Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away and there are a number of teams heading in the right direction to get into the NCAA tournament that weren’t even being considered a few weeks ago.
And then there are others that are safely in but are trending toward a lower seed.
Some of the latter aren’t in the Power 36 because they aren’t playing as well recently. But don’t fret — they are still in my projected bracket (see: Arizona, Colorado, Texas Tech, Florida and Indiana).
1. Kansas (1): Trending toward the No. 1 overall seed.
2. Gonzaga (3): The Zags are the No. 1 seed in the West in my projected bracket.
3. Dayton (4): The Flyers still have a shot at a No. 1 seed.
4. Kentucky (6): The Wildcats are the SEC champs and enter the NCAA tournament as a contender.
5. San Diego State (5): The Aztecs are still holding onto the No. 1 seed in the East in my bracket.
6. Baylor (2): The Bears' loss to TCU will offer some pause, but for now they're still a No. 1 seed in my bracket.
7. Louisville (9): The Cardinals can still share a spot atop the ACC standings but must beat Virginia Saturday.
8. Seton Hall (14): The Pirates are going to live up to the hype and win the Big East.
9. Maryland (7): Despite the loss to Michigan State, the Terps can win their first Big Ten title this week.
10. Michigan State (24): The preseason No. 1 team is looking the part in the final week of the season.
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11. Florida State (8): The Seminoles had a setback at Clemson but can still win the ACC.
12. BYU (15): The Cougars are going to be a must-watch team in the WCC and NCAA tournament.
13. Illinois (21): The Illini are going to be one of the toughest teams to get out this month.
14. UCLA (26): Mick Cronin is my Coach of the Year in the Pac-12, and the Bruins are on the verge of winning the league.
15. Duke (10): The Blue Devils lost at Wake Forest and then at Virginia, meaning their first-place in the final ACC standings drought will continue into a new decade (last finished first in 2010).
16. Oregon (16): The Ducks can still win the league and with Payton Pritchard, they're always in the game.
17. Wisconsin (25): Greg Gard should be the Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. The Badgers have a shot to get a piece of the Big Ten title. Simply amazing after the Badgers’ start.
18. Ohio State (18): The Buckeyes had a sensational second half against Michigan to get back to playing like they did in late December.
19. Auburn (17): The Tigers didn’t win at Kentucky but they're still a threat to win the SEC tournament.
20. Creighton (11): The Bluejays missed an opportunity to play for the Big East title against Seton Hall by losing at St. John’s, barring a Pirates' loss to Villanova at home (unlikely but not implausible). Still, Creighton can and will be tough to defend this month.
21. Virginia (32): The Cavaliers have a shot to win the ACC. Repeat, the Virginia Cavaliers are the hottest team in the league, and they're back to being an extremely difficult team to face.
22. Michigan (12): The Wolverines are healthy, but still need to close out games. This crew can still make a deep run in March.
23. Providence (34): The Friars are going to make the NCAA tournament after a disastrous non-conference run. Ed Cooley should be Big East Coach of the Year.
24. Iowa (22): Luka Garza will be a finalist for, and likely will win, at least one national player of the year award.
25. Houston (29): The Cougars are going to win the American in what could have been a rebuilding year.
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26. Villanova (19): The Wildcats lost at home to Providence, but they can steal Seton Hall’s Big East crown at home with a win Wednesday.
27. Stanford (NR): The Cardinal is once again looking like an NCAA tournament team after sweeping Utah and Colorado.
28. Arizona State (13): The Sun Devils had a rough weekend in L.A. but are still a game out of first place in the Pac-12.
29. Penn State (23): The Nittany Lions have slid back below the the double-bye cut-off in the Big Ten tournament.
30. Saint Mary’s (33): The Gaels split the week with the loss coming at Gonzaga on the Bulldogs’ senior night. No shame in that at all.
31. USC (NR): The Trojans are playing themselves into the NCAA tournament field with a sweep of the Arizona schools.
32. Northern Iowa (36): The Panthers deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament if they exit the Missouri Valley tournament final in St. Louis. A strong case can be made even if the loss comes in the semifinal, too.
33. Texas (NR): The Longhorns, led by our player of the week, Andrew Jones, beat Texas Tech and West Virginia to get back into the NCAA tournament picture.
34. Oklahoma (NR): The Sooners have been on both sides of the NCAA tournament discussion. Beating Texas Tech and West Virginia puts them safely in my projected bracket for now.
35. Richmond (NR): The Spiders are now in a better position than Rhode Island to come out of the A-10 after the Rams lost at Saint Louis. That could change this week if the Rams can beat Dayton, while the Spiders need to beat Davidson and win at Duquesne. Both could get in, too, of course.
36. UNLV (NR): The Rebels have to win the Mountain West to get a bid, but they’ve won five in a row, including handing San Diego State its first loss of the season. UNLV (12-6 Mountain West) has won three road games during the streak (at UNM and at San Jose State, too). The Rebels host the Mountain West Conference tournament this week.
Player of the week
Andrew Jones, Texas: Jones is, and will be, one of the best stories of the 2019-20 season after coming back from being diagnosed with Leukemia. Jones has regained his strength and is done with his treatments. And, on the court, he has put the Longhorns back in contention for an NCAA tournament berth by scoring 22 points in each of their last two wins — over West Virginia and at Texas Tech.
Team of the Week
Michigan State: The preseason No. 1 is still in contention for the conference title after beating Maryland in College Park. The Spartans beat Iowa earlier in the week in East Lansing. The Spartans, now a game back in the loss column from first place, are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time.