Today is the day.
The first real step to Madness is upon us. Selection Sunday is here and in just a few hours, we’ll know this year’s field for the most exciting postseason tournament in all of sports.
With Arizona snagging the Pac-12’s automatic bid, the only thing left to find out is where they’ll be seeded and what kind of travel they have ahead. After ending their season so strong, the Wildcats should be looking at a spot in the West region and only needing to travel through San Diego and Los Angeles to get to the Final Four in San Antonio.
That’s where we have them on Selection Sunday morning — on the 4-line in the West region. It wouldn’t come as a major surprise if the selection committee rates Arizona as a 3-seed after such an impressive last couple of games. After all, it has been a week since the Big Ten Tournament ended and the selection committee has shown recency bias in the past. Arizona jumping Michigan to the 3-line is on the table but not necessarily likely.
A 4-seed in the West would mean a potential rematch of last year’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against the Xavier Musketeers, the team projected to get the fourth and final 1-seed after Virginia, Villanova and Kansas all appeared to have locked their 1-seeds up by winning their respective conference tournaments. Xavier should be safe as that final 1-seed after the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels both fell in the last two days. One of those teams is still a possibility with neither capturing the ACC Tournament Championship, Xavier’s resumé has a slight edge, having won the Big East regular season.
As for the rest of the field, here is our newest — and second to last — projection:
Last Four Byes: Saint Bonaventure, USC, Missouri, Saint Mary’s
Last Four In: NC State, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona State
First Four Out: Louisville, Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame
Next Four Out: Baylor, Marquette, Syracuse, Western Kentucky
This is one of the most wide-open bubble years in recent memory as those last four in don’t feel safe whatsoever. In fact, the last team that feels like a true lock is the USC Trojans who can be found in the last four byes.
There are six open spots and, in our opinion, 13 teams that have a real claim to one of those spots.
We have five conference tournament championship games remaining today and one of them can shrink the bubble, sending ASU out of our field.
In today’s Atlantic-10 title game, Rhode Island, who is safely in, goes up against a red-hot Davidson team. If Rhode Island, coached by Bobby Hurley’s brother, Dan Hurley, can get the win, the field should be set. But if Davidson pulls the upset and clinches the A-10 automatic bid, they could be beating both Hurley brothers at once.
There are only a few hours left and if Davidson grabs a spot in the tournament, the madness has already begun.
Stay tuned — we’ll have one last Bracketology update when today’s conference tournaments are complete.