Bracket Watch: MSU, Xavier, Oklahoma, KU hold top seeds in first edition

Michigan State, Oklahoma, Kansas and, yes, Xavier get the top seeds in our first Bracket Watch of the season.

Conference play across college basketball begins this week. Why not go ahead and take an early peek at how the March Madness bracket is shaping up?

There’s no equivalent to 2014-15 Kentucky towering over the landscape this season, though 13-0 Michigan State — boasting wins over Kansas, Louisville and Providence — was a fairly obvious No. 1 overall seed. While Xavier’s presence on the top line may surprise some, it’s gone 12-0 against the RPI’s second-rated schedule.

But with such small sample sizes, you can’t rely too heavily at this point on the easily skewed RPI ratings — even if the real committee does just that. A healthy dose of KenPom and a little bit of common sense projecting also played a part.

For these purposes, my highest-rated team in each conference garnered the temporary automatic berth. I’ll start relying on actual league standings when this column returns for good after football season.

Selection Sunday is March 13, and the tournament begins with the First Four on March 15.

* — Denotes projected conference champion, automatic berth

(Note: the Midwest winner will play the West winner in the Final Four and the East winner will face the South)

Midwest Region (Chicago)
Seed
Team
Location
1
Michigan State*
at St. Louis
16
UMKC*
8
Gonzaga
9
USC
4
Butler
at Denver
13
Hawaii*
5
Texas A&M
12
Northern Iowa*
6
West Virginia
at Brooklyn
11
Valparaiso*
3
Duke
14
Louisiana Tech*
7
UCLA
at Oklahoma City
10
Michigan
2
Iowa State
15
Kent State*