NCAA Bracket Breakdown: A.Scott’s Bracketology Vol. 2

It’s been a week since my first projected bracket for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was released, and a lot has changed. At the top, Baylor suffered its first loss of the season. While near the bubble, teams that weren’t even on my radar last week may have played their way into the field of 68. We’re entering the last week of the regular season for most programs, with many mid-majors getting conference tournament play underway. Conference Championship Week is almost upon us.

Notable changes since Volume 1:

San Diego St.

The Aztecs have moved from the outside looking in, to securely in the field of 68. After San Diego State’s pair of victories over Boise State this week, the Aztecs proved why they are the class of the Mountain West Conference. Combine their stellar conference record with their win over UCLA at the beginning of the season, and SDSU should be dancing in March.

Michigan St.

Welcome to the party Sparty, you have entered a spot on the bubble. Tom Izzo’s squad was struggling in the Big 10. But their recent victories over Illinois and Ohio State have put them back on the map. Junior forward Aaron Henry and senior guard Joshua Langford have really found their stride at the right time. Now, Michigan State is clearly playing their best basketball of the season. The Spartans could be dangerous if they make the field of 68. After it looked like the Blue Bloods were down and out, Michigan State and Duke have come on strong late in the season to make things interesting. 

Georgia Tech

Josh Pastner’s Yellow Jackets are a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to wins over Virginia Tech and Syracuse, Georgia Tech are off the bubble and in a solid position to make the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets have won four consecutive games that have either qualified as quad 1 or quad 2 victories. It will be hard for the selection committee to leave Georgia Tech out of the Big Dance with how they have performed down the stretch. Georgia Tech’s upcoming game against Duke on Tuesday could be the deciding factor in what side of the bubble the Yellow Jackets land on.

Minnesota

The Golden Gophers are no longer golden. The one thing Minnesota had going for them was the fact they didn’t have any bad losses. But after failing to beat both Northwestern and Nebraska, there is little hope left. Junior guard Marcus Carr is a phenomenal player, but the Gophers can’t seem to overcome the injury of junior center Liam Robbins. It’s a tough blow to a team that has a handful of quality wins.

A.Scott’s Bracketology: Volume 2 (Last Update: Monday, March 1 at 12:00 p.m.)

#1 Seed

  • Gonzaga – AQ (#1 Overall Seed)
  • Baylor – AQ
  • Michigan – AQ
  • Illinois – AL 1

#2 Seeds

  • Ohio St. – AL 2
  • West Virginia – AL 3
  • Alabama – AQ
  • Iowa – AL 4

#3 Seeds

  • Kansas – AL 5
  • Oklahoma St. – AL 6
  • Florida St. – AQ
  • Villanova – AQ

#4 Seeds

  • Clemson – AL 7
  • Purdue – AL 8
  • Texas – AL 9
  • Houston – AL 10

#5 Seeds

  • Houston – AL 11
  • Oklahoma – AL 12
  • Colorado – AL 13
  • Creighton – AL 14

#6 Seeds

  • Wisconsin – AL 15
  • Virginia  – AL 16
  • Texas Tech – AL 17
  • Missouri – AL 18

#7 Seeds

  • Rutgers – AL 19
  • Oregon – AL 20
  • Virginia Tech – AL 21
  • Florida – AL 22

#8 Seeds

  • BYU – AL 23
  • USC – AL 24
  • North Carolina – AL 25
  • Maryland – AL 26

#9 Seeds

  • Tennessee – AL 27
  • Louisville – AL 28
  • LSU – AL 29
  • San Diego State – AQ

#10 Seeds

  • VCU – AL 30
  • UCLA – AQ
  • Xavier – AL 31
  • St. Bonaventure – AQ

#11 Seeds

  • Loyola Chicago – AQ
  • Michigan St. – AL 32
  • Georgia Tech – AL 33
  • Wichita St. – AQ

#12 Seeds

  • UConn – AL 34 vs. Seton Hall AL 37
  • Duke – AL 35 vs. Indiana AL 36
  • Western Kentucky – AQ
  • Colgate – AQ

#13 Seeds 

  • Belmont – AQ
  • UC Santa Barbara – AQ
  • Toledo – AQ
  • Winthrop – AQ

#14 Seeds 

  • Wright St. – AQ
  • Liberty – AQ
  • UNC Greensboro – AQ
  • Eastern Washington – AQ

#15 Seeds

  • Siena – AQ
  • UMBC – AQ
  • Bryant – AQ
  • James Madison – AQ

#16 Seeds

  • Grand Canyon – AQ
  • Texas State – AQ
  • Prairie View vs. North Carolina A&T – AQ
  • South Dakota vs. Nicholls – AQ

First 4 Out:

  • Ole Miss
  • Colorado St.
  • Minnesota
  • Drake

Next 4 Out:

  • St. Louis
  • Stanford
  • St. Johns
  • Syracuse

At the top of the heap, Illinois enters the #1 line after their win over Wisconsin and Ohio State’s loss to Iowa. Oklahoma State also makes a huge jump in the bracket after their victories against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Cowboys could be moving up again next week because they beat Oklahoma for a second time on Monday night after I made the second edition of my bracket.

With only two weeks left until selection Sunday, a lot is still to be decided, especially for the bubble teams.

Key Upcoming games this week:

  • Indiana @ Michigan State  –   Tuesday, March 2nd @ 8 p.m.
  • Duke @ Georgia Tech    –      Tuesday, March 2nd @ 8 p.m.
  • Kentucky @ Ole Miss    –      Tuesday, March 2nd @ 9 p.m.
  • UConn @ Seton Hall    –       Wednesday, March 3rd @ 6:30 p.m.
  • Minnesota @ Penn St.    –     Wednesday, March 3rd @ 7 p.m.
  • Stanford @ USC    –             Wednesday, March 3rd @ 10:30 p.m.
  • Michigan St. @ Michigan  –   Thursday, March 4th @ 7 p.m.
  • Rutgers @ Minnesota    –      Saturday, March 6th @ Noon
  • Indiana @ Purdue      –        Saturday, March 6th @ 2 p.m.
  • Duke @ North Carolina   –    Saturday, March 6th @ 6 p.m.

The biggest difference between the A.Scott Bracket and the Joe Lunardi Bracket is the Mountain West Conference. Joey Brackets somehow sees 3 teams from the MWC making the field of 68, while I only have 1. 

After San Diego State’s two-game sweep of Boise State, they are clearly the best team in the conference. Bracketologists can make the case for Colorado State to make the tournament, since they have the same conference record as San Diego State, but who did the Rams beat outside of the Mountain West Conference? Yes, most of their non-conference schedule was cancelled due to COVID-19, but their best win out of conference is against Santa Clara. Colorado St. also lost a game out of conference to a struggling St. Mary’s team. 

A team with no quality non-conference wins and three losses in a mid-major conference does not deserve to make the tournament. However, the MWC could get two teams in the tourney if San Diego State loses in the conference tournament, because the Aztecs should get an at-large bid either way. SDSU is the only team in the Mountain West that has a quality non-conference victory because they beat UCLA in the first game of the season. Mid-major teams need to start challenging themselves in the non-conference or they need to absolutely dominate their conference in order to get a bid into the tourney, and no team besides San Diego State has done that this season.

By the time the third edition of my bracketology rolls around four teams will have punched their tickets to the Big Dance. The American Sun, Big South, Ohio Valley, and Missouri Valley conferences all have their conference tournaments scheduled for next weekend. It’s been a wild year in college basketball and I can only expect it to get crazier as Selection Sunday approaches. March is officially here. Strap in because it’s going to be a wild ride.

For all things college basketball, tune into the Cali to Cuse: Up in the Rafters Podcast with new episodes dropping every Friday morning. 

A.Scott, Deputy Editor for The Challenge. Lifelong Jets, Mets, Nuggets and Flyers fan still looking to celebrate his first pro sports championship. Retired degenerate sports gambler who likes to come out of retirement. Learned how to count cards at the age of 18, but has yet to put the skill to good use. Primarily writes about the MLB, but will dip his toes into the NFL, NBA, college basketball and UFC. When I’m not writing for The Challenge or for a local news station in Syracuse, you can catch me either on the golf course or pounding brews with bros. “Don’t worry, be happy!” R.I.P. Mac Miller

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