SportsPulse: We are just over a week away from Selection Sunday and for these teams a tournament berth is anything but guaranteed. USA TODAY
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest NCAA tournament projections through games played on March 7.
Last year the ACC sent nine teams to the NCAA tournament but only had one No. 1 seed — Virginia, which historically lost to No. 16 seed Maryland-Baltimore County. The conference ultimately didn't send any teams to the Final Four.
Expect this year to be different.
It's not because of depth. Only seven ACC teams are in the projected field, with bubble teams Clemson and North Carolina State on the outside looking in. And it's been a down year for the league in comparison to others. The ACC ranks just fifth in the NET, the NCAA's new metric in place of the RPI.
But at the same time, it's been a down year for just about every conference. The Big 12 won't have a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the first time in nearly two decades. The Big East's best projected seed is No. 4 Marquette. The Pac-12 is having a historically bad year for a power conference and could realistically only get one NCAA tourney entree. The Big Ten has had good but not great seasons for Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.
This opens the door for either the ACC or SEC to potentially have three No. 1 seeds this year with Gonzaga assured of one spot. The SEC is top-heavy with Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU above the rest.
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But while the Volunteers are currently the last projected No. 1 seed in the latest bracket and the Wildcats have a profile certainly in consideration, Virginia and Duke are far superior No. 1s and current No. 2 North Carolina has arguably a better résumé than both.
If the Tar Heels beat Duke for a second time on Saturday, UNC will have a profile worthy of a No. 1 seed. The conversation will shift to Duke's worthiness if Zion Williamson isn't back to full strength for the ACC tournament.
But as long as Williamson is back for the NCAA tournament, based on credentials that include two wins over the tournament's likely top overall seed Virginia, the Blue Devils should still be in good shape.
It might take a run in the ACC tournament for North Carolina to confirm its No. 1 seed. But the fact of the matter is a year with down conferences has seen three great teams that'd be in the top seed conversation regardless. Don't expect the Final Four to be ACC-less again.
► No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee
► Last four in: Alabama, Arizona State, Creighton, TCU
► First Four out: Indiana, Clemson, Furman, UNC-Greensboro
• Others considered for at-large bid (in no particular order): North Carolina State, Georgetown, Murray State, Butler, Xavier
• On life support: Saint Mary's, South Carolina, Memphis, Liberty, Dayton, Providence, Davidson
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), Big 12 (8), SEC (8), ACC (7), Big East (4), American (4), Mountain West (2), Pac-12 (2).
Leaders or highest RPI from projected one-bid conferences — (24 total): VCU (Atlantic 10), Vermont (America East), Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), Radford (Big South) UC Irvine (Big West), Hofstra (CAA), Old Dominion (Conference USA), Wright State (Horizon), Yale (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), Buffalo (MAC), Norfolk State (MEAC), Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Nevada (Mountain West), St. Francis-Pa. (Northeast), Colgate (Patriot), Wofford (Southern), Sam Houston State (Southland), Prairie View A&M (SWAC), South Dakota State (Summit), Texas State (Sun Belt), New Mexico State (WAC), Gonzaga (WCC).
- Transition schools ineligible to participate: Cal Baptist, North Alabama.
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.