We're now 50 days from Selection Sunday and with it, the start of March Madness. To get prepared, we have our latest prediction for the March Madness field, thanks to NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz.
Katz has traveled the country this regular season watching games and talking to top players and coaches, all of which have helped inform his fifth 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 window or tab).
And here's that bracket in table form:
|16||Norfolk St./Prairie View||Weber St.||Sam Houston/RMU||Rider|
|8||Ole Miss||Mississippi St.||Nebraska||St. John's|
|5||Purdue||Louisville||Texas Tech||Virginia Tech|
|12||Hofstra||Liberty||Old Dominion||Murray St.|
|13||Radford||UC Irvine||Texas St.||Stony Brook|
|14||Loyola-Chicago||George Mason||N. Kentucky||Bowling Green|
|10||Texas||Minnesota||Florida St.||Seton Hall|
|15||Princeton||Bakersfield||South Dakota St.||Bucknell|
Michigan State cracks the top line
For the first time in a long time, Katz’s bracket prediction has a new 1 seed. After Michigan fell to Wisconsin by 10 on the road, the previously-undefeated Wolverines needed a buzzer-beater to take down Minnesota at home, and those two games bumped the Wolverines off the 1 line and down to a 2 seed.
A red-hot Michigan State was ready to fill that void. The Spartans are riding a 13-game winning streak, including back-to-back double-digit wins against ranked teams in No. 13 Maryland and No. 19 Iowa. Michigan State’s two losses (in the season opener on a neutral court to Kansas, and a November overtime loss to Louisville) are in the rear-view mirror now as the Spartans are dominating the Big Ten, sitting in first place at 9-0 in conference. The Michigan-Michigan State matchup will be extra spicy this year, but we’ve still got a month before the first of those (Feb. 24).
For now, Michigan State sits on top, along with the three 1 seeds that haven’t changed in weeks: Virginia, Duke, and Tennessee.
After a loss to Northern Illinois earlier this week, Buffalo fell to second place in the MAC. In first? Bowling Green, which sits at 14-5 overall and 6-0 in conference. The two teams play twice before the conference tournament (on Feb. 1 and March 8), but at the moment, Katz has the Falcons capturing the MAC’s automatic bid and Buffalo getting in as an at-large. That would make for the first time the MAC was a two-bid league since 1999, when Miami (Ohio) got in as an at-large and Kent State secured the automatic bid.
Syracuse leads biggest risers
Beat the No. 1 team in the country at their place, and you’ll move up a few seeds. That’s what happened for Syracuse, which took down Duke at Cameron Indoor last week and moved from a 10 seed to a 7 seed in Katz’s latest bracket. The Orange followed the upset up with wins against Pittsburgh and Miami. Next, they head to Blacksburg to take on a No. 10 Virginia Tech team that dropped two of its last three games (granted, they were at Virginia and North Carolina). Time to see if the Duke game was a sign of things to come.
Villanova had a tumultuous start to the season, losing some understandable games (vs. Michigan and at Kansas) and some questionable ones (at home to Furman and on the road against Penn). But the Wildcats are hitting their stride, having won their last seven games, including tough matchups at Butler and Creighton and against No. 24 St. John’s. That performance has Villanova at a 4 seed on Katz’s latest bracket, up from a 6 seed in the previous prediction. The Wildcats don’t have too many opportunities to move much farther up the board, but don’t be surprised to see their name called in the Committee’s first Top 16 reveal next month.
Some other big jumps:
- Cincinnati jumped from a 9 to a 7
- Villanova jumped from a 6 to a 4
- Wisconsin jumped from an 8 to a 6
- Kansas State jumped from an 8 to a 6
Texas Tech among biggest drops
Texas Tech is ready for January to end already. The Red Raiders were 15-1 and ranked No. 8 in the country on Jan. 15. Ten days later, they’ve dropped three in a row to unranked teams and fallen from a 2 seed in Katz’s last prediction to a 5 seed this time around. Texas Tech has some tuning up to do with home games against Arkansas and TCU before taking on Kansas on the road on Feb. 2. There’s still plenty of time to get back up the seed list, but the Red Raiders are trending in the wrong direction.
Arizona was on the good side of the bubble in Katz’s last prediction, sitting at an 11 seed. But the Wildcats lost two of their last three, both to unranked foes, and now they’re on the outside looking in. The Pac-12 is in rough shape this season, with only one team currently in Katz’s prediction. That makes a rebound tough for Arizona, which doesn’t have a single currently-ranked opponent left on their schedule.
Some other big drops:
- Nebraska fell from a 5 to an 8
- Florida State fell from a 7 to a 10
- Ohio State fell from an 8 to an 11
- Temple fell from 11 seed out of the 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:
|Overall seed||Team||Seed||Automatic qualifier|
|58||South Dakota State||15||*|
|65||Sam Houston State||16||*|
Here is how every team's seed has changed since Katz's last prediction:
|Team||Bracket 5 seed||Bracket 4 seed||Movement|
|South Dakota State||15||14||-1|
|Sam Houston State||16||16||0|