NCAA Tournament Projections As of March 9

Let’s start this week with an update on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Almost a lock: Oklahoma, Marquette, Florida
These three teams could use a win but also could lose in the first round of their conference tournament and still get in. Of these three, Marquette is the safest and Florida the least safe.

Need a win or two: Indiana, UCLA, Xavier
Indiana and UCLA both have multiple wins against top-25 teams, which puts them in pretty good position. Xavier really needs a win but is in pretty good position to do that. The Musketeers play DePaul in the Big East play-in game, and you couldn’t ask for a better opponent. The Bruins get a first-round bye out west and face the winner of Cal-Stanford, which is doable. Indiana is sitting in a great position as they take on a hapless Nebraska team. A win in the next round would surely give Indiana a bid.

Need multiple wins to feel safe: Texas, Texas Tech, NC State
Texas and Texas Tech meet in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tourney. A Texas Tech loss would put them in big danger. Texas could still hang on to a spot with a loss, but that would depend on what NC State does. The Wolfpack plays the winner of Pitt-Wake Forest. A loss to one of these teams would certainly knock them out of the field.

Need some help: Mississippi State, Wichita State, Stanford, Richmond
Of these four teams, Mississippi State is the closest. The gap between NC State and the Bulldogs is very narrow, and they could leapfrog the Pack with an impressive win. Wichita State needs to make some noise in the AAC. Stanford has a must-win game with Cal in the Pac-12, then really needs to beat UCLA to have a chance. Richmond is an interesting case: The Spiders don’t have a resume that blows you away, but they are accumulating a lot of wins. If they get two W’s in the A-10 tourney, they could sneak into the field.

I didn’t include Cincinnati because they are currently the automatic for the AAC. If they lose their first game, they’ll be in real danger. For the most part, all other teams including Purdue, all of the middle-of-the-pack SEC teams and Northern Iowa are no longer under consideration.

LAST FOUR IN: NC State, Texas Tech, Texas, Xavier
FIRST FOUR OUT: Mississippi State, Stanford, Wichita State, Richmond
NEXT FOUR OUT:  Rhode Island, UConn, Memphis, St. Louis

PAC-12: 6
BIG 12: 6
ACC: 5
SEC: 4
WCC: 3
AAC: 2

Now it’s time for Bracket Facts:

Tip of the cap to this team: Creighton. After a bad loss to St. John’s, the Bluejays bounced back with two wins this week including an impressive performance against Seton Hall. The Jays beat the Pirates 77-60 to give them the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament.

Best team: Kansas. Baylor suffered another loss, and KU went down to Lubbock and secured another win against Texas Tech. No matter what happens in the Big 12 tournament, Kansas will be the No. 1 overall seed.

In the bracket but fading fast: Marquette. I think the Golden Eagles have done enough and are safe, but their seed has been in a freefall for the last few weeks after losing six of their last seven.

On the uptick: Wisconsin. To say they are on an uptick is an understatement. The Badgers have won eight in a row and clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Greg Gard’s team seems to get it going at tournament time and this year is no exception.

This week a new bracket on Wednesday and Friday and then the final bracket midday Sunday. Follow me on twitter @tkbrackets.

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