February 15, 2021 

NCAA Bracketology: Feb. 15

UConn and Texas A&M reach the 1 line

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It’s not often that we see multiple 1 seeds change over the course of a week in February. Usually by this point, the top few teams are set and maybe that last 1 seed changes hands every once in a while. This week, however, UConn and Texas A&M have usurped NC State and Louisville.

First, the Huskies. You don’t need a doctorate in bracketology to figure out that UConn’s win over South Carolina (still the No. 1 overall seed) made the difference here. Until last week, the Huskies had a strong resume: just one loss, a great win at Tennessee, and some good secondary victories over DePaul and Marquette. Beating the Gamecocks — a top-10 team — was all UConn needed to climb to the 1 line. In a sport where there is often a dramatic separation between the elite and the also-very-good, it was important for UConn to show it could beat a Final Four favorite.

The Aggies’ case is a little different. Like UConn, they have just one loss, but this one was to an LSU team that is 8-10. Texas A&M, however, got something this week that only one other team in college basketball has: a ninth win against Quad 1 competition. Put another way, by beating Tennessee, Texas A&M earned its fifth win over a top-4 seed. Louisville has no such wins and NC State has two.

You don’t always have to lose to fall in the bracket, which Louisville and NC State both learned this week. Those two teams are a combined 32-3. The problem is, they’ve also combined for only two wins against projected top-5 seeds, and one of those games was NC State’s win over the Cardinals. Both teams have a ton of “good.” Texas A&M just has more “great.”

What you’ll see next week

The NCAA women’s basketball committee will release its top 16 teams, as they stand right now, at halftime of tonight’s Stanford vs. Oregon game. At that point, we will know not only the true seeds of each team on the top four lines, but also where they would be placed in the bracket. I’ve outlined here what we can expect to learn and how it will change my approach for the rest of the season.

When you look at my bracket next week, you might see changes that don’t make sense relative to this week’s bracket. Simply put, that’s because the committee is giving us a cheat sheet for the top 16 seeds. So no matter how much I may differ from the committee, I’m copying and pasting those 16 teams right onto my list and adjusting accordingly. I’ll also look at those differences, figure out why they exist, and try to apply the committee’s thinking to my own. For example, if it appears the committee values the NET a lot more than I anticipated, you can expect to see Rutgers go from First Four Out to comfortably in the field, even though the Scarlet Knights play two Big Ten cellar-dwellers this week.

Nitty gritty

Bids by Conference:

ACC: 10
SEC: 8
Big Ten: 7
Big 12: 5
Pac-12: 5
Big East: 3
American: 2

Last Four In:

Notre Dame
Clemson
Marquette
North Carolina

First Four Out:

Rutgers
Milwaukee
Villanova
Houston

Next Four Out:

USC
Arizona State
Drake
South Dakota

Procedural Bumps:

Iowa 7 to 8
Iowa State 8 to 7
Michigan State 7 to 8
Gonzaga 8 to 7
Mississippi State 9 to 10
Virginia Tech 10 to 9
Notre Dame 11 to 12
Rice 12 to 11
North Carolina 11 to 12
Bowling Green 12 to 11

Next Update: 2/22

Written by Russell Steinberg

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