We're five days from "Selection Sunday," and here is how we think the 68-team NCAA tournament field will look when it is unveiled that day.
It's important to note that this is a projection of how teams are going to finish, not how the field would look if it were decided today.
[Syracuse probe: Sources: Basketball program repeatedly violated internal drug policy]
Three more teams will nail down NCAA bids on Tuesday, and a fourth bid is possible. There are tourney finals in the Horizon, Summit and Sun Belt, and the Ivy League title also could be decided.
The No. 1 seeds have been eliminated in the Summit and Sun Belt tourneys, which mean potentially the bottom four seeds could be weaker than usual.
One thing to keep in mind is that if Kansas gets a No. 1 seed, it almost certainly would get St. Louis as a regional site. Kentucky seems a certainty to play the first two rounds in Louisville, while Duke and North Carolina seem headed to Greensboro, N.C., for the first two rounds.
If Kentucky, as expected, is seeded No. 1 in the Southeast Region, it would play its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, where a majority of the seats would be filled with folks wearing blue.
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In our projection, teams are grouped by projected seed and listed from strongest to weakest within that seed. At the bottom is a breakdown by league of the number of projected bids and some information on the makeup of the field, the selection committee and the sites.
Remember that this is the second season of a 68-team field. There again will be four play-in games: two involving teams that will be No. 11 or 12 seeds and two involving teams that will be No. 16 seeds. To simplify matters, that's why there are six teams at the Nos. 12 and 16 seedings.
Asterisked teams must win their conference titles to receive an NCAA bid. Teams in bold type have earned automatic bids.
4. North Carolina
Buzz: Who will be the overall No. 1: UK or Syracuse? North Carolina is in line for the final No. 1 after winning the ACC regular-season title. How the Heels fare in the ACC tourney will determine whether they stay as a No. 1.
5. Ohio State
Buzz: Michigan State hurt its case for a No. 1 seed by losing at home to Ohio State on Sunday. The flipside: The Buckeyes have a shot at a No. 1 seed if they win the Big Ten tourney.
Buzz: Michigan won at Penn State on Sunday to finish tied for first in the Big Ten. Marquette finished second in the Big East. Baylor split its final eight regular-season games and easily could wind up as a No. 4 seed.
Buzz: Temple won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship. Indiana and Wisconsin finished their regular seasons Sunday.
17. Murray State
18. Notre Dame
19. Wichita State
20. San Diego State
Buzz: Murray State barely escaped with the Ohio Valley tourney title over Tennessee State. Wichita State won the Missouri Valley regular-season title but was upset in a tourney semifinal. San Diego State shared the Mountain West regular-season title with New Mexico and is the No. 1 seed in the league tourney.
23. Saint Mary's
24. Florida State
Buzz: Creighton won the Missouri Valley tourney. Florida finished its regular season Sunday by losing to visiting Kentucky. The Gators, who have lost three in a row, will be the No. 4 seed in the SEC tourney. Saint Mary's won the WCC regular-season and tourney titles.
26. New Mexico
Buzz: New Mexico won a portion of the Mountain West regular-season title. Vandy is one of the nation's biggest disappointments.
29. Iowa State
31. Saint Louis
Buzz: Iowa State owns a season sweep of Kansas State, as well as wins over Baylor and Kansas. Memphis won the Conference USA regular-season title.
33. Kansas State
36. West Virginia
Buzz: K-State owns a season sweep of Missouri and also won at Baylor. Virginia finished the regular season Sunday with an overtime win at Maryland. WVU is seeking its fifth consecutive NCAA bid.
39. Seton Hall
Buzz: Cincy finished in a tie for fourth in the Big East and has a double bye in the league tourney. BYU lost in the semifinals of the WCC tourney.
42. Southern Miss
Buzz: Washington blew a chance to clinch the outright Pac-12 title Saturday by losing at UCLA, but got a reprieve when Cal lost at Stanford on Sunday. Southern Miss stumbled down the stretch, losing four of its final eight regular-season games.
48. Colorado State
Buzz: VCU won the CAA tourney. Mississippi State has won two in a row after a five-game losing streak; the Bulldogs are the No. 6 seed in the SEC tourney. Northwestern is seeking its first NCAA bid in school history.
52. Long Beach State*
Buzz: Drexel won the CAA regular-season title but fell in the tourney final. Long Beach State won the Big West regular-season title. Nevada won the WAC regular-season title. Belmont won the Atlantic Sun tourney.
56. South Dakota State*
Buzz: Davidson won the Southern Conference tourney Monday. While Akron won the MAC regular-season title, Buffalo swept the Zips in the regular season and is the pick here to win the conference tournament. Valpo has advanced to Tuesday's Horizon League tourney final and will host the game against Detroit.
59. Weber State*
60. Long Island*
61. Loyola (Md.)
Buzz: Long Island has advanced to the final of the Northeast League tourney and will play Robert Morris for the title at home. Loyola won the Metro Atlantic Athletic tourney as the No. 2 seed. Bucknell has advanced to the Patriot League tourney final and will play Lehigh at home.
63. UT Arlington*
64. UNC Asheville
65. North Texas*
67. Stony Brook*
68. Norfolk State*
Buzz: Remember that a 68-team field means at least four conference champs are going to end up in play-in games. UNC Asheville won the Big South tourney. Mississippi Valley State and UT Arlington won their regular-season titles. Stony Brook has advanced to the America East final.
Breakdown by league
10: Big East
7: Big Ten
6: Big 12
4: ACC, Mountain West
3: Atlantic 10, West Coast
2: Colonial, Conference USA, Missouri Valley
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Pac-12, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, Southwestern Athletic, Western Athletic (20)
Notes on makeup of field
• The NCAA uses an "S curve," meaning it ranks all 68 teams in order 1-68, then places them in regions under the theory the top No. 1 seed would have the worst No. 2 seed in its bracket, the worst No. 1 seed would have the top No. 2 seed, etc. The balancing of the regions is the most important factor in seeding the tournament.
• As far as other rules go, teams from the same conference hopefully won't meet until a regional final, but the NCAA has relaxed that because some conferences have six and seven bids (it's even permissible for an intraconference matchup in the second round, though that is to be avoided whenever possible). But the first three teams selected from a given conference must be in different regions.
• Higher-seeded teams should be placed as close to home as possible. No team may play on its home floor, but most sites are "neutral courts" anyway.
• Teams can move up or down a spot or two in the "S-curve," maybe even a seed, to preserve other principles.
• Jeff Hathaway is the chairman of the 10-member NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this season. He retired as AD at Connecticut in August and was hired in October as a consultant to Big East commissioner John Marinatto; had he not been hired by the Big East, Hathaway would've lost his spot on the committee. Each member is selected for a four-year run; this is Hathaway's final season. Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe lost his spot on the committee when he was forced out by the league in September. Hathaway is one of four members with a "Big Six" affiliation, joining LSU AD Joe Alleva, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione (he replaced Beebe) and Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. The other six members: Utah State AD Scott Barnes, Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, SMU AD Steve Orsini and West Coast Conference commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. Hickey is the second woman to serve on the committee, following Charlotte AD Judy Rose (1999-2003).
The four play-in games – one for each region – are March 13 and 14 in Dayton, Ohio.
March 16 and 18 first- and second-round sites are Columbus, Ohio; Greensboro, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Omaha, Neb.
March 22 and 24 regional sites are Boston and Phoenix.
March 23 and 25 regional sites are Atlanta and St. Louis.
The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 in New Orleans, at the Superdome.
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