This article is part of our RotoWire Bracketology series.
It's that time of the year. Some brackets have been coming out since the beginning of the season, but things change so often in the first couple months of the season that there's almost no point in looking at them. But with Selection Sunday less than two months away (March 11), it's time to get serious.
While I won't be digging into the bubble just yet, it's still worthwhile to check in on some of the top teams in the country. So far, that means Villanova and everyone else.
It's important to note these aren't power rankings. Bracketology is more about predicting what's going to happen than what the actual standings and records look like in the moment. Auburn has a great record with only two losses, yet I don't envision the Tigers winning the SEC. They are a good team, but one that could be dealt some blows as the season moves along. On the other side of that I have Ohio State as a 3-seed, which is higher than anyone out there. I think the Big Ten is extremely top heavy and the Buckeyes are suddenly one of those top teams. They are also on a stretch of not having a true road game until Feb. 7 at Purdue. The game last Wednesday was technically on the road, but I'm not calling those true road games, being played 40 minutes from Northwestern's campus.
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The competition for a 1-seed has dwindled down to about 13 or 14 teams. According to my bracket, the last team with a chance could end up being Texas Tech and I'm not sure the Red Raiders have a chance with their recent road losses.
At this point, it'd be a surprise if Villanova didn't get a top seed. The Wildcats are once again extremely consistent and should take care of the Big East. They have a stretch of four road games out of a possible five in February and assuming they don't lose all of them, they'll be in a good spot for No. 1 overall.
Arizona's spot on the one line is more of a projection. The Wildcats should win the Pac-12 now that Arizona State has fallen off. It also helps that 'Zona doesn't have to travel to USC or UCLA. And if they continue to win, the committee will put less into the early-season losses without Rawle Alkins. Saturday's road game at Stanford has suddenly become important.
The other two spots have been constantly in flux, but Virginia probably has the best shot given its defensive prowess. The Cavs still have to travel to Duke, Florida State and Miami so those will be important games in their quest for a 1-seed. That said, losing road games at quality competition probably won't cost them if they continue to beat everyone else at home.
Similar to Ohio State, Purdue's ease of schedule is why I think it can get a 1-seed. The Boilers have an incredibly favorable remaining schedule with the only road game against a top-80 KenPom team coming at Michigan State. This team is cruising and I'm not sure any of their upcoming games will sink them.
Of course, there are multiple Big 12 teams in the waiting, but there's a good chance they continue to beat up on each other making it extremely difficult to make the top line. Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia have the best chances with Texas Tech able if it can make a run. Other than that, it's hard to see any other team grabbing a 1-seed outside of the usual names like Duke and Michigan State. Xavier would need to do a lot to have a chance and I'm not sure the Musketeers have it in them.
I'll dive into the rest of the bracket as we get closer to Selection Sunday with the bubble teams changing by the day (Middle Tennessee dropped out after losing at Marshall on Thursday). In the next couple weeks, it'll become clearer if TCU and Texas A&M can turnaround from bad starts or if teams like Boise State and St. Mary's can steal at-large bids. Either way, the picture will be somewhat clearer, even if it's only because one team loses a bad home game.
To view a compilation of all of the bracket predictions in the world, check out the Bracket Matrix. This bracket started in 2014 and has been one of the most reliable ones in the last three years.