NCAA Basketball Tournament projections, 3-10-14: Rock-M-Tology

So here's the good news: Missouri might not have to win the SEC Tournament to get in. The draw the Tigers got ensured a potential quarterfinal matchup with conference champion (and all-but-guaranteed South Region 1-seed) Florida. Win that, and you might be in. Beat Tennessee in the semifinals, and you're quite likely in unless you get destroyed in the finals.

The bad news, of course: There's no way in hell that the team we've seen over the last two weeks has any chance in the world of beating Florida, much less Florida and Tennessee. But still, if there's a sudden, dramatic, and terribly unlikely turnaround, Mizzou might not need to win four in four days. So there's that. But yeah, go ahead and get your NIT brackets ready. For the first time since I started writing Rock-M-Tology posts a long time ago (2008? 2009?), Mizzou is not projected in the Field of 68. And deservedly so.

Who's moving up?

Maryland (17-14) and N.C. State (19-12) - Too little, too late for both of them, but both had lovely weeks. Maryland whipped Virginia Tech, then took down Virginia in OT, likely leaving the Cavaliers out of the race for the final No. 1 seed. Granted, Missouri's parting gift to the Big 12 (winning the conference tournament) was the best, but that's not a bad way for the Terps to go out. N.C. State, meanwhile, won at Pittsburgh and finished ACC play winning eight of 13. The Wolfpack would totally be a scary 17-seed to watch if the NCAA Tournament had 96 teams.

Oregon (22-8) - The Ducks started the season 13-0, then lost eight of 10. Now they've won seven in a row. They've gone from top-4 seed to the bubble, then back to within reach of a 6-seed.

San Diego State (27-3) - Winning at UNLV, then holding off New Mexico at home is a damn good week, yes? The Aztecs' only losses have been at home to Arizona (forgivable), at New Mexico (ditto), and at Wyoming (shaky). Only the Wyoming loss is keeping them away from a 3-seed at this point.

Nebraska (19-11) - This isn't the Huskers' first visit to the "Moving Up" list. An 11-point loss at Illinois set them back last week, but they finished incredibly strong, winning by 10 at reeling Indiana, then taking down Wisconsin by nine on Senior Night in Lincoln. Their record is really confusing. An 11-7 Big Ten mark, complete with wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, seems like it should give you about an 8-seed in the tournament at worst, but the Huskers are still (deservedly) punished for some bad losses; they lost by 13 on a neutral court to UAB, and they lost at Purdue, Penn State, and Illinois. I have them just barely in, but it wouldn't surprise me if the committee ends up having them a bit safer than this. (The same goes for Tennessee, actually, considering how absurdly well the Vols have played the last couple of weeks. Heat is not supposed to be a factor, but it wouldn't surprise me if they got a ratings boost for that.)

Who's moving down?

St. Joseph's (21-9) - Phil Martelli's Hawks should still be relatively safe, but after finishing the regular season with losses at George Washington (forgivable) and at home to La Salle (not), they could be pretty nervous on Selection Sunday if they fall early in the A10 Tournament.

Xavier (20-11) - The second-to-last week of the season was very good to Xavier; the Musketeers beat St. John's and Creighton to make themselves pretty safe. And then they lost at Seton Hall. A senior night loss to Villanova was forgivable, but the Seton Hall loss puts them right back in the play-in game.

SMU (23-8) - It's not the end of the world to lose to Louisville (home) and Memphis (away), but losing by a combined 22 points certainly does some damage to your overall seed.

Missouri (21-10) - Sigh.

Last Few In

Names in italics would be among the last in without their conference's automatic bid.

St. Joseph's (21-9)
Dayton (22-9)
Pittsburgh (23-8)
BYU (21-10)
Stanford (19-11)
Tennessee (19-11)
Xavier (19-11)
Nebraska (19-11)
Arkansas (21-10)

Arkansas was perfectly safe after a six-game win streak ... and then went to Tuscaloosa and lost by 23 points. It would behoove the Hogs to beat the South Carolina-Auburn winner on Thursday. Might want to beat or almost beat Tennessee, as well.

First Few Out

Florida State (18-12)
Minnesota (18-12)
California (19-12)
Louisiana Tech (24-6)
Green Bay (21-6)
Providence (20-11)
Georgetown (17-13)
St. John's (20-11)
Missouri (21-10)
Utah (18-10)

By Conference

7 - Big 12
6 - Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Pac-12
5 - ACC, American
4 - SEC
3 - Big East
2 - Mountain West, West Coast

The Bracket

FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)

Tennessee (19-11) vs. Nebraska (19-11)
Xavier (19-11) vs. Arkansas (21-10)

Weber State (15-11) vs. Coastal Carolina (18-12)
Wofford (16-12) vs. Texas Southern (15-14)

West Region
(Anaheim)
East Region
(NYC)
South Region
(Memphis)
Midwest Region
(Indianapolis)
1 Arizona (28-3) 1 Villanova (28-3) 1 Florida (29-2) 1 Wichita State (33-0)
16 Weber State / Coastal 16 Stony Brook (22-9) 16 Milwaukee (19-13) 16 Wofford / TX Southern
8 Baylor (19-10) 8 Kentucky (22-9) 8 Colorado (21-10) 8 George Wash. (23-7)
9 Gonzaga (25-6) 9 Arizona State (21-10) 9 SMU (23-8) 9 Oklahoma State (20-11)
San Diego Buffalo Orlando St. Louis
5 St. Louis (25-5) 5 VCU (24-7) 5 Oklahoma (23-8) 5 North Carolina (23-8)
12 NDSU (20-6) 12 Southern Miss (24-5) 12 Harvard (25-4) 12 Xavier / Arkansas
4 Michigan State (23-8) 4 Louisville (26-5) 4 San Diego St. (25-3) 4 Iowa State (23-7)
13 Toledo (25-5) 13 Stephen F. Austin (25-2) 13 Manhattan (24-7) 13 NMSU (22-9)
Spokane
San Antonio Spokane
San Diego
6 UConn (24-7) 6 Ohio State (23-8) 6 UMass (23-7) 6 UCLA (23-8)
11 Tennessee / Nebraska 11 Stanford (19-11) 11 BYU (21-10) 11 Pittsburgh (23-8)
3 Michigan (23-7) 3 Virginia (25-6) 3 Syracuse (27-4) 3 Cincinnati (26-5)
14 Boston U. (24-9) 14 Georgia State (22-7) 14 Delaware (24-9) 14 Mercer (23-8)
Orlando Raleigh Buffalo San Antonio
7 Texas (22-9) 7 Oregon (22-8) 7 Memphis (22-8) 7 New Mexico (24-6)
10 Iowa (19-11) 10 St. Joseph's (21-9) 10 Dayton (22-9) 10 Kansas State (20-11)
2 Duke (24-7) 2 Kansas (23-8) 2 Creighton (24-6) 2 Wisconsin (25-6)
15 N.C. Central (23-5) 15 Robert Morris (21-12) 15 Santa Barbara (19-8) 15 Eastern Kentucky (22-9)
Raleigh St. Louis Milwaukee Milwaukee

My At-First-Glance Final Four

Arizona-Louisville-Florida-Wichita State

Second glance: Michigan-Kansas-Creighton-Cincinnati

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny (ahem)

High Point-Illinois-Minnesota-Georgetown-Florida State.

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