Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/20/14

Selection Sunday is now less than a month away, and the bracket remains as fluid as ever. Nearly every bubble team lost at least once last week, and at this point you can pretty much draw names out of hat once you get to the last eight or 10 teams being discussed. Each one has something positive to offer, whether that be a marquee win or two or solid performances away from home. But they also all have blemishes whether it be a number of questionable losses or a weak schedule. Either way, it’s shaping up to be an exciting home stretch. The projections below take into account all games played through Monday, Feb. 18. MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS) EAST (WASHINGTON, DC) Dayton – March 22nd/24th Lexington – March 21st/23rd 1) Indiana (23-3) 1) Miami, FL (21-3) 16) Mercer (18-9) 16) Norfolk St. (17-10)/Charleston So. (14-9) 8) VCU (21-5) 8) UCLA (19-7) 9) Creighton (21-6) 9) Saint Louis (19-5) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th Austin – March 22nd/24th 5) Oklahoma State (19-5) 5) Wisconsin (18-8) 12) Arizona State (19-7)/Boise State (16-8) 12) Villanova (17-10) 4) Marquette (18-6) 4) Kansas State (21-5) 13) Louisiana Tech (23-3) 13) Akron (21-4) Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th Dayton – March 22nd/24th 6) Ohio State (18-7) 6) Oregon (21-5) 11) Charlotte (18-7)/Iowa State (17-8) 11) Temple (17-8) 3) Syracuse (21-4) 3) Louisville (21-5) 14) Davidson (19-7) 14) Northwestern State (18-6) Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd 7) UNLV (19-7) 7) San Diego State (18-7) 10) Colorado (17-8) 10) Missouri (18-7) 2) Duke (22-3) 2) Michigan (22-4) 15) Northeastern (17-10) 15) Stony Brook (19-6) SOUTH (DALLAS) WEST (LOS ANGELES) Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd Lexington – March 21st/23rd 1) Michigan State (22-4) 1) Florida (21-3) 16) Bryant (16-8)/Southern (19-8) 16) Niagara (16-11) 8) North Carolina State (18-7) 8) Oklahoma (16-8) 9) Wichita State (22-5) 9) Memphis (22-3) San Jose – March 21st/23rd San Jose – March 21st/23rd 5) Colorado State (21-4) 5) Pittsburgh (20-7) 12) Middle Tennessee (21-4) 12) Belmont (20-6) 4) Georgetown (19-4) 4) Butler (21-5) 13) South Dakota State (21-7) 13) Bucknell (22-5) Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd Austin – March 22nd/24th 6) Notre Dame (21-6) 6) Minnesota (18-8) 11) Mississippi (19-6) 11) California (16-9) 3) Arizona (21-4) 3) New Mexico (22-4) 14) Valparaiso (20-7) 14) Harvard (15-7) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd 7) Illinois (19-8) 7) Cincinnati (19-7) 10) La Salle (18-6) 10) North Carolina (17-8) 2) Kansas (21-4) 2) Gonzaga (25-2) 15) Long Beach State (16-9) 15) Montana (19-5) ———————– Last Four In Charlotte The 49ers parlayed a huge road win at Butler into one of the final spots in the field this week. Unfortunately, they followed up that critical victory by being blown out at Saint Louis. A poor non-conference strength of schedule doesn’t do Charlotte any favors, and neither does a loss at George Washington. In all, 10 of Charlotte’s 18 wins have come against teams outside of the Top 175. If the 49ers can knock off Temple at home on Sunday, they would have a good chance to win out. Iowa State Road woes continued for the Cyclones last week, as they lost in double overtime at Texas. ISU is now just 2-7 in true road games, including a brutal loss at Texas Tech. Much like Charlotte, strength of schedule is one reason for concern, with nine of Iowa State’s 17 wins coming against sub-190 teams. Victories over Kansas State, Oklahoma, and fellow bubble contender Baylor were enough to keep them in the field for now, but the Cyclones would be well-served to win in Waco this week before a “revenge game” against Texas Tech on Saturday. Boise State On the one hand, I keep feeling as if I should drop Boise State out of the field, but on the other, no one is doing much to get in. Three of their four worst losses came without third-leading scorer Jeff Elorriaga, and the Broncos were a last-second shot away from winning at San Diego State.  A November win at Creighton is looking worse with each week, but they have most of their toughest remaining games at home as Air Force, Colorado State, and San Diego State all visit down the stretch. Arizona State I’m not in love with the Sun Devils as a tournament team, but of the next few squads, they are the only team with a winning record away from home and a .500 or better record against the Top 50 and Top 100. Obviously losses to DePaul and Utah don’t allow them much margin for error, but for now they are clinging to the last spot. ASU needs to take care of business at home against the Washington schools this week before finishing at UCLA, USC, and Arizona. First Five Out Baylor The good thing about Baylor is that the Bears have played a relatively tough schedule. Unfortunately, they have a 2-7 record against the Top 50 to show for it, and one of those was an early December win at Kentucky that doesn’t look nearly as good now as it did at the time. Outside of a home victory over Oklahoma State, the Bears have not defeated anyone else I have in the field. Baylor’s 3-5 record in true road games is reflective of a tough first part of the Big 12 schedule, which means the Bears will have chance to pick up resume-enhancing wins at home with Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas visiting Waco down the stretch. Maryland Saturday night’s win over Duke was huge, and I’m still not quite sure how the Terps pulled it off despite committing 26 turnovers. That victory, coupled with a win over N.C. State, certainly helps their case, but Maryland is still just 6-6 in the ACC. The schedule was definitely front-loaded though, and the remaining slate features just two matchups against teams in the top half of the league. Still, the Terps are just 2-4 in true road games and play three of their next four away from home. Losing any of those games would be a huge blow to Maryland’s chances, which are shaky as it is given a horrific non-conference schedule where their top RPI wins are Stony Brook, Northwestern, George Mason, and Morehead State. Virginia It’s hard to look past the six sub-100 wins on Virginia’s profile, and Jerry Palm gave some interesting historical context related to UVA’s tournament hopes last week. The road win at Wisconsin looks great, but it can’t offset a weak non-conference performance that featured losses to George Mason, Delaware, and Old Dominion or the fact that the Hoos are just 3-6 away from home. Beating Maryland certainly helps for bubble purposes, but the Cavaliers didn’t perform well in the first leg of back-to-back road tests when they lost by double-digits at North Carolina on Saturday. Up next is a trip to Miami with a visit from Duke looming next Thursday. Virginia probably needs to go 5-1 down the stretch to solidify its case. Saint Mary’s The good news for the Gaels is that they have a couple key home games this week against BYU and Creighton that could add at least a little meat to their profile. The bad news is that they got blown out at home by Gonzaga last week, and they are now 0-2 against the Top 50 this season with just three of their 21 wins coming over Top 100 teams. Just one of those came against a team I have in the field (Harvard), and sub-100 losses to Pacific and Georgia Tech certainly don’t help either. The reality is that Saint Mary’s has the look of a tournament-caliber team on the court, but their profile does little to back up that assertion. And a quick thought on Kentucky… By now it’s obvious that I don’t have the Wildcats in the field or even as one of the first four out. Even before the injury to Nerlens Noel, UK’s case wasn’t all that strong. Kentucky has zero Top 50 wins and essentially has just two victories over teams in the at-large conversation, one of which came at Ole Miss where Noel was dominant down the stretch and the other of which came in the first game of the season against Maryland. So even before the 30-point beating at Tennessee over the weekend, it was tough to make an argument the Wildcats should be in the field with their best defender and most important player out of commission. A one-game sample size certainly isn’t much to go on sans Noel, so there is opportunity for the Wildcats to prove themselves without their freshman big man. They do get four of their last six at Rupp, including dates with Missouri and Florida, but road games at Arkansas and Georgia won’t be easy. At a minimum, UK needs to go 4-2 in those games, but even that may not be enough. ******* Here is how the bids broke out by conference: Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova Big Ten (7): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin Atlantic 10 (6): Butler, Charlotte, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU Pac-12 (6): Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA Big 12 (5): Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Mountain West (5): Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV ACC (4): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State SEC (3): Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State America East: Stony Brook Atlantic Sun: Mercer Big Sky: Montana Big South: Charleston Southern Big West: Long Beach State Colonial: Northeastern Conference USA: Memphis Horizon: Valparaiso Ivy: Harvard MAAC: Niagara MAC: Akron MEAC: Norfolk State Northeast: Bryant Ohio Valley: Belmont Patriot: Bucknell Southern: Davidson Southland: Northwestern State Summit: South Dakota State Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee SWAC: Southern WAC: Louisiana Tech West Coast: Gonzaga ********** Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops. The post NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections: Feb. 19th appeared first on Midwest Sports Fans.

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