College Basketball Bracketology: Latest NCAA Tournament Projections & Regional Betting Value (March 7)
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Cliff Omoruyi (Rutgers)
Championship Week is underway and the tournament picture is starting to become clearer. Three teams have officially punched their ticket to the dance: Murray State, Longwood and Loyola Chicago. Two more will do so tonight with the Sun Belt and SoCon title games taking place this evening.
For this edition, all auto-bids are going to the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, with exception to the tournaments that are in progress. Those will either go to the tournament winner, or the highest-seeded team still alive (Jacksonville in the ASUN is an example of this).
BYU is currently my first team out, but the Cougars have been eliminated from the WCC Tournament. As a result, it’s difficult to see a path back into the field.
More updates to come throughout the week as the conference tournaments play out.
Here are some quick facts for this week’s projection:
- Last Four Byes: Creighton, Wyoming, Wake Forest, Michigan
- Last Four In: Xavier, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU
- First Four Out: BYU, Indiana, Dayton, VCU
- Next Four Out: Virginia Tech, Virginia, Texas A&M, Florida
Bids by Conference:
- Big Ten: 8
- Big East: 7
- SEC: 7
- Big 12: 6
- ACC: 5
- MWC: 4
- WCC: 3
- Pac-12: 3
- AAC: 3
What Stands Out in West?
- Murray State is officially headed back to the Big Dance, and the Racers will be a scary opponent. They’re likely headed to the 8/9 game.
- Houston suffered another blowout loss to Memphis. It’s worth noting the Cougars do not own a win over a team comfortably inside the field.
- Miami (FL) should be safely in the field after a comeback win in Syracuse on Saturday. One victory in Brooklyn would officially lock up a bid for the Hurricanes.
- I love the way Arkansas is playing, and in this hypothetical region, I’d love to take the Hogs at +130 or better in a “To Make the Sweet 16” bet. Houston would be a very favorable second-round opponent.
- In this region, I think the betting value would lie with Villanova, and I love the Wildcats’ path here. Give me Nova to win the West at +230 or better.
What Stands Out in South?
- Wyoming secured an overtime victory over Fresno State on Saturday. A loss there would’ve made things dicey, but the Cowboys should win at least once in the MWC Tournament to feel fully safe.
- Texas Tech dropped to a No. 4 seed after losing to Oklahoma State on Saturday, but the Red Raiders can play their way back onto the 3-line with a strong showing at the Big 12 Tournament.
- Duke likely eliminated any chance it had at a No. 1 seed after the loss to UNC in Coach K’s final game at Cameron.
- I’d look to roll with another 3-seed here, and take my chances backing Tennessee to win the South at +300 or better. The Vols already beat Arizona, and have the defensive prowess to slow down Duke.
What Stands Out in Midwest?
- Longwood won the Big South, and the Lancers are officially heading to the NCAA Tournament.
- Xavier has had a very poor finish to the regular season, and needs to beat Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament to feel good about its positioning.
- Colorado State quietly has a really strong resume, and the Rams could play their way to a 6-seed by winning the MWC Tournament.
- I like Texas’ path to make the Sweet 16 here. Chris Beard’s team is one of the best in the country defensively and has shown improvement on the other end. The Longhorns are worth a play at +150 or better for me with this draw.
- Give me the Jayhawks to win the Midwest at +150 or better. I trust Kansas to win four games in a row — moreso than Auburn at this point.
What Stands Out in East?
- North Carolina fans can officially plan for March travel, as the Heels are safely in the field following the road win at Duke.
- San Francisco handled its business against BYU in the WCC quarters, and as a result, the Dons are in comfortable position. A win tonight over Gonzaga would obviously remove all doubt.
- Alabama would have a favorable path to the Sweet 16 here, as the Tide would pose a lot of matchup issues for Providence in a potential R32 game.
- Kentucky against Illinois in the Sweet 16 would have “Game of the Tournament” potential, especially considering how fun it would be to see Oscar Tshiebwe and Kofi Cockburn square off.
- I’ll back Baylor to win the East with this draw, as I think the Bears have the easier path to the Elite Eight in what could include a revenge game against Alabama.
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