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NCAA Tournament bracket projections, March 9: Rock-M-Tology

If I can, I'll try to knock another one of these out on Thursday or Friday before the final Sunday projections. I know how much that excites you.

Who's moving up?

Davidson (22-6) - Goodness gracious, Wildcats. Want to know how an A10 team can go soaring up the rankings in one week of conference play? Beat VCU by 27 at home, then beat Duquesne by 29 on the road. That'll do it. I've been higher on Davidson than others for a while, but after this week, Lunardi has them as an 8-seed. Palm still has them as an 11, but I think they're safely in at the moment.

Texas (19-12) - The Longhorns needed a good week and got one, beating Baylor in OT, then taking down Kansas State (which only seems to beat tourney teams this year) by 13. Beat Texas Tech on Wednesday, and the 'Horns should be safe.

Cincinnati (22-9) - Took down Tulsa by nine points on the road, then eased past Memphis at home. The Bearcats finish 13-5 in AAC play. They're safe.

Miami (20-11) - Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes can't decide what they want to be, but two road wins -- including a 21-pointer over an admittedly awful Virginia Tech team -- certainly keep them near the bubble if they happen to make an ACC Tournament run.

Who's moving down?

Georgia (20-10) - So ... here's something pretty funny. As I've mentioned before, these results are based on taking the criteria the committee supposedly uses and applying different weights to them based on previous bracket draws. It's basically projecting this year's field based on the committee's old preferences. When I was tinkering with the weights, one thing I noticed was that while wins over teams in the RPI top 50 tend to be taken pretty seriously, wins over teams ranked between 51st and 100th don't really carry any weight. So I don't give those wins any weight.

Most of the time, that works just fine, but Georgia found a bad loophole this week. I count wins against the top 25 as 1.0 and wins over No. 26-50 as 0.5 ... and this week, because of who dropped out of the RPI top 50, Georgia went from 1.5 to zero. And because of that -- and the fact that they followed up an inspiring loss to Kentucky with a gross near-disaster against Auburn -- they actually fell out of my initial rankings this week. I bumped them back in because that's a strange technicality, but because of Georgia, we could end up getting an interesting glimpse at how seriously the committee takes categories ("wins over the top 50") versus actual performance.

(Another fun tidbit: Georgia swept two games against Ole Miss this year, and Ole Miss is currently No. 51 in RPI. If Ole Miss were to beat Georgia in the SEC quarterfinals on Friday, that would almost certainly put the Rebels back into the RPI top 50 ... and give Georgia two wins against Top-50 teams. Using the RPI gets pretty dumb sometimes, doesn't it?)

LSU (22-9) - Suffers a baaaaad, 15-point home loss to Tennessee ... then beats Arkansas on the road. Normal week for LSU, in other words.

Dayton (23-7) - The Flyers are still safe, I think, but losing to La Salle to finish the regular season isn't the best look.

Ohio State (22-9) - Losing 72-48 to Wisconsin is like losing 100-67 a normal-tempo team*.

* Just kidding. There's no such thing as a normal-tempo team anymore**.

** Did you watch Belmont-Murray State and Duke-UNC on Saturday night?? Four teams playing wide open ball and not trying to slow the tempo down? It was incredible! It almost made me fall in love with college basketball again!

Who's underrated?

Oklahoma State (17-12) - Or maybe the 'Pokes are overrated. I'm not sure. I still have them relatively safely in the field despite an 18-12 record, an 8-10 Big 12 record, and a 1-5 finish to the regular season. I have them a 9, and Lunardi has them an 11 ... and Lunardi's probably right on this one. But they're still 31st in Pomeroy's rankings -- they're still a good team.

Then again, a good team doesn't lose to Texas Tech.

Then again, LSU's a good team that lost to Missouri.

After the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, this year is confusing.

Texas A&M (19-12) - If Danuel House and Alex Caruso are both completely healthy (or closer to it) this week, and A&M looks good in disposing of Mississippi State or Auburn on Thursday in the SEC Tournament, then I figure the Aggies are probably in. They lost at home to Alabama on Saturday without House, which put them squarely on the in-or-out line, and they clearly aren't a good offensive team without House. But if he's back and looks fine, I bet they're in.

Georgetown (20-9) - Just a slight qualm. Lunardi has the Hoyas as a 6-seed. I have them as a 4. A 12-6 Big East record and no bad losses sounds like a 4 to me.

St. John's (20-10) - Okay, so I can't make a particularly strong case for the Red Storm after they got demolished, 105-68, by Villanova on Saturday. But Villanova's awesome, and they shouldn't be penalized too much for that.

Who's overrated?

Purdue (20-11) - We've covered this before. They have only three four road wins, and three are against Northwestern, Rutgers, and Penn State. Their good wins (vs. BYU***, home against Ohio State and Iowa) are offset by losses to Gardner Webb and North Florida. The Saturday home win over Illinois is huge for the Boilers ... but I'm still keeping both them and the Illini out. They've got work to do in the B1G Tournament.

*** I've stuck up for BYU all season, and the Cougars really tried to lose to Santa Clara in their WCC Tourney opener. Thanks for that, BYU.

Oregon (22-8) - Lunardi has the hot Ducks as a 7-seed now, and I barely have them as a 9. They're in, but let's not get carried away about a team that barely beat Oregon State on Wednesday.

Last Few In

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

LSU (22-9)
Boise State (22-7)
Ole Miss (20-11)
Indiana (19-12)
Georgia (20-10)
Temple (22-9)
BYU (22-8)
Texas A&M (20-10)

First Few Out

Purdue (20-11)
Illinois (19-12)
Richmond (19-12)
Tulsa (21-8)
UCLA (19-12)
Miami (20-11)
Murray State (25-5)
Stanford (18-12)

By Conference

7 - Big 12
6 - ACC, Big Ten, Big East, SEC
3 - AAC, A10, Mountain West, Pac-12
2 - MVC, West Coast

The Bracket

FIRST FOUR (in Dayton)

Georgia (20-10) vs. BYU (22-8)
Temple (22-9) vs. Texas A&M (20-10)

St. Francis Brooklyn (22-10) vs. Lafayette (18-12)
Texas Southern (19-12) vs. North Florida (20-11)

(Los Angeles)
1 Kentucky (31-0) 1 Virginia (28-2) 1 Villanova (29-2) 1 Duke (28-3)
16 Coastal Carolina (20-9) 16 TXSO / North Florida 16 Belmont (21-10) 16 St. Francis / Lafayette
8 Xavier (19-12) 8 VCU (22-9) 8 Cincinnati (22-9) 8 Ohio State (22-9)
9 Oklahoma State (17-12) 9 Oregon (22-8) 9 NC State (19-12) 9 Dayton (23-7)
Louisville Charlotte Pittsburgh Charlotte
5 North Carolina (21-10) 5 Butler (22-9) 5 Northern Iowa (30-3) 5 Utah (22-7)
12 Stephen F. Austin (24-4) 12 Temple / Texas A&M 12 Wofford (25-6) 12 Old Dominion (24-6)
4 West Virginia (23-8) 4 Oklahoma (21-9) 4 Louisville (24-7) 4 Georgetown (20-9)
13 Buffalo (21-9) 13 Iona (26-7) 13 UC Davis (22-5) 13 Green Bay (22-7)
Seattle Jacksonville Portland Columbus
6 Iowa (21-10) 6 Providence (21-10) 6 Arkansas (24-7) 6 St. John's (20-10)
11 Boise State (22-7) 11 Georgia / BYU 11 Indiana (19-12) 11 Ole Miss (20-11)
3 Baylor (22-8) 3 Notre Dame (26-5) 3 Iowa State (22-8) 3 Maryland (26-5)
14 NC Central (21-6) 14 Harvard (19-7) 14 South Dakota St. (20-9) 14 Georgia State (21-9)
Jacksonville Louisville Omaha Pittsburgh
7 Wichita State (27-4) 7 San Diego State (23-7) 7 Michigan State (21-10) 7 SMU (23-6)
10 Davidson (22-6) 10 Texas (19-12) 10 Colorado State (25-5) 10 LSU (22-9)
2 Gonzaga (29-2) 2 Wisconsin (28-3) 2 Arizona (28-3) 2 Kansas (24-7)
15 E. Washington (20-8) 15 Albany (23-8) 15 New Mexico St. (19-10) 15 William & Mary (18-11)
Seattle Columbus Portland Omaha

My At-First-Glance Final Four


Second glance: Davidson(!)-Virginia-Villanova-Maryland

Missouri's inevitable path to destiny (ahem)

South Carolina-Ole Miss-Georgia-Arkansas-Kentucky-Notre Dame-Providence-Wisconsin-Virginia-Kentucky-Duke. I don't know, guys, I'm not sure that's going to happen.