On the heels of its first loss of the season, Baylor responded with a 94-89 overtime victory over West Virginia on Tuesday night.
The Bears (19-1, 11-1) didn’t just clinch their first Big 12 regular season title, they also locked up a No. 1 seed in the men’s NCAA Tournament with the rèsumè-boosting win.
Even with two games remaining – home clashes with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech this week – and the Big 12 Tournament on tap, there’s nothing Baylor could do in the next 11 days before Selection Sunday to lose the top seed. The Bears have the second-best NET score behind undefeated Gonzaga and enough quality wins in the Big 12.
The same cannot be said for Michigan – yet at least. The Wolverines (18-2, 13-2) met their Big Ten match on Tuesday in a 76-53 loss to Illinois. The Fighting Illini (19-6, 15-4) vaulted to a No. 1 seed earlier this week in bracketology after current No. 2 seeds Ohio State and Villanova stumbled.
While Tuesday’s victory for Illinois will bolster the profile for a top seeding line, because the Big Ten has those three top see contenders – Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio State – the Wolverines still need just a little more on their portfolio to fully lock up a top seed. Michigan still remains comfortably ahead of Illinois with its credentials.
Back-to-back matchups with rival Michigan State, a bubble team fighting for its inclusion in the field of 68, will provide opportunity for Michigan to lock up a No. 1 seed well before Selection Sunday, which is March 14.
The NCAA Tournament tips off March 18.
No. 1 seeds
Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois.
Last four in
Boise State, Georgia Tech, VCU, Connecticut.
First four out
Michigan State, Duke, St. Johns, Syracuse.
Next four out
SMU, Memphis, Stanford, Utah State.
Others considered for at-large bids: Saint Louis.
On life support: Marquette, Providence, Marshall, North Carolina State, Dayton, Pittsburgh, UAB, Georgia, Ole Miss, Minnesota, Richmond, Indiana.
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (8), Big 12 (7), ACC (7), SEC (6), Big East (5), Pac-12 (4), Mountain West (3), Atlantic 10 (2), American Athletic (2), Missouri Valley (2), West Coast (2).
Leaders or highest NET from projected one-bid conferences – (20 total): America East – UMBC, Atlantic Sun – Liberty, Big Sky – Eastern Washington, Big South – Winthrop, Big West – UCSB, CAA – Northeastern, C-USA – UAB, Horizon – Cleveland State, MAAC – Siena, MAC – Toledo, MEAC – Norfolk State, Northeast – Bryant, OVC – Belmont, Patriot – Navy, Southern – UNC Greensboro, Southland – Abilene Christian, SWAC – Prairie View A&M, Summit – South Dakota, Sun Belt – Texas State, WAC – Grand Canyon.
- Banned from participating: Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Delaware State, Auburn, Arizona
- Transition schools, ineligible for the tournament: Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Dixie State, Tarleton State, Bellarmine, UC San Diego
- COVID-19: Ivy League, Bethune-Cookman, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Howard, Maine
NCAA Tournament language explainer:
- NET stands for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, which is the barometer for the selection committee. It includes game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.
- Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
- Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
- Quadrant 3 wins: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
- Quadrant 4 wins: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET
Note: Most statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NET rankings (NCAA Evaluation Tool) also are a reference point.
About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his eighth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past seven March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson