Jerry Palm of CBS Sports released his updated Bracketology projections on Monday morning. With the Tennessee Volunteers taking their first SEC loss on Saturday, it will be interesting to see where they land in the rankings. However, the loss to the Kentucky Wildcats could have more ramifications down the road than a Top 25 ranking. The Volunteers, once locked in as the top overall seed, will need help getting back. But how far did they fall? Now, let’s breakdown the projected No. 1 seeds.
East Region: No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (23-2)
The Duke Blue Devils have taken over as the No. 1 overall seed by winning a pair of games last week. In reality, they should have lost to the Louisville Cardinals, but the Blue Devils will not be penalized by their lackluster play prior to their historic comeback victory. Instead, they will be praised for their ability to turn on the defensive switch at a moment’s notice.
The Blue Devils have played in six games that finished within single digits. They are (2-4) in those games. The two losses came against the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Syracuse Orange. Currently, both teams are in the projected NCAA Tournament field. They also have three wins by two points apiece. Meaning, the Blue Devils don’t have a lot of experience in close games, but they know how to finish strong when the situation arises.
Biggest Games: The Blue Devils still have two games against the North Carolina Tar Heels remaining. If they sweep the season series, the Blue Devils will earn a No. 1 seed with ease. However, a pair of losses could put the top spot in peril. The Blue Devils also have a chance to exact revenge against the Orange.
South Region: No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (22-2)
The Cavaliers have only lost a pair of games this season. Both losses came to the overall No. 1 seed at the top of the ACC. They are still holding strong, and are projected to play in the South Region over the Volunteers. That also means the Kentucky Wildcats would likely be an Elite 8 matchup if both teams advanced that far.
Keep in mind, the Cavaliers are the only No. 1 seed to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Therefore, the Cavaliers aren’t concerned with the location of the opening weekend. They also aren’t concerned with the seed. The team just wants to be full healthy when March Madness begins.
Biggest Games: The Cavaliers still have two games against Louisville left. They also play at Virginia Tech and Syracuse on the remaining schedule.
West Region: No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-2)
It’s always tough for a team from the West Coast Conference to earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Some teams miss the tournament altogether, while the Bulldogs have flourished in conference play. This season, the Bulldogs are more dominant than usual, but their hold on a No. 1 seed will depend on what happens in other major conferences.
Their best win is over the Blue Devils. They also have back to back losses to the Volunteers and the Tar Heels. Therefore, Gonzaga may be the odd team out when Selection Sunday rolls around. Still, they are firmly entrenched as a team in the West region right now. The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring at 90 points per game. They are outscoring opponents by 25 points per game. That sounds like a No. 1 seed.
Biggest Games: The Bulldogs still have games against the top two teams in the West Coast Conference. However, they already defeated the BYU Cougars by 30 points on the road. They dominated the St. Mary’s Gaels by 48 points in the first meeting.
Midwest Region: No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers (23-2)
Yes, the Tennessee Volunteers had their most embarrassing performance of the season. However, they only felt the wrath of their second loss of the season at Kentucky. Meaning, they are in the same boat at the other projected No. 1 seeds. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, the schedule continues to get tougher down the stretch. The Volunteers still have a tie for first place in the SEC. However, they must avoid finishing in third place, especially if the Wildcats pull of the season sweep.
Biggest Games: They have three road games at LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn in the season finale. The Volunteers also have a second matchup with the Wildcats on the second day in March.
Overall, the ACC has two teams projected in the top four seeds. The SEC has one team and the WCC has one team. Keep in mind, the Big Ten has a pair of teams vying for the No. 2 seed right now. The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans will likely have a strong case at one of the No. 1 seeds. Furthermore, the Kentucky Wildcats and Tar Heels are still eying No. 1 seed consideration.