The field is in, and so are Southern California and UAB.
Virginia Tech and Colorado aren’t.
Those were the two misfires in the final bracket projection.
Southern California is a bit easier to buy, especially in place of Colorado. The Trojans played better once transfer Jio Fontan became eligible in mid-December, and the Buffaloes were punished in part because they played a terrible nonconference schedule.
That was a toss-up, and it’s easy to handle a miss when you know it was a coin-flip going in.
As for UAB over Virginia Tech … the best explanation for how exactly that happened was the committee valued the Blazers’ plethora of Conference USA victories enough to nudge them into the field.
The Blazers were 10-7 against the top 100. Virginia Tech was 8-8.
The Blazers were 1-4 against the tournament field. Virginia Tech was 4-6.
The Blazers had an RPI of 31. Virginia Tech was No. 62.
Clearly, the committee valued UAB’s work in Conference USA more than most. So that’s the story there.
As for the full bracket projection breakdown:
Teams correctly picked: 66
Teams left out: Southern California, UAB
Teams incorrectly included: Colorado, Virginia Tech
Seeded correctly (35)
1-Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh
2-North Carolina, Notre Dame, San Diego State
5-Kansas State, Vanderbilt
8-George Mason, UNLV
13-Belmont, Oakland, Princeton
14-Indiana State, St. Peter’s
15-Akron, Northern Colorado
16-Alabama State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Hampton, UNC Asheville, Texas-San Antonio
Seeded within one line (23)
2-Florida (picked as a 3)
3-Brigham Young (picked as a 4), Purdue (picked as a 4)
4-Kentucky (picked as a 3)
5-Arizona (picked as a 6), West Virginia (picked as a 6)
6-Cincinnati (picked as a 5), Georgetown (picked as a 7), St. John’s (picked as a 5)
7-Texas A&M (picked as a 7), UCLA (picked as an 8)
9-Villanova (picked as an 8)
10-Michigan State (picked as an 11), Penn State (picked as an 11)
11-Gonzaga (picked as a 10), Marquette (picked as a 10), VCU (picked as a 12 play-in)
13-Morehead State (picked as a 14)
14-Bucknell (picked as a 13), Wofford (picked as a 15)
15-Long Island (picked as a 14), UC Santa Barbara (picked as a 15)
16-Boston University (picked as a 15)
Not seeded correctly or within one line (8)
4-Texas (picked as a 2)
8-Butler (picked as an 11), Michigan (picked as an 11)
9-Old Dominion (picked as a 7)
10-Georgia (picked as a 12)
11-Missouri (picked as a 9)
12-Richmond (picked as a 10), Utah State (picked as a 9)
—- Patrick Stevens