Bracketology: The aftermath of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and more

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KANSAS CITY, MO – MARCH 10: A view of a NCAA logo on a basketball with the Big 12 logo in the background before a Big 12 Tournament semifinal basketball game between the Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks on March 10, 2023 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jason Williams, Scribe Reporter

This past weekend concluded the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which is a fun, non-conference event that can strengthen a team’s tournament resume. Some teams were able to take advantage of other teams’ shortfalls, while others failed. So without further ado, let’s take a look at our updated projected field.

 

NOTE: AP Poll ranks mentioned are from the January 31st poll release

 

UPDATED: FEBRUARY 3rd

Through February 2nd games

It seems now that every week we have a new 1-seed and UCLA is the lucky winner. The Bruins took Kansas’ spot atop the 1-line after their blowout loss to Kentucky last Saturday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. UCLA has slowly, but surely, started to look like their usual selves, cleaning up the defensive end and scoring more efficiently on the offense. My only worry is that UCLA won’t be able to sustain its success. The Bruins only won by 23 vs. Stanford, despite an awful performance, because the defense held the Cardinals to a shooting percentage of 35.7% from mid-range and 3-for-20 beyond the arc. Yes, UCLA was missing Johnny Juzang due to COVID-19 protocols but previously, Juzang had been averaging 22.6 PPG (points per game). UCLA will have to play their best ball in their next two games — @Arizona (Thursday — 8:00pET — ESPN) and @Arizona State (Saturday — 9:00pET — ESPN2) as there are three other teams in contention for the final 1-seed.

For the third week straight, our No. 1 overall, Auburn, has remained the same; which should come as no surprise. The Tigers were able to handle Oklahoma, Missouri — by one — and Alabama. All you have to say about Auburn is that they’ve proven they are National Champion contenders.

Similar to our No. 1 overall seed, our No. 2 overall seed, Gonzaga, has also remained the same for a third straight week. The Bulldogs have a comfortable “lead” over UCLA for the No. 2 overall spot after their recent wins over BYU, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. Andrew Nembhard has been Gonzaga’s leader the past five games averaging 15.8 PPG, 6.6 assists shooting 46.2% from beyond the arc. Nembhard will be a key factor down the road for the Bulldogs.

Baylor will round out our 1-seeds for the week at No. 3 overall. I think James Akinjo’s injury has played a pivotal role in Baylor’s recent performance. Monday night vs. West Virginia, the Bears looked sloppy on the offensive end and had Scott Drew up in arms on the sideline. If Baylor doesn’t figure out their turnover issue, averaging 13.1 turnovers a game (per ESPN.com), Baylor will find themselves off the top line searching for answers.

 

Bracketology Seed List

Through February 2nd games

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