It’s the middle of January, a good time to post the first bracket of the 2014 calendar year.
As has been the case for a while, Arizona sits as the overall No. 1 seed. They are 18-0 overall and rank No. 3 in RPI. The Wildcats are also 4-0 against the RPI top 50 with all four wins coming away from home (road wins at San Diego State, Michigan and UCLA plus a neutral-court win over Duke).
Filling out the rest of the top line are Syracuse, Michigan State and Kansas. After dropping back-to-back games against Indiana and Michigan, the Badgers of Wisconsin fell to the two line (especially after Indiana followed-up the Wisconsin win with a let-down loss to Northwestern).
Joining Wisconsin as the current two-seeds are Villanova, Florida and San Diego State. The other unbeaten team, Wichita State, sits on the three line. They do rank ninth in RPI, but they’ve only beaten two teams currently in the field (Saint Louis and Tennessee). The BYU win would look a lot better if the Cougars didn’t lose to Pepperdine, Utah or Loyola-Marymount. The other teams currently seeded third are Massachusetts, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
And rounding out the top four seeds are Kentucky, Creighton, Ohio State and Connecticut.
As far as the bubble goes, our current last four byes (teams just above the cut line to avoid the First Four) are Georgetown, Stanford, Dayton and UCLA.
Last Four In:
Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Illinois
First Four Out:
SMU, Arkansas, BYU, Providence.
For Illinois, they need to start winning more big games in conference and hope Missouri can improve their RPI. The Illini currently have zero wins against the top 50 and only two in the top 100. The other can against aforementioned Indiana.
SMU sits just outside mostly because of their 228th-ranked non-conference strength of schedule, which we’ve seen many times before be punished by the Selection Committee. Their 2-4 record against the top 100 doesn’t help their cause either. Though one of those wins is against Connecticut.
Arkansas badly needs to win away from home. Their only win away from Fayetteville came in Maui against Minnesota. Losing at Georgia over the weekend was not in their best interests. The win over Kentucky was nice. It will be even nicer if they can win at Kentucky on February 27.
I will have more information on the bubble teams as we get closer to Selection Sunday. For now, here is the current bracket projection.
Note: Brackets are based on how it would look today. The new selection procedures take into account how many times conference opponents have met. This does not take into account conference tournaments, since we cannot assume teams will meet in the conference tournament. But I have done my best to keep conference opponents away from each other until at least the Sweet 16, since we are only assuming two meetings between the teams at this point. Also, teams in bold are the current automatic qualifiers.
And of course, you can compare me to the other bracketetologists over at the Bracket Matrix.