Rivals.com College Basketball Editor
"Selection Sunday" is March 14, which means we're two days away. Here is our latest look at how we think the NCAA tournament field will look when it is unveiled that day.
It's important to note that this is a projection, not how the field would look if it were decided today.
We will do this again Saturday, then update once more Sunday.
Teams are grouped by projected seed and listed from strongest to weakest within that seed. At the bottom is a breakdown by league of the number of projected bids and some information on the makeup of the field, the selection committee and the sites.
Last season, in the final projection, we picked 64 of the 65 teams, had 35 seeded correctly and had another 22 one seed off. The Web site bracketproject.com tracks this type of thing, and Rivals.com finished second among the 61 brackets that were followed
(Note: Teams in bold already have clinched bids. Asterisked teams must win their conference titles to receive an NCAA bid.)
49. Siena 50. Cornell 51. Oakland 52. Murray State
53. Wofford 54. Akron*
55. Sam Houston State*
57. UC Santa Barbara*
58. North Texas 59. Morgan State*
61. East Tennessee State 62. Robert Morris 63. Lehigh*
64. Winthrop 65. Arkansas-Pine Bluff*
BREAKDOWN BY LEAGUE
8: Big East
7: ACC, Big 12
4: Atlantic 10, Big Ten, Mountain West, SEC
2: Conference USA, Pac-10, West Coast
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial Athletic Association, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic (21)
SOME NOTES ON THE MAKEUP OF THE FIELD
The NCAA uses an "S curve," meaning it ranks all 65 teams in order 1-65, then places them in regions under the theory the top No. 1 seed would have the worst No. 2 seed in its bracket, the worst No. 1 seed would have the top No. 2 seed, etc. The balancing of the regions is the most important factor in seeding the tournament.
As far as other rules go, teams from the same conference hopefully won't meet until a regional final, but the NCAA has relaxed that because some conferences have six and seven bids (it's even permissible for an intraconference matchup in the second round, though that is to be avoided whenever possible). But the first three teams selected from a given conference must be in different regions.
Higher-seeded teams should be placed as close to home as possible. No team may play on its home floor, but most sites are "neutral courts" anyway.
Teams can move up or down a spot or two in the "S-curve," maybe even a seed, to preserve other principles.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero is the chairman of the 10-member NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this season. He is one of five members with a "Big Six" affiliation, joining Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway, Ohio State AD Gene Smith and Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. The other five members: Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, Kent State AD Laing Kennedy and UC Riverside AD Stan Morrison. Hickey is the second woman to serve on the committee, following Charlotte AD Judy Rose (1999-2003).
March 16: Opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio
First and second rounds March 18 and 20: New Orleans; Providence, R.I.; San Jose, Calif.; Oklahoma City
March 19 and 21: Buffalo, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Milwaukee; Spokane, Wash.
Regional semifinals and final March 25 and 27: Syracuse, N.Y.; Salt Lake City
March 26 and 28: St. Louis; Houston
Final Four April 3 and 5: Indianapolis
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.