Bracket Watch: Upsets Shake Up the No. 1 Seeds and More

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Since our most recent bracket update, nine Top 25 teams in the men's AP poll have lost. While Gonzaga remains locked in place as the No. 1 overall seed, the deck of cards around it continues to be reshuffled every few days. With 12 days until Selection Sunday, how does the field of 68 look? SI’s Bracket Watch breaks it all down.

On the Bubble

Are we sure 68 teams really want to make the NCAA tournament? Another weekend of losses for teams near the cut line leaves bracketologists everywhere searching for answers around the bubble. For now, Drake stays in the field after a bad loss against Bradley to close the regular season, but adding an additional loss during the conference tournament to a team not named Loyola Chicago would make things especially dicey. It will be a long wait until Selection Sunday for the Bulldogs if they can’t cut down the nets at Arch Madness this weekend. VCU and Michigan State also barely stayed in the field after losses, mostly because Indiana, Duke, Minnesota and other bubble teams took losses of their own.

Last Four Byes:

Xavier
Boise State
Seton Hall
Georgia Tech

Last Four In:

VCU
Colorado State
Drake
Michigan State

First Four Out:

Indiana
Duke
Wichita State
Saint Louis

Next Four Out: 

Utah State
Syracuse
SMU
Minnesota

Illinois guard Trent Frazier

*Indicates the team is projected to win its conference's automatic bid

Gonzaga Region

No. 1 Gonzaga* vs. No. 16 Bryant*/NC A&T*
No. 8 Loyola Chicago* vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 12 Colorado State/Drake
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 Toledo*
No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 St. Bonaventure*
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 14 Liberty*
No. 7 San Diego State vs. No. 10 Louisville
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Eastern Washington*

Ohio State has finally fallen off the No. 1 line. The Buckeyes had been the fourth No. 1 seed since the update on Feb. 5, but three straight losses in the span of eight days knocked them down to a No. 2. The path to a top seed is still very doable for them, especially if they can complete a season sweep of Illinois on Saturday. Part of OSU’s fall is its Quad 1 mark no longer looks quite as stellar—the Buckeyes are 7–5 in Q1 games, a worse mark than Big Ten counterpart Illinois (8–5).

Closer to the bubble, Louisville fans can sleep easier at night after Saturday’s road win at Duke to give them an elusive Q1 win. A split in the Cardinals’ final two games against Virginia Tech and Virginia would lock Chris Mack’s club into the field ahead of the ACC tournament. 

Michigan Region

No. 1 Michigan* vs. No. 16 Cleveland State*
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 UCLA*
No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky*
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Colgate*
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Boise State
No. 3 Villanova* vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian*
No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Xavier
No. 2 Houston* vs. No. 15 Siena*

Michigan has claimed the No. 2 overall seed in the field, moving off from being No. 3 overall for the first time. Baylor’s loss was the major contributing factor in that, but Michigan’s dominant wins of late also drove the decision. If the Wolverines win out, they will almost definitely remain in this slot moving forward.

Meanwhile, Houston climbs back to the No. 2 line after flexing its muscle with a 46-point win over USF combined with Villanova’s loss to Butler. The Cougars have to win out to stay in the top-two seed lines, but if they do they could continue to climb thanks to their lofty NET ranking and teams around them losing games down the stretch.

Baylor Region

No. 1 Baylor* vs. No. 16 Texas State*
No. 8 Rutgers vs. No. 9 North Carolina
No. 5 Virginia vs. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara*
No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 Belmont*
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Seton Hall
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 UNC Greensboro*
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 UConn
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 UMBC*

Here comes Kansas! The Jayhawks earned as good a win as any team in America owns this season by knocking off Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday. With a top-10 NET, six Q1 wins and no losses outside of Q1, the Jayhawks have a very appealing résumé and moved into third among Big 12 teams in my field behind only Baylor and West Virginia. A deep run in the Big 12 tournament could move the Jayhawks up even more.

One team that didn’t help itself is Rutgers, which lost 72–51 on the road at Nebraska. The Scarlet Knights will likely dance regardless of what happens down the stretch, but it would behoove them to win Saturday night at Minnesota and remove all doubt. Fortunately for Rutgers, Nebraska’s win was so impressive that it moved it from a Quad 3 road game to a Quad 2, meaning the loss will be slightly less of a black eye for the Scarlet Knights. 

Illinois Region

No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 16 South Dakota*/Prairie View A&M*
No. 8 BYU vs. No. 9 LSU
No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 VCU/Michigan State
No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 13 Winthrop*
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 James Madison*
No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Oregon
No. 2 Alabama* vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon*

One of the biggest risers of the weekend was Oklahoma State, which has now won five in a row after beating rival Oklahoma twice in three days. OSU’s résumé is impressive; it is one of just three teams with eight Q1 wins, and the other two are both No. 1 seeds (Michigan and Illinois). The lack of a truly elite win combined with two less-than-great losses against TCU keep the Cowboys on the No. 4 line for now, but winning at least one of the team’s next two road games against WVU and Baylor would open the door for another rise.

Farther down the seed list, we welcome Georgia Tech to the field after the Yellow Jackets won their fourth straight game Saturday against Syracuse. A huge bubble battle with Duke looms Tuesday before a must-win game Friday against Wake Forest. Georgia Tech is looking to dance for the first time since 2010.

Sweeney's full March Madness projection, as of March 2:

SI's projected field of 68 as of March 2