How the mighty have fallen. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. However, since our last college basketball bracketology, every remaining unbeaten team has fallen. All of that has happened within the past seven days, too. Baylor fell to Texas Tech. USC fell to Stanford. Colorado State fell to San Diego State. The good news for all three is that they are still included in the latest bracket update. They aren’t the only teams to slip up, though, as Kansas, Duke, and Purdue have suffered losses since the last release as well. All of this is to say that there has been quite a bit of movement in a little less than two weeks in our newest bracket!
You can find the third edition of our bracket and seeds right here.
2021-22 College Basketball Bracketology 3.0
The SEC has overtaken the Big Ten as the league with the most teams represented, sitting at eight. The Big Ten falls into a tie for second with seven teams, the same as the Big 12, who continues to be considered the best conference in the country. The Big East follows with six teams in the latest bracket. The ACC and the WCC both have four teams represented. The ACC continues to be flooded with bubble teams, while the WCC is looking to get four teams into the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. The Pac 12 and the Mountain West each have three teams, while the AAC and Conference USA each have two teams in the updated college basketball bracketology.
It feels like so many teams have had to pause for COVID reasons this season. Gonzaga was not immune, but by not playing as many games of late, the Bulldogs watched other top teams fall. Thus, the Zags have ascended back to the top overall seed. In case anyone was worried about them heading into conference play, they dominated arguably the second-best team in the WCC in BYU by 26 earlier this week.
Kansas checks in as the two-seed in this region. The Jayhawks slipped slightly in overall seeding after losing to Texas Tech last week. There’s no shame in that, as Baylor had the same result against the Red Raiders a few nights later. They rebounded for a close win over Iowa State, and will take the court against West Virginia later today.
The LSU Tigers are the three-seed in the West. Many thought the Tigers might be a fluke after taking their first loss of the season in their SEC opener against Auburn, as they didn’t have the toughest non-conference schedule in the world. However, they have ripped off three in a row over Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida, who are all NCAA Tournament-caliber squads. LSU is for real.
One team to keep your eye on the rest of the way in this region is Belmont. The Bruins are the 11-seed here, and that would put them inside the cut line, even though they are the OVC auto-bid right now. Belmont has been a consistent mid-major bubble team the last few seasons, and the metrics will have them sitting there again if they can’t capture the OVC Conference Tournament. If they get in, you won’t want your favorite team to face them.
The Baylor Bears are your second overall seed, and the top seed in this region. As mentioned prior, the Bears became the final unbeaten team to fall this week, losing to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders clamped down on Baylor defensively and may have given a small blueprint to beating them. Still, Baylor is one of the best teams in the country, and a loss to a team that’s on its way to a top-15 ranking shouldn’t penalize them much at all.
Michigan State and Tom Izzo check in as the two-seed in this region. The Spartans are quietly going about their business in the Big Ten. So much attention is getting showered on the impact scorers in the league at other schools that it feels like MSU is somewhat forgotten. Michigan State hasn’t lost since November 26, but they’ll get a few big tests on the road against Wisconsin and Illinois later in the month.
Speaking of the Badgers, Wisconsin is the four-seed in this region. At this point, you have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of Johnny Davis. The sophomore guard has been a scoring machine this season and has thrown his name into Player of the Year conversations. He’s a big reason why the Badgers are on a six-game winning streak that includes victories over Purdue, Iowa, and Ohio State.
Let’s welcome the Miami Hurricanes to college basketball bracketology. Miami checks in as the 10-seed in this region, representing the ACC as the auto-bid. Even without the auto-bid the ‘Canes would most likely have been in after taking down Duke on the road last Saturday. Predicting which ACC teams will make the tournament after Duke and UNC is tough this season, but Miami is rising fast. They just need their metrics to continue to rise with them.
The first of two new teams to ascend to the top line is Arizona. The Wildcats are taking advantage of other teams falling while consistently winning. Tommy Lloyd’s group has played just two games in January because of COVID pauses, but they still have just the one loss just before Christmas to Tennessee. The Pac 12 is top heavy, which means an upset of Arizona could be a little more lethal to their seeding moving forward.
The Duke Blue Devils fall to a two-seed in this region. The loss at home to Miami accounts for the biggest reason for the fall. However, the Blue Devils haven’t looked as fluid coming out of their own COVID pause at the end of December. Couple that with the unusually weak ACC this season, and there’s a chance that their profile may not look as impressive as usual by the time March rolls around.
Raise your hand if you doubted Villanova this season. Okay, now go ahead and put them down as you see the Wildcats check in as a four-seed here. Since getting embarrassed by Creighton on December 17, the Wildcats have ripped off five in a row, including getting their revenge against the Bluejays. The Big East is always a grind, so I don’t expect them not to lose again. However, we should know better by now to bet against Jay Wright.
Another team not getting a lot of buzz is in this region in the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa is the six-seed in this region and boasts the nation’s leading scorer in Keegan Murray. It was expected that Iowa would drop off a little with the loss of Luka Garza. However, the Hawkeyes are sitting at a quiet 12-4, with solid metrics to boot. With a playmaker like Murray, this group could go further than most think in March.
The last top seed, and the second new top seed in this college basketball bracketology is the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers have built an impressive profile that includes wins over Loyola-Chicago, Murray State, LSU, Florida, and Alabama. They haven’t lost since late November, and they have established themselves as the best team in the SEC to date. The strength of the SEC should have its champion fighting for a top seed, and right now that looks like the Tigers.
Purdue is the two-seed in this region. The Boilermakers suffered a home defeat to Wisconsin last week and then struggled to get past Penn State in their next game. They looked more like their old selves against Nebraska last night, and still have plenty of time to get back towards the top line. A big showdown with Illinois is upcoming on Monday night.
The three-seed in this region is Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are on fire, having won three straight, including beating Kansas and Baylor. Many weren’t sure what to expect when Chris Beard departed for rival Texas, but it looks like Texas Tech isn’t missing a beat. Playing in such a strong league means the Red Raiders will have plenty of opportunities to continue to improve their profile.
Another mid-major to watch checks in here as the 11-seed. The UAB Blazers are in the at-large conversation because of their metrics. Conference USA is one of the best mid-major leagues out there, and their win over North Texas sits as their best right now. The Blazers don’t hold the auto-bid right now because of a surprising loss to Rice. They can’t afford many more losses like that if they want to remain in the bubble conversation.
College Basketball Bracketology Bubble Teams
The last four teams into this edition of college basketball bracketology are Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Boise State, and UCF. Texas A&M quietly keeps winning, though none of those wins are profile-changing. The SEC will give them plenty of opportunities. Wake Forest is hanging on, though they really could’ve used a win over Duke earlier this week. Boise State has good metrics, but will need a win or two against the likes of San Diego State and Colorado State to help their case. UCF continues to sit squarely on the bubble in a weak AAC, though beating Memphis the other night put them just inside the cut line.
The first four teams out of the bracket are TCU, Memphis, Clemson, and Murray State. TCU’s best win is Texas A&M right now, but if they can finish around .500 in the Big 12, that should be good enough. Memphis continues to be a tough team to figure out, but right now they sit on the outside after losing an elimination game to UCF. Clemson is one of a handful of ACC teams looking to find a way on the right side of the bracket. Murray State will give Belmont a run for their money in the OVC. They also have a chance at an at-large because of their metrics.