March Madness bracket predictions: Full NCAA tournament field - Sports Illustrated

Where the NCAA Tournament Bracket Stands Two Weeks Before Selection Sunday

Here's how the March Madness field of 68 shakes out entering the final week of the regular season.
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THIS. IS. MARCH. The calendar flipping to the best month of the year means we are just two short weeks away from Selection Sunday. Plenty of moving and shaking happened over the weekend since our last Bracket Watch, highlighted by a handful of upsets and the resurgence of two Power 6 programs. With only one or two remaining regular season games, teams now set their sights on conference tournaments, which offer the best opportunities to score a few more quality wins before the committee’s final decision. –KM

march-madness-bracket-predictions-kentucky-basketball

Bubble

UCLA has officially throw the bubble race into chaos, sweeping the Arizona schools at home to ascend to the top of the Pac 12 standings (tip of the cap to Jaime Jaquez Jr., who buried Arizona State with a buzzer-beater and loves basketball. I do too, Jaime!). With that, UCLA is officially a “bid stealer” as things stand; the Bruins would not quite be in the field if they were in the at-large pool (this is true for both Ky and myself). That gives other bubble teams their first true rooting interest of March: whoever is playing the Bruins in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Elsewhere, Texas is #back and Shaka is #Smart again, as the Longhorns have surged into the picture following back-to-back Quad 1 wins (West Virginia at home, at Texas Tech). They’re still just 6-11 against the top-two quadrants, tempering the excitement somewhat, but rest assured the ‘Horns will be present and accounted for in our new Bubble Watch Tuesday.

Rutgers, on the other hand, is slipping quickly, having lost six of its last eight games. The Scarlet Knights have a monster date at the RAC with Maryland Tuesday night; they don’t need it, per se, but it’s an enormous chance to add an elite win at this point in the year. The Atlantic-10 has also crept into dangerous territory, with Rhode Island clinging to the last at-large bid in both of our brackets after getting grinded into dust by physical St. Louis. –JR

Last Four Byes

KYJIM

Xavier

Providence

USC

Florida

Oklahoma

Xavier

Providence

Rutgers

Last Four In

KYJIM

Wichita State

Stanford

Rutgers

NC State

NC State

Wichita State

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

First Eight Out

KYJIM

Cincinnati

Cincinnati

Richmond

Mississippi State

Texas

Richmond

Mississippi State

Texas

Utah State

Utah State

Purdue

Arkansas

Arkansas

Purdue

Georgetown

Georgetown

Next Four Out

KYJIM

Memphis

Memphis

South Carolina

Alabama

Alabama

Syracuse

Syracuse

Clemson

Midwest Region

KYJIM

(1) Kansas vs. (16) St. Francis PA / North Carolina A&T

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Robert Morris / NC Central

(8) Florida vs. (9) Illinois

(8) LSU vs. (9) Arizona State

(5) Butler vs. (12) Northern Iowa

(5) BYU vs. (12) UCLA

(4) Michigan State vs. (13) Akron

(4) Penn State vs. (13) Akron

(6) Wisconsin vs. (11) Providence

(6) Michigan vs. (11) Stanford / NC State

(3) Louisville vs. (14) Wright State

(3) Kentucky vs. (14) New Mexico State

(7) Michigan vs. (10) Xavier

(7) Arizona vs. (10) Texas Tech

(2) Dayton vs. (15) South Dakota State

(2) Creighton vs. (15) Belmont

Providence has now clawed its way out of the First Four in both of our brackets, as Ky elevated the Friars to a No. 11 seed in this one. It’s a shame both Wisconsin and the Friars have loosened up their offenses; that matchup could have been a fever dream for all fans of flex cuts.

The Midwest Region has become Maui East for Ky, as Kansas, Michigan State, and Dayton all sit in the top-four seeds (and Providence is playing in that tournament next year!). Sparty is creeping back up the field following a three-game winning streak, capped by the impressive wire-to-wire victory on Saturday night at Maryland. The Spartans can continue that ascent with another road revenge win at Penn State Tuesday. –JR

South Region

KYJIM

(1) Baylor vs. (16) Siena / Prairie View A&M

(1) Baylor vs. (16) Siena / Prairie View A&M

(8) LSU vs. (9) Saint Mary’s

(8) Illinois vs. (9) St. Mary’s

(5) Ohio State vs. (12) UCLA

(5) Ohio St. vs. (12) Wichita St. / Rhode Island

(4) Villanova vs. (13) Stephen F. Austin

(4) Villanova vs. (13) Vermont

(6) Arizona vs. (11) Wichita State / Rutgers

(6) Colorado vs. (11) Xavier

(3) Kentucky vs. (14) Belmont

(3) Duke vs. (14) Wright State

(7) Iowa vs. (10) USC

(7) West Virginia vs. (10) Providence

(2) Florida State vs. (15) Little Rock

(2) Maryland vs. (15) Little Rock

Check out those No. 3 seeds, guys. Bracket fillers across the country will happily pencil Duke or Kentucky into the Final Four despite potentially daunting draws. We’ll hear criticism of under-seeding and unfairness to a team like Baylor, which has to deal with arguably a top-five team in the country in its region. The way the Wildcats are playing, a No. 3 seed may not even be their final destination, especially if they capture the SEC conference tournament championship. And Duke’s recent struggles may not be enough to knock it off the 2-seed line with a NET that ranks 6th in the country and three of the best wins in college basketball (neutral vs. Kansas, at Michigan State and versus Florida State at home).

Villanova moved down to a No. 4 seed for both of us, but that’s really only because somebody had to with UK’s meteoric rise. Nova’s 17th ranking in the NET puts it slightly behind Big East foes Seton Hall and Creighton. –KM

West Region

KYJIM

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Eastern Washington

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Radford

(8) Texas Tech vs. (9) Arizona State

(8) Houston vs. (9) Oklahoma

(5) BYU vs. (12) Yale

(5) Butler vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin

(4) Oregon vs. (13) North Texas

(4) Oregon vs. (13) Liberty

(6) Colorado vs. (11) NC State / Rhode Island

(6) Iowa vs. (11) Northern Iowa

(3) Creighton vs. (14) New Mexico State

(3) Louisville vs. (14) UC Irvine

(7) Houston vs. (10) Indiana

(7) Virginia vs. (10) Rutgers

(2) Duke vs. (15) UC Irvine

(2) Seton Hall vs. (15) Colgate

Mr. McKeon continues to hold the line on the Duke as-a-No. 2-seed stance, keeping the Blue Devils there despite losing three of their last four games. I questioned him on this in private channels, but I do admit that I would not be at all surprised to see them remain there. Duke has fewer Q1/Q2 wins than Creighton, Seton Hall and Kentucky, but the NET continues to adore Duke, and the Devils’ schedule numbers are admittedly quite strong. At least in this scenario, Ky punishes them by sending them out to Los Angeles for the regional rounds (should they make it that far).

We both have the Gonzaga/Oregon combination in the No. 1 seed/No. 4 seed spots, and Ky has the always-difficult-to-bracket Cougars of BYU lurking as the No. 5 seed. That will need to be adjusted if the Zags and Cougars meet for a third time in the WCC tournament (teams cannot meet before the regional final if they’ve already played three times), something all basketball fans should be hoping to see next Tuesday night at the Orleans Arena. –JR

East Region

KYJIM

(1) San Diego State vs. (16) Winthrop

(1) San Diego State vs. (16) Eastern Washington

(8) Virginia vs. (9) Stanford

(8) Indiana vs. (9) USC

(5) Penn State vs. (12) Liberty

(5) Auburn vs. (12) Yale

(4) Auburn vs. (13) Vermont

(4) Michigan State vs. (13) North Texas

(6) West Virginia vs. (11) East Tennessee State

(6) Wisconsin vs. (11) East Tennessee State

(3) Seton Hall vs. (14) Colgate

(3) Florida State vs. (14) Hofstra

(7) Marquette vs. (10) Oklahoma

(7) Marquette vs. (10) Florida

(2) Maryland vs. (15) Hofstra

(2) Dayton vs. (15) North Dakota State

Honestly, if I saw my version of the East region on a bracket printout, I don’t know who I’d choose to go to the Final Four. From a quick eye-test, it sets up as by far the weakest region with a multitude of teams I do not trust, including Maryland, Auburn, Penn State and West Virginia. Seton Hall is nearing No. 2 seed-territory with its 10 Q1 wins, tied with Baylor for the second-most in the country, so perhaps the Pirates or, yes, the oft-ignored Aztecs would be my East Atlanta representative. In Jim’s region, I’d take the Spartans, as Dayton likely has to go through the physical buzzsaw that is Florida State.

Virginia is quickly rising up the S-curve for both of us. Jim has the 'Hoos on the 7-line while I bumped them up to a No. 8 seed. From a record and quality wins perspective, UVA is sitting pretty, I just don’t know how the committee is going to weight that 50th NET ranking. –KM

Ky's full projected NCAA tournament bracket (as of March 2):

2020-bracket-watch-ky-march-2

Jim's full projected NCAA tournament bracket (as of March 2):

2020-bracket-watch-jim-march-2