It was hard to cut Louisville from the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament in this week's Bracket Watch. The Cardinals are now 21-4 overall and 9-2 in the American Athletic Conference. They haven't lost to a team with an RPI worse than 33 and have three wins against top-40 RPI teams. The only problem was finding a team to push down in favor of the defending national champions.
Three Big Ten teams find themselves on the 4-line this week, and all three have a stronger resume than the Cardinals. Iowa is 4-6 against the top 50, and its worst loss by RPI was at No. 19 Ohio State. Michigan is 10-3 in one of the country's best conferences and is 6-5 against the top 50. Wisconsin is 7-3 against the top 50 and has wins over Florida, Saint Louis and Virginia (on the road).
Virginia is the fourth No. 4 seed, and the Cavaliers are the one team to consider bumping to the 5-line. However, their 9-5 record against the top 100 gives them a slight edge over the Cardinals. While Louisville doesn't have a loss to a team in the 51-100 range, they're just 3-4 versus teams in the top 100 in RPI. You can make a case for Louisville over Virginia, but the overall body of work favors the Cavs.
1. Syracuse (25-0, LW: East 1) -- Tyler Ennis' game-winner against Pittsburgh last week is the signature moment in a season full of them for the Orange. They face another challenge to their undefeated record at Duke on Saturday.
2. Villanova (22-3, LW: E2) -- If the Wildcats can just avoid Creighton in the tournament, they should be fine. They're 4-1 against all other RPI top-50 teams and 0-2 against the Blue Jays.
3. Iowa State (19-5, LW: E3) -- The Cyclones bounced back from their worst game of the season with a win over Texas Tech on Saturday. They're 7-4 against teams in the top 50 in RPI. They have a chance to avenge one of those losses on Tuesday when Texas comes to Ames.
4. Iowa (19-6, LW: E4) -- The Hawkeyes won at Penn State on Saturday, their only game of the week. All six of their losses are against teams in the top 20 in RPI.
1. Florida (23-2, LW: South 1) -- The Gators picked up a road win at Kentucky on Saturday, their fifth win against a team with a top-50 RPI. They haven't lost with their current active roster intact, and their two early season losses were on the road against teams in the top 25 in RPI.
2. Duke (20-5, LW: W3) -- The Blue Devils face a busy week with their rescheduled game against North Carolina shoehorned in between a trip to Georgia Tech on Tuesday and a home date with Syracuse on Saturday. They're No. 1 in adjusted offensive efficiency on kenpom.com.
3. Creighton (21-4, LW: S4) -- The Bluejays might love to see Villanova in the tournament after picking up their second 20-plus-point victory over the Wildcats this season. They're 6-2 against the RPI top 50 and 10-4 against the top 100.
4. Michigan (18-7, LW: S3) -- The Wolverines followed up a win at Ohio State with a loss at home to Wisconsin. They're tied with Michigan State atop the Big Ten, clear of the rest of the conference by 1.5 games. That makes Sunday's showdown with the Spartans in Ann Arbor the likely de facto regular season conference championship game.
1. Arizona (23-2, LW: W1) -- The Wildcats fell at Arizona State on Friday, and are now 2-2 since Brandon Ashley's season-ending foot injury. That knocks them down to the No. 3 overall seed, behind Florida.
2. Cincinnati (23-3, LW: MW3) -- After stumbles by San Diego State, Michigan State and Michigan last week, the Bearcats rise to their highest spot in the bracket this season. They're 5-3 against teams in the top 50 in RPI and haven't lost to a team with an RPI worse than 42 (Xavier).
3. Michigan State (21-5, LW: Midwest 2) -- While the Spartans have our understanding because of all their injuries this season, the bottom line is their resume doesn't justify putting them higher than a 3-seed this week.
4. Virginia (21-5, LW: MW4) -- The Cavaliers rank eighth on KenPom, and are fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have five games remaining this season, including a showdown with Syracuse in Charlottesville on March 1.
1. Wichita State (27-0, LW: MW1) -- With just four games remaining on their regular-season schedule, the Shockers have a 76.8-percent chance to go undefeated according to KenPom.
2. Kansas (19-6, LW: S2) -- Forget the loss at Kansas State last week. The Jayhawks have 10 wins against teams in the RPI top 50 and zero losses to a team with an RPI worse than 31.
3. San Diego State (22-2, LW: W2) -- The Aztecs were destined for a 3-seed after losing at Wyoming on Tuesday, but losses by Michigan State and Michigan nearly kept them in place on the 2-line. Saturday's road game at New Mexico looms on the horizon.
4. Wisconsin (21-5, LW: West 5) -- The Badgers have bounced back from the midseason swoon, punctuated with a win at Michigan on Sunday. They'll be favored in all four of their remaining games in the regular season.
Last Four In
Baylor -- The win over Kansas State on Saturday got the Bears back in the tournament picture. A resume that includes a 4-7 record over teams in the top 50 in RPI with victories against Kentucky, Oklahoma State and a full-strength Colorado is good enough at this point.
Providence -- The Friars took a hit after losing to St. John's, Xavier and Georgetown, but they still have that win over Creighton that can boost them over their fellow bubble teams for the time being.
Georgetown -- The Hoyas have turned their season around with an unlikely four-game win streak that includes victories over Michigan State and Providence.
West Virginia -- West Virginia now owns wins over four teams in the bracket, including fellow Last Four In squad Baylor, and has just one loss to a team with an RPI worse than 37.
First Four Out
LSU -- It was a terrible week for the Tigers, as they fell to Texas A&M and Arkansas. Both games were on the road, but they needed those games to solidify their case for the tournament.
Florida State -- The Seminoles haven't defeated a team likely to make the tournament since a win over Massachusetts a few days before Christmas. Meanwhile, they've lost three games to teams with an RPI worse than 70 since then.
BYU -- The Cougars' chance to earn an at-large bid comes on Thursday when Gonzaga visits Provo.
Richmond -- The Spiders are on the outside of the bracket for now, but they have a chance to get a win over a team with a top-30 RPI with George Washington heading to Richmond on Tuesday.
The Field of 68
|1. Syracuse |
16. Robert Morris/VMI
|1. Arizona |
16. North Carolina Central/Utah Valley
|8. VCU |
9. Arizona State
|8. Oklahoma |
9. George Washington
|4. Iowa |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|4. Virginia |
|5. Louisville |
|5. Kentucky |
|3. Iowa State |
14. Georgia State
|3. Michigan State |
14. UC Irvine
|6. Connecticut |
|6. UCLA |
|7. Gonzaga |
|7. Kansas State |
|2. Villanova |
|2. Cincinnati |
|1. Wichita State |
|1. Florida |
|8. SMU |
|8. North Carolina |
9. New Mexico
|4. Wisconsin |
13. UW-Green Bay
|4. Michigan |
|5. Texas |
12. Southern Miss
|5. Saint Louis |
12. West Virginia/Georgetown
|3. San Diego State |
|3. Creighton |
14. North Dakota State
|6. Memphis |
|6. Ohio State |
|7. Pitt |
|7. UMass |
10. Oklahoma State
|2. Kansas |
15. Boston University
|2. Duke |
15. Weber State