Kansas made the biggest statement of any team this season on Saturday when they went into Norman and defeated the Oklahoma Sooners for the second time this season. As crazy as this college basketball season has been, I would have never expected a team would be able to defeat Oklahoma twice, but Kansas did just that, and in impressive fashion. We’re getting closer and closer to some March Madness, but if you’ve been paying any attention, the “Madness” has already begun. That is reflected in this week’s edition of Bracketology.
*Auto-Bids in bold, regions in order of #1 seed ranking*
It was between Kansas and Villanova for the #1 overall spot, and while ultimately it wouldn’t matter much because both teams would get to be placed in the region closest to them, I decided to go with Kansas because they’ve beaten Oklahoma twice this year now, the same team that defeated Villanova by 23. They also got revenge on West Virginia this week, a huge win as well. That is why they are #1 overall. In this prediction, a rubber match with West Virginia could occur in the Elite Eight. Texas A&M is a team that was a 2/3 seed just two weeks ago, but after losing at LSU, their fourth consecutive loss, the Aggies are down to a 5-seed. Speaking of LSU, before the win over A&M, they lost at South Carolina, losing their lead in the SEC. I have them sneaking in as an at-large this week. They end their regular season with a game at Kentucky. Winning that game could be crucial.
Rising Teams: Kansas, Arizona, St. Bonaventure
Falling Teams: Texas A&M, Wichita State, UConn
If Villanova can win the Big East, they will probably be a 1-seed. If they are placed in the East, and can get to the second weekend for the first time since 2009, they could get to play in an arena where they play a few home games every season. That could be a huge advantage for them. Maryland has had some near hiccups at home this season, winning close games against Georgetown, Rider, Penn State and Northwestern. It finally caught up to them this weekend when they lost by 13 to Wisconsin. Despite that, they remain a 3-seed for now. There was a time not long ago where it looked like Duke could be in danger of missing the tournament altogether. But they’ve rattled off four wins in a row, highlighted by a last-second victory over Virginia. They have road games this week against North Carolina and Louisville, so this will be a huge week for the Blue Devils.
Rising Teams: Duke, Michigan, Butler
Falling Teams: Maryland, Providence, Pittsburgh
North Carolina hasn’t played great as of late, but they have a resume good enough to deserve a 1-seed. They have a brutal end to their schedule, which will see them host Duke, Miami and Syracuse and travel to face NC State, Virginia and Duke. If they’re still a 1-seed on Selection Sunday, I’ll be shocked, but I’ll be impressed. I think maybe a 3-seed is a little high right now, but while other teams are struggling, Kentucky continues to get better. I would not want to see them in my region on Selection Sunday. In my A-10 tourney outlook yesterday, I noted that Dayton might be the best team you know nothing about. They are up to a 5-seed this week, and they have a chance for another huge win on Wednesday when they travel to Philly to take on St. Joe’s, who is up to a 9-seed this week. Wisconsin is a newcomer to this week’s bracket, after they knocked off Maryland on the road. The Badgers are on a 7-game winning streak, and they still have road games against Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue. They have a lot of chances to improve their resume.
Rising Teams: Kentucky, California, Wisconsin
Falling Teams: Baylor, Seton Hall, Valparaiso
Oklahoma couldn’t get revenge on Kansas this weekend, but they are still one of the best teams in the country, and deserving of a 1-seed. Xavier lost a tough one on the road against Creighton last week, but they bounced back with a big win at Butler. They are still good enough to warrant being a 2-seed. Just when everybody was ready to jump on the Oregon bandwagon, the Ducks by 20 at California and then back that up with a loss at lowly Stanford. Oregon is down to a 4-seed this week. The bandwagon to jump on right now might be that of Notre Dame. The Irish got a huge home win for a second straight Saturday when they knocked off Louisville. They will hit the road for their next three games (Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State) before returning home for a rematch with Miami. If ND can win all three road games, that match-up with the Hurricanes will be huge. Another ACC team on the rise is Syracuse. The committee will take into account how Syracuse performed without Jim Boeheim, and that should help their case. I have them up to a 9-seed this week, with room to ascend even higher.
Rising Teams: Miami FL, Notre Dame, Syracuse
Falling Teams: Oklahoma, Oregon, VCU