After the dust had settled in Waco, TX on Saturday, the established order of number one-seeds had successfully been shaken up. Despite Baylor (23-5)’s admittedly stunning resume, they simply had too many losses, many of them recent, to keep them in the top four overall. Now, the battle for fourth overall is much murkier, and the bubble continues to house some of its worst win-loss records ever. Here are the new Armchair Brackets reflecting these and other events, accurate through February 21st.
The new one-seed taking Baylor’s place is Louisville (22-5). While I felt a conflict putting a team Baylor defeated ahead of them, I do feel confident the Cardinals are a top team this year. That confidence could be very easily shaken tonight, when the Cards face the North Carolina Tar Heels (23-5). Simply put, the winner of that game will be fourth overall, potentially all the way into March. The top three became even more solid this weekend, with Gonzaga (28-0), Villanova (26-2), Kansas (24-3) all winning. These three form a very obvious upper caste of the college basketball world right now, and my faith in all three is strong enough that I would be floored if at least two of them don’t reach the Final Four in Glendale. Yes, even including the mid-major Bulldogs.
As for the middle of the bracket, the picture remains as dark and spotty as Buzz Williams’ shirt during the Louisville-Va Tech game. Very few teams are on a serious, consistent upward trajectory, while most are trending down. The Pac-12 big three, who in all honesty are basically 6a, 6b, and 6c overall, are moving upwards for sure. The big three consists of Oregon (24-4), UCLA (24-3), and Arizona (25-3). Duke (22-5) is also moving up in a big way. However, most of the rest of the bubble is trending down. Virginia (18-9) has scored a combined 89 points in their last two outings. Florida State (22-6) is 4-4 in their last eight. South Carolina (20-8) and Xavier (18-9), further down in the eight range, are giving out wins like it’s Christmas. Overall, it’s been a rough week or so for most of the brackets.
Even lower, towards the bubble, there was even more turmoil. Syracuse (16-12) drops out after a tough loss to Georgia Tech (16-12), who is also in the First Eight Out. The rest of that list consists, in order, of Providence (16-11), Syracuse, Wake Forest (15-12), Clemson (14-13), Indiana (15-13), Texas Tech (17-11), Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh (15-12). Indiana was once a five-seed in these brackets, but have now lost five in a row and seven of eight. Tennessee (15-12) grabs Syracuse’s coveted spot as the Last Team In. They’re joined in Dayton by Kansas State (17-10), Illinois State (23-5), and Marquette (17-10).