Editor’s note: Bracketology has been updated with the latest NCAA tournament projections through games played on March 15.
In a wild turn of events, Duke went from barely hanging on at the No. 1 seed line at the start of Friday to vaulting ahead and reclaiming the top overall seed in the latest bracket projection Saturday.
That drastic shift comes as a result of a huge ACC tournament semifinal win over North Carolina, a team it lost to twice in the regular season without Zion Williamson, and a Virginia loss to a surging Florida State team in the other ACC semifinal. Remember, Duke beat Virginia twice and will be graded with leniency by the committee because of several losses coming with Williamson recovering from injury.
But it also has to do with how close this No. 1 seed battle is this year. One game can flip-flop the teams’ positioning on the bracket — even if they’re all staying at the 1-line.
Had Gonzaga not lost to Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament final, it likely would be the overall No. 1 because the ‘Zags would have had the best NET score to go with too few losses. Had UNC beat Duke on Friday, that’d be three wins against the Blue Devils to go with already stellar credentials.
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What gets interesting now is determining which No. 1 seed the selection committee might drop lower. A lot depends on what happens in the Saturday’s SEC tournament semifinal between Tennessee and Kentucky. If either of these teams were to go on to win the SEC tournament, Gonzaga could be the odd team out. But North Carolina also is in the mix to fall to the No. 2 line, with Virginia’s latest loss to FSU not affecting its overall résumé enough and Duke having done enough to stay a No. 1 with Zion back in the fold.
► No. 1 seeds: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Gonzaga
► Last four in: Temple, Ohio State, Belmont, Arizona State
► First Four out: Alabama, UNC-Greensboro, Xavier, Georgetown
• Others considered for at-large bid (in no particular order): Creighton, Indiana, North Carolina State, Clemson, Lipscomb, Texas, Furman
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7), SEC (7), Big East (4), American (4), Mountain West (2), Atlantic 10 (2), Ohio Valley (2), Pac-12 (2) West Coast (2).
Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (21 total): Vermont (America East), Liberty (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), Gardner-Webb (Big South) UC Irvine (Big West), Northeastern (CAA), Old Dominion (Conference USA), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Yale (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), Buffalo (MAC), Norfolk State (MEAC), Bradley (MVC), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast), Colgate (Patriot), Wofford (Southern), ACU (Southland), Prairie View A&M (SWAC), Wofford (Southern), North Dakota State (Summit), Georgia State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC).
- Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama.
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Note: Mostly all statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. 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, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.