For the first time in many years of projecting brackets and the three years I have projected to the masses, having the same 65 teams in back-to-back weeks is a FIRST. Once again, despite the injury to Jerome Dyson, UConn stands at the top of the mountain with even UNC taking giant steps forward. After putting 100 on Duke at Cameron, the Heels won ugly against Miami last night.
In a lot of brackets, I see Wake Forest sliding fast. However, they are the only team to beat the top 4 in the ACC (wins versus UNC, Duke, Florida State and at Clemson). For that reason, I had to place them above Duke, who is starting their annual fall from grace. As a result of Duke’s fall, I was forced to place Oklahoma – who has often played to the level of their lesser competition – as a #1 seed.
Despite two losses in the PAC 10, I expect UCLA to run the table to win the conference outright and claim a protected seed. That said, the PAC 10 has been full of twists and turns, reducing predictability by the nanosecond.
In terms of whose stock rose, this was a good week for Arizona and Boston College.
* While I thought Arizona would get past USC, I anticipated a hard-fought win by the UCLA Bruins last weekend. I anticipated incorrectly, as great offense defeated great defense. Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger (yes, in that order) make up one of the best trios nationally.
* Undeterred by a home loss earlier in the week to Clemson (who lost yesterday to UVa!), BC is now 3-0 against teams from the Triangle area and added one more signature victory to their at-large bid mantle. If Al Skinner continues to regulate and the Eagles earn regular contributions from their single-digit scorers, they can move up two more seed lines.
Though not many teams fell precipitously, Miami-FL and USC could consider this week a missed opportunity despite decent performances. Ultimately, this may pave the way for the likes of Penn State and Notre Dame who gained crucial home wins this weekend and demonstrated a sense of urgency that was not seen in previous contests. The Irish will be back in the field if they sweep away contests against West Virginia and Providence.
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1: UConn (Big East), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma (Big XII)
2: Louisville, Wake Forest, Michigan State (Big Ten), Duke (ACC)
3: Memphis (C-USA), Villanova, Marquette, Clemson
4: Illinois, Kansas, UCLA (PAC 10), Missouri
5: Washington, Ohio State, Arizona State, Syracuse
6: Xavier (A-10), Purdue, Florida State, West Virginia
7: Butler (Horizon), Texas, Gonzaga (WCC), Boston College
8: Tennessee (SEC), Minnesota, Dayton, California
9: LSU, Davidson (Southern), Arizona, Utah
10: UNLV (MWC), Wisconsin, Florida, Utah State (WAC)
11: Virginia Tech, BYU, Kentucky, Cincinnati
12: USC, Miami-FL, South Carolina, Creighton (MVC)
13: Siena (Metro Atlantic), VCU (CAA), Vermont (America East), Buffalo (MAC)
14: Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), North Dakota State (Summit), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Cornell (Ivy)
15: American (Patriot), VMI (Big South), Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley), Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
16: Weber State (Big Sky), Long Beach State (Big West), Morgan State (MEAC), Robert Morris (Northeast), Alabama State (SWAC)
Last Four In: Cincinnati, Miami-FL, South Carolina, USC
Last Four Out: Penn State, Notre Dame, Kansas State, San Diego State
Next Four Out: Georgetown, Providence, Michigan, UAB
Seeding Summary (Multi-Bid Conferences Only in Order of Percentage)
Big East: 8/16
Big Ten: 6/11
Big XII: 4/12
Mountain West: 3/9A-10: 2/14