Purdue passes UCLA for No. 1 seed, rest of NCAA Tournament field is set in final Bracketology

Written by on March 12, 2023

Purdue returns to the No. 1 line in the final USA TODAY Sports bracketology update leading into Selection Sunday with the Boilermakers in position to defeat Penn State in the Big Ten championship game and earn that league’s automatic bid.

Kansas drops from the No. 1 overall seed heading into the tournament after losing the Big 12 championship game to Texas. But the Jayhawks remain on the No. 1 line, joining the Boilermakers, Alabama and Houston. The biggest loser on a wild Saturday was UCLA. The Bruins were poised to potentially hold their place as a top seed but fell to Arizona narrowly in the Pac-12 title game

One welcome sight for us bracketologists has been the lack of bid stealers among the multiple-bid leagues. That’s helped to nail down a 68-team field that generally lacks much of the controversy that usually dominates the final selection process.

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Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. (14) drives to the basket against Ohio State guard Bruce Thornton (2) during the second half of their Big Ten tournament game at United Center.

But three teams did have an argument for making the bracket, even if these arguments ultimately failed to hold water.

The first team out in our bracketology is Clemson, which ended the regular season with 23 wins after losing to Virginia in the ACC tournament semifinals. But despite five Quad 1 wins, the Tigers are undone by too many bad losses, including a combined four against Quad 3 and Quad 4 competition, notably South Carolina and Loyola Chicago.

Vanderbilt came very close after getting hot late, rolling off 10 wins in 11 games before meeting Texas A&M in the SEC semifinals. The Commodores could’ve been in with a win against the Aggies but lost 87-75. And Oklahoma State had the benefit of six Quad 1 wins. But that was largely by virtue of being in the Big 12, where nearly every league game featured at least one Quad 1 opponent. The Cowboys only won a third of their opportunities.

Teams in bold have clinched berths

Last four in

Southern California, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Rutgers.

First four out

Clemson, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Oregon.

Next four out

North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada.

Conference breakdown

Multi-big leagues: Big Ten (9), SEC (8), Big 12 (7), ACC (5), Big East (5), Pac-12 (4), Mountain West (3), American Athletic (2), West Coast (2).

Automatic bids

Vermont (America East), Duke (ACC), Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun), Texas (Big 12), Marquette (Big East),  Montana State (Big Sky), UNC Asheville (Big South), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), College of Charleston (Colonial), Florida Atlantic (Conference USA), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Iona (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Howard (MEAC), Drake (Missouri Valley), San Diego State (Mountain West), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast), Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley), Arizona (Pac-12), Colgate (Patriot), Furman (Southern) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Southland), Oral Roberts (Summit), Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt), Gonzaga (West Coast), Grand Canyon (WAC).

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