NCAA tournament bracketology: Which No. 2 seeds could overtake a No. 1 seed?
Villanova suffered a loss to Big East foe Creighton on Saturday, pushing the Wildcats further off the No. 1 seed line as Ohio State's nation-leading eight Quadrant 1 (top-25 home, top-75 road) victories became too much to ignore for the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The committee unveiled its top 16 seeds Saturday, a month out from Selection Sunday.
While there are two Big Ten teams among the No. 1 seeds now – the Buckeyes joining Michigan and undefeated teams Baylor and Gonzaga – there's still plenty of time left in the season for No. 2 seeds to overtake a top seed.
Current No. 2s 'Nova, Houston, Illinois, and Alabama all have impressive résumés that could position them for a No. 1 seed. Villanova (13-3), which sports a No. 13 NET score, just needs to accumulate more wins considering coach Jay Wright's team had an entire month off due to COVID-19. Illinois (14-5) has the best NET score at No. 4, but a non-conference strength of schedule (113) is weighing the Illini down. Illinois will have the best chance to move ahead playing in the Big Ten, but the nation's toughest league could also add too many losses.
Alabama (17-5) is the best team in the SEC, the nation's second best conference according to NET rankings, and has a legitimate chance to secure a No. 1 seed if it keeps on winning. Houston has only two losses and is playing in an American Athletic Conference that paves way for Quad 1 wins. But the league also presents ample games against bad teams that could hurt their profile. The Cougars (17-2) would need to capitalize on Q1 wins and avoid any Quad 2, 3 or 4 losses to stay in contention.
Selection Sunday is March 14. The NCAA Tournament tips off March 18.
No. 1 seeds
Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Ohio State.
Last four in
Utah State, Saint Louis, Seton Hall, Indiana.
First four out
Connecticut, Stanford, Ole Miss, Richmond.
Others considered for at-large bids (no particular order): Maryland, Wichita State, UAB, Memphis, SMU, Dayton, Davidson, Pittsburgh, St. Johns, North Carolina State, Penn State, Georgia, Georgia Tech Nevada, Syracuse.
On life support: TCU, Marquette, Providence, Marshall, Utah, Arizona State, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, Duke, Michigan State.
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (9), Big 12 (7), ACC (6), SEC (6), Pac-12 (4), Big East (4), Mountain West (4), Atlantic 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 - Eastern Washington, Big South - Winthrop, Big West - UCSB, CAA - Northeastern, C-USA - UAB, Horizon - Wright State, MAAC - Siena, MAC - Toledo, MEAC - Norfolk St., Northeast - Bryant, OVC - Belmont, Patriot - Navy, Southern - UNCG, 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 tournament: 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