We first projected the 64 teams to make the NCAA Tournament back on Nov 6, and updated our last in, first out teams every week. (Nov 14 update here, Nov 20 update here). Now it’s time to make our final projections in advance of tonight’s NCAA Selection Show.
The winners of each of the NCAA’s 32 conferences earn automatic bids. 2017 was a season chock full with big conference ties, and each conference has its own rules for breaking ties. That said, every co-conference champ should make the tournament, given the ties mostly came in major conferences that will qualify multiple teams into the NCAA’s 32 other at-large bids.
Here are the teams automatically selected for the tournament:
|America East||Stony Brook|
|Atlantic Sun||Kennesaw State|
|Big Sky||North Dakota|
|Big West||Cal Poly|
|Missouri Valley||Missouri State|
|Mountain West||Colorado State|
|Ohio Valley||Austin Peay|
|Sun Belt||Coastal Carolina|
|West Coast||San Diego|
For at-large bids, we’ve got the Big Ten and Pac-12 leading with 8 projected bids each in addition to their automatic entrant. It is worth pointing out, though, that there is one Big Ten team and one Pac-12 team in our “last 8 in,” plus one Big Ten team and one Pac-12 team in our “first 8 out.”
|Michigan State||Big Ten|
|Penn State||Big Ten|
|Iowa State||Big 12|
Last 8 In, First 8 Out
- Florida State is 6-0 in the three weeks since we had them in our original last 8 in. No wins over tourney teams, but no reason to bump the team out, either.
- Washington State had a big win on the road against Oregon last week, and went 1-1 this week with a forgiveable road loss to Washington.
- Missouri’s only two losses in the last two weeks are to conference champ Florida.
- Ohio State could be in the mix, but dropped 4 of their last 5 to sink below .500. That puts them officially out of the running for tournament contention. Iowa grabs that spot late, having beaten Ohio State twice in the past three weeks, though they lost to everyone else (Marlyand, Illinois, Nebraska).
- UNC has lost four straight, including a road match to tourney hopeful Duke. The Blue Devils finished this last week strong, blitzing past UNC and NC State at home – but is it too little, too late? Duke isn’t very well-regarded by the RPI (#92 as of last week).
|Projected Seed||Projected Team|
Penn State seems a knockout for the #1 seed. Beyond that, we’ve got a total of 5 Big Ten teams and 4 Pac-12 teams in our top 16 seeds.