This edition of "Bracket Math" includes all games through Tuesday, March 8. Rankings reflect an up-to-date S-curve from yours truly, posing as one hypothetical member of the NCAA men's basketball committee.
Let me quickly and directly answer the most pressing question of the day: the Villanova Wildcats are not going to miss the NCAA tournament (and this is coming from a St. Joe's guy!). I know the Wildcats have struggled mightily in the second half of the season and I know no team has ever entered the NCAAs on a five-game losing streak.
But I'm fairly certain none of the other comparisons we could dig up have eight wins over teams currently in the NCAA field (three of which have come during the allegedly fatal slide). The Wildcats, even while losing 10 of 15 games, have gone 3-7 against tournament teams in that span. And there will be plenty of teams in this year's field with a similarly mediocre profile.
Villanova's seed is -- and should be -- very much in doubt, but its selection to the 68-team field is not.
*: Clinched regular-season title and NIT automatic bid if needed
Bold: Projected conference winners (highest remaining conference tournament seed)
CAPS and BOLD: Clinched automatic bid
GREEN: Teams with tourney odds of 85 percent or better through games of March 8.
YELLOW: "Last four in" (will play March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio)
GOLD: Lowest four auto-bids (will play March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio)
RED: "First four out" (teams 69-72 on the S-curve)
ORANGE: "Next four out" (teams 73-76 on the S-curve)
Take our "solid" at-large candidates (current Tournament Odds at 90 percent or better) and you have exactly 39 teams in the field. Add in the remaining automatic qualifiers and that's another 19 spots. All told we have 58 of the 68 spots accounted for, with only 10 up for grabs among current "Bubble" teams.
"BUBBLE" (20 teams for 10 spots)
IN (10, in S-curve order): 40-St. Mary's, 41-Richmond, 43-Villanova, 44-Michigan, 45-Clemson, 46-Boston College, 47-Michigan St, 48-Virginia Tech, 49-Colorado, 50-Georgia
OUT (10, in S-curve order): 69-Alabama, 70-Southern Cal, 71-Missouri St, 72-Washington St, 73-Baylor, 74-Nebraska, 75-Memphis, 76-UTEP, 77-Penn St, 78-California
Big East (11), ACC (6), Big Ten (6), Big 12 (6), SEC (5), Atlantic 10 (3), Mountain West (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), Horizon League (2), West Coast (2)
NIT QUALIFIERS (8)
• Charleston (Southern)
• Coastal Carolina (Big South)
• Fairfield (MAAC)
• Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt)
• Milwaukee (Horizon)
• Missouri State (MVC)
• Murray State (OVC)
• Vermont (America East)