College Basketball Bracketology: Latest NCAA Tournament Projections & Regional Betting Value (Feb. 28)
Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
It’s officially conference-tournament season. Over the next 13 days, we will see mid-majors punch their tickets to the dance, heavyweights make their claim on No. 1 seeds, and most importantly, bubble teams help and hurt themselves.
It truly is the most exciting time of the year.
So, let’s get into the latest bracket.
As always, here are the core ground rules that will hold true throughout the rest of the year:
- First and foremost, the bracket will always be based off of the games that have been played. I am not projecting out how I think the year will finish, but rather seeding teams off of their current body of work. Each team will be seeded off of its total resume to this point in the year — the same process the Selection Committee ultimately uses when they give us the finalized bracket in mid-March. As a result, there will be a lot of changes in the bracket as we get more data and conference play unfolds.
- I will be using the current conference leader for the 32 auto-bids until we get into the conference tournaments.
- Lastly, if you think I have under-seeded your favorite team, no that does not mean I hate it. My job is to compare resumes and rank them from most complete down the line.
Here are some quick facts for this week’s projection:
- Last Four Byes: San Francisco, North Carolina, Miami (FL), San Diego State
- Last Four In: Indiana, SMU, BYU, Florida
- First Four Out: Michigan, Rutgers, Memphis, Oregon
Bids by Conference:
- Big Ten: 7
- Big East: 7
- SEC: 7
- Big 12: 6
- ACC: 5
- MWC: 4
- WCC: 4
- Pac-12: 3
- AAC: 2
What Stands Out in West?
- Xavier continues to fall down the bracket after suffering its fourth consecutive loss. The Musketeers need to at least split their final two to feel safe.
- Michigan State bounced back after its recent skid by upsetting Purdue in East Lansing. The Spartans hold firm on the 6 line for now.
- Arkansas just keeps winning, and as a result, the Hogs are all the way up to a 4 seed.
- This would likely be looked at as the “Region of Death” with Gonzaga, Purdue and Kentucky all in the West. Also, don’t forget about Arkansas and Texas as dangerous 4 and 5 seeds.
- I’d be looking to back Kentucky here at +175 or better to win the West. The
Wildcats’ backcourt would pose problems for Purdue, and if they met the Zags in the Elite 8, they have the size to match up.
What Stands Out in South?
- North Texas remains dominant in the Conference USA and is up to an 11 seed. The Mean Green will be a popular upset pick in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament.
- TCU secured a massive home victory over Texas Tech. Jamie Dixon’s team is now in great position to return to the dance for the first time since 2018.
- UConn knocked off Villanova and the Huskies get up to the 4 line as a result.
- I really like Duke’s path in this region in comparison to Arizona. I’d back the Blue Devils to win the South at +150 or better, as I don’t see them being all that tested before the Elite 8.
What Stands Out in Midwest?
- Bryant won the NEC regular-season crown and enters the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed after a home win over Wagner.
- Iowa State is back on track thanks to four consecutive Big 12 wins. The Clones have locked in their position as a single-digit seed.
- Wisconsin secured back-to-back road wins, and the Badgers possess a resume that can stack up with just about any in the country. Say what you want about the close games, but wins matter in the Committee’s eyes.
- I think this is the region where I would take my chances with some higher-seeded teams to make a run. Give me Illinois at +250 or better to come out of the Midwest.
What Stands Out in East?
- San Diego State is currently one of the last teams in the field and has a big one tonight at Wyoming.
- Saint Mary’s pulled off the upset over No. 1 Gonzaga, and the Gaels are all the way up to the 5 line as a result. They own a complete resume.
- A hypothetical Sweet 16 matchup here between Villanova and Baylor would be a rematch on multiple fronts. The teams met earlier this season, and also last year in the Sweet 16.
- Indiana continues to stay just inside the cut line. The Hoosiers finish with Rutgers at home and then at Purdue. They need to win at least one of those two games.
- Give me the chalk here, as I like the path for the Jayhawks. I’d play Kansas to win the East at +150 or better.
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