Ohio State is up and Iowa is down in the latest Bracketology update.
This week is a big one for bracketologists everywhere as the NCAA Tournament selection committee is set to reveal its first look at the Top 16 seeds in the field on Saturday. Last year’s first drop offered a look into the committee’s thinking at the time when Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State were on the top line.
Two of those teams have carried their success into this season as Gonzaga and Baylor remain entrenched on the top line. In the spirit of this week’s exercise, this edition (and future ones) of Bracketology will break down the top four lines in the field to provide a better sense of how the top teams in the country are trending.
The order teams are listed here will reflect their order on a potential S-curve, with the first two seed listed being ranked fifth on this curve.
Bracketology – No. 1 seeds
Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Ohio State
The top two remain locked in place as Gonzaga and Baylor have steamrolled over college basketball. There are opportunities for losses, particularly on the Bears’ schedule, but it would take a lot to dislodge either them or the Bulldogs from the top line.
The Wolverines stay put on the top line and actually move up a slot on the curve thanks to a bad loss from Villanova. A lengthy COVID pause for Michigan is projected to end on Sunday with a Valentine’s Day date against Wisconsin.
The biggest leap of the week came from Ohio State, which is now on the top line thanks to a run of seven wins in eight games that includes four victories over ranked foes. The Buckeyes have to navigate a tricky Big Ten to stay here, but if the field were decided today, they would be the last team in this group.
Bracketology – No. 2 seeds
Villanova, Alabama, Houston, Illinois
The Wildcats were on the top line last week before getting tripped up at Carnesecca Arena against a surging St. John’s team. Jay Wright’s group rebounded with a win against Georgetown and can make a strong case for a return to a No. 1 seed with a win at Creighton this weekend.
Another team that was flirting with a top seed was Alabama, which suffered its first SEC loss over the weekend at Missouri. That defeat will keep the Crimson Tide on the two-line for now.
The most disappointing loss from last Wednesday was Houston, which got upset by an East Carolina team that entered the matchup 1-7 in AAC play. Pummeling a non-D-I school in Our Lady of the Lake over the weekend may be good for the Cougars’ psyche but does little in the eyes of the selection committee to atone for their loss.
Illinois is trending up, winning four straight games that included a gutty overtime win against Indiana and a 15-point victory against the Badgers. Their game with Michigan on Thursday was postponed so the Fighting Illini are off until they host Northwestern on Feb. 16.
Bracketology – No. 3 seeds
Virginia, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas
The Cavaliers took care of business last week, topping NC State and Pittsburgh to essentially hold their ground in the ACC chase. Neither win does much for Virginia’s resume so they will look to keep picking up wins this week against Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
Getting revenge on Penn State by picking up a win was nice for Wisconsin but the benefit of that victory was erased by losing to Illinois by 15. That makes two losses in three games for the Badgers, who stay locked on the three-line this week.
Oklahoma finally lost but falling to Texas Tech isn’t a death blow in the rugged Big 12. Avoiding a loss to Iowa State was good for the Sooners, whose overall body of work gives them a boost.
The big loser of the week was Texas, which lost twice to Baylor and Oklahoma State, with the latter coming in double-overtime. Neither defeat is a bad one but dropping both means that the Longhorns fall a full seed week-to-week.
Bracketology – No. 4 seeds
Texas Tech, Missouri, Tennessee, Iowa
The Red Raiders aren’t talked about enough in the Big 12 mix but they had a solid two-win week against Oklahoma and Kansas State. A matchup against Baylor slated for Saturday was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Bears’ program, costing Texas Tech an opportunity to move further up the seed list with a good showing.
The next two teams on the curve are SEC entrants in Missouri and Tennessee, with the Tigers trending up and Volunteers headed down. Each team gets a bubble opponent over the weekend as Missouri hosts Arkansas while Tennessee travels to LSU.
The big loser of the week is Iowa, which is clinging to a four-seed after dropping four of their last five games, with the one victory coming against a subpar Michigan State team. If the Hawkeyes can’t stabilize this week against Rutgers and a rematch in East Lansing with the Spartans they could fall out of the Top 16 entirely.
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