March is officially here, and so is our first March edition of Andy Katz’s NCAA tournament field predictions.
Katz has traveled the country this regular season watching games and talking to top players and coaches, all of which have helped inform his eighth bracket prediction of the season for the DI men's basketball tournament.
We break down his picks below, but first, let’s look at the bracket itself (Tap or click here to open the bracket in a new tab).
Now let's take a look at that bracket in table form:
|16||Sam Houston St.||Prairie View/Norfolk St.||St. Francis/Iona||Campbell|
|9||Ole Miss||VCU||UCF||Ohio St.|
|12||Belmont||New Mexico St.||ASU/Florida||NC State/Seton Hall|
|4||Florida St.||Houston||Marquette||Kansas St.|
|11||Minnesota||Alabama||St. John's||Utah St.|
|14||UC Irvine||South Dakota St.||Vermont||Ga. Southern|
|2||Michigan St.||North Carolina||Michigan||Kentucky|
Duke holds top spot with a lot on the line this week
Duke has been a consistent presence on the top seed line in Katz’s bracket predictions this season. Even after losing at home to North Carolina and on the road against Virginia Tech in the span of six days, the Blue Devils have kept their 1 seed in the latest prediction. That’s mainly due to the perceived impact of Zion Williamson’s absence. Duke had lost just two games this year when Zion played the full 40, but his injury has left a big hole. With talks of the freshman returning to the lineup this week, a lot could change, and a lot could be revealed. Were those losses just the result of a Zion hangover, or is there something else troubling the team?
Duke plays Wake Forest on Tuesday night, and then heads to Chapel Hill to face one of the hottest teams in the country Saturday. The Tar Heels have been climbing up all rankings as of late, rising to No. 3 in the AP poll, No. 3 in Katz’s Power 36, and a 2 seed in Katz’s latest predictions. How Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina finish out the regular season and perform in the ACC tournament will obviously play a huge factor in final seeding, but it’s very likely we’ll see two 1 seeds and one 2 seed from the conference. Exactly who they are — and in what order — is still up in the air.
Clemson leads biggest drops
Clemson has come so close and fallen just short way too often this season. The Tigers have had five games this year with a final margin of one or two points. They’re 0-5 in those games. The latest of those came Saturday, when No. 5 North Carolina came to town and won 81-79. That dropped Clemson to 2-4 in its last six games, all of which followed a huge upset over No. 11 Virginia Tech on Feb. 9. The slump knocked Clemson from a 12 seed to the first four out in Katz’s latest prediction. Clemson will likely have to make up some ground in the ACC tournament to get back in the field.
St. John’s had a fantastic start to February, knocking off No. 10 Marquette on the road (the second win against a ranked Marquette team for St. John’s this year), and then taking down No. 13 Villanova at Madison Square Garden. But sandwiched in there were two losses to a middling Providence team (No. 78 in NET). Then the month ended with a loss at home to Xavier, and March began with a loss at DePaul. That puts St. John’s at 4-5 since the start of February. Even with marquee wins, that’s not a good look, and Katz dropped the Red Storm from an 8 seed to an 11 in his latest prediction.
Two weeks ago, Kentucky throttled No. 1 Tennessee at home, winning by 17. Saturday, the Wildcats traveled to Knoxville and lost by 19. It was just the second loss in 16 games for Kentucky (the other coming at home against LSU on Feb. 12), but it was enough for Katz to swap the two SEC teams in his latest prediction.
Auburn’s surge leads biggest risers
The SEC is having one of its most competitive years in recent history, with Tennessee, LSU, and Kentucky fighting for first place in the final week of play, but there are some hot teams just off the lead as well. Auburn sits at 20-9 on the year and 9-7 in conference. They’re also 4-1 in their past five games, with the lone loss coming from a road game against Kentucky. All that’s left in the regular season is a matchup at Alabama, then a showdown at home against No. 5 Tennessee. The momentum is in the Tigers’ favor, and convinced Katz to move Auburn from a 12 seed to an 8 in his latest prediction.
Few teams are as hot right now as Wofford. The Terriers finished the regular season on a 17-game winning streak at 26-4 (three of those four losses came against Top-20 teams, two in the Top-10). They’ll head into the SoCon tournament as the top seed, sitting at a perfect 18-0 in conference — a conference they haven’t won since they swept the regular season and tournament titles in 2015. Not only does Katz foresee Wofford making its first tournament since 2015, he’s pushed them up from a 10 seed to an 8 in his latest prediction.
Ohio State has been all over the board this year. The Buckeyes are always so close to picking up momentum, but never quite there. They haven’t strung together four straight wins since December. Still, they’ve shown flashes of brilliance, picking up a 20-point win against Iowa in the middle of a grueling stretch of three ranked games in a week (the other two of which they lost). They’re sitting at No. 41 in the NET, and Katz bumped them up to a 9 seed from an 11, but there’s still room for improvement. The Big Ten is chaotic this season, with six teams in double-digit conference wins. That may open the door for a great showing for the Buckeyes in the conference tournament.
Andy Katz's field of 68
Here is Katz’s full seed list in order. Beneath it, you’ll find a list of all 68 teams in Katz's latest field, with how their seeding has changed since the last prediction:
|50||New Mexico State||12||AQ|
|57||South Dakota State||14||AQ|
|63||Sam Houston State||16||AQ|
|67||St. Francis (PA)||16||AQ|
Here is how every team's seed has changed since Katz's last prediction:
|Team||Bracket 9 seed||Bracket 8 seed||Movement|
|New Mexico State||12||12||0|
|South Dakota State||14||14||0|
|Sam Houston State||16||16||0|
|St. Francis (PA)||16||16||0|