Friday, March 7, 2014

Bracketology: Battle for final No. 1 seed is heating up

It seems pretty clear Arizona and Florida are battling for the No. 1 overall seed while Wichita State, even with a loss in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, will be the third No. 1 seed with a 31-1 record in a worst-case scenario.

The battle for the final No. 1 seed is heating up with Kansas, Villanova and Wisconsin as the lead competitors. Michigan and Virginia are in the second tier of teams that could nab the No. 1 seed. I don't see any way Syracuse and Duke can climb back up to the top line. A team like Michigan State, when fully healthy - as it looked like against Iowa last night - plays like a No. 1 seed but it appears a best-case scenario that includes winning at Ohio State and claiming the Big Ten Tournament title would net a No. 2 seed.

The bottom of the bubble is ugly as usual and the final five to six spots will likely be determined by how teams fare in conference tournaments.

Here's our bracket projection (through Thursday night's games on March 6th):





Analysis: The teams Nos. 1-17 on the S-Curve (Cincinnati is No. 17) all seem locked in to their spots. It's really tough to figure out which team in that group falls to the No. 5 line but at this point it's the Bearcats due to the nonconference schedule.

Bubble: Teams will play their way in this week. Teams like Nebraska and Minnesota have only themselves to blame if they're NIT bound. Winning in the conference tournament is a must. The same can be said for a team like Tennessee and even Arkansas. Both are in decent position now but winning solves all those problems.

FINAL FOUR: Based on these projections I'll take the following Elite Eight match-ups:  So, in this hypothetical, give me Arizona-Michigan (West), Florida-Virginia (South), Iowa State-Michigan State (Midwest) and Kansas-Duke (South). That's not terrible interesting with a 1-2, 1-2, 3-4, 1-3 breakdown, however I would expect most of the country's best teams to go deep in the tournament. The sleepers (Stephen F. Austin, Green Bay, etc.) might be good for the Sweet 16 but not any further. I would take a quartet of Florida-Michigan-Michigan State-Kansas in the Final Four. I've been looking at a Kansas/Michigan State final for a while now and, if things can potentially break that way, it wouldn't be a shocking finale.


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