We will be posting an updated bracket every morning until Selection Sunday, March 17. Click here to find our latest March Madness bracket projection.
There should be calm on the NCAA tournament bubble for at least a few days, anyway.
The ACC is the only power conference to begin its tournament Tuesday, and its first-round action involves a congregation of six sub-.500 teams. The Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC won’t get underway until Wednesday, and even that day’s slate is relatively sparse. The highlight there should be a Clemson-N.C. State matchup that has obvious implications for the edge of the field, plus Oklahoma, St. John’s, Syracuse and TCU will have little-to-gain, lots-to-lose contests,.
Before then, seven leagues will award automatic bids, adding to the four teams (Bradley, Gardner-Webb, Liberty and Murray State) already in the field.
A quick primer on what to look for over the next 48 hours:
Southern championship (7 p.m. Monday, ESPN): A pair of 28-win teams meet in Asheville, N.C., to determine the SoCon title. Wofford (28-4) is 20-0 against league foes, including a pair of tournament victories over the weekend. UNC Greensboro (28-5) is 17-1 against SoCon teams not named Wofford. The right teams made it to the final.
Bracket impact: Wofford’s metrics suggest it has a better-than-average chance of receiving an at-large berth even if it loses Monday, but a mid-major can never be comfortable leaving its fate in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. UNC Greensboro is going to have to play far better than it did in 29- and 30-point losses to the Terriers to make that an issue.
Metro Atlantic championship (9 p.m. Monday, ESPN2): Iona (16-15) goes for its fourth consecutive league championship after handling Siena in the semifinals. The Gaels will get No. 6 seed Monmouth (14-20) in the final. The Hawks’ record isn’t much to look at, but it’s not as bad it seems considering they opened the year with 12 losses in a row.
Bracket impact: The MAAC champion has been sent to Dayton three times (Siena in 2002, Niagara in 2007 and Manhattan in 2015), and whoever wins Monday probably will make it four. It’s hard to imagine the MAAC champ escaping the No. 16 line.
Colonial championship (7 p.m. Tuesday, CBS Sports Network): The last team outside the top three seeds to win the CAA tournament was UNC Wilmington as a No. 4 in 2000, and the top seed has won in 11 of the past 18 years. Advantage: regular season champ Hofstra and scoring machine Justin Wright-Foreman (26.8 points per game, second nationally).
Bracket impact: Hofstra (26-6 entering Monday’s semifinal vs. No. 5 Delaware) and second-seeded Northeastern (21-10 entering its semifinal vs. No. 3 Charleston) have fighting shots at landing a No. 13 seed, and maybe a No. 12 in Hofstra’s case if things break right elsewhere. But this isn’t a multi-bid possibility.
Horizon championship (7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN): The top four seeds have made it through to the semifinals in Detroit on Monday. Top seed Wright State (20-12) is the defending champion; the Raiders shared the regular season title with Northern Kentucky (24-8).
Bracket impact: It’s one-bid territory regardless, but a Wright State-Northern Kentucky matchup would be worth checking out if recent history holds. The teams’ four previous meetings over the past two seasons were decided by three, two, three and four points.
Northeast championship (7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2): Fairleigh Dickinson (19-13) will visit Saint Francis (Pa.) (18-13) to determine the NEC’s lone bid. The teams shared the regular season title and split their two games, with the road team winning handily both times.
Bracket impact: The NEC has a six-year streak of sending its champion to Dayton, a streak likely to continue regardless of who wins.
Summit championship (9 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2): The main attraction — Mike Daum and South Dakota State — was bounced in stunning fashion by eighth-seeded Western Illinois in Saturday’s quarterfinals. The top remaining team entering Monday’s semifinals is second-seeded Omaha (20-10), which has won 20 games for the first time since moving up to Division I in 2011-12.
Bracket impact: Determining a round-of-64 opponent for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
West Coast championship (9 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN): The WCC altered its format to give its top two seeds byes into the semifinals. Unsurprisingly, they turned out to be No. 1 Gonzaga (29-2) and No. 2 Saint Mary’s (20-11). Surprisingly, seventh-seeded San Diego (21-13) and eighth-seeded Pepperdine (16-17) both won three games in three days to make it to Monday.
Bracket impact: It’s one-bid territory unless Gonzaga loses. In a related note, the Zags beat Pepperdine (their semifinal foe) by 28 in their lone meeting, own 16- and 12-point defeats of San Diego and upended Saint Mary’s by margins of 48 and 14 in the regular season.
Last four included: Texas, Utah State, TCU, Creighton
First four on the outside: Arizona State, Temple, Saint Mary’s, Belmont
Next four on the outside: Alabama, Oregon, Georgetown, Xavier
Moving in: Bradley, Creighton, Gardner-Webb, Georgia State, Liberty, Murray State, Omaha
Moving out: Arizona State, Belmont, Campbell, Georgia Southern, Lipscomb, Loyola Chicago, South Dakota State
Conference call: ACC (9), Big Ten (9), Big 12 (8), SEC (7), Big East (5), American Athletic (3), Mountain West (2)
East Region vs. Midwest, South vs. West
(1) ACC/Virginia vs. winner of (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Norfolk State vs. SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Prairie View A&M
(8) ATLANTIC 10/VCU vs. (9) Seton Hall
(5) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada vs. (12) Ohio State
(4) Kansas State vs. (13) BIG WEST/UC Irvine
(3) SEC/LSU vs. (14) SUN BELT/Georgia State
(6) Iowa State vs. (11) Indiana
(7) Louisville vs. (10) St. John’s
(2) Michigan vs. (15) SUMMIT/Omaha
Virginia takes over as the No. 1 overall seed. If the Cavaliers win three games in three days, their path to a championship will almost certainly be Columbia-Washington-Minneapolis. … Ohio State could have done itself a world of good by knocking off Wisconsin on Sunday. Instead, the Buckeyes would be wise to upend Indiana on Thursday at the Big Ten tournament. . . .
Player availability is something the committee weighs as it selects and (especially) seeds the field. Coach availability shouldn’t be in the committee’s purview, though LSU’s suspension of Will Wade does open that can of worms. … Yeah, that’s Indiana bypassing Dayton altogether. Six Quadrant 1 victories are a great asset for the Hoosiers.
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/Gardner-Webb
(8) Oklahoma vs. (9) SOUTHERN/Wofford
(5) Mississippi State vs. (12) Creighton-Texas winner
(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(3) BIG 12/Texas Tech vs. (14) IVY/Yale
(6) Marquette vs. (11) Clemson
(7) Mississippi vs. (10) Central Florida
(2) BIG TEN/Michigan State vs. (15) MISSOURI VALLEY/Bradley
North Carolina takes over as a No. 1 seed after completing a season sweep of Duke. … Gardner-Webb clinched its first NCAA tournament appearance since moving up to Division I in 2000. … Texas (16-15) has a great nonconference strength of schedule and owns five Quadrant 1 victories, but a .500 record isn’t a good look for a team trying to get an at-large bid. The Longhorns need to beat Kansas in Kansas City in the Big 12 quarterfinals Thursday, no easy task. …
A Big 12 tournament title might be enough to get Texas Tech onto the No. 2 line. It will depend, though, on what some other teams, such as Tennessee and Michigan, do in their conference tournaments. … Bradley will make its first tournament trip since 2006, when it upended Kansas and Pittsburgh before falling to John Calipari’s first exceptional Memphis team in the Sweet 16.
Salt Lake City
(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. winner of (16) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona vs. NORTHEAST/Saint Francis (Pa.)
(8) Baylor vs. (9) Florida
(5) MID-AMERICAN/Buffalo vs. (12) TCU-Utah State winner
(4) Florida State vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
Salt Lake City
(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (14) BIG SKY/Montana
(6) Maryland vs. (11) N.C. State
(7) BIG EAST/Villanova vs. (10) Syracuse
(2) Tennessee vs. (15) PATRIOT/Colgate
TCU wouldn’t be in the projected field if it had lost at Texas on Saturday. … Buffalo’s seeding is going to be one of the more interesting variables on Selection Sunday. I’m not sure the Bulls can do much better than a No. 5, and the strategic play might be to slide them into a No. 6 slot and hope to be close. …
N.C. State’s dead-last nonconference strength of schedule is a differentiator of the wrong kind at the edge of the field. The Wolfpack could use a good showing at the ACC tournament. … If Villanova wins the Big East tournament, it will jump a seed line or two by the time the field is unveiled.
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) SOUTHLAND/Sam Houston State
(8) Iowa vs. (9) PAC-12/Washington
(5) Virginia Tech vs. (12) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State
(4) Kansas vs. (13) COLONIAL/Hofstra
(3) Purdue vs. (14) CONFERENCE USA/Old Dominion
(6) Auburn vs. (11) ATLANTIC SUN/Liberty
(7) Cincinnati vs. (10) Minnesota
(2) Duke vs. (15) HORIZON/Wright State
Kentucky has won four SEC tournaments in a row and six in nine years under John Calipari. Doing so again should seal a No. 1 seed for the Wildcats. … Washington is the lone Pac-12 team in this projection. Arizona State, with four losses in Quadrant 3 and Quadrant 4 games, is just on the outside. No one should be stunned if the Pac-12 tournament is undiluted chaos. …
Minnesota would need a lot to go wrong to miss the field at this point, and there’s only so much it can do to mess up. A loss to Penn State on Thursday isn’t advised, but it probably wouldn’t damage the Gophers too much. … The question for Duke is player availability — namely freshman Zion Williamson. The Blue Devils are 3-3 in the six essentially full games since he was injured.