March 13, 2011

Huguenin: Final projected NCAA field of 68

UPDATED 3:57 p.m. ET

"Selection Sunday" is here, and here is our final projection of how we think the field will look.

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.) Projected NCAA Field of 68
No. 1s
1. Ohio State
2. Kansas
3. Pittsburgh
4. Duke
No. 2s
5. Notre Dame
6. San Diego State
7. Connecticut
8. North Carolina
No. 3s
9. Florida
10. Louisville
11. Texas
12. Kentucky
No. 4s
13. Purdue
14. Syracuse
15. Wisconsin
16. BYU
No. 5s
17. West Virginia
18. St. John's
19. Vanderbilt
20. Georgetown
No. 6s
21. Texas A&M
22. Xavier
23. Temple
24. Arizona
No. 7s
25. Old Dominion
26. Cincinnati
27. Washington
28. Kansas State
No. 8s
29. UNLV
30. Utah State
31. Marquette
32. George Mason
No. 9s
33. Missouri
34. Gonzaga
35. Florida State
36. UCLA
No. 10s
37. Richmond
38. Tennessee
39. Penn State
40. Villanova
No. 11s
41. Butler
42. Michigan
43. Memphis
44. Michigan State
No. 12s
45. Virginia Tech
46. Illinois
47. Clemson
48. Georgia
49. Colorado
50. Alabama
NOTE: The last few spots came down to a handful of underwhelming teams. In the end, Alabama and Colorado were the picks despite pitiful non-conference schedules. On the other hand, the Tide won their division of the SEC in a cakewalk and had four top-50 wins. The Buffs had five top-50 wins. Saint Mary's (one top-50 win), UAB (one), VCU (three) and USC (five) were our last four out. None of our projected No. 12 seeds have much of a complaint if they are left out.
No. 13s
51. Belmont
52. Princeton
53. Oakland
54. Long Island
No. 14s
55. Bucknell
56. Morehead State
57. Indiana State
58. Northern Colorado
No. 15s
59. Saint Peter's
60. Wofford
61. Akron
62. Boston U.
No. 16s
63. UNC Asheville
64. Hampton
65. UC Santa Barbara
66. Arkansas-Little Rock
67. UT San Antonio
68. Alabama State
11: Big East
7: Big Ten
6: Big 12, SEC
5: ACC
3: Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-10
2: Colonial
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)
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 He can be reached at

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