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Men’s Bracket Watch: James Madison, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s Games Are Key on Monday

Each day leading up to Selection Sunday, we will have bubble and automatic bid updates.

Welcome to Selection Sunday week! Starting Monday, Sports Illustrated will be publishing daily updates of its projected men’s NCAA tournament field to keep you up to date on where things stand heading into the selection show. So as automatic bids get locked up, bubble teams fight for their seat at the table and top teams compete for seeding, keep an eye out for all of the latest updates from SI.

Here’s a look at Monday’s projected field.

On the Bubble

Last Four Byes:

Seton Hall Pirates
Michigan State Spartans
TCU Horned Frogs
Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last Four In:

Virginia Cavaliers
St. John's Red Storm
Colorado Buffaloes
New Mexico Lobos

First Four Out:

Indiana State Sycamores
Texas A&M Aggies
Villanova Wildcats
Providence Friars

Next Four Out:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Pittsburgh Panthers
Kansas State Wildcats
Iowa Hawkeyes

Monday’s games should have little impact on the overall bubble picture. Bubble teams should root for the James Madison Dukes to win the Sun Belt title to avoid having them enter the bubble conversation, but a loss to the Arkansas State Red Wolves would likely leave them out of the SI projected field. The other notable bubble action involves the WCC semifinals: The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Saint Mary’s Gaels each winning their respective games eliminates any bid-stealer potential in the conference.

James Madison Dukes forward Jaylen Carey (15) looks to pass over Southern Miss Golden Eagles forward Bryson Hall (24) during the second half at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Jan. 6, 2024.

James Madison forward Jaylen Carey looks to pass over Southern Miss Golden Eagles forward Bryson Hall during their game on Jan. 6, 2024.

The most serious level of consideration came down to five teams for the final two spots: Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana State, Texas A&M and Villanova. For mid-major darling Indiana State, that’s a precarious position to be in, given the other four teams still have games to play to potentially boost their résumés. The Sycamores have strong metrics across the board keeping them in consideration, but have just one Quad 1 win, own a bad Quad 4 loss and didn’t accomplish anything of note in the nonconference. It’s quite possible they get sent to Dayton for the First Four, but the Sycamores could really use some help in the form of other bubble teams losing.

** indicates clinched automatic bid
* indicates projected automatic bid

Midwest Region

No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers* vs. No. 16 Merrimack Warriors*/Grambling Tigers*
No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls
No. 5 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 12 Grand Canyon Antelopes*
No. 4 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 13 McNeese State Cowboys*
No. 6 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 11 Drake Bulldogs**
No. 3 Baylor Bears vs. No. 14 Vermont Catamounts*
No. 7 Utah State Aggies* vs. No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs
No. 2 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. No. 15 Colgate Raiders*

If not locked before, Florida Atlantic beating the Memphis Tigers on Saturday ensures Dusty May’s team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday. Even with two Quad 4 losses, the Owls should be, at worst, a No. 10 seed. However, bubble teams will be hoping FAU can win the American Athletic Conference tournament, putting another at-large bid up for grabs in the process.

East Region

No. 1 UConn Huskies* vs. No. 16 Quinnipiac Bobcats*
No. 8 Colorado State Rams vs. No. 9 Nebraska Cornhuskers
No. 5 BYU Cougars vs. No. 12 Richmond Spiders*
No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. No. 13 Charleston Cougars*
No. 6 Dayton Flyers vs. No. 11 James Madison Dukes*
No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 14 Toledo Rockets*
No. 7 Saint Mary's Gaels* vs. No. 10 Michigan State Spartans
No. 2 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 15 South Dakota State Jackrabbits*

Kentucky now has two monster road wins after winning at the Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend. That pushed John Calipari’s team to the top end of the No. 3 line. A nice SEC tournament showing could easily elevate the Wildcats to a No. 2 seed, especially if Marquette or Iowa State loses early in conference tournament play.

South Region

No. 1 Houston Cougars* vs. No. 16 Longwood Lancers**
No. 8 Washington State Cougars vs. No. 9 Northwestern Wildcats
No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs vs. No. 12 South Florida Bulls*
No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 13 Samford Bulldogs*
No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes/New Mexico Lobos
No. 3 Creighton Bluejays vs. No. 14 Morehead State Eagles**
No. 7 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 10 Mississippi State Bulldogs
No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels* vs. No. 15 Sam Houston State BearKats*

Things have officially gotten uncomfortable for Mississippi State after MSU lost its final four regular-season games. Let’s see how far elite home wins against Auburn and Tennessee can take the Bulldogs. A loss to the LSU Tigers in the SEC tournament on Thursday might knock the Bulldogs out of the field altogether, and if not would, it likely sends MSU to the First Four for a second straight year.

West Region

No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers* vs. No. 16 Stetson Hatters**/Norfolk State Spartans*
No. 8 Boise State Broncos vs. No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners
No. 5 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. No. 12 Princeton Tigers*
No. 4 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters*
No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack vs. No. 11 Virginia Cavaliers/St. John’s Red Storm
No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies*
No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 10 Seton Hall Pirates
No. 2 Arizona Wildcats* vs. No. 15 Montana Grizzlies*

Tennessee is maintaining a hold on the last No. 1 seed, barely edging out North Carolina despite the Vols’ loss at home against Kentucky over the weekend. The Heels do have a head-to-head win there, but Tennessee has the better top-to-bottom résumé as things stand today. If North Carolina wins the ACC tournament and the Vols slip up in the SEC, expect UNC to jump them. Arizona isn’t quite out of the No. 1 conversation, but it will be difficult to jump both teams after a loss over the weekend to the USC Trojans.