Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of March 9, 2021

  • 03/09/2021 10:17 am in

Championship Week is underway with six teams already earning automatic bids, including UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State who punched their tickets on Monday night. Tuesday brings five more conference championship games as the Colonial, Horizon, Northeast, Summit, and West Coast take center stage. The WCC provided good news for bubble teams with both Gonzaga and BYU making the finals and eliminating the chance for a bid thief, although BYU needed overtime to do it.

Starting today, I will be making daily updates to the projections before submitting my final set on Sunday afternoon. I’ll also be taking the opportunity to scrub different sections of the seed list where teams are closely clustered together.

Before looking at the one seeds, here’s a quick reminder about how the NCAA selection committee classifies wins based on the NET rating.

A breakdown of the four tiers:

· Quad 1: Home vs. teams ranked 1-30 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 1-50 / Road vs. teams ranked 1-75
· Quad 2: Home vs. teams ranked 31-75 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 51-100 / Road vs. teams ranked 76-135
· Quad 3: Home vs. teams ranked 76-160 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 101-200 / Road vs. teams ranked 136-240
· Quad 4: Home vs. teams ranked 161-351 / Neutral vs. teams ranked 201-351 / Road vs. teams ranked 241-351

One seeds

The one seeds remain unchanged with Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, and Illinois staying put on the top line. Baylor moved back to second overall after winning at West Virginia in overtime and following that up with home victories against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech since last week’s projections.

The Wolverines dropped a pair of games last week, including a home loss to Illinois. The Illini picked up that win without Ayo Dosunmu, who came back over the weekend to help propel the team to another key road victory at Ohio State. Right now I still have Michigan slightly ahead of Illinois on the one line, but that gap is closing. At the same time, it’s becoming harder and harder to envision a new team leapfrogging any of the current top seeds.

The Bracket

The projections below are based on all games played through March 8, 2021. Following the bracket, I included a few thoughts on the last four in and first five out.

Indianapolis Indianapolis
1) Gonzaga 1) Baylor
16) N.C. A&T / Prairie View A&M 16) North Dakota St.
8) Virginia Tech
8) San Diego St.
9) Loyola Chicago 9) Rutgers
Indianapolis Indianapolis
5) USC
5) Virginia
12) Colorado St. / Xavier 12) Toledo
4) Florida St. 4) Purdue
13) Winthrop 13) UC Santa Barbara
Indianapolis Indianapolis
6) Missouri 6) Oklahoma
11) Maryland 11) UCLA
3) West Virginia 3) Arkansas
14) Southern Utah 14) Morehead St.
Indianapolis Indianapolis
7) Oregon 7) Clemson
10) Georgia Tech 10) VCU
2) Ohio St. 2) Iowa
15) Siena
15) Cleveland St.
Indianapolis Indianapolis
1) Illinois 1) Michigan
16) Appalachian St. / Hartford 16) Bryant
8) Florida 8) LSU
9) North Carolina 9) Connecticut
Indianapolis Indianapolis
5) Tennessee 5) Texas Tech
12) Boise St. / Drake 12) Western Kentucky
4) Oklahoma St. 4) Villanova
13) Liberty 13) Colgate
Indianapolis Indianapolis
6) Colorado 6) Creighton
11) Wichita St.
11) Michigan St.
3) Kansas 3) Texas
14) UNC Greensboro 14) Abilene Christian
Indianapolis Indianapolis
7) BYU 7) Wisconsin
10) Louisville 10) St. Bonaventure
2) Alabama 2) Houston
15) Drexel 15) Grand Canyon

Last Four In:

Xavier – Road losses at Georgetown and Marquette have dropped the Musketeers into the last four in. They have a 1-2 mark in quad 1 and are 5-5 in quad 2, but all of their top 75 wins have come at home (Creighton, Oklahoma, Toledo, St. John’s). Xavier has no losses outside of the top two quadrants, but they have dropped three games to teams not in the at-large picture and a total of five games to teams not in today’s projected field. The Musketeers can ill afford to slip up in their Big East tournament opener against Butler on Wednesday.

Boise State – Following a home loss to Fresno State, the Broncos are entering the Mountain West tournament on a three-game skid. They are 4-6 against the top two quadrants with road wins at BYU and Colorado State to go with a home sweep of Utah State. The Fresno State loss falls in quad 4 though, and they also lost both games at Nevada, who isn’t in the at-large mix and will be their opponent in the MWC tournament on Thursday. A win there would likely give Boise State another crack at San Diego State and a chance to get some breathing room.

Colorado State – The Rams split a pair of makeup games last week, losing the second on a last-second shot at Nevada. They have posted a 3-3 mark versus the other tournament-caliber squads in the Mountain West, and those three wins all fall in the top two quadrants. CSU has no losses outside of the top two quadrants, but a whopping 10 of the Rams’ 16 D-I victories fall in quad 4. They will take on the winner of Fresno State-New Mexico on Thursday, and a victory would likely lead to a semifinal matchup with Utah State, which would have major bubble implications.

Drake – Playing without two of its best players, Drake fell in the finals of the Missouri Valley conference tournament. The Bulldogs only had to win one game to get there thanks to COVID issues for Northern Iowa, but Drake’s lone tournament win over Missouri State did provide a fifth quad 2 victory. A one-point overtime win over Loyola Chicago accounts for the Bulldogs’ lone victory over a team in the top 90 of the NET despite having those five quad 2 wins. A pair of quad 3 losses doesn’t help matters, and the lack of quality wins plus the injury situation makes Drake’s situation tenuous at best.

First Five Out:

Syracuse – It wouldn’t be March if the Orange weren’t on the bubble, as home wins over North Carolina and Clemson have propelled them back into the conversation. They have just one quad 1 win (at NC State), while home victories over Clemson, UNC, and Virginia Tech all sit in quad 2. Syracuse has only one loss outside of the top two quadrants but is just 2-7 in road games. The Orange will take on NC State for a third time in the ACC tournament, and if they can move to 3-0 against the Wolfpack, Virginia awaits in the quarterfinals.

Utah St. – The Aggies knocked off Wyoming and won at Fresno State last week to stay in the mix. Home victories over San Diego State (twice) and Colorado State account for all of Utah State’s wins in the top two quadrants. In total, the Aggies are a combined 3-5 in quads 1 and 2, but they also have a pair of quad 3 losses. Utah State will take on the winner of UNLV-Air Force on Thursday, and a win there would likely set up a huge bubble game against Colorado State.

Saint Louis – Thanks to a lengthy COVID pause, the Billikens played just 10 conference games, finishing at 6-4 in the Atlantic-10. Home victories over St. Bonaventure and LSU are among SLU’s four wins against the top two quadrants, but the Billikens were swept by Dayton (one of which falls in quad 3) and suffered another quad 3 loss at La Salle. They took care of UMass in their first A-10 tournament game but lost by 18 to St. Bonaventure in the semis. Coach Travis Ford mentioned SLU was trying to find another game for this week, but we’ll have to see if that materializes.

Ole Miss – Home wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt last week were enough to keep the Rebels in the mix for now. Ole Miss has three quad 1 wins and a 8-8 mark against the top two quadrants, but a home win over Tennessee and a sweep of Missouri are the only wins against at-large caliber teams. The Rebels have a pair of quad 3 losses and a total of five losses to teams not in the at-large picture. They open SEC tournament play on Thursday against South Carolina, and if they can win there, LSU awaits in the quarterfinals.

Seton Hall – The Pirates fell at home to UConn before losing at St. John’s, and they’ve now lost four straight games heading into the Big East tournament. They do have three quad 1 wins, but with those wins coming at UConn (31) while James Bouknight was out, at Penn State (40) in overtime, and at Xavier (57) there isn’t exactly a marquee win among them. Seton Hall is just one game over .500 at 13-12 with four losses to teams not in the at-large picture. The Pirates will take on St. John’s on Thursday in their Big East tournament opener, and at this point, it’s a must-win.

Conference Breakdown:

Big Ten (9): Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

ACC (7): Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Big 12 (7): Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

SEC (6): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee

Big East (4): Connecticut, Creighton, Villanova, Xavier

Pac-12 (4): Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, USC

Mountain West (3): Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State

American (2): Houston, Wichita State

Atlantic 10 (2): St. Bonaventure, VCU

Missouri Valley (2): Drake, Loyola Chicago*

West Coast (2): BYU, Gonzaga

America East: Hartford

Atlantic Sun: Liberty*

Big Sky: Southern Utah

Big South: Winthrop*

Big West: UC Santa Barbara

Colonial: Drexel

Conference USA: Western Kentucky

Horizon: Cleveland State

MAAC: Siena

MAC: Toledo

MEAC: North Carolina A&T

Northeast: Bryant

Ohio Valley: Morehead State*

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: UNC Greensboro*

Southland: Abilene Christian

SWAC: Prairie View A&M

Summit: North Dakota State

Sun Belt: Appalachian State*

WAC: Grand Canyon

* Earned automatic bid

Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.

Filed to: