FLYER HIGH: Things are looking up for Dayton after a big win on the road to #17 St. Louis. (Photo courtesy Dean Hoffmeyer/AP)

FLYER HIGH: Things are looking up for Dayton after a big win on the road to #17 St. Louis. (Photo courtesy Dean Hoffmeyer/AP)

Fact: We are just 10 days away from Selection Sunday. The conference tournaments have started and March Madness seems as though it’s only moments away from hitting its full stride. And, as always with this time of year, it’s the perfect opportunity to forecast what the final bracket will look like when Greg Gumbel announces it on March 16th.

Just as it has been in years past, this is not your ordinary bracket forecast. Once again, I do not simply predict “if the tournament started today.” Those who do are silly. The tournament does NOT start today, so why waste our time? On here, the conference champions may or may not be the top-seeded teams in their respective conferences, but they are my picks to win their tournaments and punch that auto-bid. Should one (or all 32) lose, you’ll see this bracket updated accordingly.

With all that in mind, let’s talk about some points in this forecast:

-Dayton went on the road and grabbed a huge victory over St. Louis last night. Prior to yesterday, they were very much on the bubble, however, I think they are safe…for now.

-Cal seems to want absolutely nothing to do with the NCAA tournament. They dropped yet ANOTHER game yesterday, this time to Utah. Despite a laughably-high RPI, I’d almost take Utah over Cal for a tournament bid at this point. Short of a huge Pac-12 Tournament run, I think the Golden Bears are out.

-The SEC has four teams as of this forecast in the NCAA tournament, but all four teams are far from equal. Two are squarely on the bubble and anyone could make arguments for them either missing or making the tournament while Florida appears to have the #1 Overall seed safely in-hand.

March Madness: Projecting The Field (v1)

East Midwest
1 Florida^ 1 Wichita St.^
16 N.C. Central 16 Robert Morris^/N. Colorado^
8 Memphis 8 SMU
9 Kansas State 9 Oklahoma St.
5 UCLA 5 St. Louis^
12 Harvard^ 12 Green Bay^
4 Michigan St. 4 Virginia
13 Toledo^ 13 N. Dakota St.^
6 Texas 6 Oklahoma
11 Southern Miss.^ 11 Stanford/Arkansas
3 Duke 3 Wisconsin
14 Delaware^ 14 Boston U.^
7 VCU 7 New Mexico
10 Oregon 10 Dayton
2 Michigan^ 2 Creighton^
15 Vermont^ 15 Georgia St.^
West South
1 Arizona^ 1 Kansas^
16 UC-Irvine^ 16 Southern U.^/High Point U.^
8 George Washington 8 Arizona St.
9 Xavier 9 Gonzaga^
5 Kentucky 5 North Carolina
12 BYU 12 Minnesota/Tennessee
4 Louisville^ 4 Cincinnati
13 Stephen F. Austin^ 13 Belmont^
6 Massachusetts 6 Ohio State
11 Pittsburgh 11 Baylor
3 Iowa State 3 Villanova
14 New Mexico St.^ 14 Iona^
7 Iowa 7 Connecticut
10 Colorado 10 St. Joseph’s
2 Syracuse^ 2 San Diego St.^
15 Davidson^ 15 Mercer^
^ = Projected Conference Champion
Bold = First Round “First Four” Game

Last Four In: Stanford, Arkansas, Minnesota, Tennessee
First Four Out: Missouri, Providence, Nebraska, Florida St.
Next Four Out: California, St. John’s, Georgetown, Richmond