March Madness NCAA tournament bracketology: Wild night creates ripples

Shelby Mast and Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Published 7:34 a.m. ET Feb. 11, 2019 | Updated 10:18 a.m. ET Feb. 13, 2019


What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson spoke with one of the best NCAA Tournament projectors about which teams you can expect to see on the inside of the bracket bubble.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest NCAA tournament projections as of Feb. 13.

Duke defied odds by avoiding an upset with its 23-point comeback win over Louisville on Tuesday. But other top seed contenders weren’t so lucky in a wild night of college hoops.

Kentucky was one of the casualties in a buzzer-beating loss to LSU that saw the Tigers win on a controversial tip-in at the buzzer. The Wildcats, who were surging with 10 consecutive wins before the loss, remain as a No. 2 seed but fall back on that line.

LSU, however, vaulted up to the No. 3 line after the Tigers were one of the few teams snubbed by the selection committee during the NCAA’s top-four seeds reveal last weekend. Coach Will Wade’s group might be winning by narrow margins (LSU’s past three games have been decided by less than five points), but it’s working wonders for the Tigers’ résumé. 

Kentucky draws No. 1 seed Tennessee this Saturday, and then LSU gets the Vols the following Saturday. Expect both games to heavily determine the seeding line of No. 1-No. 3. 

The other big surprise of the night — Penn State toppling No. 2 seed Michigan (and John Beilein going bonkers to get ejected) — was much more of an upset given the Nittany Lions’ 9-15 overall record and 2-11 mark in the Big Ten. The résumé-staining loss likely sinks the Wolverines’ chances of a No. 1 seed. They stay at the No. 2 line based on overall body of work but expect this glaring profile blemish to affect Michigan in some facet come Selection Sunday.  


► No. 1 seeds: Duke, Virginia, Tennessee, Gonzaga

► Last four in: UNC-Greensboro, Clemson, Butler, Indiana

► First Four out: North Carolina State, Nebraska, Temple, Central Florida


Others considered for at-large bid (in no particular order): Florida, Providence, Arizona, Creighton, Oregon, Georgetown, Davidson, Saint Mary’s, Utah State, Arkansas.

•  On life support: Oregon State, Texas A&M, Miami (Fla.), UCLA, Connecticut, DePaul, Missouri, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Fresno State, Notre Dame, Furman, Boston College, Georgia, Liberty, Xavier, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Memphis, Southern California, South Carolina, Georgia State, East Tennessee State, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Northwestern.


Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (9), ACC (8), Big 12 (8), SEC (7), Big East (5), American (2), Ohio Valley (2), Pac-12 (2), Southern (2).

Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (23 total): VCU (Atlantic 10), Vermont (America East), Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), Radford (Big South) UC Irvine (Big West), Hofstra (CAA), Old Dominion (Conference USA), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Yale (Ivy), Siena (MAAC), Buffalo (MAC), Norfolk State (MEAC), Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Nevada (Mountain West), Robert Morris (Northeast), Bucknell (Patriot), Sam Houston State (Southland), Prairie View A&M (SWAC), South Dakota State (Summit), Texas State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC), Gonzaga (WCC). 

  • Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama.


Note:  Mostly all statistical data is used from The NCAA’s new NET rankings are also considered; that was rolled out at the beginning of 2018-19

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his sixth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past five March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

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