Ticket Bracketology: Looking At The Projected NCAA Tournament Field

Where will Michigan and MSU end up in the NCAA Tournament?

97.1 The Ticket
February 13, 2020 - 2:02 pm
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By Kyle Beery | 97.1 The Ticket

Rejoice, college basketball fans, the NCAA tournament tips off in exactly five weeks.

That means we have about four short weeks of full-tilt action until conference tournaments get underway. Every game counts. For some, tournament berths are on the line every time they take the floor. For others, it's about adding quality wins and beefing up that resumé.

Michigan State began the year as the No. 1 team in the preseason poll, but has fallen on hard times and finds itself just outside the Top 25. The Spartans are the first preseason No. 1 team to fall out of the AP rankings since 2013-14 Kentucky, who went on to reach the national championship game. Though MSU has sort of looked like a shell of its former self in recent weeks, the talent is still there, and it's hard to bet against Tom Izzo having his team humming and ready to make a run come March.

The Spartans have fallen just outside the top-four protected seed lines, having lost three straight before notching a thrilling win at Illinois on Tuesday. But their resumé is strong enough where if they finish on a roll and don't add any more bad losses, they could climb back to the 2-to-3 seed range. A 1-seed is likely out of the question at this point, but regardless of seeding, the Spartans have shown flashes of greatness at times this season. They've also showed signs of trouble, but instinct says not to bet against Cassius Winston and Co.

Michigan, meanwhile, appeared to be spiraling towards the possibility of missing the tournament just a few short weeks ago, as the Wolverines had lost four in a row and started the Big Ten season 2-5. The absence of leading scorer Isaiah Livers certainly contributed to Michigan's woes, but now that he's back, the Wolverines are looking more like the team that played its way into the AP top five with a Battle 4 Atlantis title back in November.

The Wolverines still have a lot of things to shore up before March, but their recent resurgence has any fears of missing the dance put to bed.

With the tournament so close, it's time to revive Ticket Bracketology. Our college basketball expert Kyle Beery has put together his projections for the NCAA Tournament field of 68. These projections are based on "if the tournament started today." It's not a prediction of what the actual field will look like -- that's impossible to know at this point in time -- but this is a good snapshot of where teams stand a little more than a month out from Selection Sunday.

Note: teams earning an automatic bid are listed in parenthesis.

South Regional -- Houston (March 27 and 29)

Omaha, NE

1. Baylor (Big 12) vs. 16. Robert Morris (NEC) / North Carolina Central (MEAC)
8. BYU vs. 9. Rutgers

Sacramento, CA

4. Butler vs. 13. Furman (SOCON)
5. Michigan State vs. 12. Liberty (A-Sun)

Tampa, FL

3. Florida State vs. 14. Winthrop (Big South)
6. LSU vs. 11. Wisconsin

Greensboro, NC

2. Maryland (Big Ten) vs. 15. Hofstra (CAA)
7. Texas Tech vs. 10. Arkansas

Midwest Regional -- Indianapolis (March 26 and 28)

Omaha, NE

1. Kansas vs. 16. Rider (MAAC) / Prairie View A&M (SWAC)
8. Michigan vs. 9. Rhode Island

St. Louis, MO

4. Villanova vs. 13. Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
5. Colorado (Pac-12) vs. 12. Yale (Ivy)

Tampa, FL

3. Auburn (SEC) vs. 14. New Mexico State (WAC)
6. Arizona vs. 11. Indiana

Cleveland, OH

2. Dayton (A-10) vs. Little Rock (Sun Belt)
7. Illinois vs. 10. St. Mary's 

West Regional -- Los Angeles (March 26 and 28)

Spokane, WA

1. Gonzaga (WCC) vs. 16. Montana (Big Sky)
8. Stanford vs. 9. Northern Iowa (MVC)

Spokane, WA

4. Creighton vs. 13. UC Irvine (Big West)
5. Kentucky vs. 12. Vermont (America East)

Cleveland, OH

3. West Virginia vs. 14. Colgate (Patriot)
6. Oregon vs. 11. Florida

St. Louis, MO

2. Louisville (ACC) vs. 15. North Dakota State (Summit)
7. USC vs. 10. Xavier

East Regional -- New York City (March 27 and 29)

Sacramento, CA

1. San Diego State (MWC) vs. 16. Bowling Green (MAC)
8. Ohio State vs. 9. Oklahoma

Albany, NY

4. Penn State vs. 13. North Texas (C-USA)
5. Marquette vs. 12. Memphis / East Tennessee State

Albany, NY

3. Seton Hall (Big East) vs. 14. Wright State (Horizon)
6. Iowa vs. 11. Virginia / Wichita State

Greensboro, NC

2. Duke vs. 15. Murray State (OVC)
7. Houston (AAC) vs. 10. Purdue

Bubble Talk

It seems like every year we say, "this is one of the softest bubbles every year." And that's not incorrect this year. Maybe the bubble teams themselves aren't terrible this year, but with all the parity across the sport, there are loads of teams that boast similar resumés and it has muddied the bubble picture.

Any time one of these teams takes the field over the next five weeks will feel like a must-win, with that urgency growing each day.

Here's a look at that muddy bubble for the time being.

Last 4 Byes: Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Wisconsin

Last 4 In: Virginia, Wichita State, Memphis, East Tennessee State

First 4 Out: VCU, Cincinnati, Arizona State, NC State

Next 4 Out: Syracuse, Utah State, Mississippi State, Richmond