Bracket Watch: Who’s safe and who still has work to do this week?

The No. 1 question of Championship Week for fans of any bubble team is, “How many do we need to win? Obviously, there’s no exact formula, because one team’s fate depends in part on how the other contenders do.

But here’s a general guide:

As of today, everyone that’s a No. 9 seed or better in this bracket is a lock.

The No. 10 seeds (VCU, Michigan State and Xavier) and highest No 11 (Providence) could use one more win to feel better about themselves. (The fourth No. 10 seed, Wichita State, is an automatic.)

The other No. 11 seeds (Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee, USC and Vanderbilt) and one at-large No. 12 seed (Syracuse) might be in with one more but would feel better with two. (Illinois State, my second-to-last at-large, is already done.)

Kansas State, my first team out, is likely in with two more wins because they’d come against highly ranked Baylor and, barring an upset, West Virginia. Iowa and Illinois may be in the same boat if enough teams above them exit early.

Everybody else probably needs three, which in all but a few cases, means … winning their conference tournament.

* — Denotes projected conference champion, automatic berth. Teams in bold have secured an automatic berth.

This edition’s bracket is Midwest vs. West and East vs. South in the national semifinals, based on the order of my No. 1 seeds.


Seed Team Location
1 Kansas* at Tulsa
16 New Orleans*/North Dakota*
8 Dayton*
9 Seton Hall
4 Purdue* at Milwaukee
13 Princeton*
5 Cincinnati
12 Illinois State/Syracuse
6 Wisconsin at Salt Lake City
11 Wake Forest
3 Arizona
14 Winthrop
7 Iowa State at Indianapolis
10 Michigan State
2 Louisville
15 UC Irvine*
Seed Team Location
1 Gonzaga* at Salt Lake City
16 Texas Southern*/Mount Saint Mary’s*
8 South Carolina
9 Oklahoma State
4 Duke at Greenville, SC
13 East Tennessee State
5 SMU*
12 Nevada*
6 Maryland at Milwaukee
11 USC/Vanderbilt
3 Butler
14 Cal State Bakersfield*
7 Virginia Tech at Sacramento
10 Wichita State
2 Oregon*
15 Omaha*
Seed Team Location
1 Villanova* at Buffalo
16 Jacksonville State
8 Michigan
9 Arkansas
4 Florida at Orlando
13 Vermont*
5 Virginia
12 UNC Wilmington
6 Saint Mary’s at Orlando
11 Providence
3 Florida State
14 Akron*
7 Creighton at Tulsa
10 VCU
2 Baylor
15 Iona*
Seed Team Location
1 North Carolina* at Greenville, SC
16 NC Central*
8 Marquette
9 Northwestern
4 West Virginia at Buffalo
13 Bucknell*
5 Notre Dame
12 UT Arlington*
6 Minnesota at Indianapolis
11 Middle Tennessee*
3 Kentucky*
14 Florida Gulf Coast
7 Miami at Sacramento
10 Xavier
15 Northern Kentucky*

LAST FOUR BYES: Michigan State, Xavier, Wake Forest, Providence

LAST FOUR IN: USC, Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Syracuse

FIRST FOUR OUT: Kansas State, Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island

NEXT FOUR OUT: Cal, Ole Miss, Indiana, Ohio State

MULTIPLE BID CONFERENCES: ACC (10), Big Ten (7), Big East (7), Big 12 (5), SEC (5), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (2), American (2), MVC (2), WCC (2)