Gonzaga’s Killian TillieYoung Kwak/Associated Press
If the men’s NCAA tournament is a bigger deal to you than every other holiday on the calendar, welcome to the eve of that glorious holiday. (And welcome to the club.)
March Madness is already going strong with several conference tournaments finished, some well underway and the biggest ones rapidly approaching.
It can become next to impossible to keep track of everything, but consider this your one-stop shop for all things NCAA bracket.
Throughout the remainder of championship week, we will be providing live updates to the projected bracket. And when we say live, we don’t mean we’ll update it every two hours or so. That isn’t our style.
Every time there’s a noteworthy result, we plan to have that reflected in the bracket within five minutes. Please send thoughts, prayers, tweets and coffee beans for assistance on this quest.
After these region-by-region snapshots, we’ll list the Last Five In and First Five Out, discuss the impact of recent results and take a look at the most important games on the immediate horizon.
Last Updated: 4:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday
Midwest No. 16: Norfolk State vs. Prairie View A&MSouth No. 16: Siena vs. Robert MorrisMidwest No. 11: Stanford vs. RichmondSouth No. 11: Wichita State vs. Texas
Last Five In (from safest to least safe): Xavier, Stanford, Richmond, Wichita State, TexasFirst Five Out (from first out to fifth out): UCLA, Northern Iowa, NC State, Cincinnati, Purdue
Brief Bubble Banter
Wednesday could be a huge day as far as the bubble is concerned, or we may well enter Thursday in the same position as we have been for the past few days.
In the early afternoon slate, NC State took the first step toward the latter option.
The Wolfpack comfortably took care of Pitt 73-58 in the second round of the ACC tournament, winning a game they had to have. That victory did nothing to improve their resume, but they avoided what would have been an excruciating loss. They will now face Duke in the quarterfinals. A win should be enough to get them into the dance, while a loss probably leaves them on the outside looking in. No pressure!
Movers and Shakers
Robert Morris’ Dante TreacyGene J. Puskar/Associated Press
No noteworthy changes to the bracket on Tuesday, but five teams did punch their tickets to the dance.
- North Dakota State annihilated North Dakota by 36 to win the Summit League title. Though the Bison were the clear favorite, they did lose to UND in February and only beat the Fighting Hawks by nine in January. No one was expecting things to get that ugly.
- Robert Morris won its home game against St. Francis (PA) 77-67 to wrap up the Northeast championship. “Bobby Mo” will be back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, likely as a No. 16 seed once again.
- Hofstra (70-61) and Northern Kentucky (71-62) won their respective title games in nearly identical fashions. For Northern Kentucky, this will be the third trip in four years. For Hofstra, it’s the first one since 2001when Jay Wright was still its head coach.
- And the big one was Gonzaga taking care of Saint Mary’s 84-66. The Zags are effectively locked into the No. 1 seed in the West Region now, but the Gaels’ season isn’t over. They’re going to land somewhere in the No. 8-10 seed range, depending on how much movement there is among teams in that tier in the next few days.
Big Games on the Horizon
North Carolina’s Cole AnthonyGerry Broome/Associated Press
If Thursday and Friday are a 10 out of 10 on the drama scale (they are), Tuesday was a 1 and Wednesday is going to be about a 3. But there’s still a fair amount of intrigue with all of the major tournaments getting underway.
Colgate will take on Boston for the Patriot League title at 7:30 p.m. ET. That’s the only auto bid that will be awarded on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, so soak it in while you can. Colgate is the favorite at home, but anything is possible.
Elsewhere, there are a bunch of “just don’t blow it” games for teams either on the bubble or playing for seeding. The next one will be Arizona vs. Washington at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET. Then the evening slate has four games of that ilk: Indiana vs. Nebraska, Stanford vs. Cal, Xavier vs. DePaul and Colorado vs. Washington State. Any upsets in those games could shake things up a bit.
And North Carolina’s quest for a miracle continues. The last-place Tar Heels smashed Virginia Tech by 22 Tuesday night and will now draw Syracuse as the nightcap of the ACC’s second round. If they win that one, they’ll draw Louisville on Thursday, which is where it will officially start to get interesting.
Kerry Miller covers men’s college basketball and college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.