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Bracketology: How the NCAA tournament field looks entering championship week

Northern Iowa guard Matt Bohannon, right, collides with Wichita State forward Rashard Kelly during the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s tournament on Saturday. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via AP)

Game on …

The first bid thief of the month emerged Saturday when Northern Iowa knocked off Wichita State in the Missouri Valley semifinals. The Panthers face Evansville on Sunday to determine the Valley’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

As for the Shockers, they’re actually in somewhat decent shape even if their only top-50 victory is a defeat of Utah. But the best thing going for them is they won’t play again.

Bubble Watch: What fringe teams must do to lock up at-large bids

Remember, just about everyone has at least one more loss in them. By definition, that’s true for anyone who winds up on the edge of the field on Selection Sunday; if those teams won their respective conference tournaments, they wouldn’t have to feel any anxiety as the field of 68 is announced.

Wichita State has some mitigating factors, such as player availability early in the season and strong numbers from non-RPI metrics (the Shockers sit at No. 47 in the RPI entering Sunday). But it can’t hurt itself anymore, and that’s more than more than nearly everyone else in the at-large mix can say.


Des Moines, Iowa
(1) BIG 12/Kansas vs. (16) OHIO VALLEY/Austin Peay-SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Texas Southern
(8) Providence vs. (9) Connecticut

Spokane, Wash.
(5) California vs. (12) SUN BELT/Arkansas-Little Rock
(4) BIG TEN/Indiana vs. (13) MID-AMERICAN/Akron

(3) Utah vs. (14) SUMMIT/IPFW
(6) ATLANTIC 10/Dayton vs. (11) WEST COAST/Saint Mary’s

Raleigh, N.C.
(7) Texas Tech vs. (10) Vanderbilt
(2) ATLANTIC COAST/North Carolina vs. (15) BIG SOUTH/Winthrop

Regional breakdown: It’s reasonable to think three of the No. 1 seeds could change in the next week, but Kansas is all but assured a spot on the top line. The Jayhawks clearly own the best profile. … Austin Peay became the first team to seal an NCAA bid, earning its first Ohio Valley title since 2008. The Governors (18-17) are prime candidates to go to Dayton. …

Connecticut’s profile isn’t that great, but somebody has to be a No. 9 seed. … Providence handled business this week against teams in the bottom half of the Big East. It should be safe now. … California’s ceiling, seeding-wise, is capped a bit by its road performance. The Golden Bears are 7-0 against the top 50 at home, 0-7 in road and neutral sites. …

IPFW and Saint Mary’s won conference-tournament openers on Saturday. … Dayton was a bit shaky down the stretch, but there’s still a lot to like about the Flyers’ profile. They might not jump much higher even if they win the A-10, however. … Texas Tech shouldn’t sweat even if it gets bounced quickly in the Big 12 tournament. … Vanderbilt could have removed all doubt Saturday at Texas A&M, but that was probably asking too much. It isn’t, however, too steep a demand for the Commodores to handle a play-in winner to open the SEC tournament.

Mid-week bracketology: Winners and losers among bubble teams


Raleigh, N.C.
(1) Virginia vs. (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Hampton
(8) Southern California vs. (9) Butler

(5) Texas vs. (12) IVY/Yale
(4) Maryland vs. (13) SOUTHERN/Chattanooga

Oklahoma City
(6) Baylor vs. (11) AMERICAN/Temple

St. Louis
(7) Wisconsin vs. (10) Syracuse
(2) Xavier vs. (15) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State

Regional breakdown: Virginia is a sparkly 7-2 against the top 20 in the RPI. It’s a differentiator with Xavier for the top line, but there isn’t much of a difference between the two profiles. … Southern California is a team that hasn’t messed up, and that’s good enough to land in an 8/9 game this year. … Butler’s probably safe after winning its past three, but beating Providence on Thursday wouldn’t hurt. …

Justin Sears and Yale are off to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1962 after securing the Ivy League title last night. They’ll be a handful for whoever they encounter. … Chattanooga is another dangerous team, though it struggled through its Southern Conference quarterfinal yesterday. … It would behoove Temple to win the American tournament. Borderline teams will be rooting against the Owls in the next week. …

Full disclosure: Wisconsin/Syracuse is a regular-season rematch, and the committee tries to avoid those. In this case, finding a path to make it work without that pairing was just too much of a headache without compromising in other areas. But don’t expect them to play in the round of 64.

Mason Madness: Reliving George Mason’s magical run, 10 years later


Oklahoma City
(1) Oklahoma vs. (16) NORTHEAST/Wagner
(8) Saint Joseph’s vs. (9) Colorado

St. Louis
(5) Purdue vs. (12) HORIZON/Valparaiso
(4) Kentucky vs. (13) MISSOURI VALLEY/Evansville

Providence, R.I.
(3) Miami vs. (14) SOUTHLAND/Stephen F. Austin
(6) Iowa State vs. Oregon State/Virginia Commonwealth

Spokane, Wash.
(7) Seton Hall vs. (10) Cincinnati
(2) PAC-12/Oregon vs. (15) BIG WEST/Hawaii

Regional breakdown: Saint Joseph’s somehow didn’t hurt itself all that much by losing to St. Bonaventure and Duquesne, which is another piece of evidence the field falls off a cliff around the 8 line. … There’s that Purdue/Valparaiso in-state showdown popping up again. … Evansville is the top seed left in the Missouri Valley, but sub in Northern Iowa if the Panthers win Arch Madness. …

Miami’s loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday slipped it behind West Virginia in the chase for a spot in the Brooklyn subregional. … Seton Hall-Cincinnati: The Big East rivalry time forgot — or never had much interest in to begin with. But that would be a fun, competitive game. … Oregon’s profile gets better and better, and it’s hard to imagine the Ducks landing any worse than a No. 3 seed. A No. 1 is in play, too.


(1) BIG EAST/Villanova vs. (16) ATLANTIC SUN/Florida Gulf Coast-PATRIOT/Lehigh
(8) South Carolina vs. (9) MOUNTAIN WEST/San Diego State

Providence, R.I.
(5) Iowa vs. (12) METRO ATLANTIC/Monmouth
(4) Duke vs. (13) COLONIAL/Hofstra

(3) West Virginia vs. (14) AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook
(6) Arizona vs. (11) Pittsburgh/St. Bonaventure

Des Moines, Iowa
(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Wichita State
(2) Michigan State vs. (15) BIG SKY/Weber State

Regional breakdown: Villanova probably locks up a No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year if it wins the Big East tournament. … South Carolina’s profile is surprisingly lacking for a 24-7 team out of a power conference. But there’s that cliff around the No. 8 line making itself known. … Two more wins for Monmouth, and no one will have to ask questions about the Hawks’ at-large viability. Monmouth gets Fairfield today in the MAAC semifinals. …

A four-team pod of Arizona, St. Bonaventure, Stony Brook and West Virginia would be one of the most interesting collection of teams at any stage of the tournament. … Wichita State has three things going for it. One, Fred VanVleet missed three of the Shockers’ losses. Two, analytics love Gregg Marshall’s team (No. 10 KenPom, No. 24 Sagarin), and those numbers held more value last year. Three, they can’t lose again after getting bounced in the Missouri Valley semifinals.

Last four included: Virginia Commonwealth, St. Bonaventure, Oregon State, Pittsburgh
Four just on the outside: Tulsa, Gonzaga, Michigan, Florida
Next four on the outside: Alabama, George Washington, Georgia Tech, Florida State
Four more on the outside: Ohio State, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana State

Conference call: Atlantic Coast (7), Big 12 (7), Pacific-12 (7), Big Ten (6), Big East (5), Southeastern (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American Athletic (3), Missouri Valley (2)

Moving in: Austin Peay, Evansville, Florida Gulf Coast, Lehigh, St. Bonaventure, Winthrop, Yale
Moving out: Alabama, Belmont, Bucknell, High Point, Michigan, North Florida, Princeton