Bracketology: UNC and Kentucky jump to No. 1 seeds, Duke and Tennessee slip to No. 2 line

The top line of the bracket was churning Saturday. First, Tennessee lost at Auburn 84-80, which caused the Volunteers to drop down to a No. 2 seed. Then, North Carolina completed the season sweep of Duke, 79-70, which moved the Blue Devils down to the No. 2 line for the first time this season. With that victory the Tar Heels moved up to replace Duke.

The Blue Devils have been struggling since the loss of Zion Wiliamson, who is expected back for the ACC Tournament.  His replacement in the starting lineup, Marques Bolden, left Saturday’s game with a sprained MCL that he suffered running into the basket stanchion trying to defend a fastbreak.  His timetable for return is unclear.

Virginia’s win over Louisville gave the Cavaliers the ACC regular season title and a No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament.  In fact, they are a lock to be on the top line of the bracket on Selection Sunday.

Michigan would have gotten that fourth spot, but the Wolverines fell apart in the second half at Michigan State in a 75-63 loss.  The Spartans earned a share of the Big Ten title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.  Purdue also got a share of the title, its league-leading 24th overall, with a 70-57 win at Northwestern. The Spartans jumped up to a 2-seed, knocking the Wolverines down to a 3.  What a difference a game makes.

There could be more movement through the conference tournaments as well.  With three ACC teams and three SEC teams in the top eight, more losses are coming.

LSU won the regular season title in the SEC on Saturday with an 80-59 win over Vanderbilt.  The Tigers were without suspended coach Will Wade, along with Javonte Smart (withheld over potential eligibility issues) and Naz Reid (injured).

The Big 12 title was shared by Texas Tech and Kansas State.  The Red Raiders won their first conference title since the formation of the league.  They last won a conference championship in the Southwest Conference in 1996.  Kansas State last got a share of the title in 2013.

Villanova ended up as the Big East champion after Marquette dropped its fourth straight game.  This time, it was an 86-84 loss to Georgetown on Senior Night.  That league tournament could be won by anyone.  Marquette has dropped to a 5-seed in the current bracket and is still the top seeded team from the Big East.

Check out Jerry Palm’s Bracketology and see his complete projected field of 68 teams.

I wrote at length yesterday about the poor quality of the bubble and how several teams are failing to meet even minimum standards of success.  Some of those teams are still in the bracket this morning, most notably Florida, which at only 17-14 is the last team in the field.

It was a rough day for conference tournament top seeds.  South Dakota State, led by 3000-point scorer Mike Daum, was knocked out of the Summit tournament by 8th seeded Western Illinois.

It should be no surprise to anyone who has followed the Missouri Valley this year that Arch Madness is indeed madness.  The top two seeds, 2018 Final Four participant Loyola and Drake, were dumped in the semifinals Saturday, leaving 5th seed Bradley to face No. 6 Northern Iowa in the final Sunday.

Belmont is the team that will likely get the most attention though.  The Bruins lost to Murray State 77-65 in the OVC final.  Naturally, people are excited that Racers star Ja Morant will get to show his stuff in the NCAA Tournament.  Belmont is likely to fall short though.  The Bruins’ schedule ranks just barely in the top 200.  Only three teams have received at-large bids with a schedule ranked that low, none since 2006.

All but a few conference tournament schedules are set after Saturday’s action.  The AAC and the Big Ten still have work to do on Sunday.  Note that my bracket uses the top seed remaining in the conference tournament as the automatic qualifier.

Check out Jerry Palm’s Bracketology and see his complete projected field of 68 teams.

Categories: National Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *