Welcome to late February, where the bubble is oversaturated. Depending on your preferred method, your team might be on the bubble. Metrics tell one story. Profiles tell another. Combine those with the eye test, and you have NCAA Tournament predictions that are all over the place. That’s just how it goes when you are trying to do college basketball bracketology. A lot can still be decided with three weeks to go until the official bracket is out. However, time and opportunity are running out, pushing the pin one inch closer to your favorite team’s bubble.
2021-22 College Basketball Bracketology 5.0
The Big Ten has surged back into the conference lead with nine teams in the field. That has a lot to do with teams like Michigan and Rutgers picking up key victories over the past few weeks. The Big 12 and Big East both have seven teams in the bracket. The Big 12 is beating itself up and potentially costing itself bids. The SEC is right behind those leagues with six. The ACC and WCC each have four teams, though both could find that number shrink with the amount of teams they each have on the bubble. The Pac 12 and Mountain West each have three teams in, with both having teams just outside the field right now. Finally, the AAC is back with two teams with the resurgence of Memphis.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are right back where we expected them to be: in the top spot. Gonzaga has taken advantage of the falters of others while coasting through WCC play. Even with the league being stronger than usual, the Bulldogs have yet to slip up during conference play. This group seems almost locked into a one seed moving forward.
The Providence Friars are the two seed here. Providence continues to be an interesting case of profile versus metrics. Metrics say Providence is vastly overachieving, but the profile says who cares? The Friars keep winning way more than they lose, and are currently on track to dethrone Villanova for the Big East title this season.
Speaking of Villanova, the Wildcats are right behind Providence as the three seed here. They recently took down Providence and still get one more game against them, so we can’t count Jay Wright‘s team out just yet in the Big East. Still, this is once again going to be a tough group to knock out in March.
The Murray State Racers are the seven seed in this region. Murray State is rolling in the OVC, and the metrics love this group. It will be interesting to see what the committee does if the Racers win out, but this team almost feels like a tournament lock with a high seeding ceiling.
The Auburn Tigers are the second overall seed and the top seed in the South Region. They fell just behind Gonzaga once again after an overtime loss to Arkansas last week. This is a serious title-contending team behind the stellar playmaking of Jabari Smith.
The Baylor Bears are the second seed in this region. Baylor has certainly showed a few more cracks this season, though injuries have played a role in that. The Bears won’t get knocked out easily, but the defending champions might be showing signs that a repeat might not be in the cards this season.
The Tennessee Volunteers have jumped up to a three seed in this region. Tennessee defended their home court against a Kentucky group that was bordering as a top seed before that game. The Volunteers quietly continue to go about their business, but there is nothing quiet about what they are capable of come tournament time.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are in this region as a seven seed. A month ago this group looked dead in the water, but they have resurrected themselves, capped off by a huge win over Auburn recently. The Razorbacks aren’t quite what they were last season, but that doesn’t mean you should take them lightly.
The third overall seed and the top seed here is the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona hasn’t lost in almost a month and have just two blemishes on the season. Tommy Lloyd has turned this program around in year one, and the Wildcats are giving Gonzaga a run for their money as the best team on the west coast for the first time in awhile.
The Purdue Boilermakers are the second seed here. Purdue has pushed themselves back on top of the crowded Big Ten standings, though they have looked a bit more sluggish of late. The defense is of particular concern, but perhaps squeaking out close wins will only benefit them in March.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are the three seed in the Midwest Region. Texas Tech is coming off a big win over Baylor and has built a profile that has them eyeing a top-16 seed. They can boost it further with four straight games coming up against potential tournament teams.
The nine seed in this region is the Wyoming Cowboys. Wyoming is a great example of a tournament paradox. The metrics have loved this team all season, but they didn’t have the wins to back it up. Then they went and swept the teams at the top of the Mountain West and are poised to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years.
The Kansas Jayhawks are the last top seed in this version of college basketball bracketology. Barring a meltdown, Kansas looks like they are going to retake the Big 12 title this season. More importantly, the Jayhawks look like their old selves in being national title contenders.
The Kentucky Wildcats are the two seed here, and the margin between them and Kansas is very thin, especially since they have a head-to-head victory over the Jayhawks. However, right now, Kentucky is not in position to win the SEC, and conference champions tend to get preference for top seeds, so that’s why they miss out for now.
The Duke Blue Devils are the three seed here. Once again, the weak ACC hurts Duke overall when it comes to their profile. Their remaining schedule only offers trap games that could worsen their profile. Winning the league this year will mean less than it has in a long time, putting them on the outside of the top seed conversation.
One team that is trying to help boost the ACC is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who check in as the 10 seed here. Notre Dame is nowhere close to safe, but they have been able to keep pace with Duke towards the top of the standings. A great opportunity presents itself today against Wake Forest.
College Basketball Bracketology Bubble Teams
The last four teams in to this edition of college basketball bracketology are Creighton, Memphis, Rutgers, and BYU. Creighton’s profile is better than its metrics, and that’s just enough at this point in February. Memphis picked up a huge win over Houston on the road, which has vaulted them back into the conversation. Rutgers has reeled off four straight wins over ranked opponents, which negates their poor metrics for the time being. BYU is the last team in the field, but they could use another big win to improve their situation.
The first four teams out of this bracket are North Carolina, Florida, San Diego State, and Oregon. North Carolina continues to be cursed by a lack of quality wins, which has pushed them out. Florida seems to take one step forward and two steps back every time they get close to inclusion in the field. San Diego State can make the Mountain West a four-bid league if they can take advantage of opportunities against Boise State and Wyoming coming up. Oregon found themselves briefly in the field before dropping a headscratchers to Cal and Arizona State.