NCAA Bracket Breakdown: A.Scott’s Bracketology Volume 3

Welcome to Championship Week! From now until Selection Sunday (March 14) programs will battle it out in their conference tournaments with an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line. By the time Championship Week comes to an end, 31 teams will have punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament. This leaves the selection committee with 37 spots to fill in order to finalize the field of 68. Heading into Tuesday’s action, 6 teams have already secured a spot in the bracket.

Clinched Automatic Bids:

  • Liberty (23-5) – Atlantic Sun
  • Winthrop (23-1) – Big South
  • Loyola Chicago (24-4) – Missouri Valley
  • Morehead State (23-7) – Ohio Valley
  • UNC Greensboro (21-8) – Southern
  • Appalachian (17-11) – State Sun Belt

As more automatic bids are awarded, the bubble could shrink. For example, in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), Houston is a lock to make the Big Dance and Wichita State is on the bubble. So if a team other than Houston or Wichita State wins the AAC Tournament, a third AAC team would earn a bid to the tourney, taking a bid away from a team currently on the bubble. For my projections, I am giving the current conference leader the automatic bid, so the bubble could shrink depending on who wins the conference tournaments.

A.Scott’s Bracketology: Volume 3 (Last update was on Monday, March 8 at 11:59 p.m.)

#1 Seeds

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

#2 Seeds

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

#3 Seeds

  • Kansas – AL 5
  • Florida St. – AL 6
  • Texas – AL 7
  • Arkansas – AL 8

#4 Seeds

  • West Virginia – AL 9
  • Purdue – AL 10
  • Clemson – AL 11
  • Villanova – AQ

#5 Seeds

  • Houston – AL 12
  • Virginia – AQ
  • Oregon – AQ
  • Creighton – AL 13

#6 Seeds

  • Colorado – AL 14
  • Missouri – AL 15
  • USC – AL 16
  • Wisconsin – AL 17

#7 Seeds

  • Michigan St. – AL 18
  • Texas Tech – AL 19
  • Rutgers – AL 20
  • Oklahoma – AL 21

#8 Seeds

  • UNC – AL 22
  • Virginia Tech – AL 23
  • BYU – AL 24
  • Tennessee – AL 25

#9 Seeds

  • San Diego St. – AQ
  • Florida – AL 26
  • Louisville – AL 27
  • UCONN – AL 28

#10 Seeds

  • Georgia Tech – AL 29
  • St. Bonaventure – AQ
  • Loyola Chicago – AQ
  • VCU – AL 30

#11 Seeds

  • LSU – AL 31
  • Maryland – AL 32
  • UCLA – AL 33
  • Wichita St. – AQ

#12 Seeds

  • Drake (34) vs. Xavier (37)
  • Ole Miss (35) vs  Syracuse (36)
  • Colgate – AQ
  • Winthrop – AQ

#13 Seeds

  • Toledo – AQ
  • UC Santa Barbara – AQ
  • Western Kentucky – AQ
  • Liberty – AQ

#14 Seeds 

  • UNC Greensboro – AQ
  • Bryant – AQ
  • Southern Utah – AQ
  • Morehead St. – AQ

#15 Seeds

  • Siena – AQ
  • Grand Canyon – AQ
  • Northeastern – AQ
  • UMBC – AQ

#16 Seeds

  • Cleveland St. – AQ
  • South Dakota – AQ
  • Nicholls St. vs. North Carolina A&T – AQ
  • Prairie View vs. Appalachian St. – AQ

First 4 Out:

  • St. John’s 
  • SMU
  • Seton Hall
  • Colorado St.

Next 4 Out:

  • St. Louis
  • Arizona
  • Duke
  • Indiana

It was addition by subtraction for a handful of teams near the bubble this past week. Several programs on the bubble in my last projection had subpar performances last week, opening the door for others to move into my field of 68. This week, Duke, Indiana and Seton Hall fell from my bracket, allowing Drake, Syracuse and Ole Miss to sneak into my projected field of 68.

Thanks to wins over North Carolina and Clemson, the Syracuse Orange climbed from the last team on the “Next Four Out” line to the second to last team in my tournament. While Drake and Ole Miss didn’t really improve their resumes, they didn’t hurt their resumes either, allowing them to move ahead of a few teams and enter the field of 68 this week.

Joe Lunardi and I still continue to differ on one thing: the Mountain West Conference. “Joey Brackets” has Colorado State and Boise State in his field of 68 over Syracuse and Ole Miss. The Mountain West Conference is honestly pretty garbage with the exception of San Diego State, Boise State, Colorado State and Utah State. Furthermore, no one in the Mountain West impressed me in the non-conference except San Diego State, and then the teams just beat up on each other in conference play. With no team able to separate themselves from the pack, it’s hard for me to include three teams from the Mountain West Conference. However, this could change depending on what happens in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. 

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When filling out the third edition of my projected bracket, I was shocked to see how much fluctuation there is week to week. The volatility of the bracket is only going to increase as we enter the thick of Championship Week. Most teams will have a chance to pick up 1-4 more quality wins during their conference tournament, which can move them up a few seed lines.

Championship Week is almost as great as the actual NCAA Tournament. Most teams are playing for their tournament lives and the intensity is unmatched. For college basketball junkies, we are able to watch teams that will make the NCAA Tournament that we really haven’t seen play before. It’s going to be a great week of basketball with a lot on the line. So, sit back, grab a cold one (or two) and enjoy some college hoops this week! 

My final projections for the NCAA Tournament will be available on the morning of Selection Sunday.

For more college basketball news and discussion, 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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