March 14, 2010

Drive for 65: Latest NCAA field projection

"Selection Sunday" is here, and this is our final guess at how we think the NCAA tournament field will look when it is unveiled.

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 (See link)

(Note: Teams in bold already have clinched bids.)

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. Temple
10. Georgetown
11. Purdue
12. New Mexico
No. 4s
13. Baylor
14. Texas A&M
15. Pittsburgh
16. Vanderbilt
No. 5s
17. Wisconsin
18. Maryland
19. Tennessee
20. Michigan State
No. 6s
21. Butler
22. Xavier
23. Richmond
24. Texas
No. 7s
25. Gonzaga
26. BYU
27. Marquette
28. Northern Iowa
No. 8s
29. Oklahoma State
30. Clemson
31. Florida State
32. Notre Dame
No. 9s
33. UNLV
34. Missouri
35. Saint Mary's
36. Louisville
No. 10s
37. Georgia Tech
38. California
39. San Diego State
40. Old Dominion
No. 11s
41. Washington
42. Wake Forest
43. UTEP
44. Minnesota
No. 12s
45. Virginia Tech
46. Mississippi State
47. Siena
48. Cornell
No. 13s
49. New Mexico State
50. Oakland
51. Murray State
52. Wofford
No. 14s
53 Houston
54. Sam Houston State
55. Montana
56. UC Santa Barbara
No. 15s
57. Ohio
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
5: Big Ten
4: Mountain West, SEC
3: Atlantic 10
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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