NCAA Tournament bracket projections: Rock-M-Tology, March 3

Mizzou's somehow still in. I once again did not expect that. This bubble is awful. Every bubble is awful.

Who's moving up?

Oregon (20-8) - Three weeks ago, Oregon was 3-8 in Pac-12 play. The Ducks are now 8-8, have reached 20 wins overall, and just cracked into the Pomeroy top 30 again after a two-month absence. A 2OT win at UCLA this week bumped them back into the 8-9 range.

Xavier (19-9) - Wins at St. John's and at home over Creighton made Chris Mack's Musketeers relatively safe; they could pretty much punch their ticket with a win over either Seton Hall or (a taller task) Villanova this week.

VCU (22-7) - Saint Louis had a terrible week, first losing at home to Duquesne while looking ahead to the big VCU game, then getting thumped by 11 at VCU. Billkens' pain: Rams' gain. After losing three of four, VCU crushed Fordham and beat SLU this week and could once again end up with a six-seed overall.

Arkansas (20-9) - We've written the Hogs off about three separate times, but they're smoking hot. They've won five in a row since the loss at Missouri, and they won in Lexington against a fading Kentucky team this week. Beat Ole Miss (at home) and Alabama (away) this week, and they're in no matter what happens in the SEC Tournament. They might be in going 1-1.

Who's moving down?

Iowa (19-9) - The Hawkeyes aren't really playing that poorly (they've fallen from sixth to 12th in the Pomeroy rankings), but they're losing. They dropped three in a row, first to Wisconsin at home, then to Minnesota and Indiana on the road. They rebounded with a slump-buster over Purdue, but they might be getting perilously close to the dreaded 8-9 seed, especially considering their next game is at Michigan State.

Colorado, California and Stanford - These three teams went a combined 0-5 this past week and watched their respective seeds disintegrate a bit. The good news for at least one of these teams, however, is that they're playing each other -- Colorado at Stanford on Wednesday, Colorado at California on Saturday. The Buffs and Cardinal are still in the field of 68, but Cal has some work to do. Go Teams That Aren't Cal, in other words.

Ohio State (22-8) - The Buckeyes lost five of six in January, rallied by winning six of seven, then lost at Penn State and Indiana this week. Their offense is pretty awful -- they're actually the anti-Missouri, with the No. 119 offense and No. 2 defense -- and it has quite obviously hindered their ceiling a good amount.

Richmond (18-11) - At 17-8 and 7-3 in a strong A10, Chris Mooney's Spiders were likely in the field. At 18-11 and 8-6, with losses to George Mason and Rhode Island (by a combined 32) this week, they're done.

Last Few In

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

Oklahoma State (19-10)
Xavier (19-9)
Stanford (18-10)
Colorado (20-9)
Arkansas (20-9)
BYU (20-10)
Dayton (20-9)
Green Bay (21-5)
Harvard (23-4)

Missouri (20-9)
Southern Miss (23-5)
Tennessee (17-11)

First Few Out

Providence (19-10)
California (18-11)
Nebraska (17-11)
Minnesota (17-11)
Florida State (17-11)
Louisiana Tech (23-6)
Utah (17-9)
St. John's (19-11)
Georgetown (16-12)
Boise State (17-10)

This gives you a good idea for who Missouri fans need to be rooting for and against. The Mizzou-Tennessee game in Knoxville on Saturday is enormous, but assuming for the moment that the Tigers don't win that one, they'll still be in okay shape if Green Bay and Southern Miss keep winning in their conferences, and if teams like Providence, Cal, and the Big Ten pair of Nebraska and Minnesota have another bad week.

By Conference

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

The Bracket

FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)

BYU (20-10) vs. Tennessee (17-11)
Dayton (20-9) vs. Missouri (20-9)

Weber State (14-10) vs. High Point (14-13)
Robert Morris (19-12) vs. Alabama State (12-11)

West Region
East Region
South Region
Midwest Region
1 Arizona (27-2) 1 Kansas (22-7) 1 Florida (27-2) 1 Wichita State (30-0)
16 Santa Barbara (17-8) 16 Weber State / High Point 16 Davidson (18-11) 16 Robert Morris / Ala. St.
8 SMU (23-6) 8 Arizona State (21-8) 8 St. Joseph's (21-7) 8 Iowa (19-9)
9 Kansas State (20-9) 9 George Washington (21-7) 9 Oregon (20-8) 9 Baylor (17-10)
San Diego St. Louis Orlando St. Louis
5 St. Louis (24-4) 5 North Carolina (22-7) 5 UConn (23-6) 5 Oklahoma (21-8)
12 Southern Miss (23-5) 12 Dayton / Missouri 12 Harvard (23-4) 12 Green Bay (21-5)
4 Louisville (24-5) 4 Cincinnati (24-5) 4 Michigan State (22-7) 4 San Diego State (23-3)
13 SFA (23-2) 13 Belmont (22-8) 13 Toledo (23-5) 13 NDSU (20-6)
San Diego Orlando Spokane Spokane
6 Texas (21-8) 6 VCU (22-7) 6 UMass (22-6) 6 UCLA (22-7)
11 Stanford (18-10) 11 Arkansas (20-9) 11 Colorado (20-9) 11 BYU / Tennessee
3 Duke (23-6) 3 Virginia (25-5) 3 Iowa State (22-6) 3 Michigan (21-7)
14 Georgia State (20-7) 14 Delaware (22-9) 14 Manhattan (22-7) 14 NMSU (21-9)
Raleigh Milwaukee San Antonio
7 New Mexico (23-5) 7 Kentucky (21-8) 7 Ohio State (22-8) 7 Memphis (21-7)
10 Oklahoma St. (19-10) 10 Gonzaga (24-6) 10 Pittsburgh (22-7) 10 Xavier (19-9)
2 Creighton (23-5) 2 Wisconsin (24-5) 2 Villanova (26-3) 2 Syracuse (26-3)
15 N.C. Central (21-5) 15 Mercer (20-8) 15 Boston U. (22-9) 15 Vermont (19-9)
San Antonio Milwaukee Buffalo Buffalo

My At-First-Glance Final Four


Second glance: Louisville-Kansas-Michigan State-Syracuse.

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny (ahem)

Dayton-UNC-Cincinnati-Kansas-Virginia-Arizona-Florida. I mean ... not terrible, as far as seven-game paths to destiny go.

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