We'd say our editor-in-chief was the best bracketologist in the game, but rankings haven't meant much lately. In the last three weeks, 37 top-25 teams have lost to unranked opponents.
East Region (Washington, DC)
Philadelphia, PA POD
1- Duke (ACC)
16 - North Carolina Central (MEAC) / Loyola-Maryland (MAAC)
The Blue Devils continue to grind out victories without Ryan Kelly in the lineup. If Kelly returns by March, they could rekindle the magic that saw them knock off Louisville and Ohio State in back-to-back games in November.
Central has reeled off ten straight wins and gave Marquette a scare
back in December. The Loyola Greyhounds play stingy defense and return their top three scorers from last year's tournament team.
8- VCU (A-10)
9- Kentucky (SEC)
Shaka is up to his old tricks, as the Rams lead the nation in turnover margin. Their "HAVOC" defense is even more disruptive when paired with the pressure of tournament play.
The Wildcats can go from bubble team to serious contender with a win over Florida on the road on Tuesday. If you can win at the O'Connell Center, you can win anywhere.
Duke will either face the defending champs or the heir
to the coaching throne in the Round of 32.
San Jose, CA POD
5- Pittsburgh (Big East)
12- Indiana State (Missouri Valley)
Steven Adams, Pitt's Kiwi
seven footer, is averaging 9.2 points, 9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in their last five. If he continues to give them quality minutes they are destined for the second weekend.
Despite playing two top-25 teams in the last two weeks, the Sycamores haven't cracked. Wins over Wichita State and Creighton could translate to the Missouri Valley sending three teams to the tourney.
4- Butler (A-10)
13- Bucknell (Patriot League)
Brad Steven's record in tournament games (Horizon, CBI, NCAAs) is just silly. Steven is 21-7 in those "win or go home" scenarios.
Mike Muscala continues to get no love from the national media. When you average 19 ppg, 11 rpg and 2.8 bpg you should be in the Naismith conversation.
An Elite Eight contender could sneak out of this pod with Pitt, Butler and Indiana State all boasting multiple top-25 wins. Throw in a Bucknell team that features an elite center and anything could happen.
Auburn Hills, MI POD
6 - North Carolina State (ACC)
11 - Belmont (Ohio Valley) / St. Mary's (CA) (WCC)
This team can be great with Lorenzo Brown running the show. The 6-5 point guard was sorely missed during their losses to Miami (FL) and Duke.
This is the kind of play-in game the committee dreams about. Belmont can score with anyone and St. Mary's point guard, Matthew Dellavedova
, has singlehandedly carried the Gaels through the WCC.
3- Michigan State (B1G Ten)
14 - Harvard (Ivy)
The Spartans feature five players who average nine points or more per game and they play solid three-point defense. For those reasons, they're exceedingly consistent, a trait of any Tom Izzo team.
A phenomenal coaching job this year by Tommy Amaker. After the cheating scandal hit, this team appeared sunk, but here they are controlling their own destiny with eight games to play.
Both NC State and MSU had national title aspirations in November, which one will make it to the Sweet 16? Belmont's Rick Byrd has come close
before, will he finally get a win in March?
Philadelphia, PA POD
7- Wisconsin (B1G Ten)
10- North Carolina (ACC)
This is another Badger team that finds ways to win behind an offense that rarely turns the ball over (fewest TOs in the nation). They're never out of games and they embody Bo Ryan's toughness.
The Tar Heels have feasted on mediocre competition and really need a win over Duke on Wednesday for people to take them seriously. If they upset the top ranked Blue Devils it'll have to come from James Michael McAdoo.
2- Syracuse (Big East)
15 - Stony Brook (America East)
Welcome back James Southerland! Now that they have their glue guy back in the fold, this team has the balance to win six in a row when it counts.
For a mid-major, the Seawolves are excellent on the glass, despite starting a small line-up (no starters over 6-8).
Three future Hall of Fame coaches square off in this pod. The last time Syracuse faced the America East champion, they lost to the 13th-seeded Vermont Catamounts
in the 2005 NCAA tournament.
South Region (Arlington, TX)
Lexington, KY Pod
1- Miami (FL) (ACC)
16 - Southern (SWAC) / UNC-Asheville (Big South)
You can't get any hotter than the Hurricanes. Winners of 11 straight, the 'Canes are even drawing the attention of the other basketball team
Southern is still bringing their best player (Malcolm Miller) off the bench. His 16.3 ppg is reminiscent of James Harden from last season. UNCA is looking for back-to-back tournament bids after nearly knocking off Syracuse
last year in Pittsburgh.
8- Missouri (SEC)
9- Iowa State (Big XII)
Mizzou has struggled against top-end competition but the good news is that Laurence Bowers is rounding back into game shape. When he was clicking early on, their offense was electric.
The Cyclones are a veteran team with proven player makers at the point and on the wing. They'll go as far as senior shooting guard Will Clyburn takes them.
The hottest team in the country now has to face March expectations, which is unchartered territory for the 'Canes. An old Big XII rivalry in renewed between two teams with plenty of potential.
Dayton, OH Pod
5- Kansas State (Big XII)
12 - La Salle (A-10)
The Wildcats are 12-2 in their last 14, including a neutral court victory over Florida. Bruce Weber's squad shares the ball wonderfully, averaging 16 dimes a game.
Until recently, the postseason was "unexplored" territory for La Salle. But after an NIT bid last season and early season victories over Villanova, VCU and Butler, you can't sleep on the Explorers. They have two excellent guards who shoot better than 38% from 3-point land, beware 5-seeds…beware.
4- Minnesota (B1G Ten)
13 - Louisiana Tech (WAC)
In B1G Ten circles Tummy Smith might as well be the "Guru of Go
," with the Golden Gophers pouring in over 72 ppg. They've been inconsistent at times this season, but when they rev their engines, behind Hollins and Williams, they can outscore anyone.
The Bulldogs have cruised through a lousy WAC slate so far, beasting everyone on the glass. They'll be in for a rude awakening when they face Minny's Trevor Mbakwe.
La Salle and Louisiana Tech haven't made the tournament since the early 1990s. LT lost by five to Wake Forest in 1991 and La Salle lost by two to Seton Hall in 1992. Can either team pull an upset?
Salt Lake City, UT Pod
6- Oklahoma State (Big XII)
11- St. Louis (A-10)
The core of this team is young, which can translate to a loose approach in the tournament. Their freshman two-guard Marcus Smart recently went for 25 points, 9 rips and 5 steals during an upset of Kansas at Phog Allen.
It's only juniors and seniors in the Billiken's seven man rotation and their playing like a poised group of veterans. They spread the wealth offensively and suffocate opponents, holding opposing teams to just 58.3 ppg.
3- Louisville (Big East)
14- Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
The Cardinals have talent to burn but they've come up short in their big tests this season against Duke, Cuse and Notre Dame. Peyton Siva needs to up his game if they want to avoid an early exit.
Two years ago a small school with a stingy defense and an undersized power forward upset Louisville
in the first round. If Morehead State and Kenneth Faried can do it, so can the Lumberjacks and their rebounding machine Taylor Smith.
Anything can happen in this pod due to the wildly inconsistent play of Louisville and Oklahoma State. The last time the EngerySolutions Arena hosted tournament games the world saw three dandies. In the Sweet 16 Butler upset the top seeded Orange and K-State outlasted Xavier in double OT. Butler kept their dreams alive with an upset of K-State two days later in the Elite Eight.
Kansas City, MO Pod
7- UNLV (Mountain West)
10- Memphis (C-USA)
The Runnin' Rebels have eased to a jog in the last month. Mike Moser needs to find a new role if this team wants to set their sights on the second weekend.
Josh Pastner's club is flying so far under the radar they're clipping trees. They've reeled off 14 in a row and are incredibly efficient on offense, converting on 47% of their field goal attempts.
2- Florida (SEC)
15- Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)
The Gators seemed to have it all figured out before their dud against Arkansas. We'll see if that was just a hiccup or a real cause for concern when they take on Kentucky Tuesday night.
- That win over the Hurricanes is looking better and better. This team shoots the ball very well from inside and outside the arc.
Can Josh Pastner prove he's more than just a recruiter by advancing to the second weekend? Will Florida continue to struggle on the road?
Midwest Region (Indianapolis, IN)
Auburn Hills, MI Pod
1- Indiana (B1G Ten)
16- Bryant University (NEC)
The Hoosiers won't remind you of the '89-'90 Loyola Marymount squad, but they're the best offense going in college today. They need another quality road win to establish themselves as the team to beat.
They have a nice inside-outside two man game going with Alex Francis and Dyami Starks. They both average 17+ ppg for the Bulldogs.
8- Notre Dame (Big East)
9- Ole Miss (SEC)
Jack Cooley shook off a mid season slump and has been killing it on the boards as of late. They share the ball really well, dropping 18 dimes a game.
This is the Marshall Henderson show, for better or worse
. He's the kind of player who could get hot and win his team a couple games.
IU would love to see this draw. Whether it's an all-Indiana matchup or a shootout with Ole Miss, IU can handle this group easily.
Austin, TX Pod
5- Creighton (Missouri Valley)
12- Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt) / Temple (A-10)
The Bluejays are led by the multidimensional Doug McDermott. The coach's son can go from feel good story to lottery pick if he carries this team to Atlanta.
The Blue Raiders stats don't pop off the page, but they do like to rain down threes. They're shooting better than 37% from deep as a team. Temple can play up or play down to their competition. Wins over Nova and Syracuse prove this, as do losses to Xavier and St. Bonaventure's.
4- Cincinnati (Big East)
13- Akron (MAC)
The Bearcats have been taking on water since the calendar flipped to 2013. It's not going to get any easier for them with Georgetown, ND and Louisville remaining on the conference slate.
The MAC has produced plenty of cinderellas over the years and the Zips are beginning to look like a March trouble maker. Akron has won 15 straight behind a fearsome defense that blocks 5.7 shots per game (12th in NCAA).
Both higher seeds have their weaknesses and Temple has the talent to book tickets for Indianapolis. In 2001 Hampton's Tarvis Williams led the nation in blocks and helped the Pirates upset the 2nd-seeded Iowa State Cyclones in the first round. Zeke Marshall (3.5bpg) could help the Zips spring a similar upset in Austin.
Dayton, OH Pod
6- Georgetown (Big East)
11- Wichita State (Missouri Valley)
Despite losing Greg Whittington (academics) the Hoyas are thriving. Otto Porter Jr. has embraced a leadership role and is beginning to play like a top-10 draft pick.
The Shockers have fallen off after a hot start to the season. They can't afford to drop their BracketBuster game against Detroit on Feb. 23rd.
3- Arizona (Pac-12)
14- Davidson (Southern)
This seed is commensurate with the talent on the Wildcats roster. The Xavier transfer, Mark Lyons, is a fine point guard and can guide this group to the Sweet 16 if he avoids foul trouble (11 fouls in their 3 losses).
The Wildcats will once again hitch their wagon to a star player, this time the 6-10 power forward, Jake Cohen. The big man can step outside and nail threes (40%), but don't expect a Steph Curry outburst.
An upset in either game is a long shot, setting up an old school meeting of college blue bloods. The Pac-12 really could use a Sweet 16 team to improve their conference's image.
Austin, TX Pod
7- Colorado State (Mountain West)
10- Illinois (B1G Ten)
Colton Iverson is the backbone of a defense that has held 13 opponents under 60 points this year. They also lead the country in rebounding margin. And don't forget that their coach, Larry Eustachy, has taken a team to the Elite Eight (Iowa St '00).
Two huge wins this week for the Illini, but this squad is the epitome of a hot and cold team. They opened the year 12-0, lost 8 of their next 11 before beating #1 Indiana and #18 Minnesota this week.
2- Kansas (Big XII)
15- Montana (Big Sky)
In the event of a water landing you may use your seat cushion as a flotation device. The Jayhawks are losing altitude at an alarming rate and even Bill Self's history lessons
aren't doing the trick.
They have three scorers who can spread the floor and fire at will. This will be their third tourney bid in four years. Wayne Tinkle has built a fine mid-major in Missoula.
The Illini are red hot and the Jayhawks are not. The two teams from the Mountain West time zone are hoping to catch these major programs napping.
West Region (Los Angeles, CA)
Lexington, KY Pod
1- Michigan (B1G Ten)
16- Long Beach State (Big West)
The Wolverines have taken their lumps on the road, but they're still a threat to win it all. Trey Burke is the best point guard in the college game today and they have knock down shooters on both wings.
Jeff Ennis will have to play out of his mind to keep the 49ers in this one, but he can shoot from just about anywhere on the court.
8- UCLA (Pac-12)
9- Oklahoma (Big XII)
Sometimes it appears the Bruins are winning in spite of Ben Howland. Shabazz Muhammad
needs to play every minute of each tournament game if they want to make a deep run.
Lon Kruger made the jump from Las Vegas to Norman and it's already paying off in spades. The Sooners are poised to grab an at-large bid and dance for the first since 2009.
All four coaches have led mutilple programs to the NCAA tournament: Beilein
(Northern Arizona/Pitt), Kruger
Kansas City, MO Pod
5- Marquette (Big East)
12- Southern Miss (C-USA)
They've taken care of the bottom half of the Big East but they need a marquee win. They'll have plenty of chances with Pitt, Cuse and Notre Dame on the schedule in the coming weeks.
This is a great shooting team (49% FG, 39% 3pt) but they don't have a signature win to hang their hat on. They travel to Memphis to take on the Tigers at the FedExForum on the 23rd, that's their chance to make a statement.
4- Ohio State (B1G Ten)
13- South Dakota State (Summit)
Someone other than Deshaun Thomas needs to score for the Buckeyes to make a deep run. Aaron Craft has been great on defense, but he'll need to score in the mid-teens to take some pressure off Thomas.
MyHOFS has been driving the Nate Wolters express for years now. And in case you missed it, he scored 53 points last week…in one game
USM can shoot and Nate Wolters can score, could we see two upsets in this pod? SDSU knocked off New Mexico on the road this year, but last year's eight point loss to Baylor in the first round is still on their mind.
San Jose, CA Pod
6- Oregon (Pac-12)
11- Baylor (Big XII)
The Ducks have been up and down away from Eugene this year. They knocked off UNLV and UCLA but lost to UTEP, Cincy, Stanford and Cal on the road.
The talent is definitely there for the Bears. Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin are All-Big XII talents, but they need to produce for the whole 40 minutes.
3- New Mexico (Mountain West)
14- Valparaiso (Horizon)
The Lobos are going to be a tough out in this tournament. Alex Kirk has developed inside and the Williams-Snell backcourt is one of the best in the country.
The Crusaders' Aussie swingman, Ryan Broekhoff, could be a matchup nightmare for whoever they face. The 6-7 forward is averaging 17 ppg and 8 rpg while shooting 46% from long range.
Team Superlatives: Baylor (talent), New Mexico (grit), Oregon (depth), Valpo (shooting)
Salt Lake City, UT Pod
7- San Diego State (Mountain West)
10- Colorado (Pac-12)
When Jamaal Franklin is interested
in the game, he's an All-American talent. When, is the operative word.
Josh Scott and André Roberson can attack the glass with the best of them. They'll need to do that if they want to overcome some of their shooting cold streaks.
2- Gonzaga (WCC)
15- Northeastern (Colonial)
The Bulldogs are 10-1 in 2013 and they gave away the game
against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They have depth, star power and an experienced coach to lead them deep into March.
This team just keeps winning close games. The Huskies are 10-3 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Will Mark Few finally break through and lead Gonzaga to the Final Four? Will this be another early exit for a talented Aztec team?