Bracketology: February 22

There are just two weeks left in the regular season, and the tournament picture is starting to get a little more clear in some spots. Some lower conference teams are setting themselves up for really good chances at their leagues’ auto-bid, Villanova and Kansas are starting to separate themselves and solidify their 1-seed standings, and some Bubble teams are suffering terrible losses, putting them potentially on the outside looking in. With that in mind, here is this week’s Bracketology, just three weeks away from Selection Sunday!

*Auto-bids in bold, regions listed by #1 pick ranking*

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Kansas won two more games this week, so they remain #1 overall on this bracket. The 2-seed in the South this week is Michigan State, who pretty well handled a red-hot Wisconsin team, winning 69-57. They were led by Denzel Valentine, who continue’s to make his case for National Player of the Year, taking advantage of some Buddy Hield struggles. Miami had a chance for a massive win at North Carolina on Saturday, but couldn’t get it done. UNC dominated the game, but Miami remains a 3-seed. Texas A&M got a sorely needed marquee win when they defeated Kentucky in overtime on a Tyler Davis putback layup as time expired. The Aggies are up to a 4-seed this week because of it. I wasn’t a big believer in Utah until this week, when they swept their Los Angeles trip, scoring fairly easy wins over UCLA and USC. Michigan is on the other end of the spectrum, as I believe they are better than their results are showing. They need Caris LeVert to get healthy, or they could tank down the stretch and end up out of the tournament altogether.
Rising Teams: Michigan State, Texas A&M, Utah
Falling Teams: Miami FL, Michigan, Syracuse

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Villanova also picked up a couple more wins this week, staying atop the AP Poll, and 2nd overall in my Bracketology. North Carolina bounced back from a crushing loss to rival Duke by throttling Miami on Saturday. Maryland had a week to forget, as they gave Minnesota their first Big Ten win, and then followed that up by barely beating an ailing Michigan team at home. West Virginia also had a week to forget, dropping to a 4-seed here following losses to Texas and Oklahoma. USC is precariously hanging onto the 6-seed line after getting defeated at home by Utah this week. They have struggled a little bit lately, and while they aren’t in much danger of missing the tournament, they could fall down towards the Bubble if they’re not careful. Another team like that is Providence, who barely defeated Georgetown, and then missed out on a big opportunity in falling at Xavier. Temple couldn’t stamp their resume with a win over Villanova, but they did get a road win over Houston. They are in as the American leader right now, but if they fail to win the conference, they’ll be right on the Bubble, just like last season.
Rising Teams: Indiana, Pittsburgh, VCU
Falling Teams: Maryland, West Virginia, Providence

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Oklahoma was upset by a surging Texas Tech team, but responded with a huge road win over West Virginia. They have the resume of a 1-seed despite the Texas Tech loss. Xavier gets a chance for revenge this Wednesday when they host Villanova. With a win, those two teams could flip seeds for sure. Kentucky nearly beat Texas A&M, but they came up short. They performed well enough though to show that they are still a top team. Iowa State travels to West Virginia tonight, where they could hand the Mountaineers their 3rd straight loss. That would be big for the Cyclones’ resume. Wichita State bounced back from the home loss to Northern Iowa with three easy wins this past week. They are still a threat to advance deep in this tournament as long as Fred Van Vleet plays at a high level. Gonzaga has now been swept by Saint Mary’s this season, and they are definitely in danger of missing the tournament. It would behoove them to win the WCC.
Rising Teams: Xavier, Wichita State, Seton Hall
Falling Teams: Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Colorado

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They have a difficult finish to the season, including a road match-up with Miami tonight, but for now, Virginia is up to a 1-seed. They also have home games against North Carolina and Louisville still to come, so that could definitely change. Only one game for Iowa and Oregon each this past week, and while Oregon got a nice win over rival Oregon State, Iowa suffered a baffling loss to Penn State. They remain a 2-seed for now, while Oregon is back up to a 3-seed. Baylor got two big wins this week, over Iowa State at home and Texas on the road, moving them up to a 5-seed. Dayton had a rough week meanwhile, losing at St. Joseph’s and at home to St. Bonaventure, dropping them down to a 6-seed. Saint Mary’s is now the favorite to win the WCC, after beating Gonzaga for a second time this season. They are back up to an 8-seed this week. Texas Tech is one of the hottest teams in the country, but they need to keep it going if they’re going to make the tournament. I have them as one of the last four teams in, along with Cincinnati, St. Bonaventure and Colorado.
Rising Teams: Virginia, Oregon, Baylor
Falling Teams: Iowa, Dayton, Connecticut

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