Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/20/14

There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing about this being a “down year” for college hoops. If you define the season by whether or not there is a truly dominant team, I guess that’s a fair statement. However, if you define the season by sheer entertainment value, this one has been pretty damn good. The same kinds of upsets that are celebrated during the NCAA Tournament are somehow being used as an indictment of the 2012-13 season, but I have no complaints about such an unpredictable year. Well, maybe one.   It makes putting together these bracket projections increasingly difficult since it feels like virtually everyone lost last week. Throw in oddball profiles like the one Virginia is building, and this becomes a tall order each Monday night. Maybe now that we are less than five weeks from Selection Sunday things will start to sort themselves out. But with the way this season has gone, I doubt it. The projections below take into account all games played through Monday, February 11th. MIDWEST (INDIANAPOLIS) SOUTH (DALLAS) Dayton – March 22nd/24th Lexington – March 21st/23rd 1) Indiana (21-3) 1) Miami, FL (19-3) 16) Western Illinois (18-5) 16) NC Central (17-7)/Southern (17-8) 8) Oklahoma (16-7) 8) Illinois (17-8) 9) Saint Louis (18-5) 9) VCU (19-5) San Jose – March 21st/23rd Austin – March 22nd/24th 5) San Diego State (18-5) 5) Ohio State (17-6) 12) Belmont (20-5) 12) Middle Tennessee (22-4) 4) Pittsburgh (20-5) 4) Kansas State (19-5) 13) Akron (19-4) 13) Louisiana Tech (21-3) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th San Jose – March 21st/23rd 6) Cincinnati (18-6) 6) Notre Dame (19-5) 11) Memphis (20-3) 11) Iowa State (16-7) 3) Kansas (20-4) 3) New Mexico (20-4) 14) Northeastern (17-8) 14) Montana (18-4) Lexington – March 21st/23rd Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th 7) North Carolina State (17-7) 7) UCLA (18-6) 10) Colorado (16-7) 10) Wichita State (20-5) 2) Florida (19-3) 2) Syracuse (20-3) 15) Florida Gulf Coast (18-8) 15) Vermont (16-7) EAST (WASHINGTON, DC) WEST (LOS ANGELES) Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd Philadelphia – March 22nd/24th 1) Michigan (21-3) 1) Duke (21-2) 16) Niagara (14-11)/UNC-Asheville (15-10) 16) Bryant (16-6) 8) Creighton (20-5) 8) Colorado State (19-4) 9) Kentucky (17-6) 9) Missouri (17-6) Kansas City – March 22nd/24th Austin – March 22nd/24th 5) Oklahoma State (17-5) 5) Georgetown (18-4) 12) Boise State (16-7)/Saint Mary’s (21-4) 12) Baylor (15-8)/Indiana State (16-8) 4) Butler (20-4) 4) Wisconsin (17-7) 13) Bucknell (20-4) 13) Stephen F. Austin (20-2) Dayton – March 22nd/24th Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd 6) Minnesota (17-7) 6) Marquette (17-6) 11) North Carolina (16-7) 11) Temple (16-7) 3) Louisville (19-5) 3) Gonzaga (23-2) 14) Davidson (17-7) 14) Valparaiso (19-6) Salt Lake City – March 21st/23rd Auburn Hills – March 21st/23rd 7) UNLV (18-6) 7) Oregon (19-5) 10) La Salle (16-6) 10) Mississippi (18-5) 2) Arizona (20-3) 2) Michigan State (20-4) 15) Princeton (11-8) 15) Long Beach State (14-9) ———————– Last Four In Saint Mary’s The Gaels just need to keep winning, and unlike many of their bubble brethren, they are doing just that. Thursday begins a critical 10-day stretch that features home dates with Gonzaga, BYU, and Creighton, with a road trip to Loyola Marymount squeezed in the middle.  Going 3-1 in that stretch would give Saint Mary’s a little breathing room. Anything less and things start to get dicey. Indiana State Last week’s win against Creighton gave the Sycamores their fourth Top 50 win, and they avoided another brutal loss with a one-point victory over Southern Illinois over the weekend. The neutral court win over a Reggie Johnson-less Miami squad looks better with each passing week, but three sub-150 losses still have ISU in a tenuous position. For this week, the Sycamores need to avoid road slip-ups against Missouri State and Bradley. Baylor At this point the Bears have just one win against the RPI Top 45, have lost three of four, and have beaten one tournament-caliber team since early December. Their November win over St. John’s is useful for bubble purposes, but that won’t be enough if they can’t start beating people. Baylor needs to take care of business at home versus West Virginia before a tough road test at the Octagon against K-State. Boise State The fact that Jeff Elorriaga missed three of their conference losses helps, but he also hasn’t been particularly productive since returning. As it stands, the Broncos are below .500 in the league with road games left at New Mexico and UNLV as well as home dates with Colorado State and San Diego State. If they can win their three other conference games and split those four, their profile would look pretty good. Anything less and they are in serious trouble. First Five Out Virginia The Cavaliers have the most confounding profile I can remember in recent years (or maybe ever). On the one hand, they are 6-0 against the RPI Top 100 with home wins against North Carolina and North Carolina State and road victories over Wisconsin and Maryland. On the other hand, all six losses have come to teams ranked 120th or lower, including a sub-300 loss to Old Dominion. You can’t overlook the good wins or the bad losses, which lands them directly on the fence without much historical precedent for how the committee may treat them. The next few weeks will be telling with road trips to UNC and Miami as well as a home game against Duke. Arizona State Saturday’s home loss to Stanford pushed the Sun Devils out of the field. They have four Top 100 wins at this point and just one sub-100 loss, which is a 17-point home defeat to DePaul. The biggest issue is that nine of their 18 D-1 wins have come against sub-200 squads. With five of ASU’s final seven games on the road, it will be an uphill battle for Herb Sendek’s club. The Sun Devils certainly can’t afford to lose at Utah this week and would be well-served to steal one at Colorado over the weekend. St. John’s The Red Storm have won six of their last eight games, including wins over Notre Dame and UConn. However, non-conference losses to San Francisco and UNC-Asheville loom large, as does a disappointing home loss to Rutgers. Similar to ASU, St. John’s has racked up seven of its 15 wins over sub-190 teams. The remaining Big East schedule will tell the tale, with four games against teams in the RPI Top 50 (at Louisville, Pittsburgh, at Notre Dame, Marquette) and a road trip to Providence sprinkled in. Villanova After a home loss to Providence, the Wildcats held serve last week by beating DePaul and South Florida, but neither win really moves the needle for their NCAA hopes. Victories over Louisville and Syracuse obviously hold a lot of weight, but their next best wins are against St. John’s and St. Joseph’s. Unfortunately those are somewhat offset by an 18-point loss to Columbia and the fact they were swept by Providence. This is a huge week for ‘Nova with road trips to Cincinnati and UConn on tap. Massachusetts The Minutemen are quietly 6-3 in the A-10 with two of those losses coming by a combined four points. They are also 6-2 in true road games, but the wins at Northeastern and La Salle are the only ones that hold much weight.  UMass is 5-5 versus the Top 100, but losses against Tennessee in Puerto Rico and at home versus George Washington certainly don’t help the cause. Much like Villanova, the Minutemen have a pair of important games this week as they travel to VCU before hosting Temple on Saturday. ******* Here is how the bids broke out by conference: Big East (7): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse Big Ten (7): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU Mountain West (5): Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV Pac-12 (4): Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA ACC (4): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State SEC (4): Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Ole Miss Missouri Valley (3): Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s America East: Vermont Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast Big Sky: Montana Big South: UNC-Asheville Big West: Long Beach State Colonial: Northeastern Conference USA: Memphis Horizon: Valparaiso Ivy: Princeton MAAC: Niagara MAC: Akron MEAC: North Carolina Central Northeast: Bryant Ohio Valley: Belmont Patriot: Bucknell Southern: Davidson Southland: Stephen F. Austin Summit: Western Illinois Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee SWAC: Southern WAC: Louisiana Tech ********** Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops. The post NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections: February 12th appeared first on Midwest Sports Fans.

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