By now the NCAA men’s basketball committee has largely finished the work of selection on the 15th floor of the Westin in Indianapolis. They’ve rearranged the pairings to accommodate surprise entrant Colorado, and even have a contingency bracket ready in case St. Bonaventure, who will not be in the field of 68 otherwise, wins their A-10 final against Xavier, who, it appears, will get in win or lose.
For the most part today will be devoted to seeding and location: what seed a team is given, and where they have to play their games. These are very weighty decisions — whom you have to play, and how far you (and, just as crucially, they) have to travel to do so — and during the NCAA’s mock selection exercise last month I saw just how incredibly pressed for time the committee is when they make these fateful choices. It’s the nature of the beast.
Let’s do this. Take three sources of reputable bracket projections: Joe Lunardi, Andy Glockner, and the good aggregating people at the Bracket Project. After last night’s results, all of the above agree that BYU is in, and that Miami, Ole Miss, and Arizona are out.
Despite the one-bid doomsday scenarios you heard floating around with regard to the Pac-12, everyone also has California safely in the field along with the recipients of the league’s automatic bid, Colorado. Then again everyone also has Washingtonout, though Lunardi at least gives them membership among the first four out. It appears the Huskies will indeed become the first outright major-conference regular-season champion in recent memory to be left out of the Dance. If this were 1974, Lorenzo Romar’s team would have that bid automatically. Alas.
After that the consensus breaks down. Depending on what St. Bonaventure does today there are likely to be either just two or, at most, three more slots available in the field of 68. And no fewer than six teams have been brought forward by the projections cited above for those two or three openings. So keep the list below handy tonight, and know that once you’ve circled two or three of these teams as “in,” the rest probably will not be hearing their names called:
USF NC State Mississippi State Drexel Iona Marshall
Beyond the compelling question of who’s in and who’s out, there is also the spectator sport of watching to see who gets the No. 1 seeds. That spectator sport should be unusually boring this year. Everyone agrees that Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, and Kansas will be on their respective top lines. More often than not there’s still some robust discussion on Sunday about the proverbial “last” No. 1 seed. Not this year.