March 12, 2010

Drive for 65: Latest NCAA field projection

"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.)

Rivals.com Drive for 65
No. 1s
1. Kansas
2. Kentucky
3. Syracuse
4. Duke
No. 2s
5. West Virginia
6. Kansas State
7. Ohio State
8. Villanova
No. 3s
9. Purdue
10. New Mexico
11. Temple
12. Pittsburgh
No. 4s
13. Baylor
14. Michigan State
15. Georgetown
16. Vanderbilt
No. 5s
17. Maryland
18. Texas A&M
19. Tennessee
20. Wisconsin
No. 6s
21. BYU
22. Butler
23. Xavier
24. Texas
No. 7s
25. Gonzaga
26. Richmond
27. Marquette
28. Northern Iowa
No. 8s
29. Oklahoma State
30. Clemson
31. Florida State
32. UNLV
No. 9s
33. Notre Dame
34. California
35. Missouri
36. Saint Mary's
No. 10s
37. Louisville
38. UTEP
39. Virginia Tech
40. Florida
No. 11s
41. Old Dominion
42. Wake Forest
43. Utah State
44. Washington
No. 12s
45. Georgia Tech
46. Tulsa*
47. San Diego State
48. Rhode Island
No. 13s
49. Siena
50. Cornell
51. Oakland
52. Murray State
No. 14s
53. Wofford
54. Akron*
55. Sam Houston State*
56. Montana
No. 15s
57. UC Santa Barbara*
58. North Texas
59. Morgan State*
60. Vermont*
No. 16s
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).
TOURNAMENT DATES
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 mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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