No. 1 Arizona* vs. No. 16 North Kentucky*
TCU No. 8 vs. Marquette No. 9
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 VCU/SMU
No. 4 Providence* vs. No. 13 Toledo*
#6 Houston* vs. #11 Miami
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Princeton*
No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Colgate*

It could be a big week for Kentucky, which has the most to gain among the teams on the first two starting lines. A No. 1 seed is still on the table for the Wildcats if they can win the SEC tournament. Kentucky is just 1-3 against the other three elite teams in the SEC this season, but adding two more wins against this group would likely propel them to the No. 1 line considering of the Wildcats’ impressive quality indicators.

Now that he’s locked into his bid by winning the MVC tournament, Loyola Chicago will be in prime position to make a run in the Big Dance thanks to his ranking. The Ramblers are likely eyeing a No. 10 seed thanks to solid quality metrics and a big win on neutral ground against San Francisco. They could potentially climb to the No. 9 line depending on the results around them.

Eastern Region

No. 1 Auburn* vs. No. 16 Jacksonville*
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 San Francisco
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 North Texas*
#4 Texas Tech vs. #13 Iona*
No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Cregihton
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 New Mexico State*
No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 Michigan
No. 2 Kansas* vs. No. 15 UNC Wilmington*

Auburn is the most vulnerable No. 1 seed heading into conference tournament week. With eight Quad 1 wins and no losses outside of Q1, the Tigers have a top-place-worthy resume right now. But if they slip in the SEC tournament, the door will be open for others to slip. Top contenders: Kansas, if they win the Big 12, or Kentucky, if they can knock out Auburn to win the SEC title.

Michigan isn’t quite a lock, but the Wolverines took a big step toward entering the field with their victory over Ohio State in Columbus this weekend. A win over Indiana in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday would cement the Wolverines’ place in the field, but even a loss probably won’t eliminate them unless the bubble shrinks due to a bid-stealer scenario.

Full projected SI support (as of March 8):

Click here for full size image.

More college basketball coverage:

2021-22 SI Men’s All-Americans
Predict Men’s Conference Tournaments
Coach K dispatch bolsters UNC-Duke rivalry

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