Happy Tuesday! A lot has happened over the past weekend (plus a few days) as simultaneously the high major teams wrapped up their regular season while some of the mid major squads got some of the first conference tournaments under way.
First, the locks. Florida Gulf Coast, Winthrop, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Wichita State, Jacksonville State, and Eastern Tennessee State have all punched their tickets to the big dance, winning their respective conference tournaments. Winthrop, Iona, and Jacksonville State will come as fresh faces to this projection as we had originally projected other champions for the conference tournaments.
Also new to the projection are South Dakota State, Northern Kentucky, and UC Irvine. South Dakota State and Northern Kentucky enter the field as new projected but not yet clinched champions of their respective tournaments as our original forecasted champions, South Dakota and Valparaiso, both lost in early round action. UC Irvine, meanwhile, does not replace UC Davis because UC Davis has been eliminated, but rather we simply lost confidence in them after UC Irvine beat them on Saturday by 30 points to secure the top seed in the Big West tournament.
In high major bubble team news, Vanderbilt picked up their second win over Florida and they have their finger tips on an at-large berth, though they aren’t there quite yet. This ratchets up the pressure for Rhode Island, who may need to, at the very least, beat Dayton in the A-10 semifinals and secure another RPI Top 50 win. Still, Vanderbilt will have more opportunities for big victories in the deeper SEC tournament. You may also notice Wake Forest leap-frogged Rhode Island, and it’s true: their standing is a little more stable after another quality win by way of Virginia Tech.
But that’s pretty much all the important news for now. Here’s the full updated projection.
|March Madness: Projecting The Field|
|MIDWEST (Kansas City)||EAST (New York City)|
|16||UC Irvine^*/New Orleans^||16||NC Central^/Mt. St. Mary’s^|
|8||Virginia Tech||8||Iowa St.|
|WEST (San Jose)||SOUTH (Memphis)|
|16||South Dakota St.^*||16||Jacksonville St.#*|
|9||Michigan St.||9||Middle Tennessee St.^|
|14||New Mexico St.^||14||FGCU#|
|15||Eastern Washington#||15||Northern Kentucky^*|
^ = Projected Conference Champion
# = Automatic Berth Clinched
* = New Team To Bracket Projection
Bold = First Round “First Four” Game
Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Northwestern, Illinois St., Marquette
Last Four In: Providence, California, Wake Forest, Rhode Island
First Four Out: Vanderbilt, Georgia, TCU, Houston
Next Four Out: Syracuse, Illinois, Kansas State, Ole Miss