College basketball season starts tomorrow, and there's only one way to celebrate: with the first bracketology of the season!
Who are the 68 teams that will make this year's Big Dance?
They're listed below!
(Note: The teams aren't listed on seed lines, but instead, in simple groupings. Projected at-large clubs are at the top, followed by projected conference champions. The high-major conference champions (the ACC, SEC, Big 12 etc., are at the bottom. Enjoy!)
St. Mary’s (WCC at-large)
After finishing 29-6, the Gaels were robbed of an NCAA Tournament a year ago. With four double-digit scorers back in the fold, they won’t miss the Big Dance for a second straight year.
Florida Gators (SEC at-large)
The Billy Donovan era feels like a lifetime ago, but with the arrival of transfer Canyon Barry (Rick Barry’s son), Mike White should get the Gators back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Donovan took them to the Final Four in 2013-14.
Texas A&M Aggies (SEC at-large)
The Aggies’ lost several key pieces off one of the most successful clubs in school history last season. But with center Tyler Davis and sharp-shooter D.J. Hogg back, A&M remains the second-best team in the SEC.
Colorado (Pac-12 at-large)
Colorado has made the NCAA Tournament four times since coach Tad Boyle arrived in 2010. The Buffaloes made the Tournament five times in the 50 years before that. I’m no math genius, but the numbers tell me Boyle will find a way to get the Buffaloes into the Tournament again this season.
California (Pac-12 at-large)
For all the talk about college basketball’s freshman class, Bears’ sophomore Ivan Rabb might just be the best player in the sport. He will have help from guards Jabari Bird and freshman Charlie Moore as well.
USC (Pac-12 at-large)
Andy Enfield’s club was decimated by transfers and early departures to the pros. But with guard Jordan McLaughlin back alongside big man Bennie Boatwright, the Trojans should have more than enough to make a second straight NCAA Tournament.
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports
Arizona (Pac-12 at-large)
It’s been a brutal preseason for Sean Miller, who has lost one player to a career-ending injury (Ray Smith), with two more (Allonzo Trier and Chance Comanche) dealing with off-the-court issues that could keep them off the court. Thankfully, a strong recruiting class – led by Finnish star Lauri Markkanen – should keep the Wildcats afloat until everything else gets sorted out.
UCLA (Pac-12 at-large)
With star freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf joining a returning core that includes Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton, Thomas Welsh and others, the Bruins have more than enough talent to win a Pac-12 title. And maybe a national title as well.
Maryland (Big Ten at-large)
Is Maryland a Top 25 team like the preseason polls say? Probably not. But with Melo Trimble back and with another solid recruiting class, the Terrapins are a Tournament team for sure.
Purdue (Big Ten at-large)
The Boilermakers were one of the big winners of the NBA’s new draft declaration rules, when Caleb Swanigan declared for the draft, but removed his name at the last minute. Add him to Michigan transfer Spike Albrecht in the back court, and the Boilermakers will be dancing again this year.
Indiana (Big Ten at-large)
Without Yogi Ferrell, I’m skeptical that the Hoosiers can top last year’s Big Ten regular season title and Sweet 16 run. But with a bunch of key pieces back – led by enter Thomas Bryant – they are for sure a Tournament team.
Michigan (Big Ten at-large)
This isn’t a vintage John Beilein team, but with all five starters back off a tourney team last year, the Wolverines will be dancing in March.
Carlos Osorio/Associated PressCarlos Osorio
Michigan State (Big Ten at-large)
With so many new players and a notoriously hard-headed coach (especially when dealing with young players), it could take a while for the Spartans’ to jell. But when they do, watch out. There aren’t many teams in the country with more talent than Tom Izzo’s club.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Marquette (Big East at-large)
Year three of the Steve Wojciechowski should produce the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013. Henry Ellenson may be gone, but there will still be plenty of talent on this roster.
Seton Hall (Big East at-large)
The Hall lost Isaiah Whitehead early to the NBA, but with four starters returning should make its first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances since 1994. Whether the Pirates can win their first tourney game since 2004 remains to be seen, however.
Creighton (Big East at-large)
Thanks to senior guard Maurice Watson and transfer Marcus Foster, the Blue Jays have enough talent to not only make it to the NCAA Tournament, but do damage. Also, don’t sleep on freshman Kobe Paras contributing off the bench after the former UCLA commit ended up in Omaha this summer.
Villanova (Big East at-large)
I’m the only person in America who isn’t predicting Jay Wright’s club to win the Big East, but that’s more because I love Xavier than I dislike anything about the Wildcats. With Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson and tourney hero Kris Jenkins back, Nova has more than enough to once again make it to the Final Four and, yes, win it all again.
Oklahoma (Big 12 at-large)
Buddy Hield is gone, but Lon Kruger is too good of a coach to let the Sooners miss the NCAA Tournament without him. Don’t count on OU to get back to the Final Four, but it should have no problem making its fifth straight Big Dance.
Texas Tech (Big 12 at-large)
Tubby Smith is out, but Chris Beard is in at Tech and I don’t expect the Red Raiders to miss a beat. As a friend of Beard’s told me “This guy doesn’t do five-year plans. He will win right away. With him, there’s no other choice.” Based on the fact that he won 30 games last year at Arkansas-Little Rock, I believe it.
West Virginia (Big 12 at-large)
Daxter Miles Jr. may be best remembered for taunting Kentucky two years ago (before an epic NCAA Tournament beat down). Now a senior, he’ll be a key cog for another really good Mountaineers team.
Texas (Big 12 at-large)
Texas will be younger than last year, but potentially more fun, with McDonald’s All-Americans Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones infusing this roster with talent and athleticism.
Chris CovattaGetty Images
Iowa State (Big 12 at-large)
Fred Hoiberg has been in Chicago for over 18 months now, but his fingerprints remain all over the Iowa State program. With guards Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long back for their senior seasons, the Cyclones have as good a shot as anyone in this conference at knocking off the reigning 12-time defending champion Kansas Jayhawks.
VCU (A-10 at-large)
Year one of the Will Wade era was a rip-roaring success, as VCU won one more NCAA Tournament game than their former coach, Shaka Smart, did at Texas last year. The question now is whether 2017 is the year that the Rams break through and make it to the second weekend of the Big Dance for the first time since 2013.
Dayton (A-10 at-large)
Archie Miller has built a monster at Dayton, and things shouldn’t slow down even with the departure of star forward Dyshawn Pierre. Charles Cooke – who averaged 15 points per game last year – could end up as the A-10 Player of the Year.
Houston (AAC at-large)
It’s not just Tom Herman’s club that’s the toast of H-Town, but Kelvin Sampson’s too, as the former Oklahoma coach has the Cougs’ poised to make the Big Dance for the first time since 2010. With several key pieces returning that won nine of their final 11 regular season games, the Coogs might just win their first tourney game since the 1980’s as well.
Cincinnati (AAC at-large)
The Bearcats have now made six straight NCAA Tournaments under Mick Cronin, and with guard Troy Caupain (13 ppg, 4.8 apg) back, that streak should continue this season.
SMU (AAC at-large)
No, SMU shouldn’t have missed the NCAA Tournament last year. And yes, the Mustangs got screwed. But even without coach Larry Brown, the Mustangs have more than enough talent to return to the Tournament for a second time in three years. And this time, do some damage.
Notre Dame (ACC at-large)
It’s hard to imagine Mike Brey’s club making a third straight Elite Eight. But with guard forwards V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson back, it’s also hard imagine them being shut out of the Big Dance.
Getty ImagesLance King
Virginia Tech (ACC at-large)
Remember a few years back when Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech and we all thought “what the hell is this guy thinking?” Well, flash-forward three years and apparently he was thinking “I can turn Tech into a winner.” Which he has.
Clemson (ACC at-large)
While you’d never think it, the Tigers just might have the ACC’s best player in Jaron Blossomgame. The senior averaged 18 points per game last year. If he can get any help around him, Clemson – yes, Clemson – could be a dangerous team come March.
NC State (ACC at-large)
If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times: Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. is going to be a star. Couple him with fellow freshman Omer Yurtseven and returnees Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu, and the Wolfpack could be one of the biggest surprises in college basketball this season.
Florida State (ACC at-large)
The focus will be on returnees Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, but the star could be freshman Jonathan Isaac. At a legitimate 6-fpot-11 with perimeter skills, he could end up as a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft next spring.
Syracuse (ACC at-large)
Eight months later, and I’m still not sure how Jim Boeheim’s club ended up in the Final Four last year. But with returnees Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon playing alongside freshman Tyus Battle and transfer Andrew White, this will once again be a dangerous team, capable of making a deep March run.
Louisville (ACC at-large)
Assuming the school doesn’t pull itself out of another NCAA Tournament because of its continuing off-the-court troubles, the Cardinals will return to the Big Dance and do major damage in 2017. After averaging just seven points a game last year, guard Donovan Mitchell could be this team’s breakout star.
Virginia (ACC at-large)
The Cavaliers were thiiiiiiis close to making the Final Four last year, before falling apart in the final minutes against Syracuse in the Elite Eight. With guard London Perrantes back and joined by transfer Austin Nichols, the Cavaliers are undoubtedly good enough to break through this time around.
North Carolina (ACC at-large)
Last year’s national runners-up return plenty of talent, highlighted by guard Joel Berry and forwards Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson. The measure of whether the Tar Heels are a true title contender, however, may be the development of freshmen like Seventh Woods and Tony Bradley.
New Mexico State (WAC champs)
Grand Canyon is probably the WAC’s best team, but with Dan Majerle’s club still ineligible for the NCAA Tournament for another year, the favorite has to be New Mexico State. Former coach Marvin Menzies left for UNLV in the offseason, but hardly left the cupboard bare for his former assistant Paul Weir.
Texas Southern (SWAC champs)
The Tigers have made the postseason the last three seasons (including the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Tournaments) and with several key pieces returning in a watered-down league, there’s no reason to think Mike Davis’ club won’t be the favorite going into 2017 as well.
UT-Arlington (Sun Belt champs)
Chris Beard was like a comet to hit the Sun Belt, winning 30 games at Little Rock last season before eventually moving on to Texas Tech before anyone knew what hit them. With Beard now out, in steps UT-Arlington, a club that won 24 games last year and returns virtually all its key players.
Ft. Wayne (Summit League champs)
I’m always going to be all-in on a team nicknamed the “Mastodons” and that’s especially the case this year. Ft. Wayne returns enough to make the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament. Said one assistant coach in the Summit League when I texted him Wednesday: “It’s their league to win.”
Sam Houston State (Southland champs)
With coach Brad Underwood off to Oklahoma State and star Thomas Walkup off to the pros, it seems like it’s finally time for someone to take over Stephen F. Austin’s stranglehold on this conference. With a pair of 14-point-per-game scorers returning, the Bearkats seem like as good a bet as anyone.
Chattanooga (Southern champs)
The Mocs return four starters off a 29-win team from a season ago. Looking at the So-Con coming into the year, the only team that can beat Chattanooga … is itself.
Lehigh (Patriot champs)
Lehigh hasn’t made the Big Dance since upsetting Duke back in 2012. With the inside-outside combo of Tim Kempton (17.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and Kahron Ross (11.2 points per game, 6.1 apg), that streak should end this season.
Belmont (Ohio Valley champs)
Four starters are back for Rick Byrd’s club, led by the reigning OVC Player of the year Evan Bradds. After averaging 17.6 points and 9.2 boards last year, Bradds is one of the most underrated players in the country.
Farleigh Dickinson (Northeast champs)
The NEC is a top-heavy league, but as the defending champ and with four starters back, Farleigh Dickinson remains the team to beat.
San Diego State (Mountain West champs)
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Mountain West was one of the premiere conferences in all of college basketball, but with New Mexico, Fresno State and UNLV in various rebuilding stages, the Aztecs could very well be the league’s only NCAA Tournament representative this season.
Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley champs)
Northern Iowa’s 2016 season will always be remembered for two things: a stunning buzzer-beater to upset Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and an even more stunning, historically awful collapse against Texas A&M a round later. It’s not hard to envision the Panthers returning to a third straight NCAA Tournament this year, especially with Wichita State beginning life without Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.
Akron (MAC champs)
The Zips are led by Keith Dambrot (LeBron James’ former high school coach) and under his watch have won at least 20 games 11 straight seasons. However, they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2012-13. That should change this year, as a loaded Akron roster will take down a loaded MAC for an NCAA Tourney bid.
Howard (MEAC champs)
Quick question: Who led college basketball in scoring last year? If you answered “Christian Laettner” well, you’re really, really wrong.
Nope, the answer is Howard’s James Daniel III, who tallied over 27 points per game last year. If he can come anywhere close to those numbers, the Bison should be dancing.
Monmouth (MAAC champs)
Thanks to their boisterous bench (and out-of-conference wins over schools like UCLA, Georgetown and others), Monmouth made a lot of noise last regular season before flaming out in the MAAC Tournament. That shouldn’t be an issue this year on a club that returns one of college basketball’s best mid-major players, Justin Robinson, who averaged 19 a game last season.
Princeton (Ivy League champs)
Last year, Yale was the Ivy League darling, and Harvard welcomes in one of the best recruiting classes in conference history. But 2017 is the year of the Tiger. Princeton returns four double-digit scorers off a 22-win team a season ago.
Valparaiso (Horizon champs)
Former coach Bryce Drew is gone (and coaching Vanderbilt), but star forward Alec Peters (18.4 points, 8.4 rebounds a season ago) returns. That’s enough to get Valpo back to the Big Dance, after being bounced in the Horizon Tournament a season ago.
UAB (Conference USA champs)
After winning 46 games in the past two years, Jerrod Haase left for the head coaching job at Stanford. But he didn’t leave the cupboard bare in Birmingham. With five starters returning off a 26-win team, it’s hard to see anyone other than the Blazers winning Conference USA.
UNC-Wilmington (CAA champs)
Kevin Keatts is one of the hottest names in coaching after leading the Seahawks to their first NCAA Tournament bid in a decade last year. With four double-figure scorers back, they should return for a second straight year. And Keatts could very well be one of the hottest names on the coaching market by the end of the year.
UC-Irvine (Big West champs)
The loss of 7-foot-6 star Mamadou Ndiaye hurts, but the Anteaters return more than enough talent to make their second NCAA Tournament in three years. Look out for English-born point guard Luke Nelson, who averaged just under 14 points and four assists last season.
Winthrop (Big South champs)
For three straight years, Winthrop has been the bridesmaid in the Big South Conference Tournament. With star point guard Keon Johnson back (18.7 points per game a season ago), this is the year the Eagles finally break through.
Weber State (Big Sky champs)
Yes, the Wildcats lost Joel Bolomboy (a second-round pick of the Utah Jazz) from last year’s team. But with the team’s four other starters returning, it should still be enough to push Weber State to its third NCAA Tournament in four years.
North Florida (Atlantic Sun champs)
It’s impossible to root against a team named the Ospreys (go ahead, I dare you to try), but North Florida has the talent to make its second Big Dance in three years. The Ospreys are led by reigning league player of the year Dallas Moore, who averaged just under 20 points per game and six assists a season ago.
Vermont (America East champs)
The Catamounts are the heavy favorites in the America East, after returning three players who averaged double figures last season. Vermont is seeking their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2012.
Gonzaga (WCC champs)
New year, same story: It’s Gonzaga’s league to lose. Mark Few’s club will look different (thanks to transfers Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews) but still is the favorite to take home the conference title and win the WCC.
Rhode Island (A-10 champs)
The Rams haven’t made the Big Dance since Lamar Odom was on campus, but with E.C. Matthews returning from a season-long injury last year to join Kuran Iverson and Hassan Martin, that streak should end this season.
I’m going to go a bit off-script here and pick Chris Mack’s club to take home the Big East Conference title over Villanova. The Musketeers return plenty of talent (including potential All-Americans Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett) and proved they can hang with Jay Wright’s club, handing the defending champs one of their five losses last season. This team is “Final Four good” and will prove it by taking home the Big East crown.
Oregon (Pac-12 champs)
The Ducks won the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament titles on their way to an Elite Eight berth. With virtually every key piece back (including potential All-Americans Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Chris Boucher), this club has all the pieces to make its first Final Four since 1939. And potentially win it all as well.
Wisconsin (Big Ten champs)
After taking over at midseason last year, Greg Gard is fully entrenched in Madison. And his team returns every key piece off his Sweet 16 squad from last year. This squad is undoubtedly good enough to make a third Final Four in four years.
Kansas (Big 12 champs)
The Jayhawks have won an unfathomable 12 straight regular season conference titles, and in a watered-down Big 12, should have no problem making it 13 in a row this year. Can they get over their Elite Eight hump? Kansas has been to just one Final Four since 2008.
Kentucky (SEC champs)
While it seems a little unfair to call the SEC “Kentucky and the 13 dwarves,” the SEC kind of is Kentucky and the 13 dwarves. With another loaded freshman class joining veterans Derek Willis and Isaiah Briscoe, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ‘Cats went undefeated in league play on their way to regular season and conference tournament titles.
Duke (ACC champs)
With freshmen Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden all nursing various injuries, it could be a bit of a slow start to the season for the Blue Devils. But when those three return and join forces with veterans like Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and others, watch out. This team will be scary good.