Kentucky and Kansas are 2 hungry blue bloods in our new NCAA bracket

 Tyler Ulis #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates

Tyler Ulis and Kentucky Wildcats could use a big win, and they'll have a chance at one vs. Kansas this weekend.

Andy Lyons

Given how much the selection committee values teams’ non-conference schedules, Saturday’s Big 12/SEC Challenge gives those leagues’ tourney contenders a prime opportunity to bolster their resumes.

Here’s a quick primer on the games that matter most.

Iowa State at Texas A&M (2 ET): The 17-3 Aggies tumbled from a No. 2 to a No. 4 seed with this week’s loss to Arkansas; they can vault right back with a win over the 16-4 Cyclones, currently my No. 5 overall seed.

Oklahoma at LSU (5 ET): Player-of-the-year candidates Buddy Hield and Ben Simmons take center stage. The 13-7 Tigers could begin building a case as a bubble team if they manage to knock off my current No. 1 overall seed.

Kentucky at Kansas (7 ET): The 16-4 Jayhawks have lost three of their last five but can still contend for a No. 1 seed if they turn things around. Kentucky could use a signature win to replace its now-devalued victory at Duke.

NOTES: The current first-place team in each conference is designated as the automatic berth (*). In the event of ties, I use the highest-ranked RPI team.

The Midwest winner will play the East winner in the Final Four and the West will face the South.

Midwest Region (Chicago)
Seed
Team
Location
1
Iowa*
at Des Moines
16
Hampton*/Texas A&M-CC*(new)
8
South Carolina
9
Wichita St.*
4
Providence
at Spokane
13
Hofstra*
5
Louisville
12
Stony Brook* ↑
6
Utah
at Providence
11
Monmouth*
3
Miami
14
Belmont*
7
Cal
at St Louis
10
Valparaiso* ↑
2
Iowa State
15
UNC-Asheville*
East Region (Philadelphia)
Seed
Team
Location
1
Villanova*
at Brooklyn
16
Montana* (new)
8
Indiana ↓
9
Connecticut
4
West Virginia
at Denver
13
Yale*
5
Kentucky
12
UCLA ↓/Clemson (new)
6
Baylor
at Providence
11
Florida State
3
Maryland ↑
14
South Dakota St.*(new)
7
Duke ↑
at Spokane
10
Florida
2
Oregon* ↑
15
Kent State* ↑
West Region (Anaheim)
Seed
Team
Location
1
North Carolina*
at Raleigh
16
Bucknell*
8
Michigan
9
Saint Mary’s*
4
Texas A&M* ↓
at Oklahoma City
13
UC Irvine*
5
Dayton
12
Arkansas-Little Rock*
6
Pittsburgh
at Brooklyn
11
Texas Tech ↓/Washington
3
Michigan St.
14
UAB* ↑
7
Arizona ↓
at Des Moines
10
Syracuse ↑
2
Kansas
15
New Mexico St.*
South Region (Louisville)
Seed
Team
Location
1
Oklahoma*
at Oklahoma City
16
Texas So.*/Mt. St. Mary’s*
8
Notre Dame
9
Butler
4
Purdue
at Denver
13
San Diego St.*
5
USC
12
VCU*
6
Colorado ↑
at Raleigh
11
Cincinnati* (new)
3
Virginia
14
Chattanooga*
7
Texas
at St Louis
10
Gonzaga
2
Xavier
15
North Florida*

LAST FOUR IN: Texas Tech, Washington, UCLA, Clemson

FIRST FOUR OUT: George Washington, Oregon State, Seton Hall, Vanderbilt

NEXT FOUR OUT: Stanford, Georgetown, Creighton, St. Joe’s

MULTIPLE BID CONFERENCES: ACC (10), Big 12 (7), Pac-12 (8), Big Ten (6), Big East (4), SEC (4), American (2), Atlantic 10 (2), WCC (2)

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.

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