March 2, 2021 

NCAA bracketology: March 2

The final regular season update

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[Checks calendar]

[Confetti falls from ceiling]

[Church choir appears behind me, picks up brass instruments and begins playing pep band hits]

It’s March.

Many of the major conferences will begin their postseason tournaments this week, meaning one loss could burst a tournament bubble or a string of wins could change the layout of the bracket in just a couple days. The NCAA did us another favor on Sunday by updating its top 16 teams, as they stood after Saturday’s games, to give us a better idea of the landscape.

Updates from the seed reveal

Arkansas replaced West Virginia in the top 16, giving the SEC six teams on the top four seed lines. This was a mild surprise as the Razorbacks have seven losses, had not yet beaten Alabama (their Sunday opponent), and didn’t beat anyone of note from the first to second reveal. That said, their quality wins cannot be ignored. Arkansas beat both Baylor and UConn — the Huskies are the top overall seed and Baylor has an outside shot of claiming a 1 as well.

Meanwhile West Virginia did lose at Iowa State, but still has only four losses and is 12-4 in the Big 12. It probably would have made more sense to replace the Mountaineers with Michigan, Oregon, or even Missouri State (hey, we can hope), but I had Arkansas on the 5 line as of Sunday morning so the committee wasn’t way out of bounds here.

Who can still get in?

The downside to early March: Bubble teams have few chances to win their way into the field. Look at the Next Four Out this week. Seton Hall and Villanova appear firmly on the bubble, but neither will be able to get the two quality wins they need in the Big East Tournament (to get in they each probably need to beat both Marquette and DePaul, which will not happen because no one is beating UConn).

South Dakota still has a shot to get in, being a little closer to the cut line and in the top 40 of the NET. Some bracketologists have them in the field already and that could well be the case. I’m holding off for now because the Coyotes have not beaten a team currently projected to be in the field.

Nitty Gritty

Bids by Conference:

SEC: 8
ACC: 7
Big Ten: 7
Pac-12: 6
Big 12: 5
American: 3
Big East: 3
WCC: 2

Last Four In:

Washington State
Oregon State
Mississippi State

First Four Out:

Wake Forest
Notre Dame
South Dakota

Next Four Out:

Seton Hall

Procedural Bumps:

Washington State 11 to 12
Rice 12 to 11

Next update: Later this week, I hope! Follow me on Twitter for updates as conference tournaments get rolling.

Written by Russell Steinberg

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