by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

Believe it or not, we’re into the stretch drive of the 2020-21 college hoops season, even though the track looks like the heavy mud we saw for the 1970 Belmont Stakes. Still, the regular-season finish line looms, and from this point forward much attention will be centered upon Selection Sunday, three weeks hence.

As our normal “Bracketology” reports became a bit awkward this season, and the entire Big Dance being played in and around Indianapolis, we temporarily shelved our normal “Bracketology” updates and highlighting the sub-regional locales and “protected seeds” and such because of the different dynamics associated with this March. Instead, we’ve been keeping our own seeding charts. Periodically, we’ll be publishing these along with updates all of the way into Selection Sunday.

As we move into late February, a quick look at our updated TGS brackets, thru Sunday, Feb. 21...

1-Gonzaga*, Baylor*, Michigan*, Illinois

2-Ohio State, Alabama*, Villanova*, Oklahoma*

3-Iowa, West Virginia, Houston*, Florida State

4-Virginia, Kansas, Virginia Tech, Texas

5-Texas Tech, USC*, Tennessee, Creighton

6-LSU, Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas

7-Purdue, Florida, Oklahoma State, BYU

8-Loyola-Chicago*, Colorado, Clemson, San Diego State*

9-Belmont*, Louisville, Rutgers, UCLA 

10-Drake, Xavier, Oregon, St Bonaventure*

11-Seton Hall, Boise State, North Carolina, Wichita State

12-Western Kentucky*, Richmond, VCU**, Saint Louis**, Colorado State**, Maryland**

13-UCSB*, Wright State*, Toledo*, Winthrop*

14-Grand Canyon*, Colgate*, Furman*, Liberty*

15-South Dakota*, Siena*, Abilene Christian*, Eastern Washington*

16-Bryant*, UMBC*, James Madison**, Norfolk State**, Texas State**, Prairie View**

* - projected automatic qualifier

**- projected First Four play-in games

Last four byes: Boise State, North Carolina, Wichita State, Richmond

Last four in: VCU, Saint Louis, Colorado State, Maryland

First four out: St. John’s, Indiana, Minnesota, Stanford

Next four out: Utah State, UConn, Syracuse, Duke

BRACKET MOVEMENT ON WEEKEND: As usual, most of the gyrations will be happening around the cut line, and with Maryland extending its win streak to four and grabbing another crucial Big Ten road win at Rutgers on Sunday, we’ve moved the Terps into the “last four in” category; we’re sure that participating in a First Four game would not bother Marc Turgeon in the least, as Maryland has been outside of our projected field to this point. Damaging losses over the weekend suffered by Stanford (at Washington State), Indiana (home vs. Michigan State), and especially St. John’s (home vs. Big East cellar-dweller DePaul) have temporarily moved all three to the wrong side of our cut line. Meanwhile, Ole Miss likely moved off of the bubble entirely, and out of the “next four out” group, when losing at home vs. unpredictable Mississippi State.

Helping themselves out especially in recent days have been Boise State, whose home sweep of Utah State temporarily flipped spots with the Utags inside and outside of our projected field, and St. Bonaventure, whose Sunday win over Davidson, coupled with VCU’s stunning OT home loss to George Mason on Saturday, has us pegging the Bonnies as the top seed out of the A-10. As you can see, we have for the moment decided to give the A-10 the benefit of the doubt at the edge of the projected field by also including Richmond, VCU, and Saint Louis all on our 12-line, though the Billikens didn’t help themselves with their Friday loss at Dayton (as for the Rams with their aforementioned home loss to GMU). Also suddenly looming at the edge of the bubble is Duke, making a belated move with three wins on the spin including Saturday’s thriller over Virginia. The Blue Devils face an effective at-large eliminator on Monday vs. Syracuse, itself a rousing winner on Saturday with a breathless late rally vs. Notre Dame.

It is also going to be a big upcoming week for Louisville, currently on our 9-line but precariously so with the arrow pointing downward, especially after the Cards looked woeful in their return from a Covid pause on Saturday vs. North Carolina. Tuesday’s game vs. Notre Dame looms as crucial for Chris Mack’s bunch, which will have a difficult close to the regular-season with surging Duke, Virginia Tech, and Virginia lined up after the Fighting Irish and into the ACC Tourney. There is still time for the ‘Ville and any of those teams on lines 9 thru 12 to play themselves out of the Dance in the next few weeks, while several eager entries still have a chance to move off of the bubble and into the field of 68 with a fast finish.  This is starting to get interesting!

As always, stay tuned...

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