Rivals.com College Basketball Editor
"Selection Sunday" has arrived, and here is our latest projection of how we think the field will look.
We will update this projection one final time this afternoon.
Teams are grouped by projected 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.
Remember that this is the first season of a 68-team field. There will be four play-in games this season: two involving teams that will be No. 16 seeds and two involving the final four at-large teams. The supposition for this exercise is the final four at-large teams will be No. 12 seeds. That's why there are six teams at the Nos. 12 and 16 seedings.
(Note: Teams in bold already have clinched bids.)
Rivals.com Projected NCAA Field of 68
1. Ohio State 2. Kansas 3. Pittsburgh 4. Notre Dame Note: North Carolina still has a shot at a No. 1 seed if it wins the ACC tourney, but the projection here is the Tar Heels don't win the tourney. Going into Sunday, Kansas has the No. 1 RPI, and the Jayhawks are a lock for a No. 1 seed. In 2005, KU had the No. 1 RPI but was a No. 3 seed.
5. Duke 6. San Diego State 7. North Carolina 8. Connecticut Note: UConn's run to the Big East tourney title means it now has 12 wins over teams in the RPI top 50. That's the most in the nation. Florida and Ohio State can reach 12 on Sunday if they win their respective league tourney titles.
13. Purdue 14. Kentucky 15. Wisconsin 16. BYU Note: BYU is going to be hurt by the dismissal of F Brandon Davies. The selection committee takes into account injuries and suspensions, and in BYU's case, that will hurt.
17. West Virginia 18. St. John's
19. Georgetown 20. Vanderbilt Note: The injury aspect should come into play for Georgetown, which said G Chris Wright has been cleared for practice on Monday. Also in the Hoyas' favor is that they have played the toughest schedule in the nation and have eight top-50 wins.
21. Texas A&M 22. Xavier 23. Temple 24. Arizona Note: While Arizona has 27 wins, won the Pac-10 regular-season title and is 19th in the RPI, the Wildcats have just two top-50 wins. The only team in the top 30 of the RPI with fewer top-50 wins is Utah State, which has just one.
45. Illinois 46. Clemson 47. Virginia Tech
48. Georgia 49. Colorado 50. Alabama Note: None of the 12 seeds are all that imposing. Illinois has 11 top-100 wins, but the Illini have 13 losses overall and are 5-11 away from home. Clemson has zero top-50 wins - zero - and is just 3-7 in true road games, but the Tigers do have nine top-100 wins. Virginia Tech - which lost its only matchup to Clemson - has just two top-50 wins and has three losses to teams outside the top 100. Georgia is just 3-9 against top-50 teams, and nine of its 21 wins are against teams who are outside the top 200. Colorado's RPI is 65th, and while the Buffs have five top-50 wins, they are 12-13 against teams in the top 200, are 3-9 in true road games and played a pitiful non-conference schedule. Finally, Alabama won the SEC West in a cakewalk. But the Tide would set a record for worst RPI for an at-large team (they're 80th), have just five top-100 wins and played a weak non-conference schedule.
51. Belmont 52. Princeton 53. Oakland 54. Long Island
55. Bucknell 56. Morehead State 57. Indiana State 58. Northern Colorado
59. Saint Peter's 60. Wofford 61. Akron 62. Boston U.
63. UNC Asheville 64. Hampton 65. UC Santa Barbara
66. Arkansas-Little Rock 67. UT San Antonio 68. Alabama State
BREAKDOWN BY LEAGUE
11: Big East
7: Big Ten
6: Big 12, SEC
3: Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-10
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast, Western Athletic (22)
SOME NOTES ON THE MAKEUP OF THE FIELD
The NCAA uses an "S curve," meaning it ranks all 68 teams in order 1-68, 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.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is the chairman of the 10-member NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this season. He is one of four members with a "Big Six" affiliation, joining Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway and Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. The other six members: Utah State AD Scott Barnes, Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, UC Riverside AD Stan Morrison and SMU AD Steve Orsini. Hickey is the second woman to serve on the committee, following Charlotte AD Judy Rose (1999-2003).
March 15: Four play-in games in Dayton, Ohio
First and second rounds March 17 and 19: Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.
March 18 and 20: Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland and Tulsa, Okla.
Regional semifinals and final March 24 and 26: Anaheim, Calif., and New Orleans.
March 25 and 27: Newark, N.J., and San Antonio
Final Four April 2 and 4: Reliant Stadium, Houston
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.