The finishing touches are just about on the college basketball regular season and a best guess at the tournament field.
(UPDATE, 5:46 p.m.: With Michigan State beating Ohio State, the bracket remains as it is as a final version).
St. Bonaventure snatched a bid away from the at-large field by collecting the Atlantic 10 title. In this field, Mississippi State is the team that winds up on the outside.
A quick rundown of some whys and why nots.
Why South Florida? The Bulls suffered two bad losses without a pair of crucial players, which earns them the benefit of the doubt?
Why not Drexel? Teams with low strength of schedule (either overall or out of conference, both of which the Dragons suffer from) historically aren’t treated well.
Why N.C. State? A 9-6 road record stands out among the bubblers.
Why not Iona? Two losses to 200+ RPI teams is a notable eyesore.
Why Seton Hall? Still won seven games against the top 100 and weren’t especially horrible (relative to the rest of the borderline teams) in any way.
Why not Marshall? A losing record against the top 200 is tough to overcome.
Why Brigham Young? While the Cougars didn’t do much, they have no horrible losses and are a respectable 5-6 against the top 100.
Why not Mississippi State? Losing records against the top 50 and top 100, a sub-.500 record away from Starkville and a lousy nonconference schedule strength scream NIT.
Why Texas? There’s not a great reason, just like the rest of the teams that could squeak their way in.
Why not Northwestern? One win does not a resume make.
We’ll see if that’s how it shakes out. But for now, onto the projected field of 68 with just one game to go:
(1) Syracuse vs. (16) BIG SOUTH/UNC Asheville
(8) Iowa State vs. (9) Saint Louis
(4) SOUTHEASTERN/Vanderbilt vs. (13) BIG WEST/Long Beach State
(5) Indiana vs. (12) Brigham Young/South Florida
(3) Michigan vs. (14) ATLANTIC SUN/Belmont
(6) Wichita State vs. (11) California
(2) Duke vs. (15) NORTHEAST/Long Island
(7) CONFERENCE USA/Memphis vs. (10) West Virginia
(1) Kentucky vs. (16) AMERICA EAST/Vermont-SOUTHWESTERN/Mississippi ValLEY
(8) Notre Dame vs. (9) IVY/Harvard
(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(5) Temple vs. (12) Colorado State
(3) BIG EAST/Louisville vs. (14) BIG SKY/Montana
(6) San Diego State vs. (11) Virginia
(2) BIG 12/Missouri vs. (15) METRO ATLANTIC/Loyola
(7) WEST COAST/Saint Mary’s vs. (10) Southern Mississippi
(1) BIG TEN/Michigan State vs. (16) SOUTHLAND/Lamar-SUN BELT/Western Kentucky
(8) Kansas State vs. (9) Alabama
(4) Georgetown vs. (13) ATLANTIC 10/St. Bonaventure
(5) MOUNTAIN WEST/New Mexico vs. (12) PAC-12/Colorado
(3) ATLANTIC COAST/Florida State vs. (14) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(6) Cincinnati vs. (11) COLONIAL/Virginia Commonwealth
(2) Kansas vs. (15) PATRIOT/Lehigh
(7) Gonzaga vs. (10) Purdue
(1) North Carolina vs. (16) MID-EASTERN/Norfolk State
(8) Florida vs. (9) Connecticut
(4) Marquette vs. (13) MID-AMERICAN/Ohio
(5) MISSOURI VALLEY/Creighton vs. (12) Texas
(3) Baylor vs. (14) SOUTHERN/Davidson
(6) OHIO VALLEY/Murray State vs. (11) N.C. State/Seton Hall
(2) Ohio State vs. (15) HORIZON/Detroit
(7) UNLV vs. (10) Xavier
Last four in: South Florida, N.C. State, Seton Hall, Brigham Young
On the doorstep: Mississippi State, Marshall, Drexel, Mississippi
Next four out: Iona, Dayton, Washington, Miami
Conference call: Big East (10), Big Ten (6), Big 12 (6), Atlantic Coast (5), Atlantic 10 (4), Mountain West (4), Southeastern (4), West Coast (3), Conference USA (2), Missouri Valley (2), Pac-12 (2)
—- Patrick Stevens