February is here, which means that every game begins to mean more as opportunities to prove themselves before the NCAA men’s tournament selection committee diminish. Teams like Oklahoma and Florida made a statement in last weekend’s SEC / Big 12 Challenge with big wins over ranked opponents. How have recent games impacted the field of 68? Sports Illustrated Bracket Watch looks at who’s in, who’s out and who will be sweating on Selection Sunday.
In the bubble:
Overall, the bubble did itself no favors last week. Stanford wasted some of the goodwill it had earned in victories over UCLA and Arizona by falling to a bad team at Arizona State. Others on the right side of the cutoff line at this point, like Colorado State and Arkansas, missed out on winning opportunities over the weekend.
However, outside teams looking inward failed to capitalize. Marquette and Providence each lost highly winnable games to teams in the Big East’s last four, and Pittsburgh’s embarrassing loss to Notre Dame knocked him out of the conversation. Even Duke, whose recent victories over Georgia Tech and Clemson earned him a few bubble glances, spoiled any rumors he had by losing to an unsatisfying Miami team. The outskirts of the bubble are so weak right now that a couple of teams that are under .500 for the season at Marquette and Penn State are currently out of the picture.
Last four byes:
Last four in:
State of colorado
First four out:
Next four out:
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Prairie View A & M / NC A&T
No. 8 USC vs. No. 9 State of Boise
No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 UAB
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Winthrop
No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 11 Stanford
No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 14 Siena
No. 7. State of Oklahoma vs. No. 10 St. Bonaventure
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 UC Irvine
One stat that highlights the parity in men’s college basketball right now: Teams seeded 2-6 in this region all lost in the last week. With virtually everyone else outside of Gonzaga and Baylor hitting each other, it’s important not to overreact to individual losses. In the big picture, the water tends to find its level. Still, that provides an opportunity for a good team to warm up at the right time and skyrocket through qualifying. Alabama remains on the No. 2 line despite its loss to Oklahoma because I believe its impending SEC title will be considered kindly by the committee, and Virginia could get a similar blow if it closes the ACC title.
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 LIU Brooklyn / State of Montana
No. 8 Rutgers vs. No. 9 Xavier
No. 5 Texas Tech vs. No. 12 Toledo
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Belmont
No. 6 Purdue vs. No. 11 North Carolina
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Navy
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 10 LSU
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 15 Northeast
No team has risen higher in recent days than Oklahoma, whose victories over Texas and Alabama completely transformed its résumé. And while the Sooners couldn’t finish an incredible week on the road at Texas Tech, I feel good right now about Oklahoma as a top-four seed in March. Meanwhile, Saint Louis remains an interesting team to follow after Friday’s away game at Richmond was canceled due to COVID-19 issues. The Billikens are currently slated to play just 10 of 20 A-10 games, and their win over NC State is not aging as well as expected. A bad loss could put Saint Louis in danger of missing the Big Dance.
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 16 South Dakota
No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 9 UConn
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 12 Maryland / State of Colorado
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 13 Abilene Christian
No. 6 Florida vs. No. 11 Loyola Chicago
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Liberty
No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Clemson
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon
A week ago, Rutgers appeared to be in deep trouble after losing five in a row to start 3-6 in the Big Ten. But three straight victories have cemented the Scarlet Knights’ place in the field of 68 with just over a month to go in the Big Ten regular season. A pair of comfortable victories over Michigan State and Northwestern may not move the needle individually, but they’re the kind of wins teams like Rutgers must rack up to climb the seeded list. Then there’s the most interesting team on the field: Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers are now in the top 15 of the NET, KenPom, T-Rank and BPI metrics. How will the committee treat a team with incredible metrics but few quality wins?
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 Louisiana
No. 8 Drake vs. No. 9 State of San Diego
No. 5 UCLA vs. No. 12 Seton Hall / Arkansas
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 East Tennessee
No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Saint Louis
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Vermont
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 BYU
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Cleveland State
If Virginia Tech wasn’t completely closed before Saturday, it is now after a big win over rival Virginia. The wins over UVA and Villanova give the Hokies an incredibly strong resume, and they are a team that could climb the seeded list if they can win a few road games. Meanwhile, Seton Hall finds himself in a situation that Big Ten teams often deal with: number of losses. The Pirates have good wins and only one questionable loss, but at 9–8 the margins are slim and they are ready to play their next two road games.
Full screening of Sweeney’s March Madness, starting February 2:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.