College Basketball

Bracketology: Ohio State clings to No. 1 seed as Duke, Michigan State loom

February 26

The top seeds remain the same in the latest installment of Bracketology, despite turmoil for one of the teams at the top.

The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes, who are coming off consecutive losses – including one to unranked Michigan State – should still feel good about themselves, according to FOX Sports bracketologist Mike DeCourcy.

The strength of the Big Ten as a whole probably helps the Buckeyes' case, with nine teams – two more than any other conference – projected to earn bids to the NCAA Tournament field.

Let's take a look at DeCourcy's projected brackets:

One of the most notable changes in the latest Bracketology is that the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes have fallen from a No. 2 seed to a No. 3, being replaced by the No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers have won five of their past six games, with three of those wins coming against ranked Big 12 opponents, another strong conference that is projected to earn seven bids.

The most volatile part of the bracket remains the bubble, as borderline teams try to improve their play and manufacture a late surge.

This group includes a couple of major programs that don't usually find themselves in such a situation. One is Duke, which has won four games in a row, including a victory over No. 15 Virginia, to move into the "Last Four In" portion of the bubble.

Also in the mix are the aforementioned Spartans, who received a big boost with their win over the Buckeyes. That's two impressive wins in a row for Michigan State, which beat No. 5 Illinois 81-72.

Going in the opposite direction is Stanford, which has suffered consecutive losses to Washington State and Oregon to move from "Last Four In" to the "First Four Out." The Cardinal will need a win at No. 19 USC to close the season on March 3 to feel confident about their chances to make the NCAA Tournament. Such a win could push the Pac-12 from four bids to five.

As for the rest of the country, the ACC is tied with the Big 12, with seven projected at-large bids, followed by the SEC with six, the Big East with five, the Pac-12 with four and the Mountain West with three.

The A-10, WCC and Missouri Valley Conference all are tied with two teams apiece.


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