Bracketology, January 29: Kansas State, NC State Rise Into Field, Notre Dame Needs Help

By Jason Lisk

Two weeks ago, I came out with my first forward-looking Selection Sunday projection after the start of 2018. For those that don’t know, I don’t just assess who would be in today but instead project how the team will look on Selection Sunday based on current results, upcoming games, and quality of play.

For the most part, my projections two weeks later are similar (since I am looking forward and generally accounting for the favorites in the games played over the last two weeks). Among the teams seeded on the top 9 lines, I have only 4 risers who moved more than 1 seed line, and 4 fallers that dropped more than a seed line. (The movement near the bubble, where little separates teams, was greater). Here are my current projections:

The #1 seeds stay the same. The Big 12 teams got re-arranged a little, as West Virginia has lost at home to Kansas and Kentucky since those last projections, and Oklahoma has lost three games. I’m still more bullish on Kentucky than most brackets. Yeah, they’ve been inconsistent but they play a very RPI-friendly schedule and could finish in the Top 10, and could also end with 8+ RPI Top 50 wins, before they even get into a loaded SEC tourney.

Ohio State and Florida are the big movers as the Buckeyes were surging until getting upset by Penn State, and Florida has righted things after a tough December and now won 9 of 11.

Wichita State has had a couple of losses in American Conference play. Gonzaga and St. Mary’s moved entirely based on the Gaels winning the big game at Spokane and having the potential for a sweep now. Kansas State has been a big mover. The non-conference schedule was not favored by the RPI, but they play in the #1 RPI conference so finishing with a winning record will get them in. They’ve won 4-0, barely lost at Kansas, and get the rematch tonight. It’s not must-win, but it would surge them forward solidly into the field if they beat the Jayhawks in the Sunflower showdown.

There has been plenty of movement at the bubble since my last projection. Missouri and Baylor have faltered. Notre Dame has been dealing with life with both Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell out, and has dropped to 13-8, losing 5 straight. Colson will be out for most or all of conference play, and Notre Dame is going to be a big debate point on the bubble on Selection Sunday.

Meanwhile, North Carolina State, USC, Virginia Tech, and Providence all move to the right side of the bubble for now. The Wolfpack don’t have a favorable RPI, but they already have wins against Arizona on a neutral court, at North Carolina, and against Duke. Their going to be hard to keep out if they have 5+ great wins and go 9-9 in the ACC.