I apologize for the one-day delay in getting the projections out this week, but a death in the family changed my priorities early this week. Tuesday night’s slate looked to be an uneventful one, but two potential number one seeds wound up going down on the road, as Minnesota knocked off top-ranked IU while surging Tennessee took care of a short-handed Florida squad. Those two results, along with Memphis’ road loss at Xavier, produced a small shakeup in this week’s bracket. There is still the potential for a lot of movement at the top of the bracket, and with bubble teams floundering left and right, a few mid-majors like Akron, Belmont, Louisiana Tech, and Middle Tennessee may be able to work their way into the at-large picture if they fail to win their respective conference tournaments. The projections below take into account all games played through Tuesday, Feb. 26. MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS) EAST (WASHINGTON, DC) Dayton – March 22nd/24th Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th 1) Indiana (24-4) 1) Duke (24-3) 16) Charleston So. (16-10)/Southern (20-8) 16) Northeastern (18-10) 8) Oklahoma (18-8) 8) UCLA (20-7) 9) Colorado (18-8) 9) Wichita State (24-5) Lexington – March 21st/23rd Austin – March 22nd/24th 5) Saint Louis (21-5) 5) Oklahoma State (20-6) 12) Boise St. (18-8)/Tennessee (17-10) 12) Kentucky (19-8)/Villanova (18-11) 4) Marquette (20-7) 4) Wisconsin (20-8) 13) Davidson (21-7) 13) Akron (22-4) Dayton – March 22nd/24th Austin – March 22nd/24th 6) UNLV (21-7) 6) Notre Dame (22-6) 11) Saint Mary’s (24-5) 11) La Salle (19-7) 3) Louisville (22-5) 3) Florida (22-5) 14) Northwestern State (19-7) 14) Valparaiso (23-7) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd 7) Illinois (20-9) 7) San Diego State (20-7) 10) North Carolina (19-8) 10) California (18-9) 2) Kansas (24-4) 2) Michigan State (22-6) 15) Montana (19-6) 15) Stony Brook (21-6) SOUTH (DALLAS) WEST (LOS ANGELES) Lexington – March 21st/23rd Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd 1) Miami, FL (22-4) 1) Gonzaga (27-2) 16) Norfolk St. (18-10)/Robert Morris (20-9) 16) Mercer (20-9) 8) VCU (22-6) 8) North Carolina State (19-8) 9) Cincinnati (19-9) 9) Missouri (19-8) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th San Jose – March 21st/23rd 5) Ohio State (20-7) 5) Butler (22-6) 12) Belmont (22-6) 12) Middle Tennessee (25-4) 4) Kansas State (23-5) 4) Syracuse (22-6) 13) Bucknell (23-5) 13) Louisiana Tech (24-3) Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th San Jose – March 21st/23rd 6) Colorado State (21-6) 6) Pittsburgh (21-7) 11) Iowa State (19-9) 11) Temple (19-8) 3) Georgetown (21-4) 3) Arizona (23-4) 14) Harvard (17-7) 14) South Dakota State (21-9) Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd 7) Oregon (22-6) 7) Minnesota (19-9) 10) Memphis (24-4) 10) Creighton (22-7) 2) Michigan (23-4) 2) New Mexico (23-4) 15) Niagara (17-11) 15) Long Beach State (17-10) ———————– Last Four In Boise State The Broncos were one of the only bubble teams not to lose last week. Even though wins over Air Force and Fresno State don’t knock your socks off, it was enough to keep them in my field. Boise State is now 6-6 in the Mountain West with six Top 100 wins and a 7-7 mark in road and neutral games. Following Wednesday’s home date with Nevada, the Broncos enter a critical three-game stretch to end the season with home games against Colorado State and San Diego State sandwiched around a road trip to UNLV. Villanova Jay Wright’s club continued its Jekyll and Hyde act last week with a huge win over Marquette followed up with a late-game meltdown and loss at Seton Hall. The Wildcats now boast four Top 30 wins, but they also have an ugly loss to Columbia and were swept by Providence. Still, I think their quality wins will be enough to get them in, but splitting their final two regular season games (at Pittsburgh, vs. Georgetown) certainly wouldn’t hurt. Kentucky After getting steamrolled by Tennessee, the Noel-less Wildcats bounced back and finished the week with arguably their best game of the season against Missouri. At a minimum, it proved Kentucky can still beat tournament-caliber teams. The other thing working in UK’s favor is the fact that the Wildcats have no sub-100 losses against a solid schedule. Following a very winnable game against Mississippi State at home, Kentucky heads to Arkansas and Georgia before the season finale versus Florida. Anything less than 3-1 over that stretch would probably push the Wildcats out of the field. Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers are surging in February. Is it enough to get them in the field of 68? Tennessee It came down to Tennessee and Virginia for the final spot in the field following UT’s critical win over Florida on Tuesday night. While the Cavaliers do boast a head-to-head win against Tennessee, I have a hard time believing the committee will overlook UVA’s six sub-100 losses. The Volunteers have one such loss to go with eight Top 100 wins. Cuonzo Martin’s squad needs to take care of business in their next two road games against Georgia and Auburn, and they host Missouri to close out the regular season. A 3-0 finish would give the Vols nine straight wins while bolstering their at-large profile. First Four Out Virginia As mentioned above, I gave Tennessee the slight nod over UVA for the final spot. To my knowledge, there is simply no precedent for a team with so many bad losses getting in the field. The horrific non-conference strength of schedule (and consequently their RPI) would look much better had the Hoos knocked off Delaware to get to the NIT Semi-finals. But the harsh reality is that they lost that game and deprived themselves of that chance. Virginia is also just 3-7 away from home, but the Cavaliers have a huge opportunity when Duke comes to Charlottesville this week. They would then need to take care of business at Boston College and Florida State before a season-ending bubble battle against Maryland. Mississippi After a 17-2 start, the Rebels have now dropped five of eight, including last week’s road loss against a terrible South Carolina squad. Ole Miss has just one Top 50 win, which came in mid-January over Missouri, and 10 of its 17 wins have come against sub-200 teams thanks to a poor non-conference schedule. For bubble purposes, a sweep of Tennessee certainly helps the Rebels’ case. But while the Volunteers have stepped up their game in recent weeks, Ole Miss will finish February without a Top 100 win if they can’t beat Texas A&M this week. At this point, the Rebels would be well served to win out with games at Mississippi State, home versus Alabama, and a road trip to LSU following Wednesday’s matchup with the Aggies. Arizona State The Sun Devils can’t seem to get out of their own way, and Saturday’s home loss to Washington pushed them out of the field. As it stands, ASU is 88th in the RPI with a really poor non-conference strength of schedule. The good news is the Sun Devils have four Top 50 wins and actually boast a winning record away from home. That mark will be tested though, as Arizona State closes out the year with road games at UCLA, USC, and Arizona. Going 2-1 during that stretch is an absolute must at this point. Maryland The fact that the Terps are still in the discussion tells you all you need to know about the bubble. Maryland has a pair of key wins over North Carolina State and Duke, but they have just three Top 100 wins. The Terps didn’t really challenge themselves in the non-conference, and they have yet to prove they can win on the road. That certainly doesn’t bode well for Maryland’s hopes since three of their last four games are at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Virginia. The lone remaining home date with North Carolina won’t be an easy one either. Winning at least three out of those four and making a deep run in the ACC Tournament are musts at this stage of the game. ******* 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 (5): Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU Big 12 (5): Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Mountain West (5): Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV Pac-12 (5): Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA ACC (4): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State SEC (4): Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s 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: Robert Morris Ohio Valley: Belmont Patriot: Bucknell Southern: Davidson Southland: Northwestern State Summit: South Dakota State Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee SWAC: Southern WAC: Louisiana Tech ********** Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops. 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