Despite a tumultuous week for ranked teams, the TRMDi #1 seeds remain unchanged. Kentucky drops from my #1 overall to the last 1 seed, while Gonzaga takes over the top spot. It would be Gonzaga’s second #1 seed, and while we’re at it Baylor’s first ever #1 seed. Kansas fans have a gripe, I have them as my first #3, while some media pundits were clamoring for them to be #1 in the AP this week. I hear the arguments and nod my head to many of them, but if the Kentucky and West Virginia games were in reverse order I think we’re having an entire different conversation. Either way, we’re 2/3rds of the way through the season and just about halfway through the meaningful portion of the regular season schedule…much of this will get worked out soon.
In addition to the Kansas/Baylor debate, the Big XII is a co-leader with 8 teams for the second week in a row. They also hold the largest jumps up and down in the newest projections. The biggest improvement in terms of seeding this week was Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were an #11 seed last week, and after convincing wins against TCU and Arkansas (who both just happen to be 2 of the TRMDi First Four), they find themselves sitting next to a #7 seed. The Horned Frogs rode that negative momentum and saddled up their Oklahoma State loss by dropping a road game at Auburn, knocking them down from an #8 to a First Four game for an #11 seed. They did not suffer the humiliation of a 55 point home loss, so at least Jamie Dixon had that to fall back on.
New to the bracket are Michigan (1-1 last week), VCU (1-0) and USC (1-0). VCU and Michigan join as 10 seeds, USC as a 9. Those three take the place of Seton Hall (0-1), Rhode Island (1-1) and Clemson (1-0). Also swapping out were my Mountain West autobids (Nevada in, Boise State out) and Big South (UNC Asheville in, Winthrop out).
There are some tournament streaks to keep an eye on as we approach the end of January and move into the stretch run. Michigan State currently has the 3rd longest active streak of tournament appearances with 19 (behind Kansas at 27 and Duke at 21). Their margin is thin, but I have them in as an #11 seed. VCU is tied for the 6th longest at 6. As mentioned above I have the Rams as a #10 seed. If Wichita State is as fortunate as I think they will be, they would earn a #9 as of today, which would continue their current streak of 5 tournaments. Oklahoma is in a tie with the 11th longest active streak of 4, which is the largest I project to end as of today.
On the other side looking at the 351 current Division I men’s basketball teams, 48 have never made it to the Dance. Five most definitely will not make it as 4 are still completing their D1 transitioning towards eligibility (Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word, UMass-Lowell, and Abilene Christian). Savannah State is an APR ban causality this year. I do project two teams to move off of this list though. Northwestern is doing all it possibly can to rectify this, which is great news for them as it’s not just that they are one of the last 48 teams. The Wildcats are also one of the 5 original NCAA teams who have been around since 1939, yet never made the tournament (Army [kinda, but still counts], William & Mary, The Citadel and St Francis NY are the others). I have Northwestern as a #7 currently. Also joining in on the excitement for the first time, but with experiencing much less futility are the Fort Wayne Mastodons who I project to win the Summit League and earn a #14 seed. The formerly named IPFW joined D1 in 2001-02 season.
Finally, 343 teams are still alive for the Championship. In addition to the 5 teams mentioned above, Alcorn State is also serving a ban this year related to APR, and Northern Colorado and Hawaii will sit out due to sanctions.