We will be posting an updated bracket every morning until Selection Sunday, March 17. Click here to find our latest March Madness bracket projection.
It’s already a good week for N.C. State.
The Wolfpack was set up to be one of the biggest question marks come Selection Sunday. It was 21-10 in the regular season and split its 18 ACC games. It also hauled the nation’s worst nonconference strength of schedule — No. Three-Five-Three — into Wednesday’s ACC tournament second-round game against Clemson.
So when N.C. State spotted Clemson an 18-point lead, well, it seemed as if Kevin Keatts’s team was in for a long 100 hours between shuffling out of the Spectrum Center in Charlotte and the NCAA selection show on Sunday.
Yet after a splendid second half and a pair of Markell Johnson free throws with 2.6 seconds to go, the Wolfpack escaped with a 59-58 win. In all likelihood, it’s enough for N.C. State to worm its way into the field.
As for the Tigers (19-13), they must hope that having done nothing bad is enough to differentiate them from the other teams at the edge of the field. They’re 1-10 in Quadrant 1 games, and their most noteworthy triumph outside of Littlejohn Coliseum came at South Carolina. But they have no setbacks outside the upper half of Quadrant 2 (a defeat at Miami is their poorest showing). Most of the metrics on the NCAA team sheet suggest a tournament-worthy team.
Still, Clemson didn’t help itself Wednesday, scoring just five points in the last 10:48 as its lead melted away.Now comes a wait to learn if the Tigers will be in the field of 68. That could prove just as unfulfilling as their ACC tournament experience.
Oklahoma State vs. TCU (Big 12 first round, 7, ESPNU): Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs (19-12) might have saved their season with a victory over Texas on Saturday. But TCU remains a weird team that has won consecutive games just twice since Jan. 5 and lost to Oklahoma State (12-19) in the teams’ last meeting.
Bracket impact: The Horned Frogs won’t help themselves much with a victory, but they’re close enough to the edge of the field for a loss to leave a mark.
Butler vs. Providence (Big East first round, 7, Fox Sports 1): The Bulldogs (16-15) and Friars (17-14) meet for the third time in 16 days. Providence won the first two, including Saturday’s regular season finale.
Bracket impact: It’s an eliminator game for two teams that probably have to reach the Big East final to harbor any sort of NCAA hopes.
Bucknell at Colgate (Patriot final, 7:30, CBS Sports Network): The visiting Bison (21-11) go for a three-peat in the Patriot League and their fifth NCAA trip in nine years. They make the trip to Hamilton, N.Y., to face the top-seeded Raiders (23-10), who are seeking their first NCAA bid since 1996.
Bracket impact: The lone conference title game of the night comes in a one-bid league. Best-case scenario is there’s enough carnage elsewhere to elevate the winner to the No. 14 line, but this one is most likely to yield a No. 15 seed.
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (Big 12 first round, 9:30, ESPNU): The Sooners (19-12) closed with four wins in their last six, and they’ve probably done enough to earn an at-large regardless of how long they stay in Kansas City. Nonetheless, a victory over the last-place Mountaineers (12-19) wouldn’t hurt.
Bracket impact: Nonexistent if Oklahoma wins, though the Sooners could get dinged a seed line with a setback.
DePaul vs. St. John’s (Big East first round, 9:30, Fox Sports 1): Whether you believe St. John’s (20-11) is a massive underachiever or simply a mercurial bunch with limited size, modest depth and no consistency, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: The Red Storm would have made its life much easier by winning any one of its final three regular season games. Okay, there’s another point of unanimity: Losing a third time to DePaul, even this year’s better version of the Blue Demons, wouldn’t be a great look.
Bracket impact: It would be an anxious four days for St. John’s if it doesn’t take care of business in the Garden.
Syracuse vs. Boston College or Pittsburgh (ACC second round, 9:30, ESPN): If these two teams were just sent to play this game at Madison Square Garden, would anyone really mind?
Bracket impact: It takes a lot of creativity to find a way to leave the Orange (19-12) out of the field, even with four losses in their last five games. Win this, and the possibility of leaving out Syracuse most likely vanishes.
Oregon vs. Washington State (Pac-12 first round, 11:30, Pac-12 Network): The Ducks (19-12) are the season’s great what-if. Had they stayed healthy (Bol Bol played only nine games, just two of them with fellow impact freshman Louis King), they’d have probably been one of the Pac-12’s top two teams. Still, they’ve won four in a row, including a 55-47 triumph at Washington to close the regular season.
Bracket impact: Negligible. Oregon has some work to do, and defeating the Cougars (11-20) won’t help in any way other than extending the Ducks’ conference tournament stay. But someone has to win the Pac-12, so why not Oregon?
Last four included: Ohio State, Utah State, Texas, TCU
First four on the outside: Creighton, Arizona State, Temple, Belmont
Next four on the outside: Alabama, Oregon, Georgetown, Xavier
Moving in: Fairleigh Dickinson, North Dakota State, Northeastern, Northern Kentucky, Saint Mary’s
Moving out: Creighton, Hofstra, Omaha, Saint Francis (Pa.), Wright State
Conference call: ACC (9), Big Ten (9), Big 12 (8), SEC (7), Big East (4), American Athletic (3), Mountain West (2), West Coast (2)
East Region vs. Midwest, South vs. West
(1) ACC/Virginia vs. winner of (16) MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC/Norfolk State vs. SUMMIT/North Dakota State
(8) ATLANTIC 10/VCU vs. (9) Seton Hall
(5) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada vs. (12) OHIO VALLEY/Murray 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) SOUTHLAND/Sam Houston State
Heaven knows which Seton Hall team will bother to show up at the Big East or the NCAA tournament, but the really good one — the one that beat Kentucky in New York, won at Maryland and then upended Marquette and Villanova to close the regular season — can beat just about anyone. … Not much has changed from two months ago: Nevada’s seeding is going to be an interesting variable. …
Louisville has dropped seven of 10 since the start of February. Still, the Cardinals did enough early to avoid falling much further than the No. 8 line, and even that’s a stretch. … North Dakota State claimed the Summit League with a defeat of Omaha. The Bison’s NET ranking (No. 225) puts them in line for a trip to Dayton.
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/Gardner-Webb
(8) Oklahoma vs. (9) SOUTHERN/Wofford
(5) Mississippi State vs. (12) Utah State-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
Wofford did the committee — and some mediocre power-conference teams — a favor with its strong finish in the SoCon title game on Monday. The Terriers could well get Middle Tennessee’d, which is to say dealt a worse seed than the numbers or common sense would suggest. … Unless Texas sweeps to the Big 12 tournament title, it will try to become the first 16-loss team to land an at-large berth. …
The only teams with more Quadrant 1 wins than Marquette: Michigan State (11), Virginia (11), Kansas (10) and Kentucky (10). LSU, North Carolina and Wisconsin also have nine. … Speaking of Michigan State, don’t count the Spartans out of a run at a No. 1 seed this weekend.
Salt Lake City
(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. winner of (16) METRO ATLANTIC/Iona vs. NORTHEAST/Farleigh Dickinson
(8) Baylor vs. (9) Florida
(5) MID-AMERICAN/Buffalo vs. (12) TCU-Ohio State winner
(4) Florida State vs. (13) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
Salt Lake City
(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (14) HORIZON/Northern Kentucky
(6) Maryland vs. (11) N.C. State
(7) BIG EAST/Villanova vs. (10) Syracuse
(2) Tennessee vs. (15) PATRIOT/Colgate
Well, CBS has one segment of the selection show locked in: Does Gonzaga warrant a No. 1 seed? The answer for now is yes, but that could change as the week unfolds. … Fairleigh Dickinson looks like it will be the seventh consecutive NEC champion to go to Dayton. The eight Quadrant 4 losses make them a better bet for Dayton than Prairie View A&M, which is 18-1 against Quadrant 4. … Utah State is probably as dangerous as anyone in play-in territory, but the Aggies still need to do some work in the Mountain West tournament to feel good about their NCAA chances.
I certainly hope nothing happens to sabotage a potential Maryland-N. C. State matchup. … Villanova vs. Syracuse is the kind of pairing that would draw plenty of attention for a few days given the schools’ common history in the Big East. … Tennessee still has a shot at a No. 1 seed if it wins the SEC tournament.
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC/Prairie View A&M
(8) Iowa vs. (9) PAC-12/Washington
(5) Virginia Tech vs. (12) ATLANTIC SUN/Liberty
(4) Kansas vs. (13) COLONIAL/Northeastern
(3) Purdue vs. (14) CONFERENCE USA/Old Dominion
(6) Auburn vs. (11) WEST COAST/Saint Mary’s
(7) Cincinnati vs. (10) Minnesota
(2) Duke vs. (15) BIG SKY/Montana
It hasn’t gotten much attention outside of the Hawkeye State, but Iowa has dropped four in a row and five of six heading into the Big Ten tournament. It won’t cost Iowa a bid, but it is trending in the wrong direction. … Northeastern handled Hofstra to secure its second CAA title in the last five seasons. Bill Coen’s tested Huskies will not be an easy out.
Liberty was a No. 16 seed in each of its three previous tournament appearances. The Flames shouldn’t be any lower than a No. 12 seed this time around after winning the Atlantic Sun. … A year after missing out when it had a pretty good case for an at-large bid, Saint Mary’s stunned Gonzaga in the WCC final to clinch its seventh NCAA berth in the last 15 years.