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Duke, Michigan State, Kansas State and Pitt begin as No. 1 seeds

2011 NCAA Tournament Projection
In this bracket, the East matches up with the West, the Southeast with the Southwest in the national semifinals.

With the addition of three at-large spots (increasing the field to 68 teams), there are now four play-in games, dubbed the "First Four." Two games will match the tournaments lowest seeds, Nos. 65 through 68, with the winners claiming a No. 16 seed. The other two games will feature the last four teams of the 37 at-large qualifiers, with the winners likely receiving No. 11 or 12 seeds.

The top-four seeds in each region, starting with the No. 1 seeds, receive geographic preference when possible. An imbalance in high seeds between regions (e.g. if more than two top-four seeds are closest to the same subregional location) may force a protected seed into a secondary location.

League winners are listed with their conference for clarity. Teams can be moved a seed line up or down to conform to bracketing rules.

* -- automatic qualifier

 
 
EAST - Newark
 
Charlotte
 
1Duke* (ACC)
16Holy Cross* (Patriot)/Quinnipiac* (NEC)
 
 
8Mississippi State
9Wisconsin
 
 
Denver
 
5West Virginia
12Dayton
 
 
4Missouri
13Utah State* (WAC)
 
 
Tampa
 
6Purdue
11New Mexico
 
 
3Florida* (SEC)
14Wofford* (SoCon)
 
 
Washington D.C.
 
7Florida State
10Xavier
 
 
2Syracuse
15Stephen F. Austin* (Southland)
 
SOUTHEAST - New Orleans
 
Chicago
 
1Michigan State* (Big Ten)
16Boston U.* (America East)
 
 
8Texas
9Richmond
 
 
Denver
 
5Washington* (Pac-10)
12Maryland
 
 
4Georgetown
13Murray State* (Ohio Valley)
 
 
Tampa
 
6Gonzaga * (West Coast)
11BYU
 
 
3Memphis* (C-USA)
14Fairfield* (MAAC)
 
 
Tulsa
 
7North Carolina State
10Seton Hall
 
 
2Kansas
15Weber State* (Big Sky)
 
 
 
 
 
WEST - Anaheim
 
Cleveland
 
1Pittsburgh* (Big East)
16UNC Asheville* (Big South)/Jackson St.* (SWAC)
 
 
8Minnesota
9Vanderbilt
 
 
Tucson
 
5Temple* (Atlantic 10)
12Creighton/Oklahoma State
 
 
4North Carolina
13Ohio* (MAC)
 
 
Cleveland
 
6Butler* (Horizon)
11Clemson
 
 
3Kentucky
14Princeton* (Ivy)
 
 
Chicago
 
7San Diego State
10Old Dominion* (Colonial)
 
 
2Illinois
15UC Santa Barbara* (Big West)
 
SOUTHWEST - San Antonio
 
Tulsa
 
1Kansas State* (Big 12)
16Morgan State* (MEAC)
 
 
8Marquette
9Virginia Tech
 
 
Tucson
 
5UNLV* (Mountain West)
12Notre Dame/George Mason
 
 
4Tennessee
13Western Kentucky* (Sun Belt)
 
 
Charlotte
 
6Baylor
11Georgia
 
 
3Ohio State
14Oakland* (Summit)
 
 
Washington, D.C.
 
7Wichita State* (Missouri Valley)
10Arizona
 
 
2Villanova
15Lipscomb* (Atlantic Sun)
 
 

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Arizona State, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisville, Northwestern, St. John's, St. Mary's, Southern Miss, Texas A&M, UCLA, UTEP, Washington State.

At-large first-round games (Tuesday, March 15): Notre Dame-George Mason, Creighton-Oklahoma State.

Automatic bid first-round games (Wednesday, March 16): Holy Cross-Quinnipiac, UNC Asheville-Jackson State.

QUICK NOTES

-- All four projected No. 1 seeds are slotted in Friday subregionals, so both automatic bid first-round games had to be on Wednesday, with the two at-large first-round games both being held on Tuesday. The NCAA will wait until it releases the full bracket to schedule these four first-round matchups, so any combination of games is possible depending on subregional allocation and seeding.

-- I had UNLV a spot ahead of Memphis in my rankings of the "other" 25 conferences on presumed team quality, but Memphis' position in C-USA makes the Tigers more likely to get a high seed than UNLV in the deeper Mountain West.

-- There were a number of teams in the 8-10 seed lines that got shuffled a line due to conference conflicts in the bracket.

-- Purdue feels like more of a 4/5 seed than a 5/6, but I think the Mountain West and A-10 champs (and the Pac-10, if Washington lives up to billing) would end up with a better seed than the fourth-place Big Ten team, if that's how it shakes out. This might be low for the Boilermakers, though.

MULTI-BID CONFERENCES

Big East (8)
Pittsburgh*
Villanova
Syracuse
Georgetown
West Virginia
Marquette
Seton Hall
Notre Dame

ACC (7)
Duke*
North Carolina
Florida State
Virginia Tech
N.C. State
Clemson
Maryland

SEC (6)
Florida*
Kentucky
Tennessee
Mississippi State
Georgia
Vanderbilt

Big Ten (6)
Michigan State*
Illinois
Ohio State
Purdue
Minnesota
Wisconsin

Big 12 (6)
Kansas State*
Kansas
Missouri
Baylor
Texas
Oklahoma State

Mountain West (4)
San Diego State*
UNLV
BYU
New Mexico

Atlantic 10 (4)
Temple*
Richmond
Xavier
Dayton

Pac-10 (2)
Washington*
Arizona

Missouri Valley (2)
Wichita State*
Creighton

Colonial Athletic (2)
Old Dominion*
George Mason

ONE-BID-CONFERENCES (21)

America East
Boston University: John Holland and a bunch of impact transfers are enough to hold off Stony Brook.

Atlantic Sun
Lipscomb: Adnan Hodzic/Josh Slater is the best scoring duo in the league and two other starters return.

Big Sky
Weber State: The taste of two straight bitter postseason defeats fuel Damian Lillard and Co. past Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona and Montana.

Big South
UNC Asheville: Guards J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey are all-league types fronting an experienced cast.

Big West
UC Santa Barbara: Orlando Johnson and the Gauchos won the league last year starting four sophs and a junior, but it won't be easy to hold off Pacific and Long Beach State.

Conference USA
Memphis: We'll see how the freshmen develop as far as competing on the elite national level, but the Tigers are clearly the best team in C-USA.

Horizon
Butler: The Bulldogs seem to make it look easy in a league that's actually pretty deep and fairly talented.

Ivy
Princeton: Upperclass teams typically win the Ivy and the Tigers return a lot, but don't discount Harvard's talent or Penn's bounceback.

MAAC
Fairfield: Came within a bucket of KO'ing Siena and dancing last season and returns a lot of talent, starting with point guard Derek Needham.

MAC
Ohio: Diminutive point guard D.J. Cooper is the main man, but he has terrific partners in DeVaughn Washington and Tommy Freeman. You never know in the MAC, though.

MEAC
Morgan State: The best team in the league should return to the NCAAs again despite losing Reggie Holmes.

Northeast
Quinnipiac: Justin Rutty and the Bobcats tied for the regular-season crown last season. Robert Morris and CCSU should have a say, though.

Ohio Valley
Murray State: The most balanced team in the nation last year has plenty of talent back to hold off Kenneth Faried and Morehead State again.

Patriot
Holy Cross: In a jumbled league, take the Crusaders, who have a lot of talent back, were the unluckiest team in D-I last season and made a terrific hire in former Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown.

SoCon
Wofford: Noah Dahlman and most of the others return from last year's team that almost shocked Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAAs. Appalachian State, C of C and others could challenge.

Southland
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks return a lot of talent and will ride their stingy defensive ways past Sam Houston State.

Summit
Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies were the anti-Holy Cross, ending last season as D-I's luckiest team, per kenpom.com. That said, go with star big man Keith Benson and Co. to hold off IUPUI.

Sun Belt
Western Kentucky: In Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch, the Hilltoppers have two of the top players in the league, which will be enough to hold off Arkansas State, Denver and others.

SWAC
Jackson State: The defending champs return most of last year's squad and will soon get back star Grant Maxey, who missed most of last season with injuries.

WAC
Utah State: Tai Wesley and Co. are the best team in the league and should hold off New Mexico State and (maybe) Nevada.

West Coast
Gonzaga: Reloaded and ready to take the league again, with Saint Mary's and rejuvenated Loyola Marymount the two most likely challengers.

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