Madness is in the air as the calendar has flipped over to the month of March and the 2023 NCAA Tournament is just two weeks away from tipping off. Some conferences will be officially wrapping up their regular season schedules this weekend while others have already begun their respective league tournaments. With 10 days to go until Selection Sunday, a lot can change between now and then.
Analysts are regularly updating their projected field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament and going over where the top programs will end up come mid-March. Today, we’ll take a look at the latest brackets of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS’ Jerry Palm, Blogging the Bracket’s Chris Dobbertean, and the USA Today team of Eddie Timanus, Paul Myerberg, and Erick Smith to see what they are projecting as we barrel towards Selection Sunday.
No. 1 seeds
As has been the case for several weeks now, Alabama, Purdue, Kansas, and Houston seem to be destined for No. 1 seeds in the eyes of experts. All have wrapped up their respective regular season league titles heading into the final weekend of action and all could make a claim for the top overall seed in the tournament. Kansas in particular has a nation-high 15 Quad 1 victories and could continue to add to that total with a win over Texas in Saturday’s season finale and next week’s Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, MO.
The USA Today trio differs in regards to the final No. 1 seed as they have UCLA instead of Purdue in their latest bracket. There’s a valid argument here considering that the Bruins are a top four team in both KenPom and NET metrics and the fact the Boilermakers stumbled a handful of times late in their conference schedule. A down Pac-12 may be what’s keeping Mick Cronin’s group in two-seed territory in the eyes of most experts, but keep your eyes out for them.
Last Four In/First Four Out
This is gut check time for bubble teams as every bounce of the ball from here on out could determine their NCAA Tournament fate.
As of now, the bracket experts are in lockstep in leaving North Carolina out of the field of 68 altogether. The Tar Heels have produced a middling resume in a mediocre ACC this year and it took until last Wednesday’s victory over Virginia for them to pick up their first Quad 1 victory of the season. Armando Bacot and company will have to beat rival Duke on Saturday and rip off a strong run through the ACC Tournament next week for a shot at sneaking into the dance.
The experts are also mostly down on the likes of Michigan and Utah State as they lean towards being left out in the cold. The Wolverines have helped their cause by ripping off three straight victories and could earn themselves the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament if they are able to topple Illinois an Indiana to close the regular season. Meanwhile, the Aggies have also been streaking and a victory over Boise State in Saturday’s season finale combined with a solid showing in the Mountain West Conference Tournament could vault them in.
The bracketologists are split on whether Arizona State will make the dance while Mississippi State has played its way off the bubble for now.
Projected bids per conference
ACC - 5 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)
Big East - 5 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)
Big Ten - 10 (Palm), 9 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, USA Today)
Big 12 - 8 (USA Today), 7 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm)
Pac-12 - 4 (Dobbertean, Lunardi), 3 (Palm, USA Today)
SEC - 8 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)
AAC - 2 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)
MWC - 3 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)
WCC - 2 (Dobbertean, Lunardi, Palm, USA Today)