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Bracket Watch: How conference tourney results are impacting the field

As tournament champions are crowned, who’s in line for a No. 1 seed, and where does the entire field of 68 stand on Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday has arrived. Our view of Sunday’s biggest games, as well as our final bracket projection, is below.

Sunday’s seeding games (all times Eastern, locks italicized):

Atlantic 10 Championship: Rhode Island vs. VCU, 12:30 p.m.

Head on over to the Bubble Watch for a full breakdown of what this game means. Put simply, if the Rams win, they’re going dancing. If they don’t, the bet here at is they will be the first team left on the outside looking in at the field of 68.

SEC Championship: Arkansas vs. Kentucky, 1 p.m.

No matter what happens in this game, it’s hard to see either team improving its seed. The Wildcats are capped out at a No. 2 seed, sitting comfortably behind North Carolina, Duke and Oregon in the pecking order. The Razorbacks could have an argument to move up a line if they beat Kentucky, but which team they would supplant as a No. 7 is a question. They’d only have themselves to blame if they were stuck playing a No. 1 seed in the second round. That what happens when you lose to Mississippi State and Missouri, and don’t have any top-30 wins to balance out those bad losses.

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Big Ten Championship: Michigan vs. Wisconsin, 3 p.m.

Heading into the Big Ten title game, we have Michigan as a No. 7 seed, and Wisconsin as a No. 6. That could very well be the realistic ceiling for both teams. A win, then, may not help either climb up another line, but would certainly help them solidify their spot at their ceiling. These teams split their two regular season meetings, with both teams winning at home. The games were decided by a total of 10 points, so all those Big Ten faithful in Washington, D.C., should be treated to an excellent rubber match between the Wolverines and Badgers.

AAC Championship: Cincinnati vs. SMU, 3:15 p.m.

This one is pretty academic. Heading into this game, we have Cincinnati as a No. 5 seed, and SMU as a No. 6 seed. They split their regular season meetings, but Cincinnati has the better body of work. The Bearcats own three top-50 wins, with the other two coming at Iowa State and at home over Xavier. SMU’s only top-50 win came when it beat Cincinnati. SMU has more top-100 wins, but those don’t matter nearly as much for tournament locks. If we’re handicapping that correctly, then, it’s easy to see the effect this game will have on the bracket. The winner will be on the 5-line, while the loser will go into the tourney on the 6-line. 

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Last Four In

Wake Forest

Kansas State



First Four Out


Illinois State



Next Four Out





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*Bolded teams = won NCAA tournament auto-bid