Bracket Watch: And the final No. 1 seed is …

(Editor’s note: This bracket is updated with all of Sunday’s results and is the final version.)

Thanks to Duke’s four-day run through the ACC tournament, the topic du jour on this Selection Sunday is whether the 27-8 Blue Devils will now garner a No. 1 seed that would have seemed unfathomable less than a week ago.

Presumably to the chagrin of many of you, my hunch is they will.

Allow me to explain.

Villanova (31-3) and Kansas (28-4) are the no-brainer first two No. 1s. I now have Gonzaga (32-1) as my third No. 1 seed. I don’t believe the committee — which had the ‘Zags as a No. 1 back in mid-February — will drop them behind any of the flawed contenders I’m about to discuss.

Let’s start with the obvious argument AGAINST Duke — that no No. 1 seed has ever had eight losses. Others may gripe about the idea of giving a No. 1 seed to the ACC’s fifth-place team during the regular season, especially over regular-season champ North Carolina (27-7).

But the committee cares far more about who you beat then who you lost to, and they care not at all about conference standings. End of day, Duke racked up more good wins than anybody — eight against RPI top 25 opponents, 13 against the top 50. Most impressively, eight of those 13 came on the road or at neutral sites. All this despite the fact it was without coach Mike Krzyzewski for seven games and several key players for many others — circumstances the committee considers.

I could make a perfectly good argument for North Carolina, whose resume is not all that different — 11 top 50 wins, five top 25 wins — than the Blue Devils’. The deciding factor for me, however, is that unlike Duke, the Tar Heels’ five best wins all came at home.

I can’t make any argument at all for Pac-12 tourney champ Arizona (30-4), despite its gaudy record. Duke earned as many top 25 wins in a three-day span this week as the Wildcats earned all season. They’re my No. 2 seed in the West.

As for bubble teams, there won’t be a whole lot of suspense Sunday. There are essentially three teams — Rhode Island, USC and Syracuse — contending for two spots. (I’ve thrown in the towel on Illinois State.) And Rhode Island can render that partially moot by beating VCU in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 final (UPDATE: Rhode Island wins. Bracket changes reflected below).

So here we go — my last bracket before the real one.

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

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


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

LAST FOUR BYES: Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, VCU, Michigan State,

LAST FOUR IN: Wake Forest, Providence, Kansas State, USC

FIRST SIX OUT: Illinois State, Syracuse, Iowa, Illinois, Cal, TCU

MULTIPLE BID CONFERENCES: ACC (9), Big Ten (7), Big East (7), Big 12 (6), SEC (5), Pac-12 (4), A-10 (3), American (2), WCC (2)