The 2022-23 men’s college basketball season continues to move along and gosh, look at the time. We’ve already reached the end of January. While there is still a ways to go before the end of the regular season, it’s never too early to start speculating who will land where for the NCAA Tournament in March.
Analysts are regularly updating their projected field of 68 and going over where the top programs will end up come tourney time in mid-March. Today, we’ll take a look at the updated brackets of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS’ Jerry Palm, Blogging the Bracket’s Chris Dobbertean, and the Washington Post’s Patrick Stevens to see what they are projecting at this current juncture of the season.
No. 1 seeds
There is still a consensus across the board that Purdue and Alabama will be No. 1 seeds if the season ended today, but the other two top seeds are up for debate.
Lunardi, Dobbertean, and Stevens have Houston pegged as a one-seed and it’s backed up by the Cougars being ranked No. 1 in both KenPom and NET rankings. However, they did experience a blip in the form of a 56-55 loss to Temple on Sunday and had a too-close-for-comfort victory over USF the game prior.
Next up, Lunardi and Stevens have bumped Tennessee up into No. 1 seed territory while Dobbertean and Palm have Kansas State in the mix. Outside of a hiccup against Kentucky, the Volunteers have been virtually flawless in SEC play and have rang up several blowout victories. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have held their own through a monstrous Big 12 schedule and are in a position to compete for the regular season league title.
Meanwhile, only Palm still has Kansas as a No. 1 seed in his latest bracket as the Jayhawks have suffered three straight losses in Big 12 action. Considering how deep the league is, they’ll get the benefit of the doubt if they can quickly turn things around and start stringing together wins again.
Keep your eyes peeled for Texas, Arizona, and UCLA as teams that could play themselves into No. 1 seed status in the coming weeks.
Last Four In
Kentucky fans, you can take a deep breath...for now. The Wildcats have rattled off four straight victories since their embarrassing home loss to South Carolina and they are trending off the bubble in the eyes of the bracket experts. There is still plenty of opportunity for the ‘Cats to slip up and land back on it, so they aren’t out of the woods just yet.
The likes of Arizona State and Penn State find themselves on the bubble and are teetering towards sneaking into the field in the eyes Lunardi and company. This is backed up by both teams being ranked in the top 60 in advanced metrics but they would help their own cause by simply stringing together a few impressive conference wins.
First Four Out
The rough and tumble strength of schedule in the Big 12 can only carry you so far and in the eyes of bracketologists this week, the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia will be left out in the cold. All are well under .500 in league play and have been beaten handily by the top teams in the conference. OSU does have a victory over Iowa State in its back pocket and that could come in handy if it starts to get it together in February.
Other notable teams just missing the cut if the season ended today includes Ohio, who has struggled mightily in Big Ten play, and USC, who has been playing well in Pac-12 play.
Key games this weekend
This weekend will be highlighted by the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday, where plenty of schools in both conferences could improve their resumes with big victories. Here are some games to watch for this weekend:
Saturday, January 28
No. 13 Xavier at Creighton, 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 2 Alabama at Oklahoma, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Cincinnati at No. 3 Houston, 2:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Arkansas at No. 17 Baylor, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 10 Texas at No. 4 Tennessee, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Florida at No. 5 Kansas State, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2
No. 9 Kansas at Kentucky, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sunday, January 29
Michigan State at No. 1 Purdue, 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Projected bids per conference
Big Ten - 11 (Lunardi and Stevens), 10 (Dobbertean), 8 (Palm)
Big 12 - 7 (Dobbertean), 6 (Lunardi, Palm, and Stevens)
SEC - 6 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, and Stevens)
Big East - 5 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, and Stevens)
ACC - 7 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, and Palm), 6 (Stevens)
Pac-12 - 4 (Dobbertean and Palm), 3 (Lunardi and Stevens)
WCC - 2 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, and Stevens)
MWC - 5 (Palm), 4 (Stevens), 3 (Dobbertean and Lunardi)
AAC - 2 (Lunardi, Palm, and Stevens), 1 (Dobbertean)