Bracket Watch: Duke Hangs on as a No. 1 Seed Despite Syracuse Stumble

While Virginia moved up to overall No. 1, Duke still remains on the top-seed line in our latest Bracket Watch thanks to a couple of factors.
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The Bracket Watch has been fully operational for two weeks, and we already have our first shakeup on the top line—sort of. The top four teams—Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Duke—remain the same as we head into the January 17–20 weekend, but their order has changed after Duke’s loss to Syracuse earlier this week. Virginia is now the No. 1 overall seed in the country, earning what would be a nice, quick trip to Washington, D.C., where the East Region will be hosted this season. Michigan remained at No. 2 overall, with Tennessee sliding up to No. 3, out of the West Region and into the South, hosted in Louisville. Duke lost its cushy spot in D.C. but remained a No. 1 seed, though our current projections now have the Blue Devils traveling out to the West Region.

Duke’s second loss of the season did not push it down a seed line for a few reasons. First, even with the loss, Duke ranks fourth in the NCAA’s NET ratings behind—you guessed it—Virginia, Michigan and Tennessee. Second, Cam Reddish missed the loss to Syracuse with an illness, and Tre Jones left the game late in the first half with a shoulder injury. The committee takes the composition of losses into account when it seeds teams, especially if the missing players in question are back in the fold by tournament time. Reddish obviously will be, though Jones is out indefinitely because of the sprained AC joint in his shoulder. The fact that Duke pushed the game to overtime without two of its best players keeps it on the top line, even though the loss came at home. There are arguments for Gonzaga, Kansas and Michigan State to all claim the final No. 1 seed, and one of them could very well be there to start the Bracket Watch next week with Duke and Virginia meeting in Durham this weekend. For now, however, Duke is still more worthy of a No. 1 seed than any of those three.

Who Made SI's 2018–19 Midseason All-America Team?

Last Four Byes

Kansas State

Last Four In

Arizona State

First Eight Out

San Francisco
Fresno State
Saint Louis

Next Eight Out

Utah State
South Carolina
Notre Dame

East Region

(1) Virginia vs. (16) Wagner/Prairie View A&M
(8) TCU vs. (9) St. John's
(5) Nebraska vs. (12) VCU
(4) Nevada vs. (13) South Dakota State
(6) Villanova vs. (11) Texas
(3) Kentucky vs. (14) Loyola-Chicago
(7) Mississippi vs. (10) Washington
(2) Michigan State vs. (15) Montana

Midwest Regoin

(1) Michigan vs. (16) Sam Houston State/Norfolk State
(8) Mississippi State vs. (9) Syracuse
(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Alabama/Arizona State
(4) Buffalo vs. (13) New Mexico State
(6) LSU vs. (11) Murray State
(3) Virginia Tech vs. (14) Georgia State
(7) Wisconsin vs. (10) Cincinnati
(2) Texas Tech vs. (15) Marshall

South Region

(1) Tennessee vs. (16) Rider
(8) NC State vs. (9) Ohio State
(5) Florida State vs. (12) Arizona/UCF
(4) North Carolina vs. (13) Hofstra
(6) Iowa vs. (11) Temple
(3) Marquette vs. (14) Yale
(7) Auburn vs. (10) Minnesota
(2) Kansas vs. (15) Radford

West Region

(1) Duke vs. (16) Bucknell
(8) Indiana vs. (9) Seton Hall
(5) Oklahoma vs. (12) Lipscomb
(4) Maryland vs. (13) Vermont
(6) Louisville vs. (11) Wofford
(3) Houston vs. (14) Northern Kentucky
(7) Purdue vs. (10) Kansas State
(2) Gonzaga vs. (15) UC-Irvine

Full NCAA Tournament Bracket Watch (as of Jan. 17)