Posted: Tuesday November 9, 2010 12:31PM ; Updated: Tuesday November 9, 2010 1:12PM
Andy Glockner
Andy Glockner>BRACKET WATCH

Duke, Michigan State, Kansas State and Pitt begin as No. 1 seeds

Story Highlights

The Big East leads all conferences with eight bids, just ahead of the ACC (7)

Following the form of the 2010 tournament, the Pac-10 is just a two-bid conference

The Mountain West and Atlantic 10 boast four teams each

2011 NCAA Tournament Projection
In this bracket, the East matches up with the West, the Southeast with the Southwest in the national semifinals.

With the addition of three at-large spots (increasing the field to 68 teams), there are now four play-in games, dubbed the "First Four." Two games will match the tournaments lowest seeds, Nos. 65 through 68, with the winners claiming a No. 16 seed. The other two games will feature the last four teams of the 37 at-large qualifiers, with the winners likely receiving No. 11 or 12 seeds.

The top-four seeds in each region, starting with the No. 1 seeds, receive geographic preference when possible. An imbalance in high seeds between regions (e.g. if more than two top-four seeds are closest to the same subregional location) may force a protected seed into a secondary location.

League winners are listed with their conference for clarity. Teams can be moved a seed line up or down to conform to bracketing rules.

* -- automatic qualifier

 
 
EAST - Newark
 
Charlotte
 
1 Duke* (ACC)
16 Holy Cross* (Patriot)/Quinnipiac* (NEC)
 
 
8 Mississippi State
9 Wisconsin
 
 
Denver
 
5 West Virginia
12 Dayton
 
 
4 Missouri
13 Utah State* (WAC)
 
 
Tampa
 
6 Purdue
11 New Mexico
 
 
3 Florida* (SEC)
14 Wofford* (SoCon)
 
 
Washington D.C.
 
7 Florida State
10 Xavier
 
 
2 Syracuse
15 Stephen F. Austin* (Southland)
 
SOUTHEAST - New Orleans
 
Chicago
 
1 Michigan State* (Big Ten)
16 Boston U.* (America East)
 
 
8 Texas
9 Richmond
 
 
Denver
 
5 Washington* (Pac-10)
12 Maryland
 
 
4 Georgetown
13 Murray State* (Ohio Valley)
 
 
Tampa
 
6 Gonzaga * (West Coast)
11 BYU
 
 
3 Memphis* (C-USA)
14 Fairfield* (MAAC)
 
 
Tulsa
 
7 North Carolina State
10 Seton Hall
 
 
2 Kansas
15 Weber State* (Big Sky)
 
 
 
 
 
WEST - Anaheim
 
Cleveland
 
1 Pittsburgh* (Big East)
16 UNC Asheville* (Big South)/Jackson St.* (SWAC)
 
 
8 Minnesota
9 Vanderbilt
 
 
Tucson
 
5 Temple* (Atlantic 10)
12 Creighton/Oklahoma State
 
 
4 North Carolina
13 Ohio* (MAC)
 
 
Cleveland
 
6 Butler* (Horizon)
11 Clemson
 
 
3 Kentucky
14 Princeton* (Ivy)
 
 
Chicago
 
7 San Diego State
10 Old Dominion* (Colonial)
 
 
2 Illinois
15 UC Santa Barbara* (Big West)
 
SOUTHWEST - San Antonio
 
Tulsa
 
1 Kansas State* (Big 12)
16 Morgan State* (MEAC)
 
 
8 Marquette
9 Virginia Tech
 
 
Tucson
 
5 UNLV* (Mountain West)
12 Notre Dame/George Mason
 
 
4 Tennessee
13 Western Kentucky* (Sun Belt)
 
 
Charlotte
 
6 Baylor
11 Georgia
 
 
3 Ohio State
14 Oakland* (Summit)
 
 
Washington, D.C.
 
7 Wichita State* (Missouri Valley)
10 Arizona
 
 
2 Villanova
15 Lipscomb* (Atlantic Sun)
 
 

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Arizona State, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisville, Northwestern, St. John's, St. Mary's, Southern Miss, Texas A&M, UCLA, UTEP, Washington State.

At-large first-round games (Tuesday, March 15): Notre Dame-George Mason, Creighton-Oklahoma State.

Automatic bid first-round games (Wednesday, March 16): Holy Cross-Quinnipiac, UNC Asheville-Jackson State.

QUICK NOTES

-- All four projected No. 1 seeds are slotted in Friday subregionals, so both automatic bid first-round games had to be on Wednesday, with the two at-large first-round games both being held on Tuesday. The NCAA will wait until it releases the full bracket to schedule these four first-round matchups, so any combination of games is possible depending on subregional allocation and seeding.

-- I had UNLV a spot ahead of Memphis in my rankings of the "other" 25 conferences on presumed team quality, but Memphis' position in C-USA makes the Tigers more likely to get a high seed than UNLV in the deeper Mountain West.

-- There were a number of teams in the 8-10 seed lines that got shuffled a line due to conference conflicts in the bracket.

-- Purdue feels like more of a 4/5 seed than a 5/6, but I think the Mountain West and A-10 champs (and the Pac-10, if Washington lives up to billing) would end up with a better seed than the fourth-place Big Ten team, if that's how it shakes out. This might be low for the Boilermakers, though.

MULTI-BID CONFERENCES

Big East (8)
Pittsburgh*
Villanova
Syracuse
Georgetown
West Virginia
Marquette
Seton Hall
Notre Dame

ACC (7)
Duke*
North Carolina
Florida State
Virginia Tech
N.C. State
Clemson
Maryland

SEC (6)
Florida*
Kentucky
Tennessee
Mississippi State
Georgia
Vanderbilt

Big Ten (6)
Michigan State*
Illinois
Ohio State
Purdue
Minnesota
Wisconsin

Big 12 (6)
Kansas State*
Kansas
Missouri
Baylor
Texas
Oklahoma State

Mountain West (4)
San Diego State*
UNLV
BYU
New Mexico

Atlantic 10 (4)
Temple*
Richmond
Xavier
Dayton

Pac-10 (2)
Washington*
Arizona

Missouri Valley (2)
Wichita State*
Creighton

Colonial Athletic (2)
Old Dominion*
George Mason

ONE-BID-CONFERENCES (21)

America East
Boston University: John Holland and a bunch of impact transfers are enough to hold off Stony Brook.

Atlantic Sun
Lipscomb: Adnan Hodzic/Josh Slater is the best scoring duo in the league and two other starters return.

Big Sky
Weber State: The taste of two straight bitter postseason defeats fuel Damian Lillard and Co. past Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona and Montana.

Big South
UNC Asheville: Guards J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey are all-league types fronting an experienced cast.

Big West
UC Santa Barbara: Orlando Johnson and the Gauchos won the league last year starting four sophs and a junior, but it won't be easy to hold off Pacific and Long Beach State.

Conference USA
Memphis: We'll see how the freshmen develop as far as competing on the elite national level, but the Tigers are clearly the best team in C-USA.

Horizon
Butler: The Bulldogs seem to make it look easy in a league that's actually pretty deep and fairly talented.

Ivy
Princeton: Upperclass teams typically win the Ivy and the Tigers return a lot, but don't discount Harvard's talent or Penn's bounceback.

MAAC
Fairfield: Came within a bucket of KO'ing Siena and dancing last season and returns a lot of talent, starting with point guard Derek Needham.

MAC
Ohio: Diminutive point guard D.J. Cooper is the main man, but he has terrific partners in DeVaughn Washington and Tommy Freeman. You never know in the MAC, though.

MEAC
Morgan State: The best team in the league should return to the NCAAs again despite losing Reggie Holmes.

Northeast
Quinnipiac: Justin Rutty and the Bobcats tied for the regular-season crown last season. Robert Morris and CCSU should have a say, though.

Ohio Valley
Murray State: The most balanced team in the nation last year has plenty of talent back to hold off Kenneth Faried and Morehead State again.

Patriot
Holy Cross: In a jumbled league, take the Crusaders, who have a lot of talent back, were the unluckiest team in D-I last season and made a terrific hire in former Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown.

SoCon
Wofford: Noah Dahlman and most of the others return from last year's team that almost shocked Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAAs. Appalachian State, C of C and others could challenge.

Southland
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks return a lot of talent and will ride their stingy defensive ways past Sam Houston State.

Summit
Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies were the anti-Holy Cross, ending last season as D-I's luckiest team, per kenpom.com. That said, go with star big man Keith Benson and Co. to hold off IUPUI.

Sun Belt
Western Kentucky: In Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch, the Hilltoppers have two of the top players in the league, which will be enough to hold off Arkansas State, Denver and others.

SWAC
Jackson State: The defending champs return most of last year's squad and will soon get back star Grant Maxey, who missed most of last season with injuries.

WAC
Utah State: Tai Wesley and Co. are the best team in the league and should hold off New Mexico State and (maybe) Nevada.

West Coast
Gonzaga: Reloaded and ready to take the league again, with Saint Mary's and rejuvenated Loyola Marymount the two most likely challengers.

Got a bone to pick with the Bracket Watch? Send feedback to bubblewatch@gmail.com.
 

 
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