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2018 Bracketology comes into focus as conference tournaments heat up

Who will the Hoos face in the NCAA tournament? We take a look in this week’s bracket.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Maryland vs Xavier Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the midst of conference tournament season and counting down the days until Selection Sunday. So, it’s time for another bracket. Spoiler Alert: the Virginia Cavaliers are still the #1 overall seed. Though the Hoos have made bracket projections anti-climactic this season, it’s still worthwhile to look at the range of teams the Hoos might face in the next couple of weeks. Let’s check it out.

2018 NCAA Bracketology - South/West Regionals

South Regional West Regional
South Regional West Regional
1. Virginia (1) 1. Xavier (4)
16. North Carolina Central / UMBC 16. Lipscomb
9. Oklahoma 9. Saint Mary's
8. Nevada 8. Kansas St.
5. Wichita St. 5. Ohio St.
12. Montana 12. San Diego State
13. South Dakota State 13. Bucknell
4. Gonzaga 4. Kentucky
3. Tennessee 3. West Virginia
14. Charleston 14. Georgia State
11. Loyola Chicago 11. USC / Providence
6. Miami FL 6. Arkansas
7. Seton Hall 7. Texas A&M
10. North Carolina St. 10. Rhode Island
15. Penn 15. Cal State Fullerton
2. Purdue 2. Duke

2018 NCAA Bracketology - East / Midwest Regionals

East Regional Midwest Regional
East Regional Midwest Regional
1. Villanova (2) 1.Kansas (3)
16. Radford 16. Long Island / Texas Southern
9. St. Bonaventure 9. Creighton
8. Texas 8. Florida St.
5. Texas Tech 5. Clemson
12. Davidson 12. Murray State
13. Buffalo 13. UNCG
4. Auburn 4. Arizona
3. Michigan St. 3. Michigan
14. Marshall 14. Stephen F. Austin
11. Alabama / Middle Tennessee 11. New Mexico St.
6. Houston 6. Florida
7. TCU 7. Virginia Tech
10. Missouri 10. Butler
15. Wright State 15. Iona
2. North Carolina 2. Cincinnati

Last Four In: UCLA, Boise State, Louisville, Oklahoma State

First Four Out: Arizona State, Marquette, Syracuse, Nebraska

Next Four Out: Utah, Notre Dame, Providence, Mississippi State

Bracket Thoughts

  • Beasts of the East - With only conference tournaments left to play, the #1 seed picture is about as clear as I can remember it. Basically, there are five teams battling for four spots (well actually four battling for three as Virginia is a lock). After the Hoos, the Villanova Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Duke Blue Devils, and Xavier Musketeers have all done enough on the season to warrant #1 seed consideration. But come Sunday, one of those teams is going to be left off the one line. The easy answer is that Villanova and Xavier will play a winner-take-all Big East Final. But should Kansas or Duke slip up in their conference tournament, the Big East could be looking at two #1 seeds.
  • NCAA Scandal - Every year we hear the NCAA Selection Committee spew the same old rhetoric that they don’t force compelling matchups sake when they seed teams. Never mind that a Kansas/Wichita State matchup is awesome and that there is no way it’s based on the “luck of the draw.” However there is one potential matchup this season that should it come to fruition, I will forever trust that when the committee says they don’t manipulate matchups, they mean it. Mark my words. There is no way the NCAA puts the Arizona Wildcats and UVA in the same region. Arizona, while they’re a #5 seed in this bracket, are becoming a sexy Final Four pick amongst the pundits. I highly doubt the committee would want to run the risk of seeing a program under investigation by the FBI upset a supposedly squeaky clean squad in the Sweet Sixteen. The Final Four, maybe. But in the Regionals? Not a chance.
  • Big Ten Mess - Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State. The Michigan Wolverines are the shiny object at the moment after beating both the Purdue Boilermakers and the Michigan State Spartans en route to a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Purdue probably has the best overall resume of the bunch, and Michigan State has the fewest number of losses of the bunch as well the fact that none of those losses came to a team worse than 16th in KenPom. So what to do? Honestly, they’re all border line 2/3 seeds from a very weak Big Ten conference. Michigan is hot right. Purdue is the most complete team. Michigan State is the most talented. For this bracket, I emphasize whole body of work as opposed to just the last few weeks. Michigan’s rise has been meteoric (they were a #5 seed just two weeks ago), but probably not enough to get them a #2 seed. Purdue and Michigan State are two seeds for now. But given their seasons have concluded, I wouldn’t be shocked to see one of them fall one seed line.
  • ACC Bubble - The ACC currently has nine teams in this bracket. That is tied with the BIG 12 for most of any conference. Louisville, Syracuse, and Notre Dame are all right on the cusp. The Louisville Cardinals are probably in with a win over Florida State in their matchup today. The Syracuse Orange and Notre Dame Fighting Irish have almost identical resumes, but Notre Dame might be in better position given they played most of their season without Bonzie Colson. The Orange could make a big splash with a win over North Carolina, but their lack of quality wins through the year may make that too little too late. Notre Dame probably needs to beat Virginia Tech and Duke to feel “safe.” A win over the Hokies and a close loss to Duke coupled with some injury sympathy may be enough for the Irish. However, should they not make the tournament I won’t cry a tear for a team that lost to Ball State at home. Obviously, these ACC teams will have their chances to make their case in Brooklyn, but keep an eye on Arizona State and Boise State out west. Their resumes are hanging on by a thread and early exits from their conference tournaments could be just what the Cardinals, Orange, and Fighting Irish need to punch their ticket to the dance.

What do you think of the Hoos’ draw? Any team you’re particularly interested in? Enjoy the conference tournaments and check back Sunday morning to see how it all unravels.