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March 11, 2011

Huguenin: Projecting the NCAA field of 68

"Selection Sunday" is two days away, and here is our latest projection at how we think the field will look Sunday night.

It's important to note that this is a projection of how teams are going to finish, not how the field would look if it were decided today.

We will update this projection again Saturday, once in the morning and again around midnight Eastern time.

Teams are grouped by projected seed. At the bottom is a breakdown by league of the number of projected bids and some information on the makeup of the field, the selection committee and the sites.

Remember that this is the first season of a 68-team field. There will be four play-in games this season: two involving teams that will be No. 16 seeds and two involving the final four at-large teams. The supposition for this exercise is the final four at-large teams will be No. 12 seeds. That's why there are six teams at the Nos. 12 and 16 seedings.

(Note: Asterisked teams must win their conference titles to receive an NCAA bid, while teams in bold already have clinched bids.)

Rivals.com Projected NCAA Field of 68
No. 1s
1. Ohio State
2. Kansas
3. Notre Dame
4. Pittsburgh
No. 2s
5. Duke
6. San Diego State
7. North Carolina
8. Syracuse
No. 3s
9. Florida
10. Purdue
11. Texas
12. Wisconsin
No. 4s
13. Louisville
14. Kentucky
15. BYU
16. Connecticut
No. 5s
17. Xavier
18. West Virginia
19. St. John's
20. Vanderbilt
No. 6s
21. Texas A&M
22. Temple
23. Kansas State
24. Georgetown
No. 7s
25. Arizona
26. UNLV
27. Cincinnati
28. Old Dominion
No. 8s
29. Utah State
30. Florida State
31. George Mason
32. Washington
No. 9s
33. Missouri
34. Villanova
35. Illinois
36. UCLA
No. 10s
37. Marquette 38. Gonzaga 39. Georgia 40. Tennessee
No. 11s
41. Butler
42. Richmond
43. Michigan
44. Clemson
No. 12s
45. Boston College
46. UTEP*
47. Michigan State
48. Memphis
49. Colorado
50. Virginia Tech
No. 13s
51. Belmont
52. Princeton*
53. Oakland
54. Long Island
No. 14s
55. Kent State*
56. Bucknell*
57. Morehead State
58. Indiana State
No. 15s
59. Long Beach State*
60. Northern Colorado
61. Wofford
62. St. Peter's
No. 16s
63. Boston U.*
64. Texas Southern*
65. McNeese State*
66. UNC Asheville
67. Bethune-Cookman*
68. Arkansas-Little Rock
11: Big East
6: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12
5: SEC
3: Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Pac-10
2: Colonial, Conference USA
1: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast, Western Athletic (20)
The NCAA uses an "S curve," meaning it ranks all 68 teams in order 1-68, then places them in regions under the theory the top No. 1 seed would have the worst No. 2 seed in its bracket, the worst No. 1 seed would have the top No. 2 seed, etc. The balancing of the regions is the most important factor in seeding the tournament.
As far as other rules go, teams from the same conference hopefully won't meet until a regional final, but the NCAA has relaxed that because some conferences have six and seven bids (it's even permissible for an intraconference matchup in the second round, though that is to be avoided whenever possible). But the first three teams selected from a given conference must be in different regions.
Higher-seeded teams should be placed as close to home as possible. No team may play on its home floor, but most sites are "neutral courts" anyway.
Teams can move up or down a spot or two in the "S-curve," maybe even a seed, to preserve other principles.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is the chairman of the 10-member NCAA Tournament Selection Committee this season. He is one of four members with a "Big Six" affiliation, joining Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway and Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. The other six members: Utah State AD Scott Barnes, Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey, UC Riverside AD Stan Morrison and SMU AD Steve Orsini. Hickey is the second woman to serve on the committee, following Charlotte AD Judy Rose (1999-2003).
March 15: Four play-in games in Dayton, Ohio
First and second rounds
March 17 and 19: Denver, Tampa, Tucson, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.
March 18 and 20: Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland and Tulsa, Okla.
Regional semifinals and final
March 24 and 26: Anaheim, Calif., and New Orleans.
March 25 and 27: Newark, N.J., and San Antonio
Final Four
April 2 and 4: Reliant Stadium, Houston

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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