After a home loss to NC State in late January, it was fair to wonder if this year’s talented group of Duke Blue Devils were ever going to reach the pinnacles set before them in November. Most preseason bracket projections established Duke as the No. 1 overall seed, a prohibitive favorite to win another National Championship. Then the injuries mounted, on the court and on the bench. Following the NC State defeat, Duke had lost three of four games and looked more like a middle-of-the-pack ACC group than a title contender.
Now, turn the page. Since that loss to the Wolfpack, the Blue Devils have reeled off six straight ACC wins, including three on the road - at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame, and last night at Virginia. In less than a month, Duke has risen to 9-4 in the ACC, back among league contenders. They’ve also taken a climb on today’s Seed List - claiming a No. 3 seed in the bracket, opening in Greenville. If you fell asleep on the Blue Devils, it might be time to wake up. It looks like Duke is back in play for a top-three seed on Selection Sunday.
Bubble Picture ...
In the absence of distinct separating factors along the cutline, it was time to reconvene some advanced metrics. Those models continue to favor the likes of Clemson, Wichita State, and Kansas State - despite the Wildcats’ recent streak of Big 12 losses. For now, take your pick among the final 8 teams (Last IN, First OUT). You can make cases for and against each of them. Championship Week could well turn into a series of play-in games unless two or three teams from the group (or elsewhere) separate themselves in the next couple of weeks.
UPDATED: February 16, 2017
Regarding bracketing principles, can read them for yourself at www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.
FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS - Dayton (First Round)
- Wichita State vs. TCU | West Region
- Kansas State vs. Clemson | Midwest Region
- WEBER STATE vs. UC-DAVIS | Midwest Region
- MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC CENTRAL | East Region
BRACKET PROJECTION ...
|EAST - New York||MIDWEST - Kansas City|
|1) VILLANOVA||1) KANSAS|
|16) NC-CENTRAL / M.S. MARY’S||16) WEBER ST / UC-DAVIS|
|8) Dayton||8) USC|
|9) Michigan State||9) Virginia Tech|
|5) CINCINNATI||5) Purdue|
|12) AKRON||12) ILLINOIS STATE|
|4) Virginia||4) Butler|
|13) MONMOUTH||13) UT-ARLINGTON|
|Indianapolis||Salt Lake City|
|6) Maryland||6) Creighton|
|11) Miami-FL||11) Kansas State / Clemson|
|3) Kentucky||3) ARIZONA|
|14) FLA GULF COAST||14) PRINCETON|
|7) Xavier||7) South Carolina|
|10) Arkansas||10) Michigan|
|2) Louisville||2) Florida State|
|15) NO DAKOTA ST||15) FURMAN|
|WEST - San Jose||South - Memphis|
|Salt Lake City||Tulsa|
|1) GONZAGA||1) Baylor|
|16) TX-SOUTHERN||16) NEW ORLEANS|
|8) Oklahoma State||8) Minnesota|
|9) California||9) VCU|
|5) WISCONSIN||5) Notre Dame|
|12) NC-WILMINGTON||12) VALPARAISO|
|4) West Virginia||4) UCLA|
|13) VERMONT||13) NEVADA|
|6) Saint Mary’s||6) SMU|
|11) Wichita State / TCU||11) MID TENNESSEE ST|
|3) Duke||3) FLORIDA|
|14) NC-ASHEVILLE||14) BELMONT|
|7) Iowa State||7) Northwestern|
|10) Syracuse||10) Seton Hall|
|2) Oregon||2) NORTH CAROLINA|
|15) CSU-BAKERSFIELD||15) BUCKNELL|
NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Baylor, and Gonzaga.
Last Four Byes (at large): Syracuse, Miami-FL, Arkansas, Seton Hall
Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Wichita State, Clemson, Kansas State
First Four OUT (at large): Georgia Tech, Providence, Georgetown, Marquette
Next four teams OUT (at large): Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Indiana, Georgia
Breakdown by Conference ...
ACC (10): NORTH CAROLINA, Louisville, Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Miami-FL, Clemson
Big 10 (7): WISCONSIN, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan
Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State
Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Butler, Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall
Pac 12 (5): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, USC, California
SEC (4): FLORIDA, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas
Atlantic 10 (2): VCU, Dayton
American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU
West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s
Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State
Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE
ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), Furman (STHN), UC-Davis (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), CSU-Bakersfield (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mt. St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)