NCAA tournament bracketology: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Villanova are early No. 1 seeds
In an unpredictable men's college basketball season with constant cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19, the examination of NCAA Tournament teams will take on a much different outlook ramping up to March Madness.
What is clear five weeks from Selection Sunday is which four teams are No. 1 seeds in the debut of USA TODAY Sports bracketology. Gonzaga and Baylor are undefeated and national title contenders, while Villanova (12-2) and Michigan (13-1) are far ahead of the pack of No. 2 seeds.
It would take a lot of stumbling from those No. 1 seed favorites to see one of the No. 2s – Alabama, Ohio State, Texas Tech or Illinois – vault ahead. But that makes the battle for a No. 2 seed all the more appealing with little separating No. 3 seeds Texas, Oklahoma, Houston and Iowa.
Selection Sunday is March 14 with all games set to be played in the Indianapolis area.
No. 1 seeds:
Baylor, Gonzaga, Villanova, Michigan.
Last four in:
San Diego State, VCU, Stanford, Connecticut.
First four out:
Richmond, Seton Hall, St. John's, Indiana.
Others considered for at-large bids (no particular order): Maryland, Duke, Wichita State, Western Kentucky, Memphis, SMU, Dayton, Davidson, Pittsburgh, St. John's, North Carolina State, Penn State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Nevada
On life support: TCU, Marquette, Providence, Marshall, Utah, Arizona State, Oregon State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M, St. Mary's, San Francisco
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), Big 12 (7), ACC (6), SEC (6), Pac-12 (5), Big East (4), MWC (4), A-10 (3), MVC (2), WCC (2).
Leaders or highest NET from projected one-bid conferences - (21 total): AAC - Houston, America East - UMBC, Atlantic Sun - Liberty, Big Sky - Montana State, Big South - Winthrop, Big West - UCSB, CAA - Northeastern, C-USA - UAB, Horizon - Cleveland State, MAAC - Siena, MAC - Toledo, MEAC - Morgan State, Northeast - Bryant, OVC - Belmont, Patriot - Navy, Southern - Furman, Southland - Sam Houston, SWAC - Prairie View A&M, Summit - South Dakota, Sun Belt - Texas State, WAC - Grand Canyon.
- Banned from participating: Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Delaware State, Auburn, Arizona
- Transition schools, ineligible for the tourney: Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Dixie State, Tarleton State, Bellarmine, UC San Diego
- COVID-19: Ivy League, Bethune-Cookman, Maryland-Eastern Shore
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 eighth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past seven 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.