In the final analysis, there's really only one bracket that matters. But until that official announcement on Selection Sunday, there's plenty of fun to be had for college hoops fans with all the various projections and predictions. So welcome to our little foray into the inexact science of bracketology.
There are several things that should be borne in mind when looking at anyone's bracket projections. First and foremost, nothing is final with a little over a month remaining in the regular season. This bracket projection is a mere snapshot in time, and it will change over the next five weeks as teams post valuable wins or suffer damaging upsets. Unexpected bid thieves will surface in conference tournaments.
As matters stand right now, we have a pair of SEC teams holding down No. 1 seeds. But in terms of overall volume, the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences account for nearly a quarter of the 68-team field with eight teams each.
We've endeavored to apply the same bracketing principles the NCAA committee employs. Where possible, teams from the same conference wouldn't meet until after the Sweet16, and efforts are made to accommodate the preferred regional destination for the highest seeded schools.
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So with all that out of the way, here's a look at how things stand now. We'll start looking more closely at which teams are on the right and wrong side of the proverbial bubble as March draws closer.
No. 1 seeds
Purdue, Alabama, Tennessee, Houston.
Last four in
Memphis, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M.
First four out
Florida, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Utah State.
Next four out
Penn State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Mississippi State..
Multi-bid conferences: Big 12 (8), Big Ten (8), ACC (7), SEC (6), Big East (5), Mountain West (4), Pac-12 (3), American Athletic (2), West Coast (2).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NCAA Bracketology: SEC has 2 No. 1 seeds, but Big Ten, Big 12 dominate